Wednesday, October 12, 2011



Two months ago (at the time of writing), I published the story of Uncle Pat and Aunty Margaret Iselin,  two dearly loved and admired Elders of North Stradbroke Island.

In that story you read about their life together on Straddie, the Island known to their Aboriginal ancestors as Minjerribah, about Pat’s thirty five years working in the sand mining industry, first as a boilermaker and finally as the company’s maintenance engineer.

You read about his love of the island and its people, the childhood he spent fishing and tumbling about in the waters surrounding his island home, the brumbys, wild ponies, he and his mates caught and tamed.

You met their five children, Christine, Patricia, twins Mary and Brian and Darryl.  I hinted at the growing number of grandchildren and great grandchildren.

I knew time was short for Pat and I spent every moment I could with him, jotting down his memories, his thoughts.

Now I must say a final, sad farewell to my friend, my history teacher.
Thank him for all the wonderful stories he told me about Straddie and its origin, about his many, many years with the love of his life, Margaret.

His last journey across the Bay, back home to Straddie, on Friday September 23rd unfolded like no other Friday ...


13.03.1930 – 16.09.2011

On a crisp September morning, the sun shining on the waters of Moreton Bay, Uncle Pat Iselin made his last  trip home to Stradbroke. His family was with him. 

To a solemn and slow beat his cortege was ushered onto the Stradbroke Ferries barge with all the due ceremony and respect this gentle man deserved. Flags on board the barge were lowered to half mast.

The tourist throng in their holiday laden cars held back, the enormity of the occasion obvious to all.

The trip back to Dunwich, to lay him at rest among his people, reflected the 81 years of his life, the long eventful history of his beloved Minjerribah.

On the Island, the crowds gathered. The hall packed to overflowing.

Eulogies were read, tears fell. 

In the great hushed hall, mourners stood along the walls, the over flow spreading outside.  Not a murmur was heard as his family and friends said their final goodbyes.

And then everyone joined together in a huge group outside the hall, following the cortege as Uncle Pat made his last journey through the streets of Dunwich, to the cemetery by the bay.

Stores closed their doors,  traffic was halted. As we marched we each remembered his life and his times in our own individual way.

It wasn't surprising to see Pat's young great grandsons had found the best seats in the Cemetery, climbing the banksia trees above the grave site to witness the service.  Somehow I could imagine a young Patrick doing the very same thing, hovering above the proceedings, trying to understand the grown ups grief.

The wheels of history turn slowly, especially in the beautiful surrounds of the Dunwich Cemetery where its progress is there for everyone to see.

Goodbye Pat.  I will sorely miss our history lessons.


Two last glimpses show best the measure of this unassuming man. 

This special message of love and appreciation was read at the service by Wendy Iselin...

Dad, for over 35 years I’ve had the privilege of calling you Dad.  You have shown me what a Dad is.  When you spoke everyone listened, you never spoke harshly or cruelly but with quiet authority.  Your priority in life was your wife and family but you were always there for your extended family, friends or anyone who needed help.

You instilled in your children good work ethics, pride, respect, tolerance and courtesy to others and this is carried on through to your grand-children.  You are a true gentleman, the most caring and loving man I’ve ever known.  I am so proud to be able to call you my Dad too.  I will miss you dearly, but never forget you. 

Love always, Wendy.

And this happened just a few short weeks before Pat passed away..
Pat’s last years, health wise, were not pleasant.  Though constantly in pain and discomfort he never complained, but made his many trips back and forth to doctors on the mainland, excursions that took him away from his beloved Straddie, ones he would rather not have to make.

On one of his last visits the doctors urged him to stay overnight in the mainland hospital. They were concerned about his condition, didn’t want him to make the long, stressful journey home to the island.

Pat would have none of it.  No he didn’t want to stay in the hospital, no there was no use arguing.

‘I can’t stay over here’, he told medical staff. ‘Margaret’s waiting for me at home, I can’t leave her there all alone.’



Pat and Margaret - their Wedding Day 1949

Patsy, twins Mary and Brian and Christine
Picnic in the bush with son Brian and mate Arthur Borey

Pat and daughters Christine and Patsy, with his father Jim Iselin
Friends and family, a cool day on the beach
Celebrating yet another Anniversary with Brian, Christine, Patricia, Mary and Darryl
Great Grandfather Pat's little tree climbers.



Robyn Mortimer 2011