VALE: Tributes flow for Fraser Island tourism pioneer
THE man who pioneered Fraser Island tourism has died aged 84.
Sid Melksham, the former local legend who developed Eurong Resort and Fraser Island's ferry service, passed away on Friday.
While he eventually went on to sell the resort and ferries in 2002 for more than $30million - a move which contributed to a fortune that covered the purchase of Alan Bond's superyacht and a mansion at Hope Island on the Gold Coast - the empire had humble beginnings.
In the late 50s, the first passenger service he took to the island was an eight-seater old boat he'd bought and refurbished after it sunk in the Mary River.
His colourful life has featured in several publications including Last of the Barefoot Tycoons, a book written by his long-term partner Angela Burger.
He returned to the island in April, 2018 to help mark 25 years of Fraser Island celebrating its World Heritage listing.
The Chronicle understands Mr Melksham will be buried in his hometown of Maryborough.
Fraser Coast Mayor George Seymour told the Chronicle on Saturday Mr Melksham was a "legend, a pioneer and an icon for Fraser Island".
"There are countless people around the world who recall fondly special moments in catching the barge and staying at Eurong," he said
"He had the vision to create and sustain tourism businesses and so many people benefited; the employees, our broader community and the people who carry those special memories."
Fraser Coast Tourism and Events General Manager Martin Simons said Mr Melksham's death represented the "passing of a legend and one of the first entrepreneurs in 1959 with the vision to establish tourism on Fraser Island's eastern surf coast".
"With little education, he first taught himself to read and write, moving on to build and drive boats, barges, planes and helicopters," Mr Simons said "He is remembered with great fondness by the many people who worked with him to make his Fraser dream a reality, opening up the island for all to enjoy."
Read more about Mr Melksham's extraordinary story here.