21.6 C
Byron Shire
February 25, 2021

A tribute to Ian Oelrichs

Latest News

Family Court scrapped

Despite overwhelming opposition from Australia’s family law specialists and advocates, the federal Liberal-Nationals government and cross benchers scrapped the Family Law Court and subsumed it into the circuit courts last week.

Other News

Pottsville’s controversial Men’s Shed extension to be advertised

The controversial Men’s Shed at Black Rocks Sports Fields in Pottsville was granted the opportunity to expand its footprint 12m to the west at last week’s Tweed Shire Council meeting.

Gold Coast of Byron

Matt Hartley, Byron Bay I think it’s all about canals, West Byron, and a pile of money. Since The Echo...

Suffolk pump track

Dr Ray Moynihan, Suffolk Park Thanks to The Echo for ongoing coverage of the debate about the proposed pump track...

Police use road spikes to catch speeder

Police say that on Friday at around 10.45pm, they received information that a stolen Hyundai Santa Fe was travelling south of the Pacific Motorway towards the QLD/NSW border.

Super swim challenge accepted

A group of mates from Brunswick Heads, Byron Bay and Lennox Head, recently formed a swim team known as the Anti Budgie Boardriders for the purpose of taking part in the Starlight Foundations Super Swim Challenge.  

Archibald has knock-on effect in Murwillumbah

The Tweed Regional Gallery is hosting the Archibald Prize and local business people say the event is giving the town of Murwillumbah a significant economic boost.

Ian Oelrichs. Photo supplied.

Digby Hildreth

Byron Shire resident Ian Oelrichs was a big man with a big heart and a huge intellect that was fired by a multitude of disciplines and interests. An urban designer and landscape architect by training, he was not restrained by his profession and made up his career as he went along.

He possessed a visionary strategic imagination, a passion for community and the environment, for good design and fresh ideas, a love of people and conversation, of food and fine wine, and a strong rebellious streak.

His energy and focus saw him involved in scores of groups and organisations in the region and around the globe – encouraging and mentoring individuals in coffee shops at home and guiding large enterprises at the United Nations.

Ian died on Sunday, February 24, two days before his 70th birthday, leaving his wife Claire and their two sons, Cooper and Dexter.

He was not a conservative in any form and beneath the public planner persona dwelt an ‘arty’ type who enjoyed performing in theatrical productions at university in Brisbane and who was gifted with pen and ink, a legacy perhaps of his father, an excellent draughtsman, whose conservatism a long-haired and Beatle-booted Ian frequently butted against.

But Keith and Betty Oelrichs also had a sophistication that was rare in Bjelke-Petersen’s fiefdom. They ground their own coffee and loved to entertain, and some of Ian’s gourmet tastes and fondness for socialising can be traced back to them. 

A young Ian took some time to find his feet as a student, but was eventually inspired by the ‘defiant tutelage’ of George Williams in landscape architecture at QUT – and by Gough Whitlam’s passion for progress.

Within 13 years he was CEO of one of Australia’s largest landscape architecture firms and head of the landscape architects’ professional body in Australia.

In 2011 he was awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia for his commitment to the tourism industry and regional development.

Locally, he counselled mayors, MPs and fledgling professionals and headed regional development and strategic boards.

He helped establish the Sourdough Think Tank, the Business Pathways Mentoring program, the Design Advisory Panel, the Nature Tourism Taskforce, the Northern Rivers Rail Trail and Zero Emissions Byron, and supported Keeping Our Freedom Youth and the Northern Rivers Community Foundation. All of this was done ‘pro bono’.

Martin Brook of Brookfarm credits him with sowing the seeds of today’s successful regional food movement. 

He was also active in a range of grand-scale projects internationally, from Jordan to Afghanistan, and the family’s Save Indonesian Endangered Species Fund.

Ian was a global personality, with personal invitations to meet President Bill Clinton and Hillary in the 90s and the King of Jordan last year. Yet he was essentially a sentimental family man who adored his boys and cried at sad movies.

Two nights before he died Ian hosted a “Pinot party” at home for his friends, with excellent wines and a range of superb cheeses.

‘He was on sparkling form,’ said one old mate. ‘As happy as I’ve ever seen him.’

A celebration of Ian’s life will be held at 3pm this Saturday, March 9 at Newrybar Hall. Dress code: colourful or floral. In lieu of flowers, Ian’s family has requested a contribution to the environment in Indonesia at www.siesfund.org/ian-oelrichs-forest.html.

Support The Echo

Keeping the community together and the community voice loud and clear is what The Echo is about. More than ever we need your help to keep this voice alive and thriving in the community.

Like all businesses we are struggling to keep food on the table of all our local and hard working journalists, artists, sales, delivery and drudges who keep the news coming out to you both in the newspaper and online. If you can spare a few dollars a week – or maybe more – we would appreciate all the support you are able to give to keep the voice of independent, local journalism alive.



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Cavanbah centre gets a taste of 3×3 basketball

The Byron Beez basketball team in collaboration with the U League hosted a 3x3 tournament at the Cavanbah centre at the end of January that attracted 30 teams.

Northern Rivers policeman accused of youth assault acquitted

Magistrate Michael Dakin has ordered a common assault charge against a former Byron-based policeman be dropped after an altercation involving a naked youth in Byron Bay three years ago.

Amber alert for blue-green algae at Lake Ainsworth

An amber alert has been put in place for Lake Ainsworth near Lennox Head in relation to the presence of blue-green algae.

Ready for Byron’s latest massive development on Jonson St?

The changing face of Byron as Gold Coast and Sydney developers move in to recreate the look and feel of the town with intense development proposals.