John Cornell, a character credited with initiating major change in Byron Bay after his purchase of the Beach Hotel, has died at his home in Byron Bay, aged 80, surrounded by his wife Delvene Delaney and family.
Cornell, known to many as ‘Strop’ after his character on the Paul Hogan Show, had a number of very successful high profile business ventures in his life. He was an intelligent and creative force behind World Series Cricket and the Crocodile Dundee films as well as the purchaser of both the Hotel Brunswick and the Beach Hotel in early 1990s, a move credited with putting Byron on the map for city visitors.
Cornell, a journalist, met Paul Hogan whilst working on A Current Affair, and became his manager, later appearing as Strop on the hugely successful The Paul Hogan Show. Together with Hogan, they produced Crocodile Dundee, the most profitable Australian movie of all time. In 1976, recognising that Australian cricketers had to pay for their own travel, spend a long time away from their families, and were poorly renumerated, he approached Kerry Packer and together they devised the concept for World Series Cricket.
After purchasing the Beach Hotel in 1991, Cornell, together with his wife Delvene Delaney (who also appeared in the Paul Hogan Show) commenced a period of generous donation to organisations throughout the Byron Shire. On his retirement from the Beach Hotel in 2007, an advertisement in The Byron Shire Echo recorded many of the organisations that had received support from the Cornell family during his time at the iconic pub. The list of arts, community, environmental, sporting, youth and school organisations is in the hundreds, a testament to his generosity of spirit.
Local Marie Hayes was one of those who remembered his generosity when approached to support the local ‘Beggars Banquet’. ‘He really made a difference’, said Marie, ‘he will be missed’.
‘A classic Australian character, John Cornell made the lives he touched much richer, not only through donations, but also through his generosity of spirit, humour, humility and honour,’ his family said in a statement. ‘A true egalitarian, John sought equity and equality, and fought for a fair go.’
Byron Shire Echo advertisement, from 2007:
The following groups would like to express their heartfelt thanks to the Cornell family for their generosity and support and wish them every happiness for the future.
• AB Culture AD artist • ACE Mullumbimby • Artscape – the Nature of Sculpture • Australian Indonesian Arts Alliance • Baywrite Theatre Inc • Byron Community & Cultural Centre • C.A.S.E. @ Piece Gallery • Cohesive Theatre • Cotton Club • Dangerously Poetic Press • Dhinawan Dreaming • Fourth Wall Theatre • Greenheat Productions • Nick Shand Short Story Competition • North Coast Entertainment Industry Assoc • Northern Rivers Conservatorium of Arts Inc • Northern Rivers Writers Centre • Physical Theatre Company • Professional Artists Network Easter Art Show • Screen Production Association of Australia • Sweet Whispers Theatre Company • Threeways – food, art, earth • Thursday Plantation
• Amitayas Hospice Service • Antar • Arakwal Aboriginal Corporation • Athena Foundation • Australian Indonesian Arts Alliance • Australian Orthodox Home for the Aged • Australian Red Cross • Australian Seabird Rescue • Bangalow Agricultural & Industrial Society • Bay Ami Inc • Bay FM 99.9 Community Radio • Biala Support Service Inc • Brunswick Heads Chamber of Commerce • Brunswick Valley & District Volunteer Rescue • Brunswick Valley Woodchop • Gift for LIfe – one day/s of recovery • Buttery Inc • Fundraising thru Arts Program • Byron Bay Chamber of Commerce • Byron Bay Community Association Ltd • Byron Bay Hospital Pink Ladies Auxiliary • Byron Legacy • Byron Peace Carnival • Cancer Council of NSW Relay for Life • Christina Noble Childrens Foundation • Community Learning & Innovation Centre Inc • Byron Innovators Network sponsorship • Community Peace Carnival • CTC @ Byron Shire • Disabled Surfers Association FNC branch • Drug Awareness & Relief Movement • D-Sport • Federal Community Children’s Centre • Friends of the Library • Getting Real – books and workshops • Green and Clean Awareness Team • Greenheat Productions • Guide Dogs NSW/ACT • Humour Foundation • Imprint Dance Co • Island Quarry • Jarjum Association • Kurrachee Co-Op Society • Leukaemia Foundation • Lions Club of Byron Bay • Macquarie Matrons Inc • Mr Fireworks International • Mullumbimby Agricultural Society • Mullumbimby Hospital Staff Fund • Mullumbimby Leagues Club Committee • Mullumbimby Neighbourhood Centre • Mullumbimby Signature Event Committee • Multiple Sclerosis Society • Ngamahl • Norsearch Ltd • North Coast Womens Festival • Northern Horse Action Group • Northern Rivers Conservatorium of Arts Inc • Blue Day Foundation – childrens hospital • Ocean Shores Community Association • Pisces Sun Pty Ltd • Rainbow Dragons Abreast Byron Region Inc • Royal Volunteer Coastal Patrol • Rural Australians for Refugees • Sangsurya • Sisters for Reconciliation (Northern Rivers) • Spaghetti Circus • Mini Bus sponsorship • Spirit of Learning • Sustainable Futures • Sweet Dreams • Sydney Youth Orchestra • Yogathon – Threeways – food, art, earth • Whole Woman • Women for Wik • Women, Earth & Change Conference • Womens Resource Service • World Heart Music Festival • Zenith Productions
• Australian Seabird Rescue • Beacon Inc • Belongil Bird Buddies • Byron Environment Centre • Ethical Feast • Fruit Trees for Schools Project • Fox Road Landcare • Green and Clean Awareness Team • NSW Animal Welfare League • Northern Rivers Wildlife Carers • Rainforest Information Centre • Rainforest Rescue • Seed Savers Network • Wetland Care Australia
• Brunswick Heads SLSC • Bangalow Pony Club • Byron Bay Lions Club • Beach Hotel Twilight Cricket Team • Brunswick Heads SLSC • Byron Australian Rules Football Club • Byron Bay Cricket Club Inc • Byron Bay Golf Club • Byron Bay Junior Cricket Club • Byron Bay Little Athletics • Byron Bay Malibu Club • Byron Bay Outriggers • Byron Bay RSL Swimming Club • Byron Bay Rugby League Club • Byron Bay Sailing Club • Byron Bay SLSC • Byron Bay Soccer Club • Byron Bay Water Polo Club • Byron Bay Winter Whales Inc • Mullum Giants Rugby League Football Club Inc • Mullumbimby Leagues Committee • Netball • Surfrider Foundation • Surfing FNC
• 1st Byron Bay Scout Group • Arakwal Aboriginal Corporation • Bay Babies Playgroup • Byron Bay High School • Byron Bay Pre-School Inc • Byron Bay Primary School • Byron Shire Early Intervation Service • Byron Shire Toy Library • Byron Youth Activity Centre • Beats & Treats • Byron Youth Project • Byron Youth Service Inc • Drug Awareness & Relief Movement • Exodus Foundation • Fatherhood Project • Federal Community Children’s Centre • FNC Life Education Inc • Lions Club of Ballina • Newrybar Public School • NSW Sports Council for the Disabled • Pathways Foundation • Periwinkle Preschool Inc • Playful Creations • HOG Poker Run • Childrens Ward LBH • Shearwater Steiner School • Wearable Arts – school major fundraiser • Southern Cross University Australian Cultural Studies Prize • Southern Cross University Scholarship • Special Childrens Christmas Party annual donation • Spirit of Learning Soul in Education conference • St Finbarrs School • Annual Christmas Fair Fundraiser• Uncle Project • Upper Coopers Creek Public School • Variety Club of NSW