Friday, August 26, 2016


Multi  talented  Magnetic  Island resident  Terry  Bridges, above, regrets having not learned how to play a musical instrument , yet   recently finished what is believed to  be  the only  copy of  a  famous   Stradivarius  violin  made  from  Silky Oak  and  is  contemplating making  another  in Tasmanian Huon Pine . 
 How come a   Stradivarius came to be built  on the island? Some years ago, a  friend , retired schoolteacher  Chic Osgood , of  Bermagui, NSW,  who made cellos as a pastime  and  had a  holiday home on the island ,  visited Terry ,   plonked  down a   copy  of  a  book  on violin making   for amateurs  by American  Bruce Ossman, and suggested  he  make one .

Taking up the challenge, reading more about Stradivarius , and  150 accumulated  hours of  work   later  the  violin  was born ,  valued  at $10,000.
 If  you are  not  in  the market  for an Australian Stradivarius  , Terry   can  paint you a  tropical bird  or scene  , build  you  a  house  and  is  into making  distinctive, sturdy USA  Adirondack  chairs  .  Another  example of his passion for  and  skill  with  wood  is  the   20ft long strip  planked  kayak, below ,  made from  Kauri , on which  he  spent  750 hours .
Its construction  incorporated  a technique used by  one of the  team in Alan Bond's America's   Cup challenge .  Terry and his wife, Glenwynne  ,   designed and built their cool ,  open plan house , which  withstood Cyclone Yasi's ravages , surrounded  by a  garden with  many tropical  plants and  orchids.
Examples of  Terry's  handmade furniture and paintings   are  visible throughout . His paint encrusted artist's  palette  is  a  work  of  art  in itself. In a   real North Queensland touch , he incorporated fretwork panels  above doors  which  were  the  trademark of  a  carpenter  from  Charters Towers , at times examples  of  his  work found in  old  Townsville  homes .  A rolltop  writing desk  based  on  an  old  English design   is  another   of  Terry's    productions .   

PM Holt spearfishing .

An  electrician by  trade , he spent three   years  in  the Army, including one in Vietnam . When Prime Minister  Harold  Holt  went  missing  off  Cheviot Beach, Victoria , Terry was    stationed at the Watsonia  Army Barracks and  he was part of the large military contingent  sent to search  for  the PM, both day and night.  At the time, Terry said , there was a   strong  swell, the  rocks were so sharp  boots were   cut to pieces and  there was much  kelp  in the water  . The PM would have  had  no chance of  surviving  under those  conditions .  
In his trade as an electrician  he has worked  on major  construction sites in Papua New Guinea  and  Australia , such as the Ok Tedi  mine in PNG,  Roxby  Downs  , South  Australia .

His  affection   for   timber with its various qualities  comes  through loud and clear ... Silky Oak  from  which much early Queensland   furniture was made , Queensland Maple and Kauri . Special  mention is made of Cooktown Ironwood , known as the Poison Camel Tree, because it killed  camels  which ate its leaves , used to make early lawn bowls . This, he said was the densest timber in the world , used  to   bed  the  drive  shafts  of  steamships on  the  international trade. 

The  Bridges  are leaving the island after  23  years to take up residence near  Geelong, Victoria . The   distinctive kayak  is remaining  on  the  island .