Vale Adrian Dean

Station Year Season
Macquarie Island 1959 Winter

23 July 1931 – 29 January 2023

Macquarie Island 1959

The first child of Reay and Vera Dean, Adrian was born in Burnie and spent the first years of his life on a farm in Ridgley, Tasmania. By 1934, the family had moved to Black Rock in Melbourne where his sister, Judy, was born. Reay worked as a painter and decorator but was also a talented artist. He passed these skills on to his children and Adrian also enjoyed painting and drawing throughout his life.

After a few years, the family returned to Tasmania, first to another farm in Ridgley, then to Weeroona, a large home in Latrobe, where Adrian spent most of his primary school years. For secondary school, Adrian commuted to Devonport, where he met Claudia (Peggy) White, and they became sweethearts. They married in 1953.

In 1949 they had both moved to Hobart, Peggy to study at the University of Tasmania, and Adrian to take up an apprenticeship with Jock Muir at his boat yard in Battery Point. At the end of his apprenticeship Adrian took a position teaching Woodwork, Metalwork, Leatherwork and Technical Drawing at the Robert Cosgrove Modern School as this offered a more secure income than boatbuilding for a newly married man.

From 1953 until he began training for his Macquarie Island adventure in 1958, Adrian taught at Sheffield District High School, during which time his passion for boat building continued, (he built a dinghy in the lounge room of his home). He also became a scout leader and spent much time camping and mountaineering.

His first daughter, Claudia, entered the world in 1954, followed by Jenny in 1955 and Keren in 1957. Their fourth child, John, was born during Adrian’s Macquarie Island training in Melbourne in 1958.

Adrian’s selection for the 1959 ANARE to MACQUARIE ISLAND was a challenge – both for his young family and for his pragmatic and enquiring mind. He kept in touch with Peggy through ham radio and the available cable code whilst at the same time throwing himself into the mammoth maintenance programme of the 20 odd huts in that ocean environment. He erected a new weatherboard Recreation Hut and helped many others – particularly the Doctor with the biology programme and occasional relief of the engineer of his duties. On top of this he undertook a driftwood collection for the University of Tasmania. He was a very valuable, cheerful and hard working member of the 1959 Macquarie Island team.

On departure from the Island the station assets were left in first class condition including 100% exterior repainting and lubrication of all fittings – including at the outstations of Green Gorge and Hurd Point. The most memorable aspect of his adventure was his return home with a somewhat large frightening beard.

Upon his return, Adrian was given a post teaching in Queenstown on Tasmania’s west coast where he continued to build boats in the garage of their Education Department home. During this time, his fourth daughter, Rosemary, was born in 1961. This time also signalled the start of the annual Slide Night for the family and friends as he recounted his amazing experiences on the island.

During 1963, Adrian and Peggy took Claudia, Jenny and Rosey to Bundaberg for a few months, to help with some serious health issues that Rosey was suffering. Adrian worked at a local boatyard while they were there.

In 1964 Adrian returned to teaching at Sheffield, still building boats in his garage.

In early 1967 the family moved to Hobart where Adrian took up a position teaching at The Friend’s School. While being involved with the scout troop at the school, he developed a passion for kayaking and began working on a series of kayak designs, many of which have gained international notoriety – the Dean 16, the Dean 21 Double, the Wasp, the Sea Leopard and the Greenlander.
In 1970, he and a group of friends formed the Derwent Canoe Club.

In 1986 Adrian began a wooden boat school as part of the Commonwealth Government Employment Initiative and built a number of dinghies for different scout groups with his team. In 1987 he was given the task to build the masts and spars for the replica Lady Nelson tall ship.

The Wooden Boat School moved to Franklin on the Huon River south of Hobart and Adrian continued to teach there until poor mobility prevented it in his 90th year. Peggy passed away at the end of 2018 and Adrian moved to Snug Village. Despite this, Adrian’s passion for building boats and his strong desire to pass on the traditional skills to younger generations had him, despite his failing health, teaching from his lounge room in his unit at Snug until his passing on the 29th January 2023.

John Dean

Contributions to Aurora

June201455 Years after Macca59Adrian Dean3343Aurora Journal Winter 2014