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Peter Tweedy (1934–2013)

by R. E. Pegg and Sheila Tweedy

Peter Tweedy was born in Brisbane and spent his early years in Proston, Dirranbandi, Canungra and Drayton where his father was the head teacher. His secondary schooling was at Toowoomba Grammar School where he excelled at athletics and rugby. From there he obtained a State Forestry Scholarship and attended the University of Queensland and the Australian Forestry School. In 1957, he was a member of the last AFS rugby team to make the semi-finals of the Canberra Cup.

After graduation, like the bulk of Queensland foresters, Peter took charge of a forest inventory survey camp (in Gympie district). He then had stints as assistant to the District Forester in Mackay and Yarraman.

From 1963 to 1970, Peter was the Sub-District Forester at Benarkin where the main task was the establishment and management of hoop pine plantations. Being in a definitely rural setting, locals around Benarkin were known to take the occasional scrub turkey for the pot – they referred to these as ‘Tweedy’s chickens’. While at Benarkin (in 1964), Peter married Sheila Brewer. The locals were somewhat confused when Peter returned from the honeymoon without a bride; Sheila suffered acute appendicitis while they were in Sydney on their way back from Fiji and did not get back to Benarkin till some time later.

While at Benarkin, Peter demonstrated his prowess in field management and was the first non-research forester in Queensland to present a paper which satisfied the requirements for progression to senior forester grading in 1968. His paper was actually a fire protection plan for the Benarkin sub-district, the standard of which impressed the Deputy Conservator of the day. During his time at Benarkin, Peter joined the Masonic Lodge in Blackbutt.

In the early 1970s, Peter served as forester and acting District Forester at Rockhampton and Warwick before moving to Marketing Branch in Head Office in 1976. In this position, Peter was involved in establishing the appropriate price for a range of forest products and toured the state introducing the new system for gross metric measure and explaining the streamlining of the procedures for deriving the snig and haul allowances in the calculation of residual stumpage pricing. Because of his role in Marketing, he became known as ‘El Tweedo’ or The Mexican Bandit.

From 1981 until his retirement in 1991, Peter was the District Forester, Rockhampton. This was a widespread district with a diverse range of activities with the management of tropical rainforest, dry sclerophyll forests, exotic pine plantations and gravel resources as well as a large amount of freeholding and reservation of Crown lands. Peter spent a considerable amount of time away from home leaving Sheila to look after the three children.

Peter had a real love for field forestry and he was at home ‘in the bush’; this was probably in part a reflection of his childhood spent with his two brothers riding horses, swimming in the creek and running around the bush. One day at Benarkin, he was supervising a dozer clearing a patch of forest and went to help by lifting the steel rope higher on the tree trunk to get a better purchase when the dozer slipped on some rocks, pulled the rope tight and removed two joints from Peter’s left index finger. The loss of these joints did not seem to hinder him at work or playing golf and he caused some merriment for his grandchildren and colleagues by shoving the remaining joint in his ear or nose.

After retirement, Peter and Sheila moved to Buderim on the Sunshine Coast where Peter enjoyed playing golf, making his home brew and playing with his grandchildren. He and Sheila were avid travellers visiting several overseas locations (including China, USA and Madeira) as well as many Australian areas. One of the highlights was a visit to a road north of the Daintree that Peter had worked on in the survey phase in 1955.

Peter died on 22 November 2013 after battling lung cancer for two years. He is survived by his wife Sheila, three children and eight grandchildren. Probably the best way of summing up the character of Peter was in a statement made by one of the younger foresters ‘I remember Peter for his dedication to good forest management, his wry dry humour and the respect in which he is held by all those who knew him’.

Original publication

Citation details

R. E. Pegg and Sheila Tweedy, 'Tweedy, Peter (1934–2013)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 20 June 2024.

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