Douglas community remembers well-known artist /Newsport (copy 1)

Douglas community remembers well-known artist and restaurateur

Tuesday March 4 2014

By Pam Willis Burden

A well-attended meeting of the Historical Society on Monday enjoyed hearing stories from Ruth and Paul Grischy about the late Jean Allen, who passed away on January 31st.

Jean was a long-time resident of Port Douglas and was a well-known artist in the little village in the 1960s, 70s and 80s.

She was a tropical signwriter, painter and was easily recognized riding a bicycle around town in her floral dress.

Jean arrived in Port Douglas in June 1961, choosing it because it when she looked at a map in chilly England, it was only an inch from the Equator.

Very few people apart from fishermen lived here then, and there was no town water supply until the following year.

When she first arrived, she slept under the trees near the beach until she was offered accommodation by Diana Bowden, who made fabulous shell jewellery.

The Bowdens served lunch and afternoon tea at the original Nautilus up on the hill.

Jean began working there, and met her future husband Bart Allen in 1963.

After a few years, they took over Nautilus Restaurant, and began a tradition of fine dining under the palm trees.

Bart obtained a huge oven from a Cairns convent and had it converted to gas in case of power failures.

In the winter, he lit a fire in half of a 44 gallon drum and people sat around it in the garden, which overflowed with tropical fruit trees and red poinsettias.

Jean swam every day of the year at the little bay near Rex Smeal Park.

She had a theory that the stingers wouldn’t come in there because the sharp oysters on the rocks would cut them up.

She and Bart lived nearby in a cottage called Mycumbene which had been the minister'shouse for St Andrew's Church.

She sold some of her land on the corner of Wharf and Murphy Streets to John Morris.

The church was demolished and Club Tropical was built on its site in 1989. When the hill and stairs became too much for her, Jean moved to Port Street in 2003.

She lived there on her own until last year when she moved to OzCare.

Jean had a wonderful memory and has donated her diary and notes about the characters of Port Douglas to the Historical Society.

When the Court House Hotel was renovated, the mural by Strom Gould showing localsat the bar was moved near the beer garden.

Jean was invited to identify the characters and she drew a key with names and numbers.

She managed to name all but one of the 72 people in the picture, and this sits beside the mural today.

Jean was one of Port Douglas's great characters and will be sadly missed by many.

She was a very private person who did not want a memorial service, so the address at the Historical Society meeting was a fitting tribute.

To learn more about the characters of Port Douglas in years gone by, read Port's People, a book from the Douglas Shire Historical Society which is available at the Court House Museum in Wharf Street.