’Inspirational’ whale watch pioneer leaves lasting legacy
HERVEY Bay's whale watching community is in mourning after the loss of one its pioneers and guiding lights.
News of the death of industry founder Brian Perry spread through the tight-knit community after Brian died overnight.
Brian, who was 72, operated Hervey Bay whale watching vessels with his wife Jill for more than 30 years.
He had been battling health issues since selling the business and retiring in 2019.
Those who owe their livelihood to his sense of innovation paid tribute to the man they described as a legend and a character.
Brian and his wife Jill transitioned from a charter fishing business to a whale watching operation that would transform Hervey Bay's tourism industry.
Bobbie Hayter from Spirit of Hervey Bay said it was Brian who told her father, Glen Dorn, there was an opportunity to be part of the new industry 32 years ago.
"He was instrumental in us coming up here," she said.
Bobbie said her father was saddened to learn of Brian's passing, with the two remaining close friends over the decades.
"They've been great mates over the years, they've been through a lot together," Bobbie said.
Peter Lynch from Blue Dolphin Marine Tours said it was sad to hear of Brian's passing.
"My prayers go out to Jill and their daughter, Sarah," he said.
"It's sad to see the loss of someone whose original concept had a far reaching and positive impact on the region."
Sue Reid from Freedom Fishing Hervey Bay said Brian had offered guidance and direction over the years.
"He was a character at the marina and he will be missed," she said.
Fraser Coast Mayor George Seymour was saddened to hear of Brian's passing.
"He was a whale watching pioneer. He started eco-tourism in Queensland and has a huge legacy," Cr Seymour said.
"He raised awareness about whale conservation.
"Whale watching is a life changing experience for people."
Cr Seymour said Brian had been an inspiration to many.