TRIBUTES: Kevin DeVere died on Friday.
TRIBUTES: Kevin DeVere died on Friday. Contributed

Tributes paid to key player who fought Traveston Dam

A FAMILY synonymous with the Sunshine Coast is mourning the death of a man who played an understated, but vital role in defending the Mary Valley from the Traveston Crossing Dam.

Kevin DeVere, former Widgee Shire councillor and chairman, died suddenly at about midday on Friday, aged 91.

Mr DeVere was the uncle of Kevin Rudd, and Mr DeVere's son, Christopher, said if it wasn't for his father's discussions with his namesake - the former Prime Minister - and Mr Rudd's ensuing opposition, the Traveston Dam "probably would've gone ahead".

"It was with dad's guidance that the whole thing happened," Christopher said.

Christopher recalled at the time Mary Valley farming families were losing properties held for five and six generations.

"There were people that actually took their own lives because of that," he said.

"Families broke up, kids went into therapy because of it."

 

TRAVESTY: Mary River protesters gathered at Kandanga to vent their spleens at the apparent green light the government has given to the Traveston dam project in September, 2009. Kevin DeVere played an important role in the eventual rejection of the dam by the Federal Government.
TRAVESTY: Mary River protesters gathered at Kandanga to vent their spleens at the apparent green light the government has given to the Traveston dam project in September, 2009. Kevin DeVere played an important role in the eventual rejection of the dam by the Federal Government. John McCutcheon/185049

Christopher said his dad had thought the dam proposal was "totally flawed to start with", believing it to be in the wrong position.

Once then-Environment Minister Peter Garrett formally rejected the Traveston Crossing Dam project in November, 2009, Christopher said his dad moved forward, refusing to dwell on the victory.

"He was never interested in anything except where the future lay," Christopher said.

"He never even talked about it (the dam) in normal terms.

"He couldn't see where they were trying to take it, it was never going to work, it was in the wrong place."

 

TRIBUTES: Kevin DeVere and his wife Faith at the Golden Anniversary Kandanga football club.
TRIBUTES: Kevin DeVere and his wife Faith at the Golden Anniversary Kandanga football club.

Christopher said his father had avoided making public criticism of the project, preferring to work on the political side of the issue, seeking the federal support needed to stop the dam in its tracks.

"He was a political animal from way back," Christopher said.

Christopher paid tribute to the efforts of his father in driving the Mary Valley forward, having predicted the future growth of the region.

He said his father had been responsible for the road connecting Gympie and Rainbow Beach, the protection of Cooloola national park areas and delivering bus services for kids in the Mary Valley.

He also advocated for a major road between Rainbow Beach and Tin Can Bay to Maryborough, against strong opposition, and was eventually defeated at the next elections.

Raised on the Sunshine Coast, Kevin DeVere grew up in the hinterland of Montville, Maleny and Mapleton and went to school in Kureelpa and Nambour.

He served three terms as chairman and three terms as a councillor prior to that.

His brother, Eddie DeVere, who died in 2000, was a Maroochy Shire Council chairman from 1967-1982, after being elected to the council in 1951.

Kevin DeVere was also a Queensland rugby league junior representative and was an avid grazier, owning a dairy farm at Bergins Pocket in the Mary Valley.

"His community was everything," Christopher said.

"Family was everything and community spirit was the whole world."

TRIBUTES: Former Widgee Shire Council chairman Kevin DeVere died on Friday.
TRIBUTES: Former Widgee Shire Council chairman Kevin DeVere died on Friday. Contributed

Never one for small talk, Christopher said his father had been discussing his passions, football and politics, with one of his nurses up until his death.

Christopher explained his father was "worn out", the past year filled with doctors and his health suffering a "combination of failures".

"He was still the same person at the end as he was all my life," Christopher said.

Kevin DeVere's funeral will be held at St Patrick's Church, Gympie, on July 31 at 11.30am.



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