Bessie Thynne (1897-1978)

Bessie Thynne joined her sisters at Loreto Mary’s Mount in 1897, completing her schooling in 1901.  At school Bessie contributed to the school magazine, was a school councillor and studied for the Diploma of Music.

Her mother was Mary Williamina nee Cairncross and her father, The Hon. Andrew Joseph Thynne, was an influential and successful politician and solicitor in Brisbane.  Bessie returned home to ‘Thoonbah’ in South Brisbane in 1902 and took part in the social life of Brisbane and overseas trips with her father.  When their mother died in 1914, the girls continued to keep house and entertain for their father.  In 1924 Bessie is recorded as matriculating at the University of Queensland and enrolling for a science, course, although there is no record of her completing the course.

With her sisters, Bessie moved to the Thynne property at Maleny, north of Brisbane, in around 1938.  Here Bessie was said to fall in love with the rainforest. Together the sisters decided to try to save the remnant rainforest on their property, as early as 1941, suggesting that the Shire Council might purchase the land for a sanctuary, which they did, creating Cairncross Scenic Reserve.   Although sold to the Council, the land was in practice a gift and was under a covenant to be held in trust to protect the rainforest, although Mary Cairncross Park was not officially opened until 1960, with the assistance of the local Rotary Club.

Sadly, before she died in 1978, Bessie had to witness the subdivision of some of the land she had sold and the building of a housing estate, but in 1992 the rainforest reserve which she made possible, was included on the Register of the National Estate and in 1997 the Council undertook management of the reserve and opened an Education Centre.  The Mary Cairncross Scenic Reserve is visited by more than half a million people a year.

(Reference: ‘Mary Cairncross Scenic Reserve, My Tribute to Elizabeth ‘Bessie’ Thynne, Benefactor’, Jeanette Nobes)

Bessie Thynne- Our Three Diplomees, 1899