John Dobson’s life in dredging

John Dobson. Credit: Gordon Dobson

David Padman, EADA chairman, remembers his mentor and EADA founder

It is with deep regret that I inform you that John Dobson passed away peacefully in Brisbane on 2 April. With his passing, we have lost an associate, doyen, mentor, and close friend from our industry.

Born John Edward Dobson on 5 September 1939 in Worthing, England, John migrated to Australia when he turned 21, after training and working as a civil engineer. He took up a job with the British Phosphate Commission, working from 1961 to 1976 on Ocean Island (now known as Banaba Island in Kiribati), Nauru, and Christmas Island. During this time, he met and married Cecily and they raised their three children Sharon, Gordon, and Chris on these islands. In 1976, the family moved to Tasmania so that John could study environmental science at the University of Tasmania while Cecily reinvigorated her nursing career.

In 1978, they moved to Brisbane, where John worked with the Brisbane Port Authority. It was here that he became heavily involved in dredging and environmental activities. He managed to create a fine balance between the often opposing needs of the two. John had a long and storied career with the port and played a significant role in the development of the new port at Fisherman’s Island.

John was one of the founding members of the Eastern Dredging Association (EADA), who in 1983, along with Marangin Simatupang from Indonesia and captain Abraham Kuruvilla from India, set up the organisation. John took over the helm in 2001, and in 2010, he handed it over to me. An excellent mentor and meticulous with fine details, he continued to play a supporting role as treasurer and chair of the EADA Technical Papers Committee. He was also a founding member of the World Organisation of Dredging Associations.

We convey our deepest condolences to John’s children and their husbands and wives, and his two granddaughters.