Introduction to Barbara Holdsworth

Paul Clacher copyright 2006

In early 2006 I was contacted by Mr. Gary OPIT asking me if I would like to take possession of the collection of plaster and concrete casts taken by Barbara HOLDSWORTH, which she took during the 1980's and 1990's.

Several years prior to that I had spoken with Barbara myself and in that conversation Barbara advised me that she was giving her collection of casts away to someone who would be able to utilise them to their their fullest potential. On asking Barbara if I could have them she advise me that she had already promised the collection to Gary OPIT. So to my delight, when Gary asked me if I would like to take possession of the casts, to say the least I was most eager indeed.

Prior to that I had visited Gary about 18 months earlier in April 2004 and he had shown me the collection then. On seeing the casts, I was incredibly impressed. And, truthfully some of the casts left me speechless. From them, one can only imagine what animals and creatures are roaming the area of Far North Queensland.

So as to do justice to Barb's study, I have included photographs of many of the casts, for which I now have possession. Every Cast has been placed alongside a steel 30 cm rule so as to indicate the size of the print. A few of the prints dwarf the 30 cm rule.

The study entitled "Sixteen Claws" was conducted and written by Barbara (Barb) HOLDSWORTH and the written study was handed to me by Gary OPIT on the weekend of 24/04/04. I have found the below study to be extremely interesting and one day I hope that Barbara Holdsworth will be recognised for her years of study into the rare and often different animals of far North Queensland. This study was conducted in the area of Portland Roads, which is North of Lockhart River and Nornoreast of Coen and directly East from Weipa. Portland Roads is also located on the East coast of Cape York Peninsula and is in the Iron Range National Park. I have seen the footprint casts of this creature, and I can state that I have never seen anything like these prints before in my life. Barbara once told me that she has seen many different creatures in that area, and "Sixteen Claws", was but one of the many different types of creatures which live in that area. The below is Barbara's account of "Sixteen Claws". - Paul Clacher

"Colourful local identity Barbara Holdsworth proudly displays some polished agate (opposite), part of her extensive rock collection gathered during her 25 years at the Roads. A warmhearted woman of 73, "Babs" is renowned for providing accommodation for travellers, passersby and fishing-boat crews. She also keeps a collection of plaster casts of "animals unknown to science" and is convinced the area is home to several species of big cats supposed offspring of animals left by US servicemen during WWII. Fellow eccentric Richard Leo Bradbury "Kirky" Kirk (above) glances past his latest painting ..............." "........ At nearby Portland House a weathered Queenslander that's been restored and made into a guesthouse by handymen including Bill Stewart (right) - a desiccated saltwater crocodile head is given pride of place." - Australian Geographic October - December 1999, PP 108 - 109