John was born in Melbourne in 1943 and studied art
at the Royal Institute of Technology. In about 1970 he moved to Cairns
where he gained a reputation as a sign writer and painter. In 1973 he,
his wife Sue, and a friend Arthur Norton, purchased a triangular block
of land from the Ryker family at Cape Tribulation. About a year later
John came to live on the land at what was then a very secluded location
beyond the end of the Daintree to Cape Tribulation Road, as it then was.
When John and Sue first moved in to their new home they had to bring
their possessions by boat and across the beach.
An old overgrown bulldozer track traversed through
rainforest on his block and John used this to access a site on which to
build his new home. He set about building a kitchen, as well as
bedroom/studio in a gazebo, and a lookout over the beautiful Cape
Tribulation and Coral Sea. Here he established his artworks,
“Round-A-Bout Studios”, applying himself to painting surreal and
abstract expressionist works, as well as some more representational
In 1983 John’s seclusion was disturbed by the
arrival of bulldozers when construction work began on the controversial
Cape Tribulation to Bloomfield Road. John’s home at what was then the
end of the Daintree to Cape Tribulation Road became the scene of
confrontation, when forest activists, local and from afar, attempted to
obstruct the work. John was arrested at the beginning of the protest,
but it took a swarm of police to force his solid frame into the paddy
wagon. Film of John resisting arrest went national and was one of the
defining moments of the campaign to save Queensland’s lowland tropical
A selection of John’s work is presented here. The
pictures, commissioned by Col Gibson, were taken by Tim Perry at Cape
Tribulation in September 1984. It is intended to feature other works in
the future, as they become available.
John Paice on right and Colin Gibson in
"The Gazebo" at the blockader site at Cape Tribulation September 1984.