LOVE AND LOSS: End of a whale tale
THE magic of Hervey Bay whales dragged a couple all the way from Sydney.
Pat and Terry Keens' lives became intertwined with whales and eventually their deaths did too.
They had been whale watching for more than 20 years before deciding to move to the region for the last years of their life - about four years ago.
The Keens became friends with then-owners of Hervey Bay Whale Watch Jill and Brian Perry who have had more than 30 years in the industry.
"They were animal-loving hippies who never grew up," Ms Perry said with a laugh.
"They are part of the whale watching family. They came on board with us when the Islander was sold 12 years ago. We call the people who come back repeat offenders, well they were serial offenders."
Last year, Pat and Terry, both 82, took one last conservation trip to see animals in South Africa and only a few days back on Australian soil, Pat died in her sleep.
A year on, four days after the anniversary of Pat's death, Terry also died.
In line with their wishes, last Wednesday Terry's ashes were laid to rest like his wife's a year before in a cardboard turtle in Hervey Bay to be with his beloved wildlife.
"It was a really special experience. After we had put the turtle in the water a few minutes later we were mugged for well over an hour by whales. On board were three of our oldest skippers who knew Terry very well," Ms Perry said.
"There have been so many friends made over whales across the years. They are such huge majestic creatures, so gentle and they put on the best show on Earth. People are drawn to them and I'm convinced they are drawn to watching us as well."