Australian Dictionary of Biography Volume 19: 1991–1995 (A–Z)
BACON, EVA (1909–1994), dress designer, political activist, and feminist, was born on 1 October 1909 in Vienna, eldest of three children and only daughter of Hungarian-born Heinrich Goldner (d. 1937), commercial traveller, and his Czech-born wife Camilla, née Pollak. Heinrich was orthodox but Camilla was liberal in their Judaism. She was the more influential parent, endeavouring to transmit her firm and independent moral code to her children. In the classroom and with private tutors, Eva excelled at arts, languages, and music, and topped her school overall. At a time of growing anti-Semitism, a teacher helped her to reconcile herself with her heritage by pointing out that being Jewish meant striving to be honest and considerate and seeking knowledge and understanding. Her parents could not afford to send her to university so, reflecting her mother’s belief in the value of a trade, she studied dressmaking at a state technical college. After graduating and gaining experience as an employee, she set up her own business in the family flat, designing and making clothes.
An atheist, Goldner came to believe that only socialism would ensure world peace, eliminate anti-Semitism, and provide for all working people. She joined the Social Democratic Workers’ Party of Austria’s youth organisation. When the party was declared illegal in 1934, she continued, with characteristic courage, to distribute its publications and take part in study groups. She also became active in International Workers’ (Red) Aid, which assisted victims of fascism. Following the Anschluss (1938), with her brothers abroad, she and her mother managed to gain permission to travel to Britain in January 1939. One brother, Fritz (Freddy), had migrated to Australia the previous year and was able to sponsor their onward passages. They arrived in Brisbane in February 1939. World War II broke out in September. Her other brother, Johann (John), would join the family from Argentina in 1948.
In Brisbane, Goldner continued to work as a dress designer and cutter. She became treasurer of a fundraising organisation for Jewish refugees. In 1941 she joined the Communist Party of Australia (CPA; Australian Communist Party, 1944–51), then an illegal organisation. On 3 May 1944 at the general registry office, Brisbane, she married Edwin (Ted) Alexander Bacon (d. 1995), who was serving in the Australian Imperial Force; a fellow communist, he would become a full-time organiser of the CPA. Until her husband’s army service ended in 1946, Eva Bacon devoted her time to the welfare committee of the CPA. Its role was to communicate with communists in the armed services and sustain their morale. The office became a hub of radical activity in Queensland. Bacon travelled on organising trips, and was empowered to run discussions and social events, and deal with problems. As a young mother after the war, she worked at the community level through the CPA’s Enoggera branch.
The CPA suggested that Bacon become involved in the Union of Australian Women (UAW) and, after initial misgivings, she joined in 1950. She helped to build the union (State secretary, 1972–80) and to foster its wide-ranging platform that included women’s right to work, equal pay and conditions, affordable childcare, and Aboriginal and Islander rights. In 1952, as a UAW delegate, she returned to Vienna for the International Conference in Defence of Children. From 1954 to 1974 she was the secretary of the Brisbane International Women’s Day Committee.
Bacon wrote for the communist press and was a dedicated member of the CPA’s State committee and its women’s collective, often mediating between the committee and the younger, more radical members of the collective. With the emergence of Women’s Liberation in the late 1960s, she thought her way through to feminism, while reaffirming her belief that only once socialism was achieved would women achieve equality. Meanwhile, she argued that the ‘consciousness raising activities’ of Women’s Liberation groups had the ‘potential of helping to create new human beings’, and could ‘help women to gain a new world’ (Bacon 1972). She assisted in establishing the Socialist Feminist Forum, among other offshoots.
Representing the UAW, Bacon gave evidence to the 1973 Commission of Inquiry into the Status of Women in Queensland and attended the 1975 International Women’s Year Tribune held in Mexico City. She was also active in People for Nuclear Disarmament, the Women’s Electoral Lobby, and the Women and Labour national conferences. When her daughter, Barbara, suffered mental health difficulties, in the 1980s she joined the Association of Relatives and Friends of the Mentally Ill.
Only 5 feet (152 cm) tall, Bacon was nicknamed ‘Mighty Mouse’ (Chappell 1993, 16). She enjoyed the mutual support of a group of similarly dedicated and talented women, notably Doris Webb, Jessie Ferguson, and Connie Healy. Sociable, she made friends easily and, a good cook, entertained well. She did translations and loved classical music and the songs of Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill. Survived by her husband and their daughter, she died on 23 July 1994 at Kangaroo Point; her body was received at the University of Queensland’s department of anatomical sciences. An obituary extolled her ‘warmth, sharp political mind, remarkable vitality and fighting spirit’ (Age 1994, 16). (Dame) Quentin Bryce described her as inspirational. Bacon Street in the Canberra suburb of Denman Prospect commemorates her. The Fryer Library, University of Queensland, holds a collection of her and her husband’s papers.
Age (Melbourne), 30 August 1994, 16; Bacon, Eva. Handwritten Notes Re. Women’s Liberation and Communism, 1972. Papers of Eva and Ted Bacon, [195–]–1992, UQFL241, box 4. Fryer Library, University of Queensland; Chappell, Fiona. ‘Mighty Mouse on Battle Lines.’ Courier Mail (Brisbane), 19 November 1993, 16; Fryer Library, University of Queensland. UQFL241, Papers of Eva and Ted Bacon, [195–]–1992, UQFL193, Union of Australian Women records, 1930s–1998; Healy, Connie. ‘Eva’s Story.’ Queensland Journal of Labour History 8 (March 2009): 9–18; Goldner, Richard. Personal communication; Young, Pam. Daring to Take a Stand: The Story of the Union of Australian Women in Queensland. Wavell Heights, Qld: Pam Young and the Queensland Branch of the Union of Australian Women, 1998.
BADEN-POWELL, FRANK VINCENT (1929–1992), actor, director, theatre-restaurant entrepreneur, and city councillor, was born on 14 August 1929 in Perth, Western Australia, only child of Perth-born parents Frank Baden Powell, dentist, and his wife Amy, née Kiely. Young Frank was educated at Aquinas College, Salter Point, and matriculated (1946) with distinctions in English, history, and Latin.
Next year Powell joined the State Public Service and involved himself in the theatrical activities of the Independent Players and the Therry Society. In 1949 he went to England and acted with a number of repertory companies; he styled himself Baden-Powell. On 8 May 1954 at St Mary’s Roman Catholic Church, Warrington, he married Joan Olive Thompson (later Bruce), an actress.
Returning to Australia in 1955, Baden-Powell was stage manager for a tour of the newly formed Australian Elizabethan Theatre Trust, and then artistic director (1956–60) of the National Theatre Company at the Playhouse in Perth. There he directed many successful productions and acted in a number of others. In 1961 he formed theatre ’61 around a group of actors who wanted to perform alternative theatre; the small ‘t’ was intentional—‘to stop us getting up ourselves’, he said (Hough 1991, 170). Their productions introduced Perth audiences to theatre-in-the-round and led to his formation in 1965 of the Hole in the Wall Theatre, in partnership with John Gill. Located first at the Braille Hall, Northbridge, they used stolen milk crates for seating and borrowed lighting for illumination. In 1968 the company moved to Southport Street, West Leederville, and into a 155-seat theatre. A production of There’s a Girl in My Soup (1969) ran for ten months and generated a cash flow that refurbished the theatre and translated a lease into ownership.
Baden-Powell was never out of work; ‘I would rather sweep the streets than go on the dole’ (Colocott, pers. comm.). His skills as a salesman were legendary, and he was employed at various times to sell cars and paint. Forming a business partnership in 1967, he and the writer-director Coralie Condon had opened the Old Time Music Hall. This was the first theatre-restaurant in Perth, and was designed to provide ‘good tucker and a fun time at reasonable prices’ (Daily Mirror 1986, 8). It evolved under the name Dirty Dick’s into a nationwide chain. An attempt in 1975 to expand into Los Angeles was less successful, but the venture was opened, Baden-Powell said, partly in retaliation for all the American hamburgers and fried chicken joints that had invaded Australia. He retired from the company in 1987.
In May 1963, Baden-Powell had entered local government, representing the City of Perth’s west ward, but he was defeated the following year. Re-elected in May 1969, he remained a councillor until 1977. His abiding interests lay in the management of the Perth Concert Hall, the city’s support for the Festival of Perth, and the aesthetic development of the Parliament House precinct.
An earthy raconteur with dancing eyes and a mischievous smile, Baden-Powell was a force in popular entertainment, noted for a quick wit and a robust sense of humour. He was an adventurous and decisive director, always prepared to nurture new talent. Following his divorce from Joan in 1960, he had married Eileen Collocott, an actress, in 1961; they separated in 1984. He moved to Sydney, where he was in a long-term relationship with Maxine Karlovsky, a choreographer. In 1992 he was awarded the OAM for service to the performing arts but died on 16 May that year, while undergoing a neck manipulation in his doctor’s surgery. A coronial inquiry recorded a finding of death by accident. Survived by two daughters from his first marriage, and a son and a daughter from his second, he was cremated. Frank Baden-Powell Park, in West Perth, was named in his memory in 2003.
Collocott, Eileen. Personal communication; Condon, Coralie. Personal communication; Frank Baden-Powell Enterprises Pty Ltd. The Marketing of a Theatre Restaurant Chain. Perth, WA: Frank Baden-Powell Enterprises Pty Ltd, 1973; Hough, David. ‘From Hole Acorn to Theatrical Oak.’ In The Chameleon’s Dish: Essays in Journalism, 170–4. Churchlands, WA: Edith Cowan University, 1991; Parsons, Philip, and Victoria Chance, eds. Companion to Theatre in Australia. Paddington, NSW: Currency Press Pty Ltd, 1995; Phillips, Brian. ‘Dirty Dick Meets Diamond Lil!’ Daily Mirror, 18 April 1986, 8.
David J. Hough*
BADGER, ROBERT COLIN (1906–1993), adult educator, was born on 4 December 1906 at Petersburg (later Peterborough), South Australia, eighth of ten children of locally born parents Herbert James Badger, draper, and his wife Angelina, née Nichols. Colin’s Scottish-born paternal grandfather, David, was a pioneering Baptist minister in South Australia. The Badger children grew up on a diet of thrift, a strong work ethic, the poetry of Robert Burns, and lessons from a ‘tattered Bible’ (Badger 1984, 10).
In 1916 the family moved to Adelaide after drought and a related lack of trade forced the closure of the haberdashery. They lived in modest circumstances and Colin later recalled the failure of his father’s schemes to make money. He was educated at North Adelaide and Mitcham public schools before attending Unley High School, where he was expelled for stealing science supplies to conduct experiments at home. The city’s library and second-hand bookshops fed his growing interest in literature. In 1923 he secured a position as a laboratory assistant and later as a librarian at the University of Adelaide; he used the opportunity to undertake classes as a non-graduating student. Three years later his commitment to the Baptist Church led to his call to the ministry and he enrolled in the State’s Baptist College. In between pastoral obligations, he studied for a degree in history and philosophy at the university (BA, 1936; MA, 1938), winning the Tinline [q.v.6] scholarship for history in 1931. He was taught by the historian (Sir) Keith Hancock [q.v.17], who became a close friend and strong influence. In 1929, through the church, he had met Adelaide Estella Slade, a nurse. They married on 9 November that year at Parkside.
Realising a clerical life was not for him, Badger transferred his zeal to adult education, as a lecturer at the Workers’ Educational Association (WEA) of South Australia. He found its encouragement of ‘second chance’ adult learning through the arts and voluntary education appealing. His work was less a job than a ‘fervent desire to save souls, so to speak’ (Badger 1984, 36) by enabling self-improvement. Still academically restless, on Hancock’s advice, he studied Italian before travelling to London in 1934 to commence a thesis on nineteenth-century Italian politics at the London School of Economics and Political Science. While in London he continued his interest in adult education and met R. H. Tawney, a powerful advocate of the WEA. Unable to secure sufficient employment, Badger’s savings were soon expended and he returned to South Australia, leaving the thesis uncompleted.
In 1936 Badger was appointed as readers’ counsellor and later director of adult education at the University of Western Australia. Assisted by Carnegie Corporation of New York grants, he conducted experiments in adult learning through reading and discussing books. His success led to an engagement as director of university extension at the University of Melbourne, a post supported by Victoria’s WEA. He arrived early in 1939 to find the extension program in disrepair, with acrimony between the university and the WEA, and between the WEA and some members of the trade union movement—who considered the association subversive of workers’ interests.
Quietly but firmly, during the war years Badger transformed the WEA curriculum to include creative arts as well as traditional academic fare, making it ‘a much more cultural outfit’ (Badger 1988). In July 1940 he joined the broadcasting division of the Department of Information. He presented talks on radio locally and, in Italian, for transmission in Europe. Returning to his university post in 1941, he continued to assist the national effort in World War II as a member of the Australian Services Education Council and by writing and lecturing for the Australian Army Education Service. In 1945 he was granted special admission to the degree of master of arts at the University of Melbourne.
Badger became convinced of the need for an independent adult education board, responsible to government and not to a university. In 1946, following the election of the reformist Cain [q.v.13] Labor government, he seized the opportunity to reinvent and transform Victorian adult education by establishing the Council of Adult Education (CAE). Appointed as the council’s director, he worked closely with the foundation chairman Frank Crean, then an Australian Labor Party member of the Victorian Legislative Assembly. Badger promoted education for city-based adults by employing such academic luminaries as Manning Clark [q.v.] and (Sir) Zelman Cowen. For rural adult learners, he drew on his experience in Western Australia and reshaped the innovative ‘Box Scheme’, under which reading groups were sent sets of books with accompanying questions and notes to prompt discussion. Across the State he promoted creative arts through such novelties as an arts train and travelling theatre. He also supported complementary endeavours such as the literary journal Meanjin Papers, the Union Theatre Repertory (later Melbourne Theatre) Company, and the Charles Strong [q.v.6] (Australian Church) Memorial Trust. Although Badger was regarded by some of his colleagues as Machiavellian, he considered his achievements to be the result of a ‘clear head and a good deal of luck’ (Badger 1991, 20).
After retiring in 1971, Badger continued to be an active writer and researcher. Among his publications was a biography of the religious and social worker Rev. Charles Strong (1971) and his autobiography, Who Was Badger? (1984). On 8 August 1993 he died at South Caulfield and was cremated. Predeceased by his daughter, he was survived by his wife and their two sons. From 1994 the CAE presented Colin Badger awards for leadership in adult education.
Badger, Adelaide Estella. Growing Up at the Summit: A Little Chronicle of Family Life. Melbourne: [A. E. Badger], 1989; Badger, Colin. Interview by Katherine Johnson, 7 January 1988. NSW WEA Oral History Project. Council of Adult Education; Badger, C. R. Occasional Papers on Adult Education and Other Matters. Melbourne: Council of Adult Education, 1991; Badger, Colin R. Who Was Badger? Aspects of the Life and Work of Colin Robert Badger, Director of Adult Education, Victoria, 1947–1971. Melbourne: Council of Adult Education, 1984; Badger, Colin, and Frank Crean. Interview by Peter Rushbrook, 21 May 1993, South Yarra, Vic. Council of Adult Education; Council of Adult Education. A Remembrance of the Achievements and Life of Colin Robert Badger, 22 August 1993; Stephan, Deborah. A Great Many Volunteers of All Kinds: The Adult Education Association of Victoria, 1948–1989. Melbourne: Adult Education Association of Victoria, 1992.
BAER, WERNER FELIX (1914–1992), musician, composer, and broadcaster, was born on 29 April 1914 in Berlin, second son of Jewish parents Robert Baer, merchant, and his wife Lucie, née Bendix. His family was prosperous and cultivated; his father was the proprietor of a menswear business. After secondary schooling at the Steinsche Realgymnasium and Friedrich Werdersche Oberrealschule, Werner attended the Hochschule für Musik and the Stern’sches Konservatorium in Berlin where he studied for performance and teaching diplomas. His subjects included theory, piano, organ, composition, and conducting; he also claimed to have been a piano student of Artur Schnabel.
This education ended abruptly when the Nazis came to power in 1933. Although his hoped-for career as an operatic conductor could not flourish in those political circumstances, Baer was able to do some work at the Städtische Oper (under an assumed name), and he was musical director (1935–38) of the Kleinkunstbühne. He also toured Europe as accompanist for such singers as Richard Tauber, Joseph Schmidt, and Alexander Kipnis. However, since his Jewish background limited his musical activities, most were within that community. Organist (1935–38) at the renowned synagogue in Prinzregentenstraße, and then choirmaster and organist at the synagogue in Levetzowstraße, he also played piano in the jazz band ‘Sid Kay’s Fellows’, and taught (1937–38) organ and modern dance music at the Jewish Hollaender private music school. On 31 May 1938 at the district registry of marriages in Berlin he married German-born Ilse Presch, a journalist and dressmaker.
After Kristallnacht (9–10 November 1938), Baer was imprisoned in the Sachsenhausen concentration camp but was released on 27 November under unknown circumstances (though it has been suggested that a financial inducement was paid to Nazi officials). Importuned to leave the country within three days, with 54 Reichsmark, he left Berlin with his wife, crossing the Brenner Pass into Italy, and then sailed aboard the Potsdam, bound for Siam (Thailand). At Colombo he learned that a musical position was available in Singapore, and he disembarked there on 23 December. He worked as municipal organist in the Victoria Memorial Hall, as a performer on radio, and as a teacher at the Far Eastern Music School and Raffles College.
Following a day’s internment in Singapore as an enemy alien, Baer travelled to Australia with his wife and daughter aboard the Queen Mary. Reaching Sydney on 25 September 1940, they were interned at No. 3 Camp, Tatura, Victoria, where he actively participated in musical and theatrical activities. Freed on 31 January 1942 to work as a fruit-picker at Shepparton, he enlisted in the Citizen Military Forces on 8 April and served with the 8th Employment Company. Promoted to acting sergeant in November (substantive April 1944), he was discharged on 26 November 1945. He was naturalised on 14 May 1946.
Settling in Sydney Baer worked at a variety of freelance jobs, including film-score writer, Eisteddfod adjudicator, musical director for the popular radio program Australia’s Amateur Hour, choirmaster at the Great Synagogue (1946–50 and 1961–64) and Temple Emanuel for many years, and conductor of the Hurlstone Choral Society. He also toured as an accompanist for such singers as Elisabeth Schwarzkopf, Tito Schipa, and William Warfield. He made occasional appearances as conductor of the Australian Broadcasting Commission (ABC) Military Band and as a recitalist on the renowned organ in the Sydney Town Hall. His divorce from Ilse was finalised on 18 May 1950, and on 9 June at the registrar-general’s office in Sydney he married Italian-born and Australian-raised Sybil Eva Lighezzolo, private secretary to the Italian minister to Australia.
In 1951 Baer was appointed by the ABC as New South Wales State supervisor of music (later music development officer) as successor to the composer John Antill [q.v.17], a position that allowed him to continue his diverse concert activities. He took the security of that position in preference to an offer of a teaching position from Eugène Goossens [q.v.14] at the New South Wales State Conservatorium of Music. During his time at the ABC he also acted in a number of posts, including federal director of music and music editor.
Baer was a prominent figure in the musical life of Sydney, notably as a painstaking coach of singers—the great Australian tenor Ronald Dowd [q.v.17] said of him that ‘he made a Lieder singer out of me’ (Dowd, pers. comm.)—and, with Clarice Lorenz [q.v.18] and Joseph Post [q.v.16], in operatic ventures. His involvements were legion, including: conductor of the Sydney Male Choir, musical director of the Sydney Jewish Choral Society, vice-president of the Federated Music Clubs of Australia, office bearer of the National Lieder Society, and life member of the Wagner Society New South Wales; he also supported Musica Viva, the Sydney Schubert Society Inc., the Australian Elizabethan Theatre Trust, the National Music Camps Association, the Fellowship of Australian Composers, and the Workers’ Educational Association. According to the Australian conductor Eric Clapham, he was ‘a good judge of musicians and had an immense knowledge of the repertoire’ (Clapham, pers. comm.).
As a composer Baer wrote in an essentially conservative, tonal idiom: his heart was in the German concert and operatic tradition and he had little sympathy with early music or modernist movements. Given this background, it was inevitable that many of his compositions were for singers; Joan Sutherland and Peter Dawson [q.v.8] recorded pieces by him. He wrote a number of scores for Gertrud Bodenwieser’s [q.v.13] dance theatre and he participated in the German-language Kleines Wiener Theater. This work included an operetta, Lotterie der Liebe (Lottery of Love), with a libretto written by Alfred Baring.
Appointed MBE in 1977, Baer retired from the ABC in 1979. He died on 28 January 1992 at St Leonards and was cremated. He was survived by his wife, the daughter of his first marriage, and one son of his second; another son had predeceased him. While the ABC State manager for Western Australia reported to head office, after a musical tour in 1949, that he was ‘a pleasant fellow’ and ‘most helpful’ in dealings with the soloist (NAA ST1607/2), others considered him ‘severe’ (Wetherell, pers. comm.). Baer once told an ABC colleague, ‘I am not an administrator; I am a musician’ (Wetherell, pers. comm.). A prize at the Royal South Street Eisteddfod bears his name, the Sydney Eisteddfod Opera awards include the Werner and Sibilla Baer memorial award, and the New South Wales council of the Federated Music Clubs of Australia holds an annual piano competition named after him. The National Portrait Gallery possesses a photograph portrait by Max Dupain [q.v.].
Baer, Sybil. Personal communication; Baer, Werner. Statement, c. 1975. Gedenkstätte und Museum Sachsenhausen, Oranienburg, Germany; Brooks, Lawrie. ‘Werner Baer of the ABC, has had a Colourful Career in Music.’ Music Maker, n. s., 2, no. 7 (December 1956): 15, 48; Clapham, Eric. Personal communication; Dowd, Ronald. Personal communication; Dümling, Albrecht. ‘Werner Baer.’ 2006, updated 29 April 2015. LexM. University of Hamburg. Accessed 2 February 2016. www.lexm.uni-hamburg.de/object/lexm_lexmperson_00001347. Copy held on ADB file; Musical Opinion. ‘Werner Baer.’ 115, no. 1373 (April 1992): 150–51; National Archives of Australia. A435, 1945/4/1221, B884, V377627, Z35355, MP1103/2, Z35355, SP11/5, BAER, WERNER, ST1607/2, BAER WERNER; Wetherell, Rodney. Personal communication.
BARDWELL, LESLIE JAMES (LES) (1916–1995), police officer and forensic scientist, was born on 1 April 1916 at New Farm, Brisbane, eldest child of English-born Ernest James Bardwell, French polisher, and his Queensland-born wife Caroline, née Jonas. Les attended Hamilton State School before proceeding to the Central Technical College, Brisbane. In 1940, when he was in the final year of studies towards a diploma of industrial chemistry, Police Commissioner Cecil Carroll [q.v.13]—seeking to recruit a trained scientist to the fledgling technical section of the Criminal Investigation Branch—encouraged him to join the Queensland Police Force. He was appointed as a constable in December. On 10 January 1942 he married Rene Lilla Fairs King, a stenographer, at St Andrews Presbyterian Church, Brisbane.
Initially posted to Roma Street police station in the city, Bardwell spent a short time on the beat before being transferred to the technical section. His work included conducting ballistic tests, chemical analyses, photomicroscopy, and handwriting examinations. He travelled to crime scenes across Queensland and regularly provided expert witness testimony in court, including in some of the State’s most notorious murder trials. From 1945 he relieved as officer-in-charge of the section, taking on the role permanently in 1959. Having been appointed as a detective constable in 1947, he rose through the ranks to become an inspector in 1968.
A strong feature of Bardwell’s work was his personal involvement in cases. Describing himself as a ‘field forensic scientist’, he did not confine himself to the laboratory, believing it was important to have ‘first-hand contact with the aftermath of crime and violence’ (Bardwell 1994, ix). One of the more challenging tasks he faced was disarming explosive devices. In 1955 he defused bombs left in the ruins of a city medical surgery after Karl Kast shot dead two doctors and then triggered an explosion. Five years later he disabled a bomb following a foiled hijack attempt on a passenger flight into Brisbane.
While Bardwell was self-taught in a variety of technical aspects of forensic science, he also undertook training courses. He studied motor mechanics to assist in his investigation of traffic collisions, and he became a member of the Brisbane Pistol Club and a kangaroo shooter to gain proficiency in the use of a range of firearms. In 1959 and 1965 he had recommended the formation of a squad of specialist police equipped to deal with crisis situations. It was not until late 1966 that he was instructed to set up an emergency squad and a further year and a half before the unit was operational.
The Sunday Truth described Bardwell as ‘an acknowledged expert in scientific crime work all over Australia’ (Richards 1963, 19). He received several police commendations for his work and was awarded the BEM in 1972. Yet he was often outspoken and sometimes critical of police management decisions. A talented sportsman, he had won the public service golf trophy in 1947 and represented Queensland police at interstate pistol shooting competitions. After retiring in 1976 he became a senior director of a private security firm, Guardian Security Service Pty Ltd. Law firms also employed him as an investigator. In one complex case his re-examination of ballistic evidence led to the release (1989) of Douglas Rendell, who had been wrongfully convicted of murder in 1979.
Bardwell was characterised as a genial man—a non-smoker and a teetotaller who rarely swore. Survived by his wife and their daughter, he died on 23 March 1995 in Wesley Private Hospital, Auchenflower, and was cremated.
Bardwell, Les. ‘No Stone Unturned: Stories from Thirty-Six Years at the Forefront of Forensic Science.’ Unpublished manuscript, 1994. Queensland Police Museum; Cleaver, Allan. ‘“Back-room Boys” of the C.I.B.’ Courier Mail, 9 October 1948, 2; Cumming, Stuart. ‘Honours Come for Scientific Detective.’ Sunshine Coast Daily, 16 April 2016, 6; Hansen, Peter. ‘Quiet Nights and End of Career for a Top “Cop”.’ Courier Mail, 5 February 1976, 3; Queensland Police Museum. Service History: Leslie James Bardwell; Richards, Ron. ‘Safebusters Are His Biggest Risk.’ Sunday Truth, 7 July 1963, 19; Telegraph (Brisbane). ‘Plan Aids Police.’ 27 July 1976, 7.
BARKER, KEITH AUSTIN (1898–1993), businessman and sportsman, was born on 26 September 1898 at Cottesloe, Perth, younger son of Scottish-born Edmund Shelley Barker, company secretary, and his Victorian-born wife Beatrice Ethel Austin, née Woods. Keith grew up in the riverside suburb of Peppermint Grove where the family occupied Chanonry, a large home on a 5-acre (2 ha) block. Educated at Scotch College (1906–17), he was head prefect (1917) and an outstanding all-round athlete. In his last year at school he played Australian Rules football for the Subiaco Football Club. He was commended in 1917 for rescuing two girls from the river near his home.
After finishing school, Barker worked for an accountancy firm until he became State agent for the sporting goods company A. G. Spalding & Bros (1924), a role which complemented his sporting interests as a player and administrator. With his brother, Tom, he won the State tennis doubles championships in 1923. Partnering Harry Hopman [q.v.17], he was again doubles champion in 1931. He was president of the Royal King’s Park Tennis Club in 1936 and club captain in 1940, and a member of the Tennis Umpires Association (honorary life member, 1948). As an amateur golfer, he was a successful suburban and country competitor and was twice runner-up in the State championships (1926 and 1932). He was president of the Western Australian Golf Association in 1931 and again in 1949, and helped to establish three golf clubs in suburban Perth.
In 1925 Barker had joined his uncle Henry Barker’s ship insurance and broking business. On Henry’s death, he purchased the company, renaming it to form Keith Barker Pty Ltd and expanding its activities into chartering. He was appointed State representative of the ammunition division of Imperial Chemical Industries (ICI) in 1935, a role he was to fill for twenty-seven years. On 5 January 1938 he married Corrie Hay-MacKenzie Cornish (d. 1992) in a Church of England service at Christ Church, Claremont.
Having been commissioned in the Citizen Military Forces in 1937, Barker was serving part time with the 16th Battalion when World War II broke out in September 1939. He began full-time duty as a temporary major on 1 October 1941. In November 1942 he was seconded to 4th Division headquarters to learn staff work. The division moved to North Queensland in May 1943. He returned to Perth in September and transferred to the Reserve of Officers on 9 October.
Returning to civilian life, Barker sold his business but retained his Spalding and ICI agencies until 1965. Sport remained his ‘main thing in life’ (Barker 1982); he won the State intermediate trap-shooting championship in 1959, and was president of the Perth Gun Club in 1969. A growing interest in local history, particularly of Peppermint Grove, was heightened when his mother bequeathed him a large number of family photographs. He used many of these in reminiscences he wrote for local newspapers.
Known for his debonair appearance and passion for sports of all kinds, Barker had a ‘sparkling personality and zest for life’ (Clan 1993, 20). He died on 8 January 1993 at Dalkeith, Perth, survived by two sons and a daughter, and was buried in Karrakatta cemetery.
Barker, Keith. Interview by Susan Byrne, 22 June 1982. Australia 1938 Oral History Project. National Library of Australia; Clan (Scotch College, Swanbourne). ‘Keith Austin Barker.’ No. 60 (May 1993): 20; National Archives of Australia. B883, WX32985; State Library of Western Australia. Acc7586A, Keith Barker Papers.
BARNETT, TUDOR HARVEY (1925–1995), director-general of security, was born on 25 December 1925 at Albany, Western Australia, second of three children of Victorian-born Leonard Stewart Barnett, business manager, and his locally born wife Ruby, née Ormond. Harvey’s family had owned a number of general stores in the State’s south-west. As a boy he was a talented singer and regularly performed as a soloist at St John’s Anglican Church, Albany. He was educated at the local State school, before being awarded a scholarship (1938) to Guildford Grammar School, Perth. On 10 February 1944 he enlisted in the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) for service in World War II. His main posting was to HMAS Ladava, the naval shore establishment at Milne Bay, Papua, where he was employed as a communications coder. Demobilised in Perth in February 1946, he studied at the University of Western Australia (BA, 1948).
Barnett lived at St George’s College; he performed in the college dramatic society and played the chapel organ on Sundays. After his father’s death in 1950, he returned to Albany without completing his honours year. He managed the family business with his mother, before travelling through South Africa, Britain, and parts of Europe. He taught at schools in London and West Germany. Back in Perth, he was the senior resident master at Scotch College between 1955 and 1957. Concurrently, he served as a lieutenant in the Royal Australian Naval Reserve and also commanded (1956–57) a local sea cadet unit, TS Cunningham. Inactive in the RANR thereafter, in 1961 he transferred to the RAN Volunteer Reserve, of which he remained a member until 1972.
During 1957 Barnett was recruited to the Australian Secret Intelligence Service (ASIS), Melbourne. He was charged with gathering foreign intelligence at postings including Singapore, London, and Jakarta. In Singapore he met Deirdre Hartnett and they married there on 8 November 1961. By the late 1960s he had returned to Melbourne where he became director of operations, a role that required extensive travel through Asia and the Pacific. In 1976, as the royal commission on intelligence and security (1974–77) undertaken by Justice Robert Marsden Hope was underway, momentum built for change within the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO). In that year (Sir) Edward Woodward, the newly appointed director-general, invited Barnett to help revitalise the organisation as his deputy.
The selection was seen as an important step to compensate for Woodward’s lack of experience in managing an intelligence organisation. Barnett became his right-hand man and oversaw significant reforms arising from the royal commission. In September 1981 he was promoted to director-general. Woodward described his successor as ‘a man of complete personal integrity, and political independence’ (Blaxland and Crawley 2016, 64). Barnett’s executive officer would recall that he was ‘much more used to working in the undercurrent than actually being in the forefront’ (Blaxland and Crawley 2016, 20). He introduced measures to improve communication between ASIO and government departments, oversaw a pilot project to establish an ASIO computer system, and began planning for the organisation’s move to Canberra. Yet he would mostly be remembered for the time he spent in the full gaze of the media in what became known as the Combe–Ivanov affair.
In early March 1983, ASIO was monitoring the house of a Soviet KGB (Committee for State Security) officer, Valeriy Ivanov, and overheard his conversation with the Canberra lobbyist and former Australian Labor Party national secretary David Combe. ASIO officers were convinced that the KGB was cultivating Combe. Recordings of their meeting on 3 April persuaded Barnett that the relationship was reaching a turning point and that he should inform the newly elected prime minister, Robert (Bob) Hawke. Hawke reacted strongly to the news and in late April ordered Ivanov’s expulsion from Australia. As Barnett hoped, ASIO’s counter-espionage success initially attracted favourable media attention, but this soon evaporated under the scrutiny of a second royal commission into Australia’s security and intelligence agencies (1983–84), again chaired by Hope.
During the hearings Barnett played a leading role representing ASIO. Required to give evidence over a six-week period, he was subject to significant media exposure critical of the organisation’s handling of the affair. The journalist David Marr described him as ‘sincere, quick-tongued, rather pompous under pressure, and no fool’ (1984, 6). Still, the relentless pressure of the royal commission while running ASIO took its toll. He retired in July 1985 and was appointed AO in 1987. In the following year he published Tale of the Scorpion, an account of his time in ASIS and ASIO. He also took on the role of Kooyong area coordinator for Neighbourhood Watch and devoted more time to his hobbies including cycling, tennis, music, and birdwatching. Survived by his wife and their three sons, he died of malignant melanoma on 23 June 1995 at Richmond and was cremated.
Attorney-General’s Department. ‘New Director-General of A.S.I.O.’ Press Release, 6 August 1991. Copy held on ADB file; Barnett, Harvey. Tale of the Scorpion: ASIO and Australia’s Security, an Inside View. Sydney: Allen & Unwin, 1988; Blaxland, John, and Rhys Crawley. The Secret Cold War: The Official History of ASIO. Vol. 3, 1975–1989. Crows Nest, NSW: Allen & Unwin, 2016; Cain, Frank. The Australian Security Intelligence Organisation: An Unofficial History. Ilford, UK: Frank Cass, 1994; Marr, David. The Ivanov Trail. Melbourne: Thomas Nelson, 1984; Milliken, Robert. ‘Obituaries: Harvey Barnett.’ Independent (London), 1 August 1995. Accessed 20 August 2018. www.independent.co.uk/news/people/obituaries-harvey-barnett-1594211.html. Copy held on ADB file; National Archives of Australia. A6769, BARNETT T H.
BARR, MARGARET (1904–1991), choreographer and teacher of dance-drama, was born on 29 November 1904 at Bombay (Mumbai), India, younger of two daughters of American-born Mungo Barr, dentist, and his English wife Margaret, née Aukett, nurse. Young Margaret and her sister Betty spent much of their childhood and adolescence in the care of relatives, first in Illinois, United States of America, for two years, and then, after a brief return to India, almost nine years in Horsham, West Sussex, England. Contact with their parents was cut off because of World War I, but the family was eventually reunited and sailed for the United States in 1919, where they settled in Santa Barbara, California. Margaret later reflected that this peripatetic life helped her develop an independent cast of mind, and that her mother’s entreaty to write frequently honed her powers of observation and analysis.
Encouraged by their mother, the Barr sisters took part in the local arts scene while completing their schooling. They trained in drama with Maurice Browne and Ellen Van Volkenburg, pioneers of the Little Theatre Movement, and studied the Denishawn dance style, a forerunner of modern dance, with Geordie Graham, sister of the dancer and choreographer Martha Graham. In 1925 they opened a ‘Studio of the Dance: Aesthetic, Pantomime, and Character Dancing’. The pair travelled to New York late in 1927 to study acting with Eva le Gallienne. Betty did so, but Margaret fell under the spell of Martha Graham and modern dance. In Graham’s studio she choreographed her first two works, Earth Mother and Hebridean Suite, the latter remaining a staple of her repertoire for fifty years. While the association with Graham lasted no more than eighteen months, Barr later stated that she had the greatest influence of any person on her life.
Barr sailed to London in 1929 and started her own group called ‘The Workshop of the Dance’. The following year Dorothy and Leonard Elmhirst invited her to establish a school of dance-mime at Dartington Hall Estate in Devon. By 1932 the New York Times critic John Martin called it ‘perhaps the most significant dance movement in the country’. People appear to have been drawn not only to the work, but to her ‘forceful personality’ and ‘gifted and elemental character’ (Bonham-Carter 1958, 127). In her tenure at Dartington she created a number of highly acclaimed works including Funeral and Wedding (1931), The People (1932), and The Three Sisters (1934), which was compared favourably with The Green Table, a seminal anti-war work by Kurt Jooss.
After Jooss was invited to direct professional dance activity on the estate in 1934, Barr decamped to London, where she was involved in direct political action and her work became more polemical. Barr’s dance work was theatrical with overt political messages about contemporary economic and social conditions, set to music by modern composers including Edmund Rubbra and Michael Tippett. It was anti-war, and drew on communist ideologies. She lived with Douglas Bruce Hart, a carpenter, communist, and fellow pacifist, before they married on 28 March 1936 at the register office, Hampstead. He being a conscientious objector, the couple sailed to New Zealand in 1939 to escape World War II.
In Auckland Barr worked briefly in a munitions factory, under manpower regulations, before beginning to teach movement and dramatic improvisation for the Workers’ Educational Association. She collaborated with the poet R. A. K. Mason in two works, China (1943) and Refugee (1945). By the end of 1946, however, she seemed disillusioned with theatre and invested her energy in helping Hart build a yacht, with the intention of sailing the world. She was one of few women at the time to gain a yacht-master’s certificate. Her marriage to Hart was over by 1949, and she had formed a relationship with a younger man, Walter Brown, with whom she moved to Australia that year. They later separated.
At the urging of dance colleagues, in 1951 Barr opened a studio and formed a group called ‘Sydney Dance-Drama Group’ (renamed ‘Margaret Barr Dance-Drama Group’ in 1968). She created a major new work each year, often collaborating with Australian composers—including John Antill [q.v.17], Arnold Butcher, Laurence Hagerty, Bruce Hembrowe, and Richard Meale—and revived standards from her repertoire until her final work, The Countess, in 1990.
Barr’s work was distinguished from other modern dance by her insistence on the development of both physical action and dramatic intent in equal measure: dance-drama. Her works, all of which expressed her social consciousness, fall into three broad categories. An Australian Suite, including Flood (1955), Bushfire (1955), and The Breaking of the Drought (1958), portray the devastation of a harsh environment, while works such as Three Households (1959), Our Son, Our Daughter (1960), and Three Sisters of Katoomba (1975) concern conflict and possible reconciliation between Aboriginal people and white settlers. Although she did not consider herself a feminist, stating she had never felt discriminated against, works such as New Sonnets from the Portuguese (1975) championed the endeavour of strong women. Throughout her long career she produced a number of anti-war works, among them Processions (1943), A Small People (1966), The Hurdlers (1969), and O Padre (1984).
Becoming the inaugural movement tutor at the National Institute for Dramatic Art (NIDA) in 1959, Barr held the post for seventeen years. She died on 29 May 1991 at the Royal North Shore Hospital, Sydney, and was cremated; she had no children. A portrait by Anita Rezevska hangs in the Rogues Gallery at NIDA.
Bonham-Carter, Victor. Dartington Hall: The History of an Experiment. London: Phoenix Press, 1958; Brissenden, Alan, and Keith Glennon. Australia Dances: Creating Australian Dance 1945–1965. Kent Town: Wakefield Press, 2010; Lester, Garry. ‘Galvanising Community: Margaret Barr at Dartington Hall 1930–34.’ Pts. 1 and 2. Brolga, no. 25 (December 2006): 39–49 and no. 26 (June 2007): 39–55; Martin, John. ‘The Dance in England.’ New York Times, 14 August 1932, X5; Von Sturmer, Caryll. Margaret Barr: Epic Individual. Sydney: L. Von Sturmer, 1993.
BASTEN, Sir HENRY BOLTON (HENRY) (1903–1992), university vice-chancellor, was born Henry Bolton Cohen on 2 May 1903 at Stoke Newington, England, elder son of English-born parents Gustave Henry Cohen, commercial traveller, and his wife Elizabeth Emma, née Hawker. Henry was educated at City of London School, winning a scholarship in 1921 to Merton College, Oxford (BA, 1925; MA, 1954), where he read classics and philosophy. In 1924 he won a Chancellor’s prize for an essay on irony.
On graduation Cohen joined the overseas civil service and was posted to India to work for the Calcutta Port Trust. On 8 December 1931, at St Mary’s Cathedral, Calcutta, he married Mildred Minshall, a graduate of the Slade School of Fine Art; the couple had known each other in England. He moved to Singapore in 1934, where he was employed by the Singapore Harbour Board. Evacuated with his wife and son before the 1942 Japanese occupation, he returned to Britain and worked with the Ministry of War Transport on the organisation of shipping, in the course of which he visited Egypt and West Africa. To protect his family from anti-Semitism, he changed his name to Basten (his maternal grandmother’s maiden name) in October 1945. Returning to Singapore as chairman and general manager of the Singapore and Penang Harbour Board, he played a major role in the rehabilitation of the port of Singapore. During that period he also assisted in the establishment of the University of Malaya. He was appointed CMG in 1947.
Basten left Singapore and the civil service in 1950 and for a short time lived on a 6-acre (2.4 ha) farm near Tewkesbury, Gloucestershire, England. Recruited by the Menzies [q.v.15] government to review the operation of Australian ports, in January 1952 he delivered a report that identified the major causes of delay in the turn-round of ships, notably wharf congestion and a lack of warehouse space in the major ports. He recommended changes in the system of employment in the stevedoring industry, and noted the need for new ports; this recommendation later led to the development of facilities such as Port Botany.
In December 1952 Basten migrated with his family to Adelaide. After a brief period of employment by Commercial Motor Vehicles Pty Ltd, he was appointed in 1953 as administrative assistant to Professor A. P. Rowe [q.v.16], the vice-chancellor of the University of Adelaide. Such was his success in this role that, following Rowe’s resignation in 1958, the university council appointed Basten to replace him. Despite his background in administration, his appointment received unqualified support from the academic staff.
Displaying a rare talent for dealing with government, the university council, and staff and students, Basten became a distinguished vice-chancellor. During his tenure the institution grew from 5,000 to 9,000 students (including 650 postgraduates), and the number of full-time academic staff nearly doubled to about 500. Wishing to promote postgraduate studies, including through establishing residential facilities, he played a central role in founding the co-educational Kathleen Lumley College in 1965. He contributed to other aspects of higher education in South Australia, including negotiating an arrangement with the South Australian School of Mines (SA Institute of Technology from 1960) to confer degrees on its graduates. In anticipation of an increased demand for tertiary education beyond the capacity of the university, between 1961 and 1965 he oversaw the creation of a new campus at Bedford Park, which became the Flinders University of South Australia in 1966. He was knighted that year, and in 1967 Flinders conferred an honorary doctorate of letters upon him.
Following his retirement in March 1967, Basten moved to Canberra, and was appointed to the Australian Universities Commission, succeeding (Sir) Lenox Hewitt as chairman (1968–71). He played an active role in several national initiatives: as foundation chairman of the Australian Institute of Marine Science (1972–77); member of the planning committee and the interim council of the Australian National Gallery (1965–71); and chairman of the development council of the Australian Defence Force Academy (1975–81).
A man of charm and erudition, Basten combined purposeful determination with gracious diplomacy and an ability to engage people with his ideas and projects. The political scientist Hugh Stretton noted his ‘sensitivity, humility, capacity and will to learn’ and his ‘conciliatory skill and temper’ (Badger 1992, 6). Survived by his wife and two sons, he died on 8 April 1992 at Chatswood, Sydney, and was cremated. A room in the Mitchell Building [q.v.10] at the University of Adelaide and a wing at Kathleen Lumley College commemorate his contribution to the university.
Badger, Geoffrey. ‘Sir Henry Basten, 2 May 1903–8 April 1992.’ Lumen 21, no. 7 (5 June 1992): 6–7; Basten, H. B. The Turn-Round of Shipping in Australian Ports. Commonwealth of Australia. 4 January 1952; Basten, John. Personal communication; Basten, Tony. Personal communication; National Archives of Australia. A5840, 613; University of Adelaide archives. Letter of appointment, 15 October 1953, Council minutes, 26 September 1958, 2 September 1966, Education Committee minutes, 26 September 1958.
BATTERHAM, GENEVIEVE LOUISE (GENNI) (1955–1995), disability rights activist, film-maker, author, and artist, was born on 19 January 1955 at Paddington, Sydney, second child of South Australian–born Douglas Lester Whitford, textile agent, and his Sydney-born wife Judith Jean, née Williams. Genni grew up in Bellevue Hill. Educated by the nuns of the Sacred Heart at Kincoppal, Elizabeth Bay, she was a rebel with a charismatic presence. She had a ‘flamboyant … walk’ (Pins and Needles 1979) and ‘eyes and a smile that lit up the world’ (McCarthy 1995, 14). Admired for her zest for life, she nevertheless lacked focus, according to her husband, Kim Anthony Batterham. After leaving school she meandered, studying intermittently, including at art school and at Macquarie University. She married Kim, a cameraman from Perth, in a civil ceremony on 21 October 1978 at Bellevue Hill.
Not long after meeting Kim, in 1978 Genni was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis and incapacitated very quickly. Angry about being disabled and ‘treated like a second-class citizen’ (Hobson 1988, 31), she drew on her emerging talent as a film-maker to express her response to her circumstances. Pins and Needles, made with Kim and released in 1979, was an affecting portrayal of her distress over her developing impairment. Directed by Barbara Chobocky and funded by the Australian Film Commission’s Women’s Film Fund, it would be translated into five languages and win several awards, among them first prize (shared) at the 1980 New York Rehabilitation Film Festival and second at the 1980 Montreal Film Festival. Batterham chronicled the phases of her life in three further collaborations with her husband: Where’s the Give and Take? (1981), Artreach (1982), and Riding the Gale (1987). Challenged by her disability, she nevertheless came to see it as ‘her greatest teacher’ (Lim 1995, 12), which spurred her to explore her many talents. She sought to understand and accept it, as her friend and mentor, the writer Alan Marshall [q.v.18], witnessed. In a letter written during a period when she was very depressed, Marshall told her, ‘I can see you … riding the crest of the gale like … that lovely bird to which you and I have both clung … [to] the harbour of acceptance’ (Hobson 1988, 31).
Among Batterham’s attributes was a capacity to shock and confront when the cause required it, a quality she drew upon as she fought for disability rights in New South Wales. In 1979, with Joan Hume, she helped organise a protest at the opening of a railway station at Bondi Junction that was inaccessible to people in wheelchairs. The demonstration embarrassed the premier, Neville Wran, and was an important step toward reform of the State’s 1977 Anti-Discrimination Act to make discrimination on the basis of disability illegal. In November 1980, anticipating the International Year of Disabled Persons in 1981, she coordinated the largest street march of people with disabilities seen to that point in Australia. Awarded a City of Sydney medal in 1981, she was appointed OAM in 1984. In 1990 she gained a certificate in extension scriptwriting from the Australian Film Television and Radio School.
Batterham’s public activism extended to private concerns. Her Attendant Care Book: Everything You Want to Know about Attendant Care but Were Afraid to Ask (1986) was helpful and timely. Her public discussions about disability and sexuality, however, raised eyebrows. She enjoyed startling people as she discussed her own sex life, and once told a journalist that ‘disability ha[d] taught her that “f…ing and loving” are of central importance to the meaning of life’ (Lim 1995, 12). In 1993 she wrote ‘Crutch Power’, published in the journal On the Level, in order to raise awareness of the sexual needs of people with disabilities.
As Batterham’s health deteriorated, she could not continue to campaign actively. Still, she led ‘by example’ (McCarthy 1995, 14), maintaining charge of her life and choices and furthering her creative talents. She returned to art in 1994, when she had 15 per cent sight and very little motor control, finding in painting a means of expressing what she could no more in talk, text, and film, and created a powerful exhibition. Even when her marriage broke up in 1995, she remained resilient, noting that ‘[s]o many people have divorces’, and that it gave her another ‘way of helping other people’ (Lim 1995, 12).
Shortly before Batterham’s death, her friend Wendy McCarthy observed that, by ‘refus[ing] to go into a sheltered workshop [and] hide’, to deny her sexuality, or ‘to stop developing her talents’, she had ‘shifted the paradigms of disability’ (Lim 1995, 12). She died on 3 December 1995 at Mosman and was cremated. A portrait by Greg Warburton was a finalist in the 1997 Archibald [q.v.3] prize, and a street in Canberra bears her name.
Henningham, Nikki. ‘Batterham, Genni.’ The Encyclopedia of Women and Leadership in Twentieth-Century Australia. Australian Women’s Archives Project, 2014. www.womenaustralia.info/leaders/biogs/WLE0161b.htm. Copy held on ADB file; Hobson, Karen. ‘Window on an MS Patient’s Life.’ Canberra Times, 25 May 1988, 31; Lim, Anne. ‘Still Riding the Gale.’ Australian, 29–30 April 1995, Weekend Review 12; McCarthy, Wendy. ‘Disability No Handicap to Activism.’ Australian, 20 December 1995, 14; O’Grady, Suellen. ‘In Sickness and in Health.’ Sydney Morning Herald, 16 April 1988, Good Weekend 14–21; Pins and Needles. Film. Directed by Barbara Chobocky. Sydney: Documentary Films, 1979.
BAUER, WALTER ERNEST (WALLY) (1921–1992), tourist resort developer and operator, was born on 24 February 1921 at Gin Gin, Queensland, third of nine children of Queensland-born parents Ernest Michael Bauer, draper, and his wife Anna Wilhelmine, née Rackemann. In 1928 Wally enrolled at Gooburrum State School. After he and his brother Colin passed the 1934 State scholarship examination, the family moved to a dairy farm at Lindum, near Brisbane, so the boys could attend Brisbane Grammar School. There Wally displayed ‘fair industry and ability’ (BGS GR) and sat the junior public examination in 1936. The next year the Bauers took over Henry Lamond’s [q.v.15] lease of the Molle group of islands by exchanging the Lindum farm. With two other families, they started developing South Molle as a tourist resort. Wally soon obtained his master’s ticket so that he could skipper the island’s launch.
Enlisting in the Royal Australian Air Force on 21 June 1941, Bauer qualified as a pilot and flew in the South-West Pacific Area with No. 36 Squadron (1943), No. 5 Communication Unit (1943–44), and No. 4 Communication Unit (1944–45). His superiors appreciated his quiet efficiency and pleasing manner. He was demobilised on 4 September 1945 as a flying officer. On 20 March 1944 at St Paul’s Church of England, Proserpine, he had married Frances Alice Beatrice Walmsley, a shop assistant; they were to have a daughter and two sons before being divorced.
After World War II Bauer took over the Kincora Hotel at Lower Tully but by 1950 he was back on South Molle as assistant manager of the resort. Keeping in touch with former guests was an important part of the family’s ethos. They conducted a number of reunions of South Molle holiday-makers at Rockhampton and other cities in the 1950s. An annual ball was held at the Cloudland Ballroom, Brisbane, for ‘friends of the island’, proceeds of which went to charity.
In 1955, following Ernest Bauer’s retirement, the lease was transferred to his sons. Over the following years, family members went their separate ways and Wally became sole manager in December 1959. Under his direction, South Molle gained the reputation as a place of fun, where neckties were not allowed. His outgoing personality was well suited to the hospitality industry. In the 1960s he printed his own currency, the ‘reef’, for use on the island; it featured his portrait and was a highly successful promotional idea. On 9 August 1967 at the Court House, Bowen, he married Thelma May Martin, née Rackemann, a secretary and divorcee.
Bauer presided over the Great Barrier Reef Promotional Council and instigated the annual Whitsunday Festival and the Coral Queen competition. He fostered a spirit of cooperation with the managers of other Whitsunday resort islands to jointly advance their interests, and he campaigned for the construction of a new jetty and tourist facility at Shute Harbour to service the islands.
In January 1970 the South Molle resort was badly damaged by cyclone Ada. After a challenging year of rebuilding and re-establishment, Bauer sold the business to Peter Vaggelas in November 1971 and moved to Port Macquarie, New South Wales, where he briefly developed the Palm Court Garden sport resort. He then retired to Buderim, Queensland. Survived by his wife and the children of his first marriage, he died on 3 December 1992 at Buderim and was cremated.
Bauer, Ernest. Pioneering a Tourist Island: Ernie Bauer’s Story of South Molle. Bowen, Qld: Bowen Independent, n.d.; Blackwood, Ray. The Whitsunday Islands: An Historical Dictionary. Rockhampton, Qld: Central Queensland University Press, 1997; Brisbane Grammar School (BGS) Archives. W. E. Bauer, in General Register (GR), Vol III, 1927–1941: 186; Daily Mercury (Mackay, Qld). ‘South Molle Tourism Legend Dies at 71: Mr Wally Bauer.’ 7 December 1992, 6; National Archives of Australia. A9300, BAUER W E.
Hilda E. Maclean
BEADELL, LEONARD (LEN) (1923–1995), surveyor and author, was born on 21 April 1923 at Pennant Hills West, Sydney, only son and elder child of New South Wales–born Fred Algernon Beadell, orchardist, and his Queensland-born wife Viola Pearl, née MacKay. Len attended Gladesville and Burwood primary schools and Sydney Grammar School. From an early age he spent many weekends camping with his scout group and developed a keen interest in surveying and navigation. During World War II he worked for the Metropolitan Water, Sewerage, and Drainage Board (MWSDB), before beginning full-time duty in the Citizen Military Forces in December 1941.
Beadell transferred to the Australian Imperial Force in September 1942. With the 2nd (1942–43) and 8th (1943) Field Survey and the 6th Topographical Survey (1943–45) companies, he served in Papua (October 1942 – November 1943) and New Guinea (March–December 1945). Back in Australia, he continued survey work, assisting a Council for Scientific and Industrial Research mapping project in western Arnhem Land, Northern Territory. In April 1946 he was sent to the South Australian outback to commence a survey of the Woomera rocket-testing range as part of the Anglo-Australian Joint Project. He was discharged from the army in December 1948, having risen to the rank of warrant officer, class two, and resumed work at the MWSDB. In 1950 he accepted a position with the Long Range Weapons Establishment and returned to Woomera. Lacking formal qualifications as a surveyor, he was employed as an assistant experimental officer. He completed mapping of the rocket range and surveyed sites for observation posts along the rocket firing-line for a distance of 500 miles (800 km).
In June 1952 Beadell was dispatched to find a location in the desert west of Woomera for the British military to test nuclear weapons. He identified Emu Field as a suitable site for Operation Totem and two atomic bombs were detonated there in October 1953. Praised by L. C. Lucas [q.v.15], director of construction, for his technical skill as well as his ‘initiative, guts, common sense, and bushmanship’ (NAA D4233), he had been promoted to range reconnaissance officer in May. When Emu proved unsuitable for further tests, Beadell set off in his battered Land Rover, accompanied by (Sir) William (Baron) Penney, Britain’s chief superintendent of armaments research, and found another location, later named Maralinga, where the British conducted seven nuclear tests in 1956 and 1957.
During the 1950s and early 1960s, with a trusted team of road-makers, nicknamed the Gunbarrel Road Construction Party, Beadell established a network of graded tracks across the central deserts, linking the observation posts, meteorological stations, and other facilities required for the rocket tests. His roads effectively opened up more than 900,000 square miles (2.3 million km2) of the outback to non-Aboriginal people. At first their use was restricted to military personnel, but by the end of the 1960s they were being used by oil and mineral exploration companies, scientists, patrol officers, and adventurous tourists. Following the tracks Beadell blazed across the deserts later became a rite of passage for many four-wheel-drive enthusiasts.
On 1 July 1961 Beadell married Anne Rosalind Matthews at All Souls’ Church of England, St Peters, and settled at Salisbury, on the outskirts of Adelaide. Len, often absent for long periods, named outback ‘highways’ and road junctions after his wife and three children. In 1965 he published his first book, Too Long in the Bush. A vivid and humorous account of his exploits in the outback and illustrated with his own photographs and sketches, it sold well, and led to Blast the Bush (1967), Bush Bashers (1971), and others. Well known as a raconteur and an accomplished public speaker, he presented hundreds of talks to organisations across the country and later led outback tour groups.
By the mid-1960s Beadell’s years of arduous travel and poor diet in the bush had taken their toll. Diagnosed with chronic hepatitis, he spent significant periods on leave and in 1968 was deemed unfit for further service in the interior. In August he was formally transferred to the design and workshop division at Salisbury as a drafting assistant. In 1984 he presented evidence to the royal commission into British nuclear tests in Australia. Despite the scrutiny and criticism of the tests, he looked back on that period as one of the most exciting of his life. He retired from the then Defence Science and Technology Organisation in 1988.
Tough and independent, Beadell was an expert navigator, well versed in bushcraft and survival skills, and dedicated to his job. In his books and lectures he portrayed himself as a fearless explorer, venturing into an outback wilderness never before traversed by humans. He rarely acknowledged the achievements of nineteenth-century European explorers of the western deserts and, more significantly, he gave scant attention to the presence of the Aboriginal people who had occupied those deserts for thousands of years. His books are entertaining, but not always historically accurate; his writing drew on a tradition of colonial exploration into inhospitable places.
Beadell had been awarded the BEM in 1957 and the OAM in 1988. Survived by his wife, and their son and two daughters, he died on 12 May 1995 at Elizabeth Vale and was cremated. A mountain in the Gibson Desert is named after him, as well as a subspecies of mallee eucalypt, an asteroid, and a public library at Salisbury.
Bayly, Ian. Len Beadell’s Legacy: Australia’s Atomic Bomb and Rocket Roads. Seaford, Vic.: Bas Publishing, 2009; National Archives of Australia. A6448, 7, B883, NX134865, D4233, L9527/7/1568 PART 1; Shephard, Mark. A Lifetime in the Bush: The Biography of Len Beadell. North Adelaide: Corkwood Press, 2000.
BEDBROOK, Sir GEORGE MONTARIO (1921–1991), surgeon, was born on 8 November 1921 in Melbourne, twin son of English-born Arthur Ernest Bedbrook, gardener, and his wife Ethel Norah, née Prince. Arthur served as a driver in World War I and died in 1932 from a war-related illness. George attended Coburg State and University High schools before studying medicine at the University of Melbourne (MB, BS, 1944). The recipient of two scholarships—the General (Paul) Pau scholarship for children of deceased soldiers, and the J. P. Ryan scholarship in surgery—he received further assistance under the Repatriation Commission’s educational scheme.
While still at university, on 8 October 1941 Bedbrook enlisted in the Citizen Military Forces. He served with the Melbourne University Rifles and in 1944 was promoted to honorary captain, Australian Army Medical Corps. Appointed as a surgeon lieutenant in the Royal Australian Naval Reserve on 20 November 1944, he was not mobilised and his service ended in November 1946.
On 22 February 1946 at St Paul’s Cathedral, Melbourne, Bedbrook had married Jessie Page, a trained nurse, with Church of England rites; they were to have five children. From 1946 he lectured in anatomy at the University of Melbourne. He was awarded an MS and became a fellow of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons in 1950. It was during this period that Bedbrook decided on his future specialisation: ‘I knew then that I wanted to go into orthopaedics … I didn’t want to just be, you know, a cutting surgeon’ (Martyr 2009, 168). He travelled to Britain in 1950, becoming a fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons (1951) and working for the National Health Service.
Bedbrook returned to Melbourne late in 1953, but could not find satisfactory employment. A Perth orthopaedic surgeon, Reginald McKellar Hall, invited Bedbrook to work with him for £100 per month, including sessions at Royal Perth Hospital (RPH), and Bedbrook accepted. In early 1954, while on rounds with a surgeon, Alec Dawkins, at the RPH, Bedbrook encountered a patient who had been left paraplegic at T-5 (breast level). Dawkins asked him what he knew about paraplegia. ‘Well, I don’t know much,’ Bedbrook replied, ‘but I know a bit more about it than most people round here.’ ‘Right,’ Dawkins said, ‘You look after them’ (Martyr 2009, 115).
In 1954 the RPH set up a paraplegic unit under Bedbrook’s control in its run-down infectious diseases branch at Shenton Park. Oswald Corr had already begun working with paralysed war veterans at the Repatriation General Hospital, Hollywood, Perth, but this was a new initiative: Bedbrook’s unit was the first in Australia to combine medical rehabilitation with vocational training for patients with spinal paraplegia, based on methods developed by (Sir) Ludwig Guttmann’s centre at the Stoke Mandeville Hospital in Britain.
By 1960 forty former patients had been placed in full employment through the unit’s associated programs, and staff had also helped to set up similar units at the Austin Hospital in Melbourne and at the Royal Adelaide Hospital. Guttmann visited Bedbrook’s unit in 1957 and suggested that five of its patients take part in the Paralympics at Stoke Mandeville the following year. In 1962 Bedbrook helped to organise Perth’s Paralympics, held in conjunction with the Commonwealth Games.
Bedbrook’s plan to create an independent rehabilitation hospital on the Shenton Park site caused ongoing conflict with the RPH, notably with Dr Alfred Burnford and a hospital administrator, Victor Driscoll. In March 1972 Bedbrook lost his neurology and rheumatology student rotation to the new Sir Charles Gairdner [q.v.17] Hospital, and he resigned as head of the department of paraplegia, but remained as senior surgeon. Some colleagues found him difficult to work with but McKeller Hall enjoyed their long personal and professional relationship.
From 1949 to 1991 Bedbrook authored or co-authored nearly seventy scholarly and professional journal articles. Appointed OBE in 1965, he was knighted in 1978. The International Medical Society for Paraplegia awarded him a medal in 1978, and he served as their president (1981–84). In 1981, the International Year of Disabled Persons, he again publicly supported moves to make the Shenton Park hospital independent. This led to his official retirement.
Sir George continued to work in private practice and published several textbooks on paraplegia, but his physical health was failing. Predeceased by his wife, he suffered a cerebrovascular accident and died on 6 October 1991 at Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital, Nedlands, Perth. Over 500 people attended his funeral at St George’s Anglican Cathedral. His twin brother, Rev. Canon Frederick Bedbrook, preached at the ceremony. Bedbrook Place, behind the RPH’s Shenton Park campus, was named after him. In 2011 Sir George was inducted into the Paralympic Hall of Fame.
Argus (Melbourne). ‘Medical Student Wins Pau Scholarship.’ 14 February 1941, 5, ‘Surgery Scholarships.’ 13 March 1944, 12, ‘Approaching Marriages.’ 23 February 1946, 12; Martyr, Phillipa. West of Subiaco: A History of the Shenton Park Campus. Perth: Department of Health, 2009; McPhee, Bruce. ‘Second Sir George Montario Bedbrook Oration – 1999: Some Milestones in the Life of George Bedbrook.’ New Zealand Journal of Surgery 73, no. 8 (2003): 650–59; National Archives of Australia. B884, V158069, A6769, BEDBROOK, G. M.
BEHNE, EDMOND ROWLANDS (ROLY) (1906–1994), sugar technologist and company director, was born on 20 November 1906 at Shepparton, Victoria, younger son of locally born parents Edmond Franklin Behne, soap factory manager, and his wife Ethel May, née Rowlands. The family moved to Queensland, and Roly completed his secondary schooling at Brisbane Boys’ College (1920–24); he played rugby league, was a member of the second rowing crew, and was college captain in his final year. Having won a scholarship, he studied at the University of Queensland (BSc, 1929; BAppSc, 1930; MAppSc, 1932), where he rowed (1928–29) in the university eight. On 28 December 1932, at the Albert Street Methodist Church, Brisbane, he married Grace Elizabeth Ricketts, a stenographer.
After graduating Behne joined the Queensland Bureau of Sugar Experiment Stations (BSES) where he worked in the division of mill technology, often as the division’s only staff member. His most significant experimental work, into cane preparatory devices, resulted in the adoption of high-powered knives and Searby shredders which increased mill capacity and brought higher rates of sugar extraction. In addition, he provided advice to mill engineers on improving crushing rates. He authored papers on improving production, many of which were published in the Proceedings of the Queensland Society of Sugar Cane Technologists. The Laboratory Manual for Queensland Sugar Mills (1934 and 1939), to which he contributed, became the standard reference work on analytical procedures in the State’s mills. In 1941 he received the Australian Chemical Institute’s H. G. Smith [q.v.11] Memorial medal in recognition of his ‘outstanding work in the past ten years in connection with sugar research’ (Courier Mail 1941, 4).
In World War II Behne joined the part-time Volunteer Defence Corps, serving in Brisbane with its 1st Battalion (1942–43) and 56th Searchlight Battery (1944). During late 1945 and early 1946, he was one of a trio—with Ronald Muir and Stan Toft—of Queensland sugar industry representatives who investigated overseas developments in the mechanisation of the cultivation and harvesting of sugar cane, a pressing issue confronting an industry plagued by labour shortages. He was promoted to director of the BSES in May 1947. Six months later he resigned to become assistant manager of Pioneer Sugar Mills Ltd’s Inkerman Mill and technical advisor to the company’s Pioneer Mill. He was appointed manager of the Inkerman Mill in 1949, and managing director of the company in July 1952, serving in this role until the end of 1976. During his tenure, he managed extensive upgrades of the mills, and the profits of the company increased from $316,000 to $13.6 million. He remained a company director until 1980.
In 1949 Behne had been involved in the formation of the Sugar Research Institute, an organisation dedicated to improving sugar manufacture in Queensland. He was an inaugural member of the institute’s board of directors, serving as deputy director (1964–73), before assuming the chairmanship (1973–75). Between 1955 and 1974 he was vice-president of the Australian Sugar Producers’ Association (representing the Lower Burdekin Division), and was president (1952), and later a life member (1974) of the Queensland Society of Sugar Cane Technologists. He was also chairman (1965–75) of the Proprietary Sugar Millers’ Association Pty Ltd, and a councillor (1966–76) of the Institute of Directors in Australia–Queensland Branch (chairman, 1972). In 1974 he was appointed CMG.
Described as ‘gentlemanly’, and ‘polite and retiring’ (Rowan pers. comm.), Behne is remembered as a very effective administrator. He was praised for his ‘thorough understanding’ of the industry and his ability to ‘express ideas succinctly in mathematical terms’ (Reid 1999, 66). For recreation he played golf and became proficient in the sport. He died in a nursing home at Corinda, Brisbane, on 29 December 1994 and was cremated. His wife, and their daughter and two sons survived him. A laboratory at the Mackay Sugar Research Institute was named after him.
Behne, Maxwell Frederick. Personal communication, 2 July 2015; Courier Mail (Brisbane). ‘Brisbane Chemist Wins Smith Medal.’ 13 August 1941, 4, ‘Sugar Pioneer Dies.’ 5 January 1995, 4; Griggs, Peter. Global Industry, Local Innovation: The History of Cane Sugar Production in Australia, 1820–1995. Bern, Switzerland: Peter Lang, 2011; Reid, Jane. The Long View: History of the Sugar Research Institute 1949–1999. Mackay, Qld: Sugar Research Institute, 1999; Rowan, John. Personal communication; Queensland State Archives. 935066, Personnel file: Behne, Edmond Rowlands.
Peter D. Griggs
BELLANTO, ANTHONY JOHN (TONY) (1907–1992), barrister, was born Antonio Belantino on 28 June 1907 in Sydney, second of ten children of Italian-born Antonio Bellantonio (known as Belantino), fisherman, and his Sydney-born wife Maria, née Mollica. The family resided at Woolloomooloo, in the heart of a vibrant Italian fishing community. Tony attended the local Catholic school, leaving aged thirteen to sell newspapers. Later he worked as a bus and taxi driver, including in the family business, Royal Cabs of Sydney, subsequently Waratah Taxi Trucks. From 1931 he studied privately, sitting the New South Wales Leaving certificate examinations before studying at night at the University of Sydney (DipPubAdmin, 1937; LLB, 1968), where he won the Wilfrid E. Johnson prize (1934). On 30 June 1937 he married Ethel May Murray, a machinist, at St Mary’s Cathedral. He commenced studying for admission to the New South Wales Bar through the Barristers Admission Board at the end of the 1930s. During this period he also fought as a boxer under the name Tony ‘Basher’ Bell, and displayed his consuming, if not reckless, interest in punting on horse races, which was to be a defining feature of his life.
In World War II, understating his age by two years, Bellanto volunteered for the Australian Imperial Force, enlisting on 12 March 1942. He served in Sydney (1942–44), mainly on the staff of the General Details Depot, and on Thursday Island (June–September 1944) with the 19th Australian Supply Depot Company and 106th ASD Platoon. On 5 January 1945 he was discharged from the AIF as medically unfit. A ‘stalwart’ (Reveille 1966, 8) of the Returned Sailors’, Soldiers’ and Airmen’s Imperial League of Australia after the war, he wore the distinctive RSL badge for the rest of his life.
Returning to civilian life, Bellanto worked as a truck driver and continued his legal studies. He was admitted to the Bar on 5 May 1950. By 1958 he was sharing the fourth floor of Wentworth Chambers in Phillip Street with a number of Australian Labor Party lawyers including his long-term friend Neville Wran, as well as Lionel Murphy [q.v.18], Jack Sweeney [q.v.18], Bill Fisher, and Frank McGrath. His first marriage having ended during the war, on 8 April 1959 he married Ruth Margaret Eberle at the District Registrar’s Office, Chatswood. They lived on Sydney’s North Shore.
Bellanto developed a thriving practice in criminal law. His clients included high-profile career criminals, such as Darcy Dugan [q.v.], Abe Saffron, and George Freeman [q.v.17]. In later years he was also known to act pro bono for needy people. He was described as ‘a great mixture of aggression and compassion’, and ‘tears were common’ (Bar News 1992, 18), whether he won or lost a case. On a number of occasions he was ejected from court, and his clashes with judges became legendary in the New South Wales legal profession. On 1 December 1965 he was appointed QC. From 1965 to 1968 he was a member of the New South Wales Bar Association council.
A member of the Australian Jockey Club from 1969, and of the Sydney Turf Club, Bellanto was a well-known figure at race tracks in and around Sydney, usually betting large amounts. The tendency of his clients to share his interest in horse-racing led to implications of improper relationships, particularly with Freeman. Such associations were subject to scrutiny in a number of matters; he was mentioned in public enquiries such as the 1983 royal commission into the conduct of Wran and Murray Farquhar [q.v.] and the trials of Lionel Murphy on charges of attempting to pervert the course of justice. No evidence was advanced of illegal activity on his part.
Bellanto had a long association with labour politics. However, his personal political ambitions exceeded his abilities. He had been nominated to stand for election as secretary of the Road Transport Union in September 1931, and in 1941 he stood unsuccessfully as the State Labor Party candidate for the State seat of Leichhardt, as well as contesting a number of local elections. In the State elections of February 1971 he challenged, unsuccessfully, the incumbent Peter Coleman in the seat of Fuller.
While remembered by members of the New South Wales legal community for his vibrant personality, more than anything it was Bellanto’s manner in court which lives in the oral tradition. He kept people enthralled. As one judge said, he ‘could charm the rattles off a rattlesnake’ (Sydney Morning Herald 1992, 2). Judge Bill Hosking said of him that ‘his voice was resonant, his delivery majestic and commanding. His mastery of the spoken word unparalleled’ (Sun-Herald 1992, 11). Survived by his wife, one son from his first marriage, and three daughters from his second, he died on 16 January 1992 at Eastwood, and was cremated after a memorial service at St Mary’s Cathedral. His son Tony also became a barrister.
News. ‘Eulogy by the Hon Neville Wran AC QC at the Memorial Service for the Late Tony Bellanto QC – Sydney.’ Winter 1992, 18; Bellanto, Anthony John. Interview by the author, Samuel Griffith Chambers, Sydney, 30 June 2017; National Archives of Australia. B883, NX9302; Reveille. ‘New QC’s Appointed.’ 39, no. 7 (1 February 1966): 8; Sun-Herald (Sydney). ‘His Honour Shows Fine Sense of Judgment.’ 2 February 1992, 11; Sydney Morning Herald. ‘Criminals’ QC Was a Boy from the Slums.’ 17 January 1992, 2.
BELL, GUILFORD MARSH (1912–1992), architect, was born on 21 December 1912 in Brisbane, eldest of four children of Queensland-born parents Francis Marsh Bell, grazier, and his wife Frederica Lucy, née Darvall, members of the prominent Bell family in rural Queensland. Guilford grew up at Kooroomba station outside Boonah, which was part of ‘Coochin Coochin’ (said to mean two black swans in the local Yugarapul language), the 20,000-acre property held by his grandparents; there he met the English crime writer (Dame) Agatha Christie in 1922. From 1925 to 1930 he was a boarder at The King’s School, Parramatta, Sydney, before being articled to the Brisbane architect Lange L. Powell [q.v.11]. Studying at night at Brisbane Central Technical College, he gained his diploma of architecture in 1935 and won the Queensland Institute of Architects student gold medal. He registered in the profession in 1936 but his father determined that his son should be more fully qualified.
Arriving in London that year, Bell worked in the office of (Sir) Albert E. Richardson. He met Christie again and also her second husband, the archaeologist (Sir) Max Mallowan. In 1938 he accompanied Mallowan on two expeditions to Syria. This connection led to his first commission, the renovation of the Mallowans’ Georgian-styled ‘Greenway House’, Devon. Syria gave him ‘architectural inspirations that would not be fully expressed for nearly two decades’: ‘simple masses, windows that were doors and never windows, and solid walls that shielded the privacy of the home … and gave the impression of permanence’ (Goad 1999, 109).
Passing his Royal Institute of British Architects examinations in July 1939, Bell returned to Australia at the outbreak of World War II and found work with (Sir) Reginald Ansett’s [q.v.17] new airline company. On 22 July 1942 he enlisted in the Royal Australian Air Force. Most of his service was spent in the Directorate of Works and Buildings at Air Force Headquarters, Melbourne. Commissioned in 1943, he was employed as an architect with No. 12 Survey and Design Unit in Darwin (1944) and as a works officer with No. 11 Group on Morotai, Netherlands East Indies (Indonesia), in 1945. He was demobilised as a flying officer on 20 November 1946 in Melbourne.
Bell registered in Victoria in 1946, and worked with J. A. La Gerche, the chief architect to Ansett Transport Industries, designing the Sydney booking office (1948), and a tourist resort at Hayman Island on the Great Barrier Reef (1949–52); living at the resort, he supervised its construction, planting, and landscaping. This commission gave him a new, wealthy, and cosmopolitan clientele.
Beginning sole private practice in Melbourne in 1952, Bell designed some of the most assured modernist houses of the decade. His influential client list included names such as Darling, Hordern, Baillieu, and Bardas. Many of these houses had courtyards and indicated his penchant for integrating service blocks and yards, pavilion carports, and garden walls into a formal symmetrical plan. A rare commercial commission was the Felt and Textiles building, East Melbourne (1960), one of Australia’s first free-standing high-rise office buildings to have a central core of lifts, staircases, and services.
In 1961 Bell went into partnership with Neil Clerehan. Both architects seemed to have similar aesthetic concerns: blank walls, privacy, and discreet urbanity. Their Simon House, Mount Eliza (1963), was awarded the 1964 Royal Victorian Institute of Architects single house medal. Further dwellings followed, but the two architects found their aesthetic differences too great and in 1964 the partnership dissolved. Bell resumed practice alone. His 1960s houses invariably had formal axes, symmetry, and carefully orchestrated sequences of entry, reception, and opening of views onto courtyards or distant landscapes, as epitomised by the Drysdale house, Bouddi Farm, at Kilcare Heights, New South Wales (1966). In 1969 he designed his best-known work, a pavilion at Retford Park, Bowral, New South Wales, for James Fairfax: a square structure of marble, sandstone, and black steel spanning a swimming pool and water garden. He had been elected a fellow of the Royal Victorian Institute of Architects in 1962.
During the 1970s Bell’s houses continued their aesthetic refinement and detachment from orthodox Australian architecture culture. He designed country residences and perfected the walled townhouse, most notably the arcaded McFarlane House at Vaucluse, New South Wales (1972), and one of his finest works, the Seccull House at Brighton, Victoria (1972), which was flat-roofed, in white stucco, black steel, and travertine. In 1983 he invited Graham Fisher, who had been working in the office since 1977, to become a partner. The firm of Guilford Bell and Graham Fisher Architects continued to produce designs that reflected Bell’s familiar aesthetic concerns. Significant constructions included the Grant/Collins House at Officer, Victoria (1986), and the Goold House at Port Douglas, Queensland (1990).
Bell’s architecture combined modernist and classical ideals. For more than thirty years ‘he was the supreme architect of manners in Melbourne’ (Goad 1999, 131), and his houses in Sydney bore the same quality, echoing the work of earlier architects such as Leslie Wilkinson [q.v.12] and John D. Moore [q.v.10]. In the late 1970s he had remodelled parts of the Lodge, the prime minister’s residence in Canberra, as part of his role on the Official Establishments Committee, later Trust (1976–86). He also served on the council of the National Gallery Society of Victoria and the board of the Australian Opera. He was appointed OBE in 1982.
‘Elegant, refined, private and talented’, Bell had ‘a wicked sense of conversation and humor’ (Day 1992, 17). Survived by his partner of thirty-four years, the psychologist and later dance therapist Denis Kelynack, he died on 9 January 1992 at Malvern, and was cremated after a funeral at Christ Church, South Yarra. His ashes were interred in the family plot at Mt Alford, Queensland, which he had designed: a horizontal slab with two vertical fins bearing the image of Coochin Coochin’s two black swans, and supporting a cross. A travel scholarship at the University of Queensland commemorates him.
Bell, Guilford. [Illustrated reply to a series of questions on Australian domestic architecture.] Art and Australia 9, no. 1 (June 1971): 64–66; Day, Norman. ‘Architect Leaves a Lasting Legacy.’ Age (Melbourne), 11 January 1992, 17; Goad, Philip. ‘A Very Private Practice: The Life and Work of Guilford Bell.’ In The Life Work of Guilford Bell, Architect 1912–1992, edited by Leon van Schaik, 106–31. Melbourne: Bookman Transition Publishing, 1999; Imrie, Anne, ed. 1952–1980 Architecture of Guilford Bell. South Melbourne: Proteus Publishing, 1982; State Library of Victoria. Accession no. LTAD 111, Collection of architectural drawings by Guilford Bell; Tanner, Howard. Australian Housing in the Seventies. Sydney: Ure Smith, 1976; van Schaik, Leon, ed., The Life Work of Guilford Bell, Architect 1912–1992. Melbourne: Bookman Transition Publishing, 1999.
BENTLEY, CHARLES WALTER (DICK) (1907–1995), radio and theatrical entertainer, was born on 14 May 1907 at Kew, Melbourne, son of English-born James Walter Bentley, baker, and his Victorian-born wife Rose Annie, née Black. Dick was educated locally before working for his father as a bread carter. Musically gifted, he had learnt to play the violin from about the age of seven. In 1927 he was performing in the Footwarmers, a popular Melbourne amateur band. Soon he was doubling on saxophone and clarinet in the Australian Broadcasting Commission (ABC) Dance Band. He played and also sang at the smart Embassy and Rex cabarets. In 1936 he appeared in the musical comedy Wild Violets. The next year his clever impersonations of popular singers and actors—especially Noel Coward—were showcased in an ABC radio comedy series called Oh, Quaite!
Bentley ventured to London in 1938. After a brief spell in cabaret he was engaged by Radio Luxembourg to sing in the Ovaltineys’ Concert Party and to clown with the Australian Albert Whelan in The Merry Andrews Show. He moved to the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) for You’ve Asked for It and Lucky Dip. In 1939, following the outbreak of World War II, he toured in the revue Youth Takes a Bow. On 3 April 1940 he married Petronella Marcelle ‘Peta’ Curra at the register office, Holborn; they had no children.
Later that year the couple moved to Australia. Dick found work in radio, notably in the ABC variety shows Merry-Go-Round and the long-running Out of the Bag. He wrote his own scripts, testing the ABC censor’s ability to spot indelicate double meanings. During the early 1940s he performed in a string of cheery Tivoli revues, and tackled ‘straight’ roles in The Man Who Came to Dinner and Separate Rooms at the Minerva Theatre in Sydney. In 1945 he entertained troops in an exhausting tour through New Guinea and the British Solomon Islands Protectorate. He starred in the top-rating Calling the Stars radio show (from 1944), and was one of the country’s most highly paid entertainers. Peta worked as his secretary, answering fan mail and maintaining his accounts.
The Bentleys returned to Britain in 1947. Dick was engaged by the BBC to compere the talent quests Beginners Please! and Show Time. He also appeared in the radio series Navy Mixture, which featured ‘Professor’ Jimmy Edwards and a fellow Australian, Joy Nichols. The trio reunited in 1948 for Take It From Here or TIFH, as it came to be known. Both programs were produced by Charles Maxwell and partly written by Frank Muir, who was joined by Bentley’s scriptwriter, Denis Norden. Two years later a stage version, Take It From Us, had an extended run in London. In 1953 June Whitfield replaced Nichols. In a segment called ‘The Glums’—which became a highlight of the show—Whitfield was ‘Eth’, Bentley her gormless suitor ‘Ron’, and Edwards his domineering father. TIFH would achieve a run of 325 episodes over thirteen seasons, before concluding in 1960.
In 1954 Bentley was honoured with inclusion in the Royal Variety Performance. Demonstrating his versatility as an entertainer, he starred in the BBC television series And So to Bentley (1954), and on radio in Mr Bentley and Mr Braden (1957). He had cameo roles in several feature films, including The Sundowners which was shot in Australia in 1959. Tall, slim, and with a somewhat weather-beaten face, he was cast as a laconic shearer. He had also returned for three series of Gently Bentley (1951, 1955, and 1966), initially scripted by Muir and Norden for ABC Radio. His later BBC radio work included Once Over Lightly (1961) and the drama series Clancy of the Outback (1963).
As television supplanted radio, Bentley’s career faded, although he continued to make occasional guest appearances in dramas and comedies on the small screen. In 1970 Barry Humphries, a long-time fan, included him in his television series Barry Humphries’ Scandals. Their ensuing friendship resulted in his appearance in Humphries’s films The Adventures of Barry McKenzie (1972) and Barry McKenzie Holds His Own (1974), and in a recording of nostalgic Australian songs. His last major role came in 1978 when he played Frank Spencer’s grandfather in the BBC television comedy Some Mothers Do ’Ave ’Em. In 1987 he was profiled in an Australian Broadcasting Corporation radio documentary The Dick Bentley Story.
For much of his career, Bentley was the butt of affectionate references to his age (he was forty-one when he first portrayed twenty-one-year-old Ron Glum). Away from the spotlight he was self-deprecating and inclined to be reserved and unsociable. He spent his last years in quiet retirement in London. Predeceased by his wife in 1991, he died at Camden on 27 August 1995 and was cremated. He left his estate, sworn for probate at £138,375, to his two nieces.
Bridges, Nancye, and Frank Crook. Curtain Call. North Ryde, NSW: Cassell Australia Ltd, 1980; Gifford, Denis. The Golden Age of Radio: An Illustrated Companion. London: B.T. Batsford Ltd, 1985; Hughes, John Graven. ‘“Not an Alien–an Australian”: The Dick Bentley Story.’ Signature, August–September 1973; Johnson, Rob, and David Smiedt. Boom-Boom!: A Century of Australian Comedy. Rydalmere, NSW: Hodder Headline Australia Pty Ltd, 1999; McKay, Mark. ‘Take It From Here.’ Laugh: The Comedy Magazine, no. 5 (1992): 3–9; Moran, Albert, and Chris Keating. The A to Z of Australian Radio and Television. Lanham, Maryland: Scarecrow Press, Inc., 2009; Tatchell, Peter T. Tatchell’s Guide to BBC Radio Comedy. 2nd ed. Caulfield East, Vic.: Peter T. Tatchell, 2006.
F. Van Straten
BERNDT, CATHERINE HELEN (1918–1994), anthropologist, was born on 8 May 1918 in Auckland, New Zealand, eldest of four children of James McGregor Webb, engineer, and his wife Katie Smith, née Campbell, both New Zealand born of English, Irish, Scottish, and Maori descent. From an early age Catherine had keen observational skills and was curious about cultural life and human variation. She also developed an interest in literature, especially prose and poetry. A conscientious scholar at St Cuthbert’s College, Auckland (1931–33), and Hutt Valley High School, near Wellington (1934), she gained a bursary to study French and Latin at Victoria University College, University of New Zealand (BA, 1939). Anthropology was not formally offered at that time, although she was introduced to the discipline through coursework. She went on to study for a certificate of proficiency in anthropology (1939) at the University of Otago.
In 1940 Catherine enrolled to study anthropology at the University of Sydney (DipAnth, 1943; MA, 1949). Professor A. P. Elkin [q.v.14], then developing a reputation for his research on Aboriginal Australia and the territories of Papua and New Guinea, tutored her. Ronald Berndt [q.v.17] was a fellow student; the couple married at St Paul’s Anglican Church, Adelaide, on 26 April 1941. She later said of the marriage: ‘Then I married Ron, or Ron married me, whichever way you like to put it’ (Berndt 1994).
The couple undertook field research at Ooldea, South Australia, after which they co-authored From Black to White in South Australia (1951), the first of many such collaborations. From 1947 to 1953 Catherine was a research fellow in the department of anthropology, University of Sydney. She and Ronald conducted fieldwork in Northern Australia throughout the 1940s, including with Gurindji women and men at Wave Hill in 1944. She completed her first book, Women’s Changing Ceremonies in Northern Australia (1950), which demonstrated her increasing interest in and growing understanding about the beliefs and practices of Aboriginal women, and their relationships with men. A period in the eastern highlands of the Territory of Papua and New Guinea followed in 1951–52, her research forming the basis of doctoral studies at the London School of Economics and Political Science (PhD, 1955). A grant from the British Council (1954–55) and a Winifred Cullis award (1954–55) from the International Federation of University Women enabled her to complete a thesis on ‘Mythology in the Eastern Central Highlands of New Guinea’. In 1955 the University of Western Australia (UWA) appointed Ronald senior lecturer in anthropology. With practical, emotional, and intellectual support from Catherine, he established the centre (later department) of anthropology in 1956. While he was tenured, and was appointed professor in 1963, Catherine had only the occasional formal contract as a tutor, and more regularly held a position as honorary research fellow, a title she maintained until the end of her life. The disparity in financial and professional status between the two was partly due to university policies discouraging married women from academic careers.
Apart from Berndt’s earlier work on the highlands of Papua New Guinea, her research focus was on Australian Indigenous groups. Like her husband, she is internationally renowned for the longevity of her career, and for the breadth, depth, and range of her publications. As authors and editors, they published extensively together, especially about research with Indigenous groups in north-east and north-west Arnhem Land, Northern Territory; the Murray River and Ooldea regions of South Australia; and the Kimberley in Western Australia. Their seminal work, The World of the First Australians (1964), encompassed Aboriginal Australia as a whole, and was republished and revised several times.
Often working independently among Aboriginal women, Berndt recorded oral literature, and wrote articles and chapters describing and analysing the complementarity of gender roles in Aboriginal societies. An interest in children’s stories evolved in later years; she published Land of the Rainbow Snake (1979, with Djoki Yunupingu), which was awarded the New South Wales Ethel Turner [q.v.12] Prize for Young People’s Literature in 1980; When the World was New: In Rainbow Snake Country (1988, with Raymond Meeks); and Humans and Other Beings: Stories from Papua New Guinea (1989).
A founding member of the Australian Institute of Aboriginal Studies in 1964, Berndt was elected a fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences in 1982. The next year UWA conferred on her an honorary doctorate of letters, and in 1987 she was appointed AM. Independently and with her husband, she received many grants for field research from AIAS and the Australian Research Grants Scheme.
Berndt was discerning and cautious about many things, including close friendships and sharing information. Rarely beguiled by superficial comments and encounters, she had a quiet and creative wit, and a love of nature, music, poetry, and prose. While often overshadowed in public life by her husband, she made a distinctive contribution to anthropology. Her subtle and expansively written works displayed a compassionate understanding of Aboriginal Australia, and the cultural complexities of the human condition in Australia and elsewhere.
After Ronald’s death in 1990, a loss that devastated her, Berndt completed A World That Was: The Yaraldi of the Murray River and the Lakes, South Australia (1993), a major work the couple had started fifty years before. She died at Peppermint Grove, Perth, on 8 May 1994, and was buried in Karrakatta cemetery alongside her husband. They had no children. A research foundation, named after them, was established from her bequest to UWA. The Anthropology Research Museum was set up by the Berndts in 1976 partly to house their Aboriginal, Melanesia, and South-East Asians collection; it was renamed the Berndt Museum in their honour in 1992.
Berndt, Catherine. Interview by Elery Hamilton-Smith, 29 April 1994. Sound recording. National Library of Australia; Berndt, Catherine. Women’s Changing Ceremonies in Northern Australia. Paris: Herman, 1950; Gray, Geoffrey. ‘He Has Not Followed the Usual Sequence: Ronald M. Berndt’s Secrets.’ Journal of Historical Biography 16 (Autumn 2014): 61–92; Kaldor, Susan. ‘Catherine Helen Webb Berndt (1918–).’ In Women Anthropologists, edited by Ute Gacs, Aisha Khan, Jerrie McIntyre, and Ruth Weinberg, 8–16. Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1989; Marcus, Julie, ed. First in Their Field: Women and Australian Anthropology. Carlton, Vic.: Melbourne University Press, 1993; Stanton, John E. ‘Catherine Helen Berndt 1918–1994.’ Australian Aboriginal Studies, no. 1 (1994): 93–96; Tonkinson, Robert, and Michael Howard, eds. Going It Alone?: Prospects for Aboriginal Autonomy: Essays in Honour of Ronald and Catherine Berndt. Canberra: Aboriginal Studies Press, 1990; Tonkinson, Bob, and Myrna Tonkinson. ‘Obituary.’ Anthropology News, June 1994, 2–6.
BEVAN, BRIAN EYRL (1924–1991), rugby league footballer, was born on 24 June 1924 at Waverley, Sydney, son of New South Wales–born Eric Clarence Bevan, printer, and his Victorian-born wife Veida Alice, née Leggett. During his education at Bondi Public and Randwick Boys’ Intermediate High schools, Brian exhibited athletic prowess. He excelled at sprinting and swimming, and was also proficient at cricket and tennis. After watching his father play rugby league for Newtown and Eastern Suburbs—and later viewing the British touring teams of 1932 and 1936—he took up rugby football himself. Later, he attributed his great sidestepping skills to the experience he gained in dodging crowds following attendance at matches at the Sydney Cricket Ground. He played rugby union at school and rugby league informally with friends, then representative rugby union for the New South Wales Schoolboys in 1937 and 1938. At the age of fifteen he left school to commence an apprenticeship as a compositor.
From junior league club Graham, Bevan joined the Eastern Suburbs club in 1941, playing that season in third and reserve grades. At this stage he switched position from centre to right wing. He made his first grade debut in 1942, but played little after he was mobilised for service in the Royal Australian Naval Reserve on 4 May that year. Trained as a stoker, he served at shore establishments and at sea in the corvettes Katoomba (1942–43) and Bundaberg (1944), and the cruiser Australia when it was sent to Plymouth, England, for refitting in 1945. On his arrival, an expatriate rugby league player, Bill Shankland, arranged a trial for him with the English club Warrington, Cheshire, resulting in a contract with the club. Demobilised on 29 March 1946 in Sydney, Bevan returned to England.
Bevan’s speed and skill as a winger ensured his instant success in English rugby league. He was the game’s leading try-scorer in his first full season, scoring forty-eight. In total, he played 620 matches for Warrington between 1945–46 and 1961–62, scoring 740 tries and thirty-four goals (2,288 points). He scored what is known in British rugby league as ‘the try of the century’, against Wigan on 14 August 1948, when he eluded several opposition players and zig-zagged 125 yards (114 metres) to score from his own tryline. The same year he married Grace Doreen Allison, a bank clerk, on 20 April at the parish church, Grappenhall, with Church of England rites. In December 1959 Bevan’s jaw was broken. Because of this and other accumulated injuries, he played fewer games in the first team. His last match for Warrington was in April 1962; he then spent two seasons with the second-division club Blackpool Borough. In total, he scored 796 tries in first-class British rugby league, a world record.
An ungainly looking athlete, Bevan suffered from premature baldness, had lost several teeth, and played football with his knees wrapped in thick bandages. Following his retirement from rugby league, he worked as a policeman with the Ministry of Defence in southern England, but he and his wife eventually retired to Blackpool to be nearer their children. Bevan died of lung cancer on 3 June 1991 at Southport, Merseyside. A statue and a mural are located at Warrington’s home ground, the Halliwell Jones Stadium.
Gate, Robert. The Great Bev: The Rugby League Career of Brian Bevan. London: London League Publications, 2002; Hadfield, Dave. ‘Why a Bondi Boy Never Wore Green and Gold.’ Sydney Morning Herald, 26 October 1988, 78; Heads, Ian. ‘Style that Kept Bevan One Step Ahead of the Rest.’ Sydney Morning Herald, 5 June 1991, 60; Loosehead. ‘Bevan.’ no. 6 (Winter 1999): 20–22; National Archives of Australia. A6770, BEVAN, B. E.
BIRCH, ARTHUR JOHN (1915–1995), organic chemist, was born on 3 August 1915 at Paddington, Sydney, only child of English-born Arthur Spencer Birch, pastry chef, and his Tasmanian-born wife Lily, née Bailey. Arthur junior’s interest in science began as a boy, and his intellectual promise was shown when, from Sydney Technical High School, he came third in the State in chemistry and won a public exhibition in 1932. He enrolled at the University of Sydney (BSc, 1937; MSc, 1938), where his contemporaries included Rita Harradence (Lady Cornforth), (Sir) John Cornforth, Ernest Ritchie [q.v.16], and (Sir) Ronald Nyholm [q.v.15]. Having won the 1934 Levey [q.v.2] and 1936 Walter Burfitt [q.v.7] scholarships, he graduated from his bachelor’s degree with first-class honours, sharing the university medal in organic chemistry with Harradence. He jointly won the John Coutts scholarship in 1937, and in 1938 was awarded an 1851 Exhibition scholarship.
Moving to the University of Oxford as a non-collegiate student (DPhil, 1940), Birch worked with (Sir) Robert Robinson. During World War II Robinson was heavily involved in committees and, in Birch’s words, his ‘neglect enabled me … to “do my own thing”’ (1995, 24). From 1941 to 1945 he was a member of the Home Guard. On 21 October 1948 at the parish church of St Peter in the East, he married Jessie Williams, a nurse. He worked at Trinity College, Cambridge, as the Smithson fellow of the Royal Society of London, from 1949.
In 1952 Birch became professor of organic chemistry at the University of Sydney. Although the study of chemistry expanded significantly in Sydney in the 1950s, he was frustrated by the shortage of money for equipment. After only three years he returned to England to take the chair of organic chemistry at the University of Manchester, which provided him with adequate funding and access to good instrumentation. This was a period of rapidly increasing use of chromatography and spectroscopy for separation and identification. While these processes had been beyond the resources of the University of Sydney, Manchester was where much of this new instrumentation was developed.
During the early 1960s Birch was invited to become the foundation professor of organic chemistry at the Research School of Chemistry at The Australian National University in Canberra. The school was intended to provide a centre of excellence as well equipped as any in Europe or the United States of America. Having played a central role in helping to plan the new school, he relocated to Canberra in 1967 and worked there until his retirement in 1980, completing two terms as dean (1967–70 and 1973–76). The Arthur Birch lectureship was established at the school in 1981.
Birch was principally interested in discovery rather than invention or the application of discoveries. He was pre-eminent in three fields of organic chemistry: reduction, organometallics, and biosynthesis. In the opinion of Sir Derek Barton, a Nobel laureate in chemistry, he was ‘ten years ahead of his time’ (Rickards and Cornforth 2007, 40) in these fields. His most important work at Oxford, which he carried out while employed by Imperial Chemical Industries Ltd on a fellowship, was on the reduction of aromatic rings using sodium and ethanol in liquid ammonia. This process would later become known as the Birch reduction. At Cambridge he worked on steroid synthesis with his doctoral student Herchel Smith, who later independently manufactured the total synthesis of the oral contraceptive norgestrel. In 1951 Carl Djerassi, from the Mexican pharmaceutical company Syntex, saw the potential application of the Birch reduction in modifying progesterone to make the first oral contraceptive drug, norethindrone. Birch acted as a consultant to Syntex for many years from 1958. Smith and Djerassi died millionaires, but no British patents were taken out on the reduction. Barton later believed that Birch ‘was certainly very seriously considered for a Nobel prize’ (Birch 1995, xxiv).
While at Cambridge, Birch also renewed his interest in natural products and their biosynthesis. His earliest research had been on the identification of natural products found in Eucalyptus dives oil. Natural products from plants had long been of interest to chemists, primarily because of their potential use as drugs. He was one of the first chemists to be interested in their biosynthesis. In a series of papers in the Australian Journal of Chemistry in 1953—which had been rejected by the Journal of the Chemical Society owing to lack of experimental proof—he proposed the ‘acetate hypothesis’, whereby polyketides derived from acetate could polymerise to phenolic compounds. Proof was soon provided with the availability of 14C acetate.
Outside his university role Birch advised on science policy and administration. In Australia he chaired the inquiry into the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (1976–77); was founding chairman of the Australian Marine Sciences and Technologies Advisory Committee (1979–81); and was president of the Australian Academy of Science (AAS) from 1982 to 1986 and the Royal Australian Chemical Institute (RACI) from 1977 to 1978. Internationally, he was an examiner on science and development policy in Denmark for the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. Between 1979 and 1987 he was a consultant for the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization and the United Nations Development Programme in the People’s Republic of China.
Many awards and honours came Birch’s way. Appointed CMG in 1979 and AC in 1987, he was a fellow of the AAS (1954), the Royal Society of London (1958), the Royal Institute of Chemistry (1960), and the RACI (1968); a full foreign academician of the Academy of Science of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (1976); a foreign fellow of the Indian National Academy of Science (1989); and an honorary fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry (1980), the Royal Society of New South Wales (1986), and the RACI (1994). He received honorary doctorates of science from the universities of Sydney (1977) and Manchester (1982), and Monash University (1982). Among his prizes were the H. G. Smith [q.v.11] (1954) and the Leighton [q.v.10] (1980) memorial medals from the RACI; the Matthew Flinders [q.v.1] medal from the AAS (1972); the Royal Society’s Davy medal (1972); the Flintoff medal from the Chemical Society (1972); the Tetrahedron prize for creativity in organic chemistry (1987); and the ANZAAS medal from the Australian and New Zealand Association for the Advancement of Science (1990). In 1995 the main building of the Research School of Chemistry was named for him.
Birch was a man of wry humour, never at a person’s expense, and, as a supervisor, of great enthusiasm and constant encouragement. Students learnt to hide whatever they were currently working on in the laboratory, to counter his desire to help and prevent the possibility of cigar ash impeding their efforts. His enthusiasm was infectious and as a lecturer he was convincing and persuasive. He liked classical music and collected books on the history of chemistry. Having learned glass-blowing in order to make his own apparatus, in later life he enjoyed creating glass animals. In 1995 he published his autobiography, To See the Obvious; in it he acknowledged his wife for her support in his career and for ‘shar[ing] in my scientific achievements’ (Birch 1995, 81). He died on 8 December 1995 in Canberra, survived by his wife and their two daughters and three sons, and was cremated. The following year the organic chemistry division of the RACI named an award after him.
Australian Academy of Science. MS121, Arthur Birch Papers; Australian National University. AU ANUA 6, Arthur Birch Papers; Birch, Arthur J. To See the Obvious. Washington, DC: American Chemical Society, 1995; Personal knowledge of ADB subject; Rickards, Rodney W., and John Cornforth. ‘Arthur John Birch 3 August 1915–8 December 1995.’ Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society 53 (December 2007): 21–44; Rickards, Rod, and David Craig. ‘Professor Arthur J Birch AC, CMG, FRS, FAA, FRACI.’ ANU Reporter, 31 January 1996, 4.
BIRDSELL, JOSEPH BERNARD (JOE) (1908–1994), physical anthropologist, was born on 20 March 1908 at South Bend, Indiana, United States of America, third child of American-born parents John Comly Birdsell, manufacturer, and his wife Jane, née Defrees. His grandfather, John Comly Birdsell, invented the first combined clover thresher, huller, and cleaner. Educated at Phillips Exeter Academy, New Hampshire, Joe studied aeronautical engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (BSc, 1931). After graduation he worked as a financial analyst in New York City for three years.
In 1935 Birdsell entered Harvard University (PhD, 1942) to study under Ernest Albert Hooton in the department of anthropology. Hooton proposed three options for Birdsell’s dissertation: crania of the classical Greeks, a nutritional study of Icelandic people, or hybridisation within Australian Aboriginal populations. Birdsell chose the last. In 1936 Norman Tindale [q.v.], ethnologist at the South Australian Museum and recipient of a Carnegie Corporation of New York grant, visited Harvard and screened his short film Day in the Life of the Pitjandjara (1933). The following year the corporation sponsored a major fieldwork expedition in Australia ‘to investigate the consequences of recent race crossing between Aborigines and Europeans’ (Birdsell 1967, 100) to be led by Birdsell and Tindale under the auspices of Harvard and Adelaide universities.
Birdsell and his wife Beatrice, née Gilbert, arrived in Adelaide in April 1938. During the expedition, which commenced the following month, Birdsell, Tindale, and their wives, who acted as secretaries and research assistants, travelled over 18,000 miles (29,000 km) throughout eastern, southern, and south-western Australia. While Tindale concentrated on collecting ethnographic data, including genealogies, Birdsell focused on anthropometrics, engaging in the invasive collection of physiological measurements, blood samples, and hair samples from more than 2,000 individuals. The Kaurna elder Lewis O’Brien was living at Point Pearce Mission Station, Yorke Peninsula, South Australia, when the expedition visited in 1938. Aged eight at the time, he recalled feeling ‘like a Guinea Pig. It didn’t feel too good. Skull being measured … arms and legs, it wasn’t great’ (O’Brien, pers. comm.). The expedition concluded in July 1939 and Birdsell returned to America in September.
Using the data collected during the expedition, Birdsell developed a tri-hybrid theory. He argued that Aboriginal people were ‘not, as generally considered, a homogenous people, but rather [were] composed of three major and discrete ethnic elements’ (Birdsell and Boyd 1940, 72). His doctoral thesis, ‘The Trihybrid Origin of the Australian Aborigine’ (1942), explored the idea that Australia had been populated, at different times, by these three groups, each partly replacing the previous group. He delayed the major publication of his results until after World War II. In 1941 he had accepted a teaching position at the State College of Washington. When America entered the war at the end of that year he joined the United States Army Air Forces. He served as an officer at Wright Field, Ohio, where his skills in anthropometry were employed in the Personal Equipment Laboratory.
Resuming civilian life, Birdsell was appointed a Guggenheim Fellow at Harvard University in 1946 and again in 1952. In 1947 he had moved to Los Angeles for a teaching position in the department of sociology and anthropology at the University of California (UCLA), which he held until his retirement as professor emeritus in 1974. Between 1948 and 1951 he was associate editor of the American Journal of Physical Anthropology. With the physical anthropologist Carleton S. Coon and the human biologist Stanley M. Garn, he co-authored Races: A Study of the Problems of Race Formation in Man (1950). Two years later he embarked on a second major Australian expedition, revisiting many of the people examined in the earlier expedition, as well as their descendants, and extending into northern and southern Western Australia and western South Australia. His second wife Esther Mae, née Devore, and Tindale and his wife, accompanied him. The two men maintained a close personal and professional relationship that lasted for many years after their field expeditions, Birdsell noting affectionately that Tindale ‘raised me like a brother in the field’ (SAMA 2017).
Birdsell returned to America in September 1954. Just over a year later he obtained a second divorce and, on 17 December 1955 at Los Angeles, California, married Roselin Auf der Heide, whom he had met at UCLA. In his teaching Birdsell tended not to include Australian material; however, he used examples from his Australian research in his popular textbook, Human Evolution: An Introduction to the New Physical Anthropology (1972). He made a third trip to Australia in 1973, taking up a research fellowship at The Australian National University. His tri-hybrid theory of Aboriginal origins received wide publicity and support from the 1940s to the 1970s. Manning Clark [q.v.] represented it as the accepted view among scientists in the first volume of his History of Australia (1968) and Tindale accorded it the status of scientific orthodoxy in Aboriginal Tribes of Australia (1974). However, opposing views were presented by Andrew Abbie [q.v.13] and others that showed the essential homogeneity of the Aboriginal population. Subjected to rigorous scientific testing, Birdsell’s theory crumbled and ‘no subsequent biological investigations of ancient Aboriginal skeletal remains’ (McNiven and Russell 2005, 90) have supported his claims. Further, as understandings of Indigenous agency and ethical fieldwork practices changed, his objectives and practices began to be scrutinised. Birdsell’s former student Robert Littlewood recalled his discomfort following in his teacher’s footsteps. Revisiting Aboriginal groups on Cape Barren Island thirty years after Birdsell, he explained: ‘I lived on the islands for several weeks before it became abundantly clear that the Islanders would not allow themselves to be treated as objects for purposes of furthering my career’ (Littlewood 1981, 19).
An ‘affectionately crusty’ anthropologist, Birdsell wore a ‘trademark uniform [of] baggy corduroy pants, flannel shirt, and a smashed hat’ (Mai 1994, 70) that made him look like he was always in the field. In 1993 he published Microevolutionary Patterns in Aboriginal Australia: A Gradient Analysis of Clines, a summary of his life’s work and thinking in which he continued to defend his tri-hybrid thesis. Survived by his wife and their son, he died on 5 March 1994 at Santa Barbara, California. He bequeathed his Australian field notes, journals, correspondence, and photographs to the South Australian Museum.
Birdsell, Joseph. ‘Preliminary Data on the Trihybrid Origin of the Australian Aborigines.’ Archaeology & Physical Anthropology in Oceania 2, no. 2 (1967): 100–155; Birdsell, Joseph, and William C. Boyd. ‘Blood Groups in the Australian Aborigines.’ American Journal of Physical Anthropology 27, no. 1 (June 1940): 69–90; Horton, David, and Stephanie Moser. ‘Joseph Bernard Birdsell 1908–1994.’ Australian Aboriginal Studies 1 (1994): 96–98; Littlewood, Robert A. ‘Jo Birdsell: A Brief Memoir.’ In The Perception of Evolution: Essays Honoring Joseph B. Birdsell, edited by Larry L. Mai, Eugenia Shanklin, and Robert W. Sussman, 15–20. Los Angeles: Department of Anthropology, University of California, 1981; McNiven, Ian, and Lynette Russell. Appropriated Pasts: Indigenous Peoples and the Colonial Culture of Archaeology. Lanham, Maryland, USA: AltaMira Press, 2005; Mai, Larry. ‘Joseph B. Birdsell.’ Anthropology Newsletter 35, no. 6 (1994): 70; O’Brien, Lewis. Personal communication; South Australian Museum Archives. ‘Guide to Records: Provenance. AA 689 Dr Joseph Benjamin Birdsell.’ Updated 3 March 2017. Accessed 18 September 2019. archives.samusuem.sa.gov.au/aa689/provlist.htm. Copy held on ADB file.
BIRTLES, DORA EILEEN (1903–1992), teacher and author, and Herbert Victor Birtles (1900–1994), author and journalist, were wife and husband. Dora was born on 2 April 1903 at Wickham, Newcastle, fifth of seven children of English-born Albert Frederick Toll, coal carter, and his New South Wales–born wife Hannah Ellen, née Roberts. Dora grew up in a prosperous and conservative home in which reading was not encouraged. Educated at Wickham Public and Newcastle High schools, she accepted a Teachers College bursary and exhibition to the University of Sydney in 1919.
Herbert, known as Bert or Kim, was born on 11 July 1900 at Richmond, Melbourne, fourth of six children of Victorian-born Herbert Birtles and his South Australian wife Elizabeth, née Grenfell. His father was a railway worker from Gippsland, while his mother took in sewing. Bert attended Burnley State School then studied at Zercho’s Business College in Collins Street, Melbourne. He worked as a clerk while developing his journalistic skills by reporting the talks of speakers along the Yarra Bank for Ross’s Monthly and the Socialist, the newspaper of the Socialist Party of Victoria. In 1919 he travelled to Queensland where he attended a Workers’ Educational Association camp at Mount Tamborine, leading to work as secretary to T. C. Witherby, director of tutorial classes at the University of Queensland.
Removing to Sydney, Bert enrolled at the University of Sydney as a non-degree student, taking courses in philosophy and psychology. His leisure time was spent writing poetry and mixing with the atheists, nihilists, and anarchists of Sydney’s Bohemia. He met Dora in 1922. They shared a love of writing and Dora was intrigued by Bert’s left-wing politics. In 1923 both Bert and Dora had poems published in the University of Sydney student magazine Hermes. Bert’s erotic poem, ‘Beauty (To D.)’, drew censure from the university’s proctorial board. The university expelled him for the offence of ‘misconduct in writing a poem’, provoking accusations of wowserism by the Sun. Dora’s love poem ‘Moon-Shadows’ was punished with a two-year suspension. Her father insisted that they marry, which they did on 24 August 1923 at the Methodist Church, Burwood, Sydney. Dora had been granted her teaching certificate and found a position at Redfern Domestic Science School before graduating BA (1926).
In 1924 Bert self-published a volume of poems, including ‘Beauty’, entitled Black Poppies, with a pen portrait of himself by B. E. Minns [q.v.10]. Dora moved to Newcastle, teaching at Cooks Hill Intermediate High, Newcastle High, and Newcastle Girls High schools between 1928 and 1932. After a failed attempt to support himself with his poetry, Bert joined Dora in Newcastle and launched his journalistic career at the Newcastle Sun.
Dora embarked in April 1932 with four others on a voyage in a 34-foot (10.4 m) cutter, Gullmarn. Although initially conceived of as a cheap way to travel to London, the boat journey was abandoned at Singapore in November 1932 after a series of adventures as they sailed through the Great Barrier Reef, along the coasts of Papua and Netherlands New Guinea, and amongst the islands of the Netherlands East Indies. Dora travelled in China and Japan before working her passage to Britain. After a driving trip around Europe, she settled in London where she wrote on both fashion and contemporary politics for Australian and British papers and was active in the anti-war movement. Her Gullmarn diary was reworked into North-West by North, published in 1935.
Bert remained in Newcastle, acting as Dora’s agent, mentor, and typist, while earning praise for his ability as a political journalist. In March 1935 he launched Thyrsus: An Australian Magazine of Verse, which ran for two issues. He travelled to Palestine and then to Athens, where the couple were finally reunited at the Parthenon. They remained in Greece for a year, travelling extensively and conducting research on Greek life and politics. Bert’s book Exiles in the Aegean, published in 1938, was admired for revealing the experiences of the communists exiled to the islands of Anafi and Gavdos. The threat of war and Dora’s desire to start a family brought them back to Australia, in Bert’s case via Trinidad, where he researched another book that was never published.
The couple took a flat in Bondi in 1938, and the first of their two sons was born the following year. Bert spent much of his time in Canberra as a member of the Press Gallery for the Sydney Sun. He moved to the Daily Telegraph in 1941 and later worked as a special writer and reporter for the Sunday Telegraph. Dora was active (vice-president, 1945) in the Fellowship of Australian Writers. In 1944 the family moved to Mosman. That same year, Harry Watt of Ealing Studios employed Dora as a researcher and then as an assistant writer and talent scout for his film The Overlanders. Having spent five months travelling with the actors and crew in the Northern Territory during filming, Dora was commissioned to write the novel of the film, which appeared under the same title in 1946. During this busy period Dora contributed a column for the Sunday Telegraph, appeared on a regular radio advice show, produced an art book, Australia in Colour (1946), and published two children’s novels, Pioneer Shack (1947) and Bonza the Bull (1949).
Dora joined the Australian-Yugoslav Cultural Association and, in 1951, the couple accepted an official invitation to visit and report on Yugoslavia. Three years later, Bert was called to appear before the (Petrov) Royal Commission on Espionage. He admitted to having socialised with representatives of the Soviet Union’s newsagency, TASS, at the Journalists’ Club in the early 1940s.
Back in Australia, Dora joined the staff of Cremorne Girls’ High School (1954–58). Her father died in 1958 and the thriving transport business he had built was sold to National Minerals, subsequently trading as Toll Holdings Ltd. Dora used her inheritance to build a modern home at Balmoral Beach. She took advantage of her new freedom, travelling to Afghanistan in 1959 to assist with the making of a film, studying drama at the University of New South Wales, and visiting the Soviet Union, China, and South America. Bert retired from the Daily Telegraph in 1972. From that time, he forbad the reading of newspapers in their house and concentrated his own interests on poetry.
Bert was of short stature, with steady brown eyes, and as a youth wore his thick hair long and tousled, over a bow tie and jacket. Dora had blue eyes in an animated face. She was self-conscious about a large strawberry birthmark running from her right lower cheek and neck over her chest and down her arm. Vance Palmer [q.v.11] described her in the Bulletin as an intellectually curious modern traveller, with an analytical mind and a malicious wit. Near the end of her life, she saw herself as an ‘ordinary housewifely feminist’ (Giuffre 1990, 63), who believed in women having careers but not in getting rid of men completely. Although they spent lengthy periods apart, the Birtleses were a loving couple who offered one another both concrete support and the freedom to pursue their respective careers. Both made significant contributions across several fields of writing and enjoyed large and diverse audiences. They shared a love of the ocean, swimming, and sailing, and chose to live by the sea at Merewether, Newcastle, and at Bondi and Mosman.
Dora’s work was rediscovered in the 1980s when both North-West by North (1985) and The Overlanders (1987) were republished and she was interviewed for several collections on Australian women writers. Bert developed Alzheimer’s disease and they moved to an aged care facility in Terrey Hills in 1990. Dora died on 28 January 1992 at Cobar, New South Wales, and was buried in the local cemetery. Bert died at Nowra on 30 April 1994 and was cremated. Both sons survived their parents.
Chamberlain, Mary, ed. Writing Lives: Conversations Between Women Writers. London: Virago Press, 1988; Gilchrist, Hugh. Australians and Greeks. Vol. 2. Rushcutters Bay, NSW: Halstead Press, 1997; Giuffre, Giulia. A Writing Life: Interviews with Australian Women Writers. Sydney: Allen and Unwin, 1990; Kirkpatrick, Peter. ‘Two Young Poets, Hermes and the Pranks of the Professors.’ Hermes 1, no. 1 (1985); Moore, Deirdre. ‘Poet’s Zest for Politics and Love.’ Australian, 5 May 1994, 13; Survivors of Beauty: Memoirs of Dora and Bert Birtles. Edited by Julia Saunders. Sydney: Book Collectors’ Society of Australia, 1996; Mosman Library. Birtles Papers; Palmer, Vance. ‘Australian Writers Abroad.’ Bulletin, 27 January 1937, 2.
BLAIKIE, GEORGE NEIL (1915–1995), journalist and historian, was born on 5 May 1915 at Arncliffe, New South Wales, second of four sons of Victorian-born parents John Coventry Blaikie, bank manager, and his wife Jessie McAllister, née McLennan, formerly a nurse. Educated at Sydney Grammar School, George later recalled that his writing career began with a poem published in the Sydney Mail that ‘typified schoolboy spirit’ (Blaikie 1966, 21). His proud father showed the poem to his clients, including Sir Joynton Smith [q.v.11], who secured George a job as copy boy at Smith’s Weekly in December 1931.
Blaikie later described himself as ‘a highly-trained Presbyterian lad, Sunday school teacher, Bible class leader, and an ex-Chancellor of the Rockdale Order of the Burning Bush’ (Blaikie 1966, 21). This piety was no bulwark against the rowdy spirit of Smith’s Weekly, where he was initially subject to much good-natured pranking. However, as Adam McCay [q.v.10] later informed him, ‘You are now initiated into the brotherhood of the happiest souls in Australian journalism’ (Blaikie 1966, 29).
By 1935 Blaikie was second-in-charge of Smith’s Melbourne office; in 1938 he was its Adelaide editor. In 1936 he had commenced, but did not complete, a diploma of journalism at the University of Melbourne. He returned to Sydney in 1939 as head of Smith’s reporting staff. Claude McKay [q.v.15] described Blaikie as ‘the most capable reporter ever to serve’ the paper during this period (1961, 248). On 29 April 1940 he married Margaret Raitt at Sandringham Presbyterian Church, Victoria.
Beginning full-time duty in the Citizen Military Forces on 17 March 1942, Blaikie trained as a gunner. On 6 September he enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force. The same month he was commissioned as a lieutenant. He served with the 2/11th Field Regiment, Royal Australian Artillery, in New Guinea and on Bougainville between September 1944 and December 1945. During this time he regularly wrote items for Smith’s Weekly. Demobilised in Australia on 30 January 1946, he transferred to the Reserve of Officers. He returned to Smith’s, which republished his and other articles lamenting a declining birth rate in a pamphlet, Where Are Our Children? (1948). The paper was clearly fading by then, but he stayed loyal until it closed in October 1950. Later, in the bestselling Remember Smith’s Weekly? (1966), he became its chief chronicler.
After a failed late bid to save Smith’s, Sir Keith Murdoch [q.v.10] formed some of its staff into a Sydney-based production unit with Blaikie in charge, attaching them to the Brisbane Sunday Mail with the aim of eventually establishing a new national weekly. Murdoch’s plan died with him in 1952, but Blaikie and the unit continued to thrive. Believing ‘that if you got behind the dust and dates and found the human beings in history, the subject could be fun’ (Blaikie 1963, title page), he began a series on ‘Famous Australian Disasters’ in 1951 that became the syndicated historical feature ‘Our Strange Past’. Based on his research in the Mitchell [q.v.5] Library, his lively, often out-of-the-way ‘true-life’ (Riggert 1995, 105) stories proved a major success, and he eventually wrote around 3,000 of them. He collected the choicest in Scandals of Australia’s Strange Past (1963), Skeletons from Australia’s Strange Past (1964), Great Australian Scandals (1979), and Scandals Strange but True (1984). Great Women of History (1984) came from features he wrote for the Australian Women’s Weekly. His most influential work was Wild Women of Sydney (1980), a racy account of the criminal careers of Tilly Devine [q.v.8], Kate Leigh [q.v.10], and Nellie Cameron that helped ensure their survival as figures of urban folklore.
Having retired at the age of sixty, Blaikie kept writing, and also sometimes appeared on television as a guest of Mike Walsh or Don Lane. He was 5 feet 11 inches (180 cm) tall and blue-eyed; his most distinctive features were his high-domed bald head and military moustache. In his leisure he liked gardening and fishing, as well as surfing when younger; he was also a skilled pianist who wrote humorous songs. He was appointed AM in 1988. Survived by his wife and two sons, he died on 12 October 1995 at Turramurra, and was cremated.
Blaikie, George. Interview by Hazel de Berg, 12 August 1969. Transcript. Hazel de Berg Collection. National Library of Australia, Remember Smith’s Weekly?: A Biography of an Uninhibited National Australian Newspaper, Born: 1 March 1919, Died: 28 October 1950. Adelaide: Rigby, 1966, Scandals of Australia’s Strange Past. Adelaide: Rigby, 1963; Foyle, Lindsay. Personal communication; McKay, Claude. This is the Life: The Autobiography of a Newspaperman. Sydney: Angus & Robertson, 1961; National Archives of Australia. B883, NX110300; Riggert, Ella. ‘George Blaikie Dies Aged 80.’ Sunday Mail (Brisbane), 15 October 1995, 105.
BLIGHT, FREDERICK JOHN (Jack) Blight (1913–1995), poet and accountant, was born on 30 July 1913 at Unley, Adelaide, second of five surviving children of South Australian–born parents Frederick Percival Blight, land agent, and his wife Hazel May, née Triggs. When Jack was a baby, the family moved to Brisbane. His father prospered as a stock and station agent. Jack attended Taringa State School and, from 1928 to 1931, Brisbane State High School, where he began writing Wordsworthian verse. He loved the countryside and ‘tried to paint the Australian bush in words, in comparison to the setting of the English landscape’ (Blight 1978).
About 1932 the family shifted to a rural property, Summerlands, at Harrisville, west of Brisbane. Working on the farm was an unhappy experience for Blight, often alone and feeling isolated. His unpublished, autobiographical novel, ‘Down Stream’, depicted his life through the experiences of the central character, Oscar Hamileinan. He also worked in his father’s orchard at Grantham, in the Lockyer Valley. After Frederick lost his real property in the Depression, Jack joined the swagmen on the road, finding occasional work. In 1939, having studied accountancy with Hemingway & Robertson, he obtained a job as a tax accountant at Bundaberg.
That year the Bulletin published Blight’s poem ‘The Old Pianist’; he would use the title for his first collection, published in 1945. The magazine accepted more of his work and he acknowledged Douglas Stewart [q.v.18], the literary editor, as his mentor, later telling him: ‘I know that I, myself, would never have written even as well as I have, if it had not been for your sensitive and keen selection of my publishable work’ (Blight 1961). Back in Brisbane by 1942, he attended meetings of the group around Meanjin Papers, meeting Val Vallis and Judith Wright, who both became influential in his writing. Modern Times, a journal published (1947–50) by his brother Malcolm, featured several of his poems, including ‘The Mermaid’.
Early in World War II, Blight served at Enoggera with the Citizen Military Forces, before being released in 1942 for employment as an investigation officer on the staff of the Commonwealth prices commissioner. On 18 April that year at St Stephen’s Anglican Church, Coorparoo, he married Beverley Madeline D’Arcy-Irvine, a clerk-typist; they set up house at Bardon. His official duties took him to Cairns and, briefly, to Canberra, after which he returned to Brisbane. He was one of four commissioners whom the Queensland government appointed to inquire (1949–50) into the price and quality of timber produced and sold in the State.
For six years from 1950 he was the cost accountant with Wilson Hart & Co. Pty Ltd, a timber business at Maryborough. Afterwards, he part-owned sawmills in the district and led a busy working life, while also writing poetry and playing golf. Leaving his firm in 1968, he obtained work with the State Stores Board in Brisbane and settled at 34 Greenway Street, Grange, later the subject of a poem.
As a means of getting to know contemporary poets and of enhancing his chances of securing a place among them, Blight had begun keeping scrapbooks of every serious poem published in Australia. He corresponded with a number of his peers, including Wright, Bruce Beaver, and David Malouf. To Wright, he often enclosed poems for her assessment and occasionally one just for her: ‘The Letter’ begins:
‘Better one thin frail line of friendship in a letter lonely as a lost white glove, than never knowing your whereabouts …’ (Blight 1992, 101).
Fascinated by the natural environment, Blight particularly loved the sea and enjoyed surfing, cruising local waters, and holidaying at the beach. He became known as a poet of the sea, although stressing that, in his poems with that setting: ‘The sea and its littoral are the place of the poems. The subject is surely an examination of life, especially an examination of human life and habit in relation to the life of other creatures’ (Blight 1965). He chose the sonnet form as the best means of conveying, in compressed thought, one clearly identified subject. Wright told him that A Beachcomber’s Diary (1963), his next collection after The Two Suns Met (1954), was ‘packed with succinct meditation’; she wrote a poem, ‘For Jack Blight’, in appreciation. Generations of schoolchildren studied his ‘Death of a Whale’. Malouf singled out ‘The Beachcomber’ as Blight’s ‘oblique self-portrait’ (NAA C1573).
Two more volumes of sea sonnets, My Beachcombing Days (1968) and Holiday Sea Sonnets (1985), followed. Between them, Blight wrote poems about social and political topics, published in several books. The recipient of a Myer award (1964), the Dame Mary Gilmore [q.v.9] medal (1965), the Patrick White [q.v.18] prize (1976), the Grace Leven poetry prize (1976), and the Christopher Brennan [q.v.7] award (1980), he was appointed AM (1987) for his services to literature and education.
Blight attributed his ‘short stumpy stature’ and ‘sometimes laconic sense of humour’ to his Cornish ancestry (Blight 1978). In 1973 he retired, after which the Literature Board of the Australian Council for the Arts (Australia Council) supported his writing through its guaranteed-income scheme and (from 1984) an emeritus fellowship. He deposited his papers, including more than 800 letters and the manuscripts of over 4,000 poems, in the Fryer Library, University of Queensland. Although he hoped to die in the sea, his life ended in St Andrew’s War Memorial Hospital, Brisbane, on 12 May 1995; he was buried in the Pinnaroo lawn cemetery, Aspley. His wife and their two daughters survived him. An obituarist described him as ‘one of Australia’s most distinguished poets’ (Reid 1995, 64).
Blight, John. Letter to Douglas Stewart, 20 October 1961. John Blight Papers, UQFL70, box 7. Fryer Library, University of Queensland; Blight, John. ‘The Shaping of a Contemporary Poet.’ Commonwealth Literary Fund Lecture, 15 June 1965. Transcript. John Blight Papers, UQFL70, box 12. Fryer Library, University of Queensland; Blight, John. Interview by Hazel de Berg, 27 February 1978. Transcript. John Blight Papers, UQFL70, box 17. Fryer Library, University of Queensland; Blight, John. John Blight, Selected Poems 1939–1990. St Lucia, Qld: University of Queensland Press, 1992; Duwell, Martin. ‘Introduction.’ In John Blight, Selected Poems 1939–1990, by John Blight, xv–xxiv. St Lucia, Qld: University of Queensland Press, 1992; Fryer Library, University of Queensland. UQFL70, Blight, John. Papers (1915–1984; National Archives of Australia. C1573, T2, box 4; Reid, Barrett. ‘John Blight.’ Overland 140 (1995): 64; Steggall, Stephany. ‘John Blight: An Australian Poet Corresponding and Conversing in the Community of Writers, the Community of the Natural World and the Community of the Public Sphere.’ MPhil thesis, University of Queensland, 2002.
Stephany Evans Steggall
BLOCKSIDGE, PAULINE JENNIFER (1932–1995), actor, director, and speech and drama teacher, was born on 22 July 1932 at Karachi, India (Pakistan), youngest of three children of English-born John Humphrey Blackwell, oil company manager, and his wife Jessie Pauline Luard, née Pears, who had been born in Burma (Myanmar); the tenor (Sir) Peter Pears was Jennifer’s uncle. Her early schooling was in Kashmir, where she performed her first stage role, as Milk in The Children’s Blue Bird. In 1945 the family returned to England. Blackwell boarded (1945–50) at Queen Anne’s School, Caversham, Berkshire. Encouraged by the headmistress, she developed a strong interest in theatre, acting in and directing school plays. In her final year she was head girl. From 1951 she studied in London, at the Central School of Speech and Drama, gaining a teaching diploma (University of London, 1952).
Exhibiting a spirit of adventure, in 1953 Blackwell travelled to Australia to teach at the New England Girls’ School, Armidale, New South Wales. She particularly enjoyed directing her students in such plays as Pygmalion and The Rivals. On a visit to Brisbane, she met Norman Bruce Blocksidge. In 1956 she went back to London, where she worked as a make-up artist in the British Broadcasting Corporation’s television studios. Blocksidge joined her, studying law and working as a negotiator with a real estate agency. The couple were married on 2 July 1958 at the parish church, Penshurst, Kent. They sailed to Brisbane in 1959 and Bruce entered his family’s real estate business, Blocksidge & Ferguson Ltd.
Jennifer Blocksidge joined the amateur Brisbane Repertory Theatre in 1962, beginning her acting career with the company in Romanoff and Juliet. In 1967 she directed her first play, Semi-Detached. The same year Brisbane Repertory moved into a converted cottage in Hale Street, Milton, one of four that the company owned at the site. Aptly named La Boîte, the theatre featured a small, box-like performance space, with seating on all sides, creating an intimate relationship between cast and audience. La Boîte’s inaugural production (1967) was Look Back in Anger, in which Blocksidge played the lead female role of Alison Porter. She acted in many more La Boîte plays, giving memorable performances in Eden House (1970) and The Sweatproof Boy (1973). Directing was her passion, however; between 1967 and 1986 she would direct fifteen productions for the company.
From 1969 to 1975 Blocksidge served as La Boîte’s honorary theatre director. Together with her husband (who presided over the organisation’s council in 1967–72) and the architect Blair Wilson, she organised the demolition of the building and an adjacent cottage and their replacement by a purpose-built theatre-in-the-round. In 1972 the iconic 200-seat La Boîte Theatre opened with a production of A Refined Look at Existence, directed by Jennifer Blocksidge.
Under Blocksidge’s artistic leadership, La Boîte presented contemporary, experimental, and often risky Australian and international plays (alongside some for pure entertainment), earning it a national reputation as an alternative theatre company. The critic Katharine Brisbane described it as ‘the place to go … to see the red meat of theatre’ (UQFL109). The repertoire regularly featured the works of rising Australian playwrights, such as Michael Boddy, Dorothy Hewett, Alma De Groen, Jack Hibberd, David Williamson, Alexander Buzo, Jill Shearer, and Jennifer Compton. La Boîte attracted a new audience to theatre and young actors and directors keen to work with the company.
In 1975 Blocksidge established the Early Childhood Drama Project, La Boîte’s first professional wing. The following year the Australia Council’s youth officer, Michael FitzGerald, described the scheme’s innovative touring and in-house programs as ‘unique in Australia’ (UQFL109). Blocksidge introduced further educational activities, including a Saturday morning children’s workshop and daytime classes in communication for women. For three years (1976–78 and 1981), Blocksidge was president of La Boîte’s council. In 1976 she succeeded in having Rick Billinghurst appointed as professional artistic director, thus furthering the organisation’s transition to a semi-professional community theatre. Her dream of a fully professional theatre company would finally be realised in 1993.
Between 1981 and 1992 Blocksidge’s professional acting career blossomed with TN! Theatre Company and the (Royal) Queensland Theatre Company (RQTC). For TN! she played the title role in Mother Courage and Her Children (1981) and appeared in Cloud Nine (1983). For RQTC she portrayed the central character in Mrs Klein (1991) to critical acclaim, and she had leading roles in A Cheery Soul and Hotel Sorrento (1992), receiving a Matilda awards commendation (1992) for her performances in the latter two. In addition, she directed TN!’s productions of The Death of Minnie (1983) and Rosy Apples Need Shining (1990).
Blocksidge was a renowned teacher. In 1979 she had established the voice-training program in the acting course at the Kelvin Grove (Brisbane) College of Advanced Education (Queensland University of Technology), teaching it for fifteen years. She also served on the Community Arts Board of the Australia Council (1983–85) and the board of the RQTC (1990–95).
A tall, elegant, and imposing woman, with a strong personality, Blocksidge carried herself with an air of confidence that could be daunting. She attributed this persona to her ‘British Raj background’ and ‘terribly proper finishing school’ but claimed that ‘a lot of it is bluff’ (Strong 1991, 22). In 1990 she was divorced. She died of cancer on 11 November 1995 at Paddington, Brisbane, and was cremated. Her son and two daughters survived her. An obituary described her as a ‘theatrical giant’ and as ‘a gifted performer with a reputation for touching audiences’, who would be remembered as ‘a nurturing mentor, cherished second mother, good mate, valued teacher and respected colleague’ (Yallamas 1995, 17). In 2007 her family established the Jennifer Blocksidge Memorial Fund to provide an annual medal and cash prize to an outstanding Queensland University of Technology acting or technical-production student, the money to be used for postgraduate professional development.
Anthony, Delyse. ‘Jennifer Blocksidge.’ In Companion to Theatre in Australia, edited by Philip Parsons and Victoria Chance, 90. Sydney: Currency Press, 1995; Blocksidge, Bruce. Interview by Christine Comans, 28 September 2003. Audiotape. Christine Comans Private collection; Blocksidge, Jennifer. Interview by Jennifer Radbourne, 17 July 1978. Audiotape. Jennifer Radbourne Private collection; Comans, Christine. La Boite: The Story of an Australian Theatre Company. Brisbane: Playlab Press, 2009, ‘La Boite Theatre 1925 to 2003: An Historical Survey of Its Transformation from an Amateur Repertory Society to an Established Professional Company.’ PhD diss., Queensland University of Technology, 2006. Accessed 12 April 2018. www.eprints.qut.edu.au/16306/1/Christine_Comans_Thesis.pdf; Fryer Library, University of Queensland. UQFL109, Brisbane Repertory Theatre Collection; The Old ‘LA BOÎTE’ 1967–1971. Brisbane: La Boîte Theatre, 1972; Strong, Mark. ‘Jennifer Blocksidge.’ Courier Mail (Brisbane), 3 April 1991, 22; Yallamas, Lisa. ‘Theatre Fans Remember Great Pioneer.’ Courier Mail (Brisbane), 14 November 1995, 17.
BLUCK, HARRY (1915–1991), musician, band leader, and trade unionist, was born on 15 June 1915 in Perth, eldest of three children of Welsh-born Harry Bluck, railway employee, and his English-born wife Alice, née Paskin. The family lived in Aberdeen Street in a cosmopolitan neighbourhood, with many European migrant families, from whom Harry acquired ‘epicurean’ tastes, and a multicultural outlook (Bluck 1985). He began piano lessons at five years of age, and then studied with Joseph Nowotny, developing a preference for jazz rather than classical music.
A life-changing experience occurred in April 1923 when Bluck saw the Oscar Asche [q.v.7] Company perform Chu Chin Chow at His Majesty’s Theatre. Musical theatre became a passion, as did the theatre building, which he would do much to save from demolition in the 1970s. Between the ages of ten and thirteen, he sang with the St George’s Cathedral choir; at fourteen he performed frequently on Australian Broadcasting Company (Australian Broadcasting Commission from 1932) radio, toured nationally with a Young Australia League band, and played the organ at his local Anglican church. He gained his Junior certificate at Perth Boys’ School, then proceeded to Perth Modern School for his final two years.
Bluck began work in the pathology department at Royal Perth Hospital, before joining the Western Australian Police Force in 1936. From 1937 to 1938 he served in Wiluna and formed the Wiluna Musical Society. Then in Geraldton (1938–41) he became a regular broadcaster on radio station 6GE, and staged ‘Coppers Community Concerts’. Serving in the Australian Imperial Force from 13 January 1942 to 10 May 1946, he was employed in a variety of supporting roles and, in 1944–45, as a signalman with the 3rd Divisional Signals and the 2nd Divisional Signals in New Guinea and New Britain. In his spare time he led a band and entertained the troops. He finished as an acting sergeant.
On discharge, Bluck started private teaching, opening Harry Bluck’s School of Music in the Bon Marché department store building. He was appointed a music director for the Australian Broadcasting Commission (1947–72), arranging and composing under the name Richard Johns. After establishing, with Sammy Sharpe, the annual Jazz Jamboree in 1947, he became well known in the city. This big-band festival lasted more than thirty years before coming under the umbrella of the Festival of Perth.
Having joined the Western Australian Musicians’ Industrial Union of Workers in 1935, Bluck worked to improve wages and conditions, and to raise the standard of musical performance; he was instrumental in establishing a benevolent fund but did not achieve his aim of a minimum wage. He filled the roles of president and secretary until 1982, became a member of the Trades and Labour Council of Western Australia in 1963, was elected to the State executive of the Western Australian Labor Party, and as a delegate to the International Federation of Musicians (1976–81). In 1975, with the Australian Council of Trade Unions president, Bob Hawke, he was a delegate to the International Labour Organization conference in Geneva. He was chairman of the Western Australian Alcohol and Drug Authority, chairman of the Western Australian Arts Council (1984–90), and a foundation member of the Australia Council. A long-time advocate for a conservatorium of music, he saw this realised in 1979 with the founding of the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts. In 1982 he was appointed AM for service to music.
Six feet (183 cm) tall and in later life weighing 235 pounds (107 kg), Bluck’s ‘rotund, genial’ appearance was a ‘walking tribute to his own cooking’ (Mirror 1952, 6). Although he had titanic energy and a high public profile, he was a very private man. He was married three times; on 1 January 1938 to Annie (née Braund), and on 23 March 1946 to Marjory (née Fisher); both ended in divorce. On 3 June 1959 he married Kathleen Bass, a jazz singer. A diabetic, he died on 12 December 1991 in Hollywood Hospital, Nedlands, Western Australia, and was cremated. He was survived by his wife, a son from his second marriage, and two daughters from his third. The Art Gallery of Western Australia holds a portrait by Clifton Pugh [q.v.18].
Bluck, Harry. Interview by Rhonda Jamieson, March–July 1985. Transcript. State Library of Western Australia; Katherine Bluck. Personal communication; Mirror (Perth). ‘Perthonalities of the Jazz Jamboree.’ 1 November 1952, 6; National Archives of Australia. B883, WX39364; Western Australian Police Historical Society. Service record of Harry Bluck, Regimental Number 1821.
David J. Hough*
BLUE, THOMAS CRAMPTON (TOM) (1908–1991), company director and sports administrator, was born on 4 May 1908 at Norwood, Adelaide, the second child and eldest son of New South Wales–born Walter Inglis Blue, commercial traveller, and his Victorian-born wife Achsah Louise, née Crampton. When Tom was a year old the family moved to Sydney, where he attended Woollahra Public School. In 1920 his father died. Two years later, aged fourteen, he left school and went to work as an office boy in a shipping company. He was later apprenticed to a firm of automotive engineers at Surry Hills and attended night classes at Canterbury.
Blue was a talented sportsman, participating in surf lifesaving; club cricket; and—his great love—rugby union, as hooker for Eastern Suburbs. Early on he was drawn to the management side of the game, first through refereeing—he was a first-grade rugby referee for more than a quarter of a century—then through his increasing involvement in administration and promotion. In 1932 he moved to a new job at Dubbo as a general line salesman for the Goodyear Tyre & Rubber Co. (Australia) Ltd. Here, together with a local rugby international, Bryan Palmer, he helped to form the Far Western Rugby Union association.
On 20 April 1935 at the Anglican Church of All Saints, Woollahra, Sydney, Blue married Gladys Isobel Cleaver, stenographer and daughter of Arthur Cleaver, the deputy mayor of Dubbo. Two years later, after winning second prize in a Goodyear ‘best salesman’ contest, he was promoted to assistant manager of Goodyear in Queensland and the Blue family moved to the inner-northern suburbs of Brisbane. In this role he travelled throughout Queensland and the Northern Territory, becoming ‘one of the personalities of the motor trade’ (Worker 1950, 8). During World War II he was a member of a rubber control advisory board, and liaised with the United States Army Air Forces about the maintenance and repair of rubber products in the Pacific theatre. In 1950, having resisted Goodyear’s attempts to transfer him to head office in Sydney, he succeeded E. J. Withers as the company’s Queensland manager, a position he held until his retirement in 1973.
In Brisbane Blue’s involvement with rugby had intensified. He was elected to the executive committee of the Queensland Rugby Union Referees’ Association in 1941, and later served as a member of the QRU board of management, a Queensland delegate to the Australian Rugby Football Union (1949–52), and ARFU deputy chairman (1949, 1951). He was also a member of the Queensland Turf Club, and made his presence felt there in 1948 by moving, unsuccessfully, to democratise its election procedures in line with its New South Wales and Victorian counterparts.
The consuming interest of the second half of his life was Olympic sport and athletics in particular. Initially drawn to athletics by his elder son Anthony’s success in middle-distance running at school and university, he spent his weekends timekeeping, judging, organising, and fundraising for athletic competitions in Brisbane. Tony Blue would win three Australian half-mile championships (1958–59, 1961–62 and 1962–63), a Commonwealth Games bronze medal (1962), and compete in two Olympic Games (1960 and 1964). In 1959 Tom became president of the Queensland Amateur Athletics Association and later served as a vice-president of the Amateur Athletic Union of Australia (AAUA) (1966–80). He also undertook several key roles in Olympic administration at State and national levels, including as president of the Queensland Olympic Council (1964–91) and executive committee member of the Australian Olympic Federation (AOF) (1964–89). He represented the AOF at International Olympic Committee meetings and for many years chaired its justification commission. In this powerful capacity, it fell to him in the lead-up to the Mexico Olympic Games (1968) to reduce the number of athletes in the Australian contingent drastically, and to maintain budgetary stringency for the succeeding three Olympics.
The greatest challenge of Blue’s public career came in 1980, with the Fraser Government’s attempt to have Australia join an international boycott of the Moscow Olympic Games in retaliation for the invasion of Afghanistan by the Soviet Union in 1979. After some wavering, Blue came down hard in favour of resisting what he saw as an attempt to politicise the Olympics. In a close ballot, he cast one of the six votes against the boycott in the eleven-member AOF executive committee. The decision, later acclaimed as wise and far-sighted, was controversial at the time, and determined efforts were made to reverse it, including anonymous death threats to Blue, which he defied.
In February 1975, after years of partial estrangement, Isobel divorced Blue. Four months later, on 26 June, he married Muriel Florence Smith, née McKinnon, who had worked as his secretary at Goodyear. In 1989, amid some acrimony caused in part by belittling remarks he had made a year earlier about the national weight-lifting team, he stepped aside from the AOF executive board. He was replaced by the former Olympian Michael Wenden, who had led a move against him by some younger athletes and officials and had tried, unsuccessfully, to oust him as president of the Queensland Olympic Council a week before. In March 1991 he resigned the presidency. Survived by his wife and the two sons of his first marriage, he died six weeks later on 25 April at Auchenflower and was cremated.
Blue was a large, powerful man who radiated energy, enthusiasm, and great personal charm. His critics called him a despot, and he had been described as ‘the last of the line of bare-knuckle, uncompromising administrators who ran Queensland sporting organisations as one-man bands’ (Smith 1991, 5). He was a tireless worker, an effective promoter and fundraiser, and an unapologetic advocate for the application of international standards to Australian sport. In recognition of his contribution, he had been awarded the British Empire medal (1983), appointed AM (1989), and made a life member of the AAUA and the AOF.
Blue, Tony. Personal communication; Blue, Muriel. Personal communication; Dubbo Liberal and Macquarie Advocate. ‘Blue-Cleaver.’ 25 April 1935, 1; O’Callaghan, Frank. ‘He Can’t Resist a Challenge.’ Sunday Mail (Brisbane), 12 May 1974, 33; Queensland State Archives. 881087, Writ–matrimonial petition (Thomas Crampton Blue vs Gladys Isobel Blue, number 982 of 1974); Smith, Wayne. ‘Champion of Olympic Movement Loses the Battle Against Cancer.’ Courier Mail (Brisbane), 27 April 1991, 5; Worker (Brisbane). 27 November 1950, 8.
BODEN, ALEXANDER (1913–1993), manufacturing chemist, author and publisher of science textbooks, and philanthropist, was born on 28 May 1913 in North Sydney, eldest of three children of Irish-born parents William Boden, draper’s salesman, and his wife Helena Isabel, née Hutchinson. Alex was educated at Willoughby Public and North Sydney Boys’ High schools. Gaining his Leaving certificate in 1929, he won an exhibition to the University of Sydney (BSc, 1934).
Following a stint working in a chemical laboratory recycling waste, Boden engaged in several business ventures, including in 1940 establishing with a partner, Ray Russell, a chemical manufacturing company, Alex Minter & Co. Pty Ltd. In 1948 he set up another company, Hardman Chemicals Pty Ltd; it was based in Marrickville. He had married Elizabeth Constance McVicar, a biochemist, on 20 November 1943 at St Stephen’s Presbyterian Church, Sydney.
Hardman Chemicals became one of the principal sources of the insecticide DDT in Australia in the 1950s, until it was condemned for its side effects and eventually banned in the United States of America. Though not convinced of the wisdom of the prohibition, Boden switched his attention to a range of other industrial chemicals, some of which were produced under licence from larger overseas manufacturers. He also began a biological products company, Bioclone Australia Pty Ltd, in 1981; it specialised in monoclonal antibodies.
Boden enjoyed a parallel career as an author and publisher. His first book, A Handbook of Chemistry for Advanced Secondary School Students, appeared in 1937. An Introduction to Modern Chemistry (1946) was published by his own company, Science Press, which he had established in 1943. It set a new pattern for texts on chemistry, enlivening the bare factual properties of chemical compounds and their preparation with information on their uses in industry and agriculture. It was also tested with practising teachers during its development, a technique he was to employ for future school texts. Meanwhile the Handbook went through ten editions by 1957, being expanded and modified each time. Senior Chemistry (1962) was followed by Introduction to Science for High School Students (1964). Covering all aspects of science, it was to have sales of more than 300,000 copies.
By the early 1970s Boden was preparing a more modern and ambitious high school/first year college text, Chemical Science: A Course in Chemistry, which appeared first in 1976 under the authorship of Robert Hunter, Peter Simpson, and Donald Strancks. Boden was producer, in which role he was responsible for presentation and layout, and for the final form of the contents. With colour on almost every page and liberally sprinkled with cartoons and photographs of young men and women performing laboratory tasks, the book sold 100,000 copies before it was replaced by his final book. In Chemtext: Chemistry for Senior Students (1986) he returned to the role of author when he was over seventy, yet the 512-page tome retained the enthusiasm of a young man and was ‘imbued with the joy of chemistry’ (Emsley 1988, 79).
Throughout his career Boden practised philanthropy. The chief beneficiaries were the University of Sydney and later the Australian Academy of Science (AAS). In 1946, when he had been far from wealthy, he paid for renovations to the university’s third-year chemistry laboratory, at a cost of around £1,200 ($2,400). A great supporter of the work of Professor Hans Freeman, in 1972 he co-founded the Foundation for Inorganic Chemistry with Freeman. He donated $500,000 to establish a chair of human nutrition, named for him, in the department of biochemistry. Later he also supported the creation of the Sydney University Nutrition Research Foundation to ensure a continuation of funds for research in that area.
In 1977 Boden became a member of the AAS’s Science and Industry Forum, and in 1979 offered to meet the costs of an initial number of specialist meetings on biological subjects. In 1985 the arrangement was extended, with a grant of $200,000 over four years to establish the academy’s Boden Research Conferences. Elected a fellow of the AAS in 1982 and appointed AO in 1984, he received an honorary doctorate of science from the University of Sydney in 1984. He was awarded the Leighton [q.v.10] memorial medal in 1986 for his many services to chemistry.
Apart from his industrial and publishing interests, Boden enjoyed weekends at his dairy farm near Windsor in Sydney’s west. The spacious family home at Roseville, with swimming pool, tennis court, and garden, was one of several residences used by the family and for entertaining guests. A private and kind man, he was a keen observer of the world and ‘diligent in pursuit of answers’ (Ross 1997, 534). Survived by his wife, son, and four daughters, he died on 18 December 1993 at Roseville, Sydney, and was cremated. The Boden Institute of Obesity, Nutrition, Exercise, and Eating Disorders and the Alexander Boden Laboratories at the University of Sydney are named after him.
Emsley, John. ‘A New Age of Chemistry.’ New Scientist, 28 April 1988, 79–80; Ross, I. G. ‘Alexander Boden 1913–1993.’ Historical Records of Australian Science 11, no. 4 (December 1997): 523–40.
Robert J. Hunter
BOLTON, JOHN GATENBY (1922–1993), radio astronomer, was born on 5 June 1922 at Sheffield, England, son of John Gatenby Bolton, schoolteacher, and his wife Ethel, née Kettlewell. He was educated at King Edward VII School, Sheffield, where he won a scholarship to Trinity College, Cambridge (BA Hons, 1943; MA, 1985). On 29 December 1943 he was commissioned in the Royal Naval Reserve. He served at the Telecommunications Research Establishment, Malvern, and aboard (1944–45) the aircraft-carrier HMS Unicorn in the Indian and Pacific oceans. After the war he migrated to Australia where, in 1947, he joined the radiophysics laboratory of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research. The laboratory was researching the new field of radio astronomy. On 5 March 1948 at the registrar general’s office, Sydney, he married Letty Leslie, née Burke, a widow. In 1949 the CSIR became the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO).
While working at a former radar station at Dover Heights, Sydney, Bolton succeeded in picking up strong radio emissions from a small region in the constellation of Cygnus; it was later found to correspond to a very dim, distant galaxy. The discovery led to a realisation that the radio universe was very much larger than the optical universe. This was followed by discoveries of three extremely distant, very powerful radio emitters that had optical counterparts, thus providing the link between radio and optical astronomy, and opening up a new area of astronomical research. Having constructed a 72-foot (22 m) diameter, hole-in-the-ground radio telescope, Bolton identified Sagittarius A as the nucleus of the Milky Way galaxy.
In 1951 the Royal Society of New South Wales awarded Bolton the Edgeworth David [q.v.8] medal. Two years later he joined the CSIRO’s cloud physics group, but in January 1955 he went to the California Institute of Technology to direct and establish the Owens Valley Radio Observatory. There he built an innovative interferometer that was a forerunner of later instruments. His leadership markedly advanced radio astronomy in the United States of America, and in 1960 he was involved with identification of the radio source 3C48 as a quasar (quasi-stellar object). This led to a new and highly fertile field of research.
Bolton returned to Australia in 1961 to oversee construction of the 210-foot (64 m) diameter radio telescope at Parkes, New South Wales, and to assume the directorship of the Australian National Radio Observatory (ANRAO). He was responsible for production of the Parkes catalogue that listed more than 8,000 radio sources, including several hundred quasars. The Parkes telescope became famous when it relayed Neil Armstrong’s first steps on the moon in July 1969.
A fellow of the Australian Academy of Science since 1969, he retired as director of ANRAO in 1971 and later moved to Queensland. In 1973 he was elected a fellow of the Royal Society and the Indian Academy of Sciences. Awarded the gold medal of the Royal Astronomical Society in 1977, he was appointed CBE in 1982. He was also a foreign honorary member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (1972), foreign associate of America’s National Academy of Sciences (1980), and was awarded the Bruce medal of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific (1988). Bolton was known for his determination, unshakeable resolve, and a phenomenal power of concentration. His views were uncompromising on a number of subjects but he ‘was a fair and friendly person, rather shy deep down, a person of great integrity and strength of character’ (Wild and Radhakrishnan 1995, 387). Survived by his wife and two sons, he died of pneumonia on 6 July 1993 at home at Buderim. He was cremated and his ashes placed beneath a commemorative sundial at Parkes. In November 2001 on the fortieth anniversary of the opening of the Parkes Observatory, the avenue of trees from the telescope to the Observers Quarters, was officially renamed ‘John Bolton Avenue’.
Council for Scientific and Industrial Research. Annual Report. Melbourne, Vic.: CSIR, 1946–48; Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation. Annual Report. Melbourne, Vic.: CSIRO, 1949–71; Robertson, Peter. ‘John Bolton and Australian Astronomy.’ Australian Physicist 21 (September 1984): 178–80; Wild, J. P., and V. R. Radhakrishnan. ‘John Gatenby Bolton 1922–1993.’ Historical Records of Australian Science 10, no. 4 (December 1995): 381–91.
BONNEY, MAUDE ROSE (LORES) (1897–1994), aviator, was born on 20 November 1897 in Pretoria, South African Republic, only child of German-born Norbert Albert Rubens, a clerk and later a merchant, and his locally born wife Rosa Caroline, formerly Staal, née Haible. The family moved to London in 1901 and then to Melbourne in 1903. Maudie, an independent and rebellious child, attended the Star of the Sea Ladies’ College and the Cromarty Girls’ School, both at Elsternwick. In 1911 she sailed with her parents to Germany, where she enrolled in the Victoria-Pensionat, Bad Homburg, to advance her music studies. She became an accomplished pianist but her prospective career as a musician ended when she suffered stage fright and fled during a recital. At this school she also developed a love of gardening and fluency in French and German.
Returning to Melbourne in 1913, Rubens worked for the Australian Red Cross Society in World War I. On 7 April 1917 at St Philip’s Church of England, Sydney, she married Harry Barrington Bonney, a wealthy merchant and leather-goods manufacturer from Brisbane. The couple lived in the latter city, initially at the Gresham Hotel, before settling in 1919 at Bowen Hills. She called her husband ‘Billi’ and herself ‘Dolores’, later shortened to ‘Lores’.
In 1928 Bert Hinkler [q.v.9], Harry Bonney’s cousin, took Lores for her first flight, from Eagle Farm aerodrome to Yeerongpilly and back. The experience thrilled her and she was hooked. Hinkler praised her ability to know her location by identifying landmarks from the air. The next year Bonney took several joy rides with a flying instructor, Charles Matheson, while her husband played golf. Bored, and losing hope of having children, she began flying lessons with Matheson on 6 August 1930. Twelve months later she gained her private pilot’s licence. Her husband surprised her with the gift of a Gipsy Moth, which she named My Little Ship.
The first of Bonney’s four major solo flights took place on Boxing Day 1931. Leaving Brisbane at 4.30 am, she reached Wangaratta, Victoria, at 7.20 pm, in time for dinner with her father. She considered this her greatest achievement; it was reported to be the longest one-day flight yet undertaken by an Australian airwoman. Having studied blind flying, night flying, aircraft maintenance, and meteorology, she obtained a commercial licence in 1932, not because she sought a career in aviation but to prepare herself for long-distance flying. Between 15 August and 27 September that year she circumnavigated Australia, the first woman to do so. Spending ninety-five hours twenty-seven minutes in the air and travelling some 6,900 nautical miles (12,800 km), she survived forced landings, a collapsed undercarriage, and a mid-air collision with a plane that flew close to hers so its passenger could take a photo; both aircraft landed safely. She was awarded the Qantas trophy for 1932.
Aiming to be the first woman to fly from Australia to England, Bonney learned how to overhaul engines and had her aircraft modified for the journey. On 10 April 1933 she left Brisbane. Caught in a tropical storm on the twentieth, she attempted to land on the coast of an island off Thailand, near the border with Burma (Myanmar). As she approached a beach, a herd of water buffalo walked into her path, forcing her to land too close to the sea. Her plane overturned and came to rest in the water. Remaining unperturbed, she managed to free herself from her harness and get to shore. She had the plane salvaged and shipped to Calcutta (Kolkata), India, for repairs. On 25 May she resumed her flight and on 21 June landed at Croydon, England.
Piloting a Klemm Eagle, on 9 April 1937 Bonney took off from Brisbane and travelled via Indian Ocean littoral countries to Cairo and thence to Cape Town, arriving on 18 August. She was the first person to fly from Australia to South Africa. The formidable journey of 15,700 nautical miles (29,000 km) was her most heroic aerial feat. In 1949 she ceased flying because her eyesight no longer met the required standard.
From 1934 to 1939 Bonney had been Australian governor of the Women’s International Association of Aeronautics. In World War II she served on the Queensland executive of the Women’s Voluntary National Register. Between 1954 and 1956 she presided over the Queensland branch of the Australian Women Pilots’ Association; the national body awarded her its Nancy Bird trophy (1981) and the State branch established a trophy in her name. She was appointed MBE (1934) and AM (1991).
After her marriage had failed in the 1950s, Bonney moved to the Gold Coast. She travelled extensively and found serenity in bonsai. Slim and 5 feet 3 inches (160 cm) tall, she dressed stylishly and loved jewellery, especially pearls. She died on 24 February 1994 at Mermaid Beach and was cremated. In 2012 she was inducted into the Australian Aviation Hall of Fame. A Queensland State electoral district and streets at Coolangatta and in the Brisbane suburbs of Clayfield and Archerfield bear her name.
Alexander, Kristen. Taking Flight: Lores Bonney’s Extraordinary Flying Career. Canberra: National Library of Australia, 2016; Bartlett, Alison, and Catherine Darcy. ‘Adventures in Flight and Writing: An Interview with R. D. Lappan.’ Coppertales, no. 7 (2001): 99–104; Gwynn-Jones, Terry. Pioneer Aviator: The Remarkable Life of Lores Bonney. St Lucia, Qld: University of Queensland Press, 1988; Lappan, R. D. Along Came the Sky. St Lucia, Qld: University of Queensland Press, 1997; Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences, Sydney. P3502, Dolores Bonney Aviation Archive, 1913–1984; National Library of Australia. MS 10127, Papers of Lores Bonney.
R. D. Lappan
BONYTHON, JOHN LANGDON (1905–1992), resources entrepreneur and company director, was born on 13 January 1905 in Adelaide, son of South Australian–born parents (Sir) John Lavington Bonython [q.v.7], journalist, and his wife Blanche Ada, née Bray. The Bonython family was one of South Australia’s wealthiest and most famous; Sir John Langdon Bonython [q.v.7], the proprietor of the Adelaide Advertiser, was the boy’s grandfather. His maternal grandfather was Sir John Bray [q.v.3], a former premier of the State. John (Jack to the family) was the eldest child, with two younger sisters, Elizabeth (Betty) and Ada. His mother died soon after giving birth to Ada, when he was three. In 1912 his father married Jean Warren [q.v.13], the union producing three more siblings, Warren, Katherine, and Hugh Reskymer (Kym).
The reputation of Bonython’s paternal grandfather, the work demands of his own father, the early loss of his birth mother, and the social activities of his stepmother were critical in shaping his outlook on life. Recollections of being alone at night as a young child with both parents away gave him strong and enduring empathy with the underdog. At the Collegiate School of St Peter (1913–23), he won prizes for English, history, economics, and physics. Although he qualified for matriculation at fifteen, he remained at school and completed additional subjects because of his youth. He attended King’s College, Cambridge, where he studied law (BA, 1927). Exposure to the views of J. M. (Baron) Keynes at university, and those of Friedrich Hayek years afterwards, confirmed his view that capitalism and free enterprise needed an intellectual, if not an ideological, basis to compete with socialism.
A keen sportsman, Bonython had captained his school’s tennis team and gained a Blue for Australian Rules football. At Cambridge he captained the university’s lacrosse team against Oxford and was awarded a half-Blue. Later golf would become his main adult sporting interest. Physically fearless, he did not hesitate to assist strangers in trouble. While still a student, he went to London to act as a special constable during the British general strike of May 1926. He spent the university’s summer break that year in Adelaide and on 4 September at St John’s Anglican Church married Minnie Hope Rutherford, granddaughter of the New Zealand pastoralist and politician Andrew Rutherford. The wedding was a major event in the city’s social calendar.
On 20 June 1928 Bonython was called to the Bar at Gray’s Inn, London. He returned to Adelaide in 1929 expecting to have a newspaper career, only to find that his grandfather had just sold his controlling interest in Advertiser Newspapers Ltd to the Melbourne-based Herald & Weekly Times Ltd. Instead he practised law with the firm of Baker, McEwin, Ligertwood [q.v.15] & Millhouse. Active in public affairs, he nominated, unsuccessfully, for Liberal Federation preselection for Alexandra in 1929, while a member of the Political Reform League. He served as president (1937–39) of the Taxpayers Association of South Australia and, following a six-month overseas trip in 1937, he was interviewed for an article about his impressions of the tax system of the United States of America (Advertiser 1938, 25). The Roosevelt administration, he believed, was creating confusion and impeding business by imposing, and then wavering over, novel forms of taxation. Between August 1939 and January 1942 he served part time in the Citizen Military Forces, performing regimental and legal duties in Adelaide and rising to captain.
From the late 1930s Bonython’s business interests had expanded. He lectured on the virtues of enterprise to Adelaide audiences. Although well known for his long-term directorships of National Mutual Life Association of Australasia Ltd, Eagle Star Insurance Co. Ltd, Argo Investments Ltd, Executor Trustee & Agency Co. of South Australia Ltd, and the Herald and Weekly Times Ltd, he also directed less-established ventures such as Alaska Ice Cream and Produce Co. Ltd and Currie Gold Mines NL. Appointed a director of Advertiser Newspapers Ltd in 1942, he became chairman in 1971. He brought to the role his grandfather’s perfectionism, especially regarding grammatical precision and accurate headlines. A leading journalist, Stewart Cockburn, reminisced: ‘He always loved, and was proud of, the paper. No other director in memory took such pains, in his heyday, to get to know staff personally’ (Cockburn 1983, 59). The business had changed, however, from when his father was vice-chairman and, by the time of his retirement in 1980, some directors viewed him as overly pedantic.
Bonython’s strong entrepreneurial drive and desire to make his own mark had led him and a school acquaintance, Robert Bristowe, to launch South Australian and Northern Territory Oil Search (Santos) Ltd in March 1954, with Bonython as chairman. They secured exploration licences for much of South Australia but lacked capital and expertise until, accompanied by a government geologist, Reginald Sprigg [q.v.], they spotted droplets of oil surfacing on a water bore at Wilkatana, north of Port Augusta. The first well the company drilled was barren. Others drilled further north in a joint venture with Delhi Australian Petroleum Ltd also proved disappointing, until the consortium discovered natural gas in commercial quantities at Gidgealpa in 1963 and at Moomba in 1966.
Without Bonython’s ‘unyielding faith and pertinacity it is doubtful whether [Santos] would have got off the ground’ (Cockburn 1983, 60). The enterprise grew under his leadership from a ‘belief’ into one of the largest ten companies in Australia (Field 1981, 1). As a consequence of continuing ill-health after a slight stroke, he announced his retirement from the board in an ‘at times emotional’ shareholders’ meeting on 21 April 1981 (Field 1981, 1); he remained an emeritus director. Port Bonython, near Whyalla, was named in his honour.
Having been divorced by Hope in March 1950, Bonython married Shirley Joan Smith, a nursing sister, at the Pirie Street Methodist Church, Adelaide, on 29 November that year. A member of Adelaide’s business and social elite by birth, throughout his life he exhibited characteristics of conservatism, modesty, and determination; he was also shy and something of a loner. In 1980 he was appointed AO for his services to the media and industry. He was a member of the Naval, Military and Air Force Club of South Australia. On 17 April 1992 he died in Adelaide, his wife, their son and daughter, and the son and two daughters of his first marriage, surviving him. As he had been in life, his passing was discreet; following a private service, he was cremated. An annual John Bonython lecture was initiated to commemorate his important early support of the Centre for Independent Studies, an organisation fostering ideas of free enterprise and capitalism.
Advertiser (Adelaide). ‘Financial Trend Abroad: Impressions of Mr. John Bonython: Enquiries in U.S.: Criticism of Mr. Roosevelt.’ 8 January 1938, 25, ‘The Modest Man Who Made Santos.’ 20 April 1992, 11; Cockburn, Stewart. The Patriarchs. Glen Osmond, SA: Ferguson Publications, 1983; Field, John. ‘Santos Founder Calls It a Day.’ 22 April 1981, 1; Gibbs, R. M. Bulls, Bears and Wildcats: A Centenary History of the Stock Exchange of Adelaide. Norwood, SA: Peacock Publications, 1988; National Archives of Australia. B884, S17232.
BOOMER, ROBERT GARTH (1940–1993), educationist, was born on 12 September 1940 at Mount Barker, South Australia, elder child of South Australian–born parents Charlemagne Carlyle Guilford Boomer, brickmaker, and his wife Rita Ivy, née Miels. Educated at Littlehampton Primary School, and Mount Barker and Adelaide Boys High Schools, Garth excelled at tennis and Australian Rules football and won a teaching scholarship to study at the University of Adelaide (BA Hons, 1962). He gained a Diploma of Teaching (Secondary General) in 1966 from Adelaide Teachers College. On 2 January 1965 he had married Jean Graham McNaught, a teacher, at the Albert Street Methodist Church, Brisbane.
After graduating, Boomer taught English, mathematics, and Latin in secondary schools before being appointed as the first departmental consultant in English. From the late 1960s he authored and co-authored a number of English textbooks. In 1972 he won an Education Department scholarship to study at the Institute of Education, University of London (MEd, 1973), focusing on language and learning. Returning to South Australia, he became an education officer and then inspector of schools, before being appointed (1980) director of Wattle Park Teachers Centre which oversaw curriculum and teacher development in the State public education system. By this time he was coming to national and international prominence as a speaker and writer on language and literacy, English, and curriculum theory and practice.
Boomer moved to Canberra in 1984 to become director of the National Curriculum Development Centre. At a time of slowly expanding Commonwealth government involvement in school education, the appointment consolidated his influence on education policy. The next year he was appointed chair of the Commonwealth Schools Commission and, upon the demise of that body, interim chair of the Schools Council. In mid-1988 he returned to South Australia as associate director-general of education (curriculum), a position he held until his death.
In addition to his significant administrative career, Boomer’s intellect, scholarship, and brilliant writing and oratory marked him as one of Australia’s most influential educationists. Having the rare ability to combine the administrative and intellectual worlds of education, he adopted what he termed a ‘pragmatic-radical’ position, which acknowledged fiscal realities while continuing to advocate for social justice, equity, and educational reform (Boomer 1999, 52). He maintained an interest in the teaching of English and literacy, intertwined with a concern for the methods and theories of teaching. Learning required a collaborative partnership with students, in classrooms that were as democratic as possible and that offered students some elements of choice. He viewed teachers as intellectuals who should have the opportunity to research their practice and to make changes to their teaching as they developed new insights. In this way he saw curriculum development as a critical and reflexive process, responsive to student needs and priorities.
Boomer’s commitment to learning and his regard for teachers led to a long involvement with the South Australian English Teachers Association, and the Australian Association for the Teaching of English (AATE) of which he became a life member in 1977 and president (1981–84). He was also president of the International Federation for the Teaching of English (1983–85), and he played an important role in the establishment of the Australian Curriculum Studies Association (ACSA) in 1983. In 1989 he was appointed as the South Australian representative and vice-chairman (1989–93) of the Australian Children’s Television Foundation. He used his creative-writing talents and his understanding of learning and teaching to contribute to the creation of Lift Off, an innovative approach to children’s television.
A larger-than-life character, Boomer was described by a friend and colleague as a ‘raconteur; scholar; derring-do; gastronome; bon vivant; connoisseur; and imbiber of quality red wine; scallywag; singer and dancer; lover of literature; proud Aussie’ (Brock 2013, 20). He was appointed OAM, and later elevated to AM (1993). Survived by his wife, two daughters and a son, he died of brain cancer on 16 July 1993 in the Daw House Hospice, Adelaide, and was cremated. Both the AATE and ACSA perpetuate his memory through lectures which bear his name. The education faculty building at the University of South Australia is also named after him.
Boomer, Garth, Nancy Lester, Cynthia Onore, Cynthia, and Jon Cook, eds. Negotiating the Curriculum: Educating for the 21st Century. London: Falmer Press, 1992; Boomer, Garth, and Dale Spender. The Spitting Image: Reflections on Language, Education and Social Class. Adelaide: Rigby, 1976; Boomer, Garth. ‘Pragmatic-Radical Teaching and the Disadvantaged Schools Program. In Designs on Learning: Essays on Curriculum and Teaching by Garth Boomer, edited by Bill Green. Canberra: Australian Curriculum Studies Association, 1999, 49–58; Brock, Paul. ‘In Memory of Garth Boomer: May He Not “Rust Unburnished”, but “Shine in Use”.’ English in Australia 48, no. 3 (2013): 12–20; Green, Bill, ed. Metaphors and Meanings: Essays on English Teaching by Garth Boomer. Norwood, SA: Australian Association for the Teaching of English, 1988; Green, Bill and Marion Meier, eds. ‘Garth Boomer – 20 Years On?’ English in Australia 48, no. 3 (2013), 4–7.
BOWEN, EDWARD GEORGE (1911–1991), engineer and radio physicist, was born on 14 January 1911 at Cockett, Swansea, Wales, youngest of four children of George Bowen, sheet-metal worker, and his wife Ellen Ann, née Owen. As a boy Edward took a keen interest in radio technology, which sowed the seeds for his future technical career. Educated at the municipal secondary school in Swansea, he won a scholarship to study physics at the University College of Swansea, University of Wales (BSc, 1930; MSc, 1931). He gained a PhD (1934) at King’s College, University of London, under the supervision of (Sir) Edward Appleton.
During 1933 and 1934, Bowen had worked with a cathode-ray direction finder at the radio research station at Slough. While engaged in this work, he was noticed by (Sir) Robert Watson Watt, who in 1935 wrote a secret government memorandum on the possibility of detecting aircraft by means of radio waves. This was a turning point in Bowen’s life, for he joined Watson Watt’s team, working on experimental ground radar at Orford Ness, Suffolk. As a result of their experiments, a chain of radar stations was set up to provide warning of approaching enemy aircraft. When the group moved to the Bawdsey Manor research station in 1936, he was given the responsibility of building an airborne radar system. He created the first such system, which was successfully tested in September 1937. During 1938 his group worked on two major projects, the detection of ships (Air to Surface Vessels, or ASV) and the interception of aircraft (AI). On 27 December 1938, he married Enid Vesta Williams, a science teacher whom he had met at the University College of Swansea, at Horeb Baptist chapel, Skewen, Wales; they later divorced.
Bowen’s other major contribution to his country’s effort in World War II was as a member of Sir Henry Tizard’s mission from August 1940, informing the Americans about Britain’s radar research. He exhibited an early sample of the cavity magnetron, demonstrated airborne radar, and assisted in developing centimetre-wave radar at the newly established radiation laboratory at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Appointed OBE in 1941, he was awarded the American Medal of Freedom in 1947.
As his work in the United States was coming to an end, Bowen was offered a job at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research’s radio physics laboratory in Sydney. He arrived on 1 January 1944. In May 1946 he was appointed chief of the division of radio physics with CSIR (from 1949 the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation). At the end of the war, the division had a group of highly talented physicists and engineers. Two programs emerged under Bowen’s direction: cloud and rain physics, which he led, and radio astronomy, headed by Joe Pawsey [q.v.15]. Bowen was a pioneer of cloud seeding and rainfall experiments in Australia, although his ideas about the influence of meteoric dust on rainfall were not universally accepted. In 1957 he received an honorary doctorate of science from the University of Sydney.
Perceiving that further advances in radio astronomy required large aerial systems, Bowen pursued the idea of establishing such a project in Australia. His decision to set up the Parkes radio telescope produced his most enduring legacy to astronomy in Australia. The telescope, which was built with financial assistance from the Carnegie Corporation and the Rockefeller Foundation, opened on 31 October 1961. It has since been employed in major astronomical discoveries and space missions, including moon landings by American astronauts, and has become a national icon. In 1962, Bowen was promoted to CBE.
Bowen’s contribution to the establishment of the Anglo-Australian Telescope at Siding Spring, near Coonabarabran, was also significant. Chairman of the interim joint policy committee for much of its existence, he became chairman of the telescope board in February 1971. In late 1972, however, he was appointed scientific counsellor at the Australian embassy in Washington, DC. The telescope opened on 16 October 1974, and was hailed as a technological masterpiece. A fellow of the Australian Academy of Science since 1957, in 1975 he was elected a fellow of the Royal Society.
Known as ‘Taffy’ to his colleagues, Bowen remained a staunch Welshman to the end of his days, and refused to become an Australian citizen. He had ‘an enthusiastic and engaging manner’ (Hanbury Brown, Minnett, and White 1992, 151) and enjoyed cricket and sailing. Survived by three sons, he died on 12 August 1991 at Chatswood and was cremated.
Bowen, E. G. Radar Days (Bristol: Adam Hilger, 1987); Gascoigne, S. C. B., K. M. Proust, and M. O. Robins, The Creation of the Anglo-Australian Observatory. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990; Hanbury Brown, R., Harry C. Minnett, and Frederick W. G. White. ‘Edward George Bowen 1911–1991.’ Historical Records of Australian Science 9, no. 2 (December 1992): 151–66; Robertson, Peter. Beyond Southern Skies: Radio Astronomy and the Parkes Telescope. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992.
BRACEGIRDLE, WARWICK SEYMOUR (1911–1993), naval officer, was born on 22 December 1911 at Newcastle, New South Wales, elder son of New South Wales–born (Sir) Leighton Seymour Bracegirdle [q.v.7], naval officer, and his South Australian–born wife Lilian Anne, née Saunders. His father’s career entailed frequent moves, which resulted in Warwick attending Grimwade House, Melbourne Church of England Grammar School (1918–19, 1923–24); the Collegiate School of St Peter, Adelaide (1919–21); and the Cranbrook School, Sydney (1921–22). In 1925 he entered the Royal Australian Naval College, Jervis Bay, Federal Capital Territory. He was awarded colours for rugby and hockey, and won the college’s welterweight boxing championship in 1928. Although an average scholar, at passing out that year he received the King’s Medal for exemplary conduct, performance of duty, and good influence among his peers.
Appointed midshipman in 1929 on board HMAS Australia, Bracegirdle commenced training with the Royal Navy (RN) on board HMS Ramillies in 1930. The following year he was promoted acting sub-lieutenant and attended the RN College, Greenwich, Britain, completing the course, after initial failure, in 1933. Joining the destroyer HMAS Stuart, he was promoted lieutenant in 1934 and gained his watch-keeping certificate. He served in the cruiser HMAS Canberra, completed the RN long gunnery course (1937–38), and joined the cruiser HMS Amphion in 1939. On 10 June that year, at the RN College Chapel, Greenwich, he married Margaret Eve Slingsby Bethell, an amateur foil champion. Amphion was recommissioned as HMAS Perth with ‘Braces’ as gunnery officer in July 1939.
After the outbreak of World War II, Perth served in the North Atlantic and Caribbean before returning to Australia in 1940. Deployed to the Mediterranean, the ship took part in the battle of Matapan and the evacuation of troops from Greece and Crete in April–May 1941. Bracegirdle was awarded a Distinguished Service Cross (DSC) on 1 January 1942 for ‘outstanding zeal, patience and cheerfulness and for setting an example of wholehearted devotion to duty’ (NAA A3978). He then served at HMAS Cerberus, Westernport, Victoria, as a gunnery instructor before promotion to lieutenant commander and transfer to the cruiser HMAS Shropshire as gunnery officer.
During 1943 and 1944 Shropshire served in the New Guinea and Philippines campaigns. On 25 October 1944, at the battle of Surigao Strait, Shropshire’s gunfire assisted in the destruction of the Japanese battleship Yamashiro. Bracegirdle, who earned a bar to his DSC and was twice mentioned in despatches, was highly regarded by the ship’s company. His exceptional social skills, ‘natural charm’ (NAA A3978), love of the navy, bravery, and genuine concern for the welfare of the men under his command were constant features in his confidential reports: ‘few officers … possess to such a high degree, the loyalty of their juniors’ (NAA A3978). Nevertheless, some reporting officers considered that he lacked the intellectual capacity required for very high rank.
Returning to Cerberus in 1945, Bracegirdle was promoted to commander in 1947. After completing the courses (1948–49) in England at the RN and Joint Services Staff colleges, he was seconded to the British Combined Operations Headquarters and the Operations Division in the Admiralty. In 1951 he took command of the destroyer HMAS Bataan, serving in the Korean War the following year and conducting frequent naval bombardments of North Korean positions. The war correspondent Ronald McKie [q.v.] described him as ‘a big, ruddy, cheerful looking man with smooth black hair and one of those deceptive innocent English schoolboy faces’ (quoted in Cooper 2010, 225). For his Korean War service, Bracegirdle was awarded a second bar to his DSC (1952) and appointed to the United States’ Legion of Merit (1955).
Bracegirdle served as director of training and staff requirements at Navy Office, Melbourne, in 1954. During 1955 and 1956 he was the Royal Australian Navy liaison officer with the United Kingdom joint services staff. With no prospect of further promotion, he resigned from the navy on 14 February 1957 and was employed by the manufacturing firm Morgan Crucible Co. Ltd, London, before joining the National Iranian Oil Co. based at Abadan, Iran. Divorced in 1969, at the Register Office, Gosport, Hampshire, Britain, on 20 September that year, he married German-born artist and divorcee Pauline Annelies Maria Caspar. He worked for the shipbuilding firm Vosper-Thornycroft before retiring to Gislingham, Suffolk, in 1974. Survived by his wife, and the two sons and one daughter from his first marriage, he died there on 14 March 1993 and was buried at St Mary the Virgin Church. His son Nicolas joined the RN and was a lieutenant commander in the Falklands War.
Cooper, Anthony. HMAS Bataan, 1952: An Australian Warship in the Korean War. Sydney: UNSW Press, 2010; Eldridge, Frank. A History of the Royal Australian Naval College. Melbourne: Georgian House, 1949; National Archives of Australia. A3978, BRACEGIRDLE W. S., A6769, BRACEGIRDLE W. S; Nicholls, Stan. HMAS Shropshire. Sydney: The Naval Historical Society of Australia, 1989; Pfennigwerth, Ian. Bravo Zulu: Honours and Awards to Australian Naval People. West Geelong, Vic.: Echo Books, 2016.
BRADDON, RUSSELL READING (1921–1995), author and broadcaster, was born on 25 January 1921 in North Sydney, elder child of Henry Russell Braddon, barrister, and his wife Thelma Doris, née Reading, both Sydney-born. His great-grandfather Sir Edward Nicholas Coventry Braddon [q.v.7] had been a premier of Tasmania and a member of the first Commonwealth parliament. In 1932 his father died. Russell attended (1933–37) Sydney Church of England Grammar School (Shore). Although representing the school at tennis and embracing written English expression ‘with a passion’ (Braddon 1984–85), he was unhappy there. Shore’s ‘hearty, rugger-playing atmosphere’ (Starck 2011, 147) was not to his liking, particularly when he realised his homosexual orientation. ‘It wasn’t easy for him, being gay in a straight world’, David Healy, his companion for the last twenty years of his life, would later recall (Starck 2011, 147).
On progressing to the University of Sydney (BA, 1941) in 1938, Braddon began to question an earlier decision to study law. The lecturers, he maintained, possessed an unfailing talent to ‘bore the arse off me’ (Braddon 1984–85). In any case, studies were interrupted by World War II. After being awarded his bachelor’s degree (having completed two years of arts and first-year law), he enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force (AIF) on 7 May 1941 and was posted to the 2/15th Field Regiment, Royal Australian Artillery, which, in August, disembarked at Singapore. He recorded his military experiences in The Naked Island. First published in 1951 and followed by multiple editions and translations over six decades, it positioned him as an author of international repute.
Its title was inspired by Singapore’s vulnerability to Japanese invasion. Captured in the battle of Muar (15–22 January 1942), on the Malay Peninsula, Braddon was held initially in Kuala Lumpur, transferred to Changi prisoner-of-war camp in Singapore, and despatched in May 1943 as a slave labourer to the Burma–Thailand Railway. He remained a prisoner until the end of hostilities in August 1945. Arriving back in Australia in October, he was discharged from the AIF on 24 January 1946. His book recounted the disease, starvation, and physical abuse of that period in a restrained, surprisingly humorous, manner.
Returning to university in 1946, Braddon failed his law finals and, by his own account, ‘disintegrated as a person’ (1958, 62). He tried to take his life through an overdose of a sedative prescribed for ameliorating persistent nightmares. Discovered comatose by a fellow student, he was confined to the psychiatric ward of the Repatriation General Hospital, Concord, for five months, an experience that gave rise to his 1958 novel Gabriel Comes to 24. He had achieved a remarkable return to health in 1949 by taking a first-class sea passage to England (having saved his army pay), where he joined forces with an old comrade from Changi, Sydney Piddington [q.v.]. While prisoners, they had devised a ‘mind-reading’ act. Now, with Piddington’s wife, Lesley, as the recipient of supposedly transmitted thoughts, they developed it for professional engagements. Through Braddon’s ingenious scripts and promotional inventiveness, the Piddingtons attained nationwide fame on British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) radio, topped the bill at the London Palladium, and undertook overseas tours. Their story, and the act’s origins, was described in Braddon’s first book, The Piddingtons (1950). The narrative’s potent depiction of battle and imprisonment had persuaded the publisher, T. Werner Laurie Ltd, to commission The Naked Island, which won such critical acclaim that he was named ‘1952 Author of the Year’ by the British Daily Express.
Braddon’s subsequent professional career was diverse and productive: authorship of a further twenty-seven books; frequent appearances on broadcast panel shows (notably the BBC’s Any Questions?); lucrative public speaking engagements; journalism, as a columnist for British newspapers; and television documentary presentation. From 1957 to 1981 he was the chair of the Society of Australian Writers in London. Among his television appearances was ‘Russell Braddon – Epitaph to a Friendship’ (1974), made by Tom Haydon [q.v.]. His biographies of the Royal Air Force pilot Leonard Cheshire VC (1954), the World War II resistance leader Nancy Wake (1956), and the opera singer (Dame) Joan Sutherland (1962) figured prominently in best-seller lists. He wrote fifteen novels, the best-selling of which was End Play, his 1972 début in the medium of crime fiction. It was adapted for both stage and film, and appeared in condensed form in a Reader’s Digest compilation.
Earlier, though, Braddon had displayed dexterity as a novelist with The Proud American Boy. Its plot was inspired by press reports in 1958 of two black American boys, aged ten and nine (other reports offered minor age variants), sentenced to indefinite confinement in a North Carolina reformatory after being kissed by a white girl of similar age. Braddon, ever the crusader, travelled to their home town, mixed openly with the black populace for the book’s research, and received anonymous threats from—so he surmised—the Ku Klux Klan. The resultant book presented an adroit study of a divided society. The date of its release, though, was disastrous: it appeared at the same time in 1960 as the United Kingdom publication of Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird, regarded as the seminal literary condemnation of racial prejudice.
In similar vein, Braddon’s 1959 stage version of The Naked Island failed to attract the attention it perhaps deserved. The play enjoyed warm notices following two seasons at the Arts Theatre in London and a healthy provincial run. From this, he developed a film treatment. The subject matter, however, had already been satisfied by The Bridge on the River Kwai (winner of seven 1958 Academy awards); potential producers shied away.
Remaining in London for more than forty years, Braddon was often castigated in the Australian press for self-interested expatriation. By nature a combative individual, in response he accused his homeland of adopting a blinkered outlook that made it ‘reek of a banana republic’ (Roberts 1973, 3). Having visited regularly, he returned permanently to Australia in 1993, on being diagnosed with cancer, to share a rural retreat in northern New South Wales with David Healy. Braddon had met Healy, who worked in theatre management and administration, at a 1975 Christmas dinner in London, when he was approaching fifty-five, and Healy was twenty-six. Their attraction was immediate and mutual, and lasted for the remainder of Braddon’s life.
A man of athletic physique, Braddon possessed a sonorous voice and a chiselled countenance that attracted both sexes. In addition to bridge and tennis, he enjoyed surfing, which, back in Australia, he remained well enough for some months to pursue. He died on 20 March 1995 at Coffs Harbour. His prolific output as an author, although of uneven quality, generated considerable reflection on the obituary pages of British newspapers. The Times called him a novelist of ‘ingenuity and efficiency’ and ‘a darling of the provincial luncheon clubs’ (1995, 21). The Daily Telegraph referred to his own lamentation that, while he had always regarded himself as Australian, ‘when he visited his native country he was called a Pom and a scab’ (1995, 23).
Braddon, Russell. End of a Hate. London: Cassell and Company Ltd, 1958; Braddon, Russell. Interview by Vivienne Rae-Ellis, 1984–85. Transcript. National Library of Australia; Daily Telegraph (London). ‘Russell Braddon.’ 25 March 1995, 23; National Archives of Australia. B883, NX8190; Roberts, Mike. ‘New Nationalism Makes Us “Reek of a Banana Republic”.’ Australian, 19 September 1973, 3; Starck, Nigel. ‘The Mind of Russell Braddon.’ National Library Magazine 1, no. 3 (September 2009): 12–15, Proud Australian Boy: A Biography of Russell Braddon. North Melbourne: Australian Scholarly Publishing, 2011; Times (London). ‘Russell Braddon.’ 27 March 1995, 21.
BRADLEY, JEAN ISOBEL DORRINGTON (JEANA) (1906–1991), university lecturer and theatre producer, was born on 29 December 1906 at Wiluna, Western Australia, elder daughter of Victorian-born parents Thomas Tweedie, grazier and butcher, and his wife Isabel Alice, née Hagger. Thomas and Isabel had opened a butcher shop at Wiluna before purchasing nearby Millbillillie station in 1906. Jean passed her first five years among Aboriginal friends at Millbillillie with ‘no feeling of difference’ (Bradley 1981). Although she occasionally attended school at Wiluna, she acquired her early education mainly from the books and British and Australian journals and magazines collected by her parents, who were determined ‘not to rusticate’ in remote Western Australia (Bradley 1986). Aged ten, she moved with her family to Melbourne, where she began her formal education at a ‘sort of preparatory school for station children’ (Bradley 1981). Her father, a theatre enthusiast, introduced her to pantomimes, melodramas, and ‘Christy minstrel’ shows.
The family shifted to Perth and Tweedie completed the Leaving certificate at Methodist Ladies’ College, Claremont, in 1922. She attended voice and elocution lessons with Lionel Logue [q.v.15] to remedy what her mother called her ‘squeaky voice’ (Bradley 1986). Too young to attend the University of Western Australia, she held a monitorship at Claremont Central School in 1923, and the arrangement continued in 1924, her first year of studying English and philosophy at the university (BA, 1927), where she studied literature under Walter Murdoch [q.v.10]. After completing (1927) a certificate course at the Teachers’ Training College, Claremont, she taught at Perth College. In 1930 she enrolled for an MA (1939) in English literature at the University of Melbourne.
From 1934 Tweedie taught English and history at Katanning (Kobeelya) Church of England Girls’ School. In 1938 she was appointed to teach history, economics, and biology at St Hilda’s Church of England School for Girls, Mosman Park, Perth. While president of St Hilda’s Dramatic Society, she produced Macbeth, Five Birds in a Cage, and The Rehearsal in 1942. Her theatrical work impressed Professor Allan Edwards, and in 1947 she was appointed as a temporary lecturer in English at the University of Western Australia. Her appointment was to be renewed every three years until December 1970, and she was to be promoted to senior lecturer in 1967. On 21 August 1953 at St George’s College chapel, Crawley, she married, with Church of England rites, David Bradley, a twenty-eight-year-old colleague in the English department. It was at this time that she chose to be known as Jeana. She and David had no children and later divorced.
Bradley led the development of drama studies in the department of English with her student productions of Greek, Medieval, Elizabethan, and Jacobean plays, and modern British, American, and European works. She devoted three periods of academic leave in the 1950s and 1960s to the study of theatre practice in Britain and Europe. Awarded a British Council grant in 1952, she attended a British Drama League course in London; observed Nugent Monck’s Shakespearean productions in the Maddermarket Theatre, Norwich; and visited the ancient theatre at Epidaurus, Greece. She applied the skills she acquired overseas to her teaching and producing in Perth. Included among her contributions to theatre in Western Australia were some forty-five productions for the university’s dramatic societies and the on-campus Bankside and Octagon companies between 1947 and 1981, together with guest productions for the Perth Repertory Club, the National Theatre Company at the Playhouse, the West Australian Opera Company, and Patch Theatre. Her production of Oedipus the King at the university’s Sunken Garden caught the attention of Sir Laurence Olivier during his 1948 visit to Australia. Her Hamlet opened the New Fortune Theatre in 1964, and her outdoor summer productions were features of the Festival of Perth (1953–69).
Bradley believed that the physical space of a theatre was of paramount importance in choosing and staging a play (Bradley 1986). Her visually attractive, historically informed productions attracted loyal audiences in the wider community and influenced the teaching of theatre and drama at secondary schools. In December 1968 she became part-time artistic director responsible to the university theatre management committee, a post she held until her retirement in December 1971, following a final one-year appointment to the English department. She served as a founding member (appointed 1968) of the Australian Council for the Arts. In 1989 the University of Western Australia named the Bradley Studio adjoining the Octagon Theatre in her honour. She died on 30 December 1991 at South Perth and was cremated.
Australian. ‘Theatrical Pioneer Brought Classics West.’ 6 January 1992, 10; Bradley, Jean Isobel Dorrington. Interview by Christine Shervington, 18 August 1981. Transcript. University of Western Australia Archives; Bradley, Jeana. Interview by Barbara Blackman, January to February 1986. Sound recording. National Library of Australia. Bib ID 2326972; Jones, Maurice. ‘Jeana Bradley.’ In Companion to Theatre in Australia, edited by Philip Parsons with Victoria Chance, 1995–96. Sydney: Currency Press in association with Cambridge University Press, c. 1995; University of Western Australia Archives. 116, file P93 and 510, file M10100204.
BRASS, HENRY DOUGLAS (1910–1994), journalist, war correspondent, and newspaper executive, was born on 31 May 1910 at Invercargill, New Zealand, youngest of four children of Scottish-born parents Henry Gray Brass, farmer, and his wife Jemima Hume, née Macalister. After attending (1923–26) the local Southland Boys’ High School, Douglas studied journalism and then history at Canterbury College, University of New Zealand (DipJ, 1932; MA, 1934). He was awarded a senior scholarship (1932) and first-class honours for his thesis on New Zealand’s administration of the Cook Islands and Niue. His brother Alister had earlier been chief medical officer (1928–31) at Rarotonga, Cook Islands.
Following graduation, Brass worked as a journalist for the Christchurch Press, before moving to Melbourne in November 1935 to join the Argus. On 14 December 1936 he married Victorian-born Joan Philippa Trenchard at Christ Church, South Yarra. The next year he joined the Melbourne Herald, where he gained further experience under Sir Keith Murdoch’s [q.v.10] close supervision. Returning to New Zealand from 1939 to 1941, he was a correspondent for several Australian newspapers including the Herald.
Brass’s profile within the Murdoch organisation rose during World War II. Enlisting in the Australian Imperial Force on 16 March 1942, he trained as a gunner but was discharged in November to serve as a Herald war correspondent. He was briefly attached to the AIF in the Middle East, before transferring to British forces and covering the successful campaigns in North Africa and Italy of General (Field Marshal) Sir Bernard (Viscount) Montgomery’s Eighth Army in 1943. His lengthy dispatches, which featured frequently on the front pages of the Herald and the British daily press, were highly regarded. Posted to London from 1944, he covered postwar reconstruction, the formation of the United Nations, and the 1948 Arab-Israeli conflict. His reports, infused with human interest and written with an antipodean perspective, were largely devoid of political partisanship, and earned him the post of foreign news editor (1949–50) for the Herald in Melbourne.
Returning to London in 1950, Brass covered British and European affairs and his columns for the Herald and its affiliated dailies circulated widely throughout Australia. He was one of a select group of journalists chosen to accompany Princess (later Queen) Elizabeth and Prince Philip on their royal tours of Kenya (1952) and of New Zealand and Australia (1953–54). After reporting on the Australian tour as far as Adelaide, he returned to the United Kingdom to take up a new position as London editor (1954–56) for the Argus, the struggling Melbourne rival of the Herald, for which he wrote the weekly ‘London Diary’.
During his years working for the Herald, Brass and his wife had become friends of the Murdoch family. Before and after Keith Murdoch’s death in 1952, Brass assumed the role of professional mentor to a young Rupert Murdoch, who was then studying at the University of Oxford. After the Argus was purchased and closed by the Herald, Brass was duly appointed London editor (1956–60) for News Ltd, then based in Adelaide, at a time when the local News was the only newspaper which Rupert Murdoch had inherited from his father. Following Murdoch’s expansion into the Sydney newspaper market through the purchase of the Daily Mirror in 1958, Brass returned to Australia and was appointed editorial director (1960–70) of News Ltd and its associated companies.
In 1964, after Murdoch established his new national daily, the Australian, Brass provided a steadying influence in its uncertain early years. His ‘Looking On’ column, persuasively written and widely read, helped shape the paper’s then liberal international outlook, at a time when (Sir) Robert Menzies’s [q.v.15] coalition government continued to espouse Cold War thinking and forward-defence policies. He made a series of important appointments to the Australian, including Adrian Deamer as editor and Mungo McCallum as a political journalist, as well as selecting its London and Washington correspondents. Opposing the escalating Vietnam War on moral grounds, he contributed powerful feature articles to the Australian in 1969 attacking both the war and conscription. A critic of Menzies, he believed Harold Holt [q.v.14] to be merely a ‘yes man’ on foreign affairs, but he held out hope for a future Whitlam-led Labor administration.
In his capacity as News Ltd editorial director, Brass ‘acted as a conservative brake on the sometimes wild ideas’ (McNicoll 1994, 13) hatched by Rupert Murdoch and his local editors. When Murdoch decided to enter the London tabloid market in 1968, Brass and other News Ltd directors opposed the move. He resigned the next year, although he continued as an occasional correspondent to the Australian on issues of foreign policy until 1975. His departure from News Ltd coincided with the rise of the more politically conservative Ken May, who became the group’s chief executive in Australia (1969–82).
Although Brass’s relations with Rupert Murdoch and his editors were not always harmonious, he was acknowledged by senior journalists as ‘an enormous presence’ (McNicoll 1994, 13) at a time when journalists relied almost exclusively on workplace mentoring. Remembered as ‘a taciturn New Zealander of quiet authority and humour’ (Cryle 2008, 178), he spent his retirement at Mount Eliza, near Melbourne, later moving to the inner suburb of Albert Park. He and his wife remained on good terms with Dame Elisabeth Murdoch, while his personal admiration for Sir Keith Murdoch influenced twentieth-century biographers and newspaper historians, including Desmond Zwar and R. M. Younger. Survived by his wife and predeceased by their son (d. 1986), he died on 5 August 1994 at Prahran and was cremated.
Cryle, Denis. Murdoch’s Flagship: Twenty-Five Years of the Australian Newspaper. Carlton, Vic.: Melbourne University Press, 2008; Griffin-Foley, Bridget, ed. A Companion to the Australian Media. North Melbourne: Australian Scholarly Publishing, 2014; McNicoll, D. D. ‘Power behind Throne of Murdoch’s Early Empire.’ Australian, 15 August 1994, 13; National Archives of Australia. B883, VX76263; Younger, R. M. Keith Murdoch: Founder of a Media Empire. Pymble, NSW: HarperCollins, 2003; Zwar, Desmond. In Search of Keith Murdoch. South Melbourne: Macmillan, 1980.
BRAY, JOHN JEFFERSON (1912–1995), judge, university chancellor and poet, was born on 16 September 1912 at Wayville, Adelaide, first child of Harry Midwinter Bray, sharebroker, and his wife Gertrude Eleonore, née Stow, both locally born. John was born into a prominent Adelaide family. His paternal grandfather, John Cox Bray [q.v.3], was premier of South Australia (1881–84) and South Australian agent-general in London (1892–94). Gertrude’s great-grandfather Thomas Quinton Stow [q.v.2] founded South Australia’s first Congregational Church in 1837; and his eldest son, Randolph Isham Stow [q.v.6], was a judge of the Supreme Court of South Australia (1875–78). The Stows shared common ancestry with Thomas Jefferson, third president of the United States of America, after whom John received his middle name.
From an early age, Bray was severely short-sighted, shy, and physically awkward. He was educated at Mrs Hill’s school at Glenelg and then at Sevenhill Public School in the Clare Valley, where his father had taken up an orchard. At twelve he was sent to board at the Collegiate School of St Peter, Adelaide. Although a good student academically, he would never fit in at the school and recalled on his first day ‘praying that God would crash my father’s car’ (Bray 1990, 8). Persuaded by his parents to eschew arts, he studied law at the University of Adelaide (LLB Hons, 1933; LLD, 1937). He excelled, winning a Stow prize (1930) and the David Murray [q.v.5] scholarship (1931 and 1932). On 21 October 1933 he was admitted as a legal practitioner of the South Australian Supreme Court, becoming the youngest solicitor in the State. While working full time at the firm of Genders, Wilson, & Pellew, he undertook a doctorate of law. His thesis, ‘Bankruptcy and the Winding up of Companies in Private International Law’, was awarded the Bonython [q.v.7] prize (1937).
Over the next ten years Bray unsuccessfully applied for academic posts at universities in Australia and New Zealand. During World War II he filled in as lecturer in Roman law at the University of Adelaide, and would continue as a part-time lecturer there until 1967. Distinguishing himself as a barrister, he was appointed QC in 1957. He took on cases across all jurisdictions: in estate settlements, divorces, civil matters, murders, and defamation. In 1960 he successfully defended Rupert Murdoch’s newspaper the News and its editor Rohan Rivett [q.v.16] against charges of seditious and criminal libel alleged by the South Australian government in its reporting of a royal commission into the murder conviction of the Aboriginal man Rupert Max Stuart. It was a win that embarrassed (Sir) Thomas Playford’s [q.v.18] government and foreshadowed the defeat of the Liberal and Country League at the forthcoming election.
Describing himself as having a ‘Bohemian and unconventional temperament’ (Bray Papers), Bray did not fit the usual mould for a judge—he rarely worked after hours, and preferred drinking and smoking with literary friends at the Sturt Arcade Hotel to rubbing shoulders with his legal peers at the Adelaide Club. Since the 1950s he had also been active in Adelaide’s small community of writers. He was a long-time friend of the poet Charles Jury [q.v.14] and later joined the literary group led by Max Harris [q.v.]. Bray’s play Papinian was performed in 1955 in North Adelaide, and in 1962 he published the first of several volumes of poetry. He was a regular participant in the Adelaide Festival of Arts from its inception in 1960, repeatedly being invited to read his poetry at Writers’ Week events. A voracious reader and an avid library user, he served on the Libraries Board of South Australia from 1944 to 1987.
On 28 February 1967 Bray was appointed chief justice of South Australia by the Labor government. He was recognised in the Advertiser the next day as ‘a notable lawyer’ as well as ‘a poet, playwright, classical scholar—a humanist—and one of the most deeply read professional men in the Commonwealth’ (Cockburn 1967, 2). But his appointment had been bitterly opposed by some in the corridors of parliament. Earlier that month, the police commissioner, Brigadier John McKinna, brought surveillance files to the attorney-general, Don Dunstan, claiming that they demonstrated Bray associated with homosexuals and was not a suitable person to hold the office. The evidence was considered by cabinet, found to be flimsy, and his appointment was confirmed. Shown the files, Bray, surprised, wrote ‘I can only conclude from this lamentable episode that either the police keep a dossier on everyone or everyone of any degree of prominence, or else that I have been singled out for special attention’ (Bray Papers). Noting that his past work might have displeased the previous government, he thought the latter most likely.
In the eleven years that Bray was chief justice, he proved himself one of the Commonwealth’s most capable judges. A former justice of the High Court of Australia, Michael Kirby, recalled that members of the court came to rely on Bray’s reasoning in areas as diverse as criminal law and procedure, legal remedies and the award of costs, evidence, legal ethics, company law, and the law of tort. Bray’s judgments were used in courts in Australia and other parts of the British Commonwealth. In 1975, for example, he was cited by the judges of a Privy Council appeal from Northern Ireland involving an Irish Republican Army joint murder conviction in which one of the men claimed duress. They considered the 1968 South Australian Full Court case, R. v. Brown and Morley, in which Brown claimed duress and appealed his conviction. In that case, while justices Mitchell and Bright [q.v.17] dismissed Brown’s appeal, Bray dissented, challenging previous assessments made by legal authorities, such as Hale, Blackstone, and Lord Denman. Three of the five Privy Council judges agreed with Bray, praising his ‘impressive’ and ‘closely reasoned judgment’ (Northern Ireland v. Lynch 1975).
Bray’s judgments are characterised by clarity of language and a solid historical approach in articulating principles of the common law. Drawing on centuries of legal rulings, he often found himself in dissent in Full Court appeals on issues relating to public morality. In the first of a series of cases in which he expressed strong opposition to censorship practices, he wryly observed that while ‘there are classes of persons and age groups who are liable to be depraved or corrupted by literature, films, paintings, and the like’, they presumably do not include the ‘customs officers, police officers, court officials, barristers, solicitors, clerks, and members of the magistracy and judiciary whose unhappy duty it may be to peruse the perilous material’ (Simmons v. Samuels 1971).
On 27 October 1978 Bray retired owing to ill health. The following year he was appointed AC. From 1968 to 1983 he served as chancellor of the University of Adelaide. He viewed it as a largely ceremonial role and resisted meddling in the day-to-day running of the institution. In 1983 he was admitted to the honorary degree of doctor of the university. Away from the bench he devoted his time to producing volumes of poems, essays, and translations. In 1986 the Adelaide Festival award for poetry was named after him and four years later his book Satura won the festival award for non-fiction. Interested in classics since childhood, he continued to work on his long-time research project, a biography of the Roman emperor Gallienus, published posthumously in 1997. Noting the similarities between Bray and Gallienus (both poets and intellectuals), Nicolas Rothwell argued that the work was a ‘veiled self-portrait, an exploration, often intuitive, of key aspects of his own nature’ (1998, 12).
Bray was a bachelor who only left the family home, Bray House at 56 Hutt Street, after the death of his mother in 1970. While a young adult in the 1930s, he had fathered a son with a female friend. He attracted the affections of both men and women, but seldom formed long-term relationships. In later life he resisted being labelled homosexual, observing that his sexual preferences and sexual behaviour were complex subjects (Emerson 2015, 249). In his final years, despite the increasingly debilitating effects of emphysema, he continued to visit libraries and meet friends at nearby hotels. He died on 26 June 1995 in Adelaide and was cremated. Portraits of him are held by the University of Adelaide and the Supreme Court of South Australia, and a bronze bust by John Dowie is in the State Library of South Australia.
Abbott, Michael. ‘Champion of Individual Rights.’ Australian, 29 June 1995, 12.; Bray, John. Seventy Seven. Kent Town, SA: Wakefield Press, 1990; Bray Papers. Private collection; Cockburn, Stewart. ‘A Humanist to Lead the Law.’ Advertiser (Adelaide), 1 March 1967, 2; Emerson, John. First Among Equals. Adelaide: University of Adelaide Barr Smith Press, 2006, John Jefferson Bray: A Vigilant Life. Clayton, Vic.: Monash University Publishing, 2015; Northern Ireland v. Lynch. (1975) 5 AC 653 (12 March 1975), House of Lords; Prest, Wilfrid, ed. A Portrait of John Bray. Adelaide: Wakefield Press, 1997; Rothwell, Nicolas. ‘Classic Comparisons.’ Australian’s Review of Books, February 1998, 12; Simmons v Samuels. (1969) 1 South Australia State Reports (9 September 1969), 397; State Library of South Australia. PRG 1098, Bray, John Jefferson. Papers, 1955–2001; Wall, Barbara, and Muecke, Douglas, eds. The Emperor’s Doorkeeper. Adelaide: University of Adelaide Foundation, 1988.
BREEN, Dame MARIE FREDA (1902–1993), politician, community welfare worker, and women’s activist, was born on 3 November 1902 at St Kilda, Melbourne, second child of English-born Frederick William Chamberlin, town clerk, and his Australian-born wife Jane Maud, née Conquest. Marie was educated to matriculation standard at nearby St Michael’s Church of England Girls’ Grammar School. Employed as a law clerk, she met Robert Breen, a solicitor; they married on 12 December 1928 at All Saint’s Church of England, St Kilda, and soon moved to Brighton. Her husband, who in 1935 stood unsuccessfully as a United Australia Party candidate for the Legislative Assembly seat of Collingwood, introduced her to party politics. She joined the Brighton branch of the Australian Women’s National League, was mentored by the long-term AWNL president, Elizabeth Couchman [q.v.17], and later honed her speaking and organisational skills when her husband was mayor (1941–42) of Brighton. She described it as ‘good training for life in politics’ (Breen 1983).
As the mayor’s wife Breen became chairman of the Brighton Baby Health Centre and its delegate to the National Council of Women of Victoria. In 1947 she was elected to the committee of the NCWV, later serving as State president (1954–58). She was a State delegate to the National Council of Women of Australia Federal conferences (1948, 1954, and 1957), and served as international secretary (1949–52). She later became convenor of a new NCWV standing committee on family welfare and presided (1958–78) over the Victorian Family Council. In 1958 she was appointed OBE. A founding member and vice-president (1957–71) of the Marriage Guidance Council of Victoria, she was also involved in the Victorian Association of Citizens’ Advice Bureaux (1970–78). Although never a radical feminist, women’s and family interests were at the forefront of her activities.
Breen had joined the newly established Liberal Party of Australia in 1945, gradually working her way through the Victorian hierarchy from her position as president of the influential Brighton branch. As chairman of the women’s section of the Victorian division of the party, she served a term as president (1952) of the Federal women’s committee and was a State party vice-president (1955–62). Persuaded by her husband to enter parliament, she was elected to the Senate in 1961 after being defeated for preselection to contest the House of Representatives seat of Balaclava. She served on a number of parliamentary committees inquiring into housing, education, immigration, disability, and rehabilitation, and the needs of civilian widows; she was the first woman to chair a committee when she headed (1965–68) the printing committee. Sometimes in opposition to majority opinion in her party on social welfare issues, she favoured increases in family welfare payments, arguing that a stable family life was the key to individual, social, and national progress.
With interests in South-East Asia as well as social welfare, Breen became involved in the Australia-Asian Association, a largely philanthropic organisation established in 1957. As its vice-president she founded a women’s group that focused on caring for people coming to Australia for medical treatment. She was also drawn into the overseas students coordinating committee that cared for Colombo Plan students, becoming its president after her election to the Senate. Involved in setting up its family scheme, she hosted two young men while they were studying in Australia. An outspoken supporter of Australia’s participation in Vietnam, she was active in the Asian People’s Anti-Communist League (after 1990 the Asian Pacific League for Freedom and Democracy), representing Australia at the league’s conference in Seoul in 1966. She retired from the Senate at the end of her term in June 1968 to care for her husband, who had been seriously injured in a car accident; he died in July.
In retirement Breen raised money for the United Nations Children’s Fund, joined the Victorian Consultative Committee on Social Development, and the Australian Advisory Council of Elders. In recognition of her service to the community, she was appointed DBE on 16 June 1979. Having learned the piano in her youth, she enjoyed opera, ballet, and choral singing all her life, and was a member of the Lyceum and Australian Women’s Liberal clubs. Dame Marie died at Elsternwick on 17 June 1993 and was buried in Brighton cemetery. She was survived by her three daughters, one of whom, Jeannette Patrick, was the Liberal member for Brighton (1976–85) in the Legislative Assembly, and another, Prudence Griffiths, was active in local government.
Breen, Marie. Interview by Amy McGrath, 27 August 1980. Sound recording. National Library of Australia; Breen, Marie. Interview by Bernadette Schedvin, 18 June 1983. Transcript. National Library of Australia; Fitzherbert, Margaret. So Many Firsts: Liberal Women from Enid Lyons to the Turnbull Era. Annandale, NSW: Federation Press, 2009; Kent, Hilary. ‘Breen, Dame Marie Freda (1902–1993).’ In The Biographical Dictionary of the Australian Senate. Vol. 3 1962–1983, edited by Ann Millar and Geoffrey Browne, 59–62. Sydney: UNSW Press Ltd, 2010; Quartly, Marian, and Judith Smart. Respectable Radicals: A History of the National Council of Women Australia, 1896–2006. Clayton, Vic.: Monash University Publishing, 2015.
BRICKHILL, PAUL CHESTER (1916–1991), writer and air force officer, was born on 20 December 1916 at Balwyn, Melbourne, third of five sons of Tasmanian-born parents George Russell Brickhill, journalist, and his wife Izitella Victoria, née Bradshaw. After the family moved to Sydney, Paul attended North Sydney Boys’ High School and then enrolled as an evening student at the University of Sydney. The dark-haired, slightly built teenager soon abandoned his studies. A son and grandson of journalists, he valued real life and real stories; by 1936 he was a copy boy on the Sydney Sun. He became an eager if obsessive reporter, missing one first edition deadline to file a story about a minor robbery, based on careful interviews.
‘Silly damn show’, Brickhill scoffed when World War II began (AWM PR03099). Yet he enlisted in the Royal Australian Air Force on 6 January 1941. After attending flying training schools in Australia and Canada under the Empire Air Training Scheme, he was commissioned as a pilot officer on 1 September. Posted to Britain that month, he served as a fighter pilot with the Royal Air Force (RAF). On 1 March 1942 he was promoted to flying officer and on 17 March 1943, while piloting a Spitfire over Tunisia, was shot down. Taken prisoner, he was sent to Stalag Luft III in Germany. There he gathered stories of combat and capture from other pilots. He assisted in an elaborate but failed attempt at a mass breakout in March 1944, although claustrophobia prevented him from entering the escape tunnel. Back in Britain in May 1945, he was as keen as the RAF to publicise the story. His account of the affair appeared in newspapers, on radio, and as the climax to Escape to Danger (1946), a laconic book written with a fellow former prisoner Conrad Norton. Brickhill’s RAAF appointment terminated on 8 April 1946 and he went back to journalism, working as a foreign correspondent in Europe and the United States of America before returning to Sydney in 1948.
Negotiations began for making the story of the breakout into a film, or at least a longer book of its own. In May 1949 Brickhill took a ship to England—‘a wizard place’, he had decided during the war—and dashed off The Great Escape (1950) (AWM PR03099). The book’s balance of pace and detail, its half-polished style, and above all its inspiring message that men can achieve almost anything if they work together generated enormous sales as well as adaptations for radio, television, and, eventually, cinema (1963). Suddenly he was famous, and Sydney’s People magazine remarked on the ‘plum-colored waistcoat with pearl buttons which he wears without a blush’ (People 1953, 20).
On board the ship to London, the ‘shortish, dark-haired, dynamic’ writer (Hetherington 1960, 17) had met Margaret Olive Slater, a tall, willowy art student from rural New South Wales. They married on 22 April 1950 at St Michael’s Church of England, Belgravia. Brickhill urged ‘Margot’, as she called herself, to work as a fashion model; she encouraged him to accept an RAF contract for a squadron history centring on a 1943 precision bombing raid in the Ruhr valley. The Dam Busters (1951) sold more than 1 million copies and inspired a hugely popular film (1955). Its success was repeated with Reach for the Sky (1954)—a sometimes stark portrait of a dogged, disabled RAF pilot called Douglas Bader, which he later considered his real contribution to literature. Less worthy was Escape – Or Die (1952), a bag of prisoner-of-war stories hastily crafted to support an RAF charity.
‘Brickhill, at 36, has got pretty well everything’, People conceded just before he returned to Sydney in 1953 (People 1953, 20). There was no question of going back to his old desk at the Sun or even of telling another story about the air war. He wanted to escape the rush of celebrity and relax after three years of furious writing, yet at the same time chart new literary territory or even write the great Australian novel. He wanted to make Sydney his home again, but not pay income tax to Canberra as well as Westminster. The result of these contradictory yearnings was an escape to Tuscany in 1955. But instead of yielding a new book the exile brought on physical conflict with Margot, and a kind of nervous breakdown variously attributed to wartime trauma, writer’s block, and faulty medication. A move to Surrey, outside London, brought husband and wife back from the brink of divorce, and in 1959 they returned to Sydney once more. He had been invited by the Commonwealth government to write a novel about migration, the Sun-Herald announced. But he was unable to determine the book’s form and plot, and his literary powers finally evaporated during disputes with Margot and in the desperate crafting of a novel set in Paris. When The Deadline appeared in 1962 it was a humdrum thriller which its author later dismissed.
Neither evangelical Anglicanism nor electro-convulsive therapy slowed Brickhill’s decline into isolation and depression. After he and Margot divorced in 1964, he moved into a flat at Sydney’s Balmoral Beach to spend the final third of his life swimming, ‘walking a mile or two’, and ‘sitting by the window’ (Langsam 1982, 59). Survived by a son and daughter, he died of myocardial infarction at the flat on 23 April 1991, and was cremated. If he died ‘a broken man’, as Britain’s Guardian newspaper reported (Ellis and Langsam 1991, 21), his memorial was a clutch of exciting books that helped make comforting sense of the slaughter of World War II, of the eclipse of the British empire, and sometimes of the human condition. His writing rarely rose above the ‘competent feature journalism’ (Kee 1951, 7) that another writer and former RAF pilot detected at its core, but it ‘set a standard in the telling of popular war stories’, the Times (London) conceded in a balanced obituary, ‘which has never been surpassed’ (1991, 24).
Australian War Memorial, PR03099, Letters to Del Fox 1939–45; Ellis, John, and David Langsam. ‘Inescapable Fears of the Wartime Hero.’ Guardian (London), 27 April 1991, 21; Hetherington, John. ‘War Launched an Author.’ Daily Telegraph (Sydney), 6 August 1960, 17, Forty-Two Faces. Melbourne: Cheshire, 1962; Kee, Robert. ‘Per Ardua ad Astra.’ Observer (London), 25 March 1951, 7; Langsam, David. ‘Stalled for 25 Years.’ Sun-Herald (Sydney), 9 May 1982, 59; National Archives of Australia. A9300, Brickhill P. C. J; National Archives (UK). AIR 2/10147; People (Sydney). ‘Mountain Out of a Brickhill.’ 20 May 1953, 20–23; Sun-Herald (Sydney). ‘Author’s Wife Is No “Model Mum”.’ 29 November 1959, 116; Times (London). ‘Paul Brickhill.’ 26 April 1991, 24.
BRIGGS, JOHN ERNEST (1914–1994), Salvation Army officer, welfare representative, and military chaplain, was born on 11 January 1914 at Swan Hill, Victoria, elder child of John Briggs and his wife Cecilia Jane, née Millgate, both Victorian-born Salvation Army officers. His parents’ work entailed frequent moves across Victoria and New South Wales. He was affectionately known as Ernie, or Ernest. Owing to his mother’s ill health, Ernest’s parents resigned from Salvation Army officership in November 1928. The family had settled in the Melbourne suburb of Moreland. He was employed as a textile worker before, at age twenty-two, he entered the Melbourne Salvation Army Training Garrison in 1936. He was commissioned as a Salvation Army officer in 1937, taking up his first appointment the following year at Eaglehawk. On 9 March 1940 he married a fellow officer, South Australian–born Doris Mary Button, at the Moreland Salvation Army Citadel. The couple would serve together in several country Victorian and suburban appointments.
On 11 January 1941 Briggs was accredited as a Salvation Army welfare representative with the Australian Military Forces. Immediately prior to this, he and Doris had assumed charge of the Salvation Army’s Red Shield Hostel in Launceston, Tasmania. The hostel provided servicemen with weekend and casual accommodation, meals, and support. Briggs also operated a mobile unit and visited military training camps. By mid-1942 he had been relocated to Queensland with the 10th Infantry Brigade, Australian Imperial Force, whilst Doris returned to Melbourne. From November 1942 to February 1943, Briggs served as a welfare officer attached to the 20th Infantry Brigade in the Middle East. Witty and gregarious, he gained esteem for organising entertainment aboard troop-ships, and he became affectionately known as the ‘P.K. Kid’ due to his penchant for handing out chewing gum, both at home and on active service.
In July 1943 Briggs was sent with the brigade to New Guinea. He recalled, during a period of night training, serving the men 1,000 cups of coffee within forty minutes. On one occasion he came under Japanese sniper fire; he wrote of the experience, ‘I continued to praise the Lord and pass the P.K.’s’ (War Cry 1943, 4). Another instance saw Briggs so eager to get ahead of the troops, to provide refreshments after one taxing jungle hike, that he inadvertently set up a coffee stand a short distance from a Japanese position. He was repatriated in February 1944, and his army accreditation was terminated the next month. In 1951 he was appointed as a chaplain in the Reserve of Officers, Citizen Military Forces (CMF).
Despite health concerns, Briggs had resumed his Salvation Army evangelical work. In 1952 he and Doris transferred to New Zealand, serving in Christchurch, Gisborne, and Auckland. He was assigned to the Salvation Army’s Melbourne-based Social Service Centre in 1960. Following the advent of the Vietnam War, he was appointed (1962) from the army reserve to be a chaplain in the CMF. He concurrently took on Salvation Army roles, including chief commissioner for Red Shield War Services (1966–68). He visited troops in South-East Asia, including a trip to Vietnam on behalf of the Australian government to evaluate welfare services. In 1966 he negotiated with electrical suppliers to make tape-playback facilities available to soldiers’ families who had been sent recorded messages. He also arranged toy shipments for Vietnamese war orphans, and assisted servicemen to send flowers to loved ones at home.
In 1964 Briggs had helped to establish the Returned Sailors’, Soldiers’ and Airmen’s Imperial League of Australia Red Shield sub-branch (secretary, 1964–68). With Doris, he organised for members of the Red Shield auxiliary to visit veterans at the Repatriation General Hospital, Heidelberg. From 1968 he served as a full-time chaplain at the Broadmeadows military camp. After suffering health complications from malaria, he retired in November 1969 with the military rank of chaplain, 3rd Class. For many years he continued to visit veterans and work part time with the Salvation Army. He died on 16 August 1994 in the Heidelberg Repatriation Hospital and was cremated. His wife, and their son and two daughters, survived him.
Briggs, Ernest. In Camps and Trenches: A Talk Delivered to the Salvation Army Historical Society, 19 May 1994. Box R68, folder 59. Salvation Army Heritage Centre, Melbourne; Briggs, Ernest. Officer Career Card. Personnel file D150380. Salvation Army Heritage Centre, Melbourne; Briggs, Mrs Brigadier Doris. Interview by Leonora Bor, 6 June 1996. Transcript. Red Shield History Project. Salvation Army Heritage Centre, Melbourne; Herald Sun. ‘Ernest Briggs: A Man Who Offered Jesus in the Coffee.’ 24 August 1994, 81; National Archives of Australia. B4717, Briggs/Ernest John; War Cry. ‘The Last of his Kind: Brigadier Ernest Briggs (R) Promoted to Glory.’ 24 September 1994, 4; War Cry. ‘A Sniper’s Dislike.’ 3 October 1943, 4, ‘Versatile Officers Retire.’ 7 February 1970, 6.
Helen J. Cox
BRISSENDEN, ROBERT FRANCIS (BOB) (1928–1991), poet, novelist, critic, and academic, was born on 13 March 1928 at Wentworthville, Sydney, elder son of New South Wales–born Arthur Pieray Brissenden, schoolteacher, and his English-born wife Nellie Annie, née Rogers. Educated at Bowral and Cowra High schools, Bob won a scholarship to St Andrew’s College, University of Sydney (BA Hons, 1951; MA, 1954). In 1951 he was appointed senior tutor in the department of English at the University of Melbourne where, with others, he puzzled over how to mark Barry Humphries’s matriculation paper.
Two years later Brissenden transferred as a temporary assistant lecturer to Canberra University College, where A. D. Hope was head of the English department. Awarded a British Council grant, in 1954 he travelled to England and studied at the University of Leeds (PhD, 1956). He returned to CUC as a lecturer in English; in 1960 the college was amalgamated with The Australian National University (ANU) as the university’s school of general studies.
On 1 August 1959 Brissenden married Rosemary Lorna Groves, a political scientist, at the registrar’s office, Canberra. In the early 1960s he built a house at Depot Beach, New South Wales. Its rainforest location became central not only to much of his finest poetry, but to the environmental concerns that were later to be reflected in a book of poetry and photographs, The Gift of the Forest (1982), edited with his wife and published by the Australian Conservation Foundation. Promoted to reader in 1969, he taught until his early retirement, on health grounds, in 1985. With a heart weakened in childhood by rheumatic fever, he had also been a long sufferer of asthma.
Brissenden was an associate editor of Meanjin (1959–64) and the first literary editor of the Australian newspaper (1964–65) where he campaigned against censorship. In 1977 he was appointed to the literature board of the Australia Council for the Arts (chairman, 1978–81). He became a member of the Australian Academy of the Humanities in 1976 and in 1982 was appointed AO for his services to literature. His principal scholarly publications were his monographs: Samuel Richardson (1958), Patrick White (1964), Virtue in Distress: Studies in the Novel of Sentiment from Richardson to Sade (1974), A Fire-talented Tongue: Some Notes on the Poetry of Gwen Harwood (1978), and New Currents in Australian Writing (1978). He also edited the first, second, and (with J. C. Eade) third and fourth volumes of Studies in the Eighteenth Century and the papers of the ANU’s 1966, 1970, 1973, and 1977 David Nichol Smith memorial seminars, a series of which he was convener and chairman (1964–77). In 1965 he published Southern Harvest: An Anthology of Australian Short Stories. He was also the editor of Australian Poetry 1972 and of the 1977 Penguin edition of Henry Fielding’s Joseph Andrews. Keenly interested in American literature (he wrote, for example, The Great Gatsby: A Critical Introduction in 1987), he was also a committed ‘Australianist’ and wrote significant early essays on the work of A. D. Hope, James McAuley [q.v.15], Patrick White [q.v.18], Judith Wright, and others.
A member of the Canberra circle of poets that included A. D. Hope, Rosemary Dobson, David Campbell [q.v.13], and in later years Judith Wright, Brissenden was a mentor to a generation of younger Canberra poets that included Alan Gould, Philip Mead, and Kevin Hart. He helped found a series of annual poets’ lunches at the ANU. Published collections of his work include Winter Matins (1971), Elegies (1974), Building a Terrace (1975), The Whale in Darkness (1980), and Sacred Sites (1990). A volume of selected poems, Suddenly Evening, edited by David Brooks, appeared in 1993. Predominantly a lyric poet, he was also a gifted writer of light verse and a composer/adaptor of satirical songs. In 1984 he published Gough and Johnny Were Lovers: Songs and Light Verse Celebrating Wine, Friendship and Political Scandal. The latter included a song, ‘The Back Blocks Academic’, supposedly sung at a Canberra party for the American entertainer Tom Lehrer.
In retirement, Brissenden wrote thrillers. His novels Poor Boy (1987) and Wildcat (1991), centred on the character of Tom Caxton, hard-living investigative journalist, quickly established him as a writer of compelling fiction. He had an open personality and lacked the capacity to hate. A gregarious man who liked mixing with people in pubs, he also enjoyed fishing and swimming. Survived by his wife and three children, he died of complications from Parkinson’s disease on 7 April 1991 at Royal Canberra Hospital and was buried in Queanbeyan lawn cemetery. At the time of his death he and his friend, Philip Grundy, were editing The Oxford Book of Australian Light Verse (1991).
Brissenden, Robert Francis. Interview by Hazel de Berg, 30 March 1967. Transcript. Hazel de Berg collection. National Library of Australia; Brissenden, Robert Francis. In The Oxford Companion to Australian Literature, 2nd ed., edited by William H. Wilde, Joy Hooton, and Barry Andrews. Melbourne: Oxford University Press, 1994, 119; Brooks, David. ‘Introduction.’ In Suddenly Evening: Selected Poems of R.F. Brissenden, edited by David Brooks. Melbourne: McPhee Gribble, 1993, ix–xiii; Hefner, Robert. ‘An Easy Regard for the World.’ Canberra Times, 14 April 1991, 17; Papers of Robert F. Brissenden, c. 1942 – c. 1993 (manuscript). National Library of Australia; Ramson, Bill. ‘Bob Brissenden.’ ANU Reporter, 24 April 1991, 2.
BROAD, EDMUND GEORGE (EDDIE) (1921–1993), judge and sports administrator, was born on 3 January 1921 at Corinda, Brisbane, younger son of Herbert William Broad, an English-born warehouse manager, and his Queensland-born wife Nellie, née Reeve. After Sherwood State School, Eddie attended The Southport School (1934–38), where he was head prefect in 1937 and 1938 and dux in his final year. He also displayed outstanding sporting prowess, gaining colours for cricket, rugby, tennis, rowing, and athletics. In 1939 he enrolled at the University of Queensland. Awarded a Blue for cricket in 1941, he was described in a newspaper article as one of Brisbane’s most promising left-hand batsmen.
The outbreak of World War II interrupted Broad’s studies. He enlisted in the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) on 2 March 1941 and, having qualified as a pilot, was commissioned in October. Arriving in Britain in February 1942, he suffered the exasperation of being employed at first on instructional, rather than operational, duties. From August 1944 to May 1945 he served in No. 467 Squadron, flying Lancaster bombers in thirty missions over Europe. He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross (1945) for his ‘Outstanding leadership, courage and devotion to duty’ in pressing home attacks (NAA A12372). On two flights to Europe following his last bombing sortie, he brought former prisoners of war back to Britain. After returning to Brisbane, he was demobilised on 7 December as a temporary squadron leader.
Broad worked in his father’s merchant business as a clerk and then sales manager. On 12 January 1946 at St Agatha’s Catholic Church, Clayfield, he married Elaine Moira O’Mara; they would be divorced in 1978. He had represented the RAAF at cricket in England but after the war concentrated on rugby. A fly-half, he took part in the Wallabies’ tours of Britain, France, Ireland, and North America (1947–48) and of New Zealand (1949); the one Test match he played was in Sydney in 1949, against the New Zealand Māori team (later, Māori All Blacks). With financial help from his father, he returned in 1953 to full-time study at the University of Queensland (BA, 1954; LLB, 1955), where he presided (1954) over the students’ union. His appointment to the executive of the organising committee for the 1956 Olympic Games in Melbourne recognised his leadership skills and sporting excellence.
Admitted to the Bar on 15 December 1955, Broad began private practice in chambers with (Sir) Walter Campbell and Charles Sheahan, who advised and encouraged him and allowed him to use their libraries. He learned much as junior counsel to Dan Casey [q.v.17] and (Sir) Harry Gibbs. In 1962 he defended Hendrikus Plomp, who was convicted of murder. The High Court of Australia upheld the conviction and used the case to expound the law relating to circumstantial evidence. The next year Broad appeared alone for the appellant before the High Court in Voli v Inglewood Shire Council. His success in this case, subsequently a much-cited authority in the law of torts, was testament to his incisive forensic skills. Between 1964 and 1968 he served as an examiner for the Solicitors’ Board and as editor of Queensland Reports; he later emphasised the value of editorship as good training for lawyers.
On 13 February 1968 Broad was appointed an acting judge of District Courts of Queensland and on 23 May the appointment was made permanent. On the bench, he developed a reputation for courtesy and patience. Some of his colleagues were critical of his involvement in other activities, observing that sometimes they were to the detriment of his principal duties. He was the judge (1974–91) of the Licensing Court of Queensland and a member of the Courts-Martial Appeal Tribunal (1976–85) and its successor, the Defence Force Discipline Appeal Tribunal (1985–91). In addition, he chaired the Mental Health Review Tribunal (1975–85) and the Patient Review Tribunals (1985–91), considering this role—supervising the detention and treatment of mentally ill persons—as the highlight and most useful part of his working life. From 1981 to 1985 he chaired the Brisbane Visitors and Convention Bureau. On 3 January 1991 he reached the mandatory judicial retirement age.
Thereafter, Broad continued his lifelong enthusiasm for horse racing. He had played a leading part in the sport’s administration since his election to the committee of the Brisbane Amateur Turf Club in 1948. As chairman (1974–93), he oversaw many improvements. The club’s sale in 1982 of the failing Albion Park racecourse generated finance to modernise the Doomben course and provide it with a large public grandstand. In 1985 he succeeded in achieving the payment of a levy towards racetrack maintenance from the Totalisator Administration Board of Queensland. His strong belief in sponsorship for race meetings enabled prize money to be boosted considerably during his tenure. He was one of the first administrators to use the social side of racing as a marketing tool, and he was at the forefront of the movement to admit women as full members of the club. Consequently, membership doubled under his stewardship.
In partnership with the businessman Jim Kennedy, the politician (Sir) James Killen, and others, Broad was a keen owner of racehorses. Linda Jones rode their horse Pay The Purple to victory in the 1979 Labour Day Cup at Doomben. Their mounts Wellington Road and Ballock won the 1984 Toowoomba Cup and the 1987 Sydney Turf Club Silver Slipper Stakes respectively. Broad was a skilled and enthusiastic bridge player; the Queensland Bridge Association instituted the Judge Eddie Broad trophy for the State open pairs competition.
On 22 January 1979 at the general registry office, Brisbane, Broad had married Jill Anderson, née Rodgers, a divorcee. Blessed with good looks, he seemed a man on whom the sun shone. Having been one of the fortunate bomber pilots to finish the war unscathed, he had risen high in his profession, and had been able to pursue his private interests to the full. He credited ‘long-term planning and a healthy dose of good luck as his secret of success’ (Haffke 1991, Extra 3). He died on 30 December 1993 at Kangaroo Point, Brisbane, and, following a Catholic funeral, was buried in Pinaroo lawn cemetery, Aspley. His wife survived him, as did the three daughters and two of the three sons of his first marriage. Killen eulogised him as a ‘quiet, reflective man’, whose life exemplified the teaching in the Book of Proverbs: ‘Before honour is humility’ (1994, 11).
Beanland, Denver. A Court Apart: The District Court of Queensland. Brisbane: Supreme Court of Queensland Library, 2009; Broad, Jill. Personal communication; Broad, Michael. Personal communication; Haffke, Carol. ‘Life of Action.’ Sunday Sun (Brisbane), 19 May 1991, Extra 3; Killen, James. ‘Humble War Hero Who Rose to the Highest Rank of Law.’ Australian, 11 January 1994, 11; McGuire, Frederick. Personal communication; National Archives of Australia. A12372, O16146; Shanahan, Patrick. Personal communication; Sinclair, Bart. ‘Judge Rules on Racing: Verdict Favours Punters.’ Sunday Mail (Brisbane), 27 December 1992, 82; Supreme Court of Queensland Library, Brisbane. Biographical Folder Edmund Broad.
BROGAN, Sir MERVYN FRANCIS (1915–1994), army officer, was born on 10 January 1915 in North Sydney, second son of New South Wales–born parents Bernard Brogan, jeweller, and his wife Hilda Marcelle, née Richard. Mervyn grew up in Manly and attended Sydney Technical High School. Awarded a scholarship tenable in a technical college diploma course, in 1932 he instead entered the Royal Military College (RMC), then temporarily located at Victoria Barracks, Sydney. He excelled academically, earned the nickname ‘Basher’ for his boxing prowess, and graduated in 1935 with the sword of honour for exemplary conduct and performance of duties.
Lieutenant Brogan then studied civil engineering at the University of Sydney (BE, 1938), where he was awarded a Blue for rugby and was a member of the water polo and swimming teams. From March 1938 he held junior regimental and staff posts in Melbourne. He represented Victoria in rugby union (1938 and 1939), and would later play for the Australian Capital Territory (1941 and 1944). After World War II broke out, he was posted in November 1939 to the instructional staff of the RMC, which had returned to Duntroon, Australian Capital Territory. In July 1940 he was promoted to temporary captain. On 16 June 1941 at St John the Baptist Church of England, Canberra, he married Sheila Jones, a local resident. The following September he was appointed to the Australian Imperial Force.
By April 1942 Brogan was a temporary major at Second Army headquarters, from which he was posted in November to New Guinea Force headquarters as deputy assistant quartermaster general. In August he rose to assistant quartermaster general, with the rank of temporary lieutenant colonel (substantive 1948). He was mentioned in despatches (1943) and, for his work on the scheme to transport supplies to front-line troops by air, was appointed OBE (1944). Back in Australia, he filled a succession of staff positions, before being attached from August 1946 to the British Army in the United Kingdom and Germany. In January 1947 he became chief instructor at the Army School of Military Engineering, Casula, New South Wales. When the Federal government decided to use troops to operate open-cut coal-mines during the 1949 miners’ strike, he mobilised army engineering personnel for the deployment.
From 1950 Brogan undertook engineering training in Britain and the United States of America, and in 1952 attended the Joint Services Staff College in England. He then held increasingly senior posts in Melbourne at Army Headquarters (1953 and 1954–56) and Southern Command (1953–54), from 1954 as a colonel. In 1956 he was appointed as brigadier, general staff, at the Singapore headquarters of the British Far East Land Forces. Having completed the 1959 course at the Imperial Defence College, London, he was commandant of the Australian Staff College, Queenscliff, Victoria, until July 1962, when he was promoted to temporary major general (substantive January 1963) and appointed as commander of Northern Command, Brisbane. He was director of joint service plans in the Department of Defence, Canberra (1965–66), quartermaster general and third member of the Military Board (1966–68), and commander of Eastern Command, Sydney, from 1968.
On 19 May 1971 Brogan was promoted to lieutenant general and appointed as chief of the General Staff (CGS) in Canberra. In February 1972 he oversaw the withdrawal from Vietnam of the last Australian combat troops, and in December of the handful of remaining advisors. To him the return of peace and the absence of an imminent threat gave the army ‘much needed time to put our house in order and to clarify where we are heading’ (Moss 2017, 219). The first CGS with a university degree and an able administrator, he was well equipped to guide the army through its most extensive reorganisation. Following government approval in January 1972 of the report of a review committee headed by Major General (Sir) Francis Hassett, the regionally based command structure was replaced by three functional commands: Field Force, Logistics, and Training. Units for which Army Headquarters, Canberra, had direct responsibility were transferred to the new commands, leaving AHQ to focus on policy-making.
While Brogan had not opposed the Whitlam government’s decision to end national service in December 1972, he was concerned about the impact of the departure of about 12,000 troops at once. He strongly believed that, despite the reduction in numbers, the existing nine infantry battalions should be retained, some of them necessarily undermanned, so as to allow the army to maintain the structure of a full field division. At the insistence of the Department of Defence, however, the number of battalions was decreased to six. Concurrently, he supervised the transfer in 1973 of the army’s forces in Papua New Guinea to the newly established Papua New Guinea Defence Force, in preparation for that country’s independence. He welcomed improvements to the pay and conditions of Australian service personnel arising from the deliberations of the Kerr–Woodward committee, and encouraged sport and interesting training activities to maintain morale.
Brogan transferred to the Regular Army Reserve on 20 November 1973. He had been appointed CBE (1963), CB (1970), and KBE (1972). In retirement Sir Mervyn contributed to debates about Australia’s defence: firm in his view that traditional reliance on citizen forces backed by a small regular army was impractical and outmoded, he strongly supported reorganisation of the Citizen Military Forces as a reserve to augment permanent forces capable of rapid deployment. He was colonel commandant (1974–78) of the Royal Australian Engineers; honorary colonel (1975–80) of the University of New South Wales Regiment; a member (1971–73) of the board of the Australian War Memorial; an honorary fellow (1970–94) of the Institution of Engineers, Australia; and a director of a number of companies.
Remaining physically active, Brogan played tennis and swam regularly near his Sydney home. His successor as CGS, wrote that he ‘was delightful company … a raconteur of note but he was also a good listener’ (Hassett 1994, 13). He died at Potts Point, Sydney, on 8 March 1994 and was cremated. His wife and their two sons survived him.
Army Journal. ‘Army Reorganization.’ No. 274 (March 1972): 2–33; Brogan, M. ‘The Australian Army – Points and Problems.’ Journal of the Royal United Services Institute for Defence Studies 118, no. 1 (March 1973): 54–60; Canberra Times. ‘Top Cadet to CGS.’ 16 March 1994, 15; Connery, David. Which Division? Risk Management and the Australian Army’s Force Structure after the Vietnam War. Australian Army Historical Unit Occasional Paper Series. Canberra: Defence Publishing Services, Department of Defence, July 2014; Grey, Jeffrey. A Soldier’s Soldier: A Biography of Lieutenant General Sir Thomas Daly. Port Melbourne: Cambridge University Press, 2012; Hassett, Francis. ‘Officer with a Gift for Friendship.’ Australian, 28 March 1994, 13; Horner, David Murray. Strategic Command: General Sir John Wilton and Australia’s Asian Wars. South Melbourne: Oxford University Press, 2005; Moss, Tristan. ‘Postwar Planner: Lieutenant General Sir Mervyn Brogan, 1915–1994.’ In Shadow Men: The Forgotten Legacies That Shaped the Australian Army from the Veldt to Vietnam, edited by Craig Stockings and John Connor, 211–30. Kensington, NSW: NewSouth Publishing, 2017.
BROWNE, CORAL EDITH (1913–1991), actress, was born on 23 July 1913 at Footscray, Melbourne, only child of Victorian-born parents Leslie Clarence Brown, railway clerk, and his wife Victoria Elizabeth, née Bennett. Coral was educated locally at Claremont Ladies’ College. She was a gifted student of enunciation and earned an associate diploma in elocution from the London College of Music (1928). After leaving school at the age of fifteen, she began studying commercial art.
Although Brown had appeared in amateur plays, her acting career began by accident. While she was working as a stage designer for the 1931 production of John Galsworthy’s The Roof, the lead actress fell ill and Brown was invited to join the cast. Offered a contract with the theatrical firm J. C. Williamson [q.v.6] Ltd, she soon became known as a rising talent, appearing in plays around the country. Her mentor, the Melbourne director Gregan McMahon [q.v.10], believed she was ‘the most gifted of the young people that this country has produced’ (PAC 1994.095), and urged that she try her luck in London.
In May 1934 Brown left for England. She would return to Australia only twice for brief visits in 1948 and 1980. In London she began as an understudy to Nora Swinburne, but soon established a career in theatrical comedies and also worked in cinema. She appeared in a series of successful productions, including the comedy The Man Who Came to Dinner (1941), and by the late 1940s was the third highest paid actress on the West End stage. Shrugging off her ‘colonial’ origins, she cultivated a glamorous persona and changed her surname to ‘Browne’. A sexually adventurous woman, she enjoyed affairs with a number of prominent actors, including (Sir) Douglas Fairbanks Junior, Jack Buchanan, (Sir) Cecil Beaton, and Paul Robeson, and in the 1930s had embarked upon a clandestine lesbian relationship. In the following decade, she became the long-term paramour of the producer Frederick ‘Firth’ Shephard (d. 1949).
To the surprise of their friends, Browne married the openly homosexual actor and theatrical agent Philip Westrope Pearman (d. 1964) on 26 June 1950 at St Mary the Virgin Anglican Church, Letchworth. Three years later she converted to Catholicism and remained a devout, if unorthodox, member of the faith. Taking on Shakespearean roles, in 1956 she gave an acclaimed performance of Lady Macbeth with the Old Vic in London and New York. While visiting Moscow with the Shakespeare Memorial Theatre Company in 1958, she met the British spy Guy Burgess, who had defected to the Soviet Union. This encounter would form the basis of Alan Bennett’s telemovie An Englishman Abroad (1983), in which Browne played herself. She also starred in a number of well-known films, including Auntie Mame (1958) and the notorious lesbian drama The Killing of Sister George (1968).
In 1972 Browne met the Hollywood star Vincent Price Junior on the set of the horror film Theatre of Blood. She moved to the United States of America and, following Price’s divorce, the couple married on 24 October 1974 at Santa Barbara. From the mid-1970s, her career went into decline. Despite earning the applause of critics and audiences, she received few official honours. Her only stage accolade was the 1977 Los Angeles Drama Critics’ Circle featured performance award for her depiction of Lady Bracknell in The Importance of Being Earnest. She also won the 1984 British Academy of Film and Television Arts best actress award for her performance in An Englishman Abroad. In 1985 she enjoyed a final triumph appearing as the elderly Alice Liddell, the inspiration for Lewis Carroll’s book Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, in the film Dreamchild. Two years later, she took American citizenship. She maintained an ambivalent attitude towards her homeland; she collected Australian artworks and socialised with other expatriates, but one friend recalled that she ‘loathed’ (Collis 2007, 231) the place.
While celebrated as an actress, Browne was equally renowned for her sharp wit, elegant demeanour, passion for designer clothes, and talent for profanity. In 1961 she had been nominated as one of the world’s most beautiful women and was said to have become ‘ravishing in her middle age’ (Angell 2007, 168). Ever fearful of losing her looks, she was a plastic surgery enthusiast and an obsessive weight-watcher. Survived by her husband, after battling cancer for several years she died in Los Angeles on 29 May 1991 and was cremated. Her portrait by Don Bachardy is held by the National Portrait Gallery, Canberra.
Advertiser and Register (Adelaide). ‘Stage Discovery.’ 19 August 1931, 6; Angell, Barbara. The Coral Browne Story: Theatrical Life and Times of a Lustrous Australian. Sydney: Angell Productions, 2007; New York Public Library, New York. Browne, Coral, Clipping File; Browne, Coral. Interview by Frank Van Strahan, 5 August 1980. Performing Arts Collection Research Centre, Arts Centre Melbourne; Collis, Rose. Coral Browne: ‘This Effing Lady’. London: Oberon Books, 2007; Performing Arts Collection Research Centre, Arts Centre Melbourne. 1994.095, Coral Browne Collection; Price, Victoria. Vincent Price: A Daughter’s Biography. New York: St Martin’s Griffin, 1999; Table Talk (Melbourne). ‘Honors Thrust Upon Her.’ 6 April 1933, 17.
BRYANT, ERNEST BERT (BERT) (1927–1991), racecaller, was born on 21 March 1927 at Dubbo, New South Wales, third of four surviving children of New South Wales–born parents Ernest Harry Bryant, carpenter, and his wife Olive Myrtle, née Doyle. Ambitious from childhood to be a racecaller, Bert left De La Salle College, Dubbo, at the age of fourteen, and persuaded the manager of the local radio station to give him a trial. After a first call at nearby Geurie, he was soon calling races throughout western New South Wales, working during the week for retail firms and a munitions factory at Dubbo. He also developed a costly gambling habit. Between March 1945 and May 1946, while working as an invoice clerk for the wool-buying firm of Butterworth & Co., Bryant forged cheques totalling £2,240 to meet his debts. In November 1946 he pleaded guilty to charges of forgery and was sentenced to two years’ hard labour, twelve months with good behaviour.
Attempting to rebuild his career, Bryant auditioned unsuccessfully for radio station 2GB in Sydney, but was hired as assistant racecaller to Tom Moon at 3UZ in Melbourne. Beginning work soon after the 1948 Melbourne Cup, he remained with the station, as caller and sports director, until 1977. From 1950 he called twenty-seven consecutive Melbourne Cups. He also described athletics and swimming for television viewers at the Melbourne Olympic Games (1956) and the British Empire and Commonwealth Games in Perth (1962).
Although an ardent Catholic, Bryant had married Molly Margaret Parker, a saleswoman from Dubbo, at the Presbyterian Church, Artarmon, on 15 January 1949. Years later, at Molly’s insistence, they remarried at a Catholic church in Melbourne, and they raised their children as Catholics. Bryant’s home life was a vital backdrop to his broadcasting career, especially when a corgi, Zhivago, was added to the ménage, and 3UZ ran a land line to his house at Carnegie for the broadcast of the Saturday morning racing preview. His activities extended to radio quiz shows and stints with television stations GTV-9 and ATV-0. From the 1960s he frequently travelled overseas; Bryant regarded his relayed calls of the Epsom Derby in 1969 and 1972 as highlights.
In an era of great racecallers, Bryant was both peerlessly accurate and the finest entertainer. His most famous call was the match race between Big Philou and Rain Lover in the Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Flemington in 1970, when he advised listeners to put on the kettle as ‘there won’t be much change in a while’, then picked Big Philou, winner by a nose. Radio brought him a vast following in the decades before television coverage was widespread and he exploited the paradoxical intimacy of the medium. He invented and shared an argot: a tout had ‘more tips than a can of asparagus’; confounded by the victory of a long shot, he would declare ‘you deserve a gold bike if you picked this one’; while, in the event of a betting plunge, he would observe enigmatically ‘where there’s smoke, there’s blue cod’.
Recalling Bernborough’s loss at the 1946 Caulfield Cup, Bryant later confessed, ‘I should have realised then that you can’t win punting’ (Bryant 1978, 19). If his gambling streak caused him financial and personal difficulties, it was also essential to his affinity with the ordinary punters who constituted his increasingly large radio audience, which at its peak totalled 2.5 million listeners across forty-eight radio stations. Indifferent to the pretensions of the rulers of racing, Bryant ‘talked through his kick’—that is, as a punter, not only as a caller (Pierce 1994, 32).
On 7 April 1977, while recording ‘Turf Talk’ at 3UZ, Bryant suffered a sub-arachnoid haemorrhage, ending his career as a racecaller. He continued as a compere until 1983 when 3UZ ceased to cover racing. After retirement, he worked for a bloodstock agent, but in 1985 was diagnosed with stomach cancer. Survived by his wife, two sons, and a daughter, he died on 3 April 1991 at Brighton, Melbourne, and was buried in Springvale cemetery. He left behind one of the most colourful and original contributions to the life and language of the Australian turf. Bryant was inducted into the Australian Racing Hall of Fame in 2003.
Bryant, Bert, with Neil Phillipson. The Bert Bryant Story. Adelaide: Rigby, 1978; Gilgandra Weekly (NSW). ‘Forgery Alleged, Dubbo Youth Committed for Trial.’ 8 August 1946, 6, ‘News of the Week.’ 21 November 1946, 2; Pierce, Peter, with Rhett Kirkwood. From Go to Whoa: A Compendium of the Australian Turf. East Melbourne: Crossbow Publishing, 1994; Pierce, Peter. ‘Urgers, Emus, Gorillas and Angora Goats.’ In They’re Racing: The Complete Story of Australian Racing, edited by Garrie Hutchinson, 91. Ringwood, Vic.: Viking, 1999.
BRYANT, GORDON MUNRO (1914–1991), teacher, soldier, and politician, was born on 3 August 1914 at Lismore, Victoria, second child of Victorian-born parents Donald Munro Bryant, storekeeper and farmer, and his wife Agnes Keith, née Bain. James Munro [q.v.5], premier of Victoria during the 1890s financial crash, was his great-uncle. Moving with his family to Baxter on the Mornington Peninsula, he attended Frankston High School where he won a teaching scholarship (1930). He showed an early interest in politics when he represented the ‘Labor Party’ in a mock election, winning the classroom ballot. In 1935 he taught at a subsidised school at Callaghan Creek, before being appointed as a student-teacher at Pearcedale. Three years later he was awarded a studentship to the Melbourne Teachers’ College and was posted to Mittyack State School. On 5 December 1942 he married Patricia Jean Hilton née Grant, accountant, at St Margaret’s Church, Eltham.
From May 1934 Bryant had served in the Citizen Military Forces, rising to lieutenant (1941). He began full-time duty in World War II on 16 February 1942. Transferring to the Australian Imperial Force in January 1943, he served in Australia until 1945. In July that year he took part in the invasion of Balikpapan, Borneo, with the 2/33rd Battalion and was promoted to captain in August. He returned to Australia in February 1946 and transferred to the Reserve of Officers on 22 October. From 1949 to 1961 he continued his CMF service. He was later an opponent of Australia’s involvement in, and conscription for, the Vietnam War, and opposed incorporation of the former Portuguese colony of East Timor into Indonesia.
Returning to education, Bryant taught part time at Upwey High School while studying at the University of Melbourne (BA Hons, 1950; DipEd, 1975). In about 1949 he joined the Australian Labor Party (ALP). He stood unsuccessfully in 1951 and 1954 for the Victorian seat of Deakin in Federal parliament. In 1955, following the ALP split and backed by the left wing of the party, he was elected as the member for Wills in the House of Representatives. During his parliamentary career, he served on numerous committees including the joint committee on foreign affairs (and defence). He was a delegate to Inter-Parliamentary Union meetings in Copenhagen and Lucerne (1964) and in Canberra (1966); the Socialist International centenary celebrations in Brussels (1964); and the 33rd United Nations general assembly (1978). He served as a member of the council of the National Library of Australia (1964–72, 1976–80).
Bryant’s interest in Aboriginal affairs began in 1957 when he was alerted to the ‘starvation and privation’ of Aboriginal people in the Warburton Ranges, Western Australia. In the House he urged the Commonwealth government to develop a long-term policy to ‘improve the lot of the aborigines’ (Aust. HOR 1957, 1222). That year he became founding chairman of the Aborigines Advancement League in Victoria (1957–64), and a founding member of the Federal Council for Aboriginal Advancement, later the Federal Council for the Advancement of Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders (life member 1974). In May 1963 he seconded a motion by his ALP colleague Kim Beazley senior calling on the Commonwealth government to recognise Aboriginal land title. Four months later he travelled with Beazley to Yirrkala in the Northern Territory to hear the Yolngu people’s concerns about mining on their traditional land. The visit led to the creation of the Yirrkala bark petitions of 1963—the first documents prepared by Indigenous Australians to be recognised by the Australian parliament. Bryant also lodged an objection to the granting of Yirrkala mining leases; ‘one of the first occasions on which the legal right of the Aboriginal people of Australia to their land was taken up in the courts’ (NLA MS 8256).
Appointed to a parliamentary inquiry to examine the claims of the Yolngu people, Bryant wrote that it was ‘going to be a tough fight’ but he hoped that others would ‘see the injustice of it all’ (NLA MS 8256). His friend, Darwin-based journalist Douglas Lockwood [q.v.15], reported that the central question was whether those on reserves had the right to ‘decide for themselves who is admitted—and where, when and at what price’ (1963, 4). The enquiry made several recommendations including that the Yolngu should be compensated for bauxite mining development on their lands.
In 1962 Bryant had stated that ‘No aborigine can feel absolutely free and equal to other Australians whilst the Commonwealth Constitution contains the two clauses which exclude him from the Census … and from Commonwealth laws’ (Attwood and Markus 2007, 106). A referendum to determine whether these clauses should be removed was announced by the Federal government in 1967. Bryant’s parliamentary office in Canberra was active in organising the successful campaign for a ‘yes’ vote, with over ninety per cent of voters supporting change. Following the election of the Whitlam Labor government in 1972, he was appointed as the first minister for Aboriginal affairs. As minister he was described by the Bulletin as an ‘old time radical, fiery, impatient, fearless, [a] battler for the Aborigines’, and ‘no friend of Whitlam’ (1973, 35). Although he had poor relations with the Department of Aboriginal Affairs, he was instrumental in establishing the National Aboriginal Consultative Committee, an advisory body composed of elected representatives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
Bryant lost the Aboriginal affairs portfolio in a cabinet reshuffle on 9 October 1973, becoming instead the minister for the capital territory. His successor, Senator Jim Cavanagh [q.v.17], denied that Bryant had been sacked, and claimed that he had been moved to relieve Kep Enderby in the portfolio. There had been allegations of financial mismanagement in the newly established department. Inquiries in 1973 and 1974 by the auditor-general found that the department had failed to ‘control the expenditure of large amounts of public moneys’ and had not taken ‘early and resolute action’ to ensure that proper financial measures were instituted. Responding to the report, Bryant maintained that he had taken certain steps, but even in hindsight could not say what else could have been done to avoid this ‘disastrous situation’ (NLA MS 8256). He remained in the capital territory portfolio until the dismissal of the Whitlam Government on 11 November 1975.
The next year Bryant resisted pressure from the ALP to retire so that Bob Hawke could stand for his seat in a by-election. After retiring in 1980, he stood unsuccessfully for election to the Heidelberg City Council (1981). He was a visiting fellow at the school of economics, La Trobe University, and remained vocal on Aboriginal issues, education, and matters affecting the Australian Capital Territory. Survived by his wife and two sons, he died on 14 January 1991 in the Heidelberg Repatriation Hospital and was cremated. It fell to Hawke, then prime minister, to announce Bryant’s death to the House and to place on record his ‘long and meritorious public service’ (Aust. HOR 1991, 491).
Attwood, Bain, and Markus, Andrew. The 1967 Referendum: Race, Power and the Australian Constitution. Canberra: AIATSIS, 2007; Australia. House of Representatives. Parliamentary Debates, no. 19, 1957, 1221–35; Australia. House of Representatives. Votes and Proceedings, no. 41, 12 February 1991, 491; Bryant, Gordon. Interview by Adam Ashforth, 18 July – 13 October 1983. Transcript. Parliament’s oral history project. National Library of Australia; Bulletin (Sydney). 28 April 1973, 35; Lockwood, Douglas. ‘Aboriginal Fight For a Principle.’ Herald (Melbourne), 16 September 1963, 4; National Archives of Australia. B2458, 3111535; National Library of Australia. MS 8256, Bryant, Gordon. Papers, 1917–1991; Palmer, Ian. Buying Back The Land: Organisational Struggle and the Aboriginal Land Fund Commission. Canberra: AIAS, 1998.
BRYDEN, WILLIAM (1904–1992), museum director, geneticist, and educator, was born on 30 December 1904 at Martinborough, New Zealand, son of Scottish-born James Bryden, bootmaker, and his English-born wife Amanda Helen, née Syvret. William attended Kaiapoi and Rangiora High schools, and Canterbury College (later the University of Canterbury), Christchurch (BSc, 1926; MSc, 1927). He was mathematics and science master at Christchurch Technical College until 1931, when he was awarded an overseas research scholarship. At the University of Edinburgh he completed a PhD in genetics (1933) and earned a rugby blue.
On 29 August 1933 at Rosewell Parish Church, Church of Scotland, near Edinburgh, Bryden married Scottish-born Muriel McLaren. He taught in English public schools in 1933 and 1934, before returning to Christchurch Technical College as head of the natural science department. In 1936 his contribution to the study of genetics was recognised by his election to the fellowship of the Royal Society of Edinburgh. That year he was appointed warden of the Melbourne University Union. A grant from the Carnegie Corporation in 1937 enabled him to spend six months touring universities in the United States of America, Canada, and Britain. He became headmaster at Knox Grammar School, Sydney, in 1940. Bryden led school field trips to Ayers Rock (Uluru) to collect flora and fauna specimens. In 1950 his party of six masters and twenty-two Knox Grammar students was joined by anthropologist, Charles P. Mountford [q.v.15].
Bryden was appointed director of the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery in 1953. Immediately embroiled in the controversy then raging over Truganini’s [q.v.6] remains, he rejected calls to remove her skeleton from the museum on the grounds that her memory would be best served by conserving it for future researchers. He later published The Story of the Tasmanian Aboriginals (1960).
Most museums in the 1950s were dark, drab places with collections aimed more at the study needs of specialists than the general public. Bryden played a leading role in the change that took place in the presentation of museum collections during that decade. By 1953 the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery had not seen an expansion of its premises for more than half a century. It was underfunded, understaffed, and congested. Despite these constraints, Bryden began the task of reorganising the displays to make them more interesting and attractive to members of the public. The opening of a new wing in 1966 provided much-needed additional space for exhibitions, staff offices, and the storage of collections, allowing the museum to become a vibrant part of the Tasmanian community.
Complementing a warm, likeable, and outgoing personality, Bryden’s wide-ranging experience, wisdom, and qualities of leadership benefited the numerous cultural and scientific bodies on which he served. He was honorary secretary (1953–71), vice-president (1973–75), and honorary treasurer (1977) of the Royal Society of Tasmania; chairman of the National Parks and Wildlife Advisory Council; chairman (1964–74) of the state committee of the Duke of Edinburgh Award; president of the Hobart Repertory Theatre Society; member (1973–79) of the state advisory committee of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation; and trustee of the Van Diemen’s Land Memorial Folk Museum.
Appointed CBE in 1963 for his work with the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery, Bryden was awarded an honorary doctorate of science by the University of Tasmania in 1972. He retired that year. He moved in 1983 to Buderim, Queensland, where, survived by his wife and three sons, he died on 16 December 1992.
‘Dr W. Bryden.’ Sydney Morning Herald. 1 September 1939, 5; ‘New Museum Director Appointed.’ Mercury. 9 June 1953, 1; Burbury, Stanley. ‘William Bryden.’ Royal Society of Edinburgh, Obituaries. www.rse.org.uk/612_ObituariesB.html. Copy on ADB file; Mercer, Peter. ‘A Short History of the Tasmania Museum and Art Gallery.’ Unpublished manuscript, 1999. Copy held by author; Personal knowledge of ADB subject; Royal Society of Tasmania. Annual Report. Papers and Proceedings of the Royal Society of Tasmania, 1992.
BUCKNALL, FREDERICK JOHN GRAEME (1909–1995), clergyman, was born on 2 May 1909 at Portland, Victoria, eldest of three children of Chester Clissold Bucknall, farmer, and his wife Rachel Agnes, née Holmes, both born in Victoria. Always known as Graeme, he grew up on a farm in a bush community on the lower Glenelg River. He was educated at Drik Drik State School (1916–23) and as a boarder at Ballarat College (1924–25). Initially employed with a forestry company, in 1932 he decided to become a Presbyterian minister after becoming involved with the church youth organisation. Following studies at St Andrew’s Theological Training College and the Presbyterian Theological Hall, Melbourne, he was ordained in 1939. Studying part time, he graduated from the University of Melbourne (BA, 1940) and the Melbourne College of Divinity (BD, 1947). He had married Elma Jean Williamson, a teacher, on 15 January 1938 at the Brunswick Presbyterian Church.
Bucknall served as a minister in the Victorian parishes of Orbost (1939–42), Clifton Hill (1943–47), and West Hawthorn (1948–59). He was then director (1960–70) of home missions for the Presbyterian Church of Victoria. In this role he developed policies that took into account the circumstances of inner-city living in Melbourne, and aimed to assist the urban poor. An able administrator, he was also vice-convenor (1962–70) of the board of the Australian Inland Mission, and moderator (1966–67) of the Presbyterian Church of Victoria.
In December 1970 Bucknall was appointed the first executive officer of the United (Uniting) Church of Northern Australia, and he and his wife moved to Darwin. His area of responsibility covered the Northern Territory and the Kimberley in Western Australia. In this position, which he filled until the end of 1974, he focused on the needs of isolated communities, including Aboriginal reserves and missions. Conscious of following in Rev. John Flynn’s [q.v.8] footsteps, he was interested in Flynn’s concept of a ‘mantle of safety’ for northern Australian residents, whereby nursing hostels and hospitals, each associated with a padre, would function throughout the region. To help achieve this, during his first three years in the north he divided his time between servicing congregations in Darwin and elsewhere, and visiting cattle stations in the Katherine Patrol region. In 1974, however, he lamented that there was still a ‘culture/language barrier between cattleman and urban man’ (Bucknall 1994). Yet he acknowledged that there had been ‘phenomenal development in the relaxed and shared relationships between black and white members of the United Church during the last four years’ (Bucknall 1994). He also cultivated links with Protestants in Indonesia, visiting churches in West Timor, Roti, Bali, Alor, and Java, and fostering inter-church exchanges.
Between 1975 and 1979 Bucknall was the padre for the Centralian Patrol, based in Alice Springs. He frequently visited cattle stations, providing spiritual guidance and forming enduring friendships. The patrol work could be intensive encompassing visiting the sick, writing reports, and maintaining vehicles, ‘with rest and sermon preparations the chief victims’ (Bucknall 1994). Despite this, he realised that the experience helped him define the roots of his own theology, one that ‘must relate, without retraction, to living situations in the total life of every community’ (Bucknall 1994).
Following retirement, Bucknall and his wife remained in Alice Springs for five years. He wrote carefully researched reports and publications on central Australian history and co-edited the letters of his pioneer ancestors. With Jean, he continued his outback travels. He was a member of the council of the National Trust of Australia (Northern Territory). In 1982 he was appointed MBE. After moving back to Melbourne in 1985, he co-authored The Conquest of Distance: Told in the Life Stories of Centralian Pioneer Families (1996), and drafted an autobiography.
Although only part of Bucknall’s career was in the Northern Territory, it was there that his special understanding of isolation, derived from a childhood spent in the bush, proved important. He made Christianity more accessible to people in rural communities, and undertook valuable historical research on remote locations. Alex Adam described him as ‘a man of vision who gained inspiration from the scriptures’ (1996, 14). As a public speaker he was highly articulate and engaging. He was a generous host to visitors at his home or campsite. His recreations included photography, outback camping and travel, and the study of Indonesian culture and language. He died on 6 November 1995 at East Melbourne, survived by his wife, four sons, and one daughter, and was buried in Melbourne general cemetery, Carlton.
Adam, Alex. ‘Minister Shared His Vision and Faith with Followers.’ Age (Melbourne), 1 January 1996, 14; Amos, E. Anne. Graeme Bucknall in Ministry 1965–1970. Melbourne: Uniting Church Historical Society, Victoria, 1985; Bucknall, Graeme. ‘A Time to Keep: The Seven Lives of the Bush Kid from Drik Drik.’ Unpublished manuscript, 5 December 1994. Accessed 24 April 2018. bucknall.id.au/Biographies/JGB/JGB%20Introduction.htm. Copy held on ADB file; Carment, David. ‘Pastor Served as a Spiritual Beacon.’ Australian, 23 November 1995, 12; Personal knowledge of ADB subject.
BUDDEN, PHILIP HENRY (PHIL) (1906–1991), film company manager and entrepreneur, was born on 4 October 1906 at Hunters Hill, Sydney, second of seven children of New South Wales–born Henry Ebenezer Budden, architect, and his London-born wife Ella Robertson Carlisle, née Thomas. Phil was educated (1918–23) at Sydney Church of England Grammar School, where he gained the Intermediate certificate. He joined Sneddons Motors Ltd as a salesman of Singer cars but around 1925 left to work as a jackeroo and later a wool classer.
In 1927 Budden began working with the newly established film processors Commonwealth Film Laboratories Ltd (CFL), in which his father was both a shareholder and chairman. Ignorant of the field, he learnt on the job. He worked as a cameraman and performed other duties when required. Believing the manager to be incompetent, he became the de facto manager and company secretary. Using the ‘rack-and-tank’ methods common in the era of silent films, the laboratory’s main source of work was Paramount Films, which produced newsreels that required prints for distribution to theatres. The change to sound films after 1931 demanded new technology known as continuous processing. Using technical literature as a guide, Budden oversaw the building of a processing machine.
At St Philip’s Church of England, Sydney, on 7 December 1932, Budden married Margaret Annie Peck. Two years later he travelled to the United States of America to gain technical knowledge from companies such as Paramount and Kodak. The volume of CFL’s work increased steadily during the 1930s, supplying the local offices of American film companies with release prints made from imported negatives. CFL also invested in several Australian feature films for which it provided studio and film processing services. They included Mystery Island (1937), Typhoon Treasure (1938), and later The Rats of Tobruk (1944), and Jedda (1954).
During World War II the laboratory processed government-produced propaganda films. Budden served part time (1942–45) with the Volunteer Defence Corps. The move from 35 mm to the more compact 16 mm film, which had begun in the 1930s, required major adjustments in laboratory postwar capabilities. In 1950 CFL merged with Filmcraft Laboratory and later others, evolving into Colorfilm Pty Ltd. To service the time-critical news-gathering needs of the television station ABN-2 Budden oversaw the establishment by Associated Film Printers of an adjacent 16 mm laboratory.
Budden always had an interest in the mechanics of film processing, rather than the content of the films themselves. He once suggested that he and his colleagues were technical, not creative, people. In 1970 he established Filmlab Engineering Pty Ltd as an offshoot of Colorfilm Pty Ltd to custom-design and install film processing laboratories. By the 1970s the company was operating in South-East Asia. Demonstrating a flair as a manager, he resolved personal conflicts in the early years at CFL, and built a loyal staff group. In 1975 he retired as managing director of Colorfilm, remaining on the board.
In August 1981, Budden became chairman of the National Film Archive Advisory Committee, a body comprising prominent figures in the film and television industry. He had long been interested in the work of the National Film Archive, which was part of the National Library of Australia (NLA). From at least the 1950s, Colorfilm and its predecessors had handled much of the NFA’s film repair and copying work. The advisory committee’s mandate was to provide policy advice and liaise with the film and television industry. The committee concluded that the NFA should leave the NLA and be reconstituted as a separate organisation. Despite National Library Council’s objections, Barry Cohen, minister for home affairs and the environment, announced on 5 April 1984 the formation of the National Film and Sound Archive. Budden maintained links with the NFSA, and later helped to establish a major sponsored preservation project, the $4 million Operation Newsreel, that was launched in 1988.
Budden was a gentleman and a person of quiet presence. A long-time colleague recalled ‘his love and compassion for people’, and a man who was ‘selfless, universally liked’ (Forrest 1991, 9). He had been a member of the Australian Film Producers’ Association (chairman, 1952); the Rotary Club of Sydney (president, 1962–63, and district governor, 1971–72); and the Society of Australian Cinema Pioneers (national president, 1974). A fellow of the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers, in 1976 he had been appointed OBE. Survived by his wife and their two daughters, he died on 22 October 1991 at Wahroonga, Sydney, and was cremated.
Budden, Phil. Interview by Graham Shirley and Ray Edmondson, 4, 18 March 1978. Transcript. National Film and Sound Archive; Edmondson, Ray. ‘National Film and Sound Archive: The Quest for Identity.’ PhD diss., University of Canberra, 2011; Forrest, Murray. ‘Selfless and Universally Liked.’ Encore, 15–28 November 1991, 9; Personal knowledge of ADB subject; Screen International. ‘Portrait of a Founding Father.’ 19 March 1998, 1.
BULGER, JOSEPHINE VIOLET (1900–1993), domestic, midwife, and elder, was born on 25 August 1900 at the Aboriginal Station, Brungle, New South Wales, third of eight children of locally born parents Frederick Freeman, tracker and general labourer, and his wife Sarah Jane, née Broughton. Violet grew up as a member of the Wiradjuri and Ngun(n)awal community, and was forcibly removed from her family under the provisions of the Aborigines Protection Act 1909 and placed in the Cootamundra Training Home. Apart from a period when she worked with her father as a stockwoman rounding up brumbies in the high country, she spent much of her life working in domestic service.
At a time when Aboriginal women experienced limited access to maternity hospitals, in her early twenties Aunty Violet, as she was widely known, learned midwifery from her mother, who had been trained by a Tumut doctor. She used these skills throughout her adult life to assist pregnant women on Aboriginal reserves. On 13 October 1925 at the Aboriginal Station, Brungle, she married Edward Walter Vincent Bulger (d. 1939) in a Presbyterian ceremony. The couple moved to Oak Hill, near Yass, where they lived in a one-room earth-floor gunje (hut), with no electricity or running water.
Around 1938 the Bulgers were relocated to the Hollywood Aboriginal Reserve (known as Hollywood Mission), Yass. After her husband died, leaving Aunty Violet with nine children, she was later forced to leave the mission because, as a single mother, the authorities considered her ‘a bad influence on the rest of the community’ (Brown 2007, 86). The family built a rudimentary house back at Oak Hill and she took up domestic work in town. She would raise many of her grandchildren after their parents died or became unable to care for their children. In the 1970s she returned to live in the Tumut-Brungle area, moving to Canberra in the 1980s when her health deteriorated.
Aunty Violet died on 31 July 1993 at Red Hill, Canberra, survived by five of her 10 children, 56 grandchildren, 196 great-grandchildren, and 50 great-great-grandchildren. The Catholic Voice reported that ‘the large numbers of people at her funeral, at St Augustine’s Catholic Church, Yass, on Friday 6 August was testimony to the love and respect Violet Bulger inspired’ (1993, 9). In addition, the attendance reflected the eminence she had attained as an elder in a Ngun(n)awal community gaining an increasing strength of identity. Two of her children, Agnes Shea and Vincent Bulger (d. 2007), became respected elders and activists. In 1993 Violet’s Park in the Canberra suburb of Ngunnawal was named in recognition of her contribution to the community.
Brown, Carl, Dorothy Dickson, Loretta Halloran, Bertha Thorpe, Fred Monaghan, Agnes Shea, Sandra Phillips, and Tracey Phillips. Stories of the Ngunnawal. Florey, ACT: Journey of Healing (ACT) Inc., 2007; Catholic Voice (Canberra). ‘A Life Lived for Love of Family.’ September 1993, 9; Francis, Niki. ‘Violet Josephine Bulger (1900–1993).’ Australian Women’s Register. Last modified 22 July 2014. Accessed 16 June 2016. www.womenaustralia.info/biogs/AWE4896b.htm. Copy held on ADB file; Jackson-Nakano, Ann. ‘Respected Ngunnawal Elder.’ Canberra Times, 6 August 1993, 12; Read, Peter. ‘Freedom and Control on the Southern Institutions, New South Wales, 1879–1909.’ In Settlement: A History of Australian Indigenous Housing, edited by Peter Read, 55–63. Canberra: Aboriginal Studies Press, 2000; Shea, Agnes. Personal communication.
BUNNING, CHARLES ROBERT (1905–1994) and Gavin MacRae (Tom) Bunning (1910–1991), timber merchants, were the second and fifth of five children of British-born Robert Bunning [q.v.7], timber merchant and sawmiller, and his second wife, Scottish-born Helen Marion, née MacRae. The family also included two half-siblings from their father’s first marriage. Charles was born on 1 March 1905, and Tom on 20 July 1910, both at Cottesloe, Western Australia. They attended Scotch College; Charles (1914–22) became head prefect and dux (1922), captain of the athletics, cricket, and Australian Rules football teams (1922), and was cox of the first rowing IV (1917). Tom (1919–27) also excelled in sports, was cox of the first rowing IV (1921–23), played cricket and Australian Rules football, and was a prefect in his final year. After studying civil engineering at the University of Western Australia, Charles completed his degree at the University of Melbourne (BCE, 1928).
The brothers joined Bunning Bros Pty Ltd in 1928. Under the management of their father, the company held extensive timber-milling and retail interests in the south-west of the State and Perth. Charles worked in the company’s logging and milling operations. On 15 June 1931 he married Elizabeth (Betty) Blair Barber, who would become an accomplished artist, at St John’s Church of England, Toorak, Victoria. Tom was employed part time in the Perth yard office while studying accountancy; he qualified in 1931 and became the company accountant. On 4 November 1938 he married Margaret (Margot) Dorothy Law at St George’s Cathedral, Perth.
During the 1930s Bunnings won bids to source and install timber fittings on major building projects in Perth, including the Boans [q.v.7] store and the Colonial Mutual Life building. The company also secured supply contracts in the State’s eastern goldfields and sleeper contracts in Ceylon (Sri Lanka) and South Africa. In an effort to promote the business internationally, Charles attended Empire Forestry conferences in South Africa (1935) and Britain (1947). After the death of Robert Bunning in 1936, his long-time deputy, Arthur Petherick, became managing director. Charles was made superintendent of mills, and Tom continued as accountant. Their half-brother Joe (d. 1967) managed the company’s Perth jarrah mills. With their ‘enthusiasm, vitality, and fresh ideas’ (Mills 1986, 132), the brothers expanded and diversified the company’s operations.
Tom was commissioned in the Citizen Military Forces in April 1939, five months before World War II broke out. On 1 November 1940 he was appointed as a captain in the Australian Imperial Force and posted to the 2/4th Machine Gun Battalion, which arrived in Singapore on 24 January 1942. The next month he was captured by the Japanese and interned at Changi, where he organised a garden to supplement the prisoners’ meagre provisions. Liberated in September 1945, he returned to Perth and on 21 December transferred to the Reserve of Officers. Charles was commissioned in the CMF in September 1940. He served part time in Perth (1941) with the 7th Army Troops Company, Royal Australian Engineers, and then (1942–46) as an acting major, commanded the 14th (Western Australian) Battalion of the Volunteer Defence Corps. After the war, Tom helped to administer a scholarship that supported Singaporean and Malayan Chinese nurses to study in Australia, in recognition of the local people who had risked their lives to smuggle food to the internees.
In 1936 Charles, Tom, and Joe had been appointed directors and took a more active role in the company. To meet wartime supply contracts, Bunnings Bros had joined forces with a business rival, Millars’ Timber & Trading Co. Ltd, an arrangement that lasted until the cessation of hostilities. The companies also built boats for the navy, including three seine trawlers, camouflaged to resemble Chinese junks, for the Services Reconnaissance Department. To help meet increased demand for timber during the postwar boom in housing, the firm established a workshop (1946) at Manjimup, and mills at Tone and Donnelly rivers, and purchased mills in North Queensland. These measures increased capacity by an estimated 25 per cent. The company began producing prefabricated homes, supplying pre-cut timber (except floorboards) for a 10-square (92.9 sq. m) house, and diversifying into the hardware market. In March 1952 the company was listed on the stock exchange as Bunning Timber Holdings Pty Ltd and by the end of 1954 profits had increased to almost £64,000.
Following Petherick’s retirement in 1956, Charles and Tom became joint managing directors; two years later Charles assumed the role of chairman, and Tom vice-chairman. In 1957 and 1958 Charles travelled to Asia representing the hardwood export panel of the Associated Sawmillers and Timber Merchants of Western Australia, and successfully negotiated a substantial sleeper supply contract with the Indian Railway Board. Exports further diversified during the 1960s and 1970s into fine timber, mine-shaft guides, and wood-chips. The acquisition in 1970 of Hawker Siddeley Building Supplies Pty Ltd almost doubled the size of the company. As the stock of native hardwoods decreased and quotas on harvesting were imposed, the Tone and Donnelly river mills closed in 1978. By 1980 the company had established Pinus radiata plantations for the supply of flooring and lining; within four years new mills with a capacity of 25,000 cubic metres annually were being built. Concurrently the company sought to maintain its capacity to supply hardwoods by establishing operations in Papua New Guinea (1979). Under the direction of the brothers, after-tax profits increased to $783,482 in 1973.
Having both stepped down as managing directors in 1973, Charles continued as chairman until 1979, and then as president—largely a symbolic role—until 1990 when he assumed the title of honorary life president. He had been appointed CBE in 1969. Tom took over as chairman (1979–84); he was appointed AO in 1980. He remained a director until 1990 when he joined his brother as honorary life president. By then after-tax profits had increased to $15.8 million. Both had been active in professional associations and boards. Charles was a member of the Western Australian Employers’ Federation (executive councillor, 1952, 1957–61; president, 1953–56), the University of Western Australia senate (1960–74), the Metric Conversion Board (1970–78), and the Western Australian Cricket Association (president, 1963–64, 1979–80). Tom was chairman (1960–63) of the board of Scotch College, and president (1968–70) of the Western Australian Chamber of Manufactures.
Known for their energy and business acumen, the brothers were also regarded as handsome and outgoing, and were often seen at social functions. As joint managers, they worked ‘in complete agreement and harmony’ (Mills 1986, 255). Charles was admired for his decisiveness; he disdained pomposity and was said to know ‘almost all … who worked for him by name’ (McIlwraith 1994, 15). He enjoyed sailing and golf, often in Betty’s company, and was enthusiastic about football and cricket. Tom was praised for his ‘unwavering integrity’, his ‘delightful sense of humour’ (BL 1991, 6), and his sensitivity to the needs of others. He won numerous golf tournaments and was captain of the Cottesloe Golf Club (1938–39, 1947–48). Survived by his wife, one son, and one daughter, he died at Peppermint Grove, Perth, on 11 March 1991, and was cremated. Charles died on 3 June 1994, also at Peppermint Grove, and was cremated; his wife, son, and two daughters survived him. In November 1994 the Bunning family’s involvement in the firm ceased after it was purchased for $594 million by Wesfarmers Ltd, which retained the Bunnings name.
Bunning, Margot. Interview by Chris Jeffery, 9 September 1980. State Library of Western Australia.; Bunning Timber Holdings Ltd. Annual Report and Balance Sheet. Perth: The Company, 1969–79; Bunnings Ltd. Annual Report. Perth: The Company, 1980–93; McIlwraith, John. ‘Timber Giant Bore Brunt of Green Undergrowth.’ Australian, 14 June 1994, 15; Mills, Jenny. The Timber People: A History of Bunnings Limited. Perth: Bunnings Ltd, 1986; National Archives of Australia. B883, WX3542, B884, W34186, B884, W85401.
BUNTINE, GLADYS SELBY (JIM) (1901–1992), Girl Guide commissioner, was born on 7 September 1901 at Fitzroy, Melbourne, only child of Reginald Selby Spurling, accountant, and his wife Ethel Marian Linsey, née Flint, typist. Gladys’s father left Melbourne for South Africa some months before her birth; her parents divorced in 1906. Her mother lived with her own widowed mother and married Robert William Lord, later mayor of Hawthorn, when Gladys was eleven. Due to a series of early deaths, her paternal grandmother, Selina Spurling, had lost two husbands and four sons: little Gladys was the treasured sole survivor of her family. In Selina’s old age, Gladys would give her a home with her family at Hale College in Perth. She attended Merton Hall (Melbourne Church of England Girls’ Grammar School) (1913–17), where she did well in English and French and was awarded a council minor scholarship in 1914. She attended finishing school at Vallois, France, developing language skills that she later used with French-speaking clients while employed as a secretary in a Melbourne wool-broking firm.
On 17 May 1926 at Christ Church, Hawthorn, Spurling married Dr Martyn Arnold Buntine (1898–1975), a schoolmaster and son of Murray Buntine [q.v.7], proprietor of Caulfield Grammar School. Arnold and Gladys (nicknamed ‘Jim’) would have two sons. Their courtship had been interrupted when he spent the years 1923 and 1924 at the University of Edinburgh gaining a doctorate in education. As her husband rose in his profession, she became an ‘ideal Headmaster’s wife’ (Ad Astra 1992, 15). Her poise and elegance, together with a genuine interest in people, made her a charming hostess at school and official occasions. Arnold held appointments as headmaster of several prestigious private boys’ schools: Camberwell Grammar School, Melbourne (1927–31); Hale School, Perth (1931–40, 1943–46); and Geelong College, Victoria (1946–60). Each of these positions allowed Gladys almost complete freedom from domestic responsibilities. They loved concerts and theatre, and both enjoyed sports; he was a champion athlete, while she played golf and tennis.
Around 5 feet 3 inches (160 cm) tall, warm-hearted, encouraging, and tireless, from 1933 Buntine had embraced the Girl Guides movement. In Perth she served on the State executive and gave regular Australian Broadcasting Commission programs on guiding. She and Arnold shared ideals about education for leadership, community service, and development of manual skills. Arnold promoted these values in his schools, Gladys through guiding. She relished guiding too as a ‘means of relief from her life with men’ (GiA 1992, 11) in her all-male family and school environment. She continued her guiding work in Western Australia while Arnold served in the Australian Imperial Force in World War II; he commanded a company in the siege of Tobruk, Libya, and a battalion in the Northern Territory.
Resettling in Geelong, Buntine became division commissioner for the Barwon area, and later a member of the State council. After moving to Sydney, where Arnold was employed at Knox Grammar School, she was chief commissioner for Australia (1962–68). Her main challenge in this role was to introduce professional standards at all levels of guiding. Under her watch, a leadership training course for commissioners was introduced, and the first Australian edition of guiding’s policies, organisation, and rules was published. She also vigorously encouraged national and international networking, taking significant roles at world guiding events in Denmark, Britain, Malaya, Japan, and India. In 1967 she escorted the world chief guide on her Australian tour. Guiding for her was always fun—she loved the camps, especially if allowed to ‘lick the jam spoon’ (Buntine Papers).
Buntine was appointed MBE (1960) and OBE (1966) for service to youth through guiding. She also served the community through involvement in the National Fitness Council in Western Australia, the National Council of Women, and the Presbyterian Church Association. She received the highest Commonwealth Guiding honour, the Silver Fish, in 1966. A perceptive listener with a ‘spark of humour’ (GiA 1992, 11), she relished the company of interesting people and over many years loved to gather her family for a Sunday roast. Survived by her sons, she died on 15 July 1992 at Kilsyth Retirement Village, Kilsyth, Victoria, and was cremated.
Ad Astra (Geelong College). ‘Mrs Gladys Buntine OBE.’ No. 71 (August 1992), 15; Buntine, Ivy. Personal communication; Buntine papers. Private collection; Coleman, Margaret, and Honor Darling. From a Flicker to a Flame: The Story of the Girl Guides in Australia. Sydney: Girl Guides Association of Australia Incorporated, 1989; GiA. ‘A Tribute to Mrs Buntine, OBE.’ September 1992, 11.
BUNTINE, NOEL LYNTTON (1927–1994), cattle-transport entrepreneur, pastoralist, pastoral industry administrator, political party organiser, and horse-racing enthusiast, was born on 10 December 1927 at Stonehenge, south-west of Longreach, Queensland, second of three sons of Queensland-born parents Arthur Desmond Lone Buntine, stockman, and his wife Iris, née Wray, whose parents owned a nearby grazing property, Goon Goon. Agnes Buntine [q.v.Supp], an intrepid pastoralist and bullocky, was Noel’s great-great grandmother. Educated at Stonehenge State and Rockhampton Grammar schools, he obtained clerical work at Rockhampton and between December 1947 and January 1949 in Port Moresby.
In 1950 Buntine was appointed as a temporary clerk in the Northern Territory Mines Branch. Accompanied by Monica Evans, née Allen (d. 1971), he moved to Alice Springs; the couple would be married in a Presbyterian ceremony at Norman Park, Brisbane, on 11 July 1956. Buntine left the public service in November 1952 and began a partnership (incorporated, 1958) at Alice Springs with John Ryan as mining and general agents. The Colonial Mutual Life Assurance Society Ltd appointed Buntine its inspector for the Northern Territory in 1954.
About 1953 Ryan and Buntine had purchased Overland Transport and its one-tenth share in the Territory Transport Association’s road-rail contract with the Commonwealth Railways. In 1959 they started carrying cattle. That year, however, Buntine decided to move to Queensland. Ryan & Buntine Pty Ltd was wound up and he took a Commer prime mover and semi-trailer as part of the settlement. Based in Brisbane, he subcontracted with interstate hauliers but, within a few months, returned to Alice Springs.
Resuming the transport of cattle, by 1962 he was based at Katherine and operating as Buntine Roadways Pty Ltd. With a Mack B61 prime mover named High and Mighty, he carted cattle from Top End stations to the Wyndham Meatworks across the border in Western Australia. This was a time of fundamental change for Australia’s pastoral industry, as droving gave way to driving on an expanding network of beef roads. In 1964 Buntine bought Ryan’s interest in Overland Transport, one of a number of acquisitions, and established Buntine Freightways of Australia Pty Ltd, a general-carrying venture, to offset the seasonal nature of the cattle business.
On 3 August 1976 in Darwin Buntine married Patricia (Patty) Burnett. In that year he sold Buntine Freightways and purchased East Kimberley Transport Pty Ltd, which operated out of Wyndham. Katherine remained the home base of the enlarged Buntine Roadways group, which maintained depots at Wyndham, Tennant Creek, and Alice Springs, and in Queensland at Mount Isa, to service its operations in the Territory and adjoining States. By 1980 he employed 120 people. His fleet had grown to fifty road trains, capable of uploading 3,000 head of fat cattle at any one time. The group’s turnover exceeded $6 million a year and was one of the largest road-haulage operations in Australia. It also had a contract to transport bulk lime from South Australia to the Ranger uranium mine, and six road trains were engaged exclusively in this undertaking.
In May 1981 Buntine sold his companies to Transport and Property Holdings Pty Ltd. Within two years the enterprise was bankrupt. Finding himself unwittingly responsible for some of its debts, he borrowed money, bought back most of the prime movers and trailers at auction, and established a profitable new firm, Road Trains of Australia Pty Ltd. By this time his eldest son, Denis, had started his own business, Victoria River Transport, which cross-fed with RTA to service the Western Australian, South Australian, and Queensland markets. On 30 November 1985 Noel sold RTA.
Buntine owned several grazing properties in Queensland and another on the Katherine River. He chaired the Land Board of the Northern Territory (1987–92) and its successor, the Pastoral Land Board (1992–94), ‘introducing modern land monitoring and management practices to the Territory pastoral industry’ (NT Parliament 1994, 11,412). Members from 1980 of the Country Liberal Party, he and his wife contributed to the Katherine branch’s ‘lively debate and progressive ideas’ (NT Parliament 1994, 11,417). Noel was an elected member of the party’s management committee (1988–91); he and Patty were made honorary life members of the CLP in 1993.
Tall and lanky, Buntine was a talented athlete, who in 1951 had won the Alice Springs Recreation Council’s Jubilee Sports Carnival Gift over 130 yards (119 m) in 13.4 seconds; he also played cricket and Australian Rules football. Later, he became ‘the biggest racehorse owner in the Territory’ (Swanson 1994, 13). He was a committee-member for twelve years and a life member (1988) of the Darwin Turf Club, the entry road to which was named in his honour. Appointed (1976) as a trustee of the Katherine Racecourse and Recreation Reserve and described as ‘the father of the Katherine Turf Club’ (NT Parliament 1994, 11,412), he was equally devoted to the country racing circuit.
With his business acumen, generosity, and understated wit, Buntine was popular and widely respected. On 11 January 1994 he died suddenly, of heart disease, while holidaying at Surfers Paradise, Queensland. Following an Anglican service, he was buried in Katherine cemetery. His wife survived him, as did their daughter and son and the two sons and one daughter of his first marriage. Members of the Northern Territory Legislative Assembly eulogised him at length. The Buntine Pavilion opened that year in the Australian Road Transport Hall of Fame, Alice Springs, of which he had been a staunch supporter and benefactor. In 1996 the Buntine Highway—between Willeroo, Northern Territory, and Nicholson, Western Australia—was named in his honour; a granite monument at its eastern end was erected to commemorate him, the dedication being attended by 250 people.
Centralian Advocate (Alice Springs, NT). ‘First Round Ends All Square.’ 20 November 1953, 7, ‘Football: Rovers Win with Late Run.’ 29 August 1952, 7, ‘Local Man’s C.M.L. Appointment.’ 1 October 1954, 8, ‘Wedding Anniversary.’ 5 December 1952, 12; Maddock, John. A History of Road Trains in the Northern Territory 1934–1988. Kenthurst, NSW: Kangaroo Press, 1988; Northern Standard (Darwin). ‘Alice Springs.’ 30 March 1951, 12; Northern Territory Parliament. Parliamentary Record, vol. 41, 26 February 1994, 11,075–77, 2 March 1994, 11,411–17, 11,421–22, 11,431–32, 3 March 1994, 11,596–17, 11,605–6, 11,609–10, 11,617–21, 11,624–25; Swanson, Gary. ‘Transport Magnate Never Lost the Common Touch.’ Australian, 17 January 1994, 13.
BUNTING, Sir EDWARD JOHN (JOHN) (1918–1995), public servant and diplomat, was born on 13 August 1918 at Ballarat, Victoria, eldest child of Victorian-born parents Grenville Brymore Bunting, storekeeper, and his wife Ellen Victoria, née Withers. Ellen’s forebears had emigrated from Northern Ireland and settled at Longwood in the early 1850s. The family returned there shortly after John’s birth, later moving to a smallholding near Benalla. As a child John, often known as Jack, attended government schools in the district, worked in the family store, and played cricket, tennis, and Australian Rules football in local competitions. A competent pupil, he won a scholarship to Trinity Grammar School, Kew, in 1934. Two years later he was captain of the school, dux (in humanities), winner of the Rhodes prize, and captain of cricket, football, athletics, and tennis.
From 1937 Bunting lived at Trinity College, University of Melbourne (BA Hons, 1940; DipPubAdmin, 1941), where he mainly studied economics; he later studied public administration part time while living and working in Canberra. Though he regretted not studying law, economics brought him into contact with Professor (Sir) Douglas Copland [q.v.13], who became a mentor. While cricket was his favourite sport, he won a half-Blue for playing in the premiership-winning University Blacks, in the amateur A section of the Victorian Football Association in 1939.
The prospect of a career in government had earlier attracted Bunting, and he followed this path, notwithstanding at least one offer from business. One of twelve graduates selected for the Commonwealth Public Service in 1940, he joined the Department of Trade and Customs and moved to Canberra. With the onset of war, he joined the Melbourne University Rifles and briefly went into uniform before assignment to Sydney, where he worked in the division of import procurement; its role in rationing newsprint gave him an early insight into controversial aspects of administration. He also came under the influence of (Sir) Alan Carmody [q.v.13] and (Sir) Frank Meere, two staunch upholders of the prevailing regime of tariff protection. On 4 April 1942 he married Pauline Peggy MacGruer at the Holy Trinity Church of England, Kew, Victoria.
Promotion into the Department of Post-War Reconstruction in 1947 brought Bunting back to Canberra; in succeeding years he was deeply involved in the interdepartmental committee on dollar import licensing. Returning to Canberra also enabled him to renew his sporting career. He had played for and captained Manuka Football Club in 1941 and he resumed his captaincy in 1947. In the late 1940s he considered seeking a post in an international organisation, but eventually decided to remain in Australia and was thus among staff transferred to the Prime Minister’s Department following abolition of the Department of Post-War Reconstruction early in 1950. As assistant secretary (cabinet), he was a key figure in initiatives by the secretary, (Sir) Allen Brown [q.v.], to enhance administrative support for the prime minister and the cabinet.
In 1953 Bunting went to London as official secretary in the Australian High Commissioner’s Office, a role that was equivalent to chief operating officer. Beyond his administrative duties he forged close relations with Buckingham Palace and Whitehall, which stood him in good stead for the remainder of his career. He returned to Canberra as deputy secretary of the Prime Minister’s Department in 1955. In January 1959, with Prime Minister (Sir) Robert Menzies’s [q.v.15] firm support, he assumed headship of the department in the face of Sir John Crawford’s [q.v.17] unconcealed ambitions for the post.
Under Menzies, the cabinet system operated smoothly. However, as only one official was permitted to attend cabinet meetings, the growth of government business placed an increasing burden on Bunting—a burden that would later be partly relieved during Harold Holt’s [q.v.14] prime ministership when a second note-taker was admitted. The broader policy scene sometimes proved a source of difficulty. In 1960 the Prime Minister’s Department was central to advice behind the so-called ‘credit squeeze’, the effects of which—notably a marked increase in unemployment and financial problems for small- and medium-sized business—almost brought defeat of the Menzies government at the 1961 Federal election. In foreign policy and defence matters, particularly concerning the fate of Dutch New Guinea and, later, the creation of Malaysia, and in the face of Indonesia’s policy of confrontation, the Prime Minister’s Department privately followed a more cautious line than either External Affairs or Defence. On the question of Australia’s participation in the Vietnam War in 1965, Bunting’s questions about ‘whether’ and ‘why’ carried less weight than Defence’s interests in ‘when’ and ‘where’.
The warm relations Bunting had enjoyed with Menzies did not continue in his years with Menzies’s successors, Holt, (Sir) John Gorton, and (Sir) William McMahon [q.v.18]. Holt relied much more heavily on departmental advice but was less discreet in his use of it. He drowned soon after barely weathering the so-called ‘VIP affair’, which involved the excessive and sometimes personal use of Royal Australian Air Force planes for ministerial travel. Holding Bunting and other departmental officers responsible for the government’s troubles in that matter, Holt’s successor, Gorton, had Bunting reassigned to head a new Department of the Cabinet Office, with limited functions. After Gorton’s resignation in 1971, and McMahon’s succession to the prime ministership, the two entities were reunited as the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. Bunting was appointed permanent head of the new body.
During this period the increasingly interventionist role of the department in policy matters, combined with the expansion of cabinet committee business, greater parliamentary scrutiny of administration, and growth of current affairs media, changed the conduct of government in ways that were, in many respects, at odds with Bunting’s views about central agency responsibilities and the role of public servants. The transition from a Coalition to a Labor government in 1972 was a testing time for the public service generally and Bunting personally, as he endeavoured to keep track of the activities of the new ministry. While he admired Gough Whitlam as prime minister, he welcomed the opportunity to go to London as high commissioner early in 1975. In this role Bunting utilised his many British and Commonwealth connections in London, but, an innately shy person, he was less happy with its public representational aspects. Ill health limited his time in London to just two years. On returning to Canberra he was, for a short time, a consultant at the newly established Office of National Assessments, after which he retired from the public service on 13 August 1977. He had been appointed OBE in 1952, CBE in 1960, knight bachelor in 1964, and KBE in 1976 (conferred by Queen Elizabeth II). He was appointed AC in 1982.
Sir John saw the public service as an impartial merit-based career opportunity in which public servants (enablers rather than controllers) provided advice frankly, fearlessly, but confidentially, to ministers. His concern was to foster collegiality in ensuring effective working of the machinery of government. His own forte was in preparing cabinet recommendations and it was very rare for a minute carrying his signature to be changed. An executor of Menzies’s will, he was appointed national coordinator of the Sir Robert Menzies Memorial Trust in 1978. From 1983 to 1992 he chaired the Official Establishments Trust, advising on the operation, conservation, and long-term development of the Commonwealth’s four official residences. He wrote a memoir of Sir Robert Menzies, which provided a uniquely informed portrait of Australia’s longest-serving prime minister. Menzies considered him the ‘prince of civil servants’ (NAA M321). Survived by his wife and their three sons, he died on 2 May 1995 at Camperdown, Sydney, and was cremated. In 2002 The Australian National University and the Australian government established the Sir John Bunting chair of public administration within the Australia and New Zealand School of Government.
Bailey, Peter. ‘Sir John Bunting, AC, KBE.’ Canberra Bulletin of Public Administration 78 (August 1995): 29–31; Bunting, John, Sir. R. G. Menzies: A Portrait. Sydney: Allen & Unwin, 1988; Bunting, John. Interview by Ian Hamilton, 1983. Transcript. National Library of Australia; Frame, Tom. The Life and Death of Harold Holt. Crows Nest, NSW: Allen & Unwin, 2005; Hancock, Ian. John Gorton: He Did It His Way. Sydney: Hodder Headline Australia, 2002, The VIP Affair 1966–67. [Canberra]: Australasian Study of Parliament Group, 2004; Mullens, Patrick. Tiberius with a Telephone: The Life and Stories of William McMahon. Brunswick, Vic.: Scribe Publications, 2018; National Archives of Australia. M321, 1; Nethercote, John. ‘Prince of Public Servants Shaped Cabinet System.’ Australian, 4 May 1995, 12; Martin, A. W. Robert Menzies. A Life. Vol. 1, 1894–1943. Carlton, Vic.: Melbourne University Press, 1993; Robert Menzies. A Life. Vol. 2, 1944–1978. Carlton, Vic.: Melbourne University Press, 1999.
J. R. Nethercote
BURBURY, Sir STANLEY CHARLES (1909–1995), judge and governor, was born on 2 December 1909 in Perth, only child of Tasmanian-born Daniel Charles Burbury, metallurgist at the Royal Mint (Perth branch), and his South Australian–born wife Mary Agatha, née Cunningham. He was a direct descendant of Thomas Burbury [q.v.1], an English Luddite transported to Van Diemen’s Land (Tasmania) in 1832. Less than two months after his birth, his mother died; he was taken to Hobart and placed in the care of his aunt Ada Mary Lakin. While young he contracted poliomyelitis and would carry a limp throughout his life. At age eleven he was enrolled at The Hutchins [q.v.1] School, where he excelled in essay writing, public speaking, and debating; and was a joint winner of the Bishop of Tasmania prize (1927).
In 1928 Burbury entered the University of Tasmania (LLB, 1932). He was active in the drama and debating societies, and the University Union, but left himself time to secure high distinctions in Roman law and in private international law. In March 1933 he was admitted to practise and joined the firm Simmons, Wolfhagen, Simmons, and Walch, of which he became a partner in 1937. Seven years later he founded Burbury and Dixon. On 22 December 1934 at the Memorial Congregational Church, Hobart, he had married Pearl Christina Barren, an accomplished local soprano. The couple were supporters of Hobart’s musical life and theatre. Although an Anglican, he became the organist (1933–36) at the New Town Congregational Church; Pearl, a Congregationalist, was a vocalist in church services. From the 1930s the couple also acted in Hobart Repertory Theatre Society plays.
Rising in prominence, Burbury led several public inquiries, the first of which was into the administration of the Tasmanian Forestry Department (1944–45). He was appointed KC in 1950 and headed a royal commission into the State’s apple and pear industry in the next year. In 1952 he took on the post of solicitor-general. Involved in the Tasmanian Law Reform Committee since its inception (1941), he recommended that reforms be based on English developments. He continued his association with the university, having been acting dean of the law school in 1942 and vice-warden of the senate from 1948 to 1955. In 1955 and 1956 he was a member of the troubled university council during the royal commission into its administrative conduct, and attended the March 1956 meeting which demanded the removal of the professor of philosophy, Sydney Sparkes Orr [q.v.15], after he was accused of seducing a female undergraduate student. Burbury interrogated Orr, who was later dismissed, and some observers have argued that he did not give him a fair hearing (Polya and Solomon 1996, 119–20).
In August 1956 Burbury was appointed chief justice of Tasmania by the Cosgrove [q.v.13] Labor government in succession to Sir John Morris, an office he would hold for seventeen years. In 1958 he presided over the sensational Hursey case that tested the authority of unions to impose political levies; eventually the High Court overruled Burbury and upheld unions’ right to do so. A progressive chief justice, he instituted pre-trial procedures and drew his greatest satisfaction from formulating general principles of criminal liability and the law of manslaughter. He was also an active chairman of the Criminal Law Reform Committee which, at his urging, had been established in 1960. For much of 1967 he resided in Sydney as chairman of the second royal commission into the 1964 HMAS Voyager disaster, which absolved HMAS Melbourne’s officers of blame.
Burbury’s position did not prevent him from serving as patron or president of several cultural bodies, including the Hobart Repertory and Federation of Tasmanian Film societies. He had a long involvement with the National Heart Foundation of Australia, serving as the Tasmanian (1961–67) and Federal (1967–73) president. Chair (1965–75) of the State regional council of the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust, he later became national president (1980–85). For three lengthy periods he had been administrator of the State in the absence of a governor. During 1958 and 1959 he spent sixteen months in the role, pending the arrival of Lord Rowallan q.v.16]. In April 1959 he exercised vice-regal discretion in accepting Premier Eric Reece’s advice to dissolve the House of Assembly following R. J. D. Turnbull’s dismissal from cabinet.
In December 1973 Burbury was appointed Tasmania’s first Australian-born governor. Although as a young lawyer he had been a foundation member (1944) of the Liberal Party of Australia, he was trusted by the three Labor premiers whose governments he oversaw. He and his wife were generous hosts and frequently entertained cultural and community organisations at Government House. During his term he was sworn in (1979) as administrator of the Commonwealth of Australia to act in the absence of the governor-general. He was appointed KBE (1958), KCVO (1977), KCMG (1981), and a knight of the Order of St John (1974). His initial five-year term as governor was extended to June 1982.
Sir Stanley and Lady Burbury lived quietly in retirement at Kingston, south of the city. Survived by his wife, he died on 24 April 1995 in Calvary Hospital, Hobart. He was accorded a state memorial service at St David’s Cathedral and was cremated. A large part of his personal library was donated to The Hutchins School. Lake Burbury, a hydro-electric impoundment on the King River, commemorates his name, as does a theatre at the University of Tasmania.
Bailey, Sue. ‘Tributes for Faithful Servant of Tasmania.’ Mercury (Hobart), 25 April 1995, 3; Mercury (Hobart). ‘Mr Burbury Appointed New Chief Justice.’ 21 August 1956, 1; National Archives of Australia. A12689, 1979; Polya, John, and Robert Solomon. Dreyfus in Australia. Erskineville, NSW: Dr R. J. Solomon, 1996; Tasmanian Archives. NS 1736, Personal records of Sir Stanley and Lady Burbury; The Hutchins School Communique. ‘An Archives Moment.’ 3 May 2012, 9–10.
BURGMANN, VICTOR DUDLEY (1916–1991), physicist, engineer, and science administrator, was born in North Sydney on 5 December 1916, the first child of New South Wales–born parents Ernest Henry Burgmann [q.v.13], Anglican clergyman (later bishop of Canberra and Goulburn), and his wife Edna Carey, née Crowhurst. Educated at Maitland Boy’s High School, Victor was awarded a public exhibition to study engineering at the University of Sydney (BSc, 1937; BE, 1939). Influenced by his father, he developed a strong social and religious conscience, becoming active in the Student Christian Movement, and a King’s scout. After graduation, he was appointed a research officer with the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR). On 25 July 1940, at St Andrew’s Church of England, Strathfield, he married Lorna Constance Bradbury, a typist.
Burgmann’s work focused on the development of radar in World War II. He was appointed a CSIR scientific liaison officer and was posted to London (1940–42) and then Washington, DC, and Boston (1942–43). His duties were to establish communication channels with radar scientists. In England he tested equipment with Royal Air Force pilots such as John ‘Cat’s Eyes’ Cunningham. On his return to Australia in mid-1943 he joined the newly formed CSIR radiophysics laboratory at the University of Sydney, where he was involved with airborne radar designed to detect ships at sea. As a principal research officer (1945–49), he worked on the civil applications of radar, including development of distance-measuring equipment for aviation and maritime navigation. He was to be awarded the bronze medal of the British Institute of Navigation in 1953.
In 1949 the CSIR initiated research into wool textiles, and established a physics and engineering unit in Sydney. Burgmann became officer-in-charge in 1950, which marked a turning point in his career. The unit analysed the properties of wool fibre and its processing, and developed textile testing equipment. In 1958, when the unit was upgraded to a division, Burgmann was appointed foundation chief of textile physics. Having relinquished this role in 1969, he became an associate member of the executive committee of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation and a full member in May 1970. He and his wife moved to Canberra where in 1977 he succeeded Sir Robert Price as chairman of the CSIRO. That year he was appointed CBE, and elected a fellow of the Institution of Engineers, Australia, and of the Textile Institute, Britain. Not wanting to work beyond sixty, he retired in 1978.
He was described as ‘notably short of visible prejudices, ready to look always with the eye of reason and to go forward on the basis of all the available information; a man concerned for the sensibilities of people’ (CSIROOA Bulletin 1978, 3). Burgmann became a member of the council of the National Library of Australia (deputy chairman 1982–84). An enthusiastic sportsman, he had played billiards, tennis, and squash, and became a devoted and skilled croquet player, coaching at the Canberra Croquet Club. He took an interest in assisting people with disabilities to participate in sports.
Early in their married life, he and Lorna had been keen square-dancers. Musically gifted, he played the violin in an amateur orchestra until the early 1960s and taught himself to play the piano and guitar. Burgmann was a skilled handyman who built family furniture, a cubby-house, an additional bedroom, a workshop and shed. Diagnosed in 1983 with Parkinson’s disease, he moved to Sydney in 1986 to be closer to his family. Survived by his wife, son, and three daughters, he died at Waldock Nursing Home, Carlingford, on 7 February 1991 and was cremated.
Burgmann, Verity. Personal communication; CoResearch (CSIRO). ‘Former Head of CSIRO Dies.’ No. 338 (February 1991): 1; CSIROOA Bulletin. ‘Victor Burgmann Retires.’ No. 170 (September 1978): 3; CSIROpedia, ‘Victor Dudley Burgmann [1916–1991].’ csiropedia.csiro.au/burgmann-victor-dudley/. Copy held on ADB file.
Bruce MacA. Thomas
BURKE, FRANCES MARY (1904–1994), textile designer and homeware retailer, was born on 10 January 1904 at Spottiswoode (Spotswood), Victoria, youngest of three children of Francis Henry Burke, tailor’s presser, and his wife Frances Veronica, née Brown, a former tailoress. The family moved to Brunswick and Frances junior was probably educated at a local Catholic school. Following training at the Mount St Evin’s and Homœopathic hospitals, she qualified as a registered nurse in 1927. In the early 1930s she set up house with Frances Mary ‘Fabie’ Chamberlin, a fellow nurse.
After her mother died in 1932, Burke received a small inheritance. Abandoning nursing, she began studying art at the National Gallery of Victoria’s school of drawing and at the Melbourne Technical College (MTC), winning scholarships in 1934, 1935, and 1936. In 1936 she worked as an office manager for an advertising agency and attended George Bell’s [q.v.7] art school. Fellow students included (Sir) Russell Drysdale [q.v.17], Peter Purves Smith [q.v.11], and Maie (Lady) Casey [q.v.17].
In 1937 the fashion director for the Georges department store, Pierre Fornari, lamented the lack of locally produced fashion textiles with an Australian character. Burke responded by showing him her sketchbook of simple modern motifs based on Indigenous Australian and Pacific Island artefacts she had seen in the National Museum of Victoria and art galleries. From these Fornari commissioned designs for a range of resort wear. With her fellow MTC student Maurice Holloway, Burke established Burway Prints to screen-print her artwork onto linen. Before long they were engaged by the Myer Emporium Ltd to produce textiles for its select Rocke of Collins Street furniture range and interior decoration service. In 1942 Holloway retired from the partnership to establish the printing workshop Textile Converters. He and Burke continued to collaborate, with Burway (later Frances Burke Fabrics Pty Ltd) concentrating on design and marketing.
During World War II Burke’s career flourished; imported European fabrics were scarce and buyers turned to her as an alternative source. Her range incorporated striking abstract designs based on garden flowers and native flora, in vibrant colours and intense earthy tones. Although there was more demand for fashion fabrics, she preferred furnishing textiles as they could be printed to order, minimising inventory and allowing popular patterns, like Tiger Stripe, to remain in production for decades. In the early 1940s she was commissioned by Maie Casey to design textiles for use in the first Australian legation in Washington headed by her husband, R. G. (Baron) Casey [q.v.13]. She later created Bengal Tiger, a design that was made into a suit Casey wore for her husband’s investiture as governor of Bengal in 1944.
Reproduced on Japanese and subsequently Indian cotton rather than linen, Burke’s designs were increasingly selected by a new generation of architects. A pattern inspired by Aboriginal art, Rangga, was used by Roy Grounds [q.v.17] in 1940, and Guilford Bell [q.v.] commissioned prints with local flavour for Ansett [q.v.17] Transport Industries Ltd’s Hayman Island resort in 1948. The next year Robin Boyd [q.v.13] and Richard Haughton James [q.v.17] used her textiles throughout the ‘House of Tomorrow’ at the Modern Home Exhibition in Melbourne. Other notable commissions included designs for Government House and the Civic Theatre in Canberra, the State Library of Victoria, and six hospitals in Melbourne. Her fabrics were sold at Marion Hall Best’s [q.v.17] shop in Sydney.
In 1948 Burke had opened a shop, Good Design (later NEW Design Pty Ltd), selling her textiles, modern homewares, and furniture by designers including Grant Featherston [q.v.] and Clement Meadmore. She traded successfully at various addresses until 1967. After World War II she travelled regularly to the United States of America, the United Kingdom, Europe, Japan, and Taiwan. On her return her views on trends in domestic design were widely reported in magazines and newspapers. She keenly promoted design as a professional practice in Australia, becoming a founding member (1947) of the Society of Designers for Industry and a council member (1958–66) of the Museum of Modern Art and Design of Australia. Active in Melbourne’s art community, she was also a foundation member (1938) of the Contemporary Art Society and president (1968–71) of the Arts and Crafts Society of Victoria.
An energetic short-statured woman with bright blue eyes and blonde hair, Burke has been described as having an assured manner and a commanding voice. Marjorie Tipping recalled her as a ‘forthright, outspoken, business woman who … could be utterly charming’ (Oswald Jacobs 1997, 55). After her retirement in 1970, she continued her involvement in the profession, chairing (1980–83) the course advisory committee for textile design at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology. She had been appointed MBE in 1970 and was awarded an honorary doctorate by RMIT in 1982. Survived by Fabie, she died on 14 October 1994 at Kew and was cremated. The contents of her studio were donated to RMIT University and formed the nucleus of a textile resource centre that was named after her in 1998.
Bogle, Michael. Design in Australia 1880–1970. Sydney: Craftsman House, G+B Arts International, 1998; Carter, Nanette. Savage Luxury: Modernist Design in Melbourne 1930–1939. Bulleen, Vic.: Heide Museum of Modern Art, 2007; Eagle, Mary, and Jan Minchin. The George Bell School: Students, Friends, Influences. Melbourne: Deutscher Art Publications, 1981; McPhee, John. Australian Decorative Arts in the Australian National Gallery. Canberra: Australian National Gallery, 1982; Oswald Jacobs, Robyn. Frances Burke Fabrics. Melbourne: RMIT, 1996. Exhibition catalogue; Oswald Jacobs, Robyn. ‘A Study of the Work of Dr Frances Mary Burke MBE, Textile Designer, With Particular Reference to the Development of Printed Textile Design in Australia.’ MA diss., RMIT University, Melbourne, 1997; Sumner, Christine. ‘Early Australian Silkscreen Printing.’ Textile Fibre Forum 27 (1990): 22–23; Victorian Public Record Office. VPRS 283, P0002, Unit 6, Case No. 1918/242.
BURKE, Sir JOSEPH TERENCE (1913–1992), art historian, was born on 14 July 1913 at Ealing, England, youngest of five sons of Rickard Martin Joseph Burke, bank clerk (later manager), and his wife Dora, née Teasdale. Educated at Ealing Priory School, Joseph excelled only after his chronic short sightedness was diagnosed. Precociously bright, at the age of sixteen he was accepted into King’s College, University of London (BA, 1933), where he studied English. He was sub-editor of the King’s College Review and active in golf, fencing, debating, and the literary society. Awarded an upper-second-class degree, he enrolled in a joint Master of Arts (1935) at King’s College and the newly established Courtauld Institute of Art, where he capitalised on the presence of refugee European art historians. His master’s dissertation, a critical edition of William Hogarth’s The Analysis of Beauty, reflected his interest in eighteenth-century English art and aesthetics. It was published in 1955 and followed in 1968 by Hogarth: The Complete Engravings, with Colin Caldwell.
In 1935 Burke lectured part time at King’s College and wrote articles for John O’London’s Weekly about National Portrait Gallery acquisitions. The next year he was awarded a Henry fellowship to Yale University (MA, 1937), where he wrote a thesis on the Anglo-American painter Benjamin West, and established lasting friendships with his supervisor, Theodore Sizer, and the Horace Walpole expert and Anglophile, Wilmarth S. (‘Lefty’) Lewis. On his return voyage to England in 1937 Burke met Agnes Adelaide Middleton, whom he married with Catholic rites on 20 November 1940 at St Benedict’s Church, Ealing. Although raised as a Roman Catholic, Burke was later received into the Church of England.
Burke was appointed assistant keeper in the department of circulation at the Victoria and Albert Museum in 1938, under Leigh Ashton, keeper of special collections. He developed a passion for utilitarian ware and the decorative arts, insisting that art in industry was as important to him as pictures on a wall. This influenced his subsequent support for the Industrial Design Council of Australia. In September 1939 he was seconded to the Ministry of Information and the Home Office, where he joined the staff of the controller of home publicity, Sir Kenneth (Lord) Clark. In October 1940 he was appointed secretary to the lord president of the council, Sir John Anderson (Viscount Waverley), and on one occasion attended secret discussions with American officials on atomic bomb research. In September 1943 Clement (Earl) Attlee replaced Anderson as lord president, inheriting Burke as his private secretary. Burke accompanied Attlee to the Potsdam Conference in July 1945, where they sat opposite Joseph Stalin at conference sessions. When Attlee was elected prime minister on 26 July, he appointed Burke as his principal private secretary. Burke was appointed OBE the next year. The six years he spent at the heart of British government was pivotal to his personal and public development and prepared the way for his subsequent career in Australia.
In 1946 Burke became the inaugural Herald professor of fine arts at the University of Melbourne. The first of its kind in Australia, the position was instigated by Sir Keith Murdoch [q.v.10] and established with a gift from the Herald and Weekly Times Ltd. Burke was expected to promote the appreciation of art in both the university and the wider community. With no art library, photographs, or slides, he had to build his new department from the ground up, but his appointment in 1949 of two refugee art historians, Franz Philipp [q.v.15] and Ursula Hoff, and his 1955 hiring of Bernard Smith, created an outstanding department and established art history as an academic discipline in Australia.
Tall, impeccably dressed, charismatic, and with ‘a fund of good humour and grace’ (Smith 1992, 47), Burke skilfully handled the press, businessmen, bishops, and committees with eloquent mastery. He worked smoothly between conservatives and socialists, intellectuals and the common man. He exercised considerable influence within Melbourne’s cultural environment and facilitated many programs in keeping with his civic humanism, such as the National Gallery Society and the Herald Outdoor Art Show, the latter established in 1953. A magnificent orator, Burke gave hundreds of public lectures throughout Australia, which were appreciated as much for their anecdotal wit as for their elevating cultural content.
Closely associated with artists including John Brack, Noel Counihan [q.v.17], (Sir) Russell Drysdale [q.v.17], (Sir) Sidney Nolan [q.v.], and Fred Williams [q.v.18], Burke ensured that students, scholars, artists, and architects received opportunities for professional advancement. An inveterate ‘club man’, he developed a strong network amongst the business and wealthy elite through his membership of the Melbourne Club. Among his closest friends were Sir Daryl Lindsay [q.v.10], the Right Reverend John McKie, Dale Trendall [q.v.], Sir Clive Fitts [q.v.17], Sir Russell Grimwade [q.v.9], Aubrey Gibson [q.v.14], Maie (Lady) Casey [q.v.17], Milo (Lord) Talbot, Judah Waten [q.v.18], and Sir Roy Grounds [q.v.17].
In 1952 Burke established the Society of Collectors, which encouraged connoisseurship and patronage; leading by example he personally donated works of art to the university’s collection. He was a trustee (1952–56) of the National Gallery of Victoria, and a member of the Felton [q.v.4] Bequest Committee, the National Gallery and Cultural Centre Committee, and the Australian Parliament House Construction Committee. He also helped establish the National Trust of Australia (Victoria).
Burke contributed significantly to academic life as dean (1950–54) of the faculty of arts and a board member (1955–78) of Melbourne University Press. He helped establish the Australian Humanities Research Council in 1956 and was a foundation member (1969) and president (1971–74) of the Australian Academy of the Humanities. He sat on the boards and committees of several international organisations, including the Commonwealth Fund’s Harkness Fellowships, the Royal Society of Arts, the William Morris Society, and the Walpole Society.
The demands of public and academic life had a price, and Burke took more than twenty-five years to complete English Art, 1714–1800, which was published as part of the Oxford History of Art series. Some bemoaned it was out of date by the time it appeared in 1976, but the historical synthesis of the eighteenth century’s golden age remains impressive.
Promoted to CBE in 1973, the next year Burke was elected a fellow of Trinity College, Melbourne, where he took rooms in the old Chaplaincy. This enabled him to engage in academic and cultural affairs during the week, returning to his Mount Dandenong home at weekends, an arrangement that continued after his retirement in 1979. He received honorary degrees from Monash University (DLitt, 1977) and the University of Melbourne (LLD, 1987). In 1980 he was elevated to KBE for his services to the arts.
Burke became increasingly wistful as his deteriorating eyesight prevented further research, and a memoir about Attlee’s productive relationship with Winston Churchill during the war remained unfinished. Towards the end of his life he suffered from the early stages of both Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases. Survived by his wife and their son, he died on 25 March 1992 at Lilydale and was cremated. The Joseph Burke lecture at the University of Melbourne commemorates him, and portraits by Fred Williams and Noel Counihan capture the quintessential urbane gentleman and the ruminative scholar.
Palmer, Sheridan. Centre of the Periphery: Three European Art Historians in Melbourne. North Melbourne, Vic.: Australian Scholarly Publishing, 2008; Smith, Bernard. ‘Sir Joseph Burke 1913–1992.’ Australian Academy of the Humanities Proceedings 17 (1992): 47–49; Speagle, H. L. Editor’s Odyssey: A Victorian Reminiscence, 1945 to 1985. Melbourne: H. L. Speagle, 1998; University of Melbourne Archives. 78/39, Burke, Joseph. Papers.
BURKE, WILLIAM JOHN (BILL) (1923–1994), neurologist, was born on 4 May 1923 at Hamilton, Newcastle, New South Wales, eldest of four children of New South Wales–born Thomas Burke, clerk, and his New Zealand–born wife Lynda, née Harvey. Bill was educated at Marist Brothers’ High School, Hamilton, and won a Bishop of Maitland bursary to attend St Joseph’s College, Hunters Hill, Sydney (1936–40). He was dux of the college in 1940, winning the Emilian gold medal for best pass in the Leaving certificate and a university bursary and exhibition to study medicine at the University of Sydney (MB, BS, 1946).
After graduating with second-class honours, Burke became resident medical officer at St Vincent’s Hospital, Darlinghurst, and in 1949 deputy medical superintendent. That year he became the youngest person to that date to pass the membership of the Royal Australasian College of Physicians (fellow 1961). The neurosurgeon (Sir) Douglas Miller encouraged him to study neurology in London. He left Australia as ship’s doctor aboard the Empire Star.
In London Burke was appointed house physician at Maida Vale Hospital for Nervous Diseases. He obtained his membership of the Royal College of Physicians in December 1950 (fellow 1976). The following year he was appointed senior house physician at the National Hospital for Nervous Diseases, Queen Square, where he studied under experts in neurology such as Sir Charles Symonds, Sir Francis Walshe, Jack Elkington, and Macdonald Critchley. On 14 July 1951 at St James’s Roman Catholic Church, Spanish Place, he married Joan Margaret Kennedy, a nurse from St Vincent’s Hospital.
On returning to Australia in 1952, Burke became assistant neurologist in the department of neurosurgery at St Vincent’s Hospital. His appointment laid the foundation for the establishment of the hospital’s department of neurology, which was formed in 1962; he had become honorary neurologist the previous year. He was chairman of medical staff (1972–74), chairman of the medical board (1974–75), and chairman of the medical advisory committee (1986–92). In 1953 he had been appointed honorary consulting neurophysician at the Mater Misericordiae Hospital, North Sydney, and later honorary assistant physician at Lewisham Hospital.
During the 1950s and 1960s Burke lectured in neuroanatomy and clinical neurology at the University of Sydney. Throughout his career he participated in undergraduate and postgraduate teaching, and he encouraged younger neurologists to pursue their careers and become involved in research. He established a private practice at 149 Macquarie Street and conducted outpatient clinics at the hospitals where he held appointments. A member of the Australian Association of Neurologists since 1954, he was a council member and honorary treasurer from 1963 to 1971. In 1980 he presented the E. Graeme Robertson [q.v.16] memorial lecture on the subject of myasthenia gravis, reviewing sixty patients he had managed. He retired from St Vincent’s in 1988, becoming emeritus consultant neurologist the following year.
A great raconteur and singer, Burke regularly entertained colleagues and medical students at his home. He had a deep commitment to his Catholic faith as well as to the religious sisters who managed the hospitals at which he worked. A member of the Old Boys’ committee of St Joseph’s College, where his sons were educated, he served as president from 1954 to 1955. He loved horse racing and frequently attended race meetings at Randwick. Following a stroke, he died on 7 September 1994 at Darlinghurst, and was buried at Northern Suburbs Catholic lawn cemetery. His wife, five daughters, and three sons survived him. The department of neurology at St Vincent’s had been named in his honour in 1992.
Burke, William. Personal communication; Eadie, M. J. The Flowering of a Waratah: A History of Australian Neurology and of the Australian Association of Neurologists. Sydney: John Libbey, 2000; Hickie, John B. The Thinkers: A History of the Physicians and the Development of Scientific Medicine at St Vincent’s Hospital Sydney 1857–1997. Caringbah, NSW: Playright, 2000; O’Sullivan, Dudley J. ‘Burke, William John Gerard.’ Royal Australasian College of Physicians Roll. Accessed 14 April 2016. members.racp.edu.au/page/library/college-roll/college-roll-detail&id=56. Copy held on ADB file; Personal knowledge of ADB subject.
Dudley J. O’Sullivan
BURN, IAN LEE (1939–1993), artist and art writer, was born on 29 December 1939 at Geelong, Victoria, middle of three sons of Geelong-born Eric Frank Burn, builder, and his wife Amy Lillian, née Lee. Ian attended Geelong College (1944–55). After serving an apprenticeship in carpentry and joinery in the family business—an unlikely beginning for a conceptual artist who would come to value the idea of an artwork over its visual properties—he studied painting in 1961 and 1962 at the National Gallery of Victoria Art School, Melbourne, under Alan Sumner and John Brack. In 1962 he was awarded the NGV Society drawing prize.
With other young artists—including George Baldessin [q.v.13], Jan Senbergs, Bea Maddock, and Paul Partos—by 1963 Burn lived in the seedy beachside suburb of St Kilda. The group shared an enthusiasm for the recently recovered early work of (Sir) Sidney Nolan [q.v.], who had painted St Kilda scenes in the 1940s. Another formative Melbourne encounter was with the older painter Fred Williams [q.v.18], with whom Burn worked in a picture framing shop. Around this time he met his future wife, Avril Florence Nothnagel, who became the subject of a series of his paintings and prints. They married in September 1964 in Melbourne. In October the couple set off for Europe, after he had participated in several group shows and two solo exhibitions of his St Kilda series.
In London, while working at a picture framer’s with Partos and another artist, Mel Ramsden, Burn pursued an increasingly reductive abstraction inspired by the modernism of Piet Mondrian and Frank Stella. He moved to New York in 1967, precipitating a radical change in his painting from stretched canvas to plywood panel, from paintbrush to industrial spray, and from vertical easel to horizontal plane. When Ramsden joined him from London, they began a daily conversation about the limits of abstraction. Burn moved to using ‘invisible’ (Burn 1970) materials such as glass, acetate, and mirrors, which turned the gaze of the beholder into a self-reflexive encounter. He also began to use Xerox machines as an art process, producing distortion by repeated photocopying. In 1969, together with Ramsden and Roger Cutforth, he sent an exhibition of early conceptual art—including several of his Xerox Books—to the Pinacotheca Gallery, St Kilda.
Ramsden, Burn, and Cutforth formed the Society for Theoretical Art and Analyses in 1969, to publish and exhibit all their work as ‘Proceedings’. The following year Burn and Ramsden joined Joseph Kosuth as the New York wing of the British conceptual art group Art & Language. Burn curated with Kosuth the first museum exhibition of conceptual art in the city, Conceptual Art and Conceptual Aspects (1970), held at the New York Cultural Center. He had maintained contact with Australia through writing and exhibitions, including participating in the 1968 survey of Australian contemporary art, The Field, and briefly returned in 1972. On arriving back in New York, he made a critique of internationalism and cultural dependency central to the work of Art & Language, New York. Among the group’s most inspired collaborations was 9 Gross and Conspicuous Errors, a video performance of agitprop punk rock lyrics shown at the John Weber Gallery in June 1976. However, internal divisions eventually closed the New York chapter of Art & Language.
Burn returned to Australia in 1977 with Avril and their young son. They settled in Sydney, and he taught at the University of Sydney and Alexander Mackie [q.v.10] College for several years, while also developing trade union press materials with other artists and journalists. From 1981 he was a journalist with Union Media Services. He wrote and designed union campaign material; encouraged artists to develop Art and Working Life projects with unions; co-organised the Artworkers Union (1979); and wrote widely on art and politics, including National Life and Landscapes: Australian Painting 1900–1940 (1990) and Dialogue: Writings in Art History (1991). When preparing his early minimal and conceptual art for a survey, he found himself looking at paintings he had not seen since sending them back from London and New York in the 1960s. That process of recovery propelled him to return to an art practice which he had renounced decades earlier—landscape painting.
As an artist Burn forged a career that straddled remarkably different spheres, including regional Australian landscape, the extremes of New York conceptual art, trade union culture, and a return to painting, which was ended by his death. He drowned on 29 September 1993 at Pretty Beach, Ulladulla, and was cremated. His wife, son, and daughter survived him. His work on de-skilling and the politics of place and distance made him a model for the political legacy of conceptual art. According to Ramsden: ‘Ian’s achievements are complex. They flow from his commitment to the requirement that art be located within some sort of social base … [a] commitment to working … conversationally’ (Ramsden 1993, 35). A memorial lecture was established in his honour in 1996. His work is held by all State galleries, the National Gallery of Australia, and the Museum of Modern Art, New York.
Burn, Ian. Interview by Hazel de Berg, 30 April 1970. Transcript. Hazel de Berg collection. National Library of Australia; Hutak, Michael. ‘Ian Burn Lost in Rescue Drama.’ Sydney Morning Herald, 30 September 1993, 24; Ian Burn: Minimal-Conceptual Work 1965–1970. Perth: Art Gallery of Western Australia, 1992. Exhibition catalogue; McCulloch, Alan. The Encyclopedia of Australian Art. Revised and updated by Susan McCulloch. St Leonards: Allen and Unwin, 1994; Ramsden, Mel. ‘Tribute to Ian Burn.’ Art Monthly Australia, no. 65 (November 1993): 35; Stephen, Ann. On Looking at Looking: The Art and Politics of Ian Burn. Carlton, Vic.: Miegunyah Press, 2006.
BURNISTON, GEORGE GARRETT (1914–1992), medical practitioner, was born on 23 November 1914 at Campsie, Sydney, third of four children of Victorian-born George Benjamin Burniston, butcher, and his New South Wales–born wife Daisy Belle, née Boxwell. George attended Summer Hill Intermediate High and Sydney Boys’ High schools, and from 1933 the University of Sydney (MB, BS, 1939). After working as a resident medical officer at Hornsby District Hospital he was commissioned as a flight lieutenant in the Medical Branch of the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) on 17 June 1940.
Embarking for England in November, Burniston was seconded to the Royal Air Force orthopaedic service, where he worked under Sir Reginald Watson-Jones and Air Commodore H. Osmond-Clarke on the rehabilitation of traumatic disabilities. Promoted to squadron leader in October 1942, he returned to Australia in July 1943 and continued rehabilitation work in the RAAF. From 23 February 1944 he commanded No. 2 Convalescent Depot (Medical Rehabilitation Unit) at Jervis Bay, on the south coast of New South Wales, as an acting wing commander from 1 August. Between 1946 and 1948, in Sydney, he was deputy coordinator, New South Wales, of rehabilitation for disabled ex-service personnel in the Commonwealth Department of Post-War Reconstruction (acting coordinator, 1948–50); he ceased full-time duty with the air force in September 1946 and transferred to the RAAF Reserve in May 1947. He became senior medical officer in the State for the Commonwealth Department of Social Services in 1950, and would also act as principal medical officer in the department’s head office, in Melbourne.
In 1953 Burniston spent six months in the United States of America as a Fulbright fellow at New York University and a further six months in Britain and Europe, principally attached to the department of physical medicine, King’s College, London. The following year he became principal medical officer in the Commonwealth Department of Social Services and chief medical authority for the Commonwealth Rehabilitation Service. Back in Melbourne, he moved into the South Yarra flat of his life-partner, Glasgow-born James Donald Mathieson (Don) Dobie (1927–1996), who worked for the Bank of New South Wales (later Westpac).
Demand for rehabilitation services was increasing in postwar Australia, driven by factors such as the needs of injured ex-servicemen, a growing number of road accidents, and the aftermath of the polio epidemics. In 1960 Burniston prepared a report for the New South Wales minister of health recommending introduction of a rehabilitation program at Lidcombe State Hospital and Home. Next year his report for the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Authority resulted in it establishing an industrial rehabilitation centre at Cooma. He returned to Sydney in January 1963 upon appointment as director of rehabilitation medicine at Prince Henry and Prince of Wales hospitals and conjoint senior lecturer in rehabilitation medicine (conjoint associate professor from 1978) at the University of New South Wales, Kensington. Dobie also moved to Sydney and the couple lived in a seaside apartment at Cronulla. Elected Liberal member for Hughes in the House of Representatives in 1966, Dobie held the seat and later that of Cook—except from 1972 to 1975—until 1996.
Burniston’s primary responsibility was in patient care at the Prince Henry Hospital, Little Bay; his focus was on helping people ‘toward the fullest life they can live’ (Keavney 1968, 13). Research was not his forte and he published little, but he was keen to train rehabilitation specialists. In the absence of any Australian postgraduate courses, he persuaded the Royal College of Physicians, London, to accredit his registrar training for its diploma of physical medicine examinations. Subsequently, he was important in the establishment of the local diploma of physical and rehabilitation medicine (he was elected the foundation diplomate in 1970). In 1959 he was elected president of the Australian Association of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. From 1963 to 1969 he was president of the New South Wales branch of the Australian Association of Occupational Therapists and between 1980 and 1982 foundation president of the Australian College of Rehabilitation Medicine, which later became the Australasian Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine (AFRM) of the Royal Australian College of Physicians. He was elected a fellow of the (Royal) Australian College of Medical Administrators (1968), the Royal Society of Health (1973), the Royal Australasian College of Physicians (1978), and the Royal Australian College of Rehabilitative Medicine (1980). For more than twenty years he was a member of the expert panel on medical rehabilitation of the World Health Organization.
For his work on rehabilitation, Burniston was appointed OBE in 1968 and CMG in 1972. He retired as director of rehabilitation medicine on 22 November 1979, continuing to work in an honorary capacity until 1985, and practised privately in Macquarie Street, Sydney. Very professional with patients, keen to see improvements in long-term rehabilitation, and highly skilled in planning and organisation, he had good relationships with allied health professionals. He was well built, of medium height with brown hair, and an avid swimmer—doing a mile (1.6 km) a day most mornings. A good amateur artist and collector of paintings, he appreciated literature, attended the theatre, and loved music of all kinds, but could not sing a note. Survived by his partner and by his sister, brother, and brother’s family, he died on 27 June 1992 at Bangkok en route to London. His body was returned to Australia and cremated after a service at St Andrew’s Anglican Church, Cronulla. The AFRM holds an annual oration in his honour.
Baggott, John. Personal communication; Gaden, Marcia. Personal communication; Jones, R. F. ‘George Garrett Burniston.’ Royal Australasian College of Physicians Roll. Accessed 28 August 2014. www.racp.edu.au/page/library/college-roll/college-roll-detail&id=70. Copy held on ADB file; Jones, Richard F. ‘George Garrett Burniston: The Man, the Mission and the Memory.’ The George Burniston Oration, 23 March 2010. Accessed 28 August 2014. www.racp.edu.au/index.cfm?objectid=3F9D42C2-E2BC-45D5-0379F46F86ED695B. Copy held on ADB file; Keavney, Kay. ‘Their Work is to Help Handicapped.’ Australian Women’s Weekly, 12 June 1968, 12–13; Medical Journal of Australia. ‘George Garrett Burniston CMG, OBE, MB BS, DPRM, FRACP, FRACMA, FRSH, FACRM.’ 157, no. 7 (5 October 1992): 495–96; National Archives of Australia. A9300, Burniston G G; University of New South Wales Archives. G. G. Burniston file.
BURRUMARRA, DAVID (1917–1994), Yolngu philosopher, diplomat, and leader, was born in 1917 during the dry season at Wadangayu (Bible Camp), Elcho Island, Northern Territory, son of Ganimburrngu (Lanygarra), and his wife Wanambiwuy, a Brarrngu woman. The people of north-east Arnhem Land call themselves Yolngu; David was a member of the Warramiri clan, his traditional country being The English Company’s Islands and Cape Wilberforce. His people had a totemic association with the marine environment, particularly the whale and octopus emblems. Burrumarra had received his name from his mother’s mother; in its sacred meaning it refers to the skeleton of the large white-tailed stingray. Warramiri tradition is characterised by a wealth of narratives relating to the presence of foreign visitors, in particular Sama-Bajau (Sea Gypsies), and Macassan trepangers from Sulawesi.
Following the death of his father, Burrumarra spent a period at the newly established (1923) Methodist settlement at Milingimbi, before working as a shell cleaner and deckhand aboard the Japanese pearling vessel Tubumaro in the vicinity of Mooroonga Island. During travels with the Methodist missionary Wilbur Chaseling to locate a new site to service the north-eastern tip of Arnhem Land, he encountered clan leaders who had been at his initiation, including Mawulan of the Rirratjingu clan, and Mungurrawuy of the Gumatj clan. The place they met, Yirrkala, became the site of a new mission in 1935; Burrumarra worked there for Rev. Clyde Toft as a domestic servant and kitchen hand, and with the Fijian missionary Kolinio Saukuru. He later spent a year as a diver with the trepanger and beachcomber Frederick Gray at Caledon Bay. Burrumarra’s first wife was Clara, a Mara woman from Roper River, who had been taken to Yirrkala by trepang fishermen; she died in about 1946. During World War II, he supervised Yolngu workers constructing the Royal Australian Air Force Base, Gove, in 1943, and was also involved in postal deliveries and coastal surveillance between Yirrkala, Milingimbi, and Elcho Island.
Chosen by his family to learn about non-Aboriginal ways, Burrumarra had made an effort since his youth to increase his knowledge of the outside world. He became a mediator between his people and others. In 1946, at the request of his cousin, the Wangurri leader Batangga, he relocated to Galiwin’ku, Elcho Island, where he was employed as the community liaison officer. This was a duty for which he was well qualified, being fluent in eight Yolngu languages as well as English. He owned a typewriter and, for a small fee, would prepare correspondence for community members. The first Yolngu teaching assistant at the school, he also supervised correspondence lessons. He travelled extensively with the aviator missionary Harold Shepherdson, helping to establish outstations, delivering vital supplies, and conducting church services. During this period he married Lawuk of the Galpu clan.
In the 1950s Burrumarra was elected as the first village council secretary at Elcho Island. As a senior member of the community, he promoted the coexistence of Yolngu ceremony and law with the church: ‘We believed in both ways’ (McIntosh 1994, 14), he said of this time. Developing a close affiliation with noted Australian field researchers, including Ronald [q.v.17] and Catherine Berndt [q.v.], Donald Thomson [q.v.16], and John Mulvaney, he considered himself to be Australia’s first Aboriginal anthropologist.
With Batangga and Walalipa, then leaders of the Yolngu community at Elcho Island, in 1957 Burrumarra was an instigator of the ‘Adjustment Movement in Arnhem Land’, in which madayin (sacred wooden symbols) of various Yolngu Dreamings were publicly revealed for the first time. Contentious amongst some Yolngu, this was an unprecedented attempt to reconcile Yolngu and Christian beliefs, unify Yolngu people, and affirm their sovereignty over their lands and waters. Following amendment of the Commonwealth Electoral Act in 1962 extending the right to vote to Indigenous Australians, he traversed the nation encouraging people to enrol. He was a member (1974–76) of the council of the Australian Institute of Aboriginal Studies (from 1989 the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies) and in later life remained active in its conference and seminar program.
In January 1978 Burrumarra, by then chairman of the Elcho Island Yolngu Council and Mala (Clan) Leaders Association, was appointed MBE. He invited the governor-general, Sir Zelman Cowen, to Elcho Island to invest him with the award, insisting that visiting dignitaries dress in sacred Warramiri whale and lightning caftans designed by him especially for the event. In response to Prime Minister Bob Hawke’s call for a government treaty (or compact) with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, in 1988 he designed a flag on which Warramiri and Australian symbols indicated a partnership in law between the first peoples and the newcomers. The flag, painted on board, was placed on permanent display at the University of New South Wales law school. It was his wish that similar Aboriginal paintings hang in all Federal and State government buildings where decisions were made about Aboriginal and Islander lands and seas.
Burrumarra’s diplomacy had four aspirations: that Aboriginal people would control their own affairs; that Yolngu and Christian beliefs would be reconciled; that Australia would recognise Yolngu land and sea rights; and that Yolngu be as wealthy as other Australians. A tall, stately figure, and an unforgettable, often eccentric personality, he transfixed visitors to Elcho Island with his vision and charisma. Sporting a pith helmet, he would parade around his community, peering into the crowds with binoculars, his loudspeaker blaring, or wear military costume, displaying his medals. A great conversationalist and orator, he said that his skills came ‘from above. They fall like leaves from the tree of paradise’ (McIntosh 1994, ix). Warm with those he liked but dismissive of those who displeased him, he strongly believed that Aboriginal people and Europeans had to share the country, and that all needed to learn ‘to follow the laws of the country’ (McIntosh 1994, vii).
Burrumarra died on 13 October 1994 at Elcho Island; he was predeceased by his wife and survived by four sons and three daughters from his second marriage. During his funeral, and in his honour, Yolngu leaders released a comprehensive plan for the national recognition of Yolngu rights to the Arafura Sea, known locally as Manbuyna ga Rulyapa. One of his sons, Terry Yumbulul, achieved fame as an artist.
Blair, Sandy, and Nicholas Hall. ‘Travelling the “Malay Road”: Recognising the Heritage Significance of the Macassan Maritime Trade Route.’ In Macassan History and Heritage: Journeys, Encounters and Influences, edited by Marshall Clark and Sally K. May, 205–25. Canberra: ANU E Press, 2013; McIntosh, Ian. Aboriginal Reconciliation and the Dreaming: Warramiri Yolngu and the Quest for Equality. Boston: Allyn and Bacon, 2000; McIntosh, Ian. ‘Eccentric Leader of Black Reconciliation.’ Australian, 21 October 1994, 12; McIntosh, Ian. The Whale and the Cross: Conversations with David Burrumarra MBE. Darwin: Historical Society of the Northern Territory, 1994; Rothwell, Nicholas. ‘Indigenous Leader David Burrumarra Was a Man of Words.’ Australian, 8 August 2015; Williams, Don. ‘David Burrumarra, MBE.’ Australian Aboriginal Studies, no. 2 (1994): 121–22.
Ian S. McIntosh
BUTLIN, NOEL GEORGE (1921–1991), economic historian, was born on 19 December 1921 at Singleton, New South Wales, youngest of six children of New South Wales–born parents Thomas Lyon Butlin, railway porter, and his wife Sara Mary, née Chantler. Thomas Butlin died in a road accident when Noel was five years old. His sixteen-year-old brother, Syd [q.v.13], became the head of the household and influenced Noel’s education and career. Noel attended Maitland Boys’ High School and the University of Sydney (BEc, 1942), where he was awarded first-class honours and the university medal. Butlin was employed in the reconstruction division of the Department of Labour and National Service until December 1943 when he became assistant to F. L. McDougall [q.v.10], economic adviser to the Australian High Commissioner in London. He continued to work with McDougall at the Australian legation in Washington, DC, in preparation for the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation conference in 1945.
Despite a large drop in salary, Butlin accepted an appointment as lecturer (1946–49) in economic history at the University of Sydney, where Syd was professor of economics. On 9 February 1946 at St Stephen’s Presbyterian Church, Sydney, he married a social worker, Lilias Joan Lindsay. With a scholarship from The Australian National University (ANU) and a Rockefeller fellowship, in 1949 he went to Harvard University and began a comparative study of Canadian and Australian railway development. He became a senior research fellow in economics at the ANU (1951), and then reader in economic history (1954).
Butlin broadened his research scope to national accounts, publishing Australian Domestic Product, Investment and Foreign Borrowing, 1861–1938/39 (1962) and the innovative and influential Investment in Australian Economic Development, 1861–1900 (1964). For his research into private investment, he obtained the records of numerous Australian companies; these formed the core of the ANU Archives of Business and Labour (Noel Butlin Archives Centre from 1992).
In 1961 Butlin undertook research at the University of Cambridge and the following year became inaugural professor of economic history at the ANU. A period of study leave in 1967–68 at Yale University resulted in the publication of Ante-bellum Slavery: A Critique of a Debate (1971). With Pat Troy, he published The Cost of Collisions (1971) that dealt with the social and economic costs of road accidents, and may have been motivated by his father’s death.
In January 1974, he became director of the Botany Bay Project, a five-year environmental study sponsored by the academies of Science, the Humanities, and the Social Sciences. However, Butlin resigned in October because of difficulties dealing with the Commonwealth and New South Wales governments. The project wound up in 1975 but he continued to publish reports on Port Botany development, pollution control, and waste management until 1977.
Appointed professor of Australian Studies at Harvard University (1979–80), Butlin published a joint study with Alan Barnard and J. J. Pincus, Government and Capitalism: Private and Public Choice in Twentieth Century Australia (1982). In his controversial Our Original Aggression: Aboriginal Populations of Southeastern Australia 1788–1850 (1983), he estimated the population of Aborigines at the time of European settlement as three or four times higher than the generally accepted estimates.
Butlin was assessed as ‘one of the most outstanding Australian social scientists of his generation, and one of the major international figures in economic history’ (Snooks 1991, 78). A zealous and industrious researcher who combined meticulous attention to detail with imaginative sweep, he had an independence and tenacity of purpose that some colleagues found difficult to cope with, while recognising that his arguments were always based on primary-source evidence. He was fond of large cars and driving fast, and ignored departmental circulars by parking where he chose and bringing his dog to work. He also had practical skills, building a family holiday home on the New South Wales south coast. Although ‘a brilliant, innovative and imaginative lone scholar’, he ‘founded no school of economic history’, had few postgraduate students, and was sometimes ‘extremely dismissive’ of others’ research (Pincus, pers. comm.). His strong belief in the value of a mixed economy and an interaction between the private and public sectors influenced his work.
A fellow (1956) of the Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia and a corresponding fellow (1976) of the British Academy, Butlin retired from the ANU in 1986, having been diagnosed with cancer several years before. Survived by his wife, daughter, and two sons, he died at the Royal Canberra Hospital on 2 April 1991 and was cremated. He had insisted on taking his computer to hospital with him and had continued to work on his two-volume economic history of Australia before the gold rushes, which was published posthumously. The day before his death he was appointed AC for service to education. The Economic Society of Australia awarded him their distinguished fellow award in 1990, and the Economic History Society of Australia and New Zealand sponsors an annual Noel Butlin lecture.
Noel Butlin Archives Centre. ANUA 19, 1433, Parts 1–3 & C, Butlin, NG, Economic History, 1951–1991; Howarth, Barry, and Ewan Maidment, eds. Light from the Tunnel: Collecting the Archives of Australian Business and Labour at the Australian National University. Canberra: Friends of the Noel Butlin Archives Centre, 2004; Pincus, Jonathan J. Personal communication; Snooks, G. D. ‘“In the beginning is my end”: The Life and Work of Noel George Butlin, 1921–1991.’ Australian Economic History Review 31, no. 2 (1991): 3–27, ‘Noel George Butlin.’ Australian Historical Association Bulletin, nos. 66–67 (March–June 1991): 78–79.
BYRNE, CONDON BRYAN (1910–1993), public servant, barrister, and politician, was born on 25 May 1910 at Yea, Victoria, third child of Edward James Byrne, an Irish-born regular soldier, and his Tasmanian-born wife Mary Honorine, née Condon. Young Condon attended Catholic primary and secondary schools in Victoria and Queensland, finishing at St Joseph’s College, Gregory Terrace, Brisbane, where he qualified for matriculation. Aged seventeen, he presaged his later reputation for courtesy by writing a letter to the editor of the Brisbane Courier deploring hostile barracking against the visiting New South Wales rugby league team; the crowd, he argued, showed ‘a complete ignorance of all the laws of hospitality and good manners’ (Byrne 1927, 7).
In 1928 Byrne joined the Queensland Public Service and began studying part time at the University of Queensland (BA, 1932). Rising through the ranks, he was appointed private secretary to Vincent Gair [q.v.14] in 1942 and would remain in that role until 1951. He had included law subjects in his degree, exempting him from all but the final examinations of the Barristers’ Board; on 28 June 1949 he was admitted to the Bar. In April 1951 he resigned from the public service to stand as a Senate candidate for the Australian Labor Party (ALP); he was elected next month.
Byrne soon became highly regarded in the Senate as a ‘logical and convincing speaker’, whose experience under Gair had ‘given him a thorough grounding in statesmanship’ (Healy 1953, 6). He was ‘a polished debater who relied only on a handful of written notes’ (Aust. Senate 1993, 4015). Campaigning before his victory in the 1953 Senate election, he asserted that Queensland primary producers were, in some instances, being taxed more than they earned, because the policy of five-year taxation averaging had been abolished. After the ALP’s defeat in the 1954 Federal election, Byrne, citing aspects of defence and industrial policy, claimed that throughout Australian history, major national policy had either been effected by Labor governments or appropriated without acknowledgement by the anti-Labor parties when they were in power.
Gair, premier of Queensland since 1952, was expelled from the ALP in April 1957. A struggle for power between the party’s industrial and parliamentary wings—exacerbated by ideological, sectarian, and personal differences—had culminated in his refusal to legislate in accordance with a directive from the Queensland central executive. He and his supporters formed the breakaway Queensland Labor Party (QLP). On 23 May Byrne announced his support for Gair, alleging that the premier had not received natural justice, and affirming his belief that the executive had no right to direct members of parliament, who had been elected by the people.
Byrne resigned from the ALP and, in a gratuitous but gentlemanly gesture, handed back all party papers and correspondence in his possession to the secretary of the Federal ALP. He and the two Democratic Labor Party (DLP) senators combined in 1958 with the ALP to reject legislation by the Menzies [q.v.15] government designed to reconstruct the Commonwealth Bank of Australia by establishing a separate central bank. Defeated in the election later that year, he returned to the Bar even before his term expired in June 1959. He retained his interest in politics and the QLP, speaking out at a party conference against a possible merger with the DLP because it would endanger hopes of eventual reunification between the QLP and ALP; the QLP and DLP nonetheless amalgamated in 1962.
In 1967 Byrne was again elected to the Senate, this time as a member of the DLP, led by Gair. With four senators (later increased to five), the DLP held the balance of power in the Upper House. Byrne served as a temporary chairman of committees from 1969 and as DLP Whip (1968–74) and deputy-leader (1974). Like other members of his party, he firmly opposed communism, both in Australia and abroad, and urged economic justice for families, and equality in funding for government and non-government schools. Working to promote consensus between the ALP and DLP, he formulated resolutions that could be supported by both sides. He expressed concern about the level of foreign investment in Australian companies, warned that China and South-East Asia posed threats to Australia, and voiced strong support for the United Nations. The resignation of his mentor and friend Gair from the Senate in April 1974, with its potential to damage the DLP, reportedly devastated him (Cross, pers. comm.).
All DLP Senators were defeated in the May 1974 double-dissolution election, and Byrne resumed his law practice in Brisbane. His attempt to regain a seat in 1975 was unsuccessful. He never married. Lawn bowls and horse racing were abiding interests. An ardent admirer of the public service and martyrdom of Sir Thomas More (1478–1535), he was prominent in establishing the Thomas More Society in Brisbane in 1979. He died on 25 November 1993 in Brisbane and was buried in South Brisbane cemetery. An obituary described him as being, like More, ‘a man of power, but yet of humility’ (Catholic Leader 1993, 17). He had been well liked, even by those politically opposed to him. Senator Brian Harradine characterised him as a claimant to a Labor tradition that once coexisted ‘with a philosophy of social action based on religious beliefs’ (Aust. Senate 1993, 4015).
Australia. Senate. Parliamentary Debates. Vol. S161, December 1993, 4012–16; Byrne, Condon. `Rugby League. Barracking on Saturday. To the Editor.’ Brisbane Courier, 3 August 1927, 7; Byrne, Condon. `What’s What in Politics: Q’land Labor.’ Sunday Truth (Brisbane), 28 July 1957, 12; Catholic Leader (Brisbane). ‘“A Man for All Seasons”.’ 12 December 1993, 17; Cross, Manfred. Personal communication; Healy, George. `A Labor View: 36 in Adelaide Building Policy.’ Courier Mail (Brisbane), 22 January 1953, 6; Queensland State Archives. Item ID 934979, Personal File – Condon Byrne; Sunday Mail. `They Refuse to Link Up with D.L.P.’ 15 November 1959, 3; Walter, James. `Byrne, Condon Bryan (1910–1993).’ In The Biographical Dictionary of the Australian Senate 1962–1983. Vol. 3, edited by Anne Millar and Geoffrey Browne, 305–8. Sydney: University of New South Wales Press Ltd, 2010.
Brian F. Stevenson