"The past is never fully gone. It is absorbed into the present and the future. It stays to shape what we are and what we do."
Sir William Deane, Governor-General of Australia, Inaugural Vincent Lingiari Memorial Lecture, August 1996.

Article still being developed

"The earliest specialist Victorian forestry management offices of the State - ‘Caretaker’ and ‘Overseer’ of forests - were established in 1868 and 1869. In the 1870s a total of thirteen local Forest Boards were created to manage designated areas of forest (initially by administrative order and then by the passing of the State Forests Act 1876). The Boards proved ineffective. They had few regulatory powers, no statutory power to raise adequate funds and a conflicting incentive to issue excessive timber licences so as to maximise their only source of revenue. By 1874 all of the local Boards ceased to operate and were replaced by a Central Forest Board but it, too, proved inadequate, often sidelined by Ministerial decisions to alienate large areas of forest reserve for land settlement. The idea of geographically localised Forest Boards – in preference to the Statewide management agencies that became common in the twentieth century - was advocated by Mining Boards and key figures of the time including the eminent Victorian botanist, Ferdinand Von Mueller and also Hodgkinson. Ironically this was to reduce the political influence of Ministers. Subsequently however, Hodgkinson proposed that the responsibilities of the Central Forests Board be expanded, in order to break the impasse of persistent squabbling over a new statewide organisation.

A small State Forests and Nurseries Branch operated in the Department of Agriculture and then was transferred to the Lands Department. The position of ‘Conservator of Forests’ was created in 1888, with George Perrin and a staff of three forming a Forests Branch in the Department of Lands and Survey." (Doolan BV, 2018)

"On 16 September 1869, William Ferguson was appointed by the Government of Victoria as an Overseer of Forests and a Crown Lands Bailiff. He worked for a time at the Royal Botanic Gardens under Baron von Mueller, and in 1872 helped to establish the Macedon State Nursery. The role of the Macedon State Nursery was to provide trees for replanting areas of native forest that were heavily cutover for firewood, structural and other building timber and timbers for farm use. Another function of the nursery was to test a variety of tree species for their adaptability to Victorian climatic and soil conditions. The Macedon nursery raised seedlings from a wide range of local and overseas seed sources. In the course of this work, the nursery experimented not only with a large number of species from around the world, but also developed seed germination techniques and methods of propagation from cuttings." (Smith R, 2015) 

"Following the establishment of self-government in 1855, the Land Act passed in 1862 by the Victorian Parliament provided a power to reserve land for a variety of purposes but not specifically for timber or forest preservation. Soon after, the Amending Land Act 1865 provided for reserves to be declared ‘for the preservation and growth of timber’. The State Forests Act passed in 1876 contained very few provisions and merely made explicit the powers for establishing local forest boards which had been operating for some years without adequate revenue raising powers and had been administering timber reserves with little effect.  More comprehensive legislation for forest management was drafted in 1879, 1881, 1887 and 1892 but none of these Bills were successful in passing through Parliament. The 1897-1901 Royal Commission developed a comprehensive Forests Bill in its Fourteenth Report of 1901 but it was not implemented due to delays and lack of political support." (Doolan BV, 2018) See article here as well.

"The pattern of action and inaction from the mid-nineteenth century onwards had bequeathed a poor, disjointed and politically fractious approach to forest management in Victoria that still prevailed at the end  of the century. Numerous inquiries had warned of past and continuing forest destruction. (See at least - Vincent 1887 & Ribbentrop 1896) No substantive forest management legislation existed despite numerous failed bills introduced to Parliament. A meagre technical forestry capability resided in the Lands Department comprising a small number of officers with limited expertise. The system of forest reserves, national parks and other reserves over forest areas was highly compromised by frequent and extensive excisions and revocations by the Minister of the day. Perhaps the most significant characteristic of forest management at this point was that it was still seen as a relatively minor sub-set of ‘lands administration’ - in policy, in legislation, in spatial management and in organisational structure - and the imperative of lands administration remained private land." (Doolan BV, 2018)

So who were the key players in the bureaucracy, Perrin, Ferguson, La Gerche, others in red gum correspondence, Code, etc - fill this out with links to bios where possible. Also Mackay - Doolan refers to him in positive terms - somewhere.

" ... the successful passage of the Forests Act 1907 after many previous legislative failures represented the first comprehensive forest management legislation in both Victoria and Australia more broadly. The final Bill that passed was considerably weakened in its conservation provisions due to protracted manoeuvring and political trade-offs, although it was still seen as a major breakthrough in forest conservation and a more scientific approach to forestry. The Act created a State Forests Department and its major sections provided powers to: make or revoke forest reserves (removing that power from the Land Act); prohibit cutting and clearing of forests; to lease or license forest use and occupations; to conduct planting, thinning and nursery operations; and train and certify forestry officers. The Act designated 3,250,000 acres of new permanent reserves – that could be amended only by Parliamentary decision - with provision for a five-year grace period for boundary survey and excisions of land required for settlement purposes. Two amending Acts ratified the excisions and in 1915 a fourth Act was passed which consolidated the 1907 Act and the excision legislation." (Doolan BV, 2018)


"The office staff has given satisfaction in the performance of its duties. Mr AW Crooke, the senior officer in charge, has been indefatigable in the conduct of the business of the office ... "

In December, 1889, Mr James Blackburne, senior forester, was appointed an Inspector of Forests, and a few months later Mr Heathcote Wyndham was appointed to the vacancy for a second Inspector of Forests.

The outside officers have carried out their duties satisfactorily, and, in some cases, meritoriously. Messrs La Gerche of Creswick, Code of Heathcote (later to be an FCV Commissioner - I think), Stoney of Bairnsdale, Orde of Beaufort, and McCann of Sandhurst may be mentioned amongst these latter, whilst the new foresters, Messrs Leech, McNamara, Hennessy, and Griffin are showing considerable aptitude, energy, and intelligence....

The superintendents of State nurseries and plantations have been most energetic, and the work of raising and planting generally has been carried out in the most satisfactory manner. Messrs. Firth (Macedon), Blair (You Yangs), and Love (Gun bower) have been indefatigable in their efforts ... The foremen and nurserymen ... Messrs. Hartland, Patterson, Parry, and Young are deserving of credit ... "

The forest foremen, too, have done good work. Messrs W Freyer, JC Young, H Dixon, Ritchie (the first of a generation of foresters), and Hilet ... " all from Perrin 1888


From the reggum report of 1878
W. H. JOHNSON, Forester. at Barmah 24 June 1878,

JAMES BLACKBURNE.(see above - becomes Inspector and co author of reprt referred to by Doolan from  1897 - Vickey and Blackburne )writes from Daylesford on 25 June 1878 and from Forester's Cottage, Gnnbower State Forest 18th August 1877.

JAMES KENNEDY from Echunga? 25 June 1878

DAVID C. FORREST. from Kotupna on 27 June 1878

 Central Forest Board 1894 - see Alan Eddy family story

Thomas Bailes (link to P Evans article)