Barry grew up in East Gippsland, Victoria, in the small timber town of Cabbage Tree which consisted of five sawmills (where his father was a bulldozer operator for one of the mills), a local store and a primary school. The family moved to Orbost in about 1955 when he and his two sisters commenced high school.
Following high school Barry completed an apprenticeship as a motor mechanic at a local garage, Merlin Motors, a respected family business.
In 1966 he joined the Forests Commission at Orbost, initially working with the crew on the Errinundra Plateau road construction program where he was trained in the use of explosives to clear trees and rocks from the proposed road line.
Following a vehicle accident in late 1966, Barry took over the repair and maintenance of the Commission’s vehicle fleet at Orbost. In 1969 he married and transferred to Bairnsdale from where he maintained the region’s heavy plant equipment from a base at Bruthen.
So that he would have experience in the operation and procedures of a large workshop, in 1970 Barry was transferred to the Commission’s main plant engineers’ workshop in Newport, Melbourne, and in 1971 he joined the Commission’s Transport Branch as a Technical Assistant to the Transport Officer.
In 1972 Barry became Assistant Fire Equipment Development Officer at the Forests Commission’s Fire Equipment Development Centre at Altona and was promoted to Manager in 1983.
In 1988 he was sent to Canada on a six-week study tour hosted by Aviation Company - Conair to seek out alternative fire equipment technology and innovative ideas to improve on that which was in use by the Department in Victoria.
In 1990, with increasing interest in the use of Class A foams for quelling fire, Barry represented Victorian land management agencies on the North West Coordinating Group Fire Equipment Working Team’s Task Group for International/Interagency Foams and Application Systems. From 1992, he represented the Department at annual forums of the National Fire Equipment Development Officers Group whose aim was to co-ordinate the research, development and supply of fire equipment by member organisations of Fire Control Officers Group.
Barry represented Australia at the International Fire Equipment Working Group and Fire Equipment Working Team biannual joint meetings to share current trends, innovation and experiences in firefighting. He continued to participate at both National and International fire equipment forums until his retirement in 2010.
Hosted by the Overseas Projects Corporation in 1995, Barry was sent to Western Samoa to train local fire personnel in the use of fire fighting equipment purchased from the Department, and the operation of Class A foam technology.
In 2000 and 2002 he was part of an Australian contingent of fire fighters who travelled to the USA to assist American fire crews combatting large forest fires during extremely dry conditions. Queen’s Birthday Honours saw Barry awarded an AFSM in 1988 for distinguished service as a member of the Victorian Fire Services, and an Order of Australia (AM) in 2012 for Service to Public Administration in Victoria in the Fire and Emergency Services Sector and to the Development of Innovative Fire Fighting Equipment and Technologies.