"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.

Brian F. Gibson A.M.

Forester and Senator for Tasmania
Mike Leonard (bio)

Brian commenced studies at the VSF in 1954, following both his father and an uncle as students at the school. Brian's father Kingsley (Ken) entered the VSF in 1929, subsequently being based at Bendigo, Forrest, Nathalia, Erica, Stawell, Daylesford (as DFO), Delatite, Mansfield (as DFO), Bairnsdale (as Asst. Div. For), and Traralgon (as Asst. Div. For.).  Brian’s Uncle, Colin, entered the VSF in 1931, and he died during WW2.

John (Jack) David Gillespie

This article was prepared by Jack's son, Stephen.

Jack was born in Melbourne in 1923, and lived with his parents and sister and brother in Surrey Hills. He completed his early schooling at Canterbury Primary School and later at Melbourne High School from 1936 to 1938. As he was ending his schooling at Melbourne High, his maternal Grandmother asked him what he was going to do after school. She showed him an advertisement for a scholarship to the Victorian School of Forestry. Jack applied and he entered the VSF in 1939 aged 16, graduating in 1941. The family still retains a number of botanical drawings, note books and text books from this period. Like most of his contemporaries he played football while at VSF, but he had a preference for tennis.

His first posting was to the Stawell District as an assistant forester in 1942.1 While he was at Stawell he had some involvement with the Alien Camp in the Glynwyllyn State Forest, Campbells Bridge area. His experiences are documented in an unpublished transcript from the Stawell Historical Society “Following the wartime wood trail 1942-1945 Italian Internees Glynwylln Forest”. At some stage he bought a motorbike certainly by the time he was posted to Stawell that was his mode of transport. 2

Gerry Griffin

Gerald (Gerry) Griffin entered the VSF Creswick in 1942. His first posting with the Commission, in 1945, was to the Assessment Branch; then to the Bruthen District followed by the Corryong Sub-district of the Upper Murray Forest District.

In 1951 he was promoted to District Forester in charge of the Casterton District. Further DFO appointments were to Maffra (Briagolong) in 1951, Nowa Nowa in 1954 and Orbost in 1959.

Ron Grose

Ronald Jeffrey Grose, born in 1929, was the son of a forester, Norm Grose and, as it turned out, the father of a forester, Peter Grose. Following the completion of his secondary school education, Ron commenced his forestry training at the Victorian School of Forestry (VSF) in 1947 during a period in that school’s history which saw a rapid rise in the student intake from about five to fifteen each year. He graduated in 1949 with the Associate Diploma of Forestry A.Dip.For (Cres), and later gained a Bachelor of Science in Forestry B.Sc.F (Melb), a Doctor of Philosophy Ph.D (Melb) and, in 1966, a Fulbright Scholarship to undertake post- graduate study at the Petawawa National Forestry Institute in Canada.

Following graduation from the VSF Ron was employed by the FCV, and he became involved in ground-breaking studies through the 1950s, a boom period of research into the genus Eucalyptus, with excellent workers in the mountain ash regeneration field, such as Ashton, Bachelard, Cunningham, Jacobs and Teller making important contributions. Following the 1939 bushfire disaster that burnt most of the mountain ash forests, and the subsequent salvage program, the focus of hardwood timber production turned to alpine ash. 

Satisfactory regeneration of Eucalyptus delegatensis following harvesting was problematic due to seed dormancy and other seed characteristics influencing germination and growth. Ron's studies in this field (See also:  Seeding Native Forests) with renowned research forester Walter John Zimmer proved to be an object lesson in careful field and laboratory work (published in FCV Bulletins Nos. 3,4,9 and 10) carried out over a number of years by a first-class researcher with an abiding interest in the field of practical and successful regeneration and management of Victoria’s eucalypt forests. During this period Ron worked under John Chinner, then Reader-in-Charge of the Forestry School in the Faculty of Science at the University of Melbourne. Ron became a full-time colleague of Chinner as a lecturer and a Research Fellow in 1959, and then completed his post-graduate studies to gain the Doctor of Philosophy, Ph.D. (Melb) with his seminal work on “The Silviculture of Eucalyptus delegatensis, Part I, Germination and Seed Dormancy” (Bulletin No. 2 of the School of Forestry, University of Melbourne, 1963).

After completing his post-graduate study, Ron returned to the FCV to take responsibility for its forest research program. Forestry research in Victoria broadened considerably under his leadership, and he was largely responsible early in his career for changing forest management from the traditional emphasis on resource utilisation, to a more multi-disciplinary approach through his encouragement of research in silviculture and other disciplines.

Ron then worked his way through the ranks of the FCV to Chief, Division of Education and Research, then Chief, Division of Forest Management, where a significant initiative was the establishment of the Forest Environment and Recreation Branch. In 1977 he was appointed by the Victorian Government as a Commissioner of Forests, and in 1983 he was appointed as Chairman.

In a broader context, and throughout the 1970s, Ron served the wider forestry profession with distinction in his role as President of the Institute of Foresters of Australia. He also held leadership positions outside the FCV including Chairman of the Committee of Management of the Mount Buller Alpine Resort, President and Board Chairman of the Natural Resources Conservation League of Victoria, and as a Member of the Public Service Board where he was often the Acting Chairman.


Ron Grose
Source: L Dexter
Probably early 1980s

From 1982 a new Government began to make significant changes in the way forestry was to be managed in Victoria. Those changes included the abolition of the FCV and the creation of a Department called Conservation, Forest and Lands (CFL) for which “a new Director-General was in place by November 1983." (Leonard)  As a consequence of those changes Ron, while no longer Chairman of the FCV, was appointed as Director of the State Forests and Lands Service (SFLS) within CFL.

In early 1985 Ron was removed from the position of Director, SFLS. The circumstances of his removal are covered by Leonard.

After his departure from CFL, Ron continued his lifetime commitment to public service by undertaking a number of assignments for Government, including organising the closure of the Willsmere psychiatric facility, and as General Manager of the Alpine Resorts Commission.

As his career developed Ron Grose was held in increasingly high esteem by those in field positions, within related academic circles, in the higher echelons of the Victorian bureaucracy and within both the national and international ‘forest’ communities.

Ian Harris

Straw into paillasses; crock into pots 


….. both of which were basic to the forestry story some decades ago.  Some of us can relate to either or both; whether stuffing straw into hessian paillasses at the School of Forestry and ex- prisoner-of-war camps, or at the Macedon nursery learning the basics of nursery practice, including the placing of crock from broken pots into new pots before putting in soil for seedlings.