"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.

A Foresters' Life

Frank Smith

Material provided by Roger Smith


Frank was, at age 15, the youngest student ever to enter the VSF, and when he retired in 1974 he would become the longest-serving forester to be employed by the FCV.  You will see that he had a long career working in both plantations and native forests, and a very strong connection to the Otway forests. The Redwoods (Sequoia sempervirens) that were established in the Aire Valley Plantation in the 1930's, and are now inside the Great Otways National Park, are an important component of his legacy to forestry in Victoia.

Both of the letters in this article below are published with the permission of his son, Roger.

ER Torbet

First FCV Fire Protection Officer

Article from the VSFA Newsletter, February 1956

Mr E R Torbet, whose death after a short illness occurred on December 22nd, I955, spent his early life in Hamilton where he attended Hamilton High School. He first became associated with forestry when he entered the Creswick Forestry School.

Jim Westcott

The "Friendly Forester"

The following information about Jim Westcott has been precised from an obituary published by Scotch College.

Alan H White

VSF Lecturer, 1959-1961

"It will be evident from the above egocentric saga that my time at the VSF was, in many ways, pivotal in a serendipitous and opportunistic career. It was a unique experience, worthwhile in so many ways, in a unique place."

Alan forwarded this paper to the FCRPA some time ago.

Like so many of the post-WWII era, I sold my soul to the Victorian State Education Department, agreeing to teach for three years, in return for an otherwise unaffordable university education – in my case BSc, DipEd at the University of Melbourne, under the guidance of the Secondary Teachers’ College. By the second year it became apparent that the latter had fairly firm views about the nature and content of courses deemed appropriate for a budding teacher – by-and-large broad and general arrays of subjects done in insufficient depth to fit one for anything else afterward. 

James Hamlyn (Jim) Willis A.M.

Botanist Extraordinaire
Mike Leonard (bio)


Jim (born in 1910) graduated from the VSF in 1930 and gained his BSc from the University of Melbourne in 1940.