Words from our Members, on NPAQ’s 90th Anniversary – National Parks Association of Queensland

Words from our Members, on NPAQ’s 90th Anniversary

Author: Peter Stanton, NPAQ member; Lorna Williams, NPAQ member

‘Lonely rangers hut’ taken by a 12-year-old Stanton in 1952 on a box brownie camera in Lamington National Park.

Peter Stanton on his honeymoon in 1967 at Binna Burra Lodge

National Parks and the Pursuit of a Dream, Peter Stanton, NPAQ member since 1964

My childhood was full with the freedom and delights of the wild and beautiful places of south-east Queensland. Approaching 80 years later those memories can still fill my heart with joy, but also the poignancy of sadness for the loss of so much beauty as the infrastructure of development sullies so much of the earth of this beautiful part of Queensland.

When I remember childhood paradise now it returns to only one theme, Lamington National Park and the excitement of many school holidays at Binna Burra and O’Reillys Guest House. It was there, in 1948, at the age of eight that I first met those inspiring National Park advocates of Bernard O’Reilly, Arthur Groom, and Romeo Lahey, and first became aware of the National Parks Association and its work.

In 1964, when, based in Mackay, I was working for the Forestry Department, with management responsibilities for some of the largest and finest National Parks in Queensland I decided that I would join the National Parks Association. Although far removed from its activities I was inspired by its philosophies and the writings of some of those most prominent within it.

My interest in National Parks came to the attention of the Secretary of the Department, Bill Wilkes, and the officer-in-charge of the fledgling National Parks Section of that Department, Syd Curtis. In September 1967 I began work with that section in Brisbane as its second professional officer appointment. For over 30 years from that point I avoided any active involvement with the organisation until my days with the Forestry Department, and later the National Parks and Wildlife Service, were finished, as often being called upon to investigate proposals that came to Government from the Association, I wished to avoid any perception of conflict of interest.
Since leaving Government I have not ceased to work in the Conservation area. I have, among other things, for the last 17 years, been working for the Australian Wildlife Conservancy. Having lived in Cairns for 41 years I have been no more able to have active involvement with the Association than I ever was. I remain a member, however, and continue to share its goals and philosophies. I wish it well, in this, its 90th year.


Reflections on Membership of National Parks Association of Queensland, Lorna Williams, NPAQ member since 1965

The decision was made; I would nominate to attend a weekend camp. My nomination being accepted, I was in it ‘boots and all’. Having been a member of the National Parks Association of Queensland (NPAQ) since mid-1965, approximately twelve months, I knew commitment meant being fully engaged. Never having known the trials and tribulations of camping my apprehensiveness about the forthcoming experience was rather high. Of course, there was the purchase of necessary equipment to be undertaken beforehand.

A visit to Paddy Palin’s store in Brunswick Street, Fortitude Valley saw me come out with a light wallet and cumbersome, heavy packages. Needless to say, everything but the proverbial kitchen sink was fitted into my small sedan for that first foray into the unknown world of camping.

Many years later, when assisting with the archiving of the Ruth Reid Historical Collection I was amused to read some of the exploits of Douglas Jolly. One Friday afternoon on his way home from work in the city, Doug met a fellow NPAQ member weighted with camping gear. If my memory serves me correctly, travel to camp was by train then truck. On learning that the member was attending an NPAQ weekend camp Doug raced to the nearby chemist, purchased tooth brush and paste, went to another store, purchased food, and away he went in company of the member to enjoy the weekend. So much for all the trappings thought necessary for my first foray.

Prior to that first camping experience I was contacted by Merle Wagner advising me that she was to be my buddy. Merle invited me, along with some of her NPAQ friends one of whom was Barbara Williams, to dinner one evening. It was a very happy occasion where I was introduced into the rudiments of bush camping, an adjunct to the booklet received when my application for membership was accepted. I’ll never forget Merle’s kindness. True to her word, Merle kept an unobtrusive ‘eye’ on me. My enthusiasm for NPAQ and camping grew out of the experiences gained on that occasion. Unfortunately, the buddy system for new members waned. For me, it was a profound help in becoming acquainted with the values of the Association and with bush camping.

NPAQ was very active with monthly meetings, well attended monthly weekend camps, social weekends, and extended outings within Australia and overseas. Educational seminars were held occasionally; for example, I attended one on how to navigate by compass. Seminars established to review the aims, purpose and objectives of the Association were well attended. The Bardon Education Centre was a popular choice of venue. Many members devoted their holidays to lead extended outings. Preparations for the outings took up an enormous amount of time, organisation and collaboration; later, leaders wrote extensive reports of the events.

The purpose of NPAQ is to promote the preservation, expansion, good management and presentation of National Parks, and supports nature conservation in Queensland. Opportunities are provided for the membership to experience the natural environment. What better way could be found for gathering support than to familiarise the membership with the natural landscapes and ecosystems. Many National Parks in Queensland have been Gazetted as a result of pressure from NPAQ through submissions and support from members.

Following environmental catastrophes such as cyclones and floods, members assisted in clearing bush tracks and camp sites thus enabling the public to visit once again and appreciate the Australian landscape. Members continue to assist in the maintenance of tracks and the reduction of weeds in various national parks in Queensland.

Being a shift worker, I was unable to attend many meetings or participate in activities until retirement. When assisting with the archiving I enjoyed reading the documented highlights of all outings. Never to be forgotten is the commitment of members to the Association. Who could forget Keith Jarrett, Secretary in a voluntary capacity for many, many years. Likewise, presidents, secretaries, treasurers, leaders and organizers of outings, mentioning just a few positions. Submissions to governments are prepared in an honorary capacity. An Honour Board presented by Shirley Simpson acknowledges Past Presidents to the Association and is a permanent reminder of the commitment of many to the pursuit of the aims and purpose of the Association. Volunteers of NPAQ were acknowledged in 2018 through an invitation for two representatives to attend the Clem and Sylvia Jones Thank you Celebration Luncheon that year.

Lorna Williams (right) at the 2018 Clem Jones Luncheon

Although workplace commitments and social changes over the past decade have contributed to a reduction in the membership over recent years, National Parks Association Queensland will continue to be a strong force in pressing governments to maintain, preserve and expand national parks in this State.

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