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Craig, Frederic George (Fred) (1935–2005)

by Barrie Dexter

Fred [Frederic George Craig] entered the Victorian School of Forestry at Creswick with nine companions in February 1952 and in his final year was awarded the Woodward Prize for Consistency in Studies and Fieldwork.

He received his first posting in December 1954 to what was to become the Research Branch of the Forests Commission, Victoria. Fred was quick to distinguish himself in his work, and began part time study at the University of Melbourne for the Degree of Bachelor of Science in Forestry in 1958. Studying under Professor Geoffrey Leeper he obtained a 1st Honour and Equal First on the Class List of all Students (Agricultural Science, Science, Forestry and Dietetics) in Agricultural Chemistry. This distinction laid the foundation for a long and successful association with that doyen of soil science.

Fred completed his part time undergraduate studies in December 1960 and was transferred to Dandenong Forest District on 19th December. Fred advised that his marital status would change as from April 8th 1961. As a result he was transferred to Broadford Forest District where he and his wife Beverley were allowed the “privilege” of occupying the singleman’s quarters located in the Depot yard. He ceased forest supervisory duties in May 1962 and still occupying the same “residence” commenced lecturing duties at the Foreman’s Training School in the Broadford No 1 camp, an early association with Forest Education that was subsequently reflected in future years.

In October 1963 Fred was offered the Water Research Foundation Postgraduate Fellowship in Forestry for research in the field of “Forest Management For Water Catchments” and commenced his research soon after. His PhD in this important field was conferred on 14th December 1968 for a thesis entitled “Effects of Fire and heat on the phisical properties of soils with particular reference to cly MINERALS”—ground breaking work that has stood the test of time.

Fred was posted to the Research Branch in 1967 as forest hydrologist to work on the effects of fire and logging on watersheds. In October 1970 he was appointed to the position of Chief Forest Research Officer and over the next six years made an outstanding contribution to quality forest management practices in this state. He was very caring of his staff and ensured that his team related strongly to the needs of forest managers and that their work was recognised internationally through publications in journals, textbooks and papers to international symposia.

At this time Fred represented the Forests Commission on the Yarra Bend Trust and many interdepartmental steering committees. For some time he was Chairman of the Mt. Buller Committee of Management and acted as a Deputy Commissioner of Forests Commission Victoria. His underlying skills, experience and research expertise continued to benefit the State with his appointment as Assistant Director, Fresh Water Management on 14th October 1985.

Fred retired in 1990 and maintained a keen interest in forestry, fishing and exploring Australia’s outback. His colleagues have an enduring respect for his caring management style and contribution to forestry.

On a more personal note, Fred, with his dry wit and unpretentious manner was much loved by those who got to know him well. He will be much missed.

Fred is survived by his wife Beverley, Bruce & Sandy, Peter & Despina, Annette & Travis, Janine and four grandchildren.

Original publication

  • Forester, vol 48, no 2, June 2005, pp 13-14

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Citation details

Barrie Dexter, 'Craig, Frederic George (Fred) (1935–2005)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://oa.anu.edu.au/obituary/craig-frederic-george-fred-18276/text29877, accessed 23 November 2017.

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