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Gardner, Alan (1923–2009)

Alan Gardner was born in Brisbane in 1923 and grew up in the depression years of the 30’s. He showed early promise as a student and was sixth in Queensland in the State Scholarship exam at the end of primary school. His four years of secondary education were at Brisbane Boys’ College run by the Presbyterian and Methodist Schools Associations; Alan was a devoted member of the Methodist and Uniting Churches all his life.

He was interested in joining the PMG as a technician, but when he was appointed to Charleville, decided to remain in Brisbane and obtained a Forestry Cadetship with the Queensland Sub-Department of Forestry. However, after one year at the University of Queensland, he joined the RAAF as a Navigator, and trained at Mt Gambier in South Australia. He served in New Guinea and flew sixty missions as a navigator in Beaufort bombers in the 6 and 100 squadrons. In his retirement, he made a scale model of a Beaufort and presented it to the RAAF at Pont Cook. His experience with radio in the Air Force also made him a keen advocate for the installation of radios in Forestry vehicles.

After discharge from the RAAF he completed the first years of the Forestry course at UQ and began his two years at the Australian Forestry School in 1946 along with fellow Queenslanders Les Carron, Bert Hanson, Jack Ralston, Tony Robinson and Eddie Volck, all ex-servicemen.

Following the usual Queensland practice, he spent the first two years after graduation in survey camps. In 1950 he was appointed to Beerwah, an exotic pine plantation area and in 1951 married Fay. In 1956 he transferred to Imbil, a hoop pine plantation area. Both Beerwah and Imbil employed many ‘new Australians’ and the sub-district forester’s life was a busy one.

Following a bad fire season (by Queensland standards) in 1957, the Forestry Department appointed its first Fire Protection Officer in 1958, and Alan filled that role for four years, before promotion to District Forester Yarraman in 1962. His next appointment was as District Forester Atherton in 1964 where he spent an enjoyable ten years. He was the last D/F there to enjoy the pleasure of running the district without pressure from those people opposed to the logging of rainforest; in fact the main problem related to sawmillers seeking additional log quotas. He was able to indulge his wide interests in matters such as the history and geology of North Queensland and problems with the location of the first TV tower in the north in a National Park on the peak of Mt Bellenden Ker; this required many trips to the peak in a cable car. By this time, Alan and Fay had produced six children so family matters took up any spare time.

In 1975, Alan returned to Brisbane for a short stint as Officer in Charge of National Parks, before they were transferred from Forestry control to a separate Department in 1975.

His final eight years before retirement at age 60 were spent as Officer in Charge of Forest Products Branch in Brisbane. He and Fay purchased a small farm near Gympie, but problems with sun cancer forced him to a less active life on Bribie Island. In spite of this affliction Alan retained his interest in a multitude of matters: church, aviation, children and grand-children among them. His reputation as a person of wide interests, a wise mentor of subordinate staff and an inspiring family man endures.

Original publication

  • Forester, vol 52, no 3, September 2009, p 10

Citation details

'Gardner, Alan (1923–2009)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://oa.anu.edu.au/obituary/gardner-alan-18397/text30046, accessed 25 November 2017.

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