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Edward Gordon (Ted) Mannion (1935–2014)

Ted Mannion, n.d.

Ted Mannion, n.d.

Ted [Edward Gordon] Mannion was born on 11 October 1935 in Brisbane and died on 9 April 2014 in Brisbane.  He was educated at Holland Park State School & Church of England Grammar School; he was awarded a State Forestry Scholarship after the Senior exam in 1953 and attended UQ in 1954 & 1955.  In 1956 he did National Service in the RAAF at Amberley and for the rest of year worked in forestry survey camps.  He attended the Australian Forestry School in 1957 and 1958.

After graduation, he took control of forest assessment survey camp based at Sunday Creek outside Jimna.  After one year in survey camp he served in a number of centres viz. Brisbane, Warwick and Gympie.  In 1961 he married Pat Glover whose father, before becoming a race horse trainer, had a bullock team working timber.

In 1962, Ted and Pat took off to Yale University, USA where Ted completed a M.F. degree.  After serving a couple of years in Forest Research Branch, Ted was sent to Oxford University to study biometrics.  On returning to Brisbane, Ted worked as a biometrician and then in various capacities until in 1982 he became the inaugural team leader on the Dongmen State Forest Farm Eucalypt Afforestation Project in southern China – he served there three years after which he returned to Australia to become District Forester, Atherton.  It was in this capacity that Ted became known as ‘Top End Ted’.  While based in Atherton, Ted became a member of the Cairns Hoo Hoo Club 261.

In 1988, Ted returned to the Dongmen project for a final two years till the end of the project.  This project produced a number of eucalypt clones still in use in the bulk of the plantations in China today.  Mainly as a result of this project, the area of eucalypt plantations has increased ten-fold, productivity has more than doubled and the rotation length has halved.  In China, Ted was well known as ‘Lao Bai Ma’ (the old white horse).

After the end of the Dongmen project, Ted spent some time in Brisbane in Planning Division until his retirement from the Queensland Department of Forestry in October 1990.  However, it was not long before he was off to the Philippines as team leader on an Asian Development Bank project for a couple of years.  After that, he had another short stint back in the Philippines.

Ted and Pat were inveterate travellers, being rarely at home.  It was on a trip to Vanuatu that Ted fell down some stairs and broke his leg, necessitating a medi-vac from Port Vila to Brisbane.  The leg was pinned but Ted had difficulty with his lungs; after a couple of weeks in an induced coma and on life support, Ted left to join the great foresters in the sky.

Ted was a long term member of Brisbane Tattersalls club; he was a very gregarious person with a very diplomatic manner.  He was a very keen punter but it is doubted that he ever seriously threatened any bookmaker’s livelihood.  Ted is very well remembered by colleagues in Australia and China.  There was a host of e-mails from China expressing condolences.  One of his Chinese colleagues from Dongmen project days wrote ‘Many of us had the honour to work with Ted Mannion on the Dongmen project.  His devotion and amicable temperament have left us good memories of those rough days.  We all love and miss our close friend Lao Bai Ma’.

A service, attended by more than 100 relatives, colleagues and friends, was held at Hemmant Crematorium on 15 April to celebrate Ted’s life.  Ted is survived by his wife Pat, daughters Heidi and Michelle and two grandsons Lachlan and Tate.

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Citation details

'Mannion, Edward Gordon (Ted) (1935–2014)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 17 July 2024.

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