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David William Shoobridge (1913–2000)

by John Gray

Born 27 March 1913; died 14 May 2000

David [William] Shoobridge was a man of the soil who knew plants well. He achieved much in his lifetime both as a production forester in Tasmania and the ACT from 1935 to 1952 and as an urban forester and horticulturist in Canberra from 1958 to 1975.

Born in Hobart in 1913, he was educated at Clemes College. He was awarded one of three cadetships from over 150 applicants in Tasmania to join the State’s Forestry Department. This enabled him to study forestry at the Australian Forestry School, Canberra (1932-1933) and the University of Tasmania.

From 1935 to 1939 he was a Forestry Officer at Geeveston in the Tasmanian Forestry Department. Without staff at the beginning he had to manage a region which was about 20% of the commercial forested area of Tasmania. Late in 1939 he was seconded to the ACT as Assistant Forestry Officer. This war-related transfer proved to be permanent. His work in the National Capital in this difficult wartime and post-war period centred largely on pine plantation management, firewood production, bushfire control measures, and the management of native forests for wood production.

In 1952 David was appointed Assistant Superintendent, Parks and Gardens Section, Canberra under Dr (later Professor) Lindsay Pryor. Six years later he became the Section’s Director, a position he was to retain until his retirement in 1975. David was able to combine his interests in forestry and horticulture and he served the National Capital extremely well in this period of rapid growth. He modernised techniques for managing Canberra’s parks. In addition he worked for improvements in the educational standards of his staff and established a sound research program to support park management practices. Perhaps his proudest moment came in 1970 when Prime Minister Sir John Gorton opened the Canberra Botanic Gardens (now Australian National Botanic Gardens). David had worked tirelessly in the 1960s to achieve the investment of money and resources necessary to enable this opening of the gardens to the public.

He and his first wife Mollie, whom he married in 1936, were active in the community. They were strong supporters of horticulture in Canberra and submitted many successful blooms to Horticultural Society shows. They were founding members of the First Canberra Garden Club and were also very active in the scouts and cubs, David being a Commissioner. They had six children. Mollie died in 1978.

David was very active in a number of national and international professional bodies. From 1969 to 1971 he was Federal President, Royal Australian Institute of Parks and Recreation, and from 1970 to 1971 World President of the International Federation of Park and Recreation Administration. He was recognised as a Fellow, Institute of Foresters of Australia (1974), and Honorary Life Fellow, Royal Australian Institute of Parks and Recreation (1974). He was awarded the medal of Companion of the Imperial Service Order in 1973. In retirement he moved to the Braidwood district in NSW. He was remarried in 1984 to “Queenie” Victoria McDowall. They shared their interests in gardening and the Anglican and Uniting Churches. David was many times President of the Garden Club of Braidwood and was a regular exhibitor in horticulture at the Braidwood Show, winning many prizes. Last September he won six first prizes in the National Daffodil Championships at Bowral, NSW. A successful horticulturist to the end! David is survived by his wife Queenie and his six children—Barbara, Peter, Gwendolyn, Keith, Dianne and Graeme together with thirteen grandchildren and thirteen great grandchildren.

Original publication

Additional Resources

Citation details

John Gray, 'Shoobridge, David William (1913–2000)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 26 May 2024.

© Copyright Obituaries Australia, 2010-2024

Life Summary [details]


27 March, 1913
Hobart, Tasmania, Australia


19 May, 2000 (aged 87)
New South Wales, Australia

Religious Influence

Includes the religion in which subjects were raised, have chosen themselves, attendance at religious schools and/or religious funeral rites; Atheism and Agnosticism have been included.

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