|Articles on this page with permission from GREG WANE, are taken from the Barwon Heads,Ocean Grove, and Wallington news .||Issn 13290371|
Published by Whistler Publishing
PO. Box 358, Ocean Grove
Editor Greg Wayne
A lifetime devoted to conservation
MR. William Middleton of Barwon Head has been awarded an Order of Australia Medal in the Australia Day Honours announce on 26 January. He received his award for set vice to conservation and the environment an to land management.
Mr. Middleton who was born in Nhill in the Wimmera in 1926 said he had always had a deep interest in nature.
"I always had a deep interest in natural history and as a boy this interest led me to become very familiar with many patches of bush, roadside vegetation and swampland within a bike-ride of Nhill.
After attending Nhill Primary School, Nhill Higher Elementary School and Geelong Grammar, he graduated as a forester from the School of Forestry, Creswick and worked in Daylesford, Forrest, Woodend and Trentham.
"A short return visit to Nhill in 1955 revealed to my dismay and "real disappointment that much of the remnant woodland on private land and roadsides had disappeared." he said.
In 1959 Mr. Middleton became forester-incharge of the Wail Nursery, near Dimboola, and under his leadership the nursery developed a reputation as a dry-climate nursery attracting interest from Australian and international foresters and scientists.
After having seen the disappearance of remnant bush areas around Nhill, Mr. Middleton, with a few local amateur conservationists, began a campaign to create conservation awareness of the Little Desert in the Wimmera.
He described himself as a "lone voice hi the wilderness for many years", but the Little Desert campaign he led was a turning point for conservation in Australia. In 1967, during the early part of the establishment of the Australian Conservation Dan. he was invited to speak about the Little Desert at a symposium on conservation at Melbourne University. The campaign finally resulted in the Little Desert being declared a national Park.
Mr. Middleton also became a sought-after guest speaker and conservationist, and from 1960 to 1983 gave nearly 500 talks to groups in western Victoria. He Also did radio broadcasts on ABC radio 3AW and 3Wl from 1970 to 1983.
His frustration during the late 1970s at the lack of care shown by local councils towards the protection of road side remnant vegetation led to him campaigning local councils on the importance of preserving these areas. A preservation scheme was later adopted state-wide in the 1980s.
Another conservation challenge emerged with it the opportunity to join in the planning and field supervision of an innovative land-saving program called the Potter farmland project in western Victoria. The success of this project eventually led to the formation of the Landcare movement.
Mr. Middleton and his wile Joan moved toBarwon Heads in 1983.
He retired in 1986, yet he still continues to involve himself with conservation issues, and with the Trust for Nature was instrumental in insetting up the land conservation covenant program which protects private land from clearing and other damaging activities.
Since his boyhood days spent in bush land around Nhill to retirement days at Barwon Heads he has continued to be a strong crusader for conservation, for no other reason, he declares: ' Simply, I have a passion for the environment".
Order of Australia award
The Medal of the Order of Australia is made to Australian citizens for service worthy of a particular recognition. Nominations are received and considered by the Honours Secretariat at Government House and an independent council appointed by the Governor-General. The Governor General then approves the award recommendations of the Council and the names are then placed before The Queen who is Sovereign of the Order of Australia. The names of those honoured are published on 26 January, Australia Day, each year. Afterwards, those honoured are invited to Government House in their home state where they are presented with their award.