"The past is never fully gone. It is absorbed into the present and the future. It stays to shape what we are and what we do."
Sir William Deane, Governor-General of Australia, Inaugural Vincent Lingiari Memorial Lecture, August 1996.

Alan H White

VSF Lecturer, 1959-1961

"It will be evident from the above egocentric saga that my time at the VSF was, in many ways, pivotal in a serendipitous and opportunistic career. It was a unique experience, worthwhile in so many ways, in a unique place."

Alan forwarded this paper to the FCRPA some time ago.

Bert Semmens

The Article

Bert Semmens’ detailed reflections on his career, the people he worked with and the working and living conditions mirror what many VSF graduates of his era experienced. His employment with the Forests Commission from his graduation from the VSF in 1936 to his retirement in 1977 covered many of the social and industrial activities of the Commission and displayed Bert’s innovativeness to addressing the many problems he encountered. The nine chapters set out the various stages in Bert’s career. They are edited from a paper he gave to the FCRPA in 2013.

Contact the Editor


Gerry Griffin

Gerald (Gerry) Griffin entered the VSF Creswick in 1942. His first posting with the Commission, in 1945, was to the Assessment Branch; then to the Bruthen District followed by the Corryong Sub-district of the Upper Murray Forest District. 

Bjarne Dahl

Mike Leonard (bio)

As set out elsewhere on this website, the early 20th century was a challenging time for Victoria’s newly established, foundational Forest Service. Responsible for around a third of the State, an area in the main remote and poorly, at best, mapped, and one dominated by plants and animals that were only just beginning to be studied, relevant skills were often thin on the ground.

The Young Forester in 1964

Leon Bren (bio)

With contributions from Brian Fry and Peter Lawson

This originally hand-written letter from my brother-in-law, the late Roger Cowley (1940-76) to his “little sister” (aged 14 at the time) turned up in family archives. Matching the date with the days puts the year as 1964. The letter gives an account of fire-fighting half a century ago (and when people still wrote real letters). Roger went through the Creswick Forestry School in 1958-60 (dux of the school) and Melbourne University in 1962-63. He was counting Alpine Ash seedling regeneration (and fire-fighting as required) for the Forests Commission Victoria in the Connors Plain-Mt Skene area of Victoria’s alps, together with Peter Lawson (a fellow graduate). The “frog” was a bird-seed-filled cloth frog, not a real one (fashionable at the time). The construction of the “Tamboritha Road” a few years previously had been a major investment for the Forests Commission and opened up Alpine Ash forests for logging (shock/horror now) north of Heyfield (Victoria).