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Our founder & patron – Dr Bob Brown

Dr Bob Brown in the Liffey Valley, TasmaniaDr Bob Brown in the Liffey Valley, Tasmania. Photo Peter Morris.

Bob Brown is famous for his role in the campaigns to save Lake Pedder and the Franklin River in Tasmania from damming, thus achieving worldwide publicity for the World Heritage qualities of Tasmania's wilderness areas.

Dr Brown's resume includes:

  • leader of the Australian Greens (2005-2012);
  • Senator in the Australia Parliament (1996-2012);
  • Member of Tasmanian State Parliament (1983-93);
  • Director of Tasmanian Wilderness Society (1979-84);
  • recipient of International Merit Award of the IUCN (1984);
  • UNEP Global 500 Award (1987);
  • Goldman Environmental Prize (1990); and
  • MAPW Distinguished Physician Award (1990).

Bush Heritage came about when two magnificent forest reserves, abutting the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area, were put up for auction. Realising that these 241 hectares were destined to be woodchipped, Bob used his Goldman Environmental Prize of $49,000 as a deposit, borrowing the rest from friends and the bank.

The campaign to pay off the remaining $200 000 loan was the birth of The Australian Bush Heritage Fund and that land is now our Liffey River and Dry's Bluff Reserves, parts of which are UN World Heritage Listed!

“I was walking in Tasmania’s Liffey Valley on a sunny day in 1990 when I made a decision that began the journey we now know as Bush Heritage Australia.

Drys Bluff above Liffey ValleyDry's Bluff above Liffey Valley. Photo: Wayne Lawler.
On that day, I was walking high above two beautiful bush blocks that had come up for sale and that logging companies were keen to buy. I thought about what might happen if someone didn’t protect that land. I imagined a scene of grey tree skeletons and burning stumps.

"I walked through a gully dense with rainforest and carpeted by ferns. A small creek bubbled away nearby. I found some hand-worked shards of stone – a reminder of the Aboriginal people who’d been going there for thousands of years, to enjoy the morning sun. I felt a connection with humanity that stretched back to generations past, and forward to generations yet to come.

"I couldn’t stand by and watch that spirit die. With encouragement and support from a group of like-minded friends, I decided to go into debt to buy this natural part of the Australian bush. It was the beginning of something very special."

Dr Bob Brown was President of Bush Heritage until 1996 and a Board Member until 1997.

Bob Brown in the Oura Oura houseBob Brown at Oura Oura, under the magnificent Drys Bluff. Photo courtesy Bob Brown.

In March 2011, the then Senator Bob Brown formally presented his Tasmanian property ‘Oura Oura' to Bush Heritage Australia.

The 14-hectare parcel of land is not just environmentally significant, but also played an important role in the history of the Australian conservation movement. Over the years the cottage hosted formative meetings of Bush Heritage Australia, The Wilderness Society, the Tasmanian and Australian Greens, and the Franklin River Campaign.

"This place has been my anchor and my steady point and it was fortunately geographically near the centre of Tasmania. So it did become a central meeting place for 'greenies in beanies'. And that's why I'm so happy that Bush Heritage has taken on the gift and the responsibility. 

"Bush Heritage is, effectively, the custodian of private national parks aimed to protect ecological values in perpetuity. It's a fantastic guardian of Australia's natural heritage".