As Bush Heritage approaches its 20th anniversary, meet a supporter who's been with us all the way.
Michael Williams is passionate about preserving the Australian bush and is President of the Mackay Conservation Group.
Michael Williams – a steadfast supporter of Bush Heritage for nearly 20 years. Photo: Darryl Wright
He's also a leader in children’s health and is the Director of Child and Adolescent Health at Mackay Base Hospital.
Michael and his wife Margaret have visited Carnarvon and Cravens Peak reserves on guided tours, and in September we welcomed Michael as a Bush Heritage member, after nearly 20 years as a supporter.
Q: Which place in the Australian bush is most special to you?
A: I love the diversity of Australia’s bush, but growing up in Victoria, spending as much time as I could on a farm with nearby bush, the tall eucalypt forests have a sentimental attachment. As a child I was devastated to see the destruction of the Heytesbury forest (near the town of Cobden in south-west Victoria).
Q: Can you remember the moment you first decided to support Bush Heritage in 1991?
A: I remember being excited by the concept of the people buying back the bush to prevent what happened at Heytesbury from happening again, with an increasingly aggressive logging industry. I was impressed by Bob Brown’s selfless stand and leadership to preserve the Liffey bush block, the beginning of Bush Heritage.
Q: What part do you think the bush plays in Australian identity?
A: Away from air conditioning and shopping malls we can build a familiarity with the smells, sounds and sights of our bush. It is the unique evolutionary expression of our climate and landscape, which we grow up in. It often is rugged and tenacious. As a community we may identify with these traits.
Q: What did you see on your 2003 visit to Carnarvon Station Reserve that convinced you Bush Heritage deserved your ongoing support?
A: It is a magnificent property adjacent to a national park, a great strategic purchase. The managers were outstanding – dedicated, talented and enthusiastic – and already demonstrating significant outcomes such as feral animal reduction. The volunteer program was running well, with the skilled supervision of the managers.
Q: What are your favourite Australian animals?
A: I love seeing the wallabies, the sea eagles, the dolphins, turtles, whales, the flying foxes and even the scrub turkeys from our home in Mackay. I worry about the 15 million (I understand) feral cats each eating five native animals a day in Australia.
Q: What image from your guided tour of Cravens Peak Reserve in June this year remains strongest in your mind?
A: The red sands, the white trunks of the river red gums, the flowers, the huge vistas, the stars, the campfire, the fantastic food, and of course Nella and Mark (Reserve Managers at Cravens Peak).