"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.

John (Jack) David Gillespie

This article was prepared by Jack's son, Stephen.

Jack was born in Melbourne in 1923, and lived with his parents and sister and brother in Surrey Hills. He completed his early schooling at Canterbury Primary School and later at Melbourne High School from 1936 to 1938. As he was ending his schooling at Melbourne High, his maternal Grandmother asked him what he was going to do after school. She showed him an advertisement for a scholarship to the Victorian School of Forestry. Jack applied and he entered the VSF in 1939 aged 16, graduating in 1941. The family still retains a number of botanical drawings, note books and text books from this period. Like most of his contemporaries he played football while at VSF, but he had a preference for tennis.

His first posting was to the Stawell District as an assistant forester in 1942.1 While he was at Stawell he had some involvement with the Alien Camp in the Glynwyllyn State Forest, Campbells Bridge area. His experiences are documented in an unpublished transcript from the Stawell Historical Society “Following the wartime wood trail 1942-1945 Italian Internees Glynwylln Forest”. At some stage he bought a motorbike certainly by the time he was posted to Stawell that was his mode of transport. 2

After Stawell, he was posted to Erica, eventually becoming the District Forest Officer at Erica in June of 1951. 3 & 4. He married Barbara in 1950. Subsequent postings were: DFO Dandenongs 09/10/1953; DFO Upper Yarra (Powelltown), 19/09/1955; HO operations, Economics & Marketing, 16/02/1961; Forest Operations Utilization Officer, 26/7/1963; HO Sales & Marketing Officer 1966/67; and finally Divisional Forester, Western Division based at Horsham, 1967/68 - 1980/81). He also served both as a Member and Chair of the Mt Buller Committee of Management from 1965-1966. 6 & 7 Jack retired in 1983.

He completed his Diploma of Forestry in 1962, writing on “A survey of denuded forest lands of the Upper Yarra Forest District and a discussion of methods which may be suitable for reforestation of these areas”, and he also wrote other papers. 9

Never one to not take a photograph, his cameras went most places with him (his father, aunt and grandfather were all keen amateur photographers). His collection of photographs covers most stages of his working and personal life.

Along with John Wright (and others) he edited the VSFA History - ‘A Fraternity of Foresters’. 5

Like all FCV foresters he was involved in the communities that he lived in, both inside and outside of forestry.

Outside of forestry in later years he lectured and participated in University of the Third Age, ran some jazz programs at a local community radio station, was a member and became a Fellow, of the Genealogical Society of Victoria, established the Wimmera Association for Genealogy, was a member and a Fellow of the Wimmera Hearing Society, active member of Rotary, to name just a few. In 1982 he participated in an oral history project as part of the Australian Bicentennial celebrations. 8

1 Personal (1942, February 20). The Horsham Times (Vic. : 1882 - 1954), p2. Retrieved March 8, 2021, from Trove.
2 Search for Forest Officer. (1942, June 16). The Horsham Times (Vic. : 1882 - 1954), p2. Retrieved March 8, 2021, from Trove.
3 He cut the wrong logs (1952, November 13). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1957), p5. Retrieved March 8, 2021, from Trove.
4 Day and night search made in snow for two missing men (1947, August 13). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1957), p1. Retrieved March 8, 2021, from Trove.
5 Gillespie, Jack. and Wright, JP - A Fraternity of Foresters. Jim Crow Press, Daylesford, Vic 1993
6 Victorian Government Gazette No. 281 April 23, 1965. Retrieved March 2021 from Govt Gazette
7 JD Gillespie (1966) - Mt Buller Lift Co. Files 1961 - 1963. Archive Files Box 53, Garbage Disposal 1960-1969. Memorandum for Dr FR Moulds, Commissioner re Garbage Disposal at Mt Buller, dated 7 November 1966, signed JD Gillespie, Utilisation Officer/Chairman, Committee of Management.
8 Gillespie, John & Thomson, Barry & Australia 1788-1988: A Bicentennial History & Australia 1938 Oral History Project. (1982). John Gillespie interviewed by Barry Thomson for the Australia 1938 oral history project.
9 Gillespie, JD (1965)- Wattle forests of Victoria's mountains. Victoria's Resources Vol. 7, No. 3, September-November, 1965. Pages 85-88
10 Gillespie, JD - Multiple use of public lands in the State of Victoria. Talk at Hamilton Field Naturalists Club 19 Nov 1970.

Jack Gillespie
About 1970
Source: S Gillespie