This article was written in 2008.
I first met Alan Cracknell early in the 1980’s when he was Principal of the Wodonga High School. It was a fleeting contact but I do remember him giving me the stern well practiced Principal look designed to freeze students in their tracks. Some time later I moved to Wodonga and I found myself attending the same Church as Alan but even so that student look still kept me at a distance. But slowly our Church lives intertwined and the barriers were broken down. With time we shared some Church responsibilities and often had to work on projects together and enjoyed each others company.
But Alan had a surprise in his past. He knew I had studied forestry but it was not until many years later that he casually told me that he had taught at the forestry school at Creswick. And so it turned out that Alan had done a stint at Creswick as the Education Department science lecturer early in his career.
When I walked through the doors of General Steam Navigation Co at Tower Square opposite the Tower of London in early 1955 at age fifteen for my first full time employment, I had no idea that eleven years later that I would be walking through the door of the Forests Commission Victoria office at Powelltown, 70 kilometers east of Melbourne, Victoria, Australia which was the district office of the Upper Yarra Forest District.
Murray went to the VSF from Birchip in 1941 as a 16 year old, and graduated from the University of Melbourne in 1946 with a BSC (Forestry). He went on to have a most influential career in both the FCV and CFL before retiring from the public sector in 1985. In 2000 he completed a story about his life entitled "A Good Run in the Perfect Job", and his sons, Bruce, David and Mark have given permission for the FCRPA to use extracts from that publication on this site.
"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’ 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.