"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.

About People

  • 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



  • A Foresters' Life

    Frank Smith

    Material provided by Roger Smith


    Frank was, at age 15, the youngest student ever to enter the VSF, and when he retired in 1974 he would become the longest-serving forester to be employed by the FCV.  You will see that he had a long career working in both plantations and native forests, and a very strong connection to the Otway forests. The Redwoods (Sequoia sempervirens) that were established in the Aire Valley Plantation in the 1930's, and are now inside the Great Otways National Park, are an important component of his legacy to forestry in Victoia.

    Both of the letters in this article below are published with the permission of his son, Roger.

  • Walking to Work

    M E W Stump (bio)

    "Mark gave me a copy of the text in March 2016, together with some photographs and newspaper cuttings. The descriptions of dry firefighting with hand tools are brief and record what was achieved year by year over and over by experienced firefighters, day and night, in public forests, at modest cost, more than half a century ago."
    Alan Eddy, 30 April 2016

    Mark Stump was an Assistant Forester at Heyield from December 1954 to May 1957

    "The philosophy attaching to the combatting of remote fires at that time, was that the suppression crew should be self-sufficient for a period of three days. This principle assumed that a three-day period would provide sufficient time in which to access, extinguish and withdraw from a small fire without the necessity of additional support. For a large remote fire, which could not be dealt with in an all up time frame of three days, the self-sufficiency period provided time for District Administrative Staff to organize the despatch of support equipment/supplies, to be carried to the fire site by pack horse."

  • ER Torbet

    First FCV Fire Protection Officer

    Article from the VSFA Newsletter, February 1956

    Mr E R Torbet, whose death after a short illness occurred on December 22nd, I955, spent his early life in Hamilton where he attended Hamilton High School. He first became associated with forestry when he entered the Creswick Forestry School.

  • Jim Westcott

    The "Friendly Forester"

    The following information about Jim Westcott has been precised from an obituary published by Scotch College.

  • 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.

    Like so many of the post-WWII era, I sold my soul to the Victorian State Education Department, agreeing to teach for three years, in return for an otherwise unaffordable university education – in my case BSc, DipEd at the University of Melbourne, under the guidance of the Secondary Teachers’ College. By the second year it became apparent that the latter had fairly firm views about the nature and content of courses deemed appropriate for a budding teacher – by-and-large broad and general arrays of subjects done in insufficient depth to fit one for anything else afterward. 

  • James Hamlyn (Jim) Willis A.M.

    Botanist Extraordinaire
    Mike Leonard (bio)


    Jim (born in 1910) graduated from the VSF in 1930 and gained his BSc from the University of Melbourne in 1940.