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I was born in London but spent my earliest years roaming the beach and surrounds at Camber Sands, near Hastings. I emigrated with family, at age five, to Kowen where I roamed the forest for the next four years, and attended Duntroon Public School. Esther Cutts, Clarence Perret and Probyn Steer all went to Duntroon at that time as well. After that we moved to Stromlo (ditto) and I had to change schools, and so to Yarralumla Primary. Here I met the friends that would be there with me in high school. What a relief! Telopea was big, and I thought Yarralumla was big. Duntroon only had around 60 students.
I spent four years at Telopea and can only say I was an average student. However, it wasn’t all work and I had as much fun as anyone. Since leaving at the end of 1966 I completed an apprenticeship in Horticulture (along with Michael Kidd, Keith Mundy, Howard Groeneveld and Glenda Ritherdon, all of whom attended Telopea, though not in the same year). Ask any of them and they’ll tell you that Horticulture is an all-round trade. You get a bit of everything: surveying and levelling, basic bricklaying, stone masonry, concreting, architectural drafting, botany, plant pathology, entomology, geology, oh, and horticulture. Nicely set up for a lifetime career in…something else entirely.
Eleven years on, while working at the botanic gardens, I received a phone call from a fellow from Conservation and Agriculture suggesting I apply for a position there as an illustrator/graphic designer. I did, and I got it. For the next twelve years I learnt a terrific amount about wildlife and practically all there was to know about publications and how to produce them: Letraset, body text, galley proofs, points, picas, cut-and-paste, burnishers, friskets and the fabulous waxer. Then came computers and desktop publishing which threw most of those processes out the window, and many of the words straight into computer terminology.
Then I received another phone call from another fellow in the Australian National Parks and Wildlife Service suggesting I come and write and illustrate an activity book for kids visiting Kakadu NP. “We’ll send you there to get a feel for the place” he said. They didn’t, but I produced the booklet anyway. To this day I still haven’t been to Kakadu. I remained with ANPWS and at the end of the next eleven years I was the editor of one, and managing editor of another, publication dedicated to rangers and conservation managers, while still doing wildlife illustrations, graphic design, desktop publishing and writing. During this 23-year period I also designed logos for many organisations and events including the frog for the Australian Nature Conservation Agency; the sea-eagle for Booderee NP; and (probably my most famous) the gang gang logo for what was then the ACT Parks and Conservation Service, and which has since been used to encompass the whole of the ACT’s urban services. Then 2000 rolled around and it was time to go.
In the meantime I got married, had a son (now in the Navy), got divorced, got married, got divorced, took up white-water rafting, learnt to fly gliders and spent some years as a stable hand at the harness-racing track, jogging and doing “fast-work”. I’m now semi-retired, living on a farm at Williamsdale with my childhood sweetie-pie, still with the horses and racing gigs…and chickens, dogs and fishes. For pocket money I still draw (images for CITES catalogues, pet portraits, logos, weddings, anything…) and, during Parliamentary sitting periods, drive politicians around Canberra. They’re nice people too.
And I have a garden. Those eleven years of horticulture weren’t wasted after all.
see http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.515066301851899.126078.248757828482749&type=1 for more about Terry Woollcott's and Barbara McGann's recent reconnection.