Enid Robertson

Mr DULUK ( Davenport ) ( 15:22 ): Today, I rise to reflect on the life of a remarkable woman who had a love of nature and a passion to preserve it. Enid Lucy Robertson AM was born in 1925 and lived in Blackwood until her marriage in 1948. In 1966, Enid returned with her four children to Blackwood after the death of her husband, Dr Stirling Robertson.

Enid Robertson was one of South Australia's best botanists and native bush managers. Sadly, Enid passed away on Sunday July 10 2016.


I never had the opportunity to meet Enid; however, many constituents of mine who are involved in Friend’s groups throughout the Mitcham Hills knew Enid well and recall her as a loyal friend and a passionate conservationist.


Her contribution to the Mitcham Hills and South Australia will not be forgotten. Her family recall her as a systematic botanist, never retired, and a bush restoration pioneer.


After graduating from the University of Adelaide, Enid worked at Waite Institute and later for the university's botany department as a renowned expert in seagrasses and aquatic plants. A successful and laudable career saw Enid's talent widely recognised around the state, which led to a ministerial appointment to the Native Vegetation Authority as the expert in botany, plant communities and native vegetation management.


Other distinguished appointments included the National Trust of South Australia's nature preservation committee and also to the board of the Adelaide Botanic Gardens. These important roles lent Enid's guiding hand to preserve and enhance our natural environment.


Although her retirement from paid work occurred in 1987, Enid still kept up a vigorous workload with volunteer groups, not-for-profit organisations and in advisory to local government.

 

Starting in 1980 and for many years since, Enid held an esteemed volunteer position with Mitcham council on the Mitcham open space committee that nourished and protected over 400 reserve areas with native vegetation.

Enid's connection to the Mitcham Hills goes back generations. Her family farmed the area of Blackwood and the Mitcham Hills, today known as Watiparinga Reserve, which was given to the National Trust in 1957.


Her grandfather, Edwin Ashby, was an enthusiastic naturalist, who developed a garden of native plants on his farm Wittunga in Blackwood. Keith Ashby, Enid's father, continued to develop the native garden his father had started and, in the spirit of true naturalism and generosity, gifted Wittunga to the state government in 1965.


Wittunga can still be visited today in my beautiful electorate of Davenport. I invite all members of this house to visit Wittunga Botanical Gardens this spring to see the lovely native garden grown and developed originally by Enid's family, and now the botanical gardens, over many decades.


This spirit of generosity was very much the spirit of Enid Robertson too. Enid generously gave of her time and expertise to community groups, environmental groups and friends associations. After her official retirement, Enid quietly supported many students and young professionals where she saw their budding interest and love of ecology and native vegetation, and was a mentor to many students.


Enid's legacy as a pioneer will continue through the minimal disturbance technique that she developed through the Watiparinga National Trust Reserve. This technique, I am reliably informed, continues to be used by volunteers at Trees for Life. This week, I was touched by the gift of one of Enid's books, recently republished in 2010, from her son, David Robertson. This book, called Restoration of Grassy Woodland, wonderfully paints a splendid picture of Watiparinga Reserve and the tireless work undertaken by Enid and others to preserve this invaluable natural asset.


Enid's good works were not limited to conservation alone. Having been a lifelong member of the Religious Society of Friends, perhaps better known as Quakers, Enid contributed to their numerous initiatives, particularly as trustee of the national Friends Fellowship of Healing Charitable Trust. Closer to home, Enid was uniquely placed to serve as patron of Blackwood High School's Ashby House for many years.


Enid's appointment as a Member of the Order of Australia in the Queen's Birthday Honours of 1997 recognised what many in our community already knew, that she was a passionate advocate and leader in her field.


The Mitcham Hills community and many others in the field of botany and native vegetation management will sorely feel the loss of Enid Robertson as a consummate professional, generous volunteer and dear friend to many.


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