Environmental Heroes Honoured

From the Federal government’s Australian honours website:

Pete at Gardening Australia Live
Pete at Gardening Australia LIve

Name: CUNDALL, Peter
Award: Member of the Order of Australia
Date granted: 26 January 2007
State: Tas
Suburb: Rosevears
For service to the environment, particularly the protection of wilderness areas in Tasmania, and to horticulture as a presenter of gardening programs on television and radio.

Search: Australian Honours – Advanced Search @: http://www.itsanhonour.gov.au/honours/honour_roll/search.cfm?aus_award_id=1133744&search_type=advanced&showInd=true

From the Gardening Australia website (presenters’ profiles):
Peter Cundall

Peter Cundall has been gardening since he was a small child during the early 1930’s. He was born in Manchester UK in 1927. As he grew up he learned pruning techniques, propagation, planting and heated greenhouse management.

He taught himself paving techniques, mainly using 2nd hand bricks, cobbles, sets and flagstones, often wheeled from derelict buildings in an old pram. Meanwhile he developed a highly productive vegetable garden to help feed his family.

Towards the end of World War 2 he joined the British Parachute Regiment and shortly after Liberation served in France, Austria, Germany, Italy, Yugoslavia, Egypt and Palestine. He took full advantage during these travels to visit many private and public gardens and parks in order to add to his knowledge of plants and landscaping practices covering a wide range of climatic conditions.

Peter became one of the first casualties of the Cold War in 1946, when he accidentally wandered over the border into Jugoslavia and was captured by Marshal Tito’s partisans. Due to the tensions which existed at that time, he found himself charged with espionage by the Jugoslav authorities. He was sentenced to four years imprisonment without a trial. After spending almost six months in solitary confinement in a tiny, unlit cell, swarming with lice and bedbugs at Ljubljana, he was released near Trieste in Italy as a result of British Government pressure.

After leaving the British army he continued with gardening activities in his spare time. Eventually he enlisted in the Australian army in 1950 as a means of getting to this country more quickly. Almost immediately after arrival in Australia he was posted overseas again, this time to join the Australian 3rd Battalion as a machine gunner during the Korean War.

During a year and a half based in Japan he studied Japanese garden design and rock garden construction. He was also able to gain access to many famous gardens and bonsai nurseries and regularly went to observe new gardens being created at Hiroshima, then in the process of being rebuilt after its atomic destruction.

After leaving the Australian military forces in 1956 he began his own business, working full time designing and constructing gardens in Tasmania. During this period he specialised in landscaping a large number of schools, hospitals, universities, factories, hotels, shopping centres and private gardens in Tasmania and Victoria.

He started radio broadcasting in 1967, transmitting from a Launceston commercial station one of the world’s first gardening talkback programs. By this time he was also writing articles for newspapers and magazines on gardening, while acting as a tutor for Adult Education classes.

In 1969 he began making a weekly in-studio television program called It’s Growing’ for ABC television, providing practical gardening demonstrations. Around the same time he also started making weekly talkback radio broadcasts on ABC-Radio. The television program was expanded in 1972 to become Landscape which utilised gardens throughout Tasmania. This series was the first television program in the world to feature the complete design and construction of many new gardens, always starting from scratch around newly built homes.

In 1974 Peter Cundall was awarded a Churchill Fellowship. This enabled him to travel through the United States, Britain and Africa to study organic gardening, landscaping methods, children’s playground design and the presentation of television gardening programs in colour. With WGBH Boston and the BBC in Britain he was able to study the way television gardening programs were made for differing climatic conditions.

During this period he also played a major role in helping create the Organic Gardening and Farming Society, establishing 20 branches in different parts of Tasmania over a two-year period.

In 1994 Peter was appointed Envoy for the Save the children Fund. He has been an active member of peace groups, is deeply involved with environmental campaigns.

Peter Cundall is the father of six sons (4 from a previous marriage) and a stepson. He lives on a 3 hectare property in Tasmania’s Tamar Valley with his wife Tina and their two youngest sons. It has a large ornamental garden and highly productive, experimental organic vegetable and fruit gardens, including several hundred fruit trees, vines and berry plants.

Peter Cundall is the host of the nationwide Gardening Australia program transmitted twice weekly on ABC-TV. He also continues to present a state wide radio talkback giving gardening advice each Saturday morning. Peter writes and supplies photographs for the ABC’s monthly Gardening Australia magazine, as well as weekly columns for The Weekly Times and Sunday Tasmanian and fortnightly for Australian Doctor. Books and other publications include the first gardening book printed on washable plastic paper for outdoor use Year Round Gardening, Seasonal Tasks for the Practical Australian Gardener and Peter Cundall’s Guide to Organic Growing.

Selected extract from ABC NEWS ON LINE 26.1.07:

Flannery urges climate change action
The Australian of the Year, scientist Tim Flannery, says the Prime Minister’s water plan means little unless governments take urgent action on the bigger issue of climate change.
Professor Flannery received the nation’s top honour in Canberra last night, on the same day Prime Minister John Howard announced his $10 billion water package.

Professor Flannery says the nation’s lack of water is a symptom of a much larger problem.
“We need to shepherd our water resources very carefully to get through this crisis and the Prime Minister announced a program that I think will go a long way towards doing that,” he said.

“But unless we address the overarching issue of climate change, that will be for nought, so we need to address climate change in order to build us that longer-term security.”

Professor Flannery has warned he will not hesitate to criticise the Government if he does not agree with its policy.

“Part of the reason people thought I was worthy of this was that they’re really concerned about climate change and they want something done about it,” he said.

Jerry Coleby-Williams
26th January 2007


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