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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 5 Hansard (26 August) . . Page.. 1321 ..


MR SMYTH (Minister for Urban Services): Mr Speaker, I move:

That the Assembly expresses its deep regret at the death of Professor Lindsay Dixon Pryor, AO, who made a significant contribution to the landscape of the Territory and tenders its profound sympathy to his widow and children in their bereavement.

Mr Speaker, it was with great sadness that I learnt of the recent death of Professor Lindsay Pryor at the age of 82. I rise here today to pay tribute to Professor Pryor's academic achievements and his magnificent contribution to giving Canberra its garden city identity - an image that is etched in the minds of the nation. I welcome here today members of Professor Pryor's family and offer them the sympathies of the Assembly.

In many ways Professor Pryor actually grew up with Canberra. He came to the national capital from Adelaide in 1934 to study at the Australian Forestry School in Yarralumla. The city at that time was suffering from the effects of the depression. The landscape was treeless. To use Professor Pryor's own words, he said:

There was nothing much to be seen. Just the primordial here and there. There was a sort of an index indicating the promise of very substantial future development. The feeling that Canberra was a place where development was pre-ordained, where some grand buildings would arise, was evident.

One of the things that make his life so interesting was the way that Professor Pryor was introduced to the notion of a career in forestry. It was a career suggested to him as a 12-year-old boy by his father who had shown him a copy of an article in the Adelaide Observer about forestry being a useful field of study for boys. "It appealed as tough, outdoor work. A He-man in the woods style occupation", Professor Pryor was to say later. I think these comments give us an insight into Professor Pryor's geniality, his ever-inquiring mind, his no-nonsense approach to life and his work as he embarked on painting the canvas of immense proportions that Canberra would become. In fact, it was to become his lifetime's work, the results of which Canberrans and visitors to the national capital will now have forever. It was a lifetime fuelled by an infectious curiosity, and an engaging quest for knowledge.

What made Professor Pryor's work stand out was that he was actually blessed with the ability to know how a landscape would look when it matured, how space would fill out, and what was the outcome. Canberra is fortunate to have an abundance of such treed spaces. I think there can be no greater legacy to Professor Pryor's life and work.

That he was enthused by the work of Thomas Charles Weston, the pioneer who set out the scene for Canberra's early landscape development, is obvious. He never wilted or tired, Mr Speaker, his energy and enthusiasm being such that he gathered people up with him, using the gentle art of persuasion rather than a big stick approach to having his ideas adopted.

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