AGM 2016 and talk by Damian Kelly

On a cold, wet winter’s evening a large number of club members attended the 2016 AGM.  Sally Leversha was confirmed as President; Judy Eastwood as Vice President; Janine Young as Secretary; Alan Isaacs as Treasurer and Marion Cooke and Sue Spacey as committee members.  Immediate Past President, Judy Uren remains on the committee.

Club members who were retiring from support roles were thanked.  They include Edward Gollings, supper; Christobel Comerford, meet and greet; Tom Comerford, MULCH editor and Bursary coodinator; Jan Gower, committee; and Heather Spicer, trading table.  Members taking over support roles were welcomed.  They include Eileen Park and Marie Elrington, supper; Judy Hopley, meet and greet, and Gill King, trading table.  Maxine Tester agreed to continue providing raffle prizes for general meetings as well as organising the Garden Market raffle.  Judy Uren will continue to coordinate the Garden Market and Show Parade.  Judy Hopley will continue as Webmaster and monitor of the club’s email account.  Philip Hopley will provide technical support and Helen Morris agreed to coordinate the Bursary with the proviso that she receive support.   The position of editor of MULCH remains vacant.

A motion that membership fees for 2017 be $20 for a single and $25 for a family was put to the meeting.  The President explained that some members considered that the present membership fees were unfair as single members pay the same fee as that paid by a family with two or more members.  Club members spoke against the motion.  The motion was then put and defeated.  A motion that membership fees for 2017 be raised to $25 per household was put to the meeting.  After discussion for and against, the motion was put to the vote and defeated.  A motion that membership fees for 2017 remain at $20 per household was carried.

A motion that there be a change to the general meeting format to not include a formal business meeting was put to the meeting.  The President explained that if this was adopted if would reduce the workload for the secretary and provide a focus at general meetings on guest speakers.  Club members spoke for and against the motion.  The motion was then put and was carried by a majority.

The AGM over, members adjourned for a variety of soups, bread and yummy desserts, followed by an informative and entertaining talk by club member, Damian Kelly on flora, fauna and naturalists!  Damian spoke of the seminal work undertaken by two women naturalists, the English woman, Marianne North and the Australian, Ellis Rowan.  Born in 1830, Marianne North devoted her life to travelling the world and painting plants. A gallery devoted to her work is located at Kew Gardens, England.  When Damian visited the gallery he was astonished at the walls lined with hundreds of her paintings and objects collected during her travels.  Ellis Rowan, despite having many setbacks in her life, also produced wonderful paintings of flora and fauna.  Both women travelled to remote places such as New Guinea to paint plants and birds in situ, a practice not commonly practiced by their contemporaries, mainly men, who preferred to paint or draw from preserved specimens.

Damian presenting

Damian presenting to club members

Damian moved on to the work he has been undertaking, in conjunction with others, on the life and photos of Hugh A.C. Leach.  The discovery of the Hugh Leach fountain in Kalimna Park, erected by the Castlemaine Bird Club in 1929, was the catalyst to find out more about the Club and Leach.  Following various leads, many proving to be false, Damian managed to find out more about Leach and his time in Castlemaine when he was the teacher at Barkers Creek State School.  His love of native flora and fauna, particularly birds, combined with his interest in photography, led to hundreds of photos on glass slides.  Fortunately, Damian’s search for information brought him into contact with close relatives of Leach who were able to supply him with a box containing many of these slides.  They are slowly being digitised by an expert in Melbourne, the cost being born by one of Leach’s descendants.  Damian spoke of the techniques used by Leach to obtain his remarkable bird photographs.  Most of these are not used by modern day bird photographers who must patiently wait for an opportunity to shoot their subjects in situ!



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Photo by Hugh Leach

Damian has also found three chapters of a book by Hugh Leach titled The Bird Lover and has converted these into an ebook.  The slide below shows the first page written by Leach in a school book.

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It appears that Leach was, to use Damian’s phrase, “the mover and shaker”, in regard to the Castlemaine Bird Club.  It was during his time in Castlemaine that the club thrived but after his departure to teach in other rural locales, it seems to have gone into decline and finally disappeared altogether.

Club members thoroughly enjoyed this wonderful presentation – thank you Damian!





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