Phil Toyne (centre) on the 1989 South Coast Landcare Tour, with, from the left, Valerie Milne, then WA Museum Director, Neil Blake, then WA Coordinator for the Australian Conservation Foundation, Ian
Gondwana Link, and landcare across southern WA, has lost a long standing colleague in the death of Phil Toyne. We first brought Phil to the south coast early in 1989, in a visit hosted by then Minister for Agriculture Julian Grill. The Minister was supporting development of what became the National Landcare Program, and was keen to ensure that the dynamic growth of landcare in WA, and its ongoing needs, were well understood nationally. Phil, in conjunction with senior figures from government and the environment movement, (including Rachel Siewort, now a WA Senator) visited a number of farms at Esperance and Jerramungup, and heard first hand of the progress being made. At the Gairdner Hall he officially launched the joint Fitzgerald Biosphere Project/EPA publication “The Bush Comes to the City”.
Later that year I had the privilege of representing WA in some of the national meetings, though can claim no credit for the fact that we did well out of the National Landcare Program when it emerged. Phil and Rick Farley were superb negotiators and had a mighty vision firmly in their sights. A few years later Phil became Deputy Secretary in the Commonwealth Department of Environment, where a good dialogue continued with him and his colleague Andrew Campbell on protection of WA’s remaining bushland. In 2001 Phil took over as Chair of Bush Heritage Australia, just as it became involved in Gondwana Link. His last visit to Albany was as Director of Integrated Tree Cropping, then one of the larger plantation companies in the region, and the one that gave Gondwana Link free office space and lots of support in our establishment years.
In all that time I only got to meet Phil’s wife Molly and his sons once, when somehow we all bumped into each other, at San Francisco’s Ghirardelli Chocolates (where else?!). It was an absolute treat to meet the people closest to this very significant Australian, and enjoy a Saturday afternoon ice-cream together. Our hearts go out to you, in this loss of a wonderful man, far too soon.
CEO, Gondwana Link.