Vale Bernie Fox
Victorian National Parks Association staff, councillors and members were shocked and saddened to learn of the passing of our former President Bernie Fox, who died at his Yanac North property Mali Dunes in the Wimmera on Tuesday 12 April.
Bernie lived there with his wife Sue Hayman-Fox in a partly underground Terradome house, and was actively restoring the property's natural vegetation and monitoring its wildlife.
A member of the Victorian National Parks Association since 2001, Bernie was on the Council from 2002 to 2007 and President from 2004 to 2007. He was a committed and passionate environmentalist and land carer who played a major role in many conservation campaigns including the protection of Mallee flora and fauna and of Point Nepean National Park.
Bernie sat on the advisory group for NatureWatch and was instrumental in getting the program up and running, as well as establishing two NatureWatch projects at a local level and in developing leadership protocols and training for NatureWatch leaders.
He was a key player in our involvement with the Hindmarsh and Grow West tree planting programs, and was involved with several Friends groups, including Friends of Brisbane Ranges and Friends of Terrick Terrick.
A member and former Convenor of the Victorian Environmental Friends Network, in recent years he has distributed the network's quarterly newsletter to several thousand Friends members, Landcare groups and others.
In 2007 Bernie and Sue were featured in the book Project Hindmarsh, 10 Years and Beyond, a celebration of the many people and organisations involved in that great land restoration vision.
"Although we're sometimes known around the traps as 'those odd city greenies who have bought a farm', our farming neighbours are great and some have become our friends. You've got to have an economic and environmental balance - we need farmers, but we also need people who do what we do."
Since buying Mali Dunes, Sue discovered her grandfather's name on the Nhill war memorial and Bernie has learnt that his great-grandfather's original selection was on the Wimmera River at Dooen.
"We didn't know this before we bought Mali Dunes and we sometimes feel we were always meant to end up here."
Bernie will be remembered for his warmth, humour and insights, and his willingness to help and support people and causes.
He was always deeply generous in sharing his wisdom and knowledge with our staff and volunteers, and inspired many people with his infectious passion for nature.
Our thoughts go out to Sue Hayman-Fox, former Treasurer and Office Manager of the VNPA, and to Bernie's family and friends at this sad time.