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Department of Premier and Cabinet

Communities, Sport and Recreation

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Barbara Brenda Willson

Tasmanian Honour Roll of Women logo
Barbara Willson

Awarded for service to the Community

Born: 16 October 1934

Entered on roll: 2009


Barbara Brenda Willson was born in Manchester, United Kingdom, on 16 October 1934. She completed her primary teacher training at Doncaster Training College and taught in Manchester, before moving to Africa with her husband, Peter, and young son in 1959. She taught in Zambia until the family, now with two young sons, migrated to Western Australia in 1965.

The family moved to Tasmania in January 1967 because Barbara wanted “…mountains, weather, views and rivers with water running in them”. After relief teaching at Snug Primary, Barbara took a full-time position at Kingston Primary School.

In 1974, Barbara and Peter bought a 16-hectare mining lease on the Melaleuca Plains, South-West Tasmania. Barbara helped Peter mine for alluvial tin during holidays, moving permanently to Melaleuca after her retirement in 1980. Their holding eventually grew to 175 hectares. All equipment was shipped in and the ore shipped out by Barbara and Peter. All fresh fruit and vegetables were home grown, with Barbara baking her own bread and brewing her own beer.

Although living in an isolated region, Barbara enjoys the company of park rangers, fishermen, birdwatchers, bushwalkers and yachtsmen. The Willsons also record the daily rainfall for the Bureau of Meteorology.

It is the invaluable work Barbara continues to perform in the Parks and Wildlife Service recovery program for the rare, endangered, Orange-bellied Parrots that has been her most significant community service. The parrots arrive each year from Victoria and South Australia to nest in the Melaleuca area and Barbara and Peter record the first arrivals and last leavers. They make daily observations and recordings of the band colour combinations to identify banded birds and count the parrots each morning and afternoon.

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