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Melva Truchanas

Tasmanian Honour Roll of Women logo
Melva Truchanas

Awarded for service to the Environment

Born: 1930

Entered on roll: 2013


The eyes of the future are looking back at us, trying for us to see beyond our own time….that we might act with restraint… Terry Tempest Williams, Red: Passion and Patience in the Desert.

Melva Truchanas was born on 15 January 1930 and moved to Launceston in 1940. As a teenager, Melva channelled her energies into the Girl Guides' Movement , 'the war effort' and outdoors experiences. Following a year 'tramping' in New Zealand, Melva married Olegas Truchanas in 1956 who had escaped from the carnage of World War II in Eastern Europe.

When the Hydro Electric Commission planned to flood Lake Pedder, Olegas created a photographic presentation Tasmania's Wild South-West, adding to his educational lectures' series.Melva joined the South-West Committee and Lake Pedder Action Committee, and cared for their family.

1967 bushfires destroyed Truchanas' home and Olegas' slide collections documenting 17 years of journeys into Tasmania's then little-known South-West.  Melva and Olegas' son, Nicholas, was born as the Save Lake Pedder outcry intensified.  With the bid to save Lake Pedder dominating their lives, Olegas set about re-establishing his photographic collections.

In 1972, Olegas drowned in a canoeing accident on the Gordon River. The original Lake Pedder was flooded that year.

Melva raised her young family, worked in university administration, kept her 'green ideals': volunteering, mentoring, and becoming a passionate member of the Lake Pedder Restoration Committee,  believing:

There is an inevitability about nature. When the dams are decommissioned nature will prevail... this disastrous decision should be remembered.

Melva felt other social changes were sought - Grey Parliament presented older citizens' ideas to Parliament; Hobart's Living Rivers Festival presented world-wide opinions against inappropriate river damming in 2000; and standing against Ocean Port in Hobart.  

Melva's interests have been widespread. She was an inaugural Member of the Australian Plants Society Tasmania (now Life Member); a Member of the Friends of Cradle Valley; and Life Member of the Tasmanian Greens Party.

Melva's present mission is to prepare the archives of Olegas' work and ensure his collections are respected and preserved for generations to come.

Photo credit: Matt Newton (2010)

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