At our annual general meeting on Friday night our club president John Gregurke, awarded a life membership to Bill Murphy. The club in its 65th year has only awarded 10 life memberships and the last one was many years ago to Mary White.
Bill has been a member for 50 years and this in itself a marvelous achievement. He and his wife Pat, joined the club not long after attending their first meeting in 1968. They were invited to attend a meeting by Stella Bedggood, who thought they might be interested in coming along to hear the guest speaker, who turned out to be none other than Jim Willis.
From that time on they were hooked and actively participated in many of the club functions including field trips, campouts and working bees. Bill was president of the club in 1972, 73 and 75 and when he retired from work in the late 1980’s he was able to join Pat on many forays into the bush.
Pat and Stella had been undertaking excursions to collect plant records for a while and Bill made a plant press that could take up to 50 specimens. Down the track one of the outcomes of this was the presentation of Pat’s collection of dried and labelled plants to the Melbourne Herbarium, it that contained 1138 specimens.
In 1978 Pat joined with Cliff Beauglehole collecting plants for the Land Conservation Council assessments of the Ballarat area. Bill made sure that when the explorer’s returned to base that they were fed and then helped with the sorting, cataloging and pressing of the specimen they had found.
While Pat was keen botanist, Bill developed an eye for photography and together they made a great team. Bill is no slouch when is come to identifying plants himself. In the early 2000’s they idea developed to produce a book about the wattles of Ballarat. Pat researched and documented where the wattles are found and Bill took a lot of the photos. When Pat died in 2006, the club finished the book, which is still a handy resource.
One of the many great contributions that Bill has made to the club is his willingness to pass on information. He has shared many of the special places that he and Pat used to visit on a regular basis, especially around Enfield Forest. Bill has insured that several club members know where the large sickle greenhood is found, where the fairy aprons were at Mt Beckworth, where to find the large tongue orchid and many more interesting plants.
He also has a special knack of making beautiful egg sandwiches, which he often brings to share at supper after the club meetings. While Bill no longer drives, he still enjoys going out into the bush, checking out at his regular spots whenever he gets the opportunity. Most Tuesdays he will be out looking to see what plants are flowering. He still has much to contribute and knowledge to share.
After receiving his award, Bill thanked the club for the “high honour”, shared a few memories of some of the outstanding members of the past including; Mary White, Alan Sonsee, Pat Murphy, Helen Burgess and Greg Binns and acknowledged the contribution of the existing members.