Vale John Landy – a lover of nature

News > Our Patron and Board

John Landy AC was Governor of Victoria and an Olympic legend – but the reason we remember him is for his love of nature.

In fact, as a teenager, our CEO Lizzie Corke OAM was just as impressed by John’s nature writings as she was by his sporting achievements. Below she reflects on how John Landy inspired her love of the Otways, and her thrill at having his support and advice as the Conservation Ecology Centre, Great Ocean Ecolodge, and finally Wildlife Wonders came to fruition.

“In 1993, John published ‘A Coastal Diary’, reflections from a year that he spent studying the wild and beautiful Otways. At that time I was a teenager who loved nothing more than to lose myself in nature, and this beautiful book spoke to my soul. It was a birthday gift from my parents – I wonder if they had any idea of the life journey it would send me on! It was through John’s writing that I first fell in love with the forests and woodlands of the Otways.

“Almost ten years after I first read A Coastal Diary, Governor and Mrs Landy were conducting an official tour of Colac Otway Shire ad they requested that the Conservation Ecology Centre be included in their itinerary. At that time the Conservation Ecology Centre was no more than a building site in the middle of a bare paddock and two wildly enthusiastic young conservationists – myself and husband Shayne Neal.

“Most of the building still had gaping holes awaiting windows and doors but, thanks to a busy week of laying floor boards, we did have some places to stand.  The vehicle cavalcade struggled on the muddy driveway, and, as the rain fell, I remember feeling that this was all an awful idea – what on earth were we thinking? Then John and Lynne hopped out of the car, shook hands with me and Shayne and we knew it would all be ok.

“They clambered up the pallets we had laid out as steps, joined us for a cup of tea from the camp stove, and we chatted about the plants and animals of the Otways. A softly spoken man, John’s face shone when speaking about potoroos, yellow tailed black cockatoos and the rainforests.

“Over the years we have stayed in touch and have been incredibly grateful for the Landys’ support and advice. Our thoughts are with the Landy family on the news of John’s death.

“Our life paths are shaped by everyone we meet, but sometimes someone comes into your world who makes a fundamental difference to your path. I am sure John Landy played that role for many and we are proud to have known him. I hope he knows how important he has been.”