Tathra forest campaigner Betty Thatcher to be remembered at bushwalk

TRIBUTE: A bushwalk is being planned in memory of passionate supporter of local conservation efforts and the natural environment around Tathra Betty Thatcher, who died in August 2017, aged 92.

TRIBUTE: A bushwalk is being planned in memory of passionate supporter of local conservation efforts and the natural environment around Tathra Betty Thatcher, who died in August 2017, aged 92.

Volunteers from the Tathra Forest Wildlife Reserve are organising a bushwalk along the Blueberry Ash track on Sunday, November 19, in memory of one of its most passionate supporters.

Born in South Australia in 1925, Betty Thatcher discovered the beautiful hamlet of Tathra when she came to work as a teacher at Bega Primary School in 1969. She married local builder Sid Thatcher, and spent the next 46 years in awe of the natural beauty of Tathra, the Bega Valley and the forests and marine parks of the NSW South Coast.

Not content to sit back in retirement, Betty became very active in the fight to preserve the native environment she loved exploring. A prolific letter writer who knew her subject in detail, Betty’s pen and typewriter were her constant weapons in the fight to protect the environment for future generations.

Though a very law-abiding citizen, Betty was jailed for several nights in the 1970s due to her refusal to pay fines for her environmental activism. Not one to court publicity, she inadvertently drew attention to the cause and with some other equally passionate women were dubbed “The Green Grannies” by the media.

As Bob Brown wrote in the preface of the book in which Betty features, And They’re Still Falling, these were  “…women who changed their lives to confront the needless destruction of the great south-east forests of NSW...There is a special spark of compassion and commitment that fires the few into action.”

Members of the Tathra Forest Wildlife Reserve Bruce Hamilton, Betty Thatcher, Shannon Brennan and Michael Marshman. File photo (2015)

Members of the Tathra Forest Wildlife Reserve Bruce Hamilton, Betty Thatcher, Shannon Brennan and Michael Marshman. File photo (2015)

In the early ‘80s Betty and other local Tathra residents joined forces to re-establish the Tathra Forest Wildlife Reserve on the ancestral lands of the Dhurga-speaking Djiringanj people as a protected reserve under the National Parks and Wildlife Act.

Although Betty did not get her wish to die in bush boots or snorkel, she was still at home until the last,  engrossed in her other favourite interests – reading and politics – with the people she loved the most gathered around her. She was 92 years old.

The bushwalk in Betty’s honour will be held from 10am on  Sunday, November 19.

The walk will start at the entry to the Blueberry Ash track, accessed from Thompsons Rd car park. The circuit track takes under an hour to complete. Bring a thermos and join other walkers for morning tea afterwards, to share experiences and sightings.

Betty’s niece and director at Kids’ Own Publishing Anna Dollard is also joining forces with locally raised writer for young children Ailsa Wild, and local artist Pip Marshman to deliver an art and book making workshop, inspired by the beauty of the bush, with Year 3 and 4 children at Tathra Primary School on November 20.