Barbara Ditcham, who passed away earlier this year in Hobart in her 94th year, was a long-time supporter of the Lake Pedder restoration cause. She wished, like so many others, for Lake Pedder to be restored to its unique, original state.
Barbara and her family’s involvement in the Lake Pedder story began through the passionate work of her activist sister Brenda Hean. Brenda was a founding member of the United Tasmania Group (UTG), the precursor of the Australian Greens political party. The UTG was initially formed as a voice to represent Conservationists.
Brenda died in September 1972 during the campaign to save Lake Pedder from inundation, when the Tiger Moth aircraft in which she and pilot Max Price were flying, disappeared on its mission to Canberra.
The purpose of the flight was to protest the flooding of Lake Pedder. Max and Brenda planned to sky write “SAVE LAKE PEDDER” above Parliament House, then meet with Federal Politicians to voice worldwide profound concerns for the loss of Pedder and the South West Wilderness.
Barbara and Brenda were both known for their outstanding musical abilities – Brenda as an acclaimed organist and concert pianist, and Barbara as a Philharmonic Choir member renowned for her beautiful singing voice.
Barbara and husband Stan’s families were sea-farers. Stan was well known for his engineering, and boat building for both work and pleasure. Weekends and summers were spent sailing on Tasmania’s beautiful estuaries and exploring the varied coastline, nurturing a sense of adventure, intrigue and respect for nature.
Throughout Barbara’s married life there were the various challenges that confront us all one way or another! But 1972 saw her world shattered when Stan drowned tragically whilst away boating down the D’Entrecasteaux Channel, Bruny Island.
Brenda was lost in September that year.
Then 2 years later, Barbara’s eldest son, David, an engineer, died in The Mount Saint Canice Laundry boiler explosion in Hobart.
But Barbara’s amazing inner strength, gentle courage, resilience and sense of humour led her to continuing her busy, involved life! Family was her absolute love, as was she to us and an absolute inspiration!
She involved herself wholeheartedly in The National Trust, Red Cross, Hobart Walking Club, Heritage Tours, Orpheus and Warblers Choirs and hosted many a Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania lunch for her various groups! Her involvement with the Lake Pedder 2000 Restoration Group was greatly valued for her support and considered opinions and she was a valuable link to her family, continuing the passion of Brenda!
When in Grade 5, granddaughter Indi and her mother (Barbara’s daughter Celia) created a model of Lake Pedder for a school project. The model has a perspex water level depicting the flooded depth over the original lake. It was titled ‘Pull the Plug’, being fitted with a little Huon Pine plug, which was eventually pulled by Barbara at a reunion at the Waterworks Reserve in March 2015. “Sooner the better!” echoed from the gathering! The occasion was a commemoration of the declaration of the Lake Pedder National Park 60 years earlier in 1955.
Barbara’s friends and admirers in the Lake Pedder restoration cause will long remember this wise, gracious, resilient and supportive lady.
Celia Watchorn and Melva Truchanas