“The real driving force behind the Lake Pedder Action Committee was Brenda Hean…she always raised Lake Pedder, and they said ‘It’s nothing to do with us.’ But she said ‘Yes it is, because it’s your conscience.”
Dick Jones 1981
A member of the Hobart Walking Club Member, pianist and leader of the Hobart Arts Club, Brenda Hean found her calling, her temple at Lake Pedder in Tasmania’s South-West Wilderness.
“She sat upon a block of quartzite which had been etched by the weather and was ornamented by a patchwork of moss and lichen. Her chin was thrust defiantly forward. As she gazed across the lake she seemed to become one with it, and both of them seemed to become part of something greater.” Dick Jones recalls in Roger Greens Book, The Battle for the Franklin.
As one of the earliest campaigners attempting to save the lake, Brenda was a pivotal player in the founding of the United Tasmania Group (UTG), the worlds first green political party. The campaigners planned having a parliamentary presence to see the Pedder debate was properly investigated. Brenda stood as one of the UTG’s first candidates.
But despite their promising polling figures the UTG failed to secure a seat. And so the dam flood waters kept creeping higher over Lake Pedder.
Dick Friend retells Brenda’s dedication to Pedder, when they and fellow bush walkers Mary May and Leigh Holloway committed to a final vigil, as the impoundment waters had risen nearly covering Pedders iconic dunes. So in protest they slept up a tree, in a boat, on the lake. (Read the whole tale here).
On the 8th September 1972, in the largest leap of the campaign, Brenda was to be flown by pilot Max Price in his old Tiger Moth aircraft from Hobart to Canberra where they intended to sky-write “Save Lake Pedder” over the nation’s capital, and where Brenda would lobby federal politicians over the issue.
They never made it.
The case remains an unsolved mystery littered with suspicious circumstances including evidence the hanger where the tiger moth was kept had been broken into the night before the fateful flight, and a suspicious phone call Brenda received; “Mrs Hean, how would you like to go for a swim?”
In 2008 Australia Film maker, Scott Millwood launched his own investigation into the disappearance, offering $100k of his own money to anyone who could provide information. The subsequent book and movie ‘Whatever Happened to Brenda Hean?’ opened more questions than answers, thickening the mystery. (View the ‘Whatever Happened to Brenda Hean’ Trailer (strong language warning).
Womens Weekly also featured the mystery in March 2020 (Read the article here )
Fast forward to September 2020, the next generation of campaigners seeking to Restore Lake Pedder joined friends of Brenda and the original Save Lake Pedder cohort to pay tribute to the untiring and inspiring legacy Brenda left us with.
Find out how you can join the cause to Restore Pedder, visit http://www.lakepedder.org/getinvolved