Mark Ricketts

Mark, My Words

There’s heaps been written about Mark’s amazing lifetime of achievements, especially relating to this planet of ours. And so there should be. The world is a sadder and poorer place for his passing.

Yet it’s the big grin, sharp wit and loving nature that I’ll miss the most. If you were ever snuck up on in a crowd, and bear-hugged and nibbled from behind, it was usually Mark. He was always so pleased to see you, and vice versa. I feel very honoured to have known him.

When the CRC had regular meetings, way back, fighting the gold mine, Mark used to bring along slides of beautiful fungus and stuff, and we’d usually eat drink and be merry before we started the meeting. I think we all used to be so happy at getting together that we just burst into Curry and Vino Mode as soon as we all arrived. Ok, it was perhaps less than efficient, but once Cheryl invented the “Meet Then Eat” rule, I suspect we were a bit more productive, and still had a great time, although we were hardly the “bunch of extremists” referred to in one newspaper of the time. I’m not blaming Mark for all this frivolity but he certainly never put a damper on it!

Looking back, it seems every moment spent in his company was precious. We never seem to make the most of the amazing gift of friendship while it’s there. This tragedy has really reminded me to make an effort to more fully appreciate my friends and enjoy every moment possible in their wonderful company.

I’m looking forward to the CRC Memorial Mark Curry Night, which I think should be an annual event (if not monthly.) And I’ve just installed a (plastic) Rubber Duckie in my dam in Mark’s honour, and found it quite therapeutic. Every home should have one. That’s the kind of guy he was.

- Elli

Mark Ricketts

From the other side of the forest…

I feel I knew Mark, unfortunately, quite briefly.

I was involved in the Conondales issue from 1979. As Forest Ranger - Kenilworth, my area of responsibility included most of the Booloumba Creek catchment. Harvesting of new areas was due to commence, and two timber sale proposals were current. Logging operations commenced, and were soon subject to conservationists’ scrutiny. There was little field interaction between parties, but more of a media-based campaign. I do recall that much of the initial criticism of logging practices was based on somewhat warm and fuzzy grounds (saving rainforest, or cute and cuddly critters, or cold but rare frogs), or likening the sight of a logging coupe to the aftermath of a nuclear blast.

The arrival of the likes of Ian Mackay and Mark Ricketts, with their broad and reasoned logic, seemed to me to alter the campaign from an emotion-driven to a more scientific-based one.

I won’t swear to this, but I have a vague recollection of a field inspection when, after battling through dense vine-infested and prickly undergrowth, we happened upon an open logging track. I’m fairly sure I heard Mark mutter “Thank God for logging…”!

As Mark acknowledged, the re-commencement of mining activities in the Booloumba catchment was a major turning point in relationships. It is significant that it was not just the impact at the Agricola site, but the potential for massive expansion of activities that was the concern. Through this issue, under Mark’s influence the parties became perhaps not closely united, but at least similarly aligned.

In 1998/9 I was seconded to DNR’s Central Office for work on operational aspects of the developing Regional Forest Agreement. As a “boy from the bush” I recall what a pleasure it was on a few occasions to chance upon Mark’s friendly face and voice in the impersonal push that is Brisbane’s Central Station at rush hour.

Mark has left a legacy, and I hope it includes a will for current Conondales management to continue with research similar to Forestry-initiated programs, such as:

  • Chris Corben’s Eastern Bristlebird;
  • Adrian Boursboom’s all critters great and small, but particularly the Platypus Frog;
  • Geoff Smith’s Marbled Frogmouth work.

I offer Elaine sincerest condolences, both from myself and on behalf of other ex-Forestry staff who experienced Mark’s inimitable personal style and abilities.

To paraphrase an established CRC catch cry, and regardless of one’s religious or other spiritual beliefs, I hope that somewhere, somehow, Mark is Still…watching over the Conondales.

- E L Glassop, Kenilworth, 6/5/2011

Remembering Mark

“One of the Good Guys”

Cheryl Seabrook with Mark Rickets I admired his unique ability to make everyone feel special.

Thank you Mark

- Cheryl Seabrook

Presidential Ponderings

On learning of Mark’s death, I went to our book “Walking on the wilder side… in the Conondales” (title suggested by Mark) and was surprised that he hadn’t been one of the contributing writers (although Elaine had not only energetically kick-started the project but had written major sections as well).

Reading further in it, of the history of the battles to save the Conondales, I realised, most uncomfortably, that Mark’s contribution had not been given anything like the recognition it deserves. This is why my tribute in this newsletter weaves its way through the history of Mark’s section of that battle.

To be involved in a group for twenty-seven of its thirty-five years of activity is meritorious in itself, but then you start piling on the achievements, not to mention the humour-filled glue that Mark applied liberally and generously to keep a small group cohesive and functional.

Some years ago, inspired by a comment by the late Jill Jordan at a green dinner in Nambour, and in an effort to try to put a radar tracking device, as it were, to record the development of an environmental campaigner, Mark suggested, and I hosted, a session called “From Nimby to Caped Crusader” in the Greenhouse at Woodford.

We explored the immersion of Mark himself, of Queensland Greens founder Drew Hutton and QCC coordinator Imogen Zethoven as they moved from a small local (dare I say NIMBY) issue, to become active and effective in a wider setting.

I loved the stories that emerged, and we had a similar session this last Woodford called “Green Epiphanies” digging back into the stories of developing environmental awareness and activism with a diverse panel.

Mark and I shared that love of stories, they’ve featured in our celebrations in the Conondales and they featured on the day Mark spoke when I was made a life-member of SCEC a few years back.

We struggle for a way to adequately acknowledge the involvement and inspiration of Mark Ricketts. There are thoughts that there should be something tangible to mark this in the Conondales and we contemplate a special seat at the Summer Creek Falls campground on the Great Walk, a campground that CRC has adopted for working bees and maintenance.

It would be a fitting place, a beautiful little glade in the forest overlooking the magnificent falls, in country that Mark loved and that he so tirelessly strove to see protected.

Our thoughts are with Elaine, and with Mark’s wider family. We thank them for so generously sharing Mark with us, and for supporting and enabling him to be as effective as he was.

- Ian

Walking on the Wilder Side
.. in the Conondales.

A new book of history, information, walks and activities for the Conondale Range region

Buy a copy