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Vale Miss Olive Buckman


NPAACT life member Miss Olive Buckman died on 11 May. Her funeral was on Wednesday 17 May at Norwood Park Crematorium, Mitchell at 1.30 pm with refreshments and a chance to catch up by her old friends afterwards.
Olive had no family in Canberra. NPA was very much her family. She was very active in our activities (see obit) and I am keen that she gets proper NPA and public recognition. She was a formidable walker and traveller, community and youth worker and in many ways represented the values for which NPA was founded. Always very keen to introduce young people to the bush etc. I will arrange for her ashes to be spread in Namadgi in the spring.

Timothy Walsh

MISS OLIVE BUCKMAN - Born 18 November 1919 - Died 11 May 2006
Miss Olive Buckman died peacefully at Amity Nursing Home, Aranda on 11 May 2006.

Miss Olive Buckman arrived in Canberra from England in October 1963 to take up the position of Director of the YWCA.  This followed a career in welfare and community work in post war England, Europe and the Middle East. Her contribution to re-establishing the Scout movement in Germany after the war and her work amongst British national servicemen in Germany and Egypt was significant.

On arrival in Canberra Olive set about reviving the "Youth" element of the YWCA.  Here her vast experiences working with teenagers were soon put to good use.  Membership numbers at the YWCA increased rapidly. She did much to encourage Canberra youth to take up bushwalking, camping and orienteering and to appreciate and care for the environment.

Her work did not prevent Olive pursuing her love of travel and wild places. For example in 1970 she trekked in Nepal, in 1973 she rafted the Grand Canyon, in 1978 she trekked in New Zealand, in 1980 the Andes and Patagonia and in 1991 and 1993 she visited the sub Antarctic Islands and Antarctica itself.

In 1970 Olive joined the National Parks Association of the ACT, although she had walked with the Association as a guest since 1963. She was soon asked by Secretary Sheila Kruse to respond to requests to the Association for public speakers and to supervise guides' and scouts' first aid and conservation awards.  As well, Olive organised and led hundreds of day walks (she instigated mid-week walks) and longer camping tours to the Flinders Ranges in 1976 and the Warrambungles and Carnarvon Gorge in 1977. In later years Olive was also a keen member of the Family Bushwalkers Inc.

At the age of fifty Olive took up backpacking and lists Wadbilliga, Ettrema, Boolijar, Woila and the Warrambungles as a few of her favourite places. At last count she had been on over fifty backpacks!

Olive contributed significantly to NPA activities by writing numerous articles for the Bulletin (including many pioneering ones on first aid in the bush), leading holiday walks for ACT Parks and Conservation, attending working parties and Clean-up Australia days, staffing displays and conferences, giving talks on her travels to general meetings and frequently administering first aid on walks. Olive was made a life member of the NPA for her enormous contribution to its activities.

In 1987 she published the first part of her autobiography Life is a Mountain. Sadly the second volume remains in manuscript form only.

After she left the YWCA Olive trained as a nurse at Canberra hospital and served in a variety of roles including matron at the Canberra Grammar schools and Frensham School for girls, Mittagong. Following "retirement" Olive continued her community work by acting as a guide at Blundells' Cottage, doing voluntary work with the Red Cross Blood Bank and giving numerous talks on her travels to old people's homes throughout the ACT and the south coast.

Olive's life and work demonstrates the power of positive thinking and the benefits of lifelong physical activity. Her health was never robust and yet she was still able to keep pace with those half her age, even after a hip replacement! Her capacity to keep talking while toiling up a steep hill was legendary.

Some years ago Olive moved from her beloved flat in the Currong complex (the scene of so many happy Christmas parties given for her wide circle of friends) to settle ultimately at Amity Nursing Home in Aranda. Although increasing frailty and reduced memory marked these last few years she continued to greet visitors warmly and to keep the Amity staff on their toes!

Miss Olive Buckman lived a remarkable life – based on helping others in as many ways as possible and enjoying the natural environment to the full.

Timothy Walsh



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