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Burke, Sidney Marshall (Sid) (1900–1970)

On Friday 17 November, the Forestry Commission of N.S.W. dedicated a small roadside area at the northern end of Pine Creek S.F., a few miles south of Coffs Harbour, as the Sid Burke Forest Park, designed as a wayside stopping place for travellers on the North Coast Highway.

Sid joined the Commission shortly after overseas service in World War I and gave it the unselfish, devoted service, that men of his kind and generation did with little thought of material reward, until his retirement in 1964. For twenty five of those years he was foreman of Pine Ck. forest and a personality to about 500 AFS-ANU students (including four present State forest service heads) to whom he passed on something of his intimate knowledge of the forest, technical skills, bush craft and social philosophy. He died in 1968.

The Park, about a hectare in size, has been very effectively designed as a recreational lay-by with water, picnic and toilet facilities under the cover of some lovely trees typical of the forest; and attracts something like 50,000 visitors a year.

The dedication ceremony was chaired by D/F Lew Nicholl, with appropriate speeches by local and State government representatives, Max Jacobs (representing the old AFS) and Commissioner Jack Henry who unveiled a plaque set in a magnificent piece of granite boulder. It was a real old get-together of locals and visitors: members of Sid’s family including his son Jack who is the present foreman of the forest; Doc and Mrs Hewitt of Belligen who were Rotary and personal hosts to countless AFS staff and students over many years; Bert and Mrs Clarke; ex-NSW Commissioners Bill Muir and Fred Bailey; Kel McGrath (who won first prize for ‘place-dropping’ by having spent the previous day over the South Pole); and the writer, representing the ANU Department of Forestry which continues the interest in the forest which the AFS began 32 years ago. An afternoon tea of typical country style and proportions gave many of us a wonderful opportunity to seal old friendships and start new ones.

It’s a delightful spot and the dedication was a fine idea excellently implemented. Sid was one of many to whom forestry throughout Australia, and society in general through it, owes a great debt. The Sid Burke Forest Park is a small tribute to all of them in his name.

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Citation details

'Burke, Sidney Marshall (Sid) (1900–1970)', People Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, https://peopleaustralia.anu.edu.au/biography/burke-sidney-marshall-sid-18233/text29825, accessed 28 July 2021.

© Copyright People Australia, 2012