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Godfrey Hubert (Mick) Maclean (1901–1984)

by F. M. Bailey

On 11th January 1966, and on the eve of his sixty-fifth birthday, G. H. [Godfrey Hubert] (Mick) Maclean retired from the Forestry Commission of New South Wales, after a long and meritorious career of nearly 47 years.

Mick was appointed to the Commission in 1919, at the youthful age of 18½ years, as a “forest cadet” with an assessment party on the South Coast of New South Wales. Here he served under Forest Assessor G. J. Rodger, much later to be so well known as Director-General of Forests of the Commonwealth.

When the Commission established the Narara Forestry School in 1920, Mick was selected with six others to be one of the first and only students to receive training there at the hands of T. N. Stoate. The school closed in 1921 and he was sent with his student colleague L. S. Hudson, to Coopernook State Forest, to gain practical experience — in effect, log falling and silvicultural work at the end of an axe.

After a few months in the Wyong district for “training in routine methods”, the young twentyone year old Maclean was sent to the Cypress Pine districts with the lengthy designation of “Temporary Relieving Forest Guard” and at the princely salary of £222 per annum.

Mick remained  in the West until early 1926, when he applied, and was nominated with two other of his former Narara colleagues — L. S. Hudson and E. L. Westbrook — to attend the Australian Forestry School, then in its first year at the University of Adelaide. These three were the first nominees of the Forestry Commission of New South Wales to attend a School of professional forestry training.

After completion of training at the Australian Forestry School at Canberra in 1927, and following  his return to the Commission early in 1928, Mick was posted to Moruya, then district headquarters for the South Coast, with assignment to “special Working Plan duty and to assist in the control of plantations” within the district.

He spent ten years on the South Coast and this period must be regarded as one of initial development of the forest estate of the South Coast. It was due largely to the foresight and energy of Maclean, in these early days of development, that many stands of valuable regrowth occur on many forest areas in this region.

In 1938, headquarters for the South Coast district were moved to Sydney and a year later Mick was appointed District Forester for combined Metropolitan and South Coast district. In 1942 he became District Forester for the Taree-Newcastle district.

With the advent of the war years and the need to maintain essential supplies of timber for war purposes, Mick's duties became more onerous but he, nevertheless, was able to devote some of his “spare” time to service with the Volunteer Defence Corps.

For a short time in 1948, he carried out the duties of Inspector for the Central and Southern Inspectorate, before being appointed Deputy Forest Management Officer and in 1950 to the position of Deputy Chief, Division of Forest Management. In 1953 he became Chief of that Division and administered its functions for the next 12 years.

As Management Chief, his principal duty was to supervise closely the expenditure of the forest works programme and to be responsible to the Commission for maintaining budget equilibrium. This he did effectively throughout his term of office. No doubt his success in keeping the finances of the Commission in the right channels was in no small degree due to his inheritance of the canniness of his Scots forbears

In June, 1965, the State Government appointed Mick Maclean as Assistant Commissioner and he was in this position until his retirement in January. This appointment was a fitting climax to a public service well and faithfully done and met with unqualified approval of all his forestry friends within and outside the Forestry Commission of New South Wales. The one regret was that his stay in this high office was of too short duration.

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Citation details

F. M. Bailey, 'Maclean, Godfrey Hubert (Mick) (1901–1984)', People Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 20 June 2024.

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