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Lewis John (Lew) Rogers (1903–1991)

Lew Rogers, n.d.

Lew Rogers, n.d.

Lewis John Rogers, Deputy Conservator of Forests, 1964 to 1969: A Biography

Lewis John Rogers – referred to as Lew by his friends and colleagues – was born in Roma, Queensland on 15 August 1903. His father, Richard, was a master carpenter, originally from Carmarthen in Wales. Richard had married Alice Bowen from Swansea, Glamorgan, also in Wales. Lewis was an only son and his two sisters, Hester and Edith had predeceased him.

Education and Early Years in Forestry
Lew’s education began at Petrie Terrace Girls and Infants school, which was common practice for boys at the time. During these early school years he stayed with his uncle and aunt who lived in Spring Hill, Brisbane, and who later owned a hotel in Roma.

Lew’s family then moved from Roma to Toowoomba where he was sent to the Grammar School. Young Lew was a pupil there for three years from 1917 to 1919. The school’s headmaster wrote that he had ‘considerable ability, untiring industry and a strong sense of purposefulness’. He was considered a straightforward young lad. Lew did well at Grammar School. After securing his Junior certificate he was appointed in 1920 to the Queensland Public Service as a clerk in the Drafting Section of the Queensland Forest Service, then an administrative unit under the Department of Public Lands. He served as a clerk in all sections of Head Office, and gained a thorough knowledge of the organisation and administration of the Department. But he quickly realised the need for further education and sat for the Senior Public Examination in November 1922, passing in Maths A, Geography, Physics, Surveying, Astronomy and Latin (Junior). He passed Senior in only twelve months, working at night under the guidance of Rosenstengels Coaching College, having been persuaded and encouraged by Mr. Edward Harold Fulcher Swain, one of the most dynamic of Forestry’s permanent heads. A Supplementary Matriculation Examination was then undertaken in March 1923 and he passed in English and Maths B.

Following matriculation Lew was attached to a Forestry survey camp carrying out detailed assessments and Working Plan surveys in the Mary Valley Working Plan Area. His classification and location at the time was Cadet, Forests Office, Gympie. During the year he became experienced in all classes of Forest Surveys including, in his own words, ‘traverse work with theodolite and compass, road location and strip surveys, mapping features and contours, estimation of timber stands and compilation of budget estimates, reports and detailed maps direct from survey notes’.

At the beginning of 1924, Lew – having been transferred to Brisbane from Gympie – enrolled in the first year course for Forest Cadet students at the University of Queensland, a course set up previously by Swain and University academics. During that year he passed Pure Mathematics I, Botany I and Geology I. The following year he passed Forest Botany, Forest Entomology, Elementary Surveying, Economics and Chemistry I. The University observed that he ‘was a student of good name and character’. At this stage he was classified as Forest Assistant, Brisbane. More education was to follow.

Travel and the Australian Forestry School
In 1926, now a young man of 22, he visited England, Scotland and Wales with his parents. Part of the trip was taken up with Professor Troup of Oxford University and also with officers in the London Head Office of the Forestry Commission. The other part of the trip was engaged in acquiring detailed information on ‘present and proposed forest operations in the United Kingdom. Field inspections were carried out of forest operations in South Wales, particular attention being paid to their protection system applied to plantation areas and to operations in general’, as he wrote at the time.

In 1927, Lew enrolled as a student at the Australian Forestry School in Canberra under the leadership of C. E. Lane Poole, the Inspector General of Forests and Acting Principal of the Australian Forestry School. There were only five students in his class and he was the only Queenslander. He studied the following subjects:

Economics, Mensuration, Management, Silviculture, Valuation, Forest Botany, Forest Entomology, Forest Protection, Forest Policy, Wood Technology, Forest Products, Logging and Milling, Seasoning, Preservation and Timber Physics.

He passed all subjects and accordingly was awarded a Diploma of the Australian Forestry School in 1928.

But he achieved more than that! In 1928 he became the first recipient of the Schlich Memorial Medal, awarded to the student who achieved the highest standard for his class. This was a great honour. The gold medal, encased in a handsome parquetry box, is now with his daughter, Jennifer Lanchester (nee Rogers).

After completing the exams in 1928 he travelled to Western Australia, Victoria and New South Wales to increase his understanding of forestry practices in those States. He became knowledgable in the silviculture of exotic pines and hardwoods and familiar with fire protection systems.

Forestry Career
After this period of travel, Lew Rogers returned to Queensland and in 1929 was placed in charge of a survey camp carrying out detailed forest assessments and Working Plan surveys in the large State Forests within the headwaters of the Brisbane River. The following year, in February he proceeded to Benarkin to carry out scrub firebreak surveys and more work on Brisbane Valley and Nanango Working Plans. Six months later he was classified as Deputy Forester, Grade II, Forestry Branch.

In November 1930 he transferred to Yarraman. Swain was still in the position of Director of the Queensland Forest Service and would remain at the helm until he was sacked by the Labor Party when it came to power in 1932. Victor Grenning who was Director for thirty-two years until 1964 succeeded Swain.

During his early time at Yarraman, Lew stayed as a boarder in the Royal Hotel. In those days there was no refrigeration and no reticulated water supply within the town. Water came from storage tanks and the town bore. Nor was there a doctor in town or an ambulance service. If you were ill you travelled to Nanango, some fourteen miles (22 kilometres) away.

From 1931 to 1937 Lew was Officer-in-charge of Silvicultural operations in the Brisbane Valley and Nanango Working Plan Areas. In 1935 he became Forester Division 1, Sub-Department of Forestry (attached to the Brisbane Valley). In 1937 Lew married Hazel Bertha Schank in a ceremony in Toogoolawah and stayed happily married for fifty-seven years. They and their children lived in a large house on the outskirts of Yarraman on a site that is now a public recreation area on State Forest called Rogers Park. The family’s address at the time was given as ‘Girrahween’, Yarraman.

The house was set within a young Hoop Pine plantation. In those times there still was no electricity and night lighting was by way of kerosene lamps. Eventually generated electricity took the place of lamps. Three tanks supplied water to the family, there being no town water supply yet. Initially there was no refrigeration and the Rogers’ family, like others, bought ice for their ice chests from the Yarraman Iceworks owned by a man called Charlie Budgen. A phone was installed in their house in 1942 during the early stages of World War II.

Leisure time was taken up largely with sport; tennis, golf and football, mostly at Nanango and at night there were the ‘talkies’, silent motion pictures accompanied by a commentator who outlined the story. At this stage Lew was also interested in photography.

Rogers’ daughter, Jenny Lanchester, recalls some unnerving childhood incidents at their home amongst the pine trees. Her father Lew arrived home from the field one afternoon and was confronted by three slaughtered snakes draped over the front gate. His wife Hazel had shot them with a twenty-two-calibre rifle. Snakes and goannas were rife in the young plantations. On another occasion Hazel was startled by a commotion in the fowl house and went to investigate. Slowly, with rifle in hand, she opened the door of the dark building and noticed the fowls and roosters unsettled in one corner alongside fresh eggs which had been broken and partially eaten. Then she glanced up and saw two yellow eyes just above her head. A goanna! She fired and saw the huge lizard blown to bits in the air. Life was very close to nature in those days.

The Rogers’ house was later moved to the Yarraman township and has been used by successive District Foresters for decades. The Park is part of a State Forest tourist drive in the Yarraman region. State Forests in the Yarraman district form one of the major hoop pine (Araucaria cunninghamii) plantation centres in Queensland.

On 15 November 1937 Lew was appointed District Forester, Brisbane Valley (which included the Nanango Working Plan Area) with a salary of £500 ($1000). He remained in this position until March 1946 when he was transferred to Brisbane as District Forester in charge of the Brisbane, South Coast, Kilcoy and North Coast areas. He was forty-two at the time.

The War Years – 1939 to 1945
Many forestry and forest-based industry men and women enlisted for duty in the various armed services in the early ‘forties. Nevertheless the war effort called for massive cuts of timber during this period and the forests of Queensland provided huge amounts of Hoop Pine and hardwoods that were cut by men who were now in a ‘protected’ industry.

Lew secured a first class pass in a medical examination for the ‘Militia’. He was 39 at the time. He then applied for enlistment in the Administration and Special Duties Branch (Civil Engineering) of the Royal Australian Air Force and presented a character reference from J. O’Neill of Kingaroy, in his support in which was written:

The bearer of this note, Mr. L.J. Rogers, I have known for some time. I have always found him honest, reliable, trustworthy and temperate in habits. I have seen him often and can with confidence recommend him for any position he may be seeking.

Unfortunately for Lew, he was told by the Sub Department of Forestry’s hierarchy in Brisbane on 27 August 1942 that it was not ‘prepared to recommend his release for enlistment’. The Sub Department’s reason was the fact that his occupation was of a ‘reserved’ nature.

However, he joined the Citizens Forces of the local Volunteer Defence Corps and became an air spotter, as did his wife, Hazel. Air spotters or plane spotters as they were also called, would watch the skies upon hearing approaching aircraft and would describe by phone the plane’s characteristics (number of engines, type of plane etc.) to Air Control people in Kingaroy, thirty miles (48 kilometres) away. Hazel’s call sign to Kingaroy was ‘London 12 calling…’ All planes were identified, whether suspected to be those of the enemy or not and the information was relayed to appropriate defence forces. Australian fighter planes would be ‘scrambled’ to destroy any identified enemy aircraft.

The Rogers’ house on the hill above Yarraman commanded a wonderful view and was ideal for plane spotting. Lew was granted a certificate from the Unit Commanding Officer of the No 3 Volunteer Air Observers Corps (Brisbane) on 18 June 1944 certifying that he had qualified in Aircraft Recognition as First Class Standard. He was also presented with a scroll from the Royal Australian Air Force in appreciation of ‘Patriotic Response to the Call of Country by serving in the Volunteer Air Observers Corps’. The scroll was dated 20 September 1945. He also received a Certificate of Discharge from the Australian Military Forces Volunteer Defence Corps dated 22 February 1946 for his work from 30 May 1942 to 21 October 1945.

On a more social note, the Rogers’ family billeted visiting English sailors at their Yarraman home during the war years. An interesting event involving Lew during the war years was the discovery of quantities of the plant Duboisia (Duboisia myoporoides), a pharmacological drug source. According to Alan McVey, orator at Lew Rogers’ funeral:

Following the fall of Europe in the last war and the loss of the Atropine Lily, another source of this drug had to be quickly located and Dr. Barnard of Canberra and our friend Lew explored the South Burnett and found large areas of Duboisia which proved on test to be a suitable source of atropine and hyoscine … The story goes that the channel crossing on D Day was made possible by the use of the drug hyoscine to minimise sea sickness. The drug was manufactured from Duboisia grown in the South Burnett.

Atropine is a poisonous crystalline alkaloid, racemic hyoscyamine (C17H23NO3) which is an extract from Belladonna, also known as Deadly Nightshade, and other plants of the botanical family, Solanaceae. The chemical is used as an anti-spasmodic medication and as a treatment to dilate the pupil of the eye.
Hyoscine (or Scopalomine) is also a crystalline alkaloid extracted from the rhizome of certain plants of the family Solanaceae. Its formula is C17H21NO4. The chemical is used as a depressant, a mydriatic (producing excessive dilation of the eye pupil) and in producing ‘so-called’ twilight sleep.

Duboisia (Duboisia myoporoides) was collected by the Department of Forestry in huge quantities in the 1960s and early 1970s. In 1965-66 for instance, some 10,993 pounds (4,986 kilograms or nearly five tonnes) of leaf were collected. In the 1973-74 Annual Report of the Department the following noting appears: ‘The export value of Duboisia leaf from Queensland is now approaching $1,000,000 per annum … the continuing high demand is … largely for pharmacological application.’

Lew’s Time at Yarraman
During his period at Yarraman, a small town in the centre of a very large Hoop Pine resource, Lew Rogers was responsible for the management of one of the largest and most important Forestry districts in south-east Queensland. In the 1930-31 period the annual log cut for the district was 7,795,000 super feet hoppus (23,410 cubic metres), a huge amount of timber. The area of plantation was approximately 470 acres (190 hectares). Nine years later in the 1939-40 period the annual log cut had increased to 45,482,000 super feet (136,596 cubic metres), almost a sixfold increase, because of timber requirements for the war effort. In that same financial year 1,242 acres (501 hectares) of hoop pine were planted. Clearly, Forestry in the Yarraman District was booming.

The war years curtailed activities on the planting front because of the enlistment of so many men in the war. Forestry operations were now largely confined to plantation maintenance except for the management of logging operations, which were still in full production.

In the post-war years there were scores of Forestry employees at Yarraman, including ‘Balts’; migrants from the Baltic countries in north-eastern Europe. In those heady days it took several pay-clerks to calculate and make out the wages for the men! In 1947 there were well over two hundred wages employees in the Yarraman District.

Head Office, Brisbane – 1947 to 1969
On 3 September 1947 Lew appealed against Bill Pohlmann (Claude William Frederick Pohlmann). Pohlmann had just been appointed to the position of Senior Forester, Sub-Department of Forestry on 28 August 1947. The grounds for Rogers’ appeal were superior efficiency. He lost the appeal.

Nevertheless on 22 October 1947 Lew Rogers was appointed Silviculturist, Head Office, Brisbane. In 1951 he was admitted as a member of the Institute of Foresters of Australia.

Six years later, he was granted Special Leave from March to November 1953 to undertake a Forestry assignment in Brazil and Uruguay on behalf of the Food and Agricultural Organisation of the United Nations.

On 15 July 1963 he became Acting Senior Forester and Silviculturist of the Department. In August of the same year he became a member of the Sawmill Licensing Committee and in the same month he was nominated as Departmental representative to consult with Mr V. Creighton of the Land Administration Commission on ‘matters associated with freeholding applications and proposed State Forest Reservations which require clarification. This work involved field inspections, discussions with lessees and calls for a detailed knowledge of land use in various parts of the State’.

Lew was appointed Deputy Chairman of the Rural Fires Board on 14 September 1963.

On 30 November 1963 he was appointed Senior Forester and in 1964 he applied for the position of Deputy Conservator. He was unsuccessful, the position going to Alan Robert Trist.

However, he was advised on 27 February 1964 that he had been appointed Deputy Conservator of the Department of Forestry, Head Office, Brisbane. The Conservator was now Alan Trist.

Lew was appointed to the Brisbane Beach Protection Advisory Board under The Beach Protection Act of 1968 on 21 November 1968 to hold office until 30 June 1970. He held office for several months and then resigned on retirement from the Public Service.

Lew was also a member of HOO-HOO INTERNATIONAL, the ‘Fraternal Order of Lumbermen and in 1970 either joined or renewed his membership of the Milwaukee, Wisconsin chapter of the Order.

On 5 June 1969, Lew was advised that ‘it has been directed that you be retired from the Public Service as from 31 December 1969’. He received a letter of appreciation from the Premier, Joh Bjelke Petersen as well as good wishes from Dr. Les Carron under the letterhead of Professor J.D. Ovington of The Australian National University in Canberra. There were several other best wishes conveyed to Lew including those from Garth Nikles of Queensland Forestry.

In March 1971 he was invited to put his name forward as a consultant to the Department of National Development, Forestry and Timber Bureau in Canberra. He accepted the offer stating that ‘he would be prepared to undertake assignments in Queensland, in Australia and Overseas’.

On 25 November 1972 the new Sir Harold Richter Forestry Office at Yarraman was opened. Lew Rogers, as the first District Forester to be appointed to Yarraman, spoke at length to the assembled guests on the history of Forestry activities in the District. He mentioned that ‘Yarraman Forestry District plantations last year produced more timber than was cut from natural stands throughout all Queensland’. He also recalled that the earliest plantations and office in the District had been established at Benarkin. Later, Yarraman became the hoop pine centre for the region.

Lew Rogers, with the backing of the Conservator of Forests, Alan Trist, was largely instrumental in driving the publication of the Hoop Pine Technique, the little grey booklet first printed in 1955. The ‘Technique’ was based on the results of many years of research followed by application in routine practice. It represented a summation of the knowledge gained up to the time of the second thinning of the species.

Lew was very keen on the development of written procedures and prescriptions for use in the field and when he visited the Districts he checked to ensure that the silvicultural practices were in accord with these written directives. He was also in the forefront at writing prescriptions for nursery operations. He was quite meticulous in this regard.

At some stage in the latter part of his career, Lew visited Seoul in South Korea as an Australian delegate with the APFC, presumably the Australian Pacific Forestry Commission. In a rather charming gesture to the organisers of the function and the government of South Korea the Australian delegation penned a song set to the old wartime tune of ‘Bless Them All’. The first stanza and chorus follows:
Oh! An aircraft was leaving Seoul
Bound for Australia’s shore
Heavily laden with APFC men
Bound for the land they adore
Bless you all! Bless you all!
The long and the short and the tall
Bless all Vice-Chairmen and delegates, too!
Bless all the rest of the whole lovely crew!
For we’re saying good-bye to you all
As back to old Aussie we haul
You’ve had your Commission, this side of the ocean
So cheer up my lads, Bless you all!

Publications of Lew Rogers
In addition to the compilation of numerous departmental circulars associated with silvicultural operations the following reports and bulletins of Lew’s were published:

  • A report on ‘Afforestation in Uruguay’ published by the Food and Agriculture Organisation. Rome. 1953.
  • A report to the Government of Brazil on ‘Silvicultural Problems of Araucaria angustifolia’. Published by the Food and Agriculture Organisation. Rome. 1953.
  • ‘Pine and Other Conifers’ – a paper to the 4th World Forestry Congress. Dehra Dun. 1954.
  • ‘Exotic Forest Trees in Queensland’. Compiled for the 7th British Commonwealth Forestry Conference. 1957.
  • ‘Reforestation of Parana Pine – Extracts from a formal report submitted to the Government of Brazil’. Published by Unasylva. 1954.

Under an agreement between the Government of Brazil and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, Rogers undertook an assignment on Araucaria angustifolia, Parana Pine, a pine of high altitudes largely confined to the southern areas of Brazil. His terms of reference were:

To study vegetation conditions of Araucaria angustifolia in the southern States of the country and to advise and assist the Instituto Nacional do Pinho in the development and operation of a Forest Research Program, giving special consideration to the silvicultural treatment and management of the softwood forests and the creation of new stands.

The period of assignment was not to exceed six months. The report was tabled in December 1953. Following that assignment he spent four weeks in Uruguay on another FAO commission, this one on afforestation.

In Lew’s report on Parana pine published by Unasylva, he stressed the need for reforestation of the species:

Since the area of Parana pine forest that has been devastated is so large, the need for reforestation is obvious … The Institute (Instituto Nacional do Pinho) began making plantations in 1944, but the area established is still small. Much more needs to be done, even though reforestation is also being carried out by private enterprise, which in addition is undertaking afforestation of large areas of campo limpo, the natural treeless grasslands which occur over extensive areas in the Parana pine region.

Forestry in Lew’s Lifetime
Hoop Pine Silviculture
When Lew Rogers began his forestry career in 1920 the Queensland Forest Service had just begun its commercial hoop pine plantation programme, one that Lew would be closely involved with during his time at Yarraman. There was a great deal of experimentation in regard to plantation establishment in those days before the teething troubles were overcome. The Brisbane Valley and the Mary Valley would become two of the most important native timber plantation fronts in Queensland.

The permanent head of Forestry in the 1920-1932 period was E. H. F. Swain, a progressive leader who energised the young Forest Service until his removal in 1932. From 1932 to 1964, Victor Grenning was Director of Forests during Lew’s mature and productive years. Lew was sixty-one years old when Grenning retired and was replaced by A. R. Trist.

Fire management
Lew was also involved in fire management, so much so that he was appointed Deputy Chairman of the Rural Fires Board later in his career. During his term in Forestry he was aware of, and involved in much fire detection, control and prescribed burning work.

In the early decades of the 20th century, burning on forested lands was virtually un-managed despite the provisions of the Careless Use of Fire Prevention Act of 1867. Several severe fires in Queensland in 1926 prompted a review of wildfire protection procedures. One outcome was the proclamation of the Rural Fires Act in 1928 and the establishment of a Rural Fires Board. The legislation was designed to make landholders more responsible in their use of fire.

Controls were introduced in the 1925 to 1940 period in regard to the deliberate burning of newly gazetted State Forests and Timber Reserves. Construction of firebreaks to control wildfires began in the 1930s. Acknowledgment that uncontrolled fires could prevent regeneration of forests led to an attempt in the period 1940 to 1958 to prohibit the deliberate lighting of fires on commercial forested land under the control of the Queensland Forest Service. Accidental and natural fires were to be controlled. However, accumulation of heavy fuels on the forest floor during this period led to numerous disastrous wild fires and the policy of ‘locking up the forest’ was abandoned in favour of prescribed burning the forests in winter months to reduce fuel levels on the forest floor and to lower the risk of summer wildfires. Lew would have been heavily involved in such fire management.

National Parks
Lew was interested in National Parks, which were then under the management of Forestry.

The first National Parks were declared in 1908 at Bunya Mountains and Witches Falls on Mount Tamborine. Many years later in the ‘thirties, the appreciation of the natural environment by many people over the years since settlement could be expressed in these rather wistful and poignant words written in Forestry’s 1935-36 Annual Report:
As the years pass and the natural vegetation is destroyed on settled lands, more and more people are finding in the forest areas a source of enjoyment and health. The forests are the home of many strange and beautiful plants – too tender to survive outside their limits – whilst birds and animals which otherwise would become extinct are given a chance to survive.

Accordingly, a policy of development and protection of National Parks was investigated in 1937.

The gazettal of National Parks continued unabated. By 1949 there were 229 National Parks covering 730,000 acres (303,525 hectares) and during the year they were visited by more than 120,000 people.

A fundamental policy and legislative change came into being in 1959. The Forestry Act was promulgated and came into operation on 1 August 1960. To foresters working in Forestry since 1960 this mandate has been the driving force behind modern forest management and research. Its importance to foresters cannot be overstated. Previously, legislation dealing with forests was the State Forests and National Parks Act of 1905 and various Land Acts. An accurate summary of the intent of Section 33 of the powerful Forestry Act of 1959 (as it was in 1984) is set out in the cardinal principles of forest management:

  • permanent reservation of forests
  • producing timber and associated products in perpetuity
  • protecting a watershed therein

All this having due regard to:

  • benefits of permitting grazing;
  • desirability of conservation of soil and environment and of protection of water quality; and
  • the possibility of applying the area to recreational purposes.

It was referred to later as multiple use.

In 1963/64 the area of National Parks under the control of the Forestry Department totalled more than a million acres (404,700 hectares). But the growing urbanisation of major centres was putting pressure on the National Park system. In order to relieve some of that pressure and to promote the values of multiple use the Department in 1971/72 specifically and for the first time provided funds for forest recreation on State Forests. The recreation areas would complement those on National Parks but would also provide for some activities, which were not permissible on National Parks.

In the early ‘seventies criticism from conservationists about the clearing of forests for plantation establishment began to increase. These criticisms were to escalate into open confrontation over the next twenty years.

Lew Rogers had a long association with National Parks in Queensland and in recognition of the valuable contribution he had made to their development the Department of Forestry’s Conservator (National Parks were under the control of the Department of Forestry under The Forestry Act 1959 - 1968) invited him to accept appointment as an Honorary Ranger.

He was duly appointed as an Honorary Ranger under the Act by V.B. Sullivan, Minister for Lands on 13 January 1971. He was given a certificate and a badge.

In retirement Lew joined the Graceville Bowls Club and in a short time proved his value as a member by taking on the office of Treasurer and Greens Director. As usual he did a marvellous job in these positions and in August 1982 he was elected a life member of the club.

Lewis John Rogers – Some Personal Comments
Lew was generally considered to have been an excellent silviculturist who would help younger foresters when they had problems. Many professional men at a high level wouldn’t bother giving advice to youngsters at this level but Lew wasn’t one of them. He had a pleasant personality although with some young forestry cadets he could be a bit caustic when commenting on the reports handed in to him. In these cases he could be a bit intimidating.

He used to spend a great deal of time in the field and a lot of officers had a high opinion of him because of this.

In those days clerical staff tended to have a subservient approach to their work according to at least one senior administration officer. In a sense they considered themselves slaves of the Department. Lew Rogers said on the day that he retired: ‘If the technical and professional staff do not give credit and support to their clerical staff they would rue the day.’ This support for the clerks was evidenced in the following story: ‘Lew Rogers, when this clerk got behind in his work, would come out and would not only do the bank reconciliation but he’d do a log invoice for us. When I broke an ankle and was off for six weeks, Lew did the haulage pays. When I came back to work he jokingly said, “I suppose I’ll have to teach you how to do your job again”.’ Not many foresters would have been interested in helping the clerical staff in those days, not only because they weren’t competent in the work but also because they didn’t consider paper work was an important role in managing the District.

Lew Rogers made decisions quickly and didn’t keep files on his table wondering what to do with them. He delegated. Because of this and many other factors a number of senior officers at the time thought it a pity that Lew wasn’t appointed Conservator.

Lew was sometimes difficult to know. This comment comes from a senior man in Forestry: ‘I always got on very well with Lew. I had the wrong impression of him when I used to talk to him in Yarraman because I always sort of felt that he didn’t want to talk to the clerks but when he came down to Brisbane I found him really good. He had a gruff sort of off-putting manner initially but if you were straight with him he was straight with you. He was a very modest man.’ This impression of Lew’s attitude to clerks is somewhat at odds with above comments.

In Alan McVey’s oration at Lew’s funeral, he said that he was greatly impressed by Lew’s assiduous attention to detail and, more importantly, by the shining integrity of the man. He said: ‘Lewis John Rogers was a quiet man, but one who had great strength of character. He was a family man who supported, and was supported by, his family who gave him great joy.’

Lewis (Lew) John Rogers died on 28 June, 1991. He gave much to Forestry and to the people who worked with him.

My grateful thanks to Jenny Lanchester (nee Rogers), Russell and Lee Rogers, whose father is the subject of this small biography. Their personal papers, letters, photographs and certificates are the backbone of this paper. Thanks also to Peter Kanowski with his formidable social database and contacts for setting this work in motion.

Holzworth, P.V., (1997): Looking After the Estate – ‘A History of Major Forestry Themes in Queensland since European Settlement’. From Understanding Forests (Papers of the Understanding Forests Seminar, 1996). DPI Training Centre Gympie. Queensland Department of Environment.

Lanchester, J. and Rogers, L., (2003): Personal papers, letters, photographs and certificates of Lewis John Rogers.

Citation details

'Rogers, Lewis John (Lew) (1903–1991)', People Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 15 April 2024.

© Copyright People Australia, 2012

Lew Rogers, n.d.

Lew Rogers, n.d.

Life Summary [details]


15 August, 1903
Roma, Queensland, Australia


28 June, 1991 (aged 87)
Queensland, Australia

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