Milo Dunphy

Issue 

SYDNEY — The funeral of Milo Dunphy was held here on April 26. Milo Dunphy was one of Australia's best known conservationists — a fiery and eloquent advocate for many causes, especially for forests and wilderness.

I first met Milo in the mid-1980s when visiting Sydney to link up with other environmentalists campaigning to save the south-east forests. To this day, those forests are still being massacred by grossly excessive sawlog extraction and the voracious woodchip industry.

A newcomer to environmental action, I often felt unsure how to contribute — even a little intimidated by experienced campaigners. Milo was a gateway to greater involvement. He made me feel welcome, shared his exuberant passion for forests, encouraged, listened and advised. Many people have similar memories, and were enthused by Milo in the same way.

The son of Miles Dunphy, a founding father of the Australian environment movement who took his children to the bush from early childhood, Milo's early career was architecture. He always retained a strong interest in the built environment, defending urban open public space from development and fighting planning atrocities and white elephants. In the early 1970s, he became the first director of the Total Environment Centre and a pioneer professional environmentalist.

The honours bestowed on Milo in his last months were well-earned official recognition of his achievements and his important role in the development of the Australian environment movement. But he was above all an activist, sceptical of politicians (although he could charm them), and a tireless advocate of grassroots community action.

Milo's life is an inspiration to the generation who continue his struggle.

... Sid Walker