Protecting Wilderness and National Parks

Myles Dunphy Pat Thompson


Pat Thompson

Myles Joseph Dunphy, doyen  of wilderness in Australia, was born in Melbourne in 1891. Exploring wilderness and extolling its values was to become for Myles a way of life. He was arguably for Australia what John Muir that great American evangelist for national parks and  wilderness was for North  America. Although  coming  somewhat later than John Muir, Dunphy was a remarkable visionary. As an advocate for national parks Myles had no equal in this land.
The question  has been  asked  how much  was Dunphy  influenced  by  the ideas and thinking  of American wilderness philosophers. Although as a young man Dunphy’s reading had included the American magazines Outing and Outdoor Life which were about adventure in the great outdoors, his ideas on conservation and wilderness were without doubt homegrown.
Myles Dunphy turned ten years of age in the year of Federation, 1901. Probably every youngster was enamoured by the event and there is every reason to suggest that young Myles was no exception. In Australia the economy was recovering from the depressed years of the 1890’s. There was again full employment and  working  conditions had improved considerably. Australians had good cause for optimism. Part of the nation’s pride was the belief in the athletic qualities of its people. Healthy outdoor living was taken  as the way  of life for most Australian  citizens. A shorter working  week  had been  achieved  and  a marked increase in  public recreation  had  resulted. Perhaps the nation’s chief preoccupation was with cricket, though excursions to the seaside or out into the bush were also popular.
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