The world lost one of its true warriors with the passing of Mrs Margaret Thorsborne AO on 16 October 2018.
Margaret was exceptional in her passion for and commitment to wildlife and the environment. She dedicated her life to conservation and was a strong advocate for the World Heritage listing of the Wet Tropics.
Below is an Eulogy from James Newman Executive Director – Northern Parks & Forests (Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service)
“Margie and my paths cross only recently when I became responsible for the Parks and Forests in the area known as the Wet Tropics about 7 years ago.
This was also the year following Cyclone Yasi and Margie’s loss of her home at Galmara. It was a matter regarding the loss of her old home to the cyclone, and the replacement built at Edmund Kennedy workbase, which led to our first meeting.
In the year prior, on a tour of the Cardwell area to inspect the damage and clean up works, a well-intentioned, but not fully informed senior official, made the comment to Margie that the difference between the Queensland Government Insurance Fund estimate and the actual replacement cost of the house could be gifted to Margie.
Margie, as you would imagine, was delighted with this news and looked forward to receiving an amount of money, which she had then intended to transfer to the Thorsborne Trust.
For months we attempted to navigate the insurance process to find ways to make the transfer happen, but met failure at every attempt.
Knowing Margie’s likely disappointment, Dave Fuller and I determined that we needed to pay Margie a visit to explain the news in person.
Having not met Margie previously, and being fully aware of the Thorsborne legend, I can recall the mixed emotions of awe and nervousness prior to that meeting.
Margie’s approach, as always, was to immediately put you at ease, offer you a cup of tea and biscuits and make you comfortable.
Following a lengthy tour of her library and summary explanation of her life’s work monitoring the Torresian Imperial Pidgeon’s we settled down for business.
She asked us many of the same questions we had asked ourselves, expressed her respectful disappointment and almost immediately moved on to engaging us in on other pressing concerns of glider recovery following Yasi and reef health in the face of climate change.
In true Margie style, rather than leaving with her footprint on our backsides, she wished us well and sent us packing with two of her most recently read marine ecology texts tucked firmly under our arms.
It was clear from the meeting that this 85 year old still had plenty to do, and much that kept her awake at night.
I was honoured to have been able to present the inaugural Thorsborne Award for community conservation and rehabilitation at the Wet Tropics Management Authority Cassowary Awards in 2016….in Margie’s presence.
The Wet Tropics Management Authority are also mourning Margie’s passing and have expressed to me the sadness of losing such a passionate warrior.
Margie and her husband, Arthur were strong supporters of the World Heritage listing and they would travel to the Daintree, to assist the blockade by supplying food and drink for the protestors.
Margie was best known for her work in the Wet Tropics highlighting the plight of cassowaries and mahogany gliders. Margie was a passionate and active participant on WTMA’s cassowary recovery team for many years.
There is a saying in Parks, that whilst we are a big conservation organisation; we also resemble a big family in many respects.
From the actions and words of all the Rangers who knew Margie, Margie was, and will always be considered; a part of our family as well.
The Thorsborne Trail on Hinchinbrook Island was named in tribute to Arthur and Margaret. This beautiful wilderness island captured their sprits in their early life and their memory lives on, manifested in its rugged sky line, ancient forests and shores.
We will remember her astuteness of mind, her wise quips, her unwavering dedication, her encouragement and coaching, her gentleness and openness to all who took the time to speak with her.