Remembering life member Pat Pike

By Sue Fredrickson, North Shore Group

Pat Pike was an APS NSW Life member and long term North Shore Group member.

It is with sadness that members of the North Shore Group advise you of the death of their friend and fellow member Pat Pike after she had endured poor health for years due to Parkinsons Disease.

We all very much admired Pat and were very fond of her. She had a tremendous knowledge of local native plants and the bush and she quietly and generously shared that knowledge with us all. Her specialty became native grasses in particular. Pat lived in Mt Colah raising her children John and Kathy. Later as she aged, it became necessary for her to downsize and then ultimately go into nursing home care.


Pat Pike receiving life membership in 2015 (photo: Wendy and Philip Grimm)

A passionate educator

On completion of her Science studies at Sydney Uni, Pat entered the education profession. She inspired many of her High School students who then went on to also work in Science and Botany in particular. She taught at Hornsby Girls High where Merle Thompson, our membership officer, remembers Pat, her Biology teacher in the Leaving Certificate taking her under her wing and also being an inspiration. Pat also taught and influenced Dr Annette Salt, wife of the late Bob Salt OAM, both of them prominent local environmentalists. Many locals also remember Pat from her years teaching Science at Pennant Hills High.

Bush regeneration

Pat did a bush regeneration course with the National Trust and set up a group working on a remnant of bush in the school grounds. Parents and students, including Ross Rapmund, who now manages the Hornsby Council plant nursery, would come and help. Alison Hewitt was also a former student-bush regenerator at Pennant Hills High who went on to do a PhD on Melaleuca deanei and lecture in Botany at Western  Sydney University. Pat again no doubt had a strong influence on Alison and many others at the school.

 After Pat retired from 30 years of high school teaching, in 1988 she took on a new career in bush regeneration. Pat and Sheila Woods were employed by Hornsby Council which had contracted Tein McDonald to set up a bush regeneration program. Tein set up training and workshops, and employed Pat and Sheila to do on site training. Pat also taught at Ryde TAFE from 1992 till 2003, the Bush Regeneration Certificate, as it was then, with Robin Buchanan and others.

Protecting bushland

Pat was also involved with protection of bushland in ways other than education.

From 1995, Pat was one of the Friends of the Berowra Valley Regional Park who produced a beautiful book called “A Guide to the Berowra Valley Regional Park”, published in 2001. She did many of the plant descriptions and pictures. This area is now a National Park, in part due to lobbying by the ‘Friends’.

Also as a volunteer, with the late Ross Doig (APS Life Member), in 1997 she surveyed many kilometres of the road verges between Glenorie and Wisemans Ferry to assist the Hawkesbury Nepean Catchment Management Trust. Some rare plants were found and recorded.

Hornsby Herbarium

With fellow members of the Australian Plant Society, Pat for many years worked on the Hornsby Herbarium surveys from when they started in 1998 until 2014 when the expeditions with Jenny Lewis, Barry Lees, Noel Rosten and others became too much for her physically. Pat’s vast knowledge of native plants, especially grasses and sedges, has been an enormous help to the group.

Pat Pike on a plant survey, with Barry Lees and Noel Rosten (photo: Wendy and Philip Grimm)

Supporting North Shore Group

The North Shore Group runs a weekly program called ‘Walks and Talks’ at Ku-ring-gai Wildflower Garden where a 1 hour talk on a certain plant aspect is followed by a 1 hour walk to illustrate that aspect. It is open to the public and is very successful. For many years, Pat ran the session on native grasses, developing an excellent set of notes to hand out with her talk. She was Librarian of the Group for many years.

Life membership in 2015

About 7 years ago, the North Shore Group committee, knowing just how much Pat has contributed to APS and Conservation over the years, nominated Pat to APS NSW for consideration as a Life Member. This resulted in a proud day for Pat and her friends when she was presented with the Life Membership in May 2015 at Lugarno.  

Pat Pike with North Shore Group members 2015

A couple of quotes from Pat….

“People who have the conservation ethic are drawn to the restoration of bush land. It’s disappearing rapidly with new legislation that allows clearing. But it’s important to realise there’s no quick fix. Bush regeneration is a slow process”.

“One of my favourite places is the Turpentine Ironbark Forest at Carrs Bush. I think it’s a bit magic, so peaceful and quiet. There are only a few pockets of Turpentine Ironbark Forest left now; whereas it used to extend right across to Burwood. Turpentine (Syncarpia glomulifera) is an important tree for the bats, and possums love it. My favourite tree would be the Sydney Red Gum (Angophora costata) with its lovely twisted branches.

Pat, we’ll think of you when we are in Turpentine Ironbark Forest and when we see a particularly magnificent Angophora costata.

 Rest in Peace Pat.