All welcome at Wild/flower Women symposium in Noosa

Published:21 October 2016

TOP: Kathleen McArthur in her element (Image with permission of the Wildlife Preservation Society of Qld, Sunshine Coast & Hinterland Branch Inc, and Hugh McArthur. BELOW LEFT: Judith Wright (image courtesy Meredith McKinney). BELOW RIGHT: Vanilla Lilies by Kathleen McArthur.

The achievements of writers/artists/activists Judith Wright and Kathleen McArthur are being celebrated through upcoming ‘Wild/flower Women’ events.

This includes a one-day symposium at CQUniversity Noosa on 23 November as well as an exhibition at the Noosa Regional Gallery.

While Judith Wright is known as one of Australia’s greatest poets, she was also a pioneering conservationist who played an active role in campaigning for the Cooloola National Park, the Great Barrier Reef and Aboriginal rights. 

Kathleen McArthur was a self-taught artist who specialised in painting Queensland wildflowers. She was also a writer and conservationist who lived in Caloundra from 1952.  In 2002, Kathleen was voted the Sunshine Coast’s citizen of the century in recognition for her 40-year history of  passionate campaigning for the environment.

A shared love of nature and Queensland wildflowers led to Kathleen McArthur and Judith Wright forming the Wildlife Preservation Society of Queensland in 1962 along with David Fleay and Brian Clouston.  

Kathleen and Judith then lead one of Australia’s first major conservation battles. Working alongside many others, such as Arthur Harrold (of the Noosa Parks Association), they embarked on a 22-year campaign which resulted in the gazettal of Cooloola National Park in 1975.  This success was even more remarkable when considering the ultra-conservative politics of Queensland throughout that time.  

This year is the 101st anniversary of the birth of these two influential women and CQUniversity’s Dr Sue Davis believes their work is well worth engaging with and celebrating.  

“At times we can disheartened by what is happening politically and ecologically, so it is  important to retell the stories of extraordinary achievements brought about through activism, through art and imagination," Dr Davis says.  "What Kathleen, Judith and many others achieved is important in terms of historical significance but their approaches and tactics still stand the test of time today.  Through reflecting on these stories - as artists, activists and citizens - we can gain inspiration for future action.”

Presentations at the symposium will include an introduction by another Sunshine Coast legend, Jill Chamberlain (OAM), Past President, Wildlife Preservation Society of Queensland Sunshine Coast & Hinterland Branch, and a talk by Dr Georgina Arnott of Monash University, who has recently launched her    book Not Always Wild: Judith Wright’s Biography.  

The symposium will also include presentations about other historical and contemporary arts-based environmental activism.  

The ‘Wild/flower Women’ symposium is being staged in conjunction with the Wild/flower Women exhibition to be held at the Noosa Regional Gallery from 26 November – 22 January.  

The symposium will be held from 9 am to 4 pm on Wednesday 23 November at CQUni Noosa (90 Goodchap Street, Noosaville), at a cost of $50 (or $30 for students/concession). For more details, phone Noosa Campus via 07 5440 7000, see: or book at .