Darcy Duggan, a great friend of the House, the Hills and countless people who worked with him on environmental issues, died far too soon on Saturday, October 31st, 2020, after a long illness. He was a unique figure, widely known and appreciated for his tireless environmental work, as well as being a loveable eccentric. It seems half the Hills are in mourning for the loss of this great man.
He and his family moved to the Hills in the 1980s when he was commuting to work as an environmental scientist, but his talent as a warm, gifted and inspiring teacher soon drew him to adult education. Darcy soon gravitated towards Minak Reserve where he was to spend decades on rehabilitation and protection. Adjoining Selby Community House welcomed Darcy’s warmth and environmental expertise, and the House seemed a perfect fit for community connectedness.
Minak Reserve, a Yarra Ranges Council asset, was indeed Darcy’s special place, and he always brought his students there. It is tucked inside a small valley, surrounded by housing and almost hidden from view. It is humid, tranquil and quiet apart from the rustlings of small animals and birds. It has the fragrant fecundity of humus, how most of the Dandenongs once smelt, and within its leafy walls there is no relationship to the human notion of time. Towering hollow-bearing eucalypts and intact middle and ground storey plants represent a healthy wet forest eco-system. Three small tree fern lined creeks meet and flow through the reserve to join Monbulk Creek in Sherbrooke forest, some 250 metres downstream.
Darcy’s scope of work, much of it voluntary, expanded in many directions. While Darcy possessed a special talent for teaching with a rich, mellifluous voice to match, it was hands on work in the bush where Darcy spent most of his time. As well as rolling up his sleeves, he was a passionate and persistent lobbyist at all levels of government to preserve our very special Hills environment.
His work on private land also knew few bounds, as countless residents who adjoined bushland soon had Darcy at their door to begin their education in the need to remove rampant environmental weeds from their property.
Darcy’s reach touched and guided many organisations – Friends of Minak Reserve, the Southern Dandenongs Landcare Group, Save the Dandenongs and even a group in Laos which he visited at it had become connected to Australian Landcare International.
While covid greatly limited those who wanted to come to say their farewells to Darcy, he did have one poignant wish that was fulfilled. On the way to his burial in Warrigal, his hearse drove down into Minak Reserve and parked by the magnificent frog bog which Darcy was instrumental in recreating. The side windows adjoining Darcy’s casket were opened for about 15 minutes so that Darcy could commune with his beloved bush. Dozens of friends had wildly and lovingly decorated his casket with native fauna and flora as well as beautiful messages to send him on his next journey. What a casket! What a man!