Barbara Hardy






Well many of us talk about going green and there’s no doubt as a State we’re far more environmentally conscious than we’ve ever been. And so we should be. When you consider the experts say since European settlement we’ve already lost at least twenty-three mammal species, two bird species and twenty-six plant species. But there’s one woman who’s been a vocal advocate for the environment for more than three decades. The remarkable Barbara Hardy.

Leigh: Barbara thanks for your time. I think most of us would consider you to be the doyenne of the environmental charge in South Australia. When did you first realise that the environment was something you in fact passionate about?

Barbara: It was really when I was taking my two youngest sons on school holidays we would go up to the flinders ranges and we’d camp at Wilpena. But I can remember coming home one of those days and thinking “this is a beautiful place up here how is it going to stay beautiful?” I thought how do you look after it and protect it so it stays beautiful for generations? How do you manage it? It needs managing.

So really that was what made me think about national parks and how important national parks are and a few of us set up a National Parks Foundation. One of our first reasons for getting the foundation going was that we knew the government didn’t have enough money to really look after the environment, and we enjoyed it. Hardy’s wine came into it and we would sit around the table with cheese and bikkies and we would work out how we could raise more money.

Leigh: And Barbara of course you were instrumental in setting up the investigator science centre?

Barbara: Yes and I’m very proud of that because I think science helps everyone understand how to help look after the earth better.

Leigh: You must be proud now when you look at how schoolchildren now take very seriously environmental concerns.

Barbara: I am proud of that I am patron of the science teachers association and science teachers have the opportunity to encourage children to understand the environment better.

Leigh: Were you one of the first people in Adelaide to think about recycling and cutting down on waste and use of rainwater and all those sorts of things?

Barbara: I don’t know if I was one of the first people, but I certainly did that yeah. In fact the house we’re in now is an old house built in 1920’s but I have two 8000 rainwater tanks and it’s plumbed into the house. In 1998 I put up photovoltaic. I have fourteen of them up there now and my last bill was a credit of $25.00.

Leigh: I’m a good recycler but are there more things, simple things that we should be thinking about?

Barbara: It’s even things like in the summer having your curtains closed during the day and in winter having them open during the day. And I think solar panels on the roof. I’d love to see more houses with solar panels on the northern slope, that’s where you need it.

Barbara: I drive a Prius which is a hybrid car. It only does 4.4 litres of petrol per 100 kilometres and emits 90% less emissions. Sometimes it’s worth it. They are more expensive but you do save the environment.

Leigh: You’ve travelled all over the world, where are some places you’ve been?

Barbara: One of my favourite places is Antarctica. Most people have heard of Sir Douglas Mawson. He is one of my icons and I went to his hut built in 1913.

Leigh: Extraordinary.

Barbara: it certainly was and down there there’s penguins and I love them. We were told not to go to a penguin more than five metres but the penguins don’t know that and they come to you.

Leigh: What do the family think?

Barbara: I’m not really quite sure what my sons really think. They’re supportive in a nice understated way. But on the whole I think they’re probably happy that I am trying to do this.

Leigh: and as they should be because I think a lot of SA’s are grateful for the work you’ve done and continue to do so thank you.

Barbara: I enjoy it!

Leigh: So if you’d like to help the work of the Nature Foundation which works to protect, save and restore South Australia’s natural environment, just head to their website, where you’ll find all the details of how you can help.