Our History

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Founded on friendship

Four passionate, influential people who shared a genuine concern for wildlife and its habitat formed the Wildlife Preservation Society of Queensland (now known as Wildlife Queensland) on 6 September 1962, the first such organisation in the state.

The following year, they began publishing Wildlife Australia magazine, which is still in print today and is Australia’s longest-running nature publication.

Wildlife Queensland filled a new niche in nature protection and was committed to educating the public about wildlife conservation at a local, regional, state and even a national level.

At the Society’s inaugural meeting, some 120 people selected Judith Wright as president. Wright, a driving force in the Society’s development and a renowned poet, remained as president until 1976.


Peter Ogilvie

Founder and poet Judith Wright, shown here with a furry friend, was the Society’s first president.

Our founders

Founders Judith, David, Kathleen and Brian© Courteously provided | All Rights Reserved

Judith Wright

One of Australia’s most influential poets, Judith was also a successful writer, environmentalist and Aboriginal rights and reconciliation activist. Her many books included The Coral Battleground (1977).

By 1962, Judith had become increasingly concerned by the destruction of native wildlife and habitat. She successfully encouraged others to develop and fight for a deeper kind of belonging and broadening of the understanding of the Australian natural environment.

Brian Clouston

Founder of the groundbreaking Jacaranda Press in 1954 — which produced educational books and material about Queensland, Australia and the natural environment — Brian knew all of the other founders, having already published David Fleay’s Talking of Animals (1956) and Kathleen McArthur’s Queensland Wildflowers: A selection (1959). 

Brian offered to produce a magazine if an organisation was formed to back it. Fleay, Wright and McArthur agreed that Clouston’s offer, ‘could not be put aside’ even though they were all heavily committed in their own fields and would have to find contributors to work for free. Clouston’s offer proved to be the catalyst for the formation of the society.

David Fleay

A trained scientist, zoologist, author, photographer and a great communicator, long before WPSQ started David was a trailblazer, breeding and studying wildlife, and drawing attention to the life history and the plight of many species through his regular newspaper columns, letters, scientific articles and books. His first book was We Breed the Platypus (1944). David started Fleays Fauna Sanctuary in 1952 on the Gold Coast and received numerous awards for his scientific work.

Kathleen McArthur

A wildflower painter and author, Kathleen was passionate about wildflowers and their habitats. From the early 1950s, she actively nurtured others to develop a love and recognition of Queensland wildflowers and the environment through her exploring and painting of native wildflowers and the native plantings at her Caloundra home, ‘Midyim’. By 1962, she had spoken out on environmental matters such as wildflower appreciation, beach protection and national parks. Her lunch-hour theatres, articles in the local papers, wildflower festivals, field outings and books, including Living on the Coast (1989), were highly successful in raising awareness of the environment. She was also an active campaigner for the environment.

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