The Queensland Natural History Award is presented annually by the Queensland Naturalists’ Club Inc. to give recognition to persons who have made outstanding contributions to natural history in Queensland. The Queensland Natural History Award for 2014 was presented to Mr Frances David Hocking.
David Hockings has made a significant contribution to natural history in Queensland in a number of fields. He has had a lifelong deep interest in natural history and his involvement in organisations has been outstanding. He was a founding (and ongoing) member of the Society for Growing Australian Plants (SGAP – now Australian Native Plants Society (Australia) ANPSA). He served on the Queensland Regional Council, its management committee, almost continuously from its inception in 1957 until the present. Because of his great knowledge of native plants he was elected Technical Officer from 1969 to 1982. He relinquished that position to become Queensland Region President, a position that he held three times totalling nine years. He has served in numerous other positions over the years in the Queensland Region and the Federal body, and is currently Horticultural Officer for both Queensland and the Ffederal body. David has also been an active member of the Queensland Naturalists’ Club Inc. for many years, and has served on our Council in various positions including that of President.
Few people could match David’s knowledge of Australian native plants, their use, pests and diseases – made more impressive by his lack of formal training in these fields. He has always been willing to share this knowledge with others. David has presented many talks to both of the above organisations and to the branches of SGAP. He has presented numerous lectures to audiences ranging from garden clubs to professional organisations on the identification, ecology and use of Australian native plants for ornamental, commercial and environmental purposes. On two occasions, he presented the Bill Tulloch Memorial lecture to Queensland Region SGAP, the most important lecture in the Society’s annual calendar. He has also presented the A J Swaby lecture for ASGAP at the federal biennial conference, the main address at that conference, and has been the keynote speaker at another ASGAP conference. He provided a short lecture series to interested nursery staff in his spare time. and He has also given lectures to various secondary schools and has been a part-time lecturer at QAC, TAFE, QIT and the University of Queensland at secondary, tertiary and postgraduate levels. He has also contributed to ABC radio garden talks in Toowoomba and Brisbane.
The author of numerous articles and small publications on Australian native plants, David also wrote the book “Friends and Foes of Australian Gardens (including Pests, Diseases, Parasites and Predators)” in 1980, a highly valued reference for professional nurserymen and gardeners. Since receiving the Queensland Natural History Award in February 2014 a revised edition of this book “Pests, Diseases and Beneficials: friends and foes of Australian gardens” has been published.
David has also contributed significantly to the scientific collections of the Queensland Herbarium. Over many years, whenever the opportunity arose, David travelled extensively throughout Queensland collecting, pressing and curating plant specimens that were were eagerly accepted by the herbarium. He has contributed almost 700 specimens of over 550 species to the Queensland Herbarium. In addition to these specimens he has an extensive collection of images and notes.
David’s contributions to natural history and horticulture have earned him previous awards. In 1989 he and his wife Olive were awarded Honorary Life Membership of SGAP Queensland Region, the highest honour the Society can bestow on its members, for “the very valuable contribution to the Queensland Region of SGAP and to the promotion of Australian plants over many years”. The National Council of the Australian Institute of Horticulture granted David its Award of Excellence in 1986 and in 2007 he become became a member of the Order of Australia (AM) for service to horticulture through commercial development of the native plant and flower industry. His significant contributions to the Queensland Herbarium scientific collection have been recognised by the naming of two species in his honour: Acacia hockingsii and Grevillea hockingsii. He also served on the committee organised by the Director of the Queensland Herbarium to select the Queensland’s floral emblem. The awarding of the Queensland Natural History Award for 2014 to David Hockings further highlights the outstanding contributions he has made to the knowledge of Queensland’s native plants and to the Society for Growing Australian Plants, the Queensland Naturalists’ Club and the various other individuals, clubs and societies he has so willingly donated his knowledge and time.
Photo: David Hockings (left) receives the Queensland Natural History Award for 2014 from the QNC President Mr Harry Hines. (Photo: Peter Woodall)