For 60 years Camperdown's late James (Jim) Wilson's unwavering curiosity wove him into the very history of the district he fiercely fought to preserve. Now the community champion has been recognised on a national level.
He was the farmer and Bookaar brigade captain who did it all, dedicating endless hours of his time to others. On Thursday he was posthumously awarded an Order of Australia Medal for his service to the community.
Mr Wilson's wife Diana said it was her husband's passion which drove him to become a member of dozens of clubs and societies.
"The problem with Jim is that he had so many interests it was hard to keep up with him," she said.
"He's been described as a cultural historian, collector, farmer, environmental activist, storyteller, entertainer and devoted family man - that about sums him up.
"It's wonderful that he's been recognised - he would have known anyone and everyone in Camperdown.
"He helped young farmers and was captain of the fire brigade, but he was also a historian, involved in documenting local history and culture. The preservation of history and the landscapes were his passions."
Such was his passion he developed a vast museum of 10,000 artefacts, a collection which he began from age 10 and went on to loan to charities and exhibitions.
He also curated four major exhibitions, including Melbourne's 1988 Bicentennial Exhibition.
That interest in history continued well into his later years, becoming a foundation member of the Camperdown and District Historical Society in 1959.
He helped to document the history of the Hampden Shire prior to its amalgamation into Corangamite Shire and was also a foundation member of the National Trust's local branch.
Mr Wilson also contributed to various publications including a report on the identification and preservation of dry stone walls in the Corangamite Shire area as well as multiple entries for Deakin University's Centre for Australian Studies book The Biographical Dictionary of the Western District of Victoria.
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But Ms Wilson said her husband's proudest achievement was helping to cease the destruction of surrounding natural assets.
After being elected to the Camperdown Community Committee, he helped the group raise funds to purchase Mount Sugarloaf to prevent further quarrying.
In 1970 The National Trust raised funds to purchase the mount, cancelling the quarry licence. Mr Wilson also worked to cease the destruction of Lake Gnotuk and supported the preservation of Mount Elephant.
An extensive list of Mr Wilson's contributions and memberships are listed below.
Camperdown and District Historical Society
- Former president
- Secretary 1963-1970 and 1994.
- Former committee member
- Foundation member 1959
- Life member
Angus Cattle Society of Australia
- Member, federal council, 1970-1971
- Chairman, Victoria State Committee, 1971-1972
- Vice-chairman, Victorian State Committee, 1969-1970
- Member, Victorian State Committee 1965-1979
- Former member, Angus Australia Judges Panel
- Foundation member, Corangamite branch
- Former chairman, Mooramong Farm Management Committee
- Former member, General Committee
- Antique and Historical Arms Collectors Guild of Victoria, since 1966
- Grasslands Society of Australia
- Camperdown Pastoral and Agricultural Society
- Museums Association of Australia
- Friends of the National Museum of Victoria
- Fossil Collectors Association
- Royal Society of Victoria
- Lake Goldsmith Steam Engine Preservation Society
- Author and Illustrator, If These Walls Could Talk, Dry Stones Walls Association of Australia
- Captain, Bookar Fire Brigade
- Curator, Puunyart Museum
- Exhibitor, Melbourne Bicentennial Exhibition
- Royal Historical Society of Victoria
- Contributor, The Biographical Dictionary of the Western District of Victoria, Deakin University
- Royal Agricultural Society of Victoria
- Branch Committee, Graziers Association of Victoria
Awards and recognition
- 50 years membership award, Angus Cattle Society of Australia, 2007
- Most successful Angus exhibitor, Victorian State Committee, Angus Cattle Society of Australia, 2003