Planting patriots

Planting patriots

1961

Jock Marshall ReserveJock Marshall, the Foundation Professor of Biology, was a controversial appointment. The 48-year-old Marshall saw the potential in the newly founded Monash University. He grew up on the bushy fringes of Sydney, where he had developed passions for native fauna and for adventure. A larger-than-life, contradictory character, some members of the selection committee were concerned about appointing him. Matheson, however, saw a first-class zoologist who would work loyally to help build the new university from the ground up.

While Marshall may have at times tried Matheson’s patience, he was idealistic, passionate and energetic in his new role as a Foundation Professor. His enthusiasm transcended his work to leave a mark on the campus itself. He fought fiercely for the campus to be planted with Australian natives.

Monash’s master planner had originally envisaged the campus as an English park with an ornamental lake. However Marshall had a different vision: Australian bushland with a billabong. He fought against the architects, the poor conditions and the waterlogged clay of the site to turn old farmland into a native bush habitat. He created the reserve ‘Snake Gully’ from an unsightly ditch on the north-eastern edge of campus. It took two decades to properly establish the native plantings currently seen on campus. But in the end, he had created an Australian campus unlike any other.