The passing of a bushman: Allan F. Corry

Subject: The passing of a bushman: Allan F. Corry
From: Keith Stockwell <>
Date: Mon, 28 Nov 2005 21:23:02 +1100
A funeral service to celebrate the life of Allan Corry was held in Tongala
today, Monday 28th November 2005. Allan was regarded by most birders of the
greater Echuca district as the region's best naturalist. Allan grew up at
Thistle Bed in Barmah Forest and grew to know the forest extremely well. He
knew it so well that he never got lost there. Corrys Mill site and Corrys
Road are named after Allan's uncle. Fittingly, the site of Corry's Old Mill
is a wonderful birding spot, especially in winter when five or six species
of robin are usually observable there.

Allan left the forest at age 15, attended school at Nathalia, and
subsequently became a farmer. He disliked school but became an avid reader
of books about nature and the Australian bush. After selling the farm,
Allan and his wife Pat retired to Tongala where they contributed to the
local community in many ways. But they were forever returning to the nearby
Barmah-Millewa Forest.

Allan's wife Pat (now deceased) shared Allan's passion for birds and the
bush and wrote a lovaly piece about her favourite place, Gulpa Island. The
article is still on the Echuca and District BOCA web site.

Whenever local birders had a problem identifying or locating a bird, many
would seek Allan's help. He helped many of us to identify birds and to
understand their habits.

One wretchedly hot summer day, when the humidity was particularly low,
Allan and Jon Hosford were observing Intermediate Egrets nesting in the
Moira Forest (a part of Barmah-Millewa forest) when they saw adult birds
dropping sticks from the nests into the water below. It was well over 40
degrees Celsius in the shade. The adult birds then flew down to recover wet
sticks and return them to the nest. Allan realised that the birds we
practising a form of air conditioning to keep their chicks cool.

Allan travelled all over Australia, from Broome to Perth, Darwin and Cape
York. He led friends on many outback birding expeditions. Allan's life list
must have been in the hundreds.

He took his family to Queensland nearly every year, but his children rarely
saw the beaches of Queensland or the amusement parks of the Gold Coast.
Rather, time was spent birding and fossicking well inland. Even after he
became very ill, Allan ventured with friends to Cape York. To reach there
was a major achievement for someone so ill.

When meeting people, Allan was keen to ask, "what do you know' or 'tell me
a story'. For ever a listener, keen to learn, Allan was also able to teach
whoever was interested in learning how to distinguish a Grey Box from a
Black Box or an Intermediate Egret from a Great Egret. He was a gentle man
and I never knew him to belittle or put down any body. I am told he had
little regard for teachers. Despite being a teacher, I was not aware of
this until today. But I don't think Allan held that against me. And his
eldest daughter, Jenny, is now a teacher.

Allan and his wife Pat campaigned for the protection of remnant roadside
vegetation years ago, long before authorities starting designating
protected roadside areas. They were well ahead of their time.

A keen sportsman, Allan's Country Week cricketing achievements are unlikely
to be bettered. 10 wickets for about 17 and then 6 for a handful before the
captain took him off to give the other side a chance to score a few runs.
He was a brilliant footballer, shooter and lawn bowler. He was keen on
trotting and took great delight from the success of his trotter 'Dicky
Knee'  (named, i think, after the problems Allan had with a knee).

He was a passionate angler who took great delight in teaching his children
and grand children what bait to use and where to cast a line.

Fittingly, the service today was well-attended. There was standing room
only in the municipal hall in Tongala.

Over the past few years, Allan has been afflicted with Parkinson's Disease
and has been confined to the nursing home of the Echuca hospital. But
family members visited him most days and were able to sometimes take him
back to Thistle Bed and his beloved Barmah Forest.

A few years ago, after he became ill, I was honoured when Allan asked me to
take his place as the bird observer's representative on the Barmah-Millewa

Birders, we have lost a guru, a bushman, one of the best and most
knowledgeable birders of this country, a man with an unequalled knowledge
of the wonderful Barmah-Millewa Forest, a man who understood the
relationships between plants and animals, a man ahead of his time with
repsect to the need to conserve roadsides and bushland, a man who had a
vast array of passions and interests ... but his family and the Barnmah
Forest were his greatest loves.

His family and many friends are devastated with his passing ... but
grateful that his suffering is at an end and appreciative of what we have
been able to learn from him about the bush and birds.

Keith Stockwell,

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