Douglas Humphrey Perry (1902 - 2002), affectionately nicknamed Dick by his mates, is a legend in the Western Australian Forestry community. Dick was an accomplished photographer, an expert in termites, bred cocker spaniels and started the Gnangara pine plantation.
Dick was born in London, and when he was ten migrated to WA with his family. At age 14, he became one of the first apprentices of the Woods and Forests Department. Dick secured the position after impressing Mr Lane Poole, the architect of the 1918 Forestry Act, with his knowledge of horses.
In 1925, on a horse-drawn sulky, Dick embarked on a mission with Bill Ross to locate a suitable site near Perth to establish a new pine nursery. The following year, the first seedlings were planted at Gnagara, marking the beginning of pine plantation in the region.
Navigating Gnangara was no easy feat in the early days. The deep white sand made it arduous for vehicles to pass, often bogged. Dick used a Harley Davidson with a sidecar for transportation. Despite the sweltering heat, flies, and primitive conditions, he frequently camped outdoors, executing trials and experiments.
In a bid to improve pine quality, in 1963, the Forest Department sent Dick to Portugal. Alongside his wife Katherine, they scoured the Forest of Leiria, home of Pinaster tree. They walked the forest for two years, examining hundreds of thousands of trees and identified 85 superior trees that promised better yields and had less defects than their neighbours.
The best trees were photographed, measured and sampled. Hundreds of buds were collected some 40 metres above the ground. After rigorous processes, the descendant trees showed a productivity increase of 10% compared to the initial plantations.
In the 1950s, Dick collected termites for the CSIRO, sparking a lifelong study of insects.
Dick Perry was honoured with the Order of Australia in 1995, recognising his lifelong dedication and contribution to forestry and entomology.
See hundreds of his exquisite photographs of Western Australian wildflowers from the early 1950s to mid-1980s on the State Library catalogue.
Find out more about Dick Perry on our original Facebook post.