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William Dick Hardy (1914–1985)

by G. P. Walsh

This article was published:

William Dick Hardy (1914-1985), agronomist, public servant and grazier, was born on 20 July 1914 at Port Macquarie, New South Wales, eldest child of John Henry Hardy, machinist, and his wife Bella, née Dick, both born in New South Wales. Dick was educated at Ryde Public School, Carlingford District Rural School, and Hawkesbury Agricultural College, where he was dux in 1933 and an excellent sportsman. He then worked on a mixed farm at Crookwell and as assistant orchardist at Bathurst Experiment Farm. In 1935-38, on a scholarship from the Royal Agricultural Society of New South Wales, he studied agriculture at the University of Sydney (B.Sc.Agr., 1939). He was a member of the South Curl Curl Surf Life Saving Club in his undergraduate days.

In 1939-47 Hardy worked as a district agronomist with the New South Wales Department of Agriculture, based first at Goulburn and then at Moss Vale. During this time he advised the writer Gwen Meredith on technical matters for her radio serials `The Lawsons’ and `Blue Hills’, both of which had a rural background. During World War II he tried to enlist in the Royal Australian Air Force but was refused leave to do so, as his work, especially in advising and encouraging vegetable growers, was thought by the authorities to be more important to the war effort. On 15 June 1940 at St Giles’s Church of England, Greenwich, Sydney, he married Dorothy Beatrice Barbour, a stenographer.

Hardy joined the Commonwealth Department of Commerce and Agriculture in 1948. He was principal investigation officer of the Bureau of Agricultural Economics (1949-50) in Canberra, then supervisor of fresh fruit and vegetable exports (1950-53) and assistant-director of the division of agricultural production (1953-54) in Melbourne. In 1954-57 he was the Australian government trade commissioner in San Francisco, United States of America, charged with increasing Australian exports to western USA and obtaining information on production techniques that might be applicable to Australian conditions. He so excelled in this office that he was offered further overseas trade postings, but for the sake of his children’s education he declined them.

Back in Australia, Hardy occupied senior positions in the Department of Primary Industry, where he was deputy assistant secretary (1958-64), secretary of the Australian Agricultural Council (1964-73) and principal executive officer (livestock) (1974-75). He was secretary-general of the XIIth World’s Poultry Congress in 1962 and a councillor of the World’s Poultry Science Association from 1962 to 1968. In 1959-64 he was a member of the Australian National Film Board.

At 48 Mugga Way, Red Hill, Canberra, Dick and his wife won the Sydney Morning Herald State-wide country garden competition several times in the 1960s; he was president (1964-66) and a life member of the Horticultural Society of Canberra, and his wife founded Canberra’s first garden club. He also took pride in building up a Murray Grey cattle stud on his 1977-acre (800 ha) property, Malumba, at Tharwa. He exhibited successfully at shows in New South Wales and Victoria, held office in the Murray Grey Beef Cattle Society and the Royal National Capital Agricultural Society, and organised the first sale of Murray Greys in the USA.

A genial and gregarious six-footer (183 cm) with a good sense of humour, Dick Hardy remained fit and active until his death. He died on 22 July 1985 at St Leonards, Sydney, and was cremated. His wife and their two sons survived him.

Select Bibliography

  • Canberra Times, 7 Aug 1985, p 10
  • private information.

Citation details

G. P. Walsh, 'Hardy, William Dick (1914–1985)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 2007, accessed online 29 May 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 17, (Melbourne University Press), 2007

View the front pages for Volume 17

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