Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Harold Arthur (Bill) Lindsay (1900–1969)

by Kerrie Round

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Harold Arthur (Bill) Lindsay (1900-1969), author and conservationist, was born on 13 November 1900 at Hyde Park, Adelaide, eldest of three children of South Australian-born parents George Stuart Lindsay, sharebroker, and his second wife Anna, née Wilberth. Harold was educated at Kyre College (1911-14) and the Collegiate School of St Peter (1915), but the fees left little money to clothe him in the style of his schoolmates or to provide those extras they took for granted. He left school at 15 to work in an office, which he hated. George Lindsay, who had accompanied his brother-in-law David Lindsay on several expeditions, taught Harold bushcraft.

From the age of 19 Harold (nicknamed 'Bill') performed various jobs in the country. In 1928 he turned to bee-keeping. On 25 February 1933 at the Congregational Church, Highgate, Adelaide, he married Margaret Hilda McDonald. He supplemented his income by contributing to the Bulletin and other magazines for which he wrote short stories, humorous pieces and articles about nature. Enlisting in the Australian Imperial Force on 23 February 1942, Lindsay rose to warrant officer, class one, in the Australian Army Education Service: he taught bushcraft to servicemen in Australia, New Guinea and New Britain. After he was discharged on 23 November 1945, he earned his living solely from writing. The Bushman's Handbook and Halliday's Quest appeared in 1948, and were followed by five novels for adults and four books for children. The First Walkabout, written with Norman Tindale, was named the best Australian children's book for 1955 by the Children's Book Council of Australia. Lindsay used the pen-names 'Larrapinta', 'Bert the Carpenter', 'A. B. Carrick', 'Lucerne Flea', 'Bogaduck', 'Ex R.S.M.' and 'Archaean'.

For some years his 'Naturalist's Diary' column was published in the Melbourne Age and the Sunday Advertiser, Adelaide. In the 1920s Lindsay had become passionately interested in conservation and called for Heywood, an Unley Park estate, to be converted to a reserve for native birds and scrub. Recurring illness prevented him from mixing with people and promoting his ideas. When he joined the army his sickness was identified as an allergy and he was desensitized. On his return to civilian life he made the environment his crusade and founded the Adelaide Bushwalkers in 1946 to help his cause. This group replanted part of the Mount Bold reservoir reserve with endangered native species, and sought areas of isolated country that could be designated as sanctuaries and national parks. In 1947 Lindsay read about the English National Trust for Places of Historic Interest or Natural Beauty; largely through his efforts, the National Trust of South Australia was established in 1955.

Although Lindsay had his supporters, some people thought that he was opinionated and others regarded him as a bore. His Handbook had offended many conservationists by describing how a bushman could trap and kill birds and animals for survival; his later suggestion that eucalypts in the Mount Lofty ranges should be replaced by commercially viable, less flammable, imported trees alarmed field naturalists in the Royal Society of South Australia. Yet, without him, South Australia would have lost much of its natural and historic environment. Survived by his daughter, Lindsay died of coronary artery disease on 4 December 1969 at Highgate and was buried in Centennial Park cemetery.

Select Bibliography

  • G. Dutton, Out in the Open (Brisb, 1994)
  • Adelaide Review, Mar 1996
  • Sydney Morning Herald, 20 Sept 1948, 7 Aug 1955, 13 Feb, 16 July 1960, 9 Dec 1961, 11 Jan 1964
  • Advertiser (Adelaide), 14 Mar 1950, 26 June 1954, 21 July 1960, 6 Dec 1969
  • H. de Berg, interview with Harold Arthur Lindsay (transcript, 1960, National Library of Australia)
  • H. A. Lindsay papers (State Library of South Australia)
  • H. A. Lindsay scrapbooks (University of Adelaide Library).

Citation details

Kerrie Round, 'Lindsay, Harold Arthur (Bill) (1900–1969)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 2000, accessed online 28 May 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 15, (Melbourne University Press), 2000

View the front pages for Volume 15

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2024

Life Summary [details]

Alternative Names
  • Lucerne Flea
  • Larrapinta
  • Bert the Carpenter
  • A. B. Carrick
  • Bogaduck
  • Ex R.S.M.
  • Archaean

13 November, 1900
Hyde Park, Adelaide, South Australia, Australia


4 December, 1969 (aged 69)
Highgate, Adelaide, South Australia, Australia

Religious Influence

Includes the religion in which subjects were raised, have chosen themselves, attendance at religious schools and/or religious funeral rites; Atheism and Agnosticism have been included.