AUSTRALIA DAY: Reward flows for river scientist

Dr Terry Hillman on the banks of the Murray.
Dr Terry Hillman on the banks of the Murray.

After decades of surveying the health of the Murray-Darling Basin, Albury’s Terry Hillman has been appointed as a Member of the Order of Australia (AM).

“I’ve lived most of my life on the Murray,” Dr Hillman said.

“It’s one of the most valuable assets we have and it’s important that we keep the ecosystem healthy.”

Dr Hillman was a limnologist, or a freshwater scientist, until he retired a few years ago.

Over the years he has held numerous titles such as the former president of the Australian Society for Limnology, an ecologist at Australian National University, and chair of the NSW Water Ministerial Advisory Council.

From 1993 to 2005 Dr Hillman was the deputy director of the Co-operative Research Centre for Freshwater Ecology.

However, he is still involved with several groups that help protect Australia’s waterways, such as the Hume-Yarrawonga Waterway Management Working Group and the Wentworth Group of Concerned Scientists.

Dr Hillman, 73, said he was surprised to get the prestigious award, but said his work would not be possible without the help of the people around him.

“I was pleasantly surprised,” Dr Hillman said.

“I’m not sure who nominated me, but I didn’t realise I had such kind-hearted friends.

“I’m very thankful, but also a little embarrassed as most of the work that I did was within teams of people.

“Maybe that’s the secret of success — trailing behind people and taking their credit,” he laughed.

He has also authored multiple reports on the health of the Murray-Darling Basin, including five book chapters.

Dr Hillman has worked at Australian National University, La Trobe University and Charles Sturt University, and mentored PhD, masters and honours students.

Dr Hillman also has interests outside of science.

He was the director of Parklands Albury-Wod-onga from 2008 to 2011, and between 1986 to 2006 Dr Hillman was a board member of the Albury Conservatorium, serving as chairman for six years.

He has been a choir member of the Murray Conservatorium since 1982.