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        George Seddon AM     1927 - 2007


May 2007

It is with deep regret that the members of the Australian Institute of Landscape Architects hear of the passing of Professor George Seddon.

George will be always remembered for his sincerity and passion evident in the way he grappled with the Swan Coastal Plain and brought Perth and the rest of Australia ideas of how to respond to our unique and complex environment.

He was the idol of many people from professional to backyard enthusiast and will be sorely missed.

The Australian Institute of Landscape Architects send our condolences to his family and to his many close friends and colleagues.

Tribute in The Australian, 25 May 2007

(click on image to go to article and then click again to enlarge the text)


George Seddon was born in 1927, studied English at the University of Melbourne, and later gained both an MSc and a PhD in Geology at the University of Minnesota.

George Seddon was a geologist, a professor of English, a keen gardener, a bushwalker, writer, reviewer and commentator.

He served as Honorary Senior Research Fellow in the Centre for Studies in Australian Literature at the University of Western Australia and Emeritus Professor in Environmental Science at the University of Melbourne.

He had taught in the English Department at the University of Western Australia, the Department of Geology and Geophysics at the University of Oregon, the School of History and Philosophy of Science at the University of New South wales, and was director of the Centre for Environmental Studies at the University of Melbourne.

He served on numerous committees, including the UNESCO National Committee and the ABC Science Advisory Committee.

In 1996 he was awarded the Mawson medal by the Academy of science for his contributions to geology.

His book list and published papers and articles are endless.

In 1995, he was awarded the Eureka Prize for Science book.


        George lived in Fremantle WA.


In 1979, the Australian Institute of Landscape Architects awarded George seddon an Honorary Fellowship.

The award recognised

  • his contribution to education in the fields of Landscape Architecture and Environmental Sciences,

  • his dedication in advancing landscape issues in the minds of those able to influence the course of major projects,

  • his initiative in involving Landscape Architects of international reknown in the Centre for Environmental Studies at melbourne University and the subsequent stimulation of the profession in Australia, and

  • for his ability to communicate a sympathetic perception of the Australian landscape.


In Conversation with Robyn Williams, November 2005

>>>  ABC Interview

George Seddon is the Professor of Everything. He has held chairs of English, Philosophy, Environment and Geology in our universities. His book about the Snowy Mountains beat Tim Flannery’s The Future Eaters to a Eureka Prize. Now he has written The Old Country about our soils, plants and landscape. It is a superb work of ideas, observation and yarns by one of our most accomplished intellectuals.


Tribute on the ABC's Program "In Conversation"   28th June 2007



About George's Garden - from an ABC garden story

George Seddon might aptly be described as the Professor of Everything. He has held the Professorship of English and Emeritus Professorship in Environmental Science at the University of Melbourne. He is an Honorary Senior Research Fellow in the Centre of Studies in Australian Literature at the University of WA, winner of the Mawson Medal from the Australian Academy of Science and of the Eureka Prize in Literature. Added to all this intellectual weight is his keen interest in the very practical field of garden design.

'Lenaville' is in central Fremantle, perched on top of a limestone hill where sea gales batter the garden nearly every afternoon. Pollution from vehicle exhausts is a real problem for plants as the house sits on one of the town's busiest intersections.

When George and his partner, Marli Wallace, moved in 10 years ago, there was an 1884 house, a little 1846 (pre-convict) cottage, a 1917 shop and no garden at all. Plant-wise there were only a big Erythrina cf. indica ('Coral Tree'), a Mulberry (Morus nigra cv.) and a huge 100-year-old olive tree (Common Olive, Olea europaea). Now the visitor sees a deceptively simple outdoor living area, with lots of interesting but hardy plants, paving and a few brick walls. Actually it has been very carefully designed to cater for the demands of the building layout, geology and microclimate of the block.


UWA Media Statement

Thursday, April 1, 2004



The first national Lifetime Planning Achievement Award by the Planning Institute of Australia has been awarded to Professor George Seddon, Senior Honorary Research Fellow at The University of Western Australia, for his rich career dedicated to, among other things, environmental planning.

With a lifetime of achievements as an academic in disciplines ranging from language and literature to geology, and research, also wide ranging, from the rugged Snowy River Mountains to the Swan Coastal Plain, Professor George Seddon has, not surprisingly, received many accolades and awards but this has touched him the most because it recognises his career’s work.

"Professor George Seddon is a rare academic whose ongoing work raises our appreciation of our history, our environment and every part of the place in which we live," UWA Vice-Chancellor Professor Alan Robson said.

Diverse interests have fuelled an extraordinary career, with his first degree in English, a Masters in Science and a PhD in Geology. When he was appointed Professor of Environmental Science at the University of Melbourne, it was his third Chair and the fifth discipline in which he’d worked. He has combined his love of language (he speaks several languages) and his great interest in the surface of the earth to publish some 28 books and more than 150 journal articles.

Most well known in WA is his book ‘A Sense of Place’, published in 1976 which brought the needs of the fragile Swan River Plain to the attention of the public. Professor Seddon is acknowledged as Australia’s first environmental planner.

"One aspect of Professor Seddon’s work is its readability which has contributed to his ability to bring to the foreground of public debate issues which shape our community and environment. He has made one of the most significant contributions to the planning profession in Australia," Professor Robson said.  



is now Senior Research Fellow at the Centre for Studies of Australian Literature, University of W.A. In the modern era, where students are trained to specialise in more and more detail about fewer and fewer subjects, Seddon is remarkable for the ease with which he straddles so many disciplines. He will argue that traditional horticultural practice involves choosing plants and then providing conditions in which to flourish. ‘This is the wrong way around and we should accept what our environment offers, then make our plant and design choices accordingly…’. Seddon has published hundreds of articles and many books and his pioneering, Sense of Place has recently been republished in a facsimile format. (source)


The GENIUS LOCI and Australian Landscape

originally published in Landscape Australia 2/1979



A Sample of his books: (being updated - please send any other information)

2005: The Old Country: Australian Landscapes, Plants and People
Cambridge University Press

Australia is a nation of keen gardeners. This passion for plants sits uneasily with the knowledge that much of the country is running out of water. It is suspected that lawns and the numerous plant species imported from the damp climates of northern Europe are too demanding of scarce supplies, but many Australians can't imagine their streets and gardens without them. The Old Country opens our eyes, and minds, to other possibilities. It does so by telling us stories about our natural landscape. George Seddon believes that the better we understand the delicacy and beauty of our natural environment, the more 'at home' we will feel as Australians. This passionate, wise and witty book, enriched with breathtakingly beautiful illustrations, suggests that the answers to our water problems lie here, at home.

REVIEW: George Seddon distils an inspiring career teaching and writing innovatively about the ecology and landscape of Australia into a ruminative exposition of the significance and importance of the native flora. Illustrated throughout with exquisite colour plates, all of which are put to work as evidence for the text, The Old Country is an important book for all Australians who wish to understand how both the suburban garden, with its mixture of natives and exotics, and the Australian landscape, modified by both Aboriginal and European people over millennia, have evolved. The relevance of this knowledge to current environmental concerns is deftly demonstrated in Seddon's elegant, witty and immensely readable prose. (source)

“George Seddon is Australia's finest placewriter .He combines a light touch with a sureness of foot. The result is a clarity of insight as striking as a Fremantle summer's day . This book offers itself as a companion to the journey that we call Australia . Seddon'
achievement is of the finest kind - he connects , but he also speaks with an honesty and precision that is breathtaking.” - Peter Beilharz, La Trobe University

'George Seddon has inspired and stimulated many, he has made life better and landscapes more beautiful; he has helped us to see our country from the inside. He is a maverick, an original.'
- Tom Griffiths, Senior Fellow and Head, History Program, Research School of Social Sciences, Australian National University

'This is an exquisite work. It is lovely to hold and to look at, to feel as well as the writing itself. There is a tremendous mix of poetry, reflection, personal history. The Old Country is a triumph. It is magnificent.'
Robyn Williams, ‘The Science Show’ ABC Radio



1995 Searching for the Snowy - George Seddon
Allen & Unwin
Judges' Comments
George Seddon's Searching for the Snowy, is a highly readable account of a physical and intellectual exploration of the natural and social world of the Snowy River. (source)



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