Just some of Tim Ealey’s achievements! Dr Eric Herbert Mitchell ‘Tim’ Ealey is one of our residents – who we recently discovered is also a renowned Australian zoologist and environmentalist with several remarkable achievements under his belt – prepare yourself to be impressed!
During our own online research of Tim’s professional life we discovered he was not only the first Australian to circumnavigate Antarctica, but also has a large Glacier and a tiny marsupial named after him! Among his many accolades, Tim received a medal of the Order of Australia for his work on coastal conservation. He also helped set up the first Australian grad school for environmental science…he’s been a very busy man!
We had one of our Connection Coordinators sit down with Tim to find out more about his early years, his passions and interests and some memories from his impressive career. Though Tim’s thoughts are sometimes jumbled these days we were also able to speak with Tim’s daughters, Wendy and Jenny, to clarify some information.
Tim is a character and doesn’t hold back! One of the perks of getting older must certainly be speaking your mind.
Born in 1927 Tim says he had a, “very standard upper-middle class childhood”, with one brother, and a mother who was, “always concerned with our image, so sometimes it wasn’t fun and games.”
Tim says he, “hated school. It was a very good school, but I didn’t enjoy it. It was a ‘snobby’ posh school where everyone talked well.” His favourite subject was biology.
Adulthood and Career
Married three times, Tim met his first wife Mary, at work. She was a librarian and they were engaged after about a year of knowing each other. “She proposed – she was very modern for the time.” They had two girls together. He met his third wife Laura at a Rebirthing Workshop.
Tim studied all the way through to tertiary level, where he gained his PHD. The research work he did with kangaroos he says was his “favourite job”, though he liked a lot of aspects of all his research.
Tim received international recognition for his work, and was nationally acknowledged for a program that involved schools in rehabilitation of the environment. He was commemorated in the specific epithet of a tiny marsupial measuring 45mm – 58mm long. He discovered the Pilbara ningaui, sometimes known as Ealey’s ningaui, in the Pilbara region of Western Australia.
Tim finds it hard to pinpoint a significant mentor in his life. “It’s hard to think of one, as I was a bit of a loner in my work and a lot of the professors I worked with were ‘bastards’, in my opinion. I encountered some dreadful people in academia.”
Words of Wisdom
When I asked what advice he would give to people heading into study or the workforce for the first time he said, “another hard question… all the normal things like ‘study hard and ask questions’. But I would also recommend to stand on your own two feet, and ‘dodge the first punch’. Do your best.”
When asked where he’d travelled over the years he listed well over 20 countries – some for work, some for leisure – including New Zealand, Indonesia, Thailand, Antarctica, France, Germany, South Africa, Scotland, England, Malaysia and Hong Kong, just to name a few.
There’s certainly a lot to feel proud of in a life this full of adventure and we feel very privileged to be able to share Tim’s story… though when asked about his greatest achievements in life he says it is his ‘girls’ (referring to his daughters Jenny and Wendy), who have, “accomplished so much on their own without my help.”
If you want to find out more about Tim you can access information in the links below:
National Library (info and audio): https://catalogue.nla.gov.au/Record/5055738