The Greens

The Greens
Remembering Richard and Carol Green
10 November 2015

Last night I heard news that I had feared. Relentless adventurers Richard and Carol Green had been killed in a helicopter crash with a friend, filmmaker John Davis. They were returning from an environmental protest at Breeza, south of Tamworth and disappeared.

Richard Green (1940–2015), Gnarled skeletons, Sturt Stony Desert, South Australia  2006, nla.obj-151436148

Green by name and green by nature, the two of them were absolutely dedicated to making the world a better place. Richard's remarkably captivating images of pristine wilderness have proved to be both memorable and influential. He made them freely available to promote ecological causes and toured an exhibition of his panoramic images with great success around regional galleries.

I received a news email from Richard only last Friday night and was pleased to hear what they had been up to. More trips, more beautiful photographs, more adventures. Drought in the far north and previously visited places no longer the same. Visiting his grandson and eldest daughter in Melbourne for a first birthday party. Very busy grandparents enjoying life to the full.

Richard mentioned in his email that one of his aerial forest photographs, showing the koala habitat inland from Bega, which is being threatened by logging, was made available free of charge to promote the cause. The photograph in his email captured an aerial view of the Gardens of Stone north of Lithgow. Richard wrote, "which various energy companies would happily desecrate with open-cut coal-mines and fracking wells." A man of strong opinions, which didn't always bring him favour, and not one to kowtow to authority, he ruffled feathers sometimes. He could be abrasive and impatient with bureaucracy, characteristics countered by Carol's warmth and preparedness to tell him to shut up. Carol painted and drew, and eloquently captured the landscape they roamed through, while Richard caught the moment digitally, waiting for perfect light conditions.

Richard Green (1940–2015), Prolific ferns, Mount Anne, southwest Tasmania  1992, nla.obj-151438244

I had a lot to do with Richard and Carol when the Library showed an exhibition of his hugely successful photographs in 2008. The public loved them. They left rapturous comments about them in the visitors' book. The exhibition led to a self-produced major book documenting his work which, again, the public consumed with great enthusiasm. It was typical of Richard to produce his own book and to do so to such technically demanding standards. He obsessed about it and of course crafted a gorgeous volume which I will wistfully enjoy in the years ahead. He loved technology, he had made his fortune from it, hence the EC135 helicopter and his great cameras. His obsessive eye for detail was revealed in the way he stitched the individual images into rich tableaux to create iconic Australian images. He also loved his tavern clocks, a museum standard collection,which he tinkered with and craftily maintained. The house ticked along to the rhythm of these rarities and no doubt they are now slowing and stopping in his absence.

Richard's gift of photographs to the National Library after his exhibition was a generous act. You can enjoy them in our catalogue.

Richard and Carol loved adventure, motor bikes and travelling and most of all flying to places where non-Indigenous Australians had probably not been before. Creating a vision of the unspoilt to haunt us in a messy, greedy world they succeeded in making many people take pause and think about the world we are losing. People sometimes say, in reference to the passing of an adventurous spirit, they died doing what he loved. Richard and Carol certainly lived life to the full, loved their helicopter trips, camping out under the stars and will be sorely missed by the many that knew them. Their images, however, will live on. 

Comment: 
Nat Thank you for this.
Comment: 
Nat Thank you for this.
Comment: 
A great friend to our family, their work was just amazing,
Comment: 
Nat, a perfect article about Richard and Carol. We have been friends with them for over 15 years and I believe if they had read this, it would have brought a smile to their kind, generous faces. Thank you
Comment: 
Thanks Nat for this snapshot memory of Richard and Carol and their contribution to the wider community which has been both generous, inspirational and impactful. They brought a particular kind of vitality and active connection to the National Library and its audiences and staff, especially those involved in various ways with Wild Places - the exhibition and the publication. I think we all had an underlying apprehension that their adventures would take them to a place just too precarious to survive. They will be missed. Their legacy is huge! And beautiful.
Comment: 
My eldest sister and Carol were schoolmates and maintained their friendship until Suzanne's passing in 2009. Carol was always bright and thoughtful and I send loving thoughts to her family, particularly to her sisters Pauline and Merryl.
Comment: 
Thanks for such a touching tribute to my mother and second father. It's been a great comfort seeing how much they meant to people these last few days. Everything you say is true and it brings tears of both grief and happiness to my eyes reading what you had to say. While they may have left us for greener pastures, they certainly lived life to the full and for all the right reasons too. Thanks again.
Comment: 
Dear Joel, It is just too sad. We have all been thinking about them and what they meant to us personally but also the importance of their fight for the world around us. Carol and Richard were remarkable people, great fun and will be deeply missed by many. I will be thinking of you over the difficult days ahead. Let me know if I can help in any way. Best wishes Nat
Comment: 
Thank you Nat for a great piece on my mother & Richard. Their work & legacy will live on for many friends & future generations to enjoy They will be both sorely missed.
Comment: 
Dear Oliver, As in my comments to Joel, I was so pleased to get to know Carol and Richard and only wish I had seen more of them in the past couple of years. Carol's voice and laughter rings in my ears still. Richard's beautiful images will console us all. Take care and let me know if you are here at any time. Nat
Comment: 
As Carol's older sister, I too must add my appreciation for this very touching tribute. You have summed Carol and Richard up so very well. At a time like this there is so much "muck raking" in the daily media. Hopefully what you have written completely outshines all that. A big thank you.
Comment: 
Hi Nat - I am putting together the funeral ceremony for the Green families - wondering if I can quote some of your article?
Comment: 
Nat, thank you for summarizing Carolyn & Richard so beautifully and poignantly. They were unique, inspirational and unswerving in their determination to protect the environment. Whilst you’ve highlighted their contribution to the National Library in Canberra, few may know that Richard’s landscapes are used as dramatic backdrops for the Prehistoric Marsupial exhibits at the Australian Museum in Sydney where the Diprotodon is displayed. We take solace knowing they left this world a better place with a lasting legacy that survives for future generations.