My Life as a Naturalist¦Kevn Griffiths

DRB November Meeting Report

This was the first of the DRB’s special talks honouring the DRB elders. Kevn Griffiths, the DRB Co-founder, has presented talks over many years, but this was his debut using digital technology at the wonderful age of (almost) 90. Kevn documented the founding of the DRB, and talked about his study on the fish species Gambusia affinis and his interest in fungi.

The DRB had its origins when the trials of travelling with a bunch of kids from the Hills to Nedlands for Naturalists’ Club meetings inspired friends Kevn and Eric McCrum to start a local branch. The first DRB meeting was held at Jacoby Park in Mundaring in 1974 with about 20 people attending, including children. Meetings were initially held in the rustic Mundaring Weir Hall, complete with pigeons nesting in the ceiling! DRB held their first Wildlife Show at Mundaring Showgrounds later that year, complete with a range of live birds and animals, including a ‘Thylacine’ (aka the Griffiths’ family dog painted with stripes)! It was an extremely popular event and saw more members join the DRB. By 1976, the DRB had 24 adult and 10 junior members. Another successful Wildlife Show was staged in 1983.

Kath Peggs, Peg and Kevn Griffiths and Ian Thompson(MLA) at the Wildlife show 1983

Kevn took us on a trip down memory lane with a selection of DRB photos from the 1980s to the current day. It was lovely to see faces from the earlier years, for example Kath Peggs, Mary Vaughan, Barbara York Main, Norm and Mary Avery, Betty Wellington, Fleur Butcher, Andre Du Plessis. It was entertaining to see more youthful pictures of some of us too!

The second part of Kevn’s talk focused on his 1972 Teachers Higher Certificate Thesis: a study of Gambusia affinis, an introduced fish, and its effect on native fish populations. His study involved travelling widely throughout south-west WA investigating fish populations in watercourses, with his young family and very patient wife, Peg, in tow. Peg remembers it as “Packing, unpacking, packing, unpacking…”

The third part of Kevn’s talk discussed how he developed his knowledge of fungi after his eldest daughter, Donna, did a school project on fungi. Roger Hilton, a fungi expert at UWA, saw the project and suggested it be developed into a book and “Dad” got the job. After much hard work, A Field Guide to the Larger Fungi of the Darling Scarp & South West of Western Australia was published in 1985. Kevn then showed us photos of some of the groups of fungi in the Perth Hills, and explained how trees get nutrients from some fungi and vice versa. He shared this tip: if taking a photo of a fungus for identification purposes cut the fungus lengthways so the inside structure can be seen and include a matchstick for size comparison.

It was a fascinating insight into Kevn’s life as a naturalist, and we are very grateful to him for sharing some highlights of his journey with us.

The talks have been placed on the DRB’s YouTube channel.

Shelley Campbell