Don Nicholson

Don and Penan Nicholson
State Life Member
Branch Life Member

From PEDALS ISSUE 143 (written by Jane Anderson, Port Augusta Branch)

Don grew up on Roopena Station near Whyalla in South Australia...

Don's first involvement of what was to become IPCA was after hearing on ABC's "Australia All Over" of a public meeting to be held in April 1971 at Bourke in which the inaugural branch ICPA was officially formed. He and his wife Penan were members of the Port Augusta Outback Parents' Club (School of the Air). At one of the branch's HF Radio meetings around that time much discussion ensued and a motion was passed that Don and Penan Nicolson of Roopena Station attend the April meeting in Bourke with $20 allocated to them for petrol. In 1972 Don was elected to ICPA Federal Council and in 1974 become Vice President. He was Federal President from 1977-1980 and Immediate Past President from 1980-1985.

Don was pivotal in the formation of ICPA in South Australia. At a state level Don was the inaugural State President in 1973, a position he held until 1983. To mark his retirement Don was made a Life Member of ICPA SA.

As well Don was the founding member of the Port Augusta branch and his family had many years of involvement with the branch.

In the early days of ICPA Don often accompanied by Penan, would drive many thousands of miles in getting ICPA up and running and then stabilising the organisation. Tales have been told of driving long hours on unsealed, corrugated and dusty roads to Bourke and other centres around Asutralia. In those early days many outback stations had no telephones, whilest some had only 'party lines' for spasmodic communications. One of Don's early ambitions in communications was for everyone to:

  • Have a phone that works
  • Have a phone that works all the time

In an article about Don in the 'Pedals' magazine in the 80's, he reflected on the first ten years of ICPA and said he could see there had been great improvements in the educational services to isolated communities. He went on to say, "excellent relations have been enjoyed with the State Ministers, Education Department, the Correspondence School, School of the Air and RICE (Remote and Isolated Children's Exercise) with all concerned having worked towards the improvement of education for our children."

He was quoted in recent years as saying "ICPA is still one of the most successful lobby organisations in Australia". Don was very much a community orientated person with with involvement in Apex, United Farmers and the Stockowners Association of SA during which time he was an executive of the Wool and Meat Section. He was a member of the the Rangeland Society of Australia and South Australia, being the inaugural president. Involvement in the local National Trust Branch included time as chairman. Donald was also on the Dog Fence Board for 22 years and Chairman for eight of those years.

Don enjoyed playing social tennis and his special love was restoration of old stationary engines.

In 1997 Don was awarded an OAM for his involvement in, and contribution to, community, educational and grazing groups.

In 2014 Don and Penan were invited to attend and open the South Australian State Conference which was co-hosted by the Port Augusta Branch and coincided with the Branch's 40th Birthday celebrations. It was very evident that Don's commitment, passion and enthusiasm towards ICPA was still as strong as in the early days.

Don's contribution to ICPA, at Federal, State and Branch level, since its inception and his commitment and endeavour to ensure that equality in education for isolated children was enabled, and maintained, will be appreciated and remembered by us all.