8th February 1909 — 5th December 2012
Dame Elisabeth’s upbringing taught her to love gardens and the land. As a young wife and mother of four, she found herself running two large gardens in Melbourne and at Cruden Farm. Neither property had sufficient water supply so she would wake at dawn — a habit that never left her — to pump water and shift hoses, or she’d water at dusk after she’d done a day’s work in the city. Dame Elisabeth was frequently in town attending appointments, meetings and performances.
She served for 33 years on the Board of the Royal Children’s Hospital; she was the original Patron of the Australian Garden History Society; a Trustee of the National Gallery of Victoria; the convenor of Como’s gardening committee; a member of the Maude Gibson Trust and Chairman of the Victorian Tapestry Workshop’s Interim Committee. These were just some of the important community roles to which she devoted numerous hours. Everyone who knew Dame Elisabeth commented on her extraordinary physical energy and her “get up and go” attitude to everything to which she applied herself.
Over her lifetime, Dame Elisabeth also supported many charities and not for profit organisations; a small selection listed here:
Australian Tapestry Workshop / Bell Shakespeare / Burnet Institute / Bush Heritage Australia / Bionic Ear Institute / Cottage by the Sea / Elisabeth Murdoch College/ Footscray Community Arts Centre / Langwarrin CFA / McClelland Sculpture Park & Gallery / Noah’s Ark Toy Library/ Opera Australia / Royal Institute for Deaf & Blind Children / RSPCA / Royal Botanic Gardens / Somebody’s Daughter Theatre Company / Taralye / The Australian Ballet / Walter & Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research
For all her involvement in organisations and charities, one of her greatest passions was Cruden Farm.
In the words of her long term gardening companion Michael Morrison, ‘She loved every square inch of it, from boundary to boundary. There wasn’t a plant or patch of grass that she didn’t know intimately.’