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Hall of Fame - Science

Noel ‘Bill’ Hicks

Environmental  Innovator

Inducted 28 June 2017.

Noel ‘Bill’ Hicks was born in Woollahra, Sydney in 1922.              

He attended Primary School and High School in Woollahra before completing his Electrical  Engineer qualifications  at Sydney Technical College.                                                      

Bill met his wife, Betty while working at a company together in Redfern. The couple were married for 73 years and had three children, six grandchildren and a number of great grandchildren.

Bill had a long and successful career as an Electrical Engineer, working in Australia, England, and the United States, before retiring in 1985 and moving to Laguna. It was here that he began a new career as a science innovator, which has brought him great acclaim. <

A keen environmentalist, Bill has had a long involvement with projects to understand and protect Australia’s native flora and fauna.  Supported by NPWS, Bill undertook a pioneering program of research on the dietary requirements of koalas on his property in Oatley Bay, he was also a founding member of the Society for Growing Australian Plants, founding chairman of the David G. Stead Wildlife Research Station, founding secretary of the NSW Environment Centre, and Chairman of the Nature Conservation Council. 

From his new home in the Watagans, Bill became involved with the Hunter Catchment Management Restoration Taskforce.  Stemming from a concern about the extensive use of exotic and invasive willow species in river and stream bank stabilisation projects, Bill developed a new technique for planting on restoration sites that allowed native species to be used instead of the willows.  

This new technique challenged long held horticultural principals, but field trials demonstrated a greatly increased survival rate of native plantings.  River and stream bank restoration projects that had previously been using willows for their ability to easily establish and protect the banks, were now able to substitute native plants, helping to re-establish local habitat, and increase biodiversity.

In 1989, the Catchment Management Trust and Department of Land and Water Conservation approached Bill to supply 25,000 trees for the Hunter River Planting Program. The project was a huge success and generated many new orders and interest in the technique.  Bill and his wife Betty began to travel across Australia showcasing the benefits of Longstem Deep Planting. 

The technique is now recognised as part of best practice stream and river restoration restoration, and is used nationally and internationally, with projects in Central Africa, Egypt, USA, and England.

Bill now lives at Calvary retirement home in Cessnock, where he is involved in establishing a nursery where residents can grow their own longstem trees. 

Further information

Longstem tubestock - Bill Hicks

Australian Native Plants Society (Australia)

Australian Native Plants Society (Australia) Longstem Native Tubestock 

Trials of Long-stem Tube Stock at Katandra Reserve,Gosford NSW 

Newcastle Herald 

Gardening with Angus (Gardening Australia)

Longstem planting guide by the Australian Plants Society,Gosford City Council and NSW Environmental

Ecological Management and Restoration Journal

Grains Research and Development Corporation

Michael Knipe


Inducted 2011

Michael Knipe was born in Cessnock in 1955. He grew up in Cessnock, attending St Patrick’s primary school and Maitland’s Marist Brothers High School before completing his optometry degree at the University of NSW in 1976.

In 1977 Michael moved to Tasmania to commence employment with an independent optometrist in Hobart.. Michael has been instru­mental in helping to provide or save the sight of patients in ­Tasmania, Australia and beyond. 

Michael's extensive career has included further study in ocular therapeutics,  private practice work, a part-time role as senior optometrist at the Royal Hobart Hospital Eye Clinic, and a prominent role in the East Timor Eye Program. He has developed particular interests in contact lens practice, public health, practice management and professional affairs.

Michael’s contribution to the optometry profession, has included holding positions with Optometrists Association Australia, Total Eyecare, the Contact Lens Society Australia, the Tasmanian College of Optometrists. and Independent Optometrists Australia (now ProVision), Michael was appointed President of the Optometrists Association Australia in 2010.

Michael has also developed his interests in business. His qualifications include a Graduate Diploma of Business in Professional Management and a Master of Business Administration. He is a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Company Directors and of the Victorian College of Optometry.

One of Michael’s long standing business interests was with ProVision Eyecare Proprietary Limited, the largest independent optical group in Australia, servicing the needs of over 370 optometrists across the country. Michael was a Director from 1990, and served as Chairman of the Board for 15 years.

Michael is actively involved in the charity Optometry Giving Sight and also in the ProVision Optometry Teams. These teams were initiated while Michael was Chairman of ProVision, and provide 13 optometrists each year to spend at least one week in East Timor providing eye care and mentoring East Timorese eye care workers. Michael himself has visited East Timor on several occasions.

Throughout his career, Michael has developed experience, business skills and commitment to professional optometry practice which have all made a significant contribution to optometry.

In 2013 and 2014 Micheal was recognised for his contribution to optometry in Tasmainia, and ercived awards from Optometry Giving Sight and Optometry Tasmania.

In 2015 Michael was named as a Member (AM) in the Australia Day honours list for significant service to optometry through his executive roles with professional organisations, and to the community of East Timor. 

Further information

Frank Rickwood OBE


Inducted 30 November 2010.

Frank Rickwood was born in Cessnock in 1921, the son of migrant parents from London, George and Elizabeth Rickwood.

Frank went to a convent school at Nulkaba and attended Cessnock High School. He won a scholarship to the New England University College of the University of Sydney (now the University of New England), where he had an outstanding undergraduate career studying chemistry and geology. Frank joined the war effort as a chemist, before completing his formal education at the University of Sydney, where he was awarded the University Medal in geology.

Franks career began with the Australian Petroleum Company and the Anglo-Persian Oil Company (later to become British Petroleum), working as an oil geologist in Papua New Guinea, Somalia, Yemen and Central and South America. When at home Frank lectured at the University of Sydney, quickly rising to the position of Sub-Dean at the Faculty of Science.

Appointed to senior roles for British Petroleum in the United States, England and Australia, Frank became chief executive of BP Alaska in 1969.  During the next decade, he oversaw the discovery of huge deposits of oil in Alaska, the development of the Prudhoe oilfields, and construction of the 1,286 km long Alaskan pipeline, which now supplies nearly 10 per cent of North American oil. At that time, this project was the biggest private enterprise engineering project ever undertaken.

Following his Alaskan success, Frank became chief executive of BP Petroleum Development, and also sat on the main board of BP Trading in London as the director responsible for the company's worldwide oil exploration program. He retired from BP in 1981, but continued on the boards of Ampol and Pioneer International, and as an advisor to BHP.  Frank became chairman of the major Australian company Oil Search which developed a newly discovered oil resource in Papua New Guinea.

Frank was awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of New England, the Haddon Forrester King Medal of the Australian Academy of Science in 1993 and the OBE, personally awarded by Queen Elizabeth II on board The Royal Yacht Britannia.

Frank was the man for whom a British Petroleum public relations writer originally coined the phrase "the quiet achiever" -- a slogan later used worldwide in the company's advertising campaigns.

Away from work, Frank had a passion for collecting art and the restoration of old and gracious homes , including the historic Hunter Valley house, Minimbah.

Frank Rickwood eventually settled into retirement in 1992 in Barbados, where he died, aged 88, in 2009.

Adapted from the citation read on the occasion of Frank Rickwood's induction into the City of Cessnock Hall of Fame on 30 November 2010.

Further information

Brian Turner


Inducted 25 November 2009.

Brian Turner was born in Cessnock in 1937, and educated at Cessnock High School.

He gained his first academic qualification, a Bachelor of Science in Forestry, at the University of Sydney in 1958, before obtaining a number of others, culminating in his Doctorate in Forestry at Yale University in the United States.

Brian spent much of his earlier working life in the US, teaching and researching at the Pennsylvania State University, where he reached the positions of Professor of Forest Management and Co-Director of the Office for Remote Sensing of Earth Resources. In 1984, Brian returned to Australia to take up the position of Reader in Forest Management at the Australian National University (ANU). 

Brian’s career and achievements reflect his lifelong interest in forest management planning, prediction of future production of managed native forest goods and services, and the collection and analysis of GIS and remotely sensed data.

His work has included forestry and remote sensing research projects in Australia and around the world, teaching and consultancy, participation in numerous professional and academic committees, presentation of papers at conferences and an extensive list of publications including reports to government agencies.

In recent years, Brian has been one of Australia’s substantial contributors to the work of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the body which was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007. In recognition of his contribution to the IPCC and this prize, Brian was the recipient of a special IPCC award. In presenting Brian with this award, the IPCC Chairman stated it was being presented “only to those who have contributed substantially to the work of the IPCC over the years since the inception of the organization”, and acknowledged that the “credit for this presitigious award goes to you and other colleagues who have contributed so admirably to the work of the IPCC”.

Although now retired, Brian is still a Visiting Fellow (Emeritus Reader) at the Fenner School of Environment and Society at the ANU, conducting research, supervising research students and undertaking consultancies. 

Adapted from the citation read on the occasion of Brian Turner's induction into the City of Cessnock Hall of Fame on 25 November 2009.

John Falk

Scientist (Biochemist)

Inducted 28 November 2007.

John Falk was born in Cessnock in 1917 and was educated at North Sydney Boys High School. He trained as a pharmaceutical chemist at the University of Sydney where he obtained his BSc, and MSc.

After his graduation in 1947, John gained a scholarship at the University of Sydney , where he was involved in research to provide essential drugs which had become unavailable in Australia, including anti-dysentery and anti-malarial drugs and insect repellants which were important in the New Guinea campaign. (The contribution which this group made to the success of this campaign has never received the recognition it deserved.)

This research culminated in John’s appointment as Chief Chemist of the Bayer Company in Sydney. His discovery of a process for the large scale synthesis of 5-amino-acridine was patented and is still in general use.

Following the war, John worked in many organisations in Australia and the UK,  including; the Institute of Medical Research at the Royal North Shore Hospital, Sydney University, and the University College Hospital Medical School.  John obtained his PhD at the University of London in 1951.

From 1951 - 1955 John became the Leader of the Nuffield Unit for Research in Pyrrole Pigment Metabolism. During this time was also Honorary Lecturer in Biochemistry at University College and Foulerton Research Fellow of the Royal Society, London. This work established his scientific reputation in porphyrin and haem chemistry.

From 1955 to 1970 John’s career was based at the CSIRO where he held positions including Chief Research Officer and Head of the Division of Plant Industry. He was a Fellow of the Royal Australian Chemical Institute, office bearer of several scientific organisations and author of more than 50 publications and reviews.

John was also an accomplished flautist, he was President of the Canberra Orchestral Society and participated in the establishment of a Canberra school of music. He died in 1970, his untimely death bringing a prominent scientific career to a premature end.

John Falk’s achievements include:  

  • 1956 Fellow of the Royal Australian Chemical Institute (during 1958/9 he was the first Chairman of the ACT Branch of the Institute)
  • 1959 An organisersof the International Symposium on Haematin Enzymes for the Academy and the International Union of Biochemistry
  • 1963 - 1970 Head of the CSIRO Division of Plant Industry §  Published his book on Porphyrins and Metalloporphyrins in 1964, which has become a classic amongst more than 50 other publications, reviews, etc
  • President of the Canberra Orchestral Society and also participated in the establishment of a Canberra school of music
  • 1961 Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science (FAA)
  • 1964-1966 President of the Australian Biochemical Society §  1964 Awarded the Olle Prize by the New South Wales Branch of ANZAAS
  • 1965 President of Section M (Botany) of ANZAAS.  
  • Member of the Biochemical and Chemical Societies (London), the Australian Society for Plant Physiology and the Australian Institute of Agricultural Science.  
  • 2007 Honoured by the CSIRO with the John Falk Memorial Lecture

Adapted from the citation  read on the occasion of John Falk's induction into the City of Cessnock Hall of Fame on 28 November 2007.

Further information


James Pendlebury


Inducted 28 November 2007.

James Pendlebury was born in Cessnock in 1929.  He was educated at East Cessnock, Griffith and Aberdare Primary Schools, Cessnock High School, and was awarded a Sydney University Exhibition to study Science.

James graduated from Sydney University in 1951 with a BSc (Hons) in Chemistry and a Graduate Diploma in Education.

Having been inspired by his teachers in High School to become a teacher himself, in 1952 James began teaching Science at Lithgow High School. In 1960, at the invitation of the Department of Education he began lecturing at Sydney Teachers College (STC).  The STC later became the Sydney Institute of Education (SIE), and was subsumed within the Sydney College of Advanced Education (SCAE), Sydney University.  James was promoted to Senior Lecturer in 1967, Principal Lecturer and Head of Chemistry in 1972 and Principal Lecturer and Head of the Science Department in 1978, where he remained until his retirement in 1989.

From 1961 to 1978, James was General Secretary of the NSW Science Teachers Association, where he was a leading force in the establishment and running of the NSW School Science Research Competition. For most of those years he was also a Councillor of the Australian Science Teachers Association.

In 1964, James was asked to assist in the establishment of Secondary Science Programs for ABC Television and be one if its two presenters, This led to his being offered a Fullbright Scholarship to study Television in schools and Chemistry Curriculum development in the USA.

Following the completion of an MSc (Hons) in Chemistry, a Commonwealth Scholarship enabled him to undertake a PhD in Chemistry at Macquarie University, graduating in 1972.

Following are further contributions and honours.

  • Honours Leaving Certificate Chemistry Assessor (1963 - 1966)
  • Wesley Mission (Sydney) Honorary Treasurer from 1970 - 2009
  • Member of the HSC Chemistry Syllabus Committee (1984 - 1988)
  • Member of Board of Alan Walker College for Evangelism (1985 - 2006)
  • Awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia in 1991
  • Director of the Board of Wesley Institute for Ministry and the Arts from 1990, becoming its Chairman from 1995 - 2009
  • Appointed a Justice of the Peace from 1993 - 2009
  • Director of the Aged Persons Welfare Foundation from 1996-
  • Chairman of the Gordon Moyes Scholarship Foundation from 2005-
  • Author of numerous books, journal articles, theses and research papers
    throughout his career.
  • Several Honorary Life Memberships awarded: the NSW Science Teachers
    Association (1978); the Bible Society (1992); the Australian College of Educators (2002)
  • An active member of the Methodist/Uniting Churches. Roles and responsibilities exercised include lay preacher, teacher, Congregational Chairman, Church Council Chairman, member of Uniting Church Synod, Council of Synod and the National Assembly.


Adapted from the citation  read on the occasion of James Pendlebury's induction into the City of Cessnock Hall of Fame on 28 November 2007.


Robert Hunter


Inducted 6th December 2006.

Robert Hunter was born in Abermain in 1933 and attended Abermain Primary School and Cessnock High School. He completed a Bachelor of Science Degree at the University of New England, followed by a PhD at the University of Sydney.

Robert’s early scientific career began working as a chemist with the CSIRO, and at the University of Sydney, where he was later appointed Associate Professor in Physical Chemistry and then Head of School. Robert’s area of specialisation and expertise is in colloids and surfaces.

Additional honours awarded to Robert have included Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science, and Member of the Order of Australia (OAM) in 2003, which was awarded for service to science and to the community through the promotion of scientific social responsibility. Robert is also the author of a number of scientific books and publications.  

Robert has had a long standing association with many professional bodies, for example the Royal Australian Chemical Institute and the International Association of Colloid and Interface Scientists.

Robert was also a strong advocate for peace and justice and acted as National President of Scientists Against Nuclear Arms ( SANA )1986 –1988 and 1990–1992, and was a member and President of Scientists for Global Responsibility (Australia ).

Adapted from the citation read on the occasion of Robert Hunter's induction into the City of Cessnock Hall of Fame on 6th December 2006. Further information

Further information

Robert Endean

Marine scientist

Inducted 6th December 2006.

Robert Endean was born in Abermain in 1925, and moved to Abernethy as a child. He attended Cessnock High School and later completed Science Degrees in Zoology at the University of Sydney, where he was also awarded the University Medal. He completed his PhD at the University of Queensland in 1958.

Over his career, Robert held several academic positions at the University of Queensland, principally as a marine biologist, and became best known for his work on the Great Barrier Reef and the impact of the Crown-of-thorns starfish.

Robert accompanied Jacques Cousteau on his first reef expedition.

Robert was also a pioneer in marine pharmacology.

Robert was the Chairman of the Great Barrier Reef Committee, which was instrumental in setting up the marine research station on Heron Island and the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority.

During his career, Robert held many influential positions in his field of expertise, some of these include;

Founding member of the International Society on Toxinology.

  • Chairman of the Great Barrier Reef Committee, which was instrumental in setting up the marine research station on Heron Island and the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA),
  • Member of the Expert Advisory Committee on food additives of the World Health Organization 1976-1981
  • Chairman of the Planning Committee for the 7th World Congress on Animal, Plant and Microbial Toxins.
  • Co-founder of the Guardians of the Reef organisation in 1989, which subsequently became Oceanguard Retired as Associate Professor of Zoology at the University of Queensland in 1990

Robert published 160 scientific papers, most of them in international journals.  

Robert died on Heron Island in 1997 aged 71.

In 2015 Robert was honoured with the naming of the Bob Endean Reef off the Far North Queensland coast.  The reef, east of Mission Beach, was named in recognition of Roberts pioneering research into crown-of-thorns starfish infestation and the ecology and toxicology of marine organisms.     

Adapted from the citation read on the occasion of Robert Endean's induction into the City of Cessnock Hall of Fame on 6th December 2006.

Further reading