Harry Butler

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Harry Butler

William Henry Butler

(1930-03-25)25 March 1930
Perth, Western Australia, Australia
Died11 December 2015(2015-12-11) (aged 85)
Perth, Western Australia, Australia
Alma mater Claremont Teachers College
Western State College
OccupationEnvironmental consultant
television presenter
Known forEnvironmentalism, songwriting
Television In the Wild ABC Television

William Henry "Harry" Butler AO CBE (25 March 1930 – 11 December 2015) was an Australian naturalist and environmental consultant, best known as the presenter of the popular ABC television series In the Wild from 1976 to 1981.

Natural history Study of organisms including plants or animals in their environment

Natural history is a domain of inquiry involving organisms including animals, fungi and plants in their environment; leaning more towards observational than experimental methods of study. A person who studies natural history is called a naturalist or natural historian.

The Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) is Australia's national broadcaster founded in 1929. It is principally funded by the direct grants from the Australian government, but is expressly independent of government and partisan politics. The ABC plays a leading role in journalistic independence and is fundamental in the history of broadcasting in Australia.

In The Wild is a popular nature television series produced by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation from 1976 until 1981. It was hosted by Harry Butler, a noted Australian naturalist and environmental consultant.


Butler was born on 25 March 1930 in Perth, Western Australia. [1] He attended Claremont Teachers' College in Western Australia and later the Western State College in the United States. [2]

He co-wrote "Sun Arise" with fellow Western Australian Rolf Harris, which reached the Top 10 in the UK in 1962. [3]

"Sun Arise" is the fourth single released by Australian singer-songwriter Rolf Harris. Released in January 1961 in Australia and October 1962 in the UK, it was Harris' third charting hit in Australia and second in the UK. Unlike his early chart hits, "Sun Arise" was not a comedy record, but came within the genre of world music with its didgeridoo-inspired sound.

Rolf Harris Australian-born, British-based entertainer and convicted sex offender

Rolf Harris is an Australian entertainer whose career has encompassed work as a musician, singer-songwriter, composer, comedian, actor, painter and television personality.

Butler was a populariser of science and natural history for both child and adult audiences, especially through the ABC television series In the Wild , which led to him being named Australian of the Year in 1979. He also authored the books In The Wild, In the Wild (Part II) and Looking at the Wild.

As conservation consultant to the Barrow Island oilfield and many other projects, Butler played a major role in environmental conservation and restoration in Australia. In 1968, he participated in the fifth of the Harold Hall Australian ornithological collecting expeditions. He lectured, and was honoured, at museums in Western Australia, Canada, and the United States. Butler was a supporter of development projects such as mining, working with corporations and state governments as an environmental consultant.

Butler lost some popularity with his support of the construction of the Franklin River Dam in the early 1980s. [4]

Franklin Dam controversy planned dam in Tasmania, Australia

The Franklin Dam or Gordon-below-Franklin Dam project was a proposed dam on the Gordon River in Tasmania, Australia, that was never constructed. The movement that eventually led to the project's cancellation became one of the most significant environmental campaigns in Australian history.

He died of cancer, aged 85, at a hospital in Perth on 11 December 2015. [5]


In 1970, Butler was appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire. [6] In 1980 this was upgraded to Commander level (CBE). [7]

In 1979, Butler was named the Australian of the Year, [8] jointly with Neville Bonner.

In 1993, he was awarded a cash prize for his 30 years of work with the petroleum industry.

On 4 March 2012, he was added to the National Trust of Australia's National Living Treasures list. [9] [10] [11]

On 11 June 2012, he was named an Officer of the Order of Australia for "distinguished service to the community through the promotion of public understanding of natural history and wildlife conservation, to the development of collaborative environmental partnerships with industry, and to the community." [12]

A species of mulga snake, Pseudechis butleri , [13] and a spider, Synothele butleri , are named for Butler. [14] [15]

Four species of Australian lizards are named for Butler: Ctenophorus butleri, Delma butleri, Morethia butleri , and Notoscincus butleri . [13] One species of Australian lizard is named for Butler and his wife, Margaret Butler: Eremiascincus butlerorum . [13]

On 17 April, 2016, the new Western Australian Museum research facility and storage centre in Welshpool was named in his honour. [16]

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  1. Australian of the Year Awards: Harry Butler CBE, 1979 Archived 12 February 2009 at the Wayback Machine (2006). Retrieved on 4 December 2007.
  2. "Butler, William Henry (1930 – )". Encyclopedia of Australian Science. Retrieved 7 May 2013.
  3. Morgan, Joyce (29 September 2003). "Chairman of the wobble board". The Sydney Morning Herald. Fairfax Media. Retrieved 12 December 2015.
  4. In the Wild with Harry Butler (1976 - 1981), Australian Screen Online
  5. "Harry Butler: Conservationist dies of cancer in Perth aged 85". ABC News. 12 December 2015. Retrieved 12 December 2015.
  6. It's an Honour: OBE
  7. It's an Honour: CBE
  8. Lewis, Wendy (2010). Australians of the Year. Pier 9 Press. ISBN   978-1-74196-809-5.
  9. "Seven added to national living treasure list". Dr Butler said it was a shame thousands of his colleagues were not joining him on the list. Fairfax Media. SMH. 5 March 2012. Retrieved 19 December 2015.
  10. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 21 March 2012. Retrieved 4 March 2012.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  11. "Australian National Living Treasure". ALLdownunder.com.au. Retrieved 5 April 2017.
  12. "Officer (AO) in the General Division of the Order of Australia – The Queen's Birthday 2012 Honours Lists" (PDF). Official Secretary to the Governor-General of Australia. 11 June 2012. p.  5. Archived from the original (PDF) on 17 June 2012.
  13. 1 2 3 Beolens, Bo; Watkins, Michael; Grayson, Michael (2011). The Eponym Dictionary of Reptiles. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. xiii + 296 pp. ISBN   978-1-4214-0135-5. ("Butler, W.H.", p. 44; "Margaret B.", p. 168).
  14. Raven, Robert; Marshall, Tracey. "A spider honours list?". Staff publications. University of Queensland. Retrieved 6 March 2009.
  15. "Pseudechis ". kingsnake.com. 1998. Archived from the original on 24 September 2003. Retrieved 28 February 2009.
  16. http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-04-17/new-museum-facility-honours-harry-butler/7333324
Preceded by
Alan Bond and
Galarrwuy Yunupingu
Australian of the Year Award
Served alongside: Senator Neville Bonner
Succeeded by
Manning Clark