Cath Le Page was a hard-working conservationist whose efforts were instrumental in protecting and regenerating 50 hectares of bushland in the heart of Port Macquarie.
The 95-year-old passed away on June 4.
Cath was a founding member of the Friends of Kooloonbung Creek Nature Park in 1985.
Through associations with the Port Macquarie Conservation Society and Port Macquarie Koala Hospital, Cath and others started the bush regeneration work in and around the historic cemetery and arboretum areas of the park.
They removed weeds and planted trees endemic to the Hastings Valley.
Cath, as the Friends of Kooloonbung Creek Nature Park inaugural president, said at the official opening in 1988: "This is a step towards the protection of our fragile environment, our endangered wildlife, and our quality of life ... it is significant for education, recreation and tourism."
Cath spent thousands of hours working in the park over the next 30 years as she served on the Friends of Kooloonbung Creek Nature Park management committee and promoted the park and its attributes to visitors, locals and school children.
Cath, as an advocate for the park, was always pushing council and council staff for the best outcomes for the natural area and her bushland rejuvenation visions.
A plaque at the arboretum reads: "I feel very proud to have been part of a group of environmentally minded citizens who turned 50 hectares of neglected bushland into a beautiful nature park with the assistance and support of Port Macquarie-Hastings Council." (Cath Le Page, 2007)
Kooloonbung Creek Nature Park features seven ecosystems and is home to at least 160 bird species.
Cath moved to Sydney in 2014 to live with her family, at which time the arboretum on Gordon Street was renamed in her honour.
In recent times, Cath was in full-time care.
Friends of Kooloonbung Creek Nature Park president Janet Watson had known Cath since 2001.
She said Cath's enthusiasm and passion for everything to do with the park was obvious.
"Cath was not only vocal and active in getting funding and jobs done from council, but she was also very hands-on at the park and on the committee," Janet said.
"Cath always had so much energy at working bees, even though she was one of the more senior in the group."
Janet recalls Cath was meticulous with paperwork and many of her files on the group's history are housed in the local museum archives.
She said the Kooloonbung Creek Nature Park is what it is today because of the decades of hard work done by Cath Le Page.
Friends of Kooloonbung Creek Nature Park treasurer Ruth Comish remembers Cath as a very hard worker who was passionate about the park.
Cath left behind a great legacy and she would be sorely missed, Ruth said.
Cath was born in Savernake in the NSW southern Riverina and grew up in Jingellic and Albury.
She dedicated her professional life to teaching in a career which took her to schools at Junee, Wagga Wagga, Tumut and Roseville.
Cath married Cam in 1951 and the couple went to live in Hong Kong and Singapore for a couple of years.
In 1964, Cath was invited to become the first teacher librarian in NSW and she continued as a primary school librarian until the early 1970s.
Cath and her husband Cam retired to Port Macquarie in 1983 after which she channelled her energy into conservation causes.
Cath was the beloved wife of Cam (deceased), loving mother of Cathy and David, grandmother of Nicholas, Liam, Thea and Tim, and great-grandmother of Audrey, Ailbie and Finn.
A memorial tree will be planted at Kooloonbung Creek Nature Park in coming months to acknowledge Cath's contribution.
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