A double Australia Day honour for Dandenongs legend

Article by Kimberley Seedy  http://free-press-leader.whereilive.com.au/news/story/a-double-australia...

KALLISTA environmental activist Betty Marsden received a double honour this Australia Day - the Medal (OAM) of the Order of Australia and the Mayor’s Lifetime Achievement Award from Yarra Ranges Council.

Mrs Marsden, a former councillor at the Shire of Sherbrooke, has been the president of the Save the Dandenongs League for the past 23 years.

She has been recognised for her watchdog work through that role, fighting inappropriate developments in the Dandenongs and working to preserve the area’s natural environment.

Mrs Marsden, who has lived in the hills for 40 years, remains involved with the Upper Yarra and Dandenongs Environmental Council, the Yarra Ranges Council’s Environmental Reference Group, the Birdsland Environment Education Centre and the Dandenong Ranges Gardens Advisory Committee to Parks Victoria.

She said it was “quite a thrill” to receive the double honour.

“It’s really a case of all my birthdays coming at once,” she said.

The Save the Dandenongs League has successfully fought off many big developments, including plans for a Skyrail through the hills and a proposed McDonald’s franchise at Belgrave.

Mrs Marsden’s connection to the area goes back many years - her parents met in the hills and spent their honeymoon in Emerald.

She fell in love with the area when she was a girl and visited the hills to ride on Puffing Billy.

She said her husband, Cyril, who died 13 years ago, was a great supporter of her work.

Mrs Marsden was also a member of various choirs, including the Mountain Minstrels and the Emerald Evergreens, from 1973 to the mid-2000s.

Yarra Ranges Council described Mrs Marsden as “a hard-working, hands-on and dedicated environmentalist, who is always keen to offer advice to residents on conservation and environment matters”.