David Lindsay interview, 12 June 2012

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David Lindsay interview, 12 June 2012




Emeritus Professor David Lindsay talks of his 33 year career as teacher and researcher at the University of Western Australia Department of Agriculture. He was also Dean of Agriculture and Professor of Animal Science. During the interview Lindsay discusses many aspects of his career in the area of agriculture and his work at the University of WA. He outlines the situation he faced on coming to Western Australia in 1968 and how he saw the state as a huge rural laboratory.
He recalls numerous pioneering areas of animal, and plant research in which he was involved at the university that were of benefit other fields of study and the wider rural world community. Instrumental in leading research into the fodder shrub Tagasaste, his work has helped to rejuvenate thousands of hectares of infertile sands in the West Midlands. He speaks of the important people associated with the University and the Department of Agriculture. He talks of the sense of community and the staff/student relationship he experienced during his time at UWA outlining how he has seen this change over time. He looks at the interaction between universities in Perth and UWA’s rating on a national and world stage.


Lindsay, David


University of Western Australia Historical Society


Copyright holder University of Western Australia


MP3 files


Oral History

Oral History Item Type Metadata


John Bannister


David Lindsay


Perth, W.A.


Interview 1: 50 minutes, 19 seconds
Interview 2: 45 minutes, 5 seconds
Interview 3: 44 minutes, 58 seconds
Total: 2 hours, 20 minutes, 22 seconds

Bit Rate/Frequency

128 kbs

Time Summary

Interview 1

00:00:00 Introduction. David Lindsay NSW background information. Early studies. Gaining the position at University of Western Australia. Farming in Western Australia is not an easy task. Interaction between farmers and scientists.
00:07:08 Land clearing in 1965-6. Mandate of improving the reproductive rate of sheep. Glut of sheep in Western Australia in 1969. Science and farm problems. Funding. World reputation. Dairy farmer’s boy. Becoming a sheep person. Science has nothing to offer the sheep industry. Changes in attitude.
00:12:05 University and specialist wool degrees. Funding has diminished. Mining boom in WA. Importance of sheep in the economy of Australia. A dying industry. Recognized for work in the industry.
00:17:15 Changes in the wool industry. Interactions with people in the industry. Genetics and improvements. Hybrid corn. Improvements in dairy cattle. Plotting wool improvements since the 1940s. Hobby farm.
00:22:09 Industry hasn’t changed a lot. Reputation of University of Western Australia in the 1960s. Eric Underwood and Reg Moir. Moir’s instructions to Lindsay. In touch with students. Meeting former students. Impressions of Reg Moir. Moir’s influence on students. His exploding sheep.
00:35:01 Facilities available in the late 1960s. Memories of the south of Myers Street. George Munns gardener. Sheep grazing on the campus grounds. Western Australia a fantastic place for an agricultural scientist to practice work. University of Western Australia was a family thing. Clubs. Women and the era of equality. The wives club. Signing a contract to do a sabbatical.
00:43:49 Memories and benefits of sabbatical 1973. International relationships resulting from sabbatical. Dominique Blache and Pascal Poindron and the writing of book on Scientific Writing guide. Publications around.

Interview 2

00:00:00 Further experiences at the isolated University. Alan Robson. Doing a good job on your own patch. Becoming internationally known, Reproduction in sheep at University of Western Australia more advanced than that known in medical field in humans. Experiments conducted on sheep. Scientific knowledge spans boundaries of other disciplines. Fees and quality of students. Degrees a privilege or a right.
00:06:27 Graduation and failure rates over the years. Postgraduates and undergraduates and time for thinking. The client or the student. Student attendance at lectures. Technology and the community of learning.
00:14:24 Thoughts of agriculture department at campus at McGillivray. Giving lectures and presenting information to students. SPOT tests. Popular lecturers. Delivering huge amounts of information. Lecture examples at the University of Glasgow. Reshaping lectures and the facilities available. Advancements in technology and power point and online lectures. The role of a lecturer.
00:25:16 Success of lectures. Example of Reg Moir and his lecture procedure. Memories of Reg’s teaching technique. Time for thought. Bureaucratising process of the University of Western Australia. Research and communication. Story of Reg Moir’s cow pat.
00:33:50 Old university and insightful research and achievements. Increasing the fertility of ewes and rams. Survival of lambs. Making a ewe into a mother. Experiments on Oxytocins in the sheep’s brain. Experiments in agriculture department and outcomes for the knowledge of human birthing.
00:41:01 Story of the escaped steer at University of Western Australia. Cowboys at the showgrounds rustle the steer.

Interview 3

00:00:00 Mysterious bones found on the site works for human movement. Terrible burial practices. Arranging disposal of burial of animals at the tip.
00:04:40 Impressions of God Vice-Chancellors. Alan Robson Vice and Deputy Chancellor. The altering of the management of the university. The Catholic Church and the University still survive. Admissions committee TISC. The success of promotion and advertising of university. Quality of students. Competitive spirit and bidding for students. University of Western Australia's ranking in the Shanghai index.
00:14:25 University of Western Australia's position within Universities in the state. Amalgamation a great idea. Benefits of amalgamation of Departments of agriculture. Waste of resources for 5 universities in the population of Perth. The international student. Capitalising on the hunger of south East Asia. Intellectual property going overseas and the commercial nature of student intake.
00:21:15 Agricultural Hall of Fame. Discussion of the fodder shrub Tagasaste. Sir James McCusker. Tree lucerne and Martindale foundation. Experimentation and research into tagasaste. Popularity of tagasaste to cattle.
00:27:07 Chairing the Lindsay review of the quarantine system. Allowing some kind of control of the system. Fascinating involvements in quarantine. Foot and mouth and other diseases. Poultry and bird control and estimates. Recommendations made. User pays system. Usable system and changes to the system. Reviews to the Lindsay review. Government support.
00:35:05 Teaching others to write scientific papers. Becoming Dean. Importance of writing to scientists and science. Writing the book a Guide to Scientific Writing. French connection and INRA. Undertaking courses internationally.
00:40:21 Hugh Hardy and work for the benefit of rural and agricultural industry of WA. Hall of Fame. Tests for agriculture in Western Australia. WA burgeoning agriculturally. Looking back at time at University of Western Australia – linking agriculture to science.



Lindsay, David, “David Lindsay interview, 12 June 2012,” UWA Historical Society: UWA Histories, accessed July 13, 2024, https://oralhistories.arts.uwa.edu.au/items/show/28.