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Barbara Hardy: Life and achievements

Dr Barbara Hardy AO has led an exemplary public life of advocacy and science devoted to the environment. Her environmental activism has focused on communicating ideas, lobbying decision makers, raising funds and educating the community.

Achievements and honours


  • Rotary Service Award 1982
  • Officer of the General Division of the Order of  Australia (AO) for service to conservation and the community 1987
  • Advance Australia Award 1991
  • SA Great Award 1992
  • Institution of Engineers Medal 1992
  • Honorary Doctorate from Flinders University 1993
  • ABC Eureka Award: Advancement of Science 1994
  • South Australian Citizen of the Year 1996
  • Honorary Doctorate from Adelaide University 2010
  • Companion of the Institution of Engineers Australia
  • Fellow of the Australian Institute of Energy


  • Commissioner of the Australian Heritage Commission
  • President of the National Parks Foundation of South Australia (now Nature Foundation SA) 1990–95
  • Vice-President of the Nature Foundation of South Australia 2000 -
  • Founding President of the Investigator Science and Technology Centre
  • Chairman of the South Australian Landcare Committee
  • Member of the Bookmark Biosphere Trust
  • Member of the Executive Council of the World Wide Fund for Nature, Australia 1985-91
  • Director of Landcare Australia Ltd. 1990-97
  • Director of the Australian Minerals and Energy Environment Foundation 1992-98
  • Board member of the South Australian Research and Development Institute 1993-96

On the global scene Barbara was the inaugural Member from Australia on the Asia-Pacific Forum for Environment and Development (2001-06), a major international project initiated and funded by the Japanese Ministry for Environment.Barbara Hardy was a prime mover in 1981 for the creation of a hands-on science centre for Adelaide, which became the much loved Investigator Science and Technology Centre, operating from 1991 to 2006. It is fitting that Barbara’s name is associated with a new science research centre. The University of South Australia's Barbara Hardy Institute serves industry needs in research and development, and delivers short courses in the built environment and sustainable development area.

Brief biography

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Dr Barbara Hardy AO, nee Begg, was born at Largs Bay in 1927. She attended Woodlands Church of England Girls Grammar School then began a science degree at the University of Adelaide aged 16. After working in the CSIRO Soils Division at the Waite Institute for a year, she married Tom Hardy in 1948. During the 1950s and 60s family and sport (golf and badminton) were Barbara's chief interests.

In 1972 she began voluntary work with the Conservation Council and in 1974 started a degree in earth sciences at Flinders University. Barbara assisted David Wotton, Shadow and then Minister for the Environment in the 1970s. After her husband died in 1980 she continued her environmental work with a range of organisations.