Published by Mt Waverley; The Author; 1972. (1972)
First Edition; 8vo; pp. (xviii), 404 (12 un-paginated); 71 illustrations, appendices, family tree diagrams; original green cloth, dustjacket, a very good copy. Limited Edition of 200 copies (copy No 184), signed by author and inscribed to Joe Powell (1987). The appendices are very informative, including pioneers and ships they arrived in and Family trees.
See also by the same author: A Family Who’s Who Volume IV More About the East Family and Related Pioneers (1988).
Lewis Ronald East was great-grandson of a pioneer South Australian colonist of 1836 and of an Irish orphan shipped from the famine, grandson of a miner who died young of miners’ tuberculosis, and son of a country-educated boy who drafted our Commonwealth Marine Law. Ron considered himself fortunate with a series of fine teachers – at Tooronga Road State School, University of Melbourne, and his first boss at the State Rivers and Water Supply Commission, the chairman A. S. Kenyon. Kenyon had a tremendous influence as his friend and patron, taking him around the countryside and widening his interests and his understanding of Victoria. It gave Ron a vision of both its history and its future.
Ron was the longest serving public servant in Australia. A few of his appointments include an engineer to the State Rivers and Water Supply Commission (SR&WSC) 1922, Commissioner 1935, Chairman for 29 years from 1936-1965, and as River Murray Commissioner 1936-1965. He was responsible for increasing Victorian’s water storage capacity threefold, doubling its irrigated areas, enlarging Eildon Dam, improving and expanding flood protection and country town water supplies and sewerage. He was a planner of the Hume Dam and the Snowy Mountains project.
He was an environmentalist before that word was coined. He planned for present and future needs of Victoria, and took a leading part in drafting legislation and working for soil conservation, water-catchment protection and river improvement. He foresaw and tried to prevent problems that were hardly recognised but have now become desperate, such as salination, river pollution, waste of water, silting, loss of river flow, housing development below flood levels, and squabbling by competing interests. He later realised that he was insufficiently aware of the effects of draining swamps.
He always took work home, and took two weeks’ holiday each year, but had many other interests. He served as a local town councillor, and was active in the Methodist/Uniting Church, Rotary, the RSL (he was in the Australian Flying Corps in WW1), the Old People’s Welfare Council, and sponsored refugees and overseas students. He worked energetically against numerous injustices, and received a knighthood on his retirement from the SR&WSC.
After retirement he was active in community life, published four volumes of family history, edited the Gallipoli diary of sapper Sergeant Lawrence, taught youngsters to make model engines, and ran his own working models on the Puffing Billy railway days for local children and relatives. Until the age of 92 he was a sought-after public speaker, able to speak on anything from gumtrees to astronomy.