Donald Godden recognised for service to community through history preservation

Don Godden, OAM.
Don Godden, OAM.

A Kangaroo Valley resident, who has dedicated much of his life to the preservation of the historic record of NSW, has been recognised by the Australian honour system. 

Donald Godden has been awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) for his service to the community through assessment and conservation of significant buildings and machinery and membership of historic preservation organisations.

His love for history began at an early age, following in the footsteps of his father. 

“I guess you could say I first became interested through my father and living in the gold mining town of Bathurst,” he said. 

“I looked at the old gold mining equipment like poppet heads stamping batteries, and other cast iron equipment and I just loved it.” 

The former vice president of the National Trust of Australia has worn many hats in his extensive career including, but not limited to, member of the Industrial Heritage Committee, former chair of the Industrial Archaeology Committee, Railway Heritage Committee member, and founder of GML Heritage, formerly Godden Mackay Pty Ltd.

Mr Godden’s first role in the Australian history world began in the 1970s, when he became a member of the Industrial Archaeology Committee of the National Trust   

“Everything sort of grew from that point,” he said. 

In 1989, Mr Godden started Don Godden and Associates which eventually grew to become Godden Mackay Logan and pioneered  new approaches to thinking about heritage and conservation.

“Establishing Godden Mackay Logan was probably the most significant thing I’ve done in my career,” he said. 

“We had the privilege of working on so many projects like the cranes on the Harbour Bridge, gold mining sites, the Blackall woolscour and various saw milling sites. 

“We were  instrumental in playing a part in the conservation of so many sites.”

Mr Godden summed up his fascination with history and conservation in one very simple sentence, “I don’t think you can know where you’re going if you don’t look at the past,” he said. 

While he’s now retired and living a relaxed life in Kangaroo Valley, Mr Godden said he was still very interested in the past, and the future on conservation. 

“I’ve adopted a very different lifestyle here, farming, writing, all those things, and I find it incredibly exciting living here, but you get to the point where it’s time to step aside and let the young ones come through,” he said. 

“I’ve very much enjoyed being [a mentor] for some of the younger ones [coming into the industry].”

A former Friend of Harper’s Mansion in Berrima, Mr Godden said the museum was “one of the jewels in the crown.”

“Conservation is all about enhancing what was originally there, and they have done a beautiful job of looking after that.” 

Mr Godden said the honour came as a shock but that he was very grateful.

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