Col Creighton was instrumental in foundational activities and the vision for Reef Catchments. Col joined the Mackay Whitsunday NRM Group, as Executive Officer, in approximately 2005. He was the driving force in leading the organisation, asking the team to think big, to consider how NRM issues across the region could be fixed, what was needed, and who the team should be talking to. He was instrumental in setting the organisation’s strategic vision at that time, and we are still able to see his influence today. Col led the need for and development of regional water quality improvement plans, and was key, along with other members of the team, in the Reef Rescue program of 2007 which focused on improving land health and promoting the adoption of best-practice management to improve water quality and increase productivity. Col was a global operator, he connected well with a range of people and organisations, and he could think strategically and bring people and ideas together. Col was quiet, and humble and he liked a challenge. Reef Catchments, and the Mackay Whitsunday Isaac community, has benefited significantly from Col’s presence and vision.
Regional Agriculture Landcare Facilitator Juliana Kasiske remembers Colin Creighton
Farewelling a dear friend and beloved member of the community always comes with heartache. This is especially true for Col Creighton who was respected by many for his work as a Principal Research Scientist for Coastal and Estuarine Ecology, and various volunteer and science positions as a member of the Greening Australia board, TropWater, and Southern Cross University; volunteer Vietnam sugar productivity.
In his local community, however, he was simply Col, a Eungella farmer who made valuable contributions to the forestry and grazing community in the region. Despite an adventurous life involving traveling and working overseas, Col made time to share his knowledge with his local community and Reef Catchments. In 2017, he presented at Reef Catchments annual Grazing Forum where he made a convincing case for the benefits of including forestry as a long-term investment into other farming enterprises.
His small Eungella property was Col’s tranquil escape where he ran about 70 dairy cows, plus about four tonnes of garlic per annum, a hoop pine plantation, and a dedicated nature refuge. He was proud to be running a fully sustainable and profitable farm at which he demonstrated smart farming practices.
Reef Catchments’ Sustainable Farm Forestry Tour on 28 November 2016. This was a fantastic opportunity to see the work that Col Creighton has done on his Eungella property and hear him speak on his experience and knowledge in forestry and sustainable grazing. Attendees toured the hoop pine plantations, which ranged in varying establishment ages from 12 months to 20 years and witnessed how he has integrated cattle grazing within the forestry plots and introduced garlic production onto the property. Attendees also viewed native forest revegetation and remediation works of Lex Creek, which runs through the property.
Colin deeply enjoyed his career in natural resources management, internationally representing Australia at the UN Convention for Sustainable Development, the World Bank’s Millennium Assessment (that led to the Millennium Development Goals), the World Meteorological Organisation’s Global Climate Services, the Global Water Partnership and various aid initiatives. Nationally, Colin has led a range of programs across fisheries, forestry, agriculture, water, the Great Barrier Reef, and natural resources generally.
Col is a local treasure that was rare to be found and valued by many. He will be deeply missed by his friends and colleagues within the Mackay Eungella Whitsunday region.
On Sunday,16 August 2020, Col passed away peacefully after battling lung cancer for several years.