Local historian Leith Barter, photographed just before his retirement from Moreton Bay Regional Council in December 2010. Photo by Kat Down.
Memories of Leith Barter 14/09/1947 - 09/07/2012
The Moreton Bay Region recently lost a gracious gentleman who inspired
many, and was
passionate and dedicated to researching, recording and sharing their local
Leith Barter worked as a professional historian and Local Studies
Librarian at Pine Rivers for 13 years before retiring at the end of 2010.
His first task in this role was to get the North Pine Historical Society up and
running with a special focus on the North Pine area.
Leith was also an advisor
and mentor for the Dayboro District Historical Society and of great help in
obtaining information on indigenous pioneers for their Heritage Walk.
Similarly, Samford Museum members had a symbiotic relationship with this
knowledgeable gentleman, with him often asking members for assistance when researching
One of his projects included an important oral history, detailing the
vivid memories from the Samford district locals, of the 1947 rail crash at Camp
Mountain. Mrs Eileen Kemp from the museum feels the
“Samford Village Heritage Trail is richer for Leith’s professional
Contributions by Leith to the Pine district included
video orals, the book Pioneering the Pine, successfully obtaining a Q150
grant to research and produce a DVD on one of his favorite projects, the
Normanby Rum Distillery, and the DVD record of the Two Centuries of the
Leith had described his time with the Pine Rivers Council as “the golden age” of his career. He once stated that he was “fortunate to be working
in a job that he loved.” One of the many projects he was involved in during
retirement was to successfully obtain a RADF grant in order to write a book on
the history of the whole Moreton Bay Region. Sadly, due to his untimely passing,
this hasn’t yet gone to print, but he had believed the project was progressing
It is highly likely that due to his attributes of attention to detail,
and meticulous organisational skills, someone else will be able to complete the
book. Leith had the honour of being considered the authority onlocal history in
the Moreton Bay Region.
He was often late to appointments due to wanting to get the most out
of everything. This included attending as many meetings as possible, book
launches, performances and ceremonies in his quest to increase his knowledge
and that of others. His remarkable recall and memory for dates helped him to
glean new information from people and places without having to spend much time
Even though he spent much time exploring history, Leith always had
special times with his family. His career spanned over 40 years, taking his
family to places throughout Australia and Papua New Guinea. He used his humour
and sense of adventure to take them to places unheard of, and to
inspire them with his love of history, geology, aboriginal painting, fishing
and sailing the boats he had built.
The family gave him a break away from the
books/library. During his time in Papua New Guinea, he trekked the Kokoda
Track, and worked at
the university library. While in South Australia he was involved in an
archeological dig. A lifetime membership with the Northern Territory Historical
Society preceded him coming to the Moreton Bay Region with a career there
working in a Darwin parliamentary library, lecturing at TAFE colleges,
compiling a book and co-editing another.
Another creative outlet was his love of music, developing a
broad taste for tunes which he sung in a deep voice. He is remembered for
performing at functions in his own time. Once retired, he followed the Karaoke
circuits singing his favorite tune “Sweet Caroline”.
Leith Barter will be sadly lost and missed as he encouraged and
motivated locals in their naïve attempts at research and writing. Even though
highly educated, he had the ability of being able to descend to the amateur’s
level without intimidating them. His door was always open.
Leith would quickly
sort out evasive research ideas, directing ambitious would-be historians
to areas rich in knowledge. Sometimes as the researcher’s knowledge increased,
along with their confidence, they would enthusiastically return to Leith with a
“new discovery” - only to find he had previously revealed