Vale Melva Truchanas, Champion of Tasmania’s Wilds

Media release – Lake Pedder Restoration Inc, 15 May 2022

Vale Melva Truchanas, Champion of Tasmania’s wilds

Tasmania has lost a great champion of the wilderness and a stalwart of the campaign to restore Lake Pedder with the death of Melva Truchanas, last Wednesday, following a stroke, aged 92.

“Melva was a much-admired, feisty woman who loved Tasmania’s wild places and campaigned to protect them throughout her long life. She encouraged and supported young people to get involved and to get out and enjoy nature especially the south west wilderness, ”said the Convenor of the Lake Pedder Restoration Committee, Christine Milne.

“Over the March long week this year, it was particularly special to have Melva join us out at the Pedder impoundment to commemorate 50 years of campaigning to protect and restore Lake Pedder. Melva was full of optimism and made a special toast at lunch ‘to all the Pedder campaigners who have perpetuated the legacy of the lake and inspired a new generation of activists to fight for Tasmania’s wild. ”

“It was also fifty years since her husband, wilderness legend and photographer, Olegas Truchanas drowned whilst on a trip to photograph the Lower Gordon River, also under threat from hydro industrialization. Melva was a member of the Launceston Bushwalking Club when she met Lithuanian immigrant, Olegas. The pair married in 1954 and explored the wilderness together on many bushwalking and ski trips including at Cradle Mountain which she loved. When Lake Pedder was threatened, they threw themselves into the campaign to save the jewel of the south west. ”

“Olegas’s stunning color images of Lake Pedder, shown in public halls in Tasmania and on the mainland and at Old Parliament House changed hearts and minds about the importance and urgency of saving the lake. Melva was chairwoman of the Lake Pedder Action Committee while raising their three young children and supporting Olegas’s exploration and photographic pursuits. In 1967 the devastating Hobart bushfires, claimed their family home and with it, Olegas’s photographic library. But in true Truchanas tenacity, they rebuilt their lives and Olegas set about rebuilding his photographic collection, ”Christine Milne said.

Following Olegas’s death, Melva became a key member of the Lake Pedder restoration campaign, becoming a life member. “Melva was the cheery spirit who, more than anyone else, connected the original Lake Pedder defenders with today’s growing campaign to restore the lake. She was a fabulous advocate for the island’s wild and scenic beauty. A true Tasmanian champion, ”Bob Brown said.

Lake Pedder campaigners, the Friends of the ABC and Friends of the Cradle Valley will dearly miss her enthusiasm, determination, brilliant blue eyes and kind notes of support in testing times.

The Lake Pedder Restoration Inc’s thoughts are with Melva’s daughters Anita and Rima and son Nicholas, and their extended family and friends.

In April 2022, Rima Truchanas provided the narrative of the Truchanas ‘life story guiding a radio program’ Buried Treasure; the story of Lake Pedder ‘, through the history of Lake Pedder, including a candid interview with Melva. The program is a lasting memory of Melva, her lifelong work and untiring determination that one day Lake Pedder will be restored.

Featured image above courtesy Vica Bayley.

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