With a name like that you know there is a story - And here it is -
Miss Olive was born in Hobart, Tasmania in 1884. When she was a young woman she travelled to South Australia where she met Daisy Bates. She introduced her to the desert landscape and Aboriginal culture and Miss Olive never looked back. She studied anthropology at the University of Sydney and travelled to and from Alice Springs where she did fieldwork on the Warlpiri and Arrernte people. She moved to Alice Springs in 1940 and spent quite some time in the Tanami desert. When she retuned to Alice she became a very vocal advocate for Aboriginal rights. She regularly interrupted court proceedings if she considered that tribal law and custom were not taken into account by the court. She was once fined for contempt of court but refused to pay, demanding to be put in jail instead. Appalled that one of his chief tormentors would be in his jail, the head gaoler paid the fine himself.
In 1955 she applied for a reservation of 20 hectares of land near the Todd River and she secured it with the help of the Minister at the time Sir Paul Hasluck.(what a wonderful name) This is where the current Botanic gardens is situated.He noted in her obituary that she planted trees with the help of her Aboriginal gardener and each tree bore the name of a prominent citizen and if that person fell out of favour with her she would stop watering it.
Mr Hasluck say " I visited her on several occasions and could never restrain a curious glance at my tree and felt suitably gratified if I saw that Mr Hasluck was being watered regularly".
She died at the ripe old age of 91 - unusual for those years, and she is buried in the Alice Springs Cemetery. All the headstones look east except Miss Olive's which looks west. Her friend Reg Harris said " The old lady would appreciate the fact that she is a rebel still, even in death."
Today the Botanic Gardens in Alice are named after Olive Pink. The Gardens have an extraordinary collection of bush native plants and medicinal plants and walks like the Wattle Walk or the Mallee Walk that we can all enjoy. I read her story in the booklet of the Botanic Gardens while strolling around the gardens and loved her character.