Most of Canberra has been planned and designed by men and Margaret Hendry is one of the few women who have played a significant role in shaping the landscape of Australia’s national capital.
From 1963 to 1974 Margaret Hendry was a landscape architect with the National Capital Development Commission – the first woman appointed and one of only five female landscape architects in Australia at that time. She worked on the landscape of town centres, shopping centres, parks and playgrounds, schools, cemeteries, and large recreation areas.
In 1974 Margaret Hendry was appointed Senior Lecturer in Landscape Design in the School of Environmental Design at the Canberra College of Advanced Education (later University of Canberra). She lectured and published professional papers for a variety of organisations: conferences, universities, colleges, pre-school bodies, horticultural and garden clubs, institutes of parks and recreation and many women’s organisations.
Margaret Hendry was a key player in the establishment of the Australian Institute of Landscape Architects and in 1966 became an inaugural corporate member. In 1972 she was elevated to Fellow of the AILA.
As well as her contribution to landscape architecture she served as President of the Soroptimist Club in Canberra, President of the Business and Professional Women’s Clubs (NSW Division), was a member of the Women’s Advisory Board to the NSW Government and worked hard to improve the status of women and lobbied for many issues from equal pay for women to equal legal rights for step-children.
Margaret Hendry retired in 1985 due to ill health, but continued in consultancy roles, sat on jury panels for landscape competitions and advised on urban tree issues.
In 1992 she was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia for her service to the community, for her efforts in seeking equality for women and for her significance as a role model for women in landscape architecture.
Qualifications and earlier career
Margaret Hendrywas born on11 May 1930. She studied and then taught horticulture and garden design at Burnley Horticultural College in Melbourne. As there were no landscape architecture degrees available in Australia in 1955 she travelled to England to study at Durham University.
This was followed by four years working under Sylvia Crowe on the landscape of Basildon new town, near London. She completed her examinations to become an Associate of the Institute of Landscape Architects of Great Britain and in 1971 was elevated to Fellow.
She travelled widely in Europe and the USA to study housing developments, particularly the provision of play areas for children and undertook further studies at the University of California.
On her return to Australia in 1961, she worked for two years with the Victorian Housing Commission before taking up the appointment that meant her move to the rapidly growing city of Canberra in 1963.
Margaret Hendry died on 20 March 2001.
Contributed by Dianne Firth
Margaret Hendry Tribute – Australian Institute of Landscape Architects