Thursday, April 30, 2009

The Wisdom of Weindorfer


Of all the places I have been to in the world, Cradle Mountain in Tasmania and that view across Dove Lake to the jagged, white dolerite peak is special.

Its name, legend has it, is derived from the mountain's resemblance to a miner's cradle.

The region has been extensively shaped by glacial erosion and deposition over the past 2 million years and its unique plants and animals have links back to the ancient super-continent Pangea and Gondwanaland.

But it's the history of the region's early pioneers and their vision, energy and strategy that interest me from a business perspective.

It particular, an early naturalist and conservationist from Austria, called Gustav Weindorfer.

According to online sources; "Weindorfer was born in 1874 in Austria and migrated to Australia, arriving in Fremantle, Western Australia in 1900. Gustav's first impressions of the Australian bush were less than complimentary. "The country looks dreadful. The gum trees, at all times wretched creatures, stood sadly in the drought-stricken country...", he wrote in a letter home following a trip into the bushlands near Fremantle.

Naturalized in 1905, he married and moved to Tasmania in 1906.

In 1910 Weindorfer, wife Kate and friends Ronald Smith and Walter Black climbed Cradle Mountain - Kate thus becoming the first white woman to climb Cradle Mountain.

In 1982 the Cradle Mountain – Lake St Clair National Park became a part of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area which today encompasses 21 per cent of the land area of Tasmania.

So what are the business insights we can learn from the Wisdom of Weindorfer?

**1: Vision**

A great leader has the ability to see the potential and communicate a strong vision.

When resting on the summit of Cradle Mountain for the first time, Weindorfer proclaimed "This must be a national park for the people for all time. It is magnificent, and people must know about it and enjoy it."

**2. Bring A Product or Service to Market**

Weindorfer believed that by making the area accessible to visitors his vision would be realised.

On that day on the summit of Cradle he determined to "build a chalet and get a road and then people will come from everywhere to see this place".

In the following days Gustav and Kate explored the surrounding country and selected a site on a rocky rise on the edge of a pine forest for the chalet.

The chalet was opened to visitors at Christmas 1912, who enjoyed the rustic simplicity of the draughty, incomplete building. The following summer, Waldheim had 25 guests.

**3. Capital Investment**

In 1910 Kate and Gustav each purchased 200 acres (81 ha) of land near Cradle Mountain.

**4. Use Local Resources and Bring In Expertise**

In 1912 Weindorfer began to build Waldheim, meaning "Forest home" using King Billy pine from the site and relying on the bush carpentry skills he had acquired from a short-term appointment of an experienced timber worker.

**5: Hard Work and Be Innovative**

As a horse and cart could approach no closer than 14 km to Waldheim, Weindorfer carried baths and stoves on his back.

**6: Use PR**

Weindorfer named local features, wrote articles on the project in the __Launceston Weekly Courier__ and in the __Victorian Naturalist__, and urged the government to build a road to the area.

By 1919, after long campaigning by Gustav, the road had reached within one and a half kilometres of Waldheim.

**7. Use Public Speaking**

Weindorfer campaigned tirelessly to see the Cradle Mountain area reserved. He conducted a series of lecture tours and lobbied tourism and government officials and gained influential support from the Director of the Tasmanian Government Tourist Bureau, Evelyn Emmett and the Curator of Natural History with the Tasmanian Museum, Clive Lord. The three men approached the Minister for Lands, who was supportive of the proposal.

On 16 May 1922, an area of 158,000 acres (63,943 ha) from Cradle Mountain down to Lake St Clair was proclaimed a Scenic Reserve and Wildlife Sanctuary under the Scenery Preservation Act 1915.

(Source: Adapted from Tasmanian Parks and Wildlife website)

Need to be a better leader, influencer or campaigner like Weindorfer? Please consider our next public speaking course.