Outdoors Victoria Conference

The Dr Brian Nettleton Lecture

2022: Brian Wattchow

Brian (Ponch) delivered his lecture, ‘Through the unknown, unremembered gate’ at our first Conference in 2 years since COVID disrupted the world.  Brian is a retired Senior Lecturer in Outdoor Education. He has over 30 years of experience teaching, guiding and researching in outdoor education. His research interests include sense of place, landscape and storytelling. In 2010, he completed a 2500 km canoe descent of River Murray and published his first collection of poetry titled The Song of the Wounded River (Ginninderra Press, 2010). He co-authored A Pedagogy of place: Outdoor education for a changing world (Monash University Publishing, 2011) and was lead editor and author of The socio-ecological educator: A 21st Century renewal of sport, physical, health, environment and outdoor education (Springer, 2014).

2019: Dr Bruce McGregor

President of the Victorian National Parks Association

Bruce is an active research scientist with training in biology, land management, adult education and organisation leadership. For many years he has volunteered with environmental groups in environmental protection and restoration, waterway management, and outdoor recreation. This led to a Victorian Environmental Friends Network Best Friend Award in 2015. He currently volunteers with the Victorian National Parks Association, Trust for Nature and BirdLife Australia.

Brian Nettleton

The Brian Nettleton Lecture was introduced by Outdoors Victoria in 2018 at the “Your Future in the Outdoors” Conference, held at Victoria University, in honour of Dr Brian Nettleton, who passed away in 2017.

Brian was a pioneer of Outdoor Education and place-based experiences in Australia. His active engagement in the field had a remarkable influence on the journey of Outdoor Education in Victoria and inspired and supported many Outdoor Education professionals who have continued to think, teach and write in ways he helped establish.

A speech, delivered by John Quay from Melbourne University & Brian’s daughter, Lisa O’Leary, was a moving tribute and the birth of the “Brian Nettleton Keynote Lecture”.

As of 2019 our Education Outdoors Conference will contain a keynote speech  by an outstanding individual who shares Brian’s values and passionate working contribution to outdoor and environmental education in Australia.

Brian was a very humble person, introverted and shy, but this did not curb his passion for the outdoors, and his wish to share this passion with others. A deep thinker, Brian understood the importance of adventures in nature for children, young people and adults, from all socioeconomic backgrounds and physical and intellectual capacities. He brought his passion and understanding together professionally in his role as a lecturer and researcher at The University of Melbourne.

Brian expressed his work in many ways, including through his teaching and writing. He taught and wrote about nature as a friend and the importance of this understanding for outdoor education; about transformational moments in outdoor education which occur through adventures in nature; about the importance of outdoor education in providing contact with nature when society is heading in the opposite direction. In this sense he was before his time, promulgating ideas that have continued to grow in importance.

The Brian Nettleton Lecture celebrates Brian’s contribution to outdoor and environmental education in Victoria.

Beginning in 2019 at the Outdoors Victoria conference and continuing each year after, the Brian Nettleton Lecture will be delivered by a prominent supporter of outdoor and environmental education in the spirit of his legacy, creating a tradition which annually reaffirms the ideas and passions that sit at the heart of this profession.


Associate Professor,

John Quay, PhD