Heritage Guide to The Geelong College

Search the Guide

To find information in this Guide please select one of the green coloured options.

To Select a Page Group when displayed, right click and select 'Open'.

Copyright Conditions Apply.

ELLIOTT, Frederick Winton (1928-2018)

ELLIOTT, Frederick Winton 'Fred' (1928-2018)

Read 'Fred' Elliott's Story about his time at the College.

Fred Elliott

'Fred' Elliott

Adventurer, artist, and teacher, 'Fred' Elliott first became involved in outdoor adventure through the Geelong College House of Guilds and a lifetime friendship and association with Antarctic expeditioner John Bechervaise.

The son of the Rev Walter Henry Elliott and his wife, Winifred Rosabelle nee Horn, 'Fred' was born on 29 December 1928, spent his early life at Rosedale from 1929 to 1934, before moving firstly to Avoca from 1934 to 1936, and then to Cudgee and Allansford State Schools. In 1940, he was awarded an H V McKay scholarship and boarded at Geelong College from 1940 to 1946. From College, he attended the Gordon Institute Art School in 1947 before moving to Melbourne to complete a Teacher Training Certificate in Manual Arts at Melbourne Teachers College in 1948. His first teaching position was at Colac High School from 1950 to 1952 where he ran several hikes combined with Geelong College.

While at the Gordon he participated, with the Geelong College Exploration Society, in the first Rodondo Island landing and survey and the first arduous ascent of Federation Peak in Tasmania. He continued his outdoor pursuits by becoming an Associate Member of both the Melbourne University Mountaineering Club and the Hobart Walking Club. He was particularly proud of climbing Federation Peak again in 1999, at the age of 70, when he and another 1949 Federation Peak veteran, Allan Rogers, participated in the College 50 year anniversary climb.

'Fred' joined the College staff in 1963 and retired at the end of 1990. Initially, a teacher of art he became Warden of the House of Guilds (HoG), from 1972 to 1979, Art Co-ordinator, and Director of the extended Austin Gray Centre for the Arts from 1980 to 1990. His many other roles in the School included Housemaster, Warrinn, 1963 to 1970, and 1975, 1976, Housemaster of Calvert House from 1971 to 1974, master-in-charge of Hockey, and an instrumental role in leading the Geelong College Exploration Society. His intense interest in the activities of the House of Guilds, of which he was Warden for many years, fired the imaginations of generations of students. His name is honoured in the naming of the former drama room and now lecture theatre as ‘The Elliott Lecture Theatre’. He was president of the OGCA and awarded fellowship of the Association in 1990. While teaching at College he was also an Elder of St David's Church and a member of its choir. After his 'retirement' he moved to Tuross Head in NSW.

It was Antarctic Exploration that was to be a theme in 'Fred's life. He resigned from the Victorian Education Department at the end of 1952 to join John Bechervaise on the Australian Antarctic Research Expedition (ANARE) to Heard Island as a Weather Observer. During that first season in 1953-54 he helped to establish the Mawson Research Station on the Antarctic continent in 1954. He returned to Antarctica for the 1955-56 season as a Weather Observer at Mawson establishing what is now the longest running upper air sounding program in Antarctica. That same year he participated in the first exploration of the Framnes Ranges. His distinguished service was recognized the following year when he was awarded the Polar Medal.

In 1956, 'Fred' returned to teaching at the Corio campus of Geelong Grammar School and then Timbertop in 1957 but Antarctica lured him back and he returned to Mawson and Davis Stations in 1958. At the end of that year's expedition he returned to Timbertop where he assumed supervision of outdoor activities from 1959 to 1962. He was awarded a Clasp to the Polar Medal for his services to Antarctic exploration.

'Fred' Elliott at the Austin Gray Centre.

'Fred' Elliott at the Austin Gray Centre.

'Fred' married Margaret Darby in 1959 and both their daughters, 'Kirsty' and 'Libby' were educated at the College. After Margaret's untimely death in 1995, Fred moved to Berwick and continued to participate in a range of cultural and outdoor activities.

'Fred' demonstrated that 'retirement' was no impediment to hard work and, in 1994, began a series of black and white Antarctic drawings which, in 1996, were published as 'Antarctica in Black and White' . He has exhibited widely with solo art exhibitions at the Ballarat Gold Museum, the Australian Print Workshop and the City of Casey Artspace. His works have also been exhibited at the Mitchell Library, Sydney, Tasmanian Art Gallery and Museum and Parliament House, Canberra. His prints are held in the Collections of many of Australia's major galleries including the National Gallery of Australia. In 2008, Fred was awarded the 'Lindsay King Arts Initiative Award' from the City of Casey.

'Fred' donated some of his own photographs to Geelong College as well as a large, diverse collection of black and white photographic negatives by John Bechervaise from the mid 1930s.

His community activities have continued to be as diverse as they have been extensive, including bushwalking, photography, choral singing, writing, Red Cross, Telecross, RSL and running a U3A drawing class called 'Taking a Line for a Walk' .

Following several years of illness, 'Fred' died on 10 September 2018.

His brother, William Charles Elliott (1927-1996), was also educated at Geelong College.

'At times I felt completely at one with the surroundings. Once, at Davis, I was just standing at the open door looking out over the sea ice. There was a chain of icebergs slowly moving across the horizon and the low sun had turned them gold ... and the slow movement of Beethoven's Third Symphony was playing, and everything just fused into one and I felt I was part of it, part of the whole scene.'

- 'Fred', as quoted in 'Down South' by Susan Gordon-Brown and Gayl O'Connor.

Sources: 'Fred' Elliott; Geelong Advertiser 13 September 2018; Ad Astra December 2018 pp57-58 OGC 1941.
© The Geelong College. Unless otherwise attributed, The Geelong College asserts its creative and commercial rights over all images and text used in this publication. No images or text material may be copied, reproduced or published without the written authorisation of The College.