KI's Bev Overton awarded AM for service to conservation, environment

Beverley Maeling Overton of Kingscote, Kangaroo Island became a Member of the Order of Australia in the Queen's Birthday 2019 Honours List.

She received the AM for significant service to conservation and the environment.

Beverley's long list of Island involvement and accomplishments can be read at the end of this article.

But she is perhaps best known for cataloging native plants and documenting the Island's natural environment.

She is a founding member of the Kangaroo Island Flora and Fauna Club and has worked with both Friends of Parks and the various Government departments.

She is also founder of the Kangaroo Island Regional Herbarium, located in a shed in her back garden, where she has recorded more than 7,660 observations/collections.

She also continues to be a member of the SES and was a base radio operator for the CFS and a volunteer with the Red Cross for many years.

Beverley just lost the love of her life, husband Dean Overton who died just short of his 77th birthday and together with family, she was scattering his ashes at Reeves Point this Queen's Birthday long weekend.

Naturally she said she would have loved for her husband of 56 years to have been alive to see her latest award of an AM.

She was born in Kingscote 76 years ago and her father Ken Pitt was an Aboriginal man who carted and delivered food off the boats.

She attended school in Kingscote where teacher Ida Jackson was an inspiration.

"She used to take us wandering in the bush and I got a bit of spark for nature and plants that way," Beverley said.

After a stint away from KI, getting married and practicing nursing, she and Dean moved back to the Island in 1977.

Ida was still wandering the bush and her love of native plants was sparked again.

"(Ida) didn't drive, so we would drive her and go walking," Beverley said. "She was just a little tiny thing but would go anywhere."

They sent a lot of plant material to the SA State Herbarium for identification, and soon Beverley started building her own collection.

Now she has many thousands of specimens cataloged in her own herbarium in her backyard shed.

Ever humble, she denies being the local expert on KI wildflowers but said, "I am not an expert, I know a little bit about plants."

Apart from her work documenting and writing about plants, she also enjoyed being a volunteer and radio operator for the SES and then the CFS.

And she still does a little for the SES. "A do little bit and pieces, sweeping the floors so the boys can do more important stuff," she said.

She has said she will eventually pass on the herbarium to fellow KI plant enthusiast Michelle Haby, but she has lots of catching up to do and reports to write.

"I still have a lot of paperwork to do and need to get things published so its available for people to read," she said. "I have done a lot of work on post fire recovery and how quickly things come up after a fire."

She continues to be an active member of the Flora and Fauna Club, enjoying the social aspects of their tours and activities.

Beverley Overton AM in her element collecting samples out in the wilds of Kangaroo Island. This photo of her hangs in her herbarium.

Beverley Overton AM in her element collecting samples out in the wilds of Kangaroo Island. This photo of her hangs in her herbarium.

Here are Beverley's long list of accomplishments and awards;

Kangaroo Island Flora and Fauna Club

  • Founding member, 1982.
  • Committee Member, current.

Kangaroo Island Flora and Fauna conservation

  • Founder, Kangaroo Island Flora and Fauna Orchid Group, 2011.
  • Member, Kangaroo Island National Parks and Wildlife Service Consultative Committee, since 1984.
  • Member, Friends of Parks, current.
  • Founding Member, Kangaroo Island Weeds.
  • Volunteer and Committee Member, Hope Cottage and Museum, current.
  • Volunteer, Kangaroo Island Pioneers Association, current.
  • Team member, Kangaroo Island Threatened Plant Recovery, current.
  • Involved in development of the Kangaroo Island Nationally Threatened Plant Project.
  • Committee Member, Kangaroo Island Natural Resources Management Biosecurity Advisory Group.
  • Involved in the Biological Survey of Kangaroo Island, 1989.
  • Founder, Overton Herbarium (Kangaroo Island Regional Herbarium).

Flora and Fauna other

  • Has recorded over 7,660 observations/collections with the Atlas of Living Australia.
  • Workshop member, Threatened Species Schedules Review project, Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources, 2014.
  • Founder, Environmental Realist, 1982.

Red Cross South Australia

  • Member, Victor Harbor Branch, 2009.
  • Member, Emergency and Disaster Services Team, South Australia, 2001-2006.
  • Member, Kangaroo Island Branch, 1975-2009.


  • Volunteer, Kangaroo Island State Emergency Service, since 1968.
  • Base Radio Operator, Country Fire Service, 1975-2000.

Awards and recognition

  • Lifetime NRM Achievement Award, Kangaroo Island Natural Resource Management, 2016.
  • Long Service Award (30 Years), Red Cross South Australia.
  • Life Membership, State Emergency Services, 2015.
  • Certificate of Appreciation, 20 Years Membership, Friends of Kangaroo Island/Friends of Cape Gantheaume Conservation Park, 2014.
  • National Medal, State Emergency Services.
  • Ministerial Commendation, South Australian Emergency Services.
  • National Medal, Country Fire Services.
  • 20 Year Certificate of Appreciation, Department of Environment, Water, and Natural Resources.


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