John Wood, Life Member of both Parks & Leisure Australia (PLA) and Outdoors Queensland; PLA Fellow; recipient of the PLA Frank Stewart Award (2012) and the Queensland Outdoor Recreation Award for Outstanding Achievement (2003); and retired Owner & Director of John Wood Consultancy Services, passed away in September 2021.

John was a generous, humble, and unassuming gentleman and a legend of the recreation, open space planning and natural area management fraternity in Australia from the mid-1970s. John’s national and international achievements across a wide range of disciplines speak for themselves. Few people can boast both the academic and hands-on project experience that John demonstrated with equal merit over his distinguished career. While he successfully advised government agencies on an array of projects, his passion was outdoor recreation where his expertise has been sought in tourism planning, national park planning, open space planning, master planning, trails, and natural resource planning. John’s specialist expertise has been acknowledged by several major local government agencies who have engaged him as an expert witness in complex cases involving open space and recreation matters.

John was born in Laidley, Queensland and grew-up in the Brisbane suburb of Camp Hill, exploring the then-wilderness of what is known today as Seven Hills Bushland Reserve and Whites Hill Reserve. While devoted to his family, John also selflessly volunteered his time as an advocate on many government, professional, academic and community bodies; and to present or facilitate at conferences where he has shared his knowledge and expertise. He devoted a lifetime of commitment to promoting and supporting the leisure industry and in the various professional roles he has held throughout his career, has served as a mentor for many. John Wood was a role model of professionalism and credibility in the leisure industry and a greatly respected consultant; his trademark was personified in his qualities of integrity, honesty, and humility. In John’s own words “Be positive, dream big, give it your all, learn from your mistakes.”

John was closely involved with the development of the Parks and Recreation Collection from its genesis. As convener of the Research group of PLA, he welcomed the advent of the Collection as a repository for the large volume of scholarly knowledge materials that he had accumulated over the years, notably the Research Connections series of annotated bibliographies. Also, as a long-standing senior member of PLA, he was integral to the steps taken to ensure that PaRC would meet the needs of PLA for archiving its own documentary knowledge. By celebrating John’s life here, the site is serving one of its purposes of keeping alive the knowledge and insights of the ‘greats’ of the profession.


John’s passing is a great loss to the parks and leisure sector and he will be deeply missed.

This account of John and his work is adapted from a newsletter of Parks and Leisure Australia.