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Biographical entry Pink, Olive Muriel (1884 - 1975)

17 March 1884
Hobart, Tasmania, Australia
6 July 1975
Alice Springs, Northern Territory, Australia
Anthropologist and Botanical artist


Olive Pink travelled on the railway between Quorn, South Australia and Alice Springs in June-December 1930, after a drought had broken, stopping to sketch flowers wherever railway workers reported them. She made further sketches around Alice Springs 1957-1960.


Educated in art at Hobart Technical College. Tracer, Public Works Department and later the Railways Commission of New South Wales. Studied anthropology with the Workers' Educational Association and became secretary to the Anthropological Society of New South Wales. Trips in 1926 & 1927 to Ooldea on the Transcontinental Line, SA. Many of her early drawings of desert flora were completed here. Retrenched in 1930 and moved to NT, living first with the Aboriginal people in the Tanami Desert and settling eventually in Alice Springs. In 1955 made application to the Assistant Administrator for reservation of an area of land on the eastern bank of the Todd as a flora reserve. In 1956 the Australian Arid Regions Flora Reserve of 20 hectares was gazetted. After her death it was renamed the Olive Pink Flora Reserve.

Archival resources

South Australian Museum Archives

  • Olive Muriel Pink - Records, 1935 - 1938, A.D. 15; South Australian Museum Archives. Details

University of Tasmania Library, Special/Rare Collection

  • Olive Muriel Pink - Records, 1930 - 1960, P.6; University of Tasmania Library, Special/Rare Collection. Details

Published resources

Encyclopedia of Australian Science Exhibitions


  • Marcus, Julie, The Indomitable Miss Pink: a Life in Anthropology (Sydney: University of New South Wales Press, 2001), 340 pp. Details
  • Marcus, Julie, Lepervanche, Marie de, McBryde, Isabel, Prior, Mary Ellen Murray, White, Isobel; Morris, Miranda; O'Gorman, Anne; Marcus, Julie and Cheater, Christine, First in Their Field: Women and Australian Anthropology (Melbourne: Melbourne University Press, 1993). Details
  • Ward, Gillian, Olive Pink: artist, activist and gardener (Richmond, Vic.: Hardie Grant Books, 2018), 240 pp. Details

Book Sections

  • Marcus, Julie, 'Pink, Olive Muriel (1884-1975), Artist, Aboriginal-rights Activist, Anthropologist and Gardener' in Australian Dictionary of Biography, John Ritchie and Diane Langmore, eds, vol. 16 (Melbourne: Melbourne University Press, 2002), pp. 4-5. Details

Journal Articles

  • Beudel, Saskia and Daly, Margo, 'Gallant Desert Flora: Olive Pink's Australian Arid Regions Flora Reserve', Historical Records of Australian Science, 25 (2014), 227-52. Details
  • Ward, Gillian, 'Olive Pink as artist - a remarkable Tasmanian', Tasmanian Historical Research Association Papers and Proceedings, 62 (1) (2015), 19-33. Details
  • Ward, Gillian, 'Olive Pink - an early student of the art school who donated her artworks to the University of Tasmania', Tasmanian Historical Studies, 22 (2017), 91-3. Details


McCarthy, G.J.