Special Collections at Murdoch University

Special Collections at Murdoch University

Our Special Collections are home to thousands of culturally significant, unique and hard to find items.
These collections offer a rich resource for staff and students and enable the research and teaching goals of the university.

Sir Walter Murdoch - 80 years of wisdom

Murdoch, W. Sir Walter Murdoch - 80 years of wisdom. [Sound recording] [Special Collections]


This recording by Sir Walter Murdoch was made to celebrate his 80th birthday on 17 September 1954 and was broadcast on the ABC radio programme "Guest of Honour".

This recording is from a rebroadcast of the programme sometime after Sir Walter’s death on 30 July 1970.

The radio presenter gives a summary of Sir Walter’s career at the University of Western Australia and his reputation as an essayist. The program then plays the recording of Sir Walter Murdoch.

Sir Walter ponders why living to 80 was considered such an achievement after the advent of motor vehicles. He reflects upon the changes he has personally observed in his life. Namely, he mentions the impact of both World Wars on civilization and social organisation. He talks about industrialisation, the harnessing of electricity and the various inventions that followed (mass production of engine-driven vehicles, telephone, gramophone, radio etc. He observes this technological evolution has provided freedom, but also more methods of social control.

On a more philosophical level, he reflects upon the “retreat from religion” as the “most significant change” he has experienced. He uses Darwin’s theory of evolution as an example of a monumental shift in societal thinking.

Sir Walter concludes with the reflection that the most significant lesson learned from 80 years of living is to place his faith in humanity, rather than religious iconography. He refuses to take a side between religious orthodoxy and pure reason, finding a healthy middle ground to be the best course of action.

PLEASE NOTE: We are unable to provide a public copy of this recording as the copyright is not held by Murdoch University.

If you would like to obtain a copy of this recording for research purposes please ‘request a copy'.

Date: 17 September 1954
Item Type: Special Collections
Collection: Sir Walter Murdoch Collection
Copyright: © 1954 Australian Broadcasting Corporation
Other Information: This recording was originally made on a cassette tape.
Notes: 1 digital file : 21 MB
URI: http://researchrepository.murdoch.edu.au/id/eprint/54972
Item Control Page Item Control Page