Memoriam to Noeline Ikin

14 Feb 2017

Noeline Ikin served as CEO of Northern Gulf Resource Management Group from 2001-2012, and much of the organisation's success can be credited to her leadership and talent. Noeline passed away on 11 Feb 2017. Following are selected tributes from Northern Gulf members, staff, and Directors.

Mike Digby

It's an honour to put down some words about working with Noeline at Northern Gulf.

It was Wednesday 5th March 2004 when I received a phone call from Noeline. I was working for Qld Parks & Wildlife Service at the time and I will never forget her greeting. "Hello I'm Noeline from Northern Gulf Resource Management Group." My response was "Hello Noeline and how are you?" She responded, "Always good, thanks!"

It didn't matter how she felt herself, she always responded "Always good, thanks!"

I immediately felt an air of connection, comfort and ease talking with Noeline, which lasted right through our careers working together. Right from the start she was amazing, and nothing was a bother to her. She even helped organise housing for me.

I quickly learnt where Noeline's heart and inner drive lay: it was with her family of 3 lovely young girls and the community she lived in. We had some pretty special outings, Noeline, Tabitha, Gabriella, Kiralee, along with Allan and Terry Smith, taking the girls fishing and exploring the Savannah Country on weekends and Northern Gulf events. It has been such a pleasure to see these 3 young ladies grow and reflect the virtues of their mother. Noeline was very proud of her daughters.

As Northern Gulf developed and advanced Noeline always had strong faith and respect for her staff, and equally the community we worked with. We called Noeline 'Mother Hen'. It was that 'family' culture that Noeline instilled in the office that was the root of Northern Gulf's success.  Noeline always sought our opinion and advice – she always valued her team.

The back steps at the Georgetown Office were the place of many a discussion, debate and ideas session over a cup of tea or coffee. Many members of the Northern Gulf community will testify to that. During difficult times, such as the Wild Rivers 'mess', Cyclones Larry and Yasi, the 2009 Floods, the 2012 Wildfires, many a strategy session was had on those back steps. Even the odd Minister and Senator were privileged to a back step session.

Noeline strongly encouraged us to focus on innovation and vision, which was to be backed up with sound community engagement, participation, science and technology without losing sight of good old common sense. I remember several graziers saying to Noeline, "The Northern Gulf office is a reason for coming to town."

Noeline always flourished when it came to taking a cause, and sometimes a fight, to Government. I warmly remember several ding-dong debates where Noeline asked me to team up with her. I really enjoyed those days of going after what is right and what is logical.

Noeline had an opening statement, "This may be a stupid question, but ……" When she came out with this, I would sit back and watch. With that one question she could bring the whole conversation into line with the way of thinking that was best for the community we represented. It was awesome and rewarding to work with her!

Noeline, you have had a lasting and profound influence on not only myself and the Northern Gulf staff, but the whole Northern Gulf community. Your support to us was unwavering. We are deeply indebted to you. You will always be in our hearts.

Barry Hughes

The Gulf Cattleman's Association owes its very existence to Noeline Ikin. Thru her foresight and vision we have created a much needed Northern Gulf Cattle Industry voice.

I came away from my first meeting with Noeline Ikin thinking how and where has this lady complied such a register of knowledge, intelligence, common-sense and still maintain the ability to deliver what people were seeking in an uncontaminated undiluted format. I soon learned to listen and respect her views pertaining to this vast landscape, the people within it, and the huge diversity of plants and animals that she cared so much for.

I doubt anyone would have foreshadowed in those early days the tenacity that Noeline possessed, or her vision and foresight that evolved thru her work that would unleash this passion and willingness for helping others. There were so many layers to this remarkable woman, but the one that will impress me forever was her ability to manage discussions to arrive at effective outcomes. Sometimes this wasn't always pretty, but the decorum that she demanded always won the day. It was thru this process that she gained respect and won hard fought debates with politicians and bureaucrats to deliver better outcomes for community and industry alike.

The caring maternal qualities that she possessed endeared her to each and everyone that knew her and helped her open many doors as she embarked on her political career. Although I kept telling her she was far to honest to be a politician.

I have been blessed to have had such a close association with a truly amazing person who brought hope when there was little, leadership when it was lacking and draft bullshit form common-sense better than anyone I know. A mentor to many, but a role model to even more meant she was so unselfish with her time and knowledge even it meant working on policy documents that would reshape our industry late into the night.

Horses were so important to Noeline and right to the end she maintained this love which gave her the escape form her hectic schedule.

A good life has many cornerstones that are used to build and fulfil our individual needs and aspirations. Noeline had in her possession, enough stones to build a mansion, which she has left behind for all of us to share. God bless you Noeline.

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In memory of Noeline.

May the rain never wash

Your tracks from the trail

May the memories of you

Never ever fail

May the horses you love

Carry you to above

Now that your saddle

Has gone from the rail.

- Barry Hughes
President: Gulf Cattleman's Association