Vale Professor Graeme Hugo

It is with sadness and a considerable sense of loss that we report the death of Professor Hugo 20 January 2015 in Adelaide after a short illness. Graeme graduated from the University of Adelaide with an honours degree in geography and a Diploma of Education and set off backpacking in South-east Asia, during which he joined a boatload of illegal immigrants between Malaysia and Indonesia to gather ethnographic information first hand.

Returning to Adelaide, he did his Masters degree at Flinders University then moved to Canberra where he completed his PhD at the Australian National University in 1975. He returned to Adelaide as a lecturer, rising to Reader, in Geography at Flinders University. In 1991 he was appointed Director of the Australian Population and Migration Research Centre at the University of Adelaide, and later of the National Centre for Social Applications of Geographical Information Systems, in which capacity he took on the leadership role of the Upper Sepik-Central New Guinea Project in 2004 and supervision of the associated doctoral candidate, Andrew Fyfe.

Graeme’s output was prodigious: 400 books, book chapters and journal papers; at his death he was supervisor of over a dozen PhD students. His most widely acclaimed work was the Atlas of the Australian People, 3700 pages of socio-economic analysis set out State by State using the statistics from the 1986 Australian Census. He was the recipient of the Australian Research Council Fellowship in 2002 and 2009 and was awarded the Order of Australia in 2012. He worked with the United Nations, the International Labor Office, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and the World Bank, as well as playing a leading advisory role in many Australian organisations. He was frequently on an airplane going somewhere to manage a project, attend a conference or provide advice. Despite all this he remained a keen follower of football and cricket, played tennis and gave attention to his family without stint.

During the progress of the Upper Sepik-Central New Guinea Project 2004-2010, when I had occasion to see him, he was barely visible behind ever-changing piles of paper on his desk. I marveled at how he kept track of all the many and various projects and his responsibilities for his students. He always enquired after the health of my wife, whom he had never met. He was that sort of person, a humble and caring man not affected by his own achievements or the accolades of others. His memorial service was attended by several hundred people; members of his family, and friends, spoke movingly of their loss. It was a pleasure to work with him.