Historical information

Painted for the Shire of Eltham Historical Society by Audrey Cahn

Vice President till 1978
Audrey Cahn, formerly of Warrandyte and now of Yass in New South Wales
has been a member of our Society for many years and maintains an interest despite having moved
from the area. Audrey celebrated her 100th birthday on 17th October. 2005

Word has been received of the recent death of Audrey Cahn at the age of 104. Audrey
was the sister of the late Charis Palling, founding president of our Society. She had
remained a member for many years although she had moved from her family home at
Warrandyte to live with her daughter in New South Wales. Audrey had been blind for
some years but maintained a local interest by having our Newsletter read to her.
Newsletter No. 180 May 2008

Newsletter No. 185 March 2009
Audrey Cahn
Audrey's associations with Warrandyte started because her father Professor Osbourne had
bought 60 acres in 1904. " Gold mining was beginning to die out and Warrandyte was a
decaying area. Land was cheap because of the lack of transport and the soil was poor for
farming' Audrey said.
Audrey first attended school in the city at the Church of England Girls Grammar School 'I
was always a bit rebellious. If I felt some restrictions were unfair or some judgement unjust
I resented it'. Audrey got into Agricultural Science at Melbourne University and in 1928
was the second women to get such a degree.
Audrey married in 1926, and later divorced Leslie Cahn an architect. They had twin
daughters whom she left with her parents in Warrandyte while she studied dietetics during
the depression. She found employment as a microbiologist at the Kraft/Walker Milk and
Cheese Factory in Drouin - she drove home at weekends to see her daughters who were
then at boarding school.
During the war Audrey was in charge of catering at the Heidelberg Military Hospital - again
the appointment of a women caused some unrest. She was in the army for more than 4
years and achieved the rank of General which-made her the mest highly-ranked-weman at
the hospital.
After the war she became a senior lecturer in Dietetics at Melbourne University, again
being aware of the limitations her gender brought to promotion possibilities. During her
time at the university she undertook a series of studies in nutritional biochemistry. Of
especial note is the analysis of common dietary foods so that the composition and calorific
value, the data that was needed for inclusion in Food tables - that professional sports
people and weight-watchers so avidly follow today! She was an early proponent of the
need to reduce fat intake and to substitute saturated fats with polyunsaturated fatty acids.
In the 1950's Audrey and fellow workers established norms for the growth of Australian
children to be compared with British and American children. Over 17 years they concluded
that Australian children were overweight and inactive - what is new!
She bought a cottage in Warrandyte as her home. In 1968 she retired to further develop
her other interests as a potter and painter. Audrey was a foundation member of the group
of potters that set up Potters Cottage.
Audrey died aged 102.

Newsletter No. 233 April 2017
Audrey Josephine Cahn Richard Pinn
It’s 1911. I like Audrey. She often comes to visit me here at Lowestoft in North Warrandyte,
where she likes to roam wild in the bush beside the river. She lives at Melbourne University
with her parents, William and Ethel Osborne, who bought this place last year as a holiday home.
To get here, they have to take a train to Ringwood and then a horse-drawn coach to the
Warrandyte Bridge, before walking up a long steep track to the house. William and Ethel
will both turn out to be influential scientists. But I want to tell you what will become of Audrey.
Throughout her life, Audrey will have an interest in the field of nutritional science and will become
a pioneer in the academic field of dietetics. She will complete a degree in Agricultural Science
(majoring in botany and zoology) in 1928 and her first job will
be as a microbiologist and food analyst with Kraft in 1929.
Later she will be employed as chief dietitian at St Vincent’s
Hospital, at the Victorian Mental Hygiene Department, at the
Royal Perth Hospital, and during the war at the Heidelberg
Military Hospital. In 1936 Audrey will be a founding member
of the Dietetics Association, which will lobby the Victorian
Government to adopt a registration procedure in order
to keep ‘quacks’ out of the profession.
From 1947 until her retirement in 1968, Audrey will be a
lecturer (chief lecturer from 1959) in nutrition and dietetics at
Melbourne University. Her principal research work during this
time will include examining the physical properties and energy
value of common dietary foods, in order to compile calorie
tables. She will be among the first experts to recommend
reducing fat intake and substituting polyunsaturated fatty
acids for saturated fats. She will promote a well-balanced diet,
shunning high-dose vitamin supplements and other pill-based
nutritional approaches (despite Melbourne University receiving
substantial funding from Nicholas Pty. Ltd. (Aspro) to set up a nutrition department!). Between
1954 and 1971, she will help to conduct a study of child growth in Melbourne, allowing the growth
patterns of Australian children to be compared with those in Britain and the United States.
Audrey will have a younger sister called Charis, who will also come to Lowestoft. Charis will be
the inaugural president of the Shire of Eltham Historical Society between 1967 and 1976. Sadly,
the house and garden at Lowestoft will be destroyed in a bushfire in 1939. Fortunately, though, the
gatekeeper’s residence, dating in part from the 1860s and known as White Cottage, will survive.
Audrey will live at White Cottage from 1947 until
moving to Murrumbateman (near Yass) in 1992.
She will also become a member of the Eltham
District Historical Society and remain so until
her death in 2008, aged 102.
But that’s all in the future. I’m more excited
about today. Clara Southern is coming here
to paint a picture of Audrey and me.
My name is Chickapick.
(Sources: Wikipedia; Australian Women’s Register
(via Trove); obituary in The Age (12/5/2008);
Osborne Landcare Group website)