Graham Barnett

The wild lad who came good

Friday, August 10, 2018
Teacher cited for his willingness to go where God sent

Nobody attending Avondale with Graham Barnett could forget the brash and distressingly voluble boy from Kingaroy, Queensland. Few would have believed the same lad, with a rapier wit and happy penchant for “shafting” anyone within range, could become a renowned missionary and administrator who faithfully followed God’s leading.

Graham graduated with a diploma in 1968 and married Jan Durbridge, the mainstay in his life. A primary teaching career formed in New Zealand would be shaped in Papua New Guinea, where Graham’s pioneering work helped him develop as Seventh-day Adventist school principal, mission pilot then mission director of education. He even survived a forced landing at sea. Returning to Australia, Graham assumed principalships at Toowoomba and Rockhampton and at Bickley in Western Australia before an eight-year appointment as the education and Pathfinder director for the church in that state.

The cry of New Guinea still rang in Graham’s ears—with the addition of a bachelor’s and a master’s degree, he became Dean of Education at Pacific Adventist University in 1997.

Graham’s career and life climaxed on the morning of October 2, 1998, when an errant spark caused a petrol explosion on the Port Moresby campus. Graham, critically burnt, was airlifted to Brisbane and placed into a coma from which he never woke.

The Class of 1968 honours the well-lived life of Graham Barnett, remembering him as a man who never did things by half measure. Sleep on, Graham, until you hear the voice of the Life Giver.


Register for Homecoming, the largest Avondale Alumni event of the year. All alumni and friends of Avondale, and their families, from all years and classes are welcome. The heart of Homecoming: the reunions for those in the honour years.




John Hammond

Dr John Hammond is an Avondale College of Higher Education alumnus and a former Director of Adventist Schools Australia.

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