Coast's own 'bat man' honoured by the Queen
BAT biology is certainly a niche field but, when it comes to discoveries and contributions, few are more highly regarded than DrLeslie Hall.
For more than 50 years, DrHall has served as a scientist, researcher, academic and writer, and has made countless contributions to the conservation of Australasian bats.
Now his work is being recognised with the honour of an Order of Australia medal.
Dr Hall said the award had come as a complete surprise.
"It came out of the blue... it's very nice, but it wasn't on my list of 'to do' things," he said.
"I worked at CSIRO and it was my chief who initially said they needed somebody to get interested in bats because there was very little known about them and so much mystery.
"It's been very challenging, but very rewarding. I feel I've had a privileged role in the community.
"It's funny, when I left school I joined a caving club and used to go out exploring caves on the weekends, and now here I am in caves chasing bats. What better way to be spending your time?"
While the Maleny local had not initially intended to study bats, a career in wildlife was on the cards from an early age.
Growing up in Nimbin before moving to Sydney as a teenager, Dr Hall said his parents fostered his childhood interest in birdwatching.
"You wonder why you end up in particular careers and what your influences are, but it would have been my parents," he said.
"I can still remember days when I'd find a bird that I'd never seen and that used to get me excited.
"I've been interested in wildlife since I was a child. Finding a new cave and finding some bats in there - it might be an unusual species or rare species - that really fires the heart up."
Dr Hall, who is now "mostly retired", said he hoped to see more research and understanding in the world of bats.
"They are very important in our native forests. I'd like people to have all the right information."