Comedian John Clarke died taking photos of birds on a bushwalk with family and friends, a family spokesperson has revealed.

Clarke, 68, died while hiking in the Grampians National Park, Victoria on Sunday.

The spokesperson released a statement saying Clarke would be "forever in our hearts" after he died doing "one of the things he loved".

"John died doing one of the things he loved the most in the world, taking photos of birds in beautiful bushland with his wife and friends. He is forever in our hearts.


"We are aware of what he has meant to so many for so many years, throughout the world but especially in Australia and New Zealand. We are very grateful for all expressions of sympathy and love which John would have greatly appreciated."

The statement was released via the ABC on behalf of his family. An ABC spokesperson said he died of natural causes.

Ambulance Victoria paramedics told the Herald they were called to a man who collapsed.

"Unfortunately he couldn't be revived."

A Victoria Police spokeswoman said it was an unsuspicious death.

"A Fitzroy man was with a walking group when he collapsed on a track near Mt Abrupt in the Grampians about 11am on Sunday. A 68-year-old man died a short time later.

"Police are preparing a report for the coroner."

Clarke married Helen McDonald in 1973. They had two daughters, Lorin and Lucia. He is also the grandfather to Claudia and Charles and the father-in-law to Stewart Thorn.


Clarke was a longtime lover of bird life.

In 2014 he did a series of humorous videos with his comedic counterpart Bryan Dawe. Clarke pretended to be a series of shorebirds and Dawe would interview him about his upcoming migration and character traits.

He was a member of Australian BirdLife and occasionally contributed to their magazine. He got into bird watching relatively recently when he bought a digital camera and started taking photos to build a registry of birds for conservation.

In a 2012 interview with Clarke published by the Australia BirdLife he explained that the joy of birdwatching came from being reminded what a "pipsqueak" you are.

"I think one of the useful things about an interest in nature and in walking and looking is a loss of the self. To completely lose yourself is a great pleasure especially if what you do for a living is put yourself up in some way which is psychically tiring.

"One of the principal joys of birdwatching is that you are being responsive to the world, you're just another creature. You are the tool of the world. You are not mastering it, or moulding it to your image or any such piffle, you are reminded of what a pipsqueak you are.

"It's a wonderful way of reminding yourself that the birds are looking at you too.
The birds notice everything. The birds are much better watchers than you are.
I have a big family of Black-shouldered Kites living near my house. If I take a photo of one and I zoom in later it doesn't matter how far away I am it's always looking at me. They do not miss a trick. And of course they don't miss a trick, they're raptors, they're looking for the tiniest little critters in the deepest grass, so they're going to spot a big dork with a camera quite easily. "

Clarke compared Australian and New Zealand birdlife.

"The Australian birds are incredibly striking. They basically meet you at the airport and say "hello" (done in his best 'cocky' voice). They're not shy, they're multi-coloured. They're like cocktails.

"If you grow up in New Zealand you are aware of birds because the country used to be owned by birds... The smallest of them is called the Rifleman and he's a minute little chap. I didn't know much about birds when I was growing up, but I was always aware of the Rifleman."

In his final comment Clarke told Australian BirdLife what people should do with their homes.

"If anyone owns property, cover it with trees and leave it alone."

BirdLife Australia posted their condolences to their website. They said Clarke helped in numerous awareness-raising campaigns and when asked what his favourite bird was, Clarke replied "I like all of them".

A few weeks ago Clarke was snapped delivering his daughter's new children's book called Our last trip to the market, by Lorin Clarke, to a Melbourne bakery.

John Clarke kind enough to deliver in person his daughter's children's book which will be launched this week. Book is called " Our last trip to the market ". Congratulations Lorin Clarke. 😀

Posted by Fatto a Mano Organic Bakery on Wednesday, 29 March 2017

Clad in gumboots and a black singlet, Clarke's best known creation, Fred Dagg, was played with such conviction that to many New Zealanders, he was a real person. He was such an icon that those well-known gumboots now are housed in Te Papa.

Created and improved on between 1973 and 1977, Dagg captured the essence of New Zealand in the 1970s, and let us laugh at ourselves. He was featured on radio, TV and stage shows as well as record albums.