Gillian was born and raised in Zimbabwe, Africa, and currently lives in Australia. At school, university and after, Gillian was a keen participant in outdoor activities. She enjoys horse riding, rowing, swimming and other water sports, depending on the time of year. Photography was also an interest as well as a hobby. At school Gillian helped run the student dark room and took photos for official school events.
As a veterinary student, she often went camping at the Zambezi in the Mana pools game reserve where she would walk through the bush unguarded and unarmed: "How we never came to grief from either poachers or carnivores is probably more luck than anything else". As a hard-up student, photography took a back seat, but after qualifying Gillian went to work in a country practice where she was often out on farms working with the cattle. Some farmers had rather more interesting wildlife on their land: vaccinating lions for cat flu and rabies, wild dogs for distemper and rabies as well as the odd surgical intervention on antelope made for a varied and interesting career .
Annual holidays were often taken at Hwange game reserve in the north west, where Gillian enjoyed taking photos and watching the game and birds from a remote camp. "One year we were lucky to watch and video a group of elephants playing in the Zambezi, like kids in the pool. They were swimming, ducking each other and diving." Gillian believes growing up in Africa ingrains conservation in your brain and "through diving and travelling to dive, we try to keep watching and helping where we can".