Monthly Archives: February 2010

Brian Mooney of Diamantina Shire talks about visitors and Bush Heritage in the Simpson Desert

Brian Mooney, Tourism and Development Manager at Diamantina Shire, takes us through some of this thoughts on visitors and Bush Heritage.

Bedourie, the administrative centre of the Diamantina Shire (twice the size of Denmark), lies in the area known as the Channel Country in southwestern Queensland. With 14 cattle stations in the Shire, which is roughly 95,000 square kilometres, beef production is a major industry driving services in these remote parts of the country.

One of the Bush Heritage Australia properties in the area, Cravens Peak, had been run as a pastoral holding managed for beef production since 1975. When Bush Heritage purchased the land in 2005 all cattle were removed in a bid to help conserve the Mulligan River catchment area. 

It is clear that towns like Bedourie exist because of the cattle and grazing industry. These are places with deep and rich histories – much of which shapes the outback ‘Australian’ mystique even for those who have never left the ‘city’. As I will explore in future posts, each side of the picture (agriculture and Conservation) needs to painted. They need not be, and in many cases are not, on different sides. 



Filed under Arid dry-zone (Simpson Desert), Interviews, People and the environment

Planting [sea] life into flowerpots

This piece documents an afternoon with Mark Browne as he examines which organisms survive 11 days after being planted in flowerpots on the Cremorne Point and Careening Cove seawalls in Sydney Harbour. 


Filed under Bringing the project to life, Sydney Harbour (seawalls), Visuals

The power of wordles

While reviewing surveys completed by members of the North Sydney community surrounding the sites of our seawalls study I entered the answers from particular questions into wordle – an amazing site creating ‘word clouds’ from text (! Those words used most frequently appear larger.

Here are a few examples of what I found:


Nature in a word…

Nominated Australian ‘Iconic Landscapes’…

Sydney Harbour…

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Filed under Australian landscape's 'character', People and the environment, Sydney Harbour (seawalls)

Simpson sequence

A three minute snapshot of life on a University of Sydney Desert Ecology Research group trip.

Music by ©Vampire Weekend. ‘White Sky’ from the album Contra.

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Filed under Arid dry-zone (Simpson Desert), Bringing the project to life, People and the environment, Visuals

“The conservationist”

Peter Bevan, a member of the Fowlers Gap Graziers Committee, spent his life working on the 75,000 Ha Sturts Meadows sheep station 88 kilometres north of Broken Hill. Recently retired, he and his wife Mary have moved into town and left their son and daughter in law, Randall and Josephine, to run the property.

While visiting Peter and Mary in Broken Hill, Peter gave me a copy of this poem. I was asking about the relationship between ‘conservationists’ and land owners and this, it seems, is one playful take on the situation.

If anything, it underlines the importance of considering every opinion. All those I spoke with were connected to the land, but in different ways and with varying priorities. I think sharing knowledge, like this, will help bridge gaps that exist between interest groups.  

As the poem suggests, the solution doesn’t lie the Turramurra man’s pointing of fingers… We need to look at the big picture. Stay ‘tuned’ for posts exploring these different voices (scientists, land owners and managers, director of Fowlers Gap, Broken Hill Council) in the coming month. 


In a sprawling western region, that’s called the Country Finch

Lives an old time western grazier, by the name of Billy Glinch

He is roughly equidistant, from Goodooga and the Ridge

Along the Narran River, quite near the Bangate Bridge

To his outback domicile, one day in mid July

Came a bearded, glassed intruder, with a sickly looking smile.

His car was such a sight, as Bill had hardly seen

G.T. stripes, chrome all round, iridescent green

He said he was the chairman, of a conservation club

Told how they met each Thursday, in a Turramurra Pub

With modest understatement, said he’d saved a whale or two

And his mission now, God willing, to stop extinction of the “roo”.

“By George”,  said Bill, “you’re just the man, I’ve hankered for to meet

I try to keep the odd one going, out here in the heat

You know there’s near four million of you, down there by the sea

If you’d all take just one kangaroo, it would be the very Pea

The kangaroos all lived down there, when Australia was a pup

I’ll send you down my culls next year, we’ll breed the beggars up”.

Now Billy was a prankster, as his neighbours will attest

For they’ve often been a victim of his morbid sense of jest

The roos were there in millions, a lying out of sight

Waiting for their dinner-time, which is the dark of night

Bill thought the odds were even, if he kept him as a guest

Until the daylight disappeared, the roos would do the rest.

So he talked of conservation, till the moon was in the sky

And the Man from Turramurra, said he’d really have to fly

The track was fileld with rock and scrub, a traverse to be feared

(Last time the council did the road the grader disappeared)

The roos were big and built like bears, suicidal too,

A Sherman Tank was no defence from a South-Goodooga Blue.

Sun-up on the morrow, found old Billy out in the lorry

T’was just a mile or two before he came upon his quarry,

A hulk of twisted metal, a crumbled heap of green

Four dead roos on the roadside, the biggest Bill had seen

Amid the fur and chrome and shambles, of this devastating scene

Sat the Man from Turramurra, with his gills a sickly green.

Bill said, “You blokes from Sydney Town, by George I think you’re find

A family here you’ve gone and killed, God help you if they’re mine”

He let himself be mollified, by a wallet full of notes

While secretly assessing, the value of the costs

“I’ll send a tow-truck out, and I think you’d better head

Or the kangaroos you’re saving will all the bloody dead”.

Now down in Turramurra, ‘neath a leafy Laurel tree

The Conservationist sits in exquisite agony

He writes to all the papers now, and tells the folks to act

About the brooding menace, that is breeding up outback

And when he hears the sounds of brakes, he starts in deadly fear

And wonders If Old Billy will send cull kangaroos this year.

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Filed under Australian landscape's 'character', Interviews, People and the environment, Rangelands (Fowlers Gap)

Fowlers Gap: a visual introduction

I recently spent a week at the University of NSW’s Fowlers Gap research station 110 kilometres north of Broken Hill. The purpose of my visit was to speak with the researchers, the property managers, director, surrounding neighbours and relevant stakeholders such as National Parks and Broken Hill City Council about the station’s science and its connection with the local community.

Three things are clear:

1. Much of the scientific research carried out at the station (particularly Adam Munn’s project titled ‘Avoiding environmental bankruptcy: the grazing impacts of red kangaroos and sheep’) is relevant to the surrounding sheep stations and community.

2. There are no regular informal or formal communication channels between the scientists and the community so relevant information is not shared. 

3. Representatives of the farming community  were enthusiastic about the idea of opening these knowledge sharing channels again through regular Fowlers Gap open days or newsletters. 

It also became clear that while researchers, National Parks and landowners, for example, have different priorities and perspectives on land and land use, everyone is interested in protecting it for their interests. These interests, arguably, vary. 

These different voices will be explored in ensuing packages. For now, please see the visual introduction to work and life on Fowlers Gap below.

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Filed under Bringing the project to life, Putting it in context, Rangelands (Fowlers Gap), Research is underway!, Visuals