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. 

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3 Comments

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

3 responses to “Brian Mooney of Diamantina Shire talks about visitors and Bush Heritage in the Simpson Desert

  1. Pingback: Fiona Lake Australian Photographs » ‘Iconic landscapes’ - another exercise in wasting taxpayer’s money

  2. gemmadeavin

    Thank you for your thorough and constructive response to the ‘Iconic Landscapes’ blog and posts Fiona. I would like to take this opportunity to say we have taken into account everything you’ve said. If you check the blog you will see we have included a larger selection of agricultural links. Like you, we do understand how crucial agriculture is in discussing land issues.

    I have made individual responses to each phrase or piece of content you commented on and hope to dispel some of the misunderstanding that seems to have arisen.

    To be completely clear, we really appreciate the time and effort you have taken going through out material and think this lively debate can only be good for getting the right message across.

    BOLD text is from the ‘Iconic Landscapes’ blog. Bracketed text is Fiona’s and Italic is the ‘Iconic Landscapes’ response.

    Identifying the decision making process involved in environmental change. (Conservation costs money. Better incomes for family farmers instantly means they can implement more conservation measures. This means raising food prices and cutting middleman profits.)

    We couldn’t agree with you more. It is insights like these that are often not thought of in the occasionally narrow minded and self-congratulatory world of Conservation.

    Presenting the findings in an innovative, non-traditional way: film, photography, oral storytelling or an art installation, for example. (This last point would have been a great help when applying for the research grant, you can’t beat ‘innovative’ presentation methods when it comes to attracting positive attention from grant-givers. FL)

    You’re right Fiona, but what’s wrong with this? Anything that can be presented in a way that will interest people, especially if what we are TRYING to do is help paint a bigger picture of what is happening in our case study areas.
    I do completely understand that there is a general patronizing ‘science’/ ‘research’ position that has the tendency to fly in and out on agricultural issues. It has been my distinct intention to avoid taking this position but it seems this is the impression you got from the blog. I don’t know if you read the recent ‘THE CONSERVATIONIST’ entry about a poem I was given by retired pastoralist Peter Bevan in Broken Hill. It laments, in a playful way, this patronizing way of city dwelling conservationists with no appreciation for or understanding of life on the land. I put this in there to specifically underline the fact that, particularly after spending time speaking to and consulting with locals in Bedourie (QLD) and station managers in far Western NSW, there definitely is a tendency for Conservation to be thrown around like a high and mighty force.

    Please see this explanatory excerpt I included in the post:
    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 landowners 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.

    Australian environments are under increasing stress from droughts, feral animals and urban development. (I would add: And increasing stress due to the rabbitings on of uneducated* urbanites, thus steering public perception in a particular [incorrect] direction [’oh those terrible farmers desecrating the landscape’; bit of a laugh coming from anyone living in Australia’s largest mass of cement & bitumen, Sydney] & resulting in poorly judged government action [eg the Wild Rivers legislation, locking up land that was fine as it is – largely unchanged since white settlement – and hindering the opportunities of local indigenous communities. Read Noel Pearson’s opinions on the subject].
    *Uneducated in the sense that they have no genuine understanding of the life and environment in remote areas. They visit for a while, pre-conceived firmly rooted opinions firmly in hand – do studies, then return to comfy quarters in inner-city Sydney to write should-do reports.

    Thank you for this comment Fiona. It gives me another chance to explain and defend this initiative. I completely agree with what you are saying. The ‘rabbitings of uneducated urbanites’ is exactly what we were trying to avoid. We are aware of this and although, as people who do live in ‘the largest mass of cement and bitumen’, you’re right, we don’t know what it’s like to live on the land. But we can have a go at trying to learn as much as we can. I understand your defensiveness and appreciate, completely, where you’re coming from but please let us explain our position.

    We had no intention of ever being the ‘oh those terrible farmers desecrating the landscape’ types. Neither do I think we have been. This project does not seek to write a ‘should-do’ report. We want to do what we said: present our findings in an innovative way – online, in video form where we can explore a RANGE of voices different issues. If you read the end of some of my other posts I mention that each video is an opinion in itself, except for some of the photo/text pieces. I ask readers to look out for a range of different voices… underlining the idea that there won’t be two sides (local pastoralists, for example) in each work.

    On Noel Pearson’s thoughts, if you’re referring to his opinion article in The Australian a month or so and many other pieces on the subject, I couldn’t agree more. I don’t, however, think you can compare what you see as the shortcomings of a project like this to the government’s betrayal and abandonment of the Australian Aboriginal community.

    In addition to the traditional scientific findings linking distress with ecological resilience, we envisage identification of key societal values in the general public and the decision-making process involved in environmental change. (Unfortunately the vast majority of Australians wouldn’t know genuine conservation if they fell over it. They have backyards full of exotic species, pet cats that roam 24/7, do not think twice about chopping down any trees they want in their own backyard and few will pay the extra to purchase recycled paper, even if it’s toilet paper, yet there is an expectation food growers will produce ‘top quality’ ‘organic’ tucker with ‘low food miles’ at bottom drawer prices, by levitating it above the earth. Ummm, is it sensible to ask this lot, the majority, what conservation measures they think are important, what should be put in place, and act on that? I think not! It’ll be NIMBYism at it’s most extreme. If you want to ask what conservation measures are already in place and what else could be done in future, ask people who are already managing the land well. That rules out the vast majority of people living in suburbs and towns, all government departments and education institutions – except perhaps those working in agricultural fields who have genuine, long-term hands-on experience. FL)

    Perhaps, at the start of this study, when the blog was set up and these points were made, we may have been over shooting with phrases like ‘key societal values in the general public’. I understand your point about the complexity of conservation but that does not necessarily mean people living in the city are ignorant. Part of the Iconic Landscapes project has seen us working with representatives from the North Sydney Council – a high-density suburb – who actively promote initiatives against tree vandalism and for landcare and recycling programs, for example.

    This project is important because it brings to light these gaps of knowledge you talk about. There is ‘one Australia’ but the diversity of understanding, comprehension and appreciation is such that being able to identify some of the differences might help bridge these information holes in the future.

    Australia has the longest history, globally, of human manipulation of the environment. (I’m not sure what criteria they’re using here. Given that human beings have manipulated the environment since day dot, and that human beings didn’t first appear in Australia (Africa or Europe, last time I heard), then surely Australia does not have the longest history of human manipulation of the environment? I’d love to know what ye old England looked like before human beings popped up out of the mist, planting hedgerows and erecting stone monuments in honour of who-knows-who. The reference to ‘manipulation’ of the Australian environment presumably is a reference to the use of fire – well it could be argued that the tree clearing, planting of other species, hunting of native animals and harvesting of native plants, raising of domestic livestock and importation of other species and farming (monocultures), plus the early creation of towns and cities in parts of Europe has had a massive impact on the environment over thousands of years, to the point in which it’s absolutely impossible to know what it would have been like before human beings arrived. Who is to say that it is shorter term or of lesser significance than the use of fire by Australian aboriginals? Probably a fairly pointless argument, so why make this assertion at all? The reality is that the existence of human beings will impact on the environment to some unavoidable extent, regardless of whether they eat soy beans, wear vegan shoes, donate to the Australian Bush Heritage Fund and drive a Prius.)

    Every word of this has been duly noted and this phrase is no longer on the website. I would like to add that describing the person who, however wrong, put this thought forward as someone who will ‘eat soy beans, wear vegan shoes, donate to the Australian Bush Heritage Fund and drive a Prius, adds to the stigma and stereotyping of ‘sides’ in the debate.

    It is important to develop a current understanding of the knowledge and practices of local people to help sustain their own environments. (Is this is a big brother statement or what? Sounds like they’re saying – we’ll ask them what they know and what they do, then tell them how to do it?)

    A Big Brother comment? I don’t see how. By this we meant, quite directly, it is important to speak to people. Speak to everyone. Like we did. It’s important to have the locals say quite clearly, ‘we wouldn’t be here if not for the cattle industry’. It is important to tell locals what we are doing. While in Bedourie, a town on the edge of the Simpson Desert and in ‘cattle country’ one of the locals I spoke to was a guy called Gary. This is what he had to say:

    ”Most of the graziers these days are very concerned about their cattle numbers. They are very aware of the treatment of their land. You can’t overgraze or do all that sort of stuff. Here we’re a drought prone area, we rely on good land to survive. They’re very conscious of the amount of animals they’ve got on their land. They want to conserve the land without destroying it. Property managers and graziers are working the land all the time. They know what you can and can’t do.
    Without the cattle we wouldn’t have a town. There would be no reason for us to be here without cattle. We’ve only got about 12 properties in the area. Many people don’t have any connections to the properties but without them – cattle properties need the roads, graders to maintain, council, stores to buy supplies and builders – we don’t need the road or these services.
    Without grazing we’ve got nothing. What else are we going to do? We can’t manufacture. All we can do is graze. What are we going to do, make the whole lots national park and all become rangers?”

    You spoke about how it’s hard for a farmer to think about conservation when he’s struggling financially. Of course this is true. And we heard this from a number of people on our field trips. One local in Broken Hill, Ann-Marie, who told us this:

    “There’s a lot of this country that’s been in drought for over ten years. People are just so focused on surviving. They’re interested in making what little money they can out of what sheep and cattle they have left.”

    Gary and Ann-Marie’s thoughts, as well as many others similar to theirs, will not go unheard. The blog is a work in progress and as I have mentioned on the site, the different ‘voices will be explored in time.

    Rather than saying “It is important to develop a current understanding of the knowledge and practices of local people to help sustain their own environments,” we have put “It is important to develop an understanding of the environmental understanding and practices of local people so future plans take into account different priorities.”

    The study aims to cut across traditional divides between arts and sciences and provide an integrated understanding of sustainable development in the landscapes that define modern Australia. (There’s a glaring omission here. Anyone notice the absence of the word AGRICULTURE amongst all this. From what I could see, agriculture hasn’t been included under the banner of ’science’ – ’science’ here means a truckload of people in conservation fields (checkout the Blogroll for clues. Apart from a Department of Agriculture and a Rangelands link, anyone spot anything other conservation mobs such as ‘Tree Hugger Blog’ and city mobs such as ‘Mosman Council’?). So yes that’s right, tucker-growing, that stuff that just miraculously appears in Coles & Woollies like a cut-and-come-again Magic Pudding, hasn’t got a mention here. Agriculture is the SINGLE MOST IMPORTANT LANDUSE IN THE WORLD. No agriculture, no people. You could turn the whole world into agricultural land and the human race could survive. Turn it into one big ‘Bush Heritage’ reserve, [complete with rampant feral animals & plants and Sydney uni scientists running around with survey sheets] and we’ll be out the back door in no time.

    Professor Chris Dickman and his colleagues, volunteers and students have been carrying out research the Simpson Desert area for the past 20 years. To belittle their important work on the very rich desert flora and fauna by referring them to as people ‘running around with survey sheets’ is an insult and shows a lack of appreciation for their efforts to better understand the environment. The researchers have built up strong relationships with people in the town of Bedourie and to suggest they blow in and out with hig- brow airs is erroneous.

    The thing is, I might have believed this was a genuinely objective study, intent on accurately recording views that didn’t tally with the subjective preconceptions of the surveyers, if I hadn’t stumbled upon this ‘Iconic Landscapes’ video this morning. The preamble in front of it says:

    Fiona, we hope you still might think this is’ a genuinely objective study, intent on accurately recording views that didn’t tally with the subjective preconceptions of the surveyers’ (Not that we had preconceptions – this is your reading on the situation). This short video with the voice of Brian Mooney, as I had mentioned in other posts, is just one of many voices. The attached information seeks to give a background to those who know nothing about Bush Heritage reserves and what that means (the majority of Australians). Please see below for more comments.

    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 Isa major industry driving services in these remote parts of the country.
    In this short video, Brian talks about the local community’s reception to Bush Heritage Reserves in the area. One such property, 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.

    This meant less land for the pastoralists. (Well actually, it means less land for food producing. It means less money in what is already a small town, and fewer people living in what is already a sparsely populated area. Depopulation and service reduction becomes a rapidly descending spiral. Clearly, these social intricacies must be way beyond the understanding of whoever wrote ‘this meant less land for the pastoralists’.)

    The phrase ‘less land for the pastoralists’ was not intentionally value laden, if that’s what you read into it. It is a simple fact, stated. There was, simply, less land for the pastoralists.

    Some, as Brian hints at (like Mark and Nella Lithgow in a previous video), say it is a waste not to run cattle. (Well surely it could be argued that if land that had run cattle for 100 years was in sufficiently good condition to be worth purchasing as a reserve, then running cattle for another 100 years is an entirely reasonable prospect?)

    Again, here, I am not adding an opinion, I am simply stating the facts.

    In any story, there is two sides. This one is no different. (Listen to the video interview and see if you think this is actually presenting the ‘other’ side (i.e. the argument against locking up the land).

    This package, as well as Mark and Nella’s interview, does not claim to be telling both sides.

    (For the interviewer to completely believe Brian’s statement that ‘deep down’ the pastoralists ‘know it is a good thing’ is hilarious. Talk about ’telling someone exactly what they want to hear’! Brian is a tourism officer and he’d be perfectly well aware of the preconceived ideas of the interviewer. If the interviewer really wants to know what the pastoralists think, then ask them, not the local tourism officer! It is very significant that the interviewer thinks this presents ‘both sides of the story’. )

    This may be so but you cannot assume these things about people’s responses. If so, we would be interfering with Brian’s words by assuming things about his interview. He is a local and this is his opinion.

    (The second very telling interview is with Mark & Nella Lithgow, caretakers of Bush Heritage Australia’s Cravens Peak and Ethabuka stations. Interesting to hear their comments on being surrounded by cattle properties, with whom they say they are not popular/viewed with suspicion. The Lithgows mentioned the ’old fashioned’ views of the surrounding cattle producers, overgrazing of the land, and ‘the cattle people think this whole country is theirs’ And ‘as soon as a green shoot comes out a cow comes along and chomps it off’; ‘the gidea trees have been trampled by cattle for the last 25-30 years’; and ‘they are a lot better at resting paddocks now….that’s how they make their money’. (Well actually, the cattle producers on the surrounding properties are growing the food that keeps the human race alive, and earning the export income that would have paid for the clothes that the Cravens Peak Station caretakers would be wearing, and for the car they drive – and everything else they depend on in the course of their daily life. Hmm I wonder why their cattle producing neighbours aren’t fond of them? I don’t suppose it is because they don’t like being cricitised as being old fashioned, environmental vandals, one-eyed and parochial, by patronising blow-ins? )

    I am not standing on either side of the fence right now (and wouldn’t it be great if there wasn’t one between these different ‘interests’) but I would argue that no one person or ‘group’ is to blame. Mark and Nella may have referred, from their point of view, to grazers as old-fashioned but you are putting words in the mouths of very lovely and sincere people by suggesting they referred to their neighbours as environmental vandals, one-eyed and parochial. They have a good relationship with the farmers and were simply responding to their identity as ‘greenies’ or tree huggers. Everyone is pointing fingers. It’s unconstructive. Again, I would like to underline that the last thing in the world Iconic Landscapes seeks to be are patronizing blow-ins.

    (And that they would view Bush Heritage Australia as helping to de-populate the countryside, thus having a detrimental effect on the social fabric of the local region, very significantly affecting the whole lives of those who have chosen to live there full-time and long term? Apparently this aspect is completely lost on the Lithgows.)

    They never refer to this in their interview. They talk about how important it is to have POCKETS of land preserved. Again, this is something you have inferred.

    (Mark and Nella have just a three year contract and even if they stay on after that – are they going to invest their whole lives, their heart, soul and livelihood into that country, as their neighbours have done?)

    They talk, at length, about how hard it is to live out there and with admiration for their neighbours. They chose to live at Cravens Peak because they genuinely love the land and it is, again, an insult to insinuate that they have no appreciation for the hardships and struggles the surrounding stations have been through.

    (Obviously not. Perhaps that’s the biggest issue. Managers who are there for just a few years and scientists and researches who just blow in and blow out – tell the locals what they have done wrong, what they should be doing, how they should be living, how they should think, then they head back to their homes in fashionable and temperate locations, working relatively short hours for very good and reliable incomes, in very comfortable circumstances – all the while viewing their short-term neighbours as yokels who just enjoy greenie-bashing.)

    Thank you for this comment Fiona. I am saddened to read this bitter take on people who come out to the desert. It seems, from your point of view, everyone who arrives in the area has a sinister motive. I do acknowledge that there’s definitely some ‘tell locals what they’ve done wrong’ action present but, for the most part, people spend time there because they genuinely care.

    Perhaps the biggest folly is that there has not been enough community engagement or interaction. If some of this research, which for the most part is focused on small mammals and reptiles, was shared with the community, maybe there would be less of the suspicion and resentment you speak on.

    After all, this is what this project is hoping to do. We are in talks with the Diamantina Shire about having a consultation event where we share information and let locals (for those who are interested) know what is happening.

    Having spent 10 days on the road and in the desert with a group of researchers late last year I can tell you that there was not one word referring to ‘locals and their effect on the land’ uttered.

    (Then they have the temerity to criticise their neighbours for not being fond of them!)

    They never criticized the neighbours. The talked openly about how they thought they were perceived in the area.

    (This interview illustrates a fundamental lack of understanding and a particular type of blind arrogance, and sums up exactly why the vast majority of conservationists are so very unpopular with bush residents. Imagine rural residents descending on the fancier parts of Sydney’s eastern or northern suburbs, or the trendy parts of Byron Bay, and telling their neighbours what they have been doing wrong, how they should think, and how they should manage their land. Because yes, everyone who owns land is a land manager – pastoralists just have bigger slabs of it (and less money per square inch). It’s a classic case of NIMBY. I wonder why there is no interviews with pastoralists on the ‘Iconic Landscapes’ website?)

    Please refer, again, to the poem ‘The Conservationist’ where I attempt to highlight this ‘phenomenon’!

    (The ultimate question is; if Craven’s Peak Station really was was so ‘denuded and rundown, it looked like a moonscape’ when Bush Heritage Australia bought it in 2005, where were the lands department staff, whose job it is to keep an eye on pastoral leases? And how come there is 65 reptile species and 30 mammals on Cravens Peak- did this multitude walk in from the neighbours cattle stations over the last 5 years, once the station was destocked? And I suppose all the frogs they talk about hopped over from the neighbours cattle stations too?
    All very depressing. The Lithgows talk about cattle station owners as having an ‘old fashioned’ view of greenies as having rastafarian dreadlocks and chaining themselves to bulldozers. I think pastoralists actually have a view of academic conservationists as being close to the truth – people who work in comfortable coastal circumstances, receiving a good income with relatively short working hours, who often apply for taxpayer funded grants for yet more studies rather than action. People who look down on those who work in agricultural industries, viewing them as old-fashioned, parochial peasants, though they grow food for town and city residents, love and care for their land, and create export income that keeps Australia ticking over.)

    There is as more prejudice in these descriptions of ‘people who work in comfortable coastal circumstances, receiving good income with relatively short working hours’ than their one comment about the ‘old fashioned’ farmers.

    No one is saying the farmers aren’t the people who ‘grow good for town and city residents, love and care for their land, and create export income that keeps Australia ticking over.’

    This is an issue of different priorities – none of which take precedent over another. Wouldn’t it be boring if everyone agreed and saw eye to eye. I agree that there’s a real hypocrisy issue when it comes to people who shop for their meat in Woolworths making off hand comments about the state of the land. This is ignorance and it is not a universal ‘city’ problem.

    (And who spend other people’s hard-earned money on planting and documenting the progress of sealife in flowerpots on the Cremorne seawall (reminds me of the story of The Emporers New Clothes, can those involved not see what a poncy, self-indulgent waste of time a project such as this would seem, to someone who spends a self-sufficient, hardworking life growing food?). The reality is that academic conservationists have a more bigoted view of rural residents than the reverse.)

    Again, it is an insult to assume these scientific initiatives are a ‘self-indulgent’ waste of time. If anything, this opinion underlines your own ignorance for subjects you have no former understanding or knowledge of (just as you describe city dwellers who know nothing of the hard work and struggles farmers come up against).

    There is a strong sense of ‘my career is more important than yours’ – even hierarchical claim that ‘all this science’ is a waste of time.

    The scientists working on the project you refer to as ‘poncy’ have spent years collecting data and dedicating their time to helping better understand the environment. Your opinion is yours, and you are entitled to it, but by savaging someone else’s’ livelihood as a waste of time you are no better than the type of ‘judgmental people’ what you so strongly advocate against

    (I’ll give ’Iconic Landscapes’ a couple of suggestions that will get immediate results:
    ditch all the grant money provided for this ‘research’ (excuse to trip around the inland with a video camera), and instead direct it towards getting immediate results.)

    We would argue that studies like these, seeking to understand how knowledge can be bridged, will eventually help stop situations like these arising. In the future, perhaps farmers and conservationists will better understand each other’s point of view. For this to happen, we need to keep listening, to everyone. And this is what Iconic Landscapes is TRYING to do. As an aside, the grant money is minimal and the ‘video camera’ you refer to is my own and not something paid for the budget.

    (The time could be far more usefully invested in local native vegetation regeneration projects, to encourage an increase in native wildlife (there’s enough rubbish and weeds in Sydney to keep the uni students busy for life. I recommend starting with the lantana and mother-of-millions thriving in the bush on the hill overlooking The Spit). The money can instead be spent on:
    – maintaining the current national parks and reserves that are sorely neglected under Federal and State governments, by increasing staff levels & the number of on-site rangers, and allocating sufficient money annually to genuinely tackle feral animals and weeds.

    – by increasing supervision of all Australian land – urban and rural – and prosecuting people who clearly mismanage land under their care, with sizeable fines and confiscations. This ranges from developers who clearfell urban land to a handful of rural landowners who fail to maintain assets and overgraze to the extent of creating a local drought (one that is unmistakable, because it always stops on the boundary fence). There aren’t many, but rural residents know who these latter people are, and are appalled. I could name three major environmental vandals right now – yet nothing ever seems to be done to them. Don’t take land off good land managers and let it sit idle, with feral plants and animals taking over. Keep it in the hands of those who love it and who willingly spend a lifetime living on it and looking after it, and help them look after their country the way they already know how to (but who rarely have sufficient income to manage to do as much as they would like, and they’re already working hours that would make the average public servant keel over).

    These are all very worth-while pursuits but so too, I strongly believe, is ours.

    To finish with, I’d like to share a piece of writing Peter Bevan (former pastoralist at Sturt’s Meadows) gave to me after a long visit at his Broken Hill home. These are the kind of voices ‘Iconic Landscapes’ want people to hear…

    A pastoral view
    Peter Bevan
    In the far corners of the Western Division some people come; others go but we are the constant – the ones that stay, forever linked to our sense of place.
    We have invested in physical things; made tracks and repaired them. Mostly, the signposts and landmarks are ours; we know the terrain – others use maps.
    It is our phone, our shearers’ quarters; our workshop to fix breakdowns; our airstip, our first aid on the scene; our help from the bog.
    Our water, and the tea to put in it, served at our kitchen table, whilst we share our mutual interest in the great West of New South Wales.
    However, we can’t and we do not claim the West to the exclusion of all others or even to the exclusion of some. Our activities require the above listed features for our use of the land to be tenable. Other groups have different activities, goals, knowledge and needs.
    We should, we must be inclusive to the mutual benefit of all who have a Western Division affinity. If people do not come to our area, stay in our area, the services we all need will be diminished.
    In the end, what is needed is activity because without ongoing interest and activity the Division may be declared dead.

    Thank you for your time. We appreciate it.

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