Monthly Archives: April 2010

Along the Track

This poem was written by Jess Morton of Marrapina Station in Western NSW in 2006. 

As we walk along the track, through the gums and cattle pats, We watch the dust storm roll in fast and wonder how long this drought will last. This earth is so parched and dry; there’s not a cloud in the sky.

As we walk along the track the cow looks so sad at her new born calf; Oh would she kill for feed of chaff; Ewes race by all newly shorn; rain needs to come before lambs are born. Soaring above with a beady eye; an eagle waits for something to die.

As we walk along the track a motorbike races past, with bulldust bellowing up like a mast. Robbie yells as he goes by; Another bloody tank has just gone dry. Blue’s in the truck with a load of hay; we all hope the work will eventually pay.

As we walk along the track, the wattle have now lost all their flowers, The gums no longer stand like towers; ants and bees have lost their sting, The birds are slow on the wing; The dogs have all gone crazy from chasing their tails to just plain lazy

As we walk along the track we think about the good old days when rain would come and crack a smile; instead of just gloomy dial. The kids would laugh and play about instead of worrying about the drought.

As we walk along the track; we see the clouds above the tree. The rains are here to set us free.


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

The arid-zone from above

A selection of photographs documenting the land’s fluid lines, colours and textures from a plane leavng Bedourie bound for Brisbane.







Lone track



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Filed under Arid dry-zone (Simpson Desert), Visuals

Ecology of the Simpson Desert on The Science Show

Two ABC National referrals in two days. Here is another interesting piece, from February this year, that focuses directly on the University of Sydney’s Desert Ecology Research Group’s research in the Simpson desert – one of the Iconic Landscape Study’s case study environments. 

In this piece of audio you will hear from the University of Sydney’s Chris Dickman, Glenda Wardle and Bobby Tamayo as well as about Karon Snowdon’s experience on a Simpson Desert research trip.

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Filed under Arid dry-zone (Simpson Desert), Bringing the project to life, Interviews, Putting it in context, Relevant articles

The three paradigms of conservation

On April 11 ABC Radio National broadcast a segment called “The great native pet debate” by Ian Walker. 

The piece raised a number of interesting points about conservation and it’s changing shape and profile since the 1940s and 1950s.

To listen to the complete story visit Radio National’s Background Briefing site.

Below is an outline of the discussion by Ian, the University of Sydney’s Honorary Associate and retired vet, Paul Hopwood and researcher, lecturer and consultant on biodiversity conservation, Rosie Cooney.

According to Paul Hopwood, when it comes to conservation there have been three different paradigms that have shaped our thinking over the past hald century. 

The paradigms

1. Shoot and cut

 If it moved you shot it and if it didn’t, you cut it down. 

2. Preservationist

By the 1960s people became alarmed by the impact development was having on the environment. “We could no longer rely on the animals being somewhere over the horizon,” says Hopwood. At this time that it was decided the way to preserve species and environments was to keep people away from them. The extensive National Parks networks were established but with only 5% of the landmass available the preservationist ‘lock it up’ paradigm didn’t provide a solution for all habitats.

3. Use it or lose it

This paradigm rallies for the integrating of native plants and animals into production systems. If this happens, according to Hopwood, Australia can be assured, because of their intrinsic economic value, that they can be there in perpetuity. 

“No one is seriously afraid that the sheep is going to go extinct and likewise, if we can give our native mammals economic value, well then there’s an economic imperative to protect them and maintain their numbers,” says Hopwood.

But according to Ian Walker, this last paradigm opens up another can of worms. “Under the new use it or lose it paradigm, Australians should be eating more kangaroo meats, buying beauty products made of emu oil and just maybe owning quolls as pets rather than the ecologically disastrous domestic cat,” he says.

Rosie Cooney believes that, while sustainable use of wildlife is still controversial, people are beginning to understand that valuing something economically almost prevents it from disappearing. 

“I think it is catching on. I think the traditional conservation approach has seen the market as an enemy. And so the whole approach of conservation was the fences and fines approach…. You lock up nature behind a fence and you strictly regulate outside those borders so no-one can touch anything, sell anything or possess anything. This has certainly got its place and is certainly an essential component of any conservation strategy. But in all sorts of areas, conservationists are beginning to recognise that while the market is a terrible master, it’s a very powerful tool. So that if it’s set up and managed properly it can be very efficient and effective in delivering some of the things you want,” says Cooney.

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Filed under Uncategorized


The following pictures come from Mark Lithgow, Bush Heritage’s Cravens Peak Reserve Manager. They show us the aftermath of the recent rain on the property… Greenery!

A green desert


An abundant swale

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Filed under Arid dry-zone (Simpson Desert), Putting it in context, Visuals

Where the harbour meets houses

In a previous entry, I posted a photographic montage video of Mark Browne examining sea life he had transplanted into flowerpots on the Cremorne Point and Careening Cove seawalls in Sydney Harbour.

During that afternoon I also followed him to Kurraba point where he was testing limpets and their suction power. 

The following images aim to serve as a brief narrative of seawall field work in the iconic Sydney Harbour location. We can see, clearly, juxtapositions between man made seawalls built as fortresses to harbour side homes and the natural oyster littered rocky outcrops they sit on.

Climbing down the seawall to get access to the site at Kurraba Point


The barrier between harbour and house. A natural rocky shore interrupted.


The oyster littered rocky outcrop beyond the seawall


Mark working with the limpets


Testing their strength


Incoming tide


More limpet work


A nice backdrop

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Filed under People and the environment, Sydney Harbour (seawalls), Visuals