Category Archives: Research is underway!

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

Bush Heritage’s Cravens Peak reserve managers talk about life in the desert

Mark and Nella Lithgow have been reserve managers on Bush Heritage’s Cravens Peak property for 18 months. They are also responsible for taking care of neighbouring Ethabuka.

We’ve got the biggest diversity in reptiles region in the world. That’s something worth boasting about. We’d like more people to know about it and value it for what it is.

Nella Lithgow

We’re in the heart of grazing country and we’re surround by cattle properties. When a new shoot comes up off a tree a cow chomps it off straight away. Here, we get to keep ours and we can actually see what’s happening.

Mark Lithgow

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Filed under Arid dry-zone (Simpson Desert), Bringing the project to life, Interviews, People and the environment, Research is underway!

Voices from the desert…

Here’s a package including some of the photos you’ve seen and the all important thoughts of the November 2009 Simpson Desert research trip volunteers.

The complete surrounding sound of silence is so beautiful. It’s a feeling of being nowhere, but being in the right place and loving it…

– Megan Hughes.

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Filed under Arid dry-zone (Simpson Desert), Australian landscape's 'character', Bringing the project to life, Interviews, People and the environment, Putting it in context, Research is underway!

Simpson Desert snapshot

After six days on the road our research group of nine finally made it to the Simpson Desert. The journey, halted by heavy inland rains, was half the adventure. For three days we chased rare frogs, went spotlighting for animals at night, enjoyed Coopers Creek and called the Windorah tennis court home.

We met the desert flying over the dunes in Hilux utes. And what a place. Red earth, expansive sky, gidgee trees, dune ripples, spinifex, birds, life, silence and peace.

This time round our work included:

  • Pitfall trapping of reptiles and small mammals
  • Predator abundance surveys including spotlighting
  • Vegetation surveys and seed collection
  • Helping Nic Hills with her PhD on complex predator/prey interactions and vertebrate diversity in the Simpson Desert.

Here’s the first of a series of images and multimedia presentations illustrating the trip, conversations and scientific research undertaken. 

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

Adam Munn on the Australian rangelands

Adam talks about his research comparing grazing requirements of sheep and kangaroo at Fowlers Gap in the rangelands of western NSW.

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Filed under Interviews, Rangelands (Fowlers Gap), Research is underway!