One Grateful Churchill Fellow

Great to be able to share some exciting news – I have been awarded a Churchill Fellowship to travel to the UK and explore the ins-and-outs of some of the most amazing conservation and community engagement projects in the world.

In later years of Winston Churchill’s life he was engaged significantly with the natural landscape, especially through his painted artworks.

I am most grateful and very excited to be able to experience first-hand some internationally renowned conservation initiatives.

My sense is that there is ALWAYS more to learn: I am particularly looking forward to meeting like-minded people and exploring sites, programs and facilities that can help shape the future of our equally exciting projects in Canberra and elsewhere in Australia.

While Europe has a longer history of environmental degradation than Australia, it also has a longer history of successful conservation programs and organisations.

In July-August next year (2017) I hope to visit organisations and sites as diverse as the Eden Project (their photos above), the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust (including London and Slimbridge Wetlands Centres), Trees for Life, the Canal and River Trust, and the Borders Forest Trust.  I have begun the process of reaching out to these and some other amazing organizations to seek an invitation… fingers crossed.

Be stoked to see one of these....
Be stoked to see one of these….

These and other Trusts in the United Kingdom can provide insights into the right mixes of legislative, policy, business operations, partnership, land tenure, science and community support arrangements that enable the establishment of long-term and secure funding arrangements for biodiversity conservation in Australia.  This project will help better-inform the Australian conservation community about more efficient models that can add-value to existing government- and community-lead public good programs.

Thanks to the Churchill Trust for the opportunity, and to the referees who supported my application – Tony Peacock, Alison Russell-French, Peter Davey and [then Environment…] Minister Greg Hunt.

Of course I look forward to sharing my experience and insights gained for the betterment of biodiversity conservation in Australia…

A ‘Boy’s Own’ Hawaiian Eco-adventure

“In a nutshell the army has to adhere to the Endangered Species Act… nothing can go extinct on their their watch.”

This guest-post from my mate Graham Fifield (of Flick and Fly Journal) undertaking an internship in Hawaii, gives Australia great insights into how much communities will invest in saving species when they are [nearly] all gone…

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Lyrebirds – light on colour, heavy on soul

Minnamurra Falls must be the spiritual home of the Lyrebird (at least an adopted one anyway). Nestled in a sandstone ampitheatre, rainforest gullies provide a sheltered haven for these charismatic birds.

Foxes are known to take juvenile Lyrebirds (Ref 1), and there is also evidence that fox control enables populations to rebound (Ref 2). Gratefully, there is a high priority placed on fox control in the National Park by the Plan of Management (Ref 3), and this geographic harbour with a good control program would make a strong-hold. The sheer sandstone cliffs surrounding the gully make a natural barrier to fox incursion from over-the-top, meaning fox control in this locality is easier than more open sites [i.e. those open to reinvasion from all sides].

Seeing Lyrebirds foraging so easily, with their entourage of Yellow Robins and Scrub Wrens picking up the crumbs, inspired me to scrounge around for further info on this amazing creature. So here are some curios I uncovered scratching the surface of the literature litter…

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Western Rim Wanderings

Fitzroy Falls is really a showcase of waterfalls – from above, from on top, from the side and from afar. In fact it’s every way of experiencing waterfalls while staying dry. A great Winter waterfall way.

The Western Rim Walk is like a virtual tour guide of spectacular views and different perspectives of the waterfalls.  Fitzroy Falls, Twin Falls and the Grotto –  each tip from sheer sandstone edges forming the Yarrunga Creek, and ultimately flowing to the Kangeroo River. Metre-for-metre its got to be one of the best waterfall walks around…

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Searching for Glenn the Glow Worm

Glow Worms are like Fireflys that failed to launch. I’m sure there is a more apt technical description like ‘Glow Worms are the larvae of fungus gnats’.

In local colonies they present an astronomical Milky Way-like phenomenon in the right setting (like at Newnes). So it was we were searching for that starlight on the ceiling experience at the ‘Glow Worm Glen’ at Bundanoon in Morton National Park.

Whilst the parking and access arranged by the Council were not particularly welcoming, the interpretive signage from NPWS was right on one count…

It nearly takes longer to find a park than to get to Glenn’s home…

The experts recommended searching for Glenn over the Summer months – but we had an hour to kill and the need to burn energy in Ms 4 & 6.  While the sign said two hours return – we were “nah, that’s always overestimated”.

So it was “off we go kids – lets go find Glenn” – and we streaked down, down, down, the 1 km path to the Glen. A beautiful rapid stroll through urban interface, sclerophyll and into a rainforest gully.

The trail is easy and well-established and the boardwalk at the base is great. Ending in a sandstone room with a bubbling stream – the ideal place to find Glenn, Glenys and Grandaughter Guilfoyle hiding in the cracks.

Alas – the NPWS folks were right the best time to find Glenn is in summer-time.  We were back out in 50 minutes round-trip – meaning we have an hour and ten minutes up our sleeve to do it next time!

A beautiful bubbling rainforest stream awaits – with or without Glenn and Glenys

Fitzroy Falls – where the Lyrebird calls

On a Winter long weekend hundreds of visitors have their breathe taken away on the cliff-hanging platform at Fitzroy Falls.

But a fraction take the Wildflower Walk.

With its pre-Wattle Winter-promise of not-a-lot I didn’t have high hopes either…

However – a minute off the main boardwalk and a prominent ray-gun call from deep childhood memories piqued the ears. Sure enough there it was again just ahead of us and responding to far-off calls ahead and behind us.

Largely uninterested in our presence we were treated to a blasting male Lyrebird calling and scratching, scratching and calling. A unique and amazing Australian wildlife experience.

As for the wildflower experience – there was enough botanical engagement to ensure a Spring return…

A great botanical tour awaits at Fitzroy Falls on the Wildflower Walk

Yankee Hat – worth the drive

There are some awesome walks in Australia.  Yankee Hat presents some of the most accessible Aboriginal Rock-Art in the country…

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Amphitheatre of Horrors

“The visceral nature of Ms6’s response was surprising, but on reflection, your first time can be daunting”

It started like many a horror movie, looking for a petrol station in a small country town.  Google Maps told us that Bundanoon had a petrol station, so we stretched out and tried to make it. That feeling in the stomach when you are pushing the petrol light as far as you can ;-<

Now you have been warned that Bundanoon does have a petrol station, it just doesn’t open anymore – one thing that has been seemingly lost on Google…

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Better flower photos for punters

OK – I am not pretending to be a good photographer – my photography friends wouldn’t even bother rolling their eyes. However, last year I picked up a few tips for taking ‘better’ flower shots in my efforts to support Canberra Nature Map. Here are a few iPhone-centric options to help you take better photos (of small flowers that is, or any other small things)…

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So that was the Year of the Sheep…

So 2015 was the Chinese Year of the Sheep* – and it was no coincidence Chris was found fattening up on fertile Yellow Box woodlands at Mulligans Flat. The wheat-sheep belt of Australia has ridden on the back of Box Gum woodlands but now people and animals alike are keen for a slice of Mulligans action for different reasons…

Continue reading “So that was the Year of the Sheep…”

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