Inbox and Environment News: Issue 335

October 29 - November 4, 2017: Issue 335

Helena Dewis Leaving Northern Beaches Bushcare for Northern Rivers

Helena Dewis, the lady who has been so successful at making bushcare here something we all enjoy contributing to, is moving on to a new position in the Northern Rivers region.

Helena Dewiss is taking up a new job with the Conservation Volunteers of Australia, the group responsible for the Eastern Curlew project,  in Northern Rivers region (formerly Wetlands Care Australia).

There she will be helping farmers to understand and implement more sustainable practices and hopes to have bushcare volunteers from here visit to learn about larger scale Wetlands Restoration projects

She also hopes to develop a program suited to people suffering from Mental Health issues in the Northern Rivers region to engage in bushcare and the benefits that derive from reconnecting to the great outdoors during times of stress.

Under this lady Pittwater's Bushcare volunteers groups grew to become the largest on the Northern Beaches and Helena has left our bushcare program with things in place, such as each group now having a supervisor, so things will continue on her departure.

Helena says Pete Seigler, who once held a similar position, is great - as are two others now taking on her work.

“I will be leaving the Northern Beaches for the well-watered pastures of the Northern Rivers region next week. I've loved working with you all to protect our gorgeous bushland and beaches. Your commitment to, and passion for the local environment has been absolutely inspiring and I really will miss the camaraderie, the morning tea competitions and bake-offs and most importantly, the opportunities to learn from you." she said this week.

"I will be taking on a role that aims to engage rural landholders amongst other conservation projects and leave knowing that the Northern Beaches Bushcare program will go from strength to strength under the guidance of the awesome Bushcare team that is Michael, Catriona and Peter. 

If you have any enquiries about Bushcare activities or events please contact Michael on 9942 2766 or email

It's been a privilege.

Thanks everyone for your amazing efforts and continued support! 
I hope to see you again down the tracks :).”

Moving to the Northern Rivers area will be a returning home for Helena who went to university at Lismore and has many friends and five godchildren in the area.

“This position was just too good to turn down.” Helena explained, “It combines so many of my interests and even though it may be a pay cut, it offers me a chance to do something really good.”

Pam Bateman, Noxious Weed Officer with Council (2013), Helena Dewis, Bushcare Officer - Council, Marita Macrae - Pittwater Natural Heritage Association. Picture by A J Guesdon, 2013 - Asparagus Fern Out Day At Careel Bay

Conservation Volunteers Australia is Australasia's leading conservation volunteer organisation. Founded in 1982, they offer conservation programs across Australia which enable volunteers to protect, preserve and restore the Australian environment. Projects take place in urban, regional and remote areas, and include tree planting, seed collection, weed control, flora and fauna surveys, building tracks and trails, fencing, and heritage restoration. Some of Conservation Volunteers Australia’s outstanding achievements in 2016 included planting over 1,000,000 trees, carrying out 5,000 environmental surveys, and collecting over 2 tonnes of native seeds.

Just a few upcoming examples; 

Lismore River Festival and Carp Muster 
Lismore, NSW
22nd November to 2nd December 2017 
Location: Lismore, NSW
Departs from: 53 Tamar Street (access via Holden Lane) Ballina 2478 NSW - Ph: 02 66816169
Departure time:  8 AM 
Lismore River Festival and Carp Muster will an exciting day for all with plenty to experience. We will provide educational stalls, food vendors, prizes and much more! More here

Restoring Native Fish Habitat on Mullet Creek
Brownsville, November 2nd
Mullet Creek is a small but important trubutrary to Lake Illawarra, the largest and most diverse Lake in our region, just 15 minutes south of Wollongong.  We will be aiming to regenerate an area of creekside vegetation, with invasive species control and planting to occur in William Beach Memorial Park. This location offers accessible tasks along the creekside, with the success of previous works on show to help complete the picture.

Bartolo Reserve - Saving a Sanctuary
Agnes Banks, Nov 2nd and 5 other dates
Bartolo Reserve is one of Western Sydneys newest Nature Reserves and connects some of the best Cumberland Plain remnants in the region. As a vital link it has become home to a mob of Kangaroos and a refuge for very rare and threatened species of flora and fauna.

Tracking Wollondilly's Koalas
Wollondilly, Nov 3rd and 5 other dates
From Campbelltown to the Southern Highlands, Sydney’s South-West is home to nationally important populations of koalas virtually on the city’s doorstep and these populations are under serious threat from development & the effects of suburban sprawl.
Over the past year and a half Conservation Volunteers Australia have helped local councils to collect critical data on the local koala populations, as well as restore key koala habitat within the Wingecarribee and Campbelltown LGAs. 

Now, join CVA in the next phase of this exciting program as we move onto the Wollondilly Shire and help us replicate this effort to conserve the elusive koalas of this region.

Or visit other Events – Projects

Bushcare Here

Please join our resident Bushcare Volunteers and enjoy a couple of hours doing something wonderful for our local environment. Wear enclosed shoes/boots, a hat, sunglasses, and  comfortable protective clothing e.g. long trousers and long sleeved shirt. Bring an extra bottle of water and Council will provide tools, training, and a fabulous morning or afternoon tea :-).

If you're planning to join a Bushcare group for the first time, intend to join a different Bushcare session, or are just concerned about the weather, please contact the relevant Bushcare supervisor listed in the contacts below. 

Groups on this week
Sunday 29th October
• Winnererremy Bay
meet at Reserve entrance on Pittwater Road opposite Bayview Place, Bayview
9:00 am - 12:00 pm. Contact: Pam Bateman 0401 994 509
• Kundibah Reserve
meet at Reserve entrance at the end of Wyanga Avenue, Elanora Heights
8:30 - 11:30 am. Contact: Elise Connolly 0431 198 568

Monday 30th October
• Wakehurst Public School/Duffys Forest
meet at the School's front office to sign in
1:00 - 3:00 pm. Contact: Linda Rowley 0410 868 182
Bushcare Kayak - Narrabeen Lagoon
Sunday 26 November 2017
Limited places available, be quick!

North Sydney Council Bushcare volunteers are joining forces with Northern Beaches Council Bushland staff and volunteers to tackle the weeds at Jamieson Park. Starting with a warm-up paddle on Narrabeen Lagoon, the team will then get stuck into Bushcare and enjoy a BBQ lunch after the hard work is done. Kayaks, tools and equipment provided. Wear sun protection, long sleeved shirt, long pants and a hat, and bring a bottle of drinking water.

Date: Sunday 26 November 2017
Time: 10am to 2pm
Where: Narrabeen Lagoon (meet at Jamieson Park car park area)
There is plenty of parking available at Jamieson Park car park, Narrabeen.

To book your spot or if you have further enquiries, please email

Bushcare in Pittwater 

For further information or to confirm the meeting details for below groups, please contact Council's Bushcare Officer on 9970 1367

Where we work                      Which day                              What time 

Angophora Reserve             3rd Sunday                         8:30 - 11:30am 
Avalon Dunes                        1st Sunday                         8:30 - 11:30am 
Avalon Golf Course              2nd Wednesday                3 - 5:30pm 
Careel Creek                         4th Saturday                      8:30 - 11:30am 
Toongari Reserve                 3rd Saturday                      9 - 12noon (8 - 11am in summer) 
Bangalley Headland            2nd Sunday                         9 to 12noon 

Winnererremy Bay                 4th Sunday                        9 to 12noon 

North Bilgola Beach              3rd Monday                        9 - 12noon 
Algona Reserve                     1st Saturday                       9 - 12noon 
Plateau Park                          1st Friday                            8:30 - 11:30am 

Church Point     
Browns Bay Reserve             1st Tuesday                        9 - 12noon 
McCarrs Creek Reserve       Contact Bushcare Officer     To be confirmed 

Old Wharf Reserve                 3rd Saturday                      8 - 11am 

Kundibah Reserve                   4th Sunday                       8:30 - 11:30am 

Mona Vale     
Mona Vale Beach Basin          1st Saturday                    8 - 11am 
Mona Vale Dunes                     2nd Saturday+3rd Thursday     8:30 - 11:30am 

Bungan Beach                          4th Sunday                      9 - 12noon 
Crescent Reserve                    3rd Sunday                      9 - 12noon 
North Newport Beach              4th Saturday                    8:30 - 11:30am 
Porter Reserve                          2nd Saturday                  8 - 11am 

North Narrabeen     
Irrawong Reserve                     2nd Saturday                   2 - 5pm 

Palm Beach     
North Palm Beach Dunes      3rd Saturday                    9 - 12noon 

Scotland Island     
Catherine Park                          2nd Sunday                     10 - 12:30pm 
Elizabeth Park                           1st Saturday                      9 - 12noon 
Pathilda Reserve                      3rd Saturday                      9 - 12noon 

Warriewood Wetlands             1st Sunday                         8:30 - 11:30am 

Whale Beach     
Norma Park                               1st Friday                            9 - 12noon 

Western Foreshores     
Coopers Point, Elvina Bay      2nd Sunday                        10 - 1pm 
Rocky Point, Elvina Bay           1st Monday                          9 - 12noon

Greater Sydney Local Land Service Mini-grants now open

Mini grants program 2017-18
Are you part of a community group or not for profit organisation (including schools) that is planning an educational event or developing an educational resource for the local community?

Grants of between $500 and $1500 are available to improve skills and or promote the conservation and sustainable management of natural resources that meet National Landcare Programme objectives.

Activities that aim to build community awareness, participation, skills and knowledge in caring for their environment, including Aboriginal knowledge and participation can include:
  • community events
  • running of field days, workshops and courses
  • educational signage
  • production and distribution of educational resources such as fact sheets and booklets
  • small scale demonstration style on-ground works that have an education focus.
Complete the online form. Please note this form doesn't allow you to save and resume part way through and so please be prepared to complete the entire form in one sitting.

For further information or to discuss a proposal contact Maree Whelan in the Wyong office on 02 4355 8201.

This project is supported by Greater Sydney Local Land Services through funding from the Australian Government's National Landcare Programme.

Sue Higginson Leaving EDO NSW

Friday October 27th, 2017: by EDO NSW
After 12 years at EDO NSW, the last two as CEO, Sue Higginson is bowing out. We asked about the highlights – and low points – of her time at the EDO and how she stays hopeful.

Q: Your home is in the Northern Rivers – how did you arrive there?
I spent the first decade of my life in England. In the early ‘80s my family migrated to Australia, settling in Melbourne. I’d only been in Australia for a couple of days when my dad took us to a temperate old growth forest which had patches of rainforest and the most colourful birds I’d ever seen. I fell in love! I’ve loved the Australian environment ever since.

When I finished high school I moved to the beautiful biodiverse Northern Rivers, where I worked for many years as a campaigner to protect the last of the old growth forests in north east NSW. I have called the Northern Rivers home ever since. Image: Sue at an EDO NSW fundraising event in Lismore.

Q: What led you to do law? Has it been what you thought it would be?
It was my work as an environmental campaigner and the advice of a very good friend (a lawyer) that led me to study law. I had young children so didn’t know how I would get on, but I loved it and did really well ­ I graduated with first class honours and won the university medal. I learnt early on that the law could be a very effective and powerful tool to protect the environment, so I was very motivated. 

I love being a lawyer working for justice. Being able to practice at EDO NSW is even better than I hoped it would be. Serving and empowering the community through the law has been my dream job.  

Q: What are you going to do once you finish at EDO NSW?
Since I took on the role of Principal Solicitor nearly five years ago, I have spent a lot of time away from my home and family in the Northern Rivers. I have just become a grandma, so it’s time for me to go home and have a short break. I’m not sure exactly what I will do next, I have many plans and I’m sure it will involve continuing to work to protect the environment. It’s what I do.   

Q: What’s been the most surprising or satisfying experience while you’ve been at the EDO?
One of the most defining moments during my time at the EDO was when the NSW Land and Environment Court overturned the approval for Rio Tinto’s Warkworth open cut coal mine extension (the Warkworth case). This symbolised a real turning point in environmental law and decision making. It was no longer the case that economics would, by right, trump negative impacts on the environment and community. While there had been political decisions that favoured the environment or community over short term profits in the past, the Warkworth case did it through economic, social and environmental analysis and the application of legal reasoning.  And that is now in the law books on the public record forever.

Q: What’s been most disappointing in the environmental law space over the past few years?
It is extremely disappointing and unfair when the community plays by the rules to protect the environment and hold decision makers to account under the rule of law and wins, then the rules are changed to allow wrongful development to go ahead.

The most recent example is the response to our client’s win in the NSW Court of Appeal to protect Sydney’s drinking water catchment from coal mine pollution. Our client was able to show that the mine’s approval was granted unlawfully as it will not have a neutral or beneficial effect on water quality. In fact the mine will be belching millions of litres of mine water into the headwaters of Sydney’s drinking water catchment. Rather than allowing the court to sort out a proper and lawful resolution to the case, the mining company persuaded the NSW Government to pass special laws legalising the mine’s wrongful approval.  

Given the affront such action is to the rule of law and the importance of the adherence to the rule of law in a mature democracy, it is always astounding when we see special laws passed to allow wrongful development to proceed. 

Another version of this is when governments threaten to change laws or take administrative action to stifle communities from accessing the courts to seek environmental justice. 

The classic example of this was when we challenged the Australian Government’s approval of Adani’s Carmichael coal mine on behalf of the Mackay Conservation Group. We were successful because the Australian Environment Minister had failed to properly follow the law. He admitted as much and so we all agreed that the Federal Court should set aside his approval. It was an example of the rule of law working well. 

Imagine my surprise when I saw the then Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, and the Attorney-General, George Brandis, demonising our court action and our client, referring to us as vigilante litigants engaging in lawfare! I was so shocked that something could be framed so wrongly. I was even more shocked when the Attorney-General, the first legal officer, sought to change Australian environmental law so that community groups couldn’t bring legal cases which seek to hold decision makers to account under the law. Fortunately for the rule of law and the pursuit of environmental justice, this did not pass through Parliament.

There are more subtle versions of this. For the past five years it is the practice of the NSW Planning Minster to require every large resource project to be referred to the Planning Assessment Commission for a public hearing. When the Commission holds a public hearing, members of the community lose their rights to appeal any approval of that project to the specialist environment court. Denying access to justice is not in the public interest. 

Q: Given the avalanche of bad news on the environment, how do you stay hopeful – if you do?
It is very easy to stay hopeful. Every day I work with wonderful people who are committed to protecting the environment for future generations. Working in the pursuit of environmental justice, as hard as it can be, is very rewarding. It involves being positive and having an optimistic vision. When we work to protect the environment we are doing so in the public interest, it often involves speaking up for things and places that cannot speak for themselves; there is usually an aspect of necessity to the work, so there is no time not to be hopeful. Image: Sue with our Hunter Valley client and Goldman Environmental Prize winner, Wendy Bowman.

Q: What will you miss?
Working at EDO NSW is an absolute privilege. It is incredibly inspiring working with such great people, who understand what an important institution the EDO is – from staff, volunteers, barristers, Aboriginal elders, members of the judiciary, members of Parliament and the public service, independent technical and scientific experts, academics and members of the community.   

Q: What won’t you miss?
I won’t miss the all-nighters and the 15-hour day average! For some reason I just never got around to pioneering the work-life balance!

Q: Which change to environmental law would you most welcome?
There are many aspects of our environmental legal system that I view as world class. However, there are still things I would like to change. Fairness and balance needs to be better built into the system in terms of environmental and community justice. Mostly I would like to see an absolute end to extinction. This would involve requiring legal obligations to recover threatened species and eco-systems away from the brink of extinction and addressing our climate-changed future.

Sue with John Krey Speaking to the media after the 2014 Bulga victory.

Sea levels to rise 1.3m unless coal power ends by 2050, report says

October 26, 2017: University of Melbourne
University of Melbourne paper combines latest understanding on Antarctica and current emissions projection scenarios; Crack in Larsen C Ice Shelf, Antarctica; The extra contribution to sea level rise from Antarctica will not kick in if warming is kept at less than 1.9C above preindustrial levels, the researchers found.

Coastal cities around the world could be devastated by 1.3m of sea level rise this century unless coal-generated electricity is virtually eliminated by 2050, according to a new paper that combines the latest understanding of Antarctica’s contribution to sea level rise and the latest emissions projection scenarios. It confirms again that significant sea level rise is inevitable and requires rapid adaptation. But, on a more positive note, the work reveals the majority of that rise – driven by newly recognised processes on Antarctica – could be avoided if the world fulfils its commitment made in Paris to keep global warming to “well below 2C”.

Antarctic sea ice levels hit record low, but experts are not sure why Read more In 2016, Robert DeConto from the University of Massachusetts Amherst revealed that Antarctica could contribute to massive sea level rise much earlier than thought, suggesting ice sheet collapse would occur sooner and identifying a new process where huge ice cliffs would disintegrate. But that paper only examined the impact of Antarctica on sea level rise, ignoring other contributions, and didn’t examine the details of what measures society needed to take to avoid those impacts. The new paper by Alexander Nauels from the University of Melbourne and colleagues uses simplified physical models that allowed them to explore all known contributions to sea level rise, and pair them with the new generation of emissions scenarios which the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) will use in the next set of reports. Under all scenarios we are going to have to adapt Sea level expert John Church They found that if nothing is done to limit carbon pollution, then global sea levels will rise by an estimated 1.32m.

That is 50% more than was previously thought, with the IPCC’s AR5 report suggesting 85cm was possible by the end of the century. But the extra contribution from Antarctica would not kick in if warming was kept at less than 1.9C above preindustrial levels, the researchers found. Temperatures above that threshold risked triggering the additional processes in Antarctica identified in the 2016 paper, causing much greater sea level rise.

“The 1.5C limit in the Paris Agreement is a much safer bet to avoid this additional contribution than only achieving 2C,” Nauels said. The work, published in the journal Environmental Research Letters, showed that the current carbon reduction pledges which governments have made as part of the Paris Agreement by 2030 – their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) – are so weak they would require very deep cuts between 2030 and 2050 to avoid triggering those extra processes in Antarctica. Since the authors used the next generation of emissions scenarios (the “Shared Socioeconomic Pathways”), which include assumptions about socioeconomic factors that are driving emissions – such as energy demand, energy generation, population growth and GDP – they were able to examine what actions could be taken to avoid the sea level rise.

Those scenarios suggested coal could only make up 5% of the world’s energy mix by 2050 if sea level rise is to be limited to about half a metre. Similarly, those scenarios suggested a global carbon price would have to be well over US$100 per tonne, since at that cost, sea level would rise by 65cm by 2100.

John Church, a leading sea level rise expert from the University of New South Wales who was co-convening lead author of the chapter on sea level in the third and fifth IPCC Assessment Reports, told the Guardian the work was further confirmation that the world needed to prepare now for substantial sea level rises. “Under all scenarios we are going to have to adapt,” Church said. “We cannot stop all sea level rise.”He said the research community was not in consensus yet about the accelerated contribution of Antarctica to sea level rise, identified in the 2016 paper and modelled in this study, but examining the implications of those findings was still important.

DeConto, the lead author of the landmark paper from 2016, said it was important to recognise the good news in his original findings and this extension of that work. Where global warming gets real: inside Nasa’s mission to the north pole Read more “In the aggressive mitigation pathways, where we assume that the global community gets its act together and we reduce emissions, it’s a much rosier picture.

There’s a much reduced risk of dramatic sea level rise from Antarctica,” he told the Guardian. “This study fully reinforces that.” Nauels said his team’s work assumed that Antarctica would contribute to sea level rise as was suggested by the 2016 paper by DeConto, but more work was needed to confirm those findings. “We still have to find out what’s going on in Antarctica,” he told the Guardian. “We can’t base all future sea level rise projects on just one paper. And the Antarctic ice sheet community are frantically working on the new insights.”

Photograph: Rift near Pine Island Glacier tongue/NASA

Alexander Nauels, Joeri Rogelj, Carl-Friedrich Schleussner, Malte Meinshausen and Matthias Mengel. Linking sea level rise and socioeconomic indicators under the Shared Socioeconomic Pathways. Published 26 October 2017 © 2017 The Author(s). Published by IOP Publishing Ltd 

'Scars' left by icebergs record West Antarctic ice retreat

October 25, 2017
Thousands of marks on the Antarctic seafloor, caused by icebergs which broke free from glaciers more than ten thousand years ago, show how part of the Antarctic Ice Sheet retreated rapidly at the end of the last ice age as it balanced precariously on sloping ground and became unstable. Today, as the global climate continues to warm, rapid and sustained retreat may be close to happening again, and could trigger runaway ice retreat into the interior of the continent, which in turn would cause sea levels to rise even faster than currently projected.

Researchers from the University of Cambridge, the British Antarctic Survey and Stockholm University imaged the seafloor of Pine Island Bay, in West Antarctica. They found that, as seas warmed at the end of the last ice age, Pine Island Glacier retreated to a point where its grounding line -- the point where it enters the ocean and starts to float -- was perched precariously at the end of a slope.

Break up of a floating 'ice shelf' in front of the glacier left tall ice 'cliffs' at its edge. The height of these cliffs made them unstable, triggering the release of thousands of icebergs into Pine Island Bay, and causing the glacier to retreat rapidly until its grounding line reached a restabilising point in shallower water.

Today, as warming waters caused by climate change flow underneath the floating ice shelves in Pine Island Bay, the Antarctic Ice Sheet is once again at risk of losing mass from rapidly retreating glaciers. Significantly, if ice retreat is triggered, there are no relatively shallow points in the ice sheet bed along the course of Pine Island and Thwaites glaciers to prevent possible runaway ice retreat into the interior of West Antarctica. The results are published in the journal Nature.

"Today, the Pine Island and Thwaites glaciers are grounded in a very precarious position, and major retreat may already be happening, caused primarily by warm waters melting from below the ice shelves that jut out from each glacier into the sea," said Matthew Wise of Cambridge's Scott Polar Research Institute, and the study's first author. "If we remove these buttressing ice shelves, unstable ice thicknesses would cause the grounded West Antarctic Ice Sheet to retreat rapidly again in the future. Since there are no potential restabilising points further upstream to stop any retreat from extending deep into the West Antarctic hinterland, this could cause sea-levels to rise faster than previously projected."

Pine Island Glacier and the neighbouring Thwaites Glacier are responsible for nearly a third of total ice loss from the West Antarctic Ice Sheet, and this contribution has increased greatly over the past 25 years. In addition to basal melt, the two glaciers also lose ice by breaking off, or calving, icebergs into Pine Island Bay.

Ice cliffs in Pine Island Bay, taken from the IB Oden. Credit: Martin Jakobsson

Today, the icebergs that break off from Pine Island and Thwaites glaciers are mostly large table-like blocks, which cause characteristic 'comb-like' ploughmarks as these large multi-keeled icebergs grind along the sea floor. By contrast, during the last ice age, hundreds of comparatively smaller icebergs broke free of the Antarctic Ice Sheet and drifted into Pine Island Bay. These smaller icebergs had a v-shaped structure like the keel of a ship, and left long and deep single scars in the sea floor.

High-resolution imaging techniques, used to investigate the shape and distribution of ploughmarks on the sea floor in Pine Island Bay, allowed the researchers to determine the relative size and drift direction of icebergs in the past. Their analysis showed that these smaller icebergs were released due to a process called marine ice-cliff instability (MICI). More than 12,000 years ago, Pine Island and Thwaites glaciers were grounded on top of a large wedge of sediment, and were buttressed by a floating ice shelf, making them relatively stable even though they rested below sea level.

Eventually, the floating ice shelf in front of the glaciers 'broke up', which caused them to retreat onto land sloping downward from the grounding lines to the interior of the ice sheet. This exposed tall ice 'cliffs' at their margin with an unstable height, and resulted in rapid retreat of the glaciers from marine ice cliff instability between 12,000 and 11,000 years ago. This occurred under climate conditions that were relatively similar to those of today.

"Ice-cliff collapse has been debated as a theoretical process that might cause West Antarctic Ice Sheet retreat to accelerate in the future," said co-author Dr Robert Larter, from the British Antarctic Survey. "Our observations confirm that this process is real and that it occurred about 12,000 years ago, resulting in rapid retreat of the ice sheet into Pine Island Bay."

Today, the two glaciers are getting ever closer to the point where they may become unstable, resulting once again in rapid ice retreat.

The research has been funded in part by the UK Natural Environment and Research Council (NERC).

Matthew G. Wise, Julian A. Dowdeswell, Martin Jakobsson, Robert D. Larter. Evidence of marine ice-cliff instability in Pine Island Bay from iceberg-keel plough marks. Nature, 2017; 550 (7677): 506 DOI: 10.1038/nature24458

Commercial use of protected plants: Public consultation

Draft NSW management plans for the commercial use of protected plants have been released for public comment.
A public exhibition of draft management plans outlining the commercial use of protected plants provides an important opportunity for members of the community to have their say.

Submissions close 9 November 2017.

About the draft management plans
The Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH) has prepared draft wildlife trade management plans setting out the licensing requirements applying under NSW legislation (Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016) for the growing, harvesting and sale of protected whole plants and cut flowers.

The development of these management plans is a requirement of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 administered by the Australian Government.

The plans are subject to review, public consultation and re-approval by the Australian Government every five years.

The two current NSW management plans concerning the commercial use of protected plants are due to expire soon.

Draft NSW management plans for 2018–22, which will replace the current plans, have been issued for public consultation.

Cut-flower Sustainable Management Plan 2018–22 for protected and threatened plants in the cut-flower industry.
OEH issues licences under the Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016 to persons seeking to harvest and grow whole protected native plants for commercial purposes.
This plan outlines the legislation and licensing requirements for the cut flower industry.
The plan also describes management procedures for the industry including plant tagging requirements, monitoring harvest sustainability, and record keeping requirements.

The plan includes a summary of changes from the previous plan.

Whole Plant Sustainable Management Plan 2018–22 for the commercial harvest and propagation of whole protected plants.
Harvesting plants from the wild can pose risks to both the harvest site itself and the conservation of native plant populations.
This plan describes the proposed regulatory framework for managing the commercial harvest, salvage and growing of protected whole plants such as grass trees, staghorns, orchids and cycads.

The plan describes proposed licensing arrangements for persons or businesses that harvest whole protected plants or propagate whole protected plants for sale. 
The plan also sets out the operational framework under which licensed activities can be undertaken including tagging, reporting and site management obligations.
The plan includes a summary of changes from the previous plan.

More information
If you have questions about the draft management plans, please contact the NSW Wildlife Biodiversity Reforms team by email

Find information about current licensing arrangements at commercial use of protected plants.

Have your say
Public exhibition for the draft NSW management plans for 2018–22 is from 12 October to 9 November. Anyone can review the draft NSW management plans and provide comments.
Your submission, in whole or part or as part of a summary, may be made publicly available on our website. If you do not want your submission made public in this way, please indicate this on your submission.
You can provide your written submission in the following ways:

By email
Email your submission to:

By mail
Post your submission to:
Plant Management Plan Consultation
National Parks and Wildlife Service
PO Box 1967
Hurstville NSW 1481


New tool to show where spearfishing is allowed in the Whitsundays area

October 24th, 2017: Media Release -  GBRMPA
Spearfishers visiting the Whitsundays will have a clearer understanding of where they can and can’t spearfish thanks to a new map that combines all the rules.

Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority general manager Simon Banks said there were special rules for spearfishing in the Whitsundays, one of the Reef’s most highly-visited regions with the greatest concentration of users.

“While these rules have been in place for quite some time and haven’t changed, new material is available to help spearfishers understand where they can and can’t spearfish,” Dr Banks said.

The new flyer was produced by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority and Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service in response to requests from the community and includes a map that combines all the rules to simply show what areas are open and closed to spearfishing.

Dr Banks said common areas incorrectly targeted by spearfishers included Hayman and North and South Molle Islands. Spearfishing is not permitted at these protected locations.

Spearfishers are also reminded that powerheads, other firearms, lights, scuba and any other underwater breathing apparatus are not permitted when spearfishing on the Great Barrier Reef.

Penalties for not following zoning rules can include a fine of up to $2100.

“While we welcome visitors to this spectacular region, it’s important all Reef users take responsibility to understand what’s allowed and where before they enter the marine parks,” Dr Banks said.

“The Whitsundays particularly needs our combined efforts to support Reef recovery following tropical cyclone Debbie in March this year.

“Steps visitors can take to help protect the Reef include taking only what’s needed; using a public mooring or finding sand instead of anchoring on coral, and avoiding taking plant-eating fish like parrotfish, which remove algae and provide space for new corals to grow.”

Going Spearfishing in the Whitsundays is available from Whitsundays and Mackay region boating, fishing and tackle shops; local Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service and Queensland Boating and Fisheries Patrol offices, and the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority. 

Genetic rescue boosts recovery of Australia's endangered mountain pygmy possums

October 25th, 2017: University of Melbourne
For the first time, a breeding technique known as genetic rescue has been shown to increase population numbers and survival rates of the endangered mountain pygmy possum, now at their highest numbers since 1996.

The study was conducted by a team from the University of Melbourne, La Trobe University, CESAR, Mt Buller Mt Stirling Resort Management, and the University of New South Wales. 

Dr Andrew Weeks from the University of Melbourne led the project, published in the international journal Nature Communications

Genetic rescue was used to introduce male mountain pygmy possums, Burramys parvus, from a healthy population at Mt Hotham, to a recipient group of females at Mt Buller. The two groups had become physically isolated from each other over 20,000 years.

This isolation had led to inbreeding and a lack of the genetic variation that is essential for overcoming disease and ensuring the ability to thrive.

Dr Weeks says that since the genetic rescue program began in 2011, the possum population has gone through rapid growth and is now larger than when the population was first discovered in 1996.

"Before 2010, there was thought to be only a handful of individuals at Mt Buller," Dr Weeks says. "Now, Mt Buller females from the genetic rescue are bigger and have more offspring that survive longer than the progeny of pygmy possums born outside the program. We now estimate the population to be over 200 possums," he says.

Co-author Dr Ian Mansergh from La Trobe University says the study's findings mark an important development in conservation management.

"Our study confirms genetic rescue as a successful conservation technique, especially when used for small, isolated populations of threatened species," Dr Mansergh says.

Along with genetic rescue, there was also a program of habitat restoration, predator control and environmental protection instituted by the land manager, Mt Buller Mt Stirling Resort Management. 

The researchers say this was essential to avoid losing the benefits of genetic rescue if populations cannot expand and still face the threats that reduced the population in the first place.

Dr Weeks and the University of Melbourne's Professor Ary Hoffmann, who co-authored the possum paper, are now also leading a genetic rescue program for the critically endangered Eastern Barred Bandicoot at Mt Rothwell Conservation Centre near Little River in Victoria.

Prof Hoffmann says the long-term hope for genetic rescue is that it will provide endangered animals with enough genetic variation to adapt and evolve to new challenges, such as climate change.

"These animals are now facing an extra threat. They are experiencing physical isolation and introduced predators as well as climate warming," Professor Hoffman says. "The hope is that animals can adapt if we give them the genetic tools to do so.

"We have shown the technique is successful in the mountain pygmy possum, and hope the Eastern Barred Bandicoot can recover if they are also given enough support."

Andrew R. Weeks, Dean Heinze, Louise Perrin, Jakub Stoklosa, Ary A. Hoffmann, Anthony van Rooyen, Tom Kelly & Ian Mansergh. Genetic rescue increases fitness and aids rapid recovery of an endangered marsupial population. Nature Communications 8, Article number: 1071 (2017)

It’s Magpie swooping season

by BirdLife Australia
It’s that time of year again. As the days gradually begin to grow longer and the weather warms up, many birds begin to build their nests and lay their eggs. Their number includes Australian Magpies.

Because magpies are one of the most common birds in built-up areas, as well as in rural environments, they often come into contact with us. For most of the year, people are happy to interact with magpies, but with the arrival of the breeding season, the situation’s not always so happy.

Magpie breeding season is dreaded by many people because of the perception that at this time of year the birds relentlessly swoop at people, both on foot or riding bicycles, as well as dogs and anything else that moves.

Though wide-held, this perception is not altogether accurate.

Although it’s true that spring is magpie swooping season, it should be noted that not all magpies swoop at people. In fact, it is generally quite a small proportion of them that are aggressive towards humans. Most of the birds that attack are males, though, indeed, most male magpies don’t attack, and those that do usually only become aggressive when people venture too close to the nest tree.

Although the timing of swooping behaviour varies between the different regions of Australia, most swooping activity occurs in mid- to late spring, during the brief period when there are magpie chicks in the nest, with the intensity of attacks increasing gradually as the nestlings grow. Few magpies attack before their eggs have hatched, and the attacks usually drop off after the chicks have fledged (left the nest). It’s a brief window, but one that can be traumatic for people being swooped.

There are a few things you can do to prevent being swooped, but nothing is guaranteed to work.
  • The most sensible method is to avoid walking or riding near trees where magpies are nesting.
  • If you can’t avoid the area, try wearing a hat or carrying an umbrella for protection; cyclists can attach a forest of cable-ties to their helmets.
  • Attach eye spots to the back of your hat.
  • Wave a stick above your head as you walk past.
  • Keep an eye on the bird; he’s much less likely to attack if he knows he’s been sussed.
  • Above all, don’t harass the birds. Though tempting, it will only make them more aggressive. And remember, harming magpies is against the law.
For more information, see Magpie Alert, by Darryl Jones (UNSW Press, Sydney).

Avalon Boomerang Bags: An Idea that's Spreading to stop plastic bag use

Avalon Boomerang Bags - now at North Avalon shops - A J Guesdon photo, 25.5.2017

Avalon Boomerang Bags

11am-5pm @ sewcraft cook 
Unit 20/14 Polo Ave Mona Vale

Boomerang Bags is a bag-share initiative involving the installation of a number of ‘Boomerang Bag’ boxes throughout any given business district, shopping centre, street or market. Each box is stocked with re-useable bags for customers to borrow if they have forgotten to bring their own.

Unlike the traditional purchase-and-keep approach, Boomerang Bags are free, and local community members are responsible for returning the bags once they’re no longer required. The availability of free re-useable bags reduces the reliance of local businesses to supply bags to all customers, and encourages a mentality of re-use among local communities, thereby reducing the amount of plastic bag material entering our landfills and waterways.

So who makes the Boomerang Bags? Well, you do! Boomerang Bags are made by local communities for local communities, and are sewn from recycled and donated materials.

Get in touch if you'd like to donate materials, join us making bags, or implement Boomerang Bags in your own local area!

Spotted this week: Please don't trash our tree shaded streets

Koalas spotted in Dharug National Park

October 25th, 2017: NSW OE&H
Koalas have been spotted in Dharug National Park on the Central Coast for the first time in decades.

Two koalas were recorded on night-vision cameras in Dharug National Park in August and September 2017.

This time of year marks the koala mating season, which starts in August and ends in February.

Mating season is a time of increased movement for koalas, as they leave their trees and disperse, running the risk of crossing paths with cars and dogs.

If you see a koala in the wild, report the sighting to the local NPWS office on 4320 4200.

Report injured koalas to WIRES or Wildlife ARC.

NSW Government Koala conservation projects across the state will receive another $800,000 as part of this year’s NSW Government budget.

Koala (Phascolarctos cinereus) taken by motion camera Dharug National Park Photo: OEH

Greater Sydney Local Land Service Mini-Grants Now Open

Mini grants program 2017-18
Are you part of a community group or not for profit organisation (including schools) that is planning an educational event or developing an educational resource for the local community?

Grants of between $500 and $1500 are available to improve skills and or promote the conservation and sustainable management of natural resources that meet National Landcare Programme objectives.

Activities that aim to build community awareness, participation, skills and knowledge in caring for their environment, including Aboriginal knowledge and participation can include:
  • community events
  • running of field days, workshops and courses
  • educational signage
  • production and distribution of educational resources such as fact sheets and booklets
  • small scale demonstration style on-ground works that have an education focus.
Complete the online form. Please note this form doesn't allow you to save and resume part way through and so please be prepared to complete the entire form in one sitting.

For further information or to discuss a proposal contact Maree Whelan in the Wyong office on 02 4355 8201.

This project is supported by Greater Sydney Local Land Services through funding from the Australian Government's National Landcare Programme.

Spring Creek Development near Bells Beach Gets Go Ahead

In 2008 around 3,000 residents of Torquay/ Jan Juc, came together to rally against the proposed urban development on the land 1 km west of Duffields Road - they were against over-development of Spring Creek near Bells Beach. 

Surfrider Foundation Surf Coast Branch stood beside them, and have represented the views of the community and fought against over-development of this valley which will have negative impacts on Bells Beach, on the fauna displaced by development and the loss of community that goes with large scale developments.

Council did listen to the community and removed the area from their future plans. 

Unfortunately the Planning Minister at the time, Mathew Guy, chose to rezone the area for urban development despite previous promises not the intervene. The Victorian State Government designated Torquay/Jan Juc as a “Growth Node”.

On Tuesday, October 24th, the Surf Coast Shire approved Torquay's controversial Spring Creek Valley housing development through what is called a C114 Amendment (updates the Urban Growth Zone Schedule 1 to facilitate the development of the land, rezones part of the affected land to Urban Growth Zone, applies the Development Contributions Plan Overlay and includes the Spring Creek Native Vegetation Precinct Plan and other changes to the Surf Coast Planning Scheme)

On the same day, October 24th, one resident reported:
"The NW corner of the C114 Amendment (the proposed development 1 km west of Duffields Road) has been cleared and filled in. This area was designated in the proposed plan as a natural water catchment area and was not to be developed on (opposed of course by the developer). It seems that now that the vegetation has already been cleared, and the area is being filled in, the developer will go ahead with his agenda to develop."

Secretary of the 3228 Residents Association Sue O’Shanassy said she and other concerned residents would write to the Minister for Planning, requesting housing density be kept to a minimum.

The Spring Creek development will now accommodate 2064 properties after Planning Panels Victoria criticised the council’s proposed density.

The residents are also concerned about the Torquay Town Centre Plan which seeks the Introduction of new building height and setback requirements throughout the town centre, ranging from 2 storey in Gilbert Street, 3 and 4 storey in most of the centre and up to 5 storeys in specific areas where impacts on view lines can be minimised.

Below is a summary’s of the concerns held by 3228ra if this Plan is accepted: 
- No limit on heights with the preferred building heights of 4 and 5 storeys unable to be enforced, leaving council open to VCAT challenges for increased heights.
- No requirement for developers to allow free public access to the underground.
- No option for community to review and comment on development proposals in the Town Centre precinct - council approval only required.
- No specifications for the preferred material and finishes on buildings
- Insufficient Public Open Space with the area allotted too small and in shadow for most of the day.
- Insufficient setbacks, especially on the Esplanade
- Inappropriate place for a Discount Department store.

One opponent to the push to turn Torquay into a mini Gold Coast stated this week;

"Developer driven growth is having a negative impact on our town. It is hard enough now to get a carpark at the beach on hot days. Gilbert Street is a nightmare during peak periods and the current Town Centre Plan has nothing in it to address these issues (in fact we lose car parking spaces and add 400 apartments in the centre of town so parking will only get worse). 

Overdevelopment is having a negative impact on the environment, more litter on our beaches, more pollutants flowing into waterways and wetlands, more native wildlife losing habitat and dying on our roads. 

There is plenty of room in Armstrong Creek for large scale urban development whether its apartment towers, high density living or large scale shopping centres. The State Government needs to remove Torquay as a Growth Node from the State Planning Scheme."

Starting At Age 6, Children Spontaneously Practice Skills To Prepare For The Future

October 25, 2017
Deliberate practice is essential for improving a wide range of skills important for everyday life, from tying shoelaces to reading and writing. Yet despite its importance for developing basic skills, academic success, and expertise, we know little about the development of deliberate practice. A new study from Australia found that children spontaneously practice skills to prepare for the future starting at the age of 6. The study, from researchers at the University of Queensland, is published in the journal Child Development.

"Our study contributes to our understanding of how young children start to regulate their own learning to achieve their long-term goals, as well as the development of the cognitive processes that allow people to acquire a range of general skills and highly specialized expertise throughout life," explains Melissa Brinums, a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Queensland who led the study. "It is one of only a small number of studies documenting age-related differences in children's future-oriented behavior beyond the preschool period."

To learn more about young children's understanding of practice and the age at which they start to practice without being prompted, researchers tested 120 children ages 4 to 7 years. Most were from European-Australian, middle- to upper-middle-class families -- and the authors caution that more study is needed to examine the influence of social factors (including socioeconomic status) and individual differences on children's understanding of and engagement in deliberate practice.

In the study, children in one room were shown three games involving motor skills and told they would be tested on one of them (a target game) later, winning stickers based on their performance. Children were then brought to a different room with replicas of the games they had seen in the first room and told they had five minutes to play before returning to the first room for the test. The researchers anticipated that children who understood that practice could help their future performance would spend more time playing the target game than the other two games. After playing, children were asked which game they played the longest and why, what they could do to improve on the games, and if they could explain what practice is.

Most 6- and 7-year-olds explained what practice is and knew that it helped improve their skills, and most played the target game longer than the other games and said they did so to practice for the test. Most 5-year-olds showed an understanding of practice and spent slightly longer playing the target game; however, when asked why they had chosen to play that game, the 5-year-olds said they did so for reasons other than practice. Most 4-year-olds did not understand the concept of practice and did not spend more time playing the target game.

Overall, these findings reveal clear improvements in children's deliberate practice from ages 4 to 7. These increases in understanding of and engagement in deliberate practice may be due to age-related improvements in cognitive capacities such as episodic foresight, metacognition, and executive functions, the researchers suggest. Episodic foresight, the capacity to envision the future, allows children to foresee the future utility of a skill. Metacognition, the capacity to reflect on and monitor mental states, and executive functions, the cognitive processes that allow us to control our thoughts and behavior, play important roles in allowing children to monitor and control their own learning.

"By providing insight into children's understanding of practice and the age at which they start to practice for the future with and without prompting, our study may help caregivers and teachers structure age-appropriate learning activities for children," notes Kana Imuta, a psychology researcher at the University of Queensland, who coauthored the study. "For example, out findings suggest that it may be beneficial to start having conversations with children as young as 6 about their future goals, and encourage them to think about and work toward those goals. A focus on the future may help kids understand why practicing is so important."

Melissa Brinums, Kana Imuta, Thomas Suddendorf. Practicing for the Future: Deliberate Practice in Early Childhood. Child Development, 2017; DOI: 10.1111/cdev.12938

New Chair To Advance Scientific Understanding Of Indigenous Australian Rock Art

October 27th, 2017: University of Melbourne
A new Chair in Archaeological Science will be created at the University of Melbourne, thanks to donations from the Kimberley Foundation Australia (KFA), Allan Myers and the Minderoo Foundation.

University of Melbourne Vice-Chancellor Professor Glyn Davis thanked the donors for the vision and generosity which enables the creation of the Chair, which will be based in the Faculty of Science.

“This Chair will be a catalyst for the scientific study of Australia's archaeological record of human origins and migrations and for recounting the story of Aboriginal art as told in the Kimberley,” Professor Davis said.

“It’s an Aboriginal story and this Chair will assist Aboriginal people in the Kimberley to get to the science behind their story.

“It will also help develop and train a new generation of early career researchers and post graduate students in the field of archaeological science, with a focus on rock art dating and conservation.

“The science program this Chair in Archaeological Science will lead will complement the humanities-based program offered at the University of Western Australia and already supported by the Kimberley Foundation Australia.”

Dean of the Faculty of Science Professor Karen Day said the University of Melbourne is the natural place for leadership on this project.

“We’ve got superb researchers and world-class facilities and a sizeable commitment in the field. The new Chair will further put Australian scientists onto the world stage,” Professor Day said.

The Kimberley Foundation Australia is at the forefront of scientific research with a commitment to supporting Kimberley rock art research.

Kimberley Foundation Australia Chief Executive Officer Cas Bennetto said that establishing this Chair has been a cherished goal of the Foundation.  This new University of Melbourne Chair will drive applied science in rock art research and complement the humanities-based archaeology programs at the University of Western Australia and other universities.

“The need for this Chair comes from the work the Kimberley Foundation and scientists at Melbourne University are doing with the Aboriginal communities. They realised they need more science to get the big picture,” said Ms Bennetto.

“We are grateful that KFA Patrons Andrew and Nicola Forrest, Allan Myers and the University of Melbourne have backed KFA’s vision. This Chair cements the leadership role Australia has taken in rock art research.”

University of Melbourne Chancellor Allan Myers AC QC said the benefits of this Chair will flow back to the Aboriginal communities.

“The University of Melbourne is working in collaboration with the Aboriginal people who want to know their own story,” Mr Myers said.

“The Chair gives us the opportunity to deepen our understanding of our own heritage. This is vital for us as a nation. The University and Australia will reap the rewards of the international collaboration that will follow.”

Minderoo Foundation Chief Executive Officer Nicola Forrest said that the aim is to strengthen the opportunities for academic research between the east and west coast and drive engagement and collaboration between the University of Western Australia, where KFA has already established a Chair in Rock Art, and the University of Melbourne.

“The opportunity for Minderoo to contribute to this Chair is an exciting way to effect this goal,” Mrs Forrest said.

The endowment is composed of $3.5 million from the donors, plus a further $1.5 million from the University and was announced at an event last night in Melbourne to mark the twentieth anniversary of the Kimberley Foundation Australia.

The University of Melbourne recently received a $880,000 grant from the Australian Research Council enabling the Earth Sciences team to continue the rock art dating research initiated and sponsored by the Kimberley Foundation and developed under the leadership of Professor Andrew Gleadow, Emeritus Professor of Geology and Chairman of the KFA’s Science Advisory Council.

The Chair in Archaeological Science will sit within the School of Earth Sciences in the Faculty of Science.

Kimberly Rock art - courtesy UM

Free Healthy Food App Dials Up Good Tucker For Remote Indigenous Communities

October 25th, 2017: The Hon Ken Wyatt AM, MP
Minister for Aged Care
Minister for Indigenous Health
A new mobile phone app launched today promises to help Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in remote areas make healthy food choices. 

Minister for Indigenous Health, Ken Wyatt AM, said the Uncle Jimmy’s Good Tucker app was easy to use and a first for remote communities.

“Users simply scan the barcode of a product with their phone to see if it’s a healthy choice,” Minister Wyatt said. 

“Once scanned, the app gives a ‘thumbs up’, ‘thumbs down’, or ‘thumbs sideways’ message, according to how healthy the product is.

“One of the app’s best features is that, once it’s downloaded, all the information is on your phone and there’s no need for the internet, so it’s ideal for people living in remote areas.”

The thumbs rating is based on the Government’s Health Star Rating system and the Australian Dietary Guidelines. 

“The app is named in honour of legendary singer Jimmy Little, who established the Jimmy Little Foundation and dedicated much of his life to promoting better Indigenous health,” said Minister Wyatt.

“People in remote communities can face considerable food challenges, from the combination of limited supplies, particularly the difficulty in getting fresh fruit and vegetables, and limited storage.

“Uncle Jimmy’s app will complement our work to make good food more accessible in remote areas, through the Outback Stores scheme. The accredited stores provide healthy food cheaper than in other remote area stores and implement a nutrition strategy that includes health promotion activities and cooking demonstrations.

“Improving food choices is one of the most effective ways of helping close the gap in Indigenous health, with poor diet behind 10 per cent of diseases.”

The Good Tucker app was created by the Jimmy Little Foundation, in partnership with the Menzies School of Health Research, the University of South Australia and the George Institute for Global Health.

The app links with the Health Star Ratings system, which has more than 7,500 food products displaying the Health Star Rating logo.

Community Heritage Grants Recipients

24 October 2017: Australian Department of Communications and the Arts
Recipients for the 2017 Community Heritage Grants Program have been announced.

More than $350,000 will be provided to 56 community organisations with projects ranging from indigenous artists and sustainable farmers to aviation history enthusiasts and embroiderers.

Community organisations such as museums, public libraries, archives, historical societies and indigenous and multicultural groups can apply for grants of up to $15,000 per project.

The program offers grants for community organisations to assist in the preservation and protection of publically accessible collections of national significance. Projects supported include assessment of collections, collection management, conservation activities and training workshops.

Since the program began in 1994, it has provided more than $6.5 million to community organisations across Australia.

Find out more:

6,000-Year-Old Skull Could Be From The World's Earliest Known Tsunami Victim

October 25, 2017
Tsunamis spell calamity. These giant waves, caused by earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, and underwater landslides, are some of the deadliest natural disasters known; the 2004 tsunami in the Indian Ocean killed over 230,000 people, a higher death toll than any fire or hurricane. Scientists studying the effects of tsunamis have now shed light on what could be the earliest record of a person killed in a tsunami: someone who lived 6,000 years ago in what's now Papua New Guinea in the southwest Pacific. Their skull was found in geological sediments having the distinctive hallmarks of ancient tsunami activity. This means, scientists posit in a new paper in PLOS ONE, that this skull could be from the earliest known tsunami victim.

"If we are right about how this person had died thousands of years ago, we have dramatic proof that living by the sea isn't always a life of beautiful golden sunsets and great surfing conditions," says John Terrell, Regenstein Curator of Pacific Anthropology at The Field Museum and one of the study's authors. "Maybe this individual can help us as scientists to convince skeptics today that all of us on earth must take climate change and rising sea levels seriously as the threats they truly are."

The skull in question was found in 1929, buried in the ground near the small town of Aitape on the northern of Papua New Guinea, about 500 miles north of Australia. Terrell has been doing archaeological and anthropological research in this coastal region of New Guinea, the second largest island in the world, since 1990. The new PLOS One study is a continuation of that work, contributed to by the University of New South Wales, l'Université de Bourgogne-Franche-Comté, the University of Notre Dame, the University of Auckland, New Zealand's National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research, the University of Papua New Guinea, Papua New Guinea National Museum and Art Gallery, and The Field Museum. As a member of this international team, Terrell says he has long wondered what to make of this tantalizing human find.

This is the cranium of a person who lived in what's now Papua New Guinea, 6,000 years ago. Credit: Arthur Durband

"The skull has always been of great archaeological interest because it is one of the few early skeletal remains from the area," says Mark Golitko of the University of Notre Dame and The Field Museum. "It was originally thought that the skull belonged to Homo erectus until the deposits were more reliably radiocarbon dated to about 5,000 to 6,000 years. Back then, sea levels were higher and the area would have been just behind the shoreline."

In 2014 Golitko and others went back to the exact place where this skull had been found to look for new clues about what killed this individual. "We have now been able to confirm what we have long suspected," says James Goff at the University of New South Wales in Australia, the report's first author. "The geological similarities between the sediments at the place where the skull was found and sediments laid down during the 1998 tsunami that hit this same coastline have made us realise that human populations in this area have been affected by these massive inundations for thousands of years."

"Given the evidence we have in hand, we are more convinced than before that this person was either violently killed by a tsunami, or had their grave ripped open by one -- leading to their head but not the rest of their body being naturally reburied where it then remained undiscovered in the ground for some 6,000 or so years," explains Goff.

"It is easy to be fooled by the great beauty of the Sepik coast of Papua New Guinea into thinking that surely this part of the world must be as close to paradise-on-earth as anybody could want. This person's skull is witness to the fact that here as elsewhere natural disasters can suddenly and unexpectedly turn the world upside down," says Terrell.

James Goff, Mark Golitko, Ethan Cochrane, Darren Curnoe, Shaun Williams, John Terrell. Reassessing the environmental context of the Aitape Skull – The oldest tsunami victim in the world? PLOS ONE, 2017; 12 (10): e0185248 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0185248

Response To Referendum Council's Report On Constitutional Recognition 

26 October 2017
Prime Minister, The Hon. Malcolm Turnbull
Attorney-General, Senator the Hon George Brandis QC
Minister for Indigenous Affairs, Senator Nigel Scullion
The Turnbull Government has carefully considered the Referendum Council’s call to amend the Constitution to provide for a national Indigenous representative assembly to constitute a “Voice to Parliament”.

The Government does not believe such an addition to our national representative institutions is either desirable or capable of winning acceptance in a referendum.

Our democracy is built on the foundation of all Australian citizens having equal civic rights - all being able to vote for, stand for and serve in either of the two chambers of our national Parliament - the House of Representatives and the Senate.

A constitutionally enshrined additional representative assembly for which only Indigenous Australians could vote for or serve in is inconsistent with this fundamental principle.

It would inevitably become seen as a third chamber of Parliament. The Referendum Council noted the concerns that the proposed body would have insufficient power if its constitutional function was advisory only.

The Referendum Council provided no guidance as to how this new representative assembly would be elected or how the diversity of Indigenous circumstance and experience could be fairly or democratically represented.

Moreover, the Government does not believe such a radical change to our constitution’s representative institutions has any realistic prospect of being supported by a majority of Australians in a majority of States.

The Government believes that any proposal for constitutional change should conform to the principles laid down by the 2012 Expert Panel, namely that any proposal should “be capable of being supported by an overwhelming majority of Australians from across the political and social spectrums”.

The Referendum Council said the Voice to Parliament was a “take it or leave it” proposal for the Parliament and the Australian people. We do not agree.

The Council’s proposal for an Indigenous representative assembly, or Voice, is new to the discussion about Constitutional change, and dismissed the extensive and valuable work done over the past decade - largely with bipartisan support.

We are confident that we can build on that work and develop Constitutional amendments that will unite our nation rather than establish a new national representative assembly open to some Australians only. 

The challenge remains to find a Constitutional amendment that will succeed, and which does not undermine the universal principles of unity, equality and “one person one vote”.

We have listened to the arguments put forward by proponents of the Voice, and both understand and recognise the desire for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians to have a greater say in their own affairs.

We acknowledge the values and the aspirations which lie at the heart of the Uluru Statement. People who ask for a voice feel voiceless or feel like they’re not being heard. We remain committed to finding effective ways to develop stronger local voices and empowerment of local people.

Our goal should be to see more Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians serving in the House and the Senate - members of a Parliament which is elected by all Australians.

The Government has written in response to Mr Shorten’s call for a Joint Select Committee, and have asked that the committee considers the recommendations of the existing bodies of work developed by the Expert Panel (2012), the Joint Select Committee on Recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples (2015) and the Referendum Council report (2017).

The Coalition continues to aim to work in a bipartisan way to support Constitutional recognition.


17 July 2017
Prime Minister
Leader of the Opposition
We are pleased to release the Final Report of the Referendum Council, a body established in 2015 to provide guidance on constitutional change to recognise Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians.

This is an issue of importance to all Australians, and one that deserves careful and thorough consideration.

Today is another important step on the path to constitutional recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians.

The Council undertook a significant consultation process, seeking the views of all Australians through hosting a digital engagement platform and conducting regional dialogues with First Australians across the nation. 

This historic Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander consultation process culminated in the landmark First Nations National Constitutional Convention held in Uluru in May, and the adoption of the Uluru Statement from the Heart.

Today we met with the Referendum Council to discuss the recommendations presented in the final report in greater detail. We will now take the time to consider the recommendations and the best way forward. 

We wish to thank the Referendum Council, led by Co-Chairs Ms Pat Anderson AO and Mr Mark Leibler AC, for their dedication and commitment.

The final report is available at


We, gathered at the 2017 National Constitutional Convention, coming from all points of the southern sky, make this statement from the heart:

Our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander tribes were the first sovereign Nations of the Australian continent and its adjacent islands, and possessed it under our own laws and customs. This our ancestors did, according to the reckoning of our culture, from the Creation, according to the common law from ‘time immemorial’, and according to science more than 60,000 years ago.

This sovereignty is a spiritual notion: the ancestral tie between the land, or ‘mother nature’, and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples who were born therefrom, remain attached thereto, and must one day return thither to be united with our ancestors. This link is the basis of the ownership of the soil, or better, of sovereignty. It has never been ceded or extinguished, and co-exists with the sovereignty of the Crown.

How could it be otherwise? That peoples possessed a land for sixty millennia and this sacred link disappears from world history in merely the last two hundred years?

With substantive constitutional change and structural reform, we believe this ancient sovereignty can shine through as a fuller expression of Australia’s nationhood.

Proportionally, we are the most incarcerated people on the planet. We are not an innately criminal people. Our children are aliened from their families at unprecedented rates. This cannot be because we have no love for them. And our youth languish in detention in obscene numbers. They should be our hope for the future.

These dimensions of our crisis tell plainly the structural nature of our problem. This is the torment of our powerlessness.

We seek constitutional reforms to empower our people and take a rightful place in our own country. When we have power over our destiny our children will flourish. They will walk in two worlds and their culture will be a gift to their country.

We call for the establishment of a First Nations Voice enshrined in the Constitution.

Makarrata is the culmination of our agenda: the coming together after a struggle. It captures our aspirations for a fair and truthful relationship with the people of Australia and a better future for our children based on justice and self-determination.

We seek a Makarrata Commission to supervise a process of agreement-making between governments and First Nations and truth-telling about our history.

In 1967 we were counted, in 2017 we seek to be heard. We leave base camp and start our trek across this vast country. We invite you to walk with us in a movement of the Australian people for a better future.

The Australian story began long before the arrival of the First Fleet on 26 January 1788. We Australians all know this. We have always known this.

As the Uluru Statement from the Heart puts it: the ‘Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander tribes that were the first sovereign Nations of the Australian continent and its adjacent islands, possessed it under our own laws and customs’ and ‘[t]his our ancestors did, according to the reckoning of our culture, from the Creation, according to the common law from “time immemorial”, and according to science more than 60,000 years ago.’

This is the first part of the story of Australia, which tells of the epic discovery of our country by our most ancient tribes who crossed the northern land bridge from Papua New Guinea and southeast Asia, establishing in this country one of the planet’s earliest civilisations. It is the longest continuous surviving civilisation.

With every advance of science our understanding increases, but the shadow of this ancient past – and its enduring presence – has never disappeared from our consciousness. Though the Great Australian Silence about this history persisted for much of the first 150 years of British colonisation, we have always known the truth.

We have known this but we did not acknowledge it and make it part of our Australian story.

The second part of the Australian story is recognised by 26 January: the arrival of the First Fleet and the establishment of the first colony in New South Wales. From the perspective of those who laid claim to the eastern seaboard of Australia under the sovereignty of the British Crown, this was a settlement. From the perspective of the First Nations this was an invasion. Their land and sovereignty was annexed without consent and without treating with the country’s rightful owners.

The words ‘settlement’ and ‘invasion’ are highly charged for both sides of this historic encounter, but there is no use denying these two perspectives. It is understandable why some Australians speak of settlement, and why some speak of invasion. The maturation of Australia will be marked by our ability to understand both perspectives.

There is no doubt the second story of Australia is replete with triumph and failure, pride and regret, celebration and sorrow, greatness and shame. Like human history the world over. There is no doubt our constitutional system, our system of government, the rule of law, and our public institutions inherited from Britain are the heritage of the Australian people and enure for the benefit of all of us, including the First Peoples.

The third part of our Australian story is written by generations of migrants from Europe, Asia, the Middle East, the Pacific and the world over, who have come to make their home in this continent. They have made Australia a multicultural triumph of diversity in unity.

We now have the opportunity to bring together these three parts of the story of Australia through two measures, one involving constitutional amendment and the other involving an extra-constitutional symbolic statement.

The Council recommends:

1. That a referendum be held to provide in the Australian Constitution for a representative body that gives Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander First Nations a Voice to the Commonwealth Parliament. One of the specific functions of such a body, to be set out in legislation outside the Constitution, should include the function of monitoring the use of the heads of power in section 51 (xxvi) and section 122. The body will recognise the status of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as the first peoples of Australia.

It will be for the Parliament to consider what further definition is required before the proposal is in a form appropriate to be put to a referendum. In that respect, the Council draws attention to the Guiding Principles that emerged from the National Constitutional Convention at Uluru on 23–26 May 2017 and advises that the support of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, in terms of both process and outcome, will be necessary for the success of a referendum.

In consequence of the First Nations Regional Dialogues, the Council is of the view that the only option for a referendum proposal that accords with the wishes of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples is that which has been described as providing, in the Constitution, for a Voice to Parliament.

In principle, the establishment by the Constitution of a body to be a Voice for First Peoples, with the structure and functions of the body to be defined by Parliament, may be seen as an appropriate form of recognition, of both substantive and symbolic value, of the unique place of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in Australian history and in contemporary Australian society.

The Council recommends this option, understanding that finalizing a proposal will involve further consultation, including steps of the kind envisaged in the Guiding Principles adopted at the Uluru Convention.

The Council further recommends:

2. That an extra-constitutional Declaration of Recognition be enacted by legislation passed by all Australian Parliaments, ideally on the same day, to articulate a symbolic statement of recognition to unify Australians.
A Declaration of Recognition should be developed, containing inspiring and unifying words articulating Australia’s shared history, heritage and aspirations. The Declaration should bring together the three parts of our Australian story: our ancient First Peoples’ heritage and culture, our British institutions, and our multicultural unity. It should be legislated by all Australian Parliaments, on the same day, either in the lead up to or on the same day as the referendum establishing the First Peoples’ Voice to Parliament, as an expression of national unity and reconciliation.

In addition, the Council reports that there are two matters of great importance to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, as articulated in the Uluru Statement from the Heart, that can be addressed outside the Constitution. The Uluru Statement called for the establishment of a Makarrata Commission with the function of supervising agreement-making and facilitating a process of local and regional truth telling. The Council recognises that this is a legislative initiative for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to pursue with government. The Council is not in a position to make a specific recommendation on this because it does not fall within our terms of reference. However, we draw attention to this proposal and note that various state governments are engaged in agreement-making.

Parkes To Host Local Government Tourism Conference

October 26, 2017: LGNSW
Parkes Shire Council has been selected from eight council areas to host the Local Government NSW (LGNSW) Tourism Conference in March next year.

LGNSW President Keith Rhoades said the annual conference provides a real opportunity to showcase the vital contributions that NSW councils make towards our state’s tourism industry.

“The conference, which moves around the State to boost local economies, helps to build the expertise of local government tourism staff and councillors,” Clr Rhoades said.

“Virtually all aspects of tourism involve councils.

“This is why the conference is especially relevant, as it’s important to make sure local tourism strategies continue to evolve and be as dynamic as the industry itself.

“Tourism contributes more than $37.1 billion to the NSW economy and generates 269,600 jobs.

“A healthy 36 per cent of tourism businesses in the State are in regional NSW.”

Clr Keith Rhoades said Parkes demonstrated it was well-placed to host the conference next year.

“When choosing a host, councils are rated on nine factors, including affordability, ease of travel and transport, available accommodation, tourism opportunities in the region and the initiatives and ideas put forward by each council.

“Parkes has excellent museums, the award-winning Elvis Festival, art and heritage as well as the area’s major national tourist attraction, the CSIRO Observatory, affectionately known as ‘the Dish’,” he said.

The LGNSW conference is sponsored by Destination NSW and will be held from 12-14 March at Parkes Leagues Club.

Race Betting In Australia

Media Release — 26 October 2017: Australian Institute of Family Studies
Nearly one million Australians regularly gamble on horse and dog racing with a high proportion of them experiencing one or more gambling-related problems, according to new analysis by the Australian Gambling Research Centre (AGRC), Australian Institute of Family Studies (AIFS).

AGRC researcher, Dr Andrew Armstrong said the analysis found an estimated 41 per cent of Australians who regularly bet on the races experienced gambling-related problems such as financial pressures, relationship issues and health problems.

Dr Armstrong said regular race bettors – those who placed a bet at least once a month – were twice as likely to experience gambling-related problems as the average Australian regular gambler.

“Our analysis found that almost a quarter of regular race bettors had moderate to severe gambling problems,” he said.

“Of these, close to a quarter of race bettors gambled more than they could afford to lose with 24 per cent of gamblers going back the next day to try and win back the money they had lost.

“For 10 per cent of race bettors, gambling had caused physical or mental health problems stemming directly from their overall gambling activity.

“Well over one third of all households with a race bettor with severe gambling problems had to ask family and friends for financial help while another third could not pay the electricity, gas or telephone bills on time.  More than a quarter could not pay the rent or mortgage on time.”

Dr Armstrong said on average race bettors spent around half their gambling outlay on race betting and half on other gambling activities.

“Our analysis shows that a person regularly betting on the races spent $179 a month on gambling or $2,146 over the year, with half of this being spent on horse or dog racing,” he said.

“The remaining gambling expenditure was mostly spent on buying lotto tickets, sports betting and playing the pokies.

“Not surprisingly, race bettors who experienced gambling-related problems spent much more on gambling than those who did not experience problems.  However, the size of the spending gap is staggering.  Those with severe problems spent up to four times as much on racing over the year and five times as much on gambling overall.”  

Dr Armstrong said the analysis found regular racing bettors were overwhelmingly male and aged between 30 and 64 years old, while those experiencing gambling problems were typically single men who lived in rented premises.

“With the Spring Racing Carnival about to commence, regular race bettors should consider their financial position carefully and seek help if they are concerned they are at risk of gambling-related problems,” he said.

The national gambling help services provides support and information 24/7, by phone (1800 858 858), and online ( 

Read the full Research Summary: Race betting in Australia.

Disclaimer: These articles are not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.  Views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of Pittwater Online News or its staff.

$3 million in grants now available for Commuity Recycling Centres

Media release: EPA
The NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) and the NSW Environmental Trust (ET) are calling for local government, not-for-profit organisations and businesses from select Local Government areas to apply for grants to set up Community Recycling Centres (CRC) for the collection of household problem wastes.

The $3 million Community Recycling Centre grants program is now open as part of the Waste Less, Recycle More initiative.  Community Recycling Centres make it easier for NSW residents to recycle or safely dispose items like oils, paints and batteries.

Applications are open until Wednesday 15 November 2017 with funding of up to $200,000 available to enhance existing facilities or build new facilities for the collection of problem waste. 
This is the fourth round of funding and it is designed to help keep problem waste out of the kerbside bin system by providing convenient and easy to use facilities for the community.

EPA Chair and CEO Barry Buffier said the aim of the program is to establish a network that will provide 90 per cent of NSW households with access to a free Community Recycling Centre for common household problem wastes.

“This funding focuses on our priority to establish Community Recycling Centres based on existing gaps in the network.

‘The funding to establish facilities in 22 priority Local Government Areas will mean residents will have a permanent facility available to people to drop-off low toxic wastes, such as gas bottles, household batteries, paint, oils and smoke detectors, Mr Buffier said.

‘To date, over 100 Community Recycling Centres have been funded in NSW and 62 are currently operational. Almost two million kilograms of household problem waste has been collected since the program started."
Priority LGAs for funding include: Blacktown, Canterbury Bankstown, The Hills, Ku-ring-gai, Northern Beaches, Sydney, Bayside, Camden, Goulburn Mulwaree, North Sydney, Parramatta, Ryde, Shellharbour, Wagga Wagga, Waverley, Wollondilly, Woollahra, Yass Valley, Central Coast, Cumberland, Lake Macquarie and Sutherland.
On behalf of the ET, Peter Dixon, Director Grants in the Office of Environment & Heritage states:

“This is one of our most successful community level grants programs. The take-up by local councils has been tremendous and the neighbourhoods with a new or upgraded Community Recycling Centre are enjoying the benefits of a free and convenient way of dropping off their problem wastes for environmentally friendly disposal and recycling”

Applications close 5pm, Wednesday 15 November 2017

For more information about the grants including how to apply and information sessions please visit:

For more information about Waste Less, Recycle More go to the EPA website:

Asparagus Fern

Asparagus Fern is our worst weed in Pittwater. The Bush Invaders is by PNHA member and primary school teacher Sylvia Saszczak. Share to spread the message about this horror weed.

Navigation Warning - NSW Coastal Waters: Whale Migration Season

June to December 2017

Migrating whales and whale calves are expected to be present in numbers off the NSW coast during this time.

From June to August whales will be in greater abundance generally moving north within about five nautical miles (nine kilometres) of the coast.

From August to December whales will be in greater abundance generally moving south within about 10-15 nautical miles (18-28 kilometres) of the coast.

From July to December Southern Right Whales with calves are likely to be present within 10 nautical miles of the NSW coast and within coastal estuaries.

Within this period it is expected that whale sightings may be common and mariners are advised to navigate with due care and appropriate caution around any whale activity, including reducing to an appropriate speed to maintain safe navigation.

The approach distance for whales in NSW and Commonwealth waters is 100 metres for whales without calves.  If calves are present the approach distance is 300 metres.

In the event of a collision with a whale, entanglement or whale carcass sighting please call:

National Parks and Wildlife Service Incident Duty Officer on: 02 9895 6444

Charts: AUS 806 to AUS 813 Inclusive.

RMS Coastal Boating Maps: 1-14 Inclusive.

Contact Details:

For further details please contact the National Parks and Wildlife Service, Wildlife Team on 9585 6523 or (RMS Contact details 13 12 36)

Information regarding the current location of whales may be obtained at:

Further information about whale approach distances or whale behaviour may be obtained from the Office of Environment and Heritage website at:


Energy Locals for 100% Carbon Neutral Plans

From Surf Life Saving NSW  
Interested in 100% carbon neutral plans, huge solar feed in tariffs and Australian owned and operated in your energy provider? Look no further than SLSNSW's newest partner Energy Locals to see how they will revolutionise your energy plan:

Myna Action Group 

Pittwater Natural Heritage Association (PNHA)
Indian Mynas - what a pest - like flying rats. 
Contact us on for more information and have a look at

Indian Mynas are displacing our native birds. They often nest in and around shops where their food source is. I took this one down this morning in Avalon (no chicks or eggs but I disturbed the female). There were literally hundreds of tiny bits of plastic in the nest which makes you think that all this plastic would be swilling down the stormwater drains into the sea.

Living Ocean

Living Ocean was born in Whale Beach, on the Northern Beaches of Sydney, surrounded by water and set in an area of incredible beauty.
Living Ocean is a charity that promotes the awareness of human impact on the ocean, through research, education, creative activity in the community, and support of others who sustain ocean health and integrity.

And always celebrating and honouring the natural environment and the lifestyle that the ocean offers us.

Our whale research program builds on research that has been conducted off our coastline by our experts over many years and our Centre for Marine Studies enables students and others to become directly involved.

Through partnerships with individuals and organizations, we conceive, create and coordinate campaigns that educate all layers of our community – from our ‘No Plastic Please’ campaign, which is delivered in partnership with local schools, to film nights and lectures, aimed at the wider community.

Additionally, we raise funds for ocean-oriented conservation groups such as Sea Shepherd.

Donations are tax-deductable 

Wildlife Carers and Organisations in Pittwater:

Sydney Wildlife rescues, rehabilitates and releases sick, injured and orphaned native wildlife. From penguins, to possums and parrots, native wildlife of all descriptions passes through the caring hands of Sydney Wildlife rescuers and carers on a daily basis. We provide a genuine 24 hour, 7 day per week emergency advice, rescue and care service.

As well as caring for sick, injured and orphaned native wildlife, Sydney Wildlife is also involved in educating the community about native wildlife and its habitat. We provide educational talks to a wide range of groups and audiences including kindergartens, scouts, guides, a wide range of special interest groups and retirement villages. Talks are tailored to meet the needs and requirements of each group. 


Found an injured native animal? We're here to help.

Keep the animal contained, warm, quiet and undisturbed. Do not offer any food or water. Call Sydney Wildlife immediately on 9413 4300, or take the animal to your nearest vet. Generally there is no charge. Find out more at:

Southern Cross Wildlife Care was launched over 6 years ago. It is the brainchild of Dr Howard Ralph, the founder and chief veterinarian. SCWC was established solely for the purpose of treating injured, sick and orphaned wildlife. No wild creature in need that passes through our doors is ever rejected. 


People can assist SCWC by volunteering their skills ie: veterinary; medical; experienced wildlife carers; fundraising; "IT" skills; media; admin; website etc. We are always having to address the issue of finances as we are a non commercial veterinary service for wildlife in need, who obviously don't have cheque books in their pouches. It is a constant concern and struggle of ours when we are pre-occupied with the care and treatment of the escalating amount of wildlife that we have to deal with. Just becoming a member of SCWC for $45 a year would be a great help. Regular monthly donations however small, would be a wonderful gift and we could plan ahead knowing that we had x amount of funds that we could count on. Our small team of volunteers are all unpaid even our amazing vet Howard, so all funds raised go directly towards our precious wildlife. SCWC is TAX DEDUCTIBLE.

Find out more at:

Think before you print ; A kilo of recycled paper creates around 1.8 kilograms of carbon emissions, without taking into account the emissions produced from transporting the paper. So, before you send a document to print, think about how many kilograms of carbon emissions you could save by reading it on screen.

Permaculture Northern Beaches

Want to know where your food is coming from? 

Do you like to enrich the earth as much as benefit from it?

Find out more here:


Create a Habitat Stepping Stone!

Over 50 Pittwater households have already pledged to make a difference for our local wildlife, and you can too! Create a habitat stepping stone to help our wildlife out. It’s easy - just add a few beautiful habitat elements to your backyard or balcony to create a valuable wildlife-friendly stopover.

How it works

1) Discover: Visit the website below to find dozens of beautiful plants, nest boxes and water elements you can add to your backyard or balcony to help our local wildlife.

2) Pledge: Select three or more elements to add to your place. You can even show you care by choosing to have a bird appear on our online map.

3) Share: Join the Habitat Stepping Stones Facebook community to find out what’s happening in the natural world, and share your pics, tips and stories.

What you get                                  

• Enjoy the wonders of nature, right outside your window. • Free and discounted plants for your garden. • A Habitat Stepping Stone plaque for your front fence. • Local wildlife news and tips. • Become part of the Pittwater Habitat Stepping Stones community.

Get the kids involved and excited about helping out!

No computer? No problem -Just write to the address below and we’ll mail you everything you need. Habitat Stepping Stones, Department of Environmental Sciences, Macquarie University NSW 2109. This project is assisted by the NSW Government through its Environmental Trust

Newport Community Gardens

Anyone interested in joining our community garden group please feel free to come and visit us on Sunday at 10am at the Woolcott Reserve in Newport!

Keep in Touch with what's happening on Newport Garden's Facebook:
The Green Team

This Youth-run, volunteer-based environment initiative has been attracting high praise from the founders of Living Ocean as much as other local environment groups recently. 
Creating Beach Cleans events, starting their own, sustainability days - ‘action speaks louder than words’ ethos is at the core of this group. 

Avalon Community Garden

Community Gardens bring people together and enrich communities. They build a sense of place and shared connection.


Avalon Community Garden is a community led initiative to create accessible food gardens in public places throughout the Pittwater area. Our aim is to share skills and knowledge in creating fabulous local, organic food. But it's not just about great food. We also aim to foster community connection, stimulate creative ideas for community resilience and celebrate our abundance. Open to all ages and skills, our first garden is on the grounds of Barrenjoey High School (off Tasman Road)Become part of this exciting initiative to change the world locally. Contact us or Visit us at; image artwork:

Palm Beach Cleanup
Sunday, November 12 at 9 AM - 11 AM
Join Living Ocean, The Green Team & Wander Lightly for a Christmas beach clean at Palm Beach.

With the Ocean predicted to have more plastic than fish in it by 2050 it is the best present you can give the Planet this Christmas!
The Boathouse has ever so generously offered to provide some refreshments and a free coffee or tea (when you bring your own reusable cup; they have them onsite if you forget)
Meet at The Boathouse on the Pittwater side of Palm Beach

Living Ocean will spare some time after the clean up to record all data on the day which will be uploaded to the Tangaroa Blue Marine debris data base & for their Mirco Plastics research project.
Helpers required so please leave a comment if you are abe to spare some time.

9am - 10am - Beach Clean
10am – Tally counting for Tangaroa Blue 

All welcome & dont forget to bring a bucket or bag to collect trash in & a pair of gloves to keep your mitts safe!

Climate and Water Outlook, November 2017 – January 2018

Bureau of Meteorology: Published on 25 Oct 2017
The end-of-month Climate and Water Outlook video covers rainfall, streamflow and temperature for the next three months. It includes a wrap-up of recent conditions and a look at which drivers are influencing the climate. 

Manly Seaside Scavenge 

Sunday, December 3, 2017
9:00am – 3:00pm
As part of Manly Ocean Care Day we'll be running a Scavenge pop-up market to clean-up Manly and the surround area. Come down and check out the incredible list of organisations working to combat marine debris pollution. It's truly an inspiring day to see the collective dedication of organisations across Sydney and Australia working together to clean-up our oceans.

We'll have the usual spread of funky, thrifty goods for all ages. There will also be a line-up of marine debris talks, plastic-free living tips and tricks and lively local musos to keep the spirits high! We're hoping for a splendid day in the sun... come down and check it out. We'll keep you posted with more info through our Facebook page.

Bushcare in Pittwater 

For further information or to confirm the meeting details for below groups, please contact Council's Bushcare Officer on 9970 1367

Where we work                      Which day                              What time 

Angophora Reserve             3rd Sunday                         8:30 - 11:30am 
Avalon Dunes                        1st Sunday                         8:30 - 11:30am 
Avalon Golf Course              2nd Wednesday                 3 - 5:30pm 
Careel Creek                         4th Saturday                      8:30 - 11:30am 
Toongari Reserve                 3rd Saturday                      9 - 12noon (8 - 11am in summer) 
Bangalley Headland            2nd Sunday                         9 to 12noon 

Winnererremy Bay                 4th Sunday                        9 to 12noon 

North Bilgola Beach              3rd Monday                        9 - 12noon 
Algona Reserve                     1st Saturday                       9 - 12noon 
Plateau Park                          1st Friday                            8:30 - 11:30am 

Church Point     
Browns Bay Reserve             1st Tuesday                        9 - 12noon 
McCarrs Creek Reserve       Contact Bushcare Officer     To be confirmed 

Old Wharf Reserve                 3rd Saturday                      8 - 11am 

Kundibah Reserve                   4th Sunday                       8:30 - 11:30am 

Mona Vale     
Mona Vale Beach Basin          1st Saturday                    8 - 11am 
Mona Vale Dunes                     2nd Saturday+3rd Thursday     8:30 - 11:30am 

Bungan Beach                          4th Sunday                      9 - 12noon 
Crescent Reserve                    3rd Sunday                      9 - 12noon 
North Newport Beach              4th Saturday                    8:30 - 11:30am 
Porter Reserve                          2nd Saturday                  8 - 11am 

North Narrabeen     
Irrawong Reserve                     2nd Saturday                   2 - 5pm 

Palm Beach     
North Palm Beach Dunes      3rd Saturday                    9 - 12noon 

Scotland Island     
Catherine Park                          2nd Sunday                     10 - 12:30pm 
Elizabeth Park                           1st Saturday                      9 - 12noon 
Pathilda Reserve                      3rd Saturday                      9 - 12noon 

Warriewood Wetlands             1st Sunday                         8:30 - 11:30am 

Whale Beach     
Norma Park                               1st Friday                            9 - 12noon 

Western Foreshores     
Coopers Point, Elvina Bay      2nd Sunday                        10 - 1pm 
Rocky Point, Elvina Bay           1st Monday                          9 - 12noon

Friends Of Narrabeen Lagoon Catchment Activities

Oxford Falls triangle
Sunday 22/10  7.30- 11am 
This walk will only take about 2 hrs walking, but a few small pampas grass clumps need removal and we will have morning tea in the creek bed or on a high rock ledge.
Please bring gloves and morning tea.
Bookings: Conny Harris  0432643295 or Email Conny

Terrey Hills to Morgan Rd  
Saturday 4/11  7.30-11.30 am 
Start at Terrey Hills cross the Deep Creek catchment valley and walk along feeder creek and end at Morgan Rd. Please bring gloves, old screwdriver and am tea. Plan is to include 30 min weeding. Carpool required.
Bookings: Conny Harris  0432 643 295 or Email Conny 

Spotlight Walk 8:15pm Monday Nov 27
This walk will take place after Jayden Walsh has shown pictures and talked about amphibians and reptiles in Narrabeen Lagoon Catchment.
8:15pm Meet at Katoa Close. Spaces limited to 30 people

Spotlight Walk - 8pm Friday Dec 15
Spotlighting walk - meet at start of Slippery Dip Trail. Spaces limited to 20 people

Wildlife Walk - 7:30am Friday January 19, 2018
Meet at end of Deep Creek Carpark. Spaces limited to 30 people
Email: Friends of Narrabeen Lagoon Catchment to get a ticket and book a place for one of these fascinating Wildlife Walks led by Jayden Walsh.

Bush Regeneration - Narrabeen Lagoon Catchment  
This is a wonderful way to become connected to nature and contribute to the health of the environment.  Over the weeks and months you can see positive changes as you give native species a better chance to thrive.  Wildlife appreciate the improvement in their habitat.

Belrose area - Thursday mornings 
Belrose area - Weekend mornings by arrangement
Contact: Phone or text Conny Harris on 0432 643 295

Wheeler Creek - Wednesday mornings 9-11am
Contact: Phone or text Judith Bennett on 0402 974 105
Or email: Friends of Narrabeen Lagoon Catchment :

Eco Paddle on Narrabeen Lagoon
1pm, Sunday Feb 11, 2018
Black Swan have returned to the lagoon after 20 years - come and see these majestic creatures! This paddle will visit the Western Basin, Deep and Middle Creeks. Beautiful Deep Creek attracts migratory birds from as far away as Russia and Middle Creek has been the subject of a substantial remediation programme. A relaxing 2 to 3 hour afternoon paddle. No previous kayaking experience required, tuition given. BYO boat or a hire kayak can be arranged for you at cost. 
Bookings essential.
Email or call 0417 502 056.

Bird Walks and Talks 2017: PNHA

Come and see and hear some of our fantastic native birds, many of which you'll never see in your garden. Join in a Sunday guided bird walk with Pittwater Natural Heritage Association. All walks  start at 8am and end about 10am.

November 26 Warriewood Wetlands. Meet end of Katoa Close, north Narrabeen. 

Bring binoculars if possible. Drink, hat and comfortable shoes.
More information contact or 
Ph Kerry on 0402 605 721.

You don't need to book but if we know you're coming we'll watch out for you. Call if in doubt about weather as we won't go out if it's raining.

Update on Baleen 2D HR Seismic Survey 

(The survey comprises 46 2D lines of total length 208km.) - 
NOPSEMA 'Not reasonably satisfied – opportunity to modify EP'
Decision date: 03/08/2017 
Titleholder action Resubmission due date 3: 02/09/2017
Extension of timeframe: 17/08/2017 Titleholder action: 15/10/2017
Extension of timeframe: 05/10/2017 Titleholder action: 31/10/2017

From Decision notification:
Basis of decision 
NOPSEMA has assessed the environment plan in accordance with its assessment policies and procedures. 

On completion of assessment, NOPSEMA has decided that it is not reasonably satisfied that the environment plan meets the criteria below as set out in regulation 10A of the Environment Regulations: 
(a) is appropriate for the nature and scale of the activity 
(b) demonstrates that the environmental impacts and risks of the activity will be reduced to as low as reasonably practicable 
(c) demonstrates that the environmental impacts and risks of the activity will be of an acceptable level 
(d) provides for appropriate environmental performance outcomes, environmental performance standards and measurement criteria 
(e) includes an appropriate implementation strategy and monitoring, recording and reporting arrangements 
(g) demonstrates that: 
(i) the titleholder has carried out the consultations required by Division 2.2A 
(ii) the measures (if any) that the titleholder has adopted, or proposes to adopt, because of the consultations are appropriate 

Titleholder requirements 
For OMR decision In accordance with regulation 10, the titleholder is required to modify and resubmit the environment plan. Upon resubmission of the plan, NOPSEMA will continue to assess the submission in 
accordance with its assessment policies and make a decision under regulation 10. After a titleholder has been provided with reasonable opportunity to modify and resubmit an environment plan, NOPSEMA will 
make a final decision on whether to accept or refuse to accept the environment plan. 

Long Reef Walks 2017/18 Season

If you’d like to join us on a walk please contact me a couple of weeks before the walk date to make a booking. FREE GUIDED WALKS of Long Reef Aquatic Reserve with NSW Department of Industry & Investment Fishcare Volunteers will be held on the following date:

Dates for 2017
Sunday 5 November 2017               3:00pm – 5:00pm
Sunday 3 December 2017              2:00pm – 4:00pm

Dates for 2018
Sunday 14 January 2018                1:00pm – 3:00pm
Sunday 18 February 2018              4:00pm – 6:00pm
Sunday 18 March 2018                   3:00pm – 5:00pm
Sunday 15 April 2018                      1:00pm  – 3:00pm

~ Walks are held subject to weather conditions ~

Bookings are preferred.
Please email Wendy to book:

Phil Colman, who keeps us updated on the Fishcare Volunteer Walks, has said, when sending in these monthly dates for the new season walks;

"I am only too happy to take individuals or small groups of senior school students out when I might be able to help them with their studies, give them possible projects or whatever.  

Keep in mind that I am totally dictated to by tides, but am retired and basically available at any time.  I am not, by the way, looking for payment.  If I can steer someone in the direction of marine study, I’m paid enough!"

You contact Phil via email at: - ph; 9982 6142

New “Coastal Management Guide” Teaching Resource Released

Researchers from UNSW Water Resaerch Laborsatory (WRL) in partnership with the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage, have developed a new ‘Coastal Management Guide’ designed for High School teachers involved in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) education:

The Guide is designed to assist teachers to engage their students (target ages 11 – 16 years) in the complex issues of Coastal Management, with coastal erosion as the “attractor”. Background information spanning topics such as ‘the dynamic coast’, ’what are the issues’, ‘managing for the future’ and ‘how do we measure coastal change’ is presented. A broad range of fully developed independent and guided student activities are provided for use inside and outside the classroom, including hands-on experiments, analysis of media reporting, and role-playing. 

The Guide targets Australian High School STEM curriculum areas (Years 7–10) of Physical Sciences, Human Society & its Environment (HSIE), Geography, Earth & Environmental Sciences and Maths. More broadly, it is anticipated that the Guide’s educational themes and activities will provide a useful and stimulating resource in any classroom where ‘living at the coast’ can provide a launching point into diverse areas of secondary school STEM education.

The full Guide is freely available in two formats: pdf for download and eBook for online viewing.

If Victoria can ban CSG, NSW can too!

By The Wilderness Society
Coal seam gas (CSG) threatens our water, our health and our climate. Many jurisdictions around the world are permanently banning this dangerous industry, most recently Victoria. We do not need or want risky coal seam gas in NSW. 
It’s clear that the industry has no social licence in our state, yet vast and critical areas—as well as human health—are still under threat from CSG across the state.

Call on the new Premier Berejiklian and the new Planning Minister Roberts to follow Victoria's lead and ban this harmful and risky industry in NSW. 

 Australian Native Foods website:

Petition: Rescind Adani's Unlimited Water License and support Aussie farmers!

As Queensland farmers, water is crucial for our livelihoods. As our climate gets hotter and drier, our water resources are even more precious. We call on the Queensland Premier to rescind the unlimited, free 60-year water license they are proposing to grant to the Adani coal mine.

My name is Angus Emmott and I'm proud to be a third generation grazier from Longreach in outback Queensland. I'm committed to a sustainable future for farming in Australia and ask you for your support to protect our precious groundwater. 

In Queensland, the proposed Adani-owned Carmichael coal mine has been granted unlimited access to groundwater. The mine, the biggest of nine proposed for the Galilee Basin west of Rockhampton, is expected to draw 26 million litres of water per day from its pits. Over its life this mine alone would total 355 billion litres of water and modelling already demonstrates that 2 springs will be shut down.

As farmers we are angry about the special deal struck by the Queensland government to give Adani free water for its proposed coal mine. I am launching this petition today to call upon Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk to support Aussie farmers and to rescind the water licenses that allow Adani access to unlimited water for 60 years.

All over the country, farmers are battling to stop fossil fuel mining and fracking on their land. Nearly 90% of Queensland is currently drought declared, so why are we giving an Indian billionaire access to unlimited groundwater for a new coal mine?

I'm asking all Australians, to stand with me in calling upon the Premier to rescind this approval before irrevocable damage is done to our groundwater systems and the long term sustainability of Queensland agriculture. 

Angus Emmott with Farmers for Climate Action

Avalon Boomerang Bags 2017 Workshops

Boomerang Bag Working Bees run in Mona Vale on Tuesdays 11:30am- 5pm.

For those of you unable to come to workshops there are many other ways to get involved, just let us know you're willing by leaving a comment or sending us a message.

Pictured is a Boomerang Bag Box. 

The boxes are located at:

Avalon Organics
Hertford Chemist
Avalon Wholefood
Fresh Fruit and Veg
Johnson Bros Mitre Ten
Avalon Meats
Avalon Rec Centre
Watch this space for another venue soon.

A huge thank you to everybody who has helped Boomerang Bags Avalon get this far. But the work is not over yet. Materials and more hands always welcome  Facebook page  Profile

What Does PNHA do?


On-ground bush regeneration. eg: Asparagus Fern Out Days
Activities: guided walks, bird-watching
Quaterly informative newsletter, online or paper
Members email group for leaset environmental news and events
AGM with Guest Speaker
Free advice for members on managing gardens for Native Vegetation and fauna habitat
Lobbies Pittwater Council and State Government on inappropriate management practices and development
Provides support to Council for PNHA-approved grant applications for environmental projects
Publications: Introductory Field Guide to Birds of Warriewood Wetlands & Irrawong Reserve, $20.00rrp, attractive cards with photos of Pittwater scenes, flora and fauna $2.00

Email: Or click on Logo to visit website.

Pittwater's Environmental Foundation

Pittwater Environmental Foundation was established in 2006 to conserve and enhance the natural environment of the Pittwater local government area through the application of tax deductible donations, gifts and bequests. The Directors were appointed by Pittwater Council. 


About 33% (about 1600 ha excluding National Parks) of the original pre-European bushland in Pittwater remains in a reasonably natural or undisturbed condition. Of this, only about 400ha remains in public ownership. All remaining natural bushland is subject to encroachment, illegal clearing, weed invasion, feral animals, altered drainage, bushfire hazard reduction requirements and other edge effects. Within Pittwater 38 species of plants or animals are listed as endangered or threatened under the Threatened Species Act. There are two endangered populations (Koala and Squirrel Glider) and eight endangered ecological communities or types of bushland. To visit their site please click on logo above.

Report illegal dumping

NSW Government

The RIDonline website lets you report the types of waste being dumped and its GPS location. Photos of the waste can also be added to the report.

The Environment Protection Authority (EPA), councils and Regional Illegal Dumping (RID) squads will use this information to investigate and, if appropriate, issue a fine or clean-up notice. Penalties for illegal dumping can be up to $15,000 and potential jail time for anybody caught illegally dumping within five years of a prior illegal dumping conviction.

  "I bind myself today to the power of Heaven, the light of the sun, the brightness of the moon, the splendour of fire, the flashing of lightning, the swiftness of wind, the depth of the sea, the stability of the earth, the compactness of rocks." -  from the Prayer of Saint Patrick