Inbox and Environment News: Issue 278

August 28 - September 3, 2016: Issue 278

Put In Your Ten Cents' Worth On Deposit Scheme

August 24, 2016

The biggest initiative to tackle litter in the state’s history has moved a step closer to reality, with draft legislation on the NSW Government’s 10-cent container deposit scheme going out to public consultation, Environment Minister Mark Speakman said today.

The scheme, which will mean eligible drink containers between 150 ml and three litres can be returned for a 10 cent refund, is scheduled to roll out across the state in July 2017.

Mr Speakman said the container deposit scheme (CDS) was now at the stage of consulting with the public on the details.

“I was thrilled to announce in May along with Premier Mike Baird that NSW was delivering on a key election promise and introducing a long-awaited container deposit scheme – something the community had been asking for for decades,” Mr Speakman said.

“We are looking at several measures to reduce costs of the scheme, including working with Queensland on opportunities for a single scheme coordinator and driving competition by allowing for multiple network operators.”

A draft bill and discussion paper, on public exhibition until Wednesday, 21 September, aims to provide details to the public on how the scheme was proposed to work, including:

  • How the scheme will be coordinated
  • How the network of collection points will work
  • How refunds will work including the potential for contactless (mobile phone) refunds
  • How the scheme will interact with kerbside recycling, and
  • Roles and obligations under the scheme

“From next year the people of NSW will be able to return most drink containers and receive 10 cents, while playing a part in reducing litter volume by 40 per cent by 2020, one of the Premier’s key priorities,” Mr Speakman said.

The draft Waste Avoidance and Resource Recovery Amendment (Container Deposit Scheme) Bill 2016 and Regulatory Framework Discussion Paper are open for public consultation until 21 September and feedback is welcome.

View the documents and submit comments online at

Koala Plans Receive Federal Government Approval

22 August 2016: RMS Media Release
Roads and Maritime Services today welcomed the news the Ballina Koala Plan and Koala Management Plan have been approved.

A Roads and Maritime spokesperson said this was a critical step in enabling the Woolgoolga to Ballina Pacific Highway upgrade between Broadwater and Coolgardie to proceed.

“As part of the project’s Conditions of Approval, no major work could start in this section until the plans were approved,” the spokesperson said.
The plans were carefully examined by the Federal Department of the Environment, including a Population Viability Analysis (PVA) for a 50 year timeframe examining the viability of the koala population in this area.
The PVA was the most extensive study ever carried out on koala populations along the highway and has added to the general body of knowledge about the koala.

“Roads and Maritime takes the project’s Conditions of Approval seriously and works to minimise impact on all sensitive environmental communities while building a safer Pacific Highway,” the spokesperson said.

The NSW Government has used an open and transparent process throughout the development of the Ballina Koala Plan, which was submitted for consideration in February this year.

The decision is important as it will allow the upgrade of the Pacific Highway to be completed to four lanes of divided road between Hexham and the Queensland border, providing a safer journey for thousands of motorists each day.

Roads and Maritime has committed to a range of important measures as part of the plans including completely closed fencing of the new highway between Richmond River and Coolgardie Road with improved fauna connectivity structures, additional fencing on the existing Pacific Highway and nearby local roads to further reduce koala deaths from road strikes.
Key measures include about 26 wildlife crossings to be installed, substantially increasing safe crossing points compared to the current highway.

About 130 hectares of koala food habitat will be planted to provide additional habitat and to guide koalas to safer crossing points across the highway.

The koala food habitat will start to be planted early to ensure it is well developed in time for the highway’s planned completion by 2020 and would provide resources not currently available to the koala.
Studies have shown this would not only offset a decline in the koala population, but even improve its future outlook when combined with the other measures.

The plans took more than 15 months to prepare and involved more than 13 scientific, environmental and research organisations and academics, including the NSW Chief Scientist and Engineer Professor Mary O’Kane AC and leading koala experts.

The principal task of the committee was to provide independent expert advice on the koala management on the Woolgoolga to Ballina upgrade. The committee had a particular focus on ensuring the Population Viability Analysis was scientifically robust and the full range of koala management options were examined.

Key to acceptance of the plans was recognition the upgraded highway will provide numerous mitigation measures including animal crossings, fauna fencing and koala habitat trees which can contribute to management of the remaining koala population.

“Roads and Maritime is committed to working with the community and stakeholders to protect wildlife along the Pacific Highway both during building and operation and we will continue to apply experiences and successes from other upgrade projects to ensure the highest level of biodiversity protection,” the Roads and Maritime spokesperson said.


Would you like to know more about our local birds and explore our bushland reserves? Then join us on one of our bird walks:

Sunday 28 August, 9am Chiltern Track, Ingleside: 9 am.

Birds and wildflowers walk, with an expert plant guide on hand. Looking out for yellow-tufted and white-eared honeyeaters and grey shrike-thrushes, not seen on our other walks.

Note: In our annual plan this walk was advertised as 21 August. There is no walk on that date. We're meeting on 28 August instead.

Meet: 9am at the Fire Trail gate on the left hand side of the road, nearing the end of Chiltern Rd, Ingleside.

Bring: Binoculars, water, insect repellent, hat and morning tea.

Bookings: Not essential but if you reply to to let us know you are coming, we can look out for you.

25 September, Irrawong Reserve, North Narrabeen

27 November, Warriewood Wetlands

Most walks last a couple of hours. Bring binoculars and morning tea for afterwards if you like. Contact for details of each walk.

Av Green Team's Sustainability Day
Saturday, September 3 at 12 PM
Bilgola Surf Life Saving Club
Bilgola Beach

The new youth-run environment initiative the Av Green Team is hosting a free sustainability day for everyone to enjoy! 

The day will kick off with a beach clean of Bilgola Beach at 10.30am followed by a workshop and speaking-based event held at Bilgola Surf Club.

The sustainability event from 12-4pm will feature speakers and workshops from individuals and groups who are choosing to work or live sustainably. The aim of the event is to bring people together who would like to learn more about sustainability and becoming environmentally conscious. There will be nibbles and Chai tea prepared by members of the Av Green Team and live music too. 

We hope to see you there!
Please RSVP to this event through the ticket link above!

Community Landcare Grants 

Greater Sydney Local Land Services 2016 Community Landcare Grants are now open!

Grants of $5,000 - $30,000 over 18 months are available for community groups, including Landcare and other 'care' groups and landholders in the Greater Sydney region.

Applications open today Monday 8th August 2016 and close Monday 12th September 2016.

Projects must align with at least 1 of the Strategic Objectives developed for the Australian Government's National Landcare Programme:

• Projects that aim to maintain and improve ecosystem services through sustainable management of local and regional landscapes.Activities funded may include weed and pest control, bush regeneration, erosion management, fencing, plant propagation and revegetation, actions that protect for threatened species, development of management plans, community participation and engagement activities and training that contribute to the protection and restoration of ecosystem function, resilience and biodiversity.

• Projects that aim to build community awareness, participation, skills and knowledge in caring for their environment, including Aboriginal knowledge and participation. Activities funded may include the delivery of workshops, training courses, awareness raising events, booklets, signage, media and other activities designed to build awareness, improve skills and knowledge and/or promote the conservation and enhancement of biodiversity.

For full details including the grant guidelines please visit the Greater Sydney Local Land Services Website

To discuss project ideas or to find out more please feel free to contact Council's Bushcare Officer on 9970 1367.

Bushcare in Pittwater 

For further information or to confirm the meeting details for below groups, please contact Council's Bushcare Officer on 9970 1367
Council's Cooee Newsletter - May- June 2016 HERE

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                     3rd 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

NSW Call to community and government groups to apply for local environmental grants

Media release: 15 August 2016 – NSW Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH)
A total of $4 million in grant funds is available to community groups and government entities for a range of local environment restoration and improvement projects under the NSW Environmental Trust’s 2016/17 Restoration and Rehabilitation Grant Program.

Terry Bailey, Chief Executive, NSW Office of Environment and Heritage and Trust Secretary said the grants will deliver grassroots funding to local environmental projects that restore, protect and enhance a variety of NSW environments.

“This valuable grant program has been running for over 20 years, making it one of the longest running environmental grant programs in Australia,” Mr Bailey said.

“Grants are awarded to help protect important ecosystems, to restore degraded environments and care for habitats of rare and endangered flora and fauna.

“I encourage community groups, not-for-profit and government entities from across the state to apply for a grant and help their local communities protect and conserve our vital natural environment.

“Fifty-six grants were awarded under this program last year and their projects are now tackling a number of local environmental issues.

“Thanks to this grant program landholders, local councils, state government agencies and community groups are now working to restore habitats for native and endangered species, improve water quality and rehabilitate wetland areas.

“As an example, Greening Australia’s $96,730 project is helping improve habitat for the vulnerable Glossy Black Cockatoo. Working alongside landholders, 5,000 trees are being planted and community seed collection and bird identification workshops are taking place.”

Applications open for the 2016/17 round of the Restoration and Rehabilitation Grant Program on 15 August 2016. Grants between $5,000 and $100,000 are available. Applications close on 26 September 2016.

Visit the Environmental Trust website for applications and further information:

Bush Regeneration And Envirofun Weekend 

On: August 26-28, 2016
At: Pittwater YHA, Morning Bay

Volunteer for two mornings’ bush regeneration and receive free accommodation, two evening meals, two BBQ lunches and two morning teas and free use of kayaks over the weekend of 26 to 28 August. Alternatively come for a Saturday or Sunday morning bush regeneration and enjoy a morning tea and BBQ lunch and kayak. It is only a $20 contribution ($50 nonrefundable booking fee with a $30 refund on arrival) for a weekend of great company, food and activities. 

Bookings essential: 9999 5748 Email: 

A Pittwater YHA activity in partnership with: • Pittwater Natural Heritage Association • National Parks and Wildlife Service • Northern Beaches Council • supported by the Greater Sydney Local Land Service • with funding from the Australian Government and the NSW Government.

Long Reef Guided Walks 

Below is the Fishcare Volunteers’ upcoming Walks and Talks which might be of interest to readers.  We have been offering this free service now for about 15 years.  Most days see somewhere round 30 people, young and old, and we even get people from places like Auburn and further afield.  I add my bit as a former Australian Museum person and we also have a geologist to talk about the landward side of Long Reef.  We’re dictated by tides, hence the irregular times, but always on a Sunday.
Phil Colman

Free guided walks 
with Fishcare Volunteers 
Sunday 18 Sept 2016  2 pm – 4 pm 
Sunday 16 Oct 2016  2 pm – 4 pm 
Sunday 13 Nov 2016  1 pm – 3 pm 
Sunday 11 Dec 2016  12 noon – 2 pm 
Sunday 29 Jan 2017  3.30 pm – 5.30 pm 
Sunday 26 Feb 2017  2.30 pm – 4.30 pm 
Sunday 26 Mar 2017  1.30 pm – 3.30 pm 
Sunday 9 Apr 2017  12.30 pm – 2.30 pm 
• Subject to weather conditions 
• Bookings and enquiries by email:

Long Reef Fishcare Educational Walks 
Long Reef Aquatic Reserve, on Sydney’s northern beaches is a unique environment due to its geology and exposure to all four points of the compass. Protecting a huge variety of marine animals, birds and plants, it’s a great place to enjoy learning about our natural environment. 

Department of Primary Industries NSW Fishcare Volunteers offer free, guided, educational walks onto the rock platform where in just two hours you’ll observe some of the vast variety of marine life. 

You’ll also gain an understanding of the geographical features of the area, look at trace fossils and learn why some migratory birds travel tens of thousands of kilometres from Siberia and Japan to spend time at Long Reef. 

An ideal family outing! 

Have Your Say On The Amended Rocky Hill Coal Project Application

17.08.2016 : Departmental Media Release - Department of Planning and Environment
An amended development application by Gloucester Resources Limited for the Rocky Hill Coal Project will be on exhibition from today for community consultation.

The Department of Planning and Environment is keen to hear the community’s views on the amended proposal which involves:
  • developing and operating an open-cut coal mine to produce up to two million tonnes of coal per year for up to 21 years
  • constructing and operating a private coal haul road linking the Rocky Hill Coal Project with the Stratford Coal Complex, approximately nine kilometres to the south
  • using the private haul road to transfer coal between 7:00 am and 6:00 pm only, Monday to Saturday
  • using the private coal haul road to deliver heavy equipment and construction materials to the mine area
  • rehabilitating the site
A spokesperson for the Department said the public should also view the modification application for the Stratford Extension Project, which is being exhibited simultaneously with the amended Rocky Hill Coal Project proposal.

“The public should also note the changes from a previous Rocky Hill Coal Project proposal which was exhibited in 2013,” a spokesperson said.

“Key changes in the amended proposal include three open cut pits instead of four and no night-time hours of work. Additionally, it proposes no evening hours of work for the first three years of the project.

“In the new proposal, coal would be hauled on a private haul road to the nearby Stratford Coal Mine. The Rocky Hill project would therefore not need a Coal Handling and Preparation Plant or a rail loop and train loading bin, or a coal conveyor.
The amended proposal does not include:
  • constructing and operating an on-site Coal Handling and Preparation Plant 
  • constructing and operating a Rail Load-out Facility, including a rail loop and overhead loading bin, to dispatch the product coal to the Port of Newcastle
  • developing a three kilometre partially-enclosed overland conveyor, to link the CHPP to the Rail Load-out Facility
  • operating the mine during night-time hours
  • operating the mine during evening hours for the first three years of the mining operations.
A spokesperson for the Department said the local community always has an opportunity to share their views.

“Community consultation is an integral part of the planning process and the applicant will have to respond to the feedback we receive.

“This feedback is taken into consideration as part of the assessment.
“It’s easy to participate by going online and we encourage everyone to take a look and have their say.” 

To make a submission or view the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), visit 

Submissions can be made from 17 August until 14 October 2016.

Written submissions can also be made to: 
Department of Planning and Environment
Attn: Director – Resource Assessments
GPO Box 39 
Sydney NSW 2001 

The application and EIS are also available to view in person at: 
Department of Planning and Environment, 23-33 Bridge Street, Sydney
Nature Conservation Council, Level 14, 338 Pitt Street, Sydney 
Mid Coast Council Offices:
- 89 King Street, Gloucester 
- Breese Parade, Forster
- 2 Pulteney Street, Taree
- Customer Service Centre, 6 Church Lane, Stroud (9 am to noon)

Have your say on the modification application for Stratford Extension Project
17.08.2016 : Departmental Media Release  Author: Department of Planning and Environment

A modification application for the Stratford Extension Project will be on exhibition from today for community consultation.

The Department of Planning and Environment is keen to hear the community’s views on Stratford Coal Pty Ltd’s modification application which seeks to:
  • use a private haul road to transfer coal from the Rocky Hill Coal Project to the Stratford Coal Mine site
  • construct an extension of the existing coal stockpile to accommodate Rocky Hill’s coal, and process coal from this stockpile through the existing Stratford Coal Handling and Preparation Plant
  • place Rocky Hill product coal on the existing Stratford product coal stockpile
  • load and dispatch Rocky Hill product coal from Stratford’s existing rail loop and coal load-out system
The community can also view the related but separate Rocky Hill Coal Mine amended development application also on exhibition currently, and make a submission.

A spokesperson for the Department of Planning and Environment said the local community always has an opportunity to share their views.

"Community consultation is an integral part of the planning process and the applicant will have to respond to the feedback we receive," the spokesperson said.

"This feedback is taken into consideration as part of the assessment.
"It’s easy to participate by going online and we encourage everyone to take a look and have their say." 

To make a submission and the view the modification application visit 

Submissions can be made from 17 August to 14 October 2016.
Written submissions can also be made to:
Department of Planning and Environment
Attn: Director – Resource Assessments
GPO Box 39 
Sydney NSW 2001
The application is also available to view in person at:
Department of Planning and Environment, 23-33 Bridge Street, Sydney
Nature Conservation Council, Level 14, 338 Pitt Street, Sydney 
Mid Coast Council Offices:
- 89 King Street, Gloucester 
- Breese Parade, Forster
- 2 Pulteney Street, Taree
- Customer Service Centre, 6 Church Lane, Stroud (9 am to noon)

United Wambo Open Cut Coal Mine Project

Street 134 Jerrys Plains Road
City Warkworth
Exhibition Start 11/08/2016
Exhibition End   22/09/2016

See all available documents and have your say here

A Joint Venture project between United Collieries and Wambo Coal which combines the existing open cut operations at Wambo with a proposed new open cut at United. 

The Project will utilise the existing Wambo Mining Infrastructure Area (MIA), Coal Handling and Preparation Plant (CHPP) and train loading facility. The Project anticipates delivering up to 6Mtpa of product coal, providing jobs for around 500 employees with a life of mine of approximately 23 years. The Project proposes to relocate a 2km section of the Golden Highway and a section of 330kV powerlines to optimise coal recovery in the United Open Cut.

Extent of Mining Areas: Refer to Figure 1.3 - The project proposes realignment of the Wambo Open Cut boundary to maximise resource recovery. The realignment would result in approximately 5 hectares of additional disturbance for the Wambo Open Cut mine.

The Proposed United Open Cut mine is situated to the weast of the existing Wambo operations (refer to Figure 1.3)

The conceptual staged mine plans are shown on Figure 3.2 to Figure 3.6

Operating Hours 24 hours a day, 7 days a week

Figure 1.3

Figure 3.2

Have Your Say On Wyong Coal Mine

Wallarah 2 Coal Project
Establishment of an underground coal mine and associated infrastructure (see Preliminary Environmental Assessment). 
The proposal will also require Commonwealth assessment under the EPBC Act.

Exhibition Start 22/07/2016
Exhibition End 05/09/2016

City Wyong
State NSW
Post Code 2259
Country Australia
Local Governments Lake Macquarie City Council and Wyong Shire Council

Amended application Document: HERE

The key features of the Project include:  
• A deep underground longwall mine extracting up to 5 Million tonnes per annum of export quality thermal coal;  
• The Tooheys Road Site (located north-east of the intersection of the M1 Motorway and the Motorway Link Road) which includes a portal, coal handling facilities and stockpiles, water and gas management facilities, small office buildings, workshop, coal transportation infrastructure and connections to municipal water and sewerage systems;  
• The Buttonderry Site (near the intersection of Hue Hue Road and Sparks Road) which includes administration offices, bathhouse, personnel access to the mine, ventilation shafts and water management structures;  
• The Western Ventilation Shaft Site (located in the Wyong State Forest) includes a downcast ventilation shaft and water management structures;  
• An inclined tunnel (or ‘drift’) from the surface at the Tooheys Road Site to the coal seam beneath the Buttonderry Site;  
• Transportation of product coal to the Port of Newcastle by rail; and  
An operational workforce of 300 full time employees.

The Project constitutes State Significant Development. As such, the Project has been subject to the assessment process under Division 4.1 of Part 4 of the Environmental Planning & Assessment Act 1979.

Katandra Sanctuary

Katandra is a sanctuary for flora and fauna where the wildflowers are their most colourful during spring but all year round there are opportunities for bird watching. The sanctuary covers 12 hectares and is situated on the Ingleside/Warriewood escarpment. Choose to follow a short walk of about 1km or the longer 2km track through rainforest remnants with creeks and fern-fringed pools. Visit:
Muogamarra in bloom

With spring just around the corner, it’s a great time of year to get outdoors in a national park and enjoy the crisp sunny days and beautiful blossoming flowers.

Muogamarra Nature Reserve, located in the northern outskirts of Sydney, transforms into a brilliant display of colour each August and September, when spring wildflowers come into bloom.

The reserve is only open for six weekends a year to preserve the fragile ecosystems and Aboriginal heritage, and this year, will be open each Saturday and Sunday from 13 August to 18 September.

The best way to explore the extraordinary nature reserve is on a special guided tour. There are three guided walks on offer, where you’ll see and learn about the reserve’s spectacular plants and enjoy stunning scenery.
Or for the more adventurous, join the full-day 18km kayaking tour along the Hawkesbury River to see the reserve from the shoreline, take in the sheer cliffs and learn about the area’s fascinating history.

Challenge yourself on The Coast track
Looking for a walking adventure close to Sydney? The Coast track in Royal National Park, just one hour south of the CBD, is definitely one for your to-do-list.

You’ll walk along cliffs, beaches and escarpments, taking in magnificent ocean views and the rugged beauty of the coastline as you go.
The 26km track can be walked over two days, combined with an overnight camping experience, or broken up into a series of day walks.

There’s also been no better time to lace up the boots and set out, as the track has recently undergone a $1.8 million upgrade over nine months. Works included construction of sandstone stairways and installation of 2.2km of new boardwalk at several sites.

This work has enhanced the walking experience for visitors, but has also prevented soil erosion and protected coastal vegetation.

The Coast track will also benefit from the recent funding announcement from the NSW Government, with $3.6 million allocated for the next 12 months and $9 million over four years.

Tackle The Tour De Gorge Through The Pilliga Forest

Media release: 26 August 2016
The Olympics might be over but you can still take part in the annual 45km Tour de Gorge bike ride through the remarkable Pilliga Nature Reserve near Baradine on Saturday 3rd September.

The Pilliga Forest is an iconic Australian landscape offering rugged beauty on a grand scale and by entering the Tour de Gorge riders get to pedal through areas usually restricted from public access.

The inaugural tour kicked off in 2013 and has been growing each year with 45 people entering in 2015.

National Parks and Wildlife (NPWS) Area Manager in Baradine, John Whittall, said the collaboration with the Gawambaraay Pilliga Co-management Committee (GPCC) to develop the Tour de Gorge allows people to experience the park in a unique way. 

“Riders get the opportunity to take in the unique bush scenery as well as having the chance to spot some of the park’s resident birds and wildlife, including turquoise parrots, emus and wallabies. We also time the bike ride for this time of year to coincide with the emergence of a myriad of stunning wildflowers,” Mr Whittall said.

“It’s not all about the bike riders though, it’s a great day out for the whole family to come out to the park and enjoy the barbecue, take a walk around the Sculptures in the Scrub and relax while the bike riders have their adventure,” Mr Whittall said. 

The guided bike ride starts at 8.30am at the Dandry Gorge picnic area and carpark and riders should bring a bike in good working order, spare inner tubes, a helmet, snacks and plenty of water. 

“The event is promoted as an all-ages event, but because of its length, participants are usually at least 12 years old and have some bike riding experience,” Mr Whittall said.

“Some parts can be a little steep and challenging, but people are allowed to take their time. We have a sweeper who picks up anyone who feels that they’ve had enough. There are also two locations provided along the way where people can have a break and refill their water bottles.

“For those not keen on enjoying the park on two wheels, a free bus from Baradine to Dandry Gorge will be running and people can refuel at the coffee vendor and check out the stalls,” Mr Whittall said. 

This year the ride is supporting the National Breast Cancer Foundation and is the first time NPWS has made the event a fundraiser. 

“Cancer has been prominent in our local area lately, so we thought we’d like to do something at a local level to raise awareness and show support for the community,” Mr Whittall said. 

Registration is required and costs $25, which includes insurance. Email Pilliga Discovery Centre or phone (02) 6843 4011.
Top Photo: courtesy OEH

NSW Forestry Industry Roadmap

25th August, 2016
The NSW Government has released a plan to build a stronger, more competitive and ecologically sustainable forestry industry.
Minister for Primary Industries Niall Blair said the NSW Forestry Industry Roadmap demonstrated NSW government support for the state's forestry industry, which is critical for many towns in regional NSW and the construction of new homes in Sydney.

NSW's softwood plantation sector is valued at $1.9 billion, and the native forestry sector is valued at $465 million. Locally-sourced timber is to be a primary construction material for the projected 660,000 new homes built by 2031.

“Our forestry industry is vibrant and sustainable – whether it’s pine for new homes or paper produced from plantations at Tumut or Oberon, or the beautiful hardwood timber floorboards sourced from renewable native forests at Lismore and Eden,” Mr Blair said.

The roadmap includes strategic actions around four key pillars:

  1. regulatory modernisation
  2. balancing supply and demand
  3. improving community understanding and confidence
  4. industry innovation and new markets.
The roadmap will help the NSW Government achieve its objective of creating 150,000 new jobs, including 30,000 new jobs in regional NSW. It will also help to increase the value of primary industries by 30 per cent by 2020.

Find out more about the NSW Forestry Industry Roadmap on theDepartment of Primary Industries website

Leard State Forest Coal Mines Clearing Audit Released

22.08.2016: Departmental Media Release - Department of Planning and Environment
The Department of Planning and Environment today released the findings from its Leard State Forest Coal Mines Clearing Audit.
Compliance officers visited the Leard State Forest Mining Precinct during the approved timeframe for vegetation clearing to check whether the mines were meeting consent conditions and following the rules.
The audit was undertaken in response to community concerns.
A spokesperson from the Department said the audit specifically focussed on vegetation clearing protocols from the approved Biodiversity Management Plans (BMP) attached to each mine.
“Weather stations were audited to ensure they comply with relevant Australian standards. Their locations and maintenance records were also checked,” a spokesperson said.
“The mines were found to be meeting their consent requirements to monitor temperature and stop clearing at the 35°C limit.
“In general all three projects in the precinct – Boggabri Mine, Tarrawonga Mine, and Maules Creek Mine – were found to be operating at a high-level of compliance with the clearing commitments in their BMPs.
“Two minor non-compliances were observed at Maules Creek and Tarrawonga mines respectively and the Department has worked with the companies to ensure appropriate action has occurred at each mine to rectify the issues. 

“Compliance officers found an unmaintained sediment fence and inappropriate sediment controls in the clearing area at Maules Creek Mine and advised the operators who immediately ceased top soil clearing until adequate controls were in place.  This non-compliance has been recorded by the Department.

“A warning letter has been issued to Tarrawonga Mine for failing to gain approval from the Office of Environment and Heritage for their Translocation Strategy as required in their BMP.
“This audit is in addition to regular major project site inspections carried out by the compliance team across NSW.

“Our compliance officers will follow-up with the three mines throughout the year to ensure the minor non-compliances are addressed and any opportunities for improvement can be considered prior to next year’s clearing window.
“The Department can issue the highest on-the-spot fines in the country for breaches of conditions. 
“Community members are encouraged to contact the compliance officers with concerns about major projects in their neighbourhood.”
To read about the Leard State Forest Coal Mines Clearing Audit findings please visit the Department’s website
Charbon Coal fined in court for compliance breach

19.08.2016: Departmental Media Release - Department of Planning and Environment
Charbon Coal has been fined $175,000 in the Land and Environment Court for failing to comply with their project approval at the Charbon Coal Mine near Kandos in the State’s central west.
The judgment is a result of a prosecution brought by the Department of Planning and Environment after a compliance investigation was undertaken.
Charbon Coal pleaded guilty in the Land and Environment Court for failing to comply with the project approval, specifically for constructing a coal truck haul road outside of the approved location. Construction of the haul road resulted in the clearing of an area of native vegetation and disturbed an identified Indigenous heritage site.
A Department spokesperson said the company cooperated with the Department’s compliance investigation.
"Strict conditions are placed on all approved major projects and companies must follow these rules," a spokesperson said.
"Our compliance officers work with communities across NSW to monitor major projects across industry, infrastructure, mining and quarries.
"The team conducts audits, spot checks without warning, and works with companies to ensure they are complying."

Live-Stream Air Quality Data From Coal-Seam Gas Regions 

25 August, 2016: CSIRO Media Release
Data from the first comprehensive air quality measurement program in the Surat Basin is now available online for anyone to live-stream.

CSIRO, through the Gas Industry Social and Environmental Research Alliance (GISERA), is leading a study which includes collection of air quality measurements through a network of five ambient air quality stations in the Chinchilla, Miles and Condamine region of Queensland.
Specialised instruments are measuring a wide range of pollutants such as carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, ozone and particles in the atmosphere.

Right: Coal seam gas well with air monitoring station in the background

The data collected is streamed live to the Queensland Department ofEnvironment and Heritage Protection website.   

CSIRO atmospheric researcher Sarah Lawson said live streaming the data showed transparency of the data collection process.

"The data is accessible to everyone which means local communities and the general public can stay informed about the air quality in the Western Downs region, how it compares to other parts of Queensland and how levels compare to the government's air quality standards," Ms Lawson said.

The Air Quality Monitoring team within the Department of Science, Information Technology and Innovation (DSITI) will be responsible for publishing the air quality monitoring data on the DEHP website.

Queensland Minister for Innovation, Science and the Digital Economy, Leeanne Enoch said this was a great example of scientific collaboration between CSIRO and Queensland Government.

"Hosting the live air quality data from coal seam gas regions to local community and people of Queensland is a great way to show transparency and build confidence in the research that is taking place," Ms Enoch said.

An air quality model will also be used to explore the degree to which different emission sources in the Surat Basin contribute to the levels of air pollution.

The model includes a variety of natural and man-made emission sources including the CSG industry, power stations, mines, livestock production, motor vehicles, bushfires, and vegetation.

By running the model with different emission sources switched on and off, the degree of contribution from sources, including the CSG industry can be investigated.

The model will also provide an understanding of the distribution of pollutants over a much larger area than can be determined by fixed monitoring stations.

"Both the air quality data and modelling results can be used by government to inform policy and regulations around CSG development and by industry to focus on improving practices that reduce emissions of pollutants" Ms Lawson said.

GISERA is a collaborative vehicle established to undertake publicly-reported independent research addressing the socio-economic and environmental impacts of Australia's natural gas industries. The governance structure for GISERA is designed to provide for and protect research independence and transparency of funded research.
Torres Strait Tropical Rock Lobster Fishery - Agency application 2016

Agency application on ecological sustainability
About the application

The current export approval for the Torres Strait Tropical Rock Lobster Fishery is valid until 9 May 2017 and the fishery, under proposed Torres Strait Fishery (Quotas for Tropical Rock Lobster (Kaiar)) Management Plan 2016, is now due for reassessment.

The Department of the Environment and Energy received an application, Strategic Assessment Report for the Torres Strait Tropical Rock Lobster Fishery, from the Australian Fisheries Management Authority in August 2016. The application has been prepared to address the Australian Government ‘Guidelines for the ecologically sustainable management of fisheries – 2nd edition’ and to provide updates on the implementation of recommendations made in the previous Australian Government assessment. The application will be used to assess the operation of the fishery for the purposes of Parts 10, 13 and 13A of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act).

Consideration will be given to:

endorsing the plan of management under section 146 of the EPBC Act
declaring under section 33 of the EPBC Act, that actions approved in accordance with the accredited arrangement do not require approval under Part 9 of the EPBC Act.
declaring the Torres Strait Tropical Rock Lobster Fishery, as managed consistent with the Torres Strait Fisheries Act 1984 and the Torres Strait Fisheries Regulations 1985, as an approved wildlife trade operation under section 303FN of the EPBC Act, and
including in the list of exempt native specimens, specimens harvested in the Torres Strait Tropical Rock Lobster Fishery under the provisions of the Torres Strait Fisheries Act 1984 and the Torres Strait Fisheries Regulations 1985.
In accordance with the provisions of sections 146, 303FR and 303DC of the EPBC Act, you are invited to comment on this proposal.

Strategic Assessment Report: Torres Strait Tropical Rock Lobster Fishery (PDF - 695.38 KB)
Appendices: Strategic Assessment Report: Torres Strait Tropical Rock Lobster Fishery - August 2016 (PDF - 3.24 MB) ​

The call for public comments is open from 26 August 2016 until 29 September 2016.

Humans Have Caused Climate Change For 180 Years

Australian National University researcher Associate Professor Nerilie Abram. Credit: Stuart Hay, ANU

August 24, 2016
An international research project has found human activity has been causing global warming for almost two centuries, proving human-induced climate change is not just a 20th century phenomenon.

Lead researcher Associate Professor Nerilie Abram from The Australian National University (ANU) said the study found warming began during the early stages of the Industrial Revolution and is first detectable in the Arctic and tropical oceans around the 1830s, much earlier than scientists had expected.

"It was an extraordinary finding," said Associate Professor Abram, from the ANU Research School of Earth Sciences and ARC Centre of Excellence for Climate System Science.

"It was one of those moments where science really surprised us. But the results were clear. The climate warming we are witnessing today started about 180 years ago."

The new findings have important implications for assessing the extent that humans have caused the climate to move away from its pre-industrial state, and will help scientists understand the future impact of greenhouse gas emissions on the climate.

"In the tropical oceans and the Arctic in particular, 180 years of warming has already caused the average climate to emerge above the range of variability that was normal in the centuries prior to the Industrial Revolution," Associate Professor Abram said.

The research, published in Nature, involved 25 scientists from across Australia, the United States, Europe and Asia, working together as part of the international Past Global Changes 2000 year (PAGES 2K) Consortium.

Associate Professor Abram said anthropogenic climate change was generally talked about as a 20th century phenomenon because direct measurements of climate are rare before the 1900s.

However, the team studied detailed reconstructions of climate spanning the past 500 years to identify when the current sustained warming trend really began.

Scientists examined natural records of climate variations across the world's oceans and continents. These included climate histories preserved in corals, cave decorations, tree rings and ice cores.
The research team also analysed thousands of years of climate model simulations, including experiments used for the latest report by the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), to determine what caused the early warming.

The data and simulations pinpointed the early onset of warming to around the 1830s, and found the early warming was attributed to rising greenhouse gas levels.

Co-researcher Dr Helen McGregor, from the University of Wollongong's School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, said humans only caused small increases in the level of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere during the 1800s.

"But the early onset of warming detected in this study indicates the Earth's climate did respond in a rapid and measureable way to even the small increase in carbon emissions during the start of the Industrial Age," Dr McGregor said.

The researchers also studied major volcanic eruptions in the early 1800s and found they were only a minor factor in the early onset of climate warming.

Associate Professor Abram said the earliest signs of greenhouse-induced warming developed during the 1830s in the Arctic and in tropical oceans, followed soon after by Europe, Asia and North America.
However, climate warming appears to have been delayed in the Antarctic, possibly due to the way ocean circulation is pushing warming waters to the North and away from the frozen continent.

Nerilie J. Abram, Helen V. McGregor, Jessica E. Tierney, Michael N. Evans, Nicholas P. McKay, Darrell S. Kaufman, Kaustubh Thirumalai, Belen Martrat, Hugues Goosse, Steven J. Phipps, Eric J. Steig, K. Halimeda Kilbourne, Casey P. Saenger, Jens Zinke, Guillaume Leduc, Jason A. Addison, P. Graham Mortyn, Marit-Solveig Seidenkrantz, Marie-Alexandrine Sicre, Kandasamy Selvaraj, Helena L. Filipsson, Raphael Neukom, Joelle Gergis, Mark A. J. Curran, Lucien von Gunten. Early onset of industrial-era warming across the oceans and continents.Nature, 2016; 536 (7617): 411 DOI: 10.1038/nature19082

Seagrass Restoration Threatened By Fungi

Seagrass (Z. marina) on the North Sea island of Sylt. Credit: Laura Govers

August 23, 2016
Dutch biologists have discovered that seagrass seed is killed by waterborne fungi that are related to the well-known potato blight. These fungi, which have not previously been found in seawater, hinder seed germination and thus prevent the restoration of seagrass. The biologists published their results in Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

The seawater fungi that are to blame (Phytophthora gemini and Halo Phytophthora sp. Zostera) have been identified as members of the large Phytophthora family, which also includes the fungus that causes potato blight. Fungi in this family cause severe damage in agriculture and horticulture, affecting potatoes, grapes and oak trees in California and eucalyptus trees in Australia. 

The findings came to light during seagrass restoration trials in the Wadden Sea and the Grevelingen area, but the fungi turned out to be present at many other locations in Europe and America. The widespread presence of these pathogens therefore threatens the global recovery of seagrass. This problem deserves attention because these coastal ecosystems are just as important as coral reefs: they provide breeding grounds for various species, increase biodiversity, and contribute to coastal protection by damping the force of waves.

Nearly all seagrass seed is infected 
This investigation was prompted by disappointing germination of sea grass seed that was collected for the restoration project on the North Sea island of Sylt. Nearly all this seed was found to be infected with Phytophthora. Lead researcher Laura Govers, who works at Radboud University and the University of Groningen, tested the germination of the infected seed. "This proved to be six times less likely to germinate than non-infected seed. Only three to four percent of all infected seeds germinated."

Copper treatment 
In recent decades, many fields of seagrass have deteriorated worldwide. In the Netherlands, the vast seagrass beds that were originally present in the Wadden Sea disappeared after 1930 and never recovered. These fields were important breeding grounds for fish such as herring, and they contributed to the high biodiversity of the area. They also made the water clearer and contributed to coastal protection by damping the force of the waves. That's why biologists are investigating whether seagrass restoration in the Dutch Wadden Sea is possible. One way to improve the chances for seagrass restoration is by treating the seeds during storage with a copper solution. This method has been used in farming since the 19th century to combat Phytophthora infection and appears to be promising for seagrass seed.

The research project is the result of a collaboration between Radboud University, the University of Groningen, NIOZ Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research, the Fieldwork Company and the Virginia Institute of Marine Science, and was funded by Natuurmonumenten, Rijkswaterstaat (Department of Public Works) and the Netherlands Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority (NVWA).

Laura L. Govers, Willem A. Man in ‘t Veld, Johan P. Meffert, Tjeerd J. Bouma, Patricia C. J. van Rijswick, Jannes H. T. Heusinkveld, Robert J. Orth, Marieke M. van Katwijk, Tjisse van der Heide.Marine Phytophthora species can hamper conservation and restoration of vegetated coastal ecosystems. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 2016; 283 (1837): 20160812 DOI:10.1098/rspb.2016.0812
New leasing partnership heralds reinvigoration for the La Perouse precinct of Botany Bay National Park

Media release: 22 August 2016 - NPWS
The La Perouse museum precinct in Botany Bay National Park will be reinvigorated with the NSW Government and Randwick City Council moving to lease the historic site.
National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) Deputy Chief Executive Michael Wright said discussions were underway with Randwick City Council to lease the precinct to lead to an improvement in visitor facilities, attracting more visitors and providing better access for people to explore the area. 
“Botany Bay National Park is highly significant to all Australians as it’s the site of the first meeting place of Aboriginal people and European cultures,” Mr Wright said. 
“The history of the Park reflects thousands of years of Aboriginal culture, European settlement and French exploration - this was the last place French explorer Comte de Laperouse was seen before he left to sail to Samoa in 1788.”
The State Heritage Registered precinct’s buildings include the early 20th century La Perouse former Cable Station, now a museum, and historic structures including the Macquarie Watchtower, the La Perouse Monument and the Pere Receveur Tomb.  
The leasing arrangement could include re-using part of the existing building as a cafe, restaurant or kiosk, conference facilities and museum exhibition space. 
“Potential opportunities include the adaptive re-use of buildings including new museum exhibitions detailing the history of the precinct at the former Cable Station, conference facilities, events and functions and food services,” Mr Wright said.  
It would also mean improvements to pedestrian walkways including disabled access and landscaping to this area of the Park.

Scientists Map Migration Paths Of Arctic Breeding Birds

A new study looks at the migration of these birds that breed in Arctic Beringia during the summer months and travel to points south during the winter. The data helps identify key habitat used by the birds and informs the conservation of these areas. Credit: Zak Pohlen (WCS)

August 22, 2016
Conservation of intertidal habitat - 65 percent of which has been lost over the last 50 years - is critical to the survival of countless birds during migration on the East Asian Australasian Flyway.

In an effort to understand the threats and inform conservation of these areas, scientists from The Institute of Biological Problems of the North (Russian Academy of Sciences) and WCS (Wildlife Conservation Society) have collaborated to identify vital stopover areas for the dunlin, a shorebird known to migrate up to 7500 km (4700 miles) to reach its destination.

Arctic shorebirds breeding in Chukotka and Alaska depend upon key coastal intertidal sites along their migratory route to find food to supply energy on their flights. Such intertidal habitats are rapidly being lost to human development, resulting in marked declines of all species that have been studied on this flyway. Some, like the spoon-billed sandpiper, are now at critical risk of extinction, while 23 other species are now threatened, endangered, or vulnerable to extinction. Many others are in rapid decline, losing up to 10 percent of their numbers each year. A key driver of these losses is thought to be associated with development projects along the Yellow Sea coastline that convert intertidal mudflats to dry ground.

To better understand the nuanced threats to shorebird species that breed in Chukotka and nearby Alaska, Russian and American scientists have collaborated on a number of studies, including an assessment of nesting densities and factors influencing nest survival on breeding grounds in Russia. Most recently they have charted the migratory movements, timing, and wintering ground locations of a sub-species of dunlin, a relatively common shorebird that breeds in Chukotka.

"To prevent declines in populations of birds that breed in the Arctic, we must understand their needs after leaving the breeding grounds," said Dr. Rebecca Bentzen, Avian Research Coordinator with WCS and lead author of the study.

In order to track dunlin migrations, Russian researchers attached small geolocators to the legs of the birds. These devices, which weigh less than a paper clip, register light levels in relation to an internal timer, which can be used to estimate latitude and longitude (and hence the flight pattern of the bird) when the bird is recaptured upon return to its breeding grounds.
The data collected over the four-year study showed that dunlin captured during the breeding season in Chukotka wintered in China, South Korea, and Vietnam, primarily between the south coast of Bohai Bay, the Yellow Sea, and Gulf of Tonkin in China. Important stopover areas (places birds rest and replenish energy during these epic journeys) included Sakhalin Island (Russia), and coastal areas around the Yellow Sea (Korea and China). In addition to documenting migration routes both to and from breeding habitats in Russia, the scientists were able to determine other vital information, such as the location and amount of time spent at stopover locations.

Unfortunately while this research provides greater understanding of the critical habitats that allows these birds to thrive, it also raises new conservation challenges.

"Stopover sites have largely been overlooked as conservation priorities," said Bentzen. "By only focusing on certain stages of the life cycles of these birds -- be it their time on the breeding grounds or where they winter -- we have missed a key element of their annual cycles. It doesn't matter how well we protect the breeding grounds -- if these stopover sites are not adequately protected, dunlins and other species will never make it to the breeding grounds."

Along with those scientists directly involved from Russia and the U.S., "citizen scientists" along the flyway got involved in the study, including a Korean birdwatcher who photographed one of the study birds and identified it by leg bands.

Dr. Martin Robards, Director of the WCS Arctic Beringia Program and a study co-author said, "This work is only possible through the dedication and leadership of our Russian partners Alexei Dondua and Dr. Diana Solovyeva. They have consistently overcome the challenges of working in such a remote area and taken the time to develop the necessary transboundary partnerships that have allowed such exciting research to emerge."

The information from this study helps justify the need for conservation action at key stopover points and wintering areas, and will be a key focus during upcoming conferences, including the IUCN World Conservation Congress in September and the East Asian Australian Fly Partnership meeting of the Parties in January.

Bentzen said, "We need to work collaboratively with our international colleagues to provide the best possible protection for the habitat of migrating shorebirds at each stage of their annual movements. This project is a perfect example of what we can learn when we work together to address common problems."

Rebecca Bentzen, Alexei Dondua, Ron Porter, Martin Robards, Diana Solovyeva. Large-scale movements of Dunlin breeding in Chukotka, Russia, during the non-breeding period. Wader Study, 2016; 123 (2) DOI: 10.18194/ws.00034

Early exposure to too much manganese causes attention deficits in rats

August 23, 2016
Researchers using a rodent model of childhood manganese exposure have found that too much manganese early in development causes lasting attention deficits and other impairments.

Manganese is an essential element, required by the body in trace amounts. High levels of exposure can have neurotoxic effects, however, leading to a condition called "manganism" in adults exposed to manganese dust or fumes in mining, welding, and other industrial occupations.

Studies of children and adolescents have associated excess manganese in the diet with attention deficits, but confounding factors in those studies have made it impossible to show a cause and effect relationship. Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is the most prevalent neurobehavioral disorder in children, but its cause remains unclear and probably involves many different factors.

The new study, published in Environmental Health Perspectives, is the first study to establish a causal link between exposure to elevated manganese in the diet and attentional dysfunction in an animal model, according to senior author Donald Smith, professor of environmental toxicology at UC Santa Cruz.

"There are many environmental and biological factors that have been associated with increased risk for attention deficits in children, so it's very challenging to understand which factors may actually contribute to or cause attention deficits," Smith said. "Our study clarifies the effects of a single environmental agent, and it allowed us to tease out the specific nature of the deficits it causes, which is extremely difficult if not impossible to do in human studies."

The most common source of exposure to excess manganese is drinking water from wells, because groundwater in some areas is naturally high in manganese. Soy-based infant formulas also have much higher levels of manganese than breast milk. The exposure levels used in the rat study were chosen to produce increases in manganese intake (relative to the normal intake of baby rats) comparable to the relative increases that would be experienced by infants and young children exposed to contaminated drinking water, soy-based formulas, or both.

The impairments seen in the exposed rats were comparable in magnitude to the attentional dysfunction seen in children with ADHD, Smith said. A previous study by Smith's lab found that manganese exposure also causes deficits in fine motor abilities in rats, and he noted that similar deficits in coordination and dexterity are often seen in children with ADHD.
In the new study, newborn rats were exposed to 0, 25, or 50 milligrams of manganese per kilogram of body weight per day, for either the first 21 days after birth or for the duration of the study (about six months). 

Behavioral testing for attention and impulsivity began when the rats were about 80 days old and continued six days a week for three months, using a well-accepted protocol. The animals were trained to focus their visual attention on a wall in the testing chamber with five ports and to respond to a brief flash of light within one port by poking their nose into that port. The researchers introduced distractions by delivering a puff of scented air into a different port within the test chamber.

"The odor-based distractor is very hard for the animals to ignore because they have very strong olfactory senses," Smith said. "With thousands of response trials over months of testing, we were able to obtain very detailed information to assess specific functions that we can compare to the assessments used for children."

The impairment caused by manganese exposure was most pronounced in the area of selective attention, assessed by response accuracy in the presence of a distracting odor. Deficits were also seen in other areas related to attention, but manganese exposure did not affect impulse control.

The results also showed that the susceptibility to manganese changed as the animals grew and matured. They were particularly sensitive to the neurotoxic effects during the early postnatal period, before weaning. According to Smith, the dependence of toxicity on the dose as well as the timing and duration of exposure is complicated for a substance like manganese that also has a beneficial biological function.

"The typical dose-response curve for biologically essential elements is U-shaped: too little is bad, too much is bad, and you want to be somewhere in the middle. This study shows that vulnerability also changes over the course of neurodevelopment," he explained.

In the experiment, the rats got a constant dose relative to their body weight, but their sensitivity to it changed as they aged. At the lower dose level (25 mg/kg/d), animals exposed throughout the study actually showed less impairment than those exposed only during the early postnatal period. At the higher dose level, the level of impairment from the longer exposure was the same as the effects of the early life exposure.

"The lower dose exposure over the early life period produced lasting deficits in attention, but if that same dose was continued into adulthood, it helped lessen the deficits caused by the earlier exposure. At the higher dose, however, they were unable to recover," Smith said.

He noted that such complex responses to differences in dose, timing, and duration of exposure may underlie the inconsistencies in published studies of the relationship between blood levels of manganese in humans and neurobehavioral deficits.

"It's difficult if not impossible to reconstruct the exposure histories of children," Smith said. "If we knew their exposure histories more thoroughly, we would likely find stronger associations with the neurobehavioral deficits."

Donald R. Smith, Myla Strawderman, Barbara J. Strupp, Stephane A. Beaudin. Early Postnatal Manganese Exposure Causes Lasting Impairment of Selective and Focused Attention and Arousal Regulation in Adult Rats. Environmental Health Perspectives, 2016; DOI:10.1289/EHP258
New report highlights importance of teacher education reform

Wednesday 24 August 2016: Media Release - Senator the Hon Simon Birmingham, Minister for Education and Training
The Australian Council of Educational Research’s new report today on ‘out of field’ teaching highlights the need for policymakers to focus on initiatives that improve teacher education, teaching quality and ultimately boost outcomes for students.
The Turnbull Government is focused on supporting a lift in teaching quality through our Student Achievement Plan by setting recruitment targets for teachers qualified in science STEM subjects, ensuring graduate teachers reach particular professional standards and pursuing school access and immigration reforms to fast track the availability of teachers in key foreign languages.
Those reforms will build on the ‘back to basics’ work the Coalition has been doing over the last three years after we accepted the recommendations of education experts to ensure new teachers are ‘classroom ready’ and armed with strong literacy and numeracy skills and subject specialisations for graduate primary school teachers.
The Literacy and Numeracy Test we’ve rolled out with states and territories is one example of the Turnbull Government’s commitment to having the best and brightest teachers shaping the minds of future generations of Australians. The Test ensures our teachers are in the top 30 per cent of the adult population for their personal literacy and numeracy skills.
The Turnbull Government’s funding for Australian students will grow from an already-record $16 billion in 2016 to $20.1 billion in 2020 and will be tied to evidence-based initiatives that include measures to raise teaching quality and lift student outcomes.

Chronic Care Finds New Home In Medicare

24 August 2016: Prime Minister and Minister for Health and Aged Care – Media Release
The Turnbull Government is strengthening Medicare to deliver better health outcomes for Australians. 

As one of our first priorities this term, we are today announcing the ten regions across the country that will participate in stage one of our revolutionary Health Care Homes model.

Health Care Homes is a better way of delivering Medicare for Australians with chronic illness.

It will give Australians a local health care team – led by their GP – that they can trust to coordinate their health care needs throughout the year to ensure patients remain happy, healthy and out-of-hospital.

Health Care Homes is a better way to remunerate general practice that recognises the commitment and diligence they show every day in managing time-consuming chronic conditions.

It will allow doctors and their teams to focus on delivering quality improvements to patient care when they need it, no matter how often it’s needed, without the rigid constraints of Medicare’s current fee-for-service model.

This has never been more important, with one in two Australians living with a chronic condition and one in five managing two or more.

This coincides with 20 per cent of patients making up over 60 per cent of Medicare costs.

That’s why we’re investing nearly $120 million to roll out the first stage ofHealth Care Homes, including over $90 million in payments to support patient care and $21 million for infrastructure, training and evaluation.
The first stage will initially benefit up to 65,000 patients across 200 GP clinics and Aboriginal Medical Services Australia-wide and will be evaluated to enable refinements to the model prior to a national roll-out.

This will include the Primary Health Network regions of: Western Sydney (NSW), Perth North (WA), Tasmania (TAS), Hunter New England and Central Coast (NSW), Brisbane North (QLD), South Eastern Melbourne (VIC), Adelaide (SA), Northern Territory (NT), Nepean-Blue Mountains (NSW) and Country South Australia (SA).

Health Care Homes is a model of primary care designed by – and long-campaigned for – by doctors.

A model of care that could have already been benefiting Australians with chronic disease, had Labor not deliberately ignored the recommendations of their own health reform commission in 2009.

No Government has invested more in Medicare than the Turnbull Coalition to ensure access to universal health care for all Australians.

We are determined to ensure every dollar lands as close to the patient as possible.

Because a healthier patient means a healthier Medicare. And that’s what Health Care Homes is all about. 

Patient Wi-Fi A Hit At Children's Hospitals In Sydney 

More than 52,000 young patients and their families have benefited from a new patient Wi-Fi service piloted in the Sydney Children’s Hospital Network since April.

Health Minister Jillian Skinner was joined by Parramatta MP Geoff Lee and Seven Hills MP Mark Taylor to view the new service at The Children’s Hospital at Westmead, which, along with the Sydney Children's Hospital at Randwick, are the first NSW public hospitals to connect patients with free wireless internet.

Over the last two years the NSW Government has invested more than $30 million to improve Wi-Fi services in health facilities, including building a secure, high-speed broadband network to connect over 150 hospitals and facilities across the state.

Mrs Skinner said the service, known as the Health Wide Area Network, is the critical infrastructure that makes patient Wi-Fi possible.

“During stays in hospital, many patients can feel cut off from extended family, friends and the outside world,” Mrs Skinner said.

“Wi-Fi access means patients can keep in touch with their nearest and dearest and their parents can stay connected with their workplaces.”
All appropriate internet security filters are in place and most patients are using the service for video communication such as Skype, streaming music and social media.

The Sydney Children’s Hospital Network pilot has been so successful that the NSW Government will now look to extend the service to other hospitals, with the first regional patient Wi-Fi service commencing at Port Macquarie Hospital shortly.

Local Health Districts will have a choice over the type of patient Wi-Fi service they wish to provide, with options available for free and paid services.

The same Wi-Fi network operating in the Sydney Children’s Hospital Network is allowing clinicians to access core clinical systems from their patients’ bedsides, including electronic Medical Records (eMR) and Electronic Medicati ons Management(eMeds).

The Children’s Hospital at Westmead is the first paediatric hospital in Australia to go live with eMeds technology.

Immune Breakthrough: Unscratching Poison Ivy's Rash

August 23, 2016
We all know that a brush with poison ivy leaves us with an itchy painful rash. Now, Monash University and Harvard researchers have discovered the molecular cause of this irritation. The finding brings us a step closer to designing agents to block this mechanism and sheds light on other serious skin conditions, such as psoriasis.

The international team of scientists have shown, for the first time, a connection between an immune molecule found in the skin and skin sensitisers -- the research was published overnight in Nature Immunology.
Professor Jamie Rossjohn, co-lead author with Dr Florian Winau, Harvard Medical School, confirmed the body's immune molecule, CD1a, plays a crucial role in mediating skin inflammation and irritation after contact with urushiol -- the 'active ingredient' found in plants endemic to Northern America and parts of Europe and Australia.

"A complex set of experiments, coupled with imaging techniques at the Australian Synchrotron revealed the molecular interplay between CD1a and urushiol. This highlights CDIa's role in sudden and uncomfortable skin reactions," Professor Rossjohn says.

Dr Tang Yongqing and Dr Jerome Le Nours say the research team needed a combination of scientific creativity and ingenuity to crack the CD1a-urushiol code.

"For over 35 years we have known CD1a is abundant in the skin," says Dr Le Nours. "Its role in inflammatory skin disorders has been difficult to investigate and until now has been really unclear. Our work, which included imaging the CD1a-urushiol connection, represents clear evidence that CD1a is instrumental in skin-related diseases."

"Our results were strengthened by in vivo and clinical studies at Harvard Medical School, in the United States," Dr Yongqing says.

The studies in Boston also showed that blocking the function of CD1a prevents the triggering of this skin-based allergic reaction, giving the researchers further evidence of just how important CD1a is.

"Future research could lead to the development of new treatments to combat minor skin irritations as well as chronic inflammatory skin diseases like psoriasis, eczema and rosacea," says Dr Yongqing.
"We now have a target to further investigate. Our basic discovery may make a big difference in the future treatment and prevention of inflammatory skin diseases," Dr Le Nours concludes.

This work was a collaboration between researchers from the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence in Advanced Molecular Imaging at the Monash Biomedicine Discovery Institute (Rossjohn, Yongqing, Le Nours) and researchers at the Harvard Medical School (Winau).

Ji Hyung Kim, Yu Hu, Tang Yongqing, Jessica Kim, Victoria A Hughes, Jérôme Le Nours, Elsa A Marquez, Anthony W Purcell, Qi Wan, Masahiko Sugita, Jamie Rossjohn, Florian Winau. CD1a on Langerhans cells controls inflammatory skin disease. Nature Immunology, 2016; DOI:10.1038/ni.3523
Medical scientists discover potent method for improving drug-free fertility treatment

August 23, 2016
For those facing infertility, IVF has long been the established option to have a baby. Now Australian and Belgian medical scientists have discovered how to improve a woman's chances of becoming pregnant using a less invasive and cheaper alternative.

The innovation, which has already undergone pre-clinical testing, uses growth factors to enhance an existing fertility treatment known as in-vitro maturation (IVM). The result is improved egg quality and a 50% increase in embryos, with the use of minimal drugs.

The advance has significant implications for infertility treatment and fertility preservation worldwide.

While standard in-vitro fertilisation (IVF) requires women to take follicle stimulating hormones (FSH) to stimulate egg cell (oocyte) growth before they are removed from the ovary, IVM retrieves eggs while they are still in the immature stage, and brings them to maturity in cell culture.This is achieved with minimal hormone stimulation. Until now, most clinicians have recommended IVF because pregnancy rates after IVM have been lower.

While the use of hormone drugs for conventional IVF is a proven fertility treatment, its use comes with significant discomfort for the patient, some medical complications and is expensive to patients and Australia's healthcare system.

An international research team, led by UNSW Associate Professor Robert Gilchrist, has enhanced the IVM process by adding a combination of a growth factor (cumulin) and cAMP-modulators (small signalling molecules) to the egg cells. Associate Professor Gilchrist's team recently discovered cumulin and his laboratory is one of only two worldwide that make it.

"The aim of our research has been to restore as far as possible, the natural processes that occur during egg maturation," said Associate Professor Gilchrist, who is based at UNSW's School of Women's and Children's Health.

"We have demonstrated that it is possible to improve egg quality and embryo yield with next to no drugs, using potent growth factors produced by the egg."

The innovative technique, which is awaiting US Food and Drug Administration approval, has been 15 years in the making. It is the result of a long partnership between Associate Professor Gilchrist and the University of Adelaide (where he was based previously), UZ Brussel at Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB), Belgium and Cook Medical.

In published research, initial experiments using the technique in pigs showed an improvement in egg quality and a doubling of the embryo yield compared to the existing IVM method. In a pre-clinical trial on human eggs, conducted by Professor Johan Smitz from VUB's Follicle Biology Laboratory in Brussels, the researchers likewise found an improvement in egg quality and a 50% increase in embryo yield.

Associate Professor Jeremy Thompson, from the University of Adelaide's Robinson Research Institute, said the new technique is a significant advance in fertility research.

"While the enhanced IVM treatment is not currently available as a fertility treatment option, if it is accepted into clinical practice it will remove the need for a woman to inject herself with high doses of hormones for up to 12 days," Associate Professor Thompson said.

"Most importantly, it could give a woman almost the same chance of becoming pregnant as with hormone-stimulated IVF," Associate Professor Thompson said.

Professor Michel De Vos (UZ Brussel) said the use of IVM also reduces the risk of ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS) to zero.
"Young women facing cancer treatment, who wish to preserve their fertility but often don't have time to freeze their eggs, will also benefit from this breakthrough," Professor De Vos said.

The researchers are currently conducting safety studies to ensure that altering the conditions of egg maturation using this enhanced IVM technique does not affect the long-term health of offspring.

The above is reprinted from materials provided by University of New South Wales.

Redevelopment Of Anzac Memorial Begins

August 22nd, 2016
Sydney's Hyde Park Anzac Memorial redevelopment has officially begun.
The first sod on the $40 million enhancement of the Anzac Memorial has been turned in Hyde Park.

Premier Mike Baird said the major upgrade would bring to life the original 1930s vision of the memorial. Plans include an education and interpretation centre and a water cascade at the memorial's southern side.

“By enhancing this Memorial we are ensuring future generations can continue to honour those who fought for the freedoms we enjoy today," Mr Baird said.

Construction will be completed by Built, the company responsible for the refurbishment of the First World War Galleries in the Australian War Memorial in Canberra.

The upgrade is jointly funded by the NSW and Australian Governments and is due to be completed as the Centenary of Anzac commemorations conclude in 2018.

Museum Awards Grants To Preserve Australia's Rich Maritime Heritage 

August 24, 2016
The Australian National Maritime Museum, on behalf of the Australian Government, is pleased to announce that it has awarded over $125,000 to support projects to promote Australia’s maritime heritage. The successful recipients of the Maritime Museums of Australia Project Support Scheme will help, collect, conserve and display objects of historical significance.

The scheme provides grants of up to $10,000, internships and in-kind support from Australian National Maritime Museum experts, which includes support for staff and volunteers from regional and remote organisations, to learn how to develop educational and public programs that help promote Australia’s maritime collections.
Maritime museums and historical societies play an important role in preserving and sharing Australia’s maritime heritage and these grants will ensure important maritime objects are available now for future generations.

In 2016-17, funding was awarded to 22 organisations, in-kind support was offered to four organisations and internships were offered to three applicants.
Museum director, Kevin Sumption, said, “As a national institution our mandate is to share Australia’s maritime history with people across the country and we are proud that the Maritime Museums of Australia Support Scheme is one of the key ways in which we fulfil this charter.”

Funding will support museums and historical societies to share their stories by embracing new technology including apps to share the history of the famous Cape Byron Lighthouse (NSW), shipwrecks of Rottnest Island (WA) and the Duyfken replica as it voyages to commemorate 400th anniversary Dirk Hartog’s encounter with Australia (WA).

Grants will also support interactive projects including the production of new interpretive signage at Albany’s Historic Whaling Station (WA), signs and QR codes to interpret the history of Lake Mulwala (VIC) and the design and installation of story boards by Greater Taree City Council (NSW) to commemorate the Manning River Traders and the importance of the river for industry and trade.

Further funds and in-kind support will also support museums and historical societies across Australia to carry out conservation work and assessments, catalogue heritage objects and develop educational material.

The scheme which offers funding to non-profit museums, historical societies and organisations is supported by the Australian Government and is administered by the Australian National Maritime Museum. The next round of funding will be open for applications in February 2017.

For more information about the Maritime Museums of Australia Scheme and a full list of grant recipients visit

The Australian National Maritime Museum in Sydney is the national centre for maritime collections, exhibitions, research and archaeology. As a Commonwealth cultural institution the museum is committed to fulfilling its national mandate by developing programs and opportunities to share its expertise, collection and the national maritime story with regional communities throughout Australia.

Better Animal Welfare For NSW

24th August 2016: NSW Government
The NSW Parliament has this morning passed the Greyhound Racing Prohibition Bill 2016, by 49 votes to 30.

Under the terms of the Bill, greyhound racing in NSW will close on 1 July 2017.
Premier Mike Baird said, “The first recommendation of the Special Commission of Inquiry into Greyhound Racing in NSW was that the Parliament should consider ending greyhound racing in this state, and this has now occurred.”

“I am pleased the Parliament has strongly supported the Government’s decision, because it is the right one, even though it has been a difficult one.

“The Bill is the direct consequence of the Special Commission, which found compelling evidence of systemic animal cruelty in greyhound racing and concluded there was a culture of cover-up that gave no comfort to those who hoped it could be reformed.

“This Bill was eminently worthy of bipartisan support, but the Leader of the Opposition has chosen the path of opportunism over principle – something he will need to explain to the voters of NSW, if his colleagues give him the chance.”

Deputy Premier and Minister for Racing Troy Grant said his strong focus is on getting the necessary support, including financial support, for those affected in communities, especially in regional NSW.

“The Greyhounds Transition Taskforce Coordinator General, Dr John Keniry, is travelling across the state to consult with industry members and find out what financial and other support they need to transition themselves and their dogs out of the industry,’’ Mr Grant said.

“We’re committed to leaving no-one behind in the transition to an orderly and humane industry closure and we’ll announce this package, which will include financial assistance, in coming months.

“Despite the Opposition Leader’s two-hour speech against the Bill in Parliament tonight, not once did he reaffirm his commitment to reintroduce the industry if Labor is elected, proving his promises to industry are opportunistic and empty."

Calling Dynamic Portrait Artists

National Portrait Gallery
The Digital Portraiture Award celebrates and cultivates dynamic portraiture of various forms. The winner receives $10,000 and a residency at The Edge, the State Library of Queensland’s digital culture centre for experimentation in science, art, technology and enterprise. Finalists’ work will be exhibited at the National Portrait Gallery and online.

‘Digital portraiture’ means what?
We define digital portraiture broadly. A movie, a stop-motion animation, a soundscape, a music video, a game or a bot – any of these forms could work to convey notions of selfhood and identity. Also, artists need not confine their response to a physical likeness in the traditional sense of a portrait. The critical thing is to create a compelling expression of identity.Peruse some great examples of digital portraiture. Be inspired.

Sounds like a free-for-all!
Well, no. For pragmatic reasons we do set some clear limits:

NO stills! (We encourage digital photographers to submit their work for the National Photographic Portrait Prize.)
Your portrait must be exhibitable in 2D space (or close to it), eg a 55-inch screen on a wall.
To enter, you must be an adult resident of Australia.

Deadlines and details
You may enter a work at any time between 11 July and 30 September 2016. Finalist works will be exhibited at the National Portrait Gallery from 2 December, and the winner will be announced at the opening.

For all the grit, see the guidelines for entrants. If that doesn’t address all your questions and concerns, please contact us.
Cosmic neighbors inhibit star formation, even in the early universe

August 24, 2016

Massive galaxy cluster MACS J0416 seen in X-rays (blue), visible light (red, green, and blue), and radio light (pink). Credit: NASA/CXC/SAO/G.Ogrean/STScI/NRAO/AUI/NSF.

The international University of California, Riverside-led SpARCS collaboration has discovered four of the most distant clusters of galaxies ever found, as they appeared when the universe was only 4 billion years old. Clusters are rare regions of the universe consisting of hundreds of galaxies containing trillions of stars, as well as hot gas and mysterious dark matter. Spectroscopic observations from the ground using the W. M. Keck Observatory in Hawaii and the Very Large Telescope in Chile confirmed the four candidates to be massive clusters. This sample is now providing the best measurement yet of when and how fast galaxy clusters stop forming stars in the early Universe.

"We looked at how the properties of galaxies in these clusters differed from galaxies found in more typical environments with fewer close neighbors," said Julie Nantais, an assistant professor at the Andres Bello University in Chile and the first author of the research paper that appears in the August 2016 issue of Astronomy and Astrophysics. "It has long been known that when a galaxy falls into a cluster, interactions with other cluster galaxies and with hot gas accelerate the shut off of its star formation relative to that of a similar galaxy in the field, in a process known as environmental quenching. The SpARCS team have developed new techniques using Spitzer Space Telescope infrared observations to identify hundreds of previously-undiscovered clusters of galaxies in the distant universe."

As anticipated, the team did indeed find that many more galaxies in the clusters had stopped forming stars compared to galaxies of the same mass in the field. Lead scientist Gillian Wilson, professor of physics and astronomy at UC Riverside, said, "Fascinatingly, however, the study found that the percentage of galaxies which had stopped forming stars in those young, distant clusters, was much lower than the percentage found in much older, nearby clusters. While it had been fully expected that the percentage of cluster galaxies which had stopped forming stars would increase as the universe aged, this latest work quantifies the effect." The paper concludes that about 30 percent of the galaxies which would normally be forming stars have been quenched in the distant clusters, compared to the much higher value of about 50 percent found in nearby clusters.

Several possible physical processes could be responsible for causing environmental quenching. For example, the hot, harsh cluster environment might prevent the galaxy from continuing to accrete cold gas and form new stars, a process astronomers have named "starvation." Alternatively, the quenching could be caused by interactions with other galaxies in the cluster. These galaxies might "harass" (undergo frequent, high speed, gravitationally-disturbing encounters), tidally strip (pull material from a smaller galaxy to a larger one) or merge (two or more galaxies joining together) with the first galaxy to stop its star formation.

While the current study does not answer the question of which process is primarily responsible, it is nonetheless hugely important because it provides the most accurate measurement yet of how much environmental quenching has occurred in the early universe. Moreover, the study provides an all-important early-universe benchmark by which to judge upcoming predictions from competing computational numerical simulations which make different assumptions about the relative importance of the many different environmental quenching processes which have been suggested, and the timescales upon which they operate.

The W. M. Keck Observatory findings were obtained as the result of a collaboration amongst UC faculty members Gillian Wilson (UCR) and Michael Cooper (UCI), and graduate students Andrew DeGroot (UCR) and Ryan Foltz (UCR). Other authors involved in the study are Remco van der Burg (Université Paris Diderot), Chris Lidman (Australian Astronomical Observatory), Ricardo Demarco (Universidad de Concepción, Chile), Allison Noble (University of Toronto, Canada) and Adam Muzzin (University of Cambridge).

Julie B. Nantais, Remco F. J. van der Burg, Chris Lidman, Ricardo Demarco, Allison Noble, Gillian Wilson, Adam Muzzin, Ryan Foltz, Andrew DeGroot, Michael C. Cooper. Stellar mass function of cluster galaxies atz ~ 1.5: evidence for reduced quenching efficiency at high redshift.Astronomy & Astrophysics, 2016; 592: A161 DOI:10.1051/0004-6361/201628663

Intercity Train Concepts Revealed

18th August 2016: NSW Government
A new generation of double-decker trains is coming to NSW. The brand new trains will begin rolling onto our railways from 2019, transforming intercity travel for customers in Newcastle, the Central Coast, South Coast and the Blue Mountains.

Minister for Transport and Infrastructure Andrew Constance said the trains will offer comfort and convenience that will encourage people out of their cars.

“For customers travelling more lengthy trips, these trains will be more spacious, more comfortable and have features never before seen on our long distance services,” Mr Constance said.

The new fleet of trains will include modern CCTV surveillance technology to ensure safety, help points and digital screens. 
New features will include:
• Charging stations for mobile devices on each seat
• Two by two seating on upper and lower levels
• Wider, fabric-covered seats with arm rests and more space
• Cup holders and tray tables
• Dedicated space for luggage, prams, bicycles and wheelchairs
• Accessible toilets
• Digital screens and announcements.

The new intercity fleet of more than 500 new carriages will be built by RailConnect, a joint venture between the Hyundai Rotem Company, Mitsubishi Electric Australia and UGL Rail.

Museum Bestows Its Inaugural Honorary Fellowship 

August 25, 2016
The Australian National Maritime Museum is proud to announce that it’s Council has today honoured one of its most valued supporters, Rear Admiral Andrew Robertson AO, DSC, RAN (Rtd) by naming him as its inaugural Honorary Fellow in recognition of his thirty years of service and support of the museum.
Rear Admiral Andrew Robertson named first Honorary Fellow of the Australian National Maritime Museum Maritime 

The Australian National Maritime Museum is proud to announce that it’s Council has today honoured one of its most valued supporters, Rear Admiral Andrew Robertson AO, DSC, RAN (Rtd) by naming him as its inaugural Honorary Fellow in recognition of his thirty years of service and support of the museum.

The Honorary Fellowship, the museum’s highest level of recognition, acknowledges rare individuals of high distinction who have a profound interest in the museum and have made a significant contribution to it. Honorary Fellows receive a variety of benefits including life membership and their name placed on an honour board in the museum.

Rear Admiral Andrew Robertson was born in 1925.  He joined the Royal Australian Navy in 1939 and had a long and illustrious career serving in PNG, the Solomon Islands, Coral Sea and New Hebrides from 1942 to 1944 and in the Mediterranean from 1944 to end of World War II. He was awarded the King's Medal in 1942 and the Distinguished Service Cross for service in the Korean War. He was head of the Australian Defence staff in London and Europe before retiring in 1982.

Rear Admiral Robertson’s impact on the founding of the Australian National Maritime Museum is profound and enduring. He is publicly associated with a report which influenced the Government’s decision to establish the museum, was Deputy Convenor of the museum’s Advisory Committee during its establishment in 1985 and was Deputy Chairman of the Interim Council from 1985 to 1988. He proposed the five key themes for the museum’s permanent exhibitions and drafted a proposed charter for the museum. 

As a member of the Advisory Committee and the Interim Council he influenced the museum’s design, legislation, budget and structure, branding, exhibition design and masterplan, education policy, early acquisitions (particularly HMAS Vampire and Ken Warby’s Spirit of Australia). His period on the Interim Council included the construction phase of the museum building.  

In April this year the museum unveiled a new two-metre-tall bronze sculpture to honour the contribution made by ‘windjammer sailors’ to the development of Australia. The sculpture was commissioned from a major donation by Rear Admiral Robertson. Located within the cultural precinct on the Pyrmont wharf foreshore between the Australian National Maritime Museum and the Wharf 7 Maritime Heritage Centre, Pyrmont, the sculpture is part of a program to re-energise the area. 

Kevin Sumption, museum director, said, “On behalf of the Council and staff of the Australian National Maritime Museum we are delighted to honour Rear Admiral Andrew Robertson by naming him our inaugural Honorary Fellow. Rear Admiral Robertson’s naval career is to be celebrated and as a founding councillor he is a long-time friend and supporter of the museum. He has played an enormous role in making the museum what it is today and we are incredibly grateful for his wonderful contribution to Australian maritime history.”

The Australian National Maritime Museum in Sydney is the national centre for maritime collections, exhibitions, research and archaeology. As a Commonwealth cultural institution the museum is committed to fulfilling its national mandate by developing programs and opportunities to share its expertise, collection and the national maritime story with regional communities throughout 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.

It's A Boy! Koala Joey At Taronga Western Plains Zoo Emerges From Pouch

It's A Boy! Spring Has Sprung! Koala Joey Emerges From Pouch

Thursday, August 25, 2016
Keepers at Taronga Western Plains Zoo are delighted to report early sightings of a male Koala joey that is now just over five months old and starting to emerge from its mother’s pouch.

The yet to be named Koala joey is the third offspring for mother, Wild Girl who is displaying very positive nurturing behaviours.

“We are really happy with how both mother and joey are doing. Wild Girl is an experienced mother and is showing all the right maternal behaviours,” said Keeper, Denyell Woodhouse.

Wild Girl arrived at the Zoo’s Wildlife Hospital after being hit by a car. Unfortunately because of her injuries she couldn’t be released. She joined the Zoo’s Koala group in early 2013 and has since played an important role in the breeding program.

“This is the first Koala joey to emerge from its mother’s pouch this season, and we are hopeful of having at least one more Koala joey emerge in the coming months,” said Denyell.

“At present visitors need to have a keen eye to spot the joey when it is out of the pouch, as it clings to the underside of Wild Girl however, as it grows and the weather warms up, it will start to be more visible and active.”

Koala joeys stay with their mother for up to 12 months of age. They will start to roam further and further away from their mother as they reach this age, exploring their surroundings before becoming fully independent.

A great time to see the Koala joey in the Aussie Walkthrough exhibit is at the daily keeper talk at 2:30pm.

When are you going to visit this little guy? 

Find out more at: 

Photos courtesy Taronga Western Plains Zoo and Visit NSW

September 2016 Book Of The Month: The Present Picture Of New South Wales (1811)

by David Dickinson Mann 
Recording of book here - read by Phil Benson (yes!: you just listen to this one - if you want to download a copy top keep, you can find that here
LibriVox recording of The Present Picture of New South Wales by David Dickinson Mann. 
Read in English by Phil Benson
Convicted of forgery at the age of 23, David Dickenson Mann narrowly escaped hanging and was transported instead to New South Wales, where he arrived in 1799. Three years later he received a full pardon and was soon working in the secretary's office of the colonial government. Mann fell foul of Governor Wiliam Bligh and was about to leave for England, but in 1808 found himself in favour with the rebel government that deposed him. The Present Picture of New South Wales, dedicated to the recently arrived Governor John Hunter, gives a detailed account of the colony . It includes a brief history, an A-Z encyclopedia of political and economic progress and Mann's own ideas on the future development of New South Wales. Mann returned to England in 1809, where he published his book in 1811, dying in the same year. - Summary by Phil Benson
The Map and Four Views contained in this book

Hello Kitty: Extinct Mini Marsupial Lion Named After Sir David Attenborough

24 August by Deborah Smith – UNSW

Reconstruction by palaeoartist Peter Schouten of Microleo attenboroughi prowling along the branches of rainforest trees in search of prey. Image: Peter Schouten

The fossil remains of a new species of tiny marsupial lion which prowled the lush rainforests of northern Australia about 18 million years ago have been unearthed in the Riversleigh World Heritage Area of remote north-western Queensland.

The UNSW discovery team has named the new species Microleo attenboroughi for its small size and to honour the famous broadcaster and naturalist Sir David Attenborough, in recognition of his support for the Riversleigh World Heritage Area, which he has described as one of the four most important fossil areas in the world.

Microleo attenboroughi would have been more like the cute but still feisty kitten of the family.

The new species was much smaller than the other members of this extinct marsupial lion family, including its most famous but younger relative – the lion-sized Thylacoleo carnifex.

“Microleo attenboroughi would have been more like the cute but still feisty kitten of the family,” says study lead author UNSW’s Dr Anna Gillespie.
"It was not lion-size or even bob-cat-size. Weighing only about 600 grams, it was more like a ringtail possum in size.”

The news species is described in the journal Palaeontologia Electronica, based on a fossil specimen of part of its skull and teeth. Its dentition includes an elongate, lethally sharp, knife-like premolar in front of basined molars – specialised features which are common to all members of this extraordinary family of marsupial carnivores, the Thylacoleonidae.

Microleo attenboroughi was recovered from a limestone deposit believed to have formed in a pool within a rainforest landscape about 19 million years ago, during the Miocene.

The fossil deposit, named Neville's Garden Site, has already revealed a rich fauna including at least six different kinds of bandicoots, many kinds of possums and kangaroos, toothed platypuses, diminutive koalas, thousands of bats, fish, turtles, lizards, pythons and birds including storks, logrunners and the earliest-known Australian parrot.

“Despite its relatively small size compared with the Pleistocene Thylacoleo carnifex – the last surviving megafaunal marsupial lion – the new species was one of the larger flesh-eaters existing in its ancient community of rainforest creatures at Riversleigh,” says team member UNSW Professor Mike Archer.

The diversity of marsupial lions alive at this time at Riversleigh is unmatched in the fossil record from anywhere else on the continent.
“Microleo shared these northern Miocene rainforests with two larger species of marsupial lion, one cat-sized and the other dog-sized,” says Dr Gillespie.

“Although it is possible they competed with one other, the size differences probably means they each specialised on a different size range of prey.
"It’s likely that Microleo scampered amongst the tree-tops, gobbling insects as well as small vertebrates such as lizards and birds while simultaneously trying to avoid becoming a prey item for its larger relatives,” she says.

Study co-author UNSW Professor Suzanne Hand says: “The early Miocene of northern Australia, as documented by the thousands of fossils from Riversleigh, was a time of mild, very wet climatic conditions with mammal diversity more like that seen in Borneo than anywhere in Australia today.”
Intriguingly, although many thousands of bones and teeth have been recovered in the 40 years of research at Riversleigh, only one specimen of this small flesh-eater has been recovered.

“Tantalising questions about the rest of its skull and skeleton which could further clarify aspects of its lifestyle – such as whether it had an enlarged ‘killing’ thumb claw like its Pleistocene relative – must await discovery of more complete specimens,” says Professor Archer.

A tiny new marsupial lion (Marsupialia, Thylacoleonidae) from the early Miocene of Australia. Anna K. Gillespie, Michael Archer, and Suzanne J. Hand. Article number: 19.2.26A Copyright Palaeontological Association, July 2016 at here