Inbox and Environment News: Issue 298

January 29 - February 4, 2017: Issue 298

Av. Green Team Back At Work

Youth-run, volunteer-based environment initiative from Avalon in Sydney. Trying to keep our area green and clean!

Keep up to date with and join in their next cleansvia their facebook page

Myna Action Group 

Pittwater Natural Heritage Association (PNHA)
Indian Mynas - what a pest - like flying rats. 
Can you help distribute our new flyers about our Northern Beaches Indian Myna Action Group? 

They are for people in cafes and coffee shops, explaining why not to feed these birds and how to get involved in their control. Just take a few and hand out where ever you can. Cafe staff are usually glad of the help. Contact us on for more information and have a look at

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

World Wetlands Day 2017

Australian Government: Department of Environment and Energy
World Wetlands Day is celebrated internationally each year on 2 February. It marks the anniversary of the signing of the Convention on Wetlands of International Importance (Ramsar Convention) in Ramsar, Iran, on 2 February 1971.

World Wetlands Day was first celebrated in 1997. Since then government agencies, non-government organisations and community groups have celebrated World Wetlands Day by undertaking actions to raise public awareness of wetland values and benefits and promote the conservation and wise use of wetlands. These activities include seminars, nature walks, festivals, announcement of new Ramsar sites, newspaper articles, radio interviews and wetland rehabilitation.

World Wetlands Day 2017
The international theme for World Wetlands Day 2017 is Wetlands for disaster risk reduction. This theme will be reflected in the February 2017 edition of Wetlands Australia.

Wetlands play an important role in helping to provide communities with resilience to natural hazards such as flooding caused by storms, cyclones, storm surges and tsunamis. Under projected climate change scenarios, extreme climatic events, including floods, droughts and storms are expected to increase in frequency and intensity. 

Unfortunately, wetlands are often viewed as wasteland, and more than 64% of the world’s wetlands have disappeared since 1900. World Wetlands Day is an annual opportunity to raise public awareness and promote the value of wetlands.

Wetlands Youth Photo Contest
The Ramsar Convention Secretariat is again running a photographic competition for 18-25 year olds. The photograph must be taken of any type of wetland that helps us cope with extreme weather events. The winner will receive a free flight to visit a wetland of international importance (Ramsar wetland), courtesy of Star Alliance Biosphere Connections. To enter upload your photo to . The competition is open between 2 February and 2 March 2017.

Floating Towards Water Treatment

January 25, 2017: American Society of Agronomy

The floating treatment wetland experiment at the University of Oklahoma Aquatic Research Facility. Credit: William Strosnider

Floating wetlands may seem odd but are perfectly natural. They occur when mats of vegetation break free from the shore of a body of water. That got ecological engineers curious about how they affect the water they bob up and down in.

A group from Saint Francis University in Pennsylvania and the University of Oklahoma, including researcher William Strosnider, has found that the floating wetlands show promise for water treatment. They engineered four different floating treatment wetlands designs using different materials and wetland plants.

"The main result is that engineered floating treatment wetlands could affect water quality in many of the same ways that naturally-occurring floating wetlands do," Strosnider says.

For the four designs, the researchers used materials such as drainpipe, burlap, mulch, utility netting, and reused plastic bottles. They planted them with two wetland plants, cattail and common rush. The team then spent three years measuring the effect of the floating wetlands on the water.

Fully treating wastewater requires processing the nitrogen it contains. Strosnider's study shows that these floating wetlands may be able to do this. The study did not directly investigate the processes that allow the wetlands to affect the water. However, they believe it's a combination of different factors.

The plants themselves could be taking up some contaminants in the water, he says, but microbes may have the biggest effect. The base and roots of the floating wetlands make a great place for microbes like bacteria to thrive. There they carry out processes that break down or absorb pollutants such as nitrogen and phosphorus in the water.

There are many examples where these floating treatment wetlands could be successful. They could help treat municipal wastewater by enhancing nitrogen removal. In another example, they could manage algal blooms by helping to regulate water temperature and solar radiation.

Algal blooms are a difficult issue for drinking water reservoirs and coastal ponds. Algae can clog water filters as well as result in lower levels of oxygen in the water, which can kill fish.

To Strosnider, the most interesting thing about the engineered floating treatment wetlands is their ability to do more than improve water quality. They can also provide habitat for fish below the water and insects, water birds, and others above the water.

"The area directly beneath the floating wetlands is high quality habitat, as small fish and amphibians can use the maze of roots to hide from predators," he explains. "In general, the value of habitat that floating wetlands, or any type of treatment wetland, can provide has been poorly studied. We took a small step forward with our study."

Strosnider notes that it could take relatively high-coverage floating treatment wetlands to drive these positive effects. This means that they must continue their research on how best to construct the engineered wetlands and which plants will grow best on them.

Getting the floating treatment wetlands to sustain themselves with minimal maintenance is the main goal of this research, he says. Rather than "intensive" floating wetlands that rely on plastics or styrofoam to function, Strosnider stresses research on "extensive" wetlands that can grow and remain floating all by themselves.

"The next step is to take the lessons learned and test improved extensive designs," he says. "The really big thing that we're working on here is the ability for them to grow and maintain themselves, and hence become a sustainable low-maintenance part of a treatment system. That really was the most interesting and novel part of this work."

W. H. Strosnider, S. E. Schultz, K. A. Johnson Strosnider, R. W. Nairn.Effects on the Underlying Water Column by Extensive Floating Treatment Wetlands. Journal of Environment Quality, 2017; 46 (1): 201 DOI: 10.2134/jeq2016.07.0257

New Approach For Assessing The Social Impacts Of Mining

08.12.2016: Ministerial Media Release  - The Hon. Rob Stokes MP, Minister for Planning
The assessment of the social impacts of mining projects will be strengthened following the exhibition of draft social impact assessment guidelines.

The guidelines have been developed to improve the quality and utility of social impact assessments, which in turn will drive better project design and provide greater certainty to local communities and proponents.

Examples of positive social impacts may include increased employment opportunities and support for local businesses and organisations, whilst examples of negative social impacts may include community dislocation and amenity loss.

Planning Minister Rob Stokes said the new guidelines reflect the important principle that people are at the heart of planning decisions.

“It’s critical that impacts on communities are thoroughly considered and addressed in the assessment of mining projects,” Mr Stokes said.

“These guidelines will support consistency and fairness in decision making, while driving greater accountability and transparency with respect to the social impacts.”

The draft guidelines have been informed by:
  • meetings with local groups in eight locations across rural, regional and remote NSW;
  • advice on current leading practice from the University of Queensland’s Centre for Social Responsibility in Mining, a respected leader in the field of social impact assessment; and
  • consultation with peak community, environment, industry, local government and Aboriginal groups via the Department of Planning and Environment’s Resources Advisory Forum.
The draft guidelines have been released for an extended public exhibition and submission period of 12 weeks from 8 December 2016 until 3 March 2017. The Department will also conduct community workshops and stakeholder briefing sessions.

To view the draft guidelines or to make a submission, please visit

Federal Approval Of Acland Coal Mine Threatens Darling Downs Water, And Food

January 23, 2017: Lock the Gate Alliance
Local farmers and Lock the Gate Alliance have today condemned the move by the Federal Environment Minister, Josh Frydenberg, to approve the Acland Stage 3 Coal expansion near Toowoomba on the Darling Downs of Queensland.

Affected local cattle producer Frank Ashman said: “We’re devastated that the Federal Environment Minister has decided to approve a coal project that will do such extraordinary damage to our water resources”.

Modelling shows that the Acland Stage 3 coal expansion is likely to impact 350 groundwater bores and will cause drawdown in groundwater aquifers of up to 47m in some locations.

“Josh Frydenberg has literally hung our farming community out to dry – we’re entirely dependent on water to maintain our long-term farm enterprises,” Mr Ashman said.

“The Minister has put our national food-bowl here on the Darling Downs at risk for a short-term mining venture that will be here and gone in 12 years’ time. It’s a disgrace,” he said.

Drew Hutton, President of Lock the Gate Alliance, said:“Barnaby Joyce and the National Party should hang their heads in shame today. 

“Approval of this mine by their Federal Coalition Government represents an abject betrayal of their farming constituents.  

“They are hell bent on destroying two of our finest food bowls, the Darling Downs and the Liverpool Plains, and they now represent as great a threat to farmers as the mining industry itself,” he said.

Local farmers and Lock the Gate Alliance are calling on the Queensland Government, which has not yet approved the mine, to reject the project and protect farmland and water resources.

Draft NSW Marine Estate Threat And Risk Assessment Report Released

January 2017: Media Release - NSW DPI
The Marine Estate Management Authority has released the draft statewide Threat and Risk Assessment (TARA) Report for the NSW marine estate.
Authority Chair Dr Wendy Craik said the draft report summarises the first statewide evidence-based assessment of the threats to the social and economic benefits of the marine estate and the environmental assets that support them.

“The draft TARA report has been developed based on the best available scientific evidence and advice from experts, stakeholders and the community,” she said.

Dr Craik said the NSW community had helped identify the social and economic benefits our estuaries and coastline provide, and the importance of the environmental assets that underpin them, during a statewide survey in 2014.

“These benefits include recreational pursuits such as swimming or surfing at the beach, boating, fishing, and commercial and tourism opportunities such as shipping, commercial and charter fishing, SCUBA diving and others,” she said.

“Community members and stakeholders now have an opportunity to provide feedback on the draft report, which highlights potential threats to these benefits and the marine estate’s environmental assets.”

Dr Craik said short videos and an interactive tool are being provided to facilitate community feedback and discussion by presenting the report results in a user-friendly way.

“We are committed to managing our marine estate for the benefit of the community, and this report and the process is designed to support and encourage participation,” she said.

The final report will inform the ongoing management of the NSW marine estate through the drafting of a new 10-year Marine Estate Management Strategy.

It will also be considered in the creation of new management plans, starting with the Solitary Islands and Batemans Marine Parks.

The draft TARA report includes revised findings for the Hawkesbury Shelf marine bioregion, now called the ‘Central Region’.

The draft report delivers on a key commitment of the NSW Government, to provide evidence-based management of the NSW marine estate, and is a requirement of the Marine Estate Management Act 2014.

More information

The public comment period closes on Friday, 31 March 2017. Key marine estate stakeholders will be invited to participate in a series of workshops to be held along the coast in February and March

2017 Offshore Petroleum Exploration Acreage Release - Proposed Areas

Public Consultation Closes 7 Feb 2017

The annual Offshore Petroleum Exploration Acreage Release is a key part of the Australian Government's strategy to encourage petroleum exploration in Australia’s offshore waters.

The inclusion of an acreage release area means that companies can apply to explore in that area, it does not necessarily mean exploration will occur in that area in the future. Companies must apply for a release area and be assessed as a deserving applicant before decision-makers may award a petroleum exploration permit. Should a permit be awarded, it authorises the holder to apply to Australia's independent offshore petroleum regulator, NOPSEMA, for permission to undertake an activity.

The main steps in the acreage release cycle are:
  • nominations invited
  • shortlisting of nominated areas
  • consultation - undertaken in two phases:
  1. with agencies in Commonwealth and state/Northern Territory jurisdictions with direct responsibility for managing the marine environment
  2. a public consultation period on the proposed areas.
Following consultation, the final areas for the acreage release are announced by the responsible Commonwealth Minister and industry are invited to submit bids on the release areas.

Why We Are Consulting
This consultation process provides an opportunity for persons who have a specific interest in a proposed area to provide comments and/or information that may be useful to:
  • inform the acreage release
  • inform potential explorers of their particular interest.
A full set of maps for the proposed area below. These maps show the the proposed areas in relation to Commonwealth Marine Reserves, existing petroleum titles and infrastructure and bathymetry.

Give Us Your Views


Tomato Festival Sydney

February 18 – February 19
Feb 18 at 10 AM to Feb 19 at 4 PM
The Band Lawn at The Royal Botanic Garden, Sydney

The award-winning Tomato Festival Sydney returns for a fourth year on Saturday 18 and Sunday 19 February, 10am – 4pm at the Royal Botanic Garden Sydney. Bring along the whole family for an inspiring harbourside food festival celebrating all things tomato.

Set on the spectacular foreshore lawns of the Royal Botanic Garden Sydney, the Festival Village will be buzzing with exciting, fun and delicious activities, with something for everyone.
  • Village market dedicated to local producers and artisans
  • Talks and cooking demonstrations
  • Relish pop-up café & bar
  • Free Garden tours
  • Children’s activities including pizza making
  • Tomato mandala
  • Home-grown tomato competitions
  • Free Diggers Heirloom Tomato Taste Test
  • Longest Tomato Lunch
Tomatoes are enjoyed all over the world, in all manner of ways. From salads to sauces, pizza to pastas, the fabulous tomato has become a key ingredient in all our lives. This is your chance to celebrate them!

In 2016 chillies spiced up the Festival, in 2017 it will be the fragrant and diverse world of herbs!

The Festival promotes local and seasonal produce, heirloom varieties, bush tucker as well as growing and preserving the season’s bounty in an imaginative and accessible way. This, in turn, can change behaviour and drive a passion for food, where it comes from and an understanding of the important role plants play in our lives

Planning Reforms To Boost Housing Supply

09.01.2017: Ministerial Media Release - The Hon. Rob Stokes MP, Minister for Planning
Making it simpler to build a home and enhancing community participation in key decisions will be now easier through a package of red tape-busting reforms released for consultation by the NSW Government today.

Planning Minister Rob Stokes said proposed amendments to the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 target delays in Development Application (DA) processing by councils, while also enhancing community confidence in the planning system.

The proposed changes include standardising the format of council’s development control plans to make them easier to understand and navigate, giving developers incentives to resolve objections before lodging DAs, and focusing councillor attention on strategic planning with greater numbers of DA assessments being processed by staff or local planning panels.

Local communities will have greater opportunity to participate in strategic planning for their neighbourhoods as early as practicable, with each planning authority required to prepare community participation plans. 

Other proposed changes include leveling the playing field for the assessment of major projects by ending transitional arrangements under Labor’s controversial Part 3A development assessment which will prevent the misuse of modifications. 

Mr Stokes said the state was experiencing the longest housing construction boom in NSW history with the latest figures for the 12 months to October showing 74,577 approvals, the second highest on record.

“However, there is still more work to do and these planning reforms build on our impressive results over the past five years by making it easier to build new homes,” Mr Stokes said.

“The NSW Government is determined to do everything it can, including making the planning system more efficient, to ensure housing supply gets to homebuyers fast.”

Mr Stokes said NSW Treasury estimated there is pent up demand for up to 100,000 new homes due to the former Labor Government failing to provide adequate supply.  

Proposed updates to the EP&A Act include:
• Investigating incentives for developers to consult with neighbours and the surrounding community to ensure disputes are resolved prior to a Development  Application proceeding to council;
• New powers for the Planning Minister to direct a council to establish a local planning panels of experts and community representatives;
• A standardised format for development control plans, produced in consultation with councils, to promote consistency across the confusing array of up to 400 formats currently used in NSW;
• Authority for the Department of Planning and Environment Secretary to ensure the efficient processing of developments that require separate approvals and advice under different NSW legislation;
• Measures to ensure that local environmental plans are kept up to date;
• Extending and improving the complying development assessment process that currently covers most new one or two storey dwellings, to include greenfield developments and terrace housing.
• Simplifying and consolidating building provisions to remove confusion for developers;
• Widening the availability of internal review options for proponents aggrieved by council decisions as a faster, low cost alternative to court action; and
• Introducing fair and consistent planning agreements between developers and councils to ensure there is more transparency on deals to fund public amenities, affordable housing, transport and other infrastructure.

Mr Stokes said the planning reforms would assist the NSW Government deliver the 725,000 new homes forecast to be required by 2036 to house an extra 1.7 million residents.

The community is encouraged to have its say on the proposed amendments to the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979. These updates are on public exhibition from 9 January – 10 March 2017, and can be viewed at 

The consultation package comprises four documents:
2. Bill guide  
3. Draft Bill - Environmental Planning and Assessment
Amendment Bill 2017

Have your say on the draft updates to the EP&A Act 
Consultation is now underway on the draft amendments to the EP&A Act, details of which are at the ‘Key documents’ tab above.

The public consultation period for the Bill is from 10 January 2017 to 10 March 2017.

We encourage our stakeholders, interested community groups and individuals to review the reforms and respond:
• by mail to: 
Planning legislation updates 2017
NSW Department of Planning and Environment 
GPO Box 39
Sydney NSW 2001

NSW Wetlands Forum - World Wetlands Day

Thu. 2 February 2017
9:00 am – 3:30 pm
Aquatic Centre Conference Room
Olympic Boulevard, Sydney Olympic Park
Sydney Olympic Park

The Australian Wetland Network invites you to this one-day NSW forum to mark World Wetlands Day
  • Receive updates on government initiatives to implement the Ramsar Convention
  • Showcase the contributions and concerns of NGOs and community groups conserving wetlands
  • Join a cross-sector dialogue on wetland policy and conservation
World Wetlands Day celebrates the signing of the Ramsar Convention for conservation and wise use of wetlands in the Iranian city of Ramsar on the 2nd February, 1971.

The Forum welcomes representatives from the government, non-government, community, business and private sectors including wetland managers, educators, scientists, conservationists, strategic planners, policy-makers and practitioners.

Tassie's Giants

The Tree Project team, Steven Pearce and Jen Sanger, have been making the news for all the right reasons this week, for climbing...well, a tree. A GIANT tree - in Tasmania.

The Styx Valley, past the township of Maydena, about 100 kilometres north-west from Hobart, is home to the world's tallest flowering plant and one of the world's tallest trees — the eucalyptus regnans, often called mountain ash or swamp gum. These magnificent tree can grow to 100 metres.

Canopy ecologist Dr Jen Sanger and adventure Photographer Steven Pearce create outreach content to promote the conservation of our forests.

The Tree Projects use innovative film and photography methods to raise awareness about the world's significant trees and the forests in which they reside. We bring you beautiful imagery of the trees from a unique perspective, which allows people to experience a rainforest from above the forest floor.

The signature element of their projects is a 'tree portrait' of a significant tree. When large forest trees are viewed from the ground, it is often impossible to get a true sense of the size of the tree, as the top of the tree is often obscured from view. The pair install a specialised camera rigging system which runs the entire vertical length of the tree and takes a photo every metre. These photos are then stitched together to create a portrait of the tree from a level viewpoint without visual distortion.

The projects also contain many other innovative content such as virtual reality tours of the canopy, aerial photography and timelaspe and hyperlapse video. Our content is designed for educational purposes and is used for museum exhibition and for magazine articles. We hope to educate people about the importance of forests but allowing them to view trees from a new perspective. 

2015: The New Zealand Tree Project
2016: The Tasmanian Tree Project

Want to see an ULTRA EUCALYPT in super high resolution? THEN CHECK THIS OUT! Follow this link to see their Eucalyptus Regnans Tree Portrait in a zoomable 1:1 scale! 

The Tree Project team spent 67 days on the project, which is now on display at the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery.

Premier Berejiklian Must Repair The Damage Of Her Predecessors

23 January, 2017: Nature Conservation Council NSW
The NSW Nature Conservation Council welcomes the election of Premier Gladys Berejiklian as an opportunity to reset the Coalition Government’s environmental agenda for the benefit of communities and nature across the state.

“We congratulate Ms Berejiklian on her election as Premier and look forward to working with her constructively to turn around the Coalition government’s poor environmental record of the past six years,” NCC CEO Kate Smolski said.

“Ms Berejiklian has much to do to repair the harm to nature caused by her predecessors and to restore the Liberal Party’s environmental reputation.

“To date, the Coalition government has failed to chart a sustainable future for our state. Premiers Baird and O’Farrell were asleep at the wheel on environmental policy, allowing those with a financial interest in weakening environmental protections to shape nature laws in this state.

“Ms Berejiklian’s elevation is an opportunity for the government to reset its position on many environmental and planning policy issues, enhance protections for wildlife, bushland and marine life, and to act decisively on climate change.

“Earlier this year, the government set a target of net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, which was a positive signal that climate change is being taken more seriously by the Coalition.

“We are very keen to work with Ms Berejiklian to help her achieve that goal well before 2050 by ramping up investment in renewables and hastening the closure of coal-fired power stations.

“We sincerely hope the new premier takes a genuine interest in the protection of the astonishing natural beauty and wildlife that is the common legacy of all people in NSW.”

Ms Smolski said environmental issues that require Ms Berejiklian’s urgent attention include: 

Climate change and clean energy transition
  • Bringing forward the net-zero emissions target date from 2050 to 2030
  • Ending coal and CSG mining in NSW – no new coal mines, mine expansions, or gas fields
  • Ramping up investment in large-scale and household renewables
Nature protection
  • Restoring strong controls on land clearing
  • Ending native forest logging
  • Declaring a marine park for the Sydney region

Eight New Projects To Help Save Our Threatened Species

Media release: 25 January 2017 - The Hon. Josh Frydenberg MP, Minister for the Environment and Energy
Eight new projects worth more than $475,000 will deliver a welcome New Year boost for threatened species such as the bilby, matchstick banksia, eastern barred bandicoot and brush-tailed rabbit-rat.

The projects build on the success of the Threatened Species Strategy and will help us meet its ambitious targets for future years.

One of our targeted mammals, the bilby, is set to benefit from a project that brings Indigenous groups and rangers together for a Bilby Blitz across important areas of its habitat Australia.

This nationally coordinated monitoring program for the species will provide the information needed to better manage and conserve this remarkably iconic Australian burrowing marsupial.

Two other projects will focus on insuring our incredible threatened plants.

The first project will help the horticulture and nursery industries to propagate and sell threatened plants so that Australians can grow some of our most endangered plants in their very own backyards.

The second will develop a toolkit for community groups to collect and bank endangered plant seeds.

Other projects include building a database to capture the efforts of species recovery teams and raising community awareness of threatened species.

Work will also be funded to reduce the impacts of feral cats on Australia's wildlife, by building the skills and capacity of island communities (the Tiwi Islands, French Island, Kangaroo Island, Bruny Island, Dirk Hartog Island and Christmas Island).

Today's announcement brings total Coalition Government funding since 2014 in support of threatened species to more than $210 million.

More information on the Threatened Species Strategy can be found

Antarctic Bottom Waters Freshening At Unexpected Rate

January 25, 2017: Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

In some places along the Antarctic coast, ice formation causes seawater to grow saltier and therefore denser, so that it sinks to the sea floor. Known as the Antarctic Bottom Waters (AABW), these deep, cold waters play a critical role in regulating circulation, temperature, and availability of oxygen and nutrients throughout the world's oceans. Credit: Eric Taylor, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

In the cold depths along the sea floor, Antarctic Bottom Waters are part of a global circulatory system, supplying oxygen-, carbon- and nutrient-rich waters to the world's oceans. Over the last decade, scientists have been monitoring changes in these waters. But a new study from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) suggests these changes are themselves shifting in unexpected ways, with potentially significant consequences for the ocean and climate.

In a paper published January 25 in Science Advances, a team led by WHOI oceanographers Viviane Menezes and Alison Macdonald report that Antarctic Bottom Water (AABW) has freshened at a surprising rate between 2007 and 2016 -- a shift that could alter ocean circulation and ultimately contribute to rising sea levels.

"If you change the circulation, you change everything in the ocean," said Menezes, a WHOI postdoctoral investigator and the study's lead author. Ocean circulation drives the movement of warm and cold waters around the world, so it is essential to storing and regulating heat and plays a key role in Earth's temperature and climate. "But we don't have the whole story yet. We have some new pieces, but we don't have the entire puzzle."

The puzzle itself isn't new: past studies suggest that AABW has been undergoing significant changes for decades. Since the 1990s, an international program of repeat surveys has periodically sampled certain ocean basins around the world to track the circulation and conditions at these spots over time. Along one string of sites, or "stations," that stretches from Antarctica to the southern Indian Ocean, researchers have tracked the conditions of AABW -- a layer of profoundly cold water less than 0°C (it stays liquid because of its salt content, or salinity) that moves through the abyssal ocean, mixing with warmer waters as it circulates around the globe in the Southern Ocean and northward into all three of the major ocean basins.

The AABW forms along the Antarctic ice shelves, where strong winds cool open areas of water, called polynyas, until some of the water freezes. The salt in the water doesn't freeze, however, so the unfrozen seawater around the ice becomes saltier. The salt makes the water denser, causing it to sink to the ocean bottom.

"These waters are thought to be the underpinning of the large-scale global ocean circulation," said Macdonald, a WHOI senior research specialist and the study's co-author. "Antarctic Bottom Water gets its characteristics from the atmosphere -- for example, dissolved carbon and oxygen -- and sends them deep into the ocean. Then, as the water moves around the globe, it mixes with the water around it and they start to share each other's properties. It's like taking a deep breath and letting it go really slowly, over decades or even centuries."

As a result, the frigid flow plays a critical role in regulating circulation, temperature, and availability of oxygen and nutrients throughout the world's oceans, and serves as both a barometer for climate change and a factor that can contribute to that change.

A past study using the repeat survey data found that AABW had warmed and freshened (grown less saline) between 1994 and 2007. When Macdonald and Menezes revisited the line of stations, they measured how AABW has changed in the years since.

During the austral summer of 2016, they joined the crew of the research ship R/V Revelle and cruised north from Antarctica to Australia, braving frequent storms to collect samples every 30 nautical miles. In a shipboard lab, they analyzed the samples using data from conductivity-temperature-depth (CTD) sensors, which measure the water's salinity, temperature and other properties, with support from study co-author Courtney Schatzman of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, who processed the raw data.

The team found that the previously detected warming trend has continued, though at a somewhat slower pace. The biggest surprise, however, was its lack of saltiness: AABW in this region has grown fresher four times faster in the past decade than it did between 1994 and 2007.

"I thought, 'Oh wow!' when I saw the change in salinity," said Menezes. "You collect the data and sometimes you spend 2 to 3 years to find something, but this time we knew what we had within hours, and we knew it was very unexpected."

Such a shift, were it global, could significantly disrupt ocean circulation and sea levels.

"The fresher and warmer the water is, the less dense it will be, and the more it will expand and take up more space -- and that leads to rising sea levels," Macdonald said. "If these waters no longer sink, it could have far reaching affects for global ocean circulation patterns."

Questions remain around the cause of the shift. Menezes and Macdonald hypothesize that the freshening could be due to a recent landscape-changing event. In 2010, an iceberg about the size of Rhode Island collided with Antarctica's Mertz Glacier Tongue, carving out a more-than-1,000-square-mile piece and reshaping the icescape of the George V/Adelie Land Coast, where the AABW observed in this study is thought to form. The subsequent melting dramatically freshened the waters there, which may have in turn freshened the AABW as well. Future studies could use chemical analysis to trace the waters back to the site of the collision and calving and confirm the hypothesis.

Viviane V. Menezes, Alison M. Macdonald and Courtney Schatzman.Accelerated freshening of Antarctic Bottom Water over the last decade in the Southern Indian Ocean. Science Advances, January 2017 DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.1601426

Budj Bim To Be Nominated For World Heritage Tentative List

Media release: 20 January 2017 - The Hon. Josh Frydenberg MP, Minister for the Environment and Energy
The Turnbull Government has submitted a nomination for Budj Bim Cultural Landscape to be included on Australia’s World Heritage Tentative List.  Budj Bim in Lake Condah, Victoria is one of Australia’s earliest and largest aquaculture systems. Including it on the Tentative List is the first step in formally nominating it for World Heritage status.

A formal World Heritage nomination for the Budj Bim Cultural Landscape will now be prepared by the Victorian Government and the Gunditj Mirring Traditional Owners Aboriginal Corporation with technical support from the Federal Government. If successful, it will become the first Australian place World Heritage listed solely for Indigenous cultural values.

Dating back thousands of years, Budj Bim shows how a large, settled Aboriginal community systematically farmed and smoked eels to provide food for themselves and as an economic and social base for trade.

It’s a part of Australia’s history that has international significance as it is one of the earliest known aquaculture systems around the world. Adding the Budj Bim Cultural Landscape to the World Heritage Tentative List is the first step in the process of this important place being recognised internationally.

Around 30,000 years ago a volcanic eruption created lava flows that changed the drainage pattern in the area, creating large wetlands. The Gunditjmara community then developed this landscape through the construction of an ingenious system of channels, fishtraps and weirs which provided ideal conditions for growing and harvesting eels.

The Gunditjmara Aboriginal people should be congratulated for their tireless advocacy and ongoing commitment for recognition of the international significance of this remarkable site. Today visitors can learn about traditions associated with eel farming and the ongoing ecological management of Gunditjmara country. 
Australia has 19 World Heritage places, with Kakadu National Park, Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, Tasmanian Wilderness and Willandra Lakes Region listed for both natural and Indigenous cultural values. 
If added to the World Heritage List Budj Bim will be Australia’s 20th World Heritage place.

In recognition of its outstanding significance to Australia, Budj Bim was the first place to be added to the National Heritage List when it was created on 20 July, 2004. The site’s important heritage values are protected under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.

Invitation To Nominate Significant Places To The National Heritage List

Media release - The Hon. Josh Frydenberg MP, Minister for the Environment and Energy
All Australians are invited to nominate places of exceptional natural, Indigenous, or historic significance to the nation for possible inclusion in the National Heritage List.

Nominations are now open for the 2017-18 assessment period and all Australians are welcome to recommend a place that contributes to our national story.

The National Heritage List celebrates and protects places of outstanding heritage value to all Australians. It reflects the story of our development as a nation, our spirit and ingenuity, and our unique, living landscapes.

There are 107 sites in the National Heritage List, from well-known places such as Uluru and the Sydney Opera House to lesser-known but equally important sites such as the Dinosaur Stampede National Monument in Queensland or the Bonegilla Migrant Camp in Victoria.

Listed places are protected under the Australian Government’s Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 and approval must be obtained before taking any action to ensure there is no significant impact on the national heritage values of the place.

Nominations for the National Heritage List should set out the qualities or values of the place that make it outstanding to the nation by indicating how it meets one or more of the heritage criteria. It is also important to ensure that the nomination is supported by all owners and occupiers and Indigenous people with rights or interests.

After consideration of all the places nominated and advice from the Australian Heritage Council on them the Government will decide on a final list of places for the Council to assess.  

The Australian Heritage Council will invite public comment on the places under assessment and consult extensively with everyone interested in the place, particularly owners and occupiers and Indigenous people with rights or interests.

Everyone is encouraged to get involved in this process and nominate places of outstanding significance to our nation.

The nomination period for the National Heritage List opens today (13 December 2016) and closes on 17 February 2017. For more information visit

$10 Million To Protect Koala Habitat 

Media Release: Hon. Mark Speakman, Minister for the Environment 
The NSW Government will invest $10 million over five years to acquire vital koala habitat and will embark on a whole-of-government koala strategy to secure NSW koala populations, Environment Minister Mark Speakman announced today.

The NSW Chief Scientist and Engineer Professor Mary O’Kane AC’s Report of the Independent Review into the Decline of Koala Populations in Key Areas of NSW, released today, recommended developing an overarching strategy and investing in key areas of koala habitat.

Mr Speakman said the NSW Government commissioned the independent review in March.
“The independent review proposes 11 recommendations to help develop a strategy that can secure and eventually increase NSW koala numbers,” Mr Speakman said.

“The strategy will also complement the koala conservation work already being done under the NSW Government’s flagship $100 million Saving our Species program. This work will include projects, which improve koala habitat and trialling artificial water sources for koalas to mitigate heat stress.

“The $10 million investment follows the creation in March of flora reserves totalling 120 square km on the South Coast, run by the National Parks and Wildlife Service, to protect the last known local koala population.”

A three-month consultation program will include regional community information sessions, stakeholder meetings, webinars and information/feedback via a web portal.

“We want communities to look at the independent review and provide input to help direct the NSW Government’s strategy so we can preserve this iconic species for all generations to come,” Mr Speakman said.

To comment on the strategy’s direction
and to find out more about the NSW Government’s koala conservation
efforts through the Saving our Species program

Public exhibition for the Saving our Species Iconic Koala Project is from 4 December 2016 to 11:59pm 3 March 2017. You are invited tocomment on the Saving our Species Iconic Koala Project by sending a written submission during this time. Visit: HERE

An important finding of this review is that it may not be possible to ensure all koala populations continue to persist in all locations. There are some populations where government and community action can help secure ongoing viability but there are also areas where the historical land use decisions, current competing land uses, as well as risks from road strike, dog attack and, in some areas, drought and bush fire events mean that it will be much more difficult to secure those populations. Government will need to make clear choices and invest resources where it is most likely to make a difference.

Critical to this are data. We need more and better quality data and more information to prioritise investment, to get the most out of the various regulatory and management tools we have available and to know if we are making progress towards the overall goal. New sensor and data analytics technology can make data gathering more efficient and cost effective.
Key elements of a whole-of-government koala strategy should be to:
  • prioritise data gathering and research about populations, habitat and threats, including the cumulative impacts of multiple threats, to inform better planning and management decisions 
  • review and align the various legislative and management arrangements to ensure
  • improved outcomes for koalas across different land uses and tenures
  • work across tenures to identify and implement on-ground actions that improve connectivity and resilience against threats 
  • identify incentives for best practice new development and ongoing land use in all cases where koala populations may be adversely affected across tenures, industries and land users 
  • establish a framework for on-going coordination and cooperation of land managers, policy makers, researchers and the community to deliver the defined actions.
While many of the recommendations in this report aim to understand and address threats to koala populations, it is also important to support those who respond when the threats cannot be mitigated. Fauna rehabilitation groups play a critical front-line role in assisting the recovery of individual koalas, most commonly injured by car strikes, dog attacks or fire.
Successful implementation of a NSW koala strategy should lead to the following outcomes:
  • we will know which koala populations have the potential for long term viability 
  • we will have evidence that threats to these populations have been identified and mitigated 
  • the community will feel confident that new development and ongoing land use will not threaten key koala populations 
  • our scientific knowledge of koala populations, dynamics and health will be substantially increased 
  • the number of koalas will become stable and then start to increase.
A NSW koala strategy should provide clear benefit to key koala populations in NSW.

However, in identifying and protecting koala habitat and managing key threats, this strategy will also benefit other native species and NSW landscapes more broadly.

This review makes 11 recommendations to inform the development of a NSW koala strategy.

Recommendation 1
That Government adopt a whole-of-government koala strategy for NSW with the objective of stabilising and then starting to increase koala numbers.
Recommendation 2
That Government initiate a program to improve data on the number, location and occurrence of koalas in NSW, including trends over time, taking advantage of new sensor and communication technologies and data analytics within 12 months of receipt of this report.
Recommendation 3
That Government publish a state-wide predictive koala habitat map within three years of receipt of this report, with immediate priority given to improving coverage of the north coast.
Recommendation 4
That Government improve outcomes for koalas through changes to the planning system.
Recommendation 5
That Government improve outcomes for koalas through the Biodiversity Conservation Bill and associated Regulations.
Recommendation 6
That Government investigate models for guiding and incentivising collaborative best practice for new development and ongoing land use occurring in areas of known koala populations across tenures, industries and land users.
Recommendation 7
That Government agencies identify priority areas of land across tenures to target for koala conservation management and threat mitigation.
Recommendation 8
That Government, through the Office of Environment and Heritage, convene two symposia within 12 months of receiving this report: one for scientists active in koala research and land managers to develop a koala research plan; and one focussed on koala rehabilitation to identify actions to optimise the delivery of and support for the network of koala rehabilitation
groups and carers.
Recommendation 9
That Government establish the Australian Museum as a preferred repository for koala genetic samples in NSW, and all data and metadata associated with these samples should be deposited into the SEED Environmental Data Portal (extended if necessary to include
flora and fauna).
Recommendation 10
That Government facilitate the exchange of information among land managers, local government, the research community and the broader community.
Recommendation 11
That Government draws on knowledge and shares information with local community members through a program that supports localised engagement between liaison people and residents and industry.

Source: Report of the Independent Review into the Decline of Koala Populations in Key Areas of NSW

Flume’s Never Be Like You (Feat Kai) #1 In Triple J’s 2016 Hottest 100

January 26, 2017: ABC Radio
2016’s Hottest 100 saw a record number of votes placed. At over 2.2 million it was up a whopping 7.6% on last year. Of that staggering figure, there was one song which rose above the rest to claim the top spot – Flume’s ‘Never Be Like You (feat Kai)’.

triple j’s Music Director Richard Kingsmill says of the song “It’s rare that a song released back in January will end up in the Hottest 100, let alone at the very top, but ‘Never Be Like You’ just kept growing. Collaborating with Canadian singer Kai, Flume could have crafted a fairly straight love song. The melody line alone was strong and the lyrics were heartfelt without being clichéd. But by adding that surprising rhythm track with some pretty abrasive percussion, then throwing those swirling synths on top, he produced a song that only got more powerful over repeated listens.”

If one act musically dominated 2016, it was Flume. He’s had a blockbuster 2016 and it all started with the lead single from his highly anticipated second album, Skin. Released in January, ‘Never Be Like You’ not only kicked off the Aussie producer’s banner year but sustained his success throughout it. Collaborating with Canadian singer Kai, Flume breaks new ground with melody and songcraft while pushing his future-thinking electronic production into the mainstream. Framing a stirring vocal performance with an ear-dazzling array of stuttering synths and percussive sparks, ‘Never Be Like You’ is at once heartbreakingly intimate yet big enough to become a Platinum-minted festival-sized anthem. It was the clear #1 song in this year’s Hottest 100 and a benchmark song in music production today.

Now let’s look at the rest of the 2016 Hottest 100 in infographic form where you can see a few trends appear…
  • This is the fourth consecutive year an Australian artist has taken out #1. That’s the longest streak of Aussie artists at the top.
  • The success of women in the business end of the Hottest 100 is worth celebrating. Ladies appeared in seven songs in the Top 10, including solo artists Amy Shark and Tash Sultana, joined by feature artists Kai, Montaigne, Vera Blue, Tove Lo and Elliphant all contributing key vocals to their tracks.
  • Meanwhile, 34 songs were from acts with at least one woman: 14 female solo artists, 12 female guest vocals, 7 bands with female members and one all-female band.
  • Do you believe in life after LAV? DMA’S Like A Version cover of Cher’s ‘Believe’ earned the highest charting Like A Version in the countdown’s history, surpassing Chet Faker’s Sonia Dada LAV (#21 2014). However, it’s not the highest ranking cover – that record still belongs to Boy & Bear’s ‘Fall At Your Feet’ (#5 2010).
  • Violent Soho have the most songs in the countdown, with five entries. Flume follows close behind with four songs.
  • Give it up for Illy, this is his eighth consecutive appearance in a Hottest 100, just behind record holders Dave Grohl (various bands over 9 years) and The Living End’s decade long streak lasting from 1997 to 2006.
  • 14 artists in the countdown don’t even have an album out, including Amy Shark, Tash Sultana, Peking Duk, Mura Masa, Gretta Ray, Ali Barter, Sofi Tukker, Maggie Rogers, L D R U, Golden Features, Vera Blue, Elk Road, plus Chance The Rapper and Desiigner (who’ve only released mixtapes).
  • Radiohead are the only artist to appear both in this year’s countdown (#79 ‘Burn The Witch’) and the first ever annual Hottest 100 in 1993 (#2 ‘Creep’).
Thanks to everyone who donated to our Hottest 100 charity partner, AIME. By the end of the countdown we’d raised a massive $230K! Plus you can stilldonate or grab an exclusive AIME x triple j tee here. Your donation will help 10,000 Indigenous kids through high school and into university, training and employment by 2018.

Can’t get enough Hottest 100? There’s more!

6-9am Fri 27 Jan: Ben & Liam announce the winner of triple j’s Golden Ticket on triple j.
10am Sat 28 Jan: Hear all your favourite songs again as we replay the Hottest 100 on triple j.
12pm Sat 28 Jan: Tune in to the classic 1996 Hottest 100 on Double J.
10am Sun 29 Jan: Find out who made it into the Hottest #200-101 on triple j.

$24.99 on sale until 31 March, 2017!

World Wetlands Day 2017

Australian Government: Department of Environment and Energy
Pittwater Online Page on the 20th year of WWD HERE
World Wetlands Day is celebrated internationally each year on 2 February. It marks the anniversary of the signing of the Convention on Wetlands of International Importance (Ramsar Convention) in Ramsar, Iran, on 2 February 1971.

World Wetlands Day was first celebrated in 1997. Since then government agencies, non-government organisations and community groups have celebrated World Wetlands Day by undertaking actions to raise public awareness of wetland values and benefits and promote the conservation and wise use of wetlands. These activities include seminars, nature walks, festivals, announcement of new Ramsar sites, newspaper articles, radio interviews and wetland rehabilitation.

World Wetlands Day 2017
The international theme for World Wetlands Day 2017 is Wetlands for disaster risk reduction. This theme will be reflected in the February 2017 edition of Wetlands Australia.

Wetlands play an important role in helping to provide communities with resilience to natural hazards such as flooding caused by storms, cyclones, storm surges and tsunamis. Under projected climate change scenarios, extreme climatic events, including floods, droughts and storms are expected to increase in frequency and intensity. 

Unfortunately, wetlands are often viewed as wasteland, and more than 64% of the world’s wetlands have disappeared since 1900. World Wetlands Day is an annual opportunity to raise public awareness and promote the value of wetlands.

Wetlands Youth Photo Contest
The Ramsar Convention Secretariat is again running a photographic competition for 18-25 year olds. The photograph must be taken of any type of wetland that helps us cope with extreme weather events. The winner will receive a free flight to visit a wetland of international importance (Ramsar wetland), courtesy of Star Alliance Biosphere Connections. To enter upload your photo to . The competition is open between 2 February and 2 March 2017.

Australia Day Address: We Need To Challenge Students To 'Be The Best They Can Be'

24 January, 2017: by   STEVE OFFNER - UNSW
UNSW quantum physicist Michelle Simmons has delivered the 2017 Australia Day address for NSW, urging young people to tackle life's hardest tasks and to strive to be the best they can be.

Scientia Professor Simmons, the first female scientist to deliver the address in its 20-year history, said intellectual independence, innate optimism and willingness to “give it a go” made Australia the best country in the world to do research.

But the UK-born scientist, who is leading the world in the race to build a prototype quantum computer, warned that Australia’s educators were jeopardising the future by lowering the expectations they set for students.

“Great teachers with high expectations challenge their students to be the best they can be,” Professor Simmons said. ”However, equally important are the curricula that they teach.

“One of the few things that horrified me when I arrived in Australia was to discover that several years ago the high school physics curriculum was ‘feminised’. In other words, to make it more appealing to girls, our curricula designers in the bureaucracy substituted formulae with essays.

“From the students coming to university, I see little evidence that this has made any difference and indeed I see many students complaining that the physics curriculum has left them ill-equipped for university,” she told an audience at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music.

“There is a big cost in this type of thinking. When we reduce the quality of education that anyone receives, we reduce the expectations we have of them.If we want young people to be the best they can be (at anything) we must set the bar high and tell them we expect them to jump over it.

“My strong belief is that we need to be teaching all students – girls and boys – to have high expectations of themselves.”

The director of the UNSW-based Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Quantum Computation and Communication Technology, Professor Simmons heads a team that is working to develop a prototype quantum computer in silicon. She is one of a handful of researchers in Australia to have twice received a Federation Fellowship and now a Laureate Fellowship, the Australian Research Council’s most prestigious award.

She said her team currently enjoyed a two- to three-year lead on other teams striving to build a quantum computer. But she said with billions of dollars of investment pouring into the field, “our next challenge is to see whether we benefit from our international lead and translate our research into high-technology industries here in Australia”.

Professor Simmons also had a broader message for all Australians on Australia Day.

“In Australia, when praising ourselves … we tend to emphasise the beauty of our natural environment, our great lifestyle, and the easy-going nature of our people. The lucky country.

“I think this is a mistake, because it doesn't acknowledge the hard work that people have done to be successful and it encourages us to shy away from difficult challenges. In short, I believe it will eventually stop us from being as ambitious as we might be,” Professor Simmons said.

“As we take things to the next phase of trying to build a prototype quantum computer, I feel proud to be a part of the team that is going to make this happen. I am grateful for that Australian spirit to give things ago, and our enduring sense of possibility. In this, we have so much to be thankful for – and, more importantly, so much to look forward to.

“But there is room for improvement as well. In our innovation policies, in our education system, and in the ambitions of our scientists and discoverers, I want Australians above all to be known as people who do the hard things.”

Read the full transcript of Professor Simmons’ Australia Day Address.

$15.3 Million To NDIS Projects

25 January 2017: Media Release - The Hon Jane Prentice, Assistant Minister for Social Services and Disability Services 
The Australian Government is providing a package of more than $15.3 million to help people prepare for the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), through the NDIS Sector Development Fund.

The Sector Development Fund was established to assist the disability sector, including people with disability, their families, carers, services providers and workforce, transition to the new arrangements for disability support under the NDIS.

The Hon Jane Prentice, Assistant Minister for Social Services and Disability Services recently announced funding of more than $6 million for SDF projects in the Northern Territory.

“These projects will generate new solutions to existing challenges associated with disability and mental health service delivery; develop and implement new supports not currently used or available in local markets and increase the level of choice and control people with disability have in remote areas,” she said.

“Queensland will receive more than $5.8 million to expand the disability sector workforce by engaging, attracting and connecting people to jobs, assist small to medium providers in thin markets to expand their operations, and enable new disability service providers in rural and regional areas enter and operate sustainably in the NDIS environment.

“The Supported Independent Living Co-operative (SILC) project, will receive $270,000 to establish a national support network to help families of NDIS participants who want to set up shared housing arrangements with other families, so their loved ones can live independently.

“Funding for Tasmania will build the confidence and skill level of participants and ensure people with disability in Tasmania are confident and able to participate in the NDIS.”

More information on the Sector Development Fund can be found on theNDIS website.

Gearing Up For The 2017 National Awards For Local Government

23 January 2017: Media Release- Senator the Hon Fiona Nash, Minister for Regional Development, Minister for Local Government and Territories
  • National awards recognise innovation in delivering regional community services
  • Categories range from boosting productivity to inspiration through the arts
  • Nominations for awards open 23 January 2017 and close 3 March 2017
The Government's annual awards for innovative local government projects opens today. 

Minister for Local Government and Territories Fiona Nash said these awards recognise innovative projects, which provide new or improved local government services to regional and rural communities.

“Through these awards the Government celebrates the ‘best of the best’ local government projects which range from infrastructure, regional growth and art projects,” Minister Nash said.

“The national winner of the 2016 Awards was Mackay Regional Council in Queensland for their Transforming a Water Business project.

“I encourage all local governments to submit projects that are similarly designed that contribute to building stronger and vibrant communities.”

Category winners will be announced in mid-April 2017 and the national winner will be announced at the Australian Local Government Association National General Assembly dinner in June 2017.

Nominations for the National Awards for Local Government 2017 will close on Friday, 3 March 2017.

More information about the awards, and how to submit an entry, is available at:

Why Some Drivers Slow Down When Using Mobile Phones

January 24, 2017: Queensland University of Technology

QUT CARRS-Q researcher Oscar Oviedo-Trespalacios has been conducting research into mobile phone distracted driving. Credit: QUT Marketing & Communication

With mobile phone distracted driving a growing road safety issue, a QUT study reveals why some drivers slow down when using a mobile phone but others don't.

Oscar Oviedo-Trespalacios, from QUT's Centre for Accident Research & Road Safety -- Queensland (CARRS-Q), said mobile phone distracted driving was responsible for 25 per cent of car crashes in the United States and worldwide young drivers are overrepresented in using mobile phones.

"At least one in two young drivers in countries such as Australia, America and Canada use a mobile phone while driving," said Mr Oviedo-Trespalacios who has just published his paper Self-regulation of driving speed among distracted drivers: An application of driver behavioural adaption theory in the international journal Traffic Injury Prevention.

"Mobile phone use by drivers is only going to increase given the way they are used in every part of our lives. So we need to do more research into how to make it safer and also introduce educational programs addressing it.

"Current research reports that some drivers change their driving behavior when using a mobile phone; in particular they drive more slowly. However, until now we did not know whether this was an unconscious response to the increased workload or an active choice made by cautious drivers."

In a high-fidelity driving simulator at QUT, the speeds of 32 drivers aged 16-26 was measured while they held hands-free and handheld phone conversations or just drove.

Mr Oviedo-Trespalacios said the drivers with little experience using mobile phones while driving tended to drive more slowly. Likewise, drivers who believe mobile phones are unsafe were found to drive more slowly while engaged in mobile phone tasks.

"Mobile phone systems are continuing to evolve and they have changed what we do when we are driving and will continue to influence it into the future," he said, adding that recent developments in mobile phones have included a new unexpected risk via the use of augmented reality-based apps while driving.

"Our research has identified that drivers who have a strong belief in their ability to successfully self-regulate mobile phone use might find themselves in more risky circumstances while performing lawful tasks such as hands-free conversations.

"This suggests that educational interventions could be oriented to the development of safety attitudes. Changing the design of mobile phones so it's harder to use them while driving could also help to minimise risk."

Mr Oviedo-Trespalacios' research project was conducted with Dr Md. Mazharul Haque, Dr Mark King and Professor Simon Washington.

Oscar Oviedo-Trespalacios, Md. Mazharul Haque, Mark King, Simon Washington. Self-regulation of driving speed among distracted drivers: An application of driver behavioural adaptation theory.Traffic Injury Prevention, 2017; DOI: 10.1080/15389588.2017.1278628

Jumping Spiders Court In Color

January 25, 2017
While most arachnophiles will likely find tiny spider dancers who can "swagger like Jagger" entertaining, it's more than the dance that captures the fascination of one NSF-funded University of Cincinnati researcher.

It's their ability to see color and the bright and bold color patterns on the male body parts that has Nate Morehouse, UC biologist, looking inside the many eyes of two groups of vividly colored jumping spiders.

"It's rare to see bright colors on most spiders, as they don't usually have the visual sensitivity to perceive color beyond drab blues, greens and browns," says Morehouse. "But certain groups of jumping spiders deviate from this pattern.

"They not only possess a unique ability to see reds, yellows and oranges, but the males display those same bright colors on the exterior of their faces and other body parts [that] they use in their elaborate courtship dances."

Love at first sight
Looking at the two groups of Salticidae -- better known as jumping spiders -- which possess this rare ability to see color, Morehouse, an assistant professor of biology in UC's College of Arts and Sciences, found that these two groups see color using two completely different mechanisms.

These tiny arachnids classified as the Habronattus jumping spiders of North America and the Maratus "peacock" jumping spiders of Australia, are no larger than a ladybug.

Habronattus spiders possess a red filter on the retina that combines with their green sensitive retinal cells to be able to see reds, yellows and oranges. In contrast, he found Maratus spiders have evolved a completely new type of retinal cell that is sensitive to red, no filter needed.

"This is a remarkable discovery, as two different groups of jumping spiders have evolved on opposite ends of the globe. Both have the rare ability to see long wavelength colors like red, orange and yellow," says Morehouse. "But each group has arrived at independent solutions for seeing the color."

Morehouse, who recently joined UC's Department of Biology from the University of Pittsburgh, moved his Morehouse Lab and NSF-funded sensory ecology research to work with the biology department's faculty concentration in sensory biology, behavior and evolution.

Now representing the University of Cincinnati, Morehouse recently presented the findings from this study at the 2017 Annual Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology Conference in New Orleans in January.

Shake, rattle and roll
While many male jumping spiders perform sophisticated rhythmic displays when trying to woo little lady spiders, most species cannot see in color. Most simply use their booty-shaking dance moves to get her in the mood.

Since other species just see in the range from ultraviolet to green, Morehouse says this explains the mostly drab colors found on those particular arachnid bodies. Why be colorful if your prospective mates can't see your true colors?

By contrast, Morehouse describes the colorful Habronattus group from North and Central America and the Australian Maratus or "peacock" spiders as two groups that have deviated rather conspicuously from that rule.

The males in both colorful groups are talented dancers with fancy footwork, have bright oranges, pinks, reds and yellows in their physical display, and the peacock spiders also have an elaborately decorative abdomen flap that they raise up and down like a flag. And both sexes possess the ability to see those colors.

One of these things is not like the other
"Unlike closely related groups of jumping spiders that are drab in appearance, Habronattus spider males have brightly colored faces, legs and knees. And both sexes see these colors thanks to a bright ruby red filter in the middle of their retinas," says Morehouse. "The Maratus males are also colorful, and they too flash those vibrant body parts to attract their mates, but they don't have the red filter in their retinas like the Habronattus."

Instead, Morehouse says the savvy peacock spiders see color through ultraviolet, blue, green and red sensitive cells within their eyes, which is most similar to birds.

The reason may lie in part because Australian peacock spiders are not related to the Habronattus spiders in North America. While they look similar, Morehouse says they are about as far from the Habronattus group as humans are from hyenas.

"These Australian peacock spiders have independently arrived at a way of seeing color that is different from the North American spiders," says Morehouse.

To characterize the sensitivities of both novel color visual systems [the way in which the eye itself perceives color] Morehouse used:

Microspectrophotometry -- measures directly how photoreceptor cells in the retina absorb light differently. ? Visual system modeling -- uses mathematical models to estimate how the retina perceives color. ?

Morehouse has identified two distinct solutions for how these animals see color and both solutions are found within the retina of the principal eyes.

Habronattus employs a red filter to create a third type of photoreceptor cell predominantly sensitive to red light.? Maratus uses no filters, but has two additional types of photoreceptors -- one is blue sensitive, one is red sensitive.

"These additional photoreceptor cells are likely a product of a gene duplication that has subsequently evolved to be sensitive to a different range of colors, similar to the way humans and other higher primates evolved to see color," explains Morehouse. "Somewhere early in primate evolution the gene responsible for the protein that gives us our green sensitivity got duplicated into two copies.

"One of these genes called an opsin gene mutated without affecting the other and those mutations eventually led to one of the copies becoming red sensitive. This may be what happened in the Maratus."

Visual diversity shares common goal
Gene duplication is increasingly credited as a mechanism for evolving functions, Morehouse says, including new visual functions. In the case of the jumping spiders, color vision provides a valuable new trait for not only luring their mates, but is especially critical for successful foraging.

He explains these fuzzy fur balls as voracious predators eating a wide variety of small insects and some of their prey are brightly colored, which can signal their toxicity to other predators like birds and dragonflies. So fortunate spiders that can see these warning colors are also at an advantage for discriminating between brightly colored toxic prey and non-toxic prey.

"We think that more effective foraging is the major reason for the evolution of color vision," says Morehouse.

But what about the bright colors of males? Wouldn't this lead them to be more obvious to spider predators? Morehouse points out that bright male body colors are usually only observable from the front when the spiders are face-to-face.

The males may wave their legs around in a kaleidoscope of colors but Morehouse says it typically only shows on the underside. When birds observe these rare, multi-hued spiders from above they only see their mottled drab colors of brown, black and tan patterns on the surfaces facing upward.

The result is a clever solution: camouflage on top for predators and bright color displays in front for members of their own species.

Morehouse hopes to continue this research by looking at a group of spiders in India that are brightly colored and unrelated to either of these two groups. "If we increase our knowledge of additional groups that have transitioned to more sophisticated color vision, we're in an exceptional position to understand why color vision evolves in the first place and what consequences it has for color signaling behavior and the ecology of these species," says Morehouse.

"And who knows, perhaps we will find inspirations for novel color sensing technologies."

Lisa A. Taylor, Zarreen Amin, Emily B. Maier, Kevin J. Byrne, Nathan I. Morehouse. Flexible color learning in an invertebrate predator: Habronattus jumping spiders can learn to prefer or avoid red during foraging. Behavioral Ecology, 2016; 27 (2): 520 DOI:10.1093/beheco/arv182

Prime Minister's Speech At The 2017 Australia Day Flag Raising And Citizenship Ceremony 

26 January 2017
Prime Minister of Australia, The Hon. Malcolm Turnbull MP

Thank you so much, Stephanie. What a wonderful morning here in Canberra. Happy Australia Day everyone. What a great day. What a beautiful, still day here on Lake Burley Griffin and how the echoes of the guns were heard bouncing off the great institutions of our capital. The Library, the Parliament, the High Court.

Reminding us of our democracy, the rule of law, those values which we uphold as thoroughly Australian values here in this great land we call home.

Thank you too, to the Federation Guard and the Royal Military College Band and the sublime music from the Choir of Hard Knocks.

Thank you Tina, for your very warm welcome to country.

Yoonggu gulanyin ngalawiri, dhunayi, Ngoonawal dhowrrra.

We are gathered on Ngunawal land, and we acknowledge and honour their elders past and present as we acknowledge our First Australians.

At more than 400 ceremonies like this around Australia today receiving 16,000 new citizens from 150 countries.

I acknowledge His Excellency, the Governor General Sir Peter Cosgrove, the Chief of the Defence Force, Air Chief Marshal Mark Binskin, the Chairman of the National Australia Day Council, Ben Roberts-Smith, dear friends all.

And to those who are about to become Australian citizens, welcome. You honour us.

Most of us were tiny conscripts to Australian citizenship - our oath of allegiance an indignant howl as we emerged blinking into the light of our first day. 

But you have made a choice not just to live among us, but to become one of us, partners in our democracy - citizens.

You come from 11 different countries, and each of you adds another thread to our national tapestry, magnificent in its diversity and the most successful multicultural society in the world.

We are a nation ancient and modern, old and new.

Our First Australians have lived on this land, cared for it, for over forty thousand years, for time out of mind.

Theirs is the oldest continuous human culture on earth.

But they are also citizens like us, of 21st century Australia with lives and jobs as diverse as our nation - Ministers and magistrates, artists and teachers, soldiers, scientists, doctors, internet entrepreneurs.

The culture of our First Australians enriches us, all of us, just as your cultures enrich us as well.

My family’s migrant story, like all of yours, is one of many chapters - a sailor on the Sirius landing at Sydney Cove, staunch Scots building a chapel on the Hawkesbury, a pair of actors in the cast of Showboat who chose our southern sunshine over the gloom of Depression England.

We come from nearly 200 countries, of all faiths, cultures and backgrounds. 

And yet in a world where conflict and intolerance seem more intractable than ever, we live together in peace.

Harmony in the midst of extraordinary diversity.

This great achievement is not an accident.

Our remarkable nation is the project of 24 million Australians and all those who came before us.

We share our democratic values with other nations, above all with Britain from where so many of our founders came bringing their laws, literature and tradition.

But here under the Southern Cross we have forged our own nation with unique Australian values - democratic and egalitarian.

Deep in our DNA we know that everyone is entitled to a fair go in the great race of life.

And that if you fall behind, we are happy to lend a helping hand to get ahead.

This strong sense of justice springs from the solidarity, the mutual respect, the mateship that transcends and binds us together in our diversity.

And that is always when we are at our best and most Australian - the selfless sacrifice of the diggers a century ago, the courage of their descendants in the Middle East today.

Volunteers fighting fires and floods, pulling kids out of a rip at the beach, rushing to the aid of the wounded on Bourke Street.

Together, we have created a remarkable, extraordinary nation.

And whether it is Tina, whose ancestors walked across these very lands thousands of years ago, or a baby born of a migrant mother, or you, sworn to your citizenship today - we all have the same rights as citizens, the same share in this, our Australian project.

Thank you for joining our Australian family.

I wish you and your families, and all Australians good fortune, today and every day.

As together we Advance Australia Fair.

Happy Australia Day!


22 January 2017
Prime Minister
Minister for Revenue and Financial Services
The Turnbull Government joins all Australians in offering our love, solidarity and deepest sympathies to the victims of the vicious and cowardly attack that took place in Bourke Street, Melbourne on 20 January.

The Commonwealth will contribute $100,000 to the Bourke Street Fund being established by the Victorian Government.

The Turnbull Government will also ensure that the Bourke Street Fund has Deductible Gift Recipient status and that contributions to the Fund will be tax deductible.

Further details of the fund, including how to make a contribution, can be found at

African Trees Kill Both Malaria Mosquitos And The Parasite

January 25, 2017: University of Oslo, Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences
Malaria is one of the world's most serious infectious diseases and affects more than 200 million people each year. Scientists at the University of Oslo have examined the bark from two African trees and found substances that can kill both the mosquitoes that transmit malaria, and the parasite itself.

Traditional healers in West Africa have for many years used extracts from the bark of two trees in the citrus family (Rutaceae) to treat malaria, which is a widespread disease in the region and kills hundreds of thousands of people worldwide every year. Researchers at the School of Pharmacy at the University of Oslo in Norway have now shown that bark from the trees contains substances that not only kill the malaria parasite, but also the mosquitoes that transmit the disease.

"This project started in 2011, when we were approached by the entomologist Bertin Mikolo fra Marien Ngouabi University(link is external) in the Republic of Congo's capital Brazzaville. He had learned that local traditional healers were using extracts from the bark of a tropical tree to kill malaria mosquitoes and other insects, and he had demonstrated that the extracts could kill weevils and cockroaches. Now, he wanted Norwegian assistance to investigate whether the bark also contained substances that could kill malaria mosquitoes," professor emeritus Karl Egil Malterud explains.

Malaria is a disease caused by tiny parasites of the genus Plasmodium, which spend part of their life cycles in the blood vessels of humans and other mammals. The parasite is transmitted between humans during bites from mosquitoes of the genus Anopheles.

Found several important substances
To make a long story short: The scientists found several interesting substances both in the so-called Olon tree (Zanthoxylum heitzii) that is found from Cameroon to Congo, and in a related tree from Mali. The most interesting and active compounds were found in the Olon tree, but also the bark of Zanthoxylum zanthoxyloides from Mali contains active substances.

"We produced extracts from the bark of the Olon tree and found that it contained at least one compound that kills the mosquitoes that transmit the malarial parasite. But the bark also contains another substance that kills the parasite itself," says Associate Professor Helle Wangensteen. She has been the leader of this project.

The mosquitoes died -- like flies
More than 30 species of the mosquito genus Anopheles kan infect humans with the malaria parasite. This is the species Anopheles Stephensi. Foto: Jim Gathany, Wikispecies/Centers for Disease Control. The scientists have been working with both water-based and alcohol-based extracts from the bark of the two trees, and it turns out that the extracts with alcohol contains more of the active substances. The substance that kills the mosquito is called pellitorine and was found in the bark of both trees, Malterud explains.

"The Master student Nastaran Moussavi managed to isolate pellitorine and several other substances in extracts from the bark of the Olon tree. Later, she travelled to the French research institute IRD in Montpellier(link is external), in order to study their insecticidal effects. IRD has experts in cultivating the malaria mosquito Anopheles gambiae for scientific studies. Moussavi applied substances from the bark of the Olon tree to the neck of the mosquitoes, in order to investigate if the substances had toxic effects," Wangensteen explains.

"This caused the mosquitos to die, literally as flies! The experiments showed that pellitorine is toxic to mosquitoes," Malterud adds.

"We also found that a mixture of four main substances from the bark of the Olon tree had a higher toxicity than pellitorine alone, even if the other ingredients were not toxic separately. This suggests that there is a synergistic effect between the ingredients, says Wangensteen.

Kills even the parasite
At this point, Malterud and Wangensteen suspected that the Olon tree contained even more compounds with interesting effects. Then postdoc Ingvild Austarheim contacted the School of BioSciences at the University of Melbourne in Australia, because they have a laboratory with experts on studying the malaria parasite. The scientists in Melbourne were interested in testing the new potential drugs, and it soon turned out that one of the ingredients was very effective in killing the parasite.

"But this was not the same compound that killed the mosquitoes! The parasite-killing compound is called dihydronitidine and is a relatively simple alkaloid," says Wangensteen.

The Norwegian scientists had now shown that the bark of the Olon tree from Congo contains at least two interesting compounds: Pellitorine that kills malaria mosquitoes, and dihydronitidin that kills the malaria parasite. The researchers then went on to test the bark from Zanthoxylum zanthoxyloides, which is related to the Olon tree and is native to Mali. Professor emerita Berit Smestad Paulsen from the School of Pharmacy has cooperated for several years with healers from Mali, and they knew that the bark of this tree had been used in the treatment of malaria patients.

"We found pellitorine also in the bark from this tree, in addition to several other interesting substances that have effects on the malaria parasite. But the effects were smaller than the ones we found in the extracts from the Olon tree," Wangensteen explains.

Both pellitorine and dihydronitidine are chemical substances that were previously known from other plants. However, the powerful effects against malaria mosquitoes and the parasites were little known before the Norwegian scientists started their work.

Why isn't the industry interested?
The scientists have published their findings continually, and you might expect that the international pharmaceutical industry would react with interest. Malaria infects ca. 200 million people every year, and there are major resistance problems with the drugs that are already on the market. There is an urgent need for new drugs -- but the scientists have so far not been contacted.

"I can imagine several reasons why we haven't heard anything. One reason might be, to put it slightly maliciously, that the international pharmaceutical industry doesn't always seem very interested in diseases that are mostly a problem in the "Third World." The second possible reason is that these findings have been published in scientific journals, which makes it more difficult to obtain patent protection for active substances," Malterud suggests.

"The third reason may be that the Convention on Biological Diversity(link is external) (CBD), which Norway and most other nations have ratified, stipulates that the rights to the commercial exploitation of biological material resides in the country of origin," he adds.

New knowledge transferred to West Africa
The pharmaceutical industry must always carry out extensive and expensive clinical trials before a new medicine can be approved, but there are so far no plans for such actions when it comes to the compounds found in the bark of the two African trees. That doesn't stop Helle Wangensteen and Karl Egil Malterud from believing that their research can be used for the benefit of malaria-stricken patients in West Africa.

"In the short term, it is realistic to imagine that our colleagues in Congo may communicate the new knowledge to the traditional healers in the region. It could be useful for them to know that the bark from the Olon tree contains active compounds that have effects against both malaria-transmitting mosquitoes and the parasite itself," Malterud comments.

"We can also contribute with new insights on how these substances can be used. For example, we discovered that water-based extracts contain relatively little of the active substances, whereas alcoholic extracts contain much higher concentrations. Perhaps it would be possible to spray the puddles where the mosquitoes hatch with a locally produced solution containing pellitorine," he adds.

All in all, the scientists at the School of Pharmacy tested more than ten compounds from the two African trees. In addition to the already mentioned compounds, it turned out that also the alkaloid heitziquinone, which was not previously known, has activity against the malaria parasite.

Why do plants produce drugs?
At least 30 per cent of the active ingredients in modern medicines are derived from ingredients found in plants. Why do plants produce compounds that are effective against human diseases?

"We don't know the answer to that question, but we can't imagine that the Olon tree has any interest in killing mosquitoes or malaria parasites. But maybe the substances have an effect also on insects that for instance might feed on the trees," Malterud suggests.

"The primary function of many natural products found in plants is not known to science, but it's obvious that the plants use a lot of energy to produce these compounds. Therefore, it is hardly a coincidence that they are produced," adds Wangensteen.

The research on substances from the bark of two African trees was supported by the programme Functional Genomics (FUGE) in the Research Council of Norway, which had a commitment to bioprospecting. Nastaran Moussavi's expenses for the work in Montpellier were funded by a grant from the Norwegian Pharmaceutical Society.

Journal References:

Hans Overgaard, Patcharawan Sirisopa, Bertin Mikolo, Karl Malterud, Helle Wangensteen, Yuan-Feng Zou, Berit Paulsen, Daniel Massamba, Stephane Duchon, Vincent Corbel, Fabrice Chandre. Insecticidal Activities of Bark, Leaf and Seed Extracts of Zanthoxylum heitzii against the African Malaria Vector Anopheles gambiae. Molecules, 2014; 19 (12): 21276 DOI: 10.3390/molecules191221276

Nastaran Moussavi, Karl Egil Malterud, Bertin Mikolo, Dag Dawes, Fabrice Chandre, Vincent Corbel, Daniel Massamba, Hans J. Overgaard, Helle Wangensteen. Identification of chemical constituents of Zanthoxylum heitzii stem bark and their insecticidal activity against the malaria mosquito Anopheles gambiae. Parasites & Vectors, 2015; 8 (1) DOI:10.1186/s13071-015-1113-x

Helle Wangensteen, Giang Thanh Thi Ho, Margey Tadesse, Christopher O. Miles, Nastaran Moussavi, Bertin Mikolo, Karl Egil Malterud. A new benzophenanthridine alkaloid and other bioactive constituents from the stem bark of Zanthoxylum heitzii. Fitoterapia, 2016; 109: 196 DOI:10.1016/j.fitote.2016.01.012

Christopher Dean Goodman, Ingvild Austarheim, Vanessa Mollard, Bertin Mikolo, Karl Egil Malterud, Geoffrey I. McFadden, Helle Wangensteen.Natural products from Zanthoxylum heitzii with potent activity against the malaria parasite. Malaria Journal, 2016; 15 (1) DOI:10.1186/s12936-016-1533-x

One Third Of Cyberbullying Cases Involve Threats To Safety

Media release: January 24 2017 -
In the six months to December, 32 per cent of cyberbullying complaints received by the Office of the Children's eSafety Commissioner involved specific threats to a child’s safety.

“It’s been a disturbing trend to see young people increasingly targeted through threatening cyberbullying behaviour,” says Children’s eSafety Commissioner, Julie Inman Grant.

“Our latest figures also show a growing number of complaints relating to boys who are being targeted by cyberbullies, accounting for 46 per cent of complaints in the last quarter—a 17 per cent increase over the same period the year before.”

October was the Office’s busiest month yet, with a record number of cyberbullying complaints contributing to a 46 per cent rise in the number of complaints since 1 July 2016, compared to the same period in 2015.

The Office continues striving to make the internet a safer place for young people, removing cyberbullying material in under 24 hours, on average.

“Through our close links with social media partners and counselling services, we help targets of cyberbullying get harmful material removed, and access to the support they need,” says Inman Grant.

Research findings reveal 43 per cent of teens aged 14 to 17 who have been cyberbullied experienced social exclusion as a result of being targeted.

In October, the Office also launched its youth-focussed initiative Rewrite Your Story, helping to raise awareness about its cyberbullying reporting function.

“It’s really positive that young people are being empowered through our educational resources to build their digital resilience and reach out to us,” says Inman Grant.

The Office continues to lead the way in promoting online safety for Australians, with its latest Quarterly Report showing that between October and December 2016 it:
  • Resolved 64 serious cyberbullying complaints
  • Referred over 1,700 young people to Kids Helpline for priority support
  • Dealt with over 1,400 online content complaints, and referred over 1,000 URLs containing child sexual abuse material to its international partners for removal
  • Reached over 21,000 children, parents, teachers and other Australians through Virtual Classrooms and Community Presentations.

Surf Photo And Surf Video Of The Year 

Entries are open for the Nikon Surf Photo and Surf Video of the Year categories for the 2017 Australian Surfing Awards incorporating the Hall of Fame. There is a heap of Nikon Camera gear to be won. Click through below to enter NOW! 

Photo: 2016 Nikon Surf Photo of the Year by Leroy Bellet

Australia Post Celebrates The Year Of The Rooster

To celebrate the Year of the Rooster, 28 January 2017 to 15 February 2018, Australia Post is releasing two Lunar New Year stamps.

As the tenth sign in the Chinese Zodiac, the Rooster symbolises confidence, resourcefulness, courage and persistence.

$1 - Christmas Island Lunar New Year - Year of the Rooster, 2017
Creating this year's Lunar New Year range in line with traditional Chinese design and customs, Australia Post Philatelic Manager Michael Zsolt said the products, including a postcard, give everyone an opportunity to send wishes of good fortune and health to family and friends, both here and overseas.

Completing her tenth stamp issue in the Lunar New Year series of twelve, Hong Kong-born Dani Poon said she used paper cut motifs, a popular form of Chinese art, to represent the Rooster in the $1 stamp. The Chinese calligraphic character for the Rooster is shown in the $3 stamp.

"The Chinese assign the Rooster as a proverbial mascot to the five virtues – civil responsibility, marital fidelity, courage, kindness and confidence. Those qualities are illustrated in the minisheet story – the Rooster coaxes the fearful hidden sun out from her hiding place. The puffed-up chest of the Rooster in the $1 stamp sums up the Rooster's positive personalities. The Rooster is also traditionally related to the chasing away of evil spirits, by calling the sun out and bringing the light to life," Dani said.

Famous people born in the Year of the Rooster include Britney Spears, Cate Blanchett and former Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd.

A highlight of this stamp issue is a special silk minisheet pack, finished with purple foil detailing and where one of the three sheets in the pack is printed on silk. A 24 carat gold Year of the Rooster minisheet in a presentation case is also a highly collectable part of the range.

Collectors and those celebrating the Chinese New Year will be interested in a limited edition (8,888) Chinese New Year Dragon postal and numismatic cover featuring a $1 Perth Mint coloured coin.

Other products associated with this stamp issue are a minisheet, zodiac sheetlet, first day cover, stamp pack, postcard, prestige booklet, customisable $1 stamp in the Personalised Stamps™ range, gutter strip of 10 x $1 stamps with design, domestic and international postage paid envelopes and a Lunar New Year of the Rooster postal and numismatic cover.

The Christmas Island Lunar New Year: Year of the Rooster 2017 stamp issue is available from 10 January 2017 at participating Post Offices, via mail order on 1800 331 794 and online at while stocks last. Personalised Stamps™ can be ordered The Christmas Island Lunar New Year: Year of the Rooster 2017 stamps are valid for postage in Australia.

For an interview with designer Dani Poon, visit the Australia Post Collectables website The Australia Post Collectables website is a central resource for stamp collectors and philatelic enthusiasts across the globe.

Goody Gossamer's Rhymes, From 1933


The sun dips down behind the hills, 
Yet still the sky is full of light; 
Though shadows of the coming night 
Steal o'er too waters clear and bright, 
A brooding peace the landscape fills.

On wooded shore, on golden beach,
The shadows rest, an azure pall; 
Soft veils of beauty softly fall 
On land and sea, not hiding all,
But adding charm to isle and reach. 

The wavelets ripple on the sand ;
Not angry breakers capped with hoar,
To dash and crash upon the shore,
Filling the air with their hoarse roar,
As still they beat upon the land.

But like a purple sheet it gleams,
The mighty river, mile on mile, -
Of beauty charms us all the while,
Whether it basks in noonday's smile,
Or in the silver moonlight dreams.

Through grassy plains and wooded hills,
It wanders on, with: many a bend,
And at each' curve new: beauties lend
A' charm to draw, us to the end,
Where river into ' ocean spills.

Ah, fairer than the storied Rhine,
Lovelier than any old-world stream,
Here on thy shores I pause to dream,
While still the fires- of sunset gleam;
And peace flows from thy heart to mine.
The Children's Page (1933, February 23). The Catholic Press (Sydney, NSW : 1895 - 1942), p. 33. Retrieved January 27, 2017, from

Tassie's Giants

The Tree Project team, Steven Pearce and Jen Sanger, have been making the news for all the right reasons this week, for climbing...well, a tree. A GIANT tree - in Tasmania.

The Styx Valley, past the township of Maydena, about 100 kilometres north-west from Hobart, is home to the world's tallest flowering plant and one of the world's tallest trees — the eucalyptus regnans, often called mountain ash or swamp gum. These magnificent tree can grow to 100 metres.

Canopy ecologist Dr Jen Sanger and adventure Photographer Steven Pearce create outreach content to promote the conservation of our forests.

The Tree Projects use innovative film and photography methods to raise awareness about the world's significant trees and the forests in which they reside. We bring you beautiful imagery of the trees from a unique perspective, which allows people to experience a rainforest from above the forest floor.

The signature element of their projects is a 'tree portrait' of a significant tree. When large forest trees are viewed from the ground, it is often impossible to get a true sense of the size of the tree, as the top of the tree is often obscured from view. The pair install a specialised camera rigging system which runs the entire vertical length of the tree and takes a photo every metre. These photos are then stitched together to create a portrait of the tree from a level viewpoint without visual distortion.

The projects also contain many other innovative content such as virtual reality tours of the canopy, aerial photography and timelaspe and hyperlapse video. Our content is designed for educational purposes and is used for museum exhibition and for magazine articles. We hope to educate people about the importance of forests but allowing them to view trees from a new perspective. 

2015: The New Zealand Tree Project
2016: The Tasmanian Tree Project

Want to see an ULTRA EUCALYPT in super high resolution? THEN CHECK THIS OUT! Follow this link to see their Eucalyptus Regnans Tree Portrait in a zoomable 1:1 scale! 

The Tree Project team spent 67 days on the project, which is now on display at the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery.

The Vital Role Of The Tawny Frogmouth Father - From Chick To Fledgling

From Bird in Backyards TV (BirdLife Australia) Published on 3 Jan 2017
This Tawny Frogmouth adult male and chick were filmed in Hunters Hill, NSW over December 2016. The footage can be considered as the latest chapter in several years of observation of (presumably) the same bonded pair and their yearly broods. 

Interestingly, our local pair nested late in 2016 compared to previous years. Fledging occurred on Christmas Eve. Usually we see fledglings around mid November, including that of another pair near Tarban Creek Gladesville in 2016. And this time our pair raised one chick instead of the typical two. As this nest was the only one of theirs we sighted in 2016 we can’t be sure if it’s a second attempt after some sort of failure or change of plans, or their one and only nest for the breeding season. What might be relevant is that their usual nesting tree on our block was indirectly affected by the June east coast low. A protective line of conifers all came down! Many thanks to the SES; they were amazing. 

This new nesting site is further away from us (on boundary of Thorn Reserve) but in a direct line of sight from our deck and main bedroom window. The nesting site of the previous two years was way above us and thus difficult to film (except for those moments where older chicks peered down at us). We had given up on seeing our pair nest in 2016 after a quick look around in October/November; after all, they can be so difficult to see when not expected in a particular spot. One day in November we were looking at another bird in the vicinity of Thorn Reserve when a grey bump on the eucalypt came into view. Even then it wasn’t clear if the Tawny Frogmouth was roosting or nesting due to the subtlety of the nest structure. But binoculars confirmed an adult (male, from its appearance and our knowledge of behaviour) sitting on a nest. We were a little puzzled as we expected to see a sizable chick by then. 

So every morning the first thing we would do is check our Tawny father from the window. On 1 December we saw the initial hints of white fluff, too small to capture. Thus the video starts at 4 December. And yes, there was rapid growth in only a few days! While we didn’t film them every day, we followed their progress with binoculars. The way the father took care of this lone chick (possibly only one egg was fertile) was heart-warming. He was particularly protective in the early weeks. For instance, if any large bird strayed near (e.g. Australian Ravens or Kookaburras, albeit none seemed interested in the Tawny nest) he would stiffen into the distinctive Tawny pose (with the chick safely underneath him). He also delayed the swap-over (with the mother) until very late dusk (could barely see with binoculars but we didn’t want to disturb them with a powerful torch). When the chick was closer to fledging age he would leave the chick alone in the nest and start hunting early dusk; we witnessed feeding a few times (but far too dark for filming). He was also protective in high winds when the chick was on the young side or when it tried its first wing-stretching. Rather than being the usual impassive creature of incubation stage and normal day-roosting, he was responsive to the situation and the activities of the growing chick. We also saw him cover or shield the chick from the sun in the hotter parts of the day. 

Note that the father is responsible for the incubation of eggs/care of the chick(s) in daylight hours. In the night the mother takes over and the father hunts for food. Gisela Kaplan observed her male Tawny Frogmouths feeding the female on the nest at night, but notes that others have seen shared care of eggs/chicks in the night time. We don’t know the pattern of our pair.

The dusk/evening before the fledging night we witnessed the chick fluttering from branch to branch not far from the nest. But the next morning both chick and father were both back in their usual nest position. That was the last nesting day. The following day the nest was empty. We had mixed feelings as we enjoyed watching them every day, knowing exactly where to find them. Moreover, initially we couldn’t see the family anywhere else. But later, movement in a eucalypt closer to our home caught our eye. It was the fledgling! Then we noticed both parents sitting next to it. As of writing (10 January) that’s the last we saw of them. But I’m sure we’ll catch up with the pair at least sometime. Eventually we will see them again as they move around their large territory. What a privilege to watch a Tawny Frogmouth grow from an egg to a fledgling! 

For more information on this amazing species see For further reading we highly recommend, Tawny Frogmouth by Gisela Kaplan.