Inbox and Environment News: Issue 439

February 23 - 29, 2020: Issue 439

Hot Days Forecast: Please Keep Your Bird Baths Topped Up Or Put Out Shallow Dishes Of Water In The Shade For Local Fauna

During this January break please be mindful of our local native animals and place shallow dishes in the shade with sticks or twigs to climb on. With BOM weather forecasts predicting soaring heat over the next few weeks we need to look out for and care for the original residents.

Curl Curl Clean Up: Feb 23 - NB Clean Up Crew

Hosted by Northern Beaches Clean Up Crew and WildAware
Sunday, February 23, 2020 at 10 AM – 12:15 PM
Our clean ups are always the last Sunday of every month at 10am and our next clean up is in Curl Curl. 
All welcome to this family friendly event! The more the merrier. Do a good deed for the planet and make new friends at the same time. No need to bring anything but a smile. We start at 10am and clean up for about 90 minutes. 

After that we welcome everyone who can stay to to help out with sorting and counting of the rubbish.  We do this as part of a contribution to a national marine debris data base available for researcher and universities. 

Looking forward to meeting you all. The only thing we ask is for you to leave your political and religious messages at home because it's a community event and we want everyone to feel welcome and included. We provide you will buckets, bags and gloves. If you are driving put 52 Surf Road, Curl Curl in your GPS to easiest find our meeting point. We are meeting just opposite that house. 
Looking forward to meeting you and making some more friends.
Stay up to date with further posts on the Northern Beaches Clean Up Crew Facebook page.

Friends Of Narrabeen Lagoon February 2020 Forum - Catchment Secrets Of Narrabeen Lagoon Catchment: Discoveries So Far In The 21st Century

Next Forum: 7pm Monday Feb 24, 2020
Coastal Environment Centre, Pelican Path
Lake Park Road, Narrabeen
Catchment Secrets of Narrabeen Lagoon Catchment: Discoveries so far in the 21st Century
Speaker: Jayden Walsh

Jayden is always inspiring, telling us about finding various creatures in the wild. He will describe and show images of some of the very special wildlife that is in the catchment of Narrabeen Lagoon, especially recent sightings.

As of the time of writing this, bushfire has not impacted the catchment. Here’s hoping this remains the case for the sake of the wildlife.  Check that February 24 is in your diary and, so that you don’t miss out, book your ticket early by emailing Judith Bennett

Night time Wildlife Walk
Jayden Walsh is offering a special guided night walk at Katoa close from 7:30 to 9:30pm on Friday, the 28th February, at Warriewood Wetlands to meet some of the creatures that he will talk about on the previous Monday. (See item above bout the Forum.)
Bookings essential:

Friends Of Narrabeen Lagoon Catchment: Bushwalks 2020

Sat 8/2/ 2020 Walk & Weed. 
If dry conditions: Meet 7.30am at Deep Creek near dog training area; walk 1hr next to Deep Creek and contributory creek. Weeding (2hrs):small leaved privet, Crofton weed, Ludwigia peruviana and possibly some grass. Walk back and finish at 11:30am.
If wet, but not too wet: Terrey Hills to Morgan Road, with some weeding along  5 Mile Creek track. 

Sun 1/3/2020 walk & plant identification
Meet 8am near 27 Morgan Rd for Narrabeen Lagoon Catchment Transverse.
Carpooling required as we finish at Deep Creek.

Sun 26/4/2020 Cromer Circle
Cromer Circle with 1 hr for weeding grasses along the track of Aboriginal carvings. Fabulous views over the lagoon and its valleys, and viewing of carvings.
10am - 3pm. Limited numbers.

Sat 23/5/2020 Explorative Walk
9am explorative walk from Morgan Rd to N/W catchment corner.

Sun 21/6/2020 walk & weed.
Meet 9am at Deep Creek near dog training area; walk 1hr next to Deep Creek and contributory creek. Weeding 1hr—crofton weed, Ludwigia peruviana etc. Continue walk to Baha'i temple and carpool back ~ 2pm.

PNB 1st Meeting For 2020: Habitat Protection 

Thursday, February 27, 2020: 7:30pm – 9:00pm
Transhed Art and Community Centre
1395 Pittwater Road, Narrabeen
Our first meeting of 2020 focuses on protecting our bushland, eco-systems and habitats.

Permaculture Northern Beaches (PNB) is an active local group based on Sydney's Northern Beaches. We are an independent organisation registered as an association in NSW.

PNB hold monthly permaculture related events on the last Thursday of each month at the Tramshed Community Arts Centre, Lakeview Room, 1395A Pittwater Road, Narrabeen. Buses stop directly at the Centre and there is also car parking. Doors open at 7:15 pm. Meetings are February to November.

North Narrabeen Beach Clean: March 1- Legends Cleaning Beach  Vol. 6.

Hosted by Legend Element
Sunday, March 1, 2020 at 9 AM – 11 AM
North Narrabeen Beach: Malcolm St.
The 6th official BEACH-CLEANUP BY LEGEND ELEMENT! In total we have already collected about 300 kg of trash, join us to do something good again. This time you can help us clean up Nort Narrabeen Beach and lagoon our beloved surfing and spearfishing spot. 

Why do we think beach cleanups are helpful? It is opportunity to raise awareness of the trash problem among local #communities. We believe that such cleanups are as important for the impact they have in our heads as that which they have on the environment.

Meeting point at North Narrabeen beach car park on Sunday 1.3. 2020 at 9am
We will provide rubbish bags, bins and some refreshment. We will also take care of the rubbish afterwards.
Please bring your protective glove, thanks! 

Legend Element is a lifestyle brand that transpired from a love of adventure sports, particularly a passion for kiteboarding. It is about passion, good vibes and an active lifestyle. 

At the beginning of 2019 we realised, that more of us are connected not only by kitesurfing but also by different kind of outdoor adventure sports like freediving, spearfishing, rockclimbing, mountaineering, snowkiting .... and the idea started to grow. We have transformed our group LEGEND KITEBOARDING into a lifestyle brand LEGEND ELEMENT. We believe that everyone is unique in their own way, everyone has different passions and it's this special element that is the Legend Element.

Bush Regeneration Dinner

Friday, March 13, 2020 at 7 PM – 10 PM
5 Darley Street East Mona Vale
Hosted by Ruby Lane Wholefoods
Tickets:  HERE -  Single; $75, Deuce 2 x Single; $145, 4 pack 4 x Single; $280

Become part of the solutuion:- Help us plant trees by having dinner with us!
2020 has been a year already marked by great tragedy, we've heard the stories, seen the images and many of us know someone directly effected. The community spirit of Australia has been alive and well through these challenging times and has restored my faith in the future of the environment. 

Here at Ruby Lane we've helped donate over $2000 thus far to the Red Cross disaster relief fund. But now we start to wonder, what's next, is this going to happen again, what about the animals, the trees etc… One thing is for sure - we'd love to be part of the solution. 

What can we do?
There is an incredibly lovely and generous group of families who recently lost their homes at Surf Beach on the south coast of NSW in Batemans Bay... and what's unique about their story is that they've spent the last 25 years regenerating bush land around their properties all in the name of the re-enriching the environment, which is such an amazing selfless act to which we take our hats off to. 
However, as you can guess, along with losing their precious homes, all their hard work of regenerating the bush around them has been undone with the fires leaving nothing behind but charred earth. 
We've reached out to them to lend a hand and will be helping to regenerate the land in Mid March by way of planting LOADS of oxygen providing, life giving trees...and we need your help. 
We want to plant LOTS more trees, will you help us? Come to our Dinner for the Bush and proceeds will go to this great cause. We will have one event in Manly on Friday March 6th and one in Mona Vale on Friday March 13th. 

How you can help?
Our speciality is food, so join us for an Australian inspired dinner where all the proceeds will go towards purchasing trees and the supplies required for planting them. To book yourself in for this awesome dinner simply purchase a ticket above. 

We'll also be heading down to lend them a hand. You too can join us in getting our hands dirty. If you'd like to learn more about coming down, please email Phil on

Australian Inspired Menu
  • Amuse bouche
  • Earth crackers and plant based dips (gf df v)
  • Entree
  • Heirloom carrots 3 ways, almond ricotta, wild fennel (gf df v)
  • Main (choice of)
  •     Fermented mushroom, parsnip gnocchi, charred tomatoes (gf df v)
  •     or
  •     Pork, apple, kakadu plum, potato mille feuilles, beach mustard (gf df)
  • Dessert
  •     Coconut wattleseed biscuit, passionfruit curd, mango gel, mint gelly (gf df v)

So share this event with a date, or grab a bunch of friends and join us for this gluten free Australian feel good dinner. 
Or if you can’t make it to the dinner but would like to donate you can buy a ticket and we’ll use it as a prize or donation to a local environmental hero. 

Climate Action Now: What Will It Take To Make It Happen?

Are you worried about climate change?
Do you want government action to cut greenhouse gases?
Come and ask the politicians yourself at a Q&A style forum Chaired by Peter Hannam, Environment Editor of The Sydney Morning Herald featuring:

  • Zali Stegall (Independent MP for Warringah
  • Kristina Keneally (Labor Senator for NSW)
  • David Shoebridge (Greens NSW Upper House MP)
  • Vivienne Paduch (School Strike 4 Climate Activist)
Sat, March 14, 2020
10:00 AM – 12:00 PM
Pittwater RSL Club, 82 Mona Vale Road,  Mona Vale

Rock Platform Tour

Hosted by Coastal Environment Centre
Saturday, March 21, 2020 at 1:30 PM – 3:30 PM
Coastal Environment Centre
1 Lake Park Road -Pelican Path, North Narrabeen
Come and join one of our educators and discover the weird and wonderful creatures that live on our rock platforms.  Fun for all ages, there is so much to see if you know where to look!
Free Event
Booking Essential: HERE

Offshore Clean Energy Infrastructure - Proposed Framework: Consultation

Closes 28 Feb 2020
The Australian Government is developing a regulatory framework to enable the exploration, construction, operation and decommissioning of offshore wind and other clean energy technologies and associated infrastructure in Commonwealth waters (beyond three nautical miles from the coast).

They have developed a discussion paper and process map outlining the proposed regulatory framework. The proposal brings together the Australian Government's experience in regulation of other sectors with best practice for offshore energy regulation overseas.

Please provide your feedback on the proposal by 28 February 2020 to Submissions will not be published.

Discussion paper and process map at 

Photo: Burbo Bank Offshore Windfarm, Irish Sea off the Wirral, Image credit- Ian Mantel

Extension To Submissions For EPBC Act Review

January 16, 2020
Statement made by Professor Graeme Samuel AC, independent reviewer of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.

The bushfires affecting so many areas of Australia have been devastating for our communities and for our environment.

I would like to extend my condolences to those who have lost loved ones, homes and livelihoods. I acknowledge all those on the front line who are providing emergency response and support, including all the volunteers supporting communities and caring for our injured wildlife.

The attention of so many is rightfully focused on managing the bushfire events and taking the important first steps towards recovery. This includes people and organisations that are keenly interested in the independent review of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (known as the EPBC Act) that I am currently conducting.

Acknowledging that the bushfires are the focus of many of the review’s stakeholders, it is appropriate to extend the timeframe for providing submissions. I am keen for every interested stakeholder to have their say about the EPBC Act and how it operates.

Submissions are now due by close of business Friday 17 April 2020.

I encourage those who are able to provide submissions earlier to do so, including if people want to submit early or focussed views and ideas in advance of a fuller submission at a later time.

To read the discussion paper, find out how to make a submission and to register your interest in the review please visit the review website

Wildlife Care This Summer

Some excellent advice from the veterinary team at NEVS in Terrey Hills: Sydney is facing a catastrophic fire danger ratings, with high temperatures, hot gusty winds, and dry conditions. But what does this mean for our wildlife?

Native wildlife are struggling to cope with bushfires combined with habitat loss. Although our wildlife has evolved with fire, urbanisation has made their habitat so limited they are at great risk. During bushfires wildlife are forced to come to the ground where they get hit by cars and attacked by domestic dogs.

We can help our wildlife by creating refuge areas, that are shady, cool and somewhat wet. You can leave out shallow water dishes, and place a rock in them so smaller animals and birds don’t accidentally drown. Keep your dogs contained indoors and away from smoke for their own benefit as much as for the safety of wildlife. Avoid driving into fire areas unnecessarily where wildlife are likely to be present on the roads trying to escape, and instead await updates from online sources. If you encounter any injured or burnt wildlife, take them immediately to a vet hospital that you can safely access. Do not attempt to handle any bats unless you are vaccinated against Lyssavirus (the rabies vaccine covers this virus). Never chase wild animals in an attempt to capture them as they are prone to capture myopathy brought on by stress which is fatal.

For assistance or advice do not hesitate to phone NEVS on 9452 2933 and Sydney Metropolitan Wildlife Service on 9413 4300.

Bushcare In Pittwater 

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

Where we work                      Which day                              What time 

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

Winnererremy Bay                 4th Sunday                        9 to 12noon 

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

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

Old Wharf Reserve                 3rd Saturday                      8 - 11am 

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

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

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

North Narrabeen     
Irrawong Reserve                     2nd Saturday                   2 - 5pm 

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

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

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

Whale Beach     
Norma Park                               1st Friday                            9 - 12noon 

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

Gardens And Environment Groups And Organisations In Pittwater

Ten Minute Histories: The Rock Lily And The Orchid On North Head

Rock Lily Hotel, circa 1907 - Photo courtesy TROVE- National Library of Australia.

High Res version for those who like to zoom in. Interestingly the name of this premises then became the name of that area with people born at home, long before there was a hospital, having 'Rock Lily' as their place of birth on their birth certificates - even into the early 1920's.

The Hotel itself was named for the profusion of Rock 'Lillies' that once grew everywhere in Warriewood and Mona Vale, Dendrobium speciosum.

More in: Pittwater Restaurants You Could Stay At The Rock Lily Hotel – Mona Vale

Image No.: c071420012 from Album: Glass negatives of Sydney regions, including Clovelly, Coogee, and Manly ca 1890-1910 by William Joseph Macpherson (The Macphersons of Wharriewood - Warriewood) Courtesy Mitchell Library, State Library of New South Wales - and enlargement from.

Illustration of Dendrobium speciosum var. hillii (as syn. Dendrobium hillii Hook.) -  Date: 1861 - Source: "Curtis's Botanical Magazine" vol. 87 (Ser. 3 no. 17) pl. 5261

Author: Walter Hood Fitch (1817-1892) del. et lith. Description by William Jackson Hooker (1785—1865)

'Orchid, Manly Beach, N.S.W. January 10th, 1883' inscribed on back - unknown artist. Retrieved from

Marita Macrae OAM (Pittwater Natural Heritage Association - PNHA), to whom we turn when wondering 'What bird is that?' and 'What flower is this?' states it looks like a Dipodium species. aka Hyacinth Orchid, which has been recorded on North Head. Manlyites will also recall the name 'Fairy Bower' originally stemmed from the natural beauty of that place as perceived by a promoter of picnic grounds, in Charles Hemmington 

Manly's Fairy Bower' was opened in April 1859:

Advertising (1859, April 25). The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954), p. 8. Retrieved from

Mr. Charles Hemmington's Fairy Bower was well attended throughout the day. It is situated a short distance from the pier of Manly Beach, and is composed of a quantity of refreshment tents, with tables and seats formed from the trees and caves, let to picnic parties at moderate rates.
Amongst the various vessels ran by the Company throughout the day of rejoicing, the Emu, commanded by Captain Ferris, is especially worthy of notice from its swiftness and the kindness of the commander. MANLY BEACH. (1859, May 25). Empire (Sydney, NSW : 1850 - 1875), p. 4. Retrieved from 

Reports of up to 12 thousand people pouring into Manly on holidays, such as that of Queen Victoria's as above, or during Christmas breaks, resulted in everyone selling out of everything that was provided through Manly businesses to visitors, with the result reported as:

Sunday School Children's Excursions. 
The annual treat of the children belonging to the Pitt-street Congregational Sunday School took place yesterday. It had been announced for some time previously that as many of the parents of the children and friends of the school as could accompany the children in their excursion would be most heartily welcome ; and this invitation was responded to to an extent that was not anticipated. Accordingly, the morning of yesterday, instead of one boat sufficing to accommodate the excursionists, another boat had to be chartered. This difficulty having been got over, the Illawarra and Nora Crenia steamed down the harbour with their living f freights towards Manly, shortly after nine o'clock. Having arrived at the Pier, the children, to the number of about 350, with their teachers, parents, and friends, repaired to the Fairy Bower, where arrangement had been made for their reception. There they amused themselves in a variety of ways-swinging on numerous ropes suspended to the limbs of the gigantic trees which abound in the locality, being the rage. While the juveniles were thus amusing themselves, the older children dispersed in groups, seeking suitable spots for the unpacking and disposing of the various niceties with which they had provided themselves.

At one o'clock the juveniles were warned by the ringing of a bell that their sports were for a time to cease, as they were required - and they needed no coercion-to engage in another and even more pleasant operation than those which had so far occupied their attention. In providing for the gastronomical necessities of the numerous juveniles the contractor, Mr. Hemmington (the proprietor, of the Fairy Bower), had experienced a difficulty in providing a sufficient quantity. This was occasioned by the extensive and to some extent unanticipated consumption of a vast quantity of edibles by the thousands of visitors that patronised the favourite bower on the two preceding days, and the difficulties of procuring supplies from Sydney, while the boats were so busily engaged in conveying the pleasure seekers to and from Manly. This difficulty, however, being eventually met, appeared even to enhance the interest of the excursion, and resulted in the entire satisfaction of all concerned. It is not necessary to state that, after the open air amusements and vigorous athletic exercises of the morning, the juveniles did ample justice to the excellent spread. After dinner, the sports of the morning were resumed, and continued to a late hour in the ' afternoon, when the remains of the former meal were I laid out and quickly disposed of. 

At half-past five , o'clock the Illawarra left for Sydney, with the first instalment of the excursionists, the remaining portion being brought up by the Nora Creina, half an hour later. Unfortunately for the company, the heavy rain with which we were visited last night came on before the boats arrived at the wharf; but, by the timely extending of the awnings, much of the unpleasantness was avoided. At seven o'clock the last of the party were safely landed at Pheonix Wharf. Notwithstanding the somewhat unpropitious termination of the day's pleasure, the remembrance of the excursion to Fairy Bower will long be cherished by both young and old who took part in it, as a sunny memory. In conclusion, we may remark that the expenses incurred in the excursions are defrayed by donations from friends of the school, and also by the church and congregation with which the school has been long connected.-The children and teachers of the Balmain Presbyterian Sabbath School, with numerous friends and members of the church, also had an excursion yesterday. The Washington, chartered for the occasion, left Crook's Wharf, Balmain, with the company, at about nine o'clock, a.m., and proceeded to Middle Harbour, where, as soon as arrived, the party were lauded on a suitable spot for passing the day. The amusements of the juveniles were similar to those mentioned above as having been engaged in by the children of the Congregational school. An abundance of good things to appease the keen appetites of the company was liberally distributed, and in the evening the party returned to Balmain by the steamer which took them thence, apparently well" pleased with their day's excursion. Advertising (1859, December 28). The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954), p. 5. Retrieved from 

Manly's 'Fairy Bower', under Mr. Hemmington, didn't last too long:

In the Sydney District Court.
Michael John Davies, Plaintiff, and Charles Hemington, Defendant.
ON Friday, the 1st day of February, 1861, at 12 o'clock in the forenoon, pursuant to a Writ of Fieri Facias, issued in this cause, unless the same be previously satisfied, at the Court House, Macquarie-street, Sydney, all the light, title, and interest of the Defendant in a piece or parcel of land at Manly Cove, in the County of Cumberland, known as the Fairy Bower, and now in the occupation of the Defendant, or so much thereof, which the said Defendant is seised of or entitled to, or which he can either at Law or Equity assign or dispose of, will be sold by public auction.— Dated this 15th day of January, 1861.
GEO. S. YAKNTOX, Registrar. Michael John Davies, Plaintiff, and Charles Hemington, Defendant. (1861, January 18). New South Wales Government Gazette (Sydney, NSW : 1832 - 1900), p. 204. Retrieved from 

Hemington Charles—Sale of property belonging to by order of District Court . Index page (1861, June 30). New South Wales Government Gazette (Sydney, NSW : 1832 - 1900), p. v. Retrieved from 

Fortunately, and undeterred, Charles Hemmington tried again, the result being that by December 1863 - Chowder Bay has finally become a pleasure resort for all:

FAIRYLAND, CHOWDER BAY.-This beautiful retreat for picnic parties, &c., will be open on CHRISTMAS DAY and after. Everything will be sold at Sydney prices, and of the very best quality. Provisions, wines, spirits, ales, &c , &c. The Nautilus Steamer will run from the Circular Quay at 10,12, 2, and 1 ; from Woolloomooloo at 11 and 3 ; and from Fairyland as late as required. Let all bear in mind the former comforts of the Fairy Bower, the now deserted spot, and that the Fairy Queen and her spirits now settle permanently at her own sacred home, the Fairyland, where she rests in peace to watch over the comfort of the public.
NAUTILUS STEAMER to the FAIRYLAND, Chowder Bay, from Queen's Wharf, 10,12, 2, 4 ; from Wooloomooloo, 11 and 3. From Fairyland as late as required Return tickets, 1s 6d. Advertising (1863, December 25). The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954), p. 1. Retrieved from 

Chowder Bay - circa 1870 - showing Clifton Hotel and new wharf, Image No.: a325034h, courtesy State Library of NSW

Dipodium Variegatum, Hyacinth Orchid. Family: Orchidaceae

The Hyacinth orchid is a saprophyte, which means it is a leafless plant which obtains nourishment from decaying wood or plant matter, usually in association with a fungus.

Dipodium variegatum has a green fleshy stem 40-80cm high, with a small leaf at the base. The flowers are pale pink with purple spots. The colour of the stem and the floweers distinguish it from Dipodium punctatum. There is a dense hairy patch on the labellum or tongue - the 'landing pad' for insects.

It prefers dry sandy soils in coastal forests, but grows in a variety of habitats. Dipodium variegatum flowers mainly August to January.

''It is such a surprise to see the colour that this beautiful orchid (Dipodium variegatum) brings to the bush.'' photographed in Jannali NSW, December 21, 2008. Photo and caption by John Tann, Sydney

Ten Years Of The Krebs Lecture: + 2020 One Given This Week By Prof. Lindenmayer

by Suzanne Lazaroo, University of Canberra
The annual Krebs Lecture series at the University of Canberra marked its tenth anniversary this year, with a particularly timely presentation from renowned Landscape Ecologist and Conservation Biologist Professor David Lindenmayer AO on 18 February.

In his lecture From Landscape Transformation to Ecosystem Collapse, Professor Lindenmayer will draw on his 37-year career, as he explores how alterations to landscapes impact biodiversity and the environment, and can lead to the collapse of ecosystems – with a special emphasis on fires and logging in the wake of this summer’s devastation. Click here to read more.

The annual lectures are hosted by the University’s Institute for Applied Ecology (IAE). Conceptualised by Professor Stephen Sarre, the then-Director of the IAE, the lecture series was proposed as a way of sparking discussion among scientists, policy makers and the public on topics relevant to environmental science.

“The speakers we’ve had over the last 10 years have helped us to appeal to a broad audience and generate discussion around some of the big environmental issues,” said Dr Janine Deakin, Director of the IAE. “This discussion is very much needed, as we can tell from everything that’s happening at the moment, worldwide. This year’s topic was planned in September last year, and as it turns out, could not have been timelier.”

The lecture series was named after Charles Krebs, one of the world’s foremost ecologists. An Emeritus Professor at the University of British Columbia, Professor Krebs has a special relationship with the University of Canberra – he is the IAE’s Thinker in Residence and visits the University every summer.

“Naming the lecture series after Charles was our way of acknowledging his extraordinary contribution to our understanding and appreciation of our natural world,” said Dr Deakin. “Charles is the absolute guru when it comes to vertebrate ecology and his insight into current matters – like the impacts of climate change on biodiversity – is tremendous.”

It is Professor Krebs’ big picture approach to the large and small questions of the world that inspire so many.

“Slowly, people are realising that massive changes have been taking place in the world over a very long period of time – and equally, that they have been, for a large part, ignored,” he said.

“When it comes to something like climate change – well, we’ve been talking about that for a good 40 years. But there is a lack of long-term thinking and political will to actually do something about it.

“This is one reason that the work at the IAE is so valuable – it looks at practical, real world issues and how to help the natural world, but also how to help people – the balance is very important.”

Professor Krebs cites the Seventh Generation Principle, believed to be based on ancient Iroquois philosophy – it basically says that decisions made today should resonate positively seven generations into the future. It’s a philosophy shared by many other Indigenous peoples around the world.

“This is in direct opposition to the philosophy of so many politicians today, whose main job seems to be focusing on getting reelected in the short term,” Professor Krebs said.

Eschewing style-over-substance short-term solutions (“Putting colonists on Mars?! That’s the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard!”) and putting economic concerns before ecological ones, Professor Krebs thinks that the way forward is rooted in studies like Professor Lindenmayer’s – in-depth and carried out over decades.

“David studies trees that are thousand of years old,” Professor Krebs said. In the grand scheme of the planet, millenia form a cumulative blip – but it’s enough to give ecologists insight into emerging patterns, interactions and consequences.

The first step to get the important decisions based on a bedrock of solid science is to get people to be aware – and to care. The Krebs Lecture is one avenue for this.

Professor Krebs is well aware that in the ongoing war between money vs conservation, ecologists face an uphill battle. “Too many people with dollar signs in their eyes, when they look at a forest of mountain ash,” he said.

But Professors Krebs and Lindenmayer and their ilk, have fire in theirs – as do a host of people who have lived through this summer’s blazes and smoke.

“I think that we have come to a time of people being increasingly well-informed on environmental issues, and something like this year’s fire devastation in Australia pushes these issues even more to the forefront,” Professor Krebs said.

He’s looking forward to a lecture with great relevance, resonance and insight – which will hopefully translate into greater discussion and policy.

2011: Charles Krebs What an ecologist tells us about sustainability
2012: Brian Walker Learning how to change: Lessons from ecology for an uncertain world
2013: Bob Brown Is democracy failing the biosphere?
2014: Tim Flannery A new approach to biological conservation in an era of climate change
2015: Peter Garrett How long can we keep biting the hand that feeds us?
2016: John Hewson Q: Climate Change A: Technology and innovation
2017: Jane Lubchenco Enough doom and gloom: Holistic approaches bring hope for people and the ocean
2018: Emma Johnston Life in the fast lane: How will our coasts respond to future change?
2019: Gene Likens Acid rain: A long and unfinished journey from discovery to political action
2020: David Lindenmayer From landscape transformation to ecosystem collapse: Key insights from long-term fire, forest and biodiversity research

South Coast Shorebird Hatching Boom Despite Bushfires

February 19, 2020
Critically endangered Little Terns, Hooded Plovers and Pied Oystercatchers have fledged chicks at nesting sites along the NSW South Coast despite bushfires and beach visitors.
Environment Minister Matt Kean was pleased the little nesting shorebirds are doing well despite many challenges this summer including the Currowan fire.

"It's really encouraging to see great conservation outcomes for these rare birds," Mr Kean said.

"It's great to have positive news about these birds which are migratory and listed as endangered or vulnerable species at risk of predation, storms and other threats."

"These precious birds made it through last week's king tide which nearly washed the eggs away before they hatched. Thankfully, NSW Government's Saving our Species (SoS) program experts and local volunteers snatched them to safety from the advancing tide, moving the nests to the top of a sand mound."

Volunteers kept watch to ensure the chicks were safe as the youngsters are still feeding with their parents at the site. Other breeding successes include:
  • 35 little terns at Mogareeka, near Tathra
  • 10 little terns and three pied oyster catchers at Tuross estuary, despite fox attacks and high tides
  • 5 pied oyster catcher fledglings near Durras Lake entrance.
Shorebird Recovery Coordinator Sophie Hall-Aspland said these results show the shorebirds' resilience, with the help of the determined efforts of the SoS's South Coast Shorebird Recovery Program, which is a collaboration between SoS, NPWS, local community groups and over 100 volunteers.

The shorebird nesting season occurs from August to January/February, with peak laying from late November to mid-December. While pied oystercatchers are residents on many Aussie beaches, little terns undertake an arduous migration from as far away as Korea and Vietnam. For more info or to volunteer: South Coast Shorebird Recovery Program

Little Tern chicks - photo by Leo Berzins, courtesy NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment

Little Tern - photo by Leo Berzins, courtesy NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment

Mountain Pygmy-Possums Dig Into Food And Water

February 19, 2020
Remote cameras spot Mountain Pygmy-possums eating from stations installed in a bushfire-affected area of Kosciuszko National Park.
The 62 custom-built food stations have been installed to save the threatened possums from the recent bushfires.

Stocked with bogong biscuits and macadamia nuts, the little possums dig in.

Biologists from Zoos Victoria developed the biscuits that replicate the nutrition of a Bogong moth - a main food source for possums.

To help with the affected wildlife, Woolworths has donated macadamia nuts as part of the Saving our Species program. 

Environment Minister Matt Kean said the videos confirm many of the endangered animals survived the bushfires.

“The images show just how hungry and thirsty the possums are since the fire destroyed or reduced its natural food sources, so the bogong biscuits* have literally been a lifesaver,” Mr Kean said.

Food supplies will continue throughout autumn before the possums hibernate for winter.

An emergency recovery plan is being put in place to protect and restore wildlife populations affected by the bushfires.

Learn more about the Saving our Species program.

(*See Pittwater Online Environment News Issues 437 and 438)

Unsure On Insurance: NSW Landholders Face Future Risks Should CSG Go Ahead

February 18, 2020
The NSW Environmental Protection Agency appears to have abandoned a key coal seam gas risk mitigation measure recommended by the NSW Chief Scientist, placing landholders at future risk should the industry go ahead in the state.

The EPA has quietly conceded it will not proceed with implementing a long-term environmental rehabilitation fund recommended by the Chief Scientist.

The environmental authority also admitted it was not sure insurance would be available to protect landholders from spills and contamination. 

The concerning revelations follow the EPA’s appearance at a Legislative Council inquiry earlier this month into the long-delayed implementation of the NSW Chief Scientist’s recommendations on coal seam gas.

Under questions from parliamentarians the EPA told the inquiry it would shortly release the Government’s final response to recommendation 9, which proposed a “robust and comprehensive” three-tier approach to guarding against environmental risk.

The recommendation was for site-based security deposits, enhanced insurance coverage, and an environmental rehabilitation fund for management and response to environmental harm into the future. 

The EPA’s response also concedes that it may not be possible for coal seam gas operators to obtain insurance and proposes that “Operators choosing not to hold relevant insurance will be required to instead prove to the EPA the existence of sufficient potential clean up funds.”

Lock the Gate Alliance spokesperson Georgina Woods said it was a worrying development at a time when the NSW and Federal Governments were cozying up over their recently inked energy deal.

Part of that deal includes the request that the NSW Government find 70 petajoules of gas, almost exactly what the Santos’ proposed Narrabri gasfield would likely yield.

“This latest development continues the pattern of the Berejiklian Government dismantling various commitments and processes to make it easier for the Narrabri CSG project to proceed - following the announcement last week the IPC would be weakened. ” Ms Woods said.

“Through this latest announcement, the NSW Government appears to be conceding that it will not put in place the risk mitigation measures that the Chief Scientist said were necessary to properly manage the CSG industry. 

“If the CSG industry goes ahead without insurance and without a fund established that can pay to clean up spills and contamination damage, the risk and any associated harm are all going to be loaded onto landholders and the people of New South Wales. 

“This failure means a red light for coal seam gas in New South Wales. Having failed to put in place the promised ‘world-class’ regime to protect people, water, soils and landscapes from coal seam gas, the government must urgently stop the Narrabri gasfield.”

A transcript of the EPA’s evidence to the Legislative Council inquiry is available here.

Bylong Community Steps Up To Court Defence Of Mine Refusal After Shock IPC Withdrawal

February 14, 2020
The Bylong community, determined to protect farmland and heritage values, has today applied to join legal proceedings to defend the Independent Planning Commission’s (IPC) decision to reject the destructive KEPCO coal mine.

It follows a shock move yesterday, with the IPC announcing it was not taking an active role in defending the judicial review brought by KEPCO against its original decision.

A directions hearing into the matter was held in Sydney today.

In September last year, the IPC ruled the risks posed by the proposed coal mine to water, land, and future generations through its contribution to climate change were too great.

However, the IPC was recently weakened following a concerted spin campaign by the NSW Minerals Council, and the withdrawal of the IPC from an active role in the case raises fears that political pressure may now reverse the planning authority’s original ruling.

The Bylong Valley Protection Alliance (BVPA), represented by the Environmental Defenders Office, is now seeking to ensure the mine does not again threaten soils that are in the top 3.5 per cent in the state or put the climate at risk through dangerous downstream emissions.

Bylong farmer and President of BVPA Phillip Kennedy said, “We’re shocked to hear that neither the IPC or the NSW Government are going to actively defend this case against KEPCO, and so we feel our community has been forced to step up. 

“We can’t believe it’s left to communities like ours to defend the rule of law against mining giants in NSW.  It seems bizarre for the farmland and water resources of our valley to be left defenceless. 

“We have been fighting against this mine proposal for many years but what’s at stake is so important to us and everyone in NSW - healthy soils, rich heritage and a safe climate.

“At a time when extreme weather has caused chaos throughout so much of NSW, we have been able to continue farming here, producing food and fodder not just for the cities, but for drought affected regions as well.

“To allow the Bylong Valley to be ripped up for a thermal coal mine would be just wrong, and if our governments and public authorities won’t stand up to protect it, we certainly will.”

Georgina Woods from Lock the Gate Alliance said, “It’s incredibly disappointing the IPC has washed its hand of this matter and is not going to defend its own decision in court.

“Put together, the Government’s Bill in parliament to weaken climate change considerations for coal mines, the overhaul of the IPC announced this month, and this backwards step in court is a very disturbing pattern of downplaying climate impacts from coal, even as NSW deals with its devastating consequences in the form of fire, flood and drought.” 

Bizarrely, KEPCO’s legal challenge comes after its Korean-based board decided last week that the Bylong proposal “has no value” and wrote it down to zero.

The hearing on whether to accept the BVPA’s application will happen on February 28, while the case hearing will be held on August 24-27.


The reasons for refusing consent for the Bylong coal mine can be found in a detailed, 146-page Statement of Reasons published by the IPC. The key reasons were summarised by the IPC in their media release at the time as:
  • the groundwater impacts would be unacceptable
  • no evidence to support the Applicant’s claim that impacted Biophysical Strategic Agricultural Land (BSAL) can be rehabilitated post-mining to BSAL-equivalent
  • given the expected level of disturbance to the existing natural landscape, the Commission does not consider that a recreated landscape post-mining will retain the same aesthetic, scenic, heritage and natural values; and
  • greenhouse gas aspects of the Project remain problematical.

Incompetence And Cronyism Still Mar Water Management In NSW

February 20, 2020
Almost three years after the ABC’s 4 Corners exposed chronic mismanagement of inland rivers in NSW it appears little has changed, according to conservation groups.

“Irrigators still call the shots and water administrators still have not figured out how to measure how much water is in the system or how much is being syphoned off,” said Nature Conservation Council Chief Executive Chris Gambian. 

“First this week, specialist auditors found serious shortcoming in 58 water management plans ranging caused by lack of resources, blame-shifting between agencies, and a lack of monitoring on how much water remained in the rivers and what was being used. [1]

Today we learn the irrigation industry is invited to provide riding instructions to Water Minister Melinda Pavey. [2]

“Who is running water management in NSW? Irrigators or the government?”

Inland Rivers Network spokesperson Bev Smiles said: “Three years after the water theft scandal became public, water management by the Nationals in the NSW Government is still a shambles.

“There have been no meetings with Water Ministers and conservation movement since the Coalition came to power in 2011, despite repeated requests.

“Meanwhile, the Minister dines with representatives of the irrigation industry and asks them how they want to handle flows from the first decent rainfall for over two years.

“The only way to ensure water is managed for the benefit of all stakeholders is to take the portfolio off the Nationals, who are too closely tied to the irrigation lobby.”


[1] 'Damning, disappointing': Debacle in state's water sharing plans, SMH, 18-2-20

[2] 'How would you like to handle it?': the minister, the irrigators and a flood, SMH, 20-2-20

Eraring Must Close By 2026 For NSW To Play Its Role In Keeping Global Heating Below 2 Degrees

February 21, 2020
Eraring coal-fired power station on the Central Coast must close by 2026 for NSW to play its part in limiting global heating to below 2 degrees, according to the Nature Conservation Council.  

“We welcome news that Origin Energy is considering shutting Eraring power station plant before its scheduled closure date of 2032,” NCC Campaigns Director Dr Brad Smith said.

“This is one of the more rational responses to the climate emergency from the energy sector we've seen for a long time.

“While the company has not given a revised scheduled closure date, analysis shows Eraring must cease operations by 2026 to ensure NSW plays its part in limiting global heating to less than 2 degrees.

“According to Climate Analytics’ least-cost scenario, all OECD coal power stations must close by 2030. 

“The decommissioning of Eraring needs to be part of staged closure of the state’s five power stations, including Liddell in 2022, Vales Point in 2024, Eraring in 2026, Bayswater in 2028 and Mount Piper in 2030.

“The NSW Government must urgently develop a comprehensive plan to manage the decommissioning of the plants to ensure local communities are supported through the transition.”

Origin Energy chief executive Frank Calabria has reportedly said the energy market is "moving rapidly" and the Eraring was subject to continual review, and factors influencing the decision included the economics of running the plant and the impact of global warming in the wake of this summer's devastating bushfire season. [1] 

Retiring Eraring early would mean:
  • 14.9 million tonnes less climate pollution each year
  • 760,000 tonnes less toxic ash piled on the shores of Lake Macquarie
  • 200 tonnes less PM2.5 air pollution each year

It would require:
  • 17,000 GWh more clean energy generation, creating jobs and investment across NSW
  • A transition plan and fund to ensure the local community and workers have a bright future.
  • Rehabilitation of the coal ash dam to stop heavy metals leaching into Lake Macquarie.

[1] Origin Energy says coal plant closure date open to review, SMH, 21-2-20

[2] Climate Analytics, For Climate’s Sake: Coal Free by 2030, November 2019

Seven Football Fields Of Habitat For The Greater Glider

February 18, 2020:  Australian Conservation Foundation
Last week, we learned of an exciting victory for our Environmental Investigations Team. And today, finally, we can share it!

In June 2019, we sent our team up to northern Queensland to investigate the approval of land clearing on Meadowbank station – prime habitat for the threatened Greater Glider. This was an area the federal government decided was not home to the glider without even stepping foot on the property to check.

With little more than a pinky promise of no gliders in the area, the federal government waved the approval through. But we found gliders, and we got the photographic proof. We presented this information to the Federal Environment Department. They didn’t write back. We kept working.

In November, we captured aerial images that showed even more destruction. Some of the Greater Glider habitat set aside for protection was being bulldozed too. This was unacceptable, and presented with this new evidence, the Federal Environment Department finally took action.

Our photographic evidence of threatened Greater Gliders on Meadowbank station

Today, we can confirm that the department has increased the protected Greater Glider habitat on this property by the equivalent of seven football fields. It’s not enough, but for the precious gliders living on this property every single hectare matters. It could mean life or death.

I wish we didn’t have to do the department’s job for them. But weak environment laws and a federal government unwilling to consider what’s at stake means that our Investigations Team’s work is far from over. 
Without our investigatory work even more of this land would have been bulldozed, and many of the animals who called it home would have been killed.

And tragically, that is an outcome we see all too often. You might remember the news of bulldozing continuing in Victoria during the catastrophic fires. Photos of dead koalas on piles of logged trees is something I’ll never forget. The fact that this was legal is gut-wrenching.

But we can do something about it. We can continue our investigations work, and in doing so, expose destruction and corruption and demonstrate how our laws and regulations urgently need fixing.

With your help, we can trawl through jargon-filled environmental approvals and breach notices, hire independent experts and pay for Freedom of Information releases. We will make sure that the Federal Environment Department knows we are watching – and we will take action when they fail to.

Right now, we are investigating two more cases just like this one. Two high-profile areas being illegally cleared. We’re very close to proving that this clearing will risk several threatened species, including possible extinction of at least one of them.

I can’t say more than that right now. Except that your donations will help us continue this work. And in the coming months, when we can share an update, you’ll know that you made it possible.
The cost of this work can go into the tens of thousands for each investigation. But the cost if we don’t? It’s one we can’t afford.

This next year is one of the most important for this work. Our national environment laws are under review. And with the recent catastrophic bushfires destroying so much habitat and pushing our unique animals closer to extinction, every hectare matters.

Right now is our best chance to strengthen these laws, to close the loopholes, and ensure that our environment laws actually protect our environment, not fast-track its destruction.

We can’t give up now. We can’t slow down. We have to keep going, and demanding more from our government. Our job isn’t done yet.

Warming Oceans Are Getting Louder

February 18, 2020: American Geophysical Union
One of the ocean's loudest creatures is smaller than you'd expect -- and will get even louder and more troublesome to humans and sea life as the ocean warms, according to new research presented here at the Ocean Sciences Meeting 2020.

Snapping shrimp create a pervasive background crackling noise in the marine environment. Scientists suspect the sound helps the shrimp communicate, defend territories and hunt for food. When enough shrimp snap at once, the noise can dominate the soundscape of coastal oceans, sometimes confusing sonar instruments.

Researchers will present new results Friday at the Ocean Sciences Meeting 2020 suggesting that with increased ocean temperatures, snapping shrimp will snap more often and louder than before. This could amplify the background noise, or soundscape, of the global ocean, with implications for marine life and humans.

"It's a really cool little animal," said Aran Mooney, a marine biologist at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution who will present the work. "They're a crustacean, kind of like a little shrimp or lobster. They make a sound by like closing a claw so fast it makes this bubble and when that bubble implodes, it makes that snapping sound."

Mooney and his colleague Ashlee Lillis detected a strong relationship between warmer waters and louder, more frequent snapping shrimp sounds by experimenting with shrimp in tanks in their lab and by listening to shrimp in the ocean at different water temperatures.

"As you increase that temperature, snap rates increase," Mooney said.

This makes sense because shrimp are essentially cold-blooded animals, meaning their body temperature and activity levels are largely controlled by their environment, in the same way ants can move faster in warmer weather than in cool weather.

"We can actually show in the field that not only does snap rate increase, but the sound levels increase as well," Mooney said. "So the seas are actually getting louder as water, warmer temperatures."

Louder snapping shrimp could potentially have harmful effects on fish and even sonar used by submarines and ships.

"We know that fish use sound to communicate," Mooney said. "Fish call each other, and they make sounds to attract mates and for territorial defense. If the seas get louder, it has the potential to influence those communications. We don't really know that yet. That's something we have to follow up on."

Human use of sound in the oceans might also be impaired by very loud snapping shrimp. Common instruments like sonar fish finders might be affected, Mooney said. There is also the possibility louder seas could affect instruments the Navy uses to detect mines, which could have implications for national defense, he said.

Listen to snapping shrimp sounds here:

A snapping shrimp in a petri dish. The tiny critters are among the loudest animals in the ocean. Credit: Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.

$5 Million To Seed Habitat Recovery

February 17, 2020
The Hon Sussan Ley MP, Minister for the Environment
Senator the Hon Marise Payne, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Minister for Women, Senator for NSW

The Federal Government is funding series of projects through Greening Australia that will enhance the protection of native habitats, build capacity in our native seed and nursery industry, and deliver a ten-year native seed and landscape restoration strategy.

Environment Minister the Hon Sussan Ley and Liberal Senator for Western Sydney, Senator the Hon Marise Payne, launched the project at Greening Australia’s seed production area in Richmond today, just a few kilometres from the horrific Kurrajong fires, as part of the Commonwealth’s initial $50 million Wildlife and Habitat Bushfire Recovery package.

“Seeds are where so much of our recovery starts and the process of identifying, planning and gathering seed stores is incredibly complex,” Minister Ley said.

“With this funding, Greening Australia will be able to work closely with our Expert Panel to identify high priority plants and ecological communities.

“These are not seeds that can simply be purchased at a local nursery and an important part of the package is increasing the capacity of the native seed and nursery industry.”

Senator Payne said the funding was a critical part of the Morrison Government’s locally led approach to managing the risk of bushfires.

“Important ecological rejuvenation will be undertaken on the doorstep of where the Gospers Mountain mega blaze struck,” Senator Payne said.

“It will provide a critical boost to wildlife and habitat recovery.”

Greening Australia’s CEO Brendan Foran outlined the extensive field work required to determine native seed supply needs, identify seed harvesting opportunities and produce the seeds and plants needed for landscape restoration.

“We will work with a broad range of stakeholders, including local communities, Indigenous groups, environmental and natural resource management organisations, government, fire agencies, fire ecologists, regulators and land managers,” Mr Foran said.

“To restore native vegetation we need to access seeds from those areas and that is an incredibly detailed process in itself.

“We need to know we are putting the right species in the right place to support both the natural plant life and the wildlife they support in our future climate.”

The delivery of the funding to Greening Australia is an important step in the wildlife and habitat recovery process.

Greening Australia has been conserving and restoring landscapes at scale through collaborative, science-based and innovative conservation programs for over 38 years. Find out more about their work here and an example of their work in previous bushfire recovery efforts here

Roundtable To Help Steer Environmental Recovery In The Hawkesbury And Blue Mountains

February 17, 2020
Key environmental, government and community stakeholders from across the Hawkesbury and Blue Mountains attended a roundtable alongside the Chair of The Wildlife and Threatened Species Bushfire Recovery Expert Panel today.

It is the first ministerial roundtable to be held outside of Canberra since the establishment of the Expert Panel on 13 January 2020.

The ministerial roundtable, which was held at the Western Sydney University’s Hawkesbury Institute for the Environment, was convened by the Minister for the Environment, the Hon Sussan Ley MP.

Dr Sally Box, Chair of the Expert Panel was present at the meeting, as was the Member for Macquarie, Susan Templeman MP, and the Member for Hawkesbury, Robyn Preston MP.

Minister Ley said the purpose of the roundtable was to receive local feedback about future funding interventions as part of the Morrison Government’s $50 million Wildlife and Habitat Recovery Package.

“The Hawkesbury and Blue Mountains communities have faced terrible challenges in these fires and today is about all parties coming together to discuss the ways forward.”

“There is a long road ahead but throughout the Expert Panel meetings which have included state representatives, and the series of Ministerial roundtables to date there has been an enormous willingness to work together,” Ms Ley said.

Minister Ley outlined the work underway in ensuring that Heritage areas such as the Blue Mountains National Park are helped to recover with the input of scientists, indigenous experts, landcare managers and local communities.

The roundtable was a locally-led discussion, and the feedback taken from this roundtable will help inform future actions and recommendations made by the Expert Panel.

In response to the bushfires, Minister for the Environment, the Hon Sussan Ley MP, asked the Threatened Species Commissioner, Dr Sally Box, to convene an Expert Panel to assist in prioritising recovery actions for native species and ecological communities.

The Expert Panel will inform the further delivery of the Australian Government’s response to the fire events, including priority emergency actions to support impacted animals, plants, and ecosystems, as well as medium, and long term responses required to support the recovery of Australia’s environment.

Here Are 5 Practical Ways Trees Can Help Us Survive Climate Change

February 19, 2020 
by Gregory Moore, Doctor of Botany, University of Melbourne
As the brutal reality of climate change dawned this summer, you may have asked yourself a hard question: am I well-prepared to live in a warmer world?

There are many ways we can ready ourselves for climate change. I’m an urban forestry scientist, and since the 1980s I’ve been preparing students to work with trees as the planet warms.

In Australia, trees and urban ecosystems must be at the heart of our climate change response.

Governments have a big role to play – but here are five actions everyday Australians can take as well.

1. Plant trees to cool your home
At the current rate of warming, the number of days above 40℃ in cities including Melbourne and Brisbane, will double by 2050 – even if we manage to limit future temperature rises to 2℃.

Trees can help cool your home. Two medium-sized trees (8-10m tall) to the north or northwest of a house can lower the temperature inside by several degrees, saving you hundreds of dollars in power costs each year.
Green roofs and walls can reduce urban temperatures, but are costly to install and maintain. Climbing plants, such as vines on a pergola, can provide great shade, too.

Trees also suck up carbon dioxide and extend the life of the paint on your external walls.

2. Keep your street trees alive
Climate change poses a real threat to many street trees. But it’s in everyone’s interests to keep trees on your nature strip alive.

Adequate tree canopy cover is the least costly, most sustainable way of cooling our cities. Trees cool the surrounding air when their leaves transpire and the water evaporates. Shade from trees can also triple the lifespan of bitumen, which can save governments millions each year in road resurfacing.

Tree roots also soak up water after storms, which will become more extreme in a warming climate. In fact, estimates suggest trees can hold up to 40% of the rainwater that hits them.

But tree canopy cover is declining in Australia. In Melbourne, for instance, it falls by 1-1.5% annually, mainly due to tree removals on private land.

Governments are removing trees from public and private land at the time we need them most. Shutterstock

This shows state laws fail to recognise the value of trees, and we’re losing them when we need them most.

Infrastructure works such as level crossing removals have removed trees in places such as the Gandolfo Gardens in Melbourne’s inner north, despite community and political opposition. Some of these trees were more than a century old.

So what can you do to help? Ask your local council if they keep a register of important trees of your suburb, and whether those trees are protected by local planning schemes. Depending on the council, you can even nominate a tree for protection and significant status.

But once a development has been approved, it’s usually too late to save even special trees.

3. Green our rural areas
Outside cities, we must preserve remnant vegetation and revegetate less productive agricultural land. This will provide shade and moderate increasingly strong winds, caused by climate change.

Planting along creeks can lower water temperatures, which keeps sensitive native fish healthy and reduces riverbank erosion.

Strategically planting windbreaks and preserving roadside vegetation are good ways to improve rural canopy cover. This can also increase farm production, reduce stock losses and prevent erosion.

To help, work with groups like Landcare and Greening Australia to vegetate roadsides and river banks.

4. Make plants part of your bushfire plan
Climate change is bringing earlier fire seasons and more intense, frequent fires. Fires will occur where they hadn’t in the past, such as suburban areas. We saw this in the Melbourne suburbs of Bundoora, Mill Park, Plenty and Greensborough in December last year.

It’s important to have a fire-smart garden. It might seem counter-intuitive to plant trees around the house to fortify your fire defences, but some plants actually help reduce the spread of fire – through their less flammable leaves and summer green foliage – and screen your house from embers.

Depending on where you live, suitable trees to plant include crepe myrtle, the hybrid flame tree, Persian ironwood, some fruit trees and even some native eucalypts.
If you’re in a bushfire-prone area, landscape your garden by strategically planting trees, making sure their canopies don’t overhang the house. Also ensure shrubs do not grow under trees, as they might feed fire up into the canopy.

And in bad fire conditions, rake your garden to put distance between fuel and your home.

5. What if my trees fall during storms?
The fear of a whole tree falling over during storms, or shedding large limbs, is understandable. Human injury or death from trees is extremely rare, but tragedies do occur.

Make sure your trees are healthy, and their root systems are not disturbed when utility services such as plumbing, gas supplies and communication cables are installed.

Coping with a warming world
Urban trees are not just ornaments, but vital infrastructure. They make cities liveable and sustainable and they allow citizens to live healthier and longer lives.

For centuries these silent witnesses to urban development have been helping our environment. Urban ecosystems depend on a healthy urban forest for their survival, and so do we.

This Article was published by The Conversation, republished under a Creative Commons licence,  click here to read the original.

Aussie Bread Tags Collection Points

Collecting bread tags enables us to provide wheelchairs that change the life of disabled people in need, as well as keeping the tags out of landfill to help to preserve the environment. 

Bread Tags for Wheelchairs was started in South Africa in 2006 by Mary Honeybun. It is a community program where individuals and organisations collect bread tags, which are sold to recyclers. The money raised pays for wheelchairs for the less fortunate which are purchased through a local pharmacy. Currently about 500kg of bread tags are collected a month in South Africa, funding 2-3 wheelchairs.

We have been collecting bread tags nationally in Australia since September 2018 and now have more than 100 collection points across the country. In February 2019 we started local recycling through Transmutation - Reduce, Reuse and Recycle in Robe, SA, where our tags are recycled into products such as door knobs and bowls. Tags from some states are still sent to South Africa where a plastics company called Zibo recycles them into seedling trays.

These humble bits of polystyrene can make a real difference so get your friends, family, school, workplace and church involved. Ask school tuck shops and boarding school kitchens, child care centres, aged care facilities, hospitals, cafes and fast food outlets to collect for you - they get through a lot of bread!

All the information and signage for collecting or setting up a public collection point is on our website.

Local Collectors
Lesley Flood
Please email for address -
Jodie Streckeisen
Please email for the address -

Fire-Ravaged School Gets The Best Garden On The Block And A BIG Day Out Courtesy Of Barrenjoey High School Band Night

February 18, 2020

Barrenjoey High School hosted a musical evening on Thursday this week with The Rions and Marvell playing to an Under 18's audience to raise funds for a Big Day Out for Mogo Public School students and staff at Nowra, which is what the students said they would like. Both bands have Barrenjoey High links, being current students or ex-students. 

Max and Tom Marvell are Marvell – a singer/songwriting brother duo from here, while The Rions are Harley Wilson, Noah Blockley, Asher Mclean and Tom Partington. The Rions started in 2016 when the four boys were all in year 7. Initially just being Noah (the singer) and Harley (the guitarist) before Tom (the drummer) joined the two due to needing a drummer for their music assignment and later Asher after he moved to their school. A video by BHS P&C member  Christy Bishop runs below, giving those that couldn't get there a snippet of the great sounds heard.

Mogo PS school is located on the Princes Highway ten kilometres south of Batemans Bay and six kilometres from Broulee. Although located on a busy highway at the southern end of the township, the school has extensive grounds along Mogo Creek. There are 58 students, with the school community extending from Tomakin, Mossy Point, Broulee to Mogo. There are two main buildings, one permanent classroom block housing the library and a primary class and the administration block, in addition to two demountables classrooms.

Over the Christmas-New Years break firefighters had to do all they could to save the schoolhouse. Six of the students also lost their homes.

Last week Mogo Public School students and staff received a morale boost when the Today Show and The Block rebuilt the school gardens, lost during bushfires which ravaged the town on New Year's Eve.

Acting principal Lyndall Schuchmann said the rebuilding of the gardens and chicken coop was a great community effort, bringing everyone together after a tough couple of months on the south coast.

'The children have been so excited and it's been wonderful how the whole community has come together to work on creating this great space,' she said.

'The students have been involved the whole way. They understand and appreciate that all of this is about people who are trying to do something good and make their lives better.'

Ms Schuchmann said many parents, grandparents, community members and local businesses had helped Tess and Luke Stuber (the most recent Block winners) and Block landscaper Dave Franklin to complete the garden.

It was unveiled on air during the Today Show last week.

Fire destroyed the school garden

'It was lovely having so many people come in and help and understand the philosophy of this garden, which is all about giving back, Ms Schuchmann said.

'We feel so fortunate to have so many people that wanted to help us and we felt it was important that this garden is all about giving - giving edible plants for animals to Mogo Zoo, giving to the school canteen, and giving produce to the students and their families.'

Tess and Luke spent time in each classroom over the week, talking to the students about what was going on in the garden and challenging each class group to choose names for the new school chickens.

'We saw on the news how devastating the fires were and we really wanted to be able to get involved and to do something positive, so as soon as we were asked we said yes straight away,' said Tess.

'Everyone we have spoken to has a story of dealing with the fires and some are so devastating, and yet everyone has a smile on their face and is happy to donate their time, and local businesses are happy to donate materials to make this happen.'

Luke added that it was the very least he and Tess could do to lend a hand to build the garden.

'It's an amazing thing about the Aussie spirit and how people are here, some of whom have lost so much, already thinking about how they are going to give back through this garden,' Luke said.

New gardens and play areas after the landscaping makeover.

'We just want to make the kids smile.'

Tess and Luke said with the help of the students they had settled on seven names for the new chickens: Tess, Lou Lou, Sparkles, Peggy, Bianca, Bella and Big Mumma.

'We feel very honoured that they named a couple after us, it was very sweet,' Luke said, adding that he hoped they would live a long and healthy life in their new coop.

Year 4 student Skye Nye said she enjoyed having Tess and Luke at the school during the week.

'It's like we're famous now too,' Skye said after being filmed and photographed with the celebrities.

'We're excited and I really like the garden and going out there.'

The fully landscaped garden area includes a fruit orchard, vegetable and herb gardens, a lawn area for the students to play, seating areas for informal classes, a new chicken coop, and an indigenous bush tucker garden developed in conjunction with the school's Aboriginal Education Officer, Kizzy Nye, and local rangers.

Principal Lyndall Schuchmann, left, with students and The Block winners, Luke and Tess Stuber.

Lifeline Classic 2020

Have you registered a team in the 2020 Lifeline Classic? There's still time! You can make a difference by simply paddling out.

On the shores of Queenscliff Beach on Sunday 29 March, pro surfers and proud locals team up to take on the waves and raise money for a critical cause: suicide prevention.

The Lifeline Classic is our annual ‘tag team’ surfing comp – and it’s the biggest fundraising event on our calendar. Last year, locals banded together to raise over $60,000, and had a ball while doing so. Our 2020 event is set to be bigger and better than ever!

With only 5 weeks to go, there's still time to register a team -
Round up a team of four surfers. They can be colleagues, mates, family… anyone who’s keen to hit the waves. Remember this is a fun, inclusive event for all surfers (even newbies!). There’s no judgement, it’s all about taking part!

Team up with a charity that saving lives, right in our own backyard. Every $27.96 raised answers a call to our 24/7 13 11 14 suicide and crisis prevention line.

Ocean Friendly School Canteens Here

Did you know  there are now 6 Ocean Friendly accredited school canteens in our area?  These are single use plastic free, waste reducing and deliciously nutritious. Schools are setting sustainable standards for future generations.

Well done Wheeler Heights Public School, Bilgola Plateau Public School, Barrenjoey High School's Sandbar Cafe, St Johns Baptist Public School Balgowlah, St Cecilia's Catholic Primary School Balgowlah and Explore & Develop Brookvale.

Ocean Friendly - February 17, 2020

A video about one of these schools runs below:

Do You Know Any Budding Marine Biologists?

Applications are now open for year 11 and 12 students to experience life as a marine biologist for one week on Tasmania’s Maria Island.

There are four free scholarships for Tasmanians and five for interstate students, as well as 15 non-scholarship places.

Learn more and apply here:

NB: This unit is offered via the University Connections Program at the University of Tasmania, and open to all year 11 and 12 students in Australia - closes 24/2/2020

This unit, A practical introduction to temperate marine biology, is an introduction to UTAS's Bachelor of Marine and Antarctic Science.

  • When you apply, you automatically go into the running to win one of nine scholarships to fully fund your marine biologist experience. Scholarship package includes:
  • Accommodation, airport transfers and return economy airfares from your nearest capital city to Hobart for our five interstate recipients
  • Transport from Hobart to Maria Island return, including ferry crossings
  • All catering while on Maria Island
  • Hire of all required diving and survey gear
  • Field excursion fee of $645 for the program A Practical Introduction to Temperate Marine Biology

‘How Do I Control My Oily Skin And Prevent Pimples?’ A Dermatologist Explains: From The I Need To Know Series For Teenagers - Put Together By The Conversation

How can I control the excessive oil secretions on my face that leads to acne? Anonymous

Answered by Celestine Wong, Consultant Dermatologist, Monash Health

Pimples are the worst! They hurt, pop up overnight and can be impossible to hide.

You’re right that oily skin is believed to be the most critical factor for causing acne.

But rest assured, there are a few things you can do to keep your oil at bay and control the likelihood of a break out.

Why am I so oily… all the time!

Before we start talking about how to avoid acne, let’s chat about why oily skin causes acne.

Oily skin is caused by the overproduction of sebum by an overactive oil gland (also known as the pilosebaceous unit, which is just a fancy term for a hair follicle and its oil gland).

There are a few reasons we get acne, one being the pore of the oil gland can be blocked – this can be made worse by using certain types of makeup.

Some of our hormones during puberty drive sebum overproduction, hence acne-overload. Fun fact: anabolic steroids, typically used by bodybuilders, can trigger acne too.

Acne bacteria lives on the skin and its overgrowth around your oil glands can worsen inflammation and pus formation. This is what causes acne to hurt sometimes.

If there’s a strong history of acne in your family, there’s a good chance you might get it too.

It is also linked to medical conditions such as polycystic ovarian syndrome.

Trust me on this, a proper skin routine is everything

As a dermatologist, I recommend cleaning your face every morning and evening. If you wear make up, ALWAYS wipe it off before going to bed – no excuses!

The Conversation, CC BY-ND

Using pore-clogging oil-based make up can worsen or cause acne. This can become worse if make up is not thoroughly removed!

If you want to hide your acne with make up, just be sure to use brands that contain good ingredients (I talk a bit more about this below).

A few tips to help keep your skin clear

Diet: Eat a healthy balanced diet containing low glycaemic index food groups with complex carbohydrates and omega-3 fatty acids. There might be a role for oral zinc supplements. It is best to avoid sugary, processed and refined food.

Make up and hair products: If you choose to wear make up, opt for mineral-based foundations, eg. La Roche Posay, Bare Minerals, Nude by Nature, Jane Iredale, Youngblood and Ultraceuticals. Wash your hair regularly with shampoo, especially if you’re using hair products and if you have oily hair or scalp. Avoid using oil-based products on your face and beware of oil-based pomades and hair wax, especially near your forehead.

Regular use of a good quality broad spectrum SPF 30 and above ultralight sunscreen lotion: This reduces early onset wrinkles, pigmentation issues and in the long-term reduces your risk of developing sunspots and dangerous skin cancers.

Maintain a healthy weight and embrace exercise: Not only is this good for mental health (stress can lead to acne), it also reduces levels of acne-causing hormones.

About to leave the house and still feel oily?

I recommend using a blotting paper or oil-control film when this happens. They aren’t too expensive – Target sells packs of 100 for A$5 – and can be bought at supermarkets and pharmacies.

You can also apply a thin layer of mattifying gel or a mineral-based loose powder foundation to reduce and absorb excess oil.

Some final words of advice

  1. Use oil-free and non-comedogenic cleansers, moisturisers and make up. When picking a foundation opt for “oil free” liquid silicone (dimethicone or cyclomethicone) matte foundations over oil foundations
  2. remember to thoroughly remove your make up with a make up remover
  3. avoid touching, picking or scratching your pimples
  4. if you feel your acne is particularly bad, make sure you see your GP or get a referral to see a dermatologist. It’s always best to get on top of your acne and reduce risk of acne scarring.


I Need to Know is an ongoing series for teens in search of reliable, confidential advice about life’s tricky questions. If you’re a teenager and have a question you’d like answered by an expert, you can: submit your question anonymously through Incogneato, or DM us on Instagram.

Please tell us your name (you can use a fake name if you don’t want to be identified), age and which city you live in. Send as many questions as you like! We won’t be able to answer every question, but we will do our best.

Insufficient Evidence Backing Herbal Medicines For Weight Loss

February 18, 2020: University of Sydney
Researchers from the University of Sydney have conducted the first global review of herbal medicines for weight loss in 19 years, finding insufficient evidence to recommend any current treatments.

Senior author Dr Nick Fuller said with overweight and obesity rates reaching epidemic proportions worldwide, many people are turning to herbal supplements as an alternative approach to maintain or lose weight.

"The problem with supplements is that unlike pharmaceutical drugs, clinical evidence is not required before they are made available to the public in supermarkets or chemists," said Dr Fuller from the University of Sydney's Boden Collaboration for Obesity, Nutrition, Exercise and Eating Disorders based at its Charles Perkins Centre.

The systematic review and meta-analysis, published in Diabetes, Obesity & Metabolism, analysed the latest international research in this area finding 54 randomised controlled trials comparing the effect of herbal medicines to placebo for weight loss in over 4000 participants.

Results of the review and metanalysis
The research team found that despite some of the herbal medicines showing statistically greater weight loss than placebo, weight loss was less than 2.5kg and therefore not of clinical significance.

"This finding suggests there is insufficient evidence to recommend any of these herbal medicines for the treatment of weight loss. Furthermore, many studies had poor research methods or reporting and even though most supplements appear safe for short-term consumption, they are expensive and are not going to provide a weight loss that is clinically meaningful," said Dr Fuller.

About herbal medicines for weight loss
The most recent data on the use of weight loss supplements, from a US study, showed that among people trying to lose weight 16 percent (12 percent of men and 19 percent of women) reported past-year use.

Herbal medicines, or 'herbal supplements' as they are commonly known, are products containing a plant or combinations of plants as the active ingredient. They come in various forms including pills, powders or liquids.

Common herbal supplements used for weight loss include green tea, garcinia cambogia, white kidney bean and African mango.

The authors write that between 1996 and 2006, 1000 dietary supplements for weight loss were listed on the Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods without evaluation of efficacy.

These substances can be sold and marketed to the public with sponsors (those who import, export or manufacture goods) only required to hold, but not necessarily produce, evidence substantiating their claims. The authors note that only 20 percent of new listings are audited annually to ensure they meet this requirement.

In some countries, the only requirement is that the supplement contains acceptable levels of non?medicinal substances.

"The growth in the industry and popularity of these products highlights the importance of conducting more robust studies on the effectiveness and safety of these supplements for weight loss," said Dr Fuller.

The review excluded studies where the herbal medicine did not include the whole plant, was comprised of plant oils or combined with other dietary supplements such as fibres and proteins. This analysis will be reported in a future paper.

Alison Maunder, Erica Bessell, Romy Lauche, Jon Adams, Amanda Sainsbury, Nicholas R. Fuller. Effectiveness of herbal medicines for weight loss: A systematic review and meta‐analysis of randomized controlled trials. Diabetes, Obesity and Metabolism, 2020; DOI: 10.1111/dom.13973

Mother Nature: Reshaping Modern Play Spaces For Children's Health

February 17, 2020: University of South Australia
A world first review of the importance of nature play could transform children's play spaces, supporting investment in city and urban parks, while also delivering important opportunities for children's physical, social and emotional development.

Conducted by the University of South Australia the systematic review explored the impacts of nature play on the health and development of children aged 2-12 years, finding that nature play improved children's complex thinking skills, social skills and creativity.

Led by UniSA masters student Kylie Dankiw and researcher Associate Professor Katherine Baldock, this study is the first to provide evidence that supports the development of innovative nature play spaces in childcare centres and schools.

"In recent years, nature play has become more popular with schools and childcare centres, with many of them re-developing play spaces to incorporate natural elements, such as trees, plants and rocks. But as they transition from the traditional 'plastic fantastic' playgrounds to novel nature-based play spaces, they're also looking for empirical evidence that supports their investments," Dankiw says.

"Our research is the first to rigorously, transparently and systematically review the body of work on nature play and show the impact it has on children's development. We're pleased to say that the findings indicate a positive connection between nature play and children's development.

"For early childhood educators, health practitioners, policymakers and play space designers, this is valuable information that may influence urban play environments and re-green city scapes."

Comprising a systematic review of 2927 peer-reviewed articles, the research consolidated 16 studies that involved unstructured, free play in nature (forest, green spaces, outdoors, gardens) and included natural elements (highly vegetated, rocks, mud, sand, gardens, forests, ponds and water) to determine the impact of nature play on children's health and development.

It found that nature play improved children's levels of physical activity, health-related fitness, motor skills, learning, and social and emotional development. It also showed that nature play may deliver improvements in cognitive and learning outcomes, including children's levels of attention and concentration, punctuality, settling in class (even after play), constructive play, social play, as well as imaginative and functional play.

"Nature play is all about playing freely with and in nature. It's about making mud pies, creating stick forts, having an outdoor adventure, and getting dirty," Dankiw says.

"These are all things that children love to do, but unfortunately, as society has become more sedentary, risk averse and time-poor, fewer children are having these opportunities.

"By playing in nature, children can build their physical capabilities -- their balance, fitness, and strength. And, as they play with others, they learn valuable negotiation skills, concepts of sharing and friendships, which may contribute to healthy emotional and social resilience."

Kylie A. Dankiw, Margarita D. Tsiros, Katherine L. Baldock, Saravana Kumar. The impacts of unstructured nature play on health in early childhood development: A systematic review. PLOS ONE, 2020; 15 (2): e0229006 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0229006

Rogue Cells At Root Of Autoimmune Disease

February 13, 2020: Garvan Institute of Medical Research
There are more than 100 different autoimmune diseases. But what unites them all is that they arise from an individual's own cells -- rare and mysterious immune cells that target not external viruses and bacteria but the body's own healthy organs and tissues.

For the first time, a team led by researchers at the Garvan Institute of Medical Research have pinpointed individual cells that cause autoimmune disease from patient samples. They also uncovered how these cells 'go rogue' by evading checkpoints that normally stop immune cells from targeting the body's own tissues.

The findings could have significant implications for the diagnosis and treatment of autoimmune disease, which affects one in eight individuals in Australia.

"Current treatments for autoimmune disease address only the symptoms, but not the cause. To make more targeted treatments that address disease development and progression, we first need to understand the cause," says Professor Chris Goodnow, co-senior author of the published work, Executive Director of the Garvan Institute and Director of the UNSW Sydney Cellular Genomics Futures Institute.

"We have developed a technique that allows us to look directly at the cells that cause autoimmune disease -- it's as though we're looking through a new microscope lens for the first time, learning more about autoimmune disease than was ever possible before."

The findings, published in the journal Cell today, are part of the visionary Hope Research program.

Tracing autoimmune disease to its origins
Because 'rogue' immune cells are so rare in a blood sample -- less than one in 400 cells -- studying them has been a challenge. Analysis to date has at best revealed 'averages' of the vast mix of cells in a patient's sample, says Dr Mandeep Singh, first author of the published paper.

"Using cellular genomics, we developed a method to 'zoom in' on these disease-causing immune cells in the blood samples of four patients with cryoglobulinemic vasculitis -- a severe inflammation of the blood vessels," says Dr Singh.

By first separating individual cells, and then separating their genetic material, the researchers isolated immune cells that produced 'rheumatoid factors' -- antibody proteins that target healthy tissues in the body and are associated with the most common autoimmune diseases, including rheumatoid arthritis.

Once isolated, the researchers then analysed the DNA and messenger RNA of each of these 'rogue' cells, scanning more than a million positions in the genome to identify DNA variants that may be at the root of disease.

The evolution of autoimmune disease
Through their analysis, the researchers discovered that the disease-causing immune cells of the vasculitis patients had accumulated a number of mutations before they produced the damaging rheumatoid factors.

"We identified step-wise genetic changes in the cells at the root of an autoimmune disease for the first time, tracing an 'evolutionary tree' of how normal immune cells develop into disease-causing cells," says co-senior author Dr Joanne Reed, who heads the Rheumatology and Autoimmunity Group at the Garvan Institute.

Remarkably, the researchers found that some of the first gene mutations that occurred in these rogue cells were known to drive lymphomas (cancerous immune cells).

"We uncovered 'lymphoma driver mutations', including a variant of the CARD11 gene, which allowed the rogue immune cells to evade immune tolerance checkpoints and multiply unchecked," explains Professor Goodnow, who first hypothesised that disease-causing autoimmune cells employ this cancer tactic in 2007.

Further, the researchers found that cells with the lymphoma driver mutations accumulated further mutations that caused the rheumatoid factors they produced to aggregate, or 'clump together', at lower temperatures.

"This explains the patients' cryoglobulinemic vasculitis, a severe condition that develops in some people with Sjögren's syndrome, systemic lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, or hepatitis C virus infection. In these individuals, rheumatoid factors in the blood aggregate at colder temperatures closer to the skin and also in the kidneys, nerves, and other organs, which damages blood vessels and often proves very difficult to treat," says Dr Reed.

New hope for personalised diagnosis and treatments
Not only have the research findings uncovered the root cause of an autoimmune disease -- the ability to identify and investigate specific immune cells at such resolution has vast potential for future treatments to target the cause of all autoimmune diseases.

"In our study, we uncovered specific mutations that mark early stages of autoimmune disease. If we can diagnose a patient at these stages, it may be possible to combine our knowledge of these mutations with new targeted treatments for lymphoma to intervene in disease progression or to track how well a patient is responding to treatments," says Dr Reed.

The researchers are now planning follow-up studies to investigate mutations of autoimmune cells in a range of other diseases, including lupus, celiac disease and type 1 diabetes.

"Identifying these rogue immune cells is a significant step forward for how we study autoimmune disease -- and crucially the first step to finding ways to eliminate them from the body entirely," says Professor Goodnow.

Mandeep Singh, Katherine J.L. Jackson, Jing J. Wang, Peter Schofield, Matt A. Field, David Koppstein, Timothy J. Peters, Deborah L. Burnett, Simone Rizzetto, Damien Nevoltris, Etienne Masle-Farquhar, Megan L. Faulks, Amanda Russell, Divya Gokal, Asami Hanioka, Keisuke Horikawa, Alexander D. Colella, Timothy K. Chataway, James Blackburn, Tim R. Mercer, David B. Langley, D. Margaret Goodall, Roy Jefferis, Muralikrishna Gangadharan Komala, Anthony D. Kelleher, Dan Suan, Maureen Rischmueller, Daniel Christ, Robert Brink, Fabio Luciani, Tom P. Gordon, Christopher C. Goodnow, Joanne H. Reed. Lymphoma Driver Mutations in the Pathogenic Evolution of an Iconic Human Autoantibody. Cell, 2020; DOI: 10.1016/j.cell.2020.01.029

(L-R) Dr Mandeep Singh, Professor Chris Goodnow, Dr Joanne Reed

Rare Footage Of Don Bradman In Colour On February 26th, 1949

Published by NFSA February 22, 2020
This is the only known colour footage of Sir Don Bradman playing cricket, filmed at the AF Kippax and WA Oldfield testimonial match in Sydney, 26 February 1949!
It comes from a home movie donated by the son of cameraman George Hobbs, with the can marked ‘Manly and Bondi Beach, Sydney 1949’.

NSWVGA Stroke-Play Championships

The Western Sydney Region Veteran Golfers Association (WSRVGA) is hosting the 2020 NSWVGA Stroke-Play Championships at Richmond GC, Dunheved GC and Stonecutters Ridge GC from 23-25th March.

101 players have entered thus far, with 38 of those players on handicaps of 12 or under, including the 2019 winner John Osborn (Mudgee GC) and local golf correspondent Daryl Hearsch (Manly GC).

The total acceptances will be limited to 144 and enquiries can be addressed to Tournament Secretary Chris Evans at or Tournament Director Les Knox at

The tournament is likely to be staged at a country venue in 2021.

Photo: Manly GC's Daryl Hearsch in action at Stonecutters Ridge during the 2019 NSWVGA Stroke-Play Championships - photo courtesy of Noel Rowsell 

New Research Shows Seniors Are Taking On More Mortgage Debt

February 19, 2020
At a time when seniors are expected to be downsizing and moving away from the worries of high debt, many are joining their children buying into the so-called great Australian dream. Incredibly, real mortgage debt of the over 55s jumped 600% between 1987 and 2015.

Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute (AHURI) research found that while house prices tripled and debt levels increased, income or the means to pay the debt lagged.

The ratio of average mortgage debt to income for over 55s tripled from 71% to 211% in the 28 years to 2015.

Repayment risk is a serious concern
Facing repayment difficulties, older mortgagees report lower mental health and high psychological distress than older outright owners.

Women generally have lower levels of mental health and higher levels of psychological distress than male mortgagees.

Their personal wellbeing is also more sensitive to their personal circumstances.

Women have longer life expectancies than men, are more likely to experience career interruptions and are less inclined than men to re-marry following a marital breakdown.

Older female mortgagees face multiple challenges. There is a need to carefully design policies and programs that provide adequate support for women at risk of housing insecurity and poverty in old age.

Superannuation shift
Despite the health impacts of property investing, there are retirees drawing down on their superannuation to re-orient their retirement investment portfolios away from equities, towards property.

The Institute report says between 2010 and 2014, average equity stakes in property rose from $621,000 to $667,000 (a 7% increase).

Evidence suggests the chances of superannuation drawdown by older retired mortgagees may increase with repayment risk.

The future
In 2031, we can expect that over 200,000 older Australians will be living in private rental housing and in need of assistance with one or more activities.

This may require family homes to be retrofitted.

Insecurity of tenure and lack of control over internal amenities could prevent a growing number of older tenants from meeting these needs.

Demand for Commonwealth Rent Assistance (CRA) is projected to rise by 60%, from 414,000 in 2016 to 664,000 in 2031.

The unmet demand for public housing from private renters aged 55+ is expected to rise by 78% —from 200,000 to 440,000 households—between 2016 and 2031.

Ensuring Senior Australians Can Access The Support They Need

February 18, 2020
Minister for Aged Care Richard Colbeck said the provision of services for senior Australians remained a priority and investment in the My Aged Care website remained key to delivering care to those who need it most.
Minister Colbeck said and its helpline remained a vital link for loved ones and their families.

“The contact centre has a strong record of answering calls quickly,” Minister Colbeck said.

“The average time to answer a call is less than 30 seconds.

“In the first half of 2019-20 the proportion of calls that went unanswered fell to less than two per cent.”

In addition to the contact centre and website, My Aged Care supports assessors, advocates, system navigators and health professionals to provide face-to-face information and guidance to older people and their families to help them access aged care services.
For example:
  • $7.4 million has been invested in system navigator trials to understand how we can better help people access aged care services. We remain focused as the important work of the Royal Commission continues and anticipate its final recommendations on November 12. 
  • A further $10 million has been committed for Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) system navigator services.
  • In 2018-19, the assessment workforce completed over 440,000 face-to-face assessments to support older Australians seeking aged care services.
The department is also exploring opportunities for further face-to-face support to be provided through a wider range of community organisations, to ensure that there is ‘no wrong door’ to access aged care services.

“Elderly and senior Australians deserve the highest possible standards and practices when it comes to delivering care and offering families peace of mind,” Minister Colbeck said.

He said the Federal Government continues to implement changes within the sector following the Royal Commission into Aged Care’s interim report.

“We remain focused as the important work of the Royal Commission continues and anticipate its final recommendations on November 12.” 

Memory Games: Eating Well To Remember

February 18, 2020: University of Technology Sydney
A healthy diet is essential to living well, but as we age, should we change what we eat?

UTS research fellow Dr Luna Xu has studied data from 139,000 older Australians and found strong links between certain food groups, memory loss and comorbid heart disease or diabetes.

Dr Xu found high consumption of fruit and vegetables was linked to lowered odds of memory loss and its comorbid heart disease. High consumption of protein-rich foods was associated with a better memory.

Dr Xu also found the link between food group and memory status may vary among different older age groups. People aged 80 years and over with a low consumption of cereals are at the highest risk of memory loss and its comorbid heart disease, her research showed.

"Our present study implies that the healthy eating suggestions of cereals consumption in the prevention of memory loss and comorbid heart disease for older people may differ compared to other age groups," said Dr Xu, who holds a Heart Foundation postdoctoral research fellowship.

She said the study pointed to a need for age-specific healthy dietary guidelines.

Memory loss is one of the main early symptoms for people with dementia, which is the second leading cause of death of Australians. People living with dementia have on average between two and eight comorbid conditions, which may accelerate cognitive and functional impairment. The most common comorbidities in dementia include cardiovascular diseases, diabetes and hypertension.

"The dietary intervention in chronic disease prevention and management, by taking into consideration the fact that older populations often simultaneously deal with multiple chronic conditions, is a real challenge," Dr Xu said.

"To achieve the best outcome for our ageing population, strong scientific evidence that supports effective dietary intervention in preventing and managing co-occurring chronic conditions, is essential."

Xiaoyue Xu, Mabel Ling, Sally C. Inglis, Louise Hickman, Deborah Parker. Eating and healthy ageing: a longitudinal study on the association between food consumption, memory loss and its comorbidities. International Journal of Public Health, 2020; DOI: 10.1007/s00038-020-01337-y

Fruit, vegetables and protein-rich foods all have a role to play in older people’s diets. Photo: Dan Gold/Unsplash

A Safe Time Had By All

Seniors enjoyed a stimulating and educational insights into how to safely enjoy the online world from Greg Gebhart of the NSW eSafety Commission. Mr Gebhart gave a presentation at Avalon Computer Pals on internet safety for seniors on Tuesday 18 February.

The event was organised as part of the 2020 Seniors Festival with a cohort of local Computer Clubs for Seniors joining to offer the presentation. Mr. Genbhart gave a presentation at Newport for AvPals in June 2019 along similar lines, so if you missed it you can find out more in:

Photos by Michael Mannington, Volunteer Photography.

Better Housing For Ageing Seniors – National Seniors Budget Call

February 19, 2020
Seniors are tired of the lack of fit-for-purpose housing. Why must we put up with high fee aged care facilities, retirement villages and high-rise apartments with mixed tenancy, high fees and unreasonable terms and conditions?

The market simply isn’t delivering housing suited for older Australians.

National Seniors has long supported the need for new and innovative downsizing options.

What we need are housing alternatives that provide financial and social independence, while offering easier access to care and opportunities for social interaction.

Specifically, we need a focus on creating real homes, not aged care homes that help older Australians to continue to live independently for longer.

It’s a theme that has been taken up by the Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese in a speech on Respecting and Valuing Older Australians in Brisbane this week.

The Opposition Leader called for better urban design and housing which helps older Australians to remain in their homes and in their communities, something we agree with.

Our complete list of suggestions are outlined in our 2020/2021 Federal Budget Submission, with further details provided below.

Innovation meets practicality
We believe that a better balance between independence and care can be obtained through innovative design.

That means smaller scale buildings - like the traditional free-standing house, that you would share with others.

This sort of housing would be suitable for those wishing to downsize, remain financially and socially independent but have easier access to care.

Co-locating would improve the costs and logistics associated with aged care and services.

The Federal Government could facilitate this by providing innovation grants to developers, and by working with state counterparts to ensure planning laws enable such innovations.

What do you think? Tell us about your idea for the perfect seniors housing.

For The Pension To Work – Let Pensioners Work

February 19, 2020
The Retirement Income Review should consider a simpler and more flexible system which allows pensioners to work without being punished, according to National Seniors Australia, the peak consumer organisation representing older Australians.

National Seniors has suggested this reform be examined as part of its submission to the Review.

Chief Advocate Ian Henschke says the Review’s Panel should look at other pension and retirement income systems and import ways to make the Australian system simpler and more flexible.

“There are too many perverse disincentives built into our retirement income system,” he said.

“We should be looking at Canada and New Zealand which both let pensioners work without penalising them by cutting their pension."

“Pensioners are simply taxed on their earnings instead of losing their pension after earning a certain amount.”

National Seniors says government should recognise that income from working is one of the pillars of the retirement income system, especially for those that have not accumulated adequate savings or superannuation.

Ultimately, the retirement income system should be encouraging Australians to be more self-sufficient in retirement.

“Pension rules create sweet spots which discourage people from saving more out of fear of having their pension reduced or disappear,” Mr Henschke said.

“The current assets test taper rate, which was unfairly increased in 2017, sees a couple with $400,000 potentially earning $1,000 a month more than a couple with $800,000 in savings.”

In its submission, National Seniors also raised the interrelation between the ‘pillars’ of the retirement income system; superannuation, the Age Pension and declining rates of home ownership.

Wallpaper Conservation At Buckingham Palace

Published February 17, 2020 by The Royal Family
Watch as historic nineteenth-century wallpaper from the Yellow Drawing Room is carefully taken away for conservation. Not only will this work restore the rare, fragile wallpaper, but it will simultaneously protect it from incurring damage from nearby construction work as part of the Reservicing programme. Once the works are complete, the restored wallpaper will return to its home in the Yellow Drawing Room.

Find out more here: 

Ancient Plant Foods Discovered In Arnhem Land, Australia

February 18, 2020: University of Queensland
Australia's first plant foods -- eaten by early populations 65,000 years ago -- have been discovered in Arnhem Land.

Preserved as pieces of charcoal, the morsels were recovered from the debris of ancient cooking hearths at the Madjedbebe archaeological site, on Mirarr country in northern Australia.

University of Queensland archaeobotanist Anna Florin said a team of archaeologists and Traditional Owners identified 10 plant foods, including several types of fruits and nuts, underground storage organs ('roots and tubers'), and palm stem.

"By working with Elders and co-authors May Nango and Djaykuk Djandjomerr, the team was also able to explain how the plants were likely used at Madjedbebe," Ms Florin said.

"Many of these plant foods required processing to make them edible and this evidence was complemented by grinding stone technology also used during early occupation at the site."

"The First Australians had a great deal of botanical knowledge and this was one of the things that allowed them to adapt to and thrive in this new environment.

"They were able to guarantee access to carbohydrates, fat and even protein by applying this knowledge, as well as technological innovation and labour, to the gathering and processing of Australian plant foods."

Madjedbebe is a sandstone rock shelter at the base of the Arnhem Land escarpment, and is Australia's oldest documented site.

Excavation director Professor Chris Clarkson from UQ's School of Social Science said he was surprised and delighted by the quantity of archaeobotanical evidence recovered from the site.

"Madjedbebe continues to provide startling insights into the complex and dynamic lifestyle of the earliest Australian Aboriginal people," Professor Clarkson said.

The oldest occupation layer at Madjedbebe also holds evidence for the oldest edge ground stone axes in the world, the earliest grindstone technology outside Africa, the early shaping of stone spearheads, many kilograms of ground ochre, and the first recorded use of reflective pigments in the world.

"The site is an important cultural place to Mirarr people today who strive to protect their heritage from numerous threats, including mining," Ms Florin said.

Justin O'Brien, CEO of Gundjeihmi Aboriginal Corporation which represents the Mirarr Traditional Owners, said that research on country -- working in meaningful partnership with Traditional Owners -- was a powerful way to share Mirarr's enduring culture with a broader audience.

S. Anna Florin, Andrew S. Fairbairn, May Nango, Djaykuk Djandjomerr, Ben Marwick, Richard Fullagar, Mike Smith, Lynley A. Wallis, Chris Clarkson. The first Australian plant foods at Madjedbebe, 65,000–53,000 years ago. Nature Communications, 2020; 11 (1) DOI: 10.1038/s41467-020-14723-0

Exposure To Cleaning Products In First 3 Months Of Life Increases Risk Of Childhood Asthma

February 18, 2020: Simon Fraser University
New research from the CHILD Cohort Study shows that frequent exposure to common household cleaning products can increase a child's risk of developing asthma.

Asthma is the most common chronic childhood disease and is the primary reason why children miss school or end up in hospital.

The study was published today in the Canadian Medical Association Journal. It found that young infants (birth to three months) living in homes where household cleaning products were used frequently were more likely to develop childhood wheeze and asthma by three years of age.

"Most of the available evidence linking asthma to the use of cleaning products comes from research in adults," said the study's lead researcher, Dr. Tim Takaro, a professor and clinician- scientist in the Faculty of Health Sciences at Simon Fraser University (SFU). "Our study looked at infants, who typically spend 80-90% of their time indoors and are especially vulnerable to chemical exposures through the lungs and skin due to their higher respiration rates and regular contact with household surfaces."

In the study, at three years of age, children living in homes where cleaning products were used with high frequency during their infancy were more likely to have:

Recurrent wheeze (10.8 percent, compared to 7.7 percent of infants in homes with low use of these products)
Recurrent wheeze with atopy, a heightened immune response to common allergens (3.0 percent, compared to 1.5 percent of infants in homes with low use of these products)
Asthma (7.9 percent, compared to 4.8 percent of infants in homes with low use of these products)
Other factors known to affect the onset of asthma, such as family history and early life exposure to tobacco smoke, were accounted for in the analysis.

"Interestingly, we did not find an association between the use of cleaning products and a risk of atopy alone," noted Dr. Takaro. "Therefore, a proposed mechanism underlying these findings is that chemicals in cleaning products damage the cells that line the respiratory tract through innate inflammatory pathways rather than acquired allergic pathways."

"We also found that at age three, the relationship between product exposure and respiratory problems was much stronger in girls than boys," he added. "This is an interesting finding that requires more research to better understand male versus female biological responses to inflammatory exposures in early life."

The study used data from 2,022 children participating in the CHILD Cohort Study and examined their daily, weekly and monthly exposure to 26 types of household cleaners, including dishwashing and laundry detergents, cleaners, disinfectants, polishes, and air fresheners.

"The risks of recurrent wheeze and asthma were notably higher in homes with frequent use of certain products, such as liquid or solid air fresheners, plug-in deodorizers, dusting sprays, antimicrobial hand sanitizers and oven cleaners," commented the paper's lead author, Jaclyn Parks, a graduate student in the Faculty of Health Sciences at SFU. "It may be important for people to consider removing scented spray cleaning products from their cleaning routine. We believe that the smell of a healthy home is no smell at all."

"The big takeaway from this study is that the first few months of life are critical for the development of a baby's immune and respiratory systems," concluded Parks. "By identifying hazardous exposures during infancy, preventive measures can be taken to potentially reduce childhood asthma and subsequent allergy risk."

Journal References:

Jaclyn Parks, Lawrence McCandless, Christoffer Dharma, Jeffrey Brook, Stuart E. Turvey, Piush Mandhane, Allan B. Becker, Anita L. Kozyrskyj, Meghan B. Azad, Theo J. Moraes, Diana L. Lefebvre, Malcolm R. Sears, Padmaja Subbarao, James Scott, Tim K. Takaro. Association of use of cleaning products with respiratory health in a Canadian birth cohort. Canadian Medical Association Journal, 2020; 192 (7): E154 DOI: 10.1503/cmaj.190819

Elissa M. Abrams. Cleaning products and asthma risk: a potentially important public health concern. Canadian Medical Association Journal, 2020; 192 (7): E164 DOI: 10.1503/cmaj.200025

New World Record For Conversion Of Solar Energy To Electricity Using Quantum Dots

February 18, 2020: University of Queensland
The development of next generation solar power technology that has potential to be used as a flexible 'skin' over hard surfaces has moved a step closer, thanks to a significant breakthrough at The University of Queensland.

UQ researchers set a world record for the conversion of solar energy to electricity via the use of tiny nanoparticles called 'quantum dots', which pass electrons between one another and generate electrical current when exposed to solar energy in a solar cell device.

A UQ team have developed quantum dot solar cells that can be made into thin, flexible films and used to generate electricity even in low-light conditions

The development represents a significant step towards making the technology commercially-viable and supporting global renewable energy targets.

Professor Lianzhou Wang, who led the breakthrough, said: "Conventional solar technologies use rigid, expensive materials. The new class of quantum dots the university has developed are flexible and printable.

"This opens up a huge range of potential applications, including the possibility to use it as a transparent skin to power cars, planes, homes and wearable technology. Eventually it could play a major part in meeting the United Nations' goal to increase the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix."

Professor Wang's team set the world record for quantum dot solar cell efficiency by developing a unique surface engineering strategy. Overcoming previous challenges around the fact that the surface of quantum dots tend to be rough and unstable -- making them less efficient at converting solar into electrical current.

"This new generation of quantum dots is compatible with more affordable and large-scale printable technologies," said Professor Wang.

"The near 25 per cent improvement in efficiency we have achieved over the previous world record is important. It is effectively the difference between quantum dot solar cell technology being an exciting 'prospect' and being commercially viable.'

UQ Vice-Chancellor and President Professor Peter Høj AC extended his congratulations to the UQ team.

"The world needs to rapidly reduce carbon emissions and this requires us to invest much more in research to improve existing energy-generation technologies and develop entirely new ones," he said.

"Harnessing the power of fundamental technological and scientific research is a big part of this process -- and that's what we're focused on at UQ."

Mengmeng Hao, Yang Bai, Stefan Zeiske, Long Ren, Junxian Liu, Yongbo Yuan, Nasim Zarrabi, Ningyan Cheng, Mehri Ghasemi, Peng Chen, Miaoqiang Lyu, Dongxu He, Jung-Ho Yun, Yi Du, Yun Wang, Shanshan Ding, Ardalan Armin, Paul Meredith, Gang Liu, Hui-Ming Cheng, Lianzhou Wang. Ligand-assisted cation-exchange engineering for high-efficiency colloidal Cs1−xFAxPbI3 quantum dot solar cells with reduced phase segregation. Nature Energy, 2020; 5 (1): 79 DOI: 10.1038/s41560-019-0535-7
  • Professor Lianzhou Wang is an Australian Research Council Laureate Fellow based in the School of Chemical Engineering at UQ’s Faculty of Engineering, Architecture, and Information Technology (EAIT) and Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology (AIBN)
  • The University of Queensland is a Global top 50 university, ranked 33rd in the world for Chemical Engineering
  • The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) in the US recognised UQ’s world record for quantum dot solar cell efficiency, after verifying independent testing. Professor Wang’s team achieved 16.6% efficiency – the previous world record in quantum dot solar cell category was 13.4%.

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