Inbox and Environment News: Issue 463

August 23 - 29, 2020: Issue 463

Time Of Wiritjiribin -  Tugarah Gunya'marri (Cold And Windy) August

The lyrebirds' calls ring out through the bushland as he builds his dancing mounds to attract his potential mates. It is the time of the flowering of the Marrai'uo (Acacia floribunda) which is a sign that the fish are running in the rivers. At the end of this time the Boo'kerrikin (Acacia decurrens) flower, which indicates the end of the cold, windy weather, and the beginning of the gentle spring rains.

Concerns Night Trimming Of Trees Will Impact On Pregnant Grey-Headed Flying Fox Colony In Cannes Reserve

Residents have expressed concern this week over a letter received from council, dated August 19th, 2020 of their intention to carry out tree trimming at night on the evenings of August 25th, 26th and 27th between 7 and 11 pm due to knowledge that those bats which are pregnant will abort babies due to the stress such activities cause.

The Cannes camp was initially only a small number (200) of males (Pittwater Council 2011), but has gradually grown and for the past ten years has been used as a maternity camp. Pittwater Council’s Cannes Reserve Flying-fox Camp Management Plan 2015-2020 states;

‘’As a continuously occupied camp, the Cannes Reserve is obviously conveniently located to year round foraging resources, provides ideal roost habitat during all seasons and fulfils the particular requirements for birthing and rearing.’’


''As per standard conditions for flying-fox management approvals (OEH 2014), dispersal will not occur while females are visibly pregnant, birthing or when dependent young are present.''

The same Management Plan requires a a wildlife carer and veterinarian on stand-by to accept injured or orphaned flying-foxes if required. Other measures during all management activities to minimise the potential for animal welfare and population level impacts include removal of roost vegetation (tree removal/trimming) being ideally done while flying-foxes are not present (i.e. after successful dispersal or at night when flying-foxes are away foraging).

In 2015 a similar program was undertaken, with noise and light to disperse the colony. Soon afterwards bats were back in the reserve.

Flying-foxes play a critical ecological role in the long term persistence of Australian tropical and sub-tropical forests through long-distance seed and pollen dispersal (Roberts et al 2006; McConkey et al 2011; Wescott et al 2008). Flying-foxes are highly mobile, capable of travelling over 100 kilometres in a single night to forage on the nectar pollen and fruit of more than 100 native trees. In this regard, flying-foxes are considered a ‘keystone species’ as they are one of the few animal groups that can disperse seed and cross pollinate plants over more than a few kilometres. This is of particular importance in the context of a continually fragmenting landscape and for these reasons their extinction would be catastrophic and would reverberate throughout Australia's forest ecosystems.

Last Spring and Summer catastrophic conditions impacted on Grey-Headed Flying Foxes with thousands lost from the onset of the season from Queensland and right along the east down and through Victoria. After widespread Winter starvation, compounded by record heat, whole colonies were wiped out. 

Similar conditions in  the Summer preceding the last resulted in more than 23,000 spectacled flying foxes deaths in Cairns, almost one third of the species in Australia.

After 6 months gestation, GHFF females give birth to one pup in Spring (mid September to November), meaning those living in ''the Cannes Creche'' at present are close to full term. Most give birth in the tree tops of the camp. First the head appears and the mother licks her pup. The female clings to branches with her thumbs and toes and forms a u-shaped body sling during the birth.

Because newborns are entirely dependent on their mothers in the first few months of life, they cling to her when she goes off foraging at night. To get a solid grip, they hang onto her nipple located under her wing, and grip around her waist with their hind legs.

Some researchers state that because of their low reproduction rate, the maternal instinct of flying foxes is incredibly strong. After losing their babies to predators, mothers have been observed flying and calling in the area where they last saw their young for weeks.

Their roosts are at their largest during the flying-fox breeding season, from January on, and conception usually takes place from early Autumn on. 

The grey-headed flying fox is now a prominent federal conservation problem in Australia. Early in the last century, the species was considered abundant, with numbers estimated in the many millions. In recent years, though, evidence has been accumulating that the species is in serious decline. An estimate for the species in 2019 put the number at 586,000 and the national population may have declined by over 30% between 1989 and 1999 alone. 

Grey-headed flying foxes are exposed to several threats, including loss of foraging and roosting habitat, competition with the black flying fox, and mass die-offs caused by extreme temperature events, such as those seen in recent years. When present in urban environments, grey-headed flying foxes are sometimes perceived as a nuisance, but they are beautiful creatures, a kind of flying puppy dog with doe eyes.

Flying fox wings have evolved from their hands, with a thin membrane of skin stretched between each finger. The order Chiroptera of which bats are a part, literally means "hand wing".

They first appeared in the fossil record about 50 million years ago, and analysing the skeleton clearly shows the evolution of the hands according Western Sydney University senior lecturer Dr Justin Welbergen.

"When you look at their skeletons, you can clearly see they have four fingers and a thumb with a membrane grown between it," he said.

As a keystone species - Australia needs her flying foxes.

Council’s letter states the night works have been approved by the NSW Dept. of Planning, Industry and Environment. The works are being undertaken to minimise the conflict between residents and the colony and to ensure the 7 metre buffer zone is kept free of roosting sites in accordance with the Pittwater Council Cannes Reserve Flying-fox Camp Management Plan 2015 – 2020.

The letter does not state whether a Wildlife Officer will be present during the works to ensure the safety of the species.

Residents who would like further information regarding the night tree trimming works are advised to contact Andrew Jennings, Bushland Management Officer, on 8495 6689 or email

Mr. Jennings has had knowledge of this colony over several years when working at Pittwater Council and looking after resident flora and fauna. 

Further information about this GHFF Campo may be read in ELA 2012Cannes Reserve – Grey-headed Flying-fox camp management: Species Impact Statement. Prepared for Pittwater Council, by Eco Logical Australia Pty Ltd, Sutherland‘ - available at:

Activities to assist this species listed by the NSW Office of Environment & Heritage include

  • Protect roost sites, particularly avoid disturbance September through November.
  • Identify and protect key foraging areas.
  • Investigate and promote alternative non-lethal crop protection mechanisms.
  • Identify powerline blackspots and implement measures to reduce deaths; implement measures to reduce deaths from entanglement in netting and on barbed-wire.
  • Increase public awareness/understanding about flying-foxes, and their involvement in flying-fox conservation.
  • Monitor the national population's status and distribution.
  • Improve knowledge on demographics and population structure to better understand ecological requirements of the species.

A targeted strategy for managing this species has been developed under the Saving Our Species program; click here for details. 

Grey-headed flying fox skimming water - photo by Andrew Mercer

Katandra Season 2020

Katandra Bushland Sanctuary on Lane Cove Rd Ingleside is now open every Sunday until October 25, 10am-4pm. Visitors to this lovely bushland  have recently seen Powerful and Boobook Owls, Swamp Wallabies and Lyrebirds. Visitors, please make a small donation towards management of this Crown Land reserve. More details:

Several creeks flow down the escarpment - photo by Marita Macrae

Please Help Sydney Wildlife Rescue: Donate Your Cans And Bottles And Nominate SW As Recipient

You can Help Sydney Wildlife help Wildlife. Sydney Wildlife Rescue is now listed as a charity partner on the return and earn machines in these locations:

  1. Pittwater RSL Mona Vale
  2. Northern Beaches Indoor Sports Centre NBISC Warriewood
  3. Woolworths Balgowlah
  4. Belrose Super centre
  5. Coles Manly Vale
  6. Westfield Warringah Mall
  7. Strathfield Council Carpark
  8. Paddy's Markets Flemington Homebush West
  9. Woolworths Homebush West
  10. Bondi Campbell pde behind Beach Pavilion 
  11. Westfield Bondi Junction car park level 2 eastern end Woolworths side under ramp
  12. UNSW Kensington
  13. Enviro Pak McEvoy street Alexandria.

Every bottle, can, or eligible container that is returned could be 10c donated to Sydney Wildlife.

Every item returned will make a difference by removing these items from landfill and raising funds for our 100% volunteer wildlife carers. All funds raised go to support wildlife.

It is easy to DONATE, just feed the items into the machine select DONATE and choose Sydney Wildlife Rescue. The SW initiative runs until August 23rd.

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

Tick Population Booming In Our Area

Residents from Terrey Hills and Belrose to Narrabeen and Palm Beach report a high number of ticks are still present in the landscape. Local Veterinarians are stating there has not been the usual break from ticks so far and each day they’re still getting cases, especially in treating family dogs. 

To help protect yourself and your family, you should:

  • Use a chemical repellent with DEET, permethrin or picaridin.
  • Wear light-colored protective clothing.
  • Tuck pant legs into socks.
  • Avoid tick-infested areas.
  • Check yourself, your children, and your pets daily for ticks and carefully remove any ticks using a freezing agent.
  • If you have a reaction, contact your GP for advice.

Glenrock State Conservation Area No Place For A Dog

August 18, 2020

NSW National Parks and Wildlife (NPWS) is urging dog owners in Newcastle and Lake Macquarie to leave their pets at home when visiting Glenrock State Conservation Area and other local national parks.

NPWS Lower Hunter Area Manager Mitch Carter said while it’s understandable that dog owners want to spend time out in nature with their furry friends, there are some good reasons why you can’t bring dogs into NSW national parks.

“Our national parks and state conservation areas are safe refuges for native Australian animals and plants,” said Mr Carter.

“Even the best-behaved dogs can unintentionally crush sensitive plants, bird’s nests and small animals, and dog waste can be a nasty pollutant in waterways.

“Native animals like wallabies, possums, owls and lizards can also pick up on your dog’s scent in the area and think it’s a predator. This can force them away from places where they normally access food and shelter, and in some sad cases, even abandon their young.

“National parks are also places that many visitors seek out in order to avoid interactions with domestic dogs they feel uncomfortable or unsafe around.

“Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve experienced a significant increase in park visitors. We have also observed and received feedback from the public about the number of dogs in Glenrock State Conservation Area, particularly on Dudley Beach and Burwood Beach.

“We understand Glenrock is a beautiful and convenient place to get out of the house and have a relaxing walk, but it’s not the right place for your dog.

“At this stage, we’ve issued a number of warnings, however we will begin to issue fines to people with dogs in Glenrock State Conservation Area and other national parks in the area.

“The minimum penalty for having a dog in these areas is $300,” said Mr Carter.

Visitors to the Glenrock State Conservation Area can report illegal activities to the Lower Hunter NPWS Area on (02) 4946 4100 or by emailing

Photo: Leggy Point loop walking track, Glenrock State Conservation Area 

Improved Satellite Technology Is Better For Farmers And Native Vegetation

August 19, 2020

Better use of satellite information captured more frequently is helping farmers work within the rules while managing their native vegetation.

The Department of Planning, Industry and the Environment (DPIE) is rolling out an Early Change Monitoring system to ensure any potential clearing is picked up early and able to be cross checked with landholders and other departments.

DPIE Director Community and Compliance Sonya Errington said the system enables early engagement with landholders and minimises the extent of any unlawful clearing.

“Farmers now have greater flexibility to manage native vegetation on their land, but this framework includes some safeguards to avoid harm to sensitive environmental values,” she said.

“We want to ensure a level playing field for all landholders, while protecting our environment.

“Satellites capture images of NSW frequently and we can now analyse these images more regularly, so we can observe vegetation change almost as it occurs.

“When change is detected we cross-check with other departments to see if the clearing is covered by exemptions or approvals. If there is any doubt we can then contact the landholder.

“Sometimes our job is simple because the landholder is already working within the framework. However, if they are unaware of the laws our staff will guide them towards information and any approvals they may need.

If the clearing has gone beyond the rules the department may follow through with a fair and measured compliance response where necessary.

“Speaking to the landholder early on allows us to check they have all the information they require to work safely and sustainably, reducing delays and cost, while enhancing certainty for industry.

“Detecting unapproved clearing early helps us minimise impacts on sensitive environmental assets such as koala habitat.

“Early detection is a win-win,” Ms Errington said

Call To Keep Your Eyes Peeled For Banded Pelicans

August 18, 2020

NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment scientists are calling on sharp-eyed members of the public to help spot pelicans with bright orange leg bands during National Science Week, as part of the ‘Peli Bands’ study to understand more about the movements and breeding behaviour of this iconic Australian waterbird.

Department Senior Scientist Dr. Jennifer Spencer said the purpose of the study at Lake Brewster, in collaboration with UNSW, was to understand where baby pelicans, known as ‘pinkies’, go once they are old enough to fly away from the lake and whether they return to breed in this wetland in future years.

“With a wingspan of around 2.5 metres, the Australian pelican is highly mobile. Where the birds go, and importantly, where they choose to breed, can help determine how water for the environment is used to support waterbirds in the Murray-Darling Basin,” said Dr Spencer.

“With that knowledge, we can ensure there is the right amount of water in the right wetland for the right period of time to support breeding events, ensure sufficient foraging habitat and provide protection from land-based predators.

“In total, 142 pelicans born at Lake Brewster have been fitted with an orange leg band since 2017.

“We’re asking members of the public to give us a hand and keep an eye out for pelicans bearing these distinctive bands.

“This is an example of citizen science in action! The more people on the lookout for these majestic birds, the more data we can gather on their movements and the threats they face, and the better we’ll be able to manage our wetlands to help protect pelican populations in the long term.

“We have had four reports of banded birds to date, including a bird sighted 650kms away in St George, Queensland, and another bird that had travelled around 570kms and had been spotted by members of the public in Mehi River near Moree.

“Sadly, this pelican had suffered a terrible injury to its wing after becoming entangled in fishing line and couldn’t be saved. This is an important reminder of some of the threats that pelicans face.

“Members of the public can help to prevent injuries to pelicans and other wildlife by taking simple measures such as disposing of equipment like fishing hooks and line properly,” said Dr Spencer.

The Department has been working with river system operator, Water NSW, to manage Lake Brewster storage releases for their downstream customers while also utilising environmental water to maintain water levels following flood events to ensure the success of pelican breeding events.

It’s easy to get involved in the ‘Peli Bands’ citizen science project. If you see a pelican with an orange leg band, please get in contact by emailing

For more information, visit the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment website or the SEED Citizen Science Hub

Image: Pelican (Pelecanus conspicillatus) banding, Lake Brewster Photo: Mal Carnegie

‘Name Game’ To Bring NSW’s Threatened Plants Into The Spotlight

The NSW Government Saving our Species program is calling on the NSW public to play the ‘name game’ and suggest new names for some of NSW’s lesser-known leafy, grassy and shrubbery threatened species.

NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment’s Threatened Species Conservation Manager Linda Bell said that 65% of the Australian native species at risk of extinction in New South Wales are plants, however they struggle to garner the same level of conservation attention and support as their cute and cuddly animal counterparts.

“While conservation of iconic species like the koala and the brush-tailed rock-wallaby will always be critically important, we cannot forget the crucial role our native plants play in the health of all ecosystems across New South Wales.

“The Saving our Species program has invested over $3.3 million to save over 230 threatened plants in the 2019-20 financial year, but we need the community to get behind our plant species too.

“Almost three quarters of these plants are known only by a scientific name, like Pterostylis riparia, a beautiful ground orchid found only in the Barrington Tops. These names are hard to pronounce and even trickier to remember, making it hard for these plants to find a place in the hearts and minds of our community.

“That’s why we’re asking everyone to get involved and suggest catchy, easy-to-pronounce names for 8 unnamed, but not unloved, threatened species found in New South Wales.

“This is your chance to make your mark on threatened species conservation in New South Wales. Whether the name means something to your community or your culture, suits the look of the species or just makes you smile, we want to hear from you.

“We’d especially love to hear name suggestions that recognise the living history of our Indigenous people and their connection to the land on which these threatened species are found,” said Ms Bell.

Submissions for the ‘Name Our Species’ competition are open now and will close on Friday 28 August. To enter, visit Be a champion of our unnamed, but not unloved, threatened species. Entries will be judged by a panel of threatened species experts from the Saving our Species program. Winners will be announced on Threatened Species Day, 7 September 2020 and will be featured on social media and the Saving our Species webpage throughout September.

The eight species on the hunt for a new name are:

  • Nitella partita – algae found in north west NSW
  • Acacia meiantha – wattle found in NSW central tablelands
  • Acacia baueri subsp. Aspera – wattle found in the Blue Mountains
  • Pterostylis ventricosa – orchid found in the Shoalhaven and Southern Highlands
  • Diuris bracteata – orchid found between Sydney and the Central Coast
  • Pterostylis riparia – orchid found in Barrington Tops
  • Zieria odorifera ssp. Copelandii – shrub found in Mount Kaputar National Park
  • Phebalium bifidum – shrub found in Capertee Valley

Diuris bracteata - OEH Photo

Funding Support For Coastal Councils: Grants

The latest round of funding under the NSW Government's Coastal and Estuary Grants Program has opened on 11 August 2020.

Minister for Local Government Shelley Hancock encouraged the State's 56 coastal councils to apply for funding to assist with planning and managing our State's coastline.

"Our coastline and estuaries are critical environments that support a huge variety of native flora and fauna in addition to being popular places for recreation," Mrs Hancock said.

"These grants will help councils plan for the future and protect and manage these unique natural assets."

There are 5 streams under the program: 1 for planning and studies which includes investigation, design and cost-benefit analysis and 4 for implementing works under each of the coastal management areas in the Coastal Management Act.

Works that have been funded under the program include coastal dune revegetation, wetland management, water quality monitoring as well as scoping studies for coastal management programs.

"This funding program is another example of how the NSW Government is supporting councils and their communities to protect their local environment," Mrs Hancock said.

The 2020-21 funding round for implementing works closes on 29 September 2020.

Councils are able to apply at any time during the 2020-21 financial year for funding planning and studies.

Further information and application forms are available here: Current coastal and estuary grants

Desperately Seeking Endangered Shrub Sightings

The search is on for an endangered plant, the beautiful Zieria obcordata, and residents in the central tablelands are being urged to be ready to report any sightings of this threatened species.

Native to New South Wales, Zieria obcordata is currently found in only two small populations near Wellington and Bathurst and they are about to bloom.

“This plant is special because it is found nowhere else in the world but the NSW central tablelands, and unfortunately it has been hit hard by the drought with less than 200 plants left in the wild,” said Darren Shelly, Senior Threatened Species Officer with the Department of Planning, Industry and the Environment.

“We think there might be more un-discovered populations of this Zieria on private properties between Wellington and Bathurst and we are asking for the local community’s help in reporting sightings of this rare plant.”

The Zieria obcordata is a small shrub, typically 10 to 40 centimetres high and can be identified by its dark green leaves composed of three wedge-shaped leaflets and its flowers, complete with four very small pale pink petals that fade rapidly to white.

“The plant usually flowers between August and October and grows on rocky hillsides or crevices between granite boulders, often in lines running downslope,” Mr Shelly said.

Local residents have already proved instrumental in ensuring the existing populations survived the recent drought and the plant’s other threats which include grazing by deer, goats and wallabies. Some members of the community have been volunteering for several years with the NSW Government’s Saving our Species program to save the Zieria obcordata.

The Central Tablelands Local Land Service (LLS) have also expressed interest in helping the Saving our Species team look for new populations of this threatened plant.

“There is a lot to say for the community spirit of the people of the central tablelands in protecting the environment in their local region and backyard and we are hoping residents will jump on board and also help the Zieria obcordata,” said Mr Shelly.

Sightings of the Zieria obcordata can be reported to –

For more information visit: Zieria obcordata

Photo in text: Zieria obcordata flowers Photo: Public Affairs/DPIE

Australia's farmers want more climate action – and they’re starting in their own (huge) backyards

Richard EckardUniversity of Melbourne

The National Farmer’s Federation says Australia needs a tougher policy on climate, today calling on the Morrison government to commit to an economy wide target of net-zero greenhouse gas emission by 2050.

It’s quite reasonable for the farming sector to call for stronger action on climate change. Agriculture is particularly vulnerable to a changing climate, and the sector is on its way to having the technologies to become “carbon neutral”, while maintaining profitability.

Agriculture is a big deal to Australia. Farms comprise 51% of land use in Australia and contributed 11% of all goods and services exports in 2018–19. However, the sector also contributed 14% of national greenhouse gas emissions.

A climate-ready and carbon neutral food production sector is vital to the future of Australia’s food security and economy.

A tractor plowing a field.
Agriculture comprises 51% of Australia’s land use. Shutterstock

Paris Agreement Is Driving Change

Under the 2015 Paris Agreement, 196 countries pledged to reduce their emissions, with the goal of net-zero emissions by 2050. Some 119 of these national commitments include cutting emissions from agriculture, and 61 specifically mentioned livestock emissions.

Emissions from agriculture largely comprise methane (from livestock production), nitrous oxide (from nitrogen in soils) and to a lesser extent, carbon dioxide (from machinery burning fossil fuel, and the use of lime and urea on soils).

Read more: UN climate change report: land clearing and farming contribute a third of the world's greenhouse gases

In Australia, emissions from the sector have fallen by 10.8% since 1990, partly as a result of drought and an increasingly variable climate affecting agricultural production (for example, wheat production).

But the National Farmers’ Federation wants the sector to grow to more than A$100 billion in farm gate output by 2030 – far higher than the current trajectory of $84 billion. This implies future growth in emissions if mitigation strategies are not deployed.

Farm machinery spreading fertiliser
Farm machinery spreading fertiliser, which is a major source of agriculture emissions. Shutterstock

Runs On The Board

Players in Australia’s agriculture sector are already showing how net-zero emissions can be achieved.

In 2017, the Australian red meat sector committed to becoming carbon neutral by 2030. A number of red-meat producers have claimed to have achieved net-zero emissions including Arcadian Organic & Natural’s Meat CompanyFive Founders and Flinders + Co.

Our research has shown two livestock properties in Australia – Talaheni and Jigsaw farms – have also achieved carbon neutral production. In both cases, this was mainly achieved through regeneration of soil and tree carbon on their properties, which effectively draws down an equivalent amount of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere to balance with their farm emissions.

Read more: Intensive farming is eating up the Australian continent – but there's another way

Other agricultural sectors including dairy, wool and cropping are actively considering their own emission reduction targets.

Carbon neutral wine is being produced, such as by Ross Hill, and Tulloch and Tahbilk.

Most of these examples are based on offsetting farm emissions – through buying carbon credits or regenerating soil and tree carbon - rather than direct reductions in emissions such as methane and nitrous oxide.

But significant options are available, or emerging, to reduce emissions of “enteric” methane – the result of fermentation in the foregut of ruminants such as cattle, sheep and goats.

Wine grapes growing on a vine
Some Australian wineries have gone carbon neutral. Shutterstock

For example, livestock can be fed dietary supplements high in oils and tannins that restrict the microbes that generate methane in the animal’s stomach. Oil and tannins are also a byproduct of agricultural waste products such as grape marc (the solid waste left after grapes are pressed) and have been found to reduce methane emissions by around 20%.

Other promising technologies are about to enter the market. These include 3-NOP and Asparagopsis, which actively inhibit key enzymes in methane generation. Both technologies may reduce methane by up to 80%.

There are also active research programs exploring ways to breed animals that produce less methane, and raise animals that produce negligible methane later in life.

On farms, nitrous oxide is mainly lost through a process called “denitrification”. This is where bacteria convert soil nitrates into nitrogen gases, which then escape from the soil into the atmosphere. Options to significantly reduce these losses are emerging, including efficient nitrogen fertilisers, and balancing the diets of animals.

There is also significant interest in off-grid renewable energy in the agricultural sector. This is due to the falling price of renewable technology, increased retail prices for electricity and the rising cost to farms of getting connected to the grid.

What’s more, the first hydrogen-powered tractors are now available – meaning the days of diesel and petrol consumption on farms could end.

Wind turbine on a farm
Renewable energy on farms can be cheaper and easier than grid connection. Yegor Aleyev/TASS/Sipa

More Work Is Needed

In this race towards addressing climate change, we must ensure the integrity of carbon neutral claims. This is where standards or protocols are required.

Australian researchers have recently developed a standard for the red meat sector’s carbon neutral target, captured in simple calculators aligned with the Australian national greenhouse gas inventory. This allow farmers to audit their progress towards carbon neutral production.

Technology has moved a long way from the days when changing the diet of livestock was the only option to reduce farm emissions. However significant research is still required to achieve a 100% carbon neutral agriculture sector – and this requires the Australian government to co-invest with agriculture industries.

And in the long term, we must ensure measures to reduce emissions from farming also meet targets for productivity, biodiversity and climate resilience.

Read more: IPCC's land report shows the problem with farming based around oil, not soil The Conversation

Richard Eckard, Professor & Director, Primary Industries Climate Challenges Centre, University of Melbourne

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

We composted 'biodegradable' balloons. Here's what we found after 16 weeks

‘Biodegradable’ balloons after 16 weeks in freshwater. Jesse BenjaminAuthor provided
Morgan GilmourUniversity of Tasmania and Jennifer LaversUniversity of Tasmania

After 16 weeks in an industrial compost heap, we unearthed blue and white balloons and found them totally unscathed. The knots we spent hours painstakingly tying by hand more than four months ago were still attached, and sparkly blue balloons still glinted in the sun.

These balloons originally came from packages that advertised them as “100% biodegradable”, with the manufacturers assuring they were made of “100% natural latex rubber”. The implication is that these balloons would have no trouble breaking down in the environment.

Read more: Balloon releases have deadly consequences – we're helping citizen scientists map them

This appeals to eco-conscious consumers, but really just fuels corporate greenwashing — unsubstantiated claims of environmentally friendly and safe products.

Holding perfectly intact balloons in our hands after four months in industrial compost, we had cause to question these claims, and ran experiments.

What’s The Problem?

This problem is two-fold. First, balloons are additional plastic waste in the environment. They are lightweight and can travel on air currents far from the point of release. For example, one 2005 study found a balloon travelled more than 200 kilometres.

alt text
Not much changed after 14 weeks. Morgan GilmourAuthor provided

When they pop, they float back to the earth’s surface and land in, for example, the ocean or the desert, and wash up on beaches where animals can eat them, from sea turtles and seabirds to desert tortoises.

The stretchiness of balloons means they can get stuck in animals’ digestive tracts, which will cause choking, blockage, decreased nutrient absorption and effectively starve the animal.

Read more: How to get abandoned, lost and discarded 'ghost' fishing gear out of the ocean

Second, what most consumers don’t realise, is that to shape milky natural rubber latex sap into the product we know as a balloon, many additional chemicals need to be added to the latex.

These chemicals include antioxidants and anti-fogging (to counteract that cloudy look balloons can get), plasticisers (to make it more flexible), preservatives (to enable the balloon to sit in warehouses and store shelves for months), flame retardants, fragrance and, of course, dyes and pigments.

Even more chemicals have to be used to make the additives “stick” to the latex and to stick to each other, enabling them to work in tandem to create a product we expect to use for about 24 hours. So, the balloons can’t be “100% natural rubber latex”.

A little girl on a park bench lets go of a pink balloon
Balloons can travel vast distances in the sky before they pop and are eaten by animals. UnsplashCC BY

And yet, despite substantial evidence of harm and the presence of these chemicals, balloon littering persists. Balloon releases are common, with only some regional regulations in place, such as in New South Wales and the Sunshine Coast.

Lying For Decades

While some factions of the balloon industry denounce balloon releases, these claims are only recent.

For decades, the industry relied on one industry-funded study from 1989 which claimed that after six short weeks, balloons degraded “at about the same rate as oak tree leaves” and there was no way balloons were a threat to wildlife.

That study was not peer-reviewed, its methods are unclear and not repeatable, and the results are based on only six balloons.

Read more: Avoiding single-use plastic was becoming normal, until coronavirus. Here's how we can return to good habits

Because balloons are frequently reported to be at sea, ingested by wild animals and washed up on beaches, it’s clear they’re not breaking down in only six weeks. Anecdotal studies have tested this to varying degrees, confirming balloons don’t break down.

Only one peer-reviewed scientific study has quantified balloon degradation, and that also occurred in 1989 — the same year as the industry study. They tested elasticity for up to one year, which means the balloons were intact for that whole time.

Person with a rake buries blue latex balloons in the compost
We tested the claims of the balloon industry. Dahlia FooAuthor provided

We wanted to know: has anything changed since 1989? And why aren’t there more studies testing balloon degradation, given the passion behind the balloon issue?

So, we set out to quantify exactly how long latex balloons would take to break down. And we asked if balloons degraded differently in different parts of the environment.

Our Experiment Tested Their Claims

Industrial composting standards require that the material completely disintegrates after 12 weeks and that the product is not distinguishable from the surrounding soil.

We designed an experiment: after exposing balloons to six hours of sunlight (to simulate typical use, for example, at an outdoor party), we put blue and white balloons in industrial compost, and in saltwater and freshwater tanks.

We allowed for aeration to simulate natural conditions, but otherwise, we left the balloons alone. Every two weeks, we randomly removed 40 balloons from each treatment. We photographed them to document degradation. Then we tested them.

The author prepares to sample latex balloons in front of water tanks
The author sampling latex balloons. Jesse BenjaminAuthor provided

Were the balloons still stretchy? We tested this in the University of Tasmania engineering lab to determine tensile (resistence) strength. We found that in water tanks, the balloons became less stretchy, losing around 75% of their tensile strength. But if they had been composted, balloons retained their stretchiness.

Were the balloons still composed of the same things they started with? We tested this by taking spectral measurements of the balloons’ surface. The balloons showed signs they were exposed to ultra violet light in the water tanks, but not in the compost. This means their chemical composition changed in water, but only slightly.

Finally, and most importantly, did the balloons lose mass?

After 16 weeks, the balloons were still recognisably balloons, though they behaved a little differently in compost, water and saltwater. Some balloons lost 1–2% mass, and some balloons in freshwater gained mass, likely due to osmotic absorption of water.

Four dirty, deflated white balloons in a row on a black background.
These are white latex balloons 16 weeks after we composted them. Jesse BenjaminAuthor provided

What Can We Do?

It’s clear latex balloons don’t meaningfully degrade in 16 weeks and will continue to pose a threat to wildlife. So what can we do as consumers? We offer these tips:

  • do not release balloons outdoors
  • do not use helium-filled balloons outdoors (this prevents accidental release, and saves helium), which is a critically limited resource
  • if you use balloons, deflate and bin them after use
  • consider balloon alternatives, like bubbles
  • make educated purchases with federal Green Guidelines in mind.

Read more: There are some single-use plastics we truly need. The rest we can live without The Conversation

Morgan Gilmour, Adjunct Researcher in Marine Science, University of Tasmania and Jennifer Lavers, Lecturer in Marine Science, University of Tasmania

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

'All things will outlast us': how the Indigenous concept of deep time helps us understand environmental destruction

Gumatj clan dancers perform at the Garma Festival. Lucy Hughes Jones/AAP
Ann McGrathAustralian National University

The bushfire royal commission is examining ways Indigenous land and fire management could improve Australia’s resilience to national disasters. On the face of it, this offers an opportunity to embrace Indigenous ways of knowing.

But one traditional practice unlikely to be examined is the Indigenous concept of “deep time”. This concept offers all Australians a blueprint for understanding the land we live on.

In the words of University of Technology, Sydney, Visiting Research Fellow and Yuwaalaraay/Gamilaraay woman Frances Peters-Little:

All things will outlast us, the land will change, and survive … Yes, the land will be different. But new things will come of it.

For non-Indigenous Australians like myself, the past summer of bushfires seemed to mark the end times. Indigenous Australians also grieved the enormous losses wrought last fire season – but their long perspective on history offers hope.

What Is Deep Time?

Deep time asks us to rethink our narrow conceptions of time by looking back far into Earth’s history, and looking forward far into the future.

The Indigenous Australian sense of history spans the 65,000 or more years they have lived on this continent. This goes way beyond the Western concept of “ancient history”, set in the Northern Hemisphere and reaching little beyond 6,000 years.

Australia’s deep human history covers everything Aboriginal people achieved before 1770 – the year marking the arrival of British navigator Lieutenant James Cook on the Endeavour – and 1788 when convicts under the governance of Arthur Phillip arrived.

Read more: Ancient Aboriginal stories preserve history of a rise in sea level

Different groups of Indigenous people witnessed these events. But they also witnessed the great climate dramas of the Pleistocene and the Holocene. They experienced the chilling cold and adapted to the drying up of key water sources such as Willandra Lakes in far west New South Wales.

Around Sydney, they witnessed river systems forming and changing course around Kamay or Botany Bay, and the lands of Port Phillip Bay rapidly filling with water. In Queensland, they witnessed their lands being submerged and islands such as Koba (Fitzroy Island) being created. Some are thought to have observed the Great Barrier Reef being formed and volcanoes erupting.

Yugambeh man sitting on the ground holding a boomerang.
The Indigenous Australian sense of history spans the 65,000 or more years they’ve lived on this continent. Shutterstock

Beyond A Western Sense Of Time

The story of deep history cannot be gleaned from the kinds of written evidence left by Cook and Phillip in their 18th-century journals. Rather, information about the deep past is held in features of the landscape itself.

As the Anangu people of Uluru explain, the land contains proof of a spoken narrative, like a photograph. The land’s markings are the archives, the inscriptions revealing and proving deep history stories.

Nature can expose some of these stories. In southwestern Victoria last summer, for example, the bushfires uncovered more sections of the ancient stone fish traps at Budj Bim.

Read more: Our land is burning, and western science does not have all the answers

Similarly, in the late 1960s, erosive winds took away sand deposited over tens of thousands of years, revealing the grave site of Lady Mungo in southwestern NSW. Here, her remains were ritually burnt 40,000 years ago.

For Aboriginal people, these events constitute their ancestors revealing themselves; people of the past speaking directly to those in the present. It is almost as if the ancestors are living today – in what anthropologist WEH Stanner translated as an “everywhen”.

The Budj Bim cultural landscape was heritage listed after fires exposed its intricate aquaculture system, built by Indigenous Australians. PR handout image

A Blueprint For Change

News in May that mining company Rio Tinto destroyed two rock shelters containing evidence of habitation dating back 46,000 years triggered public outrage. Perhaps this signals a burgeoning realisation that to understand our land, Australians need a history that stretches well beyond 1788.

To achieve this, Indigenous custodians, parks officers, historians and archaeologists might work together to develop a “deep time” research policy. This might include a national survey to assess the cultural heritage of Australia’s deep past.

Across Australia, many such sites – containing ancient rock art, engravings and the like – are little known and sometimes neglected. Surveying them will give all Australians insights into ecological change.

Read more: Strength from perpetual grief: how Aboriginal people experience the bushfire crisis

Of course, some of this work is already underway. Last summer’s Blue Mountains fires burnt some of these relics. But researchers and Indigenous people are working together to record and conserve remaining sites.

At Namadgi National Park near Canberra, rock art identifies animals of the region, such as dingoes, kangaroos and wallabies. Firefighters successfully saved the Yankee Hat rock art site, including ripping up its timber boardwalks to prevent it burning. Figures at the site were painted over hundreds, or possibly thousands of years.

Elsewhere, such as in the Kuringai National Park in NSW, rock engravings point to astronomical knowledge about the Milky Way. The appearance of an emu figure in the sky once signalled it was time to gather emu eggs.

Indigenous Australians use astronomy, such as this emu constellation, to identify ecological patterns. Dylan O'Donnell/Wikimedia

A Deeper Understanding

Embracing a deep, expansive understanding of non-linear time helps give context to disasters such as bushfires. On Australia Day this year as the fires raged around Canberra, Frances Peters-Little told me:

There’s a lot of talk of extinction. (But) Aboriginal people are focusing on rejuvenation. It is our responsibility to ensure the land is protected … As a culture that has lived here tens of thousands of years, we know this. We have been here too long to think it’s the end of things.

We must all think of ourselves not just in biographical time – inhabiting one lifespan – but rather, of the future generations to come and those long before us.

This article was reviewed by University of Technology, Sydney, Visiting Research Fellow and Yuwaalaraay/Gamilaraay woman Frances Peters-Little.The Conversation

Ann McGrath, Professor, Australian National University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Doodle Comer Swamp Nature Reserve Draft Plan Of Management: Public Consultation

The Doodle Comer Swamp Nature Reserve Draft Plan of Management is available for review and comment.

Public exhibition of the draft plan provides an important opportunity for members of the community to have a say in the future management of Doodle Comer Swamp Nature Reserve. Comments close 28 September 2020.

This plan has been prepared using a new format and presented as 2 separate documents:

  1. The plan of management which is the 'legal' document that will be provided to the Minister for formal adoption. This is the document we are seeking your feedback on.
  2. The planning considerations document supports the plan of management. It includes detailed information on park values (e.g. threatened species and cultural heritage) and threats to these values. A summary of this information is in the plan of management.

Doodle Comer Swamp Nature Reserve encompasses about half of the Doodle Comer Swamp, an ephemeral wetland listed in the National Directory of Important Wetlands and the largest wetland of its type in southern NSW. The catchment for Doodle Comer Swamp is unregulated and the wetland has an unaltered water flow regime, now uncommon in New South Wales inland wetlands and of high conservation value.

When inundated, Doodle Comer Swamp attracts large numbers of waterbirds that use the swamp for breeding and foraging. When dry, the wetland provides habitat for the threatened bush stone-curlew, listed as endangered in New South Wales. Other threatened animals found include brolga and superb parrot. The reserve contains several threatened ecological communities such as Inland Grey Box Woodland and Sandhill Pine Woodland.

Doodle Comer Swamp is part of the Country of the Wiradjuri speaking nation and is part of a larger network of swamps and lagoons across the Riverina that formed a significant part of the cultural landscape, sustaining the Wiradjuri with an extensive range of resources for thousands of years. A diverse range of Aboriginal sites exist in the reserve and surrounding area and in 2016 Doodle Comer was declared an Aboriginal place recognising these values and the wetland's special significance to Aboriginal culture.

What is a plan of management?

Parks and reserves established under the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974 need to have a plan of management. The plan includes information on important park values and provides directions for future management. The plan of management is a legal document, and after the plan is adopted all operations and activities in the park must be in line with the plan. From time to time plans of management are amended to support changes to park management. Visit: Doodle Comer Swamp Nature Reserve Draft Plan of Management - PDF, 2.3MB

The National Parks and Wildlife Act sets out the matters that need to be considered when preparing a plan of management. These matters are addressed in the supporting Doodle Comer Swamp Nature Reserve Draft Plan of Management: Planning considerations document.

Why is a plan being prepared now?

Since the park`s reservation in 2011, it has been managed according to a statement of management intent. After a park's reservation and before the release of its plan of management, a statement of management intent is prepared outlining the management principles and priorities for the park's management. This statement documents the key values, threats and management directions for the park. It is not a statutory document and a plan of management will still need to be prepared according to the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974.

Publication of a draft or final plan will replace the statement of management intent for the relevant parks covered.

What opportunities will the community have to comment?

The draft plan of management is on public exhibition until 28 September 2020 and anyone can review the plan of management and provide comments.

When will the plan of management be finalised?

At the end of the public exhibition period in September 2020 we will review all submissions, prepare a submissions report and make any necessary changes to the draft plan of management. The Far West Regional Advisory Committee and the National Parks and Wildlife Advisory Council will then review the plan along with the submissions and report, as required by the National Parks and Wildlife Act.

Once their input has been considered and any further changes made to the plan of management, we provide the plan to the Minister for Energy and Environment. The plan of management is finalised when the Minister formally adopts the plan under the National Parks and Wildlife Act. Once a plan is adopted it is published on the Department website and a public notice is advertised in the NSW Government Gazette.

How can I get more information about the draft plan?

For further information on the plan of management please contact the Park Management Planning Team at

How can I comment on the draft plan?

Public exhibition for the plan of management is from 26 June 2020 until 28 September 2020. You are invited to comment on the draft plan by sending a written submission during this time.

Have your say

Public exhibition is from 26 June 2020 to 28 September 2020.

You can provide your written submission in any of the following ways:

Post your written submission to:

Manager Planning Evaluation and Assessment
Locked Bag 5022 
Parramatta NSW 2124

Email your submission to:

Make a submission online by using the online form here

Tollingo Nature Reserve And Woggoon Nature Reserve Draft Plan Of Management: Public Consultation

The Tollingo Nature Reserve and Woggoon Nature Reserve Draft Plan of Management is available for review and comment.

Public exhibition of the draft plan provides an important opportunity for members of the community to have a say in the future management of Tollingo Nature Reserve and Woggoon Nature Reserve. Comments close 28 September 2020.

This plan has been prepared using a new format which is presented as two separate documents:

  1. The plan of management which is the legal document that will be provided to the Minister for formal adoption. This is the document we are seeking your feedback on.
  2. The planning considerations document supports the plan of management. It includes detailed information on park values (e.g. threatened species and cultural heritage) and threats to these values. A summary of this information is provided in the plan of management.

Tollingo Nature Reserve and Woggoon Nature Reserve are significant as two of the largest remaining mallee remnants in New South Wales. The largely intact old-age mallee vegetation is rare in the Central West, which is mostly used for agriculture. The reserves provide habitat for the endangered malleefowl and other native animals.

Tollingo Nature Reserve is shared Country for the Ngiyampaa and Wiradjuri people, while Woggoon Nature Reserve is within Wiradjuri traditional Country.

What is a plan of management?

Parks and reserves established under the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974 need to have a plan of management. The plan includes information on important park values and provides directions for future management. The plan of management is a legal document, and after the plan is adopted all operations and activities in the park must be in line with the plan. From time to time plans of management are amended to support changes to park management.

The National Parks and Wildlife Act sets out the matters that need to be considered when preparing a plan of management. These matters are addressed in the supporting Tollingo Nature Reserve and Woggoon Nature Reserve Draft Planning Considerations document. This document may be updated from time to time, for example, to include new information on the values of the park (e.g. new threatened species), new management approaches (e.g. a new pest management technique) or new park programs. Visit Tollingo Nature Reserve and Woggoon Nature Reserve Draft Plan of Management - PDF 2.3MB

Why is a plan being prepared now?

This plan of management will replace the statement of management intent which was approved in 2014. Statements of management intent are non-statutory documents which summarise the key values and management directions for a park.

Since reservation in 1988 and 1974 respectively, Tollingo and Woggoon nature reserves have been managed according to a statement of management intent. After a park's reservation and before the release of its plan of management, a statement of management intent is prepared outlining the management principles and priorities for the park's management. This statement documents the key values, threats and management directions for the park. It is not a statutory document and a plan of management will still need to be prepared according to the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974. Publication of a draft or final plan will replace the statements of management intent for the relevant parks covered.

What opportunities will the community have to comment?

The draft plan of management and planning considerations are on public exhibition until 28 September 2020 and anyone can provide comments.

When will the plan of management be finalised?

At the end of the public exhibition period in September 2020, National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) will review all submissions, prepare a submissions report and make any necessary changes to the draft plan of management. The West Regional Advisory Committee and the National Parks and Wildlife Advisory Council will then review the plan along with the submissions and report, as required by the National Parks and Wildlife Act.

Once their input has been considered and any further changes made to the plan of management, we provide the plan to the Minister for Energy and Environment. The plan of management is finalised when the Minister adopts the plan under the National Parks and Wildlife Act. Once a plan is adopted it is published on the Department's website.

How can I get more information about the draft plan?

For further information on the plan of management please contact the NPWS Park Management Planning Team at

Where can I see a printed copy of the draft plan?

Hard copies are available for viewing at the following locations:

  • National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) office, Camp Street, Forbes
  • Condobolin Library, 130 Bathurst Street, Condobolin

How can I comment on the draft plan?

Public exhibition for the plan of management is from 26 June until 28 September 2020. You are invited to comment on the draft plan by sending a written submission during this time.

Your privacy

Your submission will be provided to a number of statutory advisory bodies (including the relevant regional advisory committee and the National Parks and Wildlife Advisory Council). Your comments on the draft plan may include 'personal information'. the Department complies with the NSW Privacy and Personal Information Protection Act 1998 which regulates the collection, storage, access, amendment, use and disclosure of personal information. See our privacy webpage for details. Information that in some way identifies you may be gathered when you use our website or send us correspondence.

If an application to access information under the Government Information (Public Access) Act 2009 requests access to your submission, your views about release will be sought if you have indicated that you object to your submission being made public.

While all submissions count, they are most effective when we understand your ideas and the outcomes you want for park management. Some suggestions to help you write your submission are:

  • Write clearly and be specific about the issues that are of concern to you.
  • Note which part or section of the plan your comments relate to.
  • Give reasoning in support of your points – this makes it easier for us to consider your ideas and will help avoid misinterpretation.
  • Tell us specifically what you agree/disagree with and why you agree/disagree.
  • Suggest solutions or alternatives to managing the issue if you can.

Have your say

Public exhibition is from 26 June 2020 to 28 September 2020.

You can provide your written submission in any of the following ways:

Post your written submission to:

Manager Planning Evaluation and Assessment
Locked Bag 5022
Parramatta NSW 2124

Email your submission to:

Make a submission online by using the online form here

Limeburners Creek National Park, Goolawah National Park And Goolawah Regional Park: Public Consultation

Planning for the future –NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service is preparing a new plan of management for Limeburners Creek National Park, Goolawah National Park and Goolawah Regional Park.

These parks are in the traditional Country of the Dunghutti and Birpai Aboriginal Peoples. The parks play a fundamental role in the lives of local Aboriginal people, helping to maintain a tangible link to the past and enabling continued connections to Country.

The existing plan of management for Limeburners Creek National Park was written in 1998. The areas that are now Goolawah National Park and Goolawah Regional Park were formerly Goolawah State Park and Crown land. Initial community consultation about the Goolawah parks was undertaken in 2012, soon after they were transferred to National Parks and Wildlife Service.

Since this time large new areas have been added to the parks, including the intertidal zone on some of the beaches. There has also been a steady increase in visitors, and new recreational uses have become popular. Information about the values of the park has improved and new approaches to managing fire, pests and weeds have been developed.

Accommodating all of these visitors, maintaining the unique visitor experience and protecting the environment is challenging. Good planning is essential to manage increasing demand and provide sustainable visitor facilities and opportunities while minimising impacts and retaining the natural and low key nature of this beautiful stretch of coast. The development of a new combined plan of management will help to protect the parks' unique values and improve the effectiveness of how we manage the parks.

What opportunities will the community have to contribute to the development of a new plan of management?

Previous consultation, including a community forum, identified a range of issues important to the local community which will be considered in the new plan. It is now time to reach out and reconnect with our neighbours, stakeholders and local communities, as well as extending the invitation to the wider community of park users.

There are now 2 opportunities to be involved in the development of the plan of management for Goolawah Regional Park and Goolawah and Limeburners Creek national parks:

  1. During the development of the draft plan - register your interest below to receive updates and be notified of further consultation dates. Complete the form to provide your ideas on what you believe are the most important values of the parks and how they should be managed in the future. Your input will be used to draft a plan that reflects community values and aspirations.
  2. During public exhibition of the draft plan - there will be another opportunity to have your say when the draft plan of management is completed and put on public exhibition for 90 days. Anyone can submit comments on the draft plan during this time.

Register your interest

Complete the online form here to register your interest, provide initial input and be notified of further consultation dates. Tell us what is important to you about the parks and what you would like to see in the future. Comments close 30 October 2020.

Limeburners Creek National Park, Goolawah National Park and Goolawah Regional Park engagement map Photo: DPIE

Echidna Season

Echidna season has begun.  As cooler days approach, our beautiful echidnas are more active during the days as they come out to forage for food and find a mate. This sadly results in a HIGH number of vehicle hits.

What to do if you find an Echidna on the road?

  • Safely remove the Echidna off the road (providing its safe to do so).
  • Call Sydney Wildlife or WIRES
  •  Search the surrounding area for a puggle (baby echidna). The impact from a vehicle incident can cause a puggle to roll long distances from mum, so please search for these babies, they can look like a pinky-grey clump of clay

What to do if you find an echidna in your yard?

  • Leave the Echidna alone, remove the threat (usually a family pet) and let the Echidna move away in it's own time. It will move along when it doesn't feel threatened.

If you find an injured echidna or one in an undesirable location, please call Sydney Wildlife on 9413 4300 for advice.

Lynleigh Greig, Sydney Wildlife, with a rescued echidna being returned to its home

New Shorebird Identification Booklet

The Migratory Shorebird Program has just released the third edition of its hugely popular Shorebird Identification Booklet. The team has thoroughly revised and updated this pocket-sized companion for all shorebird counters and interested birders, with lots of useful information on our most common shorebirds, key identification features, sighting distribution maps and short articles on some of BirdLife’s shorebird activities. 

The booklet can be downloaded here in PDF file format:

Paper copies can be ordered as well, see for details.

Download BirdLife Australia's children’s education kit to help them learn more about our wading birdlife

Shorebirds are a group of wading birds that can be found feeding on swamps, tidal mudflats, estuaries, beaches and open country. For many people, shorebirds are just those brown birds feeding a long way out on the mud but they are actually a remarkably diverse collection of birds including stilts, sandpipers, snipe, curlews, godwits, plovers and oystercatchers. Each species is superbly adapted to suit its preferred habitat.  The Red-necked Stint is as small as a sparrow, with relatively short legs and bill that it pecks food from the surface of the mud with, whereas the Eastern Curlew is over two feet long with a exceptionally long legs and a massively curved beak that it thrusts deep down into the mud to pull out crabs, worms and other creatures hidden below the surface.

Some shorebirds are fairly drab in plumage, especially when they are visiting Australia in their non-breeding season, but when they migrate to their Arctic nesting grounds, they develop a vibrant flush of bright colours to attract a mate. We have 37 types of shorebirds that annually migrate to Australia on some of the most lengthy and arduous journeys in the animal kingdom, but there are also 18 shorebirds that call Australia home all year round.

What all our shorebirds have in common—be they large or small, seasoned traveller or homebody, brightly coloured or in muted tones—is that each species needs adequate safe areas where they can successfully feed and breed.

The National Shorebird Monitoring Program is managed and supported by BirdLife Australia. 

This project is supported by Glenelg Hopkins Catchment Management Authority and Hunter Local Land Services through funding from the Australian Government’s National Landcare Program. Funding from Helen Macpherson Smith Trust and Port Phillip Bay Fund is acknowledged. 

The National Shorebird Monitoring Program is made possible with the help of over 1,600 volunteers working in coastal and inland habitats all over Australia. 

The National Shorebird Monitoring program (started as the Shorebirds 2020 project initiated to re-invigorate monitoring around Australia) is raising awareness of how incredible shorebirds are, and actively engaging the community to participate in gathering information needed to conserve shorebirds. 

In the short term, the destruction of tidal ecosystems will need to be stopped, and our program is designed to strengthen the case for protecting these important habitats. 

In the long term, there will be a need to mitigate against the likely effects of climate change on a species that travels across the entire range of latitudes where impacts are likely. 

The identification and protection of critical areas for shorebirds will need to continue in order to guard against the potential threats associated with habitats in close proximity to nearly half the human population. 

Here in Australia, the place where these birds grow up and spend most of their lives, continued monitoring is necessary to inform the best management practice to maintain shorebird populations. 

BirdLife Australia believe that we can help secure a brighter future for these remarkable birds by educating stakeholders, gathering information on how and why shorebird populations are changing, and working to grow the community of people who care about shorebirds.

To find out more visit:

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 -

Students Take A Seat At The Table

August 17, 2020

Students at NSW public schools have two new platforms to help shape their education system.

Minister for Education Sarah Mitchell today announced the first Minister's Student Council, a group of students that will have a direct influence on education and school policy that affects students.

A new online Student Voice Hub has also launched, giving all NSW students a platform to share their views and creativity with the wider community.

Ms Mitchell said that the two new platforms are exciting and important tools for students, giving them greater capacity to provide feedback to government.

"Students are at the centre of everything we do in education and these platforms empower them to influence public policy," Ms Mitchell said.

"The Student Council will be the peak forum for interaction between NSW public school students, the department and myself.”

Ms Mitchell said students would decide the exact design of the council but it is expected that all secondary students will have the opportunity to provide input.

Delegates will be elected from a range of secondary schools to form the council and will meet with decision-makers within the NSW schools system to develop policy,” Ms Mitchell said.

The council is reinforced by the new Student Voice Hub strengthening the ongoing engagement of students with the department, each other and the wider community.

Ms Mitchell said the Student Voice Hub is a partnership in learning and listening that will play a key role in building a better education system as student perspectives, experiences and aspirations shape and enrich our schools and communities.

“The Student Voice Hub would also provide students opportunities to refine their writing and content creation skills along with pitching their stories and ideas," Ms Mitchell said.

"As part of the submission process to the hub, students will have the opportunity to refine their ideas and articles.”

The first elected Minister’s Student Council will begin in 2021. Further information about being involved in the council will be provided to school principals.

Meanwhile... Back At The Ranch

This expression originated as a stock subtitle in silent movies and at first the reference to the ranch was literal.

Later, as the phrase became a cliché, it was used more and more loosely and with a growing sense of mockery or levity, often with a vague focus, but often to indicate a time lapse - a period of waiting...waiting....waiting.

The film below is an example of early western films from the silent era. Found at the Internet Archives, where you can access tons of old movies and books, this one has been chopsen to share with you as it has a few singularities and historic footage.

Sky High (1922) was filmed on location at The Grand Canyon and with nicely integrated aerial photography to boot, some of the first of it's kind. This is a showcase of Tom Mix, legendary real life cowboy, at his best. Riding hard, fighting hard, saving the day and the damsel in distress . It includes one take stunt work as well. Late in the picture a white horse Tom is riding takes a nasty, unintentional fall. Tom re-mounts and continues with the shot in hot pursuit. It's a very physical film in many ways. 

 J. Farrell MCDonald makes a couple of brief appearances as the outlaw leader and shows some subtle sensitivity. McDonald was a very good actor who would not hit his stride until sound came in with mature roles of various types in both "A" & "B" pictures. 

Thomas Edwin Mix (born Thomas Hezikiah Mix; January 6, 1880 – October 12, 1940) was an American film actor and the star of many early Western movies between 1909 and 1935. Mix appeared in 291 films, all but nine of which were silent movies. He was Hollywood's first Western star and helped define the genre as it emerged in the early days of the cinema.

Mix was born January 6, 1880, in Mix Run, Pennsylvania, about 62 miles (100 km) north of State College, Pennsylvania, to Edwin Elias Mix and Elizabeth Heistand. He grew up in nearby DuBois, Pennsylvania, where his father, a stable master for a wealthy lumber merchant, taught him to ride and love horses. He spent time working on a local farm owned by John DuBois, a lumber businessman. He had dreams of being in the circus and was rumored to have been caught by his parents practising knife-throwing tricks against a wall, using his sister as an assistant.

In April 1898, during the Spanish–American War, he enlisted in the Army under the name Thomas E. (Edwin) Mix. His unit never went overseas, and Mix later failed to return for duty after an extended furlough when he married Grace I. Allin on July 18, 1902. Mix was listed as AWOL on November 4, 1902, but was never court-martialed nor apparently even discharged. His marriage to Allin was annulled after one year. In 1905, Mix married Kitty Jewel Perinne, but this marriage also ended within a year. He next married Olive Stokes on January 10, 1909, in Medora, North Dakota. On July 13, 1912, Olive gave birth to their daughter Ruth.

In 1905, Mix rode in President Theodore Roosevelt's inaugural parade with a group of 50 horsemen led by Seth Bullock, which included several former Rough Riders. Years later, Hollywood publicists muddled this event to imply that Mix had been a Rough Rider himself.

Mix went to Oklahoma and lived in Guthrie, working as a bartender and other odd jobs. He was briefly night marshal[3] of Dewey, Oklahoma, in 1911. He eventually found employment at the Miller Brothers 101 Ranch, one of the largest ranching businesses in the United States, covering 101,000 acres (41,000 ha), hence its name. The ranch had its own touring Wild West show in which Mix appeared. He stood out as a skilled horseman and expert shot, winning national riding and roping contests at Prescott, Arizona, in 1909, and Canon City, Colorado, in 1910.

Mix began his film career as a supporting cast member with the Selig Polyscope Company. His first appearance was in a short film, The Cowboy Millionaire, released on October 21, 1909. In 1910, he appeared as himself in a short documentary film, Ranch Life in the Great Southwest, in which he displayed his skills as a cattle wrangler. Shot at the Selig studio in the Edendale district of Los Angeles (now known as Silver Lake), the film was a success, and Mix became an early motion picture star.

Mix performed in more than 100 films for Selig, many of which were filmed in Las Vegas, New Mexico. While with Selig he co-starred in several films with Victoria Forde, and they fell in love. He divorced Olive Stokes in 1917. By then, Selig Polyscope had encountered severe financial difficulties, and Mix and Forde both subsequently signed with Fox Film Corporation, which had leased the Edendale studio. The Fox Film Corporation was an American company that produced motion pictures, formed by William Fox on February 1, 1915. It was the corporate successor to his earlier Greater New York Film Rental Company and Box Office Attractions Film Company. Mix and Forde married in 1918 and had a daughter, Thomasina (Tommie) Mix, in February 1922.

Mix made more than 160 cowboy films throughout the 1920s. These featured action-oriented scripts contrasted with the documentary style of his work with Selig. Heroes and villains were sharply defined and a clean-cut cowboy always saved the day. Millions of American children grew up watching his films on Saturday afternoons. His intelligent and handsome horse, known as "Tony the Wonder Horse", also became a celebrity. Mix did his own stunts and was frequently injured.

In 1913, Mix moved his family to a ranch he purchased in Prescott called Bar Circle A Ranch. He spent a lot of time at the ranch when taking a break from filming. A number of the movies were actually filmed in the Prescott home. During this time, Mix had success in the local Prescott Frontier Days rodeo, which lays claim to being the "world's oldest rodeo." In 1920, he took first prize in a bull-riding contest. Today, his Bar Circle A Ranch developed into a planned community called Yavapai Hills where there is still a street named Bar Circle Ranch Road.

Tom Mix in 1925, National Photo Company - This image is available from the United States Library of Congress's Prints and Photographs division under the digital ID npcc.13634. 

Mix's salary at Fox reached $7,500 a week. Gossip columnist Louella Parsons wrote that he had his initials in electric lights on the top of his house. His performances were noted for their realism and for screen-friendly action stunts and horseback riding, attention-grabbing cowboy costumes, and showmanship. At the Edendale lot, Mix built a 12-acre (4.9 ha) shooting set called Mixville. Loaded with western props and furnishings, it has been described as a "complete frontier town, with a dusty street, hitching rails, a saloon, jail, bank, doctor's office, surveyor's office, and the simple frame houses typical of the early Western era."[This quote needs a citation] Near the back of the lot an Indian village of lodges was ringed by miniature plaster mountains which were said to be, on screen, "ferociously convincing".[This quote needs a citation] The set also included a simulated desert, a large corral, and (to facilitate interior shots) a ranch house with no roof. 

In 1929, Mix was a pallbearer at the funeral of Wyatt Earp.

Mix appeared with the Sells-Floto Circus in 1929, 1930, and 1931 at a reported weekly salary of $20,000 (equivalent to $298,000 in 2019). He and Forde divorced in 1931. Meanwhile, the Great Depression (along with the actor's free-spending ways and many wives) reportedly had wiped out most of his savings. In 1932, he married his fifth wife, Mabel Hubbell Ward. Universal Pictures approached him that year with an offer to perform in "talkies," which included script and cast approval. He acted in nine films for Universal, but because of injuries he received while filming, he was reluctant to do any more. Mix then appeared with the Sam B. Dill circus, which he reportedly bought two years later (1935).

Mix's last screen appearance was a 15-episode sound Mascot Pictures serial, The Miracle Rider (1935); he received $40,000 for the four weeks of filming. Outdoor action sequences for the production were filmed primarily on the Iverson Movie Ranch in Chatsworth, California, on the outskirts of Los Angeles. The site was known for its huge sandstone boulders, and one of them later became known as Tom Mix Rock when it was discovered it had been used in The Miracle Rider. In one episode, Mix was filmed descending from the top of the rock, with boot holes carved into it to assist him in making the descent. The rock and the boot holes, although unmarked, is in the Garden of the Gods park in Chatsworth.

Also in 1935, Texas governor James Allred named Mix an honorary Texas Ranger. Mix returned to circus performing, now with his eldest daughter Ruth, who appeared in some of his films. In 1938, he went to Europe on a promotional trip, leaving Ruth behind to manage the circus. Without him, however, the circus soon failed, and he later excluded her from his will. Mix had reportedly made over $6 million (equivalent to $112 million in 2019) during his 26-year film career.

On October 12, 1940, after visiting Pima County Sheriff Ed Echols in Tucson, Arizona, Mix headed north towards Phoenix on U.S. Highway 80 (now Arizona State Route 79), driving his 1937 Cord 812 Phaeton. He stopped to call his agent at the Oracle Junction Inn, a popular gambling and drinking establishment, then continued toward Phoenix. About eighteen miles south of Florence, Mix came upon construction barriers at a bridge washed away by a flash flood. Unable to stop in time, his car swerved twice, then overturned in a gully. A large aluminium suitcase containing money, traveller's checks, and jewels, situated on the package shelf behind his head, hurtled forward and struck him, breaking his neck. He was 60 years old.

His funeral took place at the Little Church of the Flowers in Glendale, California, on October 16, 1940, and was attended by thousands of fans and Hollywood personalities. He was interred in the Forest Lawn Memorial Park Cemetery.

Tom Mix was the acknowledged "King of Cowboys" when Ronald Reagan and John Wayne were young, and the influence of his screen persona can be seen in their approach to portraying cowboys. When an injury caused football player Marion Morrison (later known as John Wayne) to drop out of the University of Southern California, Mix helped him find work moving props in the back lot of Fox Studios. That was the beginning of Wayne's Hollywood career.

Tony the Wonder Horse starred in over two dozen silent and sound films during his career, becoming a celebrity in his own right. When Mix placed his handprints in the concrete outside Grauman's Chinese Theatre in 1927, Tony’s hoofprints were placed alongside them. He was the first horse to be given equal billing with his human costar, and was featured in the title of three movies: Just Tony (1922), Oh! You Tony (1924), and Tony Runs Wild (1926). Tony is listed as appearing in 34 films between 1922 and 1932. Just Tony is based on a Max Brand novel, Alcatraz. Tony's image appeared on film posters, his name was included in a number of film titles, and he accompanied Mix on international publicity tours. Tony was immortalized in a series of junior novels and comic books, including the 1934 children's book Tony and his Pals.

Tony was famous in part because Mix, the film industry, and the media were able to anthropomorphise him. In the films, his horseness was continually reaffirmed; at the same time, so was his ability to understand language, what was going on around him, and why. Animals are not complicit in the process by which they are made to mean something.

Tony is most known for his intelligence and ability to perform remarkable stunts, many of which would not be allowed today due to the danger involved. Tony performed in the years before the American Humane Association oversaw the use of animals on American productions. Since animals do not 'agree' to be actors (cannot verbalise agreement), the American Humane Association began to oversee how animal labor was created, filmed, and commercialised in 1940, eight years after Tony's retirement.

Mix reportedly did not have to train Tony, but simply show him what to do for each feat. Mix could convey any sort of message to the pony by touches of the hand or fingers on Tony's neck, although speculation existed that whips, strong bits, and spurs were used. Such stunts included untying Mix’s hands, opening gates, jumping over high fences, getting tangled in ropes, loosening his reins, rescuing Mix from fire, jumping from one cliff to another, and running after trains. In the 1926 film The Great K & A Train Robbery (Fox Film Corporation), Mix jumps Tony through a glass window into a building and rides him alongside a speeding train. In the film Trailin' (1921) Mix and Tony have a bridge slashed from under them, and uncut footage shows the pair tipping over to the river below.[15]

Lobby card for The Great K & A Train Robbery (1926) giving billing to "Tony the wonder horse."

Besides film, Tony was also in the Sells Floto Circus with Tom Mix as his rider. A program from the circus in 1931 made a statement about the bond between the pair:

Every patron of the motion picture theatre knows Tom Mix and his wonder horse Tony, who for years have been almost inseparable ... Tom is the only master Tony ever had and the only person who has been on his back, which may partly account for their extreme love for each other. — Paul E. Mix, The Life and Legend of Tom Mix

Tony retired from the film industry in 1932 at the age of 22, when he was slightly injured on the set of his last movie, The Fourth Horseman (1932). Following Tony's retirement, Tom Mix began featuring another horse of similar colour and appearance in his films, Tony, Jr. A third horse, Tony II, was used for public appearances.

Tony outlived Tom Mix, dying in 1942 at the age of 32, two years to the day after Mix was killed in a car accident. Tony's passing was noted in The New York Times. Tony's longevity as a movie horse is remarkable due to the lack of veterinary care available in those years, and because of the strenuous stunts that were not then regulated.

Information and images sourced from the Internet Archive and Wikipedia.


'Just Like' Songs

The other day, while enjoying the Jesus and Mary Chains 'Just Like Honey', again, another 'just like' song popped up from the same era, 'Just Like Heaven' by The Cure, and prompted one sage listener to remark, 'oh, follow that up with Bob Dylan's 'Just Like a Woman'; will you....'.

A search of the Song Library brings up quite a few others: Jenny and Johnny, Just Like Zeus;  Godhead, Just Like You; Three Days Grace, Just Like You; ALL, Just Like Them; Lisbeth Scott, Just Like Rain; TSOL,  Just Like Me;  The Waifs, Just Like Me;  and even Samuel L. Jackson, Just Like A Bird Without A Feather.

Naturally this leads one to wonder; what is the most used word in a song title?

Turns out that word is 'the' along with 'I' and 'you' - so not that exciting.

The first known song ever written is called 'Hurrian Hymn no.6'  composed by Syrians about 3400 years ago. The Hurrian Hymn was discovered in the 1950s on a clay tablet inscribed with Cuneiform text. The hymn was discovered in Ugarit, now part of modern-day Syria, and is dedicated the Hurrians' goddess of the orchards Nikkal.

Her name means "Great Lady and Fruitful" and derives from Akkadian / West Semitic "´Ilat ´Inbi" meaning "Goddess of Fruit". A translation of Ugaritic "ib" as "blossom" survives in biblical Hebrew as אֵב.

Ugarit was an ancient port city in northern Syria, in the outskirts of modern Latakia, discovered by accident in 1928 together with the Ugaritic texts. Its ruins are often called Ras Shamra after the headland where they lie.

Neolithic Ugarit was important enough to be fortified with a wall early on, perhaps by 6000 BCE, though the site is thought to have been inhabited earlier. Ugarit was important as it was both a port and at the entrance of the inland trade route to the Euphrates and Tigris lands. The city reached its heyday between 1800 and 1200 BCE, when it ruled a trade-based coastal kingdom, trading with Egypt, Cyprus, the Aegean, Syria, the Hittites, and much of the eastern Mediterranean.

After its destruction in the early 12th century BCE, Ugarit's location was forgotten until 1928 when a peasant accidentally opened an old tomb while ploughing a field. The discovered area was the necropolis of Ugarit located in the nearby seaport of Minet el-Beida. Excavations have since revealed a city with a prehistory reaching back to c. 6000 BCE. 

The Hurrian songs are a collection of music inscribed in cuneiform on clay tablets excavated from the ancient Amorite-Canaanite city of Ugarit, a headland in northern Syria, which date to approximately 1400 BCE. One of these tablets, which is nearly complete, contains that Hurrian Hymn to Nikkal (also known as the Hurrian cult hymn or A Zaluzi to the Gods, or simply h.6), making it the oldest surviving substantially complete work of notated music in the world. While the composers' names of some of the fragmentary pieces are known, h.6 is an anonymous work. The complete song is one of about 36 such hymns. 

The text of h.6 is difficult, in part because the Hurrian language itself is imperfectly understood, and in part because of small lacunae due to missing flakes of the clay tablet. In addition, however, it appears that the language is a local Ugarit dialect, which differs significantly from the dialects known from other sources. It is also possible that the pronunciation of some words was altered from normal speech because of the music.

The Entrance to the royal palace at Ugarit, where the Hurrian songs were found. Photo byu Disdero.

Below runs a version of that song - along with where we began - Just Like-wise a few paragraphs back, and includes where all these Just Like songs may lead to and from - Just My Imagination

"Just My Imagination (Running Away with Me)" is a song by American soul group The Temptations, written by Norman Whitfield and Barrett Strong. Released on the Gordy (Motown) label, and produced by Norman Whitfield, it features on the group's 1971 album, Sky's the Limit. When released as a single, "Just My Imagination" became the third Temptations song to reach number 1 on the US Billboard Hot 100. 

During the late 1960s and early 1970s, producer/composer Norman Whitfield and lyricist Barrett Strong crafted a string of "psychedelic soul" tracks for the Temptations. "Just My Imagination" was the result of one of the few times that Whitfield relented and produced a ballad as a single for the group. 

Norman Whitfield began the recording of "Just My Imagination" by preparing the song's instrumental track. Whitfield arranged and recorded the non-orchestral elements of the instrumental with Motown's studio band, The Funk Brothers, who for this recording included Eddie "Chank" Willis on guitar, Jack Ashford on marimba, Jack Brokensha on timpani, Andrew Smith on drums, and Bob Babbitt on bass. Jerry Long, an arranger who had previous experience with scoring films in Paris, worked on the orchestral arrangement and conducted several members of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra in performing the horns and strings for the recording. The Temptations had heard the Funk Brothers' tracks and loved them, but were "totally knocked out", according to Otis Williams, when they heard "the finished record with all the strings".

The Temptations added their vocals at Motown's Hitsville USA headquarters. While all five Temptations usually sang lead on singles during the psychedelic soul era, "Just My Imagination" is primarily a showcase for Eddie Kendricks, who sang lead on such Temptations hits as "Get Ready," "The Way You Do the Things You Do," and "You're My Everything"; in fact, this is the only Temptations hit in which Dennis Edwards did not have a lead vocal during his entire tenure with the group. The Temptations remained at Hitsville overnight recording "Just My Imagination," and while the other four members went home at six o'clock in the morning, Kendricks remained in the studio, spending several additional hours recording takes for his lead vocal.

The song was covered by the Rolling Stones on their Some Girls album and remains a much played favourite.

Hurrian Hymn 6b

by the Laurier Ancient Music Society

Text with video: 

Dating to about 1400 BC, this fragmentary hymn was found inscribed on cuneiform tablets near the Amorite city of Ugarit (Modern Syria) and is the oldest piece of music to be found in the archaeological record. The lyrics are not perfectly understood, but what is known is that it is a Hymn to the goddess Nikkal. Most interpretations of the text take it to be a prayer by a barren woman to the goddess for a child.

While initially indecipherable, the melody inscribed on the tablets (in a manner similar to that of guitar tab, albeit for a lyre) has been interpreted in recent years through cultural musicology. This means that the study of the folk songs of Ugarit's modern inhabitants has yielded clues to help us reconstruct these once-lost melodies. Interpretation is still extremely controversial though. 

This version is a slight variation on the interpretation done in 1998 by R.J. Dumbrill.

This video was taken at the Society's March 2014 concert.

The Jesus And Mary Chain - Just Like Honey

"Just Like Honey" is a song by the Scottish alternative rock band The Jesus and Mary Chain from their 1985 debut album Psychocandy. The track was released as the third single from the record through Blanco y Negro Records in September 1985 and was written by band members William Reid and Jim Reid.

The song appeared in several films, most notably in the closing scene of 2003's Lost In Translation, 2008's The Man Who Loved Yngve, 2014's The Curse of Styria, Netflix's series Glow Season 2 Episode 1, as well as a 2011 Volkswagen advertisement campaign. The beginning of the song uses the opening drum riff of The Ronettes' "Be My Baby".

Despite numerous claims by others as to what the meaning is in the song, the creators maintain; ''That’s just such a long time ago to remember why those lyrics came about.''

During 2015, when they were about to tour the US for a 30th anniversary of their first album, one of the Reid brothers, Jim, spoke to Rolling Stone, speaking about influences on the band when this album was made;

''The punk thing was a massive influence on the Mary Chain. After that, we got seriously into the Velvets and the Stooges. We weren’t very into what was going on in music in the Eighties. The bands that didn’t make us want to puke back then were the likes of the Birthday Party or Echo and the Bunnymen. Actually, it was the crap coming out of the radio that made us want to be in a band more than anything else...''


''Reverb is one of those things that, when you’re not used to making records, seems like the thing you use when you’ve not got loads of studio experience. I suppose we were into Sixties bands – like Sixties girl bands, and all that – and that’s kinda where all that came from.''

The Cure - Just Like Heaven

"Just Like Heaven" is a song by British alternative rock band the Cure. The group wrote most of the song during recording sessions in southern France in 1987. The lyrics were written by their frontman Robert Smith, who drew inspiration from a past trip to the sea shore with his future wife, Mary Poole. Smith's memories of the trip formed the basis for the song's accompanying music video. Before Smith had completed the lyrics, an instrumental version of the song was used as the theme for the French television show Les Enfants du Rock.

As Smith explained, "It meant the music would be familiar to millions of Europeans even before it was released". 

Structurally, Smith found what he had written was similar to the Only Ones's 1979 hit "Another Girl, Another Planet". When he brought an instrumental demo of the song to the album recording sessions in Southern France, Cure drummer Boris Williams increased the tempo and added an opening drum fill which inspired Smith to introduce each instrument singularly and in sequence.

"Just Like Heaven" was the third single released from their 1987 album Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me. Robert Smith said he considers "Just Like Heaven" to be one of the band's strongest works, and called it "the best pop song the Cure have ever done". 

The song has been praised by critics and covered by artists such as Dinosaur Jr. and Katie Melua. Smith has said he considers "Just Like Heaven" to be one of the band's strongest songs.

The Temptations - Just My Imagination (Live)

Art Of Ageing 2020 Exhibition Coming To Warringah Library In Spring

The Art of Ageing is an initiative under the NSW Ageing Strategy 2016–2020 to demonstrate the diversity and contributions of older people in NSW. Art of Ageing 2020 opened on  March 3rd 2020.  This exciting exhibition will tour to 45 sites across NSW and will be available at Warringah Library from September 29th to October 28th 2020.

The Art of Ageing is a photographic exhibition that celebrates the value, experience and contribution older people bring, and challenges out-dated perceptions of ageing.

The 2020 exhibition comprises of 24  images taken by talented NSW photographers. Each photograph is accompanied by a short story highlighting the subject's experiences and reflections on ageing.

Accomplished and unconventional perhaps best describes the many diverse individuals in this exhibition. These extraordinary people have carved out an interesting life for themselves that keeps them young. Let them inspire you to live life to the fullest.

You can view all of the photos in the online version by clicking into each of the frames here. 

Addressing ageism is a priority of the NSW Ageing Strategy. Ageism is negative stereotyping, prejudice, or discrimination against people based on their age, and it is experienced by many older people in NSW. Ageism takes form within individuals’ attitudes, institutional and policy practices, as well as media representation that devalues and excludes older people.

During consultations undertaken for the NSW Ageing Strategy, older people expressed concerns that younger people do not value or respect them. This is consistent with research by the Australian Human Rights Commission, which found a high prevalence of negative attitudes and stereotyping of older people. The report linked these attitudes with the high rates of age discrimination older people experience.

The NSW Government is committed to addressing ageism by supporting initiatives that improve respect for and social inclusion of older people – particularly those that promote positive images of older people in the media, educate younger generations, provide opportunities for intergenerational connection and recognise older people’s contributions to their communities.

The feedback received from the attendees to the previous exhibitions showed that it successfully challenged negative perceptions of ageing and older people, while inspiring a positive vision of ageing.
The photos capture a diverse range of unconventional and accomplished subjects - a retired panel beater, a regarded viticulturist, a diver with disability and an actor with a long list of credits.

The exhibition is the third in the series commissioned by the NSW Government and features works by talented photographers Kerri Ambler, Tina Milson, Julie Slavin, Tim White, Trevor Green and Tayla Martin.

One example available - Andrew Whitehead b. 1958
Well-recognised sculpture artist, Andrew Whitehead, works at his property near Urana producing incredible artworks that have been shipped around Australia and internationally, with 12 public artworks on display across the country.

‘I began a mechanical apprenticeship at 40 years of age at the local shire where I worked for 10 years. That’s where I learnt to weld. I started going to the back shed and building things. I entered my first sculpture in the Farm Art Show in Lockhart, 10 years ago, where I won. I pretty much entered every year since then.’

Speaking with Andrew, he stated that his career has only just started, ‘I’m only about one-third of the way into my career.’

Visit the Online Exhibition of Art of Ageing 2020 at: 

Warringah Library
Westfield Warringah Mall, Shop 650, 145 Old Pittwater Road, Brookvale
29 Sept – 28 October 2020

Photo: Andrew Whitehead by T Martin.

'It really sucks': how some Year 12 students in Queensland feel about 2020

Donna PendergastGriffith University and Sarah PrestridgeGriffith University

With a little over three months to go, Year 12 students have their sights set on the last major hurdle that will see them complete their final year of school — exams.

What a year it has been for them. All students have experienced disruption, some for many weeks with learning at home rolled out around the nation in its various forms.

Senior induction days celebrated early this year promised a very different experience for these now young adults as their rite-of-passage year slowly changed into one of postponed and finally cancelled events.

We conducted a series of interviews at the end of the first semester with eight Year 12 students from one Queensland school, who hope to study at university. Six were female and two male.

Many students said they were anxious about how COVID-19 has affected their senior year.

One girl said she was

super overwhelmed and uncertain as to how my results will be affected […] I am nervous for the future […] to be honest I am a little bit down[…] I was extremely excited for senior year[…] there is also a lot of chaos in the world, which is pretty overwhelming.

But some were more positive. One commented on “having fantastic teachers”, while another said he was “excited to use technology more”.

Here is what else the students we spoke with had to say about their experience in 2020 and their aspirations for university in 2021.

How They Felt

As the parent of a Year 12 student, I have had the chance to sit alongside some Year 12s and witness their journey. Like many other parents and teachers, we have been privy to their disappointments and seemingly endless capacity to pivot, adapt and recalibrate — their resilience and resolve is inspiring.

Read more: 'Exhausted beyond measure': what teachers are saying about COVID-19 and the disruption to education

Because this is their year, they must make it the best it can be. But for some the resolve is wearing thin. Almost all the students in our survey expressed a sense of loss about their school year.

One girl said

we are missing out on a lot of these opportunities as well as being able to spend time with my friends at school

And another girl expressed that

it really sucks that we have already missed out on events throughout the school and we are uncertain for how long this will last.

One girl said the class of 2020 was

disadvantaged because many memories that we are meant to be making together in our senior year has been taken away from us.

Three girls lying on towels on the beach and taking a selfie.
Many Year 12 students feel they have missed out on important memories. Shutterstock

This highlights the important final year of schooling as a milestone — a rite of passage.

Only one student, who was male, had a contrary view of missing out on a normal year, saying

it’s a great opportunity to relieve myself of many commitments and free up time to work on other endeavours — in other words, I feel pretty good about it.

What About University?

This year Queensland joined the rest of the country in calculating an ATAR for university entry, whereas before they used a different system.

We asked students if they had concerns about university in 2021. One girl summarised many of the responses by saying

I think everyone is a little bit worried about how we will be affected as a cohort — not just because of Covid-19 but also because we are the first year level through on the new ATAR system. That was already pretty overwhelming in terms of new assessment, new university entry calculations, etc. I think that the biggest worry/uncertainty is if universities are going to be a bit more flexible with our cohort.

Students also suggested they are looking to universities to make up some of their lost experiences. One girl said

the class of 2020 will need supportive universities with a close sense of community when we attend in 2021 to make up for some of our lost lasts.

There is a sense of shared experience, a kind of bonding these students expressed, with several comments such as we are “staying positive and looking to the future” and “we just need to look after each other”.

Read more: Every Victorian Year 12 student will have COVID-19 factored into their grade — we should do it for all Australian students

Perhaps endurance and resilience have become a necessary part of the DNA of the class of 2020. These are positive behaviours that will see them through their next phase of education.The Conversation

Donna Pendergast, Dean, School of Educational and Professional Studies, Griffith University and Sarah Prestridge, Senior Lecturer, Griffith University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Google's 'open letter' is trying to scare Australians. The company simply doesn't want to pay for news

Belinda BarnetSwinburne University of Technology

If you went to use Google yesterday, you may have been met with a pop-up, warning that the tech giant’s functionality was “at risk” from new Australian government regulation.

Google Australia’s managing director, Mel Silva, wrote an open letter in response to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) News Media Bargaining Code, which would require Google (and Facebook) to negotiate “fair payment” for Australian news content published on their services.

The letter, pinned to the Google homepage, claims the code would force Google “to provide you with a dramatically worse Google Search and YouTube”. The ACCC has already labelled several of the letter’s statements as “misinformation”.

It seems Google isn’t keen to set a global precedent by paying Australian news outlets for their content. Google claims the ACCC’s proposed code is disastrous, for a variety of reasons.

Its letter is part of a campaign designed to scare Australian web users. Don’t fall for it.

Hordes of people took to social media to express dismay and confusion about the unexpected prompt. Screenshot

Google’s Claims Don’t Stack Up

First, Google is objecting to a specific part of the legislation designed to stop it downranking (or refusing to list) news content if Google has to pay for it.

This is precisely how Google responded when similar legislation was introduced in Spain. Google changed its search results and even shut some outlets out completely to avoid paying for news content.

The ACCC is heading that off at the pass. The legislation states if Google intends to change the search ranking of a news organisation, for example by downranking that outlet’s stories in Google’s search results, it must give the organisation 28 days’ notice of this change.

Read more: In a world first, Australia plans to force Facebook and Google to pay for news (but ABC and SBS miss out)

The open letter claims this is unfair and would help news outlets “artificially inflate their ranking over everyone else”.

When asked how this was this case, a Google spokesperson told The Conversation the code would require the company to “give all news media businesses advance notice of algorithm changes and explain how they can minimise the effects”.

They said this provision would “seriously damage” Google’s products and user experience and impact its ability to provide users the most relevant results.

However, this claim doesn’t bear logical scrutiny. Notifying a news company of its impending downranking would not give it an unfair advantage, as no other types of content providers would be targeted for demotion anyway.

It would simply warn the outlet if Google was about to drop them down in search results, or boot them off altogether. The 28 days’ notice requirement is an insurance policy in case Google retaliates by deciding to simply downrank media outlets demanding payment for content. That’s why Google hates it.

It’s tempting to conclude that Google is simply trying to gaslight its users by sowing doubt about the wisdom of the new regulations – because it doesn’t want to pay.

Actively Misleading Users

Google’s open letter went on to claim Australians might experience data privacy violations if it’s forced to hand advertising data over to “big news businesses”.

Setting aside for a minute the fact that Google is trying to play the “little guy” here, which is laughable, let’s first look at why this is also a falsehood.

The proposed code states Google would have to share data collected about users’ engagement with news content with news media outlets. For example, this would include details about the specific articles a user has clicked on from that outlet, or how long they were reading it for.

Read more: The ACCC is suing Google for misleading millions. But calling it out is easier than fixing it

This is exactly the kind of data media outlets (including The Conversation) already collect from readers on their own platforms. Yet Google’s letter claims “there’s no way of knowing if any data handed over would be protected, or how it might be used by news media businesses”.

This is pretty rich coming from one of the world’s most data hungry companies, and one of its most prolific privacy violators.

In a further statement to The Conversation, Google’s spokesperson added:

The code requires Google to tell news media businesses what user data we collect, what data we supply to them and ‘how the registered news business corporation can gain access to’ that data which we don’t supply to them … This goes beyond the current level of data sharing between Google and news publishers.

But Google itself has oceans of information about its users’ searches, habits and preferences. In fact, the ACCC is currently pursuing Google over alleged privacy violations in a separate lawsuit.

Google Is Not The Underdog Here

Finally, Google’s open letter ends with the veiled threat its free services may be “at risk” if the proposed ACCC code becomes law.

Google’s spokesperson told The Conversation that Google “did not intend to charge users for [its] free services”.

“What we did say is that Search and YouTube, both of which are free services, are at risk in Australia,” they said.

Google is now a trillion-dollar company. Its parent company Alphabet earned US$46 billion in worldwide advertising revenue in 2019’s last quarter alone.

Google claiming its free services for Australians are “at risk” if it has to return a tiny fraction to the companies that actually provide news content – well, I’m sceptical of all the claims in the letter, but this one takes the cake.The Conversation

Belinda Barnet, Senior Lecturer in Media and Communications, Swinburne University of Technology

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Instagram is the home of pretty pictures. Why are people flocking to it for news?
Dr Laura GlitsosEdith Cowan University

We know Instagram is the most influential app when it comes to lifestyle and beauty trends.

But recent research shows increasing numbers of people are also going to Instagram for their news. A report by the Reuters Institute found the use of Instagram for news has doubled across all age groups since 2018.

It is now set to overtake Twitter as a news source in the coming year, with younger people in particular embracing Instagram for their news.

What Is ‘Insta’?

Instagram is a social media platform where users post photos with captions, with an estimated one billion active users around the world.

The Reuters report found Instagram reaches 11% of people of all ages for news, based on survey results for 12 countries, including Australia.

But the embrace of the platform for news is particularly pronounced for young people. For example, in April, 24% of 18-24 year olds in the United Kingdom used Instagram to find out about COVID-19. This compares with 26% in the United States.

Australians were not polled for this particular question, but a 2020 Australian study of school students found 49% of teenagers surveyed got their news from Instagram.

Instagram is certainly viewed as a younger person’s platform, as opposed to Facebook, which is seen to be for older people. Those between 18 and 34 make up about 63 per cent of Instagram users worldwide.

Instagram users can receive news stories and updates by following another user and then seeing what they post by scrolling through their feed. Alternatively, users can search via a hashtag.

Why Are Young People Choosing Instagram For News?

Those under about 35 have grown up with mobile and social media as the norm. So it follows they interact with news and current events in a radically different way from previous generations, or even news consumers a decade ago.

Read more: We live in an age of 'fake news'. But Australian children are not learning enough about media literacy

Recent research suggests young people think that rather than going to dedicated sources for their news - like a newspaper or TV bulletin - the news will come to them. So, important information “finds them” anyway, through their general media use, peers and social connections.

Another key difference with older news consumers is that younger people are “prosumers”. Not only do they read the news, they can actually produce it and join in what’s trending. Sometimes, this may be by simply sharing a post with extra commentary and opinion. At other times, users might take an image or video and edit it in order to make and share a meme that relates to the content.

Order In A Chaotic World

Amid global chaos and uncertainty, Instagram offers up the world as a stable, structured, and highly stylised.

Instagram is less chaotic than other social media platforms because of the actual interface design. That is, the focus is almost purely on aesthetics - on the beauty and impact of the image using filters and tools. This type of media consumption soothes instead of provoking anxiety. In some senses, it simplifies and streamlines the chaos of the world.

Woman's hands holding a smart phone with Instagram images.
Instagram has a simple interface, built for mobile use.

Instagram’s ability to simplify and “organise” the world resonates with another finding of the Reuters report - Instagram has become even more important with younger groups for accessing news about COVID-19.

The Power Of Influencers

Instagram is home to “influencers” - high-profile users who are considered to be style and opinion leaders. While they can influence the products we buy, or the places we travel to, they can also influence the information we consume.

This becomes even more important in times of crisis. It is comforting to seek out narratives or perspectives from people we know and trust.

In the case of news media, Instagram gives young people what feels like a direct and personal line to their role models. In this respect, so does Twitter, but again, the interface of Instagram is simpler. On Instagram, what might be complex and confusing issues are condensed down to images.

Recent research also suggests Instagram users prefer “lighter” and “less-demanding” types of interaction with online news.

What Does This Mean For News Consumption?

The implications of the move towards “Insta-news” are complex. One concern is the way people can curate their own reality, because they can shape their feed so they only see what they want. They can unfollow or block what they do not like.

Read more: Pivot to coronavirus: how meme factories are crafting public health messaging

In some senses, this can sense of control is positive. However, this also means people are essentially constructing what they want the world to look like. This leads to “filter bubbles”, where people become “cut off” from other, perhaps more challenging, ideas.

Western culture is essentially “ocularcentric”. In other words, we are obsessed with images. And we are more likely to believe things we can see. As a result, news consumers may be less inclined to challenge or critique what they see on Instagram. Even though they need to be doing this online more than ever.

The dangers of fake followers, fake accounts and fake news are already well-known on social media. Last year, Institut Polytechnique de Paris researchers found 4,000 fake accounts in a targeted sample on Instagram.

Good-Looking News In A Hostile World

For young people seeking solace from the hostility and pressure of news events, Instagram provides a space filled with good-looking visual stimulation, often from people they like and trust.

And as the Reuters report noted - Instagram may not be everything. Social media are generally used “in combination” with other types of news information.

But as increasing numbers of people turn to Instagram for their news, the question remains: is this the news they need, or simply the news they want to see?

Read more: Pastel colours and serif fonts: is Annastacia Palaszczuk trying to be an Instagram influencer? The Conversation

Dr Laura Glitsos, Lecturer in Arts and Humanities, Edith Cowan University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

10 years on, Inception remains Christopher Nolan's most complex and intellectual film

Warner Bros
Daryl SparkesUniversity of Southern Queensland

Ten years on from its release, and hitting cinemas again, Christopher Nolan’s Inception still puzzles and intrigues.

It is one of those films in which you discover something new each time you watch it. Or, more likely, it makes you reinterpret what you thought you already knew.

Nolan’s oeuvre builds complex paradoxes of time, space and dimension. Memento (2000) and Insomnia (2002) deal with the order of time; The Prestige (2006) deals with the illusion of space; Interstellar (2014) moves through multi-dimensions.

Inception goes one step further, exploring the manipulation and distortion of all three states. It is a narrative set in the subconscious.

Nolan’s other films are set within a real world framework. It is uniquely Inception that moves into the unreal dream dimension. As in Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) and David Lynch’s Eraserhead (1977) and Mulholland Drive (2001), Nolan explores not a singular subconscious world but billions of worlds interconnected.

Read more: The Matrix 20 years on: how a sci-fi film tackled big philosophical questions

It takes an astute viewer to realise what world you are in (are you in the real or unreal, are you in the mind of this character or that one?) throughout the film.

The Complex Subconscious

Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio) is a professional thief, stealing information directly from his targets’ subconscious minds. As a payment for implanting ideas into someone else’s subconscious, he can have his own criminal history erased.

At the beginning of the film, Cobb says:

I know how to search your mind and find your secrets. I know the tricks, and I can teach them to your subconscious so that even when you’re asleep, your guard is never down.

This could well be Nolan’s secret to the film.

Everything you see is a trick. Inception plays constantly with reality and the dream state. Nolan drops visual clues throughout the film, forcing the viewer to become a cinematic investigator to unravel his message.

It seems even Nolan realises how difficult it is to understand the film’s universe and narrative. He constantly resorts to large blocks of exposition to explain what we have seen, or what is happening – or going to happen.

Read more: How do you know you're not living in a computer simulation?

With any other film you’d think this was a big mistake, but in Inception this exposition is a necessary road map to deciphering the mysteries of its increasingly complicated subconscious world.

Even Nolan himself can lose track on this road map, as he told Wired:

One of the things you do as a writer and as a filmmaker is grasp for resonant symbols and imagery without necessarily fully understanding it yourself.

Movie still, a group of people look out over a city bending in on itself.
Every time you watch Inception you will come away with a different understanding of the story Nolan is trying to tell. Warner Bros


Perhaps the greatest trick of all in this film is that by its end you question if you have even been in any true reality (at least in terms of the cinematic world it depicts) – or did we just leap from one subconscious mind to the other?

It’s still a point of discussion among fans. The Inception subreddit gets daily questions about how to unpack the film. New theories about the different realities are constantly being put forward.

But don’t let Nolan’s complex storytelling or technical wizardry blind you. In all of his films, family is the main motivator for each of the central characters. Family drives the story forward.

Read more: On Interstellar and 'real physics'

Both Memento and The Prestige have obsessive compulsive main characters who are driven to avenge their dead wives. In Interstellar, Cooper (Matthew McConaughey) is brought back from the brink by his daughter. In Inception, Cobb becomes separated from his children because of his criminality and it is his love for them that motivates the entire story.

Movie still, Mal and Cobb on a beach.
At the centre of all of Nolan’s movies is a story of love. Warner Bros

Without these familial foundations, Nolan’s films would be smart but they would have no soul. Each of the main protagonists is well aware of what is motivating their redemptive actions. The ends justify the means – murder, mayhem, misery - as long as the end is love.

Playing With Paradoxes

Inception is by far Nolan’s most complex film and arguably his most intellectual, with its questions of where does the real world end and the subconscious begin?

It is also visually stunning, with a whole street exploding or a hallway spinning 360 degrees, making the characters appear to defy gravity. These are not computer graphics, but effects created live on set.

While all of Nolan’s films end very neatly and satisfactorily, Inception’s is highly ambiguous. The spinning top at the beginning of the film, which represents the dream world, still spins at the end. Does that mean the whole film has taken place in the subconscious and nothing we have seen is real?

Inception’s re-release comes just two weeks before Nolan’s new film, Tenet, hits cinemas after delays due to COVID-19. Tenet appears to be another mind trip where time, space and dimensional paradoxes are a large part of the narrative.

Watching Inception will attune your skills of observation and interpretation and prepare you for Tenet. But, as with any Nolan film, don’t take anything at face value.

As Cobb would say: Nolan knows the tricks.

Inception is in select cinemas from todayThe Conversation

Daryl Sparkes, Senior Lecturer (Media Studies and Production), University of Southern Queensland

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Book Of The Month August 2020: Life Of Charles Dickens

by Mackenzie, R. Shelton (Robert Shelton), 1809-1880; Dickens, Charles, 1812-1870

Publication date 1870

Stay Healthy During The HSC

In any ‘normal’ year the HSC requires dedication and focus as well as the support of friends and family.

This year hasn’t exactly panned out to be a ‘normal’ year, with announcements about changes to the HSC due to COVID-19.

Despite all the goings-on, students across NSW are continuing to study for their HSC with focus and determination, and we at NESA are here to help.

This year we are partnering with mental health organisation ReachOut to deliver news, information, guidance and advice to support all HSC students.

You’ll hear from experts, teachers, parents and other students as well as some inspiring spokespeople. This year we are planning to lighten your mental load with practical tips and tricks for staying active, connected and in charge of your wellbeing.

ReachOut’s Study Hub has heaps of info about taking a proactive approach to your mental health or where to go if you need more support. ReachOut’s Forums are great for sharing what’s going on for you and get ideas about the best ways to feel happy and well.

So follow and use #StayHealthyHSC for regular health and wellbeing updates and information.

View our range of social media images, posters and flyer to help you get involved and share the Stay Healthy HSC message with your community.

Low Humidity Increases COVID-19 Risk: Another Reason To Wear A Mask

August 18, 2020
A University of Sydney study focused on the Greater Sydney area during the early epidemic stage of COVID-19 found an association between lower humidity and an increase in community transmission.

Now a second study by the same team confirms the risk.

The study is published today in Transboundary and Emerging Diseases.

The research led by Professor Michael Ward, an epidemiologist in the Sydney School of Veterinary Science at the University of Sydney, and two researchers from our partner institution Fudan University School of Public Health in Shanghai, China, is the second peer-reviewed study of a relationship between weather conditions and COVID-19 in Australia.

"This second study adds to a growing body of evidence that humidity is a key factor in the spread of COVID-19," Professor Ward said.

Lower humidity can be defined as "dryer air." The study estimated that for a 1 percent decrease in relative humidity, COVID-19 cases might increase by 7-8 percent.

The estimate is about a 2-fold increase in COVID-19 notifications for a 10 percent drop in relative humidity.

"Dry air appears to favour the spread of COVID-19, meaning time and place become important," he said. "Accumulating evidence shows that climate is a factor in COVID-19 spread, raising the prospect of seasonal disease outbreaks."

Why humidity matters
Professor Ward said there are biological reasons why humidity matters in transmission of airborne viruses.

"When the humidity is lower, the air is drier and it makes the aerosols smaller," he said, adding that aerosols are smaller than droplets. "When you sneeze and cough those smaller infectious aerosols can stay suspended in the air for longer. That increases the exposure for other people. When the air is humid and the aerosols are larger and heavier, they fall and hit surfaces quicker.

"This suggests the need for people to wear a mask, both to prevent infectious aerosols escaping into the air in the case of an infectious individual, and exposure to infectious aerosols in the case of an uninfected individual," Professor Ward said.

Key findings:
  • Additional evidence from the Sydney COVID-19 epidemic has confirmed cases to be associated with humidity
  • Reduced humidity was found in several different regions of Sydney to be consistently linked to increased cases
  • The same link was not found for other weather factors -- rainfall, temperature or wind
  • Climatic conditions conducive to the spread of COVID-19 present a challenge to public health.
Further research
Further studies on humidity for the remainder of the year are needed to determine how the humidity relationship works and the extent to which it drives COVID-19 case notification rates.

Journal References:
  1. Michael P. Ward, Shuang Xiao, Zhijie Zhang. Humidity is a consistent climatic factor contributing to SARS‐CoV‐2 transmission. Transboundary and Emerging Diseases, 2020; DOI: 10.1111/tbed.13766
  2. Michael P. Ward, Shuang Xiao, Zhijie Zhang. The role of climate during the COVID‐19 epidemic in New South Wales, Australia. Transboundary and Emerging Diseases, 2020; DOI: 10.1111/tbed.13631

How To Reduce Offshore Supply Chain Risks And Create Onshore Manufacturing Opportunities

August 18, 2020
by Ebony Stansfield, UNSW
Business leaders, community groups and politicians across the politician spectrum have called for Australia to build up its domestic manufacturing capability during the Coronavirus pandemic.

With unprecedented closures of international borders and restrictions in overseas markets, Australia’s over-reliance upon global imports revealed a gap in our supply chains.

In the modern globalised world, it is difficult to disentangle the issue of trade with onshore manufacturing, says Arpita Chatterjee, a Senior Lecturer in the School of Economics at UNSW Business School.

“This is because hardly any final product we consume is manufactured in just one given location because of the prevalence of global supply chains,” says Dr Chatterjee.

Also, she says we need to remember high wage for low-skilled labor are not the only issue for manufacturing in Australia – the Australian domestic market is relatively small and far from the rest of the world. On the upside, Australia has a highly innovative scientific community, strong education sector, modern agriculture and infrastructure.

“Having this access to larger markets and cheaper labour in return for scientific innovations and more specialised high-skill intensive component manufacturing can form the basis of a gainful exchange with the world economy,” says Dr Chatterjee.

However, she believes this has been undervalued by Australia’s leaders, who have instead been reliant on the resources sector rather than encouraging entrepreneurship in the technologies of the future.

The government needs to actively engage with the scientific community and encourage entrepreneurship and build affiliate partnerships in emerging Asia, which she says will be critical to Australia’s future role in the world.

Where does trade come into this?
“A more integrated culture of scientific innovations and manufacturing capabilities along with trade partnerships will define our future,” says Dr Chatterjee.

Trade is not and does not have to a zero-sum game, and she explains that all partners can benefit from strategic alliances built on the principles of comparative advantage.

“Australia should focus on tying up with countries with low cost of labour in the region – South East and South Asia – such that the key innovations are developed in Australia.” She suggests the low-skilled labour-intensive parts be manufactured in these countries with the high-skilled/more sophisticated components manufactured in Australia. With the possibility of the final product assembled in some of these countries in the Indo-Pacific region, and then jointly marketed all over the world.

Dr Chatterjee says Australia has the capability to integrate into the global supply chain as the R&D and high-skill manufacturing hub in partnership with the Indo-Pacific region.

She believes a push for large-scale, low-skill manufacturing – such as textiles, apparel, footwear, for example – would not be a very realistic or ambitious goal for Australia.

“If some of these parts of the supply chain relocate from China in the future, it is likely to shift to countries like Vietnam or Bangladesh rather than to countries like Australia.”

But there are many areas where Australia can provide intellectual R&D leadership and manufacturing capability, such as healthcare products, pharmaceutical industry, agricultural innovations in water scarce environments, possibly some food-processing industries, solar technology and marine (wave) energy.

“There is no reason why Scotland can be a global leader in marine energy and Australia cannot,” Dr Chatterjee says.

How could Australia achieve this?
It is important to focus on niche products where Australia’s scientific prowess can innovate and produce key components, which are then augmented and assembled offshore – but jointly marketed, says Dr Chatterjee.

She says a recent example of this is the Israel-India partnership which focuses on developing quick tests for COVID-19.

Another ambitious area for Australia could be around innovation and the manufacturing of affordable electric vehicles such as electric bikes and three-wheelers, passenger vehicles and goods transport – “in partnership with countries in emerging Asia where they are increasingly adopting an electric vehicle policy for the future”, says Dr Chatterjee.

Another area of immense potential for Australia is telemedicine and online education in emerging Asia, “given Australia’s reputation in these sectors and suitable time zone differences with the Indo-Pacific region”.

With regard to China, Dr Chatterjee says Australia needs to look beyond current trade tensions and geopolitics. China is now the world’s second largest economy with rising labour costs, and Dr Chatterjee explains it is a natural evolution for many low-cost manufacturing components to shift from China in the near future.

“But, that’s not necessarily where Australia can carve out a space for itself,” says Dr Chatterjee.

Niche products based on scientific innovation, key component manufacturing onshore, large scale manufacturing and assembly in low-cost regions of the world and joint marketing are “where I see a future,” she says.

“Australian politicians, entrepreneurs and scientists need to be in this battle together to herald a brighter future in the post-COVID global economy.”

Ruby Princess Special Commission Of Inquiry

August 17, 2020
The NSW Government would like to thank Commissioner Bret Walker SC and his team for their work on the Special Commission of Inquiry into the Ruby Princess.  

The NSW Government extends its heartfelt apology to anyone who experienced any additional hurt, stress and trauma due to the mistakes made by NSW Health.

NSW Health has acted immediately to address the failures identified by Mr Walker to ensure the errors are not repeated. 

The NSW Government will work closely with the Commonwealth to adopt all recommendations made by Mr Walker.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian said the report identified a number of concerning mistakes. 

“Over the weekend I reviewed the Report of the Special Commission of Inquiry into the Ruby Princess, and it is clear mistakes were made by NSW Health and others,” Ms Berejiklian said.

“I recognise the hurt and suffering these mistakes caused, and I apologise for that.

“These issues occurred during an extraordinary time of great uncertainty, and as we navigate this pandemic we will continue to learn from mistakes and where we could have done better.

“We have learned from the Ruby Princess and the public can have confidence we will avoid such a situation occurring again.”

Mr Walker’s report found a number of mistakes were made by public health officials but he also noted: 

“They were diligent, and properly organised. There are no ‘systemic’ failures to address. Put simply, despite the best efforts of all, some serious mistakes were made.”

Ms Berejiklian said given the ongoing pandemic, she expected the recommendations relating to NSW to be implemented as soon as possible, and work to begin immediately with the Federal Government on the other recommendations.

Naming Sydney's Third City

The Western Sydney community will be given the chance to have their say on part of the naming of Sydney’s third city, which will be the beating heart of the Western Sydney Aerotropolis.  

The area to be named is more than 100 hectares of land that will become home to research, science and education facilities as part of the first stage of the Aerotropolis Core precinct. It is located north of Bringelly and needs a new name to reflect its new future.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian said the naming process to be carried out will find a unique name which will forever define Australia’s first 22nd Century City on the doorstep of the Western Sydney International (Nancy-Bird Walton) Airport.

“Until now we have been referring to the area as the ‘Aerotropolis Core’, but with the city quickly moving from a vision to a reality now is the time for it to be given a real place name,” Ms Berejiklian said.

“The area to be named is the parcel of land which will be the CBD of the Aerotropolis and we want its name to be as iconic as the existing major city centres of ‘Sydney’ and ‘Parramatta’.

“Whatever it is ultimately called after the naming process, this part of Greater Sydney’s third city will be a key driver of economic growth, jobs and opportunities across NSW and the nation for generations to come.”

Minister for Jobs, Investment, Tourism and Western Sydney Stuart Ayres said as part of the naming process the community will be consulted and asked to nominate potential names for the new city.

“We want the community to help us come up with a list of names that reflect the area’s heritage, recognise people who have contributed to NSW or honour significant figures with ties to Western Sydney,” Mr Ayres said.

“A naming committee comprising of the Premier, myself, DPC Secretary Tim Reardon and Western Parkland City Authority Chair Jennifer Westacott will consider the options and make a final decision.”

Suggest a name for Sydney's third city by Sunday 20 September 2020.

To find out more and submit your suggestion, visit Name The Place

NSW Government Backs Exporters To Go Global

August 17, 2020
Small and medium-sized businesses and regional communities across the state are set to benefit from a coordinated NSW Government push to showcase local products and develop global export sales. 

Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional NSW, Industry and Trade John Barilaro today launched the NSW Government’s $12 million Going Global Package which includes grants of up to $10,000 for eligible businesses through the Export Assistance Grant scheme.

“Helping home-grown businesses succeed in the global marketplace is more important than ever before and here in NSW we have some of the best produce in the world,” Mr Barilaro said.

“That is why the NSW Government is coordinating export assistance across a range of initiatives including market tailored workshops, business matching and exporter grants of up to $10,000.

“We are promoting NSW businesses globally, just like we promote our fantastic regional products state-wide through our Buy Regional campaign.

“Our Export Assistance Grants, together with intensive, direct assistance through the Going Global program will complement existing support and advice services to forge new business connections and sales offshore.”

The Going Global Package includes:
  • a $1.8 million Going Global program which will provide export coaching, networking and in-market assistance for export-ready firms. The initiative includes 15 tailored programs covering nine markets and ten sectors.
  • a $10 million Export Assistance Grant scheme reimbursing 50 per cent of eligible expenses up to a maximum of $10,000 per eligible business
  • connections to international consumers via the Buy Regional Goes Global initiative
  • online webinars to help businesses upskill
  • ongoing support through the NSW Government’s network of trade advisors in regional locations and Sydney, and its international trade and investment offices around the world
  • access to information on the Global NSW website
  • other support, tools and resources available online.
Treasurer Dominic Perrottet said trade would be vital to restoring growth after COVID-19, with exports making up 16 per cent of the state economy before the global pandemic.

“We know our exporters have faced big hurdles in recent months, especially in regional areas also affected by bushfires and drought,” Mr Perrottet said.

“Applications for the Going Global program can be submitted now, and the Export Assistance Grants application will be available soon. I urge small and medium-sized firms in regional areas and across NSW to apply.”

Graham Gilmore from Black Springs-based agribusiness TattyKeel, said exporting was a great way for regional businesses to stay competitive and build resilience, despite the challenges of COVID-19.

“We’re a family farm that’s changing the boundaries. We’re doing R&D and we’re actually creating a new product that’s got some pretty unique eating qualities,” Mr Gilmore said.

“Developing markets overseas is an important part of our plan to support that work.”

TattyKeel’s innovative new brand Margra Lamb is among the enterprises profiled in Buy Regional.

In addition to the initiatives announced today, export advisors remain available to assist business in regional locations throughout the state and, under the Global NSW strategy, the government is expanding its network of trade and investment offices around the world from 11 to 21. The Buy Regional platform will continue to promote regional businesses and exporters.

More information is available on NSW Export Assistance Package

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.