Inbox and Environment News: Issue 529

March 6 - 12, 2022: Issue 529

Avalon Beach 100 Years 100 Trees - Branching Out 

Canopy Keepers is back with another 100 native tubestock to give away later this month as Avalon Beach Centenary celebrations continue - but this time the group is branching out to residents across Pittwater. 

CK spokesperson Deb Collins said the group had been delighted with the response to its first offering of 100 trees at the opening of celebrations for the naming of Avalon Beach on December 4, with residents claiming more than 120 young plants. 

“This time we're branching out, spreading the love wider, and inviting new Canopy Keepers from Narrabeen to Palm Beach, from The Basin to Scotland Island to join us in strengthening our precious canopy,” Ms Collins said.  

“Did you know that for canopy trees and wildlife to thrive they need an understorey and ground cover and that eucalypts grow better with wattles nearby ? 

“So whether you have room for a tall, mid storey or ground cover plant, please sign up, then come and meet us on this auspicious autumn day so you can take home a plant to support our canopy.”  

Ms Collins asked those interested to please register online using the link below. The deadline for signing up for a tree is noon on March 12 - although some stock will be available on the day. 

“Then find us at Dunbar Park to collect your tubestock on Saturday March 19 under our own canopy,” she said. 

“We’ll have knowledgeable people on hand to help you with the best choice of tree for your location.” 

Canopy Keepers thanks the Northern Beaches Council for its support of this initiative. 

To sign up in advance for a tree please go to this link: 

To make enquiries please email 

To learn more about Canopy Keepers go to and sign up for our newsletter. 

For general enquires about the March 19 program, please email Ros Marsh at

VALE Colin (Col) Dudgeon 

In November last year the UNSW School of Civil and Environmental Engineering sadly farewelled one of our legendary founding staff, ex Water Research Laboratory Director (1987-1993), Colin (Col) Dudgeon - a gifted scholar and engineer, a mentor, an inventor, an adventurer, a storyteller, and a wonderful colleague.

Colin Dudgeon 1932-2021

Colin Raymond Dudgeon was born in Lismore on 21 December 1932. He was the third of four boys born to Fred (a carpenter) and Allison Dudgeon (nee Duncan). Both sets of grandparents lived on farms, and many happy holidays were spent with them. Colin was academically gifted and graduated in 1949 as Dux of Lismore High School. In his final year he was school Vice-Captain, Vice-Captain of the rugby firsts team, and a lieutenant in the cadets. Colin was awarded a scholarship to study engineering down in Sydney at the recently established New South Wales University of Technology (now UNSW).

Colin graduated with First Class Honours and was top of his year in Civil Engineering in 1954. At that time all classes were held at Sydney Technical College campus in Ultimo where the Civil Engineering degree had started in 1948. 

Early engineering and other adventures 
After graduating, Colin commenced his career in Civil Engineering with the Water Resources Commission. With practical skills honed from his early years growing up in semi-rural Northern Rivers, he was ideally suited to roaming regional New South Wales, with the Land Rover bursting with the requisite survey and hydrometric equipment alongside his carefully packed Cadet’s 22 rifle. Pre-takeaway days, a young engineer’s gourmet food source might include an unlucky wood duck or rabbit.

In search of adventure Col joined the crew on a yacht delivery run across the Indian Ocean to the United Kingdom, departing Sydney in April 1956. Beyond Brisbane and Thursday Island, they sailed to Dili, East Timor then to Koepang, West Timor, but soon after the crew thought the skipper to be going mad. They decided to sail directly across the Indian Ocean for the British colony of Mauritius where they finally abandoned both skipper and yacht. They spent about six months stuck in Madagascar, trekking, camping out and sleeping in villages. Eventually they met and befriended the British honorary consul, a Frenchman who organised for them to join the French Foreign Legion as the members of a battalion returning to Marseilles from Indo-China. They were on the last ship to transit the Suez Canal before the first Suez crisis.  After deserting in Marseilles, they finally made their way to the UK.

Col found himself a job with an engineering consultant on a somewhat grim posting at a UK defense facility located in the windswept heath country lying along the English / Scottish border. Here he met and married Agnes. Colin returned to Sydney with his new bride in 1958, and in 1959, re-joined UNSW as a young academic in Civil Engineering. 

Life at the early School
Based at the very recently established Water Research Laboratory (WRL) at Manly Vale – Col was one of the ‘WRL originals’ – working with School and water industry legends Crawford Munro and Rupert Vallentine.

Project investigations for government and industry had already commenced at the School in 1957 with a flood model study commissioned by the Launceston Flood Protection Authority. 

The establishment of Unisearch Limited and WRL by UNSW in the same year, 1959, led to ongoing vigorous interaction with Australian industry, a mutually beneficial relationship that has continued throughout the decades, with WRL maintaining its cutting-edge real-world reputation in the areas established by Colin and the early staff in hydraulics, coastal engineering, groundwater, and estuarine engineering.

Colin is present in the 1959 Civil Engineering staff photo taken at Ultimo campus, back row third from right. (The School was still based at Ultimo until its brand new building opened in 1966 on the Kensington campus).

In the early years at WRL, little water engineering research had been undertaken in the Australian context - academic staff like Colin led Australian and international approaches and carved out new methods suitable for the unique character of the Australian continent - Colin in particular led the Australian research in groundwater through the 1970s and 1980s. 

Between building his own house on a ‘bush block’ in French’s Forest, completing a ME in 1965, and work, Colin managed to find time to sail out of the Cruising Yacht Club of Sydney with his university mate and Indian Ocean sailing buddy Graham Shields. These were not just leisurely Sunday afternoon sails around the harbour but involved overnight races up and down the coast with lighthouses and coastal landmarks used to aid navigation. All this while sitting aboard Tartan, a 22 ft backyard-built glorified plywood dinghy with timber spars, canvas sails, no electronics and very little in the way of floatation devices. Everyone survived.

Colin as a teacher and groundwater researcher 
Ron Cox and Peter Huyakorn joined Colin’s groundwater research team in 1970. In a country dominated by long droughts interspersed with floods, groundwater is a key water reserve: Protected from evaporative loss but subject to contamination and potential overexploitation. Capturing key field information is critical to an adequate understanding of groundwater movement and its coupling to surface waters. The development of large-scale geophysical techniques to ‘see’ beneath the ground surface is also a key aspect of groundwater assessment.

Field work in the early 1970s – Colin centre with Ron Cox and Peter Huyakorn.

Under Col’s mentorship the WRL groundwater team carried out field data collection still used by researchers worldwide, designed and constructed large scale groundwater research facilities at WRL and developed innovative computer models for complex groundwater flow simulation – in this area Peter Huyakorn is one of the recognised world leaders with a successful groundwater consulting company in the USA.

In 1985 Colin completed his PhD on the topic of non-Darcy flow of groundwater, supervised by another School legend Tom Chapman. In 1987, now an Associate Professor, Colin became the 4th Director of WRL following the retirement of Doug Foster. He remained Director until his semi-retirement in 1993 – when Ron Cox became Director. Under Colin’s leadership WRL continued with its strong interaction between theoretical and practical problem solving; fundamental understanding yielding new practical solutions, contemporary problems spawning new research and engineering training.

Ron Cox has very fond memories of working with Colin - he recalled the designing and construction of the groundwater well tank – dubbed the ‘bomb shelter’ for the level of steel reinforcing; Colin planning and then carrying out many field trips to Mt Larcom for monitoring mine dewatering impacts – meeting snakes, bogs, flat tyres and ‘interesting’ locals along the way. Colin ‘instructing in good humour’ junior staff as to the need to carry out ‘2 peg tests’ on survey level instruments prior to taking them into the field; more seriously Colin’s expert opinion for an international dispute between Libya and Brazil. Colin went to Libya to visit the Great Man-Made water supply project (an adventure by taxi from Cairo) and then also spent 3 weeks in Paris at the court - Colin won for Libya.

So-called ‘retirement’
Colin’s career at UNSW spanned over 30 years in a full-time capacity and another 10 years in semi-retirement. Alumni recall him as an excellent teacher. “Colin had significant impact on all staff and students that he interacted with” says Ron Cox, “he was a mentor to many – supportive to all and respected by all – he will be missed by many.”

Col and Agnes at WRL’s 10th anniversary in 1969 – the WRL family culture was established early.

‘Retirement’ for Colin involved continuing with supervising his remaining post-graduate students, part-time engineering consulting through Unisearch, designing and building an extension onto the Frenchs Forest home, and generally triangulating around NSW between the house in Sydney, the weekender at Wybong where he kept bees and a vineyard, and a house in Ballina which he had built in the early 1980’s. There were also several trips overseas. 

His son Bruce recalled, “One day someone asked Mum what she did to keep herself busy with Heather and I no longer at home and Dad retired. Her answer was ‘pack the car to the next destination’.” There were no idle moments associated with Colin’s retirement.

“Dad was always an inventor and a builder and to quote a passage from The Castle, an ‘ideas man’. Nothing went to waste and very little was thrown out. Some would say a hoarder, but I prefer the term ‘a collector of useful stuff’.”

Sadly, Colin was diagnosed with Parkinsons Disease nearly 10 years ago. Although knowing it was likely to get him in the long run, he continued unabated with his building, gardening, inventing, travelling and telling tales. The past few years were difficult as the disease took a firmer hold. Although his body let him down, his mind was ever whirring.  

Bruce recalled, “He enjoyed the times I would discuss the technical matters of the jobs I was working on. On one recent occasion I was showing him some drawing and photos of a dam we were constructing out at Broken Hill. He remained silent for a long time with his eyes closed and I naturally assumed was having a little nap. After 10 minutes or so he looked up with eyes open to ask the question ‘what was the particle size of the sand in the 0.8m wide internal filter drain we placed in the embankment wall?’ I had to look at the drawings to tell him the answer.”

Tribute by Water Research Laboratory, School of Civil and Environmental Engineering - UNSW Water Research Laboratory

NSW Councils Congratulated On Resolution To Get Off Gas

March 4, 2022
Residents have welcomed the decision at this week’s NSW Local Government Special Conference (decision 53) calling on the NSW Government to “urgently develop a gas decarbonisation roadmap”.

The decision was brought by Dubbo Regional Council and carried with additional motions from Lismore Regional Council including that Local Government NSW lobbies “the NSW Government (to) urgently develop a gas decarbonisation roadmap so NSW can be a leader by setting business, industry and households up to be resilient and sustainable in a decarbonising world, while safeguarding jobs in important manufacturing industries”.

The move comes a week after 25 NSW councils from the Southern Sydney Regional Organisation of Councils (SSROC) dropped fracking company Origin Energy as a power supplier and instead switched to a provider that prioritises renewable energy. 

As well, last week Lane Cove Council voted to remove​​ “gas from council buildings and replacing gas boilers which reach the end of their life, with heat pumps”. The council also resolved to focus “on smart development by liaising with Canterbury-Bankstown Council on their actions taken and passing a moratorium on gas connections in all new developments.”

Lock the Gate Alliance NSW spokesperson Nic Clyde said the decision meant the market for gas from Santos’ planned Narrabri gasfield was rapidly shrinking.

“Santos wants to deplete groundwater, and pockmark the irreplaceable Pilliga Forest with gas wells under the false premise that there is going to be demand for its polluting gas,” he said.

“This resolution shows the local market for fossil gas is shrinking and that momentum is building away from energy sources that fuel climate change. We no longer need to sacrifice our best farms and environmental jewels just so greedy gas companies can pillage and make a profit, further driving climate change and extreme weather.”

Mr Clyde said the resolution was particularly timely given the climate crisis was a likely factor in the devastating floods that had occurred along the east coast this week, and the recent release of the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report.

“We know that burning the fossil gas Santos wants to drill in the Pilliga is driving the climate crisis. Local communities like Lismore are reaping the devastation of climate change already so there is added urgency this week for serious action to decarbonise,” he said.

“We know that if we don’t take urgent action to reduce greenhouse emissions from every source many regional communities will become even more vulnerable to climate disasters and extreme weather events, and local governments around New South Wales will be at the front line of those events. It’s great to see regional councils leading this call for decarbonisation. 

“This is why we so warmly welcome the decision by all NSW councils to take a stand and vote in favour of establishing gas decarbonisation roadmap - it’s one part of a much larger puzzle, but it’s the kind of action from governments that we so urgently need, and which has been so sorely lacking from the majority of our political representatives at a state and federal level.”

Local Wildlife Rescuers And Carers State That Ongoing Heavy Rains Are Tough For Us But Can Be Tougher For Our Wildlife:

  • Birds and possums can be washed out of trees, or the tree comes down, nests can disintegrate or hollows fill with water
  • Ground dwelling animals can be flooded out of their burrows or hiding places and they need to seek higher ground
  • They are at risk crossing roads as people can't see them and sudden braking causes accidents
  • The food may disappear - insects, seeds and pollens are washed away, nectar is diluted and animals can be starving
  • They are vulnerable in open areas to predators, including our pets
  • They can't dry out and may get hypothermia or pneumonia
  • Animals may seek shelter in your home or garage. 

You can help by:

  • Keeping your pets indoors
  • Assessing for wounds or parasites
  • Putting out towels or shelters like boxes to provide a place to hide
  • Drive to conditions and call a rescue group if you see an animal hit (or do a pouch check or get to a vet if you can stop)
  • If you are concerned take a photo and talk to a rescue group or wildlife carer

There are 2 rescue groups in the Northern Beaches:

Sydney Wildlife: 9413 4300

WIRES: 1300 094 737

Please be patient as there could be a few enquiries regarding the wildlife. 

Generally Sydney Wildlife do not recommend offering food but it may help in some cases. Please ensure you know what they generally eat and any offerings will not make them sick. You can read more on feeding wildlife here 

Information courtesy Ed Laginestra, Sydney Wildlife volunteer. Photo: from Esther Andrews.

Stronger Environmental Laws To Hold Waste Criminals And Polluters To Account

Environmental laws are now stronger than ever with greater ability to hold waste criminals and those responsible for contamination to account thanks to new laws passed in the NSW Parliament last night.

NSW Environment Minister James Griffin said the Environment Legislation Amendment Bill 2021 will help stop innocent landowners and the Government footing the bill for illegal dumping and contaminated land.

“When our environmental laws were introduced decades ago, they were powerful and used as the benchmark around Australia, but now is the right time to strengthen them again,” Mr Griffin said.

“Since 2012, these laws have been used to successfully prosecute nearly 680 polluters and make them pay $12 million through the courts for their crimes.

“Criminal behaviour has evolved since then, which is why we’ve created powerful amendments to strengthen the law so waste criminals can’t exploit and profit from loopholes.”

In the past three years, these loopholes have seen more than 132,000 tonnes of contaminated waste being illegally dumped in NSW, and the Government or innocent landholders being left with substantial clean-up costs.

Some of the updates to the legislation include:
  • Ensuring current and former directors of corporate bodies are held responsible for their crimes, even if they’ve set up and then dissolved companies (phoenixing) to deflect accountability
  • Holding to account related companies that benefit from a crime both financially, and in future licensing decisions
  • Acting against the owners of vehicles involved in illegal waste dumping (the Act previously only applied to the driver of a vehicle)
  • Ensuring that if land is subdivided or sold, or if a licence is surrendered, the ongoing management of contaminated sites is maintained and not left to government or innocent landholders to manage
  • New and increased maximum penalties, to further deter criminal behaviour
  • Increased protections for officers investigating environmental offences so they can do their jobs safely.
“These changes will ensure those responsible for contamination and pollution can be made to clean it up or manage it into the future,” Mr Griffin said.

“This is good news for the environment, and for communities that have suffered from the actions of environmental criminals.”

The Environment Legislation Amendment Bill 2021 is another step in the NSW Government’s commitment to waste policy and the environment, following the release of the Waste and Sustainable Materials Strategy 2041.

Aviaries + Possum Release Sites Needed

Pittwater Online News has interviewed Lynette Millett OAM (WIRES Northern Beaches Branch) needs more bird cages of all sizes for keeping the current huge amount of baby wildlife in care safe or 'homed' while they are healed/allowed to grow bigger to the point where they may be released back into their own home. 

If you have an aviary or large bird cage you are getting rid of or don't need anymore, please email via the link provided above. There is also a pressing need for release sites for brushtail possums - a species that is very territorial and where release into a site already lived in by one possum can result in serious problems and injury. 

If you have a decent backyard and can help out, Lyn and husband Dave can supply you with a simple drey for a nest and food for their first weeks of adjustment.

Australia’s Eucalypt Of The Year Voting Is Open For The 5th Year!

Get ready to witness eco passion because voting for the 2022 Eucalypt of the Year opens today. Celebrating its 5th birthday, the much loved - and highly contested - Eucalypt of the Year award is sure to bring out the competitive spirit in gumtree lovers across the country.

“The 2022 Eucalypt of the Year gives everyone the opportunity to celebrate their own personal favourites with the winning species to be announced on National Eucalypt Day (23 March) by Eucalypt Australia, says Linda Baird, CEO Eucalypt Australia.

“From John Williamson’s ‘Home Among The Gumtrees’ to May Gibbs’ ‘Snugglepot and Cuddlepie’, eucalypts feature in the fabric of Australians’ lives.

“In a time of uncertainty, gum trees provide Australians with a constant in our lives, synonymous with the unique beauty of our country”, says Ms Baird.

National Eucalypt Day is Australia’s biggest annual celebration of eucalypts held every year to celebrate and promote Australia’s eucalypts and what they mean to our lives and hearts.

There are over 900 eucalypt species across the continent – from the towering Mountain Ash of south eastern Australia, to the haunting Ghost Gum of the outback, to the Western Australian Mottlecah aka The Rose of the West with flowers as big as your palm, it will be exciting to see which eucalypt will take out this year’s gong.

People can vote for their favourite eucalypt from a shortlist of 25 species, including our own local Angophora costata, until 20th March on the Eucalypt Australia website:

Clean Up Australia Day: Sunday March 6 2022 - Local Sites List

The official Clean Up Australia Day is Sunday 6 March 2022 but we encourage you to get involved any day that suits you...we know Australia's waste challenges go beyond one day.
Participants agree to honour the spirit of the Clean Up Australia ethos when participating in and conducting activities. Participants must be: 
  • Committed to making a positive difference to the community and environment: activities should be inspiring, engaging and respectful of the local community.
  • A volunteer movement: people cannot be charged to be involved in activities nor can activities be conducted for commercial or financial gain. 
  • Committed to the safety of volunteers: activities must be carried out in accordance with the local laws and regulations relevant to the activity. 
  • Uniting communities as part of a national campaign: participants must respect the presence and activities of other participants in their proximity. 
  • Welcoming to communities of all nations, cultures, races and faiths: participants and activities must respect political, cultural, and religious differences and beliefs
  • Non-partisan: participants and activities must not imply endorsement of partisanship by Clean Up Australia.
Local sites for 2022 - will update here as more become available:

Koorangi Reserve and Woorarra Lookout Reserve Elanora Heights: Monday 28th February 17:30 - 19:30
1st Elanora Guides will clean up the 2 parks and streets in between them and the Guide Hall which is on Elanora Road on Monday the 28/2.
Meeting Point: Koorangi Reserve Koorangi Avenue, Elanora Heights.
Site Supervisor: Linda Pearce

West Pittwater (Elvina, Lovett and Morning Bays): Saturday March 5th, 2022: 9am to 10
Meeting Point: Head to your nearest public wharf, grab a bag or partner with someone, and ensure your collection is back at the wharf by 10am Sunday 6th for Toby to pick-up on the Laurel May. ** We suggest you do your clean up on Saturday 5th during low tide **
Site Supervisor: Melinda Broughton

Coasters Retreat: Sunday March 6 2022 at 9am
Meeting Point: Fire brigade fire shed
Site Supervisor: Wilma Taylor

Scotland Island: Sunday March 6, 2022: 9am to 1pm
All wharves and Elizabeth Park - meeting points listed at: (just enter postcode '2104' to bring it up)
Site Supervisor: Cass Gye

Church Point Ferry Wharf: Sunday March 6, 2022: 9am to 1pm
Meeting Point: Church Point Ferry Wharf
Site Supervisor: Cass Gye

Bayview Sea Scouts Hall Bayview Park, Bayview: Sunday March 6, 2022; 8.30 to 12pm
Scouts NSW (Bayview Sea Scouts- all ages) are hosting a Clean Up Australia Day at 1st Bayview Sea Scout Hall, Bayview Park (next to the Tennis club) 1678 Pittwater Road Bayview NSW 2104. Taking care of our environment, showing leadership and building community are central to the scouting ethos. Please come to the proposed "Clean Up Australia Day" event starting at 8:30 am to 12:00 pm at our scout hall event to clean up our local parks and waterways around Winnererremy Bay, Bayview. 
Meeting Point: The Clean Up Australia Day Bayview meeting place is 1st Bayview Sea Scout Hall, Bayview Park (next to the Tennis club) 1678 Pittwater Road Bayview NSW 2104. Parking is available at Bayview Tennis Club car park or Bayview Dog park car park adjacent to Winnererremy Bay, Bayview.
Site Supervisor: Kristel Kay Ness

Newport Beach: Sunday March 6, 2022: 10.30am to 12.30
Meeting Point: Bert Payne Park (picnic tables behind the surf club)
Site Supervisor: Matt James

Narrabeen Creek on Boondah Road Warriewood: Sunday March 6, 2022: at 10am
Let's clean up the creek!
Meeting Point: Lot 1 Boondah Road, Warriewood - Narrabeen Creek
Site Supervisor: Michael Todd

Elanora Heights at Park. near cnr Woorarra Ave and Coolangatta Ave: Sunday March 6, 2022 at 9am
Let's get together and give back.
I'll register our group for a site, we can all do our bit and then settle down for a well earned BBQ lunch nearby and check out the view.
Meeting Point: Its a obvious park, it has a few swings and park bench etc
Site Supervisor: Tom Knox 

Bilarong Reserve on Narrabeen Lagoon: Sunday March 6, 2022 at 9am
This will be our third annual Clean Up Event on Narrabeen Lagoon. Northern Beaches Council does an excellent job of cleaning up the pathways and reserves around the waterway. Unfortunately they can't reach the edges of the lagoon between the reserves. Those are the areas we paddle to in our kayaks. We equip everyone with bags and rakes and gather bottles, foam, picnic utensils - and even a fully upholstered car seat last year. We retrieve an amazing amount of stuff. We are fully supported by Northern Beaches, who send trucks through to collect our rubbish at the end of the day. We recruit local volunteers who willingly give up their time. 
Meeting Point: Scout Hall, Bilarong Reserve, Wakehurst Parkway, Narrabeen
Site Supervisor: Tony Carr

Wimbledon Reserve, Narrabeen: Sunday March 6th, 9am to 12pm
1st Elanora Heights will be based at Wimbledon Reserve for Clean Up Australia Day from 9pm till noon. The main area to remove rubbish from will be Sanctuary Island and surrounding foreshore.
The Scout Group will have canoes  and PFD's as well as a support boar for transporting participants.
Meeting Point: Wimbledon Reserve end of Wimbledon Avenue
Site Supervisor: Ricki Shires

Clean Up Australia Day at Bilgola Beach: Monday March 7, 2022: 3:00 - 05:00
Meeting Point: We will meet at Bilgola Surf Club
Site Supervisor: Claudette Good

To contact any of the above site supervisors to join in, and please join in, enter your postcode to  and click on the site you want to help out at and then click on contact site supervisor to right hand side of that page, or just turn up and help out.

Asparagus Fern Flowering Now: Dispose Of This Weed To Stop The Spread

While on weeds, one of PIttwater's worst weed is asparagus fern and it's flowering now. Its scent is like Bubble Gum, sickly sweet. You can see the berries developing.
If this is on your land you can you cut off the stems and catch those berries before they turn white then red, that will stop the spread. 
Please wear gloves when doing so as this plant has spikes.
Put the stems plus berries into your green bin.

Photo: courtesy PNHA

Sulphur-Crested Cockatoo (Cacatua Galerita) Feeding Young

These birds are monogamous, forming bonds that last a long time. In the north they breed from May until September, whereas in the south the season is from August to January. The usual nest is high in a tree hollow, most often near water. They breed once a year, when 2 to 3 white eggs are laid, to be incubated by both parents, for 27 to 30 days. Both parents feed the chicks. At approximately 70 days the chicks are ready to leave the nest but will stay with the parents, and family units will stay together indefinitely.
Photos: in PON yard this week. AJG pics.

Assets Of Intergenerational Significance Conservation Action Plans Consultation

The NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service is seeking your feedback on draft Conservation Action Plans for Assets of Intergenerational Significance. Comments close on 16 March 2022.

To date, 279 site have been declared as Assets of Intergenerational Significance (AIS) across 110 national parks, protecting the key habitat for:
  • 77 threatened plant species, including the previously declared Wollemi pine
  • 30 threatened animal species
  • 6 locally extinct mammals which have been reintroduced to 3 of the feral predator-free fenced areas
  • 1 newly described species, the Wollumbin pouched frog recently discovered in Wollumbin National Park.
An AIS can be any area of exceptional value – environmental or cultural – that warrants special protection including dedicated management measures.

For each AIS, NPWS has a statutory obligation to prepare and implement a concise conservation action plan (CAP) which sets out:
  • the environmental and cultural values of the land
  • key risks to those values
  • management activities to address and mitigate the risks – such as dedicated feral animal control or fire management
  • actions to measure and report on the health and condition of the declared value.
Consultation on draft plans
There are 37 Conservation Action Plans open for public comment until 16 March 2022

Floodplain Development Manual Update: Feedback Until April 7

The Department of Planning and Environment seeks your feedback on NSW's draft Flood Risk Management Manual package.
The draft Flood Risk Management Manual package updates the 2005 Floodplain Development Manual and a number of the existing technical guides while supporting local councils to make their communities more flood resilient now and into the future.

The draft package takes into account the following:
  • Lessons learned from previous floods and the application of a flood risk management process and manual since 2005.
  • A range of work on managing natural hazards across government, including relevant national and international frameworks, strategies, and best practice guidance.
The draft package also includes:
  • A Flood Risk Management Manual.
  • A range of new flood risk management guides for the Flood Risk Management Toolkit.
Have your say
Have your say by Monday 4 April 2022.

There are two ways you can submit your written feedback, listed below.
Online consultation at: Floodplain Development Manual update

Connecting To Country With Environmental Outcomes: POP Grants Open

March 1, 2022
The NSW Environmental Trust's annual Protecting Our Places (POP) grants are now open. Aboriginal groups or corporations keen to improve the environment by working on Country can apply for grants of up to $80,000 for environmental improvement projects with positive cultural outcomes.

POP empowers Aboriginal groups to develop and share cultural land management practices and supports Indigenous communities to conserve culturally significant environmental landscapes.

Organisations receiving grants will be supported to develop project plans, with grantees invited to take part in project management workshops as part of the program. This hands-on training and support helps to build relationships and skills.

The Environmental Trust aims to increase the amount of culturally significant Aboriginal land protected, restored and managed by local Aboriginal groups, land managers and stakeholders.

The Protecting Our Places grants program began in 2002 and provides a mechanism to deliver NSW Government policy, priorities and outcomes in collaboration with Aboriginal communities.

POP grants can be implemented over 3 years. Learn more about the POP program, access guidelines, eligible organisations and awarded projects.

Grant applications close at 5pm on Friday 8 April 2022.

Japanese Encephalitis Virus Detected In Samples From Piggeries

February 27, 2022
NSW pig and livestock owners are urged to be alert for signs of Japanese encephalitis in their animals, following the detection of Japanese encephalitis virus (JEV) in samples from multiple commercial piggeries.

NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) Chief Veterinary Officer Dr Sarah Britton said JEV does not present a food safety risk and all Australian grown pork remains safe to eat, however the virus does cause reproductive failures in pigs.

“DPI’s State Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory and the Australian Centre for Disease Preparedness have confirmed the presence of the virus in samples submitted from farms at which animals showed symptoms last week,” she said.

“To date, the virus has been confirmed in samples from six properties in Western and Southern NSW, as well as at one Victorian property and one Queensland property through tests by those state agencies.”

The virus commonly circulates in mosquito populations in areas where it is endemic and can be transmitted to people and animals through the bites of infected insects, but is not transmitted from person to person or from animal to animal.

Horses and other livestock can also be infected through mosquito bites and NSW Health has issued advice to people in areas with high mosquito numbers to take extra precautions against being bitten.

“NSW DPI has initiated an Incident Management Team to lead an emergency response, in conjunction with other states and territories, and is working closely with NSW Health to minimise effects on industry and the community,” Dr Britton said.

Livestock owners are encouraged to be alert to the signs of JE. These include reproductive failure in pigs, with 50–70% losses reported in affected populations:
  • Pregnant sows and gilts may abort, produce mummified or malformed foetuses, or give birth to stillborn or weak piglets at term,
  • Infertility in boars - this is most commonly temporary but may be permanent if the boar is severely affected.
  • Nervous signs such as tremors and convulsions are occasionally seen in pigs up to 6 months of age.

If you suspect JE in pigs or other livestock, you must report it to the 24-hour Emergency Animal Disease Hotline on 1800 675 888.

More information on JEV is available from and information on human health effects is available from

Get The Timing Right To Manage Rabbits

New research, showing rabbit haemorrhagic disease virus (RHDV) has been released when young rabbits are present, is a timely reminder to follow proven advice and use the valuable biocontrol measure only when rabbits aren’t breeding.

NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) research scientist, Patrick Taggart said land managers must get the timing right or risk losing a valuable tool to protect agricultural land, endangered native species and the environment from rabbit impacts.

“Releasing RHDV when young rabbits are present is not advised as the practice could exacerbate Australia’s rabbit problem,” Dr Taggart said.

“RHDV should be released only when young rabbits are not present, as rabbits under ten weeks old are resistant to RHDV and once infected they are likely to recover and become immune for life.

“When these immune rabbits breed, their immunity is temporarily passed to their offspring, which we expect will make it harder to control rabbit populations in the future.

“Using RHDV at the wrong time potentially increases, rather than decreases, rabbit numbers and risks the effectiveness of future efforts to control this invasive pest.”

NSW DPI has long-advised RHDV release when young rabbits are not present. In most years, rabbits breed continuously between May and October and young rabbits are likely to be ever-present between July and December.

RHDV should not be released during the breeding period unless land managers are confident rabbits are not breeding and young rabbits are not present. Generally, this is only the case during particularly dry seasons.

NSW DPI advises the use of integrated pest management, which employs a variety of controls, including warren removal and baiting, to manage rabbits at local scales.

Since 1950, reductions in rabbit numbers from viral biocontrols have been estimated to benefit Australian agriculture by $1 billion annually, yet rabbits are still estimated to cost the industry $200 million each year.

Rabbit owners should ensure their rabbits are vaccinated against RHDV and discuss RHDV protection and prevention with their veterinarian.

The study demonstrating many RHDV releases occur at the wrong time of year was published in the Society for Conservation Biology journal, Conservation Science and Practice,

Effective management of rabbits is essential to protect agriculture and the environment. Rabbit presence threatens the survival of 322 species of threatened plants and animals, including the mountain pygmy possum, with less than 500 possums surviving in the wild. Photo: NSW DPI

The Big Switch With Saul Griffith: Electrify Everything!

When: Wed, 23 March 2022; 6:30 PM – 8:00 PM 
'The point is, we don’t have to be perfect to solve climate change. We just need to be electric.' - Saul Griffith

Climate change is a planetary emergency. We have to do something now – but what? Australian visionary Saul Griffith has a plan.

Saul’s new book, ‘The Big Switch’ lays out a detailed blueprint – optimistic but feasible – for fighting climate change while creating millions of new jobs and a healthier environment.

Saul will be in conversation with Barbara Albert from 100% Renewables to explain exactly what it would take to transform our infrastructure, update our grid and adapt our households to an all electric future.

Billionaires may contemplate escaping our worn-out planet on a private rocket ship to Mars, but the rest of us, Griffith says, will stay and fight for the future.

About the speakers

Saul Griffith is a scientist, engineer, inventor and father who wants to leave his kids a better world. The data convinces Saul that it is still rational to have hope.

Saul is the co-founder and chief scientist at Rewiring Australia and Rewiring America, nonprofits dedicated to decarbonising those countries (and the world) by electrifying everything.

Barbara Albert is the Co-CEO 100% Renewables, speaker, podcast host of the Driving Net Profit with Zero Emissions show and award-winning author of Energy Unlimited – Four Steps to 100% Renewable Energy.

She is passionate about business and sustainability and believes that reaching net-zero emissions is achievable and profitable when done right. She believes in the importance of sharing stories of organisations leading in climate action so that others can learn from their experience.

This webinar is proudly run in partnership with six Northern Sydney Councils - Ku-ring-gai Council, Lane Cove Council, Mosman Council, North Sydney Council, City of Ryde and Willoughby Council. Each Council strongly supports renewable energy and electrification as a response to climate change.

The webinar will be run live digitally via the Zoom platform. You will receive a reminder and link to access the session the week before the webinar.

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

Sydney Wildlife Rescue: Helpers Needed

Reintroduced Mammals Thriving In Sturt National Park

February 27, 2022
In another win for conservation, 3 mammal species once locally extinct, are booming since their reintroduction to Sturt National Park. Environment Minister James Griffin said recent surveys have shown bilbies, crest-tailed mulgaras and Shark Bay bandicoots, were busy breeding and in good numbers, reflecting the conditions in the far-west of New South Wales at the moment.

"There is a baby boom underway in far-west NSW and I'm thrilled to see this important rewilding program going from strength to strength," Mr Griffin said.

"I want people from right across New South Wales to be able to see the conservation efforts in the bush at their best and this program is one of seven programs just like it working towards that goal.

"Nineteen crest-tailed mulgaras were originally translocated from wild populations in South Australia in August 2020 and from recent surveys, the numbers have rocketed up to be between 160 and 240 individuals, eventually we are hopeful they will number around 480.

"In September 2020 10 greater bilbies were reintroduced from Taronga Western Plains Zoo and were supplemented by another 30 bilbies in May 2021.

"The bilby population is now also booming and is estimated to number up to 60, including female bilbies, who are now having pouch young of their own.

"Sturt National Park has been an ideal location with incredible rainfall over the past year and it is heartening to see locally extinct species thriving in their natural habitat."

Sturt National Park site is one of 3 feral-predator free areas already operational funded by the NSW Government and managed in partnership by the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS), Wild Deserts led by UNSW and the Australian Wildlife Conservancy.

The NPWS is currently establishing a further 4 sites which will expand the fenced feral-free area in our national parks to more than 65,000 hectares and provide a conservation benefit to more than 50 threatened species.

"It's a ground-breaking program to counter damage done to wildlife by feral animals including feral cats which kill 1.5 billion native animals every year in Australia," Mr Griffin said.

University of NSW Wild Deserts Project Leader Professor Richard Kingsford is excited about the early results at Sturt National Park.

"It's wonderful to see these animals back in their original home, prospering, and restoring this desert ecosystem to some of its past magnificence," Prof Kingsford said.

"As well as mulgara and bilbies, 13 Shark Bay bandicoots translocated in May last year have not wasted time either.

"The population is estimated to have doubled, only 6 months after they were released. Each female bandicoot can have 2 young and the 6 females translocated have already had 2 litters each since arriving at Sturt National Park."

Based on the success of these 3 species, there are plans to translocate a fourth species to the national park, the golden bandicoot, in 2022.

Sustainable Solutions For Ghost Net Waste

March 2, 2022
A joint report by environmental not-for-profit organisation TierraMar and the UNSW SMaRT Centre outlines solutions for the fight against discarded ‘ghost’ nets and other fishing marine debris in northern Australia.

Sustainable methods to detect, collect, transport and responsibly dispose of ghost nets and other plastic waste in northern Australia are outlined in a report prepared by TierraMar and the Centre for Sustainable Materials Research and Technology (SMaRT) at UNSW Sydney.

Commissioned by the Australian Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment (DAWE), the report will directly inform the investment in new infrastructure and/or coordinated services under the Australian Government’s Ghost Nets Initiative.

“Ghost nets are fishing nets that have been lost at sea, abandoned or discarded when they have become damaged,” explains Founding Director of the UNSW SMaRT Centre, Professor Veena Sahajwalla. “Discarded fishing equipment can cause pollution such as microplastics and entangle marine wildlife and damage reefs, silently killing.”

The currents and conditions in the Arafura and Timor Seas and the Torres Strait mean that marine debris accumulates in the Gulf of Carpentaria off northern Australia, recognised as a global marine debris ‘hot spot’.

Olive Ridley turtle caught in ghost nets. Photo: Jane Dermer.

“It is imperative that we address the issue of marine waste in this region. Four of the six marine turtle species found in Australian waters are listed as threatened under Australian environmental legislation and they are regularly found entangled in derelict fishing nets,” Prof. Sahajwalla said.

The report jointly prepared by the UNSW SMaRT Centre and TierraMar provides guidance to inform investment in new infrastructure and coordinated services for northern Australia. The work was undertaken using a combination of desktop research, materials analysis, and stakeholder consultation with government, community, industry, and non-government organisation stakeholders.

“There is an opportunity to develop a range of high-quality homeware and building products made directly from ghost nets and marine debris coming out of northern Australia. The products, such as ceramic tiles, could creatively reflect the unique cultures, artistic values and connections to country by local communities,” said Prof. Sahajwalla.

“The homewares and building product could be produced using proven MICROfactorieTM ‘waste to product’ technologies for re-manufacturing.”

Key findings
  • For ghost nets and marine debris in northern Australia, self-sustaining solutions are critical.
  • Reducing reliance on government support to clean-up and dispose of the debris is dependent upon being able to produce high quality products made from waste that reflect the unique cultures in the region.
  • Consolidation of different waste streams within regions for more efficient transportation and processing will be important to achieve economies of scale.
  • Re-manufacturing and to a lesser extent extrusion and injection moulding are considered the most feasible options for using the waste as a resource.
  • Undertaking a pilot program to establish a recycling pathway for the Gulf of Carpentaria including establishing regional hubs for sorting and aggregation of marine debris and ghost nets and trialling cost effective logistical transportation and re-processing solutions.
To address the challenge of ghost nets, especially in the Gulf of Carpentaria, the Australian Government is implementing the Ghost Net Initiative until June 2024. 

A copy of the report, Ghost Nets, can her found here.

Effects Of Noise On Marine Life: Study Finds That Turtles Are Among Animals Vulnerable To Hearing Loss

March 2, 2022
New research shows turtles can experience temporary hearing loss from an excess of underwater noise. This phenomenon, previously noted in other marine animals such as dolphins and fish, was not widely understood for reptiles and underscores another potential risk for aquatic turtles. This high volume of sound, referred to as underwater noise pollution, can be caused by passing ships and offshore construction.

These preliminary findings were part of a Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution-led study that is being presented at the 2022 Ocean Sciences Meeting, held online from February 24, 2022, through March 4, 2022.

"Our study is the first to support that these animals are vulnerable to underwater hearing loss after exposure to intense noise," said Andria Salas, WHOI postdoctoral investigator and study co-author. "We have assumed that turtles experience hearing loss when exposed to sufficiently intense sounds as observed in other animals, but there hasn't been any data collected specifically on turtles."

Aquatic turtles are predicted to rely on their sense of underwater hearing for environmental awareness, such as navigation or detection of possible predators, and some species have been shown to use underwater acoustic communication. Previous studies have focused on the effects of excessive noise in a range of animals, from squids to fishes to whales, and in both fresh and saltwater environments. But less work has been done on reptiles, like turtles, according to Salas.

The results of this study provide the first evidence of underwater noise-induced hearing loss in turtle species and suggest turtles may be more sensitive to sound than previously understood.

Salas and her collaborators, including WHOI associate scientist Aran Mooney, were surprised by how the turtles' hearing was impacted by a relatively low level of noise. The noise exposure induces what is called a temporary threshold shift (TTS), which is the resulting decrease in the animal's hearing sensitivity due to the noise. The absence of TTS studies in turtle species has led to a data gap for endangered sea turtles, and aquatic turtles more generally.

"If this occurs in nature, turtles would be less able to detect sounds in their environment on these timescales, including sounds used for communication or warning them of approaching predators," Salas said. "Over half of turtle and tortoise species are threatened, and noise pollution is an additional stressor to consider as we work towards protecting these animals."

"It was surprising that we found noise can induce underwater hearing loss in turtles, and then it was surprising that this hearing loss was at much lower levels than was estimated, so lots of surprises all around," said Mooney. "Also, the turtles remained pretty calm (or didn't show a behavioral response) despite the noise being loud enough to induce temporary hearing loss.

Notably, this temporary hearing loss is a normal physiological phenomenon in animals. We now see it across the board (mammals, birds, fish, and reptiles). But importantly in this case, it can be a predictor of greater, more deleterious noise impacts such as permanent hearing loss or auditory damage."

To execute the study, the team conducted experiments on two non-threatened species of freshwater turtles. They used a minimally invasive device, inserted just under the skin above a turtle's ear, to detect miniscule neurological voltages created by the turtles' auditory systems when they hear sounds. The method measures hearing rapidly, in just a few minutes, and is similar to how hearing is noninvasively measured in human infants. Before exposing the turtles to loud white noise (similar to the sound of radio static), they first determined the lower threshold of turtles' underwater hearing and which tones (frequencies) they heard best.

After exposing the turtles to noise and then removing them from the noise, the researchers kept measuring turtle hearing for about an hour to see how they recovered their short-term underwater hearing, and then checked two days later to see if recovery was complete. While the turtles always recovered their hearing, hearing loss could last for about 20 minutes to over an hour. However, sometimes hearing had not recovered by the end of the testing hour, indicating they needed more time to fully recover from the noise exposure. One turtle experienced reduced hearing for multiple days.

A red eared slider (Trachemys scripta elegans). A collaborative research team including scientists from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution found that turtles can experience temporary hearing loss from excessive underwater noise, also referred to as underwater noise pollution, which can be caused by activities such as passing ships and offshore construction. These findings are being presented at the 2022 Ocean Sciences Meeting. Photo by Andria Salas © Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

Water Allocations May Leave NT River High And Dry: Study

March 3, 2022
Plans to allocate water from the Northern Territory’s Daly River to cotton plantations could be based on overly optimistic expectations about streamflow, a new study of tree rings in the area has found. And if streamflow – the volume of water that churns through the river in a given period – of the Daly River goes through more ‘dry’ spells like it did in 2019 and 2020, the health of the river ecosystem could be severely compromised.  

In a paper published today in the journal Water Resources Research, researchers from UNSW Sydney described how they reconstructed the area’s paleoclimatic history by using novel methods that combined streamflow records, statistics and tree-ring data from not only local trees, but many others throughout Australasia.

They reconstructed a rainfall period that went back more than 500 years to find that the monsoon system affecting Northern Australia swung between very wet periods of high rainfall and greater streamflow, and drier periods of substantially lower flows in the Daly and connected rivers.

Philippa Higgins, UNSW PhD candidate and lead author of the study, says the window of data the NT government might use to base its allocations on doesn’t take into account the longer history of streamflow in the river.

“If you base water allocations on a period that’s a lot wetter than the historical period, you’re at a big risk of over-allocating that resource,” Ms Higgins says.

In other words, if streamflow goes back to historical levels when monsoon rainfall is much less than in recent decades, we could see “major environmental and cultural damage,” says Ms Higgins.

“Overallocation of water resources combined with consecutive years of low rainfall that results in reduced streamflow in the river could reduce water quality, negatively impact aquatic species and river vegetation, and potentially damage sites of significance for Indigenous custodians.”

Ms Higgins says if calculations of water resource potential are based on gauge data that only stretches back a few decades at a time when streamflow has increased at unprecedented levels, such assumptions could be overly optimistic.

“We only have records for streamflow in the Daly that go back 50 or 60 years.

“However, our new method of deriving the paleo climate based on tree-rings goes back almost 600 years. And we see in that time, even as late as the mid 20th century, that the monsoon season was drier, leading to much lower streamflow.”

Ms Higgins and fellow researchers call on the NT government and water managers to look at the bigger picture, as revealed by their research. They say that their reconstruction of 592 years of streamflow using tree-ring data and complex statistical analysis showed that wet periods invariably give way to years of reduced rainfall and lower streamflow.

“So we caution on using just a very small amount of data to calculate water allocations for agricultural use when we have methods available to look at much longer time periods that allow us to better understand the risks of different decisions.”

Tree history and the Daly River
The team reconstructed the streamflow patterns by comparing tree rings with known rainfall and streamflow data of the Daly River. Because rainfall records are much longer than the streamflow data, this allowed the team to set up a model of the climate’s relationship with tree rings. Researchers now had the ability to look at the tree rings corresponding to Daly River records of streamflow and work backwards to deduce the climatic changes going back hundreds of years.

So does this mean there are some very old trees near the Daly River? Not exactly. Ms Higgins says the longest tree ring record in the Daly River study was 250 years, but the team was able to use much older tree ring data from south-east Asia that were subject to the same monsoon climatic conditions.

“One of the strengths of this study is we’ve used a network of tree rings,” she says. “Regionally, the Australian monsoon is pretty well related to the Indian monsoon, so we used that correlation to also incorporate tree rings from Asia into our reconstruction.”

One of the surprises in the study was that there was an observable correlation between higher river flows and La Niña climate changes, but no correlation with El Niño dry spells. Streamflow has increased gradually since the 1800s, but strong increases in the most recent 40-year period are unprecedented in the last 600 years.

“More work is needed to understand the drivers of this increased streamflow,” the authors conclude.

The researchers say their method of combining tree rings, rainfall and streamflow records in their statistical models to reconstruct a climatic history of the Daly River is a first in the discipline of hydrology. They hope the new technique will be used in other locations where climatic data is lacking to enable stronger environmental planning and regulation.

A view of the Daly River, Northern Territory. Photo: Martin Andersen/UNSW

Pitt’s Millions For Fracking Companies Threaten Land And Water

Morrison Government Resources Minister Keith Pitt’s re-announcement (on February 23, 2022) of millions in taxpayer-funded subsidies to a fracking company with links to the Liberal Party is an insult to the Northern Territory’s communities, businesses, and environment the Protect Country Alliance states.

Mr Pitt used the Energy Club NT’s $960 a table pro-fracking dinner event to make the announcement. He was billed as the star attraction of the exclusive event, held at the DoubleTree by Hilton on Darwin’s Esplanade, however was unable to attend after testing positive to Covid-19 last week.

Dozens of Territorians protested outside the event on February 23, calling for a ban on fracking.

The re-announcement of the $19M in grants for fracking company Empire Energy’s subsidiary Imperial Oil and Gas comes after the Federal Court ruled the initial funding wasn’t lawful because Mr Pitt granted it in the middle of an active legal challenge.

Protect Country Alliance spokesperson Graeme Sawyer said Mr Pitt’s grants were nothing more than corporate welfare.

“The fracking industry is operating on subsidies and has become like a parasite, sucking more from our governments and communities than it returns.

“If Mr Pitt feels like throwing around $20 million of taxpayer money, he could at least invest it in an industry that is sustainable and has a long term future.

“This $20M would have gone a long way for remote communities, agriculture, renewable energy, and tourism in the NT, but instead it just lines the pockets of the fracking industry.

“Fracking is an expensive operation that produces expensive gas, particularly in remote areas like the heart of the NT.

“Let’s be clear, any gas that is produced in the NT will not be for the domestic market - it is going straight overseas to further inflate the global gas price.

“Ninety-nine point nine percent of Territorians won’t benefit from this industry - instead we will suffer as fracking pollutes our rivers and groundwater, and drives dangerous climate change that is already leading to never before seen heat records in the Top End.

“Fracking is an industry that financially benefits a miniscule few at the expense of many, and the few who stand to gain financially were the ones hobnobbing over $960 a table dinners at the DoubleTree by Hilton in Darwin last night.”

Emissions Reduction Fund Contracts Changes

March 4, 2022: The Hon Angus Taylor MP, Minister for Industry, Energy and Emissions Reduction
The Australian Government will make changes to the Emissions Reduction Fund (ERF) to increase liquidity, allow project proponents to take advantage of higher private market prices and ensure equitable treatment, regardless of when they commenced.

These changes are entirely consistent with the Coalition’s longstanding policy of supporting voluntary action to reduce emissions. Our policies are incentive-based – they expressly rule out taxes or mandates, and will not impose higher costs on households, businesses or the economy.

Under a staged approach, ERF projects with fixed delivery government contracts will be able to purchase an option to sell their Australian Carbon Credit Units (ACCUs) on the private market.

These changes will not reduce the total amount of funding available to ERF projects and will allow the ERF to support a greater number of projects.

As a result of these changes, the ERF will deliver significantly more than the 213 million tonnes it is currently projected to contribute towards meeting and beating Australia’s 2030 Paris target.

To activate the option to sell ACCUs on the private market, project proponents will be required to pay a fee equal to existing damages provisions in their contracts. Project proponents will only be able to activate the option within six months of their next existing scheduled delivery window.

Any funds received under this process will be reinvested in the ERF or new emissions reduction initiatives. Any committed ERF funding released back to the Clean Energy Regulator will also remain available to support new ERF projects.

Minister for Industry, Energy and Emissions Reduction Angus Taylor said the average fixed delivery price was around $12 per ACCU, compared with the private market where prices have increased by around 200 per cent since January 2021 and are currently around $50.

“These reforms will lead to more ACCUs becoming available to the market in an orderly and transparent way, which will help meet the increasing voluntary demand for domestic offsets,” Minister Taylor said.

“This will allow projects to take advantage of higher market prices over time.

“The changes build on the great success of the ERF, the world’s largest and most successful national carbon offset scheme, which is underpinned by a robust government administered framework to ensure the integrity of the abatement generated.

“Since 2013, more than 106 million tonnes of abatement has been credited and project registrations have surged from 944 at the beginning of 2020 to more than 1,100 today.

“The strong growth in private sector demand for ACCUs shows that the market recognises and values their high quality and integrity.”

Under the ERF, project proponents engage in activities that reduce or avoid emissions (known as methods) in Australia. There are currently 38 ERF methods that support activities in the agriculture, industrial, land, mining, transport and waste sectors.

For these activities, proponents are credited with ACCUs. Each ACCU is equivalent to one tonne of reduced or avoided emissions. Project proponents can sell ACCUs to the Commonwealth at bi-annual auctions. They can also sell ACCUs on the voluntary private market.

Since March 2020, the Clean Energy Regulator has offered optional delivery contracts under the ERF. Under these contracts, ERF participants have the right, but not the obligation, to sell ACCUs to the Commonwealth. Prior to March 2020, project proponents could only enter into fixed delivery contracts with the Commonwealth.

There are a number of benefits to this approach: 
  • Since optional delivery contracts were first offered in 2020, average auction volumes have increased fourfold - more than 20 million tonnes have been contracted across the last three auctions (2020-21), compared to five million tonnes for the three preceding auctions (2018-20). 
  • Project proponents overwhelmingly prefer optional delivery contracts – since March 2020, 95 per cent of contracted volume has been optional rather than fixed. At the most recent auction (October 2021), no fixed delivery contracts were taken up. 
  • The ERF will deliver a higher volume of abatement than originally forecast – through optional delivery contracts, the Government can underwrite a larger number of ERF projects to deliver more abatement towards Australia’s 2030 Paris and 2050 net zero targets.
Through the 2020-21 Budget, the Government provided the Clean Energy Regulator with an additional $40.4 million to: 
  • Establish a new exchange platform for emissions reduction units, saving businesses an estimated $100 million by 2030; 
  • Halve timeframes for ERF project registration and crediting through streamlined digital infrastructure, so businesses can earn a return on projects more quickly; and 
  • Slash the time it takes to develop new methods so businesses can take advantage of new opportunities to reduce emissions, increasing the rate of new methods from one per year to five per year.
Why are changes to fixed delivery contracts being introduced?
The market for Australian carbon credit units (ACCUs) is undergoing significant change and ERF contracting is changing to meet the needs of this dynamic market.

Since early 2021, Australia's carbon market has seen a strong increase in demand for ACCUs resulting in material increases in ACCU prices. Spot market prices of ACCUs have increased from $17 at the start of 2021 to $50 on 3 March 2022 – approximately a 200% increase. Market participants have noted increases in private sector demand but also tight liquidity in the ACCU market which has contributed to the run up in prices.

Over 75% of the abatement held by the Government under fixed delivery contracts is priced under $13 per ACCU, well below current market prices. To date, fixed delivery contract holders have met their delivery obligations with 13 million ACCUs supplied in the last financial year alone and deliveries across the contract portfolio are tracking 6% ahead of schedule.

Fixed delivery contracts include provisions for buyer’s market damages (BMD), capped at the contracted price, that must be paid to the Government for undelivered abatement. At current high prices it may be financially advantageous for many fixed delivery contract holders to not supply ACCUs to the Government and sell their abatement on the private market, even after paying BMD. If a widespread disorderly exit from fixed delivery contracts occurred, this would cause a large volume of ACCUs to become available to the carbon market leading to price volatility and investment uncertainty.

The new initiative will allow fixed delivery contract holders to be released from delivery obligations in a transparent and orderly process.

Should parties seek to cease fixed contract deliveries outside of the above initiative, BMD will be sought as per existing contractual arrangements including the recouping of the Clean Energy Regulator’s costs (as per contract terms).

How will the initiative work?
The initiative will be open to all compliant contract holders who are in good standing with the Clean Energy Regulator. Fixed delivery contract holders will have the flexibility to sell their ACCUs for higher prices on the private market without breaking contractual obligations.

Holders of fixed delivery contracts who opt-in will be required to pay an exit fee to be released from their contractual obligations. The exit fee will be calculated by multiplying the contract price by the quantity of ACCUs to be released. This is similar to existing contractual clauses in carbon abatement contracts, but will occur in a streamlined fashion without the legal and likely reputational risks of non-delivery or default.

Contract holders will be eligible to be released from fixed delivery milestones falling due within six-month windows, between 1 January and 30 June, and 1 July and 31 December each year. This approach intends to reduce the risk of price impacts on the ACCU market by moderating the rate at which supply is released. It also provides fixed contract holders clarity about when their milestones will be eligible and time to pay the exit fee.

The first window open will be for delivery milestones falling due between 4 March 2022 and 30 June 2022 with the window for milestones between 1 July 2022 and 31 December 2022 to follow soon thereafter.

There will be a 2-stage process to be released from delivery obligations:
  1. Application and conditional approval: Contract holders will be eligible to apply to be released from eligible delivery milestones ahead of each window. If found eligible, the Clean Energy Regulator will provide conditional approval, an invoice for the exit fee, and payment instructions.
  2. Exit fee payment and milestone cancellation: The exit fee must be paid by the delivery milestone due date. When payment is confirmed, the delivery obligation will be cancelled.
The 2-stage approval process is designed to provide contract holders with confidence in undertaking third-party transactions prior to making their exit fee payment to the Clean Energy Regulator.

The Clean Energy Regulator is finalising the process and systems required to implement the initiative. This includes developing requirements on how additional benefits gained from selling ACCUs for higher prices are shared between contract holders and landholders. Further details on the exit process and the terms and conditions will be made available shortly.

Fixed delivery contract holders considering accessing the exit arrangement are encouraged to carefully consider their own circumstances, including whether the exit arrangement is right for them, and seek external advice (including legal advice). Contract holders who still wish to deliver ACCUs under existing fixed delivery contracts may continue to do so.

The Clean Energy Regulator understands that the Government intends that monies received as an exit fee under these arrangements will be recycled into emissions reduction measures.

Transitional arrangements and expressions of interest (EOI) for near-term delivery milestones
Transitional arrangements are available for fixed delivery contract holders who intend to opt-in to the initiative and have delivery milestones falling due between 4 March 2022 and 30 June 2022.

The Clean Energy Regulator is inviting these contract holders or authorised representatives to submit an Expression of Interest. The Clean Energy Regulator will advise on their eligibility and provide information on the next steps, including how to request an extension to these delivery milestones if needed. Extensions will be provided without prejudice to 31 August 2022 if needed.

The transitional arrangements aim to ensure that these fixed delivery contract holders have sufficient time to secure financing for the exit fee payment ahead of the initiative being implemented in full.

Farmers Fear For Future Of Darling Downs With Coal Seam Gas Close To Crossing Condamine River

March 2, 2022
Darling Downs farmers fear worsening impacts from coal seam gas following revelations Shell and PetroChina joint venture Arrow Energy plans to become the first company to drill east of the Condamine River next year.

Lock the Gate Alliance Queensland spokesperson Ellie Smith said Arrow's plans to cross Condamine was symbolic of the gas industry’s unrelenting greed and willingness to sacrifice Queensland’s best farming country.

“Arrow Energy is already facing a Queensland Government investigation over allegations it illegally drilled on prime farmland near Dalby without landholder access agreements and without correct planning approvals,” she said.

“The Palaszczuk Government should have ordered this company to halt its drilling program as soon as these allegations were raised. 

“This is some of the very best farming country in Queensland, if not Australia, and the government is effectively encouraging Arrow Energy to wreak havoc while at the same time apparently ignoring this company’s arrogant and likely illegal behaviour.”

Dalby farmer Zena Ronnfeldt, whose property has experienced serious subsidence as a result of Arrow’s gas wells, said she feared the problem would become worse as the gas industry expanded.

“Arrow Energy’s drilling program has and will cause major, permanent, subsidence in priority agricultural areas,” she said.

“Arrow is feeding farmers misinformation by attempting to disguise CSG subsidence. The shrinking and swelling of a cropping area is irrelevant and temporary - the soil acts like a sponge, self-restoring within hours of each rain event. Coal seam gas subsidence is random and permanent.

“Our farm is proof that when subsidence from CSG occurs, it’s serious, permanent damage that impacts our ability to farm. 

“My advice to those farmers east of the Condamine is to be prepared, do all you can to inform and protect yourself because we strongly believe Arrow has conducted itself illegally under state and federal laws. Yet none of these offences have been rectified by the company and as yet there has been no action by the government. 

“Arrow wants to drill its patchwork of gaswells thousands of metres horizontally below ground. Our soil is vertisol soil which cracks and moves significantly - I fear that in the future after Arrow has eventually packed up and left, subsidence, lost groundwater, and the wells and pipelines that remain will pose a tremendous threat to the region.”

Like rivers in the sky: the weather system bringing floods to Queensland will become more likely under climate change

Kimberley ReidThe University of Melbourne and Andrew KingThe University of Melbourne

The severe floods in southeast Queensland this week have forced hundreds of residents to flee the town of Gympie and have cut off major roads, after intense rain battered the state for several days. The rain is expected to continue today, and travel south into New South Wales.

We research a weather system called “atmospheric rivers”, which is causing this inundation. Indeed, atmospheric rivers triggered many of the world’s floods in 2021, including the devastating floods across eastern Australia in March which killed two people and saw 24,000 evacuate.

Our recently published research was the first to quantify the impacts these weather systems have in Australia, and another study we published in November looked closely at the floods in March last year

We found while atmospheric rivers bring much-needed rainfall to the agriculturally significant Murray-Darling Basin, their potential to bring devastating floods will become more likely in a warmer world under climate change.

What Are Atmospheric Rivers?

Atmospheric rivers are like highways of water vapour between the tropics and poles, located in the first one to three kilometres of the atmosphere. They are responsible for about 90% of the water vapour moving from north to south of the planet, despite covering only 10% of the globe.

When atmospheric rivers crash into mountain ranges or interact with cold fronts, they rain out this water with potentially disastrous impacts. Mountains and fronts lift the water vapour up in the atmosphere where it cools and condenses into giant, liquid-forming bands of clouds. Intense thunderstorms can also form within atmospheric rivers.

Map of the world with water vapour shown
A snapshot of water vapour in the atmosphere. Atmospheric rivers are the narrow streamers branching off the equator. Space Science and Engineering Center, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Three atmospheric rivers last year were particularly devastating.

In January, California was hit with a strong atmospheric river that caused record-breaking rainfall and blizzards. It also triggered a landslide on California’s iconic Highway 1.

In November, British Columbia, Canada was battered with record breaking rainfall that left Vancouver isolated from the rest of the country.

And in March, Eastern Australia copped a drenching that led to widespread flooding and A$652 million worth of damage. All mainland states and territories except WA faced simultaneous weather warnings.

What We Found

Our recently published research provides the first quantitative summary of atmospheric rivers over Australia. It’s not all bad news – most of the time, atmospheric rivers bring beneficial rainfall to Australia. About 30% of southeast Australia’s rainfall comes from atmospheric rivers, including in the Murray-Darling Basin.

Rainfall is vital to this region. The Murray-Darling Basin supports over 500 species of birds, reptiles and fish, and around 30,000 wetlands. Agriculture in the Murray-Darling Basin contributes A$24 billion to the Australian economy.

However, we also found that 30-40% of the heaviest rainfall days in the Northern Murray-Darling Basin, where towns such as Tamworth, Dubbo and Orange are located, were associated with atmospheric rivers.

A heavy downpour in Australia’s bread basket might lead to happier farmers during a dry period, but following a wet summer – such as from La Niña – these days are less welcome.

La Niña Saturates Soil

La Niña can play a big role in flooding, as it exacerbates damage wrought by atmospheric rivers.

A La Niña was declared in spring in 2020 and fizzled out by March in 2021. A second La Niña arrived in the summer of 2021 and 2022.

During a La Niña, winds that blow from east to west near the equator strengthen. This leads to cold, deep ocean water rising up to the surface in the East Pacific, near South America, and warm ocean waters to build near Australia.

Warm sea surface temperatures promote rainfall, which is why La Niña is associated with rainier weather over much of Australia.

Soil is like a kitchen sponge. It absorbs water, but once it becomes saturated it can no longer soak up any more. This is what happened to eastern Australia in the months before the March floods – and when the record-breaking rain fell, the ground flooded.

On March 23, 2021, 800kg of water vapour flowed over Sydney every second. Shutterstock

Our recent research found that in March 17-24 last year, NSW experienced an almost constant stream of high water vapour in the atmosphere above from both an atmospheric river that originated in the Indian Ocean and a high pressure system in the Tasman Sea.

On March 23, over 800kg of water vapour passed over Sydney every second - that’s 9.6 Sydney Harbours of water in one day.

Likewise, soil moisture in south-east Queensland has been above average since October last year. Last November was Australia’s wettest November on record with south-east Queensland receiving very-much-above average rainfall.

This meant the ground was already sodden. So when the heavy rain fell this week, Queensland flooded.

What’s The Role Of Climate Change?

We also calculated the likelihood of future atmospheric rivers as big as the one in March 2021 flowing over Sydney using the latest generation of climate models.

Earth is currently on track for 2.7℃ warming by the end of the century. Under this scenario, we found the chance of a similar weather event to the March floods will become 80% more likely. This means we are on track for more extreme rainfall and flooding in Sydney.

We also know climate change will increase the occurrence of atmospheric rivers over the planet, but more research is needed to determine just how often we can expect these damaging events to happen, including in southeast Queensland.

However, this path is not final. There is still time to change the outcome if we urgently reduce emissions to stop global warming beyond 1.5℃ this century. Every little bit we do to limit carbon emissions might mean one less flood and one less person who has to rebuild.The Conversation

Kimberley Reid, PhD Researcher in Atmospheric Science, The University of Melbourne and Andrew King, Senior Lecturer in Climate Science, The University of Melbourne

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

Australia could get to net zero emissions much quicker than 2050 – if our politics was a force for change. Here’s how

Getty Images
Anna MalosClimateWorks Australia and Simon GrahamClimateWorks Australia

Let’s imagine Australia was able to use politics to work on the single largest threat facing us: climate change.

Our current goal is net zero by 2050. But we could do it much faster. Our modelling shows we could get there by 2035. That’s just 13 years away.

Just think of last week’s audacious bid by tech billionaire Mike Cannon-Brookes to take over our largest emitting company, AGL, and rapidly retire its fossil fuel assets.

You might look at the latest climate news and think it’s too late. This is simply not true. There’s a better future just ahead, if we can seize it.

Getting On With The Job Of Decarbonising

Within 13 years (2035), we could have a near zero emission power grid of firmed renewables powering our society. That same year, houses and apartments could hit near zero emissions, courtesy of new all-electric buildings and retrofits. And agriculture, too, could see significant emissions reductions.

Real progress could come even earlier. Within eight years, electric vehicles could make up 75% of new car sales, with public transport electrified too. Industry – often seen as hard to decarbonise – could halve its emissions by 2030. And Australia could be on the way to becoming a green superpower, courtesy of our wealth of minerals needed for the transition and ability to make green hydrogen.

Green street in the Netherlands
Australia could grasp a cleaner and more liveable future. Shutterstock

Electricity: Near Zero Within 13 Years

The way we generate electricity is changing the fastest. Over the last decade, we have tripled the share of renewables in Australia’s generation mix to over 20%.

We have more than enough sun and wind to make the renewable share as high as 80% by 2030, and almost 100% by 2035. We can manage that even though electricity demand is expected to double by 2050.

We even have the renewable resources to produce more electricity than we use, and export the surplus. Tasmania, for example, has legislated a 200% renewable energy target by 2040 – meaning they can export the excess power.

We have the technologies we need for this kind of scale. All we have to do is plan the transition properly, so the wave of cheap renewable power arrives as coal and gas exit. Done right, we’ll all benefit from cheaper power. State governments and operators of the energy market have shown how this can be done.

There will still be mining jobs, as the world demands our green tech minerals such as lithium, cobalt and copper. And we have huge opportunities to benefit from our ever-cheaper renewables through nation-building megaprojects where Australian renewables are sent under the sea to Asia, or converted to green hydrogen and shipped in place of fossil gas exports.

Offshore windfarm
We’re rich in renewables. Shutterstock

Buildings: Near Zero Within 13 Years, With A Boost To Comfortable Living

As we shift to clean electricity, we unlock emissions reductions across the economy. We’ll see this most clearly in our homes and commercial buildings.

How? Look at the all-electric, 7-star new buildings under construction by some of Australia’s largest property developers. For those of us in older houses, large-scale retrofitting would enable us to reach near zero emissions by 2035 at lowest cost.

The benefit? Lower energy bills and more comfortable living, as we fix the well-known issues with insulation and air leakage. The energy use per Australian household could be halved by 2030 if available technologies are rolled out in Australian markets.

Transport: 75% Of New Cars Electric Within Eight Years

Most technology needed to electrify Australia’s cars, utes and vans is ready to hit the road. If more electric vehicle models became available and we get on a similar timeline to the EU and US, price parity could be reached within four years.

When electric vehicles are price competitive with internal combustion engine models, people will switch. With the right policy and market settings, three in four new cars could be electric by the end of the decade.

In public transport, we could see rapid change. Sydney’s bus fleet will be electrified and the metro rail system powered by renewables this decade. Melbourne’s trams are renewably powered, with electric buses coming too. If taken up across the country, Australia’s public transport network could be transformed by 2030.

Decarbonising the way we transport freight and move long distances will take more work. But zero emissions container ships and battery-powered trains are in the works.

Electric bus on road
Electric buses are coming. Shutterstock

Industry: Emissions Halved Within Eight Years

While industry is often seen as a hard nut to crack, it’s possible to achieve major emissions reductions using known technologies. Our modelling shows industry emissions could be halved by 2030.

How? By rapidly switching to existing technologies to improve material and energy efficiency, while solutions are developed for more difficult emission sources.

A vital first step is to create industrial precincts powered by renewables. It’s already happening in Western Australia and New South Wales.

Australia’s significant competitive advantages in mineral resources and renewable energy mean we could lead the world in establishing green industries.

Green hydrogen prices could drop to A$2/kg by the early 2030s, allowing Australia to become a significant exporter while using hydrogen domestically to power other low emissions export industries like green steel.

Agriculture: Net Zero Is Possible By 2035

Livestock accounts for around 70% of all agricultural emissions. Deployment of solutions like anti-methane technologies and plant-based proteins will create meaningful emissions reductions by 2030.

Research breakthroughs are occurring all the time in this area, and there is a real desire for progress in the industry.

Meat and Livestock Australia is aiming for carbon neutrality by 2030 for Australia’s beef, lamb and goat production. With the right policy signals, this transformation would be within reach.

Natural Resources: Carbon Sinks Will Get Us To Net Zero

Even with these actions, most sectors of the Australian economy will still have residual emissions in 2035. That’s where our vast land area and enviable natural resources can help get us to net zero.

Even now, Australia’s land use, land use change and forestry (LULUCF) sector stores more carbon than it produces.

We can use this sector to “soak up” any residual emissions, through forestry plantations, growing more trees on farms (which also improves productivity) and other carbon farming techniques.

Restoring and preserving wilderness in national parks, mangroves, wetlands, and other landscapes offer further opportunity for carbon sequestration.

Importantly, land isn’t an “easy fix” replacing the need to slash emissions and quickly. We can’t store endless carbon in these natural sinks.

Mangrove roots, Torres Strait Islands
Wetlands, forests and mangroves store residual emissions. Shutterstock

More Ready Than You Think

It is entirely possible for Australia to hit net zero emissions within 13 short years.

It’s a big job. But we can get there, and we’ll reap huge benefits from the switch.

But we need a united front – with businesses, organisations, individuals – and, yes, governments – agreeing to get on with it. Let’s get cracking.The Conversation

Anna Malos, Australia - Country Lead, ClimateWorks Australia and Simon Graham, Senior Analyst, ClimateWorks Australia

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

Avalon Golf Course Bushcare Needs You

We're so short of helpers we've had to cancel for the time being. Meanwhile the weeds will go gangbusters. 
We used to meet on the second Wednesday afternoon of each month. Could you come if we worked on another day or time? say a morning, or on a weekend day? 
Contact Geoff Searl on 0439 292 566 if you'd like to help. He'd love to hear from you. 

We have fun using the Tree Popper, here with our supervisor from Dragonfly Environmental. We can lever out quite big Ochnas, aka Mickey Mouse plant from Africa.  We want to bring back the bush, not let the weeds win!

Ochna or Mickey Mouse plant has yellow flowers in spring, then lots of green berries that turn black when ripe. Seedlings come up in hundreds. Ochna has a very strong taproot but the steady pressure of the Tree Popper lifts the plant out of the ground easily. The alternative control is repeated scraping and painting with Roundup, very slow and time consuming. If you have an Ochna you cant remove, you can enjoy the flowers, then PLEASE prune it so that berries can't develop.

Pittwater Reserves: Histories + Notes + Others

A History Of The Campaign For Preservation Of The Warriewood Escarpment by David Palmer OAM and Angus Gordon OAM
Angophora Reserve - Angophora Reserve Flowers
Annie Wyatt Reserve - A  Pictorial
Avalon's Village Green: Avalon Park Becomes Dunbar Park - Some History + Toongari Reserve and Catalpa Reserve
Bairne Walking Track Ku-Ring-Gai Chase NP by Kevin Murray
Bangalley Headland  Bangalley Mid Winter
Banksias of Pittwater
Barrenjoey Boathouse In Governor Phillip Park  Part Of Our Community For 75 Years: Photos From The Collection Of Russell Walton, Son Of Victor Walton
Barrenjoey Headland: Spring flowers 
Barrenjoey Headland after fire
Bayview Baths
Bayview Wetlands
Beeby Park
Bilgola Beach
Botham's Beach
Bungan Beach Bush Care
Careel Bay Saltmarsh plants 
Careel Bay Birds  
Careel Bay Clean Up day
Careel Bay Playing Fields History and Current
Careel Creek 
Careel Creek - If you rebuild it they will come
Centre trail in Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park
Chiltern Track- Ingleside by Marita Macrae
Clareville Beach
Clareville/Long Beach Reserve + some History
Coastal Stability Series: Cabbage Tree Bay To Barrenjoey To Observation Point by John Illingsworth, Pittwater Pathways, and Dr. Peter Mitchell OAM
Cowan Track by Kevin Murray
Curl Curl To Freshwater Walk: October 2021 by Kevin Murray and Joe Mills
Currawong and Palm Beach Views - Winter 2018
Currawong-Mackerel-The Basin A Stroll In Early November 2021 - photos by Selena Griffith
Currawong State Park Currawong Beach +  Currawong Creek
Deep Creek To Warriewood Walk photos by Joe Mills
Drone Gives A New View On Coastal Stability; Bungan: Bungan Headland To Newport Beach + Bilgola: North Newport Beach To Avalon + Bangalley: Avalon Headland To Palm Beach
Dunbar Park - Some History + Toongari Reserve and Catalpa Reserve
Dundundra Falls Reserve: August 2020 photos by Selena Griffith - Listed in 1935
Elsie Track, Scotland Island
Elvina Track in Late Winter 2019 by Penny Gleen
Elvina Bay Walking Track: Spring 2020 photos by Joe Mills 
Elvina Bay-Lovett Bay Loop Spring 2020 by Kevin Murray and Joe Mills
Fern Creek - Ingleside Escarpment To Warriewood Walk + Some History photos by Joe Mills
Ingleside Wildflowers August 2013
Irrawong - Ingleside Escarpment Trail Walk Spring 2020 photos by Joe Mills
Irrawong - Mullet Creek Restoration
Katandra Bushland Sanctuary - Ingleside
Lucinda Park, Palm Beach: Some History + 2022 Pictures
McCarrs Creek
McCarr's Creek to Church Point to Bayview Waterfront Path
McKay Reserve
Mona Vale Beach - A Stroll Along, Spring 2021 by Kevin Murray
Mona Vale Headland, Basin and Beach Restoration
Mount Murray Anderson Walking Track by Kevin Murray and Joe Mills
Mullet Creek
Narrabeen Creek
Narrabeen Lagoon Catchment: Past Notes Present Photos by Margaret Woods
Narrabeen Lagoon State Park
Narrabeen Lagoon State Park Expansion
Narrabeen Rockshelf Aquatic Reserve
Nerang Track, Terrey Hills by Bea Pierce
Newport Bushlink - the Crown of the Hill Linked Reserves
Newport Community Garden - Woolcott Reserve
Newport to Bilgola Bushlink 'From The Crown To The Sea' Paths:  Founded In 1956 - A Tip and Quarry Becomes Green Space For People and Wildlife 
Pittwater spring: waterbirds return to Wetlands
Pittwater's Lone Rangers - 120 Years of Ku-Ring-Gai Chase and the Men of Flowers Inspired by Eccleston Du Faur 
Pittwater's Parallel Estuary - The Cowan 'Creek
Riddle Reserve, Bayview
Salvation Loop Trail, Ku-Ring-Gai Chase National Park- Spring 2020 - by Selena Griffith
Stapleton Reserve
Stapleton Park Reserve In Spring 2020: An Urban Ark Of Plants Found Nowhere Else
The Chiltern Track
The Resolute Beach Loop Track At West Head In Ku-Ring-Gai Chase National Park by Kevin Murray
Towlers Bay Walking Track by Joe Mills
Trafalgar Square, Newport: A 'Commons' Park Dedicated By Private Landholders - The Green Heart Of This Community
Turimetta Beach Reserve by Joe Mills, Bea Pierce and Lesley
Turimetta Beach Reserve: Old & New Images (by Kevin Murray) + Some History
Turimetta Headland
Warriewood Wetlands and Irrawong Reserve
Whale Beach Ocean Reserve: 'The Strand' - Some History On Another Great Protected Pittwater Reserve
Winji Jimmi - Water Maze

These hot days are tough on our wildlife - please put out some water in a shaded location and if you come across an animal that is in distress, dehydrated or injured - please contact your local wildlife rescue group:
Photo: Bronwyn Gould

New Shorebirds WingThing  For Youngsters Available To Download

A Shorebirds WingThing educational brochure for kids (A5) helps children learn about shorebirds, their life and journey. The 2021 revised brochure version was published in February 2021 and is available now. You can download a file copy here.

If you would like a free print copy of this brochure, please send a self-addressed envelope with A$1.10 postage (or larger if you would like it unfolded) affixed to: BirdLife Australia, Shorebird WingThing Request, 2-05Shorebird WingThing/60 Leicester St, Carlton VIC 3053.

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 -

Aged Care Reform

February 28, 2022
One year since the final report of the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety, the Australian Government has achieved significant reform across the five pillars of its five year plan to deliver respect, care and dignity for every senior Australian.

Minister for Health and Aged Care, Greg Hunt, and Minister for Senior Australians and Aged Care Services, Richard Colbeck, said the Government called the Royal Commission because it recognised change was needed.

“We responded to the recommendations and are now implementing this once-in-a-generation reform that puts senior Australians first,” Minister Hunt said. 

“Our financial commitment is now more than $18.3 billion to fund this agenda for change across home care, residential care, quality and safety, workforce and governance.”

The Government’s comprehensive response to all 148 recommendations outlines a five-year plan to reinforce the quality of care for senior Australians.

Minister Hunt said the establishment of the National Aged Care Advisory Group and the Council of Elders was another important step to ensure tangible outcomes and support for the implementation of the reforms.

“The continued implementation of the reforms are now guided by these two important groups of representatives to ensure each measure that is introduced continues to meet the needs and expectations of senior Australians, families, carers and the wider community,” Minister Hunt said.

“To make access to aged care services easier to navigate, we have begun rolling out in-person help at many Services Australia centres, local care finders, a regional network pilot, and aligned with a program to better connect culturally and linguistically diverse seniors, families and carers.”

More than 33,000 extra training places have been created for people who want to work in aged care, and 191 registered nurses have joined the new Aged Care Transition to Practice Program.

The Government has also awarded 115 scholarships to increase the knowledge and skills of nurses working in aged care.

To encourage registered nurses to stay in aged car, we’ve introduced the Aged Care Registered Nurses’ Payment, and nurses in rural and remote areas will receive an additional annual payment.

Minister Colbeck said a key priority in the first year of reform had been to boost home care packages.

“We recognise that most Australians want to stay in their own home as they get older, and home care packages make that possible,” Minister Colbeck said.

“At the end of 2021, 217,724 senior Australians had access to a home care package - that’s up 25 per cent since the end of 2020, thanks to the rollout of the first of the 80,000 packages announced in response to the Royal Commission. 

“In the same period, the priority waiting list has come down by 29 per cent and for those assessed as a high priority receiving a package within a month.

“There is greater transparency in home care funding, with the Government paying providers monthly which means the maximum amount of package funds go towards a person’s support.

“Residential aged care providers are also receiving extra funding of $10 per resident per day to improve care and services, especially food and nutrition, and must report care staffing minutes to make sure senior Australians get appropriate care.”

To ensure the safety of senior Australians, we introduced the Serious Incident Reporting Scheme, electronic medication charts, improved quality indicators, and ensured that restrictive practices can only be used as a last resort.

Our Government has also established a new Workforce Advisory Service to support providers, which provides free, independent and confidential help with workforce planning.

We’ve also provided more than $100 million in funding to support nearly 200 residential aged care providers to improve their financial viability through the Business Improvement Fund.

Further measures to support the sustainability of the sector currently before Parliament (The Aged Care and Other Legislation Amendment Royal Commission Response Bill.2) include:
  • The introduction of the funding model for aged care, the Australian National Aged Care Classification (AN-ACC) will be introduced from October 1, 2022 and will deliver a funding boost to increase the amount of front line care to residents.   The AN ACC will deliver more than $3.9 billion in increased funding to rural and remote residential aged care services, as well as specialised homeless and remote Indigenous services, to reflect the increased costs of delivering care in these services;
  • A registration scheme which will provide a nationally consistent pre-employment screening for aged care workers of approved providers to replace existing police checking obligations; and
  • An expansion of the Serious Incident Response Scheme to home and flexible care from July 1, 2022.
The expanded Independent Hospital Pricing Authority has also commenced work on aged care pricing, and will consider the delivery of high quality care as a central pillar of its work, with recommendations to be made to Government for the 2023-24 Budget.

Change of this magnitude needs diverse input and collaboration across the aged care sector and the community, so a big thanks is owed to all who have engaged with us so far

More than 4000 people have engaged on reforms such as quality improvements, star ratings and the new support at home program, and more than 18,000 people have participated in webinars.

The next stage of the reforms is underway including the draft legislation of a new Aged Care Act; quality of life indicators; the new support at home program; innovative, dementia-friendly accommodation design; and dementia education and training.

For more information and to engage in the design of upcoming changes, visit the Aged Care Engagement Hub at or call 1800 200 422.

New Frankston Home For Healthy Ageing Research

March 1, 2022
Research into issues affecting older Australians has taken another step forward with the new national academic centre at Frankston Hospital – which will house the National Centre for Healthy Ageing – opening its doors today.

Through a partnership between the Government, Peninsula Health and Monash University, the academic centre will work towards transforming health service development, implementation, research and evaluation for older people, as well as those with addiction and mental health issues.

One of the key research points of the Centre will be to explore new and innovative ways to harness technology and data to help senior Australians remain independent.

Minister for Health and Aged Care, Greg Hunt, said the Centre will deliver better ways to care for elderly Australians, with successful models then able to be rolled out nationally.

“The Frankston and Mornington Peninsula has one of the fastest ageing populations in the country,” Minister Hunt said. “It is an ideal place to explore innovative health care solutions for older people, whether it be at home or in residential aged care.”

“Our Government is pleased to partner with Monash University and Peninsula Health to make the project a reality.”

“By delivering sustainable, evidence-based, efficient models of care, it will support people with increasingly complex health conditions to live their best lives.”

The Morrison Government invested $32 million in the healthy ageing component of the Centre, delivered through the $1.25 billion Community Health and Hospitals Program.

Supported by state-of-the-art ‘living labs’ for research activities and the latest technology, the new centre will help deliver the Government’s commitment to ensuring all Australians can access quality health care, when and where they need it.

Investing in health and medical research is a key pillar of the Morrison Government’s Long Term National Health Plan. Over the next four years, we will invest more than $6.6 billion in lifesaving health and medical research.

Meta-Analysis Of 15 Studies Reports New Findings On How Many Daily Walking Steps Needed For Longevity Benefit

March 3, 2022
A meta-analysis of 15 studies involving nearly 50,000 people from four continents offers new insights into identifying the amount of daily walking steps that will optimally improve adults' health and longevity -- and whether the number of steps is different for people of different ages.

The analysis represents an effort to develop an evidence-based public health message about the benefits of physical activity. The oft-repeated 10,000-steps-a-day mantra grew out of a decades-old marketing campaign for a Japanese pedometer, with no science to back up the impact on health.

Led by University of Massachusetts Amherst physical activity epidemiologist Amanda Paluch, an international group of scientists who formed the Steps for Health Collaborative found that taking more steps a day helps lower the risk of premature death. The findings are reported in a paper published March 2 in Lancet Public Health.

More specifically, for adults 60 and older, the risk of premature death leveled off at about 6,000-8,000 steps per day, meaning that more steps than that provided no additional benefit for longevity. Adults younger than 60 saw the risk of premature death stabilize at about 8,000-10,000 steps per day.

"So, what we saw was this incremental reduction in risk as steps increase, until it levels off," Paluch says. "And the leveling occurred at different step values for older versus younger adults."

Interestingly, the research found no definitive association with walking speed, beyond the total number of steps per day, Paluch notes. Getting in your steps -- regardless of the pace at which you walked them -- was the link to a lower risk of death.

The new research supports and expands findings from another study led by Paluch, published last September in JAMA Network Open, which found that walking at least 7,000 steps a day reduced middle-aged people's risk of premature death.

The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, updated in 2018, recommends adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity each week. Paluch is among the researchers seeking to help establish the evidence base to guide recommendations for simple, accessible physical activity, such as walking.

"Steps are very simple to track, and there is a rapid growth of fitness tracking devices," Paluch says. "It's such a clear communication tool for public health messaging."

The research group combined the evidence from 15 studies that investigated the effect of daily steps on all-cause mortality among adults age 18 and older. They grouped the nearly 50,000 participants into four comparative groups according to average steps per day. The lowest step group averaged 3,500 steps; the second, 5,800; the third, 7,800; and the fourth, 10,900 steps per day.

Among the three higher active groups who got more steps a day, there was a 40-53% lower risk of death, compared to the lowest quartile group who walked fewer steps, according to the meta-analysis.

"The major takeaway is there's a lot of evidence suggesting that moving even a little more is beneficial, particularly for those who are doing very little activity," Paluch says. "More steps per day are better for your health. And the benefit in terms of mortality risk levels off around 6,000 to 8,000 for older adults and 8,000 to 10,000 for younger adults."

Amanda E Paluch, Shivangi Bajpai, David R Bassett, Mercedes R Carnethon, Ulf Ekelund, Kelly R Evenson, Deborah A Galuska, Barbara J Jefferis, William E Kraus, I-Min Lee, Charles E Matthews, John D Omura, Alpa V Patel, Carl F Pieper, Erika Rees-Punia, Dhayana Dallmeier, Jochen Klenk, Peter H Whincup, Erin E Dooley, Kelley Pettee Gabriel, Priya Palta, Lisa A Pompeii, Ariel Chernofsky, Martin G Larson, Ramachandran S Vasan, Nicole Spartano, Marcel Ballin, Peter Nordström, Anna Nordström, Sigmund A Anderssen, Bjørge H Hansen, Jennifer A Cochrane, Terence Dwyer, Jing Wang, Luigi Ferrucci, Fangyu Liu, Jennifer Schrack, Jacek Urbanek, Pedro F Saint-Maurice, Naofumi Yamamoto, Yutaka Yoshitake, Robert L Newton, Shengping Yang, Eric J Shiroma, Janet E Fulton. Daily steps and all-cause mortality: a meta-analysis of 15 international cohorts. The Lancet Public Health, 2022; 7 (3): e219 DOI: 10.1016/S2468-2667(21)00302-9

Course Set For Tomorrow

From the Film Australia Collection. Made by The Commonwealth Film Unit 1963.  Directed by John Morris and Chris McCullough.  A survey of the Royal Australian Navy’s new ships and equipment, including Oberon submarines, Charles F Adams destroyers, Wessex helicopters and missile systems.

COVID mask mandates might be largely gone but here are 5 reasons to keep wearing yours

C Raina MacIntyreUNSW Sydney

Mask mandates in most indoor settings have been dropped in New South Wales, Victoria and the ACT, with Queensland to follow later this week.

Without a mandate, mask use tends to drop, so we can expect only a minority of people to be masked in public indoor spaces.

With thousands of cases a day and just over half (57%) of Australians having received a third COVID vaccine dose and children still under-vaccinated, we may see a surge in infections.

While masks are a small inconvenience, they remain vital in preventing SARS-CoV-2, because the virus spreads through the air we breathe.

Some people will continue to wear masks to stay safe and achieve a more normal life through the pandemic. Here are five reasons to keep wearing yours.

1. Masks Reduce Your Chance Of Getting COVID

Many studies have shown masks protect against COVID. While N95 respirators offer the greatest protection, even cloth masks are beneficial. N95s respirators lower the odds of testing positive to COVID by 83%, compared with 66% for surgical masks and 56% for cloth masks.

The protection when everyone wears a mask is much greater, because it reduces the likelihood of well people inhaling the virus and prevents infected people from exhaling the virus into the air. If everyone wears a mask, the viral load in the air is much lower.

When we lose the protection of universal masking, it’s a good idea to wear a high protection N95 or P2 respirator.

2. You Might Not Know You Have COVID

Transmission of the virus without symptoms is a major driver of spread, and we cannot know who around us is infected.

Infected people may be asymptomatic or may not know they’re infected. This is especially so for Omicron.

Overall, about one in four infections are asymptomatic. But even people with symptomatic infection are contagious before the symptoms start.

Business woman wears a mask.
You might not know you’re infectious. Shutterstock

3. Wearing A Mask Protects Others, Including Those At Risk Of Severe COVID

Wearing a mask protects others, including those at greatest risk of severe COVID: people with disability, chronic illnesses and suppressed immune systems.

COVID disproportionately affects migrants and people from lower socioeconomic groups who are more likely to work in customer-service roles. If you wear a mask, you’re protecting workers, commuters and others you interact with.

Rates of vaccination also lag among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, leaving them more vulnerable to COVID in the absence of masks.

Masks also protect children who are vulnerable to COVID, with only half of five to 11 year olds partially vaccinated and under-fives not yet eligible for vaccination.

Children who wear masks can also protect their peers. In the United States, the risk of outbreaks was nearly four times higher in schools without mask mandates compared to those with mandates.

Omicron is not the flu or a cold, and has accounted for 17% more deaths than Delta in the United States. While Omicron generally causes less severe disease than Delta, it has claimed more lives because of vastly higher case numbers.

There is also growing evidence SARS-COV-2 persists in the body after infection, which may result in long-term heart, lung and brain damage.

4. Masks Protect Your Colleagues

Many workplaces are insisting on people returning to face-to-face work, some without providing safe indoor air – and now without mask mandates.

The risk of COVID transmission is greatest when indoors for prolonged periods without adequate airflow. So sitting in an office for eight hours without a mask is a risk, especially if safe indoor air has not been addressed.

Man in a mask sits at his work desk, next to his female colleagues.
Wearing a mask reduces your risk of contracting COVID from co-workers. Shutterstock

At the same time as dropping many workplace mask mandates, NSW has moved to remove automatic workers’ compensation for people who catch COVID at work.

This is a double disadvantage for workers returning to workplaces with fewer protections and facing greater obstacles to workers’ compensation should they get infected.

5. Others Might Follow Your Lead

Being one of the few people wearing a mask when others aren’t, such as in a supermarket, is a daunting prospect for those of us who wish to continue masking. There are reports of masked people being abused and bullied.

However a NSW survey showed the majority of people in that state wanted mask mandates to remain. The more we normalise masks and the more we see them, the better protected the community will be.

As much as we wish it so, the pandemic is not over and new variants will likely emerge.

A layered, multi-pronged strategy which includes vaccines, masks, ventilation, testing and tracing is the best way to protect health, the economy and a resumption of normal activities. The Conversation

C Raina MacIntyre, Professor of Global Biosecurity, NHMRC Principal Research Fellow, Head, Biosecurity Program, Kirby Institute, UNSW Sydney

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

The Royal Commission One Year On

March 3, 2022
12 months from a watershed moment for aged care reform, National Seniors CEO, Professor John McCallum, reflects on the importance of redesigning care with people at the centre.

Is it really twelve months since the 148 recommendations of the Royal Commission Into Aged Care Quality and Safety, were publicly released? Well, yes, it is and where are we now?

In announcing the work of Commissioners Pagone and Briggs, Prime Minister Scott Morrison acknowledged a seismic shift was needed in the way we approach aged care.

“So generational change is needed, …It will take quite considerable time to achieve the scale of change that we want to and need to,” the PM told the media at a news conference at Kirribilli House a year ago.

While this will take time, are things moving fast enough and in the right direction?

As the CEO and Head of Research at National Seniors Australia, I was called as an expert witness to the Royal Commission on no less than three occasions, had many other background meetings and made several submissions.

At my formal appearance on the very first day, I gave my views on home care, which was woefully underfunded and had horrific statistics.

The waiting list for home care had blown out to more than 120,000 people, who were waiting on average 18 months to receive their approved level of care. In one year alone, 16,000 of our fellow Australians died on the waiting list while a further 13,000 were shunted into residential aged care against their wishes because the home care they had been approved to receive, simply wasn’t available.
Under oath in cross examination, I described home care as a “running sore”, which received immediate media coverage.

Twelve months on, in last year’s budget, home care became the centrepiece receiving the bulk of the $17.7 billion dollars allocated to aged care.

According to the government, this funding was aimed at reducing wait times, supporting carers, improving the workforce, and helping seniors navigate the system when choosing care.

Since then, wait times for the highest level of home care are now estimated to take between six to nine months after the Care Package has been approved (as of December 31, 2021).

And last November, the Department of Health reported that the waitlist had fallen to 74,143, while the number of available Home Care Packages had increased by 4.3% in the September quarter to 204,146.

That’s home care, but what about residential aged care where we heard a continuing parade of horror stories at the Royal Commission?

More like home
Last year, our Research team at National Seniors embarked on an arduous journey to ask thousands of older Australians what, if anything, has changed in their minds when it comes to aged care. This was especially important in the wake of the reports of systemic abuse and neglect within the sector.

We conducted a broad social survey in the weeks leading up to the release of the Royal Commission’s recommendations and a follow up survey more than six months later.

The most common response from those who took the time to tell us their thoughts was that residential aged care needed to be more like “home”.

They told us of a desire for more home-style meals, facilities, and atmosphere.
We were told of a preference for smaller, community-minded facilities that would minimise the sort of abuse and neglect exposed in the Royal Commission.

Many of our respondents believe that the for-profit motive and care are incompatible bed fellows, so there’s a preference for not-for-profit nursing homes.

The survey also revealed sympathy for aged care workers who are underpaid and work in trying conditions. Not surprisingly, respondents believe better pay and conditions would lead to better care for aged care residents.

The other sticking point our respondents referred to is the inability to navigate the complex system and find information when choosing an aged care provider.

A one-stop-shop for information and advice was consistently raised to overcome this.

In response, we at National Seniors came up with 12 ideals on how to make residential aged care more attractive including, lower fees, increased staff, more diverse aged care homes, and greater accountability.

As our report shows and our members tell us, we have the answers to fix the system, and the Prime Minister is right, it will take time to achieve our goals, but the length of that time and quality of outcomes will also be the judge.

The clock is now ticking, but rest assured that I and the rest of the National Seniors team will continue to voice your concerns and hold government, no matter who they are, to account.

New Programs To Keep Seniors Connected

February 28, 2022
Seniors looking to reconnect with friends and make new ones will now have more opportunities thanks to locally run programs funded by the NSW Government.

Minister for Seniors Mark Coure said 24 local councils and community groups have received a share in $600,000 to run programs aimed at reducing social isolation among seniors.

“Even without the challenges of COVID-19, no one likes to be alone or feel disconnected from their community, especially not our seniors,” Mr Coure said.  

“This funding is about helping create environments where people can come together, meet new people and enjoy themselves in a social environment.

“These programs are helping us achieve exactly that, whether it be by helping seniors learn a new skill, connect with like-minded people or rekindle their passion for a previous hobby.”

Mr Coure said the Government is committed to investing in local communities to ensure they are strong, harmonious and connected.

“Seniors are integral to our communities and we appreciate the contributions they have made and continue to make,” Mr Coure said.

“That is why we need to ensure they are empowered to continue being active participants in community life, no matter who they are or what language they speak.

“I look forward to the chance to see these programs in action and witness the positive impacts they bring.”

Through the Reducing Social Isolation for Seniors Grants Program, funding up to $60,000 was on offer to local councils and organisations to run programs that improve social inclusion for seniors. Programs must run to December 2022.

For more information on the program and recipients, visit:


SNPHN Ltd (Sydney North Public Health Network)
Connections for Carers
Connections for Carers will provide opportunities for social connectedness through a series of themed social activities during 2022. These activities will be designed to bring seniors who are carers together socially and for wellbeing initiatives to provide togetherness, reduce isolation and to facilitate access to social networks, health and well-being services and support.

This project operates in Northern Beaches, and targets the following priority groups:
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 50 years and over
  • Seniors from culturally and linguistically diverse (CaLD) backgrounds
  • Seniors who are carers
For more information, please contact

St Vincents Clinic
Seniors Making Sustainable Community Connections
Community Connections is a major Program Expansion that will provide greater services to more socially isolated seniors over 65, (50% CALD) particularly those exiting healthcare and/or waiting for aged care places. Growing out of a single intervention program into this diverse suite of multiple offerings, it will be distinguished by its capacity to address multiple barriers to participation leading to more sustainable impact. It gives clients a very high degree of control over the services they receive and the way they receive them. It has great flexibility to pivot delivery between virtual and face-to-face services, in line with COVID-related health advice.

This project operates in Bayside, Blacktown, Burwood, Camden, Campbelltown, Canada Bay, Canterbury-Bankstown, Cumberland, Fairfield, Georges River, Greater Hume, Hornsby, Hunter's Hill, Inner West, Ku-ring-gai, Liverpool City, Mosman, Northern Beaches, North Sydney, Parramatta, Penrith, Randwick, Strathfield, Sutherland Shire, Sydney, The Hills Shire, Waverley, Willoughby and Woollahra, and targets the following priority group:
  • Seniors from culturally and linguistically diverse (CaLD) backgrounds
  • Seniors living with disability, dementia, chronic disease or mental illness
For more information, please contact

For further information about the grant program please see the main Reducing Social Isolation for Seniors Grant Program page.

Just 30-90 minutes of resistance training weekly decreases risk of premature death – new research

It’s important to do resistance training alongside other types of exercise. Leszek Glasner/ Shutterstock
Bradley ElliottUniversity of Westminster

There’s long been evidence that moderate aerobic exercise (think walking, running, or cycling) are good for your lifelong health and well-being. Research even shows us more active people also tend to live longer, healthier lives with lower rates of disease – including cancers, diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

But what about resistance exercise – like lifting weights? While it’s thought these kinds of exercises are probably also good for health and longevity, less evidence has existed showing the benefits. But a recent study now shows that 30-90 minutes of resistance training a week is enough to potentially decrease risk of premature death from all causes by 10%-20%.

The team of researchers from three universities in Japan conducted a meta-analysis – meaning they pooled data from 16 separate studies looking at longevity, disease risk and resistance exercise. This allowed them to look at tens of thousands of participants altogether.

They found that 30-90 minutes of resistance exercise per week was optimal for lowering overall risk of dying from all causes. More strikingly, they also found regularly performing more than three hours of strength training per week could actually increase risk of premature death by about 10%.

They also found that the optimal amount of time spent resistance training varied when it came to preventing different diseases. For example, while 40-60 minutes of strength training per week is optimal for reducing risk of cardiovascular disease, the risk of diabetes continues to drop the more time a person spent resistance training each week. However, resistance training was shown to have no effect on the risk of some specific types of cancer, such as bowel, kidney or pancreatic.

The findings of this study are largely in line with what the NHS already recommends. According to them, adults aged 19 to 64 should aim to do two strength training sessions per week in order to benefit their overall health. But given public health guidelines are often a compromise between what’s optimal to perform and what people won’t be put off by, it’s promising to see that the optimal amount of strength training per week to benefit health so closely mirrors current guidelines.

A middle-aged man performs an arm exercise at the gym using a weight machine.
Resistance exercise doesn’t just have to mean lifting weights. VH-studio/ Shutterstock

There are a couple of limitations with this study. While the number of people pooled across the studies is large, the number of studies actually included in the analysis is still quite small. The participants of the study were also primarily North American or western European – so the findings may not be as relevant for people of many different ethnic backgrounds. Another limitation is that most of the studies included in the analysis relied on questionnaires of large groups of people asking about their exercise habits. The problem with this is that people may overestimate or lie about the amount of exercise they actually do.

Optimal Exercise

Strength training is good for your overall health in many more ways than you might expect.

Besides the obvious – that it makes you stronger, for example – researchers are beginning to learn more about the role certain hormones and cells that are released during resistance exercise play in our body.

For example, myokines are hormones that our muscles release in response to all sorts of stimuli – including exercise. Circulating around the body, myokines are able to regulate metabolism, as well as liver, brain and kidney function. One specific myokine I’ve spent a career studying is myostatin. While we know that it regulates muscle size, there’s all sorts of new evidence that it also influences metabolism and fat cell growth – which all play a role in helping us keep healthy and live longer.

Research also shows us that resistance exercise releases tiny cell fragments from our muscle cells called “extracellular vesicles”. These allow our muscle tissues to better communicate with each other. While we don’t entirely know what they’re doing, we do know that they’re carrying RNA (a molecule similar to DNA), proteins and even mitochondria (which help convert food into energy our cells can use) from cell to cell. So although we aren’t entirely clear of their function yet, this is just another reminder of the influence our muscles have on many aspects of our health and body function.

However, the authors of this recent study only looked at the relationship between strength training and longevity. This means they didn’t look at why it has a protective effect – and why more than three hours of strength training per week was also linked to slightly greater risk of premature death. While we may be able to speculate on why strength training has this protective effect based on what other research has shown, more follow-up studies will be needed that really seek to explore these questions.

But while this study has shown strength training to be beneficial for preventing premature death from many harmful diseases, that doesn’t mean you should only strength train. It’s important to also do moderate intensity aerobic exercise (such as walking, jogging or cycling) most days of the week to optimise your chances of living a longer, healthier life.The Conversation

Bradley Elliott, Senior Lecturer in Physiology, University of Westminster

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

Word Of The Week: Meglomania

Word of the Week returns in 2022 simply to throw some disruption in amongst the 'yeah-nah' mix.

First known usage was 1885; megalo- + -mania

1. an unnaturally strong wish for power and control, or the belief that you are very much more important and powerful than you really are. 2. a delusional mental illness that is marked by feelings of personal omnipotence and grandeur. 3. an obsession with power and wealth, and a passion for grand schemes.

megalo-; a combining form with the meanings “large, great, grand,” “abnormally large,” used in the formation of compound words: megalopolis; megalocardia. From Greek, combining form of megal- (stem of mégas) great, large

Premier’s Reading Challenge Now Open

The Premier’s Reading Challenge marks its 21st anniversary starting this year, with children encouraged to join the party - by reading lots of books!

The Challenge aims to encourage a love of reading for leisure and pleasure in students, and to enable them to experience quality literature.

First started in 2002, the Challenge has grown in both student participation and completion numbers every year since its inception.

Premier Dominic Perrottet said despite disruptions from COVID-19 in 2021, participation in the Challenge was up almost 3 per cent (440,000 students) with individual books read reaching almost 9 million.

“It’s wonderful to see that the Challenge continues to grow, encouraging generations to enjoy reading,” Mr Perrottet said.

“The challenge encourages students to extend reading beyond the classroom where they can read for pleasure and knowledge.”

Minister for Education and Early Learning Sarah Mitchell said this year’s motto “stories that stay with you” was very suitable following the years we have had.

“Reading is so beneficial for students’ lives, it sharpens their knowledge and strengthens writing and vocabulary – but just as importantly it makes for happier, more creative kids who take that with them into adulthood,” Ms Mitchell said.

“Reading is a gift that unlocks future success for students. I’m excited for this year’s challenge to start.”

New booklist update
The first new booklist update for 2022 is now available, with 230 new titles added for students to read as part of the challenge. 

The Premier’s Reading Challenge begins on Monday, 28 February and is open for student entries until Friday, 19 August. 

Students from government, independent, Catholic and home schools in Kindergarten to Year 10 can participate.

See for the rules of the competition.

Stronger Career Pathways For Students

March 1, 2022
Thousands of high school students will be encouraged to explore exciting career opportunities through the expansion of the Educational Pathways Program to an additional 120 NSW schools.

Minister for Education Sarah Mitchell said the NSW Government will invest $16.5 million in the expansion of the successful program which was piloted in 24 high schools across South-West Sydney and the North Coast.

“The Educational Pathways Program is designed to improve education and career outcomes by introducing NSW public high schools students to a range of post-school training and employment pathways,” Ms Mitchell said.

“The program will also help to broker relationships between schools, local employers and industry leaders, which can lead to jobs and further training for these students.”

Minister for Skills and Training Alister Henskens said the program’s pilot phase over the past two years successfully introduced thousands of students to different training and career pathways.

“The program has already seen the tripling of the number of students across the 24 pilot schools enrolling in school-based apprenticeships and traineeships,” Mr Henskens said.

“The expansion of the program to an additional 120 schools means the program now spans 144 public high schools in nine NSW regions, which is a real win for students, schools and local employers.”

Features of the Educational Pathways Program in 2022 include:
  • Fee-free apprenticeships and pre-traineeships, allowing students to ‘test-drive’ different vocational education and training courses;
  • Specialist head teachers and teams to work with careers advisers to create more engaging opportunities and pathways for students; and
  • Dedicated staff to promote awareness and engagement in school-based apprenticeships and traineeships, and offer tailored support and mentoring for students exploring these pathways.
Prairiewood High School Principal Belinda Giudice said career education and counselling is crucial in assisting students to find the most suitable post-school pathway.

“This program helps connect students with school-based apprenticeships and traineeships as we work to establish industry partners to provide guidance, work place tours and work placements for our students,” Ms Giudice said.

“These experiences open student’s eyes to a broad range of job opportunities and career pathways available and give them the tools to get started on their journey.”

For more information, visit the Website

Young And Emerging Artists Showcase Talents At MAG&M

Talented young artists from across the Northern Beaches will showcase their work at the Manly Art Gallery & Museum from 25 March until 1 May 2022.

The annual Express Yourself exhibition features the works of over 50 HSC Visual Art students.

Northern Beaches Mayor Michael Regan commended the 2021 cohort of visual art students who produced outstanding works during a very challenging period. 

“We are proud to display these impressive artworks from such talented and resilient young artists at Manly Art Gallery & Museum,” Mayor Regan said.

“Express Yourself features a broad range of expressive artforms that explore contemporary issues such as isolation, gender identity and the environment.

“The exhibition showcases the very best from our high-quality secondary schools, attracts new and younger audiences to our regional gallery and helps to nurture and inspire the next generation of local artists.”

The winners of the $5,000 Theo Batten Bequest Youth Art Award and the $3,000 Manly Art Gallery & Museum Society Youth Art Award will be announced on Friday 25 March. These two awards are granted annually to students featured in the exhibition.

Visitors are encouraged to vote for their favourite artwork in the KALOF People’s Choice Award which is announced at the end of the exhibition period.

Three awards are granted annually to students featured in the exhibition: MAG&M Society Youth Art Award, Theo Batten Bequest Youth Art Award and KALOF People’s Choice Award.

Participating schools:

Barrenjoey High School
Covenant Christian School
Davidson High School
Forest High School
Killarney Heights High School
Mater Maria College
Narrabeen Sports High School
NBSC - Balgowlah Boys Campus
NBSC - Cromer Campus
NBSC - Freshwater Senior Campus
NBSC - Mackellar Girls Campus
NBSC - Manly Selective Campus
Northern Beaches Christian School
Oxford Falls Grammar School
Pittwater High School
St Augustine's College
St Luke's Grammar School
St Paul's Catholic College
Stella Maris Catholic College
The Pittwater House Schools

Exhibition: 25 March - 1 May 2022, 10am - 5pm daily (excluding Mondays)

PUBLIC PROGRAMS:                                                                                                                                             

MAG&M Society preview
Friday 25 March, 9 – 10am
MAG&M Society members are invited to a special preview of Express Yourself 2022.

Teachers' preview
Friday 25 March, 5.30 – 6.30pm
Teachers are invited to a special preview of Express Yourself 2022. Be inspired by the extraordinary creative talent of over 50 young emerging artists from the 20 secondary schools on the Northern Beaches.

Seniors Festival
Tuesday 29 March, 10 – 11am
Enjoy a special guided tour by MAG&M exhibition curator Bronwen Davies, of selected works by HSC Visual Art students from the 20 secondary schools across the Northern Beaches.

GALLERY DETAILS:                                                                       

Manly Art Gallery & Museum
West Esplanade Reserve, Manly NSW 2095
Open Tue – Sun, 10am – 5pm (closed Mondays & Public Holidays)
Free entry
T: 02 9976 1421 
Instagram: magamnsw 

Ocean Film Festival World Tour 2022 

Avalon Friday 25 Mar 6:30pm - TICKETS
39 Old Barrenjoey Rd, Avalon Beach
Designed to mesmerise and enthral, the Ocean Film Festival World Tour showcases a 3 hour celebration of our oceans comprised of sublime footage taken above and below the water’s surface. This unique collection of short films from around the globe document the beauty and power of the ocean, and celebrate the divers, surfers, swimmers and oceanographers who live for the sea’s salt spray; who chase the crests of waves; and who marvel at the mysteries of the big blue.

The films feature captivating cinematography, complete with awe-inspiring underwater scenes and fast-paced wave sequences that have been captured from unbelievable vantage points.
Inspiring and thought-provoking, the Ocean Film Festival World Tour is filled with moving footage, touching interviews and insightful narrations. Each of the festival’s films conveys a deep respect and appreciation for the world’s oceans and the creatures that call them home.
Find out more at and more about this year's movies at:

In the event of a COVID lockdown, this event will be postponed and your tickets will be automatically transferred to the new date. You will receive an email confirming this change. If you can't make the new date you will be offered a refund.
Photo credit: John Kowitz @j.kowitz

Military History Lesson On Offer For Students

Students studying modern history can now apply for a Premier’s Anzac Memorial Scholarship, which will provide opportunities to develop their knowledge and understanding of the history of Australians at war.

Premier Dominic Perrottet said up to 20 selected students would join a two-week study tour to significant historical sites to learn about the service of Australian men and women in the World Wars and other conflicts.

“This offers a unique learning experience that complements the NSW History Syllabus, which enhances and reflects on history studies in the classroom,” Mr Perrottet said.

“I encourage students in Year 10 and 11 with a keen interest in history to apply as this is a hands-on learning opportunity to represent their school and community.”

Minister for Transport and Veterans David Elliott said the 2022 study tour will take place during the Term 3 school holidays (26 September to 7 October) and will visit locations in Sydney, regional NSW and the ACT.

“The tour will be accompanied by a military historian to teach students about our nation’s military past and help them understand the importance of commemoration,” Mr Elliott said.

“This is an especially important tour in 2022, a year that commemorates 80 years since our veterans fought for our freedom during the Second World War.”

One of the 2021 scholars, Ryan Muscat from Marian Catholic College Kenthurst, described the tour as truly incredible.

“It was a once in a lifetime experience, not just because of the fascinating stops but the friendships that I made with my fellow scholars,” Ryan said. “It helped me to better appreciate the breadth and scale of sacrifice that personnel from NSW have made in the defence of Australia and how our state's role continues to evolve.”

Eligible students can apply online by submitting a short personal essay, a letter of recommendation, a parent consent form and a copy of a marked history assignment.

Registrations close on 28 March 2022.

Applications Now Open For NSW Youth Advisory Council 2022 

Young community leaders and passionate advocates from across NSW are being encouraged to nominate for the 2022 NSW Youth Advisory Council (YAC) with applications opening today. 
Advocate for Children and Young People, Ms Zoë Robinson said that is more important than ever for young people to come forward to have their say on the policies and services that affect them.
“In the last few years young people in NSW have been at the centre of a rapidly changing environment. It is important that they are a key part of decisions that affect their lives and being on the YAC is one way of doing that,” Ms Robinson said.
“All NSW young people, aged 12 to 24 years, who want to advocate on behalf of their peers are welcome to apply. We want to hear from people with diverse backgrounds and a broad range of life experiences that reflect the diversity of the 2.5 million young people in our State,” Ms Robinson added.
The 12 member Council has a statutory role to advise the NSW Government on issues of importance to young people. They meet regularly throughout the year to provide advice to the Government and the Advocate and to monitor and evaluate policies and legislation which affect young people. One of the key priorities of the Youth Advisory Council is promoting a diverse range of views, including the voices of rural and regional young people. 
“Throughout their 12 month tenure, YAC members will have an opportunity to engage with and give advice to government on a broad range priorities.  In recent years the YAC have advised on the NSW curriculum, the Statement of Consent, COVID communications, consultation projects and much more.
“As Advocate, I cannot do the work that I do without the trusted advice of the YAC,” Ms Robinson added.
YAC members are sought from all over NSW, from all backgrounds and life experiences to reflect the diversity of young people living in NSW. Young people from all walks of life are invited to apply, as the more diverse the council members are, the more insightful the results are.  
Applications are open until Sunday 13 March 2022, for more information and to complete an application visit

Bee Gees - Jive Talkin'

"Jive Talkin' " is a song by the Bee Gees, released as a single in May 1975 by RSO Records. This was the lead single from the album Main Course (as well as a song on the 1977 Saturday Night Fever soundtrack) and hit number one on the Billboard Hot 100; it also reached the top-five on the UK Singles Chart in the middle of 1975. Largely recognised as the group's "comeback" song, it was their first US top-10 hit since "How Can You Mend a Broken Heart" (1971).

Recording for "Jive Talkin'" took place on 30 January and 2 February 1975. The scratchy guitar intro was done by Barry and the funky bass line by Maurice. The pulsing synthesiser bass line, which featured in the final recording, was (along with the pioneering work of Stevie Wonder) one of the earliest uses of "synth bass" on a pop recording. It was overdubbed by keyboardist Blue Weaver using a then state-of-the-art ARP 2600, which producer Arif Mardin had brought in for the recording of the Main Course album. Weaver stated, "Usually Maurice would play bass guitar, but he was away from the studio that night. And when Maurice came back, we let him hear it and suggested he re-record the bass line on his bass guitar". "I really liked the synth bass lines", Maurice said. "I overdubbed certain sections to add bass extra emphasis".
After hearing "Jive Talkin'", Lindsey Buckingham of Fleetwood Mac, and co-producer Richard Dashut built up the song "Second Hand News" (released on the band's Rumours in 1977) with four audio tracks of electric guitar and the use of chair percussion to evoke Celtic rock.

The Bee Gees were a music group formed in 1958, featuring brothers Barry, Robin and Maurice Gibb. The trio were especially successful as a popular music act in the late 1960s and early 1970s, and later as prominent performers of the disco music era in the mid- to late 1970s. The group sang recognisable three-part tight harmonies; Robin's clear vibrato lead vocals were a hallmark of their earlier hits, while Barry's R&B falsetto became their signature sound during the mid- to late 1970s and 1980s. The Bee Gees wrote all of their own hits, as well as writing and producing several major hits for other artists and have been regarded as one of the most important and influential acts in pop music history.

Born on the Isle of Man during the late 1940s, the Gibb brothers moved to their father Hugh Gibb's hometown of Chorlton-cum-Hardy, Greater Manchester, England in 1955. They formed a skiffle/rock-and-roll group, the Rattlesnakes, which consisted of Barry on guitar and vocals, Robin and Maurice on vocals and friends Paul Frost on drums and Kenny Horrocks on tea-chest bass. In December 1957 the boys began to sing in harmony. The story is told that they were going to lip-sync to a record in the local Gaumont cinema (as other children had done on previous weeks), but as they were running to the theatre, the fragile shellac 78-RPM record broke. The brothers had to sing live, but received such a positive response from the audience that they decided to pursue a singing career.

In August 1958, the Gibb family, including older sister Lesley and infant brother Andy (born in March 1958), emigrated to Australia and settled in Redcliffe, Queensland, just north-east of Brisbane. The young brothers began performing to raise pocket money. Speedway promoter and driver Bill Goode, who had hired the brothers to entertain the crowd at the Redcliffe Speedway in 1960, introduced them to Brisbane radio-presenter jockey Bill Gates. The crowd at the speedway would throw money onto the track for the boys, who generally performed during the interval of meetings (usually on the back of a truck that drove around the track) and, in a deal with Goode, any money they collected from the crowd they were allowed to keep. Gates named the group the "BGs" (later changed to "Bee Gees") after his, Goode's and Barry Gibb's initials. The name was not specifically a reference to "Brothers Gibb", despite popular belief.

At one point, in 1978, the Gibb brothers were responsible for writing and/or performing nine of the songs in the Billboard Hot 100.[128] In all, the Gibbs placed 13 singles onto the Hot 100 in 1978, with 12 making the Top 40. The Gibb brothers are fellows of the British Academy of Songwriters, Composers and Authors (BASCA). At least 2,500 artists have recorded their songs.

Below runs Jive Talking - and below that another track Fleetwood Mac's "Rumours"; Songbird - bio derived from Bee Gees – Biography & History – AllMusic". AllMusic. and Wikipedia

Morning Of The Earth: 50th Anniversary Screening At Cremorne

Morning of the Earth 50th Anniversary screening with director Q&A Wed March 9 at the Hayden Orpheum Picture Palace, Cremorne. Beautifully remastered in 4K. One show only! Tickets:

A tale of subterfuge, rivalry, Napoleon and snakes: how the NSW State Library came to own the map of Abel Tasman’s voyages

State Library New South Wales
Lynette RussellMonash University and Leonie StevensMonash University

Every year, tens of thousands of New South Wales State Library patrons walk past a stunning mosaic replica of the Tasman Map on the floor of the Mitchell library vestibule. The original Tasman map, recently restored, charts the two voyages of the Dutch explorer Abel Tasman in 1642 and 1644.

The map is perhaps the Mitchell Library’s greatest treasure, though we know little about the time, place, or artist responsible for it.

Yet as we discuss in a new paper, its acquisition by the Mitchell library is a story of subterfuge, intrigue, personal animosities and state-versus-commonwealth rivalries.

The Tasman Map was probably made in the mid- to late-1600s in Batavia (now known as Jakarta), home of the Dutch East India Company, on Japanese paper.

It was most likely compiled by a team of draftsmen from a range of charts from Tasman’s two voyages. One of the artists was almost certainly Isaack Gilsemans, draftsman on the voyage.

Mystery shrouds the map’s whereabouts from the 17th century until 1843, when Amsterdam mapmaker Jacob Swart described and reproduced it.

Jacob Swart’s reproduction of the Tasman Map, c.1860. Wikimedia Commons

In 1891 the original 17th century map was listed for sale by Frederick Muller & Co. An interested group headed by historian George Collingridge tried unsuccessfully to persuade the NSW government to purchase it.

Instead, the map was purchased by Prince Roland Bonaparte, great-nephew of Napoleon, and an anthropologist with a great interest in Australia.

The Princely Promise

In March 1899, Henry Vere Barclay – a failed pastoralist, explorer and raconteur – gave a talk at the Imperial Institute in London where he announced Prince Roland had promised the Tasman map would be bequeathed to the Australian Commonwealth Government.

Newspaper reads: Tasman's map of Australia to be given to the Australian Commonwealth.
News of the map, reported in the Argus. National Library of Australia

Within days, headlines declaring Prince Roland’s intended gift of the map to the Commonwealth of Australia had appeared in at least 44 Australian and New Zealand newspapers.

The prince’s intention to bequeath the map was confirmed in 1904 by James Park Thomson, president of the Royal Geographical Society of Queensland.

After viewing the map in Paris, Thomson wrote in his memoir, Round the World, of how the prince believed the map would be “of the greatest interest and use to the Commonwealth.”

Also reported by Thomson was how the prince wanted to hand the map to the Commonwealth government in person – but he was terrified of snakes and disliked rabbits which “seemed to overrun the place”.

Murmurings about the Tasman map fell silent for two decades and only emerged again after the prince’s death in 1924.

A Clandestine Operation

In 1926, anthropologist Daisy Bates read Thomson’s book, noting the reference to Prince Roland’s intended bequest.

Knowing the prince had recently died, she wrote to an acquaintance, William Ifould, asking him to enquire of the prince’s estate and the status of the map.

As chief librarian of the NSW Public Library, Ifould immediately began a clandestine operation to bring the Tasman Map to Australia.

The Mitchell Library photographed in 1923. State Library New South Wales

It is clear from his earliest communications, when he warned his agent not to let the map come to the attention of Prime Minister Stanley Bruce, that Ifould was consumed by a singular goal: to acquire the map for NSW before anyone from the Commonwealth government remembered the prince’s promise.

Ifould’s chief personal nemesis was Kenneth Binns, librarian of the Commonwealth National Library, but Ifould also held an abiding antipathy for the Commonwealth itself.

In the earliest days of the scramble for the map, the Commonwealth Library’s collection was yet to have a permanent home, with the national capital of Canberra still in the early planning stages. Binns was based in Melbourne, then the seat of the national parliament, and this played into a rivalry between Sydney and Melbourne.

The Tasman Map was in the possession of Princess Marie Bonaparte, who was aware of her father’s desire to bestow it upon the Australian nation. Her husband Prince George wanted to travel to Australia and present the map himself.

This created concern for Ifould and the Mitchell Library, who were worried they might accidentally present it to the prime minister instead of the Mitchell Library.

Princess Marie clearly considered the map belonged to the Australian Commonwealth.

Ifould and his conspirators – including a succession of British ambassadors and NSW agents-general – ignored this. As one agent-general advised the NSW premier:

it is probable that she does not mean to say the Map will go to the Commonwealth Government, and that the use of the words ‘Government of Australia’ has no particular significance.

In May 1932 came the breakthrough Ifould had been waiting for: Prince George postponed his trip again, and Princess Marie agreed to hand the map to the Paris-based Australian Trade Commissioner.

Ifould’s seven-year clandestine operation, came to fruition when the map, now known as the Bonaparte-Tasman Map, arrived in Australia to great fanfare in September 1933.

A Global Map; A Local Rivalry

Absent from any version of the story over the past 90 years is admission of knowledge of Prince Roland’s wish, expressed multiple times, for the map to go to the Commonwealth.

The mosaic reproduction of the Tasman Map, photographed in 1934. State Library of New South Wales

The role of Barclay’s 1899 anecdote, and its publication around the country, was eradicated. This allowed the map falling into the Mitchell’s hands to be characterised as a happy coincidence, and not the result of scheming and subterfuge.

The Tasman Map, as it is commonly viewed today, is a mosaic reproduction by Italian artisans, of a Dutch map, on Japanese paper, depicting Antipodean coastlines, representing east Asian dominance, donated by a French aristocrat, intended for the Australian Commonwealth, but wrested by a state institution obsessed with inter-library rivalry.

This research will be discussed at the NSW State Library’s Mapping the Pacific conference on March 3 2022.The Conversation

Lynette Russell, ARC Laureate Fellow, Monash University, and Deputy Director of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Australian Biodiversity and Heritage, Monash University and Leonie Stevens, Research Fellow, Monash University

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

How Tasmania’s major digital blackout was fixed, and how another could be avoided – an electrical engineer explains

Thas Ampalavanapillai NirmalathasThe University of Melbourne

Tasmanians yesterday suffered a six-hour digital blackout, with phone and internet services down across the state. Some radio and television broadcasts were also affected, as well as banking and electronic payment services.

The impact was so severe that Tasmania’s connectivity to the rest of the world was reportedly reduced by 70%, before services slowly began being restored around 6pm.

The state is connected to the Australian mainland (and the rest of the world) by three fibre-optic cables. Two are deployed by Telstra, and the third is owned by the Tasmanian government and laid along the BassLink electricity cable into Victoria.

By an astounding coincidence, different construction crews cut the two Telstra cables in two separate incidents: one was cut at around 11am in Victoria, near Frankston, and the other was cut at a remote location in Tasmania at around 1pm.

It’s not clear how this happened, given the perennial advice for construction crews to “dial before your dig”. It could be the crews were working with inaccurate information, and didn’t realise they were digging on the cables’ routes.

The breaks in the two cables led to a major disruption to all internet and telecommunication services in Tasmania. Priority services, such as triple zero calls, were kept alive using the third cable.

A Complicated Setup

Undersea fibre-optic cables are made of bundles of glass fibres, each one about as thick as a strand of human hair. Information is carried along these fibre strands at high speeds in the form of light pulses.

The fibres are carefully arranged inside the cable, with each strand supported by a strengthening sheath. The entire cable is also protected by an outer waterproof sheath, making it suitable for undersea deployment.

Undersea cables leave the shore via special landing sites and loosely sit on the ocean floor. They can suffer damage from anchors of passing ships, or natural disasters – which happened during the recent volcanic eruption in Tonga. But these incidents are very rare.

On the shore, the cables are laid underground and only accessible at key network exchange locations.

Repair Logistics

Repairing damage to undersea cables requires specialist ships that draw the cable to the ocean’s surface. One by one, the individual glass fibre strands are separated, cleaved with a diamond blade (to achieve clean polished ends on the strands), and then fused or welded back together to complete the repair.

The repaired link is mechanically strengthened with a protective covering, after which the network engineers run a range of tests before the link can carry network traffic again.

In yesterday’s events, however, the damage to the two fibre-optic cables happened along their land routes, so repair crews could fix them relatively quickly. Had the cables been damaged at undersea locations, repairs could have taken days.

Any delays yesterday would have mainly been a result of getting the right equipment and technical crews to the locations – especially the more remote one on the Tasmanian side.

What’s The Fix?

The digital blackout highlighted Tasmania’s over-reliance on the current fibre links. The Tasmanian government has in the past failed to be part of other undersea cable projects that could have provided a more diverse connection between Tasmania and the mainland.

The state could run into more trouble in the future, should it fail to bolster its connective capabilities.

As the distance between Tasmania and the mainland is about 200km, deploying wireless links (such as those used by radio towers) wouldn’t be realistic. This would require very high antenna towers and multiple repeaters in the sea.

And while NBN satellites could be used to provide some connectivity, undersea cables remain the best option.

Ideally, there should be investment not only in establishing a potential fourth cable link, but also in upgrading the existing infrastructure to broaden its capacity. Cables would still be impacted during adverse events, but the entire system would become much more resilient overall.

Diversity in the cable network is also critical, especially in terms of the physical cable routes. In situations where links are damaged, we need to be able to reconfigure the network quickly (and without human intervention). So even if a fault happens, signals can be automatically rerouted to bypass faulty links.

With the world’s increasing dependence on digital connectivity, and the emergence of 5G, operators like Telstra and newcomer HyperOne are planning to build new national fibre networks.

In February Telstra announced plans to expand its current network in Australia, with roughly A$1.6 billion worth of upgrades expected – but specifics about where and how the money will be spent aren’t known.

HyperOne also has plans to build additional undersea cables linking Perth, Adelaide, Melbourne, Launceston, Hobart and Sydney. This could provide more diversified connectivity to Tasmania.The Conversation

Thas Ampalavanapillai Nirmalathas, Professor of Electrical and Electronic Engineering and Deputy Dean Research at Faculty of Engineering and Information Technology, The University of Melbourne

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

We’re recycling potato skins to make prebiotics: here’s why that’s good for your gut – and the planet

Eleanor BinnerUniversity of Nottingham and Afroditi ChatzifragkouUniversity of Reading

It’s an unbelievable tragedy that a third of the world’s food is wasted. To put that in perspective, it would take an area the size of China to grow that much food – and if food waste were a country it would be the world’s third-largest greenhouse gas emitter.

Reducing the amount of food we discard is imperative – it’s a major threat to our climate, food security and the global economy. Everyone can play a role in addressing this problem by eliminating unnecessary food wastage. But despite our best efforts there will always be some, and it’s really important that we make the best use of it.

One way to approach this goal is to use a food waste management hierarchy. The first priority is to minimise waste (for example by using up leftovers or buying wonky fruit and veg) or to redistribute unavoidable waste to hungry people or animals.

But a large amount of food waste is inedible – either because it has gone off, become contaminated, or is an inedible co-product of the food industry such as onion skins or cocoa bean shells. These products are then either recycled for relatively low value purposes (such as to make fertiliser or generate energy) or disposed of as landfill.

But a new category is emerging in this hierarchy – recycling that retains the value of the food molecules so that they can still be used for their intended purpose of providing health and nutritional benefits. One example of this is the production of prebiotics.

Food For The Gut

Prebiotics are a group of nutrients (mostly carbohydrates) that are resistant to the acidic conditions found in the human gut and boost the growth of beneficial bacteria. Various types of these non-digestible carbohydrates are found naturally in fruits and vegetables such as asparagus, chicory, jerusalem artichoke, beans, chickpeas, bananas and apples. Human milk is also known to be rich in prebiotic oligosaccharides (a simple sugar), which have been shown to promote a specific group of beneficial gut microorganisms called bifidobacteria.

It has been shown that consuming prebiotics boosts overall digestive health by improving the absorption of micronutrients such as calcium, changing the rate at which certain foods lead to spikes in blood sugar, and improving the barrier function of the gut.

Most importantly, prebiotics support the immune system by increasing the number of protective microorganisms in the gut and decreasing harmful bacteria. And the benefits don’t stop there – the growth of healthy bacteria that use prebiotics as their source of energy leads to the production of small molecules called short-chain fatty acids, which enter blood circulation and benefit the immune, cardiovascular and central nervous system.

Variety of prebiotic foods for gut health
Many fruits, vegetables and wholegrains are sources of prebiotics. SewCream/shutterstock

Although prebiotics naturally exist in foods, they are usually found in low quantities. That’s why scientists are looking into alternative ways to make them on a large scale so that they can be used as supplements or to fortify existing food products.

Making Prebiotics From Food Waste

Most prebiotic oligosaccharides for supplements are produced commercially using enzymes, which are biological catalysts that speed up the rate of chemical reactions. Enzymes may work in various ways, from breaking down large carbohydrates into prebiotic oligosaccharides, to synthesising oligosaccharides from simple sugars such as glucose and galactose.

But nowadays several industries are shifting their focus to synthesise nutrients in a sustainable way by using microorganisms or enzymes that grow on food industry waste – or by developing technologies that are more environmentally friendly.

There is some evidence that pectin oligosaccharides, which have been produced from carbohydrates extracted from certain food waste such as potato peel, could be used to make a prebiotic – but so far it has only been done on a small scale within a lab setting.

These carbohydrates couldn’t be extracted from food waste using existing industrial-scale processes, meaning that until now it hasn’t been possible to produce large enough quantities of pectin oligosaccharides from food waste to test their prebiotic properties in human trials. This was a major stumbling block, so since 2016 we have been working to develop a new process to extract the target carbohydrates from potato waste on a large scale.

The process uses microwave technology – and as it is electrically powered it means that they can use renewable energy sources rather than relying on burning fossil fuels. Unlike similar industrial-scale extraction processes which use acids to extract target molecules, our process uses only water as the solvent. The water diffuses into the plant material, where the pectins are released from the plant cell wall and dissolve into the water.

So, we are now able to extract sufficient quantities of pectin oligosaccharides to test their prebiotic activity – and we’re using a number of different food waste materials in addition to potato waste, such as sugar beet pulp and apple pomace, which are significant co-products of the UK food industry. And the best part is that we only use electrical power and water – no fossil energy and no toxic chemicals.

With this new technology, we hope to produce a new range of novel prebiotic products. That will be good for our health, and help us to reduce the impact of food waste on the environment too.The Conversation

Eleanor Binner, Associate Professor in Chemical Engineering, University of Nottingham and Afroditi Chatzifragkou, Associate Professor in Sustainable Bioprocessing, University of Reading

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

Why legitimate criticism of the ‘mainstream’ media is in danger of being hijacked by anti-vax and ‘freedom’ movements

Sean PhelanMassey University

One striking feature of the “freedom convoy” protests in Ottawa, Wellington and elsewhere has been the intense antagonism towards “mainstream media” (MSM).

These antagonisms are expressed not only in now familiar descriptions of MSM journalists as sinister agents of a wider power elite, coupled with pity or scorn for the befuddled “sheeple” who believe everything they hear in the media.

They can also take an uglier, more menacing form. Witness the clip circulating on Twitter of protesters spitting on CTV journalists in Vancouver. Or earlier reports of New Zealand journalists being “punched and belted with umbrellas” or harassed in person and online.

These kinds of encounters are becoming more common. Increased violence against journalists, particularly women journalists, has been a feature of the global rise of far-right politics.

This anti-media rhetoric has a clear “us” versus “them” dynamic. People start to define their own identities in opposition to the “MSM”. The media are framed as enemies (one of a gallery of interchangeable enemies) in ways that destroy the distinctions between journalism and propaganda, journalism and ideology, journalism and politics.

This language is then normalised in far-right media channels, sometimes with considerable success that might leave one wondering about the precise location of the mainstream: a livestream broadcast from one Facebook channel linked to the Wellington protests apparently had more views than the videos broadcast on the New Zealand Herald’s website.

Distrust Of Corporate Media

The abuse and harassment of journalists trying to do their jobs are worrying. Journalists are right to suggest these attacks are an attack on democracy and the best democratic ideals of journalism.

At the same time, the cultural politics driving the antagonism to mainstream media and journalism are not as straightforward as is sometimes assumed.

In an official public sphere preoccupied with online disinformation and misinformation, one could be forgiven for thinking the problems could be fixed if people stopped feeding the social media algorithms and affirmed their trust in corporate news media instead.

It’s also not enough for journalists to insist (in good faith) they do nothing more than present balanced and objective news coverage – as if the vast academic literature documenting the problems with these professional rationalisations didn’t exist.

Distrust of authority: Wellington District Commander Corrie Parnell speaks to media during the protests at parliament. GettyImages

Defining ‘Mainstream Media’

The increasingly reactionary connotations of contemporary references to the “MSM” need historical context.

Like the “media” itself, the term “mainstream media” is a relatively recent invention. My research suggests academic scholars only started routinely referring to something called “mainstream media” from the 1980s onwards.

The term is nearly always taken for granted, as if it’s perfectly obvious what the mainstream media is. But only 20 or 30 years ago, the term was associated primarily with left-wing critiques of capitalist media, and proposals for alternative media models.

We still hear those arguments today, and there are good reasons for critiquing mainstream media. The destructive impact of the market on contemporary journalism is more profound than it was in the 1980s and 1990s.

And there is an ironic dimension to the anti-media rhetoric of the convoy protesters, given that they benefit from the commercial appeal of “wall-to-wall mainstream media coverage”.

Into The Rabbit Hole

However, the meaning of media critique can become confused in a political context where the people who seem most critical of media and journalism are aligned to the far right.

This, in turn, can alter perceptions of the alternative. The online “rabbit hole” becomes a potential site of empowerment and agency – an archive of resources for mocking the conventions of “left-wing”, “woke” media.

But just because the ideological connotations of “MSM” have shifted, it does not mean the differences between authoritarian and democratic media criticism dissolve.

On the contrary, making such distinctions is more important now than ever. Being able to thoughtfully analyse how various media construct or define the world we live in is vital for our democracy.

Our democracies would be in even more trouble than they already are if anyone voicing suspicion of mainstream media was dismissed as a conspiracy theorist. It would be a world where the far right has successfully monopolised the terms of media criticism.

Ideological Confusion

Nonetheless, the politically confused nature of media criticism today is a symptom of a general ideological confusion that has accelerated during the pandemic and found another expression in the “freedom” convoys.

Talking points that might have once sounded inherently progressive start to float in unpredictable and chaotic ways. (A case in point: listening to one livestream broadcast from inside the Wellington convoy, I heard what sounded like an attempt to link the rhetoric of the sovereign citizen movement to notions of Māori sovereignty and self-determination.)

Anyone committed to a culture of vibrant democracy needs to be alert to this ideological confusion. We need to minimise the chances of our own political and media critiques compounding the problem and be vigilant for reactionary rhetoric that loves to blur left-right boundaries.

Our defence of journalists against “aspirational fascists” should be unambiguous. But our democratic imaginations will be seriously impoverished if the public conversation is reduced to a Manichean alternative of wild, paranoid denunciations of the “MSM” versus unquestioning support of our present media systems.The Conversation

Sean Phelan, Associate Professor of Communication, Massey University

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

In his last poems, Les Murray offers a gentle, gracious bow of farewell, and just a few barbs

Les Murray in 2002. Alan Porritt/AAP
Lyn McCreddenDeakin University

There are so many strange serendipities, and antipathies, forged across Les Murray’s work, verbal, historical and spiritual. In Continuous Creation also, Murray’s last, posthumous book (published almost three years after he died in a nursing home in Taree) these counterpoints and challenges await readers, mostly in gentle forms.

There is the sometimes visceral dissecting and reforming of contradictions; the verbal joy in paradox and pun; the delicacy co-existing with the broad vernacular; the hallelujah with the rage.

Review: Continuous Creation: Last Poems - Les Murray (Black Inc)

The past is imagined as “a receding star” before which the poet submits, waiting, in a place where “flesh tells what mind forgets”.

Wounds do return, and it seems necessary for the poet to wait and resurrect the injuries, “all the strappy wars/you aren’t forgiven for … waiting for the past/and the receding star/burns through flesh afresh.” Is this a victory, this recovering of the past and its wounds? It gives history and memory a stringency.

Differently, the title poem Continuous Creation, invokes not the pricks of history but the ongoing, the seamless, the fluid, adopting a humble stance before the rigors of time and mortality:

We bring nothing into this world
except our gradual ability
to create it, out of all that vanishes
and all that will outlast us.

This poem reveals, delicately, gnomically, the ontological paradox of human knowledge: an understanding of human finiteness nesting at the very heart of creative presence and power.

In Murray’s verse, this does not equate with Samuel Beckett’s black humour in Waiting for Godot: “Astride of a grave and a difficult birth, the grave-digger puts on the forceps”. Rather, Murray’s poetry is Blakean, capturing angelic loveliness at the crux of the earthly and earthy.

He sees Earth, with its

Crepe myrtles from China branch heavy with mauve and rain,
black waterfowl moving ghostly
in grass to the scarlet of their brows…

(Break of Autumn)

This is the Murray even Murray-sceptics admire: attentive, synthesising (“mauve and rain”), delicately detailed describer of the earth, someone who has lived and written for so long in place, in the country, someone who intimately celebrates, again and again, invoking “continuous creation”. The poise of this alliteration! The active agency of the natural world.

For Murray, the deficits of human life – its cruelties, bodily agonies, feuds and hatreds, so powerfully probed and catalogued in earlier poetry – can also be, late in life, sites for play, wit and experiment. The big man extracting himself from a small car (Metal Birth) is bizarrely funny and rhythmically spry:

…He then
dips his face from under
the dash, up into view,
grinning at the end of an eclipse
and writhes upright, balancing, complete.

There’s slapstick here, a vaudevillian verve in that grinning. But the “big man leaving a small car” also “writhes”. We are reminded, just briefly, that a poem like this is also built on – made possible by - so many younger Murray poems about his fatness, his being bullied, his self-diminishments, poem and man bound painfully together.

Murray meeting Queen Elizabeth II in 1999. Fiona Hanson/AAP

Enraged Preacher

Some of these poems Murray was working on when he died, others are new work discovered among his scrapbooks and files.

In this posthumous collection we are presented with another kind of contrapuntal Murray motion too. The imagination that can capture “black waterfowl moving ghostly/in grass to the scarlet of their brows” can also soar above ground level, can look down with the hauteur of the cultural warrior, the enraged preacher:

… This is the culture:
no history but the Allied,
nothing strange. No poetry.
All’s preserved slow TV
selling no local memoirs,
no spirit, no religion,
no theory, little foreign
except tourist guides,
no languages at all
only ever middlebrow,
the culture of habitual

(Half-price hardback).

If you were being cruel you might refocus the glare of cultural hauteur in those tight, little lines back on the speaker/poet here: his habitually elitist generalising (“This is the culture”), his promotion of strangeness and difference, even as he speaks comfortably from his many years as the “Bard of Bunyah”.

His repeated moan is that poetry has been dethroned - yet here he is, writing poetry, using it to speak to the (deaf?) nation, recognised internationally, holding up his T.S. Eliot Poetry Prize, his Queen’s Gold Medal for poetry, his more than 30 volumes of poetry. In a 2003 Guardian review, poet Peter Porter wrote of Murray’s polemicising:

A skewer of polemic runs through his work. His brilliant manipulation of language, his ability to turn words into installations of reality, is often forced to hang on an embarrassing moral sharpness. The parts we love – the Donne-like baroque – live side by side with sentiments we don’t: his increasingly automatic opposition to liberalism and intellectuality.

It’s curious how Porter’s review assumes an audience which naturally agrees with the reviewer while blushing at Murray’s “embarrassing moral sharpness”. One could imagine the gruff (perhaps even gleeful) dismissal by Murray, if and when he had encountered Porter’s argument. Being strange and out of step was pretty much Murray’s métier. Or at least one strain of it.

It is what, in part, fuels Murray’s linguistic play, his twisting and refashioning of words and rhymes and images into strangeness, and at other times into the deeply familiar. Australian English has never been treated more cavalierly, but also more reverently.

J.M. Coetzee, in a marvellously balanced 2011 essay, The angry genius of Les Murray refused to buy into what he calls the “myth” of Murray the lonely outsider:

The time has perhaps come for Les Murray to let go of old grudges. Now in his seventies, he has received many public honors and is widely acknowledged to be the leading Australian poet of his generation. His poems are “taught” in schools and universities; scholars write learned articles about them. He claims that he is read more abroad than at home.

This may or may not be so. But even if it were true, he would not be the first writer to suffer such a fate; and it’s a better fate than not being read at all. If there are a handful of purists who for political reasons will have nothing to do with him or his works, so much the worse for them — the loss is theirs.

These words have a melancholy resonance now, in the face of Murray’s death, aged 80, on April 29, 2019. We won’t hear, afresh, Murray’s strident, passionate rallying cries, whether we agreed with them or not. Yes, Les Murray overstepped. He was an idiosyncratic ideological warrior. He wasn’t Aboriginal, but earlier on was accused of appropriating Aboriginal identity (see Ben Etherington, The Living and the Undead).

He could be fiercely oppositional - to city dwellers, feminists, academics, secular society. He was a deeply religious man in what he felt was an irreligious, unpoetic, habitual culture. From his quiet, sustaining home in rural NSW, and in his refusal to enter the digital world, Les Murray probably did not see the many ways in which Australia was changing.

But he did create “out of all that vanishes/and all that will outlast us” a linguistically teeming, ludic, spiritually provoking and mesmerising body of poetry, to which we are privileged to have access.

Coetzee is the kind of critical reader (let alone Nobel Prize winning novelist) Murray (and all authors) deserves. He may not agree with all (or any) of Murray’s politics, or his theology, and he’s not alone in that, but Coetzee knows what a fine, passionate, inventive poet Les Murray was and is.

Continuous Creation: Last Poems offers a poet’s gentle, gracious bow of farewell, and just a few barbs with which to leave us.The Conversation

Lyn McCredden, Personal Chair, Literary Studies, Deakin University

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

Saint Olga of Kyiv is Ukraine’s patron saint of both defiance and vengeance

St.Olga by Mikhail Nesterov.
Miles PattendenAustralian Catholic University

The past few days have seen a spate of videos showing Ukrainians and their president defying an onslaught of Russian aggression. Who could fail to be moved by the video of a Ukrainian woman confronting an armed and jackbooted soldier, telling him to put sunflower seeds in his pockets so at least sunflowers will grow where he dies.

Or President Zelenskyy’s heroic selfies from Kyiv’s front line, which inspire far more widely than just among his countrymen?

Ukrainians are used to adversity and they have a special medieval role model who personifies their bravery in the face of hardship. The Mongol horde destroyed her tomb in Kyiv in 1240 but a Ukrainian Orthodox cathedral dedicated to her was consecrated there as recently as 2010.

Olga of Kyiv, consort of Igor, second ruler of the Rurikid dynasty, is today recognised as one of Eastern Orthodoxy’s greatest saints. A fierce and proud woman who protected her young son and avenged her husband’s death, she was a crucial figure in the consolidation of the medieval kingdom of Kyivan Rus’ as a political entity and in its peoples’ conversion to Christianity.

Olga was born to Viking parents in Pskov, northern Russia, around the turn of the 10th century. She married Prince Igor young and may have been only 20 when the Drevlians, a neighbouring tribe, rose up against his rule and murdered him.

The Byzantine chronicler Leo the Deacon gives gruesome details of Igor’s killing: he was tied to two tree trunks which were then released so his body was split in two. Leo’s account may have been embellished (the ancient historian Diodorus of Sicily in fact tells a similar tale), but Igor’s death still left his wife and three-year-old son alone and potentially helpless in a particularly dangerous and brutal corner of the medieval world.

Nikolai Bruni’s Saint Grand Duchess Olga (1901)

Burying Her Enemies

Olga’s legend was born of her actions in the weeks and months that followed. The Drevlians sent her emissaries to suggest she marry their leader Prince Mal. The Primary Chronicle, an 11th-century manuscript which is our main source for what follows, records Olga as greeting them deceptively, apparently to bide for time.

The account may be part-fictitious or at least exaggerated. Yet that is not the point: in medieval hagiography it is the morality of the tale that matters most.

“Your proposal is pleasing to me”, Olga told her interlocutors. “Indeed, my husband cannot rise again from the dead. But I desire to honour you tomorrow in the presence of my people. Return now to your boat, and remain there […] I shall send for you on the morrow […]

The hubristic Drevlian delegation took her at her word gleefully. But what they did not know was that she had arranged for a trench to be dug into which they and their boat were flung.

They were buried alive.

Olga summoned a second Drevlian embassy before the rest of the tribe had had time to learn of the first one’s fate. When they arrived she commanded her people to draw a bath for them.

The Drevlians then entered the bathhouse but Olga ordered the doors to be bolted and the building set ablaze.

Princess Olga meets the body of her husband. A sketch by Vasily Surikov.

For a third reprisal, Olga went to the place where the Drevlians had killed her husband, telling those present she wished to hold a funeral feast to commemorate him. Once the Drevlians were drunk and incapacitated she had her men massacre them.

Finally, she laid siege to the Drevlians’ base at Iskorosten (the modern-day Ukraine city of Korosten). She tricked those inside the city with an offer of peace: all they had to give up were three pigeons and three sparrows from each house.

But when Olga had the birds in her possession she had her men tie a sulphurous cloth to one of each one’s legs. The birds flew back to their nests for the night and the sulphur set every building on fire simultaneously.

Olga ordered her soldiers to catch everyone who fled the burning city so they could be extirpated or taken into slavery.

Her revenge for her husband’s death was at last complete.

Nicholas Roerich’s Saint Olga (1915).

Channelling St Olga’s Spirit

Olga lived a further 25 years, residing in her son’s capital of Kyiv. She was instrumental in persuading him not to abandon the Ukrainian lands for "better prospects” further south on the Danube’s bank. Her grandson, Volodymyr the Great (c.958-1015), then expanded the kingdom into what is now seen as the first Russian principality (which Vladimir Putin now views as the forerunner of the imperial Russian state).

Volodymyr too is acknowledged as a saint for his role in completing the Christianisation Olga had started.

Olga’s Mad Max-style ventures ought to grate with us a bit today: the modern world really shouldn’t be a site of such bloodshed. That is why Russia’s sudden large-scale invasion into a peaceful country strike us as so shocking.

Yet Olga’s memory can clearly still provide an important focal point for Ukrainian resolve.

The Eastern Orthodox and Greek Catholic Churches recognise her with the venerable and extraordinary title “Isapóstolos”: Equal to the Apostles. She and Kyiv’s patron saint, St Michael the Archangel, remain key figures of intercession among those who need comfort in an hour of greatest need.

And Olga’s Christian faith, acquired during a visit to Byzantium late in life, can sustain others now just as it sustained her after her own tribulations.The Conversation

Miles Pattenden, Senior Research Fellow, Institute for Religion and Critical Inquiry, Australian Catholic University

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

‘An ever-ticking clock’: we made a ‘time crystal’ inside a quantum computer

Stephan RachelThe University of Melbourne and Philipp FreyThe University of Melbourne

You probably know what a crystal is. We’ve all seen one, held one in our hands, and even tasted one on our tongue (for instance sodium chloride crystals, also known as “salt”).

But what on earth is a “time crystal”, if not a sci-fi gadget in the latest Marvel movie? Why do we need a quantum computer to make one? And what is a quantum computer anyway?

Bits And Qubits

Let’s start there. Computers are all around us. Some are compact, portable and primarily used to stream Netflix, while others fill entire rooms and simulate complex phenomena like the weather or the evolution of our Universe.

Regardless of the details, on a fundamental level computers all have the same purpose: processing information. The information is stored and processed in “bits”.

Any physical system with two identifiably distinct states (call them “0” and “1”) can serve as a bit. Connect lots of bits together in the right way and you can do arithmetic, logic, or what we generally call “computation”.

A conventional bit can take the values of 0 or 1 - but a quantum bit or qubit can take on a range of complex values in between. Shutterstock

Now, it turns out that the physical world on a very fundamental level is governed by the strange rules of quantum physics. You can also make a quantum version of a bit, called a quantum bit or “qubit”.

Qubits can also be described in terms of two states, “0” and “1”, except they can be both “0” and “1” at the same time. This allows for a much richer form of information processing, and hence more powerful computers.

What Can We Do With Quantum Computers?

Much of the current research in this area is focused either on building a working quantum computer – a challenging engineering task indeed – or on designing algorithms to do things we can’t manage with our current, classical computers.

Our research, however, is focused on an application first envisioned by the famous US physicist Richard Feynman more than 30 years ago: to use quantum computers to conduct research in fundamental physics.

As theorists, we typically use a combination of pen-and-paper mathematics and computer simulations to study physical systems. Unfortunately, conventional computers are very ill-equipped for simulating quantum physics.

This is where quantum computers come in. They are already quantum in nature and can, in principle, behave like any quantum system we wish to investigate.

Using IBM’s quantum computer we were able to achieve precisely that, turning it into an experimental simulator to create a novel state of matter, just as envisioned by Feynman. This machine is located in America but can be accessed remotely by researchers around the globe.

Being able to access quantum computers from anywhere in the world represents a major shift in this kind of quantum research.

Time Crystals

The special type of quantum system we created is called a “time crystal”.

I hope you will not be too disappointed when I say you will probably not get to hold one of these in your hands any time soon. But maybe we can at least understand what a time crystal is!

The crucial idea here is that matter exists in different “phases”, like the three familiar phases of water: ice, water and steam. A material can have very different properties depending on which phase we find it in.

In a conventional crystal, particles are arranged regularly in space. In a time crystal, they’re arranged regularly in time. Shutterstock

Now a conventional crystal – we might actually call it a “space crystal” - is one such phase of matter. Crystals are characterised by a very regular arrangement of particles in space.

In a time crystal, particles are not only arranged regularly in space, but also in time. The particles move from one position to another and back again, without slowing down or losing energy.

Now this is truly different from what we usually deal with.

Beyond Equilibrium

The types of phases we normally encounter all have on thing in common: they are in “thermal equilibrium”. If you leave a hot cup of coffee sitting on your desk it will transfer heat to its surroundings until it reaches the same temperature as your room, and then it stops and no changes happen from then on.

If you carefully add a layer of cream to your – now unfortunately cold – coffee and begin stirring, you will see changes happen in time. Coffee and cream will mix in beautiful swirls until the whole thing turns into a uniform light brown liquid, and nothing really changes after that.

Coffee and milk mixed together will create beautiful swirls before eventually reaching a uniform light-brown equilibrium. Shutterstock

These are examples of “equilibrium”. The common theme is that things in equilibrium do not change over time.

Our time crystal violates this condition. It actually keeps changing indefinitely, for all eternity, without ever reaching equilibrium.

A Loophole In The Laws Of Thermodynamics?

A time crystal therefore constitutes an out-of-equilibrium phase - in fact, it is one of the first examples of such a strange state of matter. It is essentially like an ever-ticking clock that neither loses energy, nor requires a supply of energy to keep going.

This seems dangerously close to a perpetual motion machine, which would violate the laws of thermodynamics.

But the first law of thermodynamics – which says energy is not created or destroyed - is not in any danger here, as we can’t extract energy from a time crystal while also keeping it running.

The second law states that things left to themselves can only become more disordered over time. This concept is probably all too familiar to anyone with kids or housemates.

But there is a loophole. The second law forbids things from becoming more ordered with time, but it doesn’t say they can’t maintain their current level of disorderedness forever.

In everyday life, we don’t see this loophole in action. It is the equivalent of stirring away at your coffee and cream and finding that the swirling tendrils of cream never fully mix with the coffee.

This is what time crystals do. We don’t see it in everyday life because it really is a quantum phenomenon.

Beyond Time Crystals

Quantum computers are still in their infancy. But as they improve they will allow physicists like us to improve our fundamental understanding of nature.

This in turn may translate into technological innovation, just as the physics of the last century enabled the digital revolution that shapes our lives today.

Quantum computers provide a platform for physicists to engineer and investigate novel states of matter that cannot be found in nature. Time crystals just mark the beginning of this exciting endeavour.The Conversation

Stephan Rachel, Associate Professor and ARC Future Fellow, The University of Melbourne and Philipp Frey, PhD student, The University of Melbourne

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

Mike Sheahan Receives Lifetime Achievement Award

March 2, 2022
Sport Australia has presented legendary sports journalist Mike Sheahan with the Lifetime Achievement Award at the 20th annual Sport Australia Media Awards.

Mike Sheahan with his Sport Australia Lifetime Achievement Award. Photo: Sport Australia

Sheahan is one of Australian Rules Football’s most respected and influential journalists having dedicated 40 years of his career to the game.

He spent 20 years as chief football writer for The Herald Sun and won dozens of major Australian football media awards across all categories - news breaking, features and columns.

In latter years, Sheahan transitioned into a successful radio and television personality and finished his illustrious media career in 2020 after a 19-year stint at Fox Footy.

Sheahan said he was honoured to receive the award describing it as a “significant acknowledgement of the game I love.”

“Journalism gave me opportunities to meet people and go to places I would have never dreamt of, and I consider myself extremely lucky.

Speaking in front of 200 people at Doltone House in Sydney, Sheahan reflected on what he considered his greatest accomplishment in journalism.

“My proudest achievement is shining the light on concussion and waging an unofficial campaign in newspapers and on television for 20 years.”

Among his fondest career moments, he lists those spent on the set of Fox Footy’s Open Mike program which ran for 11 years and 230 episodes.

“I loved that program and the gems it would uncover.”

Sheahan is a member of the Life Member of the AFL and the media centre at AFL House in Melbourne is also named after him.

Australian Sports Commission Chair Josephine Sukkar AM congratulated Mr Sheahan on receiving the Lifetime Achievement award.

“Mike’s greatest asset has always been his unrivalled passion for the game and the role he’s played in sports media in Australia across five decades is testament to this.

“From starting his career as a 16-year-old working at the Werribee Banner while still playing the game on weekends to becoming known for his fiercely debated Top 50 player rankings, Mike has left an indelible mark on the sport.”

“I’d like to congratulate Mike and all of the winners and finalists as we celebrate 20 years of the Sport Australia Media Awards.”

Sport Australia has again awarded 14 trophies with joint winners for the Best reporting of an issue in sport category. It is the second year that joint winners have been announced at the awards which recognise the best in Australian sports media.

2021 media awards winners

Best sport coverage by an individual – audio
Neroli Meadows, Ordineroli Speaking

Best sport coverage by an individual – written
Phil Lutton, The Sydney Morning Herald
HIGHLY COMMENDED: Emma Kemp, Guardian Australia

Best sport coverage by an individual – video
David Culbert, Seven Network

Best sport profile – broadcast
Australian Story, Luc Longley: One Giant Leap, ABC TV

Best sport profile – written
Konrad Marshall, Patty Mills: All the right moves, Good Weekend

Best coverage of a sporting event
Seven Network, Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games

Best Sports Photography
Jay Town, Eye on the ball, Tennis Australia

Innovation in sports media
Optus Sport, Social Media Innovation, UEFA EURO 2020

Best coverage of sport for people with disability
Tom Decent, The power of the Paralympics, Sydney Morning Herald / The Age

Best coverage of a community sport issue - rural & regional media
Donna Page, Newcastle cricket's turf war, Newcastle Herald
HIGHLY COMMENDED: Kristy Williams, Parkes Champion Post ‘You cannot be what you cannot see’

Best depiction of inclusive sport
Peter Dickson, The Ripple Effect, Dickson Films
HIGHLY COMMENDED: Bowls Australia, ‘The Bowls Show’ & ‘The Right Line podcast and website’

Best reporting of an issue in sport
Selina Steele, Michael Cain, Julian Linden Tackling abuse in football, The Daily Telegraph
Adrian Arciuli, Anna Henderson, Abdullah Alikhil, The Taliban Takeover, SBS

Winners from the 2021 Sport Australia Media Awards. Photo: Sport Australia

Sudden mould outbreak after all this rain? You’re not alone – but you are at risk

Rebecca BentleyThe University of Melbourne and Ang LiThe University of Melbourne

Recent torrential rain along the east coast of Australia has sparked renewed fears of mould in people’s homes, which can cause dangerous health problems. Many flood-affected residents in northern New South Wales and Queensland will also be contending with mould as part of the post-flood cleanup.

Moulds are fungi – microbes like viruses or bacteria. There are some microbes in every building and they’re usually harmless.

In a damp or water-damaged environment, however, toxic mould species grow and release spores that can cause health problems if inhaled.

Here’s what you need to know.

More Than Just Lungs: Mould Can Affect Health In Other Ways

Many of us know someone whose asthma is triggered by exposure to mould. But even non-asthma sufferers are at risk.

Research shows dampness, mould and related airborne particles are associated with a range of adverse health outcomes, including increased risks of asthma, allergies, and respiratory infections and symptoms.

A parliamentary Inquiry into Biotoxin-related Illnesses in Australia noted the need for further research into mould prevalence, mould measurement and the potential health effects of exposure to damp and mould.

Some research suggests people exposed to mould in their homes report more severe depression and anxiety symptoms. Of course, this association isn’t just about mould, and worsening mental health is likely to do with a range of factors associated with living with damp and mould, including poor housing condition, poverty, and general ill health.

Heavy rain and floods lead to excess indoor moisture, and a damp environment is perfect for mould growth. Shutterstock

Mould Hot Spots In Australia

The World Health Organisation advises no level of exposure to mould can be considered safe for health. It says dampness and mould-related problems should be prevented and remediated early to avoid potentially harmful exposure.

Despite this strong advice, mould is a common problem in Australia. Until recently, not much has been known about mould prevalence, with the official WHO guidelines on indoor air quality estimating 10-50% of Australian homes are affected by dampness and mould.

We can also make an estimate using the large-scale Australian Rental Housing Conditions Dataset, which collates robust data collected from over 14,000 rental households in 2020.

Our analysis of this data set shows 27% of renters say their current home has problems with mould and 21% report problems with dampness.

Mould is often found in the south eastern states of Australia due to a combination of lower temperatures and damp weather. It is also a problem in New South Wales and Queensland, where 39% and 26% of regions respectively have a high prevalence of mould in rental homes. Sydney has more mould than Melbourne.

We have mapped the data for Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane here:

Data source: the Australian Rental Housing Conditions Dataset. Centre for Research Excellence in Healthy Housing

You’re also more likely to find mould in poorly maintained, low-income housing. These poor housing conditions are more common among people who already experience health issues.

Children are another group at higher risk of living in housing with mould – 33% of people living with two or more children reported mould in the Australian Rental Housing Conditions Dataset (compared to 27% of childfree households).

Other risk factors for mould included roof and plumbing defects, and the need for urgent repairs.

Building Codes And Rental Policy Can Help

Mandated building standards are important to ensure design, building and maintenance sufficiently address mould growth.

Our current building codes do not focus on preventing damp conditions. In fact Australia’s National Construction Code previously inadvertently promoted moist indoor environments by solely focusing on well-sealed, energy-efficient buildings.

The National Construction Code is to be updated in late 2022. Hopefully, the new code will directly address the mould-promoting condensation problem caused by measures to increase energy efficiency in buildings.

New builds, of course, don’t house the whole population. Almost a third of Australian households rent, and this includes older homes with a range of structural issues. Policies targeting renters and landlords could have a significant impact on population health.

While tenancy regulations vary across Australia, some states and territories have begun to address the issue of mould in rental housing.

For example, the recent Victorian rental reform mandates premises:

must be free from mould and damp caused by or related to the building structure.

It allows tenants to log an urgent repair request where issues, such as leaking roofs or plumbing, lead to mould.

Since there are no accepted standards for mould measurement or remediation, legislation referring to “mould and damp” may not end up improving housing conditions.

An agreed definition of what level of mould is harmful, and how it can be measured, would allow governments to set cut-offs above which homeowners are compelled to intervene.

What Can You Do About Mould In Your Home?

Prevention is more efficient than removal. The key is keeping the house dry and free of dust. Make sure you:

  • fix leaks, including roofs and walls as well as plumbed appliances such as dishwashers

  • increase ventilation and air circulation with windows and fans

  • use extractor fans when cooking, bathing or drying laundry

  • use a dehumidifier

  • clean condensation from inner windows.

Use extractor fans when cooking, bathing or drying laundry. Shutterstock

If mould has already set in, the best option is to remove it physically with a microfibre cloth.

Mould remediation is complex and often best undertaken with professional advice. Australian state and territory governments provide advice on dealing with dampness and mould in the home.

For example, see advice sheets from the Victorian Department of HealthNSW Health and the Queensland government.

This explainer by the Healthy Housing Centre of Research Excellence on mould and damp also provides information on where you can seek help.The Conversation

Rebecca Bentley, Professor of Social Epidemiology, Principal Research Fellow in Social Epidemiology and Director of the Centre for Research Excellence in Healthy Housing in Melbourne School of Population and Global Health, The University of Melbourne and Ang Li, Research Fellow, The University of Melbourne

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

Japanese encephalitis virus has been detected in Australian pigs. Can mozzies now spread it to humans?

Pascal Debrunner/Unsplash
Cameron WebbUniversity of SydneyAndrew van den HurkThe University of Queensland, and Dominic DwyerUniversity of Sydney

With our summer dominated by wet weather and booming mosquito populations, health authorities have been alert to the threat of mosquito-borne disease.

One such disease is Japanese encephalitis virus, which has been detected for the first time in southeastern Australia. It has been found in pigs at pig farms in Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland, indicating the virus is likely circulating in the local mosquito populations, which could infect humans.

Ongoing rain and flooding ensures suitable conditions for mosquitoes will persist well into Autumn.

What Is Japanese Encephalitis Virus?

Japanese encephalitis virus is part of the flavivirus family, closely related to West Nile, Zika, Murray Valley encephalitis, dengue and yellow fever.

An estimated 68,000 cases of encephalitis occur annually across Southeast Asia and Western Pacific regions.

The virus is maintained in a cycle between mosquitoes and waterbirds. Pigs are also an important host, especially where pigs, mosquitoes, waterbirds, and water bodies all occur together.

Outbreaks are more likely to occur during the wet season.

How Serious Is Japanese Encephalitis?

Most infected people have mild illness or no symptoms at all. Symptoms of fever, joint pain, and rash are common but severe cases also experience headache, neck stiffness, confusion, seizures, and sometimes coma and death.

Less than 1% of those infected will develop a severe brain infection, encephalitis, which may be fatal.

The disease is particularly problematic in children, with survivors often left with significant brain injuries.

To confirm infection, cerebrospinal fluid (that surrounds the brain and spinal cord) and blood are tested by specialised public health laboratory.

Culex annulirostris is the most likely mosquito to be transmitting Japanese encephalitis virus in Australia and is widespread and abundant after flooding. Cameron Webb/NSW Health Pathology

Why Has Japanese Encephalitis Virus Appeared In Australia?

Outbreaks of Japanese encephalitis virus have occurred in countries neighbouring Australia’s north, including Papua New Guinea and Indonesia.

Concern has often been raised about the potential introduction and spread of the virus onto the Australian mainland, given the high populations of mosquitoes, wild pigs and waterbirds in the north.

During outbreaks of Japanese encephalitis virus in Torres Strait during the 1990s, the virus even spread to the Cape York Peninsula. But the virus didn’t take hold and the last definitive evidence of activity on the mainland was in 2004.

Now the virus is back. A new incursion occurred in early 2021, when a human case was diagnosed in the Northern Territory.

Now there is evidence of Japanese encephalitis virus in pigs in multiple pig farms in New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland. And there is a risk of transmission to humans.

How Did The Virus Make Its Way South?

Investigations are underway to work out how much virus is in the region and assess the ongoing risk to human and animal health. But we will never definitively know how (or when) the virus managed to move south.

It could be linked to overlapping transmission cycles fuelled by favourable weather conditions that bring water to flood plains, wetlands, and other habitats shared by mosquitoes and waterbirds. Or it could be due to migration of infected birds or mosquitoes.

There is little doubt the La Nina-dominated weather patterns that impacted southeastern Australia over the past two years played a role.

The spread of mosquito-borne viruses, such as Murray Valley encephalitis virus, from northern Australia to southeastern Australia has been documented before. We just never expected Japanese encephalitis virus to take this pathway too.

La Nina has brought above average rainfall to much of Australia and flooding has provided ideal conditions for local mosquitoes. Cameron Webb/NSW Health Pathology

How Can You Avoid Catching Japanese Encephalitis Virus?

vaccine is available to protect against Japanese encephalitis virus. This has been demonstrated as an effective way to prevent disease outbreaks.

Some Australians have been vaccinated but it hasn’t been a routine part of international travel, even to countries where the risk is high.

Consideration could be given to vaccinating at-risk groups in Australia.

Reducing further transmission of the virus to people will rely on the use of insecticides around high-risk locations, such as piggeries where infections have been identified, and the use of personal protection measures against mosquito bites.

Fortunately, the steps we routinely take to avoid mosquitoes bites during the Australian summer will work just as well against the mosquitoes likely to be carrying the virus. People just need to be more vigilant to protect themselves and family against mosquito bites.

Health authorities are recommending a number of steps to avoid mosquito bites. Minimimse time outdoors when mosquitoes are most active, especially dawn and dusk. Wear a long sleeved shirt, long pants and covered shoes. Apply a topical insect repellent containing Diethyltolumide, picaridin, or oil of lemon eucalyptus.

The weather has clearly contributed to this outbreak but it may also assist ending it. The onset of cooler weather in autumn will slow mosquito population growth and once winter arrives, most of the mosquitoes across southern regions of Australia will disappear. At least for a few months.The Conversation

Cameron Webb, Clinical Associate Professor and Principal Hospital Scientist, University of SydneyAndrew van den Hurk, Medical Entomologist, The University of Queensland, and Dominic Dwyer, Director of Public Health Pathology, NSW Health Pathology, Westmead Hospital and University of Sydney, University of Sydney

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

Harmless Or Deadly? New Study Examines Evolution Of E. Coli Bacteria

March 1, 2022
Genetic material from E. coli bacteria in farm animals could be contributing to the evolution of deadly pandemic strains of E. coli in humans, new research from the University of Technology Sydney shows.

E. coli usually live as harmless bacteria in the gastrointestinal tracts of birds and mammals, including humans. They also reside, independent of a host, in environments such as water and soil, and in food products including chicken and turkey meat, raw milk, beef, pork and mixed salad.

These bacteria can cause disease if they possess or acquire factors that allow them survive in areas of the human body outside the gut.

E. coli is the primary source of urinary tract infections, a common reason for hospital admissions. It can also lead to sepsis, which kills 11 million people globally each year, and meningitis, an infection that affects the brain and spinal cord.

Dr Cameron Reid, from the University of Technology Sydney, said the aim of the study, recently published in Nature Communications, was to better understand the evolution and genomic characteristics of an emerging strain of E. coli known as ST58.

ST58 has been isolated from bloodstream infections in patients around the world, including France, where the number of infections with this strain was shown to have doubled over a 12 year period. ST58 is also more drug resistant than other strains.

"Our team analysed E. coli ST58 genomes from more than 700 human, animal and environmental sources around the world, to look for clues as to why it is an emerging cause of sepsis and urinary tract infections," said Dr Reid.

"We found that E. coli ST58 from pigs, cattle and chickens contain pieces of genetic material, called ColV plasmids, which are characteristic of this strain of disease causing E. coli," he said.

Plasmids are tiny double-stranded DNA molecules, separate from the bacterial chromosome, that can replicate independently and transfer across different E. coli strains, aiding the evolution of virulence.

Acquisition of ColV plasmids may prime E. coli strains to cause extra-intestinal infections in humans, and also increase the likelihood of antimicrobial resistance, the research suggests.

"Zoonosis, particularly in relation to E. coli, should not be viewed simply as the transfer of a pathogen from an animal to a human," said research co-author Professor Steven Djordjevic.

"Rather, it should be understood as a complex phenomenon arising from a vast network of interactions between groups of E. coli (and other bacteria), and the selective pressures they encounter in both humans and animals," he said.

The findings suggest all three major sectors of food animal production (cattle, chickens and pigs), have acted as backgrounds for the evolution and emergence of this pathogen.

"The contribution of non-human sources to infectious disease in humans is typically poorly understood and its potential importance under-appreciated, as the debate regarding the ecological origins of the SARS-CoV2 virus attest," said Dr Reid.

"In a globalised world, eminently susceptible to rapid dissemination of pathogens, the importance of pro-active management of microbial threats to public health cannot be understated."

The study has broad implications for public health policy that spans across food industry, veterinary and clinical settings.

"To date, infectious disease public health has been a reactive discipline, where action can only be taken after a pathogen has emerged and done some damage," said Dr Reid.

"Ideally, with the advent and widespread uptake of genome sequencing technology, future infectious disease public health can transition to a primarily pro-active discipline, where genomic surveillance systems are able to predict pathogen emergence and inform effective interventions."

Dr Reid said for such a system to work, it requires ongoing research and collaboration with government, public health bodies, food producers and clinicians, and it would involve surveillance of a variety of non-human sources of microbes.

"This would include domestic and wild animals -- particularly birds -- food products, sewerage and waterways, in what is referred to as a 'One Health' approach. Some microbes, like ST58 E. coli, know very few barriers between these increasingly interconnected hosts and environments.

"A One Health genomic pathogen surveillance system would be a revolution within public health and do much to break down historically human-centric approaches devoid of connection with the world around us."

Cameron J. Reid, Max L. Cummins, Stefan Börjesson, Michael S. M. Brouwer, Henrik Hasman, Anette M. Hammerum, Louise Roer, Stefanie Hess, Thomas Berendonk, Kristina Nešporová, Marisa Haenni, Jean-Yves Madec, Astrid Bethe, Geovana B. Michael, Anne-Kathrin Schink, Stefan Schwarz, Monika Dolejska, Steven P. Djordjevic. A role for ColV plasmids in the evolution of pathogenic Escherichia coli ST58. Nature Communications, 2022; 13 (1) DOI: 10.1038/s41467-022-28342-4

State's Multicultural Champions Named For 2022

March 2, 2022
The outstanding contributions of 16 people and organisations were recognised at the Premier’s annual Harmony Dinner in Sydney on Tuesday 1 March.

NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet congratulated each of the winners for their commitment to supporting the State’s multicultural communities.

“I know each and every one of the award recipients don’t do what they do for reward or recognition. Rather, they do it out of care for their communities and our state,” Mr Perrottet said.

“I believe it is important to recognise these contributions and so do their peers who nominated each person or organisation.”

Minister for Multiculturalism Mark Coure said every one of the recipients deserved recognition.

“This is our opportunity to acknowledge the contributions they make day in, day out,” Mr Coure said.

“This is particularly the case as we have endured a hard two years throughout the pandemic.

“From migrants and refugees to established communities struggling with lockdowns, it’s amazing to think how many lives are now better because these people and organisations chose to give back.”

Rosa Loria received the SBS Lifetime Community Service Medal for her work with the Sydney Multicultural Community Services. In a career spanning more than 41 years, she has helped countless people from culturally diverse backgrounds.

“I have dedicated years to this line of work because I’m inspired by the thousands of caring and successful individuals I have met,” Ms Loria said.

“I’m honoured to receive this year’s Lifetime Community Services medal.”

Shubha Kumar, winner of the National Rugby League Stepan Kerkyasharian AO Community Harmony Medal, is recognised for her work assisting new Australians in building important social connections and as a strong advocate for women in her local Indian community.

“I am deeply touched to be this year’s Community Harmony Medal winner,” Ms Kumar said.

“In 2004, I co-founded the India Club with my husband, with a vision of nurturing inclusion and harmony. More than 20 years on, it’s great to know that our work remains relevant and the community still values what we’re doing.”

Winners 2022:
The winner of the 2022 All Graduates Interpreting and Translating Language Services Medal is Ashraf Abdelbaky.
Ashraf has been an interpreter in the Newcastle community for the last six years. He has participated in many programs at an academic level and for the broader community. Ashraf has championed mental health awareness training for the Arab community. He is currently working with STARTTS and HNEH as a bicultural worker helping to deliver important COVD-19 messaging to the Arab community about vaccines and testing. He has also worked on a translation book club initiative in the Wallsend library for the Arab community.
This award recognises the achievements of an individual or sporting code who has promoted cultural understanding and sporting endeavours within or between communities of different cultural and/or linguistic backgrounds.

The winner of the 2022 Village Plaza Sports Medal is Western Sydney Football Club Limited - GWS Giants Football Club.

GWS GIANTS' philanthropic programs engage and empower young people from culturally diverse, low socio-economic and disadvantaged communities across Western Sydney, Southern NSW, and the ACT. Through the GIANT Hand program, the GIANTS have been supporting vulnerable families impacted by the COVID pandemic and lockdown. The GIANTS delivered nutritious meals made in its cafe to multicultural communities throughout the club's region. Across 13 weeks the GIANTS cooked and delivered more than 15,000 meals to 4,500 families across 12 LGAs in Sydney.

This award recognises the outstanding achievements of a Local Government organisation who has worked to develop and support a diverse local community.

The winner of the 2022 Welcoming Cities Business Excellence – Local Government Medal is NSW Police Force Multicultural Liaison Officer Program.

The NSW Police Force (NSWPF) Multicultural Community Liaison Officers (MCLOs) are based in 21 different area commands covering an extensive list of local government areas. During COVID, the MCLOs and the MCLO Program delivered vital support to communities, police, and services within their areas and across local government boundaries. From July 2021 to October 2021, the NSWPF MCLO program delivered about 200 community messages in nearly 60 languages to over 1000 registered audiences.
The winner of the 2022 Business Excellence – Not for Profit Medal is 3Bridges Community.

3Bridges provides services and support from early years to ageing well in Southeast and Southwest Sydney. It engages with over 28,000 people each year through out-of-school-hours care, disability services, education and training, home maintenance and modifications, and aged care services. 3Bridges Youth Zone Centre, which is LGBTQI+ friendly, is a connection point for young people representing more than 60 cultures. It's a place where there is no judgement and young people are free to express themselves.

The winner of the 2022 Adaps Pty Ltd Business Excellence – Corporate Medal is Navitas Skilled Futures.

Navitas Skilled Futures transforms lives through employment opportunities and community connections. Since 1990 it has delivered high-quality training to over 300,000 people from more than 125 countries in language, literacy, numeracy, and digital skills (LLND). In 2021 it engaged with almost 6000 students, who collectively speak more than 140 languages. Navitas Skilled Futures proudly stepped up during the COVID-19 lockdown in Southwest Sydney to keep students connected, informed, safe and on track during this challenging time.

The winner of the 2022 National Rugby League Stepan Kerkyasharian AO Community Medal is Shubha Kumar.
Since arriving in Australia in 1973, Shubha has assisting Indian migrants integrating into Australian society, with a focus on teaching women about their domestic rights. She established the Indian Club in 2004 and has served as president since its inception, providing a social networking outlet for members of Australia’s Indian community. Through her work at the India Club, Mrs Kumar has helped newly arrived Australians to learn about rights and responsibilities, domestic violence and to develop relationships with local community groups.

The winner of the 2022 CommBank Regional Unity Medal is Joy Harrison.
Joy Harrison is a Clinical Nurse Specialist in the Refugee Health Service of Hunter New England Local Health District in Armidale. She has dedicated her career to the settlement of refugees in regional NSW, in the Peel and Tablelands regions including Armidale and Tamworth. Over the past four years, Joy has been the central community link for Ezidi refugees in Armidale, supporting all arrivals as the lead nurse, advocate, trainer, collaborator, and expert.

The winner of the 2022 Settlement Services International NSW Human Rights Medal is Ravi Prasad.
In 2013 Ravi shifted the focus of his life and work to pursue his interest in social justice and civil society and founded Parliament on King. Parliament on King addresses the barriers to social, cultural, and economic participation faced by asylum seekers and refugees. During the pandemic, Ravi and his team established a 'soup kitchen' (The Soup of Human Kindness) to address the food insecurity faced by vulnerable communities. The program pays asylum seekers and refugees to make food and that food is then donated to those in need.

The winner of the 2022 ICC T20 World Cup Carla Zampatti Arts and Culture Medal is Lliane Clarke.
Lliane is the Artistic Director of Voices of Women, a not-for-profit organisation inspired by storytelling and storytellers, performance, and music. It focuses on stories from First Nations, CALO communities, women living with disability and LGBTQI+ communities. In 2021 Voices of Women received 320 stories from women across Australia as part of its writing competition and engaged broadly with women in regional and multicultural communities. Lliane has achieved all of this while working full-time, raising two children, and caring for her husband who has a disability.

The winner of the 2022 NSW Rugby League Youth Medal is Khadijah Habbouche.
Khadijah is a young Australian Muslim woman, of Lebanese Palestinian background. She is a member of various Youth Advisory Committees, including the Canterbury Bankstown Youth Crew and the Muslim Women Australia Youth Advisory Committee (MYAC). She uses her voice to express young people's thoughts and feelings, particularly for youth, young women, and vulnerable communities.
The winner of the 2022 SBS Lifetime Community Service Medal is Rosa Loria.

Rosa started her involvement with the multicultural community more than 41 years ago. Together with the Sydney Multicultural Community Services' team, Rosa has helped culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) communities, including seniors and the elderly, newly arrived migrants, refugees, people living with a disability, and other community members. Her years and years of dedication and work ethic created thousands of caring and successful individuals who have spread their wings and contribute to the community.

The winner of the 2022 ICC T20 World Cup COVID Champion Medal is Srey Kang.
Srey has played a significant role in ensuring that the Khmer community in Fairfield and across Southwestern Sydney receive up to date information about COVID-19. She has used social media effectively to convey health messages in Khmer and in a way that the community would understand, by word of mouth. This resulted in higher levels of understanding about the public health orders by the Khmer community.

Sydney Metro West Tunnelling Contract Awarded

March 1, 2022
The NSW Government has awarded a $2.16 billion contract to deliver the next stage of tunnelling on the mega Sydney Metro West project.

The Gamuda Australia and Laing O’Rourke Consortium has been awarded the Western Tunnelling contract to deliver nine kilometres of twin metro rail tunnels between Sydney Olympic Park and Westmead.

Premier Dominic Perrottet said this once in a century infrastructure investment will link new communities to rail services, slash travel times across the network and support employment growth.

“These tunnels mean you’ll be able to get from Parramatta to the Sydney CBD in around 20 minutes on a fast, safe and reliable driverless metro train, forever changing how we move around Sydney,” Premier Perrottet said.

“Sydney Metro West will double rail capacity between Greater Parramatta and the Sydney CBD, transforming Sydney for generations to come,” he said.

This is the second major tunnelling package awarded on the city-shaping project, with work already underway to deliver twin tunnels between The Bays and Sydney Olympic Park following the contract awarded to Acciona Ferrovial Joint Venture last year. 

Minister for Transport and Veterans David Elliott said major civil works have now commenced at the Bays, with tunnelling set to commence later this year towards Sydney Olympic Park.

“Work is well underway to get the site ready for tunnel boring machines to be in the ground at The Bays by the end of the year. Huge piling rigs have already started work to prepare the site for the excavation needed to launch the mega machines,” Minister Elliott said. 

“Sydney Metro West will create more than 10,000 direct new jobs and 70,000 indirect jobs - many of those jobs generated by this major contract.”

“To build these tunnels a broad range of skills will be required including tunnellers, electricians, plumbers, carpenters, concrete workers, truck drivers, labourers and security guards,” Minister Elliott said.

The Western Tunnelling contract includes:
  • Twin 9km tunnels from Sydney Olympic Park to Westmead;
  • A Tunnel Boring Machine launch site at Rosehill, tunnelling toward Sydney Olympic Park and relaunched toward Westmead;
  • A services facility and crossover structure at Rosehill to allow provision for fresh air ventilation and emergency egress;
  • Tunnel portal and dive excavation at Clyde Services and Maintenance Facility;
  • Earthworks, retaining structures, drainage and utilities corridor for the Clyde Maintenance Facility;
  • Excavation and civil works for Parramatta and Westmead Stations; and
  • A segment manufacturing facility at Eastern Creek constructing over 60,000 segments.
Completion of the contract is expected by the end of 2025.

New Technique Unlocks Ancient History Of Earth From Grains Of Sand

March 1, 2022
Curtin researchers have developed a new technique by studying the age of ancient grains of sand from beaches, rivers and rocks from around the world to reveal previously hidden details of the Earth's distant geological past.

Lead researcher Dr Milo Barham, from the Timescales of Mineral Systems Group within Curtin's School of Earth and Planetary Sciences, said the team devised a metric, which determines the 'age distribution fingerprint' of minerals known as zircon within sand, shedding new light on the evolution of the Earth's surface over the last few billion years.

"While much of the original geological record is lost to erosion, durable minerals like zircon form sediments that effectively gather information from these lost worlds to paint a vivid picture of the planet's history, including changing environments, the development of a habitable biosphere, the evolution of continents, and the accumulation of mineral resources at ancient plate boundaries," Dr Barham said.

"This new approach allows a greater understanding of the nature of ancient geology in order to reconstruct the arrangement and movement of tectonic plates on Earth through time.

"The world's beaches faithfully record a detailed history of our planet's geological past, with billions of years of Earth's history imprinted in the geology of each grain of sand and our technique helps unlock this information."

Co-author Professor Chris Kirkland, also from the Timescales of Mineral Systems Group within Curtin's School of Earth and Planetary Sciences, said the new method can be used to trace the Earth's history with greater detail than previously achievable.

"Zircons contain chemical elements that allow us to date and reconstruct the conditions of mineral formation. Much like human population demographics trace the evolution of countries, this technique allows us to chart the evolution of continents by identifying the particular age population demographics of zircon grains in a sediment," Professor Kirkland said.

"The way the Earth recycles itself through erosion is tracked in the pattern of ages of zircon grains in different geological settings. For example, the sediment on the west and east coasts of South America are completely different because there are many young grains on the west side that were created from crust plunging beneath the continent, driving earthquakes and volcanoes in the Andes. Whereas, on the east coast, all is relatively calm geologically and there is a mix of old and young grains picked up from a diversity of rocks across the Amazon basin."

Dr Barham and Professor Kirkland are affiliated with The Institute for Geoscience Research (TIGeR), Curtin's flagship Earth Sciences research institute and the research was funded by the Minerals Research Institute of Western Australia.

M. Barham, C.L. Kirkland, A.D. Handoko. Understanding ancient tectonic settings through detrital zircon analysis. Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 2022; 583: 117425 DOI: 10.1016/j.epsl.2022.117425

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