Putting two bob on the environment

On Saturday 8th June, 2BOB radio on the NSW mid-north coast is having its annual Envirofair in Taree Park, from 9.30 to 3.30.  Taree is on the mighty Manning River.

Manning Valley Community Radio Station 2BOB 104.7 FM 

They’ve been holding these family-day fairs for 22 years, with the simple aim of ‘raising awareness about environmental protection’.

You can check out their website for what the day holds, but it sounds like fun as well as information: ‘… music, dancing and performance artists; fabulous food from 2BOB Radio’s famous Global Cafe and local epicureans; innovative market stalls; displays and demonstrations of ecologically-friendly products and ideas for living; and inspirational environmental speakers.’

I will be one of those speakers on the Fig Jam stage, at 1.15 or 1.30 pm. Jonathan Moylan, innovative activist (of the ANZ ASIC hoax) is another.

I’ve given about 6 talks in the Manning since the book came out in May 2012; it’s an aware and alert region, with active community groups – maybe partly due to such a great community radio station.

CSG looms here, but would be crazy to try to proceed.

Come and say ‘Hi’ if you’re about on Saturday. (The Manning Clean Water Action Group stall will have Rich Land, Wasteland books for sale — and hence for me to sign for you!)

Climate Camp 2010

Last weekend I dropped into the last days of the Climate Camp being held at Lake Liddell recreation area near Muswellbrook in the Hunter. 

It was held here because near Bayswater Power station where a new one, Bayswater B, is threatened/promised, and which needs serious protesting against. An insanity, flying in the opposite direction of what is the publicised aim of Cancun. Has Mr Combet mentioned ‘coal’ yet?

Inspirationally, the Camp was just across the ‘lake’ from the Liddell Power Station and through the days and nights coal trains roared and rumbled along the nearby lines to the coal loader at Newcastle, the world’s largest coal exporting port.

They seemed non-stop — as they will actually be when even current expansions and approved mines get going — and they were as loud in that wide valley as a jet engine on the tarmac.

Some mines here and to the north and west do supply the two Hunter power stations, but most of the coal is shipped overseas to fuel climate change — they get paid more for that!

On Saturday night a wild and wet storm tested all the tents and made gumboots or bare feet de rigeur. They’d had a great week, I heard, with workshops and speakers and coalfields tours, where people from many states and even New Zealand  swapped information and drew strength from, as one participant said, this ‘family of environmentally concerned persons’.

I was delighted to meet in person two of the interstate activists who had helped me on my coal research trips: Sonya Duus, from Bimblebox in Queensland and Frosty from Bunbury in Western Australia.

As always, the last day was to be a day of community action and many Campers had put much effort and originality into the costumes, the placards and banners, and the songs and rap raves to brighten up the protest walk.

Many more folk turned up just for the walk; the police cars waited at the gate, the sun came out, and the colourful crowd of several hundred set off, to drums and whistles that stirred my heart, as if they were truly going into battle. As they were, for all of us and the planet.

I was staying behind to help others prepare food for them when they returned — which would be much later than expected.

Read moreClimate Camp 2010

Going, going, gone…

The last chapter of my book, Mountain Tails, is called ‘Missing Tails’  and as 2010 is the United Nations International Year of Biodiversity, an extract from that chapter seems appropriate here.

The illustration for that chapter was the Greater Bilby, listed as  ‘endangered’ in Queensland and ‘vulnerable’ nationally — the Lesser Bilby is already extinct.

I am fortunate to be able to live amongst so many wild creatures, who belong here more than I do or ever could. Yet there are lots of tails I’d love to see but never will, because they’re extinct, or so few are left that they’re on the critically endangered list, or the steps on the way to that, the vulnerable or threatened species list.

The more I learn about the amazing animals around me, the more I grieve that so many equally unique and interesting Australian creatures are now gone. Their combined richness is what biodiversity means, and even though we may not understand how, all creatures, including us, have or had a place in an ecosystem; we are all linked. Like any chain, break or even weaken a link, and things eventually fall apart. Unfortunately those links are often invisible to us short-sighted slaves of Progress — until the effects of the breakdown, mostly irreversible, cause us trouble.

Australia holds the shameful record of having wiped out the most mammal species of any country in the world: 27 unique types of furry warm-blooded creatures, like us but oh so different, will never exist on this earth again, thanks to our clumsy Progress. And we’ve done it in only a little over 200 years. We’ve been rotten caretakers, compared to the original ones, who managed it so well for thousands of years.

We can add 23 bird species and four frog species to the tally of Australian creatures that are now gone forever. We can’t do a thing about this but we can help in trying to prevent it happening to the 22 animal species that are critically endangered right now, and the 345 species that are threatened!

My wildlife refuge is my own way of doing this, plus having my property conserved in perpetuity under the Native Vegetation Act, but there are various avenues and degrees of involvement for concerned people, landowners or not, including volunteering, observing and recording, donating and lobbying.

Even in towns, we can at least try to do no more harm, for example by keeping pets in at night when many native animals come out to feed. Think of small creatures like the Lesser Bilby, lost forever, every time it seems a chore to do so. It probably didn’t ever live in your area, but others of the 54 extinct animals did. If you want a more personal iconic image, find out from your local National Parks office what is under threat in your region, what birds, mammals and reptiles might not be around much longer.

When I see the wild animals around me living such efficient and rich lives in the natural world we inhabit here, requiring of me only that I should leave them alone, I wonder that we got our priorities so wrong, on such a large scale, in this country.

Take a look at the website for the Convention on Biological Diversity. UN Secretary General Ban-Ki Moon talks about the sad state of our world, where human activity is wiping out species at about 1,000 times the natural rate.

Read moreGoing, going, gone…

Paradise under threat

Recently I attended a Rivers SOS conference at Booral near Gloucester. Rivers SOS is an alliance of 40 groups from all over NSW committed to protecting the integrity of river systems and water sources against the impacts of mining.

The weekend was held at Country River Camp, an informal and natural grassy camping area right by the Karuah River. Keith and Margaret Wynne, who own Country River Camp, love their river and are strong supporters of those who fight to protect it.

On Sunday we were taken on a tour of this beautiful, well-watered area, under grave threat from the expansion of the two coalmines in the district. It’s hard to get a peek at the so-called ’boutique minery’ of Duralie mine, tucked away from the main roads as it is. But they’re expanding way beyond boutique, and if they get their way it will be all too visible.
rivers-1 Many farms, like the one below, have already been bought up for hard-to-resist prices; across other paddocks we could see dozens of test drill pipes under their white caps.
rivers-2 This region is watered by pristine rivers and creeks that rise in the nearby World Heritage sub-alpine Gloucester and Barrington Tops. And yet the mine wants to discharge its toxic waste water into these streams.

They call it ‘irrigating’, which means indirect discharge, as the waste will just take a bit more time to reach the rivers as it enters the many gullies and watercourses of the river flats and slopes they want to use for this (below).
rivers-3These gullies run into Mammy Johnsons River (below), which flows to the Karuah River and thence to the tourist and marine environment mecca of Port Stephens.

If beauty like this doesn’t matter, with water becoming such a precious commodity, it has to be an obscenity to consider mining this area which is also blessed with fertile soils.

We can’t drink or eat coal.

Read moreParadise under threat