I have benefited from a vocation that has offered opportunities to indulge in research. It has been such a privilege. The excitement of being able to go into the field, to observe, to test ideas of others and develop one’s own hypotheses, and to be able to communicate these findings all defines this privilege. To do this with other like-minded individuals made this all the more enjoyable and creative. But this would not have happened unless more senior academics put their hope and trust in me to do the work on my terms. Read More

US Climate Indicators

Last week two articles appeared in the New York Times that revealed “times are a changing”. During the Trump years, federal agencies responsible for collecting and disseminating information on environmental and other indicators that show shifts from previous “normal” or average conditions, have been restricted in what they could publish and comment upon. These restrictions have now been lifted under the Biden administration and they are quite revealing. Read More


On 23rd April, the Prime Minister announced that the Australian Government “will make an additional $100 million investment to continue leading the world and our region in how we manage our ocean habitats and coastal environments and contribute to the global task of reducing emissions”. Hidden in these few words are not just indications of intent but claims that many may wish to contest. The purpose here, however, is to see where these intentions can best take us given various constraints as well as opportunities. Read More

Travelling west of the sandstone curtain - to Orange (NSW) and back

Going west of the sandstone curtain is a rare event for me. The central west of NSW has long been an area outside my geographic range. So a recent visit with family and friends excited those old instincts of regional geographer to explore a landscape that has evolved over 400 million years since oceanic and marine forces added to the core of the Lachlan fold belt in the Palaeozoic. Read More


Simon Winchester is one of my favourite authors. He brings to his stories a background in geology. I was captivated by the book “The Map that Changed the World” (2001); it was about a geological map and a man named Smith. But his other works such as “The Fracture Zone”, “Krakatoa”, and “When the Earth Shakes” follow a similar theme. This year he has published an enthralling book: “Land” with the subtitle “How the hunger for ownership shaped the world” (William Collins,2012). Read More


“Flood plains are for floods”: so said Moss Cass, Minister for Environment in the Whitlam Government. The occasion was the devastating Brisbane floods of 1974. He recommended buy back of properties in harm’s way, and yes, a voluntary scheme was put in place. Guess what? More development took place after the Wivenhoe dam was built allowing for a repeat of devastation in the 2011 floods. Protocols in place to manage dam water levels were somewhat confusing between the role of the dam for flood mitigation and water supply. Read More


Over the past three decades or so much has been written on the response of wetland ecosystems bordering estuarine waterways to sea-level rise. In some ways this followed many geological studies supported by radiocarbon dating and lots of coring in marshes and swamps in the northern hemisphere where continued sea-level rise in the late Holocene has left behind a distinctive buried record of marine transgression. Read More


Soon after the NSW Coastal Policy was released in 1998 a debate occurred at a coastal conference that the Government had misrepresented the boundary of the Coastal Zone. The mapped boundary did NOT include the natural coastal system based on river catchments. In essence the Zone was defined by a line 1km back from high water including lakes and rivers using the nearest cadastral boundary as the landward limit. Maps were prepared and gazetted. Inside that boundary certain statutory provisions prevailed based on legislated planning provisions. This boundary, with modifications and extensions, prevails today. Read More