Estuary Health

Last week I participated in a presentation by fellows of the Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering (ATSE) to the Productivity Commission’s inquiry on national water reform. Jan Dolan, one of the Commissioners, commented on the growing disconnect between science and policy in what is a contested space in public policy. She referred to several “big picture” themes as challenges to be addressed in water reform including population growth, climate change, indigenous water strategies, and how to manage for extremes in water scarcity and other impacts. I was given the opportunity to comment on estuaries. Read More


Emphasis in higher education funding overlooks the fundamental nexus between teaching and research. Academics are driven by their training and inclination to pursue research questions. This is where they receive personal rewards. Lost opportunities to continue to serve as a researcher and teacher will imperil our nation’s ability to be innovative and reduce our capacity to enrich our society with critical thinkers who inspire future generations. Read More

Cliffs in the Narrabeen Group, Sydney

Cliffs form a magnificent front door for Sydney. A previous blog discussed those cut into Hawkesbury Sandstone to the south of the entrance to Sydney Harbour. Here we describe those carved into an older set of Triassic age rocks, the Narrabeen Group. Read More


Some of the world’s major rivers no longer flow to the ocean. They begin to die from the mouth upwards. Extraction of river water for irrigation has dramatically affected the Colorado in the USA, and the Yellow River in China. In between Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan, the drying up of the former inland Aral Sea is an environmental disaster. Australia’s Murray-Darling Basin (MDB) is a large river basin by world standards, but even with management lessons from overseas river basins the River Murray mouth is being choked with marine sand. Read More

Geomorphologic Mapping

Self-isolation has benefits; time is available to look at collected materials stretching back many years. In the words of the late lamented John Chappell, “I went digging deep into one’s stratigraphy”. Read More


Approaching Sydney from the east by sea or by air offers an experience rare for those entering a great city. Perhaps only San Francisco has comparable cliffs at its harbour gates. The majestic North and South Heads flank the entrance to the grand harbour called Port Jackson. These cliffs extend north towards Manly embayment and south to Bondi. It is this southern stretch that I want to reflect upon here. Read More

Recent Coastal Legal Cases

There have several recent court cases that relate to coastal management. We should be aware that decisions by courts can form a basis for future planning and actions in coastal management. Read More