Over the past few years I have had the opportunity of participating in deliberations related to the health of certain Australian estuaries including coastal lakes. It has opened my eyes even more to an array of concerns that are captured by the word “lament” (an expression of sorrow, grief, or sad regret). Perhaps this is going too far as one could argue that current awareness of threats facing our estuaries is or potentially will trigger management actions preventing irreversible degradation of ecosystems and harm to the public. Read More


Devastation in recent months along the east coast as a result of floods is not new. Back in 1974, Moss Cass, Minister for Environment in the Whitlam Government, pronounced in no uncertain terms “flood plains are for floods”. He was referring to devastation in Brisbane while conscious of so much harm over decades had occurred in Queensland and NSW river valleys going back to early settlement years. Lessons learnt from that history have been painful. That pain will be repeated as the new climate era takes effect if we continue to foster development (or redevelopment) on such flood prone lands without careful planning. But reducing harmful effects has not and will not be without pain. Here I will touch on some responses to past floods to highlight difficulties faced by governments in mitigating risk to those living and working in such threatened lands. Read More


Repeated storms of autumn along the east coast are not something new. I was struck by an account in The Australian 27/3/22. Reference was made to a meteorological “traffic jam” as the cause of our flooding woes. This statement was in the context of the second extreme event; now we are experiencing a third! Read More


When I joined the Department of Geography at Sydney University in 1985, it was a pleasure to meet Paul Bishop who had just completed his PhD at Macquarie University. He had an adjoining office with another tutor, Peter Cowell, and it was obvious that they both brought intellectual vigour and enthusiasm to physical geography. I knew Peter from the time he had been working with Don Wright on coastal studies but did not know Paul. Together they had what Peter called self-indulgent fun engaging in philosophical questioning of many topics besides sharing a love for classical music. Sadly Paul recently died (age 72) and the lights that he shone on those he worked with have gone out; but he cannot be forgotten. Our deepest condolences to his partner, Geraldine. Read More


Exposure and vulnerability of various natural and human systems to climate change are discussed at length in the latest IPPC report (6th Assessment Report on impacts, vulnerability, and adaptation). IPCC again used the “burning embers” diagram to highlight levels of concern that scientists have about the consequences of climate change. These diagrams are expressed as levels of increased risk with temperature rise; they also offer an indicator of confidence of transition from one level to another. For each major theme and for each broad region they graphically highlight key areas of concern. Read More

Recent federal coastal initiatives - February 2022

In recent weeks there have been two initiatives that place the Australian Government back into coastal management in a direct way. While these are most welcome, it will be important to monitor how they are implemented around the nation given complexities of coastal governance and the “wicked” nature of problems facing coastal managers at state and local government levels. Read More

Resourceful 'lucky' country

There are at last two reasons we can claim to be a “lucky” country – a shared and rich cultural heritage and a unique natural resource inheritance. This endowment from First Nations people and various geological epochs stretching back to the earliest periods of Earth’s history must be better understood and appreciated. Few nations enjoy such riches. Our deep cultural history is incredible and so are our natural resources . Here the focus is on natural resources. Read More

Sunflowers and hope

Late each spring I open a packet of sunflower seeds, place them into egg cartons and nurture them ready for transplanting. Watching them grow and bloom is a joy. They are now in flower on the verge delighting neighbours and especially kids. Their smile in seeing these flowers is one of those little pleasures that I have come to appreciate in otherwise gloomy times. Sunflower beauty early in the year is refreshing and symbolises hope for better times ahead. Read More


Fifty years ago I had my first encounter with the Moruya River, the town, the airport, the old granite quarry, and the beach system to the north of the river entrance. Ever since this area has been one of great importance on the NSW coast, the focus of attention not just by me but by many others interested in coastal evolution and dynamics. It remains so today... Read More