AUSTRALIAN GOVERNMENT MARINE AND COAST INITIATIVES 2021

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

LAND: OWNERSHIP AND RIGHTS

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

EXTREME CLIMATE EVENTS: A HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVE OF FLOODS

“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

ESTUARY WETLANDS AND SEA-LEVEL RISE

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

COASTAL ZONE AND CATCHMENT BOUNDARIES

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

Coastal Archaeology Revisited

Browsing in my local Berkelouw’s store last weekend a title on the fiction table struck me: “The Beach Caves”. Usually titles on that table bear no relation to the subject but a quick look and wow! The front page said this is “an archaeological thriller that has a real sense of lived experience”. Where I wondered, could it be: in UK or somewhere exotic? No, it is here in NSW. Read More

JUDITH WRIGHT - POET, COASTAL CONSERVATIONIST AND MUCH MORE

From time to time I return to the writing and work of Australians who have inspired me. One such person is the highly acclaimed poet, Judith Wright (1915-2000). Born into a privileged pastoral family of the New England region, she soon distanced herself from the conservative values of her family to help drive the “conservation” movement in Australia in its battle with the forces of “progress”. Read More

COASTAL STORIES FROM THE FIELD,1970-2020

Last week Australia Post successfully delivered a neat package from the USA in the form of Special Issue No 101 of the Journal of Coastal Research (2020). Although this issue has been out online for some months it was a great delight to see the hard copy. And what a magnificent volume it is. Read More