Mangrove Generations

It was a thrill last week to attend a meeting of four generations of folk interested in mangrove science. The gathering took place at University of Wollongong and involved my former PhD student, Professor Neil Saintilan, his former PhD student Kerrylee Rogers now Associate Professor, and her postgraduate students, Kirtie Lal and Kristian Kumbier. Colin Woodroffe was also present highlighting the breadth of interest and range of work undertaken over the past 50 plus years by this group in mangrove ecology and links to geomorphology. Read More

The Mighty Ord

When I left the Coastal Studies Institute (CSI) at Louisiana State University in 1967, I never thought I would work on another project with that group. It was a pleasant surprise to receive an invite in early 1971 to join Don Wright in a study of the Ord River estuary. Read More

The right to bath on the beach

Australian’s today believe they have a public right to access and use the beach. That includes the right to swim and surf. It has not always been so. Doug Booth, the historian, has written a wonderful account of steps taken to enjoy the ocean waters (Australian Beach Cultures: the History of Sun, Sand and Surf, 2001). More recently, Caroline Ford in her book, Sydney Beaches, A History (2014, Chapters 1 and 2), has further explored the story of how Sydney residents and councils managed to change the rules around bathing in the sea. Read More

Foreshore land grants in eastern Sydney

I must first declare a personal land interest in this blog. The house where I have lived in Rose Bay and our current dwelling in Vaucluse, in eastern Sydney, were both the subject of 19th century land grants that have links to foreshore private and later public use. Read More

Victorian Coastal Monitoring Program

I recently attended a meeting of the Advisory Board of the new Victorian Coastal Monitoring Program (VCMP).This program was established last year as a partnership between the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) and Deakin and Melbourne universities Read More

Future national need for a healthy environment

Since the mid-1980s, it has become increasingly established that climate change will impact the lives of Australians, on the economy and the health of environmental assets. The interconnected functioning of natural processes requires us to look beyond the settler view of exploitation of nature. To do this we must somehow enshrine in law, such as through a Charter of Rights for Nature, the protection and restoration of valued natural assets vital to the nation’s long-term wellbeing. Read More


I recently attended the 18th Biennial Australian New Zealand Geomorphology Group conference in delightful Inverloch in the south Gippsland region of Victoria. This conference is held at a place in either Australia or New Zealand where there are exciting geomorphic features. Inverloch was no exception. It was a privilege to be invited this time to give the key note on “Public Policy and the Law: the influence of geomorphology”. I dedicated this talk to the late John Chappell. His wife, Helen, was at the conference dinner and spoke about John with great feeling; I was asked to give the response on behalf of the Group, another tremendous privilege to honour this great man. Read More

Coastal science and the Murray River mouth

Two important documents about the River Murray were released last week (23 Jan and 2 Feb.). First, the Murray-Darling Basin Royal Commission completed its report investigating the operations and effectiveness of the Murray-Darling Basin system. Second, on World Wetlands Day a new book about the Coorong, Lower Lakes and Murray Mouth was launched. These are both significant as the coastal area around the Murray Mouth is at the ‘end of the drain’ for Australia’s largest river catchment. The Royal Commission notes, “It is now more likely that warnings are sounded, and heeded, that ‘rivers die from their mouths’ ”. Read More