Environmental legislation now before federal parliament offers an opportunity to go beyond that of removing “green tape”. Devolution to the states of federal responsibilities without an independent regulator and funding support will ensure our environmental trajectory remains unsustainable. Read More

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

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