LARGS: A GEOHERITAGE SITE?

Just 8km north of Maitland in the NSW Hunter Valley lies the small village of Largs. It is adjacent to the growing urban precinct of Bolwarra Heights, but its rural character remains intact with its cute corner pub and the striking Soldiers Memorial Hall. This hall was originally a School of Arts erected in 1878 as part of the movement to improve literacy amongst the largely dairy farming community. In 1921 it was tastefully added to in honour of those who served in World War 1. But for me the village has another less well-known claim to fame-- it is the site of a Last Interglacial (Stage 5e) fossil bed. Read More

UNIVERSITY RESEARCH—PERSONAL SADNESS

I have benefited from a vocation that has offered opportunities to indulge in research. It has been such a privilege. The excitement of being able to go into the field, to observe, to test ideas of others and develop one’s own hypotheses, and to be able to communicate these findings all defines this privilege. To do this with other like-minded individuals made this all the more enjoyable and creative. But this would not have happened unless more senior academics put their hope and trust in me to do the work on my terms. Read More

US Climate Indicators

Last week two articles appeared in the New York Times that revealed “times are a changing”. During the Trump years, federal agencies responsible for collecting and disseminating information on environmental and other indicators that show shifts from previous “normal” or average conditions, have been restricted in what they could publish and comment upon. These restrictions have now been lifted under the Biden administration and they are quite revealing. Read More

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