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The good oil on the Aussie way of life, and how it's changing out of sight!
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Mission Impossible: Top 10 picks

Mission Impossible: Top 10 picks | Australian Culture | Scoop.it

When your country is also a vast continent, with everything from salt plains to snow covered peaks, from wetlands to tropical rainforest picking just ten destinations is something of an impossibility.  This list doesn’t even cover every State and Territory.  But there are some great suggestions here.

 

Western Australia makes up a third of Australia’s landmass and is nearly the size of India!  Yet its tourism industry is still playing catch-up, and a lot of what it has to offer is little known, even to Australians.  (Did you know, for instance, it has a vast coral reef system?)  So it’s good to see a couple of WA destinations on this list.

 

The Bungle Bungles in tropical northern WA remains a hidden jewel, still largely unknown and partially unexplored.  The striated beehive sandstone formations are striking (the photo doesn’t do them justice) and form steep ravines protecting unique wildlife.  The photo with the boat in the background is mislabelled.  It is actually Lennard River, east of Derby in northern WA – one of several mighty waterways that cut gorges and ravines through the ochre stone in the wet season.  This area – The Kimberley – has been continuously inhabited for around 41,000 years, and is rich in indigenous culture and dreamtime stories.

 

So do add WA to your bucket list – a healthy tourist industry will help counter ever-increasing pressure from miners to damage unique wilderness and heritage areas.

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The Chamberlain saving dingoes

The Chamberlain saving dingoes | Australian Culture | Scoop.it

Ausculture’s tagline is ‘In search of Australia 2.0’.  Well, anyone wanting an illustration of the sensationalist, retrograde groupthink we need to move beyond need look no further than the Azaria Chamberlain case.  The tragic loss of the two-month-old to a dingo at Uluru in the Red Centre in 1980 was followed by a frenzied (mis)trial by media and a life sentence for murder for mother Lindy.  In a case drenched in cultural misogyny, father Michael received only a suspended sentence.  Lindy Chamberlain was acquitted in 1986, but it was not until 2012, 32 years after the incident, that a fourth inquest finally confirmed Lindy’s original account.

 

The cultural impact of the case has reached far and wide, Lindy in her large sunnies having her iconic place alongside Harold Holt in his wetsuit and Hoges with his cheeky grin.  And across the pond tasteless jokes about dingoes taking babies are told by people clueless as to what a dingo actually is.

 

The dingo is Australia’s apex predator.  And it’s in trouble.  Classified as Threatened, the canine with the big PR problem has suffered over a century of persecution, as European settlers claimed vast tracts of its territory for farming, aggressively culled it and built a five and a half thousand kilometre Dingo Fence to keep it out of south-eastern Australia.  It is also under threat from cross-breeding with feral dogs.  The publicity around the Azaria Chamberlain incident has hardly helped the dingo’s cause.  But half-sister Zahra is turning that around.  As seen in this video, she has teamed up with the Durong Dingo Sanctuary in south-east Queensland and is quickly becoming an ambassador for the much maligned animal.  So after ending an ugly story with no winners here begins a beautiful one with no losers.

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Taking on Big Coal

Taking on Big Coal | Australian Culture | Scoop.it
The great Aussie tradition of the fair go is immediately out the window as soon as the mining juggernaut heads your way, backed by a state government greedy for royalties.

In the case of the small township of Bulga in New South Wales’ Hunter Valley, the prospects for halting that juggernaut seemed truly remote. The mining giant was Rio Tinto – arguably in second place for title of the world’s biggest and most ruthless miner – the government was NSW – with an appalling record for abandoning local and environmental interests in favour of a quick buck – and up for grabs was coal valued in the billions.

One man took a stand. John Krey (pictured) rallied community support, and an epic David and Goliath legal battle ensued. This multimedia piece by Bernard Lagan and colleagues at The Global Mail recounts it all. In six parts, it looks at how an entire community can be traumatised – a phenomenon newly identified as ‘solastalgia’, how ‘iron-clad’ legal protection agreements from soulless multinationals can be torn up arbitrarily as soon as a commodity price picks up, and how it’s worth fighting for what really matters – the wellbeing of ourselves and the environment.
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Saving the eastern quoll

Saving the eastern quoll | Australian Culture | Scoop.it

Once found from Melbourne to Brisbane, no wild eastern quoll has been seen on the mainland in 50 years, and the Tasmanian population is in decline. But a plan is being hatched in Secret Creek, 100km west of Sydney, to change all that...

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Devil Ark: saving the Tassie devil

Devil Ark: saving the Tassie devil | Australian Culture | Scoop.it

An hour’s drive north of Sydney, Devil Ark is doing its all to save the endangered Tasmanian devil. It’s a new conservation program of the Australian Reptile Park, and it’s creating an insurance population of healthy, genetically diverse devils that can be reintroduced to Tasmania once the devastating DFTD disease has run its course. It’s an ambitious program, and they could do with your elbow grease or back-of-the-sofa coins.

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Barrier Reef's World Heritage status shaky

Barrier Reef's World Heritage status shaky | Australian Culture | Scoop.it

THE Great Barrier Reef is in danger of losing its World Heritage status, as dredging of Gladstone Harbour releases dangerous amounts of contaminants such as aluminium, copper and chromium.

 

Extensive sea life poisoning has already been detected - as reported on tonight's ABC Four Corners program - and only 1.5 million of a planned 46 million cubic meters have so far been dredged. This 20 year dredging program associated with the construction of three coal seam gas plants risks World Heritage status, warns the UN's UNESCO.

 

GetUp has set up a petition against this environmental damage here: http://www.getup.org.au/dredging-the-reef

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New hope for the koala

New hope for the koala | Australian Culture | Scoop.it

The docile and diet-fussy koala is under threat on many fronts.  Habitat loss, increasing heatwaves and attack by feral and domestic dogs have all played their part, with some populations down 80% in a decade.  Only a few tens of thousand remain – mainly in eastern Queensland and southern Victoria.  Chlamydia infection is another major issue impacting populations, causing infertility, blindness and often death.  But a vaccine developed over five years by the University of the Sunshine Coast is proving effective against it.  In an ideal world, natural processes would be allowed to run their course.  But until we can restore the koala’s habitat – Australia is one of the ten worst offenders for deforestation on the planet, having cleared well over half a million hectares – it looks like our iconic ‘bear’ could really use the help.

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Aurora tasmanis

Aurora tasmanis | Australian Culture | Scoop.it
Short of venturing to Antarctica, Tasmania is the natural choice for observing the aurora australis. And with this being a solar maximum – the period in the sun’s 11 year cycle of magnetic activity where the most charged particles are sent our way – now is a great time to try and catch this ephemeral and beautiful phenomenon.

An annual Aurora Australis Festival has been established (see below), with viewings, talks and exhibitions. There are also photo galleries on the website – this other-worldly image is by Ricki Eaves. The Mercury article (see above) also includes a montage of time-lapse videos.

But there is no substitute for seeing an aurora live: quite aside from the mesmerising dance of shimmering multicoloured lights, you are reminded that our fragile existence in a hostile universe is only made possible by the natural ‘force field’ of Earth’s magnetic field and atmosphere.

http://www.auroraaustralistasmania.org/2013-festival/
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The Bilby-Safe Fence

The Bilby-Safe Fence | Australian Culture | Scoop.it

Two hundred years ago, bilbies could be found across most of mainland Australia, venturing out at night for bugs, seeds and fruit.  Today, the lesser bilby is extinct and the greater bilby is struggling to hang on (see map), with numbers in Queensland estimated at just 700.  Feral cats, food loss to countless rabbits and habitat loss have all played their part.


In 1999, conservationists Frank Manthey and Peter McRae set out to create a small safe haven for bilbies in Queensland.  They needed a very good fence, and they found two creative ways to fund it...

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Weird webs in Wagga Wagga

Weird webs in Wagga Wagga | Australian Culture | Scoop.it

You may have seen the amazing photos of silk-wrapped trees following the devastating Pakistan floods late in 2010. This may be due to a ‘lifeboat’-building survival instinct in spiders, and similar strange seas of silk can be seen in this new National Geographic photoset from Wagga Wagga, NSW – one of the worst-hit areas in the record-breaking floods of 2012.

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CO2 set to exceed worst-case scenarios

CO2 set to exceed worst-case scenarios | Australian Culture | Scoop.it

2010 saw record global CO2 emissions after a 6% jump. New projections are worse than the worst-case scenarios of the IPCC's 2007 report, and could see a 5°C temperature rise - or higher - by the end of the Century, with catastrophic results. Urgent global action is needed to avert this.

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