Christmas Bells

Christmas Bells
Christmas Bells - Blandfordia nobilis

Monday, February 25, 2013

Police to deal with fights over hunting

Dear Minister Parker,
cc Mr Gareth Ward MLA - Member for Kiama.
cc The Hon Pru Goward MLA, Member for Goulburn

I can barely manage to write to you - simply because I am apoplectic with rage with what I have read in the paper today.   (Police to deal with fights over hunting).

I object to the apparent reversal of the Onus of Proof in the planning for administering supposed anticipated confrontations between Hunters and people, like myself, who object to the introduction of hunting in National Parks.
I live close to Morton National Park, in Robertson and my view covers most of the Shoalhaven Valley (which is where Morton National Park is located). I live within the Electorate of Kiama, and I also know the Hon Pru Goward, Member for Goulburn whose electorate includes much of the rest of the Morton National Park.

I am an Orchid enthusiast, and I seek to photograph (not collect) these beautiful plants. 

Small Tongue Orchid
Cryptostylis leptochila
Because most terrestrial Orchids are small, ground-hugging plants, I feel particularly at risk from stray shooting by Hunters, because I could easily be confused with a Wombat or Wallaby (or a Pig or a Deer), when crouching down low in the undergrowth, in order to photograph these plants.
I have already obtained bright orange Hi-Vis vests. But they are not bullet proof.

But what has really "got my goat" (I do hope some reader gets this joke) is the report in the Sydney Morning Herald of today, 24 February, written by Heath Aston : "Police to deal with fights over hunting".

In that article, it clearly states that:

"Police will be deployed to deal with ''aggressive confrontations'' between hunters and members of the public when national parks are opened to hunting.
..... (T)he state government has .... drawn up plans to counter expected protests.
They include concealing the identity of hunters for their own safety, teaching hunters how to deal with ''hostile'' protesters...."

What on earth gives your Office the right to assume that people such as myself will threaten Hunters?

You have reversed or even totally ignored the principles of the Onus of Proof. I am assumed (by the above statement) to be "hostile" and to pose a threat to Hunters.

I am a law-abiding citizen, and I object to being characterised as some sort of lawless thug who is likely to threaten (or worse still) supposedly harm Hunters. How dare you assume any such thing about me?

Yes, I do object to your Government's about-face on this Shooting in National Parks policy. But I have read the amendments to the relevant legislation and I know I will be prohibited from "interfering with" any (legitimate) hunters.

On that point, It is not clear quite how I am meant to know which Hunters are legitimate or not, given that any hunting in Morton National Park is supposedly intended to be unsupervised (despite explicit promises by the Premier to the contrary). One of the Standard Conditions for Hunting in Zone C Parks, apparently, is that Hunters will be unsupervised.

I assure you that common sense dictates that I will not approach any people carrying or firing guns. That would be a rash and foolish act, would it not? I am neither a rash nor a foolish person.

But I still cannot see how unsupervised hunting can be monitored and assessed as "successful" as a "Supplementary Pest Control Program".

Without monitoring and assessment, how on earth can you swear that this Program will be successful?

More to the point - how dare you assume that I am a potentially dangerous citizen and that I pose a threat or a risk to armed Hunters.

Not only is that in obvious contradiction to common sense, frankly, it is a damnable insult.

I request that you urgently review this particular aspect of the implementation of the "Supplementary Pest Control Program".

And while you are at it, can you please ensure that Morton National Park is not classed as a "Zone C" Park under that Program. For contrary to your Office's apparent advice, it is in fact a "High Visitation" National Park.
  • Have you checked the Visitation Statistics? (clearly not).
  • Do you realise that it is rated as a highly important tourist facility within the Wingecarribee Shire? (Presumably not)

Sunday, February 24, 2013

The Rain appears to have eased - for now.

We have had what the Bureau of Meteorology people refer to as a "Rainfall Event".
Three days of rain, (constant rain all day yesterday) and heavy rain overnight on Friday night and again on Saturday night. In that period I got 202mm of rain which is 7.95 inches in the old measures. That is a lot of rain, but not problematic here, fortunately.

There is something to be said for living on top of a ridge.

I will be going out now to try to photograph Carrington Falls.

Several hours later.
Delay caused by heavy rain the day before triggering me to put my headlights on (during the day)
Naturally I forgot to turn them off, with the usual result - flat battery this morning.

Eventually I got there, thanks to my helpful neighbour Kat giving me a jump start.
Just as well I have trained myself to reverse park, so helpful neighbours can drive in close to the front of my car, ready for attachment of my Jumper Leads. At least I've got that down to a fine art.

Kangaroo River from the Bridge
on Carrington Falls Road

Carrington Falls in heavy flow
following 200mm of rain in the district.
Taken the morning after heavy rain.

The Maelstrom at the bottom pf the Falls/

I like this small and precarious ledge
on side of the falls.
Huge thunderstorm has just broken out directly overhead.
Torrential rain falling.
Not "lashing rain" Pounding rain.
Lightning strike might take out my computer unless I turn off now.....\

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Not Happy Barry - No Hunting in National Parks

Today we gathered to hear a talk by Kevin Evans, CEO of National Parks Association of NSW, about the current status of the legislation to permit hunting in National Parks.

Some of the Southern Highlands people
who attended a talk

about hunting in National Parks.

We gathered outside
Fitzroy Falls Visitor Centre.

A single message
Not Happy Barry - No Hunting in National Parks
This was despite the repeated statements by Barry O'Farrell that he would not allow hunting in National Parks. But the Government "did a deal" with the Shooters and Fishers Party to gain their support for the passage of legislation to sell the Electricity Generator facilities.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013


GANG-GANG COCKATOOS PLACED AT RISK BY NSW ENVIRONMENT MINISTER:  Threatened Species ignored under Forestry Act for Private Lands
Conservationists have waited five and a half years to see the final Code of Practice (COP) for forestry operations on private lands.  What has it revealed? 
The Gang-gang Cockatoo (Callocephalon fimbriatum) is NSW listed as Vulnerable under the Threatened Species Act, but doesn’t rate a mention on the forestry COP for threatened  species in Southern NSW.  
Painting of Gang-gang Cockatoos
by internationally renowned wildlife artist
Humphrey Price-Jones
donated by the artist to Landcare
“No protective prescription exists for this species. It is not the only species either completely overlooked or left with inadequate     protections under this flawed code.  “The omission of the Gang-gang demonstrates either incompetence within the Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH) or worse” says Mark Selmes, Vice President of the Goulburn Field Naturalist’s Society, and long time opponent of PNF firewood logging in Mount Rae Forest - a known breeding area for this species of cockatoo.
“NSW Environment Minister, Ms Robyn Parker, is aware of the many flaws within the Forestry Code but refuses to act. The interim forestry law was a classic example of policy making on the run, but after five and a half years you’d expect the final COP could list correctly the known threatened species of our southern forests and woodlands. Past attempts to cover up the many inadequacies within this act are now exposed.”
 “How many of the over 225,000 hectares of logging approvals already issued have been in threatened species habitat? How many for nothing better than commercial scale firewood? How can such approvals  achieve the objectives of the Code in ”maintaining non-wood values at or above target levels considered necessary by society to prevent environmental harm and provide environmental services for the common good”. If such a product came from overseas we’d ban it. In NSW it comes with the Environment Minister’s approval.”
“The OEH has been aware of these issues for years but refuses to act. Mount Rae Forest sits atop the Great Dividing Range between Taralga and Crookwell and is known to contain eleven threatened species and over 250 more common plants and animals. This area was previously targeted for protection by the OEH’s ecologists who opposed the same firewood logging operation stating it would “negatively impact on the forests and threatened species” of this area. Five properties underwent surveys by the Conservation Partners Unit of OEH recognising the high conservation values of this area. Two landholders entered legally covenanted Conservation Agreements with the NSW Government, one signed by Ms Parker. These approvals take about a year and require detailed surveys. Meanwhile approvals for firewood logging on adjoining lands take on average 28 days and require no environmental surveys.
When hypocritical “streamlined” approvals allow the director of a firewood business to deny the presence of existing threatened species and gain support by forestry networks who state they will use this legislation to access  over a million ha’s of native forests in the region to supply firewood markets in Sydney and Canberra, then you know the OEH has become just another politicised agency selling out to vested interests. These logging plans are automatically granted bio-certification by Ms Parker, so now the OEH apparently recognises firewood logging with heavy machinery as improving  and enhancing  biodiversity.  Well this IS the same Environment Minister who once said logging protects koalas.
The Gang-gang cockatoo is the faunal emblem of the ACT where it is not yet considered threatened.  Many Gang-gangs breed in remnants of forest and woodland in the Southern Highlands and Tablelands before wintering in the lower altitude of Canberra. The people of Canberra can console themselves with the thought that while less of these charismatic cockatoos will be coming down to Canberra this winter, more firewood and wood smoke will be. Burning threatened species homes to warm theirs?  All thanks to the NSW Environment Minister. 


·         PNF COP  for Southern NSW
              Appendix: listed species ecological prescriptions p.16
·         Budget Estimate 2012 – Supplementary QONs page 23 of 54. Questions from the Hon. C. Faehrmann MLC  specifically questions 69 -77 on Mount Rae Forest.

·         For more information on Mount Rae forest go to

·         For a detailed public submission on flaws in the PNF COP as exemplified by the Mount Rae Forest case see:
Native Vegetation Regulation Submission No. 306 Mr Mark Selmes.
·     The below are quotes from  forestry newsletters which support the use of the OEH Private Native Forest Act for commercial firewood logging :
          Southern Tablelands Farm Forestry Network Newsletter Autumn 2009:
Forests for Bio-Energy Markets and Resources for Firewood in South East Australia...Comments from  a STFFN Perspective :
“The Southern Tablelands has 1.2 million hectares of private native forest (PNF), which if managed properly, could yield an estimated 800,000 tonnes of firewood per annum.   However 95% of this PNF is unmanaged, and most PNF owners do not do not realise the potential of the resource...”
“STFFN has been assisting some landholders to obtain a PVP to allow for harvesting of their PNF. Despite all this, governments appear to be reluctant to accept that firewood can be a legitimate greenhouse gas friendly heating source. The ACT government has actively tried to stop wood heating... and some local governments have refused development consent for sustainable harvesting of PNF, despite the landholder having a legal and legitimate PVP .*
*  This refers to Mount Rae Forest. Upper Lachlan Shire Councillors had voted against this operation (largely on the advice of NSW Government scientists . The need for council consent for forestry operations has now  been removed under the new State Template LEP and commercial firewood logging is happening in Mount Rae Forest.

Southern Tablelands Farm Forestry Network Newsletter
“The Native forest types of the Southern Tablelands rarely produce reasonable quantities of sawlog grade trees. In fact most of the wood in our forests is firewood grade. Therefore commercial harvesting will require access to the firewood industry... the challenge lies in coordinating a private industry and ensuring consistent supply. “
 Options for Growing Firewood.
1.       Managing existing stands of native timber: There is more than 1.5 million hectares of existing native forest     
occurring on private lands in the Southern Tablelands. Much of this area of land is accessible for small scale firewood harvesting operations. Under New State government legislative reforms landholders will be able to conduct commercial firewood operations...”

Monday, February 11, 2013

Eucryphia in full flower - in the mist

The local Eucryphia moorei (or "Pinkwood") is currently in full flower around the village of Robertson. It does not always put on a good show, but this year, it is doing so.

I have previously written about the finer details of this flower. Today I show the full flowering shrub.

A full view of a medium-sized Eucryphia shrub
It is about 7 years old (I planted this one).
It is now well over head height,
and nearly as broad as high.
In nature, the Eucryphia
can grow into a large tree.
This image shows the strong patterns
created by the leaves.
Botanically the leaves are described as
"pinnate, mostly 5–15 cm long;
leaflets usually 5–13
but often reduced to 3 on flowering branches".
Source: PlantNET
A brighter image
shows the large number of flowers.
Bees and Spinebills are attracted to the flowers.
It is closely related to the Tasmanian Leatherwood,
which is famous for the honey produced from that tree.

And this is the most which has stayed with us from the thunderstorms of yesterday, and has not cleared at all, today.

A view through the mist this afternoon.
The powerline stanchion
is about 400 metres away.

Saturday, February 09, 2013

Three Creeks Trivia team victorious in Burrawang

Another milestone, of sorts. 1600 blog posts, since I first started out in late 2005.

Tonight the Robertson Trivia team (variously known as the Three Creeks Caffe Grandees, or the Three Creeks Grande Lattes) won the Burrawang Annual Trivia Comp.

We had a close-run thing, and of course, we all were kicking ourselves (after answers were read out) for not knowing the name of the Captain Hook's Pirate Ship in the Peter Pan stories (the Jolly Roger - of course it was); and it was Banjo Patterson who was born in Orange in 1864.
Still, a win by a single point is still a win!

The hall was very hot, and very noisy - because of the fact that the event was so popular.
But Geoff Goodfellow was a good MC and there was not a single disputed answer all night.

Further to my post about footwear appropriate to wear in the Southern Highlands there was an unfortunate accident (a minor one, fortunately)when one of our team member moved his seat slightly as a woman was attempting to walk behind him. Muffled scream followed, and abject apologies, of course.

But I could not help observe that the lady was wearing open-toed sandals. In a hall full of maybe 300 people, that is surely asking for trouble?
And who, apart from me, looked at her feet at all, in the crowded Hall?
Steel-toed boots would have avoided a problem for her, and would not have looked out of place in the School of Arts Hall in Burrawang..


While on the subject of Burrawang and things that happen there, I sent  a message yesterday to my colleague Tim TheYowieMan, in Canberra. (though we have never met, we have shared correspondence). Tim is Australia's leading Cryptozoologist
The message was: 
Hi Tim
I heard a 3rd hand report last night of a
"Large Black thing - not a "cat" - had to be a Mountain Lion or Panther"
seen early in the morning on Burrawang Station Road.

antique print of The Black Puma
from Big Cats by Lizars.
Source: Wikipedia

So, if there are any Panther sightings in the Southern Highlands, please pass them on to me, and I will keep Tim informed.

Thursday, February 07, 2013

Sows with ears cut off - released for hunting purposes

The Canberra Ornithologists Group (clearly a "greenie" oriented bunch of people), who are very experienced with being in the bush, has been hosting a debate on the NSW move to allow shooting in National Parks. Some of the recent comments have surprised me - some stuff I did not know about.
"Hunters have been known to release animals to keep up numbers. I was told of a pig hunter that releases pregnant sows into the bush so that there is a steady supply of animals to shoot. Apparently the sow's ears are cut off so that she cannot be brought down by dogs."

That comment was responded to today:
"‘earless’ sows are found in Namadgi (National Park in "high country" in ACT), obviously released by ‘hunters’. Pig hunters often have their own ‘territory’ and most know each other, so the temptation to keep ‘feral’ numbers at good levels for the pleasure of the kill is obvious. Pig hunters often disturb the pig poison programs in Nat parks, just by their presence, preventing pigs feeding at feed stations. Same with any activity there will be the good ones and the bad ones....but agree that not aware of any recreational hunting that has successfully significantly reduced or eradicated pigs, foxes, goats, deer etc. Feral control programs utilise many techniques, with shooting being near the end to clean up some of the stragglers (eg bait shy)."

I did a Google Search, and found the following.

Pig with ears cut off
Hunter Valley NSW

Comments borrowed from an international shooting webpage forum.
"My friend and myself were hunting pigs and my friend shot this one,at some stage he must of had some bad encounters with hunting dogs and then got away from them for this pig has no ears probably taken off by dogs it must have been some time back as the damage has all healed up."
Response from a Taxidermist from Florida: "Could hunters have cut the ears off?  You know those hunters that have no respect for wild life at all?  I know of a few hunters around GA (US state code for Georgia) that do stupid stuff like that.  I don't accept any work from people like that."

Wednesday, February 06, 2013


For reasons which still elude me, I have not been able to solve a problem I have with the Comment Moderation Settings on Blogger.

I have sent a message to Google, but they tell you they do not respond to individual queries, so what's the point?

Dear Google
A message from a previously loyal supporter.

Monday, February 04, 2013

On legalised Shooting in National Parks

I have been challenged in my opposition to legalisation of shooting in National Parks in NSW. That occurred on the Canberra Ornithologists Group email forum.
  • Hi All,
    Maybe I'm just ignorant, but why are you against this hunting? From what I understand, the hunt will be on invasive large mammals, which are unbelieveably destructive in a lot of National Parks. Isn't it a good thing to allow people who want to shoot them for free shoot them? The parks will be closed during the hunts, so what's the danger to the public? 
    Also, according to this website, duck hunting cannot take place on National Parklands.

    (name removed to protect the innocent)
  • Re shooting in National Parks, my main concern is personal safety.

  • Dear (blank)
    Last year there was a tragic accident when a NZ shooter mistook a school teacher for a deer, and shot and killed her.
    Such "accidents" are not unknown - though usually shooters shoot other members in their own group.

    I live adjacent to the huge Morton National Park (see map attached). 

  • the huge Morton National Park
    accessible from 4 totally separate areas
    with no common Media service.

    It has two State Main Roads which run through it, the Braidwood to Nowra Road (Main Road 92) and Fitzroy Falls to Nowra road. And it can also be accessed from the Ulladulla side.
    And it has numerous other entry points (especially around Kangaroo Valley).

    The media for these far-spread  areas are controlled in Nowra, Goulburn and Bowral.
    One cannot listen to all sources of media in any one point. There are at least three local newspapers which purport to "cover" their own regions (but they do not co-ordinate)..
    How are they going to get the word out to me that the Park is closed?

    There is no way they can possibly close main roads of economic and strategic significance leading to and from Canberra to Nowra. So, short of blocking 100 minor roads, how do they "close" this Park?
    NPWS have inadequate staffing to do that at the best of times - let alone when the NPWS Staff are openly hostile to the idea.

    The NSW Game Council, the State Organisation "responsible" for this Shooting Program has hardly any staff at all. It really exists as a revenue raiser for NSW as the Licensing body for the Shooters.

    Beyond issues of safety, my personal interest is in rare and endangered Orchids (of which this Park is well endowed). What chance is there that a bunch of ill-informed shooters will take any notice or concern for tiny Orchids in the leaf litter, when slipping and sliding down a steep hill-side, in search of their prey?

    They would have no idea of what damage they might be doing.
  • Need I really go on?

    Incidentally, in the hundreds of hours I have spent in this Park I have never seen any Deer, nor Goats and only one suckling Pig which I reported to the nearby farm from which it had escaped several days before.

    This is a vastly different situation from the large numbers of wild Pigs and Goats in the Far Western region, near Broken Hill.

    Incidentally,. my personal experience of shooters I have known is that they like to take their "Pig Dogs" out in the bush and let them chase "Game". The usual result is badly mauled Wombats and Kangaroos - both of which are protected species.

    Mark Clayton has already affirmed that after hundreds of banding trips to Charcoal Tank and Buddigower, he has seldom seen any "game animals" in those Nature Reserves (both listed on the Parks to be opened to shooters)
  • Denis Wilson

Friday, February 01, 2013

Oriental Liliums in flower (between the storms)

I have written about these Liliums previously - (at about the same dates) - so they are quite consistent in their flowering times, regardless of drought, heat waves or rain.

The local native Orchids are smarter. They are simply not flowering at present. Their strategy makes sense to me, to protect one's precious flowers, energy and genetic material, rather than risk exhausting the plant, or wasting one's seed (unlike Onan who famously "spilled his seed on the ground").

Back to the Liliums. *** I planted the large bulbs of these lovely plants outside my front door so that I would have to walk past them, in order to get in and out of the house. That is because they are gloriously perfumed, and I am a sucker for plants with perfumes, smells, and odours. My sense of smell is not very good (Violets for example simply do not mean much to me, whereas some people, especially ladies, melt at the scent of Violets). Give me a strongly odoriforous Prostanthera ("Mint Bush") or wild and sour Boronia microphylla leaves any time.
But I do love these Liliums.

A small clump of Liliums

From memory, this was an Oriental Lilium,
but looking at the Bryan H Tonkin catalogue
it is most likely to be a Lilium auratum x speciosum hybrid.

The orange-red "Anthers" are just maturing.

This anther has not yet matured.
It still has a hard coating
and you can clearly see
the depression (fold) around which
the anther opens,
as the pollen grains prepare to "dehisce"
This process is called
"longitudinal dehiscence" - see image.

Here you can see some anthers splitting
and hence revealing the mature pollen grains.
My mother would always
cut the anthers from any
Lilium flowers
she had picked for the house,
because the pollen
would stain her table cloths.

This is Lilium "Stargazer" I believe
I mentioned the storms in the heading of this post.
We had a 'significant rainfall event" over the last weekend. 177 mm over three days.
But today we had thunder and heavy rain after lunchtime. 17 mm of rain, so far.
Robertson farmers are saying they are pleased that the weather has returned to how it "ought to be".

*** For the benefit of my blogging colleague and well-known linguistic pedant, Martin, I cannot bring myself to use the plural Latin form  "Lilia" and so I stick with the anglicised plural "liliums".