Bush Heritage friends and partners came together on the 5th of August to celebrate science in Shark Bay at the 2017 Hamelin Science Fair at Hamelin Station Reserve. With support by NACC and Rangelands NRM, Bush Heritage was able to bring scientists and practitioners together to discuss current research in the Shark Bay region and its management implications.
It was a brilliant day of science presentations, interesting conversations and fun. Thanks to volunteers Mick Moylan and Tony James we were able to hold the science presentation in the Hamelin Shearing Shed – a great space to bring people together and discuss science around the region.
The day started with Traditional Owner’s Ada Fossa and Bianca McNeair warmly welcoming everybody to country. Luke Bayley (Executive Manager – West) welcomed the audience to the Science Fair and provided an overview of Bush Heritage. This was followed by an overview of Hamelin Station Reserve by Elisabeth McLellan (our Healthy Landscape Manager, Mid-West).
Elisabeth discussed transitioning Hamelin from a pastoral station to a conservation reserve and how science underpins, “What we do, why we do it, how we do it, who we work with and why”. She emphasised, “You can’t underestimate the effort that goes into transitioning a property from pastoral to conservation – it's a long-term journey”.
Presentations were then provided on the terrestrial and marine components of Shark Bay (see program below). The day ended with an insightful panel discussion lead by Richard McLellan (NACC CEO). The panel discussed the importance of science in understanding the impacts of climate change on the Shark Bay region, gaining financial support to conduct effective research to understand the impacts and mitigate, where possible, adverse impacts.
The main messages and themes that emerged from the day included the importance of: long-term monitoring, connections to land, partnerships and collaboration, adapting management, mitigating threats where possible, sharing knowledge, thinking on a landscape scale and having a long-term vision.
Bianca McNeair's (Malgana Traditional Owner) presentation on Malgana connections to the Shark Bay region highlighted the significance of Hamelin and two-way learning. Bianca explained that Hamelin is the gateway to Shark Bay, traditional spiritual checkpoint for Malgana people. She stated, “Time on country is very important, speaking language on country gives you a manual for caring for country”.
The highlight of the day was definately the participation of the Follow the Dream students from John Willcock College in Geraldton. Erica Suosaari (Bush Heritage Hamelin Science Fellow) has been mentoring the group for the past couple of years. Helen Bell, their amazing and dedicated coordinator, drove the group of students up to Hamelin last year and this year for the Science Fair. The students this year took an extra step and presented data on the Hamelin Pool Stromatolites. Each student made a solid contribution and handled their first science presentation like professionals – we were totally blown away with their maturity and ability to discuss complex data. We thoroughly look forward to working with the group in the future.
The Science Fair official program concluded on Saturday afternoon and participants were free to join in the great Malgana basket weaving session hosted by Bianca McNeair, followed by stories around the campfire. The following day Jackie Mahood (Hamelin Station Stay Manager) fired up the BBQ and cooked an amazing breakfast for participants (after a dawn bird walk hosted by Ben Parkhurst). The weekend was concluded with a stromatolite interpretative tour by Erica Suosaari. A great way to conclude a weekend of science and friendship.
The Science Fair was the result of team work – we had amazing voluteers Mick Moylan, Kerry Moylan, Alex Nicholson, Catherine Nicholson, Tony James, Bill Johnson and Graham Oke, work tirelessly for us in the weeks leading up to the Science Fair and during it. We're extremely grateful for all they did. The Hamelin Station Stay team – Jackie, Denise and David – ensured the weekend ran smoothly and everyone was well fed and happy! Thank you all for your support.
The Hamelin Science Fair was supported by NACC and Rangelands NRM, through funding from the Australian Government’s National Landcare Programme.