Writing the history of Bush Heritage Australia – follow my journey

on 08 Jul 2014 

I have been commissioned to write the history of Bush Heritage with a publication date to coincide with Bush Heritage's 25th anniversary in 2016.

I believe field research is essential for a project like this and I aim to visit as many properties as I can, to meet the managers and others who spend their time at the cutting edge of the organisation. This is why my husband, Peter, and I are about to set off on a lengthy road trip. We'll visit Naree, Cravens Peak, Ethabuka and Boolcoomatta. Later in the year we'll head over to Western Australia via Bon Bon. You'll be able to follow our journey on my blogs if you're interested.

My research so far, through Board Minutes, newsletters and interviews, has highlighted the rapid evolution of the organisation, from its first purchase of two small bush blocks in Tasmania in 1990 to a nationally significant player in both Australian conservation and the international environmental movement. The elements that will make it a compelling story are all there: drama, larger than life personalities, conflict, mistakes, disappointments, and incredible achievements. Above all it is the story of many people passionately committed to an ambitious vision, and at the heart is the mystique of a fragile and ancient landscape in all its magical variations, its exotic flora and fauna, and the indigenous culture that has cared for it over thousands of years.

This will be my second book. My first, 'Davis McCaughey: A Life' was published in 2012 and sold out within the year. An Irish theologian, McCaughey came to Australia in 1953, and became an influential leader. Surprisingly there are links between the two projects. McCaughey fell in love almost immediately with the Australian bush, and when he was governor of Victoria (1986- 1992) he supported Joan Kirner's Landcare initiative and spoke out on many occasions on the urgent need to protect the environment.

I'm looking forward to our year of journeying and exploration in remote Australia. I hope that you'll join me by following my blogs, and contributing anecdotes about Bush Heritage, past or present, and suggestions about lines of enquiry I should pursue. Any ideas for a title for the book would be most welcome, too. At the moment I'm toying with 'Our Bush Heritage: Saving Australia hectare by hectare', but I am sure there are other more exciting and enticing titles to consider!

My next post should be from Naree Station reserve sometime next week. I'll also have to find time to tell you about our fabulous visit to Edgbaston Reserve and Carnarvon Reserve in May, where we were hosted by Adam Kereszy who picked us up at Longreach, drove us to Edgbaston and to Carnarvon and back to Brisbane. Thanks Adam for a great experience, and to the Queensland managers and field officers who included us in their annual meeting at Carnarvon!