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Big Sky Country

This podcast takes the time to listen to the land and explain the science needed to protect it. Meet experts in culture, conservation and Country who are on the ground working to address some of our most pressing environmental threats.

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Season 2

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Join us as we travel the vast Australian continent: from the flanks of the Mighty Murrumbidgee River in NSW where over 40,000 trees have been planted, to the “Galapagos of the Kimberley” where some slimy snails and their genetic evolution have scientists extremely excited. Meet people on the ground who are experts in ecology, culture, conservation and Country.

It’s a two-day drive from Darwin to Robinson River, on Garawa Country in the NT, just south of the Gulf of Carpentaria. While the road there can be long, the destination is worth it. The annual Waanyi Garawa Biodiversity and Culture Camp brings together Elders, rangers and kids together to keep their culture and language strong.

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Kids playing at sunset at the Waanyi Garawa Culture Camp 2022.

In 2021, Wiradjuri Elder Uncle James Ingram and Bush Heritage’s Aboriginal Partnerships Manager and Yuin Walbunja woman, Vikki Parsley, walked across Tarcutta Hills Reserve in southern NSW in search of cultural artefacts. Immediately, they called for a cultural burn. The land was in need of controlled fire, and it presented an opportunity to get Wiradjuri people back out on Country.

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Inspecting the burn area.

It might seem strange for an ecologist to spend time on pastoral lands, but that’s exactly what Imogen Semmler does. She ‘meanders’ across paddocks to measure the health of their ecosystems and quantify their biodiverse value.

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Gus Hickman (farmer), Imogen Semmler (Bush Heritage agro-ecologist), Anna Hickman (farmer).

What does it take to restore a native woodland? A bucket, hammer, trowel, seedlings and a whole heap of people power. These ingredients are abundant at Scottsdale Reserve on Ngambri and Ngarigo Country in NSW where for over seven years, volunteers have been showing up week after week to help plant over 40,000 trees.

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Scottsdale volunteers take a well-earned break.

Amongst inland wulo (rainforest) and on islands in the North Kimberley, Wunambal Gaambera Country, lives an unassuming group of animals. The species slime their way along the forest floor eating decaying leaf litter and are part of why this extraordinary region is listed as an area of national heritage significance – they are an incredibly diverse group of... snails!

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A land snail on Wunambal Gaambera Country. Photo Vince Kessner.

Can you imagine nature without sound? No bellbirds, or lyrebirds. No bleating frogs or whispering leaves. No nature’s call to tell the story of the wonder of the forest. For some scientists seeing is believing, but for Bush Heritage ecologist Daniella Teixiera it’s hearing that is believing.

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Ecologist Daniella Teixeira with acoustic recorder.

Season 1

Richard McLellan monitoring Sandalwood.

 

If every scent tells a story, the Australian Sandalwood Tree must be a library; rich with ecological, cultural and economic history books. But today, unsustainable harvesting, climate change and feral predators are pushing the tree perilously close to extinction.

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Milky Plumb. Photo by Julia Salt.

 

When you think of the seasons, does Spring begin September and Summer December? Or is it the Wet season starting in November and the Dry in May? Unlike Gregorian or Western Calendars, Aboriginal calendars aren't based on structural time, but ecological time.

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Red-finned Blue-eye fish.

 

When there’s one single population of a species left in the world, do you let it go extinct, or do everything you can to save it? In central Queensland, a collective effort is bringing one teeny, tiny fish back from the brink of extinction.

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Floodwaters at Naree.

 

There's life at Naree Station Reserve on Budjiti country in NSW - though it might not look like it on most days. But when the water arrives, either by rain or river, the landscape comes alive.

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A Red-tailed Phascogale.

 

Climb up the tree. Open the nest box. And look inside the lives of Red-tailed Phascogales. Known as Kenngor to Noongar people, these small arboreal marsupials are just as loveable as koalas and kangaroos, but with a few big differences.

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Ecologist Matt Appleby with a tray of seedlings.

 

The climate has always changed. But in recent years, these changes have been drastically faster and more noticeable. So much so that, in some cases, they're causing trees to die.

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Theme music by The Orbweavers

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