Al Dermer's story

Published 21 Sep 2011 
Alistair DermerPhoto by Karen Dermer

“I still remember the day I first arrived at Ethabuka Reserve with my wife Karen in 2004. We rolled up in our ute and all around us we could see the sparse and stunted spinifex, the coolabah trees, standing with their roots exposed a foot above the earth, where the grazing, the wind and the rain had eroded the soil.

graphic - I've supported Bush Heritage for 8 years

We felt a huge sense of responsibility – we were the first reserve managers at Ethabuka and it was by far the largest property we had ever owned – but also a huge sense of possibility. That was a big step for Bush Heritage.

Coolibar trees at Ethabuka Station ReserveEthabuka Reserve Station
Photo by Karen Dermer

I’ve always had a connection with the land, but at Ethabuka, the land become our life. Our first daughter, Asha, was born while we were there. She spent the first year of her life absorbing the spirit of Ethabuka.

The energy of the desert is with you, all around you. Often at night, under the stars, I felt a presence around me, of the people that had cared for this land before me.

“I imagined an old Aboriginal man, his spirit watching me, a custodian of the land.”

Ethabuka treeEthabuka Station Reserve

My life with Bush Heritage has taken me to many places and recently it has brought us back to Ethabuka, after five years away. Now we are a family of five.

The kids understand what we are there for – they know Mum and Dad are looking after the plants and animals. Asha learnt to walk in the desert sands of Ethabuka and now our youngest, Zavier, is taking his first steps with his toes in the red dust too.

Thankyou for 20 years of conservation

Now we look around us at Ethabuka and the coolabahs are healthier. The land has seen rain recently, but when the drought comes, as it always does in the Simpson Desert, it will be more resilient. There are honeysuckle in flower and other grevillia.

We used to get excited when we saw a few flowering shrubs at Ethabuka but now there are so many of them they overtake the track. The spinifex seedheads are so tall in places, that they’re higher than the roof of the car.”

Ethabuka Reserve was acquired in 2004 with the assistance of the Australian Government’s National Reserve System program, The Nature Conservancy and Diversicon Environmental Foundation.

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