This stonemason from England has a passion and love for Australia’s unique plants and animals that can inspire us all.
The sun is just rising over Scottsdale Reserve as Richard Taylor quietly slips from the sleeping quarters. The chill in the air reminds him of his native Lancashire in north-west England, although the landscape is vastly different.
With him are his trusty camera and a collection of lenses. He makes his way to the river and methodically sets up on its banks.
It’s a ritual he’s carried out twice a day for more than two weeks. Every morning and evening he spends two hours by the river in the hopes of photographing the elusive platypus. The camera-shy creature is one of Richard’s favourite Australian species, and it sits atop his extensive shot list.
Today is Richard’s lucky day: there’s some action in the water. A platypus emerges and sits by the rocks, as if posing. Richard’s patience has finally paid off.
“Getting that photo just blew my mind,” he says later. “It was just incredible. That will be something that will stick with me for a long time.”
Since arriving from the UK for a volunteering holiday in Australia, Richard has been quick to get his hands dirty. He’s done everything from frog surveys to tree planting, weed control and general maintenance around Scottsdale Reserve. Wildlife photography is the one leisure activity he permits himself outside of his volunteering commitments, yet the workload has never daunted him.
“It’s incredibly varied work and that’s been one of the interesting parts. The reserve managers have a huge task in front of them so I’m just happy to play my part.”
Richard is an experienced environmental volunteer, having worked with the National Trust, the Northwest Ecological Trust and The Wildlife Trusts in the UK. It was Australia’s unique wildlife that drew him to our shores.
“I’ve been interested in conservation for some time and so I think it's interesting to see how conservation is done over here, especially the techniques Bush Heritage is using, how the land is managed and what fauna and flora are here,” he says. “It's all so new. Everything here, all of the plants and animals, are unique to Australia, and it’s wonderful to see and experience it all for myself.”
The diversity of Australia’s ecosystems amazes Richard: “I see something new every single day,” he says with evident enthusiasm. But he is also keenly aware of the urgent need to protect Australia’s landscapes, and he has a message for us all.
“These species are found only in this country. There's really nowhere else in the world you can see these plants and animals other than in Australia. If we lose them from here, we lose them from everywhere. They’re gone.”