After the loss of Lake Pedder in 1973 came a rapid series of environmental wins including the Terania Creek rainforest in northern New South Wales, the Franklin River in Tasmania, the Little Desert in Victoria, Gammon Ranges in South Australia, Kakadu in the Northern Territory, the Daintree wet tropics and Fraser Island in Queensland and, bit by bit, some southwest forests of Western Australia.
Of course, other wins have followed, but Australia’s environmental health and wellbeing is nevertheless going backwards to the point where the Great Barrier Reef is in danger of death and even our iconic Koala is set to be listed as threatened with extinction.
Recent decades have been a relative environmental desert in terms of government action - and government is as good as the voters make it.
The truth that there can only be a healthy economy when there is a secure environment is still widely ignored; we're not good at facing this reality. But, to plagiarise former US President Bill Clinton, ‘it’s the environment, stupid!’.
That’s where Bush Heritage Australia comes in. Here is private enterprise taking the lead.
Bush Heritage has rapidly established an array of privately-owned ‘national parks’ which are safer and more secure from exploitation than those run by governments.
And people love it.
Folks frequently stop me to say how much they like giving or bequesting to Bush Heritage because it actually buys and protects habitat for native wildlife, including forests, woodlands, coasts and deserts. Moreover, it is supporting Aboriginal people to connect to and care for their country.
Bush Heritage is a light on the path to Australia’s future. In keeping that light glowing its own future will involve taking some risks if it is to fulfil its greatest opportunities.
While I wouldn't recommend a lash-out monetary risk like that of 1990-91 which saved those first forests at Liffey, I look forward to Bush Heritage expanding the area it protects in the next 30 years. That's the key to its ongoing success.
Visitors to Liffey enjoy signs and walking tracks. Photo Amelia Caddy.
Meanwhile, down at my old home of Oura Oura in the tellerpanger/Liffey Valley, gifted to Bush Heritage in 2011, there are now story boards, tracks and toilets.
Plans are underway to build accommodation for caretakers who will help look after the property as well as the increasing number of folk going there to enjoy a stroll by the river, a photo of the heritage-listed cottage or the more strenuous walk up taytitikitheeker/Drys Bluff towering behind.
It's a gift for the gifters and I love to see the happiness it brings those visitors.
Bush Heritage is people taking action against the tide of environmental loss. Every now and then it is good to take stock and enjoy what we all, together, have achieved in the last 30 wonderful years.