Tasmanian Times


Ignorance is far from bliss

Julia Weston

We have a healthy platypus family in our dam which is fed from an underground stream emanating from a spring at the South Sister. This population has been there for years.

We have noticed devils coming back to the mountain. Some are healthy — a few are diseased. But the healthy ones have young in their pouches — sometimes three — and will raise them. Perhaps in the race for survival the healthy will prevail.
We have a healthy platypus family in our dam which is fed from an underground stream emanating from a spring at the South Sister. This population has been there for years.

We have noticed devils coming back to the mountain. Some are healthy — a few are diseased. But the healthy ones have young in their pouches — sometimes three — and will raise them. Perhaps in the race for survival the healthy will prevail.

Yesterday my husband saw a sleek, half grown wombat cross the paddock — the first healthy one for a long time. Those seen before had mange.

Our bird population is thriving: robins, (four kinds), fairy wrens, parrots, wattle birds, honeyeaters, all abound in the garden and soaring above are our nearby resident wedge tails — sometimes seen with a young one.

Unfortunately the population of quolls has diminished in the past few years and very few are seen now. Likewise with bandicoots.

Neither we nor the farm next door, the only two in the area, use chemical fertilizers or 1080. We are surrounded by native forest that hasn’t, so far, been logged. For the past few years we have been practising biological farming and putting back into the soil those minerals that have been depleted. We are assuming that our local environment is relatively healthy.

However, rainfall over which we have no control is a concern. We averaged out the annual fall since 1929 when records were started here, and found it to be 40 inches. So far this year at the end of the 9th month we have had 12 inches! Atypical or sign of the times?

Forestry Tasmania still have the local coupe on the South Sister mountain earmarked for logging. This is a source of our pristine and plentiful supply of water and right in the middle of this wildlife habitat. The return to the State for this exercise would be $140,000 in royalties.

Make this a nature reserve and the work we have done in protecting our local wildlife would continue with renewed vigour. Once the degradation begins, however, we are likely to see a rapid decline in what is looking like a bit of a come back in the wildlife.

I would like those who defend woodchipping/forestry at all costs to come and spend a few days here. But they seem to prefer to join those with the same mentality that made extinct the Tasmanian Tiger.

Ignorance is far from bliss — it threatens to kill us all along with the wildlife.

Poster image from: http://www.southsister.org/

Many earlier articles on South Sister are available: dial South Sister into Search …

Author Credits: [show_post_categories parent="no" parentcategory="writers" show = "category" hyperlink="yes"]


  1. Julia Weston

    October 2, 2006 at 5:45 pm

    In response to concerned resident of St. Marys,
    I feel this needs an answer for it reminds me of the argument used against greenies by pro loggers when they ask ‘but you use wood don’t you?’ It is a knee jerk emotional reaction with no concept of the big picture.

    I suppose mine could be called a European garden to some extent although there is an even mixture of natives and exotics with the latter carefully planted and controlled to stop them escaping into the wild. Very little water is used, except for vegetables, as it is all heavily mulched.

    As a result it is not only a relaxing and beautiful escape for tourists who stay, it has also turned into an open air aviary with many native birds breeding here. We don’t own a cat and any that come near are shot. (The feral cat problem is another issue and one that urgently needs addressing.)

    We also attempt to exterminate as many starlings, sparrows and blackbirds as we can, which are pests. I wonder if ‘concerned resident’ does?

    The ‘pests’ referred to by ‘concerned resident’ are not regarded as such by us. We do realize, however, that they are in plague proportions, taking away feed from other herbivores (including our cows), thus creating an imbalance between species.

    Has concerned resident seen many bettongs, poteroos or eastern barred bandicoots lately? Not to mention ring tail possums. They won’t. But has he/she ever seen literally hundreds of pademelons in a paddock or a dozen or more brush tails? We certainly have.

    We have a land for wildlife sign and when it was delivered the personnel from Parks and Wildlife suggested we cull as many padelmelons and brush tailed possums as we can.

    Since then of course some interfering soul has reported us due, no doubt, to limited understanding of our actions. I can understand they probably saw it as hypocritical to have the sign and then shoot some species. However, we never take pleasure in this and we could well do without the expense and time it takes. There are many other ideas of fun that my husband could think of rather than going out late at night after a hard day’s work to shoot furry creatures.

    Contrary to ‘concerned resident’s’ implied perception, my husband is an avid protector of wildlife. When he goes into the bush to photograph rare goshawks, spends hours waiting patiently for a wedge tailed eagle to land, or a platypus to surface, or when he allows ducks to be eaten, hopefully, by a quoll, (‘ducks are expendable, quolls are not”) or when
    he hears that someone nearby has laid 1080 so feeds a dead sheep to the eagles just in case, he also takes his gun to shoot any feral cat he may see.

    Regarding the suggestion to fence garden and crops off; four years ago we spent over $12,000 putting a fence between paddocks and bush. Pademelons still get through it despite the small openings between the wires. Keeping possums out is impossible on such a large scale. The blueberries are fenced with an electric wire around the top to keep out possums which is largely successful.

    Within that smaller area the grass is ten inches or more high. Outside the paddock is bare.

    ‘Concerned resident’ would seem to be completely unrealistic regarding the problems of growing food on a scale larger than a small back yard veggie plot. Would he/she have us let in the wildlife, sit on our backsides and live on a Commonwealth benefit? But at least then we wouldn’t have to spend so much money on the place or work so hard. Obviously he/she does not work the land for a living so is completely ignorant of the issues involved. It would appear easier to hide behind a nom de plume and criticize.

    Save me from self righteous, sanctimonious, sentimental judgments on how we protect and care for our wildlife and the environment. Obviously ‘concerned resident’ hasn’t the slightest idea of how much time, money and effort we put into to doing it.

    Julia Weston

  2. David Obendorf

    October 1, 2006 at 12:16 pm

    Julia and Brenda, monitoring of and alerting on the Tasmania’s wildlife is now the pursuit of ordinary people like you and I. Sadly, the only time the State Government gets involved – i.e. reacts – is after the fact and usually when they receive money for it!

    I have just about given up trying at a personal level……

    Maybe the Tasmanian Greens who invented the “Clean-Green” image for Tasmania need to take it back! It has been so abused and now represents a serious form of false & misleading propaganda.

    Maybe the Tasmania wilderness artists should turn their talents to photographing the ‘obscene’ and ‘hidden’ images of Tasmania in 2006?

    We ARE at a tipping point….but does the ‘sapient’ ape – all 6.2 billion of us – realise this?

  3. Dave Groves

    September 30, 2006 at 7:10 pm

    I have this work of art beside me at one of my offices.

    Amazing we have people who give their time and energy to create pieces of history to help shape a positive future for our planet.

    Sometimes this world is worth being in.

  4. Bob Wilson

    September 30, 2006 at 11:31 am

    Well put Julia – I hope to come and have a look fairly soon

  5. St Marys resident

    September 29, 2006 at 10:03 pm


    Maybe you could consider building the appropriate fencing to protect your European open garden and crops of berries rather than having to kill the so-called pests …

    Concerned St Marys resident

  6. Brenda Rosser

    September 29, 2006 at 6:46 pm

    At West Calder the Tassie Devils seem to now have all but disappeared. Along with the quolls. We haven’t seen a wombat for years.

    Earlier this year Forestry Tasmania completely ignored the local residents when they clearfelled wet old-growth forest along the Calder River close to our houses. Even said they would be regenerating the coupe by reseeding with native species but instead planted nightmare nitens. Clearfelled – even in the creeks. But they fixed that by redefining what a creek was. Permanently wet, steep rainforest gullies are now called ‘drainage lines’.

    (What with global warming it’s going to be easier and easier to define major rivers as ‘drainage lines’ soon.)

    And then, after they piled up most of the old-growth biomass to burn they napalmed the area using a helicopter. How much of that went into the clearfelled creeks, I just don’t know.

    6 months ago Forest Enterprises aerial sprayed next door. They claimed it was some obscure fertiliser. I asked for a statement in writing from them as to what the nature of this chemical was. They didn’t provide it. Our lives in their hands.

    Last month a letter came from the ombudsman’s office saying that Gunns Ltd and other ‘forestry’ corporations can burn off and continue to choke us out of our home each autumn. Because there is no legislation to stop them. They’re exempt if the Tasmanian Fire Service gives them a permit.

    Tasmanian Fire Service says Forest Enterprises can still grow trees within 50 metres of our house and leave the grass long throughout the fire season. It’s not a threat, they say. But the TFS ‘Will You Survive’ pamphlet tells a completely different story.

    Life with ‘good neighbours’. What a joy.

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