Speech to the annual general meeting of the Tasmanian National Parks Association on November 26, 2017. The battle to protect and conserve Tasmania’s pristine wild places was brought home to me within days of arriving in the state from Britain 20 years ago. I was staying with my mother-in-law in Howrah at the time and wandered down to the Shoreline shopping centre where I came across an exhibition being mounted by the Tasmanian Conservation Trust. Peter McGlone, who was … [Read more...] about Wilderness for sale
New Nature Writing
I strayed from the path of traditional, or pastoral, nature writing years ago when I discovered not only urban landscapes rich in wildlife, but anthropomorphism, irony, and bottles of red wine and bourbon with birds on their labels. As a young reporter, I had been impressed by the New Journalism of the 1960s which took reporting into the realm of the novel and short-story and a few decades on I found what were termed New Nature Writers breaking with tradition and exploring similar territory.
Although I still treasure the book that was my introduction to words about nature, Gilbert White’s The Natural History of Selbourne published in 1788, I now find inspiration in one of the new journalists, Hunter S Thompson. Thompson might not have written of nature as such but his words “I write with rage and ink” have an irresistible resonance that carries far beyond the suburbs to the wooded hills of the horizon.
The beautiful unknown
Among the Willows and Wild Things, the Fingal Valley nature diary of a young girl in the 1930s Ann Page, edited by Margaretta Pos. Reviewed September 14, 2018 In the 1930s schoolgirl Ann Page set out to explore the “beautiful unknown” of the Fingal Valley and eighty years on her daughter, Margaretta Pos, gives us the chance to join her on her adventures. Ann had a nature diary in mind but what she produced was a stunning portrait of the valley, in all its beauty, in … [Read more...] about The beautiful unknown
Rivulet has friends
The eastern quoll was caught in my headlights. Honey-coloured with creamy spots, the fur shimmering in the beam, quoll eyes sparkling, as wild as an animal can get. It made a dash across the road, had second thoughts, stopped suddenly and then turned to run back into the shadows beyond the pavement, vanishing down a slope leading to the Sandy Bay Rivulet. I’ve learned to drive slowly on my suburban street, aware of the volume of roadkill – about one dead Bennett’s … [Read more...] about Rivulet has friends
Silence is golden
Jet-lagged, not knowing the time of day, or even the day or month, I lay in bed listening to the twitter of a robin. The room was in near darkness. Was it dawn or dusk? I had no idea, but in that strange twilight of the mind that is jetlag I knew at least I had arrived safely in Britain from Tasmania. The song of the robin told me so, and I knew it was winter. The robin was singing a winter territorial song, the one I heard from churchyards in my winter ramblings as a … [Read more...] about Silence is golden
Nature writers sound a warning
Talk at Wildwords event at Bruny Island Bird Festival, 2018 Among the most astute observers of the natural world and the human place within it have been writers. It can be said that as long as people have been writing, they have been writing about nature. The first wildlife writers - or writers of nature notes as they were more likely to be called in earlier centuries - found their inspiration embraced by forest, mountain and stream. Nature writers today, however, are … [Read more...] about Nature writers sound a warning