The Mulloon Institute  -  Enews - December 2018 - January 2019

From the Chairman, The Mulloon Institute

Happy New Year to the many supporters of The Mulloon Institute. Your support throughout 2018 was greatly appreciated and the big steps we were able to take only occurred through your consistent interest and support. Following the airing of the Australian Story program 'Hope Springs', the list of supporters increased substantially so if you are one of those, welcome aboard.

It is in fact many of the comments that came from a number of people responding to the Australian Story program that has inspired the title of this monthly update. Actually bi-monthly this time as I didn't do a December update with the festive season giving us all a bit of a break.

As many of you know I try to link the month with a relevant word starting with the same letter as the month, for example my last update being November "Nexus". So I've cheated a little, first by falling back to my French, and secondly using some license incorporating the "D" and the "J" for December and January! But "D éjà vu" is very relevant. Although French, it is also very much in the English language with the dictionary defining it as "already seen; the illusion that one has previously experienced something actually new to one; and, anything which is unoriginal".

In my use of it for this month's update the direct French translation of "already seen" is of particular relevance. As mentioned, we had a substantial number of people contacting us following Australian Story. So many of those people, along with those long time followers, commented on the fact that what was shown in the program has been "known" for a long time and therefore wanted to know, to quote one respondent, "why the pace of change is so slow?" Good question.

Mulloon Consulting, Contracting & Certifying

To be fair, there are many more landholders and farmers not only changing their management processes but also going down the track of repairing and rehydrating the landscape within their properties. We are being called upon to assist so our wholly owned Mulloon Consulting Contracting & Certifying (MCCC) is being kept very busy working with various farmers in different regions of the country.

In that regard, Cam Wilson and Bill McAllister have been back up in North Queensland busily starting the setting up of eleven demonstration farms in collaboration with NQ Dry Tropics. These will demonstrate gully repair and landscape rehydration, reduce sediment flow to the Great Barrier Reef and importantly show the value the works make towards more sustainable and productive farming.

Closer to home, MCCC are working on a whole-of-farm plan for Mulloon Creek Natural Farms to further our work in restoring landscape function on the properties.

Image top: Sam Skeat (NQ Dry Tropics) and landholder Des Boland inspect a gully which has drained and disconnected flows from the alluvial plain downstream.

Image bottom: Ongoing headcut retreat causing the loss of fertile soil and affecting surface and groundwater flow.

Nation-wide rollout

So, adoption on the ground is accelerating but it seems the glacial pace of change at the government level continues. I provided the Prime Minister and the Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources with a way forward to address policy changes and to see the commencement of landscape repair and rehydration on catchments throughout the country. They themselves said our work should be "rolled out across the nation" so it just takes a few simple decisions to get that started.

Perhaps the recent disaster of massive fish kill in the Darling will help focus a few extra minds in government at both the State and Federal level. It has been an absolute tragedy but I don't believe the so-called simple answer of more environmental water flows is the proper long term answer. That should be the repair and rehydration of the catchments servicing the Murray/Darling basin. That would achieve the proper balance needed and actually increase the amount of water in the total system, naturally. Having those catchments functioning how they once did is the long term solution to the tragic situation we currently see. To coin a phrase, "We are from The Mulloon Institute and we are here to help!"

Training opportunities

The other "fall-out" from Australian Story has been interest in our workshops presented in collaboration with Tarwyn Park Training. I reported at the end of November we had to increase the number of workshops scheduled for March. We are now running four over the March/April period due to the interest and they are all fully booked. Training is such a crucial aspect of making the change needed and is a key aspect of our work. That was another matter I raised with the Prime Minister and included in my suggested "way forward".

Upcoming training dates:
11 - 14 March 2019
18 - 21 March 2019
25 - 28 March 2019
29 April - 2 May 2019

Please contact James Diack to have your name added to the waiting list for upcoming training, and 0438 211 155.

Access our training dates and other upcoming events by visiting out Events Calendar page.

Mulloon Community Landscape Rehydration Project

Meanwhile our signature Mulloon Community Landscape Rehydration Project (MCLRP) continues to roll along with Peter Hazell finishing on-ground works such that all structures south of the Kings Highway are now complete and the rain that finally came towards the end of 2018 has already shown the value of the repair work with magnificent even flows and ponding occurring. The applications covering the large properties of Palerang and Duralla will be lodged in the near future to allow (subject to us raising the funds), with construction to follow later in the year.

Top image - Leaky weir construction at Westview Farm, November 2018.
Bottom image - Same structure after rain, December 2018.

Donations & funding

Speaking of funds, we very much appreciate the donations we have been receiving from many, many generous people wanting to help out. No matter how small they all add up and go towards our MCLRP or spreading the word throughout the nation. 

We had hoped a State Government grant might come our way through the  Save Our Speciesprogram but unfortunately we weren't successful. We do have an application in with the  Environment Trust of NSW which would greatly assist the MCLRP. We also have lodged an application under the  Federal Government's Smart Farming Initiative so we have our fingers crossed there. We also continue to speak with philanthropic organisations and increasingly providing information to corporates wanting to support sustainability.

If you are interested in donating your time or financially to our work, please click the links below. Thank-you for your support. 


2019 National Youth Science Forum

Building on the "D é j à vu" theme, for many years now we have hosted the National Youth Science Forum (NYSF) that brings Year 12 students to Canberra to learn more about science and be exposed to different elements of science as they plan for their future career. 

As with previous years, we had two separate groups visit in January and Luke Peel took them on an educative tour of our rehydration project and conducted an information and discussion session in the Barn. Our farm manager, Michael Fitzgerald, also hosted them down at Mulloon Creek Natural Farms (Duralla) where they were able to witness the working poultry farm.

I caught up with the first group and was very pleased to see such an enthusiastic group of would be scientists and to see that there was great equity in the gender of these students who are picked from the best science students from around Australia.

January has been a very busy start to the year so I look forward to February and beyond for further progress of our work which I'll report back to you again in early March.

Best wishes,

Gary Nairn AO
The Mulloon Institute, Chairman


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