Most of my work is about politics, here are a few that are more mountain and fire related.
Interview with Australia ReMade (2021).
This was a reflection on the campaign to win a permanent ban on the process of fracking in Victoria.
Interview with Saltgrass Podcast (2020).
About the Saltgrass podcast series: ‘What can small towns and every day folk do about the global crisis that is climate change?
Listen to Saltgrass to find out what one rural community is doing on Jaara country, in Central Victoria, Australia’.
The Mountain Cosmos (2020).
Mountain Cosmos is ‘a podcast about life in the mountains. The mission of The Mountain Cosmos is to share stories from a diverse range of people who have something to do with mountain life’.
This is an interview about fire fighting in the VIC Alps. Scroll down to ‘Fighting Fire around Dinner Plain’.
Those Tele Guys (2020).
Those Tele Guys feature podcasts about telemark skiing and many mountain related topics. There are a couple of interviews in their serioes about the Victorian Backcountry festival (episode 4 and 13). Available here.
We’re into our 11th year of living in Castlemaine. It has felt like home for years now, and I can’t imagine being anywhere else. Hopefully (a long way off) I’ll end up in the ‘hippy’ section up the back at the Campbells Creek cemetery, among the trees. But in the meantime, I have heaps to do. I fell in love with this dry, hot, cold, stony old country long ago, but the last piece just fell into place in the last 18 months.
From Chain Reaction magazine, #138, May 2020.
Fires burnt an estimated 18.6 million hectares across Australia during the 2019/20 summer, destroying almost 3,000 houses and taking the lives of at least 34 people. Now that the fires are contained, attention turns to ‘what next’? Why were this season’s fires so bad, and what can we do to make next summer less destructive? Already a number of inquiries are underway.
On New Year’s Eve, December 31, 2019, a front brought a smattering of rain across the Victorian mountains, barely enough to damp down the dust. But the associated lightning storm started dozens of new fires in a long belt from Mt Buller to the NSW border.
Forest Fire Management crews swung into action and many of these were quickly put out. Aerial bombing dealt with others. But there were simply too many, and some grew into massive blazes, including the fires that went on to devastate the forests and landscapes of East Gippsland in coming weeks.
This raises the question: Do we need a new remote area volunteer firefighting force in Victoria who could help suppress lightning strike fires before they take off?
In March this year, I sat on the summit of one of my favourite hills, Mt Blowhard, and watched the fires just to the south, which were in the Dargo River valley and burning up onto the Dargo High Plains. Already a mosaic of burnt and reburnt forest, now characterised by the grey trunks of burnt trees, I knew that this would be another wave of impact on these mountain forests. Some parts of north east VIC have now burnt more than three times in a bit over a decade. Scientists warn about the loss of alpine ash and snow gum if the frequency of fire continues to increase.
In Search of Space, Journeys In Wild Places (2017)
In the introduction to In Search of Space, Ross Brownscombe points out that ‘nature writing’ which ‘explores the poetry and magic of wild places’ has not developed into a strong tradition in Australia. Compared to North America and the UK this is certainly correct, and true writers in this genre are few and far between. Some of the finest in the tradition here are probably authors of fiction rather than more conventional non-fiction ‘nature’ writers, people like Richard Flannigan and Tim Winton, who develop landscape as characters in the way they develop the humans in their stories.
There are, of course, a growing number of authors from indigenous traditions who speak about and for Country. I love the quote from David Mowaljarlai, repeated by Tim Winton in Island Home, who sees the world as ‘everything standing up alive. When I’m high on a mountain looking out over country, my life force (Unggurr) flows out from inside my body and I fall open with happiness’. Despite our shared love for land, their perspective is going to be different to an Anglo author. Whereas Country is peopled and storied for many Aboriginal and Islander people, us Australians of European linage often seek refuge in the ‘blank space’ that wild spaces represent. We go into them to find adventure and challenge, solitude, recreation, perspective, spiritual guidance and, sometimes all these things. Our relationship is profoundly different because we must create ‘something’ from what is essentially a blank canvas when it comes to culture. Trying to compare a book on nature writing by an Anglo man with an indigenous author in any meaningful way is beyond me in a short review so I won’t try, beyond noting that all Australia is indigenous land, even those places that we have declared ‘wild’ or ‘wilderness’, with the few exceptions of ‘orphan country’, land with no people left with connection to or responsibility for that place.
Most of my current work is on the various blogs and sites on the right hand menu. Apart from campaign work (FoE Melbourne, Australia and the Yes 2 Renewables project) my main writing project at present is the Mountain Journal. Links to other work can be found to the right.
I have also started to load older published articles. These can be found at the My Writing link. Theres lots more to come when I finally get around to it.