#Auspol Bashing – is there a better way to get our messages across

Twitter can be a very nasty space and I readily admit I found this twitter feed between Cam Parker and Fiona Simson refreshing

 

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There is so much frustration out there and like many I thought a Malcolm Turnbull led government would take the lead on real Climate Action. I am disappointed. Australian farmers en masse are disappointed

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How do we get our messages across in a respectful way.

How do we make our point without more #asupol bashing.

Perhaps a little humour

 

udder disgrace

Read Fiona Simson’s opinion piece “Drought framework must be flexible, fair and free of red tape”  here

 

The Sheep Live Export Trade is an ethical challenge – one farmer’s thoughts

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Supplying 50,000 Australians with the milk for their breakfast everyday is a noble role – Cows at Clover Hill meander home to the dairy 

There has been a lot of robust conversations about the Sheep Live Export Trade recently and for good reason. As a farmer I have made decisions to send dairy heifers to Vietnam to dairies that I knew were run to very high standards. I have chosen not to send heifers to other countries not because I was concerned about animal cruelty but because our heifers were raised to produce a lot of milk from high quality feed and those countries didn’t have the capacity to provide the feed that would allow our heifers to thrive in their environment. We chose exporters with an excellent reputation and where able to get feedback on their new life in Vietnam.  The dairy export trade is an opportunity trade for dairy farmers. As far as I am aware no-one in Australia is growing dairy heifers specifically for the export market. It is a very important market when dairy farms in Australia are in drought and can mean the difference between dairy cattle being sold for meat in this country or living out their lives in developing countries providing nutritious milk for their families.

I am a farmer and like the majority of Australians I know very little about the live sheep export trade beyond what I read in the press. What I do know is our sheep are providing a very important protein source for people in developing countries. Rob Egerton-Warbuton a sheep farmer from Western Australia has written a very seminal piece that truly moved me. You can read it here.

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Jen Egerton-Warbutton Source

I first came across Rob and his wife Jen when we were both finalists in the National Landcare Awards in 2010. When I heard their story I was fascinated. I loved the way they farmed and the way they talked about it. So I was very keen to read what Rob had to say. Its a story from the heart and gives great insights into how the majority of livestock farmers feel about their animals and their commitment to give them the best whole of life expereince they can.

“To farm livestock is very hard. Every animal we bring to life through our husbandry will die, and that weights heavily on every farmer. My wife gets very emotional when they leave on the truck” Rob Egerton Warbutton Source 

Livestock farmers in Australia play a very important role. We cannot feed all Australian families on the land we have by growing plants only. (See footnote) Nor can we feed all  Australian families on the land we have if every farmer followed organic farming principles.

So my thoughts on the Sheep Live Export trade. Human beings can do dreadful things to human beings. Rick Thorburn certainly reminds us of that but nobody is suggesting we shut down the Foster Care system.  We are outraged when we read about child abuse but nobody is suggesting we shut down Catholic Churches . We are outraged when we read about Harvey Weinstein et al but nobody is suggesting we shut down the Movie business . We are outraged when we read about students being shot in schools in America but nobody is suggesting we shut down schools. This is very sobering reading

The Sheep Live Export Trade system is broken, it must be fixed. Whose role is it to make sure that happens?  This is an extract of what Rob has to say…….

Animal welfare and the policy environment around it is 100% the responsibility of farmers. The problem is in my view we haven’t done a very good job of it. We tend to be too protectionists of our practices, too guarded about our feelings, and too resistant to change. ………..

Its clear why farmers need to be involved in animal welfare and the policy that surrounds it. Its for the protection of animals, not from farmers but from those who imagine they protect them without understanding how they live. Source

Its a very emotional issue and

Being ethical is a part of what defines us as human beings. We are rational, thinking, choosing creatures. We all have the capacity to make conscious choices – although we often act out of habit or in line with the views of the crowd. Source

 In the digital world  it would appear we are all instant experts with strong opinions and too often simplistic solutions.  This excellent article from the team at Agrieducate asks the question  SHOULD AUSTRALIANS TAKE ON THE RESPONSIBILITY OF LIVE EXPORT, AND ARE WE READY TO?

 Below is an extract under the heading Burden of Responsibility 

We are either responsible for the welfare of sheep (in good times and in bad) or we move this responsibility offshore and accept the standards of third party countries to continue a trade dominated by Australia.

If we do accept this responsibility everyone needs to be in the game. Political responses to simply appease generalised conservative and rural voters by the Nationals and Liberals, or urban and greens voters by Labor and the Greens won’t fix this problem. So if we do take on this responsibility, there needs to be political maturity in deciding on a bipartisan approach, with concessions of both sides of the debate. This political maturity is arguably not there, and needs to develop quickly.

It can’t continue to be “greenies” vs. “hard working farmers” or “animal rights activists” vs “cruel farmers”, both sides need engaging about accepting responsibility for the welfare of the sheep and improving the regulation of the entire supply chain. Continuing as adversaries propagates political immaturity for cheap votes, and fails the welfare of sheep, the livelihoods of farmers and ourselves as Australians.

So, irrespective of your political views and the level of political readiness take the first step and ask yourself this “am I comfortable shifting our welfare responsibility offshore, or am I comfortable taking on the responsibility of welfare here in Australia”?

There’s no right answer, and no intended underhand comment designed to influence your thought, but it is a tricky question and it must sit with our individual values before this issue will be resolved.

Pressing problems which require urgent action today are too often the direct result of a lack of action in the past.  We rarely get the perfect outcome but as human beings its important to be consistent in our judgements. I don’t have the answers but I would like to see Australia step up and take on the ‘Burden of Responsibility” and set the bar for animal stewardship across the world

Footnote

  1. 93% of the food consumed in this country is produced by Australian farmers
  2. less that 6% of Australia is suitable for growing crops
  3. Australia farmers feed  everyone here and more than 40 million people around the world

 

Never underestimate the Power of Women in Agriculture and their humble icon the scone

I have no words. Best thing I have spotted for a long time #gogirlfriend

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This is what Fiona says in her Instagram post that has attracted so much attention

Recently I heard someone I admire say something very dismissive and sarcastic about how lovely it would be if only scones could save the world. The implication being that baking is far less important than actual political action and meaningful debate. That may be partly true. But I’d like to take a moment to stand up for scones. They’re cheap and simple and this round version is categorically Australian. They bind the Country Women’s Association together, which in turn has networked and supported rural Australian women for almost a century. They’re great for afternoon or morning tea, which represents a break in your day to stop, drink tea, nibble a scone with jam (or lemon curd) and breathe. And I think that perhaps baking a batch of scones shouldn’t necessarily be seen as non political. My goodness we are saturated in capitalism and surrounded by commercialism and told every day to devalue the domestic (because it is female) and so dammit I will go and make scones and feel powerful doing so. Not only can we transform basic ingredients into something delicious, no one can tell us what is meaningful and purposeful, we figure that out all by ourselves. Scone baking as revolution. 3 cups self raising flour + 80gm butter + 1 cup milk. Mix, not too heavy handed (my grandma used a knife), roll and cut, then bake hot, 200 degrees, 20 mins. Teach your daughters and your sons and maybe just maybe scones can save the world, or, at least, mine.

 

 

Central Australia – an awe inspiring kaleidoscope of colour and texture

After an evening of superb food, great company and sleeping under the stars in the riverbed in my swag, albiet with plenty of merino wool to keep me warm and not overthinking how close those dingo howls were it was time for Day Two of my Larapinta Trail experience

The full 223km of the Larapinta Trail spans between the Old Telegraph Station and Mt Sonder. Day 2 took us to the Ormiston Gorge to trek the Ormiston Pound circuit.  Regarded as one of the best walks of the Larapinta Trail it offers sensational views of the Chewings Range and Mount Giles. It can be a little challenging with some rock hopping and takes approximately four hours to complete. Setting off, the trail winds around scenic slopes, dropping into the Pound and returning along Ormiston Gorge via the main waterhole. We also took the detour to Ghost Gum Lookout.

Ormiston is also a sacred site for the Western Arrernte people. It’s name in Western Arrernte is Kwartatuma.

Ormiston Pound Walk Map

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First port of call was the snack bar and there in the middle was my ideal weight maintenance nemesis – chocolate bullets. I wish I could say I stayed strong and resisted the temptation but I would be fibbing. You will be pleased to know I did also grab a couple of bananas.

We made it to the top of the Pound Walk savouring the beautiful weather

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There were plenty of opportunities for me to practice my rock hopping

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I’ll bet this young lady regretted doing it in thongs. OMG

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Clare leads the way to the Ghost Gum Lookout

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Where the view was indeed outstanding – though I must admit I kept away from the overhanging edge

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then the girls (sans Lynne) braved the chilly waters and took a dip or two

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and at the end of the day I was smiling from ear to ear with a very sunburnt nose tip

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Bring on Day 3

 

Looking to put the joy back in your life – Try Larapinta it worked for me

Joy is what makes life beautiful. It’s what gets us through challenges and allows light in to illuminate the shadows. Joy heals our wounds, inspires us to greatness, and fills our souls with goodness.

I signed up for the Inner Compass 4 Day Larapinta Trail Trek to help put the joy back in my life.  And you know what my ‘Get out in Nature’ with some inspiring people beyond the agriculture sector may just be the smartest thing I have done in recent times.

Our little group of six got to see the views most tourists don’t even know exist. Trek Larapinta ( what an awesome customer service business they are) has built relationships with the traditional land owners who generously provide non-indigenous Australians ( and overseas visitors) with genuine cultural awareness experiences and access to some very special places.

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Meet Trek Larapinta Guide and Aboriginal  woman Deanella Mack. Dee took us into her world through her storylines and humour that made her people and their culture so real to me. You can find out more about Dee and her business Cultural Connections here 

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Dee sees that a system that has failed Aboriginal people in Central Australia for generations has also failed non-Indigenous people in how they learn about or appreciate Aboriginal cultures, histories and concepts.
She believes cultural misunderstandings, often come with the best intentions and as being “like when you’re driving a car and you feel something’s wrong but you don’t know how to fix it. Others may not even think anything’s wrong.” Those that have had the most positive experiences in her sessions and went on to positively impact communities later were “open-minded and had the willingness to receive new info that may not sit well with their current beliefs and experiences”. Source 

Dee welcomes us to country

Dee shares with us the making of hunting spear

With that new appreciation of the landscape our group became earnest learners listening and looking with new eyes

Amongst many other things we learnt to recognise the male and female cycad and the seed 

Standley Chasm is a very beautiful place

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You can see what the tourists see

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Or you can follow Section 3 of the Larapinta Trail and go where the hikers go

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If you go with Trek Larapinta  you see and do and feel even more

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Its one thing to see the beauty of Standley Chasm from the front but when you get the opportunity to come in the back door its an experience you will treasure for ever

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Lynne was a very happy camper

“These days the knowledge around cross-cultural awareness is at your finger tips, so ignorance is no longer an excuse.” Dee Mack

The Rim Walk – aren’t we faaaabulous!!!

If Priscilla could do it in heels then surely Lynne could do it in her Salomon Hiking Boots. The iconic hike to the top of Kings Canyon is known as the  Rim Walk and its located in Watarrka National Park in the Northern Territory. A spellbinding 6 kilometre circuit transcending down into the Garden of Eden and back to the top to wonder at the 360 views.

The start of the walk is definitely daunting with 1000 steps that go straight to the sky and if Priscilla did it in heels so there was no excuse for Lynne not to do it in the recommended footwear .

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However i would be very wary if I had a knee or hip replacement.  After you take in the views from the top of the stairs you continue your journey through Priscilla’s Crack made famous by one of my favourite movies Priscilla Queen of the Desert

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From there you will see the domes known as the Lost City due to it resembling an ancient city.

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The Ghost Gum is a stand-out against the rich red gorges. It has the tenacity to find a toe-hold and endure life in the most inhospitable crevice of a rock face

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Next up is your choice to continue exploring the top or take the stairs down to the picturesque Garden of Eden filled with lush greenery where you can cross a bridge over the sacred watering hole. Special shoutout to all those wonderful people who installed the stairs and bridges to get to this magnificent part of the world.

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Once you have captured this iconic moment take the stairs back up to the south side of the canyon.  I did the walk  just after sunrise as the sun slowly reflects onto the sandstone turning a stunning array of oranges and reds.

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The Kings Canyon Rim Walk can be completed in about three to four hours depending on how often you stop to admire the extraordinary scenery. We stopped plenty of times and managed to do it in 3 hours

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No matter what you think or imagine you’ll find the views magical. I guarantee they will leave you spellbound. (and these are just the photos from my iPhone – wait till you see what I have on my camera)

 

 

You dont have to climb Uluru to love Uluru

In 2016 I decided it was time I experienced more of our magnificent country. At the top of the bucket list was to walk the Larapinta Trail. Getting fit was a must.  A hamstring avulsion in February 2017 meant a May 2017 Larapinta Walk was out the of the question. 12 months of rehab and here I am.

Not having been to the Northern Territory before I flew into Alice Springs early. On my first night in town I caught up with local dynamo Donna Digby who introduced me to the world most famous Vanilla Slice which we shared after dinner at Casa Nostra.

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The first thing I learnt about Ulura was its a popular place at this time of year and its a must to book accommodation months in advance.  not doing my research early enough I  found myself unable to find accommodation and got around my naivety by booking an AAT Kings Tour.

Ulura is a cultural experience not to be missed. Everyone I met was inspired by the natural beauty and power of the land. It will open your hearts and minds to the enduring culture of the Anangu people who have inhabited this part of the world for 30,000 plus years

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Sunrise at Uluru – The size of the rock let alone its beauty has to be seen to be believed

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Kata Tjuta means “many heads”  and with mine there were 37 the day I visited. It is a sacred men’s site for the Anangu people under their traditional law 

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I loved the diversity of the native vegetation –  special favourites were the red river gums and the spinifex grass.

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The Kuniya Walk is a short track to the Mutitjula Waterhole, home of the Wanampi, an ancestral watersnake. In the special times of rain, you will expereince magical waterfalls

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Mutitjulu Waterhole-  on my visit is was the awe inspiring colour mix of the rock formation that caught my eye. This truly is a special place

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When travelling alone it helps to master the selfie – this is me and Mt Olga

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My last night at Ulura was spent under the stars feasting on kangaroo and other delicacies at the Cultural Centre. The evening included a tour of the night sky. The weather didnt disappoint, nor did the Southern Cross and Milky Way 

Climbing the Rock

 Please don’t climb  Uluru – its a heartfelt plea many people ignore 

What visitors call ‘the climb’ is of great spiritual significance to the Anangu people. As a guest on their land they ask us to choose to respect their law and culture by not climbing

‘This is a really important sacred thing you are climbing…. You shouldn’t climb. Its not the real thing about this place. The real thing is listening to everything. We hope the tourists will brighten up and say “Oh I see. This is the right way. This is the proper way: no climbing.”

I understand it has been decided for us by the government. NO CLIMBING – will also become Non-indigenous law in 2019.

The Kata Tjuta National Park is one of the great wonders of the world. Next time I will seek out a tour guided by the indigenous people and get a greater understanding of the Anangu people and rejoice that their culture is strong and alive.