Earlier this month NACC staff followed the wildflowers north and headed back to Shark Bay to join Bush Heritage Australia partners for the third annual ‘Hamelin Science Fair’.
The weekend began with a heartfelt Welcome to Country from Malgana Elder Ada Fossa – her lively Welcome was recorded and presented by her children Patricia Oakley and Nick Pedrochhi. Participants were then swept away by a moving song about connection to Country – performed in Malgana language by Nick on guitar and accompanied by Patricia on the tapping sticks.
Next in the program the Shearing Shed science talks gave participants the opportunity to learn from some very accomplished presenters about the Shark Bay outback. Some of the fascinating talks included Eucalyptus extraordinaire Malcolm French sharing his amazing knowledge about the eucalypts of the Shark Bay region; Bec Spindler asking the question ‘Why do we wait until species are threatened to act?’; and Lis McLellan chatting about the transition of Hamelin Station from a pastoral lease to the conservation estate and the exciting potential to monitor Malleefowl on the reserve.
Talks then moved to more of an ocean theme with Gary Kendrick from University of WA discussing seagrasses over time in the Shark Bay World Heritage Area; Jane Cunnen from Curtin University kept everyone a quiver talking about active faults and groundwater in Hamelin Pool; and Bush Heritage Science Fellow Erica Suosaari had everyone pondering whether Hamelin Pool is acting as a carbon sink.
Not to be out done by the adults, the “Follow The Dream” students from Geraldton closed the scientific program with their youthful passion by giving an informative presentation on their studies in the Hamelin Station reserve and ‘What does the future hold for Shark Bay?’
And after record winter rainfall, the wildflowers on Malgana country also put on a show making the walking tracks at Hamelin Station Stay a feast for the eyes. Early morning bird watching and checking sand pads were popular activities. Identifying kangaroo tracks and locating the splendid fairy wren gave guests the opportunity to learn from Bush Heritage Volunteers Richard McLellan (bird watching at the lake – and yes that name may seem familiar to our readers) and Len and Valerie Warren (sand pad monitoring).
Another highlight of the weekend was the inclusive of art workshops with an outback art workshop with Ted Mahood and a Buyungurra (Malgana language for turtle) bag workshop with Malgana artist (and NACC Aboriginal Liaison Coordinator) Bianca McNeair.
Bianca – who also about talked about Malgana language and how it is used as a specific manual to care for country – said that she was honoured to see so many people at Hamelin Reserve talking about the importance of connection to Country and culture.
“In its third year, the Hamelin Science Fair has brought more and more scientists, volunteers and environmental stewards together from all over Australia to share and learn from each other. We are all looking forward to meeting again next year and sharing all the amazing conservation work happening across the country.”
This project is supported by the Northern Agricultural Catchments Council and Rangelands NRM through funding from the Australian Government National Landcare Program.