It was a case of “Science in the Shed” last weekend when members of the NACC team headed north to Shark Bay to join Bush Heritage Australia partners for the second annual ‘Hamelin Science Fair”.
The Science Fair was held in the old shearing shed at the Hamelin Outback Station Stay at Hamelin Station Reserve – which covers more than 202,000 hectares. The property lies adjacent to Hamelin Pool (one of only two locations worldwide where active marine stromatolites occur in large diversity and abundance) and the Shark Bay World Heritage Area.
Participants enjoyed a beautiful Welcome to Country by local Traditional Owner and Malgana elder Ada Fossa. While the Aboriginal language of the Malgana people of Shark Bay is seldom heard these days, participants at the fair were treated to some of to the local language and even given the opportunity to revive it themselves.
NACC Aboriginal Participation Program Coordinator, and Science fair presenter, Bianca McNeair said, “Sharing Malgana culture was one of many highlights of the day and it was a privilege to share my language. Malgana language is our ‘manual’ to care for Country. The more we speak it on Country, the better equipped we are to care for our Country and for each other.”
There was a rich diversity of presentations on the fascinating science program, with talks covering such topics as: transitioning Hamelin Station from a pastoral lease to the conservation estate, Western Grasswren discoveries, the bugs of Hamelin, the EMU program (Ecosystem Management Understanding) with EMU founder Ken Tinley, stromatolite research, fish assemblages of Hamelin Pool, Dirk Hartog fauna reintroductions, and managing Shark Bay’s marine systems in a changing world.
NACC Biodiversity Program Coordinator Jessica Stingemore was on-hand to speak to Science Fair participants, sharing an NRM display area with Rangelands NRM Regional Landcare Facilitator Kane Watson. NACC CEO Richard McLellan was also in the thick of the action – chairing and moderating a fascinating expert panel session that ended the Science Fair.
— Richard McLellan (@RichardMcLellan) August 5, 2017
Those brave enough to face the early-morning dawn bird walk on the following day were rewarded with sightings of Spotted Crakes, Reed-warblers, Crested Pigeons, White-fronted Chats, a Red-kneed Dotterel, White-winged Fairy Wrens, and the always popular Chiming Wedgebills. Sadly, the much anticipated trip to inspect a specially-prepared sand pad monitoring site yielded no tracks.
Bush Heritage Western Rangelands Healthy Landscapes Manager Lis McLellan said Bush Heritage was delighted with the response to the second Hamelin Science Fair, and thankful for the generous support of NACC and Rangelands NRM.
“It is a wonderful chance to connect people and science, language and culture, passion and inspiration,” she said. “We look forward to continuing to work with our valued partners – like NACC and Rangelands NRM – on future Science Fairs at Hamelin Reserve.”
NACC was also proud to support a group of “Follow the Dream” students from Geraldton who attended the event, and gave a well-delivered presentation on the importance of long-term environmental monitoring. The Follow the Dream program helps Aboriginal students set their sights on challenging options and take the necessary steps to achieve their career potential.
If you want to read more about what happened at the Science Fair, or see some of the photographs of the day, then jump onto Twitter and check-out the snippets posted from all the presentations. Just click on the hashtag #HamelinScienceFair
For more information about the Follow The Dream program, visit: http://www.johnwillcock.wa.edu.au/follow-the-dream.aspx
This project is supported by the Northern Agricultural Catchments Council and Rangelands NRM through funding from the Australian Government National Landcare Programme.