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The Wilderness Society it just one of many groups with Australia’s natural interests at heart. We get in touch with some more and so can you
Words and Images by: GLEN KLATOVSKY

Ningaloo Reef – Averil Bones

As Australians we enjoy extraordinary lives. Our nation is safe and wealthy. We have good schools, hospitals and our kids have all the choices in the world.

One of our greatest assets is our natural environment. It is an integral part of our wealth. And for many of us the idea of travelling around this beautiful country, immersing ourselves in the culture and the place, is a dream following years of hard work.

For more than a year The Wilderness Society has brought a wide range of inspirational stories about some of Australia’s greatest natural landscapes to The Wanderer. The Wilderness Society is involved in Australia’s largest ever alliance of environmental organisations, the Places You Love (PYL) alliance. This diverse alliance will now provide the monthly stories for The Wanderer.

The Places You Love alliance is dedicated to celebrating our natural wealth. We wish to continue to share inspirational stories about Australia and Australians with the readers of The Wanderer. We will also provide details of exciting events and opportunities to get involved in activities across the country.

We would like you to join us in this celebration as we bring wonderful stories of people working in our most important natural places, communing with nature, our unique plants and animals, and striving for the long-term protection of Australia’s heritage for our kids and theirs.

The PYL alliance is the largest ever collaboration between environmental organisations. We hope to inspire and be inspired by stories and images of Australians living and working in beautiful settings.

Daly River, NT – Stuart Blanch

We hope to capture stories of wonder and amazement as you wander through the Daintree, or snorkel with the whale sharks at Ningaloo Reef, or walk up a sand dune in the Nullarbor gazing over endless miles of living desert, or stand next to a 90m tall tree in south west Tasmania.

Our goal is to reinvigorate the pride in our amazing country. We are unique. And our landscapes, our oceans, our plants and animals contribute to that uniqueness and deserve our care and attention.

We will also provide a monthly list of events and opportunities to volunteer with our member organisations across Australia. So please read about our work and check us out at www.placesyoulove.org.

A major part of our work is to highlight those amazing Australians who have made a stand for protecting our natural wealth. Obviously, as you travel across the country a focus of many of you is to visit our iconic places. The Kimberley, Cape York, the Alpine regions, Kangaroo Island, the Blue Mountains, the Sunshine Coast, the Cooper Basin and Kakadu are places on most people’s must-see itineraries.

Ningaloo turtle monitoring program – Averil Bones

All of these places retain their attraction because of decisions to protect their natural values. And all of these protections came about because people fought for them.

We owe great respect to all of these great Australians and we should never forget their efforts. None of these places were protected without dedicated, passionate action by local communities and the broad Australian community of nature lovers.

Nourlangie rock art, Kakadu – Glenn Walker

THE HISTORY OF AUSTRALIANS STANDING UP FOR NATURE

Australians have long protected our great national landscapes. We created the second national park on earth. In 1879 the Royal National Park south of Sydney was protected for future generations. Just imagine how many people have enjoyed the Royal National Park over the last 135 years because of that visionary decision to protect the area as a public asset. We now have a network of national parks, World Heritage Areas, Marine Protected Areas and other conservation areas that are the envy of the world. And all of us have access to these incredible places. The Places You Love alliance has a long-term role in supporting people and communities who care for a special place and want to see it protected. Below are three recent examples of areas that are  now protected and details of how you can visit them.

Water lilies, Daly River, NT – Julian Murphy

NINGALOO REEF

Ningaloo Reef is Australia’s largest fringing reef, renowned for its significant population of whale sharks. A fringing reef means the coral is situated right up on the shore making access incredibly easy. Ningaloo is about 1200km north of Perth. www.westernaustralia.com/Ningaloo 

In the early 2000s there was a major controversy over plans to develop the coastline next to the reef. The fight concerned a proposed tourism development which would have had a significant impact of the protected reef. Today, the intrinsic natural values of the area are maintained. As long as we all continue to be vigilant about this extraordinary reef future generations will be able to visit this place and swim with the whale sharks and loggerhead turtles. www.australia.com/explore/icons/ningaloo.aspx 

Lake Argyle, Ord River, Kimberley, WA – Stuart Blanch

KAKADU

Kakadu is Australia’s largest national park covering two million hectares in the Northern Territory. It became a World Heritage Area in 1981, recognised by people across the world as one of the great natural and cultural places on earth. www.environment.gov.au/topics/national-parks/kakadu-national-park 

It is hard to believe the community campaign to protect Kakadu was long and protracted. It was only in the 1990s that controversy raged over a proposed uranium mine at Jabiluka, within the Kakadu National Park. Local Traditional Owners, along with many Australians across the country, fought to stop the mine and maintain the integrity of this global asset. Kakadu’s combination of an incredible set of natural ecosystems and tens of thousands of years of cultural heritage combine to provide us with an unforgettable experience. www.australia.com/explore/icons/kakadu.aspx

Butterfly on turkey bush – Julian Murphy

GREAT KEPPEL ISLAND

Great Keppel Island is part of the World Heritage listed Great Barrier Reef and is surrounded by reefs with high coral cover. The Island is 15km off Yeppoon on the Capricorn Coast of central Queensland. http://www.greatkeppel.com.au

It can be accessed by ferry for those who wish to take their vehicle onto the island. http://greatkeppelisland.net/getting-to-great-keppel-island/ 

The reefs are extraordinary and there are 17 amazing beaches on the Island. In 2009, the Queensland government approved a massive resort development on the island that would have included 300 apartments, a retail village, a golf course and a sports oval. The federal government rejected the proposal under national environment law on the grounds that it would “clearly (have) unacceptable impacts” on the World Heritage site. So today, Great Keppel Island remains a beautiful island in the world’s greatest reef, accessible for all of us while retaining an appropriate level of development.

Whistling kite, Fogg Dam, NT – Stuart Blanch

PLACES YOU LOVE AND THE WANDERER COMMUNITY

The Places You Love alliance is keen to provide wonderful stories about our great country. We also want to hear your stories. Over the next few months we will invite you to chat with us to discuss your views, your passions and your thoughts about what Australia needs to do to continue to protect our national heritage.

We will also start a calendar of events across the country that our member organisations are undertaking. This will provide CMCA members with great opportunities to get involved in a wide range of activities in some of the country’s most spectacular places.

Tags: Wilderness Society Ningaloo Reef NT Northern Territory Daly River Kakadu National Park Lake Argyle Fogg Dam
Category: Features
Written: Mon 01 Sep 2014
Printed: September, 2014
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