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Your regular environmental news & updates

National Science Week is now online.  Lots of online STEM activities including Fungi Fanatics, Stepping into Science and SMART Science Show.  Looking to the future of the Hunter BZE presents an economic analysis of Renewable Energy Industrial Precincts and Cessnock, let's talk about the future.

 Please note recent changed dates or cancellations of some events.

Please note that many public events and gatherings have been postponed or cancelled due to the recent Covid-19 outbreak. Please check directly with event organisers if you are considering attending a public event.
For up-to-date information regarding Regional NSW and Greater Sydney COVID-19 rules and restrictions, visit the NSW Health website.
Please remember to observe NSW health guidelines on social distancing, wearing masks indoors, checking in via QR codes, self-isolation and testing procedures, hand washing and personal hygiene practices.

Stay Safe!

To get the whole newsletter we recommend you click on Continue reading enviroBYTES Email services such as Gmail and Telstra Webmail often truncate Newsletters, so to get the whole Newsletter read it in your browser.

Now you're caught up,
Alec Roberts
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enviroBYTES Opportunity Calendar
  • 4 - POSTPONED - Squirrel Glider Exhibition & Fundraiser, Newcastle
  • 6 - Urban thinkers campus 2021 A localisation model for Climate Action - Urban thinkers session: the role of local Government in the decade of action (see below)
  • 7 - Advanced tips for using iNaturalist, Online
  • 11- 12 - POSTPONED Our Bushland Festival, Poppet Head Park, Kitchener
  • 13 - Urban thinkers campus 2021 A localisation model for Climate Action - Towards a voluntary local review (see below)
  • 17-19 - CANCELLED Living Smart Festival, Speers Point Park
  • 22 - CANCELLED? - A Night Under the Stars with PWE; What's your 2040?, Anna Bay
  • 28 - A beginners guide for using iNaturalist, Online

Fungi fanatics

When: Saturday 14 August, 7-8.30pm
Where: Online
Cost: FREE

Hear how a love of fungi fashioned the life journeys that led three presenters to successful careers based on science.Tod Elliott, Heidi Prichard and Dr Maree Elliott have made their mark as authors, artists, conservationists and entrepreneurs.

Presenters include:
  • Maree Elliott: her interest in Natural History Illustration led to a love of fungi
  • Heidi Prichard: will describe her journey to fungi through her recent studies in UON
  • Todd Elliott: A world expert on fungi and now a PhD student at UNE, has followed his passion for fungi all over the world
Fungi Fanatics is the first in a series of five seminars "2021: My SciOdyssey" aimed at highlighting the many different pathways that can lead to a successful career based on science. These enthusiastic speakers have already made their mark as authors, artists, conservationists and entrepreneurs.

Book your place...

Mistletoe - Robin Hood for the Bird World

When: Saturday 14 August, 3PM - 4PM
Cost: FREE

Did you know that some plants are superheroes?
Come along and hear Birdlife Australia talk about local superheroes – mistletoes – and the work to restore them in our forests.

Book your place...

National Science Week: Brain and Biomes

When: Saturday 14 August - 28 August
Cost: FREE

During the National Science Week 2021, join Newcastle Museum for a host of interesting online events and exhibitions, proudly presented by AusIndustry. 

Please see below links for each of the talks: 


You will also have a chance to explore interactive virtual exhibitions by The University of Newcastle (STREAM), called ‘Brain’ and ‘Biomes’. Both exhibitions are science - art collaborations, and offer a mix of observational and interactive components. ‘Brain’ explores the impressive inner workings of our brains and ‘Biomes’ re-engages us with the wonders of the natural world. The Brain and Biomes exhibition show how connected to our environment we really are.

You can view and explore the exhibitions here...

Newy TWS PEP11 Offshore Gas Information Session

When: Thursday 19 August 19 5:30PM - 7:30PM
Cost: FREE

Do you have questions about Pep 11 and how this affects your area?

The Newcastle Wilderness Society are holding an information session about Pep 11 and the TWS campaign to stop it.

The picture opposite shows hundreds of local Novocastrians holding hands along Whibayganba beach (Nobby's beach) to say no to PEP11! Let's get educated about this threat to our world-famous beaches here in Newy and along the eastern coast.

Book your place/For more information...

Science in Practice - Science Show

When: Thursday 19 August 2PM - 2:45PM
Cost: FREE

Tune in from the classroom or at home, for a fun-filled, food focused science show, celebrating 2021 National Science Week!

Join science presenters from the University of Newcastle's SMART Program as they explore states of matter in the kitchen!

The team will investigate the science of solids, liquids and gases, and explore what happens when we heat them up, combine them, or cool them down...

Featuring 'Elephants Toothpaste' and Liquid Nitrogen, this experiment packed science show is a wonderful way for Primary School students and their teachers to celebrate National Science Week in 2021

Book your place...

Significant Figures: Science week 2021
Where speed dating meets science research

When: Friday 20 August 7PM - 8PM
Cost: FREE

Significant Figures is a high-energy game-show style event featuring a mystery guest scientist and three panelists whose job is to help the scientist reveal their specialty and amusing anecdotes from their personal lives.

Significant Figures is more like a game or variety show than a science panel, as we try to figure out what the mystery scientist does in and out of the lab,” says Tom Gordon, Significant Figures host and STEMpunk producer. Three panelists will use questions and challenges to elicit juicy details from the guest work and life. “From puns and jargon to hobbies and heroes, Significant Figures is a great event for young and young at heart who like a bit of science with their entertainment,” says Tom.

Book your place...

Stepping into Science

When: Saturday 21 August 6 PM – 7:30 PM
Cost: FREE

FASCINATING SCI ODYSSEYS : Three personal journeys to a life of science: human infertility, environmental engineering and flood awareness.

YOU CAN START YOUR LEARNING JOURNEY TO A LIFE OF SCIENCE AT ANY AGE: Three courageous Novocastrians show the way: Kiara Harrison will take us into her Honours research into human infertility; Harry Callen will describe the journey from lectures into the fieldwork of environmental engineering and Willow Forsythe will let us know what it is like to undertake a PhD in flood mitigation awareness.

Book your place...

Take a tour with Budgewoi Beach Dunecare - Landcare Australia

Meet Phil and Robyn from Budgewoi Beach Dunecare Group. Watch as they show us beautiful Budgewoi beach, the dunecare restoration work being done and hear their thoughts on being caretakers of our land and water.

Learn how their efforts in propagation, revegetation, and community engagement are having a real impact on the coastal environment at Budgewoi beach.

Stabilising the dunes is no easy task - but Phil and Robyn have already made incredible progress.  Also watch here...

Timetobee - The wonders of bees and backyards

When: Saturday 14th August 3PM - 4PM
Cost: FREE

Join Dani Lloyd-Prichard from Timetobee as she explores the many ways we can revitalise, reconnect and regenerate with bees as part of urban biodiversity.

Book your place...

Lake Mac Landcare Self Guided Audio Tours

Landcare activities may be cancelled due to COVID lockdown in the Newcastle and Hunter region however, you can still take part in self-guided audio tours by Lake Mac Landcare which you can do at your own pace at a time that suits you.   So, grab a face-mask, grab a fellow householder or your nominated singles bubble visitor, find a tour that is within 10 km of your place of residence and get some exercise.  Swot up on the stay-at-home rules before you go to enjoy a safe, hassle free tour.  

You will learn about Landcare projects from the local Landcarers themselves as they guide you to explore hidden pockets of precious urban bushland, amble through tranquil remnant rainforest, enjoy the serene beauty of a brackish estuary, and soak up the ambience of the sandy shores of our coast.
To access each tour click on the links below or download the 'izi.TRAVEL Audio Tours' app for Apple or Android devices If you are using the app, just search for 'Landcare' and you will find it right away! Happy exploring!

Audio tours: You can also download the tours to your phone.

Nesting Boxes in Australia

This informative video from Granite Borders Landcare can help explain the need for nest boxes in our changed landscapes and explain some of the complexities in choosing the right nest box for your site or property. Also watch here...

BZE Webinar: Renewable Energy Industrial Precincts - An Economic Analysis

When: Tuesday 24 August 1PM - 2PM
Cost: FREE

Beyond Zero Emissions and WWF-Australia recently commissioned economic analysis firm ACIL Allen to model the economic and job benefits of establishing Renewable Energy Industrial Precincts in Gladstone and the Hunter Valley, two of the 14 priority regions identified in our Million Jobs Plan. The analysis found that Renewable Energy Industrial Precincts have enormous potential, and could $13 billion to the local economy of the next 10 years.

At this webinar, join Beyond Zero Emissions CEO Heidi Lee and Project Manager Heidi Edmonds to discuss how Precincts are a pragmatic first step to diversify Australia's export profile and support a competitive industry for the future. Special guests Guy Jakeman from ACIL Allen and Alice Thompson from Committee for the Hunter will share further insights on the findings of the economic report.

Book your place...

Voices of the Hunter Valley - Cessnock, let's talk about the future.

When: Wednesday 25 Aug 3 PM - 4 PM
Cost: FREE

How can we future-proof the Hunter Valley? 
The Hunter is facing big changes over the coming decades, and we need decisions to be made with the community, for the community.

This year the NSW state government committed to establish a Hunter Expert Panel and $25 million of Royalties for Rejuvenation, to assist us through the economic changes heading our way.  How should the NSW state government deliver commitments on investing in job creation and managing economic change? Have your say in this interactive online workshop!

Book your place...

For more information...
Bonus video for National Science Week: Risking My Life To Settle A Physics Debate - Can a wind driven vehicle travel faster than wind?  Your can also watch it here...
Also if you want to build a model of it: Building the Vehicle Physicists Called Impossible

Cleantech Virtual Hub 

When: Wednesday 25 Aug 5:00 PM – 7:00 PM
Where: Online
Cost: FREE

Join like-minded creative business people, innovators, researchers and entrepreneurs to stay informed and connected.

Hear from founders and business leaders as they share how they're harnessing technology to dramatically reduce environmental impact. Presentations followed by networking to help attendees join the dots for potential collaboration. 

Hosted by I2N. Presenters include:

Book your place...

Art and Science - A happy marriage

When: Wednesday 25 August 3PM - 4PM
Where: Online
Cost: FREE

Art and Science are sometimes viewed as polar opposites – with decision-makers often creating false divisions between the essential ‘STEM’ subjects and the whimsical ‘arts’.

Join Dr. Bernadette Drabsch, co-presenter of the internationally awarded ‘Drawing Nature, Science and Culture’ online course, who will share her insights into the exciting world of art and science.

Open to anyone (recommended for adult audiences)

Book your place...

Earliest bush regeneration project on the planet?
Renewal in the desert. The Barrier Field Naturalists’ Club & The Broken Hill Regeneration Reserves.

Grab a cuppa, and enjoy this short film hosted by the Australian Association of Bush Regenerators (AABR) as we celebrate a milestone or two with the production of a documentary celebrating one of the earliest bush regeneration projects on the planet! Also watch here...

The Seeding 2021 [online]

When: Saturday 28 August 10AM - 3PM
Cost: FREE

The Seeding will be held on Stolen Land. Sovereignty was never ceded. Indigenous voices must be elevated in environmental discussions.

It's (still) on! We're just heading online. Make sure to register, otherwise you won't receive the Zoom link to take part!

The Seeding is back for a third year in a row. We've had an open market, and online discussion spaces... this time, it's workshops!

Come and take part in workshops held by a variety of not-for-profit community environment groups from across the greater Newcastle and Hunter region. Learn about the campaigns occurring on your doorstep and beyond, and how you can get involved. Pick up some skills and meet new people.
See you soon, Seeds!

The Seeding is an annual gathering of First Nations peoples and not-for-profit community environmental groups based in the Hunter Region of NSW, Australia. It is a space for groups to communicate, collaborate, co-organise, and share.

Book your place...

For more information...

It's (still) on! We're just heading online. Make sure to register, otherwise you won't receive the Zoom link to take part!

Have You Seen Dead or Dying Frogs?

Dead and sick frogs are turning up across eastern NSW and scientists are working hard to understand why this is happening. Frogs are usually relatively secretive, when they die they decompose rapidly. So even during a cold winter reports of sick and dying frogs on mass has raised the alarm bells.

It may be a result of the amphibian chytrid fungus that has been hitting frog populations across the globe for decades. But right now the experts are unsure if this is the cause and why it is having such a big impact again now.

Frogs can appear darker or lighter that usual, slow, thin and out in the daytime (they are usually nocturnal). The iconic Green Tree Frog (Litoria caeulea) seems hardest hit. 

Scientists need your help to solve this mystery!

Please send any reports of sick or dead frogs (and if possible, photos) to the team via the national citizen science project FrogID or email

Soothing South Coast sounds

Dreaming of shaking off winter for brighter beach days ahead? Escape to the coast in your mind with this 60-minute nature soundscape.

Studies have shown that the sounds of nature enhance cognitive function and concentration. Play these unique ambient sounds of NSW's South Coast national parks - let the wash of waves on sand and rockpools, mingled with birdsong uplift your mood, help you focus and boost productivity. Also listen here...

Environment Laws threatened while our attention is glued to COVID news

If you visited Blackbutt Reserve or another local bit of nature during lockdown, you could attest to one thing: we rely on nature to keep us sane!
All the worse that the Federal Government this week seems set to miss a unique chance to protect our natural treasures [by attempting to introduce "vastly inferior standards"] – while everyone’s attention is glued to COVID news.
Australia as a nation is under enormous pressure when it comes to conserving our natural environment. Our current environment laws have only overseen further extinctions. Just this year we announced another thirteen animal species lost – a steady death by a thousand cuts of our treasured wild places and beings. Australia far exceeds all other countries in mammal extinction and is one of the world’s leading deforestation hotspots.
For the first time in years, we got hopeful when experienced economist and former ACCC chair Graeme Samuel chaired an extensive Independent Review of our environmental laws. He considered over 30,000 submissions by concerned Australians and the views of more than 100 stakeholders, from conservation organisations to mining bodies.
He managed the seemingly impossible, by devising a convincing, outcomes-focused reform that could finally enable Australia to accommodate future development in an environmentally sustainable way. It would also cut down on the current inefficient piece-meal jungle of federal and state box ticking exercises. Key recommendations from the year-long Review included binding national environmental standards and an independent regulator.

Looking to Government

Yet this week, the Federal Government has been seeking to push its controversial Streamlining Assessment (Devolution) and Standards and Assurance bills through the senate again, degrading the quality and value of both those recommendations. The Standards and Assurance Bill introduces vastly inferior standards and a toothless commissioner. If this gets through, the Government will achieve what Samuel predicted: “To shy away from the fundamental reforms recommended by this Review is to accept the continued decline of our iconic places and the extinction of our most threatened plants, animals and ecosystems. This is unacceptable.”
Locked down and understandably focussed on COVID news, will we miss the pushing of this Bill? Do we want to, in effect, stand by quietly?

Many thanks to Daniela Osiander.  This was adapted from Op-ed in City Hub Sydney by Daniela Osiander.
For more information on the Samuel Review and the Standards and Assurance Bill
Webinar Two link...
Webinar Three link...
Webinar Four link...
Virtual Roundtable link...
School of Environmental and Life Sciences
Ph: +61 (0)2 4921 7037 | Email
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