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  • 18 Feb 2021 1:37 PM | Anonymous

    By Iraphne Childs

    Dear Members, it now looks promising that Australia’s COVID-19 vaccines will be rolled out in March and April. Queensland continues to be in a fortunate situation with no community transmission. While ever mindful of the continued, albeit low, risk, RGSQ is hoping to resume some trips and activities in 2021. Thanks to the TAAC committee and the Map Group coordinators for planning and organising the year’s events. Check out their programs on the website.  

    International Women’s Day 8 March 2021

    International Women’s Day (IWD) is celebrated around the world on the 8th of March. In Australia we can recognise the work of many outstanding women scientists and geographers.

    Australia’s Chief Scientist: Dr. Cathy Foley, physicist, is the 2nd woman to be appointed to the role of Australia’s Chief Scientist. She took up this position in January 2021. Dr Foley has been involved with climate change, stem cells, health and biosecurity, mineral resources, manufacturing, astronomy, and energy. As well as providing independent advice to Government on science, technology and innovation, Dr. Foley has been keen to engage and share scientific information with the Australian public. She has been regularly posting science news on her website and on her Facebook page. For example, in early February she alerted us to the launch of the Square Kilometre Array Observatory (SKAO) which has ushered in a new era for radio astronomy. Headquartered in the UK, the SKAO is the world’s largest intergovernmental radio telescope, including 131,072 two-metre-tall antennas located in Western Australia. Researchers hope the SKAO may help find out how the first stars and galaxies formed after the big bang, understand dark matter, and find out more about the universe’s vast magnetic fields.

    Australia’s Women Geographers: Most members will probably know the name of famous Australian geographer Griffith Taylor, but did you know that his sister, Dorothy R. Taylor, was also a Geographer? She was one of the first women employed in the Department of Geography at the University of Sydney, where she had completed a Bachelor of Science. In 1925 she established the Geographical Laboratory at the University of Sydney with her brother, Griffith. The Geographical Society of NSW’s Australian Geographer Award for Best Paper is named after Dorothy, recognising her role in establishing and co-editing Australia’s first and longest-running academic geography journal. The award acknowledges the contributions made by Australian women geographers. Today women make a huge contribution to the teaching of Geography in primary and secondary schools and in universities. Many women geographers lead research teams and hold executive positions in local, state, and national professional institutions such as the Geography Teachers’ Associations, Institute of Australian Geographers, and the Academy of Science’s National Committee for Geographical Sciences.

    Contributions to RGSQ: The Society’s membership is approx. 50% female with women members participating in and contributing in so many valuable ways to activities on committees and as volunteers. Over its 135-year history, the Society has had three women presidents: Mrs. Henry Robertson, MBE, JP, FRGSA (1944-49); Mrs. Doreen worth (2001-2003) and yours truly, Dr. Iraphne Childs, FRGSQ (2003-2005; 2017-present). The current RGSQ Council of 11 members has five women councillors. To celebrate IWD we asked three young women members to share their thoughts on being Geographers in Australia today - see what they said later in this Bulletin.  

    References

    Australia’s Chief Scientist https://www.facebook.com/ScienceChiefAu

    Square Kilometre Array https://www.skatelescope.org/news/skao-is-born/

    Australian Geographer Awards, 2019.The Geographical Society of NSW. https://www.geogsoc.org.au/site/index.cfm?display=674196

    With best wishes

    Dr. Iraphne Childs, President

  • 18 Feb 2021 1:30 PM | Anonymous

    By Irpahne Childs

    Three young women members have shared their thoughts on being Geographers in Australia in 2021. Thanks to Nicole, Annie, and Kathryn for sharing their stories and views. Here is what they said……

     Dr. Nicole Garofano - grew up in Sydney, then spent 12 months travelling in central and south America, the Caribbean, Barbados, the US/Canada, and the UK. She has worked in the travel industry and as a volunteer for a local NGO on environmental education in Barbados. Nicole has an MA in Development Practice, a Graduate Certificate in Environmental Management and in February 2021 graduated with her PhD from UQ.

     Dr. Annie Lau- grew up in Hong Kong where she completed high school education, her undergraduate and M. Phil degrees. She completed her PhD in Singapore. Annie is currently Lecturer in the School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, UQ, specializing in geomorphology, coastal science, coastal change, storms, and tsunamis in the Pacific and Australia. Annie is an RGSQ Councilor and Treasurer.

     Ms. Kathryn Scott - grew up in Toowoomba, and now lives on the Sunshine Coast. She has a Bachelor of Learning Management (Primary) from CQ University and a Master of Environment from Griffith University. She is Senior Project officer, Natural Assets Policy and Planning in the Qld Dept. of Agriculture and Fisheries. Kathryn is a member of the RGSQ Scientific Studies Committee.

    Why did you first become interested in being a geographer?

    Nicole: I have always been interested in geography. Listening to my Dad’s stories of his travels around the world on Cable and Wireless telecommunication cable maintenance ships. From an early age my Dad took us through many exotic locations. In those days, you had to stop in Singapore, then Bahrain, and then London. All of that planted seeds of wanting to know more about the world, countries, and people. I recall having to choose between geography and history at high school, and for me it was simple – geography all the way!

    Annie: I have always loved maps and spent hours reading road maps with my younger brother. Geography was my favorite subject in school. I enjoyed learning about mountains, rivers, population change and urban development. I was particularly amazed by the fact that I could apply the concepts learned in class to better understand the natural disasters reported in the news. I feel blessed that I am still working in the field of natural hazards, and that I can share my passion with students as I teach the “Environmental hazards” course at UQ now.  

    Kathryn: At a young age I was particularly interested in physical geography - geomorphology, climatology, and biogeography. At school, geography was always one of my favourite subjects. I chose Geography as one of my senior subjects and thoroughly enjoyed the field trips and learning about different earth systems, human relationships to places and how each can influence the other to varying extents. 

    What do you see as your main contributions to Geography?

    Nicole: For my Ph.D. I studied how the geography of small island developing states presented challenges and opportunities in waste management. I strive to raise awareness of the roles of geography and culture in remote island states that affect resource and waste management of plastics. Geographically remote, these islands receive plastic packaged products from many brands and manufacturers. Yet, their remoteness is forgotten when the post-consumption packaging from these products needs to be managed.

    Annie: My research focuses on using landforms, rocks, and sediments to understand how and why coastlines change through time. Some changes are gradual (e.g. accumulation of sand to form dunes), while some happen within minutes (e.g. erosion caused by natural hazard events). The results of my work can help stakeholders and policymakers to make better decisions in risk and land management for protecting coastal environments, habitats, and people.

    Kathryn: As a former primary school teacher I seized opportunities to share my interest in geography with students, instilling a sense of curiosity and care for the natural world. Now my contributions are more on a personal level - travel experiences, particularly the voyage to Antarctica in 2018, part of the Homeward Bound project, opened my eyes to the incredible interconnectedness of Earth's places, and how far-reaching human impacts are. I am more conscious of how my daily choices have cumulative effects over time and so I strive to live more sustainably.   

    The 2021 theme for IWD is Choose to Challenge – What challenges do you see facing women geographers in Australia in 2021?

    Nicole: the challenge is accessing people in 2021. State border closures and concerns about interacting in the public realm limit the ability to gather perspectives, in some cases even within the same neighborhood. On the other hand, COVID-19 has created some unique studies examining the relationships between people and their surroundings. For me personally, not being able to reach foreign shores limits the scope of my chosen work in small island developing states.

    Annie: In 2021 a major challenge is to adapt to pandemic-related travel restrictions. Geographers need to conduct fieldwork but most travel is not possible nowadays. We have to change how we work, adjust project plans, and find creative solutions to problems. As an individual, I continue to challenge gender stereotypes and fight for gender equality.

    Kathryn: Many Australians are acutely aware of the challenges we face at global and national scales in 2021 but we have the option to see the opportunities they present. While women geographers in Australia (as for women in STEMM more broadly), have much to celebrate in the progress already made, there remains the challenge of striving for equity - in leadership, in pay and in fair recognition and representation in decision-making. It is crucial now more than ever that diversity and inclusiveness is embraced as a key strength and a true part of Australia's identity in co-creating the future we choose. 

    What has been your greatest joy in your work as a geographer?

    Nicole: The most simplistic joy I have known is to teach a geography for tourism course at TAFE more than a decade ago. It was such a pleasure to get back to basics and encourage others to get familiar with their world and what it contains. Since then, other joys have been introducing those in the developed world, the global north, to the wonders of remote island locations and their traditions, their beauty, and their challenges.

    Annie:Spending time and talking with people in coastal communities, especially in more isolated, remote places, motivates me to research coastal hazards as I can help people to understand the past and be better prepared for future hazards like cyclones and tsunamis. At the same time, I always feel very contented and excited to learn about nature as local people share their knowledge with me generously.

    Kathryn: I am fortunate to have seen a large iceberg in Antarctica. Meeting and working with an amazing range of people who span the different disciplines of geography has been a joy.

    How would you persuade a high school student passionate about geography to take up a degree in Geography?

    Nicole: Give them a set of maps of the world, showing topography, population, biodiversity - anything that represents the vast differences in the countries and regions of the planet. Then show them pictures of unique places, perhaps the Blue Planet, and see if this inspires them. This combined with a few stories from my geographical adventures might spur in them what spurred in me all those years ago.

    Annie: Go for it and you will not regret it! To be able to study and work in a field that you are passionate about is the best thing in the world. Geography is a very broad field, you can choose to specialise in areas that you are most interested in, learn different skills that can be applied in your daily life and in workplaces, and start a career that you will enjoy.

    Kathryn: If you are already passionate about geography then completing a degree is the icing on the cake - it will not only open doors to a range of possible career options, but further study will enable you to continue learning about the things that interest you while expanding your networks and finding ways to do work you enjoy and make a meaningful difference in the world.

    Photos courtesy of Nicole Garofano, Annie Lau and Kathryn Scott
  • 5 Feb 2021 9:46 AM | Anonymous

    by Iraphne Childs

    In late September 2020, the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) declared that conditions were right for a La Niña event, signalling a wet spring and summer for northern and eastern Australia, including for Southeast Queensland. So, we waited in joyful anticipation for the rain …. but November and December ended up being relatively dry in many locations across the north, east and southeast. What was going on?

    The Madden-Julian Oscillation (MJO) was most likely the reason for the delay. This is a global-scale feature of the tropical atmosphere affecting the intensity and duration of rainfall. It is associated with weekly to monthly periods of both enhanced and suppressed rainfall especially over tropical Australia during summer. The MJO is characterised as an eastward moving 'pulse' of cloud and rainfall near the equator that typically recurs every 30 to 60 days. Its effects are most evident over the Indian Ocean and western equatorial Pacific, influencing the timing, development, and strength of the Indian and Australian monsoons. Although the MJO brings rainfall in its active phase, it suppresses rain before and after its arrival, when large-scale downward motion in the atmosphere prevents lift, keeping things hot and dry. In late 2020 the MJO appears to have blocked the lift and suppressed rainfall we would usually expect with La Niña conditions for northern and eastern Australia.

    On 12 January 2021, BOM reported that the MJO had strengthened over the Indian Ocean and climate models indicated eastward movement. The northern Australian monsoon trough is now well established and active. BOM predicts that the MJO is likely to contribute to an increase in tropical rainfall and an above-average tropical cyclone risk around northern Australia in late January. BOM's outlook for this summer suggests there is a high likelihood of above-average rainfall for much of the country. So now, after a long wait the rain is finally falling, thanks to the MJO.

    https://youtu.be/M1YBRSTdfnI

    Source: BOM 2020

    References:

    BOM (2020) The Madden-Julian Oscillation (MJO) http://www.bom.gov.au/climate/mjo/

    BOM (2021) Weekly Tropical Climate Note, 12 January http://www.bom.gov.au/climate/tropical-note/

    https://youtu.be/UsWHHE_jkGE?list=PLbKuJrA7Vp7naJL31deES8QAV5E0q6U_H

    Doyle, K. (ABC Weather 11 December 2020) Madden-Julian Oscillation: The bearer of tropical rain https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-12-11/madden-julian-oscillation-mjo-the-bearer-of-tropical-rain/12961346

  • 16 Dec 2020 12:39 PM | Anonymous

    by Iraphne Childs

    This summer we may be spared a repeat of last summer’s horrendous bushfires, but according to the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) it looks like there is a high probability of more cyclones and flooding due to a La Niña episode.


    The Walker circulation in a La Niña year; (BOM 2020)

    The El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) cycle is the major influence on annual climate variability for most of Australia. El Niño in Spanish means The Little Boy and La Niña means The Little Girl. El Niño was first recognised by fishermen off the coast of South America in the 1800s with the appearance of unusually warm water in the eastern Pacific Ocean around December. Fishing in this region is best during La Niña years when cold upwelling ocean water brings rich nutrients off the coast. ENSO has been studied and monitored extensively by climate scientists throughout the 20th century and continues to be closely monitored today in research centres in Australia and around the world.


    BOM (2016)

    As the BOM explains, the transition between La Niña, El Niño and neutral conditions (neither El Niño nor La Niña) is governed by interactions between the atmosphere and ocean circulation. La Niña occurs when equatorial trade winds become stronger, changing ocean surface currents and drawing cooler deep water to the surface. This results in a cooling of the central and eastern tropical Pacific Ocean where air descending over the cooler waters results in that region being less favourable for cloud and rain. Conversely, in the western Pacific Ocean and to the north of Australia stronger trade winds help to increase warm surface waters resulting in more favourable conditions for rising air, cloud development and rainfall. A La Niña year typically brings increased rainfall across much of Australia, cooler daytime and warmer overnight temperatures, more tropical cyclones and earlier monsoon onset. The air rising in the west and descending in the east enhances the Walker atmospheric circulation  which can result in changes to the climate experienced across the globe.

    Cyclones can affect Queensland in the summer months during all phases of the ENSO cycle -  for example cyclones Oswald in 2013 (a neutral ENSO year), Marcia in 2015 (an El Nino year) and Debbie in 2017 (a weak La Niña year).

    The 2010–2011 La Niña was one of the strongest on record (BOM 2020). In February 2011 much of Queensland experienced the effects of cyclone Yasi, one of the biggest storms in Queensland's history. This storm passed between Cairns and Townsville, eventually crossing the coast at Mission Beach. I volunteered with Red Cross and was deployed over several weeks in February and March 2011 to evacuation and recovery centres in Mission Beach, Tully, and Ingham.

    In both natural and human environments biodiversity, economic, social and infrastructure recovery following the devastating damage from cyclones and flood can take years. Communities, however, display amazing resilience.

    Here is are some example that I witnessed in 2011.

    Main street, Ingham, March 2011

    Rainforest near Mission Beach, February 2011      


    Ingham banana farmers, having received timely warnings from BOM prior to Yasi’s onslaught, pre-empted total damage to their crops by braking off tall banana plants down to the base so that the winds would not rip them out of the ground, allowing the short young suckers to grow again after the storm. In and around Mission Beach and Tully, cassowaries displaced from the damaged rainforest were wandering along roads searching for food in bare sugarcane fields. Local wildlife organisations and townsfolk saved many birds from starvation by placing fruit and food packages at vantage points around town for the cassowaries.  If predictions of the La Niña weather this summer prove to be correct, no doubt there will be more stories to be told of local preparation, adaptation, and resilience. Photography courtesy of Iraphne Childs.

    References

    ABC News (2020) BOM declares a La Niña, signalling wet spring and summer likely for northern, eastern Australia https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-09-29

    Bureau of Meteorology (2016) What is La Niña and how does it impact Australia?

    http://www.bom.gov.au/climate/updates/articles/a020.shtml

    Bureau of Meteorology (2020) La Niña WATCH: what it means for 2020 17 July 2020

    http://media.bom.gov.au/social/blog/2395/la-nia-watch-what-it-means-for-2020/

    NOAA (2020) What are El Niño and La Niña? https://oceanservice.noaa.gov/facts/ninonina.html

    BOM (2020) Record high Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) values  http://www.bom.gov.au/climate/enso/history/ln-2010-12/SOI-records.shtml

  • 16 Dec 2020 12:31 PM | Anonymous

    Dear Members, and so we come to the end of 2020 – a difficult year for the Society and for many in our community. I hope you and your families have come through the challenges of the year in good health. We are, indeed, fortunate in Queensland to have so far avoided the ravages of the COVID-19 epidemic so distressing to see in other parts of Australia and in other countries. We all hope that 2021 will be an easier year. If restrictions continue easing, as they are at present, RGSQ plans to resume gatherings at Gregory Place in the New Year.

    On a brighter note…….

    The RGSQ Christmas Party: this year, rather than our usual in-house Christmas party for members, we will have a Christmas picnic lunch on December 5th. at Grey Gum picnic area on the eastern side of the main ridge of Mt Coot-tha, between Channel 9 and Channel 7 studios. Thanks to our TAAC committee volunteers for organising a sausage sizzle, bread, and Christmas cake. Please also  BYO extra food, desserts, drinks & fold-up chairs. Please see more details in this Bulletin. I look forward to seeing many of you there.

    Christmas Quiz?

    Since we cannot have our customary slide show and Christmas Quiz at Gregory Place, here are a few Christmas teasers for you to ponder over ….. (check answers at the end of the December 2020 Bulletin)

    Q1: In which modern-day country was St. Nicholas born?

    Q2: What Christmas tradition began in Melbourne in 1938?

    Q3: From which country did eggnog come?

    Q4: Which country started the tradition of putting up a Christmas tree?

    Q5: In Australia’s version of the song ‘Jingle Bells’, what mode of transportation is used instead of a ‘one-horse open sleigh’?

    Q6: Christmas Island in Australia has an annual migration of which animal?

    On behalf of Council and staff I extend my best wishes to all members for a happy and safe Christmas-New Year season. I hope that 2021 will be a much better year for all of us and I look forward to seeing you in the New Year at Gregory Place.

    With best wishes

    Dr. Iraphne Childs, President

  • 29 Oct 2020 11:12 AM | Anonymous

    From the President

    Dear members, I hope you are keeping well and enjoying the spectacular displays of our jacarandas and silky oaks in full bloom at this time of year.

    The AGM

    Thank you to all those members who attended the AGM via zoom on 20 October and who participated in the poll in advance of the meeting to progress important resolutions, including the election of a new Council for 2020-2021. All resolutions were carried and endorsed at the meeting. The incoming Council comprises an excellent balance of experienced continuing members, plus one new member. Together they provide academic, business, educational and professional expertise. I am honoured to have been appointed as President for another year and look forward to working with Councillors, staff and members to move our Society forward in 2021 and especially to see what can be accomplished before the end of 2020, this very unusual year.

    At Government House 

    On the 1st October, I represented the RGSQ at Government House at an afternoon tea celebrating the Queen’s birthday. At a table with Dr Ross Hynes, the President of the Royal Society of Queensland and Mr. Stephen Sheaffe, President of the Royal Historical Society of Queensland, we discussed how the challenges of 2020 had affected our respective societies. During the proceedings, His Excellency, The Honourable Paul de Jersey AC, patron of all three Societies, presented three documents, two of which have great historical significance for Queensland’s Foundations and will henceforth be kept in the Queensland State Archives:

    Queensland’s birth certificate - a copy of the Letters Patent, signed by Queen Victoria dated 6 June 1859, establishing the separate Colony of Queensland. This copy was brought back to Queensland by Governor de Jersey following his visit to the National Archives in Kew, UK in November 2019.

    Bowen’s Instructions” – this is the original document, signed by Queen Victoria, dated 6 June 1859, issued to the first Queensland Governor Sir George Bowen who arrived in Brisbane on HMS Cordelia. These instructions guided Governor Bowen in establishing the system of democratic government prescribed by Queensland’s first Constitution and the Letters Patent. In 1868, Sir George Bowen left Queensland to serve as Governor of New Zealand, Mauritius, and Hong Kong before returning to England. He, apparently, took the original instructions document for Queensland with him! After persistent and eventual successful overtures to Sir George and Lady Bowen’s descendants, the redoubtable Queensland Women’s Historical Association (QWHA) acquired the original document in the 1960s. On 1st May 1992, the QWHA presented a selection of items belonging to Sir George, including Bowen’s Instructions, to then Governor Sir Walter Campbell.

    These two documents provide a detailed description of Queensland’s foundations and join other documents in the State Archives - the original Order in Council and the Proclamation read on 10 December 1859 from the balcony of Adelaide House, now in the grounds of the Anglican Cathedral in Brisbane.

    The Government House Collection – Items of Historical and Heritage Interest – a booklet describing more than 1500 historical items, including portraits, works of art and furniture acquired and held at Government House over the past 160 years.

    Copies of Bowen’s Instructions and the Items of Historical and Heritage Interest booklet have now been donated to the RGSQ library.

    With best wishes

    Dr. Iraphne Childs, President

  • 29 Oct 2020 11:08 AM | Anonymous

    From the President

    Dear members, I hope you are keeping well and enjoying our spring weather. Lots of opportunities to do gardening if you are able to. I have really enjoyed catching up with many members on the phone over the past few weeks. Thank you for taking time to answer my calls and to have a chat. It has been a good opportunity to know more about members personally. 

    The AGM: In the final week of September you will receive documents (e.g. Notice of Meeting, 2019-2020 Annual Report to Members) relating to our Annual General Meeting on Tuesday 20 October. In recognition of Covid-19 related restrictions and in line with current corporate guidelines the meeting will be held via teleconferencing this year, utilising the ZOOM platform. There will be no in-person attendance at Gregory Place for this year’s AGM. While varying from what would apply in normal circumstances, arrangements will achieve the same outcomes of giving all members the opportunity to register their vote, either via an RGSQ website poll or via postal vote, on important resolutions. The voting paper is a simple one-page document listing the resolutions listed in the Notice of Meeting which also includes information on nominating councillors, participation in the AGM via teleconference using Zoom and the voting procedure. All members are encouraged to participate in the on-line AGM meeting. If you wish to participate but do not have access to appropriate on-line facilities contact the RGSQ office to explore alternative access possibilities. Please feel free to ask any questions relating to the AGM process and /or any matters related to the AGM by calling the RGSQ office on 3368 2066.

    RGSQ 2021 calendar: The Publications committee have been working to produce the RGSQ 2021 calendar using 12 images from the competition entries, including the 3 prize-winning entries. Calendars should be ready for sale in October at $15/each via the RGSQ website online shop & at RGSQ premises. The price for postage will be additional based on weight for the number of calendars purchased. An order form will shortly be distributed to members. We hope you may consider this option for your Christmas presents this year!

    The photo competition: The RGSQ Publications committee met on 8th September to judge the 45 photo entries submitted by 15 members for the inaugural RGSQ Geographic Landscapes photographic competition. Judging was anonymous (i.e. without entrants’ names attached to images) and criteria used for judging included composition, geographic feature, storytelling, creativity, emotion/expression. Thank you to all members who entered the competition and congratulations to the prize winners:

    Stuart Watt, 1st prize (2-nights at O’Reillys): Qld Channel Country above Cooper Creek


    John Fairbairn 2nd prize (12 months free membership): rocks & lone fisherman, Point Lookout, Stradbroke Island


    John Tasker 3rd prize (bottle of red wine): reflections in Wivenhoe Dam at sunset


    I look forward to seeing you “remotely” in your homes at the AGM zoom meeting.

    Dr Iraphne Childs

    President

  • 24 Sep 2020 12:39 PM | Anonymous

    From the President

    Dear members, with all the depressing statistics about COVID-19 here’s some joyful news from our amazing humpback whales who are back in our coastal waters.

    As they move north along Australia’s eastern coastline on their annual migration from Antarctica, their numbers, now thought to be approximately 30,000, have increased again this year. Humpback whales feed in summer in the polar waters of Antarctica, and migrate to tropical and subtropical waters of Australia to breed and give birth in winter. This results in thousands of humpbacks swimming past Australia’s east coast between May and early November each year. The peak months are usually September and October when it is not unusual to see a mother whale travelling with her calf. Point Lookout on North Stradbroke Island is the closest place to Brisbane where you can enjoy land-based whale watching. Hervey Bay around Fraser Island is widely regarded as one of the best destinations to see whales because they stay there for an extended period with mothers and calves resting and playing in the calm waters.

    There are also many whale-watching boat tours available from Southeast Queensland coastal centres. I hope you may have an opportunity to view these spectacular visitors during the current migration, either from a land-based vantage point or on a whale watching boat trip.

    A major concern being monitored by conservation groups and the Queensland Government Fisheries Department is that, with the increasing numbers of whales swimming by our shores and the year-round positioning of drumlines and shark nets off popular swimming beaches, there is an increased risk of entanglement for the whales.

    This August saw the fifth whale entanglement in only three months of the 2020 whale migration season along Queensland’s coast. A humpback whale calf was caught on a drumline’s hook, positioned off Main Beach, Stradbroke Island. Fortunately, the calf was freed and returned to its waiting mother after an intense five-hour rescue operation by Queensland Fisheries. Earlier this year, four humpbacks were entangled in Gold Coast shark nets in the space of just one month.

    The Australian Marine Conservation Society (AMCS) has called for a transition away from shark nets and lethal drumlines toward solutions such as drones, boosted lifeguard presence, and removal of these devices during the whale migration season (AMCS August 17, 2020).

    An announcement from the Minister based on scientifically monitored trials is expected soon.

    AGM and Council nominations

    The RGSQ annual general meeting is on 20 October. If any member would like to nominate for the 2020-2021 Council, please email the Office at info@rgsq.org.au for a nomination form or to discuss a role on the Council please feel free to contact me at 0419 756 936.

    References:

    Matilda Boseley The Guardian June 19 2020 Whales are moving up Australia’s east coast

    https://www.theguardian.com2020/jun/19/the-whales-are-moving-up-australias-east-coast-tell-us-about-your-best-spot

    Australian Marine Conservation Society 17 August 2020. Humpback calf caught on Stradbroke Island drumline https://www.marineconservation.org.au/humpback-calf-caught-on-stradbroke-island-drumline

    ABC News 28 June 2020Humpback whale census record set to be smashed along Australia’s east coast https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-06-28/humpback-whale-record-set-to-be-smashed-on-australia-east-coast/12393334

  • 4 Aug 2020 1:26 PM | Anonymous

    Dear Fellow Members, I hope you are continuing to stay safe as we move into further lifting of COVID-19 restrictions in Queensland. At the time of writing, we wait with concern to see how this and also the recent influx of interstate visitors and the unfortunate resurgence of cases in Victoria and NSW affect our state. I hope that any of your family and friends are safe in Victoria and NSW. If all continues to go well in Qld, we will aim to resume more RGSQ activities from August.

    Qld landscapes photo competition

    In phone conversations with members over the past few months many have reported that sorting out years of family and travel photos has kept them busy during the “stay at home” period. We thought it would be interesting to see some of the places in Qld that you have visited on your trips, so RGSQ is pleased to announce a Qld landscapes photo competition with enticing prizes – see details in this Bulletin. I hope you will participate and look forward to seeing some of your excellent photography.  

    Border restrictions? This amazing little bird doesn’t adhere to them and doesn’t carry a GPS!

    In June 2020, local critically endangered Eastern Curlew “AAJ” successfully made her maiden flight to China, flying non-stop some 8,000 kilometres from the mudflats of Queensland's Moreton Bay to Shanghai.

    For the past two and a half years researchers have been tracking the movements of three-year-old AAJ as she foraged for crabs and other crustaceans on the mudflats of Moreton Bay. When the mature Eastern Curlews migrated north in mid-March, AAJ remained behind. The waders usually arrive at breeding grounds in Eastern Russia by May, making AAJ's late departure unusual. It may be a new discovery about young Eastern Curlews, that they leave later than older birds. AAJ was one of three Eastern Curlews that were fitted with tiny trackers so their movements could be monitored on the way from Brisbane to China. In late April, under the cover of darkness AAJ began her epic non-stop journey. She headed up the Queensland coast, over the New Guinea Central Highlands and across the western Pacific Ocean.

    Ten days after taking off, AAJ landed on mudflats adjacent to Yinyangzhen, north-east of Shanghai. She will spend the northern summer feeding on crustaceans along the Yellow Sea Coastline.

    The Eastern Curlew population has declined by more than 80 per cent in the past 30 years mostly due to the destruction of mudflats along the East Asian Australasian Flyway, which is a migration superhighway for birds. Around 1,400 critically endangered Eastern Curlews roost around Moreton Bay, the last large flock in Australia. There is pressure to develop parts of the Moreton Bay wetlands close to where AAJ was first found. The area is listed under the Ramsar Convention, an international treaty to protect important wetland habitats. In 2013 Toondah Harbour was declared a Priority Development Area by then premier Campbell Newman. The controversial $1.3 billion development proposal would see part of the wetlands reclaimed to make way for 3,600 residential dwellings, a new port facility, ferry terminals and a 200-berth marina. Around 43 hectares of the development will encroach on the Ramsar wetlands. There's also the broader impact of up to 10,000 more people, noise pollution, increased watercraft disturbing birds, feeding grounds and roost sites. After two proposals were knocked back by the Federal Government, a revised plan was given the green light in 2018 to proceed to the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) phase. In July 2020, a petition, gaining more than 5000 signatures, was presented to the Queensland Government by community group Redlands2030 calling for an independent inquiry into the Toondah Harbour development. Meanwhile, AAJ is foraging on the Shanghai mudflats, fattening up ahead of her return journey to Moreton Bay in a few months’ time.

    Dr. Iraphne Childs

    References

    ABC News. Eastern Curlew's 10-day flight to China stuns bird enthusiasts calling for greater habitat protections by Dea Clark https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-06-06/eastern-curlew-flight-toondah-harbour-cleveland-qld/12322856

    Redlands 2030.Will Toondah kill off the Cleveland CBD?  https://redlands2030.net/cleveland-cbd-economic-report/April 10 2018

  • 4 Aug 2020 1:23 PM | Anonymous

    Dear fellow members, I hope you are continuing to stay safe as we move into the next stage of relaxing COVID-19 restrictions in Queensland. While we wait to see how the stage 2 easing of restrictions and the mass protest gatherings over the last few weekends affect infection rates, it is hoped that RGSQ will be able to resume some activities in August. We will keep you posted on our arrangements.

    Queensland Day 2020
    June 6th commemorates the day in 1859 when Queen Victoria signed Letters Patent for the State’s “birth certificate” establishing Queensland’s official separation from New South Wales as an independent colony. Moves towards statehood for Queensland began with a public meeting in 1851 to consider separation from New South Wales. The state flag was first introduced in 1876 - Queensland then a self-governing British colony with its own navy. Queen Victoria also granted the Queensland Coat of Arms, the oldest State Arms in Australia in 1893 and the first Arms assigned to a British colony since 1661. The Coat of Arms symbolises the Queen's constitutional authority in the State and since 2012 used as the government’s corporate logo. The brolga has featured on the Queensland Coat of Arms since 1977 and in 1986 it became the official bird emblem of Queensland. The koala was officially named the faunal emblem of Queensland in 1971 and the Cooktown orchid became Queensland's floral emblem in 1959, during celebrations to mark the state's centenary.

    Queensland Day Honours
    Queensland Day on June 6th, 2020 was celebrated in the usual way by the granting of awards by Queensland’s Governor, His Excellency the Honourable Paul de Jersey. This year two people whom many members may know were recognised.

    Professor Gregory J.E. Hill: Many of us know Greg as a Geographer. He has received an AO in the general division for distinguished service to education, particularly the development of tertiary facilities in regional areas. He began his career as a primary school teacher, completed a BA Honours (Geography) and a PhD (wildlife/statistical ecology) at the University of Queensland. He taught at UQ for 15 years during which time I was fortunate, in my early lecturing career to teach a couple of courses with Greg. I have always been grateful for the valuable mentoring he gave me. Greg moved to Darwin in 1995 where he was the Foundation Chair in Tropical Environmental Science at Charles Darwin University. In 2010 he became Vice-Chancellor at the University of the Sunshine Coast continuing in this position until his retirement in 2019.

    Dr Colin J. Limpus: Those of us interested in marine science and conservation know Col and his tireless work with sea turtles in Queensland. He has received an AO in the general division for distinguished service to environmental science, particularly to the conservation of sea turtles and as a mentor of young scientists. In 2017 Col marked 50 continuous years of research at Australia's most important mainland loggerhead turtle rookery, Mon Repos in Bundaberg. Col’s research helped convince the Queensland Government of the day to declare the waters off Mon Repos a marine park in 1990 and to make turtle exclusion devices compulsory on fishing trawlers in 2001.

    With best wishes
    Dr Iraphne Childs, President

    References:
    https://www.govhouse.qld.gov.au/office-of-the-governor/news-publications/latest-news/2020/june/2020-queens-birthday-honours-list.aspx
    https://www.qld.gov.au/about/how-government-works/flags-emblems-icons
    https://www.news-mail.com.au/news/col-celebrates-a-huge-50-years-with-the-turtles/3269672/

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