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Byron Shire
June 16, 2024

What are the costs of our actions, and who really pays the price?

Latest News

Self-defence explained

For those still confused, killing 38,000 unarmed civilians, a third of which were children, would not be self-defence, (however...

Other News

Byron Writers Festival locals’ passes on sale June 13

Byron Writers Festival and First National Byron have  partnered again to offer Sunday Locals Passes.

Interview with Nicki Parrott

After three decades of touring and performing in the US, Europe and Japan, acclaimed jazz musician Nicki Parrott is making a triumphant return to her homeland, bringing with her a new album Feelin’ Groovy – that pays homage to the iconic sounds of the sixties and draws inspiration from the carefree lifestyle of her new home in the Byron Shire.

Stick to the sand – Tweed Councillors reject Kingscliff DA to change fill on floodplain

Tweed Council has insisted that a Turnock St development use court-ordered sand to protect rainforest, and a rare snail, rejecting the developer’s attempt to vary the conditions.

A tribute to Brunswick Heads locals 

In a world saturated with carefully curated images geared toward personal brand building, a genuinely candid photo is a refreshing and beautiful thing.

Mullet fishers destroy dunes and native plants at Gawandii Beach, Shaws Bay

Locals and Tuckombil Landcare have expressed concerns over damage to the dunes at Gawandii Beach at Shaws Bay by fisher people who are accessing the beach for the mullet harvesting season. 

Maive takes on illiteracy in the Northern Rivers

Lismore student Maive McKenzie will be a World Literacy Foundation Youth Ambassador for 2024 and will serve as a local advocate, aiming to increase education and community awareness about the importance of reading and writing and to lift literacy rates in Northern Rivers.  

An X-ray of the goanna that had 11 slugs in its body. Image supplied.

A couple of weeks ago I came across the creature. I thought it was dead. It looked emaciated and was totally unresponsive to me asking it questions and poking at it with a stick. I picked the last of the blooming zinnias from my old garden, a bright pink one, laid it against its body and said a quiet prayer.

A few hours later though I saw the flower was on the ground and the goanna had moved forward by about a foot. I couldn’t see its body rising and falling with breath, but it blinked when I touched its tail. I called WIRES.

Northern Rivers Wildlife Carers

A volunteer from Northern Rivers Wildlife Carers came to meet me as the sun went down. We drove up the mountain along the dirt road, down the dirt track, down another dirt track and into the rainforest clearing I’d lived in for a couple of years, to pick up the goanna – totem of the Bundjalung people. 

That night she messaged me. She’d given it fluids and a hot water bottle and the next morning would bring it up to Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary where she worked as a vet nurse. I know what a healthy goanna looks like, and I knew what this guy looked like, but still, I let hope in.

The next morning I received a text message, along with the image from the X-ray they’d done. The picture of the goanna in perfect spiral pose reminded me of the logo for GECO, a tiny grassroots group down in Victoria run mostly by volunteers who have dedicated their lives to protecting the last remaining old growth forests and creatures of East Gippsland.

Eleven bullets

This lizard is in skeletal form though, with each of its scales luminescent against the black backdrop. What also appeared luminescent in the X-ray were the eleven bullets that laced the creature’s not yet fully-matured body. Shot from the barrel of a BB gun.

The veterinary staff said they had no idea how the animal had survived so long. It had been dying from a combination of dehydration, starvation, and possible lead poisoning for about a month. It was put out of its misery that morning.

Goannas are so tough they told me – so resilient – they can fight for hours and hours to defy euthanasia. This one didn’t.

When I found out what had happened to this poor creature, that had been causing havoc in my kitchen for two years, I wanted to burn the human species to the ground. I hated us for our extreme numbness. 

Mt Jerusalem National Park

A few days ago I’d been for a walk in Mt Jerusalem National Park. Afterwards, at the gates of Hell‘s Hole I was about to get into my car (which, yes, runs on petrol), when a guy on a dirt bike came up the road. I put my hand out and put on a friendly, slightly confused expression, gesturing for him to stop so I could ask him a question. He did. 

‘Are you going into the national park on your motorbike?’ I asked.

‘Yeah’, he said. What followed was an interesting exchange. I asked him why he didn’t care that National Parks aren’t there for him to rag his motorbike around in? 

They’re there as the sole designated space for non-human animals to have a home – a place for the myriad creatures – we share this land with to feel safe, and a place for human beings to try to enjoy the feeling of being alive; respite, you might say.

He did care he assured me – he was even aware of the noise he was making. If only all we had to do was be aware. But we don’t. We actually have to alter our actions. Annoying, isn’t it?

An array of excuses

The exchange lasted a few minutes, the man, hidden in anonymity behind his full face helmet on his unregistered bike, offered up an array of excuses, which demonstrated his spectacular selfishness and lack of logic as to why what he was doing was okay and was somehow different to the way other people might rag their motorbikes around the national park: humans are part of nature and humans invented motorbikes; it’s a form of transport; he doesn’t ride it really fast; he’d been at work all day; and finally, we are ‘over-governed’.

Ought I to have responded to those points? The atom bomb – an extension of ourselves and therefore nature? Should we order in a whole bunch and scatter them around the forests to add to the biodiversity? A form of transport? Yes, so are tanks, freightliners, and roller skates. 

You don’t ride fast? You’re gonna ride a noisy, polluting motorbike around a national park and you’re gonna do it real slow? 

You’ve been at work today? So have about ten thousand other people in the local area. Should they all ride their motorbikes through the national park to let off some steam? Maybe you need to reduce your working hours?

The issue of governance

And finally – the issue of governance. There is probably nothing I’m more sensitive to than someone suggesting I’m a stickler for the rules. I would happily break every law in this country if they were all senseless, but some of them aren’t, such as the ones that regulate the way we treat the few remaining natural habitats left on this continent.

Maybe if we could all grow up, stop being so self-entitled, and treat the natural world with reverence, we wouldn’t find ourselves being ‘over-governed’.

We are so very fortunate to live in such an incredible place. We’d do well to remember that it is a healing ground, which means if we’re here, whether it be on unceded Bundjalung Country, or just on planet Earth, it’s because we need to heal.

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  1. Most of the article is obvious and quite rational, even given the tendency to soliloquy and pontification.
    The last sentence though, is not only meaningless it seems quite absurd.
    I wonder where you get the impression that ‘here’ is healing ground and therefore we need to ‘heal’, or what on Earth is “unceded Bundjalung Country” as far as I know Australia is Australian Country, which was taken by overwhelming conquest, two and a half centuries ago.
    So get with the times and try sticking to reality.
    Cheers, G”)

  2. Thank you Katheline for caring, for your insights and your good intention. If you want to further your care… Wildlife rescue groups such as the ones you’ve called are ALWAYS in need for more volunteers. There are a few in our beautiful area. Volunteer work doesn’t mean you have to handle wildlife yourself if it’s too uncomfortable. You can be on phone, you can offer ambulance services in your car, you can do the books if it suits better or help write grants. There are a myriads of ways we can offer help to our wildlife. (I highly recommend joining)


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