News of March 2023

"Let Christianity Be Weird!"

Bishop Barron in his Easter sermon (Good advice for a world gone mad?)

Dear Friends,


In our February News we elaborated on the challenge of better managing water that drops out of the sky. With 65.1 mm, March was another low-rainfall month for Kachana. Bob and I used the opportunity to address the inevitable wild-fire danger that awaits us later in the year. Rains can stop anytime now, and if we do not get any until October, the risk of lightning fires is too great for us. Anticipating at least some further rain before May, and while there is still moisture in the soil, we set about burning a lot of dead vegetation that is not being cycled effectively. (We realise that this comes with significant ecological costs in tow; this video explains why we find ourselves in the uncomfortable position of needing to burn so much.)


Oceans, mountains, deserts, forests or bush, nature has her own way of selecting for appropriate behaviour; this hopefully results in the accumulation of contextually relevant knowledge. Hence, we strongly encourage people to reconnect with the land. If you have a city-job, then bush-walking is one way of doing so. With all the political maneuvering of the last three years, the flow of visitors to Kachana had slowed down. However, we did again welcome a few visitors. Four of them flew in and walked out. They would have had to do some hard walking through much high grass, but there was no shortage of good water and swimming holes.  They kept away from the large crocodiles in the Chamberlain valley and safely got to El Questro about five days later.  


April is again designated be the month where we focus ten days on the Cockatoo Creek Sponge Rebuild; alas there has been no real interest shown in this project as yet, therefore the challenge still calls.  


We were however sent two follow-up questions to our presentation at the East Kimberley Fire Forum, as well as links to all the videos of the event.

Then, towards the end of the month, with the ‘Kachana donkey fiasco’ still in full swing and news of further flood-events, we put out two “Save Our Soils” messages:


No matter your whereabouts on this planet, water-security remains an issue that ultimately will soon affect everybody in one way or another. Global problems can often be broken down to local challenges with natural solutions. Even as crazy times persist, please share this bit of good news. We also encourage you to make the effort to support your local regenerative farmers and land-managers. "Let’s communicate, let’s plan, let’s collaborate!"  


May April be a good month for you all and bring you the blessings that come with the message of Easter!

Photos of the Month

News & Views

“For nearly four hundred years we have been killing things that want to live,

and trying to keep alive things that want to die.”

Hendrik O’Neill, 2007, in the context of European farming practices in Southern Africa


Hendrik’s statement reminds us that the ethnic cleansing approach reflected by formally declared wars against pests and weeds in general, or wars against specific species, cane-toads, a single virus, a particular disease and whatever else people think of, is not new on this planet.


Every species appears to have a tendency to function in manners that are conducive to its propagation, so why would humans be any different?

Perhaps that might be the wrong question?


Instead: Should humans (as do animals, plants and microbes) perhaps also adapt their strategies when contexts change?

Elaine Ingham’s “standard ecological answer” is “It depends…”.


The past forty years of local bio-wars in our broader landscapes allow for interesting observations and new questions.

  • Did we win the war against brucellosis and TB, and if so, then how? By eliminating the diseases or by modifying the contexts and thus doing the agents of disease out of a job?
  • To our South, goats were in many instances considered to be a pest species. The goats finally won the war and their West Australian visas were returned to them.
  • Here in the North, costly battles against the cane-toad, by many accounts resulted in the cane-toads also winning the war. Cane-toads are therefore not (or no longer?) declared to be a pest that needs to be locally extinct.  –   Yet when we compare today’s microbial and small animal activity at the soil-surface to what I recollect happening before, there appears to have been a significant general decline in soil-aeration. In ten years, since the arrival of cane-toads on Kachana, there has been no significant rebound of burrowing activity by goannas and other small animals; beetle populations and other insect populations appear to have crashed; dung-beetle activity is perhaps back to 60% of what it was mid-2013.
    Apart from biodiversity-loss, has perhaps the impact of cane-toads added to, or perhaps even compounded the effect of fire, in relation to speeding up run-off and flooding in poorly managed landscapes? – We do not know.
    Apparently, this year cane-toads have reached Derby. With all the research being conducted over the 4.3 million hectares on which AWC and their partners undertake scientific and conservation land management work, we might soon get a clearer understanding of cane-toad impacts.
  • Three years into a global war against a single virus it is now becoming hard to name anybody who does not claim to have already been affected by it at least once! – So, who wins that war? At what cost?
  • Sales of chemical pesticides and other biocides continue to be big business. Do ongoing battles perhaps indicate that there are no clear winners as yet?
  • What about wars against feral animals? Animals whose wild ancestors permitted domestication and who then collaborated with humans for millennia. Does their biodiversity value disappear after domestication, or when people in big-city offices officially declare to terminate further collaboration?
  • Until the arrival of the cane-toad, it seemed obvious that, the larger the animal, the easier it was to wage war against it. In the wake of the cane-toad we have experienced a whole range of biodiversity decline at the micro-organism and small-animal level. Would it not seem to be even more important than ever, to explore the compensatory functions that large animals can bring to a landscape?
  • Some scientists inform us that after the demise of Australia’s original megafauna, humans and small animals learned, in time, to rebuild some form of ecological stability. In the face of declining biodiversity and ecosystem-function, might humans collaborating with Australia’s new megafauna offer similar opportunity?


Between being regularly confronted with what the media terms “natural disasters”, months at a time, where any plans are prefaced with the words ‘weather permitting’, and burdened with certain regulatory details that make absolutely no sense in local ecological contexts, we attempt to understand what got us here, and how we might move forwards in a manner that is consistent with the wellbeing of those who come after us.

A week in a big city does not allow me to get into people’s heads and to understand their thinking, but it did allow me to at least view the “wild” from the perspective of a domesticated, regulated and supposedly controlled environment.

This helped shape some thoughts: ‘Nature’ - somewhere between ‘wild’ and ‘dead’


Religions, ideologies, convictions and practices may on occasion be cause for division, but the need for water-security offers opportunity for respectful communication, planning and collaboration. 

Link of the Month

PragerU Master’s Program with Dennis Prager | Official Trailer |