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Australian Geographic January - February 2020

Australian Geographic, Australia’s premier geographic journal, brings you the best of the country from those who know it best. Discover Australia’s rich cultural heritage, its beautiful landscapes, its unique and diverse plants and wildlife, and explore outback towns and the true-blue characters who call them home.

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Australian Geographic Holdings Pty Ltd
R 96,04
R 264,32
6 Issues

in this issue

3 min
think big, act big

WELCOME TO a new year and a new decade. As we put the finishing touches to this edition of Australian Geographic, outside my window the sun appears as an unearthly rose-gold orb in an eerie ashen sky as bushfires rage across New South Wales shrouding Sydney in dense smoke. It’s not the first time this extent and intensity of bushfires has gripped the country, but it’s barely summer and the crisis has already been unfolding for weeks. In early November 2019, the Australian Geographic Society donated $50,000, on behalf of our members, to a raft of volunteer and not-for-profit organisations dedicated to bushfire-affected wildlife relief and rehabilitation. It’s these kinds of grass roots organisations that lie at the heart of our nation’s current response to climate change. At AG we support many…

2 min
notes from the field

Writing this issue’s story on the Houtman Abrolhos National Park (page 82) was a gift for Carolyn Beasley. “During my previous career in marine consulting I had visited by boat and fallen in love with the islands,” she says. “For this story, my journey was made by air, a method that makes the islands so accessible and avoids the often-rough sea crossing. Aside from seeing these wild islands and reefs from above, another highlight was talking to the locals, those who consider the Abrolhos part of their backyard. Their passion and devotion to the islands and the area’s unique history is inspiring.” In an east coast primary school in the 1980s, the message Carolyn received about Australian history was that Captain Cook ‘discovered’ Australia, with only a passing reference to the…

1 min
featured letter

My nephew, Old Growth Steve as he likes to be called, is a conventional farmer in the Hunter Valley of New South Wales, who has now taken an interest in his neighbours – the local wildlife. In fact, he allowed a mother possum and its young to make a home in his ceiling. One day, the mother possum vanished and eventually the young one climbed down searching for her. And what it found was Old Growth Steve, whom it immediately adopted. To show who was boss, the possum climbed up onto Steve’s head. Steve fed it something “milky” (I am not sure what) and the next day took it to a wildlife refuge. He has had a lot of encounters with the “locals” and finds that, in general, they are very friendly. Andrew Toth,…

4 min
your say

LOYAL SUBSCRIBERS My partner and I have been travelling to Australia for 30 years. One time we met lovely people in Perth who invited us to stay. In their living room I read my first Australian Geographic and was hooked. Now we have been members for 28 years and are still excited when we receive the new magazine. Thank you. NELLY AND RUEDI KILLENBERGER, SWITZERLAND RED HERRING Sorry, Dr Karl, you are in the wrong hemisphere. The “Red sky at night, shepherds’ delight. Red sky in the morning, shepherds’ warning” only applies if you are in England. Well, that’s where the saying originated. When I was studying at the Royal Military College of Science at Shrivenham, Wiltshire, UK, one of our lecturers gave us a detailed and interesting talk about meteorology and why the homily…

1 min

In November, we published images by Ann Killeen of a stoush between a platypus and rakali that ended badly for the latter. Such interaction hadn’t been seen before. Here’s what you had to say: LANCE SNOWDON I wonder if rakali could opportunistically predate platypus pups? MON LULAN Sad because we need those rakalis – they eat cane toads! JULIE HARRINGTONSPRATT Awesome nature, pity it ended in death, but that’s the circle of life. ELIZABETH HAWKER I grew up seeing both these. Kept well away from the water rats…very aggressive when mating. Never saw the two species together. This might be why. FIONA EVANS I guess I was on the platypus’s side this time but I’ve always loved the busy water rats – they’re pretty cool customers!…

7 min
fixing the hole in our sky

JUST AS IT SEEMS THAT humans have done irreversible damage to the planet’s atmosphere and set Earth on an inexorable path to a climate-based Armageddon, there’s a sign high in the sky over Antarctica that offers hope. Kids during the last quarter of the 20th century grew up with the ozone hole looming large and ominously over their lives. When this potentially catastrophic ‘tear’ in the planet’s stratosphere, more than 10km above Antarctica, was discovered by scientists in 1985, it quickly set global alarm bells ringing. Ozone is a gas that forms a kind of atmospheric blanket around the Earth to keep out much of the Sun’s UV radiation. Without it, life as we know it would never have evolved on this planet. The Antarctic hole quickly became recognised as the most…