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Australian Geographic November - December 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
silver linings

IT’S PROBABLY too early to think of what benefits COVID-19 might bring, while the pandemic continues to take its deadly toll. But it’s one of the best aspects of human nature that we try to find good in the face of adversity. A quick flick through this issue of Australian Geographic reveals a theme that recurs time and again in our conservation and science reporting, the involvement of ordinary private citizens in essential research projects run by academic institutions. Once the preserve of the qualified research community, essential long-term field observations are now being carried out by members of the public, thanks in part to a combination of special smartphone apps, data-gathering websites and a fast-growing artificial intelligence capability that can quickly analyse vast amounts of data and imagery. In this issue…

2 min
in search of dragons

Award-winning underwater photographer Scott Portelli (pictured above) has dedicated the past five years to photographing the life cycles of weedy and leafy seadragons. “As I spent more and more time with these endemic Australian creatures, I developed an understanding of their ecology and why their habitat was so important to their survival,” says Scott, whose first-ever story for AG, Masters of disguise, begins on page 46. Spending hundreds of hours documenting the two seadragon species has allowed Scott to capture all stages of their development, from egg and embryo to when they hatch as tiny versions of adult seadragons. He has witnessed pairs of adults displaying a whole range of courting behaviours and borne witness to the many intricacies of the daily lives of these mesmerising creatures. Scott is particularly proud…

5 min
your say

Featured Letter TRAGIC MEMORY I’ve just read the article on the tragic White Island eruption (AG 158). I’d like to congratulate the magazine and author on a factual, nonemotive, scientifically correct coverage of this event and, unlike some media and other outlets, not having any insinuations of blame for the tragedy. It was gripping! I particularly found it so, because I have been to Whakaari/White Island on six occasions; for five I organised geological tour groups there. It is a fascinating, active (perhaps unfortunately so) scientific laboratory, not only for geologists, but for anybody interested in experiencing how this facet of Earth’s processes work. Given the event on 9 December last year and the unseen event in April 2016, I count myself and the groups I took very fortunate. I must admit that…

1 min

In September, we reported on a new scientific paper that found the Gympie-Gympie stinging tree contains the same toxins as those of spiders and scorpions. JANET CROWE Thirty-five years on, I still remember my first agonising sting! I can easily believe the toxins are similar. GARY O’DONNELL I’ve been stung twice. You will never forget it and it can last a few weeks or more. LAURIE BIMSON My dog backed up on one to do her business. She was scraping her bum for a while. JOMA MACK The leaves may look perfect for bush toilet paper. DO NOT be fooled. JOY BROOKS Dreadful pain! Never forgotten. PHOTO CREDIT; FROM LEFT: SHUTTERSTOCK; DAN CAMPBELL…

1 min
bird’s-eye view

DURING THE breeding season, these wedge-tailed eagles continuously line their huge eyrie, built in the canopy of a tall eucalypt in Western Australia, with fresh gum leaves. This provides a ‘disinfected’ platform for their growing eaglets. While their mother was off accepting prey from her mate, AGS-sponsored ornithologist and PhD student Simon Cherriman, who was the 2010 AGS Young Conservationist of the Year, scaled the tree to inspect and photograph the nest’s contents. Simon climbed high above the eyrie to temporarily fix on a horizontal bough a GoPro camera set to record time-lapse images, which captured this high-angle view. FOR MORE INFORMATION on Simon’s wedge-tailed eagle research in WA, visit: simoncherriman.com.au/research Follow Simon on Instagram: aquila84wa…

16 min
a life on our planet

AS HE LOOKED FORWARD to his 94th birthday in May, Sir David Attenborough solemnly reflected on a very different planet from the one on which he grew up. “We need to reconnect with nature, for our own health–as well as the Earth’s,” he said. After a lifetime of bringing nature into our living rooms, Sir David wants us to get out of our armchairs and help save the natural world we’ve enjoyed watching on TV. Decades of relentless industrialisation, urbanisation and intensive farming have driven a wedge between us and our animal ancestors, he warns, and the disconnection between modern families and nature is getting worse. “I think it’s terrible that children should grow up without knowing what a tadpole is–just awful,” he says. “I can’t criticise other people on how they…