The Australian Bush stars in Bingara’s biodiversity week!

September 21, 2007

The Australian Bush was the star performer at last Thursday night’s very well patronised Bush Tucker Night at the Roxy. The night featured a number of speakers culminating in a feast for the taste buds, prepared by indigenous chef, Mark Olive.

The evening opened with a Welcome to Country from Liz Taylor of Moree, who spoke of the importance of the land to us all. Liz was followed by Kathleen Davies who spoke about the endangered Regent Honeyeater. Her address was accompanied by a film clip of the rarely seen bird and a recording of its call.

Rachel Muntz, from the ANU, gave an abbreviated version of her presentation to the Landholders’ Day, about the role woodlands play in supporting Australia’s diverse wildlife and the importance of maintaining these refuges. Supported by a most informative audiovisual presentation, Rachel described how we can all promote biodiversity by having “messy” farms and backyards which contain fallen timber, rocks and old trees. These are the habitats that our birds and other creatures need to survive.

Barraba “environmental champions” Russ and Jenny Watts, who initiated the establishment of bird routes around the region, were heralded in a presentation by Garden Club Past President, Jan Rose, as having contributed greatly to the awareness of the importance of our birdlife, in particular the Regent Honeyeater. They also have enabled, through the bird routes network, many more people to view the birds of our region.

The 2008 Bush Biodiversity calendar was then launched by Elizabeth Kakoschke, who followed Jan to the podium. Elizabeth outlined how the calendar had come to fruition, thanking a number of people who had helped with the project. The calendar features our local wildlife with a range of beautiful pictures. Its publication was made possible by an education grant from the Border Rivers-Gwydir Catchment Management Authority. Elizabeth went on to thank all those who had been associated with the organisation of the most successful Bush Biodiversity Week. When talking about what every person can do in the fight to save our wildlife, Elizabeth quoted David Suzuki who said that “regarding an ecological perspective, the greatest cause for hope lies in the fact that at local level people and groups are emerging to find the answers.” Judging by the interest that the week provoked, there are many people willing to “find the answers”. John Williamson’s song about “wattle soldiers and wildlife warriors” getting angry and taking up the fight to preserve Australia’s biodiversity provided further encouragement to those who are already committed to this goal.

Some of the fruits of the Australian bush were put to effective use by the final presenter of the night, international chef, Mark Olive, who prepared a range of dishes using such ingredients as crushed saltbush, lemon myrtle, wattleseed, aniseed myrtle, desert raisins, quandongs and pepperberries. The gathering was offered kangaroo fillet, served rare, emu, crocodile, as well as beef and lamb, all liberally flavoured with the spices of the Australian bush. Wattleseed cheesecake was one of the dessert dishes served.

The night was supported by Vision 20/20 whose members also helped with the cooking and serving of the food under the direction of Mark Olive.