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Going Bush?

“Going bush” is, as far as I’m aware, a uniquely Australian phrase. It has a basic implication of heading off into the wilderness: on a directionless journey, to make a lifestyle “tree-change” away from the city, or anything in between.

The property where I grew up, though relatively small for a farm, had some great native Australian bush on it and in its surrounds. Some of my best memories are of lazy hours spent, with my brother or alone, entertaining ourselves on the farm: riding our bikes up and down the 1/2 kilometre dirt driveway, mucking around on the raft dad built for us on the dam (avoiding ants and leeches, sometimes seeing wild ducklings, and once, memorably, having a red belly blacksnake swim past), being sent by mum to fetch avocados from our uncle’s neighboring property, or just hanging out with my pet sheep or Jess, our beautiful border collie (who was afraid of the sheep).

When we got a small herd of beef cattle later on, one of my favourite games was to instigate a stampede by standing around with the cows until they thought I was one of them, and then suddenly running away from them in no particular direction. They would then thunder after me, kicking up their heels and carrying on. I think my poor mum nearly had a heart attack the first time she saw her wee slip of a girl (as I was back then) apparently being ravenously pursued by our herd of cattle…

Though our parents encouraged us to have wide-ranging interests and pursuits, I had a very strong connection to the bush, animals, agriculture and the environment in general from an early age and it’s never really left me. This connection has gone on to shape both my internal and external life.

After Agricultural College (where my interest was far more piqued by the glimpses of organic and Permaculture farming I encountered than by the broad-scale and intensive farming the course focussed on), I went on to study Environmental Science. Largely through good luck I then got into Bush Regeneration, a fairly uniquely Australian form of practical, on-the-ground ecological restoration. From doing it and studying it I moved on to managing other people doing it, and now work for a State Government agency, helping to support the hundreds of volunteer groups across Sydney who do it in their spare time (called Bushcare groups). I love the opportunity to be involved with people (and in particular volunteers), education, and the practical preservation and restoration of Sydney’s unique and (in some areas) hearteningly intact bushland.

I’ve called my blog “Going Bush”, because to me it has implications of both heading out boldly into unchartered (internal and external) landscapes, as well as a sense of returning home, as the Australian bush is ultimately where my heart resides.

The photo in the header is one I took from the top of Mount Wellington, near Hobart, when I was visiting Tasmania with my girlfriends from school several years ago.

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