Menu Close

EcoUpdate: May 2024

In this May 2024 EcoUpdate, you’ll see just what amazing, hardworking teams and individuals we have here in our community. There are so many volunteers right across Port Stephens working in different ways to make a positive improvement to the ways we use and share the precious resources provided by nature. They give up their time and throw their energy behind projects and campaigns which benefit locals and visitors alike.

Thank you to all of you – and see you at the Sustainable Living Festival in Medowie on 18 May!

Keep up the good work!


P.S. Please share this newsletter with your friends, or they can sign up to receive it directly.

Imagine our landscape without Tomaree National Park

It’s been 40 years since Tomaree National Park was first gazetted. This is something certainly worth celebrating and we are eternally grateful to the forward-thinking people who lobbied to protect the area.

Throughout 2024, the Friends of Tomaree NP (FoTNP) are celebrating with a range of long and short walks, wildflower walks, night walks, a celebratory picnic and some talks.

FoTNP Coordinator, Sue Olsson, takes us on a journey both, in time and space, through this stunning national park. She also invites you to share a photo of your most treasured aspects of the Park.

Read more

How much is a near century old tree worth?

A three year saga and at the end … a tree story of woe, but perhaps a mandate for better processes?

In October 2021, yellow crosses appeared on 7 trees in the Council Reserve on the high side of the Bridle Path near the Public Access pathway in Nelson Bay.

On Saturday 4 May 2024, the biggest tree met its demise.

The beautiful old blackbutt in its final hours – Standing proud – First limb down – Ready for chipping.

Last stand – And the final cut! 

We are yet to see if the death of this tree can improve processes.

Read the full story

Quarry applications continue unabated

Fifteen local community groups have formed a coalition to campaign against the impacts of further expansion of existing quarries and five proposed new quarries in the Port Stephens, Mid-coast and Dungog LGAs. They have endorsed a call for strategic and conservation planning outlined in an Issue Paper which was sent to NSW Government ministers.

A comprehensive document has been produced called ‘Lower Hunter Hard Rock Quarry Strategic and Conservation Planning February 2024’, and is available to download. It includes a summary of the issues and the justification statement.

Read more

Sustainable Living Festival 18 May

Saturday 18 May, 9am to 2pm at the Medowie Community Centre & Lions Park, Ferodale Road.

EcoNetwork Port Stephens is excited to be working with Homegrown Markets to bring together a fantastic Sustainable Living Festival, building on the success of our 2022 Sustainable Futures Festival. Join us for an exciting community day full of workshops, activities, live entertainment, community groups, speakers, a huge market, street food, live tunes, kids zone, preloved stalls, gourmet produce & more, featuring a host of sustainable initiatives!

Read more

Renew Hunter Branch will have several electric vehicles and their owners who will share their experiences and show you under the bonnet!

We can advise you on sustainable retrofits with our specially-constructed Green House model home! Join our friend, Jess from Resourceful Living, and Transform Trash into Treasure at her workshop and discover the Power of Repurposing: Dive into Hands-On Plastic Recycling. Get Practical Insights on Moulding Plastic into Innovative Products!

Read more

Environmental Impact Assessment Proposal

Soon, feasibility licences will be granted to proponents of the Hunter offshore wind proposal. However, it is crucial that additional environmental impact assessments are demonstrably independent and transparent so they cannot be accused of being biased or influenced by the proponents.

Iain Watt proposes a way forward to assist with this issue in the form of a Trust Fund which could, amongst other things, oversee transparency and independence.

Read more

The Commonwealth government is currently consulting on proposed Regulations to govern the requirements and processes to be followed by offshore wind farm proponents. The requirements will apply to private consortia which are granted Offshore Energy Infrastructure (OEI) Licences (expected mid 2024 for the Hunter licence area ‘declared’ in August 2023).  We assume these licences are what has previously been described as ‘feasibility licences’ which authorise proponents to further investigate a proposed wind farm in a specific location within the declared area.  This is an important opportunity to have a say on such matters as future consultation processes and the integrity of environmental assessments.

The deadline for submissions is midnight on Sunday 12 May. Have your say, go to Public consultation on proposed regulations supporting the Offshore Electricity Infrastructure (OEI) Act 2021

Global Warnings – Forum draws a crowd!

The first EcoNetwork Community Forum of the year was held last month at the Tomaree Community Centre. Around 80 people packed the main hall to hear Dr Mark Diesendorf call on communities to form alliances to combat the power of vested interests over government and institutions.

Four local volunteer groups affiliated with EcoNetwork also gave short presentations about their work, their vision and their campaigns.

Dr Diesendorf advocated transitioning to a steady state economy with ecological sustainability and social justice as the priorities. He stated that beyond a certain level, additional consumption doesn’t improve happiness or well-being.

Read more

Citizen Science to take on Dolphin Census

Public participation in scientific research is becoming increasingly used for generating valued scientific outputs. This has been helped by the accessibility of technologies such as the mobile phones and social media platforms.

Marine scientist, Iain Watt, talks us through some of the principles in running a successful citizen science project that results in useful scientific data, and promises us that the Port Stephens dolphin census is coming back to town!

Read more

Good for the Hood workshops

Last year, EcoNetwork brought you the news about Council’s collaboration with Good for the Hood launching the Port Stephens Residents@HOME online portal. If you’re interested in attending a great array of sustainability workshops, sign up today and you can access these upcoming May workshops:

Managing burnout – Tuesday 21 May 12pm. This workshop provides a supportive space to explore the unique challenges of working in climate activism, advocacy, and sustainability. Learn practical strategies for recognising the signs of burnout, managing stress, and prioritising self-care to sustain your passion and effectiveness in the long term.

Gearing up for FOGO: what is it and why should we care? – Thursday 30 May 12pm. Learn about the environmental benefits of diverting organic waste from landfills, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and conserving valuable resources. Discover how FOGO programs work, from collection and processing to the transformation of organic waste into nutrient-rich compost and renewable energy.

Sign up

Book reviews

Love a book or magazine you’ve read? New or old – doesn’t matter! I’d love to hear from you – contact the EcoUpdate Editor if you’d like to submit a 300 word review.

This month, Alison Rogers shares her thoughts on ‘The Language of Trees – How trees make our world, change our minds
and rewild our lives’ by Katie Holten.

Ewa Meyer believes that indigenous fire management could help save Australia. She reviews Victor’s Steffensen’s Fire Country.

Read the Reviews


  • if you would like to join EcoNetwork or renew your membership for the 2024-2025 financial year, you can now do it online as well.
  • The Fishermans Bay community planting was a great success – thank you to everyone that came and lent a hand. Over 20 people planted an amazing 550+ seedlings at the top of the degraded gully. What a stunning effort! See all the photos here.
  • ‘Nuclear is not an option in Australia’s transition away from fossil fuels’. Download EcoNetwork’s position statement.
  • Nuclear power makes no sense for Australia and is a distraction from – The Conversation 6 May 2024
  • Check out all the submissions that the Koala Koalition have been busy with. Includes the Review of the NSW Koala Strategy, Pookila Recovery Plan, Redbank Power Station Biomass proposal, Italia Rd Pacific Highway Intersection Upgrade.
  • There’s no use having the right information if it’s not shared. Good, evidence-based information is the staple for public discussion. For up to date, reliable and accurate commentary on the latest news and research from Australia, and from around the world, check out The Conversation’s new website. Here is the Environment section.
  • No threat to farm land: just 1,200 square kilometres can fulfil Australia’s solar and wind energy needs – The Conversation 29 April 2024
  • An update on Work Integrated Learning – EcoNetwork Reflections by Courtney Kelly, University of Newcastle.
  • First Nations women in ranger programs – FNPW March 2024
  • Toondah Harbour Project in Queensland rejected by Minister – The Guardian April 2024

What’s On

For these and lots more exciting events, please see our community calendar. You can also upload your events there. (t&c apply).

  • Sunday 4 August 1.30pm- 5pm, Tomaree Community Centre Salamander Bay. EcoNetwork invites you to our Seabirds and Shorebirds Forum. In August 2023, we brought you Woodland Birds and this year it’s the tern of the seabirds, shorebirds and other wetlands species! We are pleased to confirm fabulous speakers and fascinating topics. Please RSVP here.
  • Sustainable House Day expert sessions from Renew throughout May. Logon and Listen in to Australia’s best architects, tradies and other experts who will offer guidance, and homeowners will offer first hand experience. If you’re considering a sustainable build or renovation, this series is for you, with lots of time for Q&A. More information & bookings here.
  • Thursday 9 May at 6.30pm online – Getting glazing right. Everything you need to know about windows, one of the most critical (and expensive) things to get right. You’ll learn about the key considerations to optimise the liveability of your home as well as maximising thermal comfort. Book here.
  • Tuesday May 14 at 6:30 pm online – Technology for the transition. A favourite topic at Renew and our expert panel will cover rooftop solar, home battery storage, and electric vehicles. You’ll learn what setup would suit your home and lifestyle, and key considerations to make the return-on-investment stack up. Book here.
  • Climate Action Rally Meryl Swanson’s Office 10.30am 10 May. Coalfields for Climate Action invite you to Join the Move Beyond Coal 12 days rolling of action targeting Labor ministers nationally. More information.
  • Friends of Tomaree NP manage regular coast and bushcare activities at 3 regular locations and special activities at others. You’re welcome to join us at Kingsley Beach on Tuesday 14th, Zenith Beach on Thursday 16th May and Fishermans Bay Tuesday 21st MaySee our calendar for more details, locations and dates.
  • Walk with National Parks Association ~ Port Stephens Group. Sunday 12 May am only, Tomaree forest trails inland Fingal area southward with wonderful elevated areas for views. Hidden Lakes behind Salamander Way, full day Wednesday 15 May. For these and other walks nearby and regional, see our Walking program.
  • Bushland regeneration on the Bridle Path on Tuesday 21st May — A favourite walking path between the Nelson Bay Marine and Dutchman’s Beach, join us to help enrich the habitat and for our pleasure. 
  • Hunter and Central Coast at the coalface of transition, biodiversity in the balance. Nature Conservation Council Regional Conference. Saturday June 1 and field trip Sunday am June 2. EcoNetwork along with other groups is actively involved.
  • Sunday 15 September 2pm, Hunter Region Botanic Gardens. EcoNetwork Annual General Meeting with special guest speaker Francesca Beddie, Editor of the Australian Garden History Society. Read more.

EcoNetwork Port Stephens

Our Vision: Ecologically sustainable communities existing in harmony with the natural environment.

Our Purpose: To support our members and to educate and advocate on environmental issues that impact Port Stephens communities. : : facebook