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EcoUpdate: September 2023

Dear Friend,

In a few weeks we will have the honour to be part of something truly important. As a nation we will head to the polls on 14 October and vote in a referendum that asks us to listen to Indigenous Australians, recognise Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander history and culture, and protect their voices in Australia’s 122 year old constitution.

Port Stephens, Newcastle and Hunter Region – this is our time to show the country just how positive and unifying this moment is. Bring your friends and family and join EcoNetwork members as we Walk for Yes:

Sunday 17 Sept 9:30am – 11:00am, Riverside Park, Hunter St, Raymond Terrace

Sunday 17 Sept 10:30am – 12:30pm, Newcastle Museum, 6 Workshop Way, Newcastle

Thank you for reading and sharing this newsletter far and wide. See you on Sunday!


PS Please forward this EcoUpdate to your friends, or they can sign up to receive it directly.

Stone Ridge Quarry Campaign

On behalf of all the Hunter groups involved in this campaign, EcoNetwork would like to thank everyone who sent in comments objecting to the Stone Ridge Quarry proposed for Wallaroo State Forest. YOU MADE A DIFFERENCE!

There were well over the 50 objections needed to take it to the IPC. A huge 135 objections out of a total of 159 submissions!

We have put together a page containing various campaign documents, media and other resources for your information. This is just the beginning and we will need more support before this issue is resolved.

Lots more info here

Our official statement on offshore wind proposal

EcoNetwork shares many of the concerns that have been raised about the environmental and other impacts of the offshore wind infrastructure proposed off our coastline.

However, we believe it is premature to engage in campaigns of outright opposition before the concerns that we raised in submissions a few months ago have been addressed by government agencies and the proponents of specific offshore wind projects.

Read our full statement

The Don Quixote approach to wind turbines

Climate change is the primary existential threat to life as we know it. We are seeing its effects all around us: floods, fires, coastal erosion, species extinctions.

Closer to home, concerns about the impact of wind farms offshore from Port Stephens are indeed a worry – but they pale into insignificance when considering the alternative. EcoNetwork President, Iain Watt, takes us on an journey on a global scale.

Read More

‘Reflecting on Landcare’ by Walter Lamond

You are invited to join us in celebrating the launch of Walter Lamond’s book ‘Reflecting on Landcare’. The book traces the long history and accomplishments of Landcare in Soldiers Point and Salamander Bay.

Wednesday 27 September at 11am, Tomaree Community Centre.

We look forward to your company and to share stories over morning tea. Copies of the book will be available for purchase @ $20. 

RSVP here

Tomaree Coastal Walk opens

‘A treasured experience for us all’ – this is how Sue Olsson has described the magnificent 27 km walk revealing spectacular views, hidden beauties and a safer walk for us all.

Many of us have enjoyed walking parts of the Tomaree Coastal Walk these last few months. But it was on Friday 1st September, with directional signs in place, that it was officially opened.

Find out more

Port Stephens say Yes to the Voice

On Saturday 14 October, Australians go to the polls to vote in the referendum. Many people are still not switched on to what this referendum is about or why it is such an important historic moment as Australia joins other countries in finally looking to give our First Nations people a say in the issues that affect their communities.

“Our yes campaign is based on love and faith“. Like Indigenous leader, Noel Pearson, we agree that optimism for the future in saying Yes is the right thing to do. Former PM John Howard’s call for the no campaign to ‘maintain the rage’ is an example of the ugly division that the political scare-mongering has brought to this issue.

We believe that Port Stephens residents will open their hearts and minds and Vote Yes. So why is, not only recognition, but also the Indigenous Voice to Parliament so important? Read more

Welcome Fingal Bay Community Association

EcoNetwork would like to welcome the Fingal Bay Community Association who have recently joined us as an affiliated group.

The Association has over 100 individual members and five business members, they would welcome more locals to join them in helping to take stewardship over this beautiful bay.

Find out more

Affiliate Profile: Hunter Region Botanic Gardens

Did you know that The Hunter Region Botanic Gardens are one of EcoNetwork’s affiliated groups? Or that the Gardens were recognised as the Hunter Region’s Volunteer Organisation of the Year?

Alison Rogers discovers what goes on in the gardens and encourages us not only to visit but to gain and share new skills, have fun and meet like-minded volunteers.

NOTE: The special exhibition of Sculpture in The Gardens is available for viewing until this Sunday 17 September. So hurry!

Read More

Sustainable Living Festival 2023!

Hey that’s not a typo – and yes, it was the Sustainable Futures Festival last year!

Save the date – Sunday 4 November, 9am -2pm at Medowie Social, Ferodale Road.

We have renamed, rebranded and relocated – adding 3 more ‘re’s to our 5 star festival for sustainability and waste management – rethink, reduce, reuse, repurpose and recycle.

In collaboration with Homegrown Markets, we are planning a wonderful showcase of all that is sustainable in growing, building and understanding a better way to live.

Read More

New Environmental Advisory Group

The first meeting of the Environmental Advisory Group (EAG) on 30 August saw an optimistic start to a welcome liaison for the environment with Port Stephens Council.

A key function of the EAG is as a conduit between Council and community for the exchange of ideas in the environmental space – an opportunity to have your voice heard in addition to your own other channels.

Sue Olsson gives an overview of the first meeting and how the brand new advisory group will operate.

Read More

The omega-3 addiction

What have whales, krill, climate change and the omega-3 addiction got in common?

Krill is one of the most abundant animal species in the world, estimated at over 375 million tonnes in the Antarctic. Demand for lipid rich high profit Omega 3 health supplement found in krill is huge despite the lack of proof regarding the apparent health benefits. Krill is far too valuable to the Southern Ocean, the whales, seals and seabirds to be converted into fish food, pet food, and snake oil. Iain Watt tells us why we should avoid purchasing products that contain krill product.

Read More

Woodland Birds – Hottest Ticket in Town!

It was a packed house for EcoNetwork’s first ever Woodland Bird Forum on 20 August at Tomaree Community Centre. We are so grateful to our wonderful presenters who shared their knowledge, expertise and stunning bird photography with over 70 attendees. Many thanks to Neil Fraser, Louise Williams and Mat Spillard – you were all fantastic, and the feedback we have received has all been really positive.

Too bad if you missed the forum and the 2 bird walks! But why not come to our next event, a special Walk’n’Talk during National Bird Week in October. Your experienced guide will be Graeme Stevens, Hunter Bird Observer and co-author of ‘Salamander Waters Estate: biodiversity of a highly modified environment’ published in The Whistler Volume 17, 2023.

Find out more

Sustainability at home

Port Stephens Council and Good for the Hood recently launched the Port Stephens Residents@HOME online portal. This community tool gives us access to video workshops, interactive events and helpful tips from experts on living sustainably.

The online workshops started last month and included topics such as saving money on energy, how not to waste food and continue this week with Worm farming fundamentals on Friday at 6pm.

Come and join us for a chat on Port Stephens Residents @HOME and if you missed any workshops, you can access the recordings using this link at any time you like.

More on Residents@HOME

What if you find an injured animal?

Spring is the time that native animals are on the move – it’s breeding season, last year’s youngsters are dispersing and baby birds fall out of nests. How many of us have found an animal in distress and been unsure of what to do?

  1. Download the IFAW Wildlife Rescue app to your phone – it identifies the closest licensed wildlife rescue group to where you are and is available nationally. Very handy in a roadside emergency.
  2. Download the Wildlife Rescue Handbook: the first 24 hours produced by the Foundation for National Parks & Wildlife. Remember do not feed the animal and keep handling to a minimum. ‘Your main wildlife rescue goal is to get the animal to a licensed volunteer who can provide the best care.’ For koalas, read the Koala Koalition’s brochure on Recognising a sick koala and calling for rescue.
  3. If you live in Port Stephens, your nearest wildlife rescuers are Wildlife in Need of Care (WINC). Phone 1300 946295.

Book reviews

If you’ve enjoyed (or not) an environmental or sustainability book, please consider submitting a short review. We are also keen to hear your opinion on films, presentations, creative arts, webinars – the list is endless. Contact the EcoUpdate Editor for more details.

What Birdo is That? A Field Guide to Bird-People. Reviewed by Alison Rogers.

This book is ideally suited to engaged birdos who want to understand how the practice of birdwatching has developed historically. Readers will be inspired by the variety of different professions and people who contribute.

The Voice to Parliament Handbook by Thomas Mayo and Kerry O’Brien. Reviewed by Ewa Meyer.

This handbook addresses the FAQs about the upcoming referendum and encourages all Australians to be well informed before making their decision on the future of our fellow Australians. Whether you intend voting YES or NO or are UNDECIDED, this book is for you.

Read the Reviews

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).

  • Saturday 16 September 9am – 2.00pm Living Smart Festival, Speers Point Lake Macquarie. Come and say hello to Craig Reucassel from War on Waste and to members of EcoNetwork’s affiliate group Renew Hunter Branch. Contact us if you’d like to help out at our Renew stall.
  • Walk for Yes: Sunday 17 September 9:30am – 11:00am, Riverside Park, Hunter St, Raymond Terrace and 10:30am – 12:30pm, Newcastle Museum, 6 Workshop Way, Newcastle.
  • Platypus Spotting with ACF Hunter Region. September 17 @ 4:30 pm – 6:30 pm Banfield Bridge Pine Brush Rd, Glen William. Please RSVP here.
  • Wednesday 27 September at 11am. Book launch of Walter Lamond’s ‘Reflecting on Landcare’. Tomaree Community Centre.
  • The Environment Movement and the Voice webinar. 27 September 6.00-7:30 pm. The connection between protecting our environment, climate action and First Nations Justice. Hear from inspiring First Nations leaders and find out how you can show solidarity – now, and beyond the referendum.  Register here.
  • Join Local Land Services and Clean4Shore to remove marine debris from the Hunter River catchment. Leaves Tomago boat ramp at 8.45am on 28 September, 20 October and 16 November. Everyone 18+ is welcome, ages 16-17 are welcome under the supervision of a parent/guardian. You must be able to swim. Register here.
  • Monday 9 October 6pm-8pm Newcastle Town Hall. Public Forum: Can we allow coal expansions in a climate crisis? Book Now.
  • Reimagined Hunter festival an incubator for innovators 9-27 October includes Hunter Innovation Festival comes to Port Stephens – Wed 11 October.
  • Hunter Innovation Festival Program
  • Wednesday 1 November 10am-3pm. Hunter Volunteer Centre Volunteer Expo. Carrington Bowling Club, 1C Cowper Street. Chat with volunteer-involving organisations in Newcastle while enjoying great food and music.   
  • Saturday 4 November, 9am -2pm, Medowie Social. This year EcoNetwork is teaming up with HomeGrown Markets to host the Sustainable Living Festival. More details and to book your stall.
  • Saturday 9 December 2023 Tillifest, Tilligerry Peninsula.
  • September through to December, check out Port Stephens Walking Group’s Great Walks.


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