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EcoUpdate: January 2024

Welcome to the first EcoUpdate for 2024 – this edition has a somewhat seaside flavour, perfect for this long hot summer. It might be holiday time for some but EcoNetwork members and affiliates are busy with urgent local issues, writing submissions to reduce plastic pollution, and getting frustrated yet again with local jet ski dilemmas.

Please let us know what you’d like to see in EcoUpdate – just click or flick the articles below.  Then tell us what you did or didn’t enjoy, and if there’s other news you’d like us to include next time. This is your Port Stephens EcoUpdatewe want to hear from you!

(Extremely) warm regards


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Noisy, dangerous and intrusive – should jet skis be banned in Port Stephens?

As the number of licences issued for personal water craft (jet skis) continues to increase, so does the number of hoons, not just behaving badly but often endangering the lives of people and wildlife.

So is this a case of the actions of a few jet-skiers giving them all a bad name – or is it an activity that is simply not compatible with all the others in our Bay?

EcoNetwork is asking for your input so we can work together on addressing this issue before next summer comes around again.

Here are some options for your consideration.

NSW Plastics: Next Steps

Did you know that only 12% of NSW plastics are recycled?

If this upsets you – and it should – it’s time to speak out and contribute your ideas on how we can reduce non-reusable plastics in our daily lives.

The ‘NSW Plastics: Next Steps’ paper proposed by the EPA is our opportunity, as a community, to have input into an important step forward in reducing plastic waste.

Here are some ideas on what we think is important. Have a look and then it’s only 5 or 6 minutes to submit your opinion.

Read more

A cruel twist to plastics and our oceans

Marine scientist, seafarer and EcoNetwork president, Iain Watt, takes us sailing out on the big seas. And what he finds ain’t pretty.

The oceans have been used as a rubbish dump since time immemorial – out of sight out of mind, but eventually it will come round, and it looks like we are fast approaching that time. We are facing a sea soup full of plastic and increasing acidification due to climate change.

Read more

Port Stephens – a land shaped by fire and ice

Many of you know Neil Fraser as our local Tomaree bird expert and we have learnt a lot from him on the various walks and talks we’ve enjoyed. But did you know that Neil is a geologist by profession? His knowledge of the formations in and around Port Stephens coastline, and how they came about, are second to none.

Neil takes us on a journey through geological time and explains the development of our region and how our magnificent scenery came to exist – through explosive eruptions and the ice ages.

Read a lot more!

Be Shark Smart

The Port Stephens–Great Lakes Marine Park protects some of the state’s most spectacular and rich marine biodiversity, including shark species. Sharks are a natural part of healthy oceanic and estuarine environments.

Port Stephens ranked 5th in the total number of individual target sharks detected, and 8th in total number of detections. This is from data collected from all 25 coastal LGAs in 2022-23.

However, abundance of sharks does not necessarily correlate to a higher number of human/shark incidents.

Find out more

Affiliate Profile – Readers’ Retreat

EcoNetwork’s newest business affiliate, Readers Retreat, has recently opened its doors. This local independent bookstore has already established links with two other EcoNetwork affiliates, the Raymond Terrace branch of Boomerang Bags and Salamander Bay Recycling.

You will find a great range of books and artwork including an impressive selection by local writers and artists. Friendly owner and book nerd, Alison Rogers, will help you place special orders and you can take advantage of the free home delivery service throughout Port Stephens.

Read more

Become a beach scientist this summer

When you arrive at your favourite beach this summer, you may notice something different about the coastline.

Thanks to a 3 year La Niña, our beaches have had a rollercoaster ride – but not always one we’re too thrilled about! Some beaches have been completely stripped of sand, while others have grown very wide.

CoastSnap is a project where coastal data is being collected by citizen scientists like you. It’s quite simple – find out how you can help.

Get involved

How are you coping this hot summer?

As heatwaves are prolonged and energy costs continue to rise, we offer you some advice on how to cope at home. There are some simple things you can change to make your home more comfortable, including your habits!

Renew Hunter Branch has lots of handy hints on things you can do to keep cool and includes info on what can be done for free, what government rebates are available, and reliable websites about making your home more energy efficient. 

Find out more

More submissions completed

No rest for the wicked! The Tomaree Ratepayers and Residents Association and EcoNetwork’s Koala Koalition continue to research, write and submit numerous submissions to help address and hopefully reduce some of the threats that residents and our natural environment continue to be faced with.

Here are a few recent ones:

Regent Update

In December 2023, the town of Kurri Kurri was threatened by a massive fire which destroyed homes and left many people in shock. We wish the community well as it rebuilds in the wake of these fires.

The fires also came just as the local ironbarks had started flowering. Some important Regent Honeyeater habitat got badly burnt, but the winds didn’t push the fires too far south into the Tomalpin Woodlands. Some of the mistletoe restoration sites were burnt but researchers are hopeful that no Regent Honeyeaters were present in Tomalpin at the time.  Mick Roderick, BirdLife’s Woodland Bird Manager, reports on this – and shares some good news on successful breeding in the Capertee Valley.

Read more

Book reviews

We come with this place by Debra Dank. Reviewed by Alison Rogers.

This book stayed with me for days. I am a white Australian who loves being in nature – in the bush or in the sea. I have always been open to learning about what nature and country means for First Nations Peoples.

Getting to know the birds in your neighbourhood by Darryl Jones. Reviewed by Lyndal Morrow.

Jones encourages and inspires readers to find a greater connection to ourselves and nature through birdwatching. Birdwatching hones the senses – watching, listening, pausing. It can bring us into the present moment, paying attention to the here and now. Mindfulness. This guide is preparing us to take flight into another world.

The power of trees by Peter Wohlleben. Reviewed by Alison Rogers.

Wohlleben’s love for trees is evident throughout every chapter. He is passionate about helping the reader to understand how trees communicate, learn and adapt. The examples he provides from scientists are astonishing. I particularly love the case studies of plants working cooperatively to support their local ‘community’ of plants.

Contact the EcoUpdate Editor if you’d like to submit a short 300 word review – I’d love to hear from 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).

  • Reconciliation event Ngarrama 25 January starting at 7pm at King Edward Park – Newcastle Weekly. ‘After a controversial 12 months, which highlighted sharing, openness and community dialogue was essential to move forward as a nation, the free public get-together … is timely.’
  • Newcastle Invasion Day Rally/Day of Mourning January 26. Meet at 9.30am Customs House, 1 Bond St, Newcastle. More info.
  • Friends of Tomaree NP manage regular coast and bushcare activities at 3 regular locations and special activities at others. You are very welcome to join us – the first one is at Fisherman’s Bay on 4 February at 8.30am. See our calendar for more details and many more locations and dates. 
  • Walk with National Parks Association ~ Port Stephens Group on 7 February, Dangar Island near Brooklyn. Full day with early start. Find out more. The Group offers a regular walking program of half and one day coastal and hinterland walks.
  • Renew’s Hunter Branch is teaming up with the Sydney Central Branch and will have a stand at next month’s Home Energy and Electric Vehicle Show now called Everything Electric (Fully Charged). Sydney Showgrounds at Sydney Olympic Park from 9 to 11 February 2024. If you’re in Sydney, pop by and say hi.
  • Travelling Electric: owning and operating electric vehicles is back! Sunday 25 February 2-5pm Free Event. Following on from our successful event last May at Tilligerry Habitat, Renew Hunter Branch are taking this popular EV event on the road – and up the road to Maitland! Many thanks to our sponsor, the Maitland Showground for providing us with such a great venue. More details and to book here.
  • Walk with National Parks Association ~ Port Stephens Group. 17 March, Tomaree forest trails inland Fingal-Shoal Bay. See our calendar for more details.
  • Sunday 7 April 2pm- 4pm, Tomaree Community Centre Salamander Bay. EcoNetwork and Renew Hunter Branch are pleased to welcome as our special guest presenter, Dr Mark Diesendorf, renewable energy and climate policy researcher at UNSW. His latest book is The Path to a Sustainable Civilisation: Technological, Socioeconomic and Political Change.

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