Boom and Bust wins Whitley Medal

Boom and Bust: Bird Stories for a Dry Country, edited by Libby Robin, Rob Heinsohn and Leo Joseph, has won the Whitley Medal, the nation’s most prestigious award for zoological publication. The editors received the Whitley Medal and Certificates on behalf of all the contributors at a special Whitley Awards ceremony at the Australian Museum in Sydney on the evening of Friday 18 September. In Boom and Bust the authors draw on the natural history of Australia’s charismatic birds to explore the relations between fauna, people and environment. They consider changing ideas about deserts and how these have helped to understand birds and their behaviour in this driest of continents. Named after Gilbert Whitley, an eminent Australian ichthyologist, the Whitley Medal is the highest ranked of the Whitley Awards presented by the Society and is reserved for work of outstanding quality that makes a landmark contribution to zoological knowledge. Further details and...

Bungendore Book Launch of Rugged Beyond Imagination by Matthew Higgins

Venue: A Suitable Book Sunday 13th September Historian, Professor John Merritt will introduce the author and the book. Champagne in the Bookshop at 6:30pm followed by dinner at the Wood Works Cafe. Cost: Dinner $45 (BYO) RSVP: A Suitable Book. Ph 02 6238 1648, E: asuitablebook@gmail.com by 9...

Bushfire essay wins award, prize money boosts bushfire research project

Professor Tom Griffiths, whose essay ‘We have still not lived long enough’ won the Alfred Deakin Prize for an Essay Advancing Public Debate at the Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards, said he will donate the $15,000 prize money to a research project that’s helping communities recovering from the Black Saturday bushfires in Victoria to record their stories. “It’s important that this prize money go back to help the fire-affected communities,” Griffiths said. “The most appropriate way that I can do this is to donate it to the collaborative community fire history project that we launched at ANU in the immediate aftermath of Black Saturday in partnership with researchers from the National Museum of Australia. “Recovering communities need not only food, shelter and infrastructure; they also need a sense of identity, continuity and hope – that’s what we’re helping to achieve.” The collaborative community fire history project is being administered by the ANU Endowment Fund and was seeded by $20,000 in funding from ANU, an amount matched by the David Thomas Foundation. The essay is an analysis of the Victorian bushfires and the deep ecological and historical patterns that gave rise to the event. It was originally published in Inside Story in February. Full news story: http://news.anu.edu.au/?p=1592 Judge’s citation ‘We Have Still Not Lived Long Enough’ by Tom Griffiths (published by ‘Inside Story’, February 2009) Written in the immediate aftermath of the 2009 Victorian fires (first published 16 February), this lucid, elegant essay responds intelligently and with compassion to the tragedy. In economical and engaging prose, Griffiths brings fine scholarship to bear on our human relationship to a very particular physical...

Seminar: Weather at a Time of Catastrophe

Chris O’Brien History (RSSS) Seminar Thursday, 3 September, at 3.30 pm in the McDonald Room, Menzies Library, ANU. In 1897 Darwin was destroyed for the first time. Well over a century later, with the view back cluttered by three subsequent destructions, the 1897 cyclone is all but forgotten. Having discussed this forgetting, this seminar will recount the furies of that calamitous night. Compelled by the issue of how people understand events in their environment, it then places this event in the context of then contemporary knowledge of weather. Outlining what was known about storms and cyclones, along with the origins of this knowledge, it is clear that long before the advent of radar and satellite technology people could read the skies with considerable aptitude. In Darwin, newspaper reporting of events such as the 1897 cyclone transmitted technical and local weather knowledge to a readership far beyond scientific elites. This paper will argue that these narratives supplied readers with visual cues that enabled them to connect with their environment in a way that more recent reporting, emphasising abstract metrics such as temperature and barometric pressure, does not. All...