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Cleland Conservation Park ambi  

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Tim Flannery  

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Australia; Tim Flannery  

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Neville S. Pledge  

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Australia; Neville S. Pledge  

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Conversation; Australia; Philip A. Clarke  

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NPR/NGS Radio Expeditions
14 Mar 2000

    Geography
  • Australia
    South Australia
    Locality
  • Adelaide; Cleland Conservation Park
    Latitude/Longitude
  • -34.96611   138.69444
    Recording TimeCode
  • 3:22 - 42:05
    Geography
  • Australia
    South Australia
    Locality
  • Adelaide; South Australian Museum
    Latitude/Longitude
  • -34.92056   138.60306
    Recording TimeCode
  • 54:00 - 1:42:22
    Channels
  • Stereo
    Sampling Rate
  • 48kHz
    Bit Depth
  • 16-bit
    Recorders
    Microphones
  • Sennheiser MKH 30
  • Sennheiser MKH 40
    Accessories
    Equipment Note
  • Stereo=1; Decoded MS stereo

NPR/NGS
RADIO EXPEDITIONS
Show: Australia
Log of DAT 3: Labeled E2
Tim Flannery
Logged by Joan Kelly at Magian Design Studio,
Australia
Engineer:
Date: Tuesday 14 March 2000
48kHz 16 bit stereo, MS stereo

ng = not good
ok = okay
g = good
vg = very good

00:08 ID: Tuesday 14 March, we're doing MS and this is the day we're speaking with Timothy Flannery

00:48 Another ID: at Cleeland Wildlife Park, outside Adelaide

01:00 Walking along the trail, crunchy footsteps, chatter in BG and some handling noise.

01:16

T. Little grey fantail there doing his thing. Will probably come down and investigate us.

01:29 Magpie in BG (ok), quiet ambience

01:42

A. There must be something browsing through here. They've got these trees protected.

01:51

T. This is the Wildlife Park here, so there's a high density of kangaroos on that side of the fence. That's why the grass is so grazed down. I don't know why they've got the wire around the trees. Kind of a Christo gone wrong, isn't it.

02:12

M. What are we likely to come across in the park?
T. In the park there's swamp wallabies, there's grey kangaroos, there's koalas and lots and lots of birds. We're outside the Park here, and here you're likely to see the same sort of stuff you'll see inside, but in lesser densities. We'll probably run across a koala if we walk around here long enough, just around the perimeter fence. We'll certainly see some possums, some black cockatoos, many different kinds of honey eaters, maybe 20 species or so. We're likely to see any one of half a dozen species of parrots. Quite a rich fauna.

M. Minute of silence?

03:08
T. That thing that sounds like a chook being strangled is a wattle bird. Its our largest honey eater. It goes b-gark - kinda like that. A little squawk every now and again. (very much in BG)

03:29 Goes straight into ambience
low level rumble of traffic/plane throughout, increases toward end
4:13 twitters in MG with magpie in far BG,
general twitters and bird calls - all fairly distant.
04:55 ends
M. There are some motor sounds in the BG I'd like to get a little more of.

05:05
T. I'm in your hands. You tell me where you want to stop and do the interview.
A. OK. We'll go down to level ground.

Crunchy footsteps with squeaky bus brakes briefly in BG.

M. Do you want to be right in front of the fence?
A. Doesn't matter. You can't hear the fence.

06:00
T. Actually, it is an electric fence. Its not going to do anything awful to your ¿?
M. Not like in the music where it goes buzz¿etc

06:28
T. It's a great old farmers trick to hold one end of the electric wire with gum boots on, wellington boots, and then shake hands with some one. (handling noise)
M. Glad to know about that now.
A. Oh, those wiley old farmer tricks¿

06:53
A. There are several things that I'd like to talk to you about¿(discussion as to rolling or not)

07:51 One of the things I want to get across to our audience about Australia, because I think people think of Australia as new because its new for Europeans, but its just the opposite of new. Its old. And the idea, first of all, that it's the oldest continent, and then that there is such a thing as the oldest continent. Because you sort of would assume in layman's terms that they all must be about the same age, right?
T. There's a real enigma there in terms of the age of Australia because as people understand, it is new for Europeans. It was the last continent to be colonised. And in a geological sense it was the last continent to actually become a coherent, single entity because it broke away from Antarctica only about 50 million years ago. But in another sense its incredibly ancient and that's because the land surface has just been so unchanging.

Just to give you an idea of that if you consider North America and look at the Grand Canyon. That enormous excavation has all happened in the last five million years. If you look at this landscape here, and right across the Adelaide plains and through that flat country - that hasn't changed in some cases for hundreds of millions of years. We still have features on the landscape, small stream channels that were created 60 million years ago. And they might only be a couple of feet deep, but they're still there. I mean, its just been so unchanging. And its that incredible comatose geography and geology that's given Australia its ancient, unchanging aspect, I think.

Is that kind of where you wanted to go with that one, or not?

A. Oh yeh. Every now and then when I pause like that its because I've heard an aeroplane go rumbling by and I don't want to begin another question 'til - yeh that's exactly right.

09:48 When you say that it's the oldest geology, why is it unchanging? Why is it different from other places?

T. Well that's a fantastic question and we still don't understand the answer fully to that, but it seems that a lot of geological activity is engendered by movements deep in the earth's mantle, below the crust. And it seems that Australia's crust is so ancient and therefore thick and unyielding that not much that happens underneath is expressed on the surface. Parts of North America have the very thinnest of continental crusts found around the world and they are in amazingly dynamic places, particularly in the western half of the continent. Here in Australia we're looking at a continental crust that's many tens of kilometres deep and thick and therefore, no matter what happens underneath it just doesn't ever get through to the surface. So the continent can't be rifted, it can't be torn apart. Its just too thick and dense. Volcanoes can't erupt through it because there's just too much of that continental crust for the magma to get through, and therefore, it just sits there, and has sat there for tens of millions, if not hundreds of millions of years.

10:55
A. Now, my expectation of that would be, well that's all to Australia's good. If you don't have volcanoes and you don't have the land ripping open and things blowing apart, that must be good.
B.
T. That might be the first impression of it, but in fact the reverse is true. Those earth processes are fundamental to the existence of life, and the diversity of life. New soil, as its created through volcanoes and through glaciers, and through rifting and erosion and mountain building is just a fundamental to life. You know, you can't support a great diversity and richness of life without reasonable soils. And that's what Australia has missed out on. And you know, even though we have low rainfall across Australia - so a lot of places only get 10" or 15" a year - you know, over 100 million years that's a hell of a lot of water to dump on the surface of the land. It's a water column perhaps a half a mile thick.

(Tim requests to start again - distracted by a goana)
Yes, so even though a lot of Australia only gets 10 or 15" of rain a year, over 100 million years that's one hell of a column of water to be pouring through the soil. And that water carries with it all of the soil nutrients. All of the things that we need to grow plants - nitrates and phosphates and even trace elements. Things like copper, cobalt. Things like that, you know, that plants need to grow in small quantities. So you end up with these terribly depleted soils, and the profile of depletion of nutrients goes down into the rock, in some parts of Australia, over 100 metres. So a tree looking for nutrients has to put its roots down over 100 metres to get to that area where there's still minerals in the rock even, So you can see what a challenge to life that is and how it effects the whole continent.

Again in North America, its such a dynamic, lively place. If it isn't volcanoes on the west coast, its an ice age across the north of the continent. If it isn't that, its mountain building, its erosion, that's renewed the land and made it a fertile place. You know, in Australia we've missed out on all of those activities for the last, probably, 100 million years.

13:23
A. And that is essentially because of the plate that Australia sits on is thicker than plates in other places.

T. That's right. Its extremely ancient. There are some plates or segments of rock that are as old. Parts of northern Canada are the same age. A small part of the Amazon is the same age. But here we have a whole continent that's dominated by a plate like that. Now, its in the more temperate regions, rather than the Arctic, and its that that's been fundamental to Australia.

13:55
A. When you have a place that is that old and the soils get depleted, what happens then.
B.
T. Well slowly, over the millions and millions of years life just starts to run down and what you get is species who are adapted to these very special, low nutrient conditions, and they find ways of surviving. If you look at this forest around us now you see part of the answer. These trees are not like the trees of the northern hemisphere. The eucalypts have these long, thin and rather leathery leaves that are full of aromatic oils, and those oils are there to protect the leaves of those plants from being eaten by insects because its so difficult for that plant to replace a leaf. It can't afford to throw its leaves away in autumn, in the Fall as plants do in North America. Its got to hang on to them because it put a lot of nutrients into growing that leave and where is it going to get the nutrients from in a soil like this again. So its affected the whole environment. And the fact that the plants are these scrubby, tough leaved, spiny sort of things, even in areas of relatively high rain fall; chemically defended like the eucalypts. In terms of life in general, it has to live in that forest.

If you're an animal that takes lots of energy to live, you're at a real disadvantage because where are you going to find food? And that explains, in a sense, why the cold blooded things in Australia, like the reptiles, which have low nutrient needs, have done so incredibly well. You know, while we were doing this interview we heard a scrambling over the bush here and that was a lizard that was probably about a yard long. A thing called a goanna. And its our equivalent of your lynx's and ferrets and your warm blooded carnivores in North America. The reason that animal's doing so well in Australia and we have more species here of that group than anyone else in the world is that these big carnivorous lizards really only need to eat about once a month, because they're cold blooded. So they have an advantage over a warm blooded carnivore that needs to eat every day, or at least every couple of days.

15:40
A. There are more kinds of lizards in Australia than any place else.
B.
T. Yes there is. People often call the continent and its lizards the Lizards of Oz because there are so many of them. And they fill every conceivable niche from snake-like things through to the big carnivores, through to insect eaters. There's just an endless variety of them.

16:08
A. What about the kinds of mammals that have developed here. Also very, well I suppose it's a kind of geocentric of me, geocentric North America to call the mammals of Australia strange. But they seem awfully strange to people from elsewhere!

T. Well, that's probably true, and in a sense they are strange. I'm glad you didn't use the word primitive though, because that's the word that often comes to mind for people. That the Australian fauna is somehow a living relic and primitive. And we now know from studies of fossils that that's not the case at all. That the marsupials that dominate in Australia, and the placental mammals which are the group that include ourselves, and cats and dogs and cows and whatever else, they both groups evolved about the same time. Both were spread over most of the world in past ages and their current distribution just reflects their differential extinction around the world. So Europe and Africa and Asia had its marsupials at one time and they were all lost. Australia, we now think even had its placental mammals, in times past. And they've been lost. So the process that's given rise to this strange fauna in Australia is one of natural selection towards adapting to these very low nutrient conditions.

And the placental mammals, like ourselves, run a body temperatures about a degree on average higher than those of marsupials They have larger brains; higher energy demands; they have a system of reproduction that's much less flexible. And all of those things, I think, count against placental mammals in Australia because it just means its that much harder for them to meet their daily energy budget of food.

The marsupials are small brained, as everyone knows, including the koala - pretty dumb. They have low energy needs, and they've got a very flexible reproductive system that means that they don't have to invest too much in the young before they can get rid of it if times turn bad on them.

So all of those things have meant that marsupials have really flourished in Australia, along with the reptiles and whatever else.

18:05
A. Why wouldn't the marsupials do just as well in a place like North America, South America, Africa where their low energy strategies would still work? There's more energy abundant but they - you'd think they'd still do all right.
T. The surviving marsupials of North America are a good example. I mean the Virginia Possum has been very successful there, but its developed a unique strategy that nothing much in Australia follows. Its become the ultimate throw away animal. These things only live for a couple of years; they'll eat anything, including people's garbage or whatever else; and they have huge numbers of young at once. So they've become a kind of a throw away species that just wants to grow, be there. It doesn't care if it poisons itself with long term toxic build ups, or whatever. Its kind of like a throw away species. So that's a unique adaptation that's allowed that animal to survive in North America.

But if you took, say, kangaroos to North America, or koalas, or any of our other wombats or whatever else they would eventually, I think, be out competed by the placental mammals, or eaten by a placental carnivore. Because in North America, with larger brained organisms, particularly the carnivores, the marsupials have very few adaptations to survive that sort of predation. They're good at getting away from giant lizards like the goanna you saw before, but not things like lynx's and foxes and whatever else. And the other thing is that when there's nutrients available ad lib, if you want, you know, the species that uses those most rapidly for their own growth will eventually dominate. And you see that in a field of weeds - say a field that's been left fellow which still has lots of nutrients in it - if you let that go, eventually the species that grows most rapidly will dominate.

And the same is true for the mammals. Slow, conserving species like the marsupials eventually, in a rich environment are out competed by the species that use the nutrients more rapidly for their own growth.

20:00

A. The species that evolved here in Australia over millions of years included some marsupials that were quite large, I mean much bigger than koalas and even kangaroos.

T. Yes, that's true. If you look around Australia now, you'll see that the largest marsupials are only about the size of a human being. Their maximum body weight would be about 100kgs - that's for a large male kangaroo. Now in the past we had about 60 or 70 species of giant marsupials that exceeded - equal or exceeded - roughly that body weight. The biggest of them would have weighed about a couple of metric tonnes - trying to convert to pounds - 5,000 pounds maybe. It was a big animal. And there's a lot of mystery surrounding that creature. Like, how did its tiny marsupial young, that would have been born about the size of a bean make its way across the vast expansive mother into the pouch. I mean, you know, quite a fascinating question. How did those big animals survive in these very low nutrient systems. And we're just beginning to approach those questions now with the help of North American paleantologists and paleantology which has really produced some very valuable tools for investigating the past anywhere in the world.

21:18
A. So there would have been a fair number of these. Let's go back to times, say pre-human involvement in Australia. What would Australia look like then. What would the sort of mix be.
B.
T. Well if I can paint a bit of a word picture for you, say, of what this area would have been like. What we see here today is this eucalypt forest with kangaroos and wombats and goanas and the smaller fauna of Australia. And there's evidence of fire everywhere. If you look at these trees here you'll see black marks on them that marked the last fire. Now if we go back to before the arrival of humans, the aboriginal people in this area which probably occurred about 50,000 years ago and try to imagine what this was like using the fossil record available to us, you've got to imagine a much richer forest, with a lot more fire sensitive species - like tree ferns and some of our things called sheoaks which are a pine like plant sensitive to fire and various other species that can't really cope with fire. And in that richer forest we'd have these very large marsupials - things the size of a rhinoserous - lumbering about trying to make a living, trying to find enough food. And they would be preyed on by not lions and tigers, or anything like that, but truly gigantic lizards. We think that some of the large goannas that lived in Australia at the time may have been as much as 20 feet long and weigh a couple of tonnes. So you've really got to go back to the age of dinosaurs - to Jurassic Park - to find cold blooded, reptilian killers of that size anywhere in the world. But here in Australia they appear to have been an element of the fauna right up until the time people arrived on the continent.

A. Really!

T. Hmm

A. I wouldn't have come!

T. Well someone thought it was worthwhile!
23:09
A. Can you imagine (distorts) confronting one of those things as a human.
B.
T. It would have been terrifying. The thing about them is too, we think they were like current goannas - they were probably ambush predators. They'd sit around the side of a water hole, wait for someone to bend down and take a drink and then just go out and whomp! You'd be finished. But people somehow coped with them and I guess its - you know it's a tribute to the hunting skills of those early Australians that they were able to do that. And, of course, the story that's emerging now is that pretty soon after those people arrived, or about the same time that those early Aboriginals arrived, this whole large fauna vanished. And we think that in Australia it wasn't to do with climatic change because it happens much before the Ice Age but was to do with the arrival of people.

23:52
A. Now that (distorts) is your view. I've read that that's a controversial view. Why are people opposed to that view.

T. It is a very controversial view and I suppose I could be unkind and say there's a fair bit of politics involved.

A. Well I think there may be. Maybe there is. What is the political complication there.

T. The political complication comes from the struggle of Aboriginal people to establish their rights to Australia and to have recognition for their culture. You have to understand that in Australia Aboriginal people were not even considered citizens until 1967. So they couldn't vote, they weren't on the census, they had none of the benefits that other Australians had in terms of welfare arrangements, and its only in the last 30 years really that they've begun this struggle successfully to regain land rights and to be recognised as a culture of some importance. Now when I come along and say, well these people's ancestors may have exterminated all of this glorious fauna - just as us Europeans did, by the way, when we arrived here 200 years ago - some Aboriginal people and their sympathisers see that somehow detracting from the argument that Aboriginal people and the culture has significance and they were good custodians of the land. And I suppose I just respond by saying that there was 60,000 years, perhaps, between the arrival of those first people and when Captain Cook came ashore on the east coast and in that time Aboriginal people had truly adapted to Australian landscapes and were conserving species in a way that they didn't when they first arrived. My hope is that the same can be said of us Europeans, that yes, we had a disastrous start but that we're starting to learn.

25:44
A. So the arrival of the Aborigines coincides with the demise of a number of Australian fauna, large animals. What were those animals.
T. Well there were somewhere between 60 and 70 species. There was an animal like a giant wombat that would have been the size of a rhinoserous. There were a few smaller varieties that would have been cow size and below that. There was an enormous radiation of kangaroos. We had something like 60 or 70 species of kangaroos, some of which were just so bizarre they are hard to imagine. The biggest of them would have stood three metres tall; it had a flat face like a human; front pointing eyes; the skull shape is frighteningly similar to that of an australa pithocene - you know - human ancestor from Africa; and they had these molars with heavily cranulated enamel that really do look like australa pithicus molars blown up; and the other strange thing about them was they had arms that could reach over their head, just like us humans do today and very few other mammals can do. So what these kangaroos were doing on the landscape no one knows. But they kind of appear to me to be some sort of parallel, a convergent species on humanity in some ways. They had small brains, fair enough, but in other ways they were like our australa pithocene ancestors.

26:56
A. How small were their brains?
B.
T. They would have been smaller than my fist. They're all - the marsupial brain is a pathetic object I'm afraid. Its not very large. And just because the brain is so expensive to run - I mean our brain weighs about 2% of our body mass and takes nearly 20% of our energy budget. And when you've got an organ like that in the Australian environment you can't afford to have a very big one.

27:17
A. There's another thing to consider here which you were mentioning on the way up and which is a big part of future readers which is the Enso effect. I think many Americans have started to understand that there is this phenomenon of El Nino and it keeps coming back and its now creating major problems for us and we recognise it, but in Australia this has been a bit factor for ..

T. Its been huge and for, as far as we can tell, many tens of thousands of years, if not millions of years, its had a very profound effect on the Australian environment. And what it really does here in Australia is do away with any predictability to do with what's going to happen from year to year. So this year we've had huge rains right throughout Australia. There's been that much water its filled Lake Eyre at the centre of the continent. Three years ago the place was a dry as a sunstruck bone and farmers were losing their crops and it was just - there were water restrictions on the cities. And its that cycle that we Australians have to live with. And its just much more profound variability year to year than North Americans can really conceive of I think. Its, I think, a very important reason why our Aboriginal people never developed agriculture. You might have a good year one year but what are you going to do for the next five that are in drought. It's a very serious problem. And, of course, the animals are the same. A third of our bird species are nomadic, so they follow the rain wherever it falls around the continent. Other species are just good at hunkering down and not going much between good years. And it's a very profound influence right across the continent.

Tim comments on birds in BG - They're our lorikeets which are a migratory bird species. They're down here to feed on the blossom which this year there has been lots of blossom in the gum trees because of all the rains. So they've come all the way probably from the east coast of Australia, many hundreds of kilometres away, to feed there, so I think we'll let them chatter on. The goanna might be disturbing them actually.

29:30
Atmos: lorikeets have actually gone quiet. There is a slapping or banging sound in BG (probably human)

30:07 I should just mention to you that the whole El Nino phenomenon is a new thing for Australians in terms of our understanding as well. I've done some work in remote parts of the country and I came across one old farmer in NSW whom I mentioned this to and he said, "oh if that Spanish bloke shows his head around here I'm going to bring out the shotgun. He's given us that much trouble."
So El Nino is still somewhat poorly understood in some parts of the country.

30:35
A. Well maybe its because it takes a certain level of technology to recognise these big patterns and to associate drought and flood and drought and flood with a specific event that's occurring really a long ways away.

T. Also the background that the European settlers came from made it hard for them to understand. I mean, people kept on talking, and still talk about, a normal year in Australia. And they'll have what we call a good year, a La Nina year where there's plenty of rain and they'll make some money and they'll go to the bank and say, "this is a normal year and we made this much, give us some money so we can do some improvements on the property." And then when the drought comes and there's no production for three or four years, they are in a terrible situation. They can't pay back their loans and people end up going down the drown. And part of that is this mind set that there is a normal year in Australia. There really isn't. Its either drought or flood. Maybe, if you're lucky, you'll get just the right amount of rain at the right time, but that's a rare event.

31:50 Crimson rosella's - plane throughout

A. I wish I'd bought my binoculars because those birds are sort of parrot-like shape and I can see that they are extremely colourful - red and blue and five or six or seven of them all flocking around together.

32:17
T. Yes. They're crimson rosella's and they are - and there are a few lorikeets in there as well. That's why they are having a bit of a fight - probably over those blossoms. And they look like small mackaws don't they. They're about a foot long and those beautiful red and blue colours. Very, very vibrant. Really beautiful birds.

Its amazing that these things - any city in Australia you can see those birds which is quite strange for visitors. In Sydney or Adelaide you can see half a dozen species of parrots just in the streets of the city.

32:43
A. That is strange. I noticed that just walking around, you have parrots flying around in the public parks and, of course, I think of those as kind of South American tropical birds. What are they doing in places like Sydney and Adelaide.

T. Well, that's a great question and its one that I haven't been able to satisfactorily answer. We know that parrots were once more wide spread. We've found fossils of them in Europe and North America so the distribution is relicked in the southern hemisphere. It may be that in the absence of seed eating rodents and whatever else that the parrots have been able to do reasonably well. Its hard to know. But here in Australia they absolutely dominant. You can't get away from them. And some of them occur in such huge numbers they are considered pests. Some of the cockatoos. You'll see a flock of 10,000 cockatoos and think nothing of it. Yeh, they're quite common. I think for a visitor from elsewhere you kind of do a double take and think, what's that doing in the middle of a city.

33:40
A. Here's another creature that I read about in your book that I thought, "God, this is amazing." It hadn't occurred to me how important it would be for geology and botany that there be a creature called a dung beetle. First of all if anyone had ever said to me do you think there is such a creature as a dung beetle I would have said, sure they must be everywhere. But what is their function and what is it that they do that is so important and why are there any in Australia because now there are some brought in.

T. Well, dung beetles are a crucial link in the chain of life. And what happens is that elsewhere in the world a large herbivore like an elk or a deer or a moose or something will eat some grass - nice fresh herbage you know - process it through its body and 24 hours later produce a nice steamy dropping. And that's where the dung beetles come in. They find that dropping, they roll it into balls and then they dig a whole in the ground and then they deposit that dropping/dung in the ground, and there, the young dung beetles grow on that. What that does is allow the nutrients to be recycled very efficiently because the dung's dropped under the ground, its decomposed very quickly and its dropped right into that zone of plant roots where the plants that gave up their leaves a few hours or days before can get access to those nutrients again. So the dung beetle is kind of like the accelerator of the nutrient economy. Its like passing the dollar bill around ever quicker and everyone feels a bit richer. That's the way the nutrients work in those systems. If you don't have dung beetles that dropping will sit there and nothing much will happen to it.

And in Australia we did have dung beetles in the past when we had these giant marsupials. There was dung beetles that could process that dung and allow the nutrients to recycle, few that there were, to recycle more effectively. When the giant marsupials became extinct there was no more dung and the kind of free lunch for the dung beetles ended and they became extinct. And then Europeans, 60,000 odd years later introduced cows to Australia. And these cows, again, produced these magnificent great big cow pats but there was nothing here that could recycle that dung - except flies. And Australian flies somehow adapted to using this dung and so flies became an incredible phenomenon around Australia. In agricultural areas and the pastoral areas you will have thousands of them buzzing around you. And people thought this was a bit of the normal ecology of Australia. So what if there's flies about, you know. But you couldn't open your mouth to speak without letting them get into it. You couldn't eat anything or drink anything. They were everywhere. If you walk around, they'll sit on your back until you stop. And when you stop they start buzzing around like a big cloud because they think you're like a cow and when you stop you might produce lunch for them.

Anyway, some bright spark got the idea that they might go to Africa and look at what might happen with large mammals there and they discovered the story of the dung beetles, introduced some African dung beetles into Australia, and ever since the numbers of flies have diminished remarkably and we're starting to reestablish that system of nutrient recycling that's so important to the functioning of any ecosystem.

36:45
A. That's a nice place to talk about the things that get introduced to Australia which have a huge effect here. We talked to a great young kid, by the name of Conrad Hoskins at the University of Queensland who's a doctoral octologist (?) and we talked about cane toads with him which are just marching onward, getting awfully close to Kakadu. But there have been a lot of things introduced which have had quite dramatic effects.

T. Oh they certainly have. Probably the greatest example I could think of is the rabbit. You know, the humble rabbit. And who in their right mind would imagine that rabbits could cause a problem for a whole continent. But when they were introduced into Australia successfully in the 1850's they just bred phenomenally and spread in this enormous wave across the continent. And you can track their progress through the news papers of the day. People in small country towns would say the rabbits have reached Deniliquin - or wherever it happened to be. People would go out and make these fences around their property to stop this wave of rabbits coming. And the rabbits were in such huge numbers that they would just push up against the fence and die - be crushed or die of hunger or whatever outside the fence - until corpses built up high enough that they made a ramp and the rabbits could just go over the top and into the property and then onto the next one. And that just happened on and on across Australia. It was phenomenal.

And the question that interests me about that is, why would the humble rabbit become such a big problem. And I started thinking, well 60,000 years ago Australia was pretty much, in terms of its faunal diversity, pretty much like the plains of the Serengeti Plain in Africa. And if you introduced rabbits onto the Serengeti Plain in Africa today the rabbit would be out competed for food, or it would be eaten by a carnivore, or it would just be trodden on by some big herbivore. You know, it wouldn't go very far. But if you took that Serengeti Plane and removed all of those herbivores until you only had say a couple of Thompson's Gazelle's left and then you introduced the rabbit, the rabbit could be a big problem because there's all this ecological niche space for it to expand into.

So the problem for Australia, I think is not a structural problem of the continent, it's the fact that we've lost all of these herbivores and the ecosystem has been laid wide open for the rabbit to become a pest in. So how do we combat that menace in the long term? To me we just have to return the continent to ecological stability. We have to find some way of replacing those big herbivores. This is in the long term, you know, in the long term to retain stability. It'll take us hundreds of years but we have to do it, otherwise we'll be faced with this ongoing problem of pests.

39:35
A. Are you speaking just of herbivores, or carnivores.

T. Its true of carnivores as well, although there the story is different. The fox has been a real scurge on the Australian environment. Its helped the rabbit by removing some of the species that might have competed with the rabbit. The fox was introduced in the 1860's so some of our colonial gentlemen could enjoy the noble art of fox hunting but its become a huge problem. Its become implicated in the extinction of over 20 species of native mammals in Australia, and the reduction of many more.

And some interesting experiments have been done on the fox. It's a very smart animal, large brained. But what seems to be critically important is that native Australian animals don't recognise the smell of carnivores as a problem. So the moment you take a swab of fox cent and put it in a rabbit's cage with a rabbit, the rabbit will go beserk trying to get out. The same is true for the introduced rats and mice. The same is true for animals overseas, because for tens of millions of years these animals have been co-evolving with carnivores and its been hard wired into their brain that if you smell a fox or a dog or something it means trouble. With our native marsupials - the potoroos and the little bandicoots and things, you put the fox swab in and they'll come over and investigate it. They'll come and smell it. They may actually come to the fox to be eaten. So its that problem of co-evolution that's a major one for carnivores like the fox.

40:50
A. I was going to ask you about the introduction of the fox and the rabbit because rabbits came in in the 1850's and the foxes come in in the 1860's you would think that the foxes would say, this is great - all the rabbits in the world, let's go. And there would be no more rabbit problem.

T. I think there's some sort of balance built up over time, but the rabbits did get a head start. They were there in vast numbers and they spread before the fox spread. And probably its that co-evolution again. The rabbit's just that bit harder to catch. So if you're a fox, what are you going to do - go for the bandicoot that comes to dinner or are you going to chase a rabbit around the field until you can catch it. So it's a problem of what we call co-evolution - of one species recognising another, and working out the appropriate response.

I'm glad we've got lots of birds here.
General chatter about the noisy BG - tractor
End of segment
Footsteps - chatter in BG - setting up to record footsteps

NEW SEGMENT

42:50 Footsteps - handling noise

43:22 ID Ambience with noisy earth mover thing, the construction going on in the BG of the Park.
43:53 Start Here we go

Squarks in BG - moving to MG in right
44:48 handling noise
44:18 squawks move ingo FG then away
General Chirps and twitters in BG -
44:50 machine quite dominant
44:44 Plane adding to general machine noise
Twitters continue, with lots of noise in BG - wind in leaves now also
45:55 handling noise
46:05 crunchy footsteps - mostly in left channel
46:27 clunk in BG - crunchy footsteps continuing to end - machine still in BG
47:30 breathing with footsteps - very soft in right channel
48:30 faster footsteps
48:55 "ok" - footsteps continue
49:10 handling noise
49:18 end

Footsteps themselves rate (g/vg) but there is a lot of machine rumble in BG
The bird atmos at beginning was pretty average given the machine noise/sound to noise ratio

49:23 NEW SEGMENT
General chatter and movement
Footsteps and chatter
Door swinging open and shut

49:40 We're in the Museum with Dr Flannery
Atmos? General machine sounds (as per previous segment) and footsteps - sounds more outside than in. Chatter in BG - not particularly distinguishable.
51:12 light footsteps on a footpath - voices in far BG - machine continues
51:55 more footsteps
52:05 footsteps go inside - general chatter - no machine
52:23 handling noise
52:32 more footsteps (scrapy) and chatter
52:50 swing door

53:00 Tim Flannery introducing Neville Pledge, Paleontologist, to Alex, and Caroline.
Something being sharpened in BG.

53:29 Alex asks for an ID

Tim We're in the paleontology laboratories of the South Australian Museum and we're surrounded by fossils that have been collected all around the State here, but some of the most exciting material is from the age of dinosaurs, from South Australia, and these fossils are found where people dig up opals. And some of the fossils, on very rare occasions are actually opalised with precious opal in them.

I've just got to explain to you, probably best off camera, to say that this is a fossil which isn't yet prepared so this isn't what you'll see on display. There's four boxes full of bits of scrap that will go together and this will form quite a nice partial skeleton of an animal and it'll look prettier than that once its cleaned up and fixed up. But it's a really remarkable fossil. It's a thing called a plesiosaur - they're a marine reptile from the age of dinosaurs. So the kind of Loch Ness Monster is the archetypical plesiosaur. I guess that's what peoples' idea of them is like. And you can see this one here would have been perhaps 12 - 15 feet long all up.

54:43
A. What you have laid out here is a lot of fossils (swing door in BG) and parts of them are arranged into what looks like a spinal column and then there are other kind of random parts of this, layed out in some kind of order but I can't see them fitting into any pattern of how the thing might have looked when it was alive, except for this long spinal part.
55:10
T. That's right. This is just a temporary arrangement, but if you come back to the Museum in 18 months time you'll see this arranged as a proper skeleton, as best we can do with the parts. What's really exciting for me is just the quality of the opal in the bone. Impressions. You see this bone that's split in half here - look at the colour of opal in that, you know. And as we clean these bones up, and you can see the opal shining through you'll see, what is effectively in the publics eye, opalised skeleton of a big dinosaur-like animal. And there's nothing quite like this anywhere else. There's some other more complete specimens which are - but not as well preserved in terms of the opal colour coming through. So this is something really, really special for the Museum, I think.
55:50
A. So this has actually turned to opal.
T. Yes it has. Look at these bones here. This one's not a bad example. Now this is part of the backbone of the animal and you can see its still embedded in the rock here. That's where it would have abutted the next vertebrae, put look at that. That actually is where the bone has been replaced by opal. And in this case, fairly semi-precious opal. There's beautiful green and blue flecks all through this. So its really a spectacular specimen. You can imagine how its going to look as a 12-15 foot long skeleton you can see the opal in. Its going to be fantastic.

56:29
A. Will this be all polished down and cut off so it'll just be the fossilised bone left, turned to opal.
T. That's right. We'll be cleaning the faces back as much as we can to the original bone surface and through these you can actually see the colour of the opal. Through them. So this'll all be cleaned up, articulated - as much of the ribs and whatever other - the paddles, as you can see here. All put in place so you'll have a whole skeleton. Well not a whole skeleton but it might be 70% of a skeleton - we don't know yet because we haven't done the work of assembling it. But it will be a fabulous thing. And this thing laid under the ground in the deserts of South Australia, northern South Australia, for about 120 million years. So that's how old it is. It was discovered in the 1960's and when it was discovered, people were digging for opal in this area by hand and so they'd occasionally find things like this. Nowadays the technology has moved on and people dig for opal in the opal fields with big machines, so if they ever come across things like this its broken up before people have a chance to recover it. So this is pretty much a unique speciment. I don't think we'll see its like again. And its just a wonderful acquisition for the Museum to have.

57:45
A. I'll just say that the vertebraes, the individual pieces of spine are about - they're a little smaller than a curled fist. They're very large and they're turned to opal and this one's kind of light green and milky and this one's a purple. Its just amazing colour of purple.

T. Look at this one here, there's red and yellow and blue and orange in this one in these beautiful opal flecks. I think this must be part of the paddle. We haven't been able to fully tell yet where all the bits go but that really is magnificent opal colour in that one.

58:35
A. How would an opal miner whose going along - how would they recognise that this is the fossilised remains of a ancient creature.

T. Many times people don't. And even they do recognise it they'll still grind it up for the value of the opal in it. This particular opal miner probably saw some shapes in the rock he was digging in that looked, perhaps, like bone. And people are vaguely aware that there's fossils in these sediments. So when he found one bit he obviously took the care to keep digging, carefully, and found a bit more. And eventually - I think it was over several months - ended up pulling out this skeleton that's 70% of the animal, probably. Something like that. But this bits like glass. The colours are amazing. Some of them are this magnificent opal and others are absolutely clear and you can see the internal structure of the cells even, and the stuff in the bone. Its quite amazing. But I was so pleased when I heard we were going to obtain this specimen because its going to make the most magnificent public display. We'll actually prepare it in public so we'll have someone working on cleaning it up and assembling it as part of the public exhibition.

59:45
A. When you have this thing on display and maybe have some light on it against a dark background, this is going to be unbelievable!
T. Yeh, there's nothing like it. I think that this is the sort of thing that could be the focus of an exhibition of opal fossils from the age of dinosaurs that we could probably travel the world with - if we get the security right. And show this stuff. I think people overseas are used to looking at dinosaur skeleton, because there's plenty of them in museums, but dinosaur skeleton preserved in opal is something quite different.

C. Does it have a name?
T. No it doesn't as yet. We're working on it. For all we know it may be an undescribed species of plesiosaur, so someone will presumably do the scientific work on it as well but we'll probably give it a popular name as well, in the end. But as yet, not.

1:00:39
A. Is Australia a good place to look for dinosaurs?

T. Generally speaking, no. North America's much better. But in terms of these opalised fossils, Australia is just about the only place on the planet where you find them. So that's the special thing about Australian dinosaur fossils. But by and large there's not a lot of them.

A. Well congratulations on your acquisition here.

T. Thank you. I think its fantastic. It's the kind of thing that for television is quite a bit better that radio, hey?

1:01:25
A. It will be some day when you're done with all your work. How long do you think it will take you to prepare it?

Neville That's a very good question. I frankly don't know. I have a look at it every now and then and I find a few bits that fit together but there's a lot that isn't laid out here and that's quite small, and they'll fit in somewhere, but its going to be a lot of hard work - a super jigsaw puzzle - and something, I think, no-one could sit at constantly. It would drive you up the wall. I think, in the end, we'll get it out. It's worth the effort.
1:02:05
A. Is this the kind of thing you ask a graduate student to work on? Or is this something you reserve for yourself? Because it would be such a long term project I don't know whether a graduate student could ¿

N. I think we're going to get a student working on it. We haven't worked out the final details yet, but this is something that would certainly pay their way through and give them an insight into what paleontology's about. Its not just all the fancy glory of finding something new, but there's a lot of hack work involved. And I think whoever gets the job will benefit.

P. They'll certainly be good at jig saw puzzles won't they, after this.

1:0 1:03:05
A. Could you just identify yourself here on tape, please.
N. I'm Neville Pledge (spelt), the Curator of Fossils at the South Australian Museum.

1:03:20
A. And how many people here work in paleontology?
N. We have three people, I guess. Not all working full time, unfortunately,

1:03:35
A. And this room we're in here. This is a good sized room and its just every flat surface is covered with boxes and on those boxes there are other smaller boxes and everything is holding fossils.
N. We sometimes get an influx of new material and it takes a little while to get sorted out and put away. At the moment we're a little short handed so its piled up. Literally.

A. But it looks like an exciting place to work.

N. Oh it is. Yes. Its very exciting. There's always (glitch) the possibility of something new in the next box you open.

A. Thankyou.
End of Interview

Off mic:

1:04:25
P. This is something I haven't seen before.

On mic:

N. It came in last week. Its just a lump of wood with a couple of shells in it.

P. Where did it come from?

N. Cooper Pedy.

P. So it was dug up in an opal dig?

N. Yes. Someone bought it and has offered it to us so I don't have original details.

P. How much did they want for it?

N. I've forgot - $60 I think.

P. We should buy it. See that could clean up nicely.

N. Yes it could and certainly it would be appropriate. We have, in fact, a piece of wood about that size but 6' long that came from Cooper Pedy and originally we thought it was bone until we did some thin section analysis and then it turned out to have a woody grain structure which I think has been identified. I think its harakaria (?). Its one of the conifers.

P. I love the shells on the side of this. This could clean up quite well.

1:05:45
N. Yes. We have a number of specimens of slabs with numerous shells on them. Some of them have very good colour in them. Tried to acquire a few of them. There's not a great variety of them, which may be good.

P. I think we don't say no any more to these opalised fossils. We just try to get the money.

M. I've got to get a minute of ambience¿I've got a suggestion for the name of your dinosaur - Opi. Sorry.

N. Maybe we should run a contest to name it - just as they do for baby animals at the zoo.

1:06:45 Ambience:
1:06:48 air conditioner hum - voices in BG
1:07:02 ambience interrupted - because of voices
1:07:09 swinging door - voices continue in BG
1:07:33 squwelchy footsteps
1:07:55 another white noise thing - tp 1:08:06
1:08:38 "ok" - handling noise and then ambience continues
1:08:46 swinging door and chatter
1:08:58 swinging door, squwelchy footsteps, plane in BG
1:09:20 ends

1:09:26 new location - lots of traffic. Chatter (no ID)
lots of footsteps, chatter re a storm coming in
1:10:52 ends

1:10:55 NEW SEGMENT

End of an interview/conversation with Tim Flannery? And then another begins with What is an Australian?

Tim ¿and it was bought by - the rights were bought (??) the first book contract I signed and it was really all in favour of the publisher and the publishing house that I was working with originally and it was onsold, and onsold again. Its not been a happy story.

A. Well I think you're probably happy with Atlantic. (on a noisy leather couch)

T. Yes, they're good¿but I must say that I'm very fond of Morgan (?) as a Publisher - he's just a nice bloke

M. (Comment on noisy couch - Tim mentions wooden leg of previous owner)

1:12:05
A. Let me just ask you - let me start with what we finished with there - the nature of Australians. What is an Australian today?

T. I don't think there's one Australian who could give you a good answer to that. The truth is we don't really know. I suppose through the last 50 years of history our idea of ourselves has changed dramatically. My parents generation would talk about 'going home' and they meant visiting England. But the psychological orientation was towards Empire and Britain. That's totally fallen away now. And there was a period of time when Australian's really looked forward to being the 51st state of America. We wanted to be part of the great American empire and that seems to have fallen apart now as America has taken a more internal focus and the regional focus that was so strong after the war has weakened. And Australians realise that we really need to stand on our own two feet, as far as some issues like defence and trade and whatever else goes.

We had a Prime Minister who believed we should be part of Asia and we had very substantial Asian Immigration during that period and I suppose that really started to founder when the social change is brought, brought some disquiet in the community. Not in all parts of it but in some parts of it. The economic, the Asian economic miracle collapsed and we kind of seemed to lose the grip. And we also found it very difficult to be accepted in Asia because we are fundamentally a different sort of culture, with different origins, different beliefs. And there's people, like me, who suggest that really, as much as we may want to be part of something bigger we have to accept that we are a small and quite distinctive nation, not particularly close to anyone else in the world, who'll have to find our own way. And probably part of the way will be trying to find the little gaps between the big power blocks. Places where we can position ourselves well and do well in distinctive markets and perhaps distinctive alliances and whatever else. But, you know, the question is really open. We don't know who we are.

1:14:12
A. In terms of the greater Australian relations with Aboriginal Australians, where do you think that is going.

T. That again has changed so astonishingly rapidly over the last several years. Up until 1967 Aboriginal Australians weren't even counted as citizens. They couldn't vote, they couldn't take advantage of any of the generous social programs we've built in Australia - welfare programs, they were counted on the census; they were literally outsiders. And that, when you think about that, was 33 years ago and since then we've had a very strong land rights movement development. The first land given back to Aboriginal people to live on. We've had the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders Council put in place. And now people are talking about Reconciliation between the two groups of people. One of our Prime Ministers was even rash enough to put a date on when Reconciliation can be expected to be completed by. And I think that misses the point because our two cultures have been very different.

For 60,000 years the Europeans and the Aboriginal people lived in different lands on opposite sides of the globe and developed cultures that adapted to their local sense of place. In 1788 those two cultures came into collision and we've had 150 years of warfare and oppression since then, and lack of respect. And then to say, since 1967, or maybe even 1990 we're going to make it all better, we're going to forget the past and be reconciled to each other is kind of fairytale stuff. What I think will happen is that this land is so strongly deterministic in the way is shapes cultures and people - that's Australia, so strongly deterministic - that already European culture has begun to converge on Aborginal culture in the way it operates. And I think that over time we'll come to see that we are - what we do share in common is the existence of this very unusual continent and that although we'll always be very, very different and we'll always have our burden of history with us, hopefully, the reconciliation will start to consist of mutual respect and co-existence between the two groups.

1:16:28

A. When the English got here and had this policy of terra nulius was this a really well thought out - was this an idea that they attempted to apply elsewhere. Or was it a particularly peculiarly Australian invention.

T. Well the terra nulius arose out of really medieval English law and the reason it was applied here, I think, was that Australia was settled at the height of the enlightenment in Europe. And people were very concerned about issues of justice and humanity and the idea of the noble savage was very much in the forefront of people's thinking. The idea of an omnipresent, all powerful god had fallen by the wayside a bit, and the idea that it was just God's will anyway that we take over no longer had currency. So people needed a legal fiction, if you want, to justify their invasion of Australia. And the one they chose was this idea that dates right back in English law that possession of the land relates to its use. So if you till a field you would have a case to argue that you owned that land because you were using it, was very convenient for the English at the time that Aboriginals didn't have any agriculture. So the English fiction was that they didn't use the land in any meaningful sense. We know now that that was completely wrong, and in fact, these landscapes that the Europeans saw and described as being like an English gentleman's park were in fact human artifacts created by Aboriginal people through a very, very complex system of land tenure and use predicated on fire stick farming. On using the fire stick to release the nutrients and plants and animals you needed when the time was right. So it was sort of farming in a sense but it wasn't an agriculture as we know it. It was based on the use of fire. So that fiction served right up until the Mabo case, just eight years ago.

1:18:35
A. How can you tell that the Aborigines were using, as you say, fire stick farming rather than there happened to be an incidence of lightening strikes in Australia, setting these fires off. How can you tell that these were human caused and strategic fires rather than just kind of happenstances. There are a lot of lightening strikes in Australia.

T. In Australia there are more than enough lightening strikes to burn most of the vegetation, most of the time. And we know what happens under natural fire regimes here. But there's two ways we know that.

One is that there are still traditional Aboriginal societies in existence where people can tell us whre they burn and when, what the patterns are and what the reasons for that burning are. And we can see from that how highly complex and sophisticated this whole system of nutrient release is and how people were thinking years in advance when they burned.

The other reason we know is that there are a couple of islands off the coast of Australia where Aboriginal people became extinct over the last 10,000 years. One of those is Kangaroo Island which is 100 miles south of us here in Adelaide. And we have a very good fossil record there and we can see what Kangaroo Island was like when Aboriginal people were burning and then what the island became when people stopped burning. And what happened is that while people were on Kangaroo Island there was a very complex form of vegetation maintained that supported large numbers of medium sized marsupials and about 3,000 when people go extinct the whole charcoal sedimentation regime changes, so charcoal going into the lagoons changes - we know there's been a change if fire regime. And all of that complexity vanishes and you get this very dense scrub that supports very few species. And that's the natural fire regime. There's no longer any people there burning. That the human hand that's holding the fire brand in that situation was the sole factor responsible for creating and maintaining that diversity through time.

1:20:42
A. So when you look at Australia and your 1788 when the British colonies are founded, you see a land that, in fact, is not inhabited by savages wandering around not really aware of what they're doing and primitive as you say, but in fact, people who are using that land wisely. At least they've adapted to the requirements of the land.

T. I think that's absolutely right. I think 'wisely' is the right word there because this is the most difficult continent to make a living in. It really is. There are no short cuts. There are no great windfalls. Its very marginal existence. And you're quite right. I don't see those Aboriginal people as being in any way primitive. In fact, I think if we disregard material culture and just look at those people as they're interacting with the land, with each other and the sort of groups they're living in, we can see that they are the most specialised people ever to have evolved on earth, because they've had to adapt to this most extreme of continents. So they're not at all primitive, they are highly specialised but they were doing things in such an alien way that the Europeans failed to see the significance of their actions.

Its true of the fauna too. We've looked at things like kangaroos and koalas as being primitive rather than another highly specialised way of making a living in an extreme environment.

So I think the lesson is there both in people and animals. This continent was too different for the Europeans to comprehend.

1:22:15
A. But if you look at a culture that has so few material possessions. It has art and some weaponry and has some social structure, but beyond that, so few material possessions, doesn't that say, well, they couldn't figure out how to do stuff.

T. We know they could figure out how to do stuff because in some parts of the country they have developed a more sophisticated material culture. And if I could just say there that the island of New Guinea lays to the north of Australia. For most of the time people have been in Australia, New Guinea and Australia have been one land. Its only in the last 8,000 years they've been separated. Now the New Guineans have a much more sophisticated material culture than Aboriginals. They were also some of the first people on earth to develop agriculture. They've been growing sugar cane and taro in the highlands of New Guinea for the last 10,000 years. My ancestors were chasing woolly mammoths around at that time - I don't know about yours, in Northern Europe. And these are Aboriginal people. So we know that under a different set of environmental constraints these people can develop a very different culture.

What the New Guineans didn't have that the Australians had were these glorious constructs. If you start looking at Aboriginal culture you realise that these people are great philosophers and great linguists and built these extraordinary links between groups that, in the absence of writing and in the absence of any transport but walking, served to link people through time and space like no other structure ever developed by people. In a sense, Aboriginal people had kind of developed a virtual internet - for want of a better word, in the absence of any technology - which was the key to their survival in this land. Because in Australia, if you have a drought, its likely to be continent wide with perhaps a few small refuges offering you the chance for survival. To get there you've got to know where the last waters are, and you've got be accepted by the group at the worst possible times to share their resources. It may have been a century since a drought like this had hit before, so you've got to have the living memory there and then you've got to have the links. And it may be that it was your great great grandfather that built links with that tribe, the last time they met. That has to be preserved and honored in these very difficult times. And Aboriginal culture is all about maintaining that living work.

Just to give you an idea: in Northern Australia Aboriginal men spend an hour or so a day finding their food. The other nine hours of the day are devoted to maintaining that network, that ritual network across the continent. And so, it is an extremely specialised culture. Most of its hidden because its conceptual and not expressed in a material culture. Life was too variable to allow people to build up possessions they had to carry from place to place. What they did instead was develop this magnificent life of the mind, really, that is different than that developed by any other people.

1:25:15
A. Just one other question if I can. You write in the book - again this is something that if you could explain this - I think it explains something wonderful about Australia, but again its so contrary to what seems logical. And that is - can you explain why a very very poor land may promote diversity. Why would have greater diversity in a place that has very poor soils and very meagre resources. It seems as though it would be completely the opposite.

T. Well this has been one of the great mysteries that people have focussed on in Australia since time immemorial. Here, and in other parts of the worlds, the very poorest soils, with the very lowest nutrients, the very poorest oceans with the lowest nutrients, have produced the most astounding biodiversity. There's two places in the world where you get a lot of biodiversity, one is around the equator where inputs are equal through the year and they're very stable environments and they've been there for very long time - so you can understand why biodiversity builds over time. The others are places like this, around Adelaide. And the waters of the Great Australian Bight which are just so nutrient poor they barely support a fishery. I think there's about 10 ships working the Great Australian Bight - the size of probably half the east coast of America - its huge. But the biodiversity in the Great Australian Bight exceeds that of any other temperate ocean in the world. And the reason seems to be, that in these very nutrient poor environments, certain species are excluded. And the sorts of species that are excluded and what you might want to call 'exterminator' species, which is what I have called them to express them. And exterminator species are those that grow quickest given all the nutrients that they want - and all the water and sunlight, if they're plants. And us humans are great exterminator species. Given agriculture, which is food ad lib, and water, and sunlight - we can exterminate everything else. We can take over an environment totally. So England is a real human artifact with most of its diversity destroyed.

If you vary those conditions to make them a bit more difficult, say a more marginal agricultural country, people become just another species in the landscape. If you make conditions harsh enough, people can't survive at all. Instead you get this whole lot of smaller species, less able species, dividing up the niche, or dividing up the niches very, very finely. So around here, just to give you an example on land, in the absence of nutrients which allow, say weed species to grow and take over the environment we have very subtle differences that allow species to grow. One kind of flowering plant may just grow on top of a sand ridge. Another one that needs just a tiny bit more water to survive might grow towards its base. In the middle where the grain size is perhaps slightly different in diameter and you get a bit of nutrient settling, you'll get a third species. In the little swale between those sand dunes you'll get another. And if you have fire in the system, of course, time after fire is really important. So you'll get one species that will only grow for 12 months after fire. One that will last for five years. One that will only come in towards the end of the fire cycle. So that the ecological niches are divided up almost infinately. And the same seems to be true in the oceans. This very uniform, flat ocean bed, as far as we know off the Great Australian Bight with no nutrients coming in is divided infinately with lots of species - just because those very powerful exterminator species can't come in and monopolise the environment.

Sorry if that was a long, complex answer but it's a hard question for people to get their mind around.

1:29:00
A. But very interesting one

T. Yes, I think it is. When you start thinking about the world you can see the way it operates. And those two things which cause diversity are important, the equator and the tropics, which is what everyone knows, and these special low nutrient systems which create almost as much diversity as the tropics.

End of Interview

1:29:25 Ambience: ID office ambience and a noisy sofa.
General people sounds in BG - kitchen like
1:29:51 Someone's stomach?
1:29:57 Close movement
1:30:08 Scratching a beard?
1:30:28 rumbles and movement
1:30:43 beard scratching
1:30:58 Tim cuts in

1:31:00 Thankyous and good byes then footsteps (going upstairs to Dr Flannery's office)
1:31:35 going upstairs to Dr Flannery's office, then general ambience
(ID at 1:32:20)
1:32:35 General ambience, then walking down the stairs - voices in BG
1:33:17 Machine moving past - outside now?
1:33:30 High heeled footsteps with machine in BG
1:33:50 End ID - coming down the stairs and outside
1:34:08 Chatter, voices in BG, footsteps
1:34:27 Bird in BG - quite noisy ambient sound.
1:34:37 Hi, I'm Philip Clark - chatter re location

Interview with Philip Clark
1:35:00
A. Could you just say who you are and what you do here?

Philip My name is Philip Clark (distorting) and was the Principle Curator for the Australian Aboriginal Cultures Gallery that was launched a week or so ago, I'm now Head of Science - I've transformed into a different person since then, so I have a different role within the institution. But as Principle Curator it was my job to get all the content and work it into something that then the designers could react to and all of that business melted together and produced this Gallery.

1:35:40 Change in location - moving to Philip's office - this location too noisy. There are 'contemporary voice monitors' everywhere. Decide to do the interview later.

1:36:50 ID: Ambience of the Australian Aboriginal Cultures Gallery and Museum in South Australia Museum

General BG of continual voices, birds in BG,
1:37:27 banging starts in BG (hammering?) - intermittent throughout but less frequent after 1:38:40
1:39:59 mobile phone tune - brief
1:40:20 squeaky swing door - nestled in amongst voices
1:41:07 Philip in BG chatting about museum stuff
1:41:50 end of ambience

END OF TAPE

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