Meet the northern bettong – bettongia tropica – a small, shy marsupial somewhere between a kangaroo and a rodent. They live in relatively small pockets of far north Queensland, they’re endangered, and they could do with your help.
A project is getting underway to help conserve the northern bettong – involving James Cook University, WWF Australia, Queensland Parks and Wildlife and others. And there’s a role for you, if you’d like to volunteer some time, exploring bettong habitats here in FNQ and gathering information about their health, population numbers and the pressures on their preferred homes on the border of wet and dry forest areas.
Dr Sandra Abell – from James Cook University – will be talking about the project on Thursday night (June 5) at the Malanda Hotel at 7.30pm – the Tree-Kangaroo & Mammal Group is putting the event on and would love to see you there.
And you can listen to my interview with Sandra Abell here
adult bettong with youngster pic Tegan Whitehead
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Last Friday, an aircraft touched down on the grass airstrip at Atherton, here in far north Queensland. Keen eyed observers might have noticed the 1966 Piper Cherokee carried a British registration – G-ATYS. It has been flown all the way from London by two private pilots who have managed to combine a grand aviation adventure with raising money for charity.
Andy Hardy and Sam Kidd left London in September on a 10,500 nautical mile journey called the Cherokee Challenge Flight, that will end in Sydney this coming weekend. Now they could have chosen to travel in more comfortable and much faster fashion, aboard the Boeing 747s and Airbus A380s that operate regular passenger flights from the UK. But Andy says he prefers to travel this way, despite the limited room and lack of a dunny aboard the single engine Cherokee. It flies closer to the ground, and you stop every few hours, affording a stronger sense of connection with the nations and communities along the route.
Andy left Australia 24 years ago, and he’s long dreamed of flying himself home in this way. And he’s raising money for charity along the way. He started out with a goal of raising at least one pound for each nautical mile flown, giving the proceeds to Oxfam. He’s already well ahead of that target.
The stop-over at Atherton has given Andy time to explore some very old connections. He’s never been to FNQ before, but his family has a long history here, going back about 150 years. So he’s spent the past few days immersing himself in the family story, including a visit to a local museum where he was able to see his great grandmother’s tea set.
LISTEN to Andy talk about his family history in FNQ and the Cherokee Challenge flight here
If you’d like to support Oxfam through the Cherokee Challenge flight go here
One of the great feats of Australian musical longevity is the Tablelands Folk Festival – which gets underway tonight and runs through the coming weekend at Yungaburra, on the beautiful Atherton Tablelands, a comfortable drive west of Cairns.
The festival began in 1981 as a celebration of life in the Tablelands region – and was held that year in the historic village of Herberton. It moved to Yungaburra the following year and became the Yungaburra Folk Festival – with the current name adopted in 2010. Its roots are deep in the far north Queensland folk music scene but it has kept with the times and broadened the musical focus over the years. It’s always a great event, kept going by passionate volunteers and music lovers. It draws performers and audiences from all over the world, and owes its success and longevity to its ability to deliver a really strong line-up year in, year out. Intimate venues, and the beauty of the surrounding country add to its charm.
Tony Hillier offers music from some of the visiting acts in this week’s World of Music. LISTEN here
Oh Jade from Sydney-based Scot Karl Broadie – his 2013 album A-Side B-Side Seaside
Last Minute Man from Broome legend Stephen Pigram‘s 2013 album Wanderer
Solid Rock – Shane Howard‘s land rights anthem, as recorded on his 2012 album Other Side Of The Rock
Tony Hillier is one of Australia’s leading music journalists and a musician of long standing here in far north Queensland. His informed and insightful coverage of music features in The Weekend Australian and Rhythms magazine http://rhythms.com.au/
When I first arrived at ABC Far North in 2002, our breakfast host then was Jason Hagen – a man with a well-deserved reputation for encouraging emerging musicians. You’d see Jason at gigs around the Cairns area, and you’d hear lots of new music on his radio show. He’d put together a compilation CD which the ABC released – Music From the Far North. And he played me songs by a duo I’ve been hooked on ever since –Women In Docs
Roz Pappalardo and Chanel Lucas got together in the 90s, and while they’re not a far north Queensland band, they have roots here. Roz hails from FNQ, and they played some of their earliest gigs at one of our premier events – the Tablelands Folk Festival, held each October at Yungaburra, on the beautiful Atherton Tablelands. The 33rd festival gets underway tonight, and continues over the weekend.
I’m pleased to report Women in Docs are on the Tablelands Folk Festival bill this year and I encourage you to check them out. Roz and Chanel were born to sing together. Each has abundant talent as a singer, player and writer. It would be easy to write a lengthy list of the wonderful ingredients that combine to make a Docs show such a treat. But like a good recipe, the secret is not the list – it’s the combination. When these two women perform together, something magical happens – they make songs that take you to places both tangible and emotional, locations best visited with good friends. And you’ll be in good hands with Roz and Chanel – they’re great travelling companions and born entertainers.
Women In Docs have a new album due out early in 2014 – it’s called Carousel.You can listen to the title track and hear my interview with Roz & Chanel here
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Just over six years ago, a song that took hold of radio audiences around the world. Australian listeners couldn’t get enough of it – I Wish I Was a Punk Rocker (With Flowers in My Hair) by Sandi Thom.
The success of that song was one of those “happy accidents” that happen from time to time in the music industry. Here in far north Queensland the song was everywhere, and no sooner would it finish playing than someone would ring and ask when it could next be heard. It was partly just a case of right song right time, but some very clever use of the Internet pushed the song along, prompting some snooty music critics to dismiss Sandi as the latest in a long line of online sensations whose fame would soon subside.
They were wrong. Sandi Thom’s musical career continues – and like so many performers who have early success with one big song, she’s had to work at taking audiences with her, to move past Punk Rocker and sample the work she’s done since. And it’s a diverse, deep, sometimes challenging but ultimately rewarding body of work. She has four original albums and a best-of out there, and has a new CD due for release before the end of the year. There are elements of many musical styles in her work, so she’s not easily labelled. That can confound music industry types, but only serves to make her more interesting to music lovers inclined to go with the flow.