Shared Terrain

A collection of interviews about the urban ecology of Sydney

Helen Grant/City of Sydney Archives SRC20123
Helen Grant/City of Sydney Archives SRC20123

Shared terrain is about the urban ecology of the City of Sydney. It seeks to illuminate the relationship between the natural and built environments within the City of Sydney’s boundaries and covers a range of topics including changes in the populations of native fauna, changes in native vegetation, water resources and habitat. It is also concerned with the development of ideas, and government and policy tools, for environmental management.

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  • Elaine Davies crop

    Elaine Davies

    Elaine Davies thought little about the environment until she moved to semi-industrial Rosebery, an inner suburb of Sydney. There she discovered her backyard was sheltering the rare green and golden bell frog. In her interview Elaine discusses at length the welfare of this endangered species; and in the excerpt below she describes the bell frog and its beautiful call.

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    John Broadbent

    John Broadbent is an ecologist who came to Australia from Britain, via Nigeria, in the 1970s. In his interview he mentions his training in many areas of science and environmental studies. The interview focusses on his current research interest, which is an attempt to construct a picture of the native flora and fauna of the Pyrmont Peninsula at the time of European arrival. In the excerpt below John speculates about the birds, mammals, reptiles and amphibia which might have ranged free on Pyrmont Point in 1788.

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    John Martin

    John Martin is Wildlife Management Officer at the Royal Botanic Gardens in Sydney. In his interview he talks about his work at the Gardens, focussing primarily on the changing seasonal behaviour and population of Grey-Headed Flying Foxes (bats). In the excerpt below John describes the competing interests of that threatened species and conservation imperatives in the Gardens.

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    Vivienne Ingram

    Vivienne Ingram loves to experience the natural world from her high rise apartment. In this interview she describes the views from her windows, the pleasures of rain, wind and weather in general; her affection for visiting birds, flying foxes and regular walks through foreshore parks and her urban environment. In the excerpt below she recalls the storm of red dust that blanketed Sydney in September 2009.

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    Bruce Druery

    Bruce Druery runs an environmentally aware business in Surry Hills, having formerly turned away from the oil industry. In his interview he talks about the positives and negatives of bike-riding to business meetings and other aspects of a ‘green’ approach to personal and professional life. In the excerpt below Bruce describes the effects of Sydney’s frequent heavy downpours and a famous hailstorm that hit Sydney in 1999, causing extensive damage.

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    Judith Christie

    Judith Christie lives in Forest Lodge and is an active urban conservationist. In her interview she talks about the competing demands of urban development and biodiversity; the birds, reptiles and insects she encounters in her immediate environment; and campaigns associated with Orphan School Creek Gully and the Blue Wren. In the excerpt below, Judith recalls a rare urban sighting of a Brown Goshawk.

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    Richard Major

    Richard Major is a bird researcher in the Australian Museum in Sydney. In his interview he talks about his scientific background,
    shifting bird populations according to factors relating to urbanisation, habitat and food supply, historical records about birds and the Birds in Backyards project. In the excerpt below Richard discusses the relationship between currawongs and Channel-billed cuckoos.

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    Doug Benson

    Doug Benson is a botanist at Sydney’s Royal Botanic Gardens. In this interview he recalls his childhood interest in flora and fauna, his background and training, and the historical records of trees within the Gardens. In the excerpt below he describes remnants and reminders of the original flora of Sydney that survive today in the Royal Botanic Gardens.

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    Geoff Wyatt

    Geoff Wyatt is senior astronomy educator at Sydney Observatory. In this interview he talks about his childhood interest in planets and stars, the history of the Observatory, Indigenous astronomy, and many other aspects of his working life. In the excerpt below Geoff describes the cultural value of the night sky and laments the light pollution which renders the night sky increasingly invisible from Sydney.

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    Arthur White

    Arthur White is an environmentalist and herpetologist who is known as ‘the frog man’. In this interview he talks about childhood influences, the decline of habitat for native animals in urban Sydney, adaptation and regeneration, especially with regard to frogs. In the excerpt below Arthur describes surprise experiences of native fauna in densely built-up Sydney.