This booklet was produced by The Valley Heritage Coalition in April 2089 to mark the 50th Anniversary of the Opening of Munni House Rural Culture Centre.
It is as an analogue material-based facsimile of a catalogue that accompanied the opening exhibition, Repairing to Rights, in 2039, which featured documentation from the historically significant exhibition, Riparian Rites, held at the old Maitland Regional Gallery. The catalogue contained material that was of seminal importance in the creation of the Williams River Valley Farmland Trust and hence the valley as we know it now, and that outlined a model that has been adapted to many parts of the world’s new rural development. While incomplete, the facsimile of the 2039 catalogue has been pieced together from digital fragments retrieved from old harddrives, surviving degraded websites and quarantined downloads that survived the catastrophic 2057 F.V.E. (Facebook Viral Epidemic, otherwise known as the Friends Revenge) We have included in this booklet supplementary material to provide a context for greater historical understanding, including items from the Munni House Rural Culture Centre collection and material from the Rural History Journal.
Eric Moore Chairman The Valley Heritage Coalition
WELCOME Welcome to the opening of Munni House Rural Culture Centre and the exhibition Repairing to Rights, on this 25th of September 2039. This is our first exhibition and a significant event for the Williams River Valley, being the culmination of many years spent restoring the house and grounds, and building new facilities. It has always been the intention that art, creativity, culture and heritage would be core components of the new era for the Williams River Valley. The exhibition presented here demonstrates the progress we have made. It contains artefacts from the valley’s cultural past, before the PDF (Post Dam Fiasco), as well as artwork showcasing the creative talent and leading edge contemporary art practice that is so much an integral part of the new rural paradigm we have pioneered here. Artist have played an important role not only through input to planning and in steering implementation of WRVFT (William River Valley Farmland Trust) strategies, as they still do, but in sowing the seeds for this new paradigm. In particular we remember the work by the Williams River Valley Artists’ Project at the Maitland Regional Gallery back in 2011 when some of our founding principles were presented. In this exhibition at Munni House we are pleased to re-present some of the original material from Riparian Rites. Our award winning new building, which we are pleased to say is a net exporter of energy, as is the valley itself, provides us with splendid and versatile space for contemporary art. Sharing the precinct with historic Munni House, and located close to the Bowie Hancock Institute and Bibliobank, it has become not only a hub for Valley culture, but also an international destination for trans-local rural art research. I would like to draw your attention to the beautifully written and illustrated book by Romy and Jolie Collins, which contains images of the complete exhibition, as well as essays by Beryl Mumbler and Eric Moore. It is available at our new bookshop, at a very reasonable price.
[Item from 2089 analogue facsimile. Opening welcome statement by Dr. Maryam Crampton, Director of Munni House Rural Culture Centre]
Forward The seminal exhibition Riparian Rites, and the projects leading to it, were early steps that led to the forms of land management and networked locality that we enjoy today. Recurring themes were of localism and temporality, and the methodology employed reflected an emerging affinity with translocalism. Translocality as a concept began to be expounded in the first decade of the 21st century originally as a way to theorise the impact of the Internet in changing systems of relationship and power. As a concept it shaped the formation of the world-wide Farmland Trust Alliance which in turn gave local articulation to the global commons movement. The historic fight against the planned Tillegra Dam originally was a local issue. Opposition to the government’s actions was driven by locals, the people most threatened – it had little traction beyond the region except for environment activists and the Greens Party, and its demise owed more to political preelection expediency and needs for engineering party perception at a macro level than to the strength of oppositional argument. Abandonment of the plan was due neither to concern over loss of community nor destruction of farmland, a situation that seems absurdly anachronistic to us today. Many of the works arose from sympathy, empathy and identification with the ‘locals’ of the valley, although the artists differed widely in their engagement with the ‘locals’, and the place itself. Some sought to immerse themselves in valley culture, others to employ artists’ outsider insight. In these cases the notion of ‘non-geographic localities of commonality’ took on different forms. The exhibition predated (and anticipated) the socio-political writing of Korean Kil-Young Yoo, which changed the premises for social organisation away from the then dominant binary theoretical models exemplified by sociologist Ferdinand Tönnies’ late 19th century Gemeinschaft and Gesellschaft; the dynamic of Inclusion/Exclusion in studies of localism, and the distinction in anthropology between emic and etic accounts of culture and behaviour, following the 1954 terminology of Kenneth Pike. The seeds of collapse sown in the culture of endless growth and acceleration were bearing fruit in the 2020s and the decay of the capitalist market economy provided fertile ground for the proliferation of Yoo’s ideas. Yoo, combining Taoist and Zen understanding of duality and paradox, was able to both retain and reconcile opposites by evoking a unity that is irresolvably greater than itself. It was based on non-predictable logic that required levels of uncertainty to be left unconstrained.
We can see how some of the themes of locality and temporality were being considered by one of the WRVAP artists, Neil Berecry-Brown, in a written piece accompanying a presentation made at the ACRE 2 Symposium and Annual Conference of the Public Galleries Association of Victoria at Swan Hill in 2011. Excerpts from a transcript archived on the PGAV website are presented in an appendix to this catalogue. It has been said that true artists are important in intuiting emergent cultural dynamics of significance, and extrapolating imaginative futures. To a greater or lesser extent these might or might not become reality. As Kevin Kelly wrote, almost 40 years ago, "Any believable prediction will be wrong. Any correct prediction will be unbelievable." We can judge how correct he was as we look about us now. Beverley Bottomly Curator, Munni House Rural Culture Centre
Map showing Farmland Trust Common Land Blue: Proposed Tillegra Dam inundation area and catchment zone 2010 Red: Williams River Valley Farmland Trust now Orange: Dungog South Farmland Trust, and Singleton East Farmland Trust. Green: Addition to William River Valley Farmland Trust proposed for 2041
[Fragment of text printed in the 2039 ‘Repairing to Rights’ catalogue by local historian Abe Moustaffa] To contexturalise the exhibition here at Munni House, one of the outstandingly success stories of the valley, I would like to give a brief outline of the creation and development of the Williams River
Valley Farmland Trust (WRVFT) and the land use philosophy which not only repaired the valley but placed ethics and aesthetics at the heart of post-crisis rural economics and put “the country” back into Australia.
Farmland in the Williams River Valley prior to the formation of the WRVFT
Like many of you, I am Gen A, a member of the Acceleration Generation, a term used to identify people who grew up in the first two decades of the 21ts Century, when acceleration was the presiding dynamic in technological and societal change, in knowledge acquisition and distribution, and in scientific research. This presiding ethos of acceleration precipitated cascading disfunction and
disintegration at both local and global levels in a number of planning sectors, with each dissonance compounding a systemic crisis. What was perceived as a looming paradigm collapse, triggered an urgent need to reconceptualise and reconfigure economic and social organisation, and to re-imagine the future. 19
A number of global precipitating circumstances were at play forcing change. • • • • • • • • • • •
Climate change passes the tipping point – there was an increase in major weather events. Indications of the immanent reversal of the earth’s magnetic polarity. Collapse of the Chinese economy and the restructuring of global debt. Food security becomes critical. Global political uncertainty and military conflict over resources. Issues of land sovereignty reaching crisis level in Australia. World population uncontrolled. Peak oil. Peak phosphate. Global water shortages and famine. Slowness of market based approaches to move energy production to renewable sources
Education, particularly in the universities, was given a greater share of Government funding, with pure research in the sciences, the liberal arts and humanities, including ethics, art and philosophy being reinstated as critical faculties to produce ideas for the future.
the Tillegra Dam project, was badly handled by Hunter Water and the State Government. The process was marked by lack of transparency, delay and intransigence in righting the wrongs perpetrated in forcing people from their farms. In 2011-13, both state and local government were under pressure from opportunists who saw a chance to profit by acquiring land with changed zoning, and those who believed that damming the river might be still possible. Protracted implementation of the now discredited, governmentguided community consultation process was disrupted by a quick succession of state wide public service strikes, and political sex scandals.
For over 100 years creative and imaginative research had been gradually subjugated to the industrial demands of the economy, and withered by chronic academic ossification. The system, unstable and unable to adjust to the pace of change, and driven by pressure for continuous economic expansion, was forced to reassess and adapt to prevent total collapse. A new socio-economic ‘landscape’ emerged reflecting a changing ideology and understanding of the body politic. This is reflected in the present-day Commons form of land tenure in the valley.
It is generally agreed that it was the failure to act decisively that in fact provided a window of opportunity for the formation of the WRVFT, which was then able to respond proactively to the cascade of political and economic calamities between 2013 and 2017. It has been
Redistribution of rural land, following the 2010 cancellation of
likened to the meteor-impact initiated extinction of the dinosaurs that provided a window of opportunity for mammals 65 million years ago.
religious groups joined the Liberal/national party coalition, who remained in opposition. Between 2012 and 2018 excesses of neoliberal policy led to experiments with the “Big Society” ideas of the British Conservatives launched in their 2010 election campaign. While the policy intention was to reduce cost to central government with devolution of civic, cultural and social functions to voluntary organisations, this had the effect of enhancing a sense of empowerment in these organisations at the same time as revealing their powerlessness. There was a realisation that the state had in fact entrenched its authority through increased regulation while abrogating responsibility. The outcome, as we now know, was to invigorate a demand to give real instrumental political power to autonomous communal and cooperative forms of organisation. It was this context that eased the way for the government to designate the lands bought by Hunter Water Corporation in preparation for building Tillega Dam, and as yet not sold to private owners, as Crown Land to be managed by a trust (The Williams River Valley Farmland Trust).
Riverbeds image by WRVAP artist Suzanne Bartos
Some of the land held by Hunter Water was sold, including a few farms to the original owners. However many of these buyers subsequently sold to the valley trust so their farms were then covered by the Agricultural Land Covenant. There was a change of State government in 2018. Despite the huge majority won by the O’Farrell Liberals in 2010, enough votes returned to non-government parties to allow them to form a narrow majority coalition government. This was the period when the two major parties at the time (the Australian Labor Party and the Liberal/National party) lost their hegemonic control and a series of multi party coalitions governed. It was a period of rapid change with the strengthening of the New Democratic Party, Social Credit, Left Labour, Greens, country conservatives and rural independents. Neoliberals and
The trust drew on a number of sources in its development. In 2019 economist Elinor Olstrom, met with pioneers of the valley trust and members of the Aboriginal Land Council to workshop forms of common ownership and management. The Marin Agricultural Land Trust in California was visited and Greenport Venlo in the Netherlands was a source for ideas about methods of steering change.
Artists and artists’ groups were influential in creating a future vision and enabling mythology. Amongst these were Brown’s Cows Art Projects, Australia’s Creative Rural Economy and the Williams River Valley Artists’ Project, (Australia), Kultivator (Sweden), Fiona Woods, Outriders and Ground Up Artists (Ireland), Wapke Feenstra and Bibliobox (The Netherland) and Creative Rural Culture (England).
Dinner with Cows, a project by Kultivator, Sweden.
Installation detail Muswellbrook Art Centre. WRVAP artists Noelene Lucas, Juliet Fowler Smith and Brigit Nicholson
Farming is the New Farming Success for a Narrabri family in relocating to a Farmland Trust commons land management project. An interview with William Brown, one of the early Williams River Valley Farmland Trust families, by Arthur Fallowfield, correspondent for The Land Newspaper. Recorded on the 11th of July, 2039. AF was hard for the kids too. Little Yours was one of the first families to things like the light at sunrise and come to the WRV after the the sound of the place – the smells formation of the Farmland Trust. too, even the dirt smells different here. Things you didn’t really notice WB at the time, but when they are not That’s right, I came here in 2021 there, part of you is missing too. The with Cathy and the kids. Before that kids keep in touch with some of we’d been out Narrabri way. We their school friends though. brought with us 150 cattle from our old farm, being the best of our AF breeding herd, fifty ducks, an Do you go back from time to time? assortment of chooks, and a mixture of optimism and trepidation. WB We went back about 5 years ago to AF visit my brother Dave, but a lot of That’s a big change, it’s very the old families have gone now. It’s different country in the Pilliga. a different place – someone else’s place. WB Cathy wanted to go back to a You’re right there. Very different favourite place of hers, a bend in the country – my family had been there river where we used to swim and for four generations – a wheat and have a picnic, but this time it felt sheep operation originally. My great different. I suppose that once the grandfather came as a soldier settler people have gone, the place has – after the war the government too. You need people to share wanted closer settlement. It’s funny memories and stories to keep it to think how that has ended up with alive. the opposite – farms getting bigger Its sad we let it happen, but you and people moving off the land. have to move on. AF After so many generations that must have been quite a wrench.
AF I hear many stories like this now, with the big changes we have had to make in farming. Why do you think it happens?
WB You grow to be part of the country that you know, and have known all your life. There are times when both Cathy and I get a bit choked up – it
WB Well I don’t really know. A lot of reasons probably – economics, and
feeling that history is not so important while you make money. But we lose a lot of wisdom that way. My dad knew things that the experts now think of as breakthroughs. Cathy has become very interested in getting to know our new home and the history of the valley. It’s a bit like grafting us onto local rootstock. Old families like the Moores and the Smiths have been terrific with this, and Cathy and Beryl Mumbler have become great mates. Beryl is an original local and a bit of a force of nature representing the LLC on the Trust’s Steering for Change Forums.
You brought cattle with you in 2015, have you continued with beef production? WB Yes we have, but we found the stock we had a Narrabri was not the best for this country. We now run Belted Browns, like most of the beef producers here, and so we can market through the Farmland Trust Co-op. The Belted Browns started as a three way composite, based on British breeds, and developed at Mangrove Mountain to meet the local grass-fed market. AF The phasing out of live cattle exports in 2018 must have affected you.
AF Farmers have always been pioneers; taking on challenges, innovating, learning from the land, building community, learning from experience and research. Do you think this rural culture made it easier to adjust to a new place?
WB There were a number of factors working in our favour. Live export cattle were mostly Bos Indicus, and suited to a different market. Fuel costs had already crippled the export business, and to this was added legislation to stop cattle destroying the environment on the big cattle stations in the north – now carbon sequestration is their main game. The centre of cattle production shifted south with greater consumer demand for value added production, which gave us an advantage. Feedlots have almost gone now. When the bees went, so did the availability of grain which then all went to feed people directly – not enough of it, or by-products, for ethanol production either. And, of course, research in the US in 2021 at The University of Nebraska, finally proved a clear advantage of
WB Well the best of them are like that, not all of them but, and you can be good bloke and still make some bloody stupid decisions about the land. That’s happened too many times in the past. Moving here was a bit difficult to begin with. The land holdings are smaller – but it still feels like the country. There is more diversity of land use here and more variety of produce which is giving us greater flexibility and resilience. Climate change is more and more unpredictable – we didn’t act quickly enough at the start of the century, so hedging against uncertainty makes a lot of sense. AF
grass-fed beef over industrial grainfed for human health.
gasification turbine generation program.
AF Your brother is still at Narrabri?
AF It sounds like its been a good move.
WB He stayed on for a while, tried to keep on the family tradition, but he finally had to give it up. Crop failures in 2017 and 2023 were one problem, and then there was the constant conflict and uncertainty over coal seam gas, and the mess caused by the crazy water trading policy. Head-leasing agreements with overseas corporations and governments that were set up to get around rules restricting foreign ownership, either made land too expensive for local farmers or locked up farmland for mining. Dave’s down here with us now, He manages a property in the upper end of the valley where he produces goats both for meat and cheese, runs a few Belted Browns, and supplements this with native vegetation carbon sequestration and farmland stewardship funding. He also works for the Trust on their bio-
WB Without a doubt. Its been great for the kids with the opportunities that this community gives, and it has changed how I think about farming and the land. Cathy says that in the new rural model we have moved away from what she calls “anthropocentric accounting and rejected the sustainability rhetoric of perpetual over allocation”. For me, I just call it good farming and respect for the land. Its like we have re-discovered real farming with all the added advantages that science and research offer. But you will have to talk to Cathy if you want the theory. She works part time doing trans-local research at the Bowie Hancock Institute. AF That sound like an excellent idea, but for now, thank you for your time.
Young Belted Brown bull Tibbermore Boris. The photograph was taken early in the breed’s development in 2008
Interview with Sam Cochrane, a descendant of the Smiths who once owned large tracts of land including historic Munni House and Manns Hill. By Arthur Fallowfield, correspondent with The Land Newspaper, Recorded on the 25th of July 2038
AF Has the Smith clan maintained a connection to the valley?
I understand your Grandfather was involved in the trust in the early days?
SC Yeah. We have a small patch of land Granddad managed to buy back from Hunter Water Corp. That was a real hassle to acquire on top of all the other fights against the dam the family endured. The valley really suffered over that time. Our small patch has had a lot of uses over the years. Beautiful spot by the river. We had a hell of a lot of fun on my granddads place when we were growing up and it’s great to maintain a connection. There are also cousins down the road who never sold up to Hunter Water Corporation.
A young Sam Cochrane at Manns Hill
SC Yeah, Grandad enjoyed being an agricultural advisor. He worked with them well into his 90’s. He knew a lot about farming and especially about the land at Manns Hill. He was always sprouting history and facts about land management. Not everyone agreed with him but he made his own special contribution (laughs). He helped a lot with dealing with the introduced plants which were degrading the land. We are careful now about introduced plants having witnessed cats claw with its pretty yellow flower and crawling vines which unfortunately nearly killed off a lot of the river trees back in 2011. Grandad also had a particular preoccupation about the Giant Parramatta grass which
AF What have you done with the Williams River Valley Farmland Trust? SC We worked with the trust and got funding to clear out the weeds and get the land back up to its potential. That was a lot of work. My cousin Pia and her family have a plant nursery there now, and breed honeybees for export. That’s a big business now. AF
was running rampant for a while back then.
Mum was behind the Williams River Valley Artists’ Project back around 2011. She and the artists produced a newspaper called “The Stuttering Frog” (after the frog which was endangered then – lots of them round here now though) to raise awareness about the dam threat. It’s a pretty funny piece of history now! You can see pictures of my family in it along with all the relevant facts from that time.
AF Tell me about your family’s connection to the Rural Cultural Centre at Munni. SC My family have been involved in creative endeavours for a long time. Munni House was the original family home going back generations. Grandad grew up there. His mum played the organ at the local church before it burnt down. They used to joke she had “imagine-itis”, and my grandad certainly had plenty of creative ideas! My great aunt was a well-known local painter and my mother and all her three sisters are all artists of varying sorts.
AF Thank you Sam. From what you have said I imagine the “Smiths” will be around in the valley for some time. SC Yeah, you’re right there!
Smith family reunion in 2010 at Manns Hill
Private land ownership was at the heart of the Capitalist system. The move from communally owned tribal lands to sovereign lands, and subsequently to lands owned by individuals, is most clearly documented in the history of the English Enclosures, from about the 13thC onwards. Following the collapse of the neo-liberal system of global capitalism in 2028, the Global Commons Movement, which had been gathering strength for 20 years previously, succeeded in having the Land in Common Charter adopted in principle by the G32 at the Ghana summit in 2036. This charter was influenced by common land policies adopted in Venezuela, which by 2032 had become the main global power and the world’ strongest socio-economic entity. The success of the Venezuelan model demonstrated that Hardin’s ‘Tragedy of the Commons” (1968), which had been used to promote private property as the only way to protect global resources, was mistaken, and that managed commons proved a far more equitable, economical and environmentally protective system. The Land in Common Charter, which drew partially on the work of Nobel-prize winning economist Elinor Olstrom, was also influenced by Australian Aboriginal Land Council policies concerning common rights to resources and products of the land, and the right of people to walk across all lands. Throughout the 2020’s, Aboriginal Land Councils across Australia made great progress in removing some of the barriers imposed by notions of private ownership. This exhibit from a printed newspaper, The Maitland Mercury, details an ALC action that took place near Munni in 2024, one of many ALC actions that informed and inspired the Global Commons Movement.
The Manns Hill Honeybee (Apis Mellifera ‘Manns Hill’) In 1872, Charles Darwin observed that the Western honeybee Apis Mellifera, introduced into Australia in 1822, was “rapidly exterminating the small, stingless native bee.” While Apis Mellifera did indeed compete with native species such as Trigona Carbonaria for pollen and other resources, research at the beginning of the 21stC showed that all 1500 species of native Australian bees were maintaining a relatively steady population. In fact, Australian native bees, particularly the social native bees, proved more resilient following the introduction in 2007 of the Asian honeybee Apis Cerana which, by 2018, had nearly wiped out Apis Mellifera in NSW, Southern and Western Australia through fierce competition for resources and the introduction of the Varroa mite, of which Apis Cerana is a natural carrier. This near extinction of Apis Mellifera threatened the pollination of many non‐native agricultural crops, as Apis Cerana was found to have different foraging habits. Following political pressure from farming organisations, the exotic bee Bombus Terrestris (commonly known as the bumblebee), which had been successfully quarantined in Tasmania following its accidental introduction there in 1992, was introduced to the Australian mainland in 2017 to assist with pollination of threatened crops. This was done in spite of warnings from environmentalists about the possible consequences for native ecosystems. As the bumblebee spread rapidly across Australia, its intense foraging habits depressed the availability of floral resources for other species, so that by 2023 a majority of the solitary native bee species, unable to compete, became virtually extinct in Southern Australia, Western Australia and NSW. The Global Colony Collapse Disaster (GCCD), which occurred in the winter of 2025/26, plunged the economies of China, India, the United States and Europe into recession, as 60% of crops went un‐pollinated and suffered failure. The resulting famine (2027 – 2030) and associated wars wiped out almost 43% of the human population. Despite stringent border controls, the presence of the parasites Nosema Bombi and Nosema Ceranae (suspected as primary factors in the GCCD) were detected in 2028/2029 in the feral bumblebee and Asian honeybee populations of NSW and Southern Australia. By 2034, Bombus Terrestris and Apis Cerana had effectively been wiped out on the Australian mainland, followed by the inevitable collapse of large‐scale agricultural production in many regions of the country. Where the native Trigona and Austroplebeia species continued to thrive (primarily in Queensland, but also in isolated parts of northern NSW), pollination continued, although less effectively for non‐ native crops, particularly those of European origin. In 2037, Dr. Aida Kropinyeri, a scientist carrying out research into the survival of social native bees in northern areas of NSW, received information related to a regular but unidentified droning/buzzing sound above Manns Hill in the Munni area. Native bees are unlikely to produce audible buzzing on account of their small size but Dr. Kropinyeri went to investigate anyway. Following a period of observation she concluded that what she was hearing was most likely coming from a Drone Congregation Area to the north of Manns Hill, indicating the possible presence of a colony of Western honeybees, Apis Mellifera in the area. Further research confirmed the presence of several healthy hives of Apis Mellifera in the Munni valley. It is not yet clear how these survived the near‐extinction events of 2018 and 2032/33, but the area has been designated a Special Area of Conservation and vigilant safeguards have been put in place to protect the Manns Hill colonies. The hope is that Apis Mellifera ‘Manns Hill’ might one day repopulate the region, the country and perhaps, over time, the wider world. [Dr. Kropinyeri has kindly loaned notes, drawings, correspondence and observations from her researches at Manns Hill to Munni House Rural Cultural Centre, where they will remain as part of the permanent collection.]
Artists demonstrate in Martin Place against the Tillegra Dam 2010
[Research is currently being conducted in order to reconstruct a small visitor’s guide to the Williams River Valley that was published in 2062. Some pages were found recently, and although in poor condition, we were able to extract the following information.]
Bowie Hancock Research Institute. An internationally renowned research centre for managing information overload. It is named after a local resident whose pursuit of excellence was often admired in his written proclamation, “To the top or bust”.
Bibliobank A vast underground repository of books, many discarded by libraries before the Friends’ Revenge attack corrupted digital information storage worldwide. Most were donated by private collectors, in particular Lee Tse-Dung, the eccentric Brazilian beef baron. Bibliobank has become a major tourist destination and Mecca for scholars.
Principles of land use in the Williams River Valley • • •
• • • • •
Mosaic of land use Synergistic complex of biological functions Energy containment. Reduced inflow and recycling - generation and export. Multiple Lightweight and changeable structures to permit rapid and low cost conversion to emerging technologies Value adding at all level of the production chain Revegetation. Reintroduction of stock routes, revegetation of roadsides and watercourses Complexity and hedging strategy for resilience Food hub and distribution centre combined with co-operative marketing Mixed farming/mixed incomes (on and off farm)
Honeybees The export of European honeybees is a major earner for the valley with its highly specific ecology. The industry was pioneered by Pia Smith-Hessing and is highly controlled to prevent the bees becoming feral once again. The valley’s unique ecological matrix contains a small blue flower, the pollen of which imparts immunity to disease for the bee Apis mellifera. This is thought to explain the Drone Congregation of Apis mellifera found near Manns Hill by Dr. Kropinyeri in 2037. At this time the C.S.I.R.O is making promising progress in isolating the enzyme thought to be implicated. The blue flower, called Goowaugul by the indigenous people, was regarded as extinct. Germination of its seeds depends on the presence of a fungus, a form of truffle, which is spread by the Stuttering Frog. Land clearing, and water
contamination resulting from agricultural run-off, had greatly reduced the Stuttering Frog population and hence the viability of the flower. By a strange coincidence, a flower with a similar physical description to Goowaugul, also thought to be extinct, was once found near Lithgow and named Cooerwull by a Scottish settler in imitation of the local aborigines’ pronunciation. So far no surviving specimens have been found there. In the aftermath of the GBD we are now beginning to see the ecological niche of pollinator, so essential to agriculture, being rapidly filled by a new strain of the native Blue Banded Bee Amegilla cingulata. A very rapid mutation seems to be taking place demonstrating the ‘punctuated equilibrium’ theory of evolution, and saving many farming enterprises.
Original form of the Blue Banded Bee This new strain, unlike its progenitors, forms large colonies each producing up to 80klg of honey per year. The implications of the emergence of this ‘new’ social native bee are yet to be fully understood, but already there has been a measurable proliferation of sugar gliders, honey eaters and other birds such as the endangered Swift Parrot, resulting in a healthier, more fecund and resilient ecosystem. The “new” bee has replaced Mellifera as a pollinator of food crops in Australia, and it has the additional advantage of being a buzz pollinator, and therefore of benefit to growers of tomatoes, kiwi fruit, eggplants, blueberries, cranberries and chilli peppers.
FARMERS FROM BOTSWANA Are coming round to share. ! Michael Cavendish 15th April. This month a fourth group of overseas farmers and agriculture specialists will arrive at Munni in the Williams River Valley. They are led by Dr. Ketlogetswe, a global coordinator of the Trans-local Farmers Biologic Scheme, currently at the School of Business, Economics and Law at the University of Gothenburg. Dr. Ketlogetswe will be bringing seeds of plants resistant to False Codling Moth (Cryptophlebia leucotreta). The spread of False Codling Moth in the 2020s and 30s,
resulting from imports of fruit from China, and the establishing of vast overseas-owned farms in Australia, has resulted in losses of up to 30% during infestations. While in Australia the farmers will spend two years at the Bowie Hancock Institute researching farming practices pioneered by the Williams River Valley Farmland Trust that will be of assistance in adapting farming practices in Botswana to the radical alteration of rainfall patterns in Africa resulting from global warming.
Elephants and cattle sharing replenished waterhole
The Bowie Hancock Institute in the Williams River Valley is one of six independent research organisations funded by the Federal Government in its new international cooperative food security strategy. Australiaâ€™s National Food Plan (launched in 2011 by Joe Ludwig, Minister for Agriculture Fisheries and Forestry), had focussed largely on
international trade, Australian food production and marketing infrastructure. It failed to adequately address Australiaâ€™s global role in providing intellectual and material support for local food production systems in other countries, and was revised in 2043 to redress this shortcoming.
Visit to the Global Seed Vault in Svalbard by Botswana farmers En route to Australia, the group visited the Svalbard Global Seed Vault on the Island of Spitzbergen in Norway, about 1,300 kilometres from the North Pole. While there Dr. Ketlogetswe delivered seeds of Botswana acacia species, which are increasingly used to make flour now that productions of maize and sorghum have been compromised. He was given seeds of a number of foodplants originating in Botswana that are no longer available in production, or from other seed banks around the world. These seeds will be used for trialling a number of autochthonous landrace crops in the Williams River Valley. Work on landrace crops done early in the century by Nancy Kgengwenyane (Botswana) and Anthony Leddin (Australia), of Plant Breeders Without Borders, pioneered this promising field.
Also of interest to the Botswana farmers, is the application of Australian technology for satellite based vegetation analysis, and mapping of the chemical nutrient spectrum in leaves, that offers precision planning of inputs for
farm production. This technology was used successfully in the Williams River Valley to target weed species, such as Cat’s Claw, that were then treated by micro application of adverse nutrients.
Nancy Kgengwenyane at the Third Meeting of the Ad hoc Open-ended Working Group on Access to Genetic Resources and Benefit-sharing of the Convention on Biological Diversity 14-18 February 2005, Bangkok, Thailand Botswana is a semi-arid country, two thirds of the land being occupied by the Kalahari Desert. Increased rainfall has had devastating results, with major flood damage and destruction of local food crops from disease and pests. It has also resulted in widespread destruction of crops by elephants, now more widely distributed due to the greater abundance of surface water.
Mwangi Gachanja. “Botswana needs strategies for reforestation, re-carbonising the soil and water management focused on surface water. Like Australia, we have been extracting ground water much faster than it can be replenished, and the results have been disastrous. Our water resource modeling was premised on too short a time scale. And of course, unlike Australia, over 90% of out surface water originates outside our borders, a fact which contributed to the African water wars of the 2040s.”
“We hope to exchange knowledge gained from farmers in both our countries”, said spokesman ‘Bongo’
Mr. Mwangi Gachanja is best known in Australia for the breakthrough plant breeding work he, and his brother, did with Juan Fernando Aguilar of the Fundación Hondureña de Investigación Agrícola, in overcoming Cavendish banana blights and developing temperate climate banana varieties.
Botswana Innovation Hub Much of this work took place at the Botswana Innovation Hub where members of the Williams River Valley Farmland Trust spent time developing the solar energy generation network now a feature of the ‘Valley’. The productive Australia/Botswana cooperation at the BIH gave the Williams River Valley farmers a
head start with a new variety of banana. This cultivar is now a significant part of the valley’s economy. It is derived from a single plant of the old Gros Michel variety, discovered in a backyard in Guatemala by Dr. Aguilar, and an undisclosed species from south-east Asia.
[The rest of this article was not retrievable. Work continues to reconstruct the historical documents lost in the “Friends Revenge” digital viral epidemic of 2057]
E. I. E. I. O. To make the journey to Swan Hill from Mangrove Mountain was to pass through a series of transitions, of psychological doorways. I crossed the threshold of the “sandstone curtain”, traversed the endless plains. With each change in topography my perceptual envelope changed shape and dimensions. Yet these were places I could only see from outside. About which I had no memories. X The urban dweller does not look up. Experience is limited by the geometry of streets, buildings and human proximity (human activities and social imperatives dominate). The envelope is horizontal, close and striated. We took our daughter, then aged about three, to Sydney to an event at Olympic Park (where Cathy Freeman lit the cauldron), I can’t remember why we were there, but there were lots of kids running about. Unlike the other children, Claire’s attention encompassed the sky. She pointed out the full moon; stood still and watched the flight of birds and bats. She was living in an expanded perceptual world unlike that of those around her. She seemed puzzled that no one else seemed aware of these things. X There is another dimension to perceptual systems forged in rural time. On my journey here, as I passed through country towns and farmland, I could see only what was visible. At Mangrove Mountain I could see what used to be in places where now there is nothing. For 50 years I watched the Best family’s shed by the roadside slowly collapse. Now there is no trace, but I see it every time I pass. This dimension of experience is about deep time, inter-generational continuity, and duration related to life span imprinted in bodily memory.
I remember things from before I was born I see things that are not visible I sit at the centre of time. …….etc.
We are prompted to ask whether notions of the rural, or what used to be called ‘country thinking’, is a form of nostalgia, a hankering for a lost golden age, something that has been overtaken by globalised agribusiness and industrial farming. The Man on the Land, with all the cultural resonance carried by that expression, is becoming anachronistic. Once it conjured up associations of down to earth wisdom, innovative self-reliance, subtle knowledge of nature distilled from generations of knowing a place intimately. A contemporary farmer now may sit all day in a huge air conditioned machine steered by sat-nav technology, working a laser-levelled field, of one crop, that stretches to the horizon (and wondering why plagues occur on the same scale). Perhaps it is easier to be rural in London. At a recent meeting with artists living near Forbes, NSW, an opinion was expressed that it was easier to take work to London than to Sydney. There was agreement that there was far more interest in art from rural Australia in England, than there was in Australian major cities where, for the most part, little value was placed on cultural production beyond the urban edge. Perhaps one should say beyond the Limits of Location, to use a concept from early colonial Australia, but Location these days is everywhere, and what was once ‘beyond’, is now inside. Perhaps it could be thought of as repressed memory.
So I am making an argument for a conception of the rural premised on modes of consciousness and perception. Not exclusive to a rural environment but often produced by deep temporal experience in complex circumstances that put the ‘farm into the boy”. This is a world of duration, not of appearance and representation. X Recently, local Council, as part of a planning process, held meetings with locals at Mangrove Mountain to establish what we, the inhabitants, valued about where we lived. The question was: “When you drive along the road in your car and look out the window, what are the things that most represent the things you value about where you live?” In the circumstances it was futile to point out that we were mostly IN that field looking back at the road, and to complain that the questions were framed so that there was no ways to express what we valued in our own language. It required a visual response. It was the classic division that anthropologists use; etic accounts – the view framed by outsiders, and emic accounts – the experience by those inside a culture.
In regional and rural areas contemporary art is often a scarce resource. In a world where freedom to critique prevailing orthodoxies is increasingly curtailed by media monopolies and political spin (where in Australia do we have an alternative to neoliberal market-based solutions to everything?), we need an arena for new ideas and imagination. We need an energised place for imaginatively positing alternatives and inventing new questions, or at least re-construing the old ones. This is the creative, imaginative, capacity that Sir Ken Robinson argues we are educated out of, as education is increasingly harnessed to current business needs. X Seamus Heaney, in a piece titled Place and Displacement on the poet Paul Muldoon wrote, “Muldoon’s poems do not offer us answers but keep us alive in the middle of the question.” And that is a good place for an artist to be. I do not have the answer to what constitutes rural authenticity in art. Perhaps it is best for it to remain an open question. Hank Williams, though, had an opinion on the matter, and I quote: “Hank Williams once said, "You have to plough a lot of ground and look at the backside of a mule for a lot of years to sing a country song," a real country sort of thing to say. As it happens, Williams did not live on a farm, learned music from a black street singer, and was so sickly he couldn't have ploughed even if there had been ploughing to do. He meant it in the figurative sense, knowing that country could always use another touch of poetry. He also knew, by instinct, that there's not much difference between authenticity and mythology.” X For those of us living in the back blocks now, I think we need to add a dimension of multimodal temporality to rural awareness. Not only is there intergenerational deep time inextricably connected to place, but we live in what Manuel Castells call the Space of Flows. “the space of flows . . . links up distant locales around shared functions and meanings on the basis of electronic circuits and fast transportation corridors, while isolating and subduing the logic of experience embodied in the space of places” (Castells). What he emphasizes is the fact that we all reside in a network of global communication that, I would contend, exists simultaneously in the rural context together with seasonal, generational, biological, social, psychosomatic, and non-linear flows of time, rather than subduing them; for us, finding a unique way of negotiating between and meshing these time modalities from our rural perspective is an exciting challenge.
Re-visioning the Valley: a future pastime.
A project providing common ground for a collective creation, with Neil Berecry Brown (Mangrove Mountain), Fiona Woods (Ireland) and Juliet Fowler Smith (Sydney). Date: 2011 (2089) Medium: Printed text and images Size: dimensions variable I measure my time in country miles, And measure my miles in donkeyâ€™s years. Re-visioning the Valley: a future pastime, grew from a deep concern for the people in the Williams River Valley and the destruction of their community, history, and way of life, caused by the proposed flooding of their farms. ! ! ! Displayed at the Maitland Regional Galley as part of the Riparian Rites exhibition of works by the Williams River Valley Artists Project in 2011.