Closed outback areas

To: Hugo Phillipps <>
Subject: Closed outback areas
From: Tony Russell <>
Date: Mon, 25 Sep 2000 12:43:01 +0930

Hugo, thank you for your considered response. I have, in turn, made responses to your comments below.

At 10:48  25/09/00 +1000, you wrote:
Tony -

This is already being done, to some extent, through the Atlas project.  If
any atlasser wants to get access to a private property for atlassing
purposes (talking large outback grazing leases rather than suburban blocks)
and has been refused access by the management, they can call the Atlas
project here to try and facilitate it.
************ Hugo, this sounds OK, but the very people who first who raised the issue were  atlassers, who in fact generated some 200 odd reports during the rest of their trip.      They asked the manager at Clifton Hills for permission but he was then and still is totally refusing access to anyone. He stated that he didn't care who applied, there is no access to his lands for whatever reason. At this point in time the SA Pastoral Act supports him.

 Atlassers can show their Atlas ID  ***********  Sure, and many of us carry them all the time, but if the managers/proprietors are unaware of the atlas project, as indeed most of them are, showing a card doesn't get you too far. This is exactly what the problem is. Some outback landholders know nothing of BA or it's activities and only see hopeful visitors as a nuisance.

 so that property managers can note the numbers and call BA for
confirmation or more information about the project. ******** Again, sounds good, but will they in fact bother to call in given that some of them are opposed to granting access anyway, and further, would BA be good enough to convince them.

 If all such people are
meticulous about asking permission and adhering to all condirtions they
will make it easier for those who follow them.  I also think that it is
worthwhile trying to get the landowners interested in the project and the
birds on their land - it is a good idea to send a thankyou letter later,
with a list of birds seen and comments on anything of interest.

*************  Agree with all of this, I've said it publicly before.  But whose job is it to help get the landholders interested and contributing to the project?  There's no one better positioned than BA to do this.

However, although BA can try to help with access for people involved in the
Atlas and other projects, I do not believe that we can take responsibility
for anyone who may claim to be a birdwatcher.  ************ Not asking that BA take responsibility for the behaviour of anyone. That has to be up to the individual, whoever it is, to try to do the right thing at the time. 
But if BA has no qualms about accepting membership subscriptions and donations towards the purchase of properties then it also has an obligation to represent those people who make those contributions, twitchers or scientists equally, in areas where they may be having difficulties in their birding pursuits.
There will probably always
be some landowners who do not want anyone on their land (for whatever
reason - appropriate, prejudiced or paranoid).  There is also at least the
occasional birder (or someone the landowner mistakenly sees as a typical
birder) who behaves badly and stuffs it up for everyone else. 

*********** Yes, these are, unfortunately, common truths.

It is not much use calling upon the traditional land access rights of medieval Europe
to justify behaving in a way inappropriate to the political and cultural
realities of Australia today.   Change these through education and the
ballot-box if you like, but this won't happen overnight.
********* I'm not calling for any mediaeval land rights to be exercised, it's too late for that (at least in SA it is), we're talking about State Pastoral Acts which completely ignore what Henry 8th did, and which allow Cockies to do what they like. Of course it needs education and the ballot box. But if BA, as the leading national bird organisation, isn't going to take up the cause, then it's not just overnight we have to worry about, it's forever.

Tony Russell, in reply to:

Hugo Phillipps
Communications Coordinator
Birds Australia
415 Riversdale Road
HAWTHORN EAST 3123, Australia
Tel: (03) 9882 2622, fax: (03) 9882 2677
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