Rangelands NRM Blog, News & Resources

Collaborative science showcased at Shark Bay Fair

More than 80 participants gathered at Hamelin Station Reserve this month for the Hamelin Science Fair, an event showcasing the science research and work in the Shark Bay (Gutharragunda) area.

Held on Malgana Country and hosted by Bush Heritage, the annual event is the fourth of its kind and is part of National Science Week activities. The event was supported by Rangelands NRM and NACC through funding from the National Landcare Program.

The presentations covered a range of topics such as Malleefowl conservation, fire ecology and climate change, fauna recovery on Dirk Hartog Island, grasswren research, Aboriginal Ranger activities, seagrass ecology and response to heat wave events, Santalaceae (sandalwood) research, and right-way science.

While nature conservation was the core theme for the Science Fair, there was also an overarching strong platform of collaboration—between conservation organisations, universities and education institutions, government agencies, natural resource management groups, community groups, and Aboriginal Rangers.

Bush Heritage’s Western Region Healthy Landscapes Manager Elisabeth McLellan said the event was a great opportunity in remote, regional Australia to bring scientists, students and community together to learn about and celebrate science.

“Support from Rangelands NRM and NACC is vital to the success of the Science Fair, and we are fortunate that both NRM groups have always seen and continue to see the benefit of a gathering like this as part of National Science Week.”

Malgana Elder Ada Fossa, accompanied by her son and daughter, Nick and Pat, gave a wonderful and warm Welcome to Country which set the mood for ‘right-way science’ presentations, discussions and activities throughout the two days of activities.

The warm welcome, and following spirit of collaboration made a big impression on all attendees.

“I was really impressed by the range and quality of speakers, mix of attendees and supporters, the structure of the event, and presentation of all facilities,” Bush Heritage’s Western Region Executive Director Luke Bayley said.

“It was fantastic to see how welcome and inspired the Malgana Traditional Owners and Rangers were, and I was very proud of the Bush Heritage team for the work they’re doing to support this emerging relationship and promoting right-way science and land management action.

Year 8 students from Champion Bay Senior High School undertaking the ‘Follow the Dream’ program also attended and presented. This program is aimed at encouraging and supporting Aboriginal high school students to pursue studies in science.

Stalls were also set up by Rangelands NRM, Bush Heritage and the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions (DBCA).

Rangelands NRM had a display focusing on threatened species and threats to them including feral animals, fire and weeds.

This year saw record numbers for the Science Fair, as well as for all of the associated field activities.

This included early morning birdwatching excursion, sandpad track monitoring, fauna radio tracking, art and craft activity, campfire gathering, homestead walking tour, and of course, the big bush barbecue breakfast at the camp kitchen.

Elisabeth said the two-day program was a great reflection on the spirit of collaboration that has been with Hamelin Station Reserve ever since it was first purchased by Bush Heritage in 2015.

Top: Rangelands NRM interactive display on threatened species, featuring Mallory the Malleefowl (and friends). Image: T Belcher
Right: Mallory the Malleefowl watches the presentations in the old shearing shed at the Hamelin Science Fair. Image: T. Belcher