153 birds project


I love recording poetry for radio. Everything is held in the words and the voice. No one can tell that your hair looks like a bird’s nest, that you ran out of coffee that morning and you suspect you still have a grain of muesli caught between your teeth. Everything is about the ear, with the eye temporarily knocked off its self-important perch as the prime sense.  It always gives me a renewed sense of admiration for voice-over artists – having to layer every nuance of meaning into the voice  is such a skill, especially without being able to rely on eye contact or hand gestures to convey all those added extras of communication. Anyone who has ever had a conversation with me will pick up on my at times terrifying over-reliance on both. Move glassware out of the way.

Today I was invited down to the Radio Adelaide studios on North Terrace to record some poems about birds. Being a poet living in the Adelaide Hills means I have a few of those.  It’s hard to write a poem up there without a bird flying through it or perching on the odd line.  So I took along my poems on the wedge-tailed eagle and tawny frog-mouth.  I didn’t even suffer too much cringe when I heard the play-back. Sure, my actual voice sounds far younger and less assured than the one I hear when I speak, but doesn’t everyone think that when they hear their voice on the answering machine?

The recording was for a project called 153 birds which had been set up to raise awareness about the plight of Bimblebox Nature Refuge in central west Queensland.

In short, the ecologically significant and biologically diverse 8000 hectare  Bimblebox Nature Refuge is threatened by a massive new coal development proposed by Waratah Coal and owned by Clive Palmer (business man and Member for Fairfax in the Federal Parliament). The company has announced that its ‘China First’ mine (otherwise known as the ‘Galilee Coal Project’) would involve open cut mining more than half of Bimblebox Nature Refuge and underground mining the remainder.

The proposal involves extracting 40 mega-tonnes of coal per year, which would be transported on a yet-to-be-built 468km rail line up to Abbot Point and shipped through the Great Barrier Reef on its way to China where it will be burnt for energy generation. This destructive and nearly impossibly large proposal got the green light from the Queensland Government in August 2013 and the Federal Government is due to make its decision by 20th December 2013.

Just what we need – continued economic and energy reliance on fossil-fuels at the expense of our natural capital. *sigh*  So the activists working to save Bimblebox have put together this project to spread the word about the mine and the ecologically rich land it threatens.  Poets and Writers are invited to participate by writing a short piece about one of the 153 bird species which make the Refuge its habitat.

Here in Adelaide, the project is being co-ordinated by Julia Wakefield who is recording pieces for Radio Adelaide. These radio segments will draw attention to the plight of Bimblebox, but they will also focus on our own fragile bird populations and the threat to Australian bird populations as a whole.  So if you are interested in having your work broadcast on Radio Adelaide and then contributed to the Bimblebox project then please contact Julia at julia.wakefield@gmail.com or give her a ring on 0433975590.  Or if you live outside of Adelaide and want to help then you can contact the lovely folk at 153 birds direct at bimbleboxartproject@javitas.com.au


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