Being part of something a little different – reflecting on the Dunkeld Writers Festival

I recently had the opportunity to do something a little different to normal (that is, at least for an ecologist like me!), being invited to attend and participate in the second Dunkeld Writers Festival from the 17th – 20th August.

Nature Glenelg Trust is very proud to be a part of the Dunkeld community, with three of our Restoration Reserves situated nearby (Walker Swamp, Green Swamp and Long Point), so it was wonderful to be able to share a little bit about what we do in restoring the landscape at a session all about plants on the Friday evening.

Sitting alongside authors Michael McCoy, Damien Coulthard and Rebecca Sullivan, we chatted (in a panel discussion format) about the important role of plants in our respective fields of ecology, gardening and in the kitchen. It was a really enjoyable and interesting experience, and certainly triggered a lot of great side conversations over the weekend!

The panel format of a session at the Dunkeld Writers Festival in 2023.

In addition to a formal guided tour of Walker Swamp I hosted as part of the program on the Friday, I ended up also taking two unofficial extra tours on the Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning, given the interest generated at the Friday evening session.

On the Saturday afternoon, my co-panelists Damien and Rebecca, as well as respected academics and authors Marcia Langton and Aaron Corn (who co-wrote a book on Aboriginal law for the First Knowledges book series), came for a look as well.

Needless to say, we had a great conversation about the landscape and the ability of nature to bounce back, not to mention the clues written into the landscape itself that can inform our restoration planning. For example, the presence of beautiful old Red Gum trees (that long pre-date European colonisation) at the former shoreline of Walker Swamp, and formed part of the landscape managed by First Nations people, give us a rare and incredibly valuable insight into past conditions that help to guide our restoration work today.

Well done to Roz Greenwood, Mary-Ann Brown and everyone else in the local community involved in hosting the Dunkeld Writers Festival for doing such a great job – and thanks for the opportunity to be involved!

Mark Bachmann