‘Take me to the river’ Podcast

Sharing stories and inspiring hope

Join Dr. Siwan Lovett, social ecologist and river restoration advocate, as she uncovers the stories of people who live, work and breathe rivers. Our guests are talented and passionate people looking after our rivers who, in sharing their stories, are inspiring hope for the future of our waterways.

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    Episode 13 – How will raising the Warragamba Dam wall erase Indigenous heritage

    This podcast episode continues the discussion on the proposal to raise the Warragamba Dam wall in Western Sydney by up to 17 metres. We talk with special guest Kazan Brown, a Gundungurra elder from the region, who is incredibly concerned that if the proposal goes ahead it will endanger 5700 hectares of UNESCO World Heritage-listed national park and flood 1541 cultural sites of the Gundungarra people in the Burragorang valley, some dating back thousands of years. The flooding of the valley in the 1940s completed the first cycle of dispossession from land, traditional economies and ceremony. Now, the Gundungurra people, who had lived in the Burragorang valley for 50,000 years, could lose any remaining cultural sites.

    Episode 12 – Why raising the Warragamba Dam wall raises serious concerns

    In this episode, I speak with the Honourable Bob Debus, former Attorney-General, Minister for the Environment, Minister for the Arts for the Blue Mountains electorate and Chairperson for the Colong Foundation For Wilderness. We dive into a discussion about the proposal to raise the Warragamba Dam wall, and highlight the flawed rationale that a higher dam wall will protect residents in high flood risk areas in Western Sydney. Raising the dam wall will flood 6000 hectares of UN world heritage-listed national park and put at risk many threatened species. The area is also of high cultural significance for the Gundungurra people with over 1500 sites threatened by rising floodwaters.

    We explore all these concerns and note that much of this landscape has the highest level of formal legal protection available for endangered ecosystems in Australia – can we just disregard the State, Federal and International obligations that were put in place to ensure actions like raising the dam wall would never go ahead?

    Episode 11 – Why the Murrumbidgee River wrote a letter to Canberra

    Andy Lowes, author of the Letter from the Murrumbidgee River to Canberrans, is Canberra born and bred, growing up swimming, fishing and walking by the Murrumbidgee.  In this episode, Siwan and Andy discuss how the letter helps explain the changes the river has seen in its ecology and the way people interact with it, and reinforces the need for immersing ourselves in nature.

    Episode 10 – What motivates curious people to become climate leaders?

    In this episode, Siwan is joined by author Rod Taylor, author of ‘Ten Journeys on a Fragile Planet’, which follows the stories of ten inspiring Australians who are confronting our changing climate in unique ways. Siwan and Rod discuss the importance of people and technology, and how being curious and asking the right questions can help address climate change. 

    Episode 9 – Why is thinking about the future hard?

    In this episode, Associate Professor Lorrae van Kerkhoff, Director of the Institute for Water Futures and Associate Director of the Fenner School of Environment and Society at the Australian National University, shares why thinking about the future is hard, and the importance of institutional environments that allow for uncertain futures. Siwan and Lorrae discuss the importance of creativity in problem-solving and planning for the future, and how we as humans imagine our future selves as strangers, making it very difficult to anticipate the reality of the future.

    Episode 8 – Is raising dam walls an effective strategy to manage climate change impacts?

    In this episode, Siwan and Professor Jamie Pittock discuss whether raising dam walls is an effective management strategy to address our changing climate. They discuss the current proposal to raise the Warragamba Dam wall in outer Sydney, and whether the stated aims of it being to address flooding and protect downstream communities, will actually be achieved. Jamie has worked for the WWF and is a member of the Wentworth Group of Concerned Scientists, and other nature conservancy groups. He is now based at the Australian National University where he teaches and writes across environment, society and climate change adaptation topics. In their conversation, Siwan and Jamie discuss the ecological and cultural consequences of the proposal to raise the dam wall, and highlight how a multi-million dollar ‘flooding’ solution is likely to fail.

    Episode 7 – Retaining hope in the face of a changing climate, with Professor Mark Howden

    In this episode, Siwan talks with Professor Mark Howden about how we can retain hope in the face of a changing climate. Mark is the Director of the Institute for Climate, Energy and Disaster Solutions at the Australian National University, as well as being the Vice-Chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). As a global expert on climate science, his work over the last thirty years has explored climate variability, change and adaptation. In this conversation, Mark and Siwan discuss how we can look to each other for the skills and hope we need to adapt to our changing climate.

    Episode 6 – Their Stories: Professor Ross Thompson

    In this episode, Siwan talks to Professor Ross Thompson, Director and Chair of Water Science at the Institute for Applied Ecology, University of Canberra. Their talk focuses on work currently underway in environmental flows, with both involved in the Commonwealth Environmental Water Office’s Flow – Monitoring, Evaluation and Research project. The project is exploring how to manage and deliver water to gain the greatest environmental benefit in areas of the Murray-Darling Basin.

    Episode 5 – What makes a river champion and why are they so important?

    In this episode, Siwan talks with Dr. Simon Mould, on what makes a river champion and why we need to support those people who are working for better water and river management. The ‘champion’ concept highlights the importance of critical leaders in environmental initiatives. However, our experience tells us that the label of ‘champion’ would sit uncomfortably on the shoulders of many who play critical roles in advancing river management agendas in their communities and workplaces. The label is at odds with the humility and modesty of many of these champions – who are the ones driving change behind the scenes – so how can we expand the concept of ‘championship’, in order to recognise and support these individuals?

    Episode 4 – Bouncing forward: Resilience, adaption and transformation, with Paul Ryan

    In this episode, Paul Ryan – founding director of the Australian Resilience Centre, and a global leader in resilience, adaptation and transformation practice – discusses the idea of ‘bouncing forward’. The term stems from the notion of resilience being our ability to ‘bounce back’ is a flawed concept. This is because when we go through a traumatic experience such as the bushfires and current pandemic conditions, we come out the other end with lived experience and knowledge that we previously didn’t have. It is difficult to return back to the state we entered the experience with. Instead, resilience can be associated with our ability to ‘bounce forward’. What can we learn from the experience, adapt to, and build into our lives going forward?

    Episode 3 – Take care to give care, with Suzy-Nethercott Watson

    In this episode, Siwan talks to Suzy about reflecting on the tough few months we’ve had in Australia, which has caused people to be in a heightened state of anxiety and fear for longer periods of time than we are used to. This episode talks about a resource called ‘Take Care to Give Care’ – a guide that Two Green Threads has produced for wildlife carers, but which also applies to all of us in current times. We acknowledge and discuss the strength and scale of these recent events on our minds, body and general well being, and how we can build resilience through the Awareness-Balance-Connection Framework.

    Episode 2 – Saving Stocky

    In this episode, we look at the devastation bushfires have caused across many of our beautiful forests and iconic wildlife species. But what of those less charismatic species, the ones that are rarely seen, yet have just as much claim to being saved as any other species? Who is looking out for them? In pools, creeks and rivers across Australia are native fish that are small, unique and hard to find. Associate Professor Mark Lintermans has dedicated his career to understanding these fish that most Australians know little about. Mark has been trekking into the bush to catch and rescue fish not so much threatened by the fires but by the impact of ash and debris being washed into their mountain homes once rain arrives.

    Episode 1 – Container Love

    In this episode, we focus on the impact of the devastating Australian bushfires – the loss of people’s homes, death and injury to wildlife, and vast tracts of burnt bushland, leading to feelings of anxiety, fear, anger and sadness. Siwan shares how she is finding comfort in understanding more about ‘ecological grief’ and provides some practical examples that show how through small acts of compassion, like placing water out for wildlife, we can retain hope in ourselves, each other and our environment.

    Meet the Speaker: Dr. Siwan Lovett

    As a social ecologist and river restoration advocate, Siwan has spent the past twenty five years working with people, rivers and communities; focusing on sharing knowledge to protect and restore our creeks, wetlands, rivers and billabongs. Finding herself working in river restoration is, at first glance, a little strange, as her disciplinary background is sociology and organisational theory. However, this has been a real strength, as she can bring her way of knowing the world into a community of people who are passionate about their natural environment, but may not know as much about the importance of social connection and community.