Janine Kitson

Desert Lake: The story of Kati Thanda-Lake Eyre

By Pamela Freeman & Liz Anelli, Walker Books, 2016

When water flows into desert Kati Thanda-Lake Eyre it sets off a cascading explosion of life as frogs, invertebrates and other living organisms are released from hibernation in the deep recesses of the lake. Mysteriously, the pelicans know it is time to journey across the Tasman to visit this inland oasis and, with other migratory birds they breed, nest and raise their chicks again. Then the water evaporates and the cycle of drought begins again as the lake dries out.

Author Pamela Freeman’s highly evocative descriptions and contrasting factual information is deeply grounded in ecological wisdom, knowing that everything is connected. Liz Anelli’s illustrations evoke powerful feelings of noise, colour and intensity of activity that this lifecycle creates at a landscape level.

One foreboding sentence at the end of the book suggests these events are becoming increasingly rare. What happens when humans interfere with the water cycle — at a global level with climate change and at a landscape level with irrigation — removing vital water upon which many species are utterly dependent?

Learning about the Fragile Fauna of the Bellinger Valley

By Bellingen Environment Centre Inc., 2015

This valuable resource highlights the beauty and fragility of the precious wildlife of the Bellinger Valley, from the rainforests to mountain forests to the estuaries and beaches of northern NSW.

Each double page in this A5 booklet explores one wildlife species of the Bellingen region — where they live, what plants are important to them, what affects their survival and how to identify them. Young readers are invited to contemplate the beauty and fragility of the wildlife as they colour in the excellent drawings.

Despite the constant messaging about how these animals are under threat due to habitat loss, logging, land-clearing, pollution and pests, pollution and disease the Bellingen Environment Centre is now gearing up to oppose logging in the forests at the head waters of the Kalang River. When will we learn?

The Gardens of Stone Reserve Proposal: Towards National Heritage

By Ian Brown for the Colong Foundation for the Wilderness and Blue Mountains Conservation Society Final Report, July 2016

This Gardens of Stone heritage report celebrates the unique heritage values of some 39,000 hectares of stunning landscape that adjoins the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area near Lithgow.

This report is the first comprehensive scientific argument as to why the Gardens of Stone Stage 2 should be National Heritage listed and so permanently protected. Currently the area is under threat from underground and open-cut coal mining.

Hopefully the Gardens of Stone Stage 2 will soon become Australia’s own "Yellowstone National Park" with its spectacular yellow and gold sandstone pagodas, cliffs, natural arches, waterfalls, slot canyons, gorges and large caverns.

The report and other information can be found online here. This is an important resource for students of science, geology, biology, history, geography and earth and environment science.

All three books are available from Federation Library.

Desert Lake
Geography K-10

Places are Similar and Different


A student:

  • examines features and characteristics of places and environments
  • describes the ways people, places and environments interact
  • examines differing perceptions about the management of places and environments

Key inquiry questions

  • How and why are places similar and different?
  • How do people’s perceptions about places influence their views about the protection of places?

Content focus

  • Students examine natural and human features of Australia

The Australian continent

  • description of natural features of Australia eg deserts, rivers
  • location of Australia’s states, territories and major cities
  • identification of Countries/Places of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples

Climate of places

  • Students:
  • investigate the climates of different places, for example:
  • comparison of climates in different places

Perception and protection of places

  • investigate how the protection of places is influenced by people’s perception of places, for example:
  • description of how and why people perceive places differently
- discussion of how people’s perceptions influence the protection of places in Australia eg sacred sites, national parks, world heritage sites.

Small group/pair discussion:
How is a Lake Eyre similar and different to where you live?
How would you feel about Lake Eyre if you visited it when it was dry? When it was in flood?
How might the pelicans know when the lake is full of water?

Suggestions for learning activities:
Draw the life cycle of the different frogs, invertebrate, birds and other wildlife at Lake Eyre.

Make a time line about when Lake Eyre has had water.

Draw a map of Australia with its states, territories, and major cities and Lake Eyre.

Readers Theatre - perform the story. Include musical effects eg by playing on simple instruments such as drums, tambourines and xylophones

Find out about the Aboriginal People of Lake Eyre.

Write a poem about the floods and droughts.

Watch some you tubes about the flooding of Lake Eyre.
Research the climate of Northern Australia and the Central Australia.

Debate: Lake Eyre should be world heritage listed.

Learning about the Fragile Fauna of the Bellinger Valley
English K-10

Writing and representing


A student:

composes, edits and presents well-structured and coherent texts


  • Students:
  • explore and analyse the effectiveness of informative and persuasive devices in texts
  • understand and use the key elements of planning, composing, reviewing and publishing in order to meet the increasing demands of topic, audience and language
  • Understand and apply knowledge of language forms and features
  • plan, draft and publish imaginative, informative and persuasive texts, choosing and experimenting with text structures, language features, images and digital resources appropriate to purpose and
  • Respond to and compose texts
  • compose imaginative and informative texts that show evidence of developed ideas
  • compose texts that include sustained and effective use of persuasive devices, eg texts dealing with environmental issues.

Small group/pair discussion:
What wildlife have you seen?
What is wildlife do you like best? Why?
Which wildlife is most threatened with extinction?

Suggestions for learning activities:
Look up a map of the NSW North Coast and locate the Bellinger Valley.

Draw black and white outlines of other endangered Australian birds, animals and reptiles.

Visit your local Environmental Education Centre and learn about the wildlife that lives near it.

Write your own book about the wildlife in your local area.

The Gardens of Stone Reserve Proposal
Depth Study 5: The Globalising World
Topic 5b: The environment movement (1960s-present)

The background to environmental awareness, including the nineteenth century National Parks movement in America and Australia Students

  • identify major threats to the natural environment
  • outline the origins of environmental awareness and activism

The intensification of environmental effects in the twentieth century as a result of population increase, urbanisation, increasing industrial production and trade Students:

  • discuss how global resource needs and trade have intensified environmental issues in developed and developing nations

Significant events and campaigns that contributed to popular awareness of environmental issues Students

  • outline the important developments in at least ONE environmental event and campaign

Responses of governments, including the Australian Government, and international organisations to environmental threats since the 1960s, including deforestation and climate change Students:

  • assess changing Australian government policies and actions towards environmental issues since the 1960s, including deforestation and climate change

Draw a timeline relating to the background of NSW Bushwalking Conservation movement:

Myles Dunphy forms the Mountain Trails Club (1914); Sydney Bush Walkers formed (1927); campaign to save the Blue Gum Forest in the Grose Valley (1931–32); Establishment of National Parks & Primitive Areas Council (1932); ‘Katoomba Daily’ Special Supplement of proposed Blue Mountains National Park (1934); Blue Mountains National Park (1959); National Trust proposes ‘Pinnacles National Park’ for Gardens of Stone area (1977); World Heritage Listing of Greater Blue Mountains (2000); Gardens of Stone National Park (1994); Campaign to save Gardens of Stone Stage Two starts (1985) etc.

What are the major threats to the Gardens of Stone region?

Discuss how the global resources needs and trade – in particular coal mining – have intensified environmental issues in NSW since the 1990s.

Watch video of Gardens of Stone

Outline the important developments in the Gardens of Stone Stage 2 campaign.

What have been the NSW Government’s responses to the Gardens of Stone area?

What have been the changes to NSW mining, forestry and environmental legislation since 1960s?