Range Management Newsletter 13/2


July 2013 – Range Management Newsletter 13/2


Noelene Duckett, 5 Amery Street, Ashburton VIC 3147. Email: aduckett7@msn.com

Welcome to the second issue of the Range Management Newsletter for 2013.

Once again, there are a number of articles of interest to RMN readers. Firstly, Quentin Hart has provided an update on the Feral Camel Management Project – this project is working to reduce the impact of feral camels on desert ecosystems, the pastoral industry, remote Aboriginal communities and public safety and involves 20 project partners. I am also very pleased to include our next ARS member profile – this time focussing on one of my career idols, Dr Margaret Friedel. Who knew she once kept emperor gum moth caterpillars and dreamed of being a forester? Additionally, Martin Andrew, Sarah Nicolson and several friends have put together an article describing the “End of an Era” for the Nicolson family’s Middleback and Roopena Stations as the well-known South Australian pastoral properties are taken over by the Department of Defence. The Nicolsons have had a significant impact on rangeland land use practices in Australia (and worldwide) and happily hosted numerous research students, including myself, over the years. They were so forgiving that they never once complained about the seemingly random exclosures I erected in their paddocks or the noise I surely made whilst driving to my sites to measure water potentials in the pre-dawn hours – instead a cup of tea and a friendly chat was always on offer!

I would also like to draw attention to a couple of opportunities for RMN readers. Firstly, did you know that you can now leave comments and discuss new articles found in The Rangeland Journal on-line? Also, did you also know that CSIRO are making free copies of some of their recent publications available to RMN readers in return for a review in the RMN?  Details about both of these opportunites are given later in this issue.

Finally don’t forget that applications for the Australian Rangeland Society Awards close on the 30 November. Further details about these travel grants and scholarships, including new guidelines recently approved at the 2013 AGM, are available at the end of this issue.

Please consider contributing to the final newsletter for 2013 which is due out in November. I would appreciate receiving articles for this issue by mid-October.

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John Taylor, ARS President and Director, 37 Pioneer Crescent, Bellbowrie Qld 4070. 
Email: taylamob@tpg.com.au

Since the last newsletter, your Council has held an ordinary meeting and an AGM. At the ordinary meeting Council considered options for the 2014 biennial conference in Alice Springs and concluded a number of issues arising from the 2012 survey of members and a survey of Kununurra conference participants.

At the AGM the Directors and Auditors Reports were tabled. The Directors report included reports from the Subscriptions Manager (Graeme Tupper), the Publications Committee (Chair, Ken Hodgkinson) and the Finance and Audit Officer (Peter Marin). These reports are included elsewhere in this newsletter for your information. Importantly, I can report that the Society is solvent, but like all professional societies today is experiencing a slow decline in active members. Council is grappling with this issue. Among the other business conducted at the AGM was the passage of a motion to alter the Guidelines for ARS Travel Grants and Scholarships, and the election of office bearers. Our tireless and very effective Secretary, Carolyn Ireland, and General Council Member, Kate Masters (Mt Isa Qld), re-nominated and were re-elected unopposed. Congratulations to both Carolyn and Kate. Ms Larissa Lauder retired and David Phelps (Longreach Qld) was elected to fill the remaining General Council Member position. On behalf of Council I would like to thank Larissa for her important contributions to the Council and the direction of the Society, and to welcome David to the Council. For those who don’t know him, David’s biography is published elsewhere in this newsletter. I would personally like to thank Carolyn for re-nominating and especially for her efficiency in preparing for our regular teleconferences and in recording our deliberations.

The next Council meeting is scheduled for late July 2013. At this meeting we will be considering Council succession, plans for an Alice Springs conference and the usual updates on membership, finances and publications. Further Council meetings this year are scheduled for 4th September and 5th December.

I am pleased to advise that Dr Ron Hacker has accepted the role of Chair of the Publications Committee, replacing Dr Ken Hodgkinson. Ron has been involved with the Publications Committee for several years, and has recently been working closely with Ken to ensure a smooth transition. Ken will remain on the Publications Committee until December 2013. Ken’s contributions to the Society were detailed and acknowledged publicly in the award of Fellow of the Australian Rangeland Society in 2012, but I would again thank him for his vision for the ARS’s publications and the energy with which he has progressed this and, in doing so, raised the profile of the rangelands and the Society. On behalf of Council, thank you Ken!

Finally, an April issue of the Ag Institute of Australia’s AgAlert reminded me of the widely acclaimed November 2012 issue (Vol 65/6) of the journal Rangeland Ecology and Management (formerly the Journal of Range Management). This was a special issue of 15 papers addressing the big questions that have emerged from a century of rangeland science and management. I commend all of the papers to you, and especially those by Brandon Bestelmeyer et al., Nathan Sayre et al., Andrew Ash et al., Sam Fuhlendorf et al. and Mark Brunson.

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Chair of the Publications Committee – Ron Hacker


Ron has recently retired after a career of 43 years in rangeland research and extension in both WA and NSW.

In his career with the WA Department of Agriculture from 1970-1991 Ron spent periods in Kalgoorlie, Kununurra and Perth, with extensive involvement in rangeland research, extension and monitoring. He joined NSW Agriculture in 1991 and on retirement from its successor, NSW Department of Primary Industries, he held the position of Research Leader (Forest and Rangeland Ecosystems) and was Director of the Trangie Agricultural Research Centre. He currently holds an appointment as Adjunct Professor in the School of Environmental and Rural Science at the University of New England.

Ron is one of the earliest members of the Australian Rangeland Society, joining soon after its establishment in 1975. He served as Vice President, President and Immediate Past President from 1994-1999. He has had a long association with the Society’s publications as Editor of The Australian Rangeland Journal and Chair of the Editorial Committee from 1985-1990, a member of the Publications Committee from 1989-1995 and a member of the Publications Review Committee appointed by Council in 2005 to make recommendations for the future direction of The Rangeland Journal, the Range Management Newsletter and the website.

In taking up his appointment as Chair of the Publications Committee Ron will step down from his current position as an Associate Editor of The Rangeland Journal. In this role he has recently completed, as Guest Editor, the Special Issue produced from papers submitted to the 17th Biennial Conference in Kununurra. His own publication record includes over 180 refereed journal and conference papers, technical publications, book chapters and major reports.

Ron can be contacted by email at ron.hacker@crt.net.au or by phone on 0419 488 318.

General Member of Council – David Phelps

David grew up on the family wool, beef, grain and pulse farm in the Walgett district of north-western NSW. It was here that David first learnt the value of Mitchell grass, heavy clay soils and flooded pastures. This has expanded into an RD&E career within the Mitchell grasslands and channel country of Queensland following the move to Longreach to join the DAFF (formerly DPI) in 1990. David maintains links with the family property, which his parents and brother run.

David’s research initially focused on improving cattle and sheep production from Mitchell grass pastures by improving grazing quality from feathertop wiregrass infested pastures. Identifying fire and cattle grazing as management tools for wiregrass control led to the awarding of a PhD from the University of New England in 2007.

In the mid 1990s David published a guide to evaluating the potential for rangeland plant species in the bush food industry, which stemmed from an interest shared by David and his wife Wendy.

Between 2001 and 2007, David developed tools to help anticipate pasture response to flooding in Queensland’s channel country floodplains, and how to best match cattle numbers with the resulting amount and quality of feed on offer. This work lead to a Churchill Fellowship to investigate similarly flooded systems in southern Africa, and northern and southern America in 2003. At the same time the Millennium drought had a severe impact on land condition of the Mitchell grasslands and project work focused on recording the extent of the issue and looking for reasons why some paddocks had better grass survival than paddocks next door.

David then led a team which customised and delivered MLA EDGEnetwork Grazing Land Management Certificate IV training packages for the channel country, Mitchell grasslands, Desert Uplands, Northern and Southern Gulf and mulga lands.
Most recently David has led projects within MLA’s Northern Grazing Systems initiative to define best-bet grazing management options under current and possible future variable climate conditions across northern Australia. Similar project work is now exploring the potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from livestock production in the Mitchell grasslands.

David was fortunate enough to work part-time in Mongolia in a three-person consultancy team advising the Mongolian Society for Range Management from 2009-2012. Whilst this work involved a lot of time in the capital Ulaanbaatar, it included trips to visit herder families and to discuss their issues and production systems.

David is currently a Principal Scientist for the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry in Longreach, Queensland. He can be contacted by email at David.Phelps@daff.qld.gov.au or by phone on 0427 270 259.

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The first step in reducing destruction of desert wetlands and cultural sites


Quentin Hart, National Manager – Australian Feral Camel Management Project, Ninti One Ltd, PO Box 3971
Alice Springs NT 0871.
Email: quentin.hart@nintione.com.au

Origins and objectives

The Australian Feral Camel Management Project (AFCMP):

  • covers over 3 million square kilometres and hundreds of landholders
  • Involves 20 project partners
  • is the first Australian project to manage a terrestrial vertebrate pest at this scale, using conventional control techniques, without the legislative support available to programs such as the Brucellosis and Tuberculosis Eradication Campaign.

The project is working with a large number of partners and stakeholders to reduce the impact of feral camels on desert ecosystems, the pastoral industry, remote Aboriginal communities and public safety. It has a solid evidence base through the foundational work of the Desert Knowledge CRC (DKCRC Report 47, available at: www.feralcamels.com.au).


Figure 1. A large mob of feral camels in the Simpson Desert (Photo: R.Sleep)


The project’s primary focus is biodiversity protection at nominated environmental sites (Figure 3), which are typically sites of cultural significance. Feral camels also damage pastoral infrastructure (fences and waterpoints) and pose a safety threat on roads, airstrips and in the communities themselves. Remote communities are heavily dependent on light aircraft access, and congregations of feral camels around airstrips threaten this access. During prolonged dry periods, mobs of feral camels may move into communities in their desperation for water.

Project measures include achievement of feral camel density targets at nominated environmental sites and other parameters such as wetland condition, vegetation browse damage and stakeholder views.


Figure 2. The ultimate result of feral camel congregations: denuded landscape, depleted water sources and dying animals. (Photo: R.Bugg)

The management challenge

Since a four-year agreement between Ninti One Ltd and the Australian Government’s Caring for Our Country program was signed in February 2010, the AFCMP has made substantial progress. This is based on an early realisation of the need for comprehensive collaboration processes due to the diverse range of land tenures (Aboriginal, conservation estate, pastoral and Crown) across which feral camels roam and the diverse stakeholder interests, including commercial use.

The comprehensive governance structure of the project allows for regular interaction between project partners, technical and operational personnel. This facilitates communication, policy development, risk management and adaptive management – the latter aspect being particularly important in responding to adverse seasonal conditions.

The AFCMP is engaging with two themes that were highlighted at the 2010 50th Ecological Society of Australia conference: the need to develop workable solutions to biodiversity issues based on informed stakeholder preferences and learning by doing; and combining Aboriginal and Western ecological knowledge for land management solutions. A significant proportion of the feral camel population is on Aboriginal lands and this requires comprehensive management consent processes which are different in each jurisdiction.

Figure 3. The 18 environmental sites that the AFCMP has been charged with protecting from unacceptable levels of feral camel damage.



Figure 4. 2011 feral camel density map extrapolated from aerial survey data since 2006, that indicated a population of around 750,000 at that time.

Although the focus of the AFCMP is management, we are also improving knowledge of feral camel movements, demographics, impacts and management, as well as better understanding what is involved in coordinating a national landholder engagement and environmental management project.

Commercial use

The project firmly backs the development of a strong, viable industry that provides long-term benefits and employment provided feral camel damage is managed to acceptable levels. As part of an integrated approach to feral camel management, the project is currently supporting commercial use on Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (South Australia), Ngaanyatjarra (Western Australia) and Central Land Council (Northern Territory) lands. Around 20 per cent of feral camels removed under the project are through commercial use.

The commercial use industry is represented on the AFCMP Steering Committee through the Australian Camel Industry Association. In addition, Ninti One has had numerous discussions with commercial use proponents about project activities and how they can engage with landholders. The commercial use industry will need to continue to effectively engage with landholders and demonstrate that they can remove large numbers of feral camels in a timely manner.

Some parts of Australia will remain too remote for commercial use to be viable, so there will always be a role for aerial culling to address the concerns of landholders and land management agencies about feral camel impacts.


Key achievements of the project to date include:

Governance and landholder engagement

  • established a comprehensive governance structure to ensure regular input from the 20 project partners and broader stakeholders
  • established landholder consent for commercial and/or non-commercial feral camel removal over all priority areas for feral camel management

Feral camel removal operations

  • implemented rigorous Standard Operating Procedures for aerial culling, ground culling and mustering, with independent oversight of same, confirming a high standard of animal welfare
  • supported the development of an aerial culling Decision Support System to help improve the efficiency of removal operations; aerial culling operations have been highly efficient with a typical direct cost of around $20-50 per head
  • supported the commercial use industry by linking landholders with commercial interests, training and minor infrastructure
  • removed around 150,000 feral camels to date and on track to achieve density targets at most sites despite being hindered by wet weather in 2010-11

Capacity building

  • enhanced the capacity of landholders and land management agencies to undertake culling and commercial use operations into the future
  • around 500 Aboriginal people have been trained in monitoring and managing feral camel impacts

Improved knowledge

  • improved knowledge of feral camel distribution, density and movements through aerial survey, aerial cull GPS records and satellite tracking
  • established five intensive environmental monitoring sites across Australia
  • around one million motion-activated camera images have been taken of the animals that depend on scarce desert water sources – one preliminary finding is that feral camels seem to be changing the drinking patterns of dingoes which is in turn affecting the drinking behaviour of prey species
  • around 120 vegetation sites are being monitored and some of these are indicating that the interaction of fire and browse damage by feral camels and other herbivores is threatening the local survival of some species.

Beyond the AFCMP

The AFCMP is contracted until 31 December 2013 and should be regarded as only the first step in ongoing national coordination of feral camel management. The extreme mobility of feral camels requires management across jurisdictions; not just across land tenure. This requirement has been formally recognised through the endorsement of the National Feral Camel Action Plan (NFCAP) by the Natural Resource Management Ministerial Council in 2010.

The AFCMP is incidentally addressing over 75% of NFCAP actions in some way, and the final AFCMP report will assess which of the NFCAP actions could be regarded as being ‘completed’, bearing in mind that many of the actions require ongoing attention. There is a possibility of regression in many of these actions if AFCMP partner commitment and resourcing to feral camel management reverts to historic levels at the end of the project.

The final AFCMP aerial surveys will provide improved information on the background rate of feral camel population increase and a better understanding of the level of removal required to meet long-term density targets (ideally less than 0.1 per square kilometre across most of the feral camel distribution).

The systems and partnerships developed through the AFCMP will support long-term feral camel management and we believe the project offers a useful model for other cross-tenure and cross-jurisdictional NRM projects.

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Growing up in beachside suburbs of Melbourne and attending suburban and city schools may not seem to be a good indicator of a future life in rangelands. Perhaps, though, there are a few pointers here and there, like my good fortune to spend weekends on the family farm, as a child. There I caught tadpoles in an overgrown quarry, gathered emperor gum moth caterpillars to grow up in a shoe box, and collected tiny algae from an ancient water tank to examine under a child’s microscope. I had determined by the age of eleven that I would be a scientist, although I perceived that this had something to do with test tubes, as I recall.

Botany and zoology took my interest at university after flirtations with physics, maths and chemistry. Choosing a topic for a PhD was driven by a strong feeling that I wanted to do something with an obvious application, so I studied productivity decline in Pinus radiata in South Australian pine plantations and learnt about potential nutrient deficiencies. My first real exposure to rangeland country was as support for university student excursions into the mallee and the Hattah Lakes National Park in the late 1960s.

With the offer of a post doctoral position in forestry in Canada, a career as a forester beckoned, but I took a temporary job teaching trainee teachers in a bush camp in Gippsland while awaiting a departure date. Teaching young and enthusiastic people about science and the environment and joining in bushwalks and snow camping extended into three years and the post doctoral work slowly faded from my ‘must do’ list. Along the way, I completed a Dip Ed. but eventually decided I should try to return to research before my skills were outdated. The pleasure of working in the bush camp was tempered by rain, cold and mud, and sleeping in army tents, and so my thoughts focused on a job somewhere warm – Alice Springs!

A career in rangelands

Joining CSIRO Land Resources Management back in 1974 did not involve the formal interview procedures which we have today. No gender-balanced interview panel and carefully worded questions probed my abilities for the job. Instead, I arrived in Alice Springs at the end of an international conference when all the staff were in the mood for celebrating. Some of my clearest memories are of pistol shooting down the hallway of a future colleague’s (Bill Low’s) home, at targets on the sitting room wall, while the Divisional Editor (Malcolm Howes) ducked stray pellets behind the couch and bobbed up to check the score, and cries of “She’ll do” from tech staff when I entered the tea room (it was the mini-skirt era then).

I had applied for a Research Scientist position at Alice Springs, to study nutrient cycling and its role in maintaining soil fertility and ecosystem stability in arid Australia. Luckily for me, having no formal training in ecology and no knowledge of the arid zone was not an impediment to becoming an arid lands ecologist, but I doubt young scientists would be so fortunate today. Research on nutrient cycling soon expanded to include the productivity of grazed native pastures, which had been assessed by others to be in different ‘states’ as a consequence of the way they were managed. Imagine my surprise when my acceptance of these ‘states’ was challenged by colleague Dean Graetz, who suggested that the assessments might be wrong and hence so might my conclusions! He was right.

A new research stream opened up. What were the theoretical and practical bases for the assessment of the condition of rangelands? Luckily, many of the conventional theories of vegetation change and succession were being challenged at the time, most notably in a landmark paper by Westoby, Walker and Noy-Meir in 1989, and there was room for new insights. A six-month fellowship from the South African Department of Agriculture in 1985 had given me the opportunity to expand my understanding of vegetation change in another fascinating environment. Meeting Bill Laycock from the University of Wyoming at a US Society for Range Management meeting in 1990 was the catalyst for articulating the significance of thresholds of vegetation and soil change, and our subsequent publications generated considerable interest.

Scientifically, a powerful influence in the 1980s and 90s was the expansion of skills in the Alice Springs group to encompass remote sensing, and the landscape-scale insights it provided. The group as a whole developed perspectives on structure and function of landscapes and how different scales were integrated into one another. This was a crucial development, since practical grazing management was based on pastoral properties of 2-5000 sq km and paddocks of sometimes several hundred square kilometres. Small-scale grazing trials were costly and could never mimic the grazing patterns created by free-ranging cattle. While I worked with a number of colleagues from rangeland agencies to refine their methods of ground-based range assessment, others developed complementary methods based on remotely-sensed data. Following enquiries in 1997 from Suresh Kumar at CAZRI in Jodhpur, whom I had met at an International Rangeland Congress in 1988, Gary Bastin and I went on to develop a four-year collaboration in the early 2000s with Suresh and other Rajasthani researchers, adapting our remote sensing technologies to enable assessment of the extent and causes of degradation in India’s arid rangelands. This assessment was set within the context of social and economic needs and the realities of livestock husbandry in India.

In the 1980s and 90s funding was still readily available for basic ecological research. I explored the dynamics of woody plants in central Australia, and the impacts on them of rainfall, livestock, rabbits and fire. I became a junior partner to Graham Griffin in a study of fire in central Australia and episodic change in vegetation, and later worked closely with senior technician Des Nelson to mine his wonderful diaries for information about phenology of arid zone shrubs and trees, which we subsequently published.


Janine Kinloch, Margaret Friedel, Ashley Sparrow and Des Nelson celebrating the end of project fieldwork on Erldunda Station in 1992.


Of course, grazing is not the only land use in the outback and it is certainly not the major money earner, although it occupies very significant amounts of land. By the early 1990s, interest was growing in regional-scale planning and the inclusion of other land uses. I joined Alec Holm, Don Burnside and a team from government and non-government organisations, researching how to involve the North East Goldfields community, as well as a much broader constituency, in land use planning. We developed a real appreciation of the participants – Aboriginal people, conservationists, diversifiers, miners, pastoralists, prospectors and tourism operators – and of the challenges of dealing with powerful interest groups.

During the 1990s I also worked with traditional owners, research staff and rangers at Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park to investigate the impact of tourism at Uluru. Further engagement with tourism followed, this time taking a whole system approach to understanding social, economic and environmental drivers of the industry, with a view to supporting community involvement in industry and regional development. Initiated by Mark Stafford Smith in 2002, the project developed from a preliminary tourism systems simulation to a second phase developing an information system based on industry needs and gathering data to refine the initial model. This second phase, ending in 2007, was my responsibility, ably supported by Vanessa Chewings and many agency and community members. It demonstrated the limited benefits of pursuing systems dynamic modelling in these circumstances, although the process of developing the initial systems view gave participants some useful perspectives.

In 2002 I was appointed to lead the Alice Springs lab, and research time became constrained. A highlight of my seven years in the role was the growth of indigenous livelihoods research in the lab, starting with the appointment of Jocelyn Davies, and now engaging a substantial research group. In a final change of direction for my own research, I inherited a project in 2004 on dispersal, impact and management of buffel grass, which initiated new research on invasive grasses of commercial value. It expanded to include diverse aspects, including socio-economic dimensions, the reduction of contention amongst stakeholders, the development of strategies for better management and the potential for more constructive policy. Projects involved many colleagues and organisations, too numerous to mention here but really important to successful outcomes. I was also lucky to work with two lively post-graduate students who diverted me from administration to study fire-invasion feedbacks in central Australia (Georgia Miller) and the implications of land tenure policy for land condition and herder livelihoods in Mongolia (Jane Addison).

Past formal retirement age, I retired at the end of 2010 and became an honorary fellow at CSIRO, which has given me much pleasure: all the enjoyable aspects of research without the bad bits, and plenty of time for other pursuits. I continue to work in the area of invasive grasses, through paper writing and participation in Northern Territory Government committees, and maintain interests in fire management and impacts of tourism. I mentor young leaders through Desert Knowledge Australia’s Desert Leadership Program, and work with university and other colleagues to develop post-graduate projects and skills. I really appreciate the enthusiasm and talent of the young people I work with!



The ARS – a career-long companion

Like Daryl Green (RMN 12/3) I believe I am a ‘charter’ member of ARS, having joined in the first year of its establishment. At the time of the ‘Chenopod Symposium’ in Deniliquin in October 1975, the Society was new and canvassing for members, and I signed up. I have cause to remember the symposium particularly because I had been married for two weeks and this fact was not known to my colleagues. When Allan Wilson, my Program Leader got wind of it, he looked at me severely and said “And why didn’t I get a project proposal about this?”, which I enjoyed greatly. In the 1980s, I became the first woman president of the Australian Rangeland Society, and chaired the Publications Committee for seven years. With Ray Perry’s encouragement, I became active in the management of International Rangeland Congresses, becoming a member of the International Continuing Committee in 1991 and its first woman chair from 1995-9. I was honoured to receive an award from the US Society for Range Management in 1996 for the work on the concept of ‘thresholds’ of change in rangelands, mentioned above: this was particularly special because the nomination was made by Bill Laycock, who should have claimed equal rights.

The ARS Biennial Conferences are a continuing source of professional and personal enjoyment, professional due to interesting and stimulating content and great networking opportunities, and personal for many reasons not least of which is the opportunity to travel cross-country with colleagues and learn about the rangelands along the way. Don Blesing (RMN 12/2) joined me to drive via the Tanami Desert to Kununurra last year, and we explored Wolf Creek Crater both coming and going: a most intriguing place. Gary Bastin has reminded me of an earlier time when a contingent from Alice Springs were on their way home from the 1986 Armidale conference and made camp on a roadside just outside Manilla on the first night. The police, alerted by the occupants of a nearby farmhouse who seemed concerned by our camp fire (and party mood), came to investigate and we needed to do some fast talking to explain why a lone woman was camped in a remote spot with all those men. Fortunately there are many more women in rangelands research and management these days – a very positive trend – so a recurrence is unlikely, besides which, I would probably be perceived to be someone’s grandmother now (which I am).

The Rangeland Journal and Range Management Newsletter have been valuable resources ever since they were initiated. They stand out for the increasing breadth of their coverage of rangeland issues, notably social, environmental and economic matters well beyond predominant pastoral concerns and, for the Journal, with growing international authorship. My personal experience of working with the Journal Editors to get difficult papers to publication has been excellent. The Society’s grants are another important initiative, helping hard-up students achieve their goals. Overall, the Society has played a special role in my life, perhaps because it is large enough to encompass broad interests but small enough to retain a ‘personal’ feel amongst its members.

Looking to the future

What do I think are the major issues relating to the rangelands? At a regional and national level, it’s hard to go past the challenge of being the (near) invisible 85% of the continent, when it comes to policy and resourcing for rangelands. ‘Fixing the hole in Australia’s Heartland’ (http://www.desertknowledge.com.au/Files/Fixing-the-hole-in-Australia-s-Heartland.aspx) has some good perspectives. A related and complex issue of moral, political and practical dimensions is the suite of challenges surrounding indigenous well-being in the rangelands. Some positives are emerging, such as the engagement of traditional owners and young people in natural resource management, but problems remain immense and solutions must be locally-driven, not imposed. Climate change is another big issue, of naturally uncertain dimensions, but one we have some prospects of dealing with because of our already extensive experience of living with unpredictable and extreme climatic events. At this point in time, it is hard to see just how the pastoral industry will adapt to changing circumstances, particularly live export markets, but it will be nuanced for different regions and economies. Guy Fitzhardinge (2012, TRJ 34, 33-45) has described a positive future for rangelands but it will depend on learning by doing, because we have scarcely begun to get from vision to achieving real outcomes. In the international rangeland sphere, issues appear much larger and intractable, due to greater extremes of poverty and corruption, and disparities in political power. Imposing inappropriate social, cultural and political values is a continuing risk for developed countries trying to assist, but rangelanders worldwide stand to gain through shared education and research.

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Martin Andrew and Sarah Nicolson (with help from our friends), URS Australia, Adelaide.
Email: martin.andrew@urs.com, sarah.nicolson@urs.com

On Saturday 13th July, some 230 people gathered at the Middleback shearing shed to recognise the end of an era of Middleback and Roopena Stations (joined in 1986 by the Katunga lease) being working pastoral properties – and to celebrate the impact that these properties, and especially the Nicolson families who have run them, have had on Whyalla (in whose paddocks Whyalla is built), the pastoral industry and rangeland management more widely. The current generation of Nicolsons running these properties are Lachlan and Andrew Jr. They are assisted by Andrew’s children Maddie and Lucy and Lachlan’s children Maryanne , Ali and Donald when they are home for holidays; and still often ably assisted by their parents Don & Penan and Andrew (Snr) & Lesley.

Ironically, or should we say typically for an arid zone property, the function had to be relocated at the last moment from the Red Rock amphitheatre because of heavy rain!

Photo 1.  The iconic Red Rock on Roopena Station


Ninety-four years ago, GA Nicolson took up the Middleback and Roopena leases on the upper Eyre Peninsula of South Australia, and proceeded to implement the Peter Waite model for managing pastoral land – relatively small paddocks and small flocks, permanently grazing around a single watering point centrally located in the paddock. This was made possible by the Wizzo Well located near Roopena Homestead, from where water was piped around the property. To complement the piping of water, over 800km of fencing was done. This was a major engineering achievement – perhaps a story for another time. It meant that Middleback-Roopena were held up as exemplars of conservative, sustainable rangeland management, and demonstrated as a case study to innumerable students and study tours over the years.

Others may comment on the impact that the Nicolsons had on Whyalla – suffice it to say that the ‘movers and shakers’ of the Whyalla community were frequent visitors – either for a picnic in the paddock or one of Lesley Nicolson’s legendary roast saltbush mutton dinners*. This article focuses on their impact on the pastoral industry and particularly rangeland management.

* True story: A group of medicos were at a conference dinner in Columbus, Ohio. The food was terrible, and they got to talking about what they’d rather be eating. One said: “I’d kill for a meal of roast saltbush mutton!” Another exclaims: “You must be talking about Lesley Nicolson’s roast saltbush mutton!” The first: “I am!” Both had been doctors in Whyalla at different times, and both had enjoyed Andrew Snr and Lesley’s hospitality.


It is fair to say that the impact of Middleback-Roopena and the Nicolsons on rangelands in Australia (and overseas) has been immense.

Don and Andrew were actively involved in the Australian Rangelands Society in its early days, especially in the SA Branch. Sarah Nicolson, Andrew Jr’s ex-wife, was not only on the Council of the Australian Rangeland Society for 10 years, she was also the conference convenor for 5 of the Biennial Rangeland Society Conferences. She recalls being struck by how many conference attendees had some sort of a connection to Middleback!



Photo 2.  The party in full swing! The rain stopped about 6pm.


Photo 3.  Andrew Jr (foreground) and Lachlan Nicolson making speeches.

The properties were host to a generation of research students who went on to have collectively a significant impact on rangelands and ecological research, sustainable land management and university teaching. The central figure in this was Bob Lange, the larger-than-life ecologist from the Botany Department at The University of Adelaide who got introduced to the Nicolsons, and the rest, as they say, is history. Bob used Middleback as his base for undergraduate rangelands teaching and for his research and that of his research students. In the 1980s Bob arranged for the University’s Field Centre to be built there to support the teaching and research effort. Bob grew so attached to the Station that in later years, he built a retirement hut at Roopena.

It helped that Don and Andrew were well-educated in agricultural science and had a predisposition to research – Don as an agriculture graduate from Roseworthy Agricultural College, and Andrew Snr as an agricultural science graduate from Waite Agricultural Research Institute who then spent some time in sheep research in western Queensland. Andrew Jr is also a Waite agricultural science graduate.

In roughly chronological order, the PhD research students (and supervisors; research topics) were:

  • Sue Barker (Bob Lange; vegetation patterns of mature piospheres). Sue became a senior manager in the South Australian Environment Department
  • Rod Rogers (Bob Lange; lichen patterns of mature piospheres). Rod became Professor in Botany at the University of Queensland.
  • Ian Noble (Bob Lange; modelling sheep use and grazing behaviour of an arid-zone paddock). Ian became a leading ecological thought-leader at ANU in ecology (fire, vegetation, grazing systems) and was then influential in climate change adaption, first as Director of the CRC for Greenhouse Accounting and then leading the global initiative at the World Bank.
  • Martin Andrew (Bob Lange; the initiation of a piosphere). Martin’s career spans CSIRO in Darwin, Roseworthy Agricultural College (Associate Director), The University of Adelaide (Associate Professor at in rangeland ecology and management, supervising research students and teaching undergraduates at Middleback), and consulting in various aspects of sustainability. Martin is a past President of ARS.
  • Mark Stafford Smith (Ian Noble; modelling grazing systems). Mark was one of the few who worked from the Roopena base; most students worked from Middleback as that is where the shearers quarters were, and later the University’s Field Centre. Mark has had an illustrious career as a leading ecological thought-leader, and is currently CSIRO’s Science Director, Climate Adaptation Flagship and co-chairs the Future Earth Science Committee for the International Councils for Science and Social Science.
  • Nick Reid (Bob Lange; mistletoe bird / vegetation ecology). Nick is Professor of Ecosystem Management in the School of Environmental and Rural Science at University of New England.
  • Kym Nicholson (Bob Lange; spatial and temporal patterns of herbaceous species at Middleback). Kym worked on grasses during the 1982 drought! Kim worked for the SA Department of Environment (now Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources) for many years
  • Noelene Duckett (nee Wotton) (Bob Lange and Martin Andrew; the ecology of the pearl bluebush). Noelene worked for the WA Department of Agriculture in Perth and then as a consultant for URS in Melbourne before relocating to Houston with her family. She has kept involved with the ARS as the Editor of the Range Management Newsletter for the last 13 years. She now lives back in Melbourne.
  • Leigh Hunt (Bob Lange; population dynamics of bladder saltbush under sheep grazing). Leigh worked for the SA and WA Departments of Agriculture, was a Quinney Visiting Fellow at Utah State University for a year and has been a rangeland ecologist with CSIRO Ecosystem Sciences in Darwin since 2003.
  • Dionne Walsh (nee Maywald ) (Bob Lange and Martin Andrew; palatability variation in bladder saltbush). Dionne worked for the WA Department of Agriculture in Meekatharra before moving to the Northern Territory in 2001 where she ran her own consulting business in Alice Springs and Katherine. She has been the Rangeland Research Coordinator for the NT Department of Primary Industry and Fisheries since 2009 and is based in Darwin.
  • Carolyn Ireland (Martin Andrew, Des Coleman and Russ Sinclair; western myall ecology). Carolyn has served on the SA Pastoral Board, the SA Dog Fence Board (with Don Nicolson) and the SA Arid Lands NRM Board. Carolyn is currently Secretary of the ARS.
  • Raghunadh Palisetty (Fleur Tiver – herself a PhD student of Bob and Martin; the effects of sheep, kangaroos and rabbits on the regeneration of trees and shrubs in the chenopod shrublands). Raghu now works for the SA Education Department, teaching science.
  • Ardavan Ghorbani (Fleur Tiver; terrestrial survey and remotely-sensed methods for detecting the biological soil crust components of rangeland condition). Ardavan is now an Assistant Professor in the Department of Range and Watershed Management at the University of Mohaghegh Ardabili in Iran.


Photo 4.  Martin Andrew always enjoys a good party!


As well there were many more Honours and Masters research students (including some of the above PhD students) who spent time at Middleback. These include Andrew Johnson, a senior manager in the SA Environment, Water and Natural Resources (DEWNR) and Primary Industries and Regions SA (PIRSA), and a Past President of the ARS.

Many more people were touched by Middleback-Roopena and the Nicolsons:

  • the hundreds of undergraduate students who undertook intensive courses there taught by Bob Lange, Jose Facelli, Joan Gibbs, Martin Andrew, Des Coleman and Keith Cowley and the support staff who managed the logistics. These were impacted positively by the Middleback ‘immersion’ experience that combined classroom theory (yes, the shearers quarters dining rooms served as classroom for many years), field work teaching and experiential research, and management insights from the Nicolsons themselves as well as Government land managers
  • the children of these staff who sometime accompanied them
  • the many who undertook weekend ‘Plant Identification Courses’ run by Joan Gibbs from University of SA
  • the various visiting researchers (such as Professor Immanuel Noy-Meir, a leading ecological thought-leader from Israel), and
  • the many people who visited in various pre-and post-Conference tours (the International Rangeland Congress of 1983 comes to mind) and various study tours.

Apologies to anyone inadvertently mis-quoted or overlooked in the above list.


Photo 5.   Anthony Fox, Keith Cowley and Des Coleman – University of Adelaide stalwarts in running courses at Middleback


Although the Defence Department has taken over the leases to expand the Cultana Army Range, the good news is that the University has retained the lease to the Field Centre so that teaching and research can continue, albeit under reduced access constraints. Let’s hope this arrangement remains effective.

In closing, let us sow a thought. Perhaps the Society should consider formally recognising the contribution of Middleback-Roopena, the Nicolsons and Bob Lange to rangelands teaching, research and profession by arranging a special issue of the Journal, perhaps in conjunction with a special Symposium – the elapsed time is such that enough of the players are now retired and might like a project to take on!

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Noelene Duckett, Editor – Range Management Newsletter, 5 Amery Street, Ashburton VIC 3147. 
Email: aduckett7@msn.com

CSIRO Publications are making available free review copies of some of their recent publications. To obtain a copy of a publication that interests you, all you need to do is agree to provide a review of the publication for the Range Management Newsletter! First in wins the prize!

Please contact me if you are interested in providing a review of any of the publications indicated below. Note that it is expected that reviews will be completed in a timely manner, will be around 500-1000 words in length, and that they will be suitable for publishing in an upcoming issue of the RMN.

We are currently seeking reviewers for the following new CSIRO Publications books:

Linking Australia’s Landscapes: Lessons and Opportunities from Large-scale Conservation Networks (Edited by James Fitzsimons, Ian Pulsford and Geoff Wescott). Published in June 2013.  www.publish.csiro.au/nid/20/pid/6898.htm

The Aboriginal Story of Burke and Wills: Forgotten Narratives (Edited by Ian Clark and Fred Cahir). Due out in July 2013.

Desert Lake: Art, Science and Stories from Paruku (Edited by Steve Morton, Mandy Martin, Kim Mahood and John Carty).  Published March 2013.   www.publish.csiro.au/nid/21/pid/6848.htm

Nature and Farming: Sustaining Native Biodiversity in Agricultural Landscapes (Written by Dick Norton and Nick Reid). Published in April 2013.  www.publish.csiro.au/nid/21/pid/6713.htm

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Do you have a comment about a new paper that has been published in The Rangelands Journal? If so, why not use the new Commenting Tool that is available on The Rangeland Journal website www.publish.csiro.au/nid/202.htm.

Readers can now create a conversation about recently published papers by leaving comments, joining the debate and discussing the science outcomes of new articles. The Commenting Tool is available for all articles published from Volume 35 (March 2013) onwards. To leave a comment on any particular paper, open the paper and then click on the comments button on the right hand side of the screen. It is that easy!

As a reminder, ARS members receive full on-line access to the electronic version of The Rangeland Journal as part of their membership. You should have been emailed a user-name and password for access in mid-June – please contact the CSIRO Publishing IT Helpdesk at publishing.help@csiro.au if you are having problems. 

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Tabled at the 2013 AGM for the Year Ending 31 December 2012

Review of operations

Council met six times by teleconference during 2012, held an Annual General Meeting on 23 May 2012, and a General Meeting as part of the Biennial Conference in Kununurra in September 2012. Five of the teleconferences were scheduled meetings, and one was an ‘out of session’ meeting to address specific topics. The meeting in September was our only face-to-face meeting since the Bourke Conference in 2010.

A joint Council-Publications Committee meeting was also held in Kununurra in September to discuss the changing composition of our membership, the findings of the survey of members’ needs, and strategies to attract and retain members.

The following were members of the ARS Council, and attended () meetings during 2012:

J Taylor (8)   –  President
C Ireland (8)   –  Secretary
P Marin (7)   –  Finance and Audit Officer/Company Secretary
G Tupper (8)   –  Subscription Manager/General Member, 
B Forsyth (7)   –   General Member
L Lauder (6)   –  General Member
K Masters (6)   –  General Member
A Walsh (7)   –  General Member

Other Council activities during 2012 have included:

  • Completing a new 5-year contact with CSIRO Publishing for publication of The Rangeland Journal.
  • Reviewing the Guidelines for Travel Grants and Scholarships, with an amended version of the Guidelines will be put to members at the 2013 AGM.
  • Investigating Copyright responsibility and obligations regarding the Society’s planned commitments to the Global Rangelands Knowledge System.
  • Seeking approval from rangeland-based Regional NRM Groups for links to their websites to be included on the ARS website. This initiative, and the Global Rangelands Knowledge System will enhance the accessibility of the Society’s and other information on rangelands.
  • Holding the AGM on 23 May 2012, with the major agenda items being the Director’s and Financial Reports and election of Office Bearers. A motion to change the Articles of Association to accommodate the Website, electronic communication tools, and specifying three Editors was passed at the 2012 AGM.
  • Development of a policy and Guidelines on Advertising in ARS Publications by the Publications Committee, which was enhanced and endorsed by Council, and will be published in the Range Management Newsletter.
  • Endorsement of a process to identify and select a suitable replacement for Dr Ken Hodgkinson, Chair of the Publications Committee. This has progressed to the point that the successful applicant will be announced in the first half of 2013
  • An e-survey of Member’s needs, fees and potential uses of the Society’s cash reserves, conducted in May 2012. Fifty-eight members (~20% of the membership) responded. The Biennial conference, The Rangeland Journal and Range Management Newsletter were identified as the most valuable benefits of membership, with web-based information on the rangelands also seen to be important. Members were generally not supportive of using the Society’s cash reserves for Council and Director development or sponsorship of other rangeland activities.
  • In this and a subsequent survey of participants in the 2012 Conference there was strong support for the Society and a recognition that the Society needs to raise the profile of the Rangelands and the Society amongst the Australian population. Some members wanted more emphasis on science but there was also a strong leaning towards greater emphasis on rangeland management and indigenous issues. A report on the findings of the first survey was presented at the Kununurra Conference in September, and a collated report on both surveys will be submitted to the Range Management Newsletter in 2013.
  • Following the successful Rangeland Journal Lecture series in 2011, further TRJ Lectures were held in Perth, Kununurra and Adelaide. These were designed to draw attention to research on Australia’s rangelands, promote the ARS and The Rangeland Journal, and to introduce the ‘new’ Editor in Chief of The Rangeland Journal, Prof John Milne, to members. Council would like to express its thanks to members who assisted in the local organization of these events and hosted Prof Milne and his wife on their travels.
  • Throughout the year, Council has been informed of the progress of the Kununurra Conference Organizing Committee through the minutes of Organizing Committee meetings and the participation of a Council Member, Ben Forsyth, in the Organizing Committee.
  • Almost 200 delegates attended the Society’s 17th Biennial Conference. This successful conference had the theme of “Celebrating diversity: people, place and purpose”. A survey conducted by Council revealed that people came for many reasons, with the most common being the networking and updates on issues, research and ‘best practice’ in the rangelands. During the Conference, the honour of Fellow of the Australian Rangeland Society was conferred on Dr Ken Hodgkinson and Dr Wal Whalley with acclamation. These awards acknowledged their distinguished service and significant contributions to the art, science and communication of rangeland management and furtherance of the aims and functioning of the Society. A motion from the floor at the General Meeting that another home be sought for the Rangelands Australia educational initiative was unanimously endorsed by the members present.
  • Council developed and endorsed the Terms of Reference for a sub-committee, comprising two Council members and four ordinary members, to explore the issues regarding closure of the Rangelands Australia initiative, and to report back to Council
  • In December, Council considered applications for Travel Grants and awarded grants to the following – Tiffany Carroll-Macdonald (University of Technology, Sydney) and Helen King (Australian National University).

In addition to Council, the Society continues to rely heavily on volunteers who fulfil vital roles. These are:


Dr K.C. Hodgkinson – Chair
Professor S. Blake
Dr D.G. Burnside 
Dr J. Davies 
Dr N. Duckett – Editor of Range Management Newsletter
Professor D.J. Eldridge 
Mr R. Grant – Editor of Society Website 
Dr P.W. Johnston 
Dr J. Milne – Editor-in-Chief of The Rangeland Journal 
Dr R.D.B. Whalley


Dr A.J. Ash Australia
Dr B.T. Bestelmeyer USA
Dr B.D. Cooke Australia
Professor O.P. Dube Botswana
A/Professor M.E. Fernández-Giménez USA
Dr R.B. Hacker Australia
Professor B. Hubert France 
Professor R. Long China
Mr N.D. Macleod Australia 
Dr A.J. Pressland Australia
Dr D. Race Australia
Dr M. Stafford-Smith Australia
Dr R.D.B. Whalley Australia


Dr J.R. Brown USA
Dr M. Friedel Australia
Professor I. Gordon Scotland
Professor J. Huang China
Professor Z. Nan China


The Rangelands Journal

In 2012, 113 manuscripts were received. This is higher than the total number of papers received in 2011 (94). The higher submission rate in 2012 indicates increased confidence / interest in the Journal. Because of the higher submission rate the number of issues published annually will rise from 4 to 6 beginning 2014. Two of these 6 issues will be Special Issues as in the recent past.

The Journal has a significant web presence on the CSIRO publishing site. Archival back content (all Volumes to date) has been made available to all subscribers. The back content has been downloaded at an increasing rate with the ‘most read’ papers and Special Issues attracting the highest number of downloads. In 2012 the TRJ web site was well utilised with a continued increase in the number of subscribers accessing the site. Individual papers have been downloaded 31,841 times in 2012 (this is higher than the number of paper downloads recorded for 2011, 27,947), and at a rate of approximately 87 individual papers per day. The most read paper in 2012, with 302 downloads, was “Australia’s rangelands: a future vision by Guy Fitzhardinge, published in Volume 34 (1) on 29 February 2012.

The ISI Citation Impact Factor is based on a narrow window of citation and is reported in June each year. The Impact Factor for a given year is based on the ratio of citations to papers published in the previous 2 years. The Citation Impact Factor for 2011 was 1.405, compared with 1.040 for 2010 and 1.164 for 2009. To date The Rangeland Journal has about 115 citations and 78 papers published which gives an “indicative 2012 impact factor” of about 1.474. This means that the Journal has maintained its strong profile in the research community while consolidating the content to 4 regular issues over the citation periods. The ‘indicative 2012’ Citation Impact Factor places the Journal in rank 88th out of 134 journals listed in the Ecology category — this rank is an improvement on that achieved in the previous year. The steady rise in the Impact Factor (from 2009 to 2012) is directly related to publication of ‘high impact’ papers, rigorous reviewing and ‘active encouragement’ for readers to cite papers. The most cited paper (31 citations) over this 4-year period is “Climate change impacts on northern Australian rangeland livestock carrying capacity: a review of issues” by McKeon G. M.; Stone G. S.; Syktus J. I.; et al. published in Volume 31 (1) on 1 March 2009.

Other highlights for the Journal included:

  1. one Research Front was published in 2012. This themed research front (in Volume 34, Issue 4) contained papers from several Grasslands Research Institutes in China and was entitled “Sustainable Grassland Management in China and Australia”. It comprised 3 papers with David Kemp as the Guest Editor. A second special issue on a similar topic is being negotiated for 2013-2014. These themed Issues have attracted considerable interest from ‘rangeland’ ecologists worldwide who may not be familiar with the Journal.
  2. confirmation of new subscription business (one university and one consortia subscription deal); Brazil for UNICAMP Central – Universidade Estadual de Campinas and South Africa with the Agricultural Research Council in South Africa (multisite access to 10 journals including The Rangeland Journal).
  3. a new Commenting Tool is now live on The Rangeland Journal website. Readers can now create a conversation (about published papers) by leaving comments, joining the debate and discussing the science outcomes of new articles. This new line of communication between authors and the science community will significantly improve engagement of the Journal content.
  4. The Editor-in-Chief, Dr John Milne, visited Australia in September/October 2012 to promote the Journal at the Biennial Conference in Kununurra and at The Rangeland Journal Lectures held in Perth and Adelaide.

The Society Website

In 2012 work began on scanning the proceedings of Biennial Conferences with the view of electronically publishing all the papers on both the Society website and the Global Rangelands website. Each paper will be available with a copyright and disclaimer statement to protect the Society and the author(s) of each paper. This work will be completed by the end of 2013. Past Newsletters will be scanned and made available in 2014.

The Range Management Newsletter

The Newsletter has been regularly published in both electronic form on the Website and as hard copy to members requiring this. The Editor Dr Noelene Duckett attended the Biennial Conference in Kunnunurra and was able to enlist State representatives to write material for the Newsletter.

Biennial Conference

The biennial conference is a significant event in the Society’s calendar and provides the main mechanism for members and guests to interact and exchange ideas about the use and management of Australia’s rangelands.

The 2012 conference was attended by 193 people from all Australian States and Territories, and the evaluation of the conference was very positive. A detailed report on the conference planning and organization has been prepared by the Chair of the Organizing Committee, Dr Paul Novelly, and this will be an invaluable guide to the organizers of the next conference.

Thanks go to the Organizing Committee and the Professional Conference Organizer, Meeting Masters, for a job well done.

Planning is in train for the next conference, to be held in Alice Springs in September 2014.


Membership of the Society has remained more or less stable at around 350-400 members since 2002.

In December 2012 there were 260 members managed by the Society with CSIRO Publishing managing another 94, giving a total of 351. The corresponding figures for December 2011 were 297 plus 94 (=391), December 2010 were 306 plus 79 (=385), December 2009 were 273 plus 83 (=356), December 2008 were 302 plus 83 (=385), December 2007, 303 plus 84 (=387), December 2006, 351 plus 75 (=426) and for December 2005, 321 plus 61 (=382). This compares with 438 in 2004, 434 in 2003 and 427 in December 2002.

The addition of new members has always fluctuated between conference and non-conference years. There were 44 new members in 2012 (a conference year), 23 new members in 2011 (a non-conference year), 84 new members in 2010 (a conference year), 19 new members in 2009, 70 new members in 2008 (a conference year), 23 new members in 2007, 41 new members in 2006 (a conference year) and 30 new members in 2005. However, the trend in new memberships is negated by losses through retirements, and an increased number of non-renewals, in spite of rigorous efforts by the Subscription Manager to encourage all members to renew.

Council supports a presence at major international range-related events in an effort to grow the membership, but this has not resulted in an increased overseas membership.

The majority (95%) of members and subscribers come from Australia, with 51% of members coming from Queensland and New South Wales. There were 14 international members, compared to 13 at the same time in 2011, 23 in 2010, 20 in 2009, 15 in 2008 and 7 in 2007.

The membership figures include five ARS Fellows and nineteen “ex-officio” non-paying members such as the ARS archive, the National Library of Australia, and Associate Editors for The Rangeland Journal. It is also noted that the Society has about 31 landholder addresses amongst its members.

Subscription rates for those subscribers managed by the Society remained unchanged for 2012 ($100 for Full Members resident in Australia). However, for members wishing to receive a printed copy of the Range Management Newsletter an additional $15 is payable, plus a “late” fee of $15 is added to the subscription for continuing members who fail to renew by 31st March.

In addition to publishing The Rangeland Journal, CSIRO Publishing manages subscriptions for the Society’s “Library” subscribers as well as some of its “Institutional / Corporate” subscribers. Mailing labels were prepared for 94 CSIRO subscribers for the last Newsletter of 2012.


The financial affairs of the Society remain on a strong footing with a profit from ordinary activities of $3,436 (2011: loss of $64,742) and total equity/accumulated surplus of $221,118 (2011:$217,682).

The Society’s total equity is $221,118 which is considered adequate to cover any liabilities.

The Society continued to work on improvements to programs and protocols to allow it to complete its commitments to standard reporting of its financial position as required under law.

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Digby Race – Canberra ACT

Ross Dunn – Toowoomba Qld

Rob Thomas – East Perth WA

Malcolm Carnegie – West Wyalong NSW

Andrew Jamieson – Robina Qld

Hamish Morgan – Geraldton WA

Bradd Witt – St Lucia Qld

Saul Steinberg – New York (City) USA

Joseph O’Reagain – Biloela Qld

James Maddock – Kyogle NSW

William Mansell – Heathfield SA

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2013 Membership Rates; GST inclusive, $15 will be deducted if paid before 1st April

Australia           Overseas Airmail

Individual or Family

  • Full (Journal + Newsletter)/Student                $115/$95              $140/$115
  • Part (Newsletter only)/Student                           $75/$60                $85/$65


  • Full (Journal + Newsletter)                                   $150                      $180
  • Part (Newsletter only)                                             $90                       $105

* Please note that the RMN will only be available electronically to members except those who pay an additional $15 membership subscription to receive a printed copy of each issue – see note below under the heading Membership Subscription Rates for 2013

New members are encouraged to join the Society via the ARS website (www.austrangesoc.com.au) and renewing members should also pay their 2013 dues through the website, if possible.  A renewing member should logon using their Username, which is their email address as in the ARS database, and their Password, which is “new login xxxx”, xxxx being the member’s membership number.  If you do not know your membership number, please contact Graeme Tupper by email, grmtupper@yahoo.com.au. Some members may have changed their Password in the database, in which case, Graeme Tupper will not know it. If you encounter problems in logging on, contact Graeme Tupper.

  • All rates are quoted in AUSTRALIAN currency and must be paid in AUSTRALIAN currency.
  • Membership is for the calendar year 1st January to 31st December. New member subscriptions paid after 1st October are deemed as payment for the following year.

Any member who has not paid his/her subscription by 31st March of the financial year for which it is payable shall be deemed unfinancial, and all his/her rights and privileges as a member of the Society are suspended until the subscription is paid.

Membership Subscription Rates for 2013

The 2013 Subscription Rates remain as for 2012.  For members who wish to receive a printed copy of the RMN, an additional $15 membership subscription will be required, except for members who do not have an email address, who will continue to receive a printed copy as part of their standard membership fee. Any enquiries relating to this should be directed to Graeme Tupper, Subscription Manager, grmtupper@yahoo.com.au

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The Society has two awards to assist members with either:

  • travel expenses associated with attending a conference or some other activity, or
  • studies related to the rangelands.

The Guidelines for these awards have been recently revised and are set out below.  Members interested in either award should submit a written outline of their proposed activity.  Applications should clearly address how the intended activity (ie. travel or study) meets the aims of the Society.  Applications should be brief (less than 1000 words) and should be submitted to the Secretary, Carolyn Ireland, before 30 November.  An application form can be downloaded from the ARS website at www.austrangesoc.com.au.  For further information contact Carolyn by phone on (08) 8370 9207 or email at cireland@irmpl.com.au.

The Australian Rangeland Society Members’ Travel Grant


  • It shall be known as the Australian Rangeland Society Members’ Travel Grant.


  • The Grant is intended to assist an eligible person or persons to attend a meeting, conference, or congress which deals with the art or science of managing rangelands; or to assist an eligible person or persons with travel or transport costs to investigate a topic connected with range management or to implement a program of rangeland investigation not already being undertaken. The Grant is available for overseas travel, and or travel within Australia. It is not intended for subsistence expenses.


  • The Grant will be awarded, or not awarded, by Council on the merits of a written application (not exceeding 1000 words) clearly setting out the relevance of the applicant’s proposal in meeting the aims of the Society. Failure to comply with these guidelines may mean rejection of an application.


  • Applications may be submitted at any time but will only be considered by Council at the first scheduled regular Council Meeting after the closing date for applications of 30 November each calendar year, to be granted in the following calendar year. Applications must be submitted on the form entitled “Application Form for Travel Grant or Scholarship”.
  • One or more Travel Grants can be awarded in a calendar year. The maximum amount available for distribution in a calendar year is up to $6000 based on relevance, innovation and merit.
  • Applications should include details of costs and set out precisely how the Grant is to be expended. Details of any other sources of funding must be given.
  • Successful applicants are required to submit an article reporting on their activities, suitable for publication in the Society’s Newsletter or Journal, as appropriate, within six months of completion of travel.
  • Applications should include the names of at least two referees.


  • No formal qualifications are required. There are no age restrictions and all members of the Society are eligible to apply. Applications are particularly encouraged from persons who have little or no organisational support.
  • Only members of the Society with more than twelve months membership will be eligible to apply for the Travel Grant. Travel can be either within Australia or overseas. Overseas travel can include travel to Australia by overseas members.


  • Any Grant awarded must be properly accounted for by the recipient who will provide to Council full details of expenses incurred within four weeks of completion of travel. Unexpended funds must be refunded to the Society.
  • The recipient will submit their written report to Council within six months of completion of travel.


  • Interpretation of these guidelines is at the discretion of the governing Council in office at the time.
  • These guidelines may be altered by a majority vote at a special general meeting or an Annual General Meeting after notice has been duly served.


The Australian Rangeland Society Members’ Scholarship


  • It shall be known as the Australian Rangeland Society Members’ Scholarship.


  • The Scholarship is an annual award intended to assist an eligible person or persons to undertake formal study of a subject or course which will enable the recipient to pursue the art or science of rangelands management and further the aims of the Australian Rangeland Society. The Scholarship is available for study assistance either overseas or within Australia. It is not intended to defray travel expenses.


  • The Scholarship will be awarded, or not awarded, by Council on the merits of a written application (not exceeding 1000 words) clearly setting out the relevance of the applicant’s proposed course of study to rangelands management and in meeting the aims of the Society. Failure to comply with these guidelines may mean rejection of an application.


  • Applications may be submitted at any time but will only be considered by Council at the first scheduled regular Council Meeting after the closing date for applications of 30 November each calendar year, to be granted in the following calendar year. Applications must be submitted on the form entitled “Application Form for Travel Grant or Scholarship”.
  • One or more Scholarships can be awarded in a calendar year. The maximum amount available for distribution in a calendar year is up to $6000 based on relevance, innovation and merit.
  • Applications should include details of the program of study or course to be undertaken and the institution under whose auspices it will be carried out. It should state precisely how the Scholarship is to be expended. Details of any other sources of funding must be given.
  • Applications should include the names of at least two referees.
  • Upon the conclusion of a course of study a recipient of a Scholarship will be required to write an article on their experiences, suitable for publication in the Society’s Newsletter.


  • No formal qualifications are required. There are no age restrictions and all members of the Society are eligible to apply. Applications are particularly encouraged from persons who do not have any organisational support.
  • Only members of the Society with more than twelve months membership will be eligible to apply for the Scholarship. Study can be undertaken either within Australia or overseas. Overseas study can include study in Australia by overseas members.
  • A recipient who has received a Scholarship in any one calendar year, if undertaking a continuous course of study, can apply for a further Scholarship, provided that the person has satisfied council as to the proper acquittal of any previous monies and has demonstrated satisfactory progress. Notwithstanding, such a person will not necessarily be given preference over other applicants.


  • Any Scholarship awarded must be properly accounted for by the recipient who, depending upon the length of the course undertaken, will be required to report to Council on the progress of study at a regular interval as determined by Council. Unexpended funds shall be refundable to the Society.
  • The recipient will submit their final written report to Council within six months of completion of study.


  • Interpretation of these guidelines is at the discretion of the governing Council in office at the time.
  • These guidelines may be altered by a majority vote at a special general meeting or an Annual General Meeting after notice has been duly served.


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