BSc. (Resource and Environmental Management) Phd Candidate, ANU
The issue of mining, and coal mining in particular, is extremely topical in Australia. Landholders and communities across the country are grappling with what the current mining boom means for them, and how best to respond to the planned expansion of the coal and coal seam gas industries over the next couple of decades; land, water, climate, communities, and more, are all implicated. There is strong need for public dialogue around these issues, and the Bimblebox Art Project offers a unique opportunity to explore the on-ground, physical, human, environmental and aesthetic dimensions of the international coal trade, from a place of production.
I have had a ten year association with Bimblebox Nature Refuge and the property’s owners and caretakers. Between 2003 and 2007 I worked as a volunteer on Bimblebox and since that time have visited the property on several occasions. I have also been involved with the small team of people fighting to save the property from a proposed ‘mega mine’, that would see the property subject to both open cut and underground mining. My involvement with Bimblebox lead me to pursue a PhD at The Australian National University (due for completion in 2013), to more deeply explore the role of coal in Australian society, and to understand current controversies in a broad and historical context.
The Bimblebox property is unusual in the cattle grazing district around the town of Alpha for consisting primarily of remnant woodland. It functions as an important biodiversity refuge in the landscape, and as an example of conservation oriented land management. Cattle are grazed in low numbers, and the priority remains on maintaining and enhancing the property’s environmental values. The owners and managers of Bimblebox are similarly unique in their commitment to the task, and their efforts have been recognised both the State and Federal Governments. In this context, the prospect of a massive coal mine on Bimblebox is particularly stark. But the coal that lies beneath the soil of Bimblebox connects up with other values and stories. A desire for revenue, profit, and the growing global appetite for energy are all aspects of the pressure to see Bimblebox transformed. Taken all together, Bimblebox simultaneously represents local, regional, national and global forces. How all this affects the people and the place, and how we can make sense of it, is crucial not only for Bimblebox, but for all places with a similar converging of stories.
An article I had published in the The Conversation can be found here.
Below are some of the photos I took while helping out at the Bimblebox Artist Camp in September 2012.