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Olives, the universe and everything

as seen from from the Hunter Valley

University of Newcastle

I am the first year of a 3 year degree course in Environmental Science and Management at the University of Newcastle, Callaghan Campus. This 3 year degree will probably take me about 5 years, but I'm not in a hurry.

I am doing this because it is the most interesting thing I can do.

How does the planet work?

How did we get where we are today?

Where to from here?


All Big Questions: and I'm enjoying finding out the answers.


Koalas have been around in this country for longer than you think - about 25 million years. Think about that. Homo sapiens can claim about 150,000 years. In this time the koala has evolved to be able to eat leaves that are low in nutrient and full of dangerous chemicals that the tree uses to defend itself. They have evolved with the climate - as it dried out they have adapted. It is quite feasible given the available environment and before human intervention 40,000 years ago that there were millions of koalas in Australia. Millions of koalas eat a lot of leaves and thin out the foliage so light gets to the ground for other plants and species to thrive: a pretty important role.

So what do we do? Hunt them for food, for their skins and destroy their habitat. Introduce predators, clear land and consign koalas to Koala Parks. Nice one, humanity! The property developers and in-bound tourism operators are pretty happy with the arrangement.