OFF Talk: From where the Cicada Calls – watch on YouTube

Dr Nathan Emery present ed the results from his citizen science project, “The Great Cicada Blitz” and annual surveys in the Cumberland Plain Woodland. In particular, he spoke about the interaction between cicadas and plants.

As a Restoration Biology Officer at the Australian Botanic Garden, Nathan has led several research projects on seed biology and translocation capacity of several threatened species and threatened ecological communities in NSW. Outside of his job, cicadas have been Nathan’s hobby and passion since he was a child and were a key reason why he ventured into conservation science.

Watch YouTube Video of his presentation

Moorebank Intermodal – Erik Rakowski

Erik Rakowski from RAID* Moorebank will tell us about the proposed Moorebank Intermodal. This is a project to develop a huge import-export terminal with 850,000 sqm of associated warehousing. RAID is concerned that placing a heavy industrial facility in the middle of a residential area will impact on the health and wellbeing of the community of Liverpool and the wider area. It will also adversely affect the local environment, including Koala habitat and the critically endangered Hibbertia fumana, thought to be extinct for almost 200 years.

Talk will be on ZOOM Login before 7.30pm:


* Residents Against Intermodal Development



Keeping The West Alive – watch now on YouTube

Keeping The West Alive – Supporting Western Sydney’s wildlife in an era of crisis. A presentation was made at our general meeting (by Zoom ) on 22 June by Peter Ridgeway on the diverse range of projects that are helping wildlife survive against the pressures of land clearing, climate change and natural disasters.

Peter is a Conservation Ecologist specialising in conservation & restoration of the threatened Cumberland Plain region. He advises govt, community and private land managers to develop and manage conservation initiatives with a focus on threatened species and ecological community recovery, bushland conservation and invasive species management.

Early this year OFF members were involved in water for wildlife after the bushfires.

Click here to view talk on YouTube

Harry Burkitt – Give a Dam

Harry Burkitt, from community group ‘Give a Dam’ discussed the NSW Government’s
controversial plan to raise the height of the Warragamba dam. This is likely to have a significant impacts on threatened species in the Blue Mountains as well as potentially put the Blue
Mountains in danger of losing its UNESCO status.

Give a Dam has found some success by engaging corporate organisations such as insurance companies and super funds. In addition they continue to lobby the local politicians. He requested support (donations, letters to MP’s etc)  from OFF members as the campaign is expected to continue for +2 years. This very interesting talk was attended by 40 participants in the second OFF Zoom on-line meeting.  TAKE ACTION AT GIVE A DAM WEBSITE


Long Wall Mining in Sydney Water Catchment

On 27 April 2020  Aquatic Ecology Specialist Catherine Cunningham from Sydney Water shared her knowledge of long wall mining within Sydney’s water catchment areas and the potential impact on drinking water supply infrastructure.

This is very timely as the NSW Government has recently approved the extension of coal mining under the Woronora reservoir.

Please note: Due to technical difficulties on the night of our first Zoom meeting the recorded video and sound start on Slide 14 of 41 headed “Sampling – Macroinvertebrates and Diatoms” of the presentation. To view the first 13 slides of Catherine’s presentation (without commentary) please go to the pdf copy of her presentation. OFF apologises for any inconvenience.

See Video of Zoom Presentation

Slides Presented at Talk (Download pdf )




Regent Honeyeater on the Brink

Save Kosci -The Politics of Walking

Linda Groom will give an illustrated talk on the 560 km walk to save the threatened species of Kosciuszko National Park on 25 March 2019 at Oatley RSL 7.30pm.

New legislation introduced on 6 June 2018 overrides the legal protection provided to the native plants and animals of the national park, allowing the health of the park to be compromised.

Fact-Sheet-on feral horses of KNP

Save Kosci Website – The organisation formed to protect Kosciuszko National Park from feral horses and the damage restored.

New Program for 2019

OFF Field Officer, Graham Fry and Program Officer Matt Allison have put together the program of activities for 2019. There is a mixture of easy excursions and some more demanding walks. Our monthly Monday meetings will feature environmental research, travel and tips on living sustainably.  CHECK OFF NEWS FOR DETAILS OF ACTIVITIES

OFF program 2019- pdf copy can be printed or get a card at one of our talks or walks



25th Monday Meeting – 7.30pm  OEH researcher -Dr David Eldridge: Conservation & management of Australian Drylands.


5thTuesday – Field day – Tour of Royal Botanic Gardens – history, wildlife and horticulture. Leader: Amanda Gibson

25th Monday Meeting – 7.30pm – Linda Groom from Save Kosci Inc walks the talk: Protecting fragile ecosystems in Kosciuszko NP.

31stSunday – Field day – Easy walk – McMahons Pt to Milsons Pt, Wendy Whiteley’s garden. Leader: Sue de Beuzeville


29th Monday Meeting – 7.30pm – OEH Researcher – Ross Crates – updates us on the fate of the endangered Regent Honeyeater.


5thSunday – Field day - Hard walk with easier alternative – spectacular Bargo R and Gorge. Leader: Sharyn Cullis

27th Monday Meeting – 7.30pm- Deb Andrew on Wildlife wonders of the Burragorang Valley – hidden refuge near here.


2ndSunday – Field day - Medium walk – Red Hand Cave stencils, axe-grinding grooves, Glenbrook. Leader: Matt Allison

24th Monday Meeting – 7.30pm - Anna Moltchanski from GRC-partnered Our Energy Future – Solar energy &reducing bills

30thSunday – Field day - Medium walk (some off-track) – Blue Labyrinth, Mt Whaite nr Wentworth Falls. Leader: Julian Sheen


22ndMonday Meeting – 7.30pm - Alan Fairley& Kim Wagstaff showcase the natural wonders of Western Australia – flora & landscape.

27thSaturday – Field day - Easy walk – explore Yeramba Lagoon at Picnic Point nr Georges River. Leader: Vicki Bolling


26th Monday Meeting – 7.30pm - Jayden Walsh displays extraordinary knowledge of reptiles and frogs of the Sydney Basin

31stSaturday – Field day - 15 km walk –Waterfall to Heathcote via Uloola Pools, Royal NP, wildflowers. Leader: K Wagstaff


23rd Monday Meeting – 7.30pm - President Graham Lalchere goes the extra mile with the history of Myles Dunphy, the man.

27/29thWeekend field trip - Stay in Capertee NP accommodation, explore the valley and enjoy the woodland’s rich fauna. Leader: Deb Andrew


28th Monday Meeting – 7.30pm - OFF’s research grant recipient- Justin Collette – reveals progress on his seed germination studies


3rd Sunday – field trip - Morning cruise – explore Hawkesbury R with commentary by local historian. Leader: G Fry

25th Monday Meeting – 7.30pm - Chris Lloyd takes us off the coast of Wollongong to the 5 Islands where he has been instrumental in the conservation strategies of these important sea bird refuges.

DECEMBER 2nd Monday Christmas Picnic in Oatley Park


FEBRUARY 3rdAGM – 7.30pm- Followed by members’ photos & supper

Australian climate and environment 10,000 years ago

Our March Meeting 2018  was well attended with 54 members & visitors. Our speaker this month was Richard Wright AM, Emeritus Professor of Anthropology, University of Sydney with the title of his talk being: “What was happening with the Australian climate and environment 10,000 years ago?”

In the 1970s and 1980s Richard conducted excavations on the edges of swamps in Victoria and NSW. These digs yielded insights into ancient archaeology, plants and mammals.

10,000 years ago at the start of the Holocene period was the beginning of a relatively stable climate and environment. Just prior to that, there had been an unusually large increase in temperatures.

Richard explained the contents of his excavations which were in deposits called loess. This term was new to most of the 54 members and guests at our meeting. These deposits consist of fine wind blown silt, typically in the 20–50 micrometre size range, twenty percent or less clay and the balance equal parts sand and silt that are loosely cemented by calcium carbonate. These deposits can be several metres in depth. Some very large examples can be found in China (more than 100 metres deep.)

Loess seem to be formed in Australia when lakes suddenly dry out causing these fine particles to be moved by the prevailing winds over short periods of time, resulting in homogeneous accumulations. Excavations by Richard unearthed examples of now extinct mega fauna.

Richard has also been involved in forensic excavations of mass graves in Bosnia for the United Nations and more recently in the recovery and identification of WW1 skeletal remains at Fromelles in France.

Eastern Water Dragon and their adaptability

We had a record number of attendees with 75 members and guests at our first general meeting in February
which featured speaker James Baxter -Gilbert. His enthusiastic talk on the Eastern Water Dragon and their adaptability to a changing urban environment was fascinating.
An interesting aspect of the presentation was the methodology applied by James and the rigorous testing used in his research.
He captivated the audience with his story on the elusive nature of the dragon – taking him 6 months to capture candidates. It is anticipated that his impressive research will be awarded a PhD in Science . James put the offspring of the originally captured and released lizards through all sorts of rigorous  experiments to test nature over nurture. The research looked at whether genetic difference was the reason the dragons have survived and thrived in a man – made world or if a steep curve of learned behaviour was the key .
In conclusion James believes it is a combination of both with final results ready in another month or so. After such grueling research and experimentation, the expectation of a PhD
is particularly satisfying. A touching end to the presentation was to see James’ Dad throw his arm around his son in a show of admiration and pride