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Stats that will shock most Australians.

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Belinda Jeffery’s Soda Bread.


This dense dark loaf has a rich caraway flavour and just the faintest earthy hint of molasses. I love that it tastes and looks just like a loaf of ‘real’ rye bread but is remarkably quick to make. Just one thing with this, it’s important to be aware that batches of flour vary somewhat in the amount of moisture they absorb, so if the dough seems a bit too sticky when you bring it together, add a little extra plain or rye flour to it (but no more than ¼ cup.) 

Makes 1 small loaf (recipe can be doubled to make two loaves.)

Fine polenta, for dusting

160g stone-ground wholemeal flour

90g unbleached plain flour

80g rye flour (or more if needed)

60g fine polenta, (preferably organic stone-ground)

1 ½ teaspoons baking powder

½ teaspoon bicarb soda

1 teaspoon sea salt, crushed

1 teaspoon caraway seeds, plus a little extra for sprinkling

1 ⅓ cups (330ml) buttermilk

1 tablespoon honey

1 tablespoon blackstrap molasses

A little extra flour, for dusting

Preheat the oven to 210C. Lay a sheet of baking paper onto a flat oven tray and dust the paper with a little polenta.

Tip all three flours, the polenta, baking powder, bicarb soda, sea salt and caraway seeds into a large bowl. Whisk them together for a minute or so with a balloon whisk. In a separate bowl, mix together the buttermilk, honey and molasses. (If it’s a cold day and the honey is thick, you can gently warm the honey and molasses so they mix into the buttermilk easily.) Make a well in the dry ingredients and pour in the buttermilk mixture. Mix together with a wooden spoon – it will be very sticky. The one thing you don’t want to do is over-do the mixing, as this toughens the bread. Just bring the dough together so it’s soft and very tacky and then tip it out onto the prepared baking tray.

With floured hands, shape the dough into a little football, then with a serrated knife make 4 or 5 very shallow slashes diagonally across the loaf (if they’re too deep the loaf opens out a bit too much and is drier than it should be.) Sieve a fine dusting of flour over the top, and sprinkle with a few more caraway seeds if you like.

Bake the loaf for about 30-35 minutes or until the bottom sounds hollow when you tap it with your knuckles. Transfer the loaf to a cooling rack and leave it for about an hour before slicing (hard as it is, as it smells so good.) Unlike many soda breads leftovers keep well for a day or two in a sealed plastic bag.

Belinda Jeffery .com

Disturbing read ahead,

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Yellow breasted Robin nest.

BUSY harvesting the coffee with a bountiful harvest. After the fires ended here and our first rains i could see the growth over night. Like the planet now, speed rules. This nest had its 2 eggs drained and then a small carpet snake appeared above the nest. The robin comes and rests on a garden seat every morning.

Coffee processing takes many hours. Each bean is picked at its red ripeness. Then peeled and fermented before thorough washing and laid out to dry.



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Bob Dylan. Patti Smith.

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Stinging tree.


During my time here I have experienced the severe pain this amazing tree dishes out. My first encounter was when I was removing the introduced tobacco bush, mistaking the sting tree leaf with the tobacco leaf. The deep stinging pain lasted for weeks and I tried every recommended remedy with none providing the relief I desperately needed. It was years later I discovered the hair removing wax strips proved effective.


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Native bees.

The Problem: Herbicides and Pesticides

How does urban and agricultural weed and pest control impact bees? 

Neonicotinoids are a class of insecticide used against pest insects. The chemical poisons the nervous system upon contact or ingestion resulting in death. This insecticide does not discriminate between pest species and vital pollinators such as honeybees and native bees and are extremely lethal to all.  Sub-lethal exposure results in behavioural disturbance and disorientation, which is ultimately fatal for beehives. Exposure to neonicotinoids reduces the capacity of the hive to establish new populations, meaning after their initial population decline from exposure, they struggle to re-establish their colony. Neonicotinoids are currently registered for use in Australia and are commonly used by farmers, growers and home gardeners.  The European Union has banned neonicotinoids in an attempt to protect bees from its devastating effects. 

Neonicotinoids are systemic, meaning they can be applied through sprays, seed treatment and soil application. This means buyers should be vigilant when purchasing seeds, seedlings and soil for their garden, not just rejecting neonicotinoids in sprays. Neonicotinoid seed coatings are commonly used in food production to protect farmers profits. Make sure to ask your local supplier if their seeds are free of treatment to ensure your food is giving bees the best chance of survival. 

Glyphosate is an herbicide commonly used by farmers, gardeners and in public areas such schools and golf courses, to kill weeds by preventing them from making vital proteins. It is the active ingredient in popular weed killer ‘RoundUp’ which is owned by Monsanto Bayer and is the world’s most popular weed killer. Its traces can now be detected in 70% of global hives. The herbicide is not directly lethal to bees, but instead indirectly interferes with many vital processes of the individual and hive. 

Glyphosate tampers with plants, including their pollen and nectar- which is bee food. This tampering affects the growth of micro-organisms in the bee’s gut. Weakening the gut micro biome makes bees more susceptible to opportunistic pathogens which can kill the individual.  Food that is feed to the bee’s larvae contaminated with glyphosate results in weaker larvae who are more susceptible to additional stressors. This results in a population decline, which is the global problem we are trying to prevent.

Large companies such as Monsanto Bayer and Syngenta use these insecticides and herbicides to increase their profit yields despite being lobbied and knowing the lethal effects on bees. Avoid supporting their products and sign our petitions to ban the use of Neonicotinoids and Glyphosate in Australia. 

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Worth a read.

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From The Guardian.

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Michael Batley holding a bee
Michael Batley of the Australian Museum is one of fewer than five bee taxonomists in Australia.(ABC Sydney: Amanda Hoh)



Taxonomists are the “map makers of nature”, tasked with naming new plant and animal species, but it is a dying art.

Key points:

  • Taxonomy is the discipline of identifying and naming newly discovered animals or plants
  • There are only four bee taxonomists in Australia
  • Scientists estimate there are at least 1,000 Australian bee species yet to be discovered and named

For specialties like Australian bees there are just four taxonomists left, and no one to pass on their knowledge and skills to.

Michael Batley has been a bee taxonomist for the past 20 years and a volunteer with the Australian Museum.

In that time he has named 40 new species of bees.

Among his favourites are Leioproctus glendaeLeioproctus gibber and the Euryglossula scalaris which he discovered in the Northern Territory in 2016.

“I always find something new,” Mr Batley said.

“On an average bee-chasing trip I could find up to 100 specimens in a day to analyse.

“Not all will be new, unnamed species but they could be a new record, a new place the bee has been seen, or a male or female bee that hasn’t been seen before.”

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And we are still using Glyphosate in this Shire.



Rampant destruction of forests ‘will unleash more pandemics’

HIV spread from chimpanzees and gorillas that were slaughtered for bushmeat in west Africa.

HIV spread from chimpanzees and gorillas that were slaughtered for bushmeat in west Africa. Photograph: agefotostock/Alamy

Researchers to tell UN that loss of biodiversity enables rapid spread of new diseases from animals to humans

Robin McKieSun 30 Aug 2020 16.03 AEST



Scientists are to warn world leaders that increasing numbers of deadly new pandemics will afflict the planet if levels of deforestation and biodiversity loss continue at their current catastrophic rates.

A UN summit on biodiversity, scheduled to be held in New York next month, will be told by conservationists and biologists there is now clear evidence of a strong link between environmental destruction and the increased emergence of deadly new diseases such as Covid-19.Cost of preventing next pandemic ‘equal to just 2% of Covid-19 economic damage’Read more

Rampant deforestation, uncontrolled expansion of farming and the building of mines in remote regions – as well as the exploitation of wild animals as sources of food, traditional medicines and exotic pets – are creating a “perfect storm” for the spillover of diseases from wildlife to people, delegates will be told.Advertisement

Almost a third of all emerging diseases have originated through the process of land use change, it is claimed. As a result, five or six new epidemics a year could soon affect Earth’s population.

“There are now a who

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