"Signs" Five Man Electrical Band - Sunday 27th March 2011
Currently we are waiting for the Department of Environment & Conservation of Western Australia (DEC), and the state solicitor to draw up a Deed of Settlement. We forwarded as a response, a 16 page letter to Jim Sharp of DEC early this week providing photographs and further detailed information to hopefully get the conditions of settlement amended so as to ensure the obligations and terms of settlement this agreement will enforce, are measurable, attainable, just and fair.
While we are waiting, Kim and I were talking and we both agreed we needed to share more information with you about the country out here at Mt Hart in the beautiful Kimberleys, before we are obliged to leave, so as to help preserve this knowledge, in case it is lost forever.
This wild but enticing country has a way of telling you things...Some subtle, some not so, and some really really harsh.
When she is in her good mood, this wilderness splashes signs of nature, every which way you look. You just need to know what to look for, where to look and have the heart and soul to see.
These natural indicators can help you survive out bush, in all sorts of ways, right down to helping you predict future events such as weather patterns.
"Cows with guns" Dana Lyons - Wednesday 23rd March 2011
Now some of you who dont live up here might be wondering why this news site is named The Kimberley Grapevine...
What does this phrase refer to exactly? Well, The Kimberley Grapevine is a phenomenon that occurs up here in the Kimberley.
It is a term, or a saying, used to describe the process whereby news spreads across this outback land by word of mouth from person to person. The type of communication that occurs along this grapevine is different from gossip because the genuine down to earth wild west characters who live up here tend to retell the information exactly as it was imparted to them, because the following philosophy is still in force up here...
"Do to others, as you would want done to yourself and your family"
The Kimberley Grapevine is how most folks up here heard about our troubles with The Department of Environment And Conservation of Western Australia (DEC), well before we ran the story in the papers, on the radio, or we went public with it on the internet. The fact that our story appeared in the local media, confirmed the news the locals had already heard via the "Kimberley grapevine and set it in concrete in their minds.
The Kimberley people are a strong community who are connected through the art of conversation news and information is passed from one person to another about what is happening out at the stations, or to the folks who live in the town, over a beer in the pub, smoko breaks on the stations, or over a coffee at the office. In this Northern wilderness, words travel fast and it is a form of networking as powerful as any modern day telecommunications systems.
This communication methodology has the power to destroy you and give you a bad reputation, or the power to help you and turn you into a well loved and well renown local hero. The Kimberley Grapevine acts kind of like a filtration system - it helps the local folk and families up here to protect their community from ill-intended outsiders.
There are two people who play an instrumental role within this communication system for 100s of people living in The Kimberley.
One of these people is Butch...
Butch is the most experienced, most capable, most sought after helicopter pilot youll find in any direction for hundreds of miles. Youll never feel more safer when you are in a chopper, than when you are flying with Butch, because this Kimberley man is a true bush pilot. He understands and empathises 100% with the station folk, because he used to manage Theeda Station with his wife Robyn some years ago. Butch travels from station to station, from town to town flying for B&B helicopters. This mans ability to connect with almost everybody and anybody means he is always welcomed with open arms.
The other person who plays an instrumental role within this communication system is Mick
Mick travels all over this country working for the Agricultural department of Western Australia.
He is responsible for controlling feral animals on the vast tracts of pristine wilderness country throughout the Kimberley.
He is a brilliant, highly skilled shooter and marksman, as well as a really genuine down to earth bloke.
Now these two fellows dropped in yesterday to see how we were going, whilst on their way conducting a shoot, or as Mick referred to it "A Mercy Mission.
Micks SLR rifle had a fired shell stuck in the breach. So we helped him get it out with some rifle cleaning rods.
They brought news to us from far and wide.
We even found out what our next door neighbours are up to!
The fact that these two incredible fellows fly all over the Kimberley, and are very well renown, trusted and respected, gives us the chance to hear news from stations located up to 500kms away, and vice versa.
Basically Butch and Mick help keep so many folks who live out on the stations, and in the towns of Derby or Kununurra up to date with everything that is going on from one end of the Kimberley to the other. Up here, their stories become local news. These two impart information in a way that helps keep everyone living up this way informed on exactly what is happening via the networking system that is known as The Kimberley Grapevine. When Butch and Mick come to visit, it always makes our day so much Brighter.
"Rose Garden" Lynn Anderson - Sunday 20th March 2011
I have been asked many times this past fortnight to do the following story by someone very important to us, who has been a constant source of support and advice for us behind the scenes. This talented and highly skilled individual has been helping us out at all hours of the day and night as our PR Manager, editor and adviser since we first went public about The Department of Environment And Conservation of Western Australia's unfair and unjust treatment of us.
Until now I have struggled to put this requested story together for some reason??? But the wishes and requests from every angle by our supporters has shown me the way. I have come to realise that through this 'Grapevine' we are satisfying the needs of so many of you. So here it is folks Another virtual tour for you all - this time through Mt Harts 10 acres of tropical gardens Please enjoy! ~Kim~
"Dixie Land..." Daniel D. Emmett, 1859 - Friday 18th March 2011
Thank-you to those of you who are still discovering and joining our plight. Every day we continue to receive comments from those of you out there who care, who understand, who see the bigger picture. Your words are totally uplifting...Inspiring...Thank-you so much to all of you out there who have sent us comments, e-mails and letters since the 6th December. Thank-you so much for taking the time to put pen to paper (or keys to computer screen) for your reassurance and your support during this difficult time. Your words are so meaningful, so helpful and so encouraging. It is so wonderful to see the Aussie spirit is still alive in this great nation of ours and that folks out there still recognise, understand and value the principals of moral, ethical and legal righteousness and justice...
Thank-you to our brillant legal team -> Shannon and Bailey in Sydney -> for your on-going generous & fantastic free legal service & support, and to Honourable Jon Ford and Honourable Sally Talbot for your moral and political support. Thank-you to our media contacts particularly SOS news and ABC Kimberley for continuing to pay an interest in our story. Sorry we have not been able to release any detailed information to you for some time, owed to the fact that we are trying to keep "negotiations in good faith".
Here are a handful of the comments we have received in the last 2 days alone;>
First Name: Dixie Last Name: O'Shea City: Perth
Country: Australia Your comments: Taffy, its people like you that make a difference in everybody's lives, its people like you that make other people care and its people like you that make our great state even more beautiful. How dare they take advantage, its people like them that make us angry, bewildered, and most of all confused. The DEC should be totally ashamed of themselves and I hope they come to realise that as a government body they are representing everybody not just themselves and what they are trying to do to you is morally wrong. I hope you can hang in there and I wish you all the best.
First Name: Karen Last Name: Cassidy City: Perth
Country: Australia Your comments: Dear Taffy - I was looking at touristy stuff for a Gibb River Road trip later this year when I came across your 'plight'! It's disgusting what DEC now participate in under their banner! Have you contacted the Perth ABC? Geoff Hutchinson the morning presenter is an articulate journalist and attracts a wide and diverse audience. He often has Colin Barnett on and can ask some of the 'hard' questions. (No I am not affiliated in any way with the ABC) but some of the actions of this State Govt and their Departments are at very least 'questionable'... (I am not a member of any political party either). Fight on Taffy!
First Name: John Last Name: Martin City: Central Coast NSW
Country: Australia Your comments: Best wishes to you in the continuing battle.In most places of Aust $200K wouldn't buy you a block of dirt.
First Name: Dianne
Last Name: Brodie
Your comments: Sorry to hear about this cruel and undeserved treatment you are receiving from our government Taffy. You have my support for all the effort you have made in making Mt Hart such a unique place to visit. Unfortunately, I have not had the pleasure of visiting your place but my son and future daughter-in-law have and they speak highly of you and your establishment. I wish you luck in your plight and sincerely hope someone in the government sees reason and has a 'heart' for Mt Hart.
First Name: Colin Last Name: Foster City: Victor Harbor
Country: Australia Your comments: Taffy and Kim, What a shocking thing to happen to you both and I can imagine how low and frustrated you must feel made worse by the fact that you are not fighting an individual but the WA Govt with all the resources that they have and if they lose it does not cost the beuracrat who has ordered this action not one cent, no wonder you are feeling dudded after 20 years of hard work and dedication.
Reminds me of the Wallara Ranch debacle with Jim Cottril and the owners of the station, Jim has come good at Stuarts Well but he was a lot younger than what you are now. My wife and I flew in to Mt Hart 14 years ago and we were very impressed with your facilities and the beautiful surroundings etc especially the monster scones, jam and cream, one thing I will always remember was when we were waiting for the stragglers to join the group for your wonderful talk and tour of the gardens. Then one of the pilots from the 3 planes that flew in asked you "what's the name of the river here" and you said; "Wait..." to which the pilot replied; "Oh The River Waite"...to which you replied; "No wait! Until the others join us...so I can tell everybody at once" It broke the crowd up!!! My wife and I sincerely hope that the Govt shows a little sense of fairness in their dealings with you and you at least get enough out of the settlement to set you up with a home and some capital to enjoy your retirement years. Kind Regards, Colin and Brodie Foster
First Name: Lionel Last Name: Monod City: Geneva
Country: Switzerland Your comments: Hello, I visited Mt Hart Lodge in July 2009 with a friend. We only stayed two nights only because we wanted to see as much of the Kimberley as possible and had very little time and I was already thinking about the next time I would be there. Never in the Kimberley had we experienced such a warm and friendly welcome. I am profoundly saddened and disgusted by what's happening to you. What the government is doing is outrageously unacceptable. I really hope that you'll get a fair settlement. Many thanks for your hospitality back then. I am really happy to have experienced the true Kimberley before the apparently inevitable changes that are coming. Unfortunately future seems rather bleak for wild places on this planet. All the best from Geneva
Thank-you All...from our hearts...Taffy and Kim
"Climb every Mountain..." The sound of Music - Thursday 17th March 2011
"Born under a wandrin' star..." Lee Marvin - Tuesday 15th March 2011
"A Horse With No Name..." Neil Young - Sunday 13th March 2011
Hi Everyone...Yes, we are still waiting for DEC to finalise a settlement offer in writing, but with the words trickling our way, we are holding onto faith.
Certainly we hope this can finally be resolved sooner rather than later so we can move on with our lives, post some good news, and return the stories here on "The Grapevine" to wildly positive.
While we are waiting, I would like to respond to quite a number of requests which have come in from our dedicated supporters, asking, and telling us, what they would like to see run on "The Grapevine"...
I am going to start with a request that came in yesterday from a couple named Neville and Sally who, like so many of you out there, have been such a wonderful source of support for us since we first went public with our story on the 6th December, even though they have never visited Mt Hart. Their request reads as follows;
You say that the drive into Mount Hart is extremely nice. On our next trip to the Kimberley we will not be going in to stay at Mount Hart simply out of principle, so wed like to see some photos of the trip into Mount Hart on the Grape Vine. Just one or 2 at a time would be interesting. Thanks, Bye for now Sally & Neville.
Firstly, I've gotta say, Kim and I are humbled by the immense out-pouring of support, and the claims of people stating they will not visit Mt Hart once we have gone. The message in that is incredibly honouring and we take this into our hearts and will carry that message with us...always.
Yet Kim and I would still love you to visit Mt Hart when you pass this way, even if we are not here anymore. Please dont miss the chance to see for real what you have supported, and read so much about. Tell the kids the history and how it was before... Keep the mystique of Mt Hart and all the true Kimberley folk alive, and in the very soul of the dust that billows in your passing wake.
Have a beer at the bar with a toast to Kim & I, and let them hear it...
Because out here, the land you stand on, the air you breathe and the view you see, is everything we have all fought for, and a place I worked over two decades to preserve.
Just enjoy - make me proud and my efforts worth it.
So having said that...We have created a virtual tour of the trip into Mt Hart during the dry season for you Sally and Neville and for all our supporters too numerous to name, but just as important...;
After checking our web stats we have seen that hundreds of you are still checking this website every day...still following our story. We hope the history and tales we have published of late have helped give you a deeper understanding into the very essence of our plight, while we all wait for some conclusion to our 'negotiations' with DEC (the Department of Environment and Conservation of Western Australia.)
At last, we have received the freedom of information release from the (FOI) application we lodged with DEC. We wish we had had this information 6 months ago, for we would now be playing in a totally different ball park with a whole different bat...
The documents we received through Freedom of Information show that the majority of DECs stated expenditure, on the capital improvements at Mt Hart, was not spent on building the infrastructure which was valued professionally as having a replacement-cost-of-improvement-value of $1.85 million. We are still undertaking negotiations with DEC and as we wish to conduct and keep these, "negotiations in good faith" happening, obviously some information is in part morally deemed by us to be seen as commercially in confidence...as long as they do the right thing.
We are now waiting for DEC to finalise a settlement agreement in writing. After all that you have seen us suffer through, we are now relying on the premise that ethical and moral integrity still exists within this Government Department we are Dealing with.
About 3 weeks ago we started sorting through all our gear in the main sheds and buildings. When you live so far out in a wilderness, the necessity to hoard is a must. When a quarter of an entire lifetime of work and effort is spent in one place, it is amazing how much you gather over those 20 years. Ducking out to go down to the local Bunnings, or Mitre Ten Hardware shop, to pick up something you may need, is not an option when you live all the way out here.
A mate of ours in Derby is opening up a museum and he is interested in some of the classic heritage machinery we own.
So we are donating some of our historical belongings to him, and his cause, to help preserve the history and heritage of Mt Hart and the country up here.
We have even had offers to buy some of our working machinery from folks living in Broome, Kununurra and Derby who are dedicated followers of our story Even though we are not intending to sell any of it, as we are going to have to get work doing machinery contracting jobs when we leave Mt Hart, in order to survive.
We now wait for the rains to end, and the roads to dry out, so we can pack up and start to move our gear out of here by the truckload....The waterfalls up here are testimony to the fact that it has been a big wet season this year the best wet season in years As can be seen in these photographs taken recently by Hugh Brown. As we say up here, the falls are all flowing a bankar! The normally beautiful tiers of the waterfalls, draped with lush green ferns, and neat steps are now a sea of white water...
Kim & I have started to look to our future with a growing sense of optimism. An optimism based on a developing hopefulness that a successful outcome from our negotiations with DEC is not just tangibly close, but may be attained in the very near future. There is renewed hope our expectations will be fulfilled, and that we will not suffer any further disappointment, discouragement or disillusionment at the hands of this Government Department.
As a man of honour, I have tried my best to place before DEC a fair and just request for settlement of a 20 year plus partnership. A partnership where I, and those with me, have personally placed Mt Hart and the Kimberley on the world stage map of tourism.
Without all you thousands of people supporting us, we would never had had the strength to endure this battle, so to you all...once again from Kim & I, a big Thank You!!!!
"On the Road Again..." Willie Nelson - Sunday 6th March 2011
Unlike Sam & Rosita Lovell, my beautiful Indigenous mates and mentors, I was not born to the Kimberleys, but there can be no doubt that the Kimberleys was born to me. My parents died when I was young and I was raised on an aboriginal owned and run cattle station down central Australia. Times were hard on the station, due to the harshness of the terrain, and a lack of money, but I learnt so much about surviving in the Australian bush off my adopted indigenous family. So when I was old enough I started travelling the great Australian north as a guiding outback tour driver.
For 25 years I worked my way as a guiding outback tour driver along many red sandy tracks, before becoming besotted with the incredulous country of Mt Hart in The Kimberley of North West Australia. Before settling down at Mt Hart in 1990, for two and a half decades I headed off to places with throngs of excitable tour junkies, in a time when outback touring was real life adventure.
I led deep wilderness Safaris all over outback Australia, up through the north of this great nation, and along the then treacherous Gibb River Road. I trekked with groups in tow along the Canning Stock Route, Around the gulf, Up Cape York, and deep out into the Tanami Desert. Yet it was always the Kimberley that called on the wind, whispered in the dust and beckoned me.
"Old Bush Mates Of Mine..." Slim Dusty - Thursday 3rd March 2011
As Kim & myself battle for fairness and moral justness in our dealings with the Western Australian Department of Environment and Conservation [DEC] over our Agreement Ending at Mt Hart Station (our Home), we would like to introduce you all to a pair of true Kimberley characters...
Sam and Rosita Lovell
I've known Sam and Rosita for well over 35 years, since they were doing tours through the same country as me across
the breadth of Northern Australia. This wonderful couple have always been a constant source of support, knowledge, advice and reassurance to me over the past 2 decades I have been out here at Mt Hart. They have always believed in the work I have done in preserving the history and heritage of this iconic station, and have been a driving force behind my dedication to restoring, developing and turning Mt Hart into what it is today.
Over these past couple of months as we struggle for Just Terms Settlement, Sam and Rosita have been calling up every week to see how our situation is progressing with DEC.
They have conveyed to us their support and how they feel really bad about what is happening. This inspirational duo have told us how our situation reminds them somewhat of a time they would rather forget A time when their home & everything important was taken away from them as a result of Government legislation & bureaucratic agenda beyond their control...
"The Heart of The Matter..." The Eagles - Tuesday 1st March 2011
Mt Hart was treated to a special and welcome visit by renown Kimberley born and bred photographer, Hugh Brown, on Sunday. In between photographic assignment obligations which take Hugh back and forth to Africa for a documentary being produced and international photographic exhibitions, Hugh and his team are the first people we have seen out here in nearly 4 months.
The visit to Mt Hart was borne from Hugh wanting to take photos of us before we are obliged to leave our Kimberley home.
Hugh told us;
Photographic trips through the Kimberleys are getting harder and harder to do, with chopper fares rising all the time, and certain powerful bodies trying to bring about a lock-down on the Kimberley.
Hugh again expressed his distress and absolute dismay that we were leaving Mt Hart, telling us;
I couldnt imagine this place without you guys here It just wont be the same anymore
"Goodness Gracious Great Balls of Fire..." - Saturday 26th February 2011
Whilst we bide our time waiting for The Department Of Environment and Conservation (D.E.C) Of Western Australia to finalise a fair and equitable settlement Today we are going to tell you a story about what it is like fighting bush fires up here at Mt Hart in the Kimberley of North Western Australia.
As there is just the two of us out here, when a flaming fiery inferno comes our way, (which occurs nearly every year in November/December), we have to really keep our wits about us. After so many years of fighting blazing wildfires out here on my own, I have got it down to a real fine art. These days, Kim and myself both work really well together as a team. But the unexpected still occurs, like Fire Whirls, which are turbulent spinning tunnels of air known as willy-willies (Whirlwinds or dust devils) that sometimes go through the fierce flames of the ravaging inferno.
These Fire Whirls are flaming vortexes of fire that can often be so powerful, they can jump creeks and roads carrying and spreading the flames for miles and miles. One year one of these fire whirls came up towards the back of the main power shed. It sounded like a jet engine revving up to full revs. It was 200-300 feet high and 20 feet across, and was zig zagging all over the place. It is one of the scariest things I have ever seen out here, because of the fact that it was moving so erratically, and I did not know which way to run. Luckily this particular "fire whirl" veered at the last second, and fortunately did not set fire to the power shed. Then it went down to the river and jumped over the creek, setting fire to everything within its path.
The last few years running, nearly every year we have had severe uncontrollable and destructive mountain and grassland fires come in towards the homesteads and gardens at Mt Hart from all fronts during Late November
"Wait A Minute Mr Postman..." The Beatles - Friday 25th February 2011
How often do you get your mail?
Is it delivered every day?
Or do you go down the post office and pick it up 3 or 4 times a week from there?
Out here the mail comes once a week by plane on a Friday in a mail bag. But some weeks it seems like every Friday, it either rains, or we have low cloud, and you cannot see the mountains through the cloud. And in these kinds of circumstances, obviously there is no way any self respecting pilot is going to attempt to land.
Mount Matthew is located approximately 5km from the end of the Mount Hart airstrip. This giant mass of rock & earth rises 600 meters above ground height, and is on the visual approach to the North. So you don't blame the pilots if they can't land the mail plane, when cloud cover causes this mountain to literally disappear
In order to overcome all the red tape If we did scan, copy, print, collate and post down 20 years worth of receipts and journal entries to The Department Of Environment and Conservation can you imagine how long it would take, and the cost involved, because of this remote outback postal system, and all the to-ing and fro-ing???
As our saga has so often conveyed, living at Mt Hart out in the remote Kimberley wilderness of Western Australia is like living on the moon sometimes. A rugged 240 kilometres from Derby, when it is wet really wet it makes that closest town unreachable by road. Add to this Gods hand during the wet season bringing torrential monsoonal rains, flash flooding and lightening storms, and not only are our homesteads and gardens unreachable, but the mail and supply plane just wags his wings as he flies on by unable to land.
Well as the need to reach some kind of settlement agreement with DEC starts to reach its crescendo, we were intending to send some important documents out on the latest mail run today .but some power greater than all of us combined, decided to intervene
and Yep! The mail plane was unable to touch down on Mt Harts airstrip once again today, because of the low cloud cover, and the fact that we have had a considerable amount of rain overnight, making our smooth but water logged airstrip, an outback skating rink...Which means, no mail, no correspondence, and another week of isolation until next Fridays, aerial lifeline for all us Kimberley folk - the mail plane, might be able to land...
The joys of the wet season! The only advantage is that we dont get the bills...
Unlike our city brethren, there is no such person as a land travelling postie who will endure flooded rivers, deep mired bog holes, angry wild bulls and no assistance for every 100km between letter boxes...
Dont get us wrong, being isolated out here is something else when you know how to survive, but without all you wonderful supporters staying in touch, writing letters, phoning us up, and just passing the word, this time the isolation, with the pressures of the battle with DEC would have been almost unbearable.
So to you all, every single one of you; we say a big thankyou as we search the skies for our next plane, for as much as this missed plane was so important for us, and now we suffer even more delays, YOUR support over the past months has been the very glue which has kept, and is keeping, our spirits high enough to stay the distance. ~Taffy and Kim~
"Money..." Pink Floyd - Thursday 24th February 2011
Thank-you very much to those of you who have contacted me with offers of loaning me pairs of heavy duty scissors, to help me cut through the "red tape" I have encountered, whilst attempting to reach a fair and equitable settlement with The Department of Environment and Conservation (D.E.C) of Western Australia. If you could please send the scissors express post to Mt Hart Station care of Derby Post Office, Western Australia, Postcode 6728, it would be greatly appreciated - they should arrive on next weeks Mail plane.
Ever wondered what 20 years of receipts looks like? On second thoughts...don't bother answering that question...I'm sure most of you out there have lots better things to wonder about...
Most folks get rid of their records after 6 years, because after this period of time tax auditing requirements have been met Well not me...I am a hoarder. I have kept just about every single receipt that has passed my way since I first came to Mt Hart back in 1990.
"Choose Life..." Ewan McGregor and the PF Project - Wednesday 23rd February 2011
We received a letter back from Jim Sharp - Deputy Director General of The Department of Environment and Conservation (D.E.C) of Western Australia on Monday this week, in response to the letter we sent D.E.C on the 18th January 2011.
The Department of Environment and Conservation continue to be committed towards reaching a fair and equitable settlement.
All this "red tape" is pretty mind blowing for an Aussie bush bloke like me...I mean, the concept of "red tape" does not exist out bush in any way, shape or form...
I suppose, the closest thing the concept of "red tape" bares any resemblance to, for someone like myself, who has lived out bush their whole life, is acacia cuspidifolia, commonly known as the "wait-a-while" tree.
This tree reaches a height of about eight metres. It is very dense and bushy, and usually has many main stems, with foliage down to ground level. It is endemic to Western Australia. It also has Hooked spines up to five millimeters long, on the axils of the leaves and the stems, which tear at your skin if you brush past it. If you are not careful you can get trapped for quite some time in the foliage of this tree, whilst trying to dislodge the hooked spines from your skin. This trees common name "wait-a-while" refers to this.
"Many Rivers To Cross..." - Monday 21st February 2011
A lot of you have read my name in the stories on the battle for justice between Taffy Abbotts and The Department of Environment and Conservation (DEC) of Western Australia...
As many of you know, my name is Kim and I have been sharing the life, the tribulations, the heart ache and the splendor of living out here in the wilderness of the Kimberley at Mt Hart for nearly 6 years now fulltime.
Mt Hart is my home.
As a woman, I want to share with you what it is like living out here in the middle of the Kimberley, 240kms away from the nearest town... To me the story I am about to tell you encompasses the beauty and the hardship, the loneliness and the deprivation, the wonder and awe of the country up here. I have come to love this country with all my heart and all my soul But one has to earn their rite of passage, in order to survive out here, and see this harsh beautiful landscape as heaven
As response from The Department of Environment and Conservation percolates along incredibly slowly, it is important you all realise what Mt Hart really is...
Mt Hart is not just our home and business, it is an oasis in a very inhospitable, but beautiful wilderness. A place people come to visit, located inside spectacular rugged rangeland terrain. "Mt Hart" station is a place where since 1914 men and women, with steadfast iron will, have tested their skills against nature, in an attempt to eke out a living in harmony with nature.
The airstrip at Mt Hart is an investment I have studiously and at times tediously fought through drought and floods, wet season, weed and pest infestation to keep in good and safe working order. Mt Hart's airstrip is not just a place for the mail and tourists to arrive, but it is essential infrastructure.
To tourists, neighbours, locals, and myself the Mt Hart airstrip is a lifeline to the outside world - especially during times of an emergency.
Through the Mt Hart airstrip we receive our mail and food supplies in the wet season. The airstrip also provides access to Mt Hart for tourists who prefer to fly But perhaps ever so more important than any of this, is the fact that the Mt Hart airstrip helps save lives.
Since the airstrip was upgraded to RFDS [Royal Flying doctor service] daytime standards and CAP 92 standards, Mt Hart has become more than an oasis for tourists, it has become a strategic centre for search and rescue operations. More times than we wish to remember, some with heavy hearts, Mt Hart airstrip has been used when helicopters or planes have gone missing, or people have been lost or hurt.
Sadly major incidents occur, and Mt Hart and her airstrip has seen its share of use as the base for these emergency operations.
Let me give you an example of one such emergency that comes to my mind as I write, which really stands out in my mind. This is an incident which occurred about 7 years ago
"Sittin' on the Dock of the Bay..." - Friday 18th February 2011
We did not hear back from The Department of Environment and Conservation (DEC) of Western Australia, yesterday.
It is now 1 month since we sent DEC our last letter.
We have put everything into Mount Hart
Toil, effort, sweat, sacrifice and love
"Walk a Country Mile..." - Wednesday 16th February 2011
I called up Mr Jim Sharp The Deputy Director General of The Department Of Environment and Conservation (D.E.C) of Western Australia today, to check on the progress of the letter he is formulating, in response to the letter I sent D.E.C on the 18th January.
Jim Sharp (Pictured above) indicated to me the reason it has taken longer than anticipated is because he had to redraft the letter he had written.
Mr Jim Sharp told me he has now redrafted the letter, and will get it to me today, or at the very latest tomorrow...
Mr Jim Sharp is the only person working for The Department of Environment and Conservation, who saw what Mt Hart was like when I first came out here in 1990. All the other officers involved in the early days who saw Mt Hart in the 1990's, who witnessed first hand the work I did in ressurrecting the derelict buildings, & establishing new buildings, have since left the Department.
During the early 1990's Jim Sharp played an instrumental role in making the partnership between The State Government, C.A.L.M, the Shire and myself, possible, in order to establish Mt Hart homesteads and gardens as a conservation, heritage & visitor services project.
Jim Sharp was appointed Deputy Director General Parks and Conservation in early 2008, following the merger of the Departments of Conservation and Land Management (C.A.L.M) and Environment to form the Department of Environment and Conservation (D.E.C). Prior to this he was C.A.L.Ms Director of National Parks for 12 years and Scientific Advisor.
A very big Thank-you to those of you who continue to send us comments about the response you have received from Bill Marmion (The Minister for The Environment Of Western Australia). And thank-you very, very much to those of you who have written back to W.A's Minister for The Environment after receiving his response, and cc'd a copy of your letter to us.
We had a letter come in today, all the way from Queensland. We have posted this letter below because it sums up how many of you have told us you feel about Mr Marmion's letter...
Dear Mr Marmion, Your ref: 42-04326
Thank you for your letter of 8 February, in response to my email to Premier Barnett of 13 December, drawing his attention to the plight of Taffy Abbotts of the Mount Hart Wilderness Lodge.
With the greatest respect, your reply, for all its length, consists entirely of the very kind of empty platitudes that deservedly give politicians a bad name. Quite apparent is that you havent listened to anything of the concerns that I or other of Mr Abbotts supporters have been trying to convey to you.
Point One: The Kimberley has a world heritage significance that stretches way beyond its importance for its present-day Aboriginal population. It is not a tourism commodity, or some kind of cash-cow to be farmed out to the highest and most plausible-sounding bidder. It only needs one W.A. government to make some crass decision about developing the region, even purely as a tourist destination, and you will irrevocably destroy the very quality that makes it so unique, so special and so precious. So to treat it with the greatest sensitivity and to leave it as relatively little touched as it is at present should be the fundamental benchmarks that underscore all further discussion.
Point Two: Taffy Abbotts and Mount Hart. Do you really think that Mr Abbotts wants the issue to be, in your phrase, in the hands of legal representatives? I am quite sure that he, like me, would much prefer to avoid lawyers like the plague. But my understanding from him is that despite the DECs assurances of May 2010 that they were willing to talk to him and to resolve the issues, their next move was a totally inadequate $200,000 compensation offer for his twenty years work, accompanied by the brusque ultimatum to take-it-or-leave-it within 28 days. Rich considering the sixty-odd days that you took merely to respond to me and to other of Taffys supporters (quite unnecessarily using time and paper-wasting snail-mail in the process).
So with due consideration for the number of sensible and caring people who support Mr Abbotts cause, dont you think that government time, resources and tax-payers money (particularly bearing in mind the not inconsiderable issue of legal fees on both sides), might be a lot better served by your actually talking to the man?
Respectfully, Ian Wilson
"Wouldn't It Be Nice..." - Tuesday 15th February 2011
On the 2nd February Mr Jim Sharp the Deputy Director General from The Department of Environment and Conservation said he would respond within 1-2 days to the letter I sent The Department of Environment and Conservation on the 18th January 2011. But the response from DEC never came...
...So I called Mr Jim Sharp up last week, to find out what the holdup was, but he was always in a meeting, and did not have time to return my phone calls.
Finally, he returned my phone call on Friday last week.
He told me he has been waiting on some information and that he would respond to my letter early this week.
I hope to hear from him tomorrow at the latest... ~Taffy~
"I heard it through the Grapevine..." - Sunday 13th February 2011
Some of you have started receiving a response back from the new Environment Minister of Western Australia Bill Marmion Pictured below
Bill Marmion is now responding for, and on behalf of, the Western Australian Government. Bill Marmion is the new Minister in charge of and responsible to, the Parliament Of Western Australia, for The Department of Environment and Conservation oF Western Australia [DEC]. In heading up this Government Department, he is now responsible for the effectiveness and efficiency of DEC. Under his direction, The Department of Environment and Conservation are carrying out their appointed administration duties of the Government of the State.
The standard letter Minister Bill Marmion has sent out to many of you is practically identical, (word for word) to a letter that Mr Keiran McNamara (The Director General of The Department of Environment and Conservation) started sending out to some of our other supporters 2 weeks ago. As yet, the current Minister for the Environment Bill Marmion has not responded to our letter we forwarded to him by post and by e-mail, on the 6th December 2010 or the letter we sent on the 23rd December 2011 stating our case. We have also had 2 politicians, in the same party as Bill Marmion, personally hand him a copy of our letter. This was done just to ensure he received our letter directly. It is most disappointing, and a tad distressing, that MP Bill Marmion - the new Minister for The Environment, who is now responsible for overseeing The Department responsible (DEC), has not paid us the coutesy of responding to us.
Even The Premier of Western Australia, Premier Colin Barnett and The Minister for Tourism, Minister Dr Kim Hames, took the time to respond to our letter. Minister Marmion is a public servant of the first order, and how he saw that answering constituents letters, before contacting us to confirm our side of the story, or at least responding to us (the very people he is dealing with in this matter) in our minds has flagged his genuineness to the Ministerial position.
There are so many of you who are maintaining the supporter vigil, and keep following our plight on this web page and on all the other websites across the Country like SOS news, Club sites, 4WD sites, Travel sites, and International travel blogs, we dont know who to thank first. Never for a moment though think we have missed any of you in our prayers and thoughts even if we have just had ever so too many to name. Our heart felt thanks go out to every one of you. As you know our story is about righteousness, morality, social obligation and an entire Nations understanding of fair-play.
Thank-you so very much to those of you who have contacted us since you received the form letters from Bill Marmion and Keiran McNamara. We are really grateful to you all for your ongoing support and communication. Our spirits are lifted reading your comments. To pay homage to you all, here is some of your well wishing mail and comments that have flooded the Internet in our direction recently;
"Dear Mr Marmion, I am not disputing the fact that the Abbotts entered into a contract and have had a number of extensions on the lease, my concern is that this country is turning it's back on people that build up and care for areas, not only the Aboriginals, but other people that put their life's work into areas to have Government Departments show little, if any compassion and use their wealth and power to drive them out. I remember our last Prime Minister using the catch phrase 'Mate Ship' time and time again, well I see very little 'Mate Ship' at all in this country from Government Departments. Even Kevin Rudd found out that his own party had very little 'Mate Ship' towards him as well. We are losing our identity as 'caring mates' as we follow down the American path of hate and litigation towards our own people. And as for being 'transparent' in what we do, well I could dispute that all day. Sometimes I believe the word transparent gets used when 'translucent' should be.
The Abbotts are not young people just starting out, that cannot just pick up and start again. I don't see why the Government can't let the Abbotts stay where they are until they are ready to retire, then put the lease up to for expression's of interest, if you have waited this long, what is another few years going to matter? There is also another catch phrase the politician's like to use 'if it's not broken don't fix it'.
I know what legally could be done, but I'm sure you all know, just like everyone that has sent letters and e-mails know, what morally should be done..."
"...Like all the people in power they soon forget who put them there and who can vote to remove them. I have extended family in WA and have told them of your plight and they all vote. PS. I hope to see you get a fair deal if people power has its way..."
Attached is the response I have received from DEC in relation to the letter I sent in December (not slow are they??) .for your interest. The standard response no doubt sent to anyone who has written. I am glad they did not waste the paper and stamp posting it to me
Sorry to hear that, it seems that you have the same problem there, as we have in the UK. If you are a born and bred native then you get nothing, but if you come from any other country then your showered with money, houses, cars etc, etc. Good luck keep up the fight, one day the government will wake up and realise what they are doing to their own people .
Dear Taffy and Kim, This is the reply I received today from Minister Marmion. Same 'ol same 'ol
Hi Taffy & Kim, Another response to our emails has trickled through to us in here in the UK. It doesn't really say anything that we don't already know!! See you in June sometime
Hi Kim and Taffy, Hope you are both keeping well in the circumstances that youre in at present (not easy) understatement of the year I know!!! - but I have at last received a reply from Minister Marmion and have attached it for you both to see. We hope things are progressing in the way that you would both want them to - do realise that you can't say too much if lawyers etc,etc are involved but we do log in and look at your website - so we get an idea of how long things are 'dragging out' - keep your spirits up both of you
Dear Taffy, Received today a response from Minister Marmion, only took 2 months not bad eh!! Have forwarded it to you so you can see for yourself. Still following your epic journey with much interest and will still be travelling the GRR in July and looking forward to what Mt Hart and The Kimberlies have to offer. Best of Luck
"Must admit we thought it was a pretty 'standard'
letter sent to all!! If you have time we would be interested in your thoughts (realise you are not able to publish these on the web for legal reasons)- but one of the good traits of us 'poms' is that we do still have the 'bull dog spirit' - look forward to hearing from you..."
G'day folks, A predictable response I guess! Just thought you might like to see it...
Hi Taffy and Kim, Seems like you are getting the run-around from DEC in regards to the FOI act. Pure case of too hard basket for them or theyre hiding something! Obviously theyve got their figures from somewhere, probably from pulling it out of their ar mpit! I received this email today with a letter attached and thought you may like to have a read. Keep your chins up and stay healthy. Best of luck to you . PS. 10.5 hour round trip to Derby? Jeez, thats hard going!
See attached. Standard letter .Mate, you are an institution .These people down in Perth have no conception of what the real Kimberley is all about. Please let me know if there is anything further I can do to help your cause. Youre the last of a dying breed and it pisses me right off to see the way you are being treated
"Dear Taffy, Herewith at long last a letter from Bill Marmion in response to mine to your Premier. I immediately looked up your website for the latest, and see that he sent much the same to other people. Full of empty platitudes. It seems to me to be a disgrace that he has not contacted you directly. I will write to Marmion, with a copy to Colin Barnett (who had at least quite promptly acknowledged my message), pointing out his discourtesy to you, and his arrogant failure to address the points that we have all been making. What a huge waste to have to resort to lawyers when proper communication from Marmion & co could have made this unnecessary...."
"...hope you get something definite from DEC soon and hope it's good news..."
"...Hoping this finds you fit & well and with the answer youre waiting for at hand and in your favour...I have just caught up with your latest news and was angered but not surprised Keep fighting, When the going gets tough, the tough get going..."
"...Dear Kim and Taffy we have been at Mt Hart the year before last year and we were stunned by all the beauty and the tremendous effort you both spent to create this place like it is today. We loved the personal atmosphere and by the way had a very nice talk with your cook. But what we also had to experience on the Gibb River Road was the change of a formerly beautiful natural place called Home Valley which is now a totally commercial and holiday village. It would be terrible if Mt Hart would have to face the same thing. We are shocked about this mean approach of the DEC and you have really our full support. Really we wish you all the best..."
"...I remain concerned for your plight and my support for you getting a "fair go" continues...I guess my greatest hope is that you will emerge from this situation to find some new interest and energy in another place, and perhaps in another field of endeavour. If you do that, then "Big Brother" will not have got you down - well, not for long, anyway...Bitterness about the past is unproductive and unhealthy. Positive hopes and energetic ambitions for the future are the right outlook..."
"It's Our Territory..." - Thursday 10th February 2011
Not only is it comforting, but incredible how many people have heard about The Department of Environment and Conservations (DEC) treatment of me.
When I was in Derby town on Monday after weeks locked away by the big wet season, people were stopping me in the street & in shops to offer their support, and express their concern.
Even to my delightful surprise some of the local kids came up to me to tell me they read about my story in the papers, how bad they feel for me, and that they do not want me to leave Mt Hart.
Derby is a proud Western Australian town, and over the years it has always been worth the 240km, often tortuous drive to get there. The people of Derby have always been good to me, and valued me for the person I am, as well as for my business. From their own personal knowledge, and through the knowledge of local people who have assisted me where and when they could, the people of Derby Town have come to know and witness first-hand what I have achieved out here at Mt Hart. They are well aware of the hard work, commitment and personal financial investment I have put into the place. They can, and do, appreciate the fact that what I have achieved out here has occurred despite the isolation, the extreme weather conditions, the lack of communications and being cut off from everyone and everything during the wet seasons.
The community of Derby have a lot of social, cultural and historical heritage values invested into Mt Hart homesteads and gardens. Many of the folks in Derby have come to view Taffy Abbotts and Mt Hart as one inseparable entity, so the news of what is occurring has come as a shock & disappointment to many of them and downright anger for some. The people of Derby have always gone out of their way to make me feel part of their community, and have taken care of me & supported me in any way they were able.
Over the years numerous folks living in Derby have taken the time to travel out to the Station and assist me voluntarily; with things like heavy lifting, or donated building materials & equipment so I could complete the building projects at Mt Hart. Without this voluntary local community effort and contribution, the restoration & development of Mt Hart homesteads and gardens into what it is today, would not have been possible. Many of the folks from Derby have come to stay out here with me over the years, and love Mt Hart for the special place it is. They have bought their families out here, and watched Mt Hart change and grow over time. They have taught their kids & grandkids that Mt Hart, is a unique place to be treasured & valued.
It concerns many of the people of Derby that The Department of Environment and Conservation have shown so little appreciation for the work I have done, and that what I have done out here is being seriously devalued, and that DEC are offering such little reward for my hard work and financial input. Some of the folks in Derbys interpretation of the situation is that there seems to be only one outcome being sought by The Department of Environment and Conservation management in this process, and that is to remove me from Mount Hart as cheaply as possible, and then tender Mt Hart out to a corporation who will gain their precious heritage icon, which now has a worldwide reputation, for a much more lucrative commercial agreement.
This is business and I have no objections to DEC seeking that which their charter actually directs them to seek. Yet the morality of the situation, and the obligations to me, both become co-joined in our agreement. For DEC to take for a pittance of remuneration what I have sunk 20 years of sweat, toil and every dollar possible into, in order to bring Mt Hart up to the standard it is today, and then lease that which I have built for much bigger dollars, is just not right, not Australian. All I am asking of DEC is for my fair share to retire on, (which is way less than it should be), yet still they are procrastinating with responses, when such responses need only reflect the mood, desires and wants of our community - a community who holds first-hand knowledge of my years and efforts.
Derby town is still a frontier town full of characters genuine, hard working, people who really care about each other and the country up here in north Western Australia. They have not lost their sense of community or identity. Their values, morals and ethics remain very, very strong.
And they all have hearts of gold...
What DEC is doing to me, is really being done to the community as a whole, for the essence of a civilisation stems from its cohesiveness. As the powers who rule climb ever higher in their city based ivory towers, they break the strands of that cohesiveness and lose sight of purpose and morality.
To read what Peter McCumstie, the Shire President of Derby & The West Kimberleys during the 1990s, has to say about my situation;
"It's a long way to the shop if you want a Sausage Roll" - Tuesday 8th February 2011
Life out here has always been tough, and because of the current dispute with The Department of Environment and Conservation of Western Australia, troubles are plenty at the moment for us. We are still waiting to hear back from Jim Sharp - The Deputy Director General of The Department of Environment and Conservation, who said Wednesday last week that he would respond within 1 to 2 days to the letter we sent him on the 18th January.
Yet the experiences we have had out here are and always will be priceless - for we are in one of the last frontiers of Australia living as part of the wilderness, and few people have ever got to really know, understand and be accepted by the country up here, as we have.
There are certain essential goods which you cannot get out to the remote stations located along the Gibb River Road by plane, including flammable goods (ie; aerosols and paint) and goods too large or too heavy to transport by plane, such as replacement machinery parts and maintenance materials. Which means, that when you are cut off for months at a time out here during the wet season Sometimes desperate times, call for desperate measures...And we have no real choice but to attempt the 480km round trip from Mt Hart into Derby town. The only way we can get into Derby town in the wet season, is to wait until we have had a week with very little rain. During this time the roads have a chance to dry out a bit, and the creeks have the chance to drop slightly...
We then have to try and risk driving into town and back again in one day, because even though the weather may be fine when we leave home at 4am in the morning, there is no guarantee the rains wont come that very same afternoon, and the resulting flash flooding will make the rivers rise again and make the roads impassable. In the past we have been caught out by flash flooding, and we have had to leave the car on the other side of a creek on our access road for up to 3 weeks, until the creek has subsided enough for us to drive it across. We have then had to swim the raging creek, and then walk the remaining distance, in order to get back to the homesteads.
The return trip into Derby town during the dry season normally takes us 7 hours total driving time. When we went into town yesterday (during the middle of the wet season), it took us 10 and 1/2 hours return trip driving time, due to the road conditions
To see photos of the current wet season road conditions up here, and to read more about our trip into Derby town during the middle of the wet season, please click on the image below:
Fortunate Son - Sunday 6th February 2011
As we give The Department Of Environment and Conservation the courtesy of time to respond to our matter, we thought it appropriate that we once again showcase the life of others so less fortunate than most of us, and how disparity in life occurs no matter what Nation we hail from...
Here in the Kimberleys we await for The Department Of Environment and Conservation to decide what 20 years of my labour, investment and contribution towards developing Mt Hart into a tourism destination is worth, before they take the place out to lease...
Whilst in Burkina Faso, in West North West Africa, while citizens brave deadly and demoralising work places in search of gold, the elite live by an entirely different set of rules...
The Kimberleys is the true home of adventurer and photographer Hugh Brown. Much of his work has been undertaken in that and the Pilbara region. On the 12th January we ran a story about Hugh Browns latest trip to Burkina Faso in West North West Africa, taking photographs to produce a documentary on the artisanal miners in this part of the world.
The artisanal miners are among the most poor and hard working people in the world. They work underground in shafts that run thirty to seventy metres straight down chiselling out ore in the hope that it will contain enough gold to help them push their aspirations in life.
Whilst he was in West Africa, Hugh Brown also had the opportunity to photograph people living at the other end of West Africas hierarchical structure of society, including...The Prince of The Royal Family of Ghana.
Hugh Brown was collected by the Prince of The Royal Family of Ghana and his driver at Takoradi (on the south coast of Ghana) and then travelled for four hours to The Prince's palace and Kingdom.
Hugh says, "The Prince was a top bloke ."
"...We spent the evening chatting over dinner, and then in the morning we did a series of portrait sittings over a couple of hours. His jewellery was amazing and he had an assistant to help him change his attire and put on his jewellery.
...The next day, after the shoot, The Prince had his driver take me to Accra
Hugh Brown soon found out that perhaps the most dangerous thing the members of the royal family of Ghana experience in their daily lives is driving through traffic.
"...The traffic started to get pretty thick and so my drivers heroics commenced. The traffic was averaging about sixty kilometres an hour when my driver suddenly joined a three vehicle Ministerial convoy as we moved toward Accra. This is called 'convoy driving'. Basically the way 'convoy driving' works is that when overtaking is required, the convoy of vehicles assume control of the other side of the road, regardless of whether there is traffic coming from the opposite direction or not. The traffic coming the other way is then required to veer off the road onto the verge or gravel section of the road...
...It is incredibly dangerous and nerve wracking as it happens at great speed and occurs regardless of the nature of the traffic coming the other way. So therefore, trucks, buses and all other vehicle types get pushed onto the gravel. Great reflexes are required and an unshaking nerve. In fact it is the nerve that is perhaps the most important characteristic of being able to drive that way. The hazard lights of the vehicles in the ministerial convoy are all turned on continuously flashing creating the sense of an emergency and the driver keeps blasting his horn. Overtaking speeds often reached 150 kilometres an hour
It is all very, very unnerving when you are looking head-on at buses or trucks coming the other way... It was a miracle we didnt kill pedestrians and cyclists as we belted through villages at a very high speed. Initially I pulled rank on my driver, despite him being the Princes driver. He responded that 'we would take forever to get to where we were going'. I responded that 'it was better taking a while to get there than not getting there at all'...
Hugh Brown took some notes in his journal during this drive:
I think we have only stopped at one or two red lights during this entire drive...We just ran another vehicle off the road. My driver just commented to me: If you are not brave you cant do this type of driving
Now we are approaching Accra, and the driver has just commented: If we had stayed in that traffic we wouldnt be here by now. We would not have reached Accra by eight oclock.
Yeah, I figured that, I responded.
We just ran a toll booth and didnt pay our highway toll. But my driver assures me that it was okay because we are part of the Ministers convoy, even though we are not officially part of the Ministerial convoy...
To visit Hugh Browns website and see more of his amazing photos and read more about the incredible life he leads;
Freedom? - Saturday 5th February 2011
Since November 2010 The Department of Environment and Conservation have been claiming they have spent in excess of between $1 to $1.1 million dollars on building the capital improvements at Mt Hart, since I have been at Mt Hart. Due to the fact that, I have done the majority of the building work at Mt Hart myself, I know that no where near this amount of money has been spent by The Department of Environment and Conservation developing the 8 main buildings at Mt Hart, or the campground.
So, I lodged a Freedom of Information application with The Department of Environment and conservation, about 1 month ago to add further proof to the documents I already have which verify that The Department of Environment and Conservation are inflating their own involvement and investment on Mt Hart.
The Department of Environment and Conservation's Freedom of Information Administrator - Nicole Hartog, informed me yesterday, that my Freedom of Information application for The Department of Environment and Conservation's records of expenditure on building the capital improvements at Mt Hart (from 1995-present), is going to be too hard & too time consuming for them to collate.
So how then, if The Department of Environment and Conservation have not already collated records of their expenditure on the capital improvements at Mt Hart, have they come up with their stated figure of expenditure on building the capital improvements at Mt Hart?????
The Freedom of Information Act is supposed to be an Act providing public access to documents, that enables the public to ensure information in Government documents is accurate, complete, up to date and not misleading.
The objects of this Act are to
(a) enable the public to participate more effectively in governing the State; and
(b) make the persons and bodies that are responsible for State and local government more accountable to the public.
On the 7th January 2011 I originally lodged an application under the Freedom of Information Act for; All The Department of Environment and Conservations Internal and external e-mails, letters and briefings concerning all correspondence on Mt Hart, and all financial records on infrastructure and capital developments on Mt Hart > Time range 1991 present.
On 19th January 2011, I received an e-mail from the Freedom of Information administrator for The Department of Environment and Conservation Nicole Hartog, requesting me to 'narrow the scope' of my application, with detailed instructions on how to 'narrow the scope' of my application.
So on 25th January 2011 I responded, and narrowed the scope of my application considerably more than Nicole Hartog had requested, to now ONLY include; Records of DECs financial expenditure on building the capital improvements at Mt Hart from July 31st 1995 present.
As you can see, in my revised application, I narrowed the scope of the time range, and completely removed my request for internal and external e-mails and correspondence, focusing purely on The Department of Environment and Conservations records of financial expenditure on the capital improvements at Mt Hart.
On the 4th February 2011, I received a response from the same Freedom of Information Administrator for The Department of Environment and Conservation. She has now requested me to reduce the scope of my application for The Department of Environment and Conservation's records of expenditure on the capital improvements at Mt Hart even further, or she won't be able to proceed with my application. For some unknown reason, over the past week, it has proven too hard for them to collate records of The Department of Environment and Conservations's expenditure on the capital improvements at Mt Hart. The letter Nicole Hartog sent me was the exact same letter she sent me on the 19th January 2011, with the exact same set of instructions on how to 'narrow the scope of my application'. These instructions are now outdated because they specifically address requests I made in the original Freedom of Information application I sent, which have since been removed or altered. Which means these most recent instructions on how to 'narrow the scope of my application', now hold no relevance whatsoever to my current Freedom of Information application with The Department of Environment and Conservation...~Taffy~
The Spirit of Eureka - Thursday 3rd February 2011
Rod Quartermain Tourism Branch Manager (DEC Licensing Department). Was handling my case from May 2010 - December 2010.
Jim Sharp Deputy Director General Parks and Conservation (DEC). Has been handling my case since Xmas 2010.
Keiran McNamara The Directer General of The Department of Environment and Conservation.
The key decision makers at The Department of Environment and Conservation, who have been handling my plight, are as depicted above. Hopefully the dispute with DEC can be resolved soon, and one day I will be able to refer to the people above as people who recognised & acknowledged my efforts, in turning Mt Hart into the tourist destination that it is today.
Many of you who have contacted me over the past few weeks, since I first went public with my story, have told me that you see The Department of Environment and Conservation's treatment of me as a symptom of bureaucracy gone mad.
Today, I would like to acknowledge all those people who have visited, appreciated, enjoyed and voluntarily marketed Mt Hart to the whole globe over the last 20 years. All of you who have visited Mt Hart and enjoyed my hospitality have helped placed Mt Hart Station of the Kimberleys on the map.
Since I have been at Mt Hart I have met all sorts of people, from all walks of life Celebrities, Premiers, Governors, Ambassadors of Nations, Prime Ministers, Ministers and Politicians have all stayed here over the years and enjoyed the hospitality and the calming ambience of the Station.
And when you are meeting and greeting such a large and diverse range of people a year whilst being their host; after 20 years there are some people who vividly stand out in my mind more than others. These people made a real and lasting impact on my life, appreciated the place for what I had achieved and what I had to offer the visitor. These people impressed me with their visions and ideals. And there are so many of you out there all across the world, who I think of often.
Sir Michael Jeffery is such a man amongst men. The son of a stockman from Wiluna, he worked his way up to eventually become one of our most respected Governor Generals of Australia.
Prior to his term in Government, Sir Michael served his country with honor and distinction in the military. He did his duty in Malaya, Papua New Guinea and was awarded a Military Cross for bravery in the Vietnam War. He became commander of Australias Special Air Services, the renown and revered Australian SAS.
He is also deeply conservative, and heavily imbued in what is nowadays loosely referred to as, traditional values. In 1993, he became Western Australias Governor. And that is when I got to know him a little better...
In 1993, Sir Jeffery came out to stay with me at Mt Hart with his wife, after having recently taken up the esteemed position of Governor of WA. Prior to arriving at Mt Hart to stay with me, he had flown up to Kulumburu. He knew that before he was to arrive in Kulumburu, public servants working for the Government would organise a massive clean-up of the area. So, in order to combat this deception, a week prior to his arrival in Kulumburu, he sent one of his most trusted aides up there to take photos of what the living conditions of the people in the aboriginal community were really like. When he arrived for his visit he found that Kulumburu looked nothing like what it did in the photos taken prior to the clean up for his arrival.
Sir Jeffery was aware from the moment he became Governor of Western Australia, that;..he was being denied access to the truth by people within his own Government.... As a result he tried to make sure he stayed aware of the facts, rather than accepting a white washed version of the truth.
When Sir Jeffrey was out here with me at Mt Hart, after dinner he told all his staff to go to bed, kicked off his shoes, poured us each a glass of port and asked of me;
Now Taffy tell me what are the real problems facing the Kimberleys what are the real issues at stake up here?.
It is such a shame that more of our leaders Politicians, MPs, Ministers and Premiers alike, who founded and advanced their political careers through the support of the Australian people, no longer question the information being presented to them by public servants, once they are in a position of power.
Sir Michael Jeffrey is probably one of the most genuine Gentlemen I have ever had the privilege of meeting. And although so many distinguished guests have passed through Mt Hart Station, whilst he was out here with me, Sir Michael set the bar very high in my mind for Integrity, Honesty and sheer Australianism.
"Thank-you very much to our gracious team" - Friday 28th January
By clicking on the controls above you can hear what Harold Sattler, and Honourable Jon Ford (member for pastoral and mining region) recently had to say about The Department of Environment and Conservation (DEC's) treatment of Taffy Abbotts, on Perth Drive Time Radio.
Please click on the photos above to read the latest story about The Department Of Environment and Conservation (DEC's) Treatment of Taffy Abbotts on SOS news
Please click on the controls above to listen to an interview which was sent out to the 70,000 subscribers of
SOS news, who are living in over 86 countries around the world. This interview was conducted by Mal Davies from
SOS news with Taffy Abbotts and covers the story of how Taffy was used to maintain and develop The Department of Environment And Conservation (DEC's) land holding at Mt Hart over 20 years...
The Countryman Newspaper Thursday 20th January ~ The Voice of the Bush Since 1885...
Thankyou very much to the Countryman Newspaper and Rebecca Turner for continuing to help us bring our story to all the men, women and families who tamed the massive expanses of the State Of WA...
Please click on controls below to listen to an audio recording from ABC Radio Kimberley on Thursday 20th January 2011 of Vanessa Mills interviewing Taffy Abbotts and The Environment Minister Bill Marmion.
Or click on the Link Below to read the story of Taffy Abotts and The Department of Environment and Conservation at SOS News
Thank you very much to the team at ABC Kimberley, for your on-going support, concern and understanding. Thank you for helping us take our story out to a resident population of 30,000...
Thank you very, very much to the SOS news team for your dedication, advice & support. Thank you for helping us take our story out to the 70,000 people who subscribe to your news site...Taffy and Kim
"We share a dream and sing with one voice..." Wednesday 19th January 2011
Yesterday I sent my response, to the counter offer The Department of Environment and Conservation (DEC) sent me on 24th December 2010, to Jim Sharp - The Director Deputy General of Parks and Conservation Of DEC. So here's hoping Jim Sharp, Keiran McNamara, Rod Quartermain, Rod Annear, Peter Sharp and the other relevant senior officers and decision makers at The Department of Environment and Conservation (DEC), read through my letter, discuss it over with the Environment Minister Honourable Bill Marmion and The WA Government...run it past the state solicitor, and then finally decide once and for all to do the right thing by me...
It'd be really great if The Department of Environment and Conservation (DEC) would finally stop finding excuses as to why they can't pay me for all the back breaking work I have done developing the assets at Mt Hart under the contract of services agreements, so this can finally be resolved and we can all move forward, rather than going round and round and round and round and round and round in circles...
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