Mount Hart News Archives
14th December 2010 - 17th January 2011 (presented in reverse chronological order)
"Tell The Rains to Stop Falling, Tell The Banks To stop Calling And Tell these hands to Give Up On the Land, Tell These Hands..." - Monday 17th January 2011
Heres a news story
all the way from The Mitchell Plateau, in the North Kimberleys about Chris Brown (Browney)
Browney is getting white anted too...just like us, only his are real white ants, that are controllable.
Browney has lived up The Mitchell Plateau, in the North Kimberleys of Western Australia, helping out The Kandiwal Aboriginal Community for Many years now. He does a lot of good work for the aboriginal community up there, and is working towards a better future for the Kandiwal aboriginal community & their kids by helping them overcome the current Land Councils domination of their lives.
At the moment with the wet season, there is a whole heap of rain up here in The Kimberleys (we just had 134 mm overnight). During the wet season the only way we can get food, medicine & mail out to the stations up here, and the only way people like Browney can get food out to the Aborginal Communities, is by mail plane which is provided by RASS (The Australian Governments Remote Air Services Subsidy Scheme). This is because during the wet season all the creeks & rivers flood and the dirt roads are impassable, so no one can get into town.
Like most of the stations & communities up here, the dirt road to the airstrip that provides Browney with access to the mail plane is located a long distance away from the community up a narrow dirt track that gets flooded. Which means to get to the airstrip on time to meet the plane you have to leave well in advance, and often have to get your car out of a few bogs along the way.
During the wet season trench digging is a regular routine it helps keep the water flowing off the road and stops the tracks to the airstrips from becoming too boggy.
We just went 2 weeks without the mail plane because the plane normally flys once a week on a Friday, but because of the rain it could not land on either Friday this past fortnight. If this occurs the mail plane is supposed to come in on the next available sunny day, but for some reason it never did.
Luckily, the mail plane finally came into Mt Hart this Friday and we received our much needed food supplies, medicine and mail. Unfortunately, Mt Elizabeth Station and The Gibb River Aboriginal Community have not had the mail plane come in since Xmas Eve. For some reason the mail plane bypassed these two stations this Friday, despite suitable landing conditions.
Pat and Peter Lacey from Mt Elizabeth waited 20 minutes at their airstrip for the plane to land, but it never did. Pat said that as a result of the mail plane bypassing them and Gibb River Station; No one up here can receive their mail, or the urgent medicines and food they have been waiting on since Xmas
by the time we get our phone bill, the phone will already be cut off.
Unfortunately, this kind of thing happens nearly every year up here in The Kimberleys during the wet season months, because some people providing the mail plane service dont realize that;
The Kimberley's Lifeline Is The Mail Run...
Browney is currently living in a sea container, in the middle of the wet season, because the house he has been living in for the past few years was taken off him last year. His camp is literally running with water and his kitchen (made from palm and woolybutt logs) is open to the elements. As soon as theres a dry spell (if there ever is) he is going to put a corrugated iron roof over the top of his kitchen and rebuild it with an iron frame. He is currently battling termites and has already killed & cleared out heaps, but as you can see there are still heaps more to go
Despite all of these hardships Browney is still hanging in there, battling away for the Kandiwal aboriginal community, The Wunambul people, and all that he believes in. Some years ago, Browney made a promise to his old mentor and teacher Wilfred Goonack, ( a traditional elder of The Wunambul people) who had great knowledge, vision and wisdom. Browney promised Wilfred that he would do all that he could to help the Kandiwal community overcome all they needed to, in order to create a better future for the generations of tomorrow. Browney is another extraordinary character, from the extraordinary Kimberleys
All of us up here in the Kimberleys send our thoughts out to the people over East
For the folks up in the north of this Nation can understand the pain and the heartache of losing all to the elements, but know where that will comes from, to rebuild and move on despite terrible set backs.
The incredible Aussie spirit that has flourished in the east over the last few days is a salve to a nations heart, for here in the North we were beginning to feel it was gone, how glad we are that we were wrong.
Our wishes and prayers from the Kimberley are sent your way, to all of you, victims and volunteers alike. Oi Oi Oi...how proud we are us Australians....
"Theres a track winding back to an old fashioned shack, Along the road to Gundagai..." - Saturday 15th January
Good on ya! Amy Williams!
Nice one Honourable Jon Ford and Honourable Sally Talbot!
Honourable Ken Baston MLC (Member for Mining and Pastoral Region) and his electorate officer Carla Rudd, made contact with The Department of Environment and Conservation (DEC) when I first went public with my story on 6th December. After seeking clarification with The Department of Environment and Conservation and following a response to his enquiries Honourable Ken Baston MLC got back to me yesterday with news of information contained in a letter he received from the Minister for the Environment Honourable Bill Marmion dated 23rd December.
It is very frustrating that the Minister for the Environment is only getting one side of the story I understand The Minister has to support the Agency he is responsible for. However, there is a history of Departmental negligence here which finally needs to be addressed, by someone in a position of authority to intervene and do something about it...Taffy
"Give me a home amoungst the Gum Trees, With Lots of Plum Trees, A sheep or Two and a Kangaroo..." - Friday 14th January
Happier Days - Mt Hart in the 1990's
~WAKE UP TIME~
When the shearing sheds are silent and the stock camps fallen quiet,
When the gidgee coals no longer glow across the outback night,
And the bush is forced to hang a sign, 'gone broke and won't be back',
And spirits fear to find a way beyond the beaten track.
When harvesters stand derelict upon the wind swept plains,
And brave hearts pin their hopes no more on chance of loving rains.
When a hundred outback settlements are ghost towns overnight,
When we've lost the drive and heart we had to once more see us right.
When 'Pioneer' means a stereo and 'Digger' some backhoe,
And the 'Outback' is behind the house because there's nowhere else to go.
And 'Anzac' is a biscuit brand and probably foreign owned,
And education really means brainwashed and neatly cloned.
When you have to bake a loaf of bread to make a decent crust,
And our heritage once enshrined in gold is crumbling to dust.
And old folk pay their camping fees on land for which they fought,
And fishing is a great escape; this is until you're caught.
When you see our kids with yankee caps and resentment in their eyes,
And the soaring crime and hopeless hearts is no longer a surprise.
When the name of RM Williams is a yuppie clothing brand,
Not a product of our heritage that grew off the land.
When offering a hand makes people think you'll amputate,
And two dogs meeting in the street is what you call a 'Mate'.
When 'Political Correctness' has replaced all common sense,
When you're forced to see it their way, there's no sitting on the fence.
Yes one day you might find yourself an outcast in this land,
Perhaps your heart will tell you then, 'I should have made a stand'.
Just go and ask the farmers that should remove all doubt,
Then join the swelling ranks who say, 'Don't sell Australia out'
"There's nothing that a hundred men or more could ever do, I bless the rains down in Africa, Gonna take some time to do the things we never had..." - Wednesday 12th January 2011
The dispute With The Department of Environment and Conservation (DEC)
But Life goes on
Since we went public, we have been lucky enough to have a well known legal firm in Sydney provide us with legal advice free of charge. A really BIG THANKS to Shannon for your care, and for all your wonderful help.
The ridiculous thing is after 7 months of dealing with The Department of Environment and Conservation over this issue, they are still not prepared to pay me a decent amount for 20 years work developing their assets...BUT at the end of the day...they do not care at all how much money they spend on solicitors fighting me for what I am rightfully entitled to.
In the meantime...this is a community website that hundreds of people a day from all over Australia and all over the world check for information on travelling the Gibb River Road & for information on the Kimberleys, Western Australia. So for a change of tune, weve decided to run a different news story
Here's some news about photographer Hugh Brown...all the way from a battle torn country full of genuine, hard working people.
Hugh Brown is an adventurer and professional photographer. The Kimberleys is Hughs true home and much of his work has been undertaken in that and the Pilbara region. Hugh often explores The Kimberleys during the wet season months, when he gets dropped off in the middle of the rangelands by helicopter, then spends days on end, traversing the country taking some truly amazing photographs.
Hugh recently spent seven days taking photographs in Burkina Faso in West North West Africa, to produce a documentary on the artisanal miners in this part of the world.
He says that photographing in Burkina
was some of the most interesting work he has ever done
The main purpose of the trip was to document an occupation and a way of life that wont be around in the years to come
People mining using sixteenth century technology and incredibly demanding work.
Whilst Travelling through Burkina Hugh admits that;
Risk was there but it was manageable
it stemmed from the fact that these people are among the most poor and hard working in the world and literally earn only their food and keep unless they find gold
Many work underground in shafts that run thirty and forty and seventy metres straight down. Just getting to the bottom of the shaft is incredibly dangerous and then they have to spend their entire days chiselling out ore in the hope that it will contain enough gold to help them push their aspirations in life
Its been one of the greatest privileges Ive had in my photographic work being able to connect with these people to some degree and experience some of the warmest and most genuine people Ive ever met
Hugh contacted us via the internet when he heard about the Dispute we are involved in with The Department of Environment and Conservation (DEC) from an airport terminal at Kinshasa Airport in the Democratic Republic of Congo to see if there is any way he could help us out. At the time he contacted us, he didnt have a Visa and had taken a big punt working on the basis that he could talk himself through the airport so that he could cross the river and get to Brazzaville in the Republic of Congo on the other side.
Security here is pretty tight he said, and I had originally planned to get to Brazzaville via Abidjan in Cote DIvoire but the airport is shut at Abidjan and the country is on the brink of civil war. Looking out at the planes here at the airport is an experience in itself and you half expect to see Fred Flintstones legs poking out of the fuselage as he gets to do a running take-off.
To visit Hugh Browns website and see more of his amazing photos and read more about the incredible life he leads; http://hughbrown.com
"We Didn't Start the Fire, No We Didn't Light It, But We Tried to Fight It..." - Tuesday 11th January 2011
Some of you have written back to us and told us you have received responses to some of the letters of support you wrote, regarding our case, from The Premier Of Western Australia (Colin Barnett), And The Tourism Minister's Chief of Staff (Ian Wight-Pickin)...
...These responses are all a standard reply, which all state the letters have been passed onto the environment minister (Bill Marmion) for his attention. We have noted that although the letters from the Premier's Office are just a standard reply, the signature on the letters does change which means Premier Colin Barnett, did actual sign them...Which means some of the letters did make it right through to The Premier's desk. Unfortunately, the number of letters that received a response from The Premier, is only a very small amount, when compared with the actual number of letters sent to him (which most of you sent us copies of).
Some of you have written back to us and told us that the letters you wrote have not received a response at all, even though you wrote directly to each decision maker (The Premier, The Environment Minister and The Tourism Minister), requesting action be taken. It is interesting to note most of the people who have contacted us, that have received a response so far from the decision makers, live overseas (France, England, Europe, America).
As yet, as far as we are aware, the new Environment minister Bill Marmion has not responded to the letter we sent him (by e-mail and postal mail), or to any of the letters that all of you have written direct to him, or to any of the letters that have been bought to his attention by the Premier and the Tourism Minister.
But all is not lost...Thank-you very much to Honourable Wendy Duncan MLC (Member for Agricultural Region) for helping us out so much since we first went public with this in early December. And to Honourable Jon Ford JP MLC (member for mining and pastoral region) and Honorable Dr Sally Talbot MLC (Shadow minister for the environment) for taking the time to fly all the way out here last week to talk to us & for making statements to the media about our case. ~Taffy and Kim~
"Out on the Patio We'd Sit, And the Humidity We'd Breath, We'd Watch the Lightning Crack Over Cane Fields, Laugh And Think, This Is Australia" - 8th January
After 20 years of Developing The Department of Environment and Conservation (DEC's) Assets - this is how they treat me. Can you believe it? In this article put out in the West Australian Today - a 'Spokesman' for The Department of Environment and Conservation claims Mt Hart Has provided me with an income over the years...as some kind of pathetic attempt at justifying what they are doing to me. With the wet season, I am lucky if I earn an income for 6 months a year - the rest of the year because of the creeks flooding and my road being closed, I have no income. Over the wet season for 6 months a year I am out here on my own maintaining the property, battling extreme temperatures, bushfires, cyclones, torrential rains and floods, and this is when I do all the major development work and put the 'income' I make from my small remote outback tourism business into the development and maintainence of The Department of Environment and Conservation (DEC's) infrastructure.
They are now claiming they have spent in excess of $1 million on Mt Hart. In a previous media statement they made to the Farm Weekly they claimed they have spent in excess of $1.1 million on Mt Hart, and in a letter I received from the state solicitor they claimed to have spent $60 000 per year since 1995 on Mt Hart. The Department of Environment and Conservation (DEC's) figure of stated expenditure keeps changing. Both myself, and the West Kimberley district manager of The Department of Environment and Conservation whom I reported to for 15 years, know The Department of Environment and Conservation have not invested this kind of money directly into the capital developments located at the Mt Hart homestead block (which were listed in the valuation report - where the total replacement cost of improvements came to $1.85 million). The above news article makes it look like the total replacement costs of improvements in the valuation report were $1.3 million - but this value was the total value myself and my lawyer calculated was the total contribution I personally had made to the infrastructure out of the total $1.85 million dollar improvements valuation.
This is what 20 years of my investment, hard work & labour has amounted to in the eyes of this so called "spokes person" from The Department of Environment and Conservation (DEC)...instead of saying: "The Department of Environment and Conservation recognises the fact that Taffy Abbotts has made a major contribution to the assets at Mt Hart and we are currently in negotiations with him trying to find a way to resolve this by reimbursing him for his efforts", they insult me even further than they have already, with more pathetic justifications for why they are destroying my life.
Then the The Department of Environment and Conservation "spokesman" in this same article says I am "welcome to apply" for the Mt Hart lease. I know I can apply for the lease if I want to. The issue here is that at the meeting in May, Rod Quartermain - the licensing officer from The Department of Environment and Conservation, told me applying for the Mt Hart lease will be "a very competitive process" and that "they are looking for the best business outcome for the state" - and that they have large corporations interested in the place. Which means I don't stand a chance, even if I do apply for the lease, which is in reality the equivelent of them holding a gun to my head. I said to The Department of Environment and Conservation officers at the meeting in May that before taking Mt Hart out to expressions of interest The Department of Environment and Conservation should reimburse me for all the capital development work I have completed to date, which according to contractual obligations they should have paid for.
Yesterday, I filed a request with The Department Of Environment and Conservation under the freedom of information act, requesting all The Department of Environment and Conservation (DEC's) external and internal e-mails, letters and briefings concerning ALL correspondence on Mt Hart since 1991, and ALL DEC's financial records on infrastructure and capital developments on Mt Hart since 1991. It will take 45 days for The Freedom Of Information Administrator to get this material together, but I know it will be worth the wait.
THIS IS AUSTRALIA....Taffy
"It's Good News Week, Someone's Found A Way To Give..." ~Post New Years~
On Thursday 6th January 2011, Honorable Dr Sally Talbot (Shadow minister for the environment, planning, climate change, lands and youth) and Honorable Jon Ford (the member for mining and pastoral region) flew all the way out from Broome (460kms away one way) to Mt Hart to see me and speak to me about the dispute I am having with The Department of Environment and Conservation. They are normally based in Newman and Mandurah so it shows you the kinds of distances they are prepared to travel to see what they can do just to help a bloke like me out. It was really great to have the chance to talk direct to people who are in a position to try and make a difference.
When I thanked Honorable Jon Ford for coming all the way out here he said; Dont thank me
.I work for you remember
.youre a tax payer.
Honorable Jon Ford's attitude is such a refreshing contrast to the response I had from the The Department of Environment and Conservation licensing officer in Perth (who has been handling my case since the meeting in May). This licensing officer said to me over the phone on the 22nd December;
Public support counts for nothing
I normally get 100s of e-mails on my desk a day anyway, so I hardly noticed the letters of support I got about you
My case has since been taken off of this licensing officer and put in the hands of the Deputy Director General of Parks and Conservation of The Department of Environment and Conservation Jim Sharp.
I wish more people who work for the Government thought like Honorable Jon Ford. If they did I wouldnt be experiencing such hard times right now, and would be being treated fairly after 20 years of loyalty working for the Government developing and maintaining state assets, rather than being pushed into a corner and having to fight for my rights.
Honorable Jon Ford and Honorable Sally Talbot indicated to me that they are appalled at the lack of integrity and good faith DEC officers have shown to me over this issue. They said that if The Department of Environment and Conservation officers continue to ignore the hard work & labor I have done, then they will fly a film crew & journalists out to Mt Hart to interview me. They also indicated that when parliament starts up again they will raise the issue everyday if need be until something is done to resolve this fairly.
I have filled them in with the history of the partnership I have had with The Department of Environment and Conservation, the history of this dispute in detail, and other issues of concern about The Department of Environment and Conservation (DECs) conduct and issues affecting the future of Mt Harts heritage in a 1000 page document. I also gave them a tour of the homesteads and gardens at Mt Hart so they could see the improvements I have done.
The Department of Environment and Conservation made a counter offer to me at 4:21pm on Xmas Eve. They have accepted the value of my business as a going concern, and the business name. But they are still not prepared to accept or acknowledge the fact that I have spent the last 20 years building up the derelict homesteads and gardens into what they are today, and they are still not acknowledging the fact that according to the contract agreements I have had with them they should have paid for these capital improvements.
I have proof that reimbursement for the work I have done, and the need to resolve the issue of mixed up funding sources between myself and The Department of Environment and Conservation in developing the assets at Mt Hart, was something that was raised by Departmental representatives back in 2003 in formal reports & letters to head office. However, still to this very date no action has been taken by The Department of Environment and Conservation to resolve the issue. And as a result it has now boiled over into this situation which could have been avoided if appropriate action had of been taken by The Department of Environment and Conservation head office back in 2003.
Regardless of what The Department of Environment and Conservation claim to have spent on Mt Hart, the fact is it all comes down to what was spent directly on the capital improvements at Mt Hart Homestead Block managed under the contract agreements, that were valued in the valuation report. And the main issue here is not what The Department of Environment and Conservation claim to have spent, but what I have personally invested into the capital developments at Mt Hart 20 years worth of time, labor, resources and finances. A whole heap of people who have seen the work I have done out here first hand - including the district manager/acting regional manager for The Department of Environment and Conservation who I reported to for 15 years - are prepared to testify to the work & labor I have completed and to my right for reimbursement.
Officers from The Department of Environment and Conservation told me back in May 2010 that this 20 year partnership is coming to an end as of November 2011. Which means at 64 years of age I have no future security of tenure, or future security for my business. They told me back in May that the process of applying for the lease is highly competitive and that they are looking for the best business outcome for the state. Since the meeting in May, I have known that there is big business whom I cannot compete with who will be applying for the Mt Hart lease. I am still trying to get DEC to see reason, common sense and recognize the contribution I have made to the capital improvements during my long term tenure of Mt Hart. Before taking Mt Hart out to expressions of interest The Department of Environment and Conservation should reimburse me for all the work I have completed to date.
"There's Nothing So Lonesome, So Morbid, Or Drear, Then To Stand in a Bar of A Pub With No Beer" - New Years Break
My lawyer does not get back until 10th January which means I have to wait until then to respond to The Department of Environment and Conservation's latest letter which I received on Xmas Eve. I cannot tell you what's in the letter they sent me because of the confidentiality disclaimers they've put on the e-mail it was attached to. But lets just say it's ended up in the hands of Jim Sharp from The Department of Environment and Conservation and thankfully they are starting to see reason & common sense - It is an improvement on their last offer, but there are still some major issues of concern they have failed to address...Thanks to all those people out there who are behind me, and following my case...Taffy
So this is Xmas... ~News Over The Xmas Break~
Happy, Happy Xmas to all our friends and Supporters. Here is a Xmas card for all of you...
Please click on the pictures above or below to listen & watch a 2 minute long Australian bush ballad written by Brumbyy for us for Xmas. This Australian bush ballad shows how you have all helped us out so far...
"From Land, They Howl"
Thank-you so much to Brumbyy for all his support.
We received a letter from The Department Of Environment and Conservation in Perth on Xmas Eve. We are going to talk to our lawyer about it after the Xmas Break...So please stay tuned.
Thank-you so much to those of you who have sent us letters of support over the Xmas Break. Because of you our Comments Page keeps growing...Merry Xmas! Taffy and Kim
Do you Come From the Land Down Under? - Friday 24th December
No new news to publish...but we will be sending a Xmas card out to all of our supporters tomorrow...In the meantime, we would like to send a really big thanks out to some really special people who have provided us with a lot of moral support over these past couple of weeks - Thank-you so much Brumbyy, Birgit, Rolf Seiler & Maryanne, Wendy Duncan, Geoff Haeraewa, Ron and Viv Moon, Russell Willis, Helen Marsden, Suzi Schneider, Brent Hanson, Allen Grosse, Jennifer Parkhurst, Daniel Taylor, Neville and Sally Cook, Bernard Arrantash, Peter & Ray McCumstie and Mel, Dags and Kerry, North West Tourism WA & Glen Chidlow, The Shire of Derby West Kimberley and Elsia Archer, Vanessa from ABC radio Kimberley, Amy Williams, Tony Jackson, Chris Brown, Marylyn Broomhall, Rosemary McGuigan, Marlene Harding...Happy Xmas Eve! ~Taffy and Kim~
All My Life's A Circle Going Round And Round... - Thursday 23rd December
With the change in Ministry, there is a bit of disruption... Earlier this week Bill Marmion became the Environment Minister of Western Australia.
Who is Bill Marmion?
Which means the Environment Ministers who received the letters of support - Donna Faraghar and John Day are no longer in a direct position to do anything about this. However, I have been reassured the letters have been passed onto the new Environment Minister Bill Marmion. Even some of the letters sent to The Premier have been passed onto Bill Marmion.
You can read an inaugural speech Bill Marmion made in 2008 Here
In this speech Bill Marmion says; "...I wish to affirm my belief that the fundamental role of government is to facilitate the freedom of the individual and to provide services for the protection, safety and benefit of all individuals. In making decisions regarding what is best for the state, we must never forget that our state is made up of many individuals, some of whom require additional support due to their particular physical, financial or social circumstance. Laws, regulations and other red tape are necessary but we should work hard in this Parliament to make sure that, where possible, we keep legislation simple, unambiguous and to a minimum. It is my hope and desire that I will have the wisdom in this house to make decisions that will be to the greater benefit of the state and, as a consequence, every individual who lives here..."
I have sent Bill Marmion a letter today outlining my case. My greatest hope is that as the new Minister For Environment he will conduct a thorough investigation into Mt Hart's future (taking into consideration the historical and heritage values of the homesteads and gardens), and seriously look into the way The Department of Environment and Conservation has handled my case to date.~Taffy~
And If The Blue Sky Mining Company Won't Come to My Rescue...??? - Wednesday 22nd December
I did the 10 hour return trip into Derby Town yesterday for food and stores. Thank-you to all the Kimberley locals who are right behind me in this. Some of you already knew about what was happening because you have heard about it on the 'Kimberley Grapevine', some of you have only just heard about this last week when I went public with it in the local papers. I called up The Department of Environment and Conservation (DEC's) head office in Perth today to see if they received my counter offer on Thursday last week. To cut a long story short-----> It is now Back in the hands of Rod Quartermain from The Department of Environment and Conservation who works in D.E.C's licensing Department. Rod Quartermain is one of the main people at The Department of Environment and Conservation who has been making the decisions about Mt Hart's Future...Rod Quartermain was one of the people who came up to Mt Hart for the meeting in May...~Cheers, Taffy~
Click Here For Today's Song Lyrics
Look At The Wood - Tuesday 21st December
We still have not had any correspondence back at all directly from The Department of Environment and Conservation (DECs) head office in Perth...Not even a phone call or a letter of acknowledgement confirming receipt of the letter we sent to them on Thursday last week.
But Today is Taffy's 64th Birthday...So today on his Birthday, I am posting this song extract as a dedication to Taffy...for his heart which is bigger than the Kimberleys, his beautiful character and for all the work I have seen him do making Mt Hart into such an amazing place. The stress, pain and frustration I have seen Taffy experience this past year is something no one so special and so wonderful, who has done so much good for this country & this state, should ever have to go through. This is an extract from a song called "Look At The Wood" and it was sung by Grace Slick and Paul Kanter back in the good old 70's. Happy Birthday Taffy! *~Kim~*
Look at the wood and the way he carves it,
Must have taken him years,
I asked him the price and he said it was free...
And I couldn't believe my ears!
"Tell me old man how long have you lived,
To have such amazing talent?"
"I'm thirty six years short of a century,
And the best years are in the balance..."
He had a new woman every five years,
Faithful to each in her turn...
They gave him children and time to smile,
And he showed them all the love they could learn,
The man had love to burn.
Now he's lived his life, and he'll live it again
Thru one more gentle soul...
You'll know him by his smile and his head held high...
Look at the wood and the way he carves it...
Look at the sun, the golden harvest
Must have taken his years...