The Wooleen Way by David Pollock

The Wooleen Way by David Pollock

Author:David Pollock
Language: eng
Format: epub
Tags: NAT011000, BIO026000, NAT010000, TEC003020, SOC015000, SOC053000
Publisher: Scribe Publications Pty Ltd
Published: 2019-08-19T16:00:00+00:00



In 2010, I was asked to give a talk at the National Rangelands conference to be held in Bourke, New South Wales. I was pretty excited about this opportunity, because it seemed the pinnacle of what I had come back to Wooleen to do — to try to educate the wider community of the importance of the Southern Rangelands as a resource, and of the issues blocking its path to sustainability. I’ve since allowed myself to hope that we might have time to make Wooleen a sustainable cattle enterprise as well, but that has been a recent development. Back in 2010, things were very tight, and I was thinking that I had done well to have made it this far, and that the opportunity to speak at a national conference might well be the grand finale before the banks foreclosed on us.

I was nervous, because I had never been a particularly good public speaker. The year before, I had spoken at the Western Australian Natural Resource Management conference. I had been extremely nervous before that conference as well, but I had realised something strange that had helped me through. It was that the feeling I got from having low blood sugar — which is a circumstance that can happen to diabetics — was identical to the feeling of being nervous. I cannot tell the two feelings apart. During the NRM conference, I was sure that I had low blood sugar, and so constantly checked it with an electronic device that beeps loudly (distracting the speaker) while I was waiting for my turn to speak. It kept showing that my blood-sugar levels were fine. I realised then that it wasn’t low blood sugar that I was feeling, but nerves.

This helped a lot, because having low blood sugar was a feeling that was familiar to me, and it made it easier to cope with the nerves. So, prepared with this new revelation, I walked out on to the stage to try to communicate a clear message about the sustainability of the rangelands — but, of course, they couldn’t get my PowerPoint presentation to play. This had happened at the NRM conference as well, and it dawned on me that the sole USB stick that I owned must have been faulty. But I wasn’t going to tell them that.

They whispered from the side of the stage that perhaps I could do it without the PowerPoint? ‘Do it without the photos?’ I asked, ‘But they’re the best bit!’ Eventually, they got it working, thank God, and I gave my talk. I went over the 20 minutes allowed, but nobody seemed to mind. The talk was essentially a very short version of this book, and at the end a few questions were asked. I only remember one question, which was, ‘What sort of degraded area are we talking about?’, to which I replied, ‘About the same size as New South Wales.’

During my talk, I lingered on the fact that in order to destock, I and other pastoralists had to ask permission from the Pastoral Lands Board (PLB).


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