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Perth’s Lost Lakes: A Symposium

Monday, 04 December 2017


Perth, initially praised by Captain Stirling for its abundant fresh water, now faces a critical shortage of water, reliant on desalination plants and depleted aquifers. Climate change, historic patterns of sprawling development and a massive influx of population attracted by the mining boom are noted culprits. But disdain for freshwater wetlands stretches from the earliest days of settlement, enabling the conversion of streams to sewers, marshes to suburban infill. It leads directly to the Barnett Government’s aborted plans for bulldozing Beeliar wetlands. The story of Perth’s lakes and wetlands is, therefore, largely tragic, a 200 year history of infill, paving, draining, damming, over-building, covering and erasure.

Yet there is another, hidden story in the remaining lakes and wetlands, one of resilience and survival. The lost and forgotten lakes sustain what distinguishes Perth: its status as an internationally recognized biodiversity hotspot. If this biodiversity can be nurtured by restoring wetland ecosystems, Perth may weather the combined effects of climate change and the estimated doubling of population by 2050.

But how can Perth recover and rewild its lost lacustrine ecosystems when the dominant wisdom, inscribed on every “Road to Recovery,” invests in extending the built environment? And how might Perth’s human culture be more enriched by rediscovering its watery past? Join distinguished scholars, writers and civic leaders for an afternoon of enquiry and discussion, followed by a guided tour of Joondalup Lake.


10.30am - 11.30am

Tour of Lake Joondalup - Hugo Bekle and Daniel Martin

Starts at Neil Hawkins Park (East end of Boas Avenue)

12.00pm - 12.45pm

Lunch -

Patrick Armstrong (ECU), launch of Primavariants (2017, ICLL Press) by Glen Phillips (ECU) and John Ryan (NEU-UWA)

Peter Cowan Writers Centre
1.00pm - 1.15pm

Welcome to Country

Opening of Symposium - Clive Barstow (ECU)

Building 21, Room 201
1.15pm - 2.45pm

Roundtable 1: Perth’s Lost Lakes, Surveying the Cultural Ecosystem

Moderated by Denise Cook (Deakin)

  1. John Ryan (UNE-UWA): Australian Wetland Cultures: Poetry, Swamps, Conservation (20 mins)
  2. Nandi Chinna (Research Consultant): Walking Perth’s Lost Wetlands (20 mins)
  3. Danielle Brady (ECU): The Cultural Significance of Wetlands: from Central Perth’s Lost Swamps to the Beeliar Wetlands (20 mins)
  4. Discussion (30 mins)
Building 21, Room 201
2.45pm - 3.15pm Informal Discussion and Tea Peter Cowan Writers Centre
3.15pm - 3.30pm Premiere of The West Australian Landscapes in Literature Prize in Short Fiction, Glen Phillips (ECU) Peter Cowan Writers Centre
3.30pm - 5.00pm

Roundtable 2: Lakes to Recovery: Capitalizing on Restored Ecosystems

Moderated by Andrea Gaynor (UWA)

  1. Philip Jennings (Murdoch) (20 mins)
  2. Renata Zelinova, (WA Local Government Association) (20 mins)
  3. TBC) (20 mins)
  4. Discussion (30 mins)
Building 21, Room 201
5.00pm - 5.30pm Informal Discussion and Tea Peter Cowan Writers Centre

Event details

Date: Thursday, 7 December 2017
Time: 12.00pm - 6.30pm
Venue: Peter Cowan Writers Centre Inc. 270 Joondalup Drive, Joondalup
Cost: Free
RSVP: Please register your attendance online via EventBrite


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