Rosie Yates and Barry Hicks hosted the second Wild on Earth gathering at the Mt Hyland Wilderness Retreat.
Rosie Yates and Barry Hicks hosted the second Wild on Earth gathering at the Mt Hyland Wilderness Retreat. Ute Schulenberg

Wilderness retreat holds gathering

FOR two decades, Rosie Yates has been living in, and been surrounded by the forest at Mt Hyland on the edge of the Guy Fawkes National Park.

She describes her home as “centrally-located in the middle of nowhere”, nature as the best university and herself as one of its apprentices.

Last weekend she and her partner Barry Hicks hosted the second Wild on Earth gathering.

It was attended by more than 150 people, from teenagers through to retirees, all keen to learn more about and connect with the land we all walk on.

“I think many people feel disconnected from nature, from the spirit of the land,” Rosie said.

“I hold this space in a neutral fashion so people can experience that re-connection.

“From that grows a sense of respect and responsibility, which is vital for the future well-being of the natural world.”

The Mt Hyland Wilderness Retreat is already well-known to many university professors, biologists and ecologists.

It is a biodiversity hotspot that Rosie says continues to astound visiting experts.

“They come here to map different things and leave in wonderment because there is so much here.”

Opening the weekend’s conversation on biodiversity, plant biologist Ruth Tremont loosely defined it as “the variety of life around us” and encouraged its observation.

“Looking at biodiversity is a way of reading the land, looking at the birds tells us what sort of food is around, looking at the weeds tells us what sort of soil, water and fire regimes are present,” Mrs Tremont said.

Ecologist and Coffs City councillor Mark Graham highlighted the antiquity of the local landscape.

“This unsullied landscape has changed little over the last 100 million years – it is one of the oldest habitats on the planet and we are its custodians,” Cr Graham said.

He said finding ways to repair the planet was vital and limited only by human imagination.

Gumbaynggirr knowledge man and National Parks and Wildlife Service Discovery ranger, Mark Flanders, shared his knowledge of local bush tucker and talked of disconnection from an indigenous perspective.

With the weekend supported by NPWS and the Catchment Management Authority, Rosie and Barry hope its ripples will see more and more people getting involved in caring for our natural treasures.



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