Warm laughter and song rises, mingled with soaring sparks fleeing a scattering of fire pits. Festoon lights swing in the breeze, animating long shadows to dance against an illuminated forest backdrop. Children wildly run in and out of the brightly coloured marquee and crowd, who reactively reel, cradling their drinks and plates of food-truck fare closer. Sounds more celebration than conservation but it is assuredly both.
“Such gatherings reveal the diversity of TLC supporters and the multiplicity of ways they connect to land. They also reveal how bonding together in nature inspires its protection”
The TLC’s Skullbone Plains Discovery Weekend was every bit an ecology festival, equally celebrating the intricate landscape of Skullbone Plains and the community-driven conservation that supports it. The impetus behind the gathering, a tall wooden and corrugated iron box that has attained a certain degree of notoriety: the TLC’s Loo with a View. Created by volunteers and staff and crowdfunded by a diversity of donors, the newly installed ‘Loo’ was definitely deserving of a ‘do’.
The Loo is special, but it is what the Loo and other visitor infrastructure - tent platforms, track signage and improved access roads - enable that is really worth celebrating; Skullbone is now equipped for sustainable, minimal impact visitation. With a booking and new visitor guide, supporters can now access the remote reserve and deepen their connection with nature they help protect. The Skullbone Discovery Weekend kick started just that.
By day, young and young at heart supporters were led by expert staff and volunteers 5 across the reserve to explore. The venturers made ecological monitoring discoveries, marveled at moss, mastered shutter speeds and focal lengths, interpreted birdcalls and the meaningful moments of silence in between, soared on cleverly crafted wedge tail eagle wings and were shown how local cultural relationships with the land have revealed, shaped, and protected it.
By night, questers who strayed from the lit clearing made fascinating chiropteral discoveries, while those less intrepid cosied up in communal comfort and were treated to a moving acoustic performance of songs penned for fireside revelry in the Tasmanian bush. Such gatherings reveal the diversity of TLC supporters and the multiplicity of ways they connect to land. They also reveal how bonding together in nature inspires its protection. This rewarding experience wouldn’t have happened without the tremendous support of dedicated volunteers, local community, donors and sponsors, including the Australian Government Community Heritage Icon Grants. We are very grateful for our conservation community.