18 July 2013

5 Year Anniversary Blog


I just discovered that our planet has made it's way around the sun 5 times since I started this Blog!!!

A lot has happened since then and I've been fortunate enough to make friends with a whole bunch of interesting characters from all over the world, whilst experiencing a heap of breathtaking ecological phenomena and all the while being able to keep a solid connection with my family back in Australia.

It has been fascinating to reflect upon the last 5 years... I don't blog a lot these days but I enjoy the art of writing, and love the capability of the internet to connect us to stories and events which are all too often ignored by mainstream media. (for example my good friend Conor Ashleigh, the digital Storyteller)

Before we have a look at some of the older blog posts I wanted to share a few moments over the past few years that I never got around to blogging about...

   TEDxYouth Brisbane 2011
© 2011 Mark Lobo Photography 

Before heading back to West Kalimantan in 2011 I was invited to speak at TEDxYouth in Brisbane, like most people with a pulse... I really didn't enjoy public speaking in high school, but there's definitely a buzz to this experience when you confront your nerves and talk about an issue you are passionate about... 'Deforestation...'Think Globally - Act Locally'

I took this photo above in Danau Sentarum National Park, interior West Kalimantan,
on a field visit with 'Canopy Indonesian' and local fire fighting team (August 2012).
(incredibly, this man was not wearing shoes!)

There has been a lot of international media attention focused on Indonesian forest fires this year, coming from Sumatra and Borneo, as the big trans-national palm oil companies continue to set fire to the last great swathes of rainforest in South-East Asia.

Over the past few years I've connected with a number of communities living in this region who are fiercely resisting and defending their ancestral lands, these are stories that, unfortunately, both mainstream media and environmental NGO's are not giving much coverage towards.

Wollumbin (Mt Warning)

I never explained the original name of this blog 'Caldera Creations'. A Caldera is the ancient rim of an extinct volcano, like the Wollumbin Caldera not far from where I grew up in Northern NSW.

For me it represents the story I was told as child, that I was found up in the rainforest and my family took me as an orphan to work for cheap labor in their fruit tree nursery ... It also represents the ancient living story of regeneration; death and renewal and how forces of destruction contain the seeds of abundance (this once devastated and lifeless volcanic landscape is now in Australia's top 3 biodiversity hot-spots).

It also represent a personal story. When I was 21 years old I climbed this ancient caldera with a good mate and took some magic mushrooms as Earth rotated to reveal the first rays of sunlight on the Australian continent.

disclaimer: I do not condone the use of magic mushrooms in the presence of hooligans or as a party drug to escape from your current reality... be very clear on your intent

It was literally as if I had been dreaming in black and white my entire life and had never really ever watched the sunrise before... and had never heard the colourful sound of leaves photosynthesizing or the deeper ecological implications of the ancient bird ritual known to biologists as 'morning chorus'.

The entire experience is impossible to put into words, but from that moment on my connection to the land would never be the same again...

I developed a particular fascination with rainforest communities and was captivated by this emerging branch of ecology known as 'ecological restoration' where humans work to assist the natural regenerative capabilities of an Eco-system.

I knew immediately (yes even whilst I was still tripping) that I had to return to my families nursery and live and learn more from the community that I grew up in. Although I grew up in this environment, i had never really appreciated how awesome it was until now.

I went on to study conservation and land management, got into mountain biking with my dad and family friends, started to learn about Permaculture and organic gardening and helped start a local climate action group.

After spending about a year working on my families fruit tree nursery and training up in long distance cycling, I hatched a plan to go on an epic cycling adventure.. and so decided to start a Blog to share the journey now more then 5 years ago.

So here are a few blog posts from the early years that I found fascinating to read and reflect upon.

Cycling Journey (January 2008)

My first blog post! Crazy that the original intention was to cycle to Borneo (perhaps my knowledge of geography back then was still a little under-developed).

The obsession with Borneo began in high school when I watched a documentary, Blowpipes and Bulldozers, about the indigenous peoples of Sarawak (Malaysian Borneo) and how their ancestral lands are being destroyed by unscrupulous trans-national logging and palm oil companies.

And now it has now come full circle, I've been involved with a documentary, Rise of the Eco-Warrior, about young people traveling to Borneo in an effort to collaborate with the local Dayak people and raise awareness about the ongoing deforestation crisis in Indonesia.

is my blog about my first trip to Borneo with my friend Tony Allison.

Crossing the Border Ranges (May 2008)

And I'm off!!! the beginning of a 2000km solo cycling Journey from my home in Northern NSW up through central QLD to the wet-tropics in Far-North QLD where I would make friends with some truly inspiring people in various conservation and environmental fields. I spent a year in the bush north of Carwell managing my first solo ecological restoration project integrating permaculture and agro-forestry principles.

 Mahogany Glider and Friends 2009 

During my time up North I made friends with folk who were working to protect some of Australia's most rare and threatened fauna, from Tree Kangaroos to Southern Cassowaries, I 'baby-sat' an endangered Mahogany Glider named Stony (to our left here), Planted trees (guerrilla style) along the highway with an 83 year old seasoned Eco-Warrior named Margaret Thorsborne.

Recently I heard from my friend Daryl Dickson, environmental artist and step-mother of Stoney, who shared a video about the latest efforts to save these endangered gliders. Here it is below...'Every Tree Counts'


Double-eyed Fig Parrot

And finally the beginnings of my obsession with the Fig Parrots!!!

I vividly remember looking into the eyes of these gorgeous little fig parrots as they gleefully nibbled away on their fig seed breakfast.

I've come to call these experiences 'David Attenborough Moments' ... and every now and then my camera was on hand to photograph and share the experience...

Which has become the inspiration for my next blog..  'Top 10 'David Attenborough Moments'

More updates coming up on 'Permablitz Jogja' urban agriculture collective and a forest restoration project I will begin next month in Northern Sumatra with the Orangutan Information Centre.