Learn Australian English in this episode of the Goss where we talk about crappy Australian NBN internet, going to Mars, and the problems with brumbies.
Transcript of AE 683 – The Goss: Crappy NBN, Going to Mars, & the Problem with Brumbies
G'day you mob. Welcome back to the Goss, we're finally back in the flesh. Well, Dad and I are in the flesh, meaning that we're not naked, but we are in each other's presence physically. We are there in the flesh. So dad is finally able to leave the house because the lockdown rules in Victoria have finally been relaxed. They have become a little more lax. And Dad came over this week and recorded a long one and a half hour episode of The Goss with me, catching up on a bunch of stories that have been going down in Australia in the meantime. So in today's episode, we talk about why Australian Internet is so damn horrible.
We talk about human exploration of the Arctic and Antarctic regions of the world and how humans travelling to Mars, eventually when that happens, might drive them crazy. We talk a little bit about covid-19, but more specifically about how covid-19 is illustrating the differences between Australian and United States' culture. And then we talk about luxury wagyu beef and someone who paid almost $100000 dollars for a few embryos. And lastly, we chat about brumbies in Australia, which are now able to be culled in order to conserve the Victorian and New South Wales wilderness. So with that aside, guys, kick the kookaburra and let's get into the episode.
Dad, welcome back to the Goss.
Hey Pete. Good to be back here.
Been a little while. Been a little while, huh?
It has certainly been a while since I've been here at this desk.
I know. It's good to have the audio back. I don't know what it is with Australia, but every time I have, especially on Skype interviews, they seem to always drop out despite having the NBN here.
Maybe that's something to start with. Why is our Internet considered some of the crappest Internet in the entire world?
Because it is.
Well played. But why is that? What's the explanation?
Well, you know... We're now five or six years, actually, more than that, seven or eight years, I think, into a roll-out of a National Broadband Network, hence 'NBN.'
When that was initially proposed about 10 years ago, it was supposed to be, you know, world leading technology, fastest broadband you could get and so on. What we now have is the world leading fastest broadband you could get 10 years ago. So they didn't plan on upgrading during the roll-out and so we're really... It's taken so long to do, we're really just stuck with old age technology. And the other thing they did is pull back on the plans for it after about six months because it was originally going to be fibre to every home.
And they, 'they' being the government at the time, decided that that was just going to be too expensive. And so where there is supposedly good copper network, the ordinary old phone network, they decided to go from the fibre through to a node at a copper sub-junction. And so we're stuck with the fastest you can get over copper, which is nowhere near what you can get over fibre. So we actually have reasonably good broadband up to the locations where the fibre gets to. But as soon as you go over to the copper network, then you're really just back in the olden days. So it's a bit ridiculous.
You think it's going to change in the future at all or..?
Look, it will change. The challenge for us will be to determine when that's going to change because having spent billions of dollars on getting this network in neither government... I say 'neither' because we really only have two major parties in this country. So it's either one or the other. It'll be in government. I don't think either of them is going to bite the bullet to do a revamp to this network in the next 20 years. It'll be incremental. They'll improve the technology internally. But I don't think they're going to roll out a new network in a hurry. Hopefully, the next bite is to say, "Well, we'll keep improving the quality of the fibre, but we'll also start replacing those at the moment copper network into the house.
And having the copper in there is equally ridiculous because we used to have... If you're now on the NBN, you can't have a normal telephone unless you have a second line run into your house, because the old lines used to run a split line so that you could run a modem and have your phone running off the same old telephone line, with a filter on the modem. But now the NBN takes over the whole line so your phone has to be via the Internet. And so voice over IP is dodgy at the best of times, as you're finding with Skype, because that's exactly the same technology. It's effectively what you have ringing your phone now. So, yeah, we've got the worst of both worlds. We're still on the old copper one, but we can't get a good phone connection on that anyway. So we've just dropped using our landline.
Most houses are starting to do that, aren't they?
Most houses and doing it now because... Well firstly, because you're in this silly situation of not being able to have a standalone landline, you're relying on running through your modem. The reason we kept it originally is because we had the oldest phone that you could possibly run on the system that generated its power directly out of the phone because the phone line was running a small amount of electricity through it to power phones. But of course all modern-day phones are requiring electricity. So we wanted to be able to, at the worst possible scenario where we have no mobile network and no electricity, we would still have a phone being able to be used. But now we're reliant on a phone connecting through our modem, so... All a bit silly.
It is interesting. I don't know. It was one of those things where I was doing a culture shock video the other day and someone mentioned down the comments, was like, "Why is Australia's Internet so shithouse?"
Well, that's why. It's because we've had... What were 10 years ago was a great idea and has just been compromised by economics the whole way along. You know, governments have continued to say, "Oh, we can't afford it, we can't afford it." And so the original plan just got diluted.
So what about newswires this week? Anything interesting come up on your radar?
I'm allowed to be here!
I'm allowed to be here. Yeah, well, the changes came through, was it last night at midnight?
Yeah. Well 11:59PM last night, so... So we've had a slight reduction in the lockdown.
And it's been such a headache in terms of understanding the rules because every state is different based on that, which makes sense. It's a better way of managing the whole country because it's a finer scale.
System of management as opposed to just a broad scale, you know, hammer for all nails. But at the same time, they keep broadcasting on the news the different rules for every different state and territory. And so it gets really confusing at the end of the day when you've seen every single state's rules and you're like, "Holy crap, am I allowed to leave the house with two people or one person or am I'm allowed to have my parents over?" "Yes, but only if they're babysitting."
I know. I know. It's all... It's a bit bizarre.
But they have just relinquished...
Yeah, it's just reduced the lockdown criteria now so that we are allowed to have... You're allowed to have up to five visitors in your household.
They've reopened outdoor sporting venues for recreational sport, not for competitive sport. But you can now go out and play golf or have a hit of tennis or...
Kick a football around or throw a basketball or netball around or go fishing, those sort of things which are social recreational sport, which is good because at least people can now get out and do something other than just walking around.
Yeah, well, that was sort of... I think I understood the expression 'cabin fever' a lot more towards the end. I mean, you know... And we're not... It's not as severe as it would be in Canada where that expression comes from, from people being stuck in a cabin for months at a time because of winter.
But the very fact that you can't really leave the house to go and do anything aside from the main and...
Yes. Shopping, work.
And in my case I've been... Locked myself down to the point where I actually didn't leave the property for a month.
How did that feel?
Was it shocking? Was that something...
Not shocking because, you know... It's like the frog in the boiling water.
Which is a myth.
Yes, of course it is. But by the time you're dead, you don't notice. And it's one of... The first few days, it was just... I would have days where I didn't leave the house anyway.
Yeah. But the moment that someone tells you can't...
Then all of a sudden I didn't and then didn't and then didn't. And eventually... I can't go to up the shops or I can't go to the post office box. I can't go for a walk around the block. I can't take the dog out. You know, all those sort of things.
It is funny. I was watching a documentary series recently with Kel called 'Mars', and it's an interesting documentary series where it's kind of... I've forgotten the mesh of words, but like a docu-series or whatever it's called, where it's kind of like a dramatic series.
It's dramatised documentary and a hypothetical documentary.
Well, so they're interviewing people like Elon Musk and, you know, people from NASA, at the same time as showing these crazy scene... These film scenes of people acting out what it would have been like or what it will be like in the future to go from Earth to Mars. But a big thing that they were talking about in the most recent episode was the fact that most people who have been experimented on so far, because they've run experiments now where they... I think the Americans have run an experiment where they locked people up for 150, 200 days in a mock Mars mission. And the Russians did it for 500 days. And I think out of the Russian one, at least, five of the seven people were not psychologically sound by the end of it.
Because the biggest problem with missions like that is not that you have lots of people together, it's that you have small numbers of people together in an enclosed space for a very long time.
And you can't get away.
Yeah. And so they were talking about...
It's like the Big Brother experiment.
Exactly. And that's what I said to Kel. I was like, "This is why they put Big Brother together. They lock everyone in a house and put cameras on."
And you tend to drive them mad.
Exactly. Because you want to see what's going to happen. But I had never thought about that in that sending people to Mars, a big part of it, a big thing that they're going to have to overcome is how do we keep everyone sane when there's a limited number of people, they can't leave, they can't go outside, you can't come back home, you can't necessarily just call your friends and family when you want to. That's going to be delayed by I assume hours, maybe days. The messages going back and forth. So all of these... They were talking about all of the physical restraints and the, you know, the monetary aspects of things and all the resources they would need. But then they didn't get to until recently just how much you're going to have to psychologically prepare people and really try and pick the right people for the job, because, you know, if they go crazy, they put everyone at jeopardy.
Yeah, well, there's a pseudo-experiment on that in the case of Antarctic research.
Yeah, well, they brought that up. Exactly.
Antarctic researchers do go through a lot of psychological screening and training in order to cope with the sort of meta isolation, but the complete reverse of isolation. And that's the challenge, is that you're isolated from the rest of the world, but you're stuck with a group of people you can't get away from.
Well you must have to have a pretty good maturity, right. Especially for resolving problems, because you can't just have a grudge and walk away and ignore the person, which is, they were saying, a big way of us dealing with our issues. If you and I have an argument, I can go home and get out of your face. And even if we don't resolve it, we get away from one another. But if you're stuck in somewhere like Antarctica or much worse Mars, there's no... You know, you can just avoid this person.
Sit in my room for three months.
You're all working together. But the interesting thing they brought up was the Shackleton mission. And I think he wasn't Australian. He was British. But he had a carpenter who went nuts, apparently, or was psychologically unsound. And so when he left his crew, and I think Shackleton was the one who... Was it he had to walk like 800 miles or something crazy in order to get help? He had to take the carpenter with him because he knew if he left him with his men, it would cause all sorts of trouble and they'd probably die because this guy's a nut job.
Shackleton's a really interesting story. It's one of the great leadership stories. This is somebody who... When you read what that expedition went through.
Of having their ship stranded in the Antarctic, being iced in over winter and effectively the ice destroyed the ship. So they knew they were never going to get out.
What were they aiming to do? Why were they there?
They were trying to get to the South Pole. This was in the early 20th century when there was a race to the South Pole and various attempts were being made. And Shackleton's was probably the best kitted out, prepared expedition, but they just copped unusually bad weather and got iced in. And then the ship was destroyed with the ice.
And to mention it, the ship as a sailing ship.
This is the turn of the 19th century... 20th century.
They can't use... I think it probably had small diesel motors as well. But it was primarily a sailing ship because you couldn't use at that time a large steamer, because of the temperature would have been really hard. And you couldn't carry enough fuel back in those days. So, yeah... So the ship got stranded. And they just survived on the ice for months.
Well, they lived in the ship for a while.
And then it capsized and then got crushed and sank.
And so they lived on the ice for over winter effectively there, and once winter had gone, they decided, "Well, we're not going to get out on the ship. The only way we can get out is in the lifeboats." And they took two lifeboats out to South Georgia Island. And then they had to leave half the crew there on one of the islands before they got to south Georgia. And that's when Shackleton took a smaller part of the crew onto the shore of the south coast of South Georgia. And then they had to walk across the island. And this is a mountain. This island is a mountain in the sea. And they had to walk across glaciers to get to the other side where they knew there was a whaling station. And they did...
To get help.
And he didn't lose a person.
I think that's one of the most astonishing things about it, right, is that his, as you say, his leadership was so good that not a single person died on that mission. But I think the opposite happened with Mawson, right?
Which is the Australian guy who went to the Antarctic and tried to do the same thing.
Yes. He and his partner... Can't remember his partner's name unfortunately. He's the one who died.
Yeah. Mawson survived.
Yeah. Mawson survived. But, yeah, they weren't the only ones at the station at the time, but they were... They went out on a long multi-day trek, doing some form of geological research out there. And they had a couple of accidents and ran out of food.
Were they with dogs as well? They had a dog sled?
Yeah, they were. And at the end, the dogs were dying.
And they were eating the dogs. But his partner ate only the liver. And he died of vitamin A poisoning.
Because they had no idea, right?
Because they had no idea.
And the liver would have been the easiest part to eat.
Liver's easiest but you can eat it raw.
And so they were... You know, Mawson survived, but his partner didn't. Died of vitamin A poisoning.
There's some crazy exploration stories.
Back to the news. No interesting news except for the Covid stuff. It's interesting to see it winding down in several countries, but winding up in others. And like, I think there's sort of three extremes. There's Australia, which is kind of locked down and done really well for itself, although we have been, you know, very locked down and who knows what kind of effect it's going to have on the economy and how long. Probably for the rest of our lives, we'll be paying off the debt. But, you know, hopefully it was worth it.
Then you have places like America where they've done a sort of... They've locked down more or less, but it's gone out... They did it too late and it's gone out of hand, right. And now you've got a whole lot of people in America protesting to try and have the lockdown stopped, right.
I know. Don't get me started.
That's a really interesting thing, though. I mean, we've had the same here. We had some minor protests, you know. 50 guys with three teeth amongst the crowd, right.
All complaining about the lockdown in Melbourne.
But mostly they were complaining about... If you looked at the list of things they were complaining about, it was everything from, you know, anti-vaccination through to, you know, 5G network causing corona virus. And they were just a bunch of wackos. Not that the people who were protesting in America aren't a bunch of wackos, but they're not quite in the conspiracy theorist category that some of the Australians are.
It underlines the sort of difference in Australia versus American culture to some degree too, right. Because we kind of suck it and see. We deal with it and we're like, "Alright. These are the restrictions. We're just going to take it." In America they seem to be much more at a state level independent and want to do their own thing, and then at the person level, there's that aspect of freedom. "No one's telling me what to do. I have my guns. I'm going to do what I want. Lockdown? Pff." So it is interesting to see how that's manifesting.
Yeah, it is. And look, that whole personal freedom thing, and we've talked about this in a couple of other episodes of the differences between Australia and the United States and other modern Western countries. But I think that personal freedom thing is just so inbuilt into the psyche of many people in America that it's really hard to break down. And it's almost... I mean, to me, it's just completely selfish.
It's one of those things where you look at it and go... There are some times we just have to bite the bullet and put up with things that are not exactly how you would want it to be for the greater good of humanity, and ultimately for your own good as well because you're just one of those humans that are in our society. And so this ability... Personal choice and freedom to do what you like. And then the carrying weapons one is the same thing. Where you've got people who are carrying assault weapons around in a protest. If that happened in Australia, they would just be shot.
There would be no question. The police wouldn't even think about it.
But to cage that, the police will be thinking, "How the hell did this guy get this weapon?"
Well, yeah, exactly.
It's not even legal.
And that's the point... And that's the difference, is that you simply can't carry weapons in the street in Australia. It's illegal. Whereas in many states in the United States...
I can't even carry a knife. I can't just walk around with a knife in my hand, even if I'm a chef going to work.
Even if you put your pocket knife in a little wallet on your side that you might have walking around on a farm, you can't do that in the street. So, yeah, it's a different mentality. And it's something that... We've obviously grown up in a country where that's just completely unusual. And, you know, you just sit there and look at it and go, "These are just like aliens? It's just not the same."
It's... The cultural aspect of society like that. Because you think Americans are Australians... Our cultures aren't that much different from one another.
95% the same.
Genetically we're probably not that much different either. I mean, we have a different sort of history in terms of they had slavery. We didn't have slavery the same way. We were much more convict base. But ultimately, you would think our cultures are pretty similar. But the very fact that they had... It's so funny that they had that... Their constitution was written, and it was written, from what I understand, beautifully. You know, that they had these rules set out. At the time it made a lot of contextual sense.
And yet at the time, they had no idea what was to come. And the founding fathers have inadvertently set their culture up to be something that's very hard to adjust or change.
And that's the same with any... I mean, their constitution is effectively the same as ours in... Not in what it contains, but in its structure, in that in order to change the Constitution, you have to have an amendment go through both houses, and in the case of the United States the third tier of government, which is the president. And it has to go to a referendum and have a majority of the people in a majority of the states agree with it. Now, that is really hard to do. And so it's very difficult to get those sort of amendments through. When some of those initial amendments were made to the original constitution, because the original constitution had nothing to do with... Had nothing about free speech, nothing about religion, nothing about 'you have the right to bear arms.' They were all initial amendments in their constitution.
To pause you there, it's so funny that they're always, you know, the Second Amendment. Even I know that, as an Australian, it has to do with the right to bear arms in America, right. It always blows my mind that the Americans, you will see, will quote the fact that it was an amendment that allowed them to do this. That cannot be amended. They will say you can't change it. And it's like, "It was an amendment to the original thing!"
And not only that, but... We have plenty of American relatives and I have plenty of American friends. And I've had discussions which have turned into arguments with several of them around the fact that they simply don't understand their own their own history, in that that Second Amendment had nothing to do with individuals bearing arms. It was that the states could control and have their own militia, armed militia, so that they could defend themselves against a tyrannical federal government. And good luck doing that now!
And that was because they had come out of a war against England, right. Where England was effectively a tyranny, taking too much tax from the colonies.
And because they are a commonwealth like we are in Australia, where the power in the structure of the United States, in Australia, is that the country is created by a group of states who have agreed to form themselves into a commonwealth. And so it's a federation, hence 'federal government.' And so the states in America wanted to have the ability to separate and defend themselves if they had a tyrannical federal government. It had nothing to do with the right for individuals to bear arms. Of course, if you're going to have a militia back in the 18th century, you needed the ability for individuals to have their own arms because states didn't have their own garrisons and they had their own arms supplies. So individuals had to be able to carry arms. And that's how it actually came about. But, you know, the purpose of it really was to be able to overthrow the government. Good luck with trying to overthrow the American military.
What are you going to do? Get a few AR20s together and you take on the might of the the world's biggest military.
Good luck, guys.
I don't think it's the biggest. I think China probably has the biggest military, but certainly the most powerful in terms of technology and money going into it.
So I got one here. "Luxury wagyu beef producer Mayura Station pays world-record price, $92,000 for four embryos." Four embryos. So the embryos were sired by a bull and heifer, which is a female cow - a heifer, whose genetics can be traced back to the original five full-blood wagyu beef exported to Australia from Japan. What do you think 'wagyu' means?
I know what it is, but I don't know what the word means in Japanese.
I have no idea either. It's the beef right? Just like a Japanese beef.
It is. But it's a particular style of... It's about creating steak. It's a particular style of steak where it's very fatty. It's got this marbled view of it, so that it's got little effectively patches of pure fat in it, which makes it very tasty and easy to cook. But it's extremely expensive because it's rare. So obviously, he'd better be hoping that one of them is a male.
Well, yes. So the South Australia wagyu beef operation, Mayura Station, paid this world record price for the... Just genetic material, effectively. $23,000 dollars per four embryos from Canada. And they want them to become breeding stock for their herd.
That's why I say I hope one of them is male.
Yeah. And so they have really high marbling genetics. Marbling obviously being the amount of fat between the layers of muscle. It's just crazy. And they were saying that they can pay up to $4,300 dollars per straw... It's an interesting unit, of semen.
Yes, a straw of semen.
Which can produce 30 calves. But what an industry to get into, Dad. Do you ever think about getting into the beef industry or any farming?
Well, I think I'm a bit beyond the manual labour on a cattle farm these days... We're going to have, you know, the beef industry around for a long time in Australia. Certainly one of the world's biggest producers of beef.
But why is it so... Why is Australia so amenable to beef? When you look at the interior of the country where they tend to be farmed and you think it's just so arid.
Yeah, but cattle are good at surviving in marginal country. They can eat a wide variety of food. Obviously they're obligate herbivores, but they're not like sheep that rely on good quality grass in order to survive well. Cattle can eat all sorts of crap.
They are hardy as fuck.
I had... One of my friends is a vet and he was doing surgery on a bull and he'd cut the side of it open to do something and the bull somehow got free and just ran out. Intestines came out. Ran over its own intestines. They ended up catching it...
Putting it back together.
Pushed all the intestines back inside, sewed it up and it was fine. And you're just like, "What the hell?"
I mean, and I guess that's selection.
Which is funny because you compare it with horses that are about as delicate as you can possibly get in an animal. You sneeze at one and they'd fall over and die.
So it is pretty interesting. So what..? So Australia obviously has a heap of cattle. How does it compare to the sheep industry here, though?
Well, most of our sheep industry is wool. Obviously we have an edible lamb industry. And it's a big industry. Arguably the best lamb in the world is in Australia.
Why don't we eat the mutton though? Because that is a meal. Is it just not as pleasurable?
No. It's tough. Loses its taste and it gets really tough. Whereas, you know, yearling lambs are much better to eat. Obviously you don't get as much meat out of a young lamb as you do out of a full grown sheep, it's just that it's... By the time it gets to mutton, you can really only make stew and that's the only way over here. Mutton is is a prefix to stew. It's not it's not a thing of its own. So you just got to cook it forever. Slow cook forever to break down the fibres.
So what happened with bringing beef and sheep to Australia, though? What did it do to the country?
Well, they're hooved animals. And so...
Do you want to explain what that means quickly?
Well, they have hard feet, basically, they're not soft feet. You imagine humans walking around on the ground. We have soft feet.
Dogs, even though they've got claws, they've got... Excuse me. Soft pads on their feet. And so you don't do much damage to the ground, whereas if you've got hard hooves then you're really destroying the ground. And because Australia has such friable soils, as in they fall apart really quickly, the plants... And they're shallow soils as well. So the plants are not deep rooted and they're easily broken apart and killed.
The animals that we had here that were native, at least were, and still have here have soft.
Yeah, the macropods, kangaroos and wallabies, they're soft-pawed. And they also are biting grazers.
Or they're browsers. So they actually bite the leaves and the grass and things off the plant. Whereas sheep tend to grab hold and pull up...
Rip them up from the roots, right.
And so with, again, the shallow rooted plants just get ripped up and then they're destroyed. They don't grow back. So beef and horses and sheep are not great animals for having running around the Australian countryside. Obviously we've... And in fact the sheep, we've had to... In order to maintain, particularly for the fine-wool sheep industry, we have to put higher quality food in so that we're not just throwing them out in a paddock that's just got native grasses.
Yeah. We've put Clover in and we've put European grasses in and so on to enable them to survive.
It's so frustrating for me going around Australia, too, and seeing the countryside and realising that it's so different today from what it was only a few hundred years ago, pre-hooved animals being introduced. And that, you know, reading a bunch of these history books, you hear about the descriptions of what the land was like. But, you know, they... One of them that I was talking about recently was 'Blaxland: Lawson and Wentworth Crossing the Blue Mountains' to try and find better land for cattle and for sheep, and that they got to the edge of the Blue Mountains when they crossed it and were like, "Holy crap, there is plains as far as the eye can see." But they were talking about it and it being so lush and beautiful and that, you know, within a decade or so, it was just nuked.
Yeah, and the same thing... Thomas Mitchell, who was one of the explorers who came down through Victoria. Yeah, he talked about western Victoria in the same light and now it's effectively dustbowl. It only survives with irrigation in the north and further, you know, in the central west of Victoria... We're growing marginal crops on it a lot of the time. It can't really handle sheep anymore. Some areas can, but most of them we can't grow sheep because there's just not enough food for them. So we can grow wheat and, you know, a few things like that on it, providing we get good rain at the right time.
But you have bad years and you get nothing out of it. And this is native grassland. You would have walked through native grassland that would have been waist-deep grass. Native grasses are tussocks. Again, they're not blanket grass like the European grasses. They're tussock grasses, but they grow really tall. Things like kangaroo grass as an example; it's a beautiful plant, but it's a tussock grass that grows about waist high. And so you destroy the plant when... One sheep will destroy a plant and it'll never grow back.
Compared to the European grasses or whatever they are that we have in our gardens. And you can mow the crap out of them down to the ground and they grow back in a few weeks. But that was one of the interesting things that I was learning, that yeah, the land was so different and the makeup of the plant life was so different and that indigenous people relied on that and managed it in... I mean, I think it's debatable to what extent they managed it, but they definitely used it and had access to better plants that they could eat that were... Like the yams and everything like that that they were eating.
And they ate... Obviously, they were growing some crops as well in any places where they were more sedentary, rather than nomadic. And they were growing some crops, but they were also... Their diets changed seasonally.
So they would move from plant material through to fish in summer. And if they were close to the coast, they'd be eating shellfish and things that they could get off the shore. So they really had a sort of annual cycle of different styles of food.
And so when these sheep and cattle just came through and nuked everything and completely changed over... I guess they would have turned it into a much more of a monoculture, right. Where you just would have had the hardiest plants survive, whether they were introduced or not, and then that's all that the indigenous people as well as the native animals would have had to choose from if they were browsing selectively. And so within a very short period of time, that was why apparently indigenous people were moved off their land or, you know, disrupted and had to live or rely on European colonists because they could no longer just selectively browse and move around the countryside to different places.
And I think there was a lot of issues... When that pressure was put on them, they started to hunt a lot of the cattle and the sheep as well, right. And kill them and eat them because they had a different understanding of animals on their land and possessions.
And that's... Exactly... If part of your dietary culture is to go out hunting kangaroos and wallabies and all of a sudden there are no kangaroos and wallabies because all of the land that you're traditionally hunting on have got sheep and cattle on them, what are you going to go for? You're going to go out and kill sheep and cattle because they're animals that you can eat.
Beyond that, culturally any animals that are in your land or on your land are yours.
Yes. And that was... There was no concept that this sheep belongs to somebody else. The sheep belong to the land and they belong to the land. And therefore, the sheep were a fair game.
It was such an interesting clash of cultures, right. You had these indigenous people there killing these animals and thinking, "Well, they're on my land. They're mine." But then also stories of them saying, "Well, but you can have some. I'll share with you. It's ours, but it's not ours."
"It's our lives rather than mine."
"It's off the land and I've killed it and cooked it, but if you're hungry have some."
"I just want what I need." But yeah, I love learning about that aspect of our history at the moment. This story kind of dovetails well with what's happening in the Alpine National Park... At Mount Kosciuszko... The Kosciuszko National Park with the brumbies at the moment, there's news that has come through recently, right.
Another cull is about to happen.
Yeah. So this was interesting. I recently interviewed a guy named Harrison Warne who made a documentary called Underfrog, I guess named after the Corroboree Frog, which is a very small, charismatic black and yellow frog. It looks like a little pyjama-suit frog found up in the Alpine National Park. But there are loads of brumbies, I think they're estimated to be 10,000 or so brumbies living up in that area and they've exploded in recent years. And he was saying a big problem was that originally we were calling them and controlling them because, you know, they're hard-hooved. They're completely ruining the water supplies.
The waterways are the big problem.
Yeah, because they just trample the land, but they also bathe in it and dig it all up. And so all this silt ends up in the waterways. So it's affecting things like the corroboree frog, fish, other animals that want to drink the water. But he was saying the interesting thing is that the Australian Brumby Alliance Inc... I believe, at least, he was referring to them. He didn't mention them specifically, but they were mentioned in this article. They're fighting this tooth and claw to not have any of these brumbies touched because they believe it's so important for our cultural heritage.
And I think he was saying that it was bizarre because these people are protecting brumbies in the wild so that people can go on horses to go and see the brumbies in the wild. And you're kind of like, "But there are tracks in the Kosciuszko National Park where you can ride your horses in that area."
So just go and ride your horse.
Just go and ride your horse. So, yeah, they... The government's overturned this, I think, and allowed Parks Victoria to now cull a whole bunch of these horses. What are your thoughts on this situation and what are your views of what the broader population in Australia thinks?
Look, I think we've spoken about not this specific example, but the whole idea of culling and we talked about camels and things earlier on. When you talk about culling large mammals, 'the cute and furry' is always going to be problematic. There's always going to be people who... Regardless of what they think of horses and whether they're horse lover and whether they like going and seeing brumbies or whatever, there will always be people who go, "Well, you can't go out and kill horses, can't go out and kill dolphins, can't go out and kill whales. It's OK to kill sharks, but you can't kill dolphins." Explain to me the difference.
There are far more dolphins in the sea than great white sharks and grey nurse sharks, but... It's the cute and cuddly problem. So that's one arm of it. There's a legitimate case for people who are saying that brumbies are part of Australia's mountain cattlemen heritage, and that's absolutely true. But it's a very small part of that culture because their heritage is really having cattle on that land and using horses to raise them and things. The brumbies are only there because idiots 150 years ago let horses go because they either couldn't keep them or they didn't want to keep them.
Or they wanted a source that they could then go and capture and bring back...
Break in and tame.
They didn't want to feed them. So it's a bit of a stretch to say... I'm much more inclined to... I don't actually agree with, but I'm more inclined to agree with the mountain cattlemen who say, "We want to continue grazing cattle in the high country," because that is part of their heritage and it's also part of the economics of the way their business is set up, that they the high country as their summer pasture. But in the case of brumbies, these are... This is a wild population of animals. If we can cull kangaroos that are native and are on our coat of arms, then I don't think it is unreasonable to cull horses that are now part of a natural ecosystem. Yes, they were introduced, but they've been there for 150 years. And if their population is getting too... They have no predators, which is the big problem. We have no large predators in Australia.
And sharks in the ocean. We just need some land sharks.
Put a few sharks up in the high country... We've created the problem. As humans, we have created that problem and therefore we are the only ones who can solve it because the alternative is that the... If there are no predators, then the natural population culling of those animals is going to be by starvation.
I wanted to get to that.
And in order to get to the point of starvation, they are going to have completely destroyed the environment for hundreds or thousands of other species of plants.
Who wins? You have a really slow death for beautiful animals that are living in this environment, whose... It's not their fault that they're there. But it's weird. We've talked about this before, I think, in terms of culling where it's people try and do what they think is the right thing, but it leads to much worser results, or at least harsher results with more suffering. And so it is a weird thing where I think they were saying these horses are incredibly emaciated and the population is just exploding. There's like one foal for every four adults, which is apparently off the charts. And the only way of naturally controlling the population is them starving, because there are no dingoes present there as predators.
So I think they do need to do is go in. If you don't want them there and you want to capture them, go capture them and take them out. But I don't think it... The other thing that irks me is the fact that you're putting these horses ahead of other animals that live in the park that are native there, right. So it's kind of like the intruder is more important, even though they're both animals, right. So what about these endangered marsupials and native rats and the corroboree frog and the fish, the Galaxiids that live in the water? Why don't they count? They're part of the heritage.
And not just animals, the plant life. The Alpine Heath country, which sits in a lot of the valleys and a lot of the sort of mountainsides up there that are above the tree line or in the valleys, you often don't get trees growing in alpine valleys because it's too cold. So because it's so cold, as a plant, you don't get the opportunity to have a significant enough growth period during the summer when it's warm enough to be able to create woody tissue. So you only have these very small plants. Some of these plants are hundreds of years old, but they're only 20 or 30 centimetres tall. It's...
Effectively you're... Once you kill them, you're never going to get them back because the seed bed in there is not significant enough that you're going to suddenly, "Oh, we'll just pop up and we can grow in another two years." Because you have these... Every winter, effectively, these plants are sitting under a blanket of snow. They can't grow at all. There's no sunlight. They just got to over winter under there. Then they come out again, you know, spring comes and they can grow a little bit. But the horses are eating them, treading on them. And mostly they're doing it in those valleys where they're destroying the waterways as well.
I have every sympathy for people who are horse lovers who just say, "Look, we shouldn't be killing horses." And you're right, we shouldn't be killing horses. But they shouldn't be there. You know, if you're really that concerned, let's pay for the ability to create a capturing project where we can go and capture them. Re-home them to places. The trouble is, they're wild.
Got to rake them all in.
When you're trying to gentle a horse, it's a enough of a circus at the best of times. But you know, doing that to a horse that is probably 10 generations wild is going to be really hard to do.
I don't know what's going to happen, but I hope they get rid of them. I think, you know, we've got enough horses here in captivity. If you want to see horses, go see them in captivity. Go buy them, have them as your pets, take them out into the wilderness yourself if you want to see them in the wilderness. But don't destroy the wilderness with these wild ones.
The other thing, too, is you look at it and say, "Oh, nobody complains about deer hunters." Deer and other introduced large mammal.
Well, that's the ironic thing with the "cute and cuddly", right?
In the high country. Not in the high, but up in the mountain.
Why don't they give a shit about the deer if they're cute and cuddly?
It's not the government going out and saying, "We're going to kill all the deer." It actually is because the government gives licences out to people who want to go and hunt deer. But there's no... You don't hear people protesting about it, which is a bit bizarre.
There's a lot of ironic situations.
There is an answer to it, I suppose, is that the horse-human interactive history is hundreds of years old, thousands of years old potentially. Humans have domesticated horses for as long as they've domesticated dog, so...
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