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Birthplace Disgrace - The Kurnell Peninsula


Hobart, Australia

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Aerial view of the Kurnell Peninsula showing the scarring from sand mining and industrial activity.

Taken with Panasonic Lumix DMC-FH1 point & shoot from the cabin of a Boeing 737.

Featured 04/23/11 in From the Cockpit http://www.redbubble.com/groups/from-the-cockpit Group

The Kurnell Peninsula, located on the southern shores of Botany Bay in Sydney’s south, is a significant cultural and ecological asset. It is the site of significant wetlands (including the most important in the Sydney region at Towra Point), contains regionally significant vegetation, endangered species, sand dunes, habitat for migratory birds and the Green and Golden Bell Frog,and extensive seagrass beds and marine biota. The Peninsula is home to two of Sydney’s icon Reserves: Botany Bay National Park and Towra Point Nature Reserve.

Kurnell is also the Birthplace of Modern Australia – the site of Captain James Cook’s first landing in this country – and the first meeting place of European and Aboriginal cultures.

Kurnell is characterised by many industrial establishments, including Sydney’s largest oil refinery (upper left of photo). It is one of the largest refiners of oil in Australia, producing in the vicinity of 6.5 billion litres of petroleum each year.

The Refinery releases a range of pollutants into the air including Sulphur Dioxide.

The Refinery currently releases effluent to ocean outfalls at Yena Gap and collects and disposes of cooling water in Botany Bay. The refinery’s stormwater is released into Botany Bay and during large storm events oily substances flow into the Bay often creating a minor temporary ‘slick’ on the surface.

Sandmining on the Kurnell Peninsula has changed the landscape of Kurnell dramatically.

Kurnell in the mid 19th century was still mostly virgin land covered in a healthy scrub, large trees and native grasses. The vegetated sandhills covered over 405 hectares and rose up to 61 metres. However, timber felling, clearing and cultivation for cattle and sheep grazing destroyed this environment. Once the restraining vegetative cover was gone, the unstable, transgressive dune sheet moved north at a rate of at least 8 metres a year.

Sand mining of the dunes completed the destruction. Sydney’s booming building industry has seen in excess of 170 million tonnes of sand extracted from the Peninsula since the 1930s. In some sections once towering sand dunes have been replaced by deep lakes (some 8 metres deep), many of which are now being filled with demolition waste.

Some say that this lack of care for modern Australia’s birthplace is criminal.

Wanda Beach to the far right of picture is the scene of another type of crime.

The Wanda Beach Murders is the case of the unsolved murders of Marianne Schmidt and Christine Sharrock at Sydney’s Wanda Beach on 11 January 1965. Their partially buried bodies were discovered the next day.

The victims, both aged 15, were best friends and neighbours. The brutal nature of the slayings and the fact that the twin killings occurred on a deserted, windswept beach brought publicity to the case.

It remains one of the most infamous unsolved Australian murder cases of the 1960s

Artwork Comments

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