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ABC News 24 Australia Wide -

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(THEME MUSIC)

Hello and welcome to this special
summer edition of Australia Wide. I'm Yassmin Abdel-Magied. This week,
we're in the great outdoors and taking a look at some of
the wild and wonderful things this country has to offer. ERIN PARKE: This is serious stuff
for Bob Cooper, who's been teaching survival skills
for more than three decades. So how much water do you reckon
we'll get tomorrow, Dave? About a cupful should be good. GINNY STEIN: Lake Gairdner, a massive natural salt lake
in the middle of desert country, plays host to Speed Week each year. (MOTORCYCLE REVS) CATHY JACOBS: Victoria's government
is now considering more than a hundred submissions about
the future management of the Yarra, which is currently under the
influence of multiple authorities.

MAN: Mate, look out.
This set's huge! Operating around the rocks
in large swell is THE most dangerous environment
in which we operate. First today, the lure of the Australian outback
is strong for many adventurers, and never more than during
these long summers. But it's not without its dangers. Our Kimberley reporter Erin Parke
talked to one bushie who believes that back-to-basics
survival skills should be taught more widely, to help keep people out of trouble
and save more lives. (MELLOW ACOUSTIC GUITAR)

Their bags are packed, and it's time
for this town crew to hit the bush.

They're headed to a cattle station
east of Broome, to find out what it takes to survive
heat, snakes, and a lack of water. I want to know
how to look after myself and I know that there's
a lot of tragedies that happen. For two days, this mix of tradesmen,
teachers, and camping enthusiasts will be put to the test
by survival expert Bob Cooper. The course is designed
for novices and experienced people. We mix them together,
it's one big family. Their first task
is to dig a fire pit so that food can be cooked
on hot coals later in the night. I picked this area
because it's fairly sandy. Get a couple of people to start
digging a hole to do our ground oven. Remember, we're gonna make it
about that deep and then heat up those rocks. It's hard yakka for even
the more experienced bushman,

like crocodile handler Dave Tapper. We gotta get
to some soft stuff soon. As hunger starts to kick in,
it's time to heat the coals.

The secret of this is catching the little glowing
embers in the cotton pad itself. And there's two of those in your
kit and then really good tinder. Bob, it may sound
like a silly question, but what's the importance of being
able to light a fire out here? Warmth, light, signals,
protection from mosquitoes, protection from wild animals. The psychological comfort of a fire
is unbelievable. Now that dinner's organised, it's time for one of the most
important lessons of all - how to find water. One of the main things
which the group is being shown is how to gather moisture
from a tree and that's just using
a basic plastic bag and also a bit of string. You each have a discussion, pick the kind of tree
that you want to put that bag on, and then go
and make it as airtight as possible.

So how much water do you reckon
we'll get tomorrow, Dave? It could be anyone's guess.
I'm hoping for... A cupful?
About a cupful should be good. The mood may be light-hearted, but this is serious stuff
for Bob Cooper, who's been teaching survival skills
for more than three decades.

When I read or see about people
that have perished in the outback, I feel nauseous. It really gets to me,
both spiritually and physically.

In the last year, police conducted
80 searches in regional WA, and three of the people
reported missing were found dead. Some people had wandered
into the bush due to dementia or mental illness. Others got lost prospecting,
or were bogged on bush tracks.

MAN: Well, those that are
most challenging for us generally are centred around
those people in very remote areas. In areas where there's
very little technology available, we can't access the internet, we're relying
on radio communications - if we've got radio communications. The heat, the weather, the terrain. CREWMAN: 20 feet of cable,
10 feet of cable.

There can also be
a significant financial toll. Search aircraft cost up to
$5,000 an hour, and the cost of a single search
can come close to a million dollars. There's frustration that so many
situations could be avoided. CREWMAN: Survivor's on board.
Crewman's on board. You can't legislate for stupidity. You would hope people think things
through before they act. And from time to time,
that doesn't happen. This is an EPIRB. We would encourage everybody who's travelling to
a remote part of Western Australia to carry an EPIRB
or a personal locating beacon. Once it goes off,
it goes for 48 hours. It's a message echoed by agencies tasked with trying to keep
prospectors and truck drivers safe. MAN: It's always frustrating
and it's even distressing

when you hear of people becoming
lost in the outback and just not taking those... ..what we think are
common-sense precautions. In the last five years, the WA Department of Mines
issued more than 17,000 permits for prospectors. We see a lot of tourists - tourist-prospectors,
we prefer to call them - entering a remote area
for the first time and may be unfamiliar
with the surroundings. It could be that
they get lost from time to time. 46-year-old Michael Graham wasn't
reported missing for 38 hours after he was last seen. He carried
no communication equipment and despite finding messages
for help written in the sand, the search had to be called off
after two weeks. His body's never been found. The case prompted calls
to make safety equipment mandatory, something authorities say
would be difficult to enforce. It's probably not a good idea for legislation to be specific
about certain technology. Because technology
is changing all the time. There's a whole range of
equipment available and that's up to them to choose
what suits their needs best. Flint magnesium lighter.

But bushman Bob Cooper says
the focus is all wrong. He says reliance on high-tech gadgets
is part of the problem. The number of people getting
in trouble and dying has increased and I think that's because
of the reliance on technology. We seem to have lost
a lot of the bushcraft skills that our forefathers had
or our parents had. But WA police maintain their faith
in devices such as EPIRBs is well-placed. Thank you kindly.
Enjoy. Beautiful.
Hope you never have to use it. For a couple of hundred dollars, you can have a piece of equipment
in your vehicle or on your person that will work
anywhere in Western Australia and if you push that button,
someone's coming looking.

Back out bush,
croc handler Dave Tapper say he'll rest easy
with his new-found skills. I really would not like to think that I'd ever be in
a true survival situation, but if it ever does eventuate, then I feel prepared for it.

Erin Parke reporting
from the Kimberley. Once a year,
hundreds of people gather in the remote South Australian
outback for one unifying purpose - to go fast. Speed Week at Lake Gairdner
is the one week in the year where speed limits are there
to be overrun. But hosting an event on a massive
salt lake far from the nearest town is a major logistical feat. Ginny Stein went along
to meet the people behind one of Australia's
most extreme events.

MAN: There you go, Dallas.
All yours. I sure hope you enjoy it. GINNY STEIN: Two months in the
planning and the kitchen is cooking.

OK.

OK. Just don't panic. Don't panic. This is actually the biggest event
with the biggest number of people and the longest period of time. We've usually done jobs
up to about 500 people over two to three days at a time.

That's a brekkie pizza. Egg, bacon, cheese,
tomato, mushrooms on a lovely fresh dough base. (FUNKY MUSIC)

People who strive to drive fast,
need to eat. And out here, more than 120km
from the closest town, this is it.

ARNETT: It's not just catering, it's about entertaining
and making people feel fantastic and having a great experience
with us, that's what it's all about. MAN: (CALLS) Pizza for Jack!
MAN: Yo! Like that?
Exactly. Like that. (LAUGHS) (ROCK MUSIC PLAYS, ENGINES REV)

Lake Gairdner, a massive natural salt
lake in the middle of desert country plays host to Speed Week each year. 550km north-west of Adelaide, the lake is Australia's
home of Land Speed Racing. We've got 163 entries this year -
51 cars, and 112 bikes.

(ENGINE REVS)

In addition to those entries
come support crew and scores of spectators. Travel with the wife and come out
to see these blokes throw things down the track
real quick. WOMAN: And we heard that
it was like Bonneville. You know, this is Australia's
version of Bonneville. So we thought, "Well, when are
we ever gonna get over there? "So we might as well
knock it off over here." MAN: It's good fun. Getting here's an adventure. And just, you know,
every day, it's just fun. And we're all here
for the same reason. The flies?
Yeah, the flies. Timing sheets.
Yes? We have run out. We prepare for it
for the whole year. When we go back to central Victoria we'll be having committee meetings
every four weeks, and that goes on until
we race next year.

Lake Gairdner was once part of
Mount Ive Station, now it's part of a national park. Property owner Len Newton has taken
time out from his crops and livestock to tend the bar. It's a bit corrugated
down the road, is it? Yeah, yeah. It's OK underneath that.
OK. Yeah. (CHUCKLES) Speed Week is now very much
a mainstay in the family's farming calendar. It sort of brings a lot of people in
to have a look at the area and some of them - quite a few
of them - come back, obviously. But it's a big thing
and really good for us. Solar power was added a few years ago to cater for the needs of the
massive influx of people. A lot of those people spread
the word of Lake Gairdner and so we tend to get more tourists
because of that. (ENGINE IDLES ROUGHLY) This is Team High Viz. Pins in. Safety's out.
Pins in, Chris. Chris, good to go. And this is 'The Mandarin'.

It's something that we almost picked
up out of the paddock around here. We picked up two of them for
about $500 when we first started. (ENGINE REVS)

This team of unlikely speedsters come from the tiny nearby town
of Wudinna, 120km away. On this run,
The Mandarin does what it should. It goes faster.

Much better.
Much, much, much better. Driving fast out here
is a deceptive experience. It doesn't actually feel as quick
as what it is. If you were to go and do
180km/h on the road it would feel like just
screaming along. But out here, it actually
doesn't feel that quick. It's a really bizarre feeling. Team High Viz has been working
all year on this car. Craig, the engineer, he actually
built that part, the manifold. He actually built that himself. MAN: It's pulling about
6,000rpm at the moment. We need another 1,000rpm
to get where we want to go. So, we've got confidence in it. We're out here to have some fun
and improve on last year. We haven't gone backwards yet. The team's co-drivers
are more than best mates, they're also the front-line
medical team for Speed Week. It's not unheard of
to have accidents. Some of those accidents are minor, and some of those accidents
have been major, unfortunately. Everyone accepts that.
That's why we're out here. We accept that risk, and that's part of the enjoyment
and the rush of it, I guess, for a lot of us. This year passed
without major incident. But there are high stakes
at play here, and next year they could be
even higher. We got a $2 million toy
with nowheres to play with it. Les Davenport has flown out from the
United States to check out the lake. Yeah, I mean, there's just a skim
of salt on the top. And you break through and there's
mud right underneath, you know. He's part of a Canadian team
that has spent 14 years building a car to chase
a 500mph dream. The quest is on
to go the first to be 500mph. Nobody will care who's the second. I mean, who was the second guy to
walk on the moon? I have no idea. So, there's probably half a dozen
cars that are 500mph capable and we all want to be the first. That's 800km/h. Roughly four times the speed dreams
of High Viz and The Mandarin. I do love a fast car. Ginny Stein with that story. But now to a slower pace, and what is becoming
of our great rivers? Across the world, hundreds of people are working to protect and restore
the great waterways of our cities. Cathy Jacobs met one of them - the man known as the
Yarra Riverkeeper. (JAZZ MUSIC PLAYS) WOMAN: # Oh, Yarra River # Took my baby from me. #

ANDREW KELLY: It's an honour and
a privilege to be the Riverkeeper. There is a real connection
you feel after a while to the river and to the city, because the river is such
an important part of the city. # Hate you, Yarra River # For what you've done to me. # CATHY JACOBS:
Melbourne has again been voted the world's most liveable city, and Andrew Kelly wants to
keep it that way.

He's a passionate voice
for the famously brown Yarra, which cuts through
the Victorian capital and he's set himself a big challenge. I would like to see the river
run clear again. If we're not ambitious,
we'll never get anywhere. Even if we just turn around, Andrew.
It's ahead of us as well. Once a month, Andrew Kelly,
the Yarra Riverkeeper, meets up with Neil Blake,
the keeper of Port Philip Bay. NEIL: Is this sustain-a-billy-tea?
ANDREW: It is. (CHUCKLES) Using pure Yarra water? Well, it's 70% Yarra water because 70% of our water
comes from the Yarra. They're part of the international
Waterkeeper Alliance, founded 50 years ago by a group of
fishermen and scientists in New York. Our waterways are
the arteries of the earth. If we don't look after them
we're not looking after ourselves.

Today's excursion is a regular
survey for microplastics in the lower reaches.

Microplastics can be eaten,
swallowed by fish and other wildlife and they are getting into
our food chain, it's something we need
to draw attention to. Many of the tiny particles
captured in Neil's net started out as somebody's
discarded litter. Food and beverage containers
are very common plastic items that do get fractured when they just
get dropped on the street, and maybe driven over by a car,
and break up into smaller particles. So they're the sort of things
that we end up with in the net.

If we have fewer hard surfaces we will improve the health
of our waterways and our bays, because we won't have that
sudden rush after a rainstorm that will carry all the pollutants
and all the rubbish that we've dropped
into the stormwater system and ultimately into the river.

On the way back, talk of hard surfaces
leads to another issue. The development I see along
that stretch just appals me. We need to back it off, let the sun get to the edge
of the river and then we'll have
vibrant cafe culture with people sitting there
in the sunshine.

Andrew Kelly has a vision for
the rewilding of the CBD's riverside. I'd love to see an urban forest
down at the point at Collins Wharf, just next to the Bolte Bridge. We could actually replant that
and create wetlands there, a saltmarsh perhaps. We can create a habitat highway
along there. JACOBS: Some developers must shudder when they see your little boat
coming down the river. (LAUGHS)
That's an interesting thought. I just want a better river.

You wouldn't swim in it
after heavy rain but Andrew says the Yarra
is cleaner than most people think. He recently had
an unlikely encounter, just a few kilometres from the CBD.

About 11 o'clock on a grey,
rainy, misty, still day, and I saw something
moving in the water and I soon realised
it was a platypus and it was just swimming
around here. I watched it for maybe five minutes. You also see long-necked turtles and
eastern water dragons along here. It would be fantastic to see seals
and dolphins come up. Certainly the seals come up, I reckon probably once,
maybe twice a year. So I think it's really worth
looking at it from the perspective
of what's possible - what are the opportunities
that we have?

Another who imagines the
opportunities is Matt Stewart, who wants to revive
a once-famous event. TV VOICEOVER: Here's a big, big
bunch taking the water on their long journey,
three miles down the river. MATT STEWART:
It started I think in 1913 when it was called
the Three Mile Yarra Swim and in the '30s actually, it was one of the biggest open-water
swimming races in the world where up to 100,000 people
lined the banks of the river. I'm mighty pleased
to have won this race!

How'd you find the Yarra?
Aww, pretty dirty! (BOTH CHUCKLE) Matt, it's hard to believe we're
just 6km from the heart of Melbourne. I know, Cathy. I think I'm standing here
on an old diving board situated at the Alphington Pools, where in the 1920s there would have
been a hive of activity of people swimming and bathing
and picnicking right behind us.

Nearly a century later,
the Yarra Swim Co is also proposing a floating pool
in the heart of the CBD. It's working with international firms
on the costing and design.

You'll talk to many people
from overseas, and if they know Melbourne they'll
probably mention the dirty Yarra, so I'm quite excited by the idea
of turning that around, and the pride that people could have
in cleaning up the river as we move forward. Victoria's government
is now considering more than a 100 submissions about
the future management of the Yarra, which is currently under the
influence of multiple authorities.

Over the decades, political promises
have ebbed and flowed. But now there is a determination
to create a single trust to govern all 240km of the river,
from the mountains to the port. And that's music to the ears
of the Yarra Riverkeeper.

We face huge challenges, I think,
with population growth and we need to be smart
about how we solve those challenges. We can't just let people dominate.

The problems of Melbourne are the
problems of every urban river. WOMAN: # ..The Yarra River blues! # Cathy Jacobs reporting. And finally today to one of the most
dangerous sports around - rock fishing. Around 13 people die each year
in Australia. Most drown after being
swept off the rocks. This risk led to the recommendation
of compulsory life jackets, but this year the NSW government said
it would only impose the rule in known black spots. As the debate rolls on,
our video journalist Luke Rosen talked to some local Sydney
rock fishermen to find out why they do it. (GENTLE ACOUSTIC GUITAR)

MAN: What do you think you've got? Drummer. Drummer. Big drummer. Where's your net? OK, OK. I see it, I see it.

Whoa! That's a team mission. Not a bad size. 43cm. So, a good size for this fish. Not bad. Let's catch another one. Cleats are very important to wear, especially when you are fishing
off the rocks. Because the rocks are very slippery, so cleats are a must.

That spot there called
the 'Juliennes' - that's a very deep spot. Usually people are casting lures
and stuff to catch pelagics, kingfish and bonitos
on their seasons.

We've got another spot called
'The Trap' over there. That's another dangerous spot. It's called The Trap because...
See where that pole is? If you actually fish there, you can actually get knocked off
by the swell from all over the side, that's why it's called The Trap.

MAN: I was at a place
about a month ago, and if I had this on,
I would have got washed off because I had a raincoat on because
it was a bit drizzly, and I was on a ledge about... The water sort of comes up,
it doesn't wash you back, it comes up and then it
charges down this ledge. I was like this and I was
bloody hanging on, and I sort of held onto the side and the wave just kept on coming,
you know? And then I realised,
I thought if I had this on, it would have bloody lifted me up,
you know? Would have lifted me up and took me. So...nyah.

What happens with fishermen
sometimes when they fall, they bump their head. So...what are they gonna do,
make us wear bloody helmets too? Operating around the rocks
in large swell is THE most dangerous environment
in which we operate. It's high risk because not only
are we dealing with currents, swell, waves, we're also operating
very close to shore and very close to the rock shelf.

Even though the risk is much lower
to people say, like myself, that have spent my whole life
rock fishing, I'm still vulnerable
if I make one mistake, if I assess the conditions
inappropriately. So when I go rock fishing, I wear a life jacket, just in case. And it's no big deal. Like, my one is only
1.5kg in weight - I don't even know
that I'm wearing it. So I maximise the opportunity
of being saved if I make a mistake or the conditions change. And that's the thing. Life jacket is pretty good. When you wear it,
you kind of get used to it, but then again there's...there's few
kind of life jackets you can get. The one that I have is... That one I think it's a dedicated
rock fisherman life jacket. This one here, the blue one,
it has canister inside. So...when you're in the water, you have to pull this to inflate.

This hobby just for fun.
Yeah. Yeah. And then, every week, I have one day for fishing. Yeah, if I catch many, that's bonus
for me. (LAUGHS) That's it.

If big swell, I always life jacket. But if not big swell,
I not life jacket. Yeah. Because I always looking
where the...

MAN: Look out! This set's huge!

Oi, come!

When we see people that have been
killed or drowned as a result of rock fishing at times when they just
should not have been, or the conditions have not been
conducive to it, yes, of course it's frustrating. Go fishing another day
or they can go and have a plan B and go fishing inshore. So, yes, it is frustrating.

HUTCHINGS: There's been in excess
of 95 fatalities over the last 10 years
in New South Wales. And 99% of those, the people that we've recovered
have not been wearing a life jacket. And we've had a number of
recent incidents where people have been recovered,
even one at my local beach, where a friend of mine went in
from the surf club and was able to save someone
that was wearing a life jacket and had been swept into the water. So, the evidence for us
is fairly clear.

Luke Rosen with that story. And that's all from us this time on
Australia Wide. I hope you've enjoyed the show and remember you can catch any of our
stories on iview or on our website. I'm Yassmin Abdel-Magied. See you next time on Australia Wide.

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