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Tasmania's Tom and Cynthia Dunbabin win the McKell Medal.

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Home | Media Releases DAFF05/079WTJ - 15 April 2005

Australian Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Warren Truss Australian Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Ian Campbell

Natural Resource Management Ministerial Council

Tasmania's Tom and Cynthia Dunbabin win the McKell Medal

Tom and Cynthia Dunbabin, Landcare farmers from Dunalley in south-east Tasmania, have won the 15th McKell Medal for excellence in Natural Resource Management.

The Dunbabins, who run a mixed wool, beef, lamb and forestry business on their property 'Bangor', were named McKell Medal winners by the joint Chairs of Australia's Natural Resource Management Ministerial Council - Agriculture Minister Warren Truss and Environment Minister Senator Ian Campbell.

The McKell Medal is awarded by the Australian, State and Territory governments to people who have made an outstanding contribution to improving land and water management through on-farm action, scientific research and community involvement.

It commemorates the work of Sir William McKell, a former NSW Premier (1941-47) and Governor-General (1947-53), who made a significant contribution to improving soil and land conservation in Australia.

"The Dunbabins are worthy recipients of the McKell Medal as they have contributed significantly to improving natural resource management - not just in south-east Tasmania, but also throughout Australia," Mr Truss said.

"They were chosen from a field of 15 outstanding candidates.

"Tom and Cynthia, and son Matthew, regard themselves as not only the

owners of "Bangor", but as 'custodians of a precious national heritage', which includes important Aboriginal archaeological sites, and critical habitat for threatened bird species.

"'Bangor' is the site where Dutch explorer Abel Tasman landed in 1642," Mr Truss said.

"The Dunbabins view their responsibilities for those places in the same way as their responsibilities for land management generally - with a passion; a focus on practical solutions, an holistic approach, a respect for knowledge and a long-term vision," Senator Campbell said.

"Tom has been a major 'mover-and-shaker' in agricultural and environmental circles in rural Tasmania for more than 20 years. He is respected by both the farming and environmental communities for his achievements.

"He has also made a significant contribution at the national level as a member of several industry and government committees on Natural Resource Management, and has participated in several conferences," he said.

To arrange interviews with the Dunabins, please call 0418 532 330 after 10:30am on Friday 15th April. Biographical details on the Dunbabins are attached.

The McKell Medal is awarded annually (the 15th medal covers 2004). Nominations for the 16th medal are now open and will close in November 2005 - visit


For 30 years, Tom and Cynthia Dunbabin have been an inspirational and practical example of how business profitability and sound environmental practices can go hand-in-hand.

'Bangor' covers 6,200 hectares and includes 30 kilometres of coastline. It is home to the endangered swift parrot and a number of migratory bird

species, as well as home to most of Tasmania's iconic mammal species. There are important aboriginal cultural sites and artefact scatters, and Dutch explorer Abel Tasman's 1642 landing site.

The key to the Dunbabins integrating their environmental and business goals is a long-term land use planning for 'Bangor'. Stock-carrying capacity on sown pasture areas has been increased by 50 per cent and integrated pest-management principles were introduced to tackle pasture grubs and sheep parasites, reducing the reliance on pesticides and drenches. Off-stream watering systems supply clean water for livestock and protect riparian areas.

The Dunbabins placed a formal covenant on 1,600ha of woodland and forest containing unique plant communities, such as grassy blue gum, inland tenuramis and shrubby black gum forests. The extraordinary Swan Lagoon and coastal barrier dune systems were also protected for future generations.

Their holistic management philosophy considers the economic, agronomic, ecological and cultural issues. They are concerned about the 'single issue' approach, where the 'celebrities' of the natural world are given undue attention, while crucial aspects of environmental management are ignored.

The Dunbabins are open to change and willing to try new ideas. They are also in it for the long haul, 'breaking-up' the complex and expensive task of improving land management and restoring the environment into manageable pieces. This approach has been the key to managing their recently-acquired property "The Quoin", in Tasmania's Midlands.

Tom has had a major influence in changing attitudes within his industry and district. Throughout his career he has been on a range of local, regional, state and national committees. He was a founding member of the Bream Creek Landcare Group and Bangor Landcare, and played a key role in developing the Sorell/Tasman Vegetation Management Strategy.

Tom also founded and co-convened the Sorrell Farm Business Group, and helped run the Landcare in Action Program, which involved school students in a range of landcare activities.

He was a founding member of the Tasmanian Landcare Association, a board member (1995-1998) with the Tasmanian Institute of Agricultural Research, and as a steering group member, played a pivotal role in the MLA Sustainable Grazing Systems Program.

The Dunbabins spread the word about responsible land management to various audiences in different ways. As well as regular interviews on radio, and articles in the local papers, Bangor has made appearances on ABC TV's Gardening Australia show, Landline, Countrywide, and a Qantas in-flight video.

They have also featured in several case-studies, including Australian Experiences of Linking Biodiversity to Commercial Forestry, the Australian Conservation Foundation booklet Conserving Native Bushland, a Waratah Wire feature Partnerships with Nature, promoting fencing for conservation, and a chapter in Angela Goode's book For the Love of the Land.

Tom and Cynthia have hosted many field days at Bangor on themes as varied as fly traps, nylon woolpacks, total grazing pressure and indigenous archaeology. They also speak to Landcare groups and regularly support industry initiatives such as the Woolgrower Benchmarking Program.

Further media inquiries: Minister Truss' office:

Kylie Butler 02 6277 7520 or 0417 652 488 Senator Campbell's office:

Erika Cevallos 02 6277 7640 or 0409 314 549