Hundreds of eager faces peered at the screen as I started my live cross back to Southern Grove Primary School. I interviewed Dr Michael from NT Museum and Dr Glenn from WA Museum first. They explained how they zapped fish in the water and shared the wildest places they had ever been. Next up was Dr Erinn from Adelaide University, talking wasps with the students. The students loved being able to ask questions directly to the scientists and I can’t wait to get back to the classroom next week to share more stories and pictures about this incredible experience.

After the live cross, we headed out to the jaw-dropping Grevillea Gorge to hunt for spiders in the rocky cliffs. I travelled out there with Ruby and Erin from the Australian Wildlife Conservancy (AWC) and Dr Jeremy, an Arachnologist from Queensland University. We got talking about AWC and the critical role this unique organisation plays in protecting Australia’s wild places.
Erin explained that AWC manages 12.9 million hectares of land across Australia with the aim of protecting species. Charnley River-Artesian Range is within the only part of mainland Australia to have not suffered mammal extinctions since European settlement, and with the help of AWC, hopefully they never will. In particular, the Artesian Range is a rocky sandstone escarpment that is important for the conservation of vulnerable species because it’s less accessible to weeds and feral animals and it’s harder for big fires to get through.

“The Charnley River-Artesian Range is really special sanctuary for that reason, but the Kimberley is a really important last wild area in Australia as well” Erin said.

As we bumped along the red dusty road, Ruby described Bush Blitz as a ‘powerhouse’. A swarm of enthusiastic scientists descend on the site, ready to share their knowledge and skills. At the end of the Bush Blitz, researchers feedback the species list, including new species, to AWC increasing their knowledge base and their ability to effectively manage and monitor the site. The monitoring being undertaken on Charnley mainly focusses on mammals, reptiles, and birds. The breadth of Bush Blitz research means that the AWC team will receive data on all the different types of plants and animals including wasps, bugs, fish, and spiders that call Charnley River their home. Bush Blitz is a true collaboration between scientists, land managers, traditional owners, local rangers, and teachers.

Ruby and Erin love working with AWC, both describing it as their dream job. They get to work outside in wild places, zoom around in helicopters and spend their time saving species. I’m grateful for getting to spend this time with Ruby and Erin and on the land they are working tirelessly to protect. And I get to share the experience with the students of Southern Grove Primary School and highlight the importance of our wild places. We all agreed on one thing, with the buzz around camp and the possibility of species discovery, every day on Bush Blitz is like Christmas Day. As we scrambled down ancient rock faces hunting spiders, the laughter and exclamations of delight could be heard echoing down the gorge, it sounded just like Christmas Day too.