March 10th, 2015


This is the site for Bimblebox Nature Refuge, an 8,000 hectare property in the Desert Uplands Bioregion of Central West Queensland. For more information about the refuge, its ecology, its wildlife and its history, click the relevant tabs above. On this page, we post regular updates on the campaign to prevent Bimblebox Nature Refuge from being destroyed by a proposed massive thermal coal project, as well as updates on “life at the refuge” as we work to maintain the property’s conservation values, year in and year out through summer heat, drought, extreme fire risk, flooding rains, isolation… etc!

To join our mailing list (we send less than one email per month) click here Find out how you can help protect Bimblebox from coal mining.

NEW: This 5 minute show depicts the history and the possible dire future of Bimblebox Nature Refuge. Our thanks to Tangible Media, Bob Brown, Sonya Duus, Mark Doyle and Karl Hoch. Please click on “HD” in the lower right-hand corner to ensure maximum colour and sound quality.

Last chance to see the fabulous Bimblebox art exhibition!!!

January 22nd, 2017

Bimblebox: art – science – nature has been touring around Australia since June 2014, and on Friday February 10th 2017, it will open for the last time, at the Somerset Regional Art Gallery in  Toogoolawah, Qld (100km north west of Brisbane). We would urge everyone who hasn’t yet had a chance to this this wonderful exhibition to make the effort to check it out.


Somerset Regional Art Gallery – The Condensery
Address: 29 Factory Road, Toogoolawah
Exhibition dates: 11 February – 26 March 2017
Official opening: Friday, 10 February at 6pm
Gallery website:
Opening hours: Wednesday to Friday 9am-5pm; Saturday and Sunday 10am-4pm


Bimblebox: art – science – nature is a touring exhibition about the Bimblebox Nature Refuge, its environmental, social and scientific significance and an artist group’s creative response to their experience of this unique and threatened environment. The exhibition is rich, dynamic and diverse, including artworks in installation, works on paper, painting, artist books, photography, digital media and sound. Curated by Beth Jackson from a project initiated by artist Jill Sampson, the exhibition also incorporates aspects of scientific and environmental research and social history of the site, together with catalogue and education kit in digital and print media.

2016 Bimblebox Art Camp

November 3rd, 2016

Painted Button-quail, Bimblebox Nature Refuge Photo: Greg Harm

Painted Button-quail, Bimblebox Nature Refuge
Photo: Greg Harm

In early September 2016, seventeen artists from Melbourne to Mackay made their way out to central-west Queensland for the 5th annual art camp on Bimblebox Nature Refuge. It was a great success. Recent rain produced a glorious display of heathland wildflowers, highlighting the floristic values that originally qualified Bimblebox as a Nature Refuge. Two new birds were also added to Bimblebox bird list – the Spotted Nightjar and the Painted Button Quail – more proof of just how rich Bimblebox‘s fauna values are as well!

One of the participating artists, Deborah Cavanagh, has contributed the following blog post. The photos below let the beauty of Bimblebox speak for itself. To find out more about past and future art camps at Bimblebox, please visit the art project website. To see more photos from the camp, see this excellent blog by Jill Sampson.

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Bimblebox Exhibition in Manly 1 July – 4 Sept

June 6th, 2016

Manly Art Gallery Bimblebox invitation frontThe wonderful exhibition Bimblebox: art – science – nature will open at the Manly Art Gallery and Museum on 1 July! Please see this invitation for more details.

OFFICIAL OPENING: Fri 1 July, 6-8pm by Jill Simpson, Project Coordinator

SPECIAL EVENT: Sun 3 July, 2-4pm a gathering of artists and art workers involved in the project will reflect on their experience of making and exhibiting art with the hope of effecting social change and raising environmental awareness

PERFORMANCE: At the opening and special event, Alison Clouston and Boyd will bring their Coalface installation to life through performance and live  music

Bimblebox: art – science – nature is a touring exhibition about the Bimblebox Nature Refuge, its environmental, social and scientific significance and an artist group’s creative response to their experience of this unique and threatened environment. The exhibition is rich, dynamic and diverse, including artworks in installation, works on paper, painting, artist books, photography, digital media and sound. Curated by Beth Jackson from a project initiated by artist Jill Sampson, the exhibition also incorporates aspects of scientific and environmental research and social history of the site, together with catalogue and education kit in digital and print media.

Leard Forest and Pilliga Forest

February 13th, 2016

Leard forest_from Paola 11-2-16

When in 2008 we raced to beat the last of the coal rushes in Queensland, luck came our way as huge greenfield thermal coal projects like ‘China First’ grew to be less financially viable by the day and opening up the Galilee Basin turned out to be a dinosaur’s dream.

We were on the edge of a storm, which turned out to be a fizzer and now that it seems for now to have passed, well, aren’t we lucky!

As people were shocked to hear that a declared Nature Refuge could be mowed down for lumps of coal, donations of time and money came to help our cause.

But what about forests in the way of ‘extensions’ of existing mines such as Whitehaven’s Maules Creek Mine on the NSW Liverpool Plains? The storm is brewing now in Leard Forest, where clearing is about to recommence in the critically endangered White Box woodland. Once the trees are felled, the ecosystems of threatened fauna and plant species it sustains won’t come back. Hundreds were arrested trying to stop that new mine’s initial devastation. Now the battle begins anew.

Having looked carefully into the issue, the Bimblebox Alliance Inc. has decided to offer a donation in support of those who are trying to stop the Leard Forest from being cleared.

And more recently we have also donated to help the Pilliga Protectors to save the extraordinary Pilliga Forest from Santos’ planned industrial gasfield and its threat to the Great Artesian Basin. The Pilliga is the largest and most intact woodland in eastern Australia, an island in the surrounding cleared agricultural land, and an essential recharge area for the GAB. It provides a refuge for glossy-black cockatoos, barking owls, eastern pygmy possums, koalas, red-capped robins, regent honeyeaters, the unique Pilliga mouse and many other woodland fauna species, as well as 900 plant species. Twenty-five nationally listed and 48 state listed threatened species call the Pilliga home. Santos’ gasfield poses serious threats to this beautiful place. The heritage of the Indigenous Gomilaroi people is also at risk, as well as the livelihoods and futures of local farmers. The TBA has made this donation to assist in the prevention of this enormous destruction.

More information on the Pilliga:


A report from the front lines of climate extremes

December 3rd, 2015


Photo: Greg Harm

… Galilee’s Goliath lies entombed within this earth but there are philistines alive today who from airconditioned comfort prepare to awaken the prehistoric monster from eternal silent slumber. They feel not this ominous portent nor heed the honourable science that has served us all so well so far but today serves us notice. Secluded by wealth and blinded by greed, they contort thoughts and words and figures to persuade us all that more of same is needed. Unless latter-day Davids poised with dialectic slings and intellectual arrows can put paid to these foolish ways – and fast – our ordained days are numbered.

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Quilt causes controversy….

July 22nd, 2015

Read this hilarious QUILTGATE story by Russell Fairfax (botanist in residence at Bimblebox Nature Refuge) to find out more about the journey of the Quilt described below. See below for complete inline version.

Kathleen Noonan wrote a delightful, insightful, humorous article “Opinion: Quilt made to raise funds for Bimblebox Nature Refuge is getting up people’s noses” in the Opinioin Section of the Courier Mail (8 August 2015), inspiring almost 50 readers to purchase raffle tickets. The newspaper version in her ‘LAST WORD’ column is reproduced below.

KN paper article_bright

Bimblebox quilt raffled

April 30th, 2015

heading bmxnr


 Maureen Cooper’s Quilt


Maureen Cooper created this quilt with three techniques: applique, embroidery and machine stitching. It shows some wonderful native species amid a background depicting their habitats in the various regional ecosystems found on Bimblebox Nature Refuge.

Bimblebox caretaker Ian Hoch’s love of the environment and his constant war on weeds, erosion and feral animals are central to its wellbeing and also form a centrepiece of the quilt.

Maureen Cooper used natural materials for almost 100% of the quilt; the exceptions were media used for water weed in the Black-necked Stork panel, for spider web in the brown quail panel, and for the silver fish in the Great Egret panel. Desma Versteegen of Gallery Quilting, Benalla, performed the quilting work. The completed hanging measures 130cm x 136cm.

The quilt was made with love as a fund-raising item for The Bimblebox Alliance Inc. (TBA), a not-for-profit organization working for the protection of nature refuges and other protected areas from inappropriate development. It is being displayed at annual shows at Barcaldine, Clermont, Emerald, Rockhampton, Mackay, and at the Ekka, Brisbane Royal Queensland Show. Raffle tickets are available at each venue and below and the winner will be drawn in late August in Brisbane.

Other species not noted on the panels (left to right from top):

  • Plumed Whistling Duck Panel – Cumbungie, sedges, Snowflake Waterlily and Floating Pondweed.
  • Frill-necked Lizard Panel – Comet Grass, Fire Grass
  • Brolga Panel – Common Rush
  • Hanging Eucalyptus panels depict Ghost Gum flowers and gumnuts.
  • Bimblebox Nature Refuge Panel – bird footprints
  • Brown Quail Panel – Desmodium sp., Barbed Wire Grass
  • Panel next to Native Cucumber – Twining Glycine
  • Echidna Panel – Termite mound with termites.
  • Great Egret Panel – Knotweed, Common Fringe Rush, Rice Sedge

Online raffle ticket sales closed

Online raffle ticket sales closed as of Friday, August 14, 2015 at 11:59 PM.

Prize Draw Date was 24 August 2015, at the Queensland Trust for Nature (QTFN) Private Land Conservation Conference, Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre, at morning tea (10:30 – 11:00 AM).

The Quilt is First Prize. Because we had such a great response to this raffle, we added second, third and fourth prizes, each consisting of a DVD of the Bimblebox Documentary (2012) and Maureen Cooper’s book Bimblebox: A Nature Refuge under Siege.

The winners are: 

First prize (Quilt): Jude from Caloundra
Second, third and fourth prizes went to Rhonda from Rockhampton, Lyn in Ferny Hills and Jodie in Beechworth.

QUILTGATE, by Russell Fairfax

This is a true story about a tremendous bunch of sheilas. The youngest is 68. After hundreds of hours of love and care a first-time quilter plied her new trade as a fund-raising prize. Her chosen cause was a non-profit organisation striving to help landowners protect our fauna and flora through Nature Refuges. Much like a prize cake or large pumpkin, the humble quilt was to be displayed and raffled at various Queensland agricultural shows with tickets selling for $2 each.

The quilt’s centrepiece is a photograph of a man making a cup of tea. Were it not for the subject’s resemblance to a Sydney Nolan with Fred Williams painting the background to the overall effect of a Frederick McCubbin, the photograph is unremarkable. The man is surrounded by stitched panels depicting several plants and animals familiar to a child, such as an echidna, brolga, plumed whistling duck and so forth.

The quilt has had a rough journey over the last few months from the outback to the central coast. History now begs the question: did the stitchers realise just how instrumental the quilt would be at displaying the fabric of rural Queensland? How long will they think that one word, not even stitched, could be so ‘political’, its mere portrayal is unfit for public display?

The answers start at the Barcaldine Show. Barcaldine people are laid back as a rule, but glossing over the oopsie-daisy under that Tree, not afraid to whack a couple of rockets on a skateboard and fire up now and again. However, there’s a sort of a drought on and not too much is happening. You made a quilt? Great. It was displayed without fuss and received comments such as how nice it was.

Next stop Alpha. Somewhat surprisingly, given its proximity to Bimblebox Nature Refuge, the Alpha Show committee didn’t return correspondence requesting the quilt be displayed. At this point it might be useful to know that the same State Government that signed off on protecting the values of Bimblebox in perpetuity also granted several companies exploration permits for coal over Bimblebox and an adjacent area the size of Germany. Patrons of the 2015 Alpha Show noted that there were no mining company stalls, that many Alphanians were sad, and that some speculatory jams turned out to be pickles.

Onward to Clermont where the quilt was hung, just. This town sits at the western nexus of prime cropping and Bowen Basin coal. One industry is finite. Graziers over the central portion of the Galilee Basin head east into Clermont for supplies so the town’s glancing west. One can see historic flood-marks near the town, where A dunny’d be underwater.

Advance to Emerald, currently hosting the full gamut of cropping, grazing and mining. Fairbairn Dam with its omnipresent grey specks on the weather radar has enough water for next year’s cotton. Memories of the Nogoa River flooding the town and nearby Ensham mine have not faded. While at this Show the quilt could not be hung and was unwelcome, but a fifth member of the sewing circle stood up to the injustices, keeping it alive until Rockhampton.

…obfuscation, denials, memory loss and dummy-spitting. Maybe it was the word ‘brolga’ that got their rancour up or even the ‘spirit of the bush’. Kindness emerged from the local quilting group, allowing some space and the public showed their support. But no-one predicted what would happen in Mackay.


Upon arrival at the Show, the lady in charge of the pavilion looked it up and down.

‘It’s a bit controversial.’

‘It is just a quilt with wildlife from a Nature Refuge we want to raffle for’.

‘You know the Mackay Show Society will charge twenty per cent of your ticket sales.’

‘Yes’, said lassie number six, standing her ground politely.

‘OK’, she said and a spot was found next to the entrance door.

Next morning the quilt was nowhere to be seen. The lady in charge said that the quilt was ‘political’ and could not be displayed or raffled.

‘What on earth is political about this quilt?’

‘It’s got ”biodiversity” on it.’

Forward fast to the main office and unfold the quilt…

‘How is this political?’

‘It is political and we do not allow anything political at this show.’

‘Do you believe in free speech?’


‘Show us your constitution or vision statement or anything that clearly explains your position, Incorporated organisation’.

‘Request a copy in writing.’

‘Where shall I send the request?’

‘To me.’

‘Well, I realise shows along the coast have been under some pressure from the mining industry…’ she said, only trying to understand where he was coming from. With that his face went purple, denied industry involvement with the situation and mentioned the word security, all with some volume. So she left, trying not to throw up.

Are we too ashamed to show off our biodiversity? Is there really no room for biodiversity in the pastoral, agricultural, horticultural, mining or education sectors? Brisbane’s turn next. See the famous quilt at the Ekka.

Back to Quilt

Senate Inquiry into Landholders’ Right to Refuse (Gas and Coal) Bill 2015

March 10th, 2015

Senator Larissa Waters

Senator Larissa Waters

This Bill proposed by Greens Senator Larissa Waters:

  • provides that Australian landholders have the right to refuse the undertaking of gas and coal mining activities by corporations on their land without prior written authorisation;
  • sets out the requirements of a prior written authorisation;
  • provides for relief which a court may grant a land owner when prior written authorisation is not provided;
  • prohibits hydraulic fracturing for coal seam gas, shale gas and tight gas by corporations;
  • and provides for civil penalties.

SenateA Senate Inquiry was initiated on the Bill on 5 March 2015.

A submission was made by Sharyn Munro, author of the book  Rich Land Waste Land How Coal is Killing Australia, on behalf of The Bimblebox Allliance Committee. It has been published on the Parliament of Australia website, on page 5 of the Submissions list for the Inquiry, along with a Right of Reply response from AGL.

A report on the Bill was due on 31 August 2015.

A Senate Inquiry report was published on 30 September 2015. It concluded: “The committee also does not consider that it was provided with sufficient credible scientific evidence during the inquiry to justify a ban on hydraulic fracturing”, and recommended that the Senate not pass the Bill.

The Greens published a dissenting report, which noted that the balance of power was heavily skewed toward big coal and gas, Australia should be moving toward clean energy and renewables, and submissions indicated that the community supported this Bill, and recommended that the Bill be passed.

Despite the fact that 95% of 377 submissions supported the Bill, landholders still do not have the right to say “No” to coal and gas.


Bimblebox owner puts candidates on the spot

January 20th, 2015

Paola & banner

Paola Cassoni is co-owner of Bimblebox Nature Refuge

Paola Cassoni sent the following letter to members of the Queensland parliament and candidates in the state election, to be held 31st January 2015, asking for their stance on mining in Queensland’s conservation areas. There have been a number of responses to Paola’s letter, including from the Queensland Greens, the Liberal-National PartyFiona Simpson (Liberal-National Party), Tim Mulherin (Australian Labor Party), Bill Gissane (Australian Labor Party), Jamie Evans (Free Australia Party), Rob Katter (Katter’s Australia Party), and candidates from North Toowoomba electorate.


Dear Members of Parliament and candidates,

I am co-owner of Bimblebox Nature Refuge located in the state’s central west and the President of the recently formed group, The Bimblebox Alliance Inc. ( I am writing to ask for your stance on the mining of Nature Refuges.

Our 8,000 hectare Nature Refuge is currently threatened by Clive Palmer’s China First Project (also known as Galilee Coal Project) in the Galilee Basin. This would destroy Bimblebox and the refuge it offers to endangered species like the Black-throated Finch.

The mining of Nature Refuges and other areas of high conservation value was a prominent issue prior to the 2012 election, and both major parties promised positive outcomes for the environment. Then Premier, Anna Bligh, committed that Bimblebox would not be mined, while Campbell Newman stated, “coal mining will not be allowed in areas of high conservation value”. However, Mr Newman’s assurance proved hollow, when in 2013 his government approved the China First project.
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