Focus on biodiversity in Wimmera

REGION - Award winning author Carrie Tiffany will share her own personal 'Mateship with Nature' at the Wimmera Biodiversity Seminar next week.

Fresh from the announcement that her latest novel 'Mateship with Birds' is short listed for the Victorian Premier's Literary Awards, Ms Tiffany will travel from her Melbourne home to Dimboola to be part of the seminar's 'Nature's Canvas'.

To celebrate Australia's longest-running biodiversity seminar's 15th year, organisers are focusing on the correlation between art and nature for the September 6 event.

Ms Tiffany headlines an artistic line-up of guest speakers who will share their observations of the links between art and the insects, birds, frogs and plants that are part of the Wimmera's natural landscape.

The seminar, based at Dimboola Secondary College, starts at 9.30am.

The day program will involve speaker presentations and a field trip, while the evening program includes dinner and Ms Tiffany's presentation.

Wimmera Biodiversity Seminar committee member Barry Clugston said it was a major coup to attract Ms Tiffany and a range of other great speakers to the seminar.

"Fifteen years is a long time for an event such as this to continue," he said.

"To have gotten to 15 years and still feel we've got plenty to say is testimony to the richness of biodiversity in this area and the quality of speakers that we can still attract."

Ms Tiffany, who is also editor of the Victorian Landcare Magazine and teaches creative writing at RMIT, is excited about the opportunity to talk about biodiversity from an artistic point of view.

"We come at the issue of biodiversity so much through science and I think it's a fantastic idea to explore different ways we can experience and approach nature such as through the arts," she said.

The author's first novel, Everyman's Rules for Scientific Living, was set in the Wimmera-Mallee town of Wycheproof in the 1930s.

When writing the 2005 novel, which won the Dobbie Award for Best First Book and the 2006 Western Australian Premier's Award for Fiction, Ms Tiffany keenly observed the landscape as she drove to Wycheproof on weekends for research.

"As soon as I made it past Bendigo and started heading into the Wimmera plains I'd notice how the landscape was changing," she said.

"There is something special about those really huge skies and the flat horizon. I am also intrigued by how much the landscape changes depending on where the crop is at - The look, feel, sound and smell of the place is so different."

She said she felt a strong affinity with farming as both farming and writing required intense observations.

"Farming requires intense observations; observations of the seasonal conditions, the weather, the markets, the soil, the landscape. I make those same intense observations in my writing," she said.

Other guests at the seminar include artists Amanda Blake-Sutterby and Michael Shiel, South Australian seeds guru Neville Bonney, Biosis director Robert Baird, Graphic Science photographer Dennis Crawford, Birdlife Australia photographer Chris Tzaros, Wimmera bird observer Jonathan Starks and Evelyn Nicholson from the Department of Sustainability and Environment frogs program.

Seminar organisers are calling for registrations before Tuesday, September 4 online at wimmerabiodiversityseminar.eventbrite.com.au or by phoning Wimmera HUB on 5382 5111.

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