Andrew Turbill set to speak at the ‘Happiness & It’s Causes’ Conference!

Andrew Turbill, is an environmental educator, a wildlife naturalist, a writer, and nationally renowned speaker. He travels the country on behalf of CEL, inspiring and entertaining audiences on the importance of Nature Connection and reWilding.

Andrew will be speaking at the Happiness and It’s Causes Conference in Sydney on June 25/26 alongside . Congratulations Andrew!

If your organisation is interested in sponsoring Andrew for this event, please contact Amy on

Book Andrew for your next event


Dig’n’Dine has moved to Sundays at 10.30am-12.30pm over the cooler months.

Dig ‘n Dine is an opportunity to get involved in the garden and connect with others over a meal of vegetarian cuisine cooked with love and gratitude. Meals are a pay as you feel affair.

Sunday 1st April, 10.30am-12.30pm
Bellingen High School Community Garden
By donation

The Wisdom of Wilderness: Part 1 by Andrew Turbill

Some years ago I was invited to lead a mob of year 12 students on a week-long hike along some 65km of the Guy Fawkes River, west of Dorrigo. It was a schoolies week celebration but swapping out the glamour and inebriation of Gold Coast nightclubs for the introspection and sobriety of a remote natural wilderness. 

Once we’d tackled the torturously steep descent into the valley floor on day one, the remaining days eased into a meditative pattern of languid hours walking along the river as it slowly meandered between towering granite flanks.

The Guy Fawkes eventually joins the mighty Clarence River and empties into the sea at Yamba. But this was not always the case. The familiar channels of the Clarence River and its tributaries (like the Nymboida, Orara and Boyd Rivers) were originally etched into the landscape by torrential rainwater draining from mountainous headwaters of an ancient continent once attached to our eastern shores.

CELKnown as Zealandia, this vast landmass slowly unzipped away from Australia, drifted far to the east and eventually sank beneath the waves, birthing the Tasman Sea in the process. Today only the islands of New Zealand and New Caledonia remind us of Zealandia’s existence. 

A fallen tree, torn adrift by flood waters in the highlands of Zealandia some 100 million years ago would steadily travel west across NSW, following deeply incised channels like the Clarence River, to arrive at a vast inland sea in south-western Queensland. 

In a sense then, the Guy Fawkes River is a fossilised river system. To walk its length is to retrace a time before the formation of the Great Dividing Range, before the birth of the Tasman Sea, before iphones and before Donald Trump. No wonder it makes me feel so chilled out.

In part 2 of my story the walk continues and we meet a little pied cormorant who ends up having a total bummer of a day on the river but brings joy to others.

Join the Coffs Coast Regional Science Hub

Initiated by Inspiring Australia, NSW Regional Science Hubs are creating conscious citizens who care about and take action in this world.

Are you an arts organisation, a community organiser, a venue or a festival organiser? This event is for you!

We are calling for all kind of organisations to join the Hub. The fact is, science shapes so many of our daily activities that we’re not even aware of, that just about anyone can benefit. All kinds of organisations are able to get involved – from businesses and startups to chambers of commerce, sustainability education groups, theatre societies and community gardens. NSW Regional Science Hubs are often led by local, not-for-profit community groups, the arts and cultural sector or by the local council, a library or a museum. The lead organisation of the Coffs Coast Regional Science Hub is the Centre for Ecological Learning.

Inspiring Australia is about connecting scientists to the broader community and bridging the gap between science and society. The strategy is based on a ‘national framework-local action” approach. Science Hubs provide the grassroots, ground up means of achieving impact by facilitating the delivery of science outreach programs at a local level.

The newly formed Coffs Coast Regional Science Hub is having its’ first Partner Launch event in Bellingen on Wed April 18th with special guest, Jackie Randals, NSW Manager of Inspiring Australia. This will be a networking event, which will bring together current and potential partners for the Hub. At this event, you can find out more about what the hub is, why this national strategy is important, and what other Hubs are doing.

Providing community access to science and technology has many benefits, from sparking curiosity and helping people to understand how to take an evidence-based approach to making decisions about issues that affect them, to inspiring young people about the interesting careers that flow from science, technology, engineering and maths studies. The CCRSH is focused on connecting our communities with science for a sustainable future. “Together, we are much stronger, and are more able to positively influence the future”, says Amy Denshire from the Centre for Ecological Learning.

CEL Hones their Vision

In 2018, the Centre for Ecological Learning is entering a new phase of expansion. To help steer this growth, the CEL board met in March 2018 to relook at and define the core of what drives our organisation. What we found is that we’re all about Earth-based, immersive, nature-based experiences. The board is proud to release our new Vision, Mission and Impact statements.

Our Vision

Ecological wellbeing for ourselves and the planet facilitated by immersive, nature-based experiences.

Our Mission

The Centre for Ecological Learning (CEL) supports people of all ages to experience Earth-based, immersive, educational experiences that deepen our relationship with ourselves and the natural world.  These experiences nourish, inspire and equip people with the knowledge and skills to go forth and adopt more ecologically sustainable ways of living in their personal lives and local community.


Our Impacts


We provide Earth-based, immersive, educational experiences that encourage curiosity, and increase awareness and knowledge about the natural world.


Participants feel in awe of and deepen their relationship with nature and increases the value people place on nature.


Participants emerge nourished and inspired to adopt more ecological sustainable ways of living, which may result in new community projects.

How do we measure real success?

CEL Participants:

1. Spend more time in nature

2. Feel nourished

3. Are more curious about the natural world

4. Adopt more ecological sustainable ways of living

Who do we serve?

We are community-based. Our primary target market is children and young people, however, we seek to support intergenerational education.


Coffs Coast becomes a Hub for Science

A group of change makers from 6 local community organisations have recently secured funding from Inspiring Australia to become a Regional Science Hub.

Inspiring Australia is a national strategy that provides, for the first time, an Australia-wide framework for engaging people and communities in the sciences. It was developed by the science community for the science community.

The inaugural event of the Hub is a series called ‘Elemental Nature’. Events include: Fire! – energy from the sun; Water! – our local waterways; Air! – avian biodiversity; Earth! – useful minerals; and Spirit! – and its connection to science.

The first event, Fire!, will be held on March 10th at the Bellingen Memorial Hall from 1.30pm. This event sees an incredible speaker lineup presenting on the latest developments in renewable energy technology.

The Hub aims to connect our communities with science for a sustainable future. “One of the most effective steps humanity can take to transition to sustainability is through the overall engagement of society in the appreciation of nature”, states the 2017 – World Scientists’ Warning to Humanity: A Second Notice. This paper sets a world record for the most scientists to co-sign and formally support a published journal article in history. Commenting on the paper, environmental educator and a wildlife naturalist with the Centre for Ecological Learning, Andrew Turbill, says “If ever we had a mandate for doing what we do, it is when every scientific mind in the field of environmental and biophysical sciences puts nature connection forward as one of the key ways in which humanity must act to save itself.”

CCRSH is comprised of a supportive and thriving network of experts and community organisations who can work together on future educational endeavours. They plan to offer exciting, relevant, and accessible science and nature programs, led by scientists and other experts in their field, to members of the community who don’t normally have access to these types of programs. If your organisation operates in the government, business, science, education or the arts and would like to become a partner in the Hub, please visit If you would like more info on the Fire! Forum, visit

Garden visit to Shann’s Repton Oasis

Wow! What a turnout. Hello and welcome to all the new faces. Seed savers from near and far enjoyed a relaxing tour through Shann and Steve’s oasis. Fine weather, fabulous food, wonderful valley views inspired good gardening conversation.

Three years ago, Shann and her family were lucky enough to make the move from Canberra to the delightful hamlet of Repton. A bushland setting opens out on valley views of farmland and circling Osprey. Terraced paths wend down the slope, through palms and frangipani to a pond and banana grove full of potential.

Shann and Steve inherited an established garden mix of natives and exotics. They have started building herb and vegie gardens on patches of sunny ground amongst the palms. Fruit trees have been established in the sunnier lower parts of the garden along with a chicken yard. Winter shade and hot afternoon summer sun have challenged their gardening efforts, but the site has plenty of potential for it to evolve into a productive permaculture garden. The Seed Savers had plenty of tips on improving the garden. A visit to Dave’s garden at Gleniffer was recommended.

Many thanks to Shann and Steve for their hospitality. A very pleasant morning was enjoyed by everyone.

For more photos and recipes have a look at the blog

Bellingen’s Own War on Waste

Everyone has been talking about the ABC show “War on Waste” but Bellingen actually entered the battle months ago!

Come be part of the growing wave of Australians who are concerned about all the rubbish that is polluting our beautiful oceans and country. Join the “Waste Not Bellingen” community group on Saturday, 3 June from 9:30-11:00 at the Bellingen Sustainability Centre, for our next monthly workshop “Reducing Waste in your Home”.

The “Waste Not Bellingen” group formed in March to start addressing local waste issues, and especially to start weaning our community off single use plastics. At this workshop, we will be having a look at our own household waste, and coming up with realistic and achievable Personal Action Plans to reduce it. Local Waste Educator Lisa Siegel will share the journey of Bellingen’s waste, and help participants plan their household’s own “War on Waste”. Attendance is by donation – bring some (packaging free) morning tea to share if you like. If you are really keen you can join the Waste Not action planning meeting after the workshop to be part of some exciting community education projects. Please join our Facebook Group “Waste Not Bellingen” to find out all the latest news!


Youth Against Plastic

YAP is a new group that’s just formed in Bellingen – a group of young people who are fed up with waiting for NSW to ban single use plastic bags in NSW and are looking to to take action to make this happen ASAP.

YAP will be focusing on pressuring Gladys Berejiklian (the NSW Premier) to ban single use plastic bags in NSW. The video below will help provide some key information on the progress of the “ban the bag” movement as well show how pressure is being put on these premiers already.

Youth Against Plastic aim to add to this pressure and to have youth representatives meet with Gladys Berejiklian to voice our opinions and ultimately ban the bag.

The group is gaining momentum fast but your voice is needed in this campaign. Please follow them at



Plant Fair stall volunteers required

The Bellingen Seeds Savers group are gearing up for another Autumn Plant Fair. These twice yearly markets are our main method of distributing seeds and plants to the community and raising funds to keep our activities going.

Willing bodies are needed to help on the stall. Can you talk about growing food plants with other gardeners? Can you sell raffle tickets? Can you sell packets of seeds or potted plants? Can you help set up or pack down a market stall? Can you transport gear or plants?

Shifts are two hours each between 6.30am and 2.30/3pm. You will never be alone on the stall, there are always at least 3 people helping at any time. The fair is Saturday March 11.

Please contact Gillian on plantfair(AT) if you can be involved. It’s a fun day all about plants.