Country Handle with Care - Costa and dirtgirl Tackle Biosecurity

Costa and dirtgirl Tackle Biosecurity

ABC TV eco-warriors dirtgirl, scrapboy and Costa the Garden Gnome, along with some of our Northern Australia Quarantine Strategy (NAQS) officers get together in Country - Handle with Care, a new seven episode video series, as they travel through northern Australia from Cardwell to Torres Strait and across to the Kimberley. Along the way they discover the beauty of our country, meeting the dedicated biosecurity officers, scientists and Indigenous Rangers at the forefront of protecting Australia from threats of exotic pests, diseases and weeds, and learn how to reduce the risks and report anything unusual.

Country - Handle with Care was created in collaboration with mememe Productions, producer of the award-winning dirtgirlworld and Get Grubby TV.  The videos speak to the people of northern Australia where the threat and potential impact of hitch-hiking invaders such as the Asian green mussel and the Queensland fruit fly is greatest.

The seven episodes are as follows:

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Episode 1 – The Big Farm

Episode 1 transcript DOCX [28 KB, 4 pages]

Without the most amazing country we are not farmers… number one is to look after the country.

The Top Watch! team are working with scientists, farmers and Indigenous Rangers to monitor the health of our land and protect our clean and green farming reputation. In this episode we meet sentinel herds and the people who monitor their health for early warning signs of disease. Costa the Garden Gnome explores insect traps and finds out that some of them are extremely smelly and we see how best barramundi farming practices at Humpty Doo are protecting the biosecurity of Australia. We can help by being on the lookout for anything strange and unfamiliar as we live, travel and do business in the top end of Australia.

When we all work together to care for country, The Big Farm of Australia remains safe from pest and disease.

Episode 2 – Community

Episode 2 transcript DOCX [20 KB, 7 pages]

We are vectors, intersectors, pathways and super highways for pests and disease, so please stop and connect with country… know and then care!

From our grower’s markets and community gardens to our backyards and neighbourhoods, we are the eyes of the earth. It’s a big deal …but we can handle it!

Hang out with dirtgirl, scrapboy and Costa the Garden Gnome as they get up close and personal with Queensland fruit fly. They discover what it looks like and how picking up fallen fruit and disposing of it with care can interrupt its life cycle and stop it in its tracks! Looking out for these unwanted hitchhikers and acting to minimise and report them is another great way we can become biosecurity champions.

Episode 3 – Oceans

Episode 3 transcript DOCX [28 KB, 6 pages]

With many hands, in unity, we can protect our marine biosecurity.

Australia is girt by sea, an island nation surrounded by some of the world’s last pristine waters. All across the globe, unwanted marine hitchhikers and wave-riders are on the move. Tides and winds and even litter and debris are washing these creature threats up on our shore. Our focus and attention will help stop the degradation of our precious ocean habitat. Knowing what to look out for is half the battle. The other half is knowing how to report it. This episode honours our oceans and inspires us to become biosecurity champions. When we are boating, fishing, working or holidaying we can be part of the ocean solution. We connect with the ocean, marvel at its glory, look under our boats, get to know the Asian green mussel and why it’s not welcome in Australia. We meet Heide Taylor from Tangaroa Blue Foundation, an inspirational world leader who is handling our ocean with care.

Episode 4 – Tourism

Episode 4 transcript DOCX [28 KB, 6 pages]

On country we walk and we see, we listen and be… at one with land, with the great open skies, with the water that falls… with it all

Exploring and connecting with country is what millions of Australians and international visitors do every year in the top end of Australia. From big sky dreaming to discovering and rediscovering our indigenous culture, it’s natural that we want to spend our time in the beauty of the landscape, in its remoteness, in its tropical climate and desertscapes. As we travel however, there are some things we can do to make sure that we handle this country with care and don’t let pests, diseases and weeds hitch a ride with us. In this episode, dirtgirl goes to the airport and declares the shared responsibility we have to keep food and fruit from crossing borders and boundaries. She and scrapboy catch up with the Indigenous Rangers of the Great Barrier Reef region to get up to date on camping biosecurity and the Larrakia Rangers of Darwin give us their top travel tips. Many eyes… one mission… to handle our country with care.

Episode 5 – Rangers

Episode 5 transcript DOCX [28 KB, 5 page]

To understand the connection, protection, watch for the stranger… and the known. Indigenous Ranger - it's about what's in your heart. So listening is where we start... 

Something extraordinary is happening across northern Australia. Top Watch! scientists and Indigenous Rangers are working together to gather and analyse samples and data, mapping what is changing and what isn’t, protecting the country and the wildlife of Australia from exotic hitchhiker creatures and weeds. It’s a big deal!

From the Indigenous Ranger Forum at Pender Bay in the Kimberley to Darwin, Cape York Peninsula, Weipa, Bamaga, Seisia, Torres Strait, Yarrabah and Cardwell, get ready to be inspired by Australia’s Indigenous Rangers and discover the crucial role they play every day in protecting and caring for country now and for the future. The Rangers use the past and present to shape the future. This two way learning brings culture and technology together. Profound knowledge of country and new tools meet to protect country in an old new way!

Episode 6 – Overview - Protecting Country

Episode 6 transcript DOCX [28 KB, 5 pages]

Across our 10,000km northern coastline, a dedicated group of biosecurity officers, scientists and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Rangers are monitoring what is happening to our plants, animals and oceans. They are also recording what isn’t changing. Our trading partners need proof that we don’t have the pests and diseases that can damage their countries. This is one of the least known, but most important, pieces of Australia’s biosecurity story. It’s a story of antiquity and modernity – relying on traditional knowledge of country and using twenty first century technology. Respecting culture and providing hope for future generations. It’s a mission that needs all the focus of eyes of Australia. In this overview episode learn how you can be a biosecurity champion and handle our country with care.

Episode 7 – Overview - Biosecurity On Country

Episode 7 transcript DOCX [28 KB, 6 pages]

North Australia is a vast gateway to pests, diseases and weeds arriving by tides, wind, human and animal movement… from our north and also from our south. If we keep our north safe and sustainable, all Australia benefits.

Travel from our farming lands to our oceans. Find out about biofouling, sentinel chickens, early warning systems and how the Top Watch! team are working to protect and care for country. Join dirtgirl, scrapboy and Costa the Garden Gnome and meet our next unwelcome hitchhiker - the Asian honey bee. Find out about how, without everyone’s attention, its relationship with varroa mite could spell the demise of our bees. As a biosecurity champion you will be able to recognise it and report it. Together we can make a difference… together we can handle our country with care.

Costa and dirtgirl tackle Fruit fly

Fruit fly transcript DOCX [24 KB, 1 page]

Costa the Garden Gnome and dirtgirl were also enlisted to show travellers how they can become Biosecurity Champions by doing things like putting their fresh fruit in amnesty bins and declaring high risk items before moving between Torres Strait biosecurity zones to help stop the spread of fruit flies. The video also features Indigenous biosecurity officers inspecting ferry passengers arriving at Seisia in Cape York and at Horn Island airport.

The video is part of a critical effort to protect regional economies from the cost of fruit fly incursions, preserving market access for Queensland produce, and preventing the need for costly eradication programs.

Torres Strait is a significant biosecurity pathway for potential risks travelling from our close neighbours, with Papua New Guinea less than four kilometres from the northern-most island in Torres Strait. Biosecurity risks can reach Australia through the movement of people and goods by sea and air, through traditional trade, and by natural pathways such as wind, tide and animal migration. Good biosecurity keeps communities safe and well, delivers better produce yields, keeps production costs low, increases market access and preserves Australia for future generations.

Find more information about fruit fly here.

Last reviewed: 4 November 2019
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