Do you wear headphones when you’re in the bush?

‘I’m not going to attack’, I wanted her to know. I mean no harm.

But I couldn’t tell her. I couldn’t reassure her until I was so close that she would fear me or question my intentions. The wind was blowing strongly into our faces and the cicadas were in full voice. I wanted to warn her of my presence and ask to pass on the narrow hiking track, but she hadn’t heard the scrunch of my hiking shoes on the loose stones and I feared that if I yelled it would startle her even more.

The she turned.

“OOH!” she yelped in shock and panic. I raised my hands to indicate I meant no harm and that I was just another hiker enjoying the fine weather and the surrounding beauty. I wasn’t a crazy stalker or pervert, despite the fact that I was walking without a pack or a water bottle. I’d walked this trail many times before and was completing my daily work out. I could hydrate at home.

“Oh. you scared me. I didn’t hear you.”

Probably because she was wearing headphones.

I don’t understand why people wear headphones while in the bush. Isn’t the point of hiking or biking to experience the natural world? To engage the five senses and immerse oneself in the sounds of nature. Hearing the wind rush through the trees and the birds sing. Listening to the water babble through the stream or thunder off the waterfall into the pool below. Even the squelch of sodden, muddy hiking shoes reminds you you’re alive.

Why do people deliberately shut this out when they venture into the bush?

How do they do it?

In an Australian summer, when the cicadas are in full voice, the din is so deafening that it must be impossible to hear the music without doing permanent damage to one’s eardrums.

Isn’t it dangerous?

Dangerous animals lurk in the woods. We play in their world. Many of them are silent but others are not. Surely it’s better to hear the animals before they set upon you, before it’s too late. At least give yourself a chance to escape, or to extract the bear spray from your pack.

The silent killers offer no warning. They lurk in hidden corners or sometimes display themselves proudly and fearlessly in full view. Concentrating on what lies ahead could save your life. Concentrating on what lies ahead is more difficult when you’re engrossed in a playlist or a compelling podcast.

What are you missing out on?

With headphones firmly attached you will only notice what exists in your immediate surroundings. What lies off the track? What lies just metres from the trail? You’ll never know if you remain plugged into your headphones. You won’t hear the distinctive grunt of a koala up a tree or have the chance to sit below it and watch it gorge on gum leaves. The next time you see a koala might be at a zoo surrounded by hysterical tourists jostling for that perfect selfie with Australia’s most lovable creature.

You might miss the perfectly camouflaged creatures who inhabit the natural world, or the impossibly colourful Australian parrot varieties.

Maybe some people just can’t disconnect. Venturing into the outdoors is one of the best ways to disconnect from the pervasive technology of the modern world, yet some people take it with them.

Disconnect from technology and connect with nature.

What’s the difference between a koala and a paedophile?

What’s the difference between a koala and a paedophile?

Nobody wants to hug a paedophile.

True, but there is another difference. In Australia right now, some paedophiles enjoy more protection than koalas.

Child molesters are currently receiving protection form religious organisations such as the Catholic Church. Historical records have revealed that many guilty child molesters were not prosecuted for their crimes, and were simply moved to another parish or district, where many of them offended again.

These facts came to light during the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. Another revelation was the protection paedophiles receive within confession. The law of the Catholic Church states that anything that is said by a person to a priest in confession is between the confessor, the priest and God. Therefore, if a person admits to committing child abuse during confession, that crime will not be reported to police.

The Royal Commission attempted to change this law. A recommendation attempted to force priests to report admissions of child abuse to police in order to help reduce or eliminate acts of child abuse in the future. Senior figures within the Catholic Church have since publicly stated that they will refuse to pass on admissions of crimes to police, even though this is blatantly breaking the law.

Church authorities are adamant that they will protect the sanctity and secrecy of confession – rather than protect victims of child abuse.

Koalas, meanwhile, are being offered very little protection in Australia. Such is the state of the koala population throughout the country that experts claim our national symbol could become extinct by 2050.

Koalas suffered massively during the most recent bush fires, and will not get their homes back until the charred bush land regenerates, which could take many years. Further habitat is being destroyed by rampant land clearing throughout the country.

The animals are regularly killed by feral animals such as wild dogs and are victims of road accidents, especially at night. Shrinking habitat due to urban expansion has caused a shortage of food and damage to their gene pool which provokes diseases. Drought leaves them with insufficient water to drink and excessive, unseasonal heat kills them.

The cuddly and lovable animals are also under threat from specific resource projects, including:

Brandy Hill quarry extension in Port Stephens, NSW

Shenhua Watermark coalmine near Gunnedah, NSW

Blueberry farming around Coffs Harbour, NSW

Land clearing in north-west NSW.

Child abusers, meanwhile, are also receiving financial support. Australian taxpayers fund religious organisations and religious organisations often pay no tax, because they are religious organisations. Koalas, meanwhile, are losing their habitat and their lives because countless programs and organisations designed to protect them are being de-funded or under-funded.

Current environmental policies in Australia, and the refusal of church organisations to report child abuse to authorities, indicates that some paedophiles are more of a protected species that koalas.

Perhaps we need to dress koalas in a cloak and collar.

RSPCA raids Parliament House.

The Royal Society for the Protection and Care of Animals (RSPCA) has carried out raids on Australia’s federal parliament in response to repeated reports of animal cruelty.

The animal welfare organisation carried out the raids in Canberra after mounting evidence linked the destruction of Australia’s wildlife to the actions and policies of politicians.

“Australia is killing its native animals,” stated a spokesperson for the RSPCA “This is the direct result of decisions made by politicians from all sides of politics.”

“Australia has the highest rate of native mammal extinction in the world, despite the fact that non-indigenous Australians have only been here for about 230 years.”

The raids uncovered deliberate policies and gross inaction from the major political parties which have contributed to the decline of native animals across the country.

Documents, archival records and electronic communication revealed that native animals are disappearing due to the presence of feral animals, the climate crisis, bush fires, reliance on fossil fuel, land clearing and drought.

Feral animals such as cats, foxes and cane toads have wiped out many native animals, and feral horses continue to cause widespread ecological damage in alpine regions, despite decades of requests from numerous groups to have the brumbies removed.

Feral and domestic cats are still the most destructive introduced species in the country, but domestic cats are still allowed to roam freely day and night, and cat breeding is still a legal and lucrative business.

The climate crisis was also discovered to have detroyed many of the county’s native animals, and Australia has played a large part in this ongoing disaster.

“Australia has the highest per-capita carbon footprint in the world,” explained the spokesperson, “…and scientific evidence tells us that this is caused largely by the burning of fossil fuels and traditional agricultural methods. Despite this, politicians from both parties insist on opening new fossil fuel projects and neglecting renewable energy.”

The RSPCA is itself heavily involved in the rehabilitation of native wildlife which suffered due to the most recent bush fires, and found that a comprehensive plan to prevent further destructive bush fires has still not been developed.

“Habitat loss is another major contributor to native animal deaths, and some experts believe Koalas could become extinct in the near future. Despite this, politicians are drafting new laws to allow more land clearing, or failing to enforce existing laws which prevent land clearing.”

The raids also uncovered gross incompetence and corruption in the management of water resources in the world’s driest continent, particularly along the Murray-Darling basin.

“The Murray-Darling debacle has caused yet more native wildlife to perish, and this network stretches across various states. For this reason, we will also conduct raids on state and territory parliaments in the near future if the country’s water resources, and other natural resources, are not properly managed to give native wildlife a fair dinkum chance to survive and prosper.”

In response to the raids, Prime Minister Scott Morrison took a photo with a wombat.