Science has always been in my life. I was the kid inspecting roadkill, checking out insects under a magnifying glass, or up to my knees in the local waterhole collecting toad tadpoles.
I was born in far north Queensland, not far from the stream where in 1935, the first tadpoles of an invader species, Bufo Marinus from Hawaii, were released in Australia to control sugarcane beetles.
The toads didn’t bother about the beetles who crawled up the cane stalks. But they love eating frogs, lizards, small mammals. It’s caused havoc with northern Australia’s delicate ecosystems and biodiversity. Do you live in southern Australia? Sorry – Global Warming also means toads are jumping south, pond by pond, tadpole by tadpole. Billions of them.
FACING THE FLESH-EATERS
Adventure #1 Fresh goanna carcass. A colony of scuttling, flesh-eating beetles. A man with a scalpel. The stuff of nightmares!
My science adventure inside Queensland Museum's exhibit preparation lab to interview friendly lab technician, Warren, and meet his awesome colony of flesh-eating DERMESTIDS face-to-face was a highlight of my ADVENTURES IN SCIENCE. The Earth would be a far smellier place without the Dermestids doing their job.
DINOSAURS AND FOSSILS
Adventure #2 Helping unearth one of Australia's largest sauropod dinosaurs plus researching, Secrets of Eromanga, my first KidLit novel. Priceless!
Volunteering on a fossil dig in Western Queensland's black-soil plains to help paleontologists and Belmont sheep-station's owners unearth the ELLIOT DINOSAUR. Sharing the shearing quarters with fellow enthusiasts and scientists for 10 days. Finding a chunk of dinosaur fossil untouched by human hands for 95 million years. Priceless experience!
DINOSAUR FOOTPRINTS TELL A TRAGIC STORY
Adventure #3 Discovering the perfect ending for SECRETS OF EROMANGA in the fossilised footprints at Lark Quarry Dinosaur Stampede. Sublime!
Those 3000+ fossilised footprints in the rock at Queensland's Lark Quarry filled me with awe. I gazed in silence - a stampede of small footprints and the eleven, large, three-toed footprints beside them. Images filled my mind - a day 95 million years ago when a terrified mob of small ornithopods raced away from their billabong and the stalking carnivore, Australia's version of T-Rex. A shiver ran up my spine. I knew then my novel's final climax.
EARTHQUAKES AND FAULT LINES
Adventure #4 Marriage to Dr Ross Gwyther, earthquake research scientist, has its perks. Following California's Earthquake Fault Lines, with Ross inspecting his team's seismic instruments deep underground. AND visiting active volcanoes.
Did you know Australian-designed and made Earth Strain instruments were buried deep beneath earthquake country east of Los Angeles? Lucky me getting to travel with Ross - from California to Portland following the San Andreas Fault from LA and Parkfield, to Point Arena, north of San Francisco. Can you see the Fault Line?
THE ANTARCTIC – AT RISK
Adventure #5 (as a proud mother!) It's no surprise our son became a research scientist too. Dr David Gwyther is a physicist, a marine glaciologist, an oceanographer and scientific modeller studying the ocean circulation and dynamics that affect the melting and freezing beneath Antarctica's coastal outflow, the Ice Shelves.
All images Copyrighted to David Gwyther
In 2019, David spent the summer at Australia's Antarctic Davis Base. There, he was fortunate to witness from a helicopter, the massive calving of the entire front of the Sørsdal Glacier ice shelf. His images were a valuable contribution to understanding the glacier's melt. ANTARCTIC RESEARCHERS’ RARE VIEW OF AN ICE SHELF CALVING - Antarctic Gateway News 2019