‘Take Me to The River’ Podcast

Sharing stories and inspiring hope

Join Dr. Siwan Lovett, social ecologist and river restoration advocate, as she uncovers the stories of people who live, work and breathe rivers. Our guests are talented and passionate people looking after our rivers who, in sharing their stories, are inspiring hope for the future of our waterways.


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    Meet your host: Dr. Siwan Lovett

    As a social ecologist and river restoration advocate, Siwan has spent the past twenty five years working with people, rivers and communities; focusing on sharing knowledge to protect and restore our creeks, wetlands, rivers and billabongs. Finding herself working in river restoration is, at first glance, a little strange, as her disciplinary background is sociology and organisational theory. However, this has been a real strength, as she can bring her way of knowing the world into a community of people who are passionate about their natural environment, but may not know as much about the importance of social connection and community.

    Take Me to the River is produced in-kind by a small team of dedicated people. We are proudly supported by the donations of generous listeners like you. If you enjoy the show and value our contributions to important conversations about Australia’s waterways, please consider supporting us by donating to the Australian River Restoration Centre.

    Your donation helps us bring you more episodes, more often, with a wider variety of guests and topics. You’ll also be supporting our critical work restoring Australia’s waterways, providing climate refuges for wildlife, protecting our clean drinking water, and preserving the social, economic and cultural values that our rivers uphold.

    Mentoring Matters with Callum Edwards & Jayden Woolley — Episode 28

    In today’s conversation, Siwan sits down with Callum Edwards from the West Gippsland Catchment Management Authority (CMA) and Jayden Woolley of the Wadawarrung Traditional Owners Aboriginal Corporation to discuss the significance and effectiveness of mentoring, why it matters, and why it was the right fit for them. Callum and Jayden are both alumni of the 2023 Waterway Management Emerging Leaders Program, and share their experiences being a mentor / mentee, respectively, for the first time. This conversation delves into some of the funny and unexpected moments from the Program, and touches on why Siwan is committed to mentoring as a pathway towards effective waterway, riparian and natural resource management. Callum and Jayden share valuable insight about how their experiences surprised them and helped them to grow, both professionally and personally.

    The Magic of Mentoring with Henry Cooper & Matt Bowler — Episode 27

    Siwan talks with Henry Cooper, Project Officer for Land and Catchment Health at the Corangamite Catchment Management Authority, and Matt Bowler, Manager of Project Delivery at the West Gippsland CMA about their experience as mentee and mentor, respectively, in the Waterway Management Emerging Leaders Program. Siwan, Matt and Henry discuss the value of having a mentor or mentee by your side; the ways in which the program challenged and surprised them; and how their mentoring experience has impacted their work after the program. They also discuss the challenge of willow removal, details about the Woady Yaloak system, and what drives them to do what they do.

    Sen. David Pocock and Dr. Siwan Lovett at Casuarina Sands, Canberra.
    Being part of a larger story with ACT Independent Senator David Pocock — Episode 26

    Siwan sat down with Senator David Pocock, the ACT’s first independent senator and environmental advocate, to discuss what drives him and what he cares about; his journey towards and inside the world of politics and government; his life growing up in Zimbabwe and career in professional rugby, and more. This is a reflective and insightful conversation, one which reveals a down-to-earth and honest man who deeply cares about the environment we call home. Siwan and David also discuss the Upper Murrumbidgee, or ‘The Forgotten River‘ — a stretch of river left behind by Federal and NSW water management reforms. As a result, between 90% and 99% of the headwaters of the Murrumbidgee is captured by the Snowy Hydro Scheme each year, which leads to crises like in 2019 when the river almost entirely dried up except for a few algae-choked pools.

    A portrait of Dr. Wayne Koster.
    Saving Australia’s native fish with Dr. Wayne Koster — Episode 25

    Siwan speaks with Dr. Wayne Koster of the Arthur Rylah Institute, DEECA (Dept of Energy, Environment and Climate Action) to talk native fish recovery and research. Wayne leads research projects on native fish ecology and conservation across Victoria and more broadly in south-eastern Australia. Wayne has an extensive knowledge of the ecology and habitat requirements of freshwater fish species. The focus of much of Wayne’s recent work relates to movement and spawning ecology and conservation implications for riverine fishes, particularly the development of environmental flow recommendations aimed at restoring suitable flow regimes for fish in regulated rivers.

    Meet the Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder Dr. Simon Banks — Episode 24

    In today’s episode, Siwan sits down with Australia’s Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder (CEWH), Dr. Simon Banks, to talk about his love of nature, his experience delivering eWater, and what it’s like to be the CEWH. This conversation covers Dr. Banks’ journey so far, some elements of the Murray-Darling Basin Plan, whether Australia is a world-leader in environmental water management, and more.

    Siwan & Richard stand side-by-side on Richard's property.
    ‘Country is crying out for good people’ with Richard Swain — Episode 23

    Richard Swain is a Dabee man of the Wiradjuri nation and a river adventure guide (Alpine River Adventures) who grew up learning the history of the Australian landscape from his father, and his grandfather taught him how Aboriginal peoples moved through and respected country. Richard has a first-hand understanding of the huge impact feral animals have on Australia’s natural environment and is an ambassador for the Invasive Species Council. This conversation covers a wide range of topics, ranging from Richard’s experience with advocacy, the problem with the culture of modern Australia, and how indigenous and non-indigenous Australians can move forward together towards a lore of restoration — as Richard puts it, “Country is crying out for good people”. It’s a hard-hitting conversation at points, but one which provokes us and challenges us to improve, for the sake of Country and for ourselves.

    Country Speaks with Charles Massy — Episode 22

    Regenerative Agriculture is revolutionising Australia’s agriculture industry, and for good reason. Today, The Australian River Restoration Centre’s Managing Director Siwan Lovett sits down with Australia’s foremost Regenerative Agriculture pioneer, Dr. Charles Massy, to discuss his life’s work, his experience implementing Regenerative Agriculture (Regen Ag) on his farm, Severn Park, and some of his recent work on the Snowy River.

    Episode 21: Why regenerative farming helps our waterways with Felicity Wheelwright

    This episode is recorded on the banks of the Wollondilly River, only two kilometres downstream of its headwaters. Felicity is a fourth-generation regenerative farmer in the Crookwell region and one of our Rivers of Carbon restoration champions, restoring water quality in Sydney’s water catchment. Felicity’s farm is holistically grazed and over the last 30 years, her family has undertaken a plethora of restoration projects to protect and restore her property, including planting a 17 kilometre long native tree corridor. Felicity also has a background in banking and business improvement strategies and is blending this together with her experience in farming to talk to us today about the benefits of holistic grazing and regenerative agriculture.

    Episode 20: Healing and Connection to Country with Yarning Circles. Guest Speaker: Tanya Keed and Lori Gould

    As we have more conversations with Aboriginal people, we find that when we acknowledge Country it means so much more. There is an upswelling of emotion as the stories that are generously shared with us gives us insight into what it might be like being an Aboriginal Australian. This podcast is one such conversation. Tanya Keed, a proud Aboriginal woman from Dunghutti Country, and Lori Gould who has worked with the ARRC for over twenty years, share how they have been working together to connect men and women who have been imprisoned, back to themselves, each other and to Country. This is a podcast like no other, and we feel deeply grateful and honoured that Tanya is sharing so much of herself and her story.

    Episode 19: What happens to freshwater systems during floods? Guest Speakers: Angus Webb and Andy Lowes

    Siwan and Andy sit down with Associate Professor Angus Webb to chat about the recent floods in the Goulburn River system in Victoria and what they mean for the ecology of the system. Angus works for the Environmental Hydrology and Water Resources Division of the University of Melbourne, and is the lead researcher for the Flow – Monitoring, Evaluation and Research Program for the lower Goulburn River in Victoria, which is one of the many rivers that has experienced flooding this year. Angus is an ecologist, specialising in freshwater systems and working with environmental flows. Angus has a particular interest in how we can continue to improve the ways we manage our river systems.

    Episode 18 – Why science and people matter for Australian rivers. Guest Speaker: Fiona Dyer

    In this episode, Siwan chats with Professor Fiona Dyer about why science and people matter when it comes to rivers and their management. Fiona is a freshwater scientist at the University of Canberra, where she has a broad range of expertise and interests, including vegetation ecology, water quality and ecohydrology. Today, we’ll be exploring the different types of riverscapes we have in Australia and what that means for making good water-management decisions.

    Episode 17 – River Dreaming and Reconciliation. Guest Speaker: Richie Allan

    In this episode, Siwan chats with Richie Allan about reconciliation and the importance of listening to Indigenous perspectives, particularly when it comes to our rivers. Richie comes from the Kamilaroi and Ngunnawal nations and is co-Director of the Traditional Owners Aboriginal Corporation. Richie has been working with the ARRC over the last year to help us develop a Reconciliation Action Plan. Today we are talking to Richie about what reconciliation means to him and how we might, through our individual and organisational actions, continue along the path of recognising, respecting and reconciling our past with the future and how our individual actions can contribute to reconciling Australia.

    Episode 16 – How anglers are protecting native fish and the waterways they call home. Guest Speaker: Andrew McGovern

    In this episode, Siwan chats with Andrew McGovern, an avid angler and fishing journalist. Andrew has been fishing the Canberra and Snowy Mountains regions for over 40 years and has a special connection to the Murrumbidgee River, where he grew up. Andrew has written over 350 articles on fishing and is one of Australia’s most recognised fishing journalists. Siwan and Andrew discuss the role anglers can play in caring for and protecting native fish, as well as the waterways they live in. Andrew is particularly passionate about sustainable catch-and-release fishing practices, and how we can minimise harm and maximise enjoyment of being out on the river and catching our wonderful native fish.

    Episode 15 – The Sounds of Water – why should we be listening in to wetlands? Guests: Skye Wassens and Mitchell Whitelaw

    In this episode, Siwan chats with freshwater and wildlife ecologist Dr Skye Wassens and Professor of Design Mitchell Whitelaw. Skye and Mitchell share their recent work on The Sounds of Water project, which visualises the different sounds of the Nap Nap swamp wetlands as it receives environmental water flows from the Murrumbidgee River. The work is hoping to immerse listeners in the sounds of the wetlands. Have a listen for yourself to hear the amazing Southern Bell frogs and other native animals responding to water flowing through their habitat at Nap Nap.

    Episode 14 – Bringing the ‘whole person’ into the workplace, with Belinda Chapman

    In this episode, professional facilitator and coach Belinda Chapman shares with us the importance for people working in river management to bring their ‘whole person’ to work. We look at ways this can be done and what it means to use our head, heart and gut brains in the workplace. Belinda’s company, Working Wheel, works with organisations where stakeholder engagement is an important but missing link. She helps practitioners improve their people and emotional intelligence skills so they can work together with their stakeholders in an effective manner.

    Episode 13 – How will raising the Warragamba Dam wall erase Indigenous heritage

    This podcast episode continues the discussion on the proposal to raise the Warragamba Dam wall in Western Sydney by up to 17 metres. We talk with special guest Kazan Brown, a Gundungurra elder from the region, who is incredibly concerned that if the proposal goes ahead it will endanger 5700 hectares of UNESCO World Heritage-listed national park and flood 1541 cultural sites of the Gundungarra people in the Burragorang valley, some dating back thousands of years. The flooding of the valley in the 1940s completed the first cycle of dispossession from land, traditional economies and ceremony. Now, the Gundungurra people, who had lived in the Burragorang valley for 50,000 years, could lose any remaining cultural sites.

    Episode 12 – Why raising the Warragamba Dam wall raises serious concerns

    In this episode, I speak with the Honourable Bob Debus, former Attorney-General, Minister for the Environment, Minister for the Arts for the Blue Mountains electorate and Chairperson for the Colong Foundation For Wilderness. We dive into a discussion about the proposal to raise the Warragamba Dam wall, and highlight the flawed rationale that a higher dam wall will protect residents in high flood risk areas in Western Sydney. Raising the dam wall will flood 6000 hectares of UN world heritage-listed national park and put at risk many threatened species. The area is also of high cultural significance for the Gundungurra people with over 1500 sites threatened by rising floodwaters.

    We explore all these concerns and note that much of this landscape has the highest level of formal legal protection available for endangered ecosystems in Australia – can we just disregard the State, Federal and International obligations that were put in place to ensure actions like raising the dam wall would never go ahead?

    Episode 11 – Why the Murrumbidgee River wrote a letter to Canberra

    Andy Lowes, author of the Letter from the Murrumbidgee River to Canberrans, is Canberra born and bred, growing up swimming, fishing and walking by the Murrumbidgee.  In this episode, Siwan and Andy discuss how the letter helps explain the changes the river has seen in its ecology and the way people interact with it, and reinforces the need for immersing ourselves in nature.

    Episode 10 – What motivates curious people to become climate leaders?

    In this episode, Siwan is joined by author Rod Taylor, author of ‘Ten Journeys on a Fragile Planet’, which follows the stories of ten inspiring Australians who are confronting our changing climate in unique ways. Siwan and Rod discuss the importance of people and technology, and how being curious and asking the right questions can help address climate change. 

    Episode 9 – Why is thinking about the future hard?

    In this episode, Associate Professor Lorrae van Kerkhoff, Director of the Institute for Water Futures and Associate Director of the Fenner School of Environment and Society at the Australian National University, shares why thinking about the future is hard, and the importance of institutional environments that allow for uncertain futures. Siwan and Lorrae discuss the importance of creativity in problem-solving and planning for the future, and how we as humans imagine our future selves as strangers, making it very difficult to anticipate the reality of the future.

    Episode 8 – Is raising dam walls an effective strategy to manage climate change impacts?

    In this episode, Siwan and Professor Jamie Pittock discuss whether raising dam walls is an effective management strategy to address our changing climate. They discuss the current proposal to raise the Warragamba Dam wall in outer Sydney, and whether the stated aims of it being to address flooding and protect downstream communities, will actually be achieved. Jamie has worked for the WWF and is a member of the Wentworth Group of Concerned Scientists, and other nature conservancy groups. He is now based at the Australian National University where he teaches and writes across environment, society and climate change adaptation topics. In their conversation, Siwan and Jamie discuss the ecological and cultural consequences of the proposal to raise the dam wall, and highlight how a multi-million dollar ‘flooding’ solution is likely to fail.

    Episode 7 – Retaining hope in the face of a changing climate, with Professor Mark Howden

    In this episode, Siwan talks with Professor Mark Howden about how we can retain hope in the face of a changing climate. Mark is the Director of the Institute for Climate, Energy and Disaster Solutions at the Australian National University, as well as being the Vice-Chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). As a global expert on climate science, his work over the last thirty years has explored climate variability, change and adaptation. In this conversation, Mark and Siwan discuss how we can look to each other for the skills and hope we need to adapt to our changing climate.

    Episode 6 – Their Stories: Professor Ross Thompson

    In this episode, Siwan talks to Professor Ross Thompson, Director and Chair of Water Science at the Institute for Applied Ecology, University of Canberra. Their talk focuses on work currently underway in environmental flows, with both involved in the Commonwealth Environmental Water Office’s Flow – Monitoring, Evaluation and Research project. The project is exploring how to manage and deliver water to gain the greatest environmental benefit in areas of the Murray-Darling Basin.

    Episode 5 – What makes a river champion and why are they so important?

    In this episode, Siwan talks with Dr. Simon Mould, on what makes a river champion and why we need to support those people who are working for better water and river management. The ‘champion’ concept highlights the importance of critical leaders in environmental initiatives. However, our experience tells us that the label of ‘champion’ would sit uncomfortably on the shoulders of many who play critical roles in advancing river management agendas in their communities and workplaces. The label is at odds with the humility and modesty of many of these champions – who are the ones driving change behind the scenes – so how can we expand the concept of ‘championship’, in order to recognise and support these individuals?

    Episode 4 – Bouncing forward: Resilience, adaption and transformation, with Paul Ryan

    In this episode, Paul Ryan – founding director of the Australian Resilience Centre, and a global leader in resilience, adaptation and transformation practice – discusses the idea of ‘bouncing forward’. The term stems from the notion of resilience being our ability to ‘bounce back’ is a flawed concept. This is because when we go through a traumatic experience such as the bushfires and current pandemic conditions, we come out the other end with lived experience and knowledge that we previously didn’t have. It is difficult to return back to the state we entered the experience with. Instead, resilience can be associated with our ability to ‘bounce forward’. What can we learn from the experience, adapt to, and build into our lives going forward?

    Episode 3 – Take care to give care, with Suzy-Nethercott Watson

    In this episode, Siwan talks to Suzy about reflecting on the tough few months we’ve had in Australia, which has caused people to be in a heightened state of anxiety and fear for longer periods of time than we are used to. This episode talks about a resource called ‘Take Care to Give Care’ – a guide that Two Green Threads has produced for wildlife carers, but which also applies to all of us in current times. We acknowledge and discuss the strength and scale of these recent events on our minds, body and general well being, and how we can build resilience through the Awareness-Balance-Connection Framework.

    Episode 2 – Saving Stocky

    In this episode, we look at the devastation bushfires have caused across many of our beautiful forests and iconic wildlife species. But what of those less charismatic species, the ones that are rarely seen, yet have just as much claim to being saved as any other species? Who is looking out for them? In pools, creeks and rivers across Australia are native fish that are small, unique and hard to find. Associate Professor Mark Lintermans has dedicated his career to understanding these fish that most Australians know little about. Mark has been trekking into the bush to catch and rescue fish not so much threatened by the fires but by the impact of ash and debris being washed into their mountain homes once rain arrives.

    Episode 1 – Container Love

    In this episode, we focus on the impact of the devastating Australian bushfires – the loss of people’s homes, death and injury to wildlife, and vast tracts of burnt bushland, leading to feelings of anxiety, fear, anger and sadness. Siwan shares how she is finding comfort in understanding more about ‘ecological grief’ and provides some practical examples that show how through small acts of compassion, like placing water out for wildlife, we can retain hope in ourselves, each other and our environment.