3. Quoll Farm ABC: Simon Plowright 2021

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1. Build the Nature-Human Relationship
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1.5 Film, Documentaries, Podcasts
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1.5.3

There is much of ‘My Octopus Teacher’ in ‘Quoll Farm’, though the locations could hardly be more different: terrestrial, instead of aquatic; Tasmania rather than South Africa; an altered farm landscape instead of a largely intact ocean environment.

Despite this, they both share the same stillness, the same sense of watching and waiting until entry to another world is granted. Writer/Director Simon Plowright is prepared to do just this as he stays in a derelict farm for a year, slowly building the trust of the unique Tasmanian animals that live there.

Sitting quietly in his chair at dusk, they begin to show themselves, the Wombats, Tassie Devils, Pademelons and possums. Most Australian mammals are very shy and nocturnal and difficult to observe, not just because they are rare. Simon overcomes this with patience and discipline, and is rewarded when the above animals not only come out to play, but in a special moment, when the Eastern Quolls run up the back of his chair and sit on his head and shoulders! (There is a lovely parallel here with Gustav Weindorfer’s story in Kindred – Books 1.3.7 – of lighting his fire in the snow at Waldheim Chalet at Cradle Mountain and sitting quietly until the native animals crept in to share the warmth).

Eastern Quolls are hyper-alert, carnivorous marsupials about the size of a small cat (and were thus called ‘cats’ by early colonists). Tragically, they are now extinct on the mainland of Australia, but persisted, up until recently, in good numbers in Tasmania. They are now in sharp decline, facing a whole range of threats from habitat clearing, to drought, climate change and fire, to poisoning, to cars, to predation by feral cats (there are no foxes in Tasmania, unlike the mainland, where they made such an impact upon the quolls).

Their sanctuary of a derelict farm is seen to be temporary and fragile when one of their refuges is bulldozed, and there is a hazy backstory about the farm’s status and future. Simon has to leave after a year, and it seems that the farm is resumed, but just why and in what way is not clear, and it appears that efforts to buy the property for conservation purposes have been unsuccessful.

 

The ‘Quoll Farm’ trailer can be viewed at:

https://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=youtube+Quoll+Farm&&view=detail&mid=877C072A54D33F36F2DC877C072A54D33F36F2DC&rvsmid=B3B719B78B18AA8DB4C6B3B719B78B18AA8DB4C6&FORM=VDRVRV

The full documentary is available at time of writing [January 2022] on ABC iview:

Quoll Farm : ABC iview .

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