Rivers of Carbon – Riparian Retreat

What is the Rivers of Carbon – Riparian Retreat?

The Rivers of Carbon – Riparian Retreat is a three day retreat spent with ‘people who know stuff’ examining the many reasons ‘Why Riparian Restoration’ produces multiple benefits. 

We will be exploring river form and function, ecological recovery, protecting and creating native fish habitat, stakeholder engagement, the wider social context within which we work, and community involvement.

The retreat will take the shape of a mix of formal presentations, river ‘walk and talks’ and full day field trip (including canoe/kayak trip into Bredbo Gorge).

10 - 12th of April 2018

Cuppacumbalong Homestead, Tharwa, Murrumbidgee River, ACT

Who will be there

Ian Rutherfurd

Ian Rutherfurd is an Associate Professor in the School of Geography at the University of Melbourne.  His research interest is fluvial geomorphology, and water and river management.  He has published over 80 journal articles and book chapters, over 50 consulting reports, and supervised more than 30 PhD and Masters projects to completion.  He has acted as advisor to numerous state and federal government expert panels and committees related to river and catchment management.  Between 2009 and 2013 Ian was a senior water manager in the Victorian government, currently, he is a Chief Investigator in four Australian Research Council grants, president of the Institute of Australian Geographers, and of the Australia New Zealand Geomorphology Group.

He is also an all-round great guy and terrific presenter who will be our person who ‘knows stuff’ about geomorphology, hydrology, river form and function, and prioritising river management actions.

Siwan Lovett

Siwan has been working in natural resources management for the past twenty years, focusing mainly on research and science communication for river management.  She has a PhD from the Australian National University in public policy, majoring in sociology and administration.  In 2008, she undertook a Winston Churchill Trust Fellowship to Europe to investigate the feasibility of establishing an Australian River Restoration Centre (ARRC), and she is now Managing Director of the ARRC, an organisation she is proud to have established. When not out on the river she facilitates workshops on storytelling, leadership and mentoring.  Siwan produces the RipRap Magazine, as well as managing the Rivers of Carbon Program. She also facilitates the Peter Cullen Trust Science to Policy Program and the Waterway Management Mentoring Program.

Siwan will be your guide throughout the workshop, specialising in stakeholder engagement, facilitation, science translation and meaningful communication.

Ross Thompson

Professor Ross Thompson is Director, Chair of Water Science and an ARC Future Fellow in the Institute for Applied Ecology at the University of Canberra. Ross is a freshwater ecologist with interests in the study of biodiversity and the restoration of landscapes. His fundamental research is in food web ecology; seeking the rules that determine how natural communities assemble and persist. His applied research addresses the ways in which food webs can be influenced by anthropogenic factors including urbanisation, land clearance, pharmaceutical contamination, river flow diversion and restoration, and invasion. He has an active research program on aquatic biodiversity and ecosystem function in urban and rural landscapes. Ross has published more than 90 papers, 10 book chapters and more than 200 scientific reports.

Ross is an engaging and fun speaker who will be our expert on ecology, carbon sequestration and the linkages between riparian areas and the surrounding catchment.

Lori Gould

Lori has worked in Natural Resource Management for 18 years – in ACT Parks and Conservation Service for six years as a Ranger, and Greening Australia Capital Region for 12 years as a project manager, specialising in riparian rehabilitation projects, managing projects focussed on engaging the community in improving biodiversity, linking vegetation, addressing salinity, etc. Currently she manages the Jerrabomberra Wetlands and is the on-ground Program Manager for Rivers of Carbon, a program she and Siwan co-founded six years ago.

Lori is practical, approachable and a great person to talk to about all things riparian. She is a skilled community practitioner and is always willing to share her experiences with others.

Mark Lintermans

Mark is a Principal Research Fellow at the Institute for Applied Ecology. His work focuses on native fish and crayfish in upland freshwater habitats, and he has a particular interest in interactions between native and alien species; as well as the conservation management of threatened fish. Mark will be out on the river with us on day two of the workshop, sharing his knowledge and experiences of working to bring back Macquarie Perch and other threatened fish to the Upper Murrumbidgee.

Mark is a lively and entertaining educator and is our workshop’s native fish guru.

Antia Brademann

Antia wears many hats as a Waterwatch Coordinator and Facilitator of the Upper Murrumbidgee Demonstration Reach. A passionate paddler and lover of the river, Antia spends her time working with locals to protect and restore the Murrumbidgee from Casuarina Sands to the Headwaters. She is a great community connector, bringing landholders together to remove weeds, stabilise banks and create native fish habitat. Her interest is working with the community to build knowledge and share information and use it as part of locally tailored programs.

Antia brings her knowledge and experience of community engagment and native fish recovery to our workshop. She is also our resident paddling expert.

Phil Palmer

Restoring an entire ecosystem is a tricky business, but at Scottsdale, Phil is hoping to do just that. Phil and his team are working out how to create an environment that favours native plants with soil that has a long history of fertiliser, grazing and cultivation. African Lovegrass is a major headache with cropping areas on the valley floor becoming infested but the team at Scottsdale are trialing different strategies for dealing with this invasive species. Along with regeneration of native species is protecting the legless lizard and a host of other special plants and animals.

Phil and his team are hosting the second day of our workshop at Scottsdale and it is sure to be a wonderful day exploring this special property on the Murrumbidgee.

Mary Bonet

Mary is the Landcare Coordinator for Goulburn-Yass, as well as working with several other projects such as ‘Glideways’ and Kanangara to Wyngala. Mary was born and raised in the Goulburn District,where she manages a small farm and is closely connected to the local community. She is a Landcare professional with years of experience in Landcare and NRM, and has held various roles with community groups at district, regional and state level.

Mary is a valued member of the Rivers of Carbon team and brings to the workshop her experiences of stakeholder engagement, facilitating behavioural change and working with Landcare.

Dean Jard, Karim Haddad and Ali Wass

Dean, Karim and Ali are a fabulous team committed to helping people have great experiences where they learn, have fun and go home feeling inspired. Dean is a Dharug Nation man and will share his Indigenous insights about the importance of the river to people, place and life. Ali and Karim are our hosts at Cuppacumbalong and will provide a warm welcome and vibrant hospitality.

Retreat Agenda

We will start at 10.30am to enable people to fly/drive, accommodation will be open from 9.30am for people to settle in and get acquainted with the Cuppacumbalong Homestead. 

We will mix up time spent in the ‘classroom’ with time out on the river.  This stretch of river has a range of restoration issues to discuss including bank stabilisation, woody weeds, cultural heritage, community expectations and fish habitat. 

Dinner will be build your own pizza and cook it in the large open-air wood fired oven.  We will be joined for dinner by participants in the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Leaders Program Coaching Workshop called ‘Milparanga’ (which means Watching over in Mithaka language)

‘Milparanga’ has been designed to enable participants to co-develop a coaching and mentoring strategy to transform Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leadership across Australia.

Presenters for Day One: Dean Jard, Ali Wass, Ian Rutherfurd, Ross Thompson, Siwan Lovett and Lori Gould.

Start at 8.30am and jump on the bus to head to Scottsdale Reserve where Bush Heritage Australia will host us for a day of exploration.

Just 45 minutes south of Canberra, Scottsdale protects endangered grassy box woodlands and temperate grasslands. It also harbours many rare birds, animals, fish and reptiles.  Wrapped around Scottsdale’s northern and western flanks is the Murrumbidgee River, which cascades over natural rock weirs, through deep tree-fringed pools and around river-sculpted rocks. Scottsdale is a Rivers of Carbon site with plenty to see.

We will start in the woolshed and then head down the property alongside the Gungoandra Creek, with stops along the way to look at restoration and fish passage efforts.  We will then have lunch on the river, and spend the afternoon exploring Bredbo Gorge from up high on the ridge to along the water in dinghys and kayaks.

We end day two back at the Cuppacumbalong Homestead for a BBQ.

Presenters for Day Two: Phil Palmer, Antia Brademann, Mark Lintermans, Ian Rutherfurd and Siwan Lovett.

Our final day begins at 9.00am with a recap of what we have learnt and a look at the social, economic and environmental context within which we need to operate as water and NRM managers. 

We will focus on how to translate our science and technical understanding into ways that are meaningful for people, and have a go at writing some stories about our experiences of the last few days. 

The Rivers of Carbon team will be your presenters for our final day, with large and small group activities ensuring that questions are answered, experiences are rewarding, and people leave the workshop feeling inspired and reinvigorated.  We will finish at 12.30pm for lunch, leaving participants plenty of time to get home.

Presenters for Day Three: Siwan Lovett, Lori Gould, Antia Brademann and Mary Bonet.

Our supporters

Register your spot


The Rivers of Carbon – Riparian Retreat is limited to 25 people and registration is on a first in basis. Please complete the form below to register your spot.

Cost: $1350 + GST

Note: The cost includes accommodation – bell tents sleeping 4-5 people (male and females separated) in comfort and style, beds, linen, fully catered. Alternatively you can BYO tent and bedding, or book into a nearby hotel (we can provide suggestions). If booking alternate accommodation, we are unfortunately unable to discount the cost of the retreat.

The closest airport is Canberra airport and airport transfers to and from can be arranged for a cost of $20.

About the location


Cuppacumbalong is an historic homestead located near the southern outskirts of Canberra in the Australian Capital Territory. Cuppacumbalong Homestead and grounds (4 hectares) are all that remain of the original landing holding which the Wright, Thomson, De Sallis and more recently Snow families held from the turn of the 20th Century.  The original holding stretch along the Murrumbidgee from Canberra through to Bredbo.  The homestead which is the third on the site was completed in 1923 and is a classic Californian style bungalow.

Cuppaucmblaong’s recent history has seen it as an arts hub, cafe and restaurant , an inviting retreat for many Canberran families over the years.    The homestead is just 30 mins form Canberra’s CBD and 5km from the edge of Canberra’s southern suburbs

The work Cuppacumbalong is Aboriginal in origin and means ‘meeting of the waters’.

Feature photo (top): Bredbo Gorge view from Scottsdale. Photo credit: Annette Ruzicka

Agenda photo (middle): Cuppacumbalong Homestead