Eli Bendall is a Scenic World staffer and Environmental Scientist. One of Scenic World’s values is Passionate about our Environment and here we chat to Eli about his passion for the Blue Mountains and all things Mother Nature.
Have you always lived in the Blue Mountains?
Yes always, I was raised here.
What do you love about living in the Blue Mountains?
The diverse and open-minded community that we live in and the way you can just be immersed in nature within a few footsteps of just about anywhere.
Did living in the Blue Mountains spark your interest in becoming an environmental scientist, and if yes, how?
Yes, growing up I was taken for many bushwalks in the local area by my father, while my mother has always shown great care and appreciation of animals. Also travelling to many beautiful and interesting parts of Australia and other countries helped confirm and broaden my interests within environmental science. Oh, and David Attenborough.
The Blue Mountains is recognised for its natural diversity including over 100 species of Eucalypt alone.Do you have any favourite flora or fauna from the region & what makes them unique?
The huge altitudinal gradients and the differential rainfall in the Greater Blue Mountains region make for a wide variety of Flora and Fauna that are specially adapted to their niche environments.
My personal favourite habitat type to explore is the tall wet-sclerophyll forests of the lower escarpments in the Jamison Valley and in the gullies of the mid-mountains, which are dominated by species such as the Mountain Blue Gum (Eucalyptus deanei) and Ribbon Gum (Eucalyptus oreades).
Can you share your top bushwalks or scenic spots in the Blue Mountains?
Well there’s some spots that I will keep secret, but some good spots that are reasonably accessible are the lookouts along the Kings Tableland and Narrow Neck (beyond the locked gate). The best multi-day bushwalk would have to be Kanagra Walls to Katoomba (3 days) and the best single day the Mt Solitary Traverse (5-7 hours, hard).
What environmental message do you try and share with Scenic World guests during their visit?
I enjoy talking to guests about different aspects of the environment and often it is the international guests who are more interested in chatting about the particulars of Australian nature. Conversations vary widely, from local impacts of climate change and government legislation to the local geology and how it defines the vegetation and ecosystems that guests will see on their journey at Scenic World. I also enjoy talking about why each living thing is important and why we should not consider ourselves as any more important that any other species.
Scenic World visitors get to experience waterfalls, rainforest, eucalyptus forest and ancient rock formations. What are your favourite things about Scenic World’s ecosystems?
The sandstone escarpment provides a huge contrast in ecosystems between the top and bottom of the cliffs, with different vegetation assemblages exploiting the variety of habitat niches available.
My favourite aspect is the waterfalls, for it is they who have sculpted much of what we can see at Scenic World and continue to do so. Seeing a huge rainfall event at Scenic World with Katoomba Falls in full flood is a spectacular scene of nature and allows us to see erosion in action.
Your field work as an environmental scientist has taken you to some amazing destinations – what, in your opinion, are Australia’s Top 5 most spectacular natural treasures?
I’ve taken every opportunity to see some wonderful places, which I would not have been able to experience without the constant understanding and support of my work colleagues and the Scenic World Family. I definitely have not been everywhere, but my top 5 favourite places so far are:
- Mt Field National Park (huge eucalyptus forests, rainforest, waterfalls and alpine lakes), near Hobart, Tasmania
- Crowdy Bay National Park (Beaches) and adjacent Hinterland (Sub-tropical rainforests and waterfalls), Mid-North Coast NSW
- The ancient and incredible Bunya Mountains in Queensland (Gymnosperm dominated rainforest)
- Kakadu & Litchfield National Parks
- And The Blue Mountains of course!
Would you like to give a shout out to any local sustainability groups or organisations doing good work in the Blue Mountains region?
The Blue Mountains Conservation Society for creating the necessary awareness of environmental challenges in our region and The Habitat Advocate for providing detailed journalism of pressing conservation issues in the Blue Mountains and beyond. I recommend an internet search of these two organisations for further reading and for getting involved in community projects in conservation.