New Bush Telegraph Independent Stories since 1987

Report from the Littoral Zone

September 16, 2018

Few of us wish to venture inside mangroves with good reason.

Mangroves are perceived as dark smelly places full of mosquitos. Nothing is solid. Tidal waters cover mud flats booby-trapped with spikey aerial roots. Twisting ghostly trees full of snakes and spiders bend to a deafening roar of a million cicadas. As a result mangroves remain mysterious and little understood by the public.

Artist and academic, Dr Kurt Brereton, grew up in this littoral zone caught between land and sea. As a teenager in 1970s his first drawings, photographs and paintings explored the wetlands and sand dunes of the far north coast of NSW. Since recently moving to Currarong, Kurt has refocused his attention on our local coastal habitat in a major new exhibition at the Jervis Bay Maritime Museum & Gallery.

Indigenous peoples have always valued the mangroves as finely balanced life sustaining food baskets. Europeans, by contrast, have been busy erasing these precious ecosystems in favour of golf courses, industrial complexes and housing estates.

Now the latest scientific research tell us that mangroves are complex vital organs of environmental health and survival. They act like huge livers and kidneys filtering pollutants. The forests of tangled roots serve as nurseries protecting young fish, crabs and prawns. During cyclones and tsunamis, it is the mangroves that hold back the devastating impact of storm surges. Recent studies also reveal that mangroves are giant blue carbon storage sinks.

Green carbon is stored in trees for up to a hundred years. Blue carbon from ancient plant and algae matter is trapped and stored in the ground for thousands of years. Mangroves store carbon 40 times faster than trees can. Destroying mangroves speeds up global warming and sea rise rates. Our future may depend on the survival of wetlands just as much as tropical rain forests.

Kurt Brereton says he wants gallery visitors to gain a sense of being inside the mangroves. He has constructed an installation that projects both the wonders of weird plants and bizarre creatures and the loss of endangered local shore birds. One wall text asks why “it seems that we only take notice of rare species just as they begin to disappear before our eyes.”

Kurt Brereton, Entering the Mangroves, 122 x 168cm. oil on canvas, 2018
Kurt Brereton, Entering the Mangroves, 122 x 168cm. oil on canvas, 2018

This exhibition employs a rich dynamic combination of media including video, sculpture, painting and embroidery to stitch us into Brereton’s vision of the Shoalhaven coast.

Report From the Littoral Zone opens at 1pm, Saturday 8th September – all are welcome. The exhibitin ends November 25th. 

If you liked this article help us to plant trees in its honour. The New Bush Telegraph practices community journalism and plants a tree for every article published, although we hope to plant a whole lot more trees than just one. You can contribute as little as $5. 


This article is in the following category/ies:

  • Categories

  • Archives

    Join us

    For only $20 (per annum, $10 concession) you can become a member of The New Bush Telegraph Incorporated. Membership to an incorporated association shows your support and gives you voting rights at annual general meetings, access to volunteer opportunities and special member events.

    Subscribe to our newsletter
    Keep up to date with all the news from The New Bush Telegraph and be notified of new articles when they are published. It’s the best way to stay in touch and never miss out on those important local issues. You can unsubscribe at any time.
    * indicates required

    Donate to the New Bush Telegraph

    The New Bush Telegraph is a not-for-profit community initiative.

    Support us to grow and reach our goals by considering making a donation.



    #125 Spring 2019#120 Winter 2018#109 Spring 2015#108 Winter 2015#107 Autumn 2015#106 Winter 2010#105 Late Spring 2009#104 Winter 2009#103 Autumn 2009#102 Summer 2008#101 Winter / Spring 2008#100 Late Autumn 2008#99 Late Summer  2008#98 Summer 2007#97 Spring 2007#96 Winter 2007#95 Autumn 2007
    New Bush Telegraph - Independent Publishing Since 1987
    Privacy PolicyTerms & Conditions
    Copyright © New Bush Telegraph Incorporated ABN: 42106732072
    linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram