#83 Saving Sacred Land From Corruption with Jake Cassar

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By Mason J. Taylor. Discovered by Player FM and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not Player FM, and audio is streamed directly from their servers. Hit the Subscribe button to track updates in Player FM, or paste the feed URL into other podcast apps.

Mason is joined by Jake Cassar on the show today. Jake is a bushman, conservationist, youth mentor and all round legendary character, who is out there doing good things for the planet and the community. Jake is a passionate bushcraft teacher with specialist knowledge in the area edible and medicinal plants native to both Australia and beyond. Jake works passionately to protect and conserve sacred land within Australia, and speaks with us today about the proposed development of the Kariong Sacred Lands by the Darkinjung Aboriginal Land Council. "Good people have just got to band together and do as much good as we can. It's the journey, not the destination." - Jake Cassar

Mason and Jake discuss:

  • The mysterious big cat Jake has been tracking in the scrublands of Northern Sydney.
  • Jake's work as a 'responsible adult' (Jake doesn't like the term activist) in the protection of the Kariong Sacred Lands and the politics involved.
  • The nature of activism; the sacrifice and the satisfaction.
  • The value of coming together as a unified community, and doing what you can to preserve the land we live on with patience and persistence.
  • The importance of appealing to the humanity in each person, and treating people with respect, even if you don't agree with their beliefs or behaviours.
  • Moving from a survival of the fittest to a survival of the most co-operative mentality. Asking ourselves how can we best work together to create a safe and sustainable future.

Who is Jake Cassar ?

Jake Cassar is a passionate Bushcraft teacher, youth mentor and conservationist specialising in edible and medicinal native and introduced plants in Australia. Jake is well known for leading successful campaigns to create new National Parks on the Central Coast and for his devotion to raising funds and awareness for local charities such as homeless outreach centres, mental health support services, suicide prevention networks, youth support organisations, animal welfare groups and many more. Jake is fast becoming known as one of Australia’s foremost authorities on edible and medicinal plants, and has been referred to as a “Bush Tucker Guru” by the Daily Telegraph and “Aussie Bear Grills” by the Today Show on Channel 9. Jake has featured on Triple J radio, ABC radio, The History Channel, and National Indigenous Television (NITV). Jake has spent most of life fine tuning his survival knowledge in what he calls “The University of the Bush” and has taught himself much of what he knows through personal experience spending over 20 years doing annual trips 'out bush' and living from the land for weeks at a time. Jake has worked with much respected Aboriginal elders in NSW and Central and Western Australia and has given presentations with well known people in Botany such as Les Robinson, Alan Fairley, Costa Georgiadis (Gardening Australia) and Aboriginal Bush Tucker Chef, Mark Olive. Jake has presented at Universities for nearly a decade with a presentation he calls " The Science of Survival" where University lecturers, Indigenous Elders and Indigenous students, all collaborate to share knowledge regarding the uses of native plants.

Jake’s presentations, courses and tours are upbeat, interactive, engaging and include a comprehensive display of native and exotic plants and an in-depth description of some of the plants uses. Jake will share information on how to make rope from tree bark, fire from sticks, soap from Wattle leaves and much more.

Resources:

Jake Website Jake FacebookJake Youtube Coast Environmental Alliance Facebook Group

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Check Out The Transcript Here:

Mason: (00:00)

Jake, how are you, man?

Jake Cassar: (00:01)

Oh, pretty good. It's all happening here. How are you?

Mason: (00:04)

Yeah, I'm good. I'm very good. It's good to see your face. It's been a few years, been following along on your journeys and grateful for social media so I can stay tuned in to all that you're up to. And I'm really excited for all the... We're on a different podcast than the one we did originally. We're on the SuperFeast Podcast now, and I'm really excited about everyone meeting you and learning about your work and the important work that you're doing down where you are. So Jake let us know, what are you up to? What have you been up to the last 24 hours?

Jake Cassar: (00:38)

Well, the last 24 hours I've been chasing this mysterious big cat that's been seen in North Sydney. I do a bit of tracking in all of my spare time. And I've started working with a pet detective agency recently, locating missing pets. I've been out there over the years finding missing pets, that's one of the things I do. And I've even found a few missing people in the bush with the help from some friends, one Aboriginal friend, in particular, helped us locate a missing person a few years back, which got on the news.

Jake Cassar: (01:07)

But this time round, I'm out tracking another sighting of this big cat. Some people call it a panther. I'm pretty certain it's not a panther, but I don't think it's just a regular feral cat either. It's only about an hour and a half from where I live, so I've been out here in Northern Sydney in the scrub tracking it for the last few weeks actually. But I've been here for the last 24 hours.

Jake Cassar: (01:29)

Excuse me, my sunnies is probably holding my eyes in at the moment. Because I've had about half an hour sleep on and off throughout the night, just getting up and checking traps and checking cameras and laying just baits to draw it in the trap that we set for it, wouldn't harm it, it'll go into the cage and catch it. And then I'm planning on extracting a little bit a DNA through its fur with a little bit of a follicle on it. And then if it's some kind of big native cat, which Aboriginal elders have suggested may very well be, we'll let it go.

Jake Cassar: (01:58)

If it was a large feral cat, then I wouldn't have shot it, I have in the past, but I've actually got a wildlife sanctuary, the huge enclosure at Calga, the Walkabout Park, that'd be interested in taking it if it was the biggest feral cat ever seen, which it must be, this thing's a monster, to educate people about the issues around feral cats. So it's been really exciting. Lots of people following that on my Facebook page, on my Insta page. And you know, there's been a lot of heavy stuff going on as you know, Mason and its been a nice little break from all the heavy stuff and that mysterious creature in the bush, that's been fascinating humans for probably hundreds of thousands of years. It's back.

Mason: (02:38)

Because we've all grown up whenever we'd go into the... From growing up in the city and even Tahnee, my fiance, living up in far North Queensland, everywhere you go, I don't know if it's the same up on the West coast, but on the East coast, everyone's got those sightings of the big black Panther that escaped from the circus growing up and the story. And we wonder if it's native, we were thinking about, we were talking about that... I wonder if that could possibly be a native cat and I was going to ask you that. So, that's fascinating. Have you able to been able to get any fur at all, just from tracking or you need it to be like a live sample?

Jake Cassar: (03:19)

No fur yet, but I've got some really, really compelling footage in the last 24 hours. I've seen it about the last week, but I only got here yesterday and checked my motion detection / night vision cameras, and I've got an image of it. The problem is I've got them set up along about a five kilometre radius. The problem with the footage is you can pretty clearly see an area where it's coming and going. And there's a couple of landmarks in the background that might give away its exact location. And I'd love to share this footage, but I don't want every man and his dog going into the area trying to trap it. Especially if it is a cat that's probably been here for thousands of years.

Jake Cassar: (03:55)

I think it's most likely a cross between a Asiatic Golden Cat, they call it. It's like a wild cat that lives in the forest, Catopuma is the genus. And it's certainly, from some of the evidence that I've found both in tracks, and on my video, I've got about 25 images on my motion detecting cameras, a cross between the Catopuma species likely and just Felis catus, your standard domestic cat gone feral. But as we all know, they can get two to three times the size when they get out in the bush, they can get enormous.

Jake Cassar: (04:27)

And you chuck a bit of other wild cat into the mix, which are currently apparently a lot of the Asian wild cats can interbreed with domestic cats. Then you've got this incredible mix, which some people, if they want to jump on my Facebook page or Insta, Facebook Jake Cassar official or Insta, Jake Cassar Bushcraft, you can have a look at that video. You can have a look at the tracks that I found near where the video was taken, the plaster cast in comparison to different tracks.

Mason: (04:54)

The plaster cast...

Jake Cassar: (04:55)

Yeah, it's been really fun. At the very low end of the scale, it's been a little bit of fun. On the high end of the scale, we could be contributing something new to science here.

Mason: (05:06)

I can imagine it comes in at a nice time, because it's been heavy down your way with all the illegal land clearing that's happened all of a sudden. You've been there for many years. For lack of a better word, your activist work was something, when I met you seven years ago, maybe we met and did the bush tucker, Bushcraft little run through the shrub there. Actually the first time I met you, I was with the Strongs.

Jake Cassar: (05:41)

Oh were you?

Mason: (05:41)

Father and son.

Jake Cassar: (05:41)

Yes, please. [inaudible 00:05:40].

Mason: (05:42)

Yeah. And Michael Tellinger. So that was the... And we were up at the hieroglyphs there and you, I heard that they were coming and you strode in and out, just like a shadow, all of a sudden you were just there. And then from there, we went on that little trek. And I think I happened to fall in that time when there was a native beehive that hadn't gone up and checked in about three years and we went in there and we had a bit of native honey...

Jake Cassar: (06:16)

I gave you some of the honey, that's a privilege, not many people get to experience that.

Mason: (06:16)

That was an absolute privilege, but yeah, since then you've been going hard. I mean, just watching what you're, it's interesting. You want to talk to us about what you're doing and why it comes down to someone like yourself in order to fund yourself and fund the protection of land and species, species getting decimated for the sake of further development, further non-necessary development, a lot of the time. It's just developers is just wanting more, more cash in areas that have cultural significance. Why is it you, that's having to go and work your ass off in order to fund yourself to go and do this activist work, that should be something that's done by, I don't know, say the land council.

Jake Cassar: (07:08)

Well, in this case, unfortunately it is the local Aboriginal Land Council that's acting as the developers. And they're the ones trying to develop an area known as Kariong Sacred Lands, they're saying that it's not connected to Kariong Sacred Lands, but that's the whole point of the official Aboriginal place listing, is that all of that land's interconnectedness. It's not my place to go right into the why, it's more of the traditional custodians. And I acknowledge those before I speak a little bit about this kind of stuff, but that whole area is a really, really important meeting place for many groups coming together.

Jake Cassar: (07:37)

The good news is, is there's a lot of Aboriginal people coming together in the background and supporting us, are now more in the foreground, but it's an unfortunate situation where you've got the state government, actually they're calling it the Aboriginal sep where they're trying to empower, is one way of putting it, Aboriginal Land Council's to develop some of these very, very special places.

Jake Cassar: (07:58)

And, basically if anyone tries to step in the way of these totally unsustainable and destructive developments, they call you a racist. So, which is interesting, because a lot of members of our group are Aboriginal, and certainly that's a fascinating situation to be in, to be called racist, which I was called while fighting to protect Aboriginal sites alongside traditional custodians.

Jake Cassar: (08:24)

So it was very clever, good one, Rob Stokes, the Minister for Planning. He's obviously sat down with a few people, and if anyone gets in the way and believe me, they won't get in the way, the Greens don't want a bar of it, the big environmental organisations don't want a bar of it because it's too, I guess, politically incorrect to go up against the Aboriginal Land Council in regards to land development.

Jake Cassar: (08:46)

To that point, should Aboriginal Land Council's have the opportunity to develop land, absolutely. Should they be able to make money off the land, and largely attempt to do whatever they want with the land, absolutely. I would prefer that than any other developer. And that makes sense doesn't it? But if it's an unsustainable development that could potentially desecrate ancient sites of human occupation, could cause extinctions, in this case the development they want to do, actually several developments they want to do on the Central Coast will severely impact or just wipe out potential koala habitat. Aboriginal sites are known to be in these areas and dozens of endangered flora and fauna species. If anyone does that, whether it's a overseas developer, an Australian developer or local Land Council, then Aussies irrespective of our background should have the right to object to it.

Mason: (09:35)

What's the strategy that they have to be able to call you a racist? Because it seems from what I can tell from the Land Council and my dealings when I went to Alice Springs and dealt with the Land Council, as the elders were being pushed off the land for mining, when we went up there and we went and we probably had a bit of a pie in the sky kind of mentality at the time. We all serving them letters and cease and desists and that kind of thing. And you know, didn't really go anywhere because they just steam rolled it and pushed that mob off the land.

Mason: (10:06)

And so I wonder, because when you look at who's working at the Aboriginal Land Council, a lot of the time there are Aborigines working there. But from what I went through, and what I'm reading about the developments that they're talking to you about it and from what I've just, what I'm seeing myself, it seems they're creating this ornamental Aboriginal protection culture there, within the Land Council. And then if anyone, as long as it doesn't get in the way of the development that ultimately the big business and government wants to have, there doesn't seem to be that much proper protection. Like, you know what, there's some species in there, and there's some sites in there. So you know what, you just don't go there.

Mason: (10:54)

They will look for justification at whatever cost to make sure that they don't actually protect the majority of this country. The majority of the country is sacred. As long as you don't get in the way of that, we're okay to keep on pushing these nice Aboriginal cultural ideas and take you on nice little tours. And it seems like this ornamental version of what's actually potentially the oldest culture on earth. It seems like a terrible representative.

Jake Cassar: (11:27)

Well, there's a lot of good people in the Land Councils, and there's a lot of good Land Councils doing really good things across the country. As I understand it, as I've been told, there's a lot of great people in our local Land Council. We got a letter of support from our page, Coast Environmental Alliance, from someone who's on the Land Council to stop the Land Council development. So more now than ever good people irrespective of our background may just stick together for the sake of our children. Is it not up to you or I to tell Land Councils how they make their money, with respect should we tell them that they should be doing cultural tours and different things? I'd like to see that personally, I'd love to take my daughter to that. I think it's important, but should they be able to determine how they make a quid? Absolutely.

Jake Cassar: (12:10)

But what it really comes back down to for me mate is, is if it's totally unsustainable, if it's disrespectful to the environment and if it's going to destroy Aboriginal sites, I don't care who it is, I'll stick my neck out and I seem to be at the moment, one of the only people doing it. Not giving myself a pat on the back, because it's been full on, basically me calling a spade, a spade, and saying that the Land Council is set to benefit from the illegal clearing. Someone got through and bulldozed that land. They're threatening me with legal action, looks like they're taking me to court. I've had threats of violence towards me over the phone, the racism calls. So, so many hectic things have happened from this, but that's the way it goes. That's the way it goes.

Jake Cassar: (12:55)

And that's when you know that you're on the right path, that you're making a difference. If we don't stop this from going right across the state or the greater Sydney area, the state governments actually used quite colloquial words. They've said, we're basically testing this out to see how it goes in the greater Sydney area. And, in the background, if we can get all these unsustainable development through, again the Greens, the Greens are for this development, they say they're not opposed to it, they don't see any problem with it.

Jake Cassar: (13:23)

They'll be wiping out endangered species and potentially Aboriginal sites and encroaching on the Aboriginal sites in the area, the traditional custodians are totally against this development. And they're on our side, on the side of the land more. So you've got Labour, Liberal, we should call them laberal. And, the Greens now locally, they've got to me recently, they'll have a shot at me for saying this, but it's the truth.

Jake Cassar: (13:45)

I can show you the letter. You can post it under this podcast. Basically they saying that they are for it, and this is all about Aboriginal self-determination. Tricky thing for me to talk about, for anyone to talk about. If this is about that, our Land Council's got tens of millions of dollars in the bank, they are the richest Land Council in New South Wales. I've heard them boast about that on many occasions and I use them loosely, some wonderful elders on the Land Council, and some friends I went to school with. I'm not just sugar coating what I'm saying, I actually mean that, and the largest private land owner on the Central Coast.

Jake Cassar: (14:20)

So they have other options. It's just interesting to see them teaming up with the state government. So you've got a private, I'm getting a bit passionate here, you've got a private land developer, who's got a bit of a deal going with the government, who puts together these supposedly independent panels that they launched during COVID when people can't protest, to just rubber stamp any development going through, again a private developer, ok, with a relationship with the government. We know developers do have relationships with government, but you've never seen it so open, to just destroy some of the most important parcels of land, some of the most important places full of koala habitat, full of ancient engraving sites.

Jake Cassar: (14:59)

And if you stand in the way they're going to do everything they can to bulldoze over the top of you, quite literally, they're illegally clearing the land. I'm not saying who's done it. I think I believe I've found who's done it, the guy's admitted to it. The Land Council made me take that video down because of some of the things I've said. Yeah, well that was part of the legal action, they gave me a few days to reply or else they're going to sue me, and I've worked really hard for the very little I've got to put my daughters, take my daughter to a decent school and get her a decent education.

Jake Cassar: (15:26)

I'd like to keep my car on the road, keep my guitar and sound system. I don't know how that works when they do sue you, but they certainly got the power to. The good news is, is I've got a lawyer now that's going to be working for me at least for a while pro bono. So that's been really, really helpful, but they're basically just trying to tie me up. And the reason they're trying to tie me up is because this is a much, much bigger picture thing. If they can float this, if they can float this thing and keep these weak buggers purpose from the Greens and lie about supporting Liberal and their State Planning Panels that are too scared to be politically incorrect and I get it. I get it, believe me, I get it. I'm not saying it's good, it's gutless.

Jake Cassar: (16:06)

Okay. But I absolutely get what they're doing. They are going to not only destroy massive areas of bushland, but the Aboriginal people that I know who I do not speak on behalf of, I can again, put you in contact with these people if you want to interview, my indigenous friends that are traditional custodians. They're going to be disempowering indigenous people, because they're going to be smashing their sites. They're going to be smashing their sites like they're trying to do here in Kariong, and right across the greater Sydney area. And if they can float it, if they can float it, then they're going to roll it out across New South Wales. The state government are saying this at the moment. So this is the time where we make a stand. This is a time where people have got to come together, black, white and everything in between. If we don't now, we're fucked mate.

Mason: (16:48)

As you said there are lots of beautiful people that are working within these organisations absolutely, but what I said in terms of it being ornamental, anything that is there being under as a, basically being a bit of a chest piece for the government at large. And as you said this, them saying that they're testing out, whether they're going to be able to basically get away with it here.

Jake Cassar: (17:09)

That's what they saying.

Mason: (17:13)

It's not surprising because they know ultimately people don't care because they know they've ultimately again, got this ornamental relationship with a lot of beautiful people and beautiful people who are trying to do good work, but under the guise of that, and saying we're empowering Aboriginal people, we're going to go in and create, and basically clear whatever we want and develop whatever we want, as you said.

Jake Cassar: (17:35)

And a handful of people make a shitload of money and what happens to the rest of the community?

Mason: (17:40)

Well, who makes the money in this situation?

Jake Cassar: (17:44)

I guess the Land Council as a private land developer because they pretty much come out and just said that they're private land developers, which again, I'm not anti-development mate.

Mason: (17:53)

Your elders, where do your elders sit on in receiving coin? Or just a little bit of an acknowledgement that, that's their land. If this gets cleared and they make millions and millions.

Jake Cassar: (18:07)

When you say my elders, what do you mean?

Mason: (18:09)

The elders in your area?

Jake Cassar: (18:11)

Okay. Yeah. Because to make it clear I'm not indigenous, dad's from Egypt and mum's Aussie going right back to second fleet. The local elders, where do they sit in, in this whole scheme of things?

Mason: (18:22)

Where do they see, in terms of where, if this goes ahead, and this multimillion dollar development goes ahead in that area, where do they set to benefit?

Jake Cassar: (18:31)

Well, they don't set to benefit at all. They've written letters absolutely against it because they want to continue to use those areas for the reasons they do. It's not, again, not my place to go into it, but we've got, Darkinjung as they pronounce it in our local areas. Some Darkinjung people, the [inaudible 00:18:50], and some Guringai people are, [inaudible 00:18:51], [inaudible 00:18:54], I think is another local tribe. I think that's how they pronounce it. They're absolutely, absolutely passionately opposed to it. And they know why, because they know that land. They know what the engravings mean and the significance of those sites. The Land Council has said that there's no sites of significance within the area well they passionately disagree. And whether I've got a right to, or not, whether I've got a right to care about those sites or not, I've been gently visiting that area since I was about 11 years old and turning 45 this year.

Jake Cassar: (19:29)

So been around a little while and I've dedicated 10 years of my life to protecting the land right next door, which is all part of what they call Kariong Sacred Lands. Part of the reason it got listed as an official Aboriginal place of significance is due to the work that I've been doing there with indigenous and non indigenous kids in juvenile justice, and DoCS/FaCS for the last 16 or so years, I met with the government there, met with elders.

Jake Cassar: (19:55)

The Land Council actually supported, Darkinjung Land Council actually supported that area, being recognised as Kariong Sacred Lands. And I think again, the term here was used, the cultural landscape. So the overall landscape was really important. The bush tucker in the area is really important for the ongoing education of both indigenous and non indigenous kids side by side. And as you know, I run in four major elections as an independent and was able to eventually leverage a government. Rob Stokes, the Minister for Planning was actually involved in making that national park. I guess he wrote the check and we stopped the biggest development within any national park in New South Wales.

Jake Cassar: (20:32)

Kicked off the sort of grassroots activism movement on the Central Coast, about 13 or 14 years ago, when we started having blockades and camps, and proper peaceful community actions, having three, four, 500 people at rallies, five, six, 700 people at concerts. I worked out we had over 45 events, over nine and a half years to get that in the national park and thousands of letters sent. And just sign much hard work. You know, the elections in particular were a pretty full on experience for me, the first federal election I ran in I was living in a tent at an activist camp at the side of the road. And going to these big forums with over a hundred people that was quite terrifying, but yeah, you do what you've got to do.

Jake Cassar: (21:19)

And, when I walked my little daughter down there, she's about to turn seven in October. But when I walked her down there as a little two year old to the grandmother tree and showed her the hieroglyphs and tried to explain to her, even though she was only really little, what her daddy had done and her mum as well at the time, and the community had done to protect that land. And it was a very, very profound moment for me. And so it's been blood, sweat, and tears into protecting this land here. And, it's an incredibly unfortunate situation, Mason that here we are against the Land Council, some members of the Land Council. Because again, we've got some that are coming on board.

Mason: (21:57)

Which is amazing all right, far out.

Jake Cassar: (21:59)

It is. Yeah, it's incredible. And we're also getting some people within the government that are just been bloody awesome as well. Because, people are just sick of the rubbish. The magic word is we're not against development, we need development. It's a shame that development is a dirty word because what a great place Australia is in general, for world-class sustainable, exciting development that we need. We've got room for all kinds of different industry and to do it sustainably, but stop going for our most special places.

Jake Cassar: (22:32)

Stop causing the extinction of koalas, get serious. I'm not a lefty or a righty or anything like that, I'm more of a centrist. I'm probably a little bit conservative in my old age, but just use some bloody common sense that especially after the fires that ravaged, this part of New South Wales, the greater Sydney area is an incredible, it's a Garden of Eden of ecological diversity. And it's some of the last bastions for koalas and they're still smashing their areas, their habitat, which is what's happening up here at Kariong.

Jake Cassar: (23:09)

That's exactly what they're trying to do. They're not trying to do that, they have knocked down probably a couple of thousand koala trees. Now that was the illegal clearing that happened, I've got that on video, I don't know if you caught that.

Mason: (23:19)

I did.

Jake Cassar: (23:21)

We're looking into making sure that fines are issued and that land is regenerated. That more archaeological studies go in to that area. Just trying to keep an eye on it again. I'm going to give another plug to Coast Environmental Alliance, a little group we've got on Facebook. We've actually got close to 6,000 members. If you want to get involved in something, people that are watching this, that will bear results, win, lose, or draw. It's getting results because good people are coming together, again black, white and everything in between.

Jake Cassar: (23:50)

We don't care what your background is. Join with us to push towards something extremely positive, sustainable development. We're not a no group, we're a yes group, but how can we work together to start to head in the right direction. But every now and then you've got to dig your heels in and say no more. If we don't, for example in this area, it's going to cause the localised extinction of koalas in this area, which will contribute to what they're saying, koalas being extinct on the mainland Australia or in the wild, rather in Australia within three decades, it's just not good enough. We need to draw a line somewhere.

Mason: (24:31)

That's not, and I love how inclusive you are. And I really do recommend everyone follow your personal Instagram and Facebook for updates. But that's great to know that we've got that Facebook page there, whenever I can join the community and find out what action they can take, because there's also look, there's going to need to be resources and funds and people on the ground. As you said, it took nine years, for you to secure that largest area of national parks.

Jake Cassar: (24:56)

Well, it was us, mate, it was a team effort, it was everybody that sent a letter. It was people like yourself. And I don't expect everybody to be, I don't like the term activist. I consider it doing your best to be a responsible adult for the country that you live in and do the right thing by your kids. Caring for the land is the ultimate act of self-care because you're caring for future generations, even after you're gone. All people have got to do is just follow what's going on. Send the occasional letter. We're not allowed to protest anymore, another debate, but people can take action. People can empower themselves by taking responsibility for the country they're privileged enough to live in, send a letter, make the phone call. If you go and see, there's always somewhere to send a letter to.

Jake Cassar: (25:36)

There's always an action to take. With respect to a lot of environmental groups, mate they're experts at having meetings and delicious finger food and all that kind of thing. But when it comes to action, there's always something to do. You can write a press release, anyone. You could write a press release about this and send it to anyone. You can make a phone call about this. You can send an email, you can get in touch with me and say, "Jake, what can I do to help?" Which is my favourite question that I get asked. There's always a way of getting involved in environmental protection in your own area. People do things in different ways. And as I said, I not only know that a lot of people can't, work sometimes 20 hours a day like I do to protect the environment, which is what you've got to do.

Jake Cassar: (26:16)

And I even don't recommend it for a lot of people because you'll burn out really, really quickly. But you know, realistically there is things people can do, but you start to see a lot of that. I know we touched on this last time, but a lot of the new age kind of stuff, coming into bloody activism now where they're talking about, activism's all about balance, and self-care, and taking it easy and that. No, it's not, it's about sacrifice. It's about hard work. You know, grab that balance wherever you can, don't get me wrong. Grab the self-care wherever you can, because there's going to be times where you're going to go without sleep. There's going to be times where you're going to have a lot of hate and anger coming towards you and probably from your own camp, a lot of the time other activists.

Jake Cassar: (27:02)

That's been my experience, there can be a lot of toxicity within that movement. It's why I believe the doof scene and sort of the young hippie scene, if I had to label it has become less about activism and more about what's become modern leftism, I suppose. Its hard work, but it's deeply satisfying and it's absolutely paramount, it's critical that people step up now. It's really now or never, look at what's going on, I'm sorry to rant, but look at what's going on in the world today. We're just good people, good people got to come together, to say the left and right again, the left and right of politics wants to keep us all divided.

Jake Cassar: (27:39)

Imagine if the beautiful indigenous people of our country, the first people of Australia banded with the beautiful whatever background. I don't like saying non indigenous because I'm from here. But imagine if all the good people in Australia dug our heels in and said nup, nup, you're not taking this any further. You're not going to keep trashing the land. You're not going to cause the extinction of koalas and all the other fauna and flora, you're not going to attack our water tables. Do it peacefully, do it respectfully, but do it passionately and stick together. Again, mate it's now or never.

Mason: (28:11)

It is now or never. And your inclusive nature is like, all right, whether you're in politics, this organisation, whether you've got a business, whether you're a mom, whether you're a dad, whether you've got heaps of resources, not, whatever. It's just, as you said, it is a part of your own self-care practise to get involved, start protecting the land and doing the right thing. And it comes with the betterment of yourself ultimately. Man, I love it. And I love the fact that, someone like yourself is like, it makes me, which isn't, I don't think is necessarily a healthy thought. It makes me feel good, that there's people like you, Jake on the front line going, but ultimately what that does is it does really inspire me to stay involved, I'll keep on staying involved. Let me know and let us all know when there's any mass push for anything that you're going to be directly useful.

Mason: (28:59)

Otherwise, I do encourage everyone to go and join that Facebook page, which we'll pop in the show notes. Everyone can get involved and keep your finger on the pulse. And I think another thing I've learned from you is to not get caught up in that, the delicious endorphins of jumping in, and getting upset and angry about what's going on and then burning out, and realising you actually don't have the capacity to hold that emotion. But rather going in sustainably, if you want to be screaming from the rooftops for sustainability from the government, from the Land Councils, from all these people, which is all we want. I didn't mean to insult anyone who is involved in the Land Council before. I just had to get my emotional baggage out.

Mason: (29:42)

But, it's not about dragging any of these things down. It's just about, gentle asking for us all to become better, and sometimes we're going to bump heads, but ultimately you want to make sure you're going in a sustainable manner so that you can keep this up for the rest of your life. It's an important element of being alive on this earth. It's something, if we're going to learn anything from mob is that we're custodians. And I learned that from you a lot, that's why I love following along with you, mate. So I really appreciate you taking the time, especially since you've been tracking for the last 24 hours.

Jake Cassar: (30:15)

Well, that's been pretty exciting. Yeah. And, back to people doing what they can, even if people do, like a shooting star burn bright for a little while and then burn out, that's okay. If you go to the top of CEA page, Coast Environmental Alliance, you'll see a pinned post there. As soon, in regards to this development in Kariong Sacred Lands, we'll be able to make submissions against that official submissions. But on CEA, we've always got a pinned post at the top of the page, which gives lots of information. And then there's an email for people to send. You want to send that one email, you can either copy and paste, but it's better if you put it in your own words, and then just follow through with each person.

Jake Cassar: (30:53)

Once a week is fine, make a phone call, follow-up with a phone call. And then the key is to just not give up until you get answers, you can share things. My email's on there as well. So you can send things back to me. I've got this response from the local mayor or the local state member. If you're lucky and you get a response, and if you don't, then give them a call, give them a call and just keep chipping away. If we were to look at it like this, they've got a certain issue over here where there's piles or paper building up on their table. And you look at this issue here in Kariong and it's building up, building up, when this becomes overwhelming, especially in the lead up to an election.

Jake Cassar: (31:28)

And just your average person, you know what, I focused on my friends that are Liberal voters, there's not heaps of them, but there's a few. So yeah, I had a Liberal politician turn up to one of our rallies and I heard him say to one of his minders on his way out, "There wasn't a Liberal vote in that place." And the penny dropped, the penny dropped. Then we stopped trying to appeal to the tree huggers as such, and lucky we've always been able to appeal to the general public, but started to really try and do letterbox drops in a local area and just try to appeal to everyday people with the kind of language we use. And that's what changes stuff. When someone messages, and says, "Listen, I'm normally a supporter of yours. I would vote for you in the next election. I love it that you've done this, this, this, and this." But if you don't and you've got to watch your wording, because you're dealing with a human being.

Jake Cassar: (32:17)

If you don't support this and sustainable development, and again, I'm not against development, then I'll certainly won't be voting for you in the next election. And it's that kind of language not put so raw because again, some politicians will just reject you for saying things like that. It will certainly catch their attention. And that's really the kind of grassroots activism that works when they think that it's going to cost them the election. They say it's not about votes, but if they don't get re-elected, they can't do all the wonderful things that they promised just before elections. Some do, some deliver wonderful things.

Mason: (32:49)

As you said man, got to drop all those political labels, right? We've got to not be caught up in that. That's all a smoke screen. We're all beautiful humans. And you know, ultimately as you just said, we're dealing with humans, we can always appeal to our own humanity, therefore other people's humanity. I needed that reminder, it's fun getting caught up in a little bit of us versus them for a while.

Jake Cassar: (33:12)

I think there is a little bit of that, mate. I think there are some people that don't give a shit about the land and about our future, and they are focused on short term goals. But I'm more talking about the way that you interact with people, on a lesser degree, some people can be quite petty, and you see a lot of it on social media too. People don't agree with something, so they block them or they're just nasty or disrespectful in the comments. There's a lot of that getting around nowadays. A lot of politicians can be quite petty, so if you say something that upsets them, they will just ignore you. I'm just, I guess, talking about interacting with other people, even if you don't like them, with respect and just edging towards trying to get a goal.

Jake Cassar: (33:51)

If you get correspondence from a politician and your toing and froing, here's that paper metaphor again, you've got the paper building up on their table. If they're getting back to you, then it shows there's an interest there. And if they're getting back to 16 other people that week, 20 people, 30 people, 50 people, and that paper keeps building up. And when they speak to someone further up the food chain in their political party, and they say, "What are the main issues that are pressing in your region?" They say, "Oh, this one." 'Oh, shit, what are we going to do? We've pretty much promised that that development's going to go ahead." I'm not insinuating this, but let's just say, for example, we've even set up a stacked planning panel here that's just going to approve it. What are we going to do? Well, it might cost us the election. This is how that stuff works, Mason.

Mason: (34:36)

All right, well, let's keep on pushing, pushing and pressing.

Jake Cassar: (34:39)

Yeah, we're good at that.

Mason: (34:42)

Well, I think you've given everyone some really solid advice to where they can take it next. I appreciate you coming on. Were there any last messages or any little things you want to drop on everyone? And as well, tell them about your tours as well.

Jake Cassar: (34:57)

Yeah, I'm a bushcraft teacher. I've spent the last probably 25 years. Wow, it's pretty cool to be able to say that, one of the good things about getting a little bit older. Spent about the last 30 years, my God, more spending time in the bush. The first time I did a survival mission, wasn't meant to be a survival mission, I was about 17 and lived off the land for like three and a half weeks. Up in (inaudible) national park. And then just basically kept doing that throughout my life. Went bush, just when I left working as a bouncer for 10 years, the local pubs and clubs. And I lived up in the bush for around four or five months up the back of Kariong, up there with an Aboriginal family that stayed with me for a while with their kids.

Jake Cassar: (35:40)

And we all sharing knowledge and learning tracking together and developing our skills. And, since then I've started teaching. I worked as a senior ranger at a local wildlife sanctuary for quite a few years and I've done bush tucker talks right around Australia, worked with quite a few Aboriginal communities. University of Western Sydney, I'll go there and they bring between 50 and a 100 indigenous youth from remote communities there each year. For the last two and a half years, I've been leasing a property up at Mangrove Mountain, only an hour north of Sydney and an hour south of Newcastle. And I run tracking courses, bushcraft courses, mainly plant based because my forte is edible and medicinal plants, maybe we can get on and have a chat about that one day.

Jake Cassar: (36:24)

And in supporting my courses, you're supporting all my environmental work, my youth work, I work as a youth worker as well, and in the local juvenile justice systems and places and running some programs up on the property up there soon, we calling it the Youth Trackers Camp. And yeah. So if anyone wants to get on board, it's all about building community.

Jake Cassar: (36:48)

I don't sort of say very spiritual as such things very often. And I know that's very, very popular nowadays, but I do say to people, if you want to get involved in this brand of what's going on, it's all about to me, if anyone comes at me with wanting me to go and get into the ayahuasca, get into this, or get into that and learn about these spirituality and that spirituality, if it doesn't have at the core of it, and I can be quite arrogant here and I'll own that, if the core of it, isn't helping to create a safe and sustainable future for our children, then I'm really not that interested in it because in my opinion, that is the conversation we need to not only be having that conversation now that's the action we need to be taking now. Because if we don't, we're screwed.

Mason: (37:33)

Yeah. That is at the core of all cultures. That and...

Jake Cassar: (37:35)

It was.

Mason: (37:39)

It was. You're right.

Jake Cassar: (37:42)

It used to be. There's some pretty amazing things happening in the background at the moment, mate. I'm having some incredible conversations around the campfire with some incredibly wonderful people, some gentle people, but passionate people that are ready to go. And I've had so many people coming to me saying, "We should go this way, we should go that way, we should do this." I said, "I'm just going to keep doing what we're doing." Looking after the land, looking after the youth, taking counsel from the elders, which includes non-indigenous elders, anyone who's had the life experience and knows how to create again, to etch towards a safe and sustainable future for our future generations.

Jake Cassar: (38:16)

When, I say our children I mean that collectively. Good people have just got to band together and do as much good as we can. It's the journey, not the destination. I tell people to go and learn survival skills because we're going to need them, that's becoming more and more apparent now that, that is highly likely to be in our personal future or in the future of our children or grandchildren.

Jake Cassar: (38:38)

So it's not only survival, physically, being able to live off the land, but it's also survival, I'll use the word spiritually, how we can interrelate to each other, how we can work together. We're in this survival of the fittest society at the moment, we need to move much more towards how the land works and how all of our ancient ancestors lived. And that was survival of the most cooperative, resilience comes into it, being fit and being strong and sometimes survival of the fittest realistically comes into it, but you know, survival of the most cooperative, how can we best work together towards a safe and sustainable future? That's where I'm at.

Mason: (39:21)

Amen. Everyone, especially if you're in Sydney, Gosford, Newey, it's easy for you to get down and do... And you've got day courses, you've got overnights. It's available to everyone and the youth work. You've always been doing such good work with the youth work. So, if that appeals to you, go check it out and let's definitely line up another chat talking about the bush tucker, talking about what it's like to actually come back and eat the food from this land and learn how to track this land. That'd be great.

Jake Cassar: (39:49)

Good stuff mate, it was great spending some time with you again.

Mason: (39:53)

Yeah, absolutely. Hope I'll see you soon.

Jake Cassar: (39:55)

For sure champ.

105 episodes