Recent events

2019 – annual list – followed by detail of each event below



Stargazing at Trevallyn Sat 21 Sept 4-8pm Trevallyn Observatory – near Gresford


Paterson Allyn Williams Festival of Science
Sat 10 Aug 3.30-5pm Festival Launch + Conversation With Author Glenn Albrecht, James Theatre, Dungog
Sat 10 Aug 6.30-8.30pm Scinema film festival, James Theatre, Dungog
Wed 14 Aug 10.30-noon Junior Science on the Street, Dowling St, Dungog
Thurs 15 Aug 6-8pm Fermentation + Trivia Night, Tin Shed Brewery, Dungog
Sun 18 Aug 10am-4pm Future Paddock, Allynbrook
‘This project received grant funding from the Australian Government.’


Plastic Free July in Dungog


Opals Fri 17 May 6pm CWA Hall Dungog

Sustainability Spotlight on Dungog Shire Sun 26 May 3-6pmJames Theatre Dungog


Fungi Foray Sun 7 Apr 9am Upper Allyn River, in association with the National Parks Association (HunterBranch)


Talking DNA Sat 16 Mar 5pm James Theatre Dungog

2019 – about the events

September 2019

Stargazing at Trevallyn

Sat 21 Sept 4-8pm Trevallyn Observatory – near Gresford


Paterson Allyn Williams Science Hub’s Stargazing night

Ruth Dircks

As the 90 or so people were travelling along several kilometres of dirt road to a private observatory at Trevallyn for the Paterson Allyn Williams Science Hub’s Stargazing night, they must have watched the changing cloud cover with apprehension.
But they need not have been concerned because the September 21 event turned out to be a memorable evening.
People began arriving about 4pm and there was a variety of activities for the remaining daylight hours.
Those who were ready to relax could sit looking over the rolling hills, green from recent rain, and watch the changing colours as the sun set.
Others could view the fascinating and beautifully presented memorabilia that had been collected over many years by the host and observatory owner, Darren Jones.
The subjects included a wide range of sporting activities, meteorites and rocks from memorable sites around the world, fragments of timber from historic buildings and from the Royal Coach Britannia, built by an Australian coach builder to commemorate the Queen’s 80th birthday.
For those who wanted to begin their stargazing in daylight one of the four light telescopes, brought for the occasion by the Newcastle Astronomical Society, could be used to view the hydrogen spectrum of the sun or they could watch the signal picked up from the sun via the observatory’s own radio telescope.
The other important activity before dark was partaking of the excellent spit roast meal including a variety of salads generously provided by Darren.
Soon after that there was excitement when the first “star” was spotted amongst the clouds and was immediately identified as Jupiter.
From then on people took turns at the four Newcastle telescopes and the observatory’s light telescope for views of Jupiter and Saturn.
All the astronomers patiently made sure that everyone got a good view and those people watching the radio telescope signal saw the seemingly erratic spikes in the signal from Jupiter, some of which would have been caused by the passing of one or more of Jupiter’s many moons.
The clouds came and went throughout the evening. Sometimes there was little more to see than the two planets but at other times the constellation Scorpio was clear and fleetingly, the Southern Cross.
Many attendees had stargazing aps and had fun pointing at “our” stars and then pointing at the ground to see what was visible on the other side of the Earth.
Once everyone had had a turn – or three – at the various telescopes and it became clear that the cloud cover would not improve, people gradually drifted home after a very relaxing yet informative evening.
Thanks to the generosity of Darren and his friends from the Newcastle Astronomical Society.

Stargazing at Trevallyn

FREE event

Trevallyn Observatory – near Gresford

Join us to learn more about the stars. Enjoy a talk by members from the Newcastle Astronomical Society who will have a range of telescopes available for viewing the sun & the night sky.

It is also a unique opportunity to visit this private observatory and view an incredible collection of astronomy related memorabilia.

Limited numbers: Bookings essential through eventbrite –

This event is very popular and is close to booking out. Contact us if you would like to be added to the waiting list.

Map and further details available when you book. Rug up to enjoy this outdoor event. Bring a chair or rug to sit on.


10-18 National Science Week

Paterson Allyn Williams Festival of Science

click here for full details

‘This project received grant funding from the Australian Government.’

Sat 10 Aug 3.30-5pm Festival Launch + Conversation With Author Glenn Albrecht, James Theatre, Dungog

Sat 10 Aug 6.30-8.30pm Scinema film festival, James Theatre, Dungog

Wed 14 Aug 10.30-noon Junior Science on the Street, Dowling St, Dungog

Thurs 15 Aug 6-8pm Fermentation + Trivia Night, Tin Shed Brewery, Dungog

Sun 18 Aug 10am-4pm Future Paddock, Allynbrook

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July 2019

Plastic Free July in Dungog

Plastic Free July in Dungog was launched on Sat 29 June.


Enter the competition and show/tell us of your plastic-free alternatives.

May 2019



Paterson Allyn Williams Science Hub busts some opal myths

Some of the mysteries of the beautiful opal are no longer thanks to a special event organised by the Paterson Allyn Williams Science Hub

The fabulous gem was in the spotlight for a presentation by Dungog resident, psychologist turned opal miner and cutter Toby Solomon.

The May 17 event started with organisers having to put out more chairs, as people crowded into the Dungog CWA hall, and ended with a noisy buzz of conversation around Toby and her display of opals and potch.

“The audience, ranging in age from 9 to 90, was fascinated by Toby’s description of life in the Grawin Opal Fields near Lightning Ridge,” said Ruth Dirks from the Science Hub.

Toby described the composition and range of opals, dispelled myths, especially the one about opals bringing bad luck, and explained why the colours appear different from different angles.

Her talk was illustrated throughout, showing the changes in mining practices today from those in the early 1900s, the claustrophobic interiors of mineshafts and a stunning array of products of Toby’s mining experience.

“Toby used a map of the location of the seven major opal fields in Australia to explain how characteristically different are the opals from the different fields,” said Mrs Dirks.

“She showed photos of her opal-cutting equipment, which garnered many questions from the kids in the audience.

“Toby explored the difference between precious opal and common opal or potch: she explained how potch can be glued to very thin pieces of precious opal to make doublets. Opals are hard but some care needs to be taken – they are susceptible to scratching.

“The harsh reality is that in the marketing chain opal miners take the most risks and receive the least financial reward. Opals then pass through cutters, buyers and jewellery manufacturers to the retailers who have the lowest risk and highest profit. Miners work under harsh conditions too: not everyone in the audience agreed with Toby that mining looked like “fun”.”

With plenty of audience participation throughout the evening, people left feeling they had been close to the opal mining experience Mrs Dircks said.

FREE event
Friday 17 May CWA Hall Dungog

Australia’s National Gem • How is it formed? What makes a good one? • Myths & mysteries

Psychologist turned opal miner and cutter, Toby Solomon will talk about her transition from the office to Grawin Opal Field where she and her partner owned several opal mines.
Wielding a jack hammer, pick and shovel, and eventually learning how to cut and polish the elusive gemstone over 12 years, the two of them carved out a “beyond the Black Stump” life.

With slides and stories, she will briefly talk about the history, and then guide you through the different kinds of opals in the various fields of Australia, with a focus on the fields she mined in and knew best. Finally she will have several stones for you to view, talk about what makes an opal valuable and answer questions you might have.

May 2019

Sustainability Spotlight on Dungog Shire

Sun 26 May 3-6pm James Theatre Dungog


Sustainability Spotlight on Dungog Shire

FREE event in association with Sustaining the Williams Valley Inc & Single Use Plastic Free Dungog
Sunday 26 May James Theatre Dungog

Series of short talks showcasing sustainable practices in businesses and community groups in our shire.

A series of short, fast and punchy (‘Pecha Kucha’ style) talks from those who have sustainability as a core component of what they do.

Join us for FREE drinks and nibbles after the show!

FREE EVENT Everybody welcome.

Some of our speakers & stalls include: Tin Shed Brewery, HannanBuild, 4 Acre Farm, Wangat Lodge, Australian Sustainable Timbers, Fosterton Farm, Local Growers Market, The Magpie, Westwood Providores + others
The final list of speakers & stall will be announced soon.

Thanks to: Lovey’s Grocers, Stella Bistro, Boomerang Bags, Dungog Shire Council, Dungog Shire Community Centre

April 2019

Fungi Foray

Fungi Foray

FREE event in association with the National Parks Association (HunterBranch)
Sunday 7 April Upper Allyn River
9am to mid afternoon

Learn about fungi and participate in a community survey in the picturesque Upper Allyn and Paterson Valleys.

This is the second Fungi Foray in the area. The first survey was held last year and this follow-up survey is important to document variations.

Fungi are at their best in Autumn. Recent rains and warm weather promise to make this an ideal time to see and learn about a range of these often overlooked organisms, a vital part of our natural ecosystems.

There will be experienced and knowledgeable guides very familiar with the area. Anyone with an interest is invited to attend, and the day is suitable for people of all ages and abilities. Participants need to bring suitable clothing, footwear and food, and be prepared for some walking off tracks.

The day starts at Peach Tree Picnic Area in Chichester State Forest at 9.00 am finishing by mid afternoon.
For more information, please contact Martin Fallding on T 6571 1208
E Note please RSVP to Martin Fallding by Wednesday if possible to help with organisation on the day.

The National Parks Association is conducting Koala surveys in this area the following weekend 13/14 April 2019. Contact John Simpson if you would like more information at or Mobile 0400 364 080.


Fungi, koalas, the stars and more

March 2019

Talking DNA

Talking DNA

FREE event – 5pm Saturday 16 March James Theatre Dungog

DNA is the blueprint for building all life on earth including humans, but what is it made of and how does it work? Why do some of us look like our fathers yet different to our mothers? and how did our knowledge of unique traits form the basis of genetic engineering, leading onto things like longer lasting apples and seedless watermelons?

Laura Greco (Newcastle University) will be doing an introductory talk on genes and DNA, and how our ability to edit and reprogram genes could cure diseases, character select our own children and result in a real ‘Jurassic Park’.

And Alex Kelly (Biofoundry) is the manager of Sydney first PC-1 compliant community science lab which is making insulin affordable with a citizen science approach to medical research. He will discuss the ‘Open Science’ movement, DIY genetic engineering, biohacking, synthetic biology and CRISPR/CAS9 kits.


DNA in Dungog

Paterson Allyn Williams Science Hub event well attended

Around 50 people gathered in the James Theatre on the rainy Saturday afternoon of March 16 to hear a fascinating pair of talks on the structure and function of DNA.

The Paterson Allyn Williams Science Hub with the support of “Inspiring Australia” hosted Laura Greco, studying a PhD in medical genetics, and Alex Kelly from BioFoundry who works in the do-it-yourself field of science.

Laura explained how our understanding of genetics got to be where it is today and Alex picked up from there and explained the rapidly advancing area of genetic manipulation.

They were able to show how different their respective research environments are. Laura has access to academic resources and is subject to tightly controlled constraints and regulations whereas Alex has problems funding his research but has fewer controls on his work.

“After their talks enthusiastic questions from the audience took up more than the available time and Laura and Alex collaborated to give thoughtful and thought provoking answers,” said Jane Richens from the Hub.

“These two young scientists are impressive in their commitment to science, the clarity of their presentations and their awareness of future benefits and pitfalls.

“Laura made the basic principles of genetics understandable by the use of interesting analogies and left us marvelling at how amazingly small are the detailed structures that control all life forms.

“She elaborated on some well known examples of genetic manipulation and compared slow genetic manipulation by controlled breeding with the rapid changes made possible by genetic engineering.

“Alex revealed the existence of an international group of scientists, collaborating together outside of academia and operating on limited funds but with strong collaboration.

“He explained how control by the three insulin producing companies has led to the prohibitively high cost of insulin even though production costs are very low.

“The amazing rate of change in genetic engineering techniques was emphasised by his description of a kit that people can use to carry out safe and simple genetic modification of a bacterium in their homes.”


November 2018

Native Bee Workshop

Native Bee Workshop

Paterson Allyn Wiliams Science Hub & Dungog Bee Rapt presents the Native Bee Workshop.

Are you interested in keeping native stingless bees for fun, honey production, conservation or pollination? Or are you curious about these wonderful, beautiful insects? This one-day workshop will give you the facts, get you started on becoming a stingless beekeeper, and open up a world that too few know about. The day will include hive and colony splitting, honey extraction … and tasting!

Entomologist Dr Tim Heard keeps over 400 hives, many rescued threatened hives, and has been running native bee workshops since 1995.
Ecologist Dr Tobias Smith has been fascinated by bees since childhood and is a director of Bee Aware Brisbane.

This was a popular workshop and was booked out. We are looking to hold another one in November 2019. Contact us if you would like to be put on a waiting list.

August 2018

National Science Week 2018 – 5 events


FREE event for National Science Week
Saturday 11 August, 3–5pm
James Theatre Dungog

C.O.R.E! Community Owned Renewable Energy
Expert panel discussion with Q&A

Many communities around Australia are realising the opportunities of localised power generation and distribution to benefit their communities. CORE is a way for communities to come together to initiate, develop, operate, own and benefit from their own renewable energy projects.

A panel of experts has been invited to present to the community at the event: Jarra Hicks of Community Power Agency, David Marston of Energise Gloucester and Sandi Middleton of Enova Community Energy will explain what it is, why now and could it be part of Dungog’s energy future. MC for the event will be Christopher Saunders, General Manager of Renew Newcastle.

Community Power Agency define Community Owned Renewable Energy as being developed in response to the fundamental challenges of climate change, regional economic development, energy access and affordability. CORE presents an opportunity for communities across Australia, particularly in regional areas, to create a steady income stream to fund community development projects over the next 25+ years.

The panel will use examples of existing projects to discuss the concept, the environmental, social, economic, technological and political benefits that can result. We will explore the hurdles that may need to be overcome and share information on where additional help can be sourced should communities in the Dungog region wish to undertake such a project.

Some of the community benefits that have been attributed to CORE projects include • Local ownership and decision making • Community building and empowerment • Renewable energy education and training • Renewable energy industry development • Energy self sufficiency • Regional development and income diversification • Community assets • Local jobs • Shareholder income • Community income • GHG emissions reduction • Increase in environmental values and behaviour

Presented by the Paterson Allyn Williams Science Hub and Sustaining the Williams Valley inc. This initiative is supported by Inspiring Australia and the NSW Government.

FREE event for National Science Week
Saturday 11 August, 7 pm
James Theatre Dungog

The BEST of SCINEMA: International Science Film Festival 2018 (M)

The film program is recommended for film and science lovers – featuring 9 International Award Winning films presented by the Science Channel and BBC Earth. Special guests at Scinema in Dungog: Meet Frank Oly and Tegan Nock who produced the Grassroots documentary, & Agronomist Guy Webb

Virtual humans (Spain) 6:00 mins This film is a technically stunning example of the power and versatility of supercomputers, helping us to see our body in ways we never have before.

The Secret To Making Better Decisions – Catalyst (Australia) 1:30 mins (excerpt only) To make the most abstract of mathematical concepts and logical reasoning both accessible and informative while still remaining humorous and relatable is an extraordinary effort.

Grassroots (Australia) 19:10 mins This story of farmers turned accidental activists is one you want to share with everyone
you know.

Astroturf (UK) 1:00 min This clever film takes the old adage ‘in space no one can hear you scream’ and turns it on its head.

Timelapse (Spain) 11:00 mins The Director has crafted a compelling, yet harrowing world in this imaginative portrayal of the future of work, a discussion we need to have now as a society… before the future arrives.

KCLOC (USA) 2:30 mins With exquisite animation this film manages to take something common to all of us that we don’t stop to think about into something fun, witty and nuanced.

iRONY (Australia) 8:00 mins An incredibly confronting and powerful discussion of technology, showing how emotive a science documentary can be. This film contains adult themes.

Planet Earth II – Grasslands (UK) 1:30 mins (excerpt only) Visually stunning, with writing to aspire to, BBC Earth and the stories they tell are truly one of the jewels of documentary making in the world. This wonderful effort is no exception.

The Kingdom – How Fungi Made Our World (Australia) 52:00 mins This film takes us on a wonderfully creative journey from the beginning of time to the present, revealing the hidden world of fungi with beautiful cinematography.

Presented by the Paterson Allyn Williams Science Hub and Australia’s Science Channel. This initiative is supported by Inspiring Australia and the NSW Government.

FREE event for National Science Week
and Dungog Boomerang Bags 2nd Birthday
Sunday 12 August, 3 pm
James Theatre Dungog

BLUE the Film

“BLUE is a cinematic song for our oceans; beautiful, intimate and grand. Fearlessly truth-telling, yet passionately hopeful. See this film and you will want to rise up with the waves.”
Greenpeace Australia

Our ocean has been the guardian of life on earth but half of all marine life has been lost in the last 40 years. The tide has come for change. Now it is our turn to be guardians for the ocean. BLUE is a provocative journey into the ocean realm, witnessing this critical moment in time when the marine world is on a precipice.

There will be a Q&A panel with scientists/conservationists following the screening with drinks and nibblies provided. We invite all in the community to this free event as we celebrate working together for Reduce ReUse Recycle.

Presented by the Paterson Allyn Williams Science Hub and Dungog Boomerang Bags. This initiative is supported by Inspiring Australia and the NSW Government.

FREE event for National Science Week
Friday 10 August, 6 pm
Hotel Beatty, East Gresford

Koalas in the Pub
Find out about our local Koalas – A talk with Q+A

Local ecologist John Simpson and Martin Fallding from the National Parks Association will be at the Hotel Beatty to talk about koalas, their upcoming koala survey and to answer your koala questions. Then stay on for the Gresford Community Dinner and meet some other locals! This will be an entertaining night at the Beatty. If staying for dinner give Bernie a ring on 49389451 to make catering easier.

FREE event for National Science Week
SAT 18 & SUN 19 Aug
Upper Allyn River area

Koala Count – Surveyors needed for Community Koala survey
You don’t need to be an expert learn from professional ecologists.

The survey is being conducted by the National Parks Association of NSW. The weekend provides an opportunity to visit and learn about this beautiful area, generate important scientific data and have fun in the bush. Come for one day or the whole weekend. Free camping at the Allyn River.

To register for the survey: John Simpson 0400 364 080 or Martin Fallding 6571 1208 before Mon 13 August.

Get the participant info and map.

Presented by the Paterson Allyn Williams Science Hub and National Parks Association of NSW, Hunter Region. This initiative is supported by Inspiring Australia and the NSW Government.

Media from past events

Festival of Science-NationalScienceWeek-10-18Aug2019

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‘This project received grant funding from the Australian Government.’


Sat 10 Aug 3.30-5pm Festival Launch + Conversation With Author Glenn Albrecht, James Theatre, Dungog

Sat 10 Aug 6.30-8.30pm Scinema film festival + special guest talk, James Theatre, Dungog

Wed 14 Aug 10.30-noon Junior Science on the Street, Dowling St, Dungog

Thurs 15 Aug 6-8pm Fermentation + Trivia Night, Tin Shed Brewery, Dungog

Sun 18 Aug 10am-4pm Future Paddock, Allynbrook – limited numbers, RSVP essential via Eventbrite 


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Sat 10 Aug 3.30-5.00pm

Festival Launch + Conversation With Author Glenn Albrecht

James Theatre, Brown St Dungog

Environmental Philosopher Dr Glenn Albrecht will be featured author during the Paterson Allyn Williams Festival Of Science, where he will help open the Festival, do a Dungog launch of his book Earth Emotions: New Words For A New World, and take part in a public conversation about Earth Emotions with the Science Hub’s John O’Brien. Glenn’s book introduces dozens of new words and ideas that will help frame the challenges, debate and solutions into the coming decades.
Words have power. A new word can help us recognise a challenge, shape a debate, understand ourselves and the world. At a time when many people, especially the young, are feeling loss and despair about the future of the planet, Glenn’s work will help us understand our feelings about the world and provides a guide to find a way forward.
Glenn Albrecht retired as professor of sustainability at Murdoch University in Perth, Western Australia in June 2014. He is now an Honorary Professorial Fellow in the School of Geosciences, The University of Sydney. He was at the University of Newcastle as Associate Professor of Environmental Studies until December 2008. Glenn is also a noted bird enthusiast and now lives at Duns Creek.

After this event you might like to grab a quick bite or a drink from one of the local establishments before the screening of the Best of Scinema: International Science Film Festival 2019 at 6.30pm. Come along and be sure to bring your own questions.

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Sat 10 Aug 6.30-8.30pm

Scinema film festival + special guest talk

James Theatre, Brown St Dungog

It’s back – all the award winning films from the Best of SCINEMA: International Science Film Festival 2019. SCINEMA is the largest science film festival in the southern hemisphere, showcasing the best science feature, short, documentary, animated and experimental films from filmmakers around the world. AND among this year’s films will be the short “Smart Slime?”, which won the festival’s prestigious Scientific Merit award. Its award-winning director, Juliette Martineau, is flying out from England specially for the Dungog screening. 

This program is about two hours long & may not suit younger primary school kids. FREE.

Scroll to the bottom of this page for the full screening program.

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Wed 14 Aug 10.30-noon

Junior Science on the Street

Dowling St, Dungog

Fun for all ages! Join junior scientists from across the shire for over a dozen active experiments & demonstrations. Everyone is welcome to join in, watch science in action, & learn a thing or three. Some of them are hands-on too.

Pretty well every school in Dungog Shire is doing something, from robotics to chemistry, to biology & more. Challenge the kids with your questions!

The last time the Junior Scientist event happened in 2012 the response from folk in the street was fantastic. Don’t miss out. It’s FREE, too. You can catch it outside the IGA & inside the CWA Hall.

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Thurs 15 Aug 6-8pm

Fermentation + Trivia Night

Tin Shed Brewery, Dowling St Dungog

It’s A Fermentation Frolic – & a little alcoholic!

Fermenting is what you have to do to make – beer, yoghurt, spirits, kim chee, kombucha, pickles & bread. Discover yeasts, bacteria & fungi. Sample some, peer through a microscope at others, & enjoy the local lagers. Learn the gruesome truth of mother, sour culture, wort & other creatures, & enjoy micro-chats from a real brewer and others.

Necrotic flesh-eating bacteria may also get a mention.

Intersperse the fermenting fun with Science Trivia. Discover your inner genius! No truth too trivial! It’s a laid-back PRIZE-FILLED  evening with Master Of Trivia, local science teacher and musician Michael Kelly.

This FREEEEE event is for over 18s.

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Sun 18 Aug 10am-4pm

Future Paddock

Allynbrook – limited numbers, RSVP essential via Eventbrite

The future of agriculture from the soil to the skies. Come for a couple of hours or the whole event. Please BYO lunch, mug and camp chair. The venue is a private property at Allynbrook, about 30 minutes from Dungog & 15 minutes from East Gresford.

Future Paddock EVENTS  

• Agricultural Robotics 

First up at 10am – ‘Swagbot’ as seen on ABC-TV’s Catalyst program
Professor Salah Sukkarieh from the University of Sydney’s Australian Centre for Field Robotics will explain what has been accomplished in field robotics for agriculture and animal welfare. He will discuss what is the future and what it means for farmers/growers.
• Q&A session
• Demonstration of some features of Swagbot robot including
o Swagbot capability to autonomously and optimally navigate around the farm,
o autonomously avoiding static objects
o taking soil samples
o Weeding capability (due to the existing configuration of robot, we may or may not demonstrate spraying)
o dynamic object avoidance (work in progress)
o animal tracking (work in progress)
• Q&A session as long as time permits.

• Lunch

Please BYO lunch, mug and camp chair.

• Drones in agriculture

12.30 pm
Sphere Drones team members Alex, Ari and Harrison will present some of the commercial drone industry’s most advanced technologies that serve industries such as agriculture, mining and surveying. Some of the products they will be discussing and will have on show are:
• Micasense RedEdge-MX Multispectral camera
• Sphere Drones Water Sampler V2.0
• Matrice 210 RTK
• Phantom 4 Pro V2 AG
• Delair UX11
• Flyability Elios 2
The presentation will be hands and attendees will be able to come up and see and touch the drones and there will be brochures and information available to take home.

• Ecological Restoration 

Biological Preservation Australia will introduce the principles of ecological restoration and explain the process from choosing a site & selecting plants to planting, care/protection and follow-up secondary species plantings. Will include a planting demonstration.

• Explore regenerative agriculture 

A Q&A about regenerative agriculture from the Kater family who are in the process of incorporating it into their farming practice – learning from their own mistakes and successes

let us know you are coming by registering via Eventbrite. The eventbrite registration is literally 3 mouse clicks and you provide your name and a contact email – under a minute all up! It means we have an idea how many people are coming and we can contact you with last minute information or changes.


Best of SCINEMA (CTC) + Special guest filmmaker talk
Saturday 10 August, 6.30 pm


2 hours

THE FACE OF A STRANGER (Canada) 50 minutes Best Film French (English subtitles) Directed by Geneviève Turcotte, Produced by Découverte, Radio-Canada, Written by Danny Lemieux

After a 2011 hunting accident, this Quebec man thought he’d live forever with half a face. Then a confident young surgeon made an extraordinary offer. Face of Stranger takes us on a medical journey of epic proportions – where the odds of success are less than ideal. That didn’t bother the prospective patient, 65-year-old Maurice Desjardins, who desperately needed a facial transplant operation. Jury comment: Story telling at its best with layers of brilliant cinematography, amazing human connections; emotionally charged and totally engaging.

VITAMANIA (Australia) 90 minutes (Excerpt only in the cinema program), Best Documentary, Directed, produced and written by Sonya Pemberton

Almost one billion people take a regular dietary supplements, mainly vitamin tablets, but how safe are these products, how are the regulated, and how can we make the right choices for our health? These surprisingly urgent questions are investigated by scientist Dr Derek Muller. Jury comment: A riveting tale uncovering the madness of enormity of the supplements industry.

THE MOST UNKNOWN (United States) 92 minutes (Excerpt only in the cinema program), Special Jury Award, Directed by Ian Cheney

This epic documentary film sends nine scientists to extraordinary parts of the world to uncover unexpected answers to some of humanities biggest questions. How did life begin? What is consciousness? How much do we really know? Jury comment: This film addresses some of the most fundamental questions in science..

SMART SLIME? (United Kingdom) 10 minutes, Award For Scientific Merit, Directed by Juliette Martineau – Special Guest at Dungog screening

It’s neither plant, animal or fungus, but a giant single cell that crawls around eating dead matter. Beautiful and mesmerizing time lapse videography, Smart Slime? introduces us to the quirky work of two high profile slime researchers. Jury comment: Exceptional technical detail and a great way to explain the network of a cell.

700 SHARKS (France) (English subtitles), 90 minutes (Excerpt only in the cinema program), Award For Technical Merit, Directed by Luc Mares-cot

In a ground breaking experiment, five of the world’s most experienced underwater scientists dive among 700 starving sharks. Jury comment: This film is technically brilliant. Exceptionally well-made.

JEREMY THE LEFTY SNAIL AND OTHER ASYMMETRICAL ANIMALS (United Kingdom) 15 minutes, Festival Entry, Produced by Dr Robert P Cameron and John Andrew Cameron

This is the fascinating story of Jeremy, one in a million snail whose shell coiled to the left rather than to the right.

A TINY SPARK (Ireland) 26 minutes, Festival Entry, Directed, produced and written by Niamh Heery

This film examines how research into blood clots and stroke could bring about big changes for people and medicine.

WHY THIS SKATEBOARDING TRICK SHOULD BE IMPOSSIBLE (United States) 9 minutes, Festival Entry, Directed, produced and written by Dianna Cowern

Skateboarding legend Rodney Mullen teams up with Physics Girl to explain the unusual physics behind skateboard tricks.

VOTE for your favourite film

Vote for the 2019 PEOPLE’S CHOICE AWARD and go into the draw to win a drone at

This National Science Week project is supported by the Australian Government.

National Science Week 15–23 August 2020

Info below from 2020 National Science Week email

Spoilt for Choice

Each year National Science Week extends an invitation for everyone to talk, see and do science, no matter where you are, how young or old you are, or what qualifications you have.

This year, even with pandemic restrictions, there are still hundreds of terrific virtual events to choose from. Live events will be held online, and many activities will be able to be done at home by adults, children and family groups. Some will be time based and others will be online whenever you are.

The best place to start looking is the National Science Week website. Hit the red tab that says ‘Find An Event’ then enter some keywords, topics or dates and see what’s available.

You can find some hands-on activities at their diy-science page here.

You can also check out Inspiring Australia’s New South Wales offerings or hop over the virtual border into Victoria or South Australia.

There really is so much to choose from – like…
– building your own weather station
– resurrecting extinct species
– food of the future
– aboriginal astronomy
– “legal personhood” for the moon
– design a marine creature
– meet a microbiologist
& more… So what are you waiting for!

To get you started we have highlighted some selections below.

Have a happy, productive and safe Science Week.


showcasing the best science films from filmmakers around the world

Now until 31 August
Register here

You may remember seeing selections from SCINEMA International Science Film Festival in previous years as part of our Science Hub offerings at the James Theatre. This year all SCINEMA films are available online and free for the month of August. We have been watching some of the program and it is fabulous. Just sign up and watch at your leisure between now and 31 August. Don’t miss out!

SCINEMA International Science Film Festival is the largest science film festival in the southern hemisphere.

People’s Choice Award
Watched a film from SCINEMA 2020? You could win a $500 JB HI-FI voucher, just for that! All you have to do is vote for your favourite film from this year’s festival. Submissions close on Sunday 6th September.

Vote now

Exploring Newcastle’s Coast

a virtual geology fieldtrip

Mon 17 Aug 5.30-6.30pm
Register here

by Geological Survey of NSW, Department of Regional NSW

Newcastle has some fascinating geological features. Join us for a virtual tour of the amazing geology of the Newcastle coastline. This public webinar will give you an insight into changing landscapes over 250 million years. Meet local geologists online and ask questions!

You will discover the vast forests of the supercontinent Gondwana. Hear about the opening of the Tasman Sea. Travel back in time, to the age of the dinosaurs and beyond! This webinar will take you on a virtual fieldtrip – visiting key sites on the Newcastle coastline with local geologists. Newcastle’s coastline presents a unique opportunity to enjoy the geological features along the Bathers Way coastal walk. From Nobbys Head to south of Merewether Baths, the prominent rock platforms and cliffs of the coastline record many different ancient geological environments. These ancient landscapes tell a story of major volcanic eruptions, river floodplains and swamps, plate tectonics, as well as more recent changes in sea level and the natural movement of beach sand.

The virtual tour explains the geological processes that created the landscape the city of Newcastle is built on — from the rocky ridges to the reclaimed land of the inner city, the use of natural resources by Aboriginal and European inhabitants, and the adaptation of plants, birds and animals along the coast. It highlights how different rocks were formed, and helps the public identify fossils and geological features. It provides engaging and accessible information on earth science for educators and students.

The virtual tour is a collaboration between the Geological Survey of NSW (Department of Regional NSW), the University of Newcastle and the City of Newcastle.

IHMRI’s Bite Size Science Webinars

Mon 17 – Fri 21 Aug 12.30-1pm each day
Register here

IHMRI’s Bite Size Science Webinars – Each day one of IHMRI’s researchers share their work for National Science Week.

Have you ever had a health related science question but haven’t had the opportunity to ask it? Well, now you can if you register for IHMRI’s Bite Size Science Webinars! Every day during National Science Week, an IHMRI researcher is available for you. Covering topics such as skin cancer treatments, cardiovascular health and exercise, learning about learning through the worm, and neurodegenerative diseases like Motor Neurone Disease and Parkinson’s Disease. From 17 – 21 August IHMRI researchers will be available to you, talking about their research and to answer your questions.

Dr Luke McAlary – Motor Neurone Disease
Mon 17 Aug 12.30–1pm
Motor Neurone Disease (MND) is a disease of the motor system, in which the cells responsible for voluntary movement (motor neurons) progressively die, causing patients to lose the ability to walk, talk, swallow and eventually breathe. Having completed his PhD under the supervision of Professor Justin Yerbury, Luke has committed his research efforts towards understanding the causes of MND and also finding a cure for this terrible disease. Register to hear how Luke’s team is researching the causes of MND.

Professor Heath Ecroyd – Neurodegenerative diseases
Tues 18 Aug 12.30–1pm
Neurodegenerative diseases are debilitating and insidious disorders that have an enormous financial, emotional and social cost to our community. Each day in Australia 37 people are told they have Parkinson’s disease and the estimated cost to the Australian economy of Parkinson’s disease is in excess of $12 billion. Register to hear Heath discuss his research into what causes these diseases, the work his team are doing to develop new drugs to treat (and maybe even prevent) these diseases.

Professor Marie Ranson – Skin cancers
Wed 19 Aug 12.30–1pm
Professor Marie Ranson has committed her research career to uncovering the secrets of cancer and to help develop better therapeutics against cancers. She is involved in a large multi-institutional study on cutaneous squamous cell carcinomas (cSCC) – one of the most common non-melanoma skin cancers in Australia. Despite its prevalence, it is not known why some tumours spread to local lymph nodes (metastasis) leading to very poor prognosis and why others do not. Register to hear Marie explain this research and to ask any questions you may have around non-melanoma skin cancers.

Dr Monique Francois – Reducing cardiovascular disease in people with diabetes
Thurs 20 Aug 12.30–1pm
Dr Monique Francois is leading a study funded by NSW health, looking at therapies to reduce the burden of cardiovascular disease in people with diabetes (or at risk of diabetes). Monique will study whether the timing of exercise and the reduction of carbohydrates play a role in reducing heart disease. Register to hear more about this study and to ask your questions related to diabetes and heart disease.

Dr Yee Lian Chew – Worm: C and the human brain
Fri 21 Aug 12.30–1pm
Dr Yee Lian has spent the last 9 years of her life trying to understand life through the worm. Yes, the worm: C. elegans, the tiny nematode with the completely sequenced genome and fully-mapped nervous system. Hear her explain how her research at IHMRI uses the brain of this tiny worm, to reveal new information about the human brain, from looking at single cells and networks to advancing our understanding of how the networks in our brain to “learn” to adapt to a changing environment.

Dr Karl’s House Party

Mon 17 Aug 7–8.15pm
Register here

This online event will include live captions.

Dr Karl invites you to join him to kick off National Science Week with an awesome house party. Streamed live into your lounge room, learn about the animal that has to grow an anus each time it wants to defecate, how spiders can fly for thousands of kilometres and also count, why dead fish can swim indefinitely, and why humans have been making coffee the wrong way for six centuries.

Celebrate with us online and have a chance to win prizes when you post your science-themed celebration to Instagram or Twitter with #DrKarlsHouseParty and tag @Sydney_Science too.

As Prince would say, party like it’s 1999 but it’s 2020 so please party only with members of your own household responsibly…

Climate Change Panel: what can I do?

How to take effective action on climate change

Thurs 20 Aug 8pm
Register here

Join us Thursday August 20, 8pm AEST for a panel discussion exploring how individuals can take effective action to reduce carbon emissions.

The majority of Australians trust the science on climate change and believe action is important but don’t know how to best channel their actions to make a difference. Macquarie University’s Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences will be running a series of online events for National Science Week around the theme of personal action for environmental sustainability, including a live-streamed panel discussion on the question: ‘What can I do to impact climate change?’

Coordinated by Earth scientist Dr. Kate Selway and hosted by Lee Constable, panelists will span climate science, the media, politics, business and community organisations to delve into the issues and come up with tangible solutions. The online discussion will be streamed and recorded and members of the public will have the opportunity to send in their questions to the expert panel members.

Meet the panel

  • Professor Lesley Hughes, Distinguished Professor of Biology and Pro Vice-Chancellor (Research Integrity & Development) at Macquarie University. An ecologist by training, she has worked for more than 20 years to research and communicate the science of climate change.
  • Greg Bourne, a councillor with the Climate Council of Australia and an expert in the interplay between climate change, energy, business and policy. Originally trained as a chemist, he worked in the energy industry for over 30 years, including as regional president of BP Australasia.
  • Associate Professor Caroline Fisher, the Deputy Director of the News & Media Research Centre at the University of Canberra and co-author of the annual Digital News Report-Australia.
  • Katerina Gaita, the Founder and CEO of Climate for Change, a community organisation that aims to help everyday people understand the problems and challenges we face with climate change, and to inspire and empower them to make a difference.
  • Tennant Reed, the manager of Climate, Energy and Environment Policy at the Australian Industry (Ai) Group.

How Plants Work

Experiments & Competition

At home activity during Science Week
Register here

by Hunter Region Botanic Gardens

The award winning Hunter Region Botanic Gardens is proud to offer a chance to practice hands-on plant experiments at home during National Science Week.

Based on the ‘How Plants Work’ illustrated guide by Kevin McDonald, we will be uploading a different experiment every day during National Science Week to be done by families at home. Using light, water and paper towel, discover the germination process of seeds as they take root, learn how seedlings act when they’re kept away from sun, find out about the importance of water and sun in plant growth, and record your results like a true scientist.

Pick your favourite out of the experiments posted for Science Week, record your results, chart your findings in an A4 poster, and go in the running to win a prize pack worth over $200 (to be announced during Science Week), including a free copy of ‘How Plants Work’!

Event & Competition Details

7 at-home experiments focusing on different aspects of plant biology across 7 days during National Science Week via the Hunter Innovation and Science Hub Facebook page.

A printable page will be uploaded to the website and to Facebook. Print one for each experiment and record the growth of your plants each day as they grow and change

After completing your experiments, select your favourite and create an A4 poster about it
Your poster must:
Have a title
Contain a chart of the results
Tell us what you did and what you saw
Drawings of your experiment
To submit: Scan a copy of your poster and submit via this link

If families would like to purchase a copy of ‘How Plants Work’ by Kevin McDonald for your family, please email the team at for details. Cost is $19 (+ $10 postage and handling). Alternatively, visit the gardens located in Heatherbrae NSW to purchase your copy.