Mana Pools

Mana Pools

A couple of months ago Emma and I visited Vundu Camp in Mana Pools, Zimbabwe to stay with the owner and founder of Bushlife Conservancy, Nick Murray, to learn about the work he is doing to save Zimbabwe's elephants. Wild Ark put together this video about the visit.

Ice Cream

Ice Cream

I often get asked about the kinds of food I eat for recovery. I wrote about bone broth in a previous post.

This is one I had a lot of when I was back in Canberra after breaking my hand. While I couldn't do any contact work so my hand could heal, I was training pretty hard with a lot of fitness work in the altitude room.

We had already rented our house out so were staying with friends Richard and Mary. They have an ice cream maker so Em put it to good use making Dave Asprey's ice cream. It is so good! Definitely worth making if you have access to an ice cream maker - which I know not everyone does.

Em used Professional Whey's Cacao powder, butter and coconut oil and subbed the MCT oil for Nuilife's Coconut Clarity.

Ingredients

  • 4 whole eggs 
  • 4 yolks (in addition to the whole eggs above)
  • 2 tsp vanilla 
  • 10 drops apple cider vinegar 
  • 100 grams (7 tbs) butter
  • 100 grams (7tbs) coconut oil 
  • 50 grams (3tbs + 2tsp) MCT oil (important for consistency) 
  • 80 grams (5.5tbs) xylitol 
  • ~100 grams water or ice (just under 1/2 cup; add less than you think you need, then increase the amount).
  • (optional) 1/4 to 1/2 cup of cacao powder

Methods

  1. Blend everything but the water/ice in blender. It takes a while to get the butter blended into perfect creaminess.
  2. Add water or ice and blend some more until well blended. Ideally, you want a yogurt-like consistency for creamy ice cream, or add more water for a firmer, icier texture
  3. Pour the mixture into an ice cream maker and turn it on.

Surfing with Mark Matthews - 'The Joy of Fear'

Surfing with Mark Matthews - 'The Joy of Fear'

Earlier in the year I was contacted by Mark Matthews. I knew he was a big wave surfer and had seen videos of him surfing ridiculously big waves (see below). And also getting crunched by ridiculously big waves - checkout YouTube. But didn't know much else about him. He said he was keen to catch up to talk about fear. It sounded pretty interesting coming from someone who, to most of us, does something that seems to require an above average ability to deal with fear. So we organised to catch up and it was filmed for his new series, 'The Joy of Fear'.

We talk about my poor surfing, how I prepare for games, dealing with injury and a few other things. And also went for a surf in the rain.

Mark Matthews surfing Ship Stern Bluff in Tasmania

Mark Matthews surfing Ship Stern Bluff in Tasmania

Wild Ark

Excited to join the Wild Ark team with Mick Fanning.

I love their mission and am looking forward to spending time with them in Southern Africa next year.

Wild Ark’s mission is to restore the world’s wild places and inspire people to connect with nature. Wild Ark is working with leading environmental scientists and researchers to acquire areas of land rich in biodiversity in order to create nature conservancies for the protection, conservation and research of native species of fauna and flora worldwide.

Their dream is to reconnect people with the wilderness and to harness passion and energy for the environment through education, travel and social media, to ensure we hand future generations a planet rich in thriving, healthy ecosystems.

Chocolate Ricotta Muffins

Chocolate Ricotta Muffins

These Chocolate Ricotta Muffins are great for a treat.

Recipe makes 20

Ingredients
125g butter
180g 70% or darker chocolate
700g ricotta
4 eggs
3/4 cup natvia/xylitol
1 and 1/2 cups milk
4 cups of almond meal
3 Tblspn PW cacao
2 Tblspn baking powder
150g chopped PW walnuts

Method
Melt butter and chocolate in a saucepan over a low heat. Set to one side to cool. In a big bowl whisk (or use an electric beater) ricotta, eggs and sweetener for 2 minutes. Pour in chocolate mixture while beating. Then stir through milk. In a separate bowl mix almond meal, cacao and baking powder to remove any lumps. Fold this through wet mix and finally fold through the walnuts. Spoon into lined muffins tins and bake for 20-25 minutes at 180 degrees Celsius.

Tales by Light

Last night I was at a screening of Abraham Joffe's Tales by Light Season 2. The episode that screened was incredibly beautiful and powerful. It allowed us a glimpse into the world of Jonathan and Angela Scott, who have spent decades telling the stories of big cats, as they work to help reconnect humans with nature and protect the Masai Mara.

There are other episodes in the Tales by Light series and they're all definitely worth checking out.

World Rhino Day 2016

World Rhino Day 2016

Today is World Rhino Day.

I was lucky last year to spend some time at Malilangwe in Zimbabwe, who have an incredible story of conservation and community involvement. I was there with the SAVE African Rhino Foundation who support a number of projects in Zimbabwe.
 
Above is a video from a morning I spent training with some men taking part in a ranger selection course. These are the heroes of rhino conservation - spending their days and nights patrolling and protecting these amazing animals.

I had the privilege of tracking rhino on foot at Savé Valley Conservancy and Malilangwe. Rhino are incredibly powerful but also very vulnerable due to their poor eyesight. This is a photo I took on foot - we were down-wind of this mother and calf White Rhino and were able to get within 25 metres or so as they kept walking towards us, before we moved back so we didn't disturb them.

I had the privilege of tracking rhino on foot at Savé Valley Conservancy and Malilangwe. Rhino are incredibly powerful but also very vulnerable due to their poor eyesight. This is a photo I took on foot - we were down-wind of this mother and calf White Rhino and were able to get within 25 metres or so as they kept walking towards us, before we moved back so we didn't disturb them.

Reflecting on 'Strength to Care'

Reflecting on 'Strength to Care'

I am waiting for surgery later this afternoon on a fracture in my hand and I’ve been thinking a bit about my involvement with the Strength to Care campaign that dove men+ care have run this year during the test matches in Australia. They have done some stuff with the Wallabies over the last few years exploring what guys care about - family, relationships, kindness, integrity. They asked me to be involved in extending that campaign.

Having grown up idolising rugby players, I’m very aware that we often just get to see them on TV on the weekend - when they’re on the field giving their all as ‘tough’ rugby players, displaying a certain kind of strength. Now people get to see a lot more of their lives with social media but this is mostly a highly curated and ‘filtered’ version of who we want others to see us as - the lifestyle we want to portray. I am certainly guilty of this. No time am I more conscious of it than when awaiting surgery and realising no one sees the pain, frustration, sorrow and guilt that so often accompanies the kind of masculinity seen on the field and the degree of dependence we all have on the people around us: team mates, family, partners, doctors and mentors. This is not the ruggedly individual masculinity portrayed in media myth-making of footballers, nor perhaps the way we’d like to portray ourselves.

In taking part in the campaign and spending time with the team who produced the series, I was hoping to talk about some of the fears I have and challenges I face. My experience is not unique: we all have fears and things we struggle with and my hope was that by talking about these things we could continue a conversation about the notion of ‘strength’ and what it looks like. I believe we show strengh when we begin to be more honest about who we are, acknowledging that who we are is a lot more complicated than we often make out. In doing so we are able to better care for ourselves and have more to give to the people around us.

The strongest people I know and admire are certainly not the most physically strong, but rather have an inner strength - a willingness to live with ambiguity. As James Hollis says, “fear of our own depths is the enemy.” In talking about our fears we can begin to explore these depths. None of us have it all together - and that’s nothing to be ashamed of - it’s what makes us human. In making ourselves vulnerable and talking about it, i believe we show true strength.

Caring for yourself

On the back of our toilet door at home we have this quote

We are not here to fit in, be well balanced, or provide exempla for others. We are here to be eccentric, different, perhaps strange, perhaps merely to add our small piece, our little clunky, chunky selves, to the great mosaic of being. As the gods intended, we are here to become more and more ourselves.
— James Hollis - What Matters Most: Living a More Considered Life

I'm an avid reader and admirer of James Hollis' work and his challenge to look within, in order to become more ourselves and have more to offer the world. In a world that seems to demand so much of us, it is often hard to find this time, or it may seem selfish, but as Hollis says, "the paradox of individuation is that we best serve intimate relationship [and any relationship] by becoming sufficiently developed in ourselves that we do not need to feed off others."

One of my favourite books is his book Hauntings - a challenging read, but well worth it.

What is strength?

In exploring the idea of having the ‘Strength to Care’ I spent a lot of time thinking about what our culture identifies as strength and what this leads to. Brené Brown, a social researcher from the University of Texas, explains that men “live under the pressure of one unrelenting message: Do not be perceived as weak.”

Learning to wear a mask (that word already embedded in the term ‘masculinity’) is the first lesson in patriarchal masculinity that a boy learns. He learns that his core feelings cannot be expressed if they do not conform to the acceptable behaviours sexism defines as male. Asked to give up the true self in order to realize the patriarchal ideal, boys learn self-betrayal early and are rewarded for these acts of soul murder.
— bell hooks, The Will to Change: Men, Masculinity and Love

I remember reading “boys learn self-betrayal early and are rewarded for these acts of soul murder” and thinking, ‘wow! That is some strong language’. Too strong, I thought. That was until I began to look at the way my thinking and life has been shaped by our patriarchal culture that privileges ‘rational thinking’ and ‘achievement’ over other things like caring, making ourselves vulnerable, articulating our feelings, and really connecting with our fellow human beings. I know this has been true in my own life. While I grew up in a home where crying was never frowned upon, and I was encouraged to share my feelings, there is no escaping the cultural messages that surround us as kids. 

As hooks also says, we can’t teach boys that "real men" (and real strength) “either do not feel or do not express feelings, then expect boys to feel comfortable getting in touch with their feelings.”

My idea of strength has definitely changed – I no longer see anger as the ultimate display of strength but look for power in those around me expressing their joys and sorrows – seeing the ability to understand, process and express a full range of emotions as being deeply human and incredibly strong.

This has been very confronting as I have realised how disconnected I have been from my emotions – at times finding it difficult to process and articulate them. I don’t think this experience is unique to me. Being able to access our emotional/feeling side and all the different parts of ourselves – our ‘inner community’ if you like – is to live a fuller, more whole life.

If you want to read a little bit more here’s an essay by bell hooks. If you want to read more than a little bit more, bell hooks – ‘The Will to Change: Men, Masculinity and Love’ and Brené Brown – ‘Daring Greatly’ are worth checking out.

 

Strength to Care

Strength to Care

Last year I was looking through some family home videos my mum had as Australian Story were after some footage. I was watching an under 10's rugby game I was playing in and one of the kids tackled with his head on the wrong side and someone landed, full bodyweight, on his head. The kid started crying - as you would at that age. The ref stopped the game to check if he was ok, and at the same time the opposition coach marched onto the field, stood over this poor kid and yelled, "Stop your crying! Be a man!"

I don't remember this incident - it's not something that had made an impression on me at all and don't think I'd watched that game again since.

We grow up with different notions, implicit and explict, of what it is to be 'strong' and I think that pausing to think about and maybe re-evaluate some of the views we have is really important.

I certainly grew up in a world where men were meant to be tough and not show any weaknesses, to keep going and just get on with things - I would never have been so sure of this until watching that video. 

I decided to be involved in the project because I've realised how damaging and restrictive this sort of worldview is and how it is our fears and vulnerabilities that make us human.

More short videos will be released over June that will hopefully explore a few more things around this idea of strength and 'Strength to Care'.

A rugby player and a water scientist walk into a room...

A rugby player and a water scientist walk into a room...

Where to next? David Pocock and Richard Stirzaker at the Sowing the Seed event

Where to next? David Pocock and Richard Stirzaker at the Sowing the Seed event

A packed Senior School lecture theatre listened intently on Tuesday night, as CSIRO scientist Richard Stirzaker and rugby player David Pocock talked about their friendship and their desire to assist small scale farmers in Africa. The Sowing the Seed event was designed to kick-start the annual student-led Dirrum Dirrum Festival.

In the end it became a massive brainstorming session, with those present asking questions and, in turn, being asked what questions they would take away with them.

A proposed live stream of the event experienced technical issues but the video will be placed on the Dirrum Dirrum website soon.

David and Richard have teamed up to test a new soil water device called the "Chameleon Soil Water Sensor” that is being used by small-scale irrigators in Africa.  Just as the bold young entrepreneurs from Thankyou took on some of the biggest corporations in the world in the cause of global poverty, David and Richard are inviting people to get involved in this venture. But it is not immediately clear to anyone what the next step should be.

In an email to Radford’s Director of Community, Fr Richard Browning, and the Dirrum Dirrum organisers this morning, Richard Stirzaker said:

“… What I saw last night was the very early stirrings of a ‘movement’.  Richard (Browning), through Dirrum, is creating an enabling environment for young people. David, through rugby on and off the field, has earned our respect.  Moreover he has a deep understanding of the African situation through 80:20 Vision and practical experience with the instruments themselves.  So the scene was set for me to talk about Chameleons.  Even Rosie’s story (video) is more compelling than it looks on the surface, because it potentially connects her to the women of Africa who carry much of the farming burden.

 Imagine if the Radford event was advertised as “CSIRO scientist to talk about measuring soil water in Africa”.  What size would the audience have been: 10 or 20?  I’ve talked to small groups like this countless times …

Building a ‘movement’ around this is still critical.  Soil physics is boring to most, but turning water into food for the vulnerable on earth is not.   So I think we need a social enterprise that nurtures the movement and builds the business.  I don’t have much aptitude here and welcome ideas.”

If anyone is wanting to continue the conversation, please email richard.browning@radford.act.edu.au or use #dirrum on Twitter.

Dirrum Dirrum: Igniting Action is a major event celebrating the art of being and staying human and over a thousand delegates are expected again this year at various events in Canberra over the days of 29-30 July. Speakers for July 30 are: Nipuni Wijewickrema, Jessica Watson, Akram Azimi, Fr Frank Brennan, Kirsty Sword Gusmão, Rachael Stevens, Shirfra Joseph, Ryan Carters, Shea Spiering, Jackson Taylor-Grant.

The Dirrum Dirrum Festival is organised by students whose core business is about creating a climate of inspiration; fostering a cycle of responsibility and leadership development.

Visit the Dirrum Dirrum website

The above taken from the Radford College website

Apology

Yesterday I faced the judiciary for the first time in my rugby career. I am incredibly disappointed with my actions. I endeavour to play the game I love in a way that reflects the kind of toughness and decency I think rugby can teach us. 

On Saturday night I did not live up to those standards, placing Michael Leitch in danger by binding on his neck in a maul. It was not my intention to hurt Michael, but in these sorts of circumstances it is not intention that matters. I am grateful that World Rugby and SANZAAR are concerned about making the game safer for all of us. 

I would like to take this opportunity to apologise again to Michael. And to apologise to the Chiefs, Brumbies and all those who follow rugby. I'd also like to apologise to my team mates who I will let down over the next few weeks while suspended.

Dave

Australian Story

Australian Story

Last year ABC's Australian Story approached me about doing a story.
I was very nervous about opening myself up to that sort of public scrutiny but after thinking about it decided that it was a good way for people to see past the highly manicured 'Instagram life' that many of us are guilty of portraying through our social media accounts.

I'm very appreciative of the time that Em, my family, including my grandfather in Zimbabwe, and friends gave up to be interviewed and add to the story.

Bone broth in the am

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Bone broth in the am

My diet has changed a lot since spending a couple of years out injured. A lot of the things I eat and drink now I would've thought were disgusting/crazy/fattening.
I've slowly dealt with my lipophobia and low carb diet brainwashing and introduced a lot more fat into my diet. I'll share a few things on here as I've been asked a lot about nutrition.

So I'll start with how I start my day:

I try to start every day (especially training or game days) with a mug full of bone broth. It’s a good way to get in some vitamins and minerals and some good quality gelatin. We make it 5 litres at a time in the slow cooker. I got used to it while injured and now a morning doesn't feel the same without it.

2x chicken carcass or leftover bones from a couple of roast chicken dinners or a bunch of wings (you can freeze leftovers until you have enough to make a batch of broth)
2 sticks of celery, chopped in quarters
2 carrots, quartered
2 onions, quartered
a couple of sprigs of parsley
a slug of apple cider vinegar
some peppercorns

Whack everything in the slow cooker and fill to 1cm above the rim. Cook on low for 16-24 hours. Strain, discarding the vegetables and chicken (if there is meat I left on the bones I usually save this and have it with some mayonnaise and spinach) and freeze the broth in portions until you need it.

Heat and enjoy!

It tastes better than it looks :) Bone broth in containers ready to be heated up in the morning.

It tastes better than it looks :)
Bone broth in containers ready to be heated up in the morning.

There's so much info online on what you should/shouldn't eat and drink, so I am not going to try and argue the science behind what I do, but rather just share what has worked for me and what I enjoy as part of my daily routine.

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Thanks for the messages

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Thanks for the messages

Over the last six months I've received a lot of messages through my website - most of them were sent during or just after the Rugby World Cup. I didn't get to read many until after the RWC but did read them all during the off-season in November and December.

Thank you if you sent one - there were some really amazing messages and stories. I'm sorry I can't reply to them all individually, but will be trying to put posts on here more regularly based around the questions I was asked - mostly around diet, training, injury and motivation.

Thanks again if you did send me a message. I really appreciate the support and if you do have any questions for me - you can write a message here or contact me on Twitter.   

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Australia Day ACT Ambassador 2016 Media Launch speech

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Australia Day ACT Ambassador 2016 Media Launch speech

It’s a real pleasure and honour to be addressing you today and I want to start by thanking Chief Minister Andrew Barr and the Australia Day Ambassador Program for giving me the opportunity to be a 2016 Australia Day Ambassador for the ACT.

I may seem like an unconventional choice, having only moved to Australia in 2002 as a 14 year old, but I guess for many who are now Australian this is a familiar story.  Australia is a remarkably diverse land with an equally diverse people, and moving to Australia has offered me and my family a great many opportunities which would not have been possible were it not for the many things that make Australia such a great nation.

We have much to be proud of as a nation and Australia Day provides us with an opportunity to celebrate many qualities of our shared lives: We celebrate our rich diversity, we celebrate how we are able to embrace challenges to develop our gifts, skills and talents and to contribute to the common good.  We celebrate the sense of mateship that is still at the heart and core of our way of life as a nation.

We celebrate and honour Australians like former lieutenant-general David Morrison (ACT Australian of the Year), Professor Greg Tegart (ACT Senior Australian of the Year) , Nipuni Wijecwickrema (ACT Young Australian of the Year) and Peter Cursley (ACT Local Hero), and many others from around the country for their outstanding contributions to our society.

Australia Day is also a day to reflect on how we have dealt with, and continue to deal with, the tragedies of our past, and to reflect on the fact that the opportunities many of us enjoy are not available to all in Australia.

We also acknowledge that for Australia’s First Nations Peoples it is a very difficult day, commemorating the arrival of the British and some truly terrible parts of our history.

My hope is that these celebrations will include our intentions to continue to support the equal and life giving opportunities for all of us who are the Australian People.

So this Australia Day, let’s celebrate what is great about Australia, reflect on our shortcomings and renew our commitment to continuing to make Australia a great nation – so that everyone, from our First Peoples to our most recent arrivals (even those that arrive by boat) can live in a truly lucky country.

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Zimbabwean lowveld

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Zimbabwean lowveld

This '73 Land Rover has got through some serious work. Spending time with Eliot as he drops game scouts off for patrols.

Near Beitbridge, Zimbabwe

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Malilangwe ranger selection training session

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Malilangwe ranger selection training session

While I was in Zimbabwe I spent a week with Save African Rhino Foundation and one of the places we visited was Malilangwe - an incredible private wildlife reserve bordering Gonarezhou National Park. We spent some time meeting the people who run their amazing anti-poaching operations. I was invited to spend a few hours training with a group that were going through a selection camp to become rangers. Some amazing athletes - these guys can run all day. It was inspiring to see their drive and dedication to their work.

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Ol Pejeta Conservancy, Kenya

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Ol Pejeta Conservancy, Kenya

During our trip to Kenya we spent a few days at Ol Pejeta Conservancy. They're doing some amazing work with wildlife, cattle and community development.

Rhino handler, Esogon, with the last Northern white rhino on earth.

Rhino handler, Esogon, with the last Northern white rhino on earth.

Zachary and Esogon with a baby white rhino they've been nursing back to full health. They've been feeding him every 4 hours and sleeping next to him every night.

Zachary and Esogon with a baby white rhino they've been nursing back to full health. They've been feeding him every 4 hours and sleeping next to him every night.

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