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April 10, 2021 @ 5:30 pm

It’s the anniversary of last summer’s fires, with the bush gradually coming back to life. So this month, we look at the earth, land, country.

Don Watson writes that the Australian bush is “the source of the nation’s idea of itself” — the idea “that all that is distinct and admirable in the national character … comes from the bush. It made Australians what they are.” Yet, nearly 90% of Australians live in urban settings – more than in nearly every other country in the world.

Given our ambivalent feelings about the country – we love it, but don’t live there – this Milking Stool explores three very different views of the land, and what resonates for each speaker.

We won’t be climbing down into the trenches of environmental politics and climate change. Instead, we’ll listen to the differing experiences and views of a commercial farmer, an indigenous elder, and a recent convert to personal environmental action. Our guests Yael Stone, Fiona Simson and Noel Butler will each talk about what ‘the land’ means to them.

Submit a question

If you like, you can send the speakers a question at [email protected].  Each speaker will pick their favourite question to answer on the night. 


  • Yael Stone

    Australian actor Yael Stone is well known for playing Lorna Morello in the multiply-awarded Netflix series, “Orange Is the New Black” … but also for her recent decision to abandon her US Green Card, with major impact on her transatlantic film career, and return to live in Australia as a symbol of her commitment to reducing CO2 emissions. Yael is a proud ambassador for AIME, and has written for The Guardian, The Sydney Morning Herald, Elle magazine and Junkee.  She is currently studying Sustainable Communities at University of Wollongong.

  • Noel Butler

    Noel is a Budawang Elder of the Yuin Nation on the South Coast of NSW. He has been a cultural educator for over 35 years, leading walks on country, holding cultural camps, and sharing his knowledge of Budawang people’s history, lore and stories. His knowledge of the plants that have sustained and helped the Yuin people for tens of thousands of years has been passed down from his Elders. Noel is a regular speaker in Australia and overseas, including at the 2016 World Indigenous Conference on sustainability.

  • John Lloyd

    Due to health issues Fiona Simson, President of the National Farmers Federation, has had to pull out but has recommended her friend and colleague John Lloyd in her place.

    As CEO of Horticulture Innovation Australia – the R&D vehicle for Australia’s vast horticultural industry -, John was involved in development of Calypso mangoes, the “Australia Fresh” campaign and protecting our honeybee industry. John has worked in senior roles across most areas of the agricultural industry.

    John is a non- executive Director with Meat and Livestock Australia, the Fisheries Research and Development Corporation, Grains and Legumes Nutrition Council, Agribusiness Australia and Charles Sturt University. He now lives on a farm at Orange running a prime lamb and agritourism business.


The Interviews, Bar & Mezze

Kangaroo Valley Community Hall
177 Moss Vale Rd
Kangaroo Valley,NSW2577Australia

The Dinner

Chef - Eilish Maloney

Born and bred in the heart of the Southern Highlands, Eilish trained at Onesta Cucina and the one-hatted Nomad, before heading overseas on a one-way ticket. She ended up working for two years at London’s two-Michelin-starred The Ledbury, ranked as one of the best restaurants in the world. Back in Australia in 2017, Eilish set her sights on fish, working as sous-chef at the two-hatted Saint Peter in Paddington.

Not content with a high-profile chef role, Eilish ran various pop ups, and launched a summer series based in Kangaroo Valley showcasing local produce and talent, before combining her talent and experience into her own business, The What If Society.

What If is a food focussed cooperative, working with local suppliers towards a more sustainable life, with a focus on zero waste. It offers private dinners, an online store, masterclasses and events, and works with fellow hospitality kitchens to reduce the industry’s food waste.


Wines available from