Step back in time

My latest audio story started from an invitation to try out the new recording space at Aitkenvale library. It is part of Tech Savvy City, an ambitious prototype designed by residents from Townsville to host projects that can help make our city a better place to live, work, and play. The Yongala was regarded as one of the best ships to travel the coastal trading route on Australia’s east coast. On her final voyage she was carrying passengers and cargo from Brisbane to Cairns with stops at Mackay and Townsville. In modern times we can hear about everything that happens almost in real time. In 1911 there were no ships radios, no emergency beacons and no warning systems for cyclones. When the ship did not arrive on schedule the families of the passengers and crew had no way of knowing if they were safe. The intention of the audio story was to capture that feeling.


SURREAL is an audio compilation of interviews with Townsville residents who experienced the Townsville flood in 2019. The full interviews hosted on the Floodstories website are between 8-30 minutes long. They aim to faithfully  represent the experience “as told” by our storytellers and to allow the listener to walk in their shoes. Shorter versions of the Floodstories interviews were played on ABC local radio as part of the 12 month commemoration of the flood event in January 2020.

Latitude 18

Latitude 18 is radio documentary about the Spanish mackerel fishery in Queensland. The documentary played on the ABC is also hosted on a microsite latitude18fishing.com as a single streaming podcast. The microsite also has the  unedited interviews and other supporting material.


Housing Design across Australia needs to take account of the local climate and be based on sustainable features for that climate. Cairns Architect Roger Mainwood and Lisa Law from James Cook University are working on solutions for Australia’s tropical regions.new_block_homes_Townsville

Barometer’s Kate Osborne speaks with them both.


Listen to an interview with  Murray Logan who spent many nights on Magnetic Island in north Queensland finding koalas to help with research on their habitat use and home ranges.

One of the interesting aspects of koala biology is that they are the only vertebrate able to live solely on gum tree eucalyptus leaves.  Dr Murray Logan said koalas have poorest diets of any mammal. The real challenge in the koala diet is the toxic compounds in the leaves that resist insect attacks and are antibacterial. As herbivores rely on fermentation to digest their food anything that kills microbes is also going to make digesting and extracting nutrition from the leaves more difficult. One adaptation found in koalas that allows them to live on eucalyptus leaves is specialised gut flora.

Fertiliser runoff from agriculture can adversely affect waterways as well as the beleaguered Great Barrier Reef. Soil scientist Dr Paul Nelson talks with Baromter’s Kate Osborne on how to optimise fertiliser management to help protect waterways.

Professor Helene Marsh from James Cook University has been studying marine megafauna like dugongs and turtles for decades. In a month where the federal government considers winding back federal marine parks and the Delloite report puts a monetary value on the Great Barrier Reef Helene Marsh speaks about the stresses on marine megafauna including hunting and climate change. Barometer’s Kate Osborne speaks with Professor Marsh.

Every year, we Australians waste about $10bn worth of food. One organisation tackling this is Food Rescue in Northern Queensland. Barometer’s Kate Osborne spoke with Rike Wolf about their approach. Photo supplied….

Smart Cities are the way of the future, but like all new things, there are traps along the way to be avoided. Barometer’s Kate Osborne speaks with Professor Marcus Foth from Queensland University of Technology about the evolution of the smart city. Photo by Kate Osborne…

Professor Colin Simpfendorfer from James Cook University studies sharks to help improve the management of shark fisheries and protect endangered species. Find out what Australian state/territory leads the way in ensuring sustainable fishing can be traced all the way to the fish and chip shop. Colin speaks with Barometer’s Kate Osborne

Plastics in the ocean last forever. Social marketing expert, Lynne Eagle has discovered how to influence people’s behaviours to use less plastic, but finds it is harder to keep those good intentions on track as time passes. She speaks with Barometer’s Kate Osborne
Image Credit: Michaels Scientist

Judging food production for both ethics and sustainability is important. In 2015, Friends of the Sea granted the Port Lincoln-based Southern Bluefin tuna industry a Sustainability Certificate. Tuna Wrangler, Wade Pemberton, gives Barometer’s Kate Osborne an insight about how divers capture the live fish from within netted areas in the ocean.

New Zealand discovered the health benefits of Manuka honey, and Australia is following suit finding some species that have amazing bioactive properties. Honey chemist, Dr. Peter Brooks, from the University of the Sunshine Coast talks with Barometer’s Kate Osborne.

The invisible arteries of the city sewers are being clogged with fatbergs, a diabolical combination of fat, oils and fibers. Wastewater engineer, Gail Hamilton says some of us are too posh for paper now and the sewerage system is bearing the brunt of our lifestyle choices.

Professor Allan Dale from James Cook University is an expert in governance and recently published ‘Beyond the North South Culture Wars’, addressing the issues of sustainable economic development in the north of Australia. He spoke with Barometer’s Kate Osborne.

Portuguese scientist Professor Paula Sobral  is an expert on microplastics in the marine environment, where they are being ingested by the ocean’s tiniest animals – plankton. From there, they make their way up the food chain. Professor Sobral speaks with Barometer’s Kate Osborne.

Something’s Fishy with Hormones
Unregulated endocrine disrupting chemicals are being detected in our waterways, whose effects on humans and wildlife have not been properly assessed. Dr Frederieke Kroon from the Australian Institute of Marine Science is a pioneer in detecting and studying the effects of endocrine disrupting chemicals, and she spoke with Barometer’s Kate Osborne. Photo: Leonard Low


Recent photographs. For more photos see my flickr collection accessible from the sidebar.


Kate Osborne’s videos are published on ABC Open and Vimeo.


Publications online, in literary journals in fiction, historical fiction and interviews


Science writing in print and online


Kate has podcasts on the ABC and Barometer through Radio Adelaide

Indigenous Wearable Art 2019

COMING SOON Short videos made about each art piece created in The 2019 Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islander Art Project: People, Culture & Country.