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The building of Redman Bluff Wetlands at Grampians Paradise Camping and Caravan Parkland was inspired by David Attenborough's Life on Earth TV series.
- Exclusive Wildlife Stays -
The story of my letter to David Attenborough about our wildlife
and the letter David Attenborough sent in response
The inspiration for our created ecosystem and wetlands – David Attenborough:
In either 1979 or 1980, when I (Aidan Banfield) was 11 years old, David Attenborough's "Life on Earth" series launched onto Australian TV. It was ground breaking. I'd never seen anything like it on TV before. It exploded my mind, opening up a much larger understanding of the natural world and a deeper love of nature. David Attenborough's BBC TV series became mandatory viewing throughout my teenage years for both my family and I.
For me, the Life on Earth series inspired a whole different way of looking at and understanding the natural world. It developed a desire to have a much more connected, intimate understanding of wildlife and how it fits within the greater world, to understand the workings of the ecosystems around us. I saw the natural world in a whole different way. A way that would continue to expand throughout my life.
Fast forward to the late 1990's and a time when I was reconnecting with nature and working on building up the tree plantings about the camping ground. Being outside so much I was out in nature, watching, observing and enjoying the native birds and the few native Australian animals that were about the property at that time. Underneath, tucked away in my brain and body was an understanding of Nature, that dated back to my teenage years and David Attenborough's TV series. Each year I would listen with quiet delight to the frogs calling, the multiple different types of calls (now I know each represents a different species). And to my horror I was hearing that so many frog species were disappearing from around the world.
Building Observatory Pond in May 2000 with a restored vintage Gray Ferguson earth scoop and Fiat 2 wheel drive tractor. Slow tricky work.
My dad had the idea of building a series of ponds upstream of our little lake to filter the water before it entered the lake, so in May 2000 I built Observatory Pond, the first upstream wetland.
Following the successful building of Observatory Pond, I floated the idea of a series of wetland ponds surrounding the camping ground on the two creek lines to provide habitat for the frogs, to allow their numbers to build up. Mum and Dad accepted the idea and gave it their support. We applied successfully for $5000 funding from Land Care through Project Platypus – enough to get started and come Autumn of 2001, the project was on and the dream of Redman Bluff Wetlands started to become a reality. The wetlands were brought through to completing in 2012 with a multigenerational effort (my parents, Tom and Aileen, myself and Nessa, my wife and our boys Douglas and Henry) as well as friends, volunteers and contractors. This is a big story in its own right and one for telling in another place.
Planting of wetland herbs and Sedges in Duck Dinner Pond in September 2005.
Several years after the completion of the wetlands, somewhere in the mid 2010’s (maybe 2015 to 2016) I came to the realisation that Redman Bluff Wetlands would probably not have come into existence if it were not for all the nature documentary series by David Attenborough that my family and I watched during my teenage years. The love and understanding of nature that these BBC TV programs inspired in me, my Dad, Tom Banfield, and my Mum, Aileen Banfield, made the critical difference. I believe without this inspiration, the huge commitment my family made over a 12 year period to make the Redman Bluff Wetland project happen would not have even started, let alone been seen through. Year after year, our family sunk more money into the project. Tom, as property owner, remained a staunch supporter of the project and I sunk years of my working life into making the wetlands. In the process I learned skills as diverse as driving large earth working equipment to sculpt the land and the ponds, how to grow tens of thousands of wetland plants and how to build a vibrant wetland ecosystem full of both plant and animal life.
Following the realisation of how instrumental David Attenborough had been in inspiring the building of the Redman Bluff Wetlands (a key part of the Grampians Paradise ecosystem) and in consequence, bringing to life Grampians Paradise with so many amazing native Australian birds and animals, I decided I really wanted to write to David Attenborough and to thank him for the inspiration that he had provided. To let him know that his inspiration has resulted in thousands of native animals - frogs, birds and marsupials, starting their lives and having a created ecosystem to live in at Grampians Paradise.
But I was a little star struck, a little frightened of writing to David Attenborough… 5 years went by without being able to bring myself to write. Then in 2021 after reading David Attenborough’s new book “A Life on Our Planet”, and Nessa (my wife) letting me know that BBC was seeking Tawny Frogmouths to film (announced on a Melbourne Radio station and social media), I said to myself I have to make this letter happen. With much consideration, and thought (and encouragement from Nessa) on the 21st November 2021 I started to craft a letter to tell my story. After nearly 3 months, my story for David Attenborough was written to my satisfaction, by this time the letter was eleven pages long, complete with pictures of our nesting Kookaburra, the Tawny Frogmouth feeding its recently fledged young, the wetland under construction and aerial photos of the completed ponds, as well as photos of many of our other native creatures.
Melbourne Cup weekend 2021 - parent Tawny Frogmouth feeding its recently fledged chick. This picture was featured in my letter to David Attenborough.
I printed the letter on 13th February 2022 and 3 days later sent it to England, with as much insurance as could be purchased. Also included were English stamps for a return envelope.
But in reality I was not worried about getting a return letter, I just wanted for David Attenborough to know, whilst he was still alive (at this time he was 95) that his inspiration had led to the creation of an amazing ecosystem at Grampians Paradise, full of native Australian birds and animals.
A letter form David Attenborough:
On the 30th March 2022 a letter sent by air mail arrived from England...
Could it just be, a reply from David Attenborough? My heart was in a flutter as I drove home to Grampians Paradise from the Grampians General Store in Pomonal (our local Post Office). Once home I very carefully opened the letter, it was a heartfelt reply from Sir David Attenborough!
On reading the letter it was apparent he had read my letter from start to finish.
He said "What a marvellous story it tells. What a wonderful place you have created. What delight your visitors must have"..." I only wish I was able to visit you & see all the wonders for which you have provided a home, but at 95, my long haul travels are over."...
..."I am truly thrilled by your suggestion that the sort of programme I have been making for so many years helped in sure way to inspire what you have achieved so spectacularly".
I was speechless. Such a lovely reply.
Next day I took David Attenborough’s letter into Ararat for my dad, Tom Banfield to read. It meant so much for him. Such a recognition for what Dad had been so instrumental in, the creation of the Grampians Paradise ecosystem. I’m so glad the letter arrived when it did, as this was within the last 5 weeks of Dads life - Tom Banfield left this world on 3rd May 2022 at age 93.
Through writing to David Attenborough in 2022, and receiving the letter from him in reply, I was once again truly inspired…
It became a vision of not only myself, but our entire family (Grampians Paradise team), for our guests to have the opportunity to watch the intimate moments of our native Australian Wildlife with their own eyes, and for those who can’t make it to Grampians Paradise, i’m recording, through photos, film and sound, the special moments of the native birds and animals that call Grampians Paradise home.
For more on The History of the Creation of a Wildlife Haven at Grampians Paradise follow this link
Filming a baby (fledgling) Tawny Frogmouth chick as it rests during the day in 2021 on the Melbourne Cup long weekend.
More of the pictures that were included in my letter to David Attenborough:
Duck Dinner pond was built in March 2003 as large shallow wetland pond, one of 30 ponds that were built between 2000 and 2012
to provide homes and food for the native frogs, birds and animals of Grampians Paradise Camping and Caravan Parkland.
Since the building of the wetland the numbers of all our wildlife have increased dramatically.
This photo of Redman Bluff Wetlands was taken by drone in July 2020, at the time the ponds were filling with the first creek flows from the winter rains.
It shows the matured mosaic of wetlands, trees and shrubs, as well as the open grass lands and sedge lands that surround the wetlands.
This mix of water and vegetation is the engine house of the Grampians Paradise created ecosystem, providing homes and food for our native Australian wildlife.
Terms and conditions for bookings and stays at Grampians Paradise
in addition to those listed on the Exclusive Wildlife Stays - Cancellation Policy page:
Follow these links for information on:
and the story page about my letter to David Attenborough and the letter he sent in reply
Sorry no Pets.
There is some important and really useful additional informational that you need to read before making a booking to stay at Grampians Paradise Camping and Caravan Parkland in our Terms and Conditions. We have written and formatted our terms and conditions so that they are easy to read and understand. The terms and conditions information includes information on how you can pay, deposits, what to do if you need to cancel or change the details of your booking, night time noise restrictions after 11:00pm, when and where you can have camp fires and lots of other useful information. Click here to read our terms and conditions.
Grampians Paradise offers a retreat from the pressures of busy life — a place to relax and to relate to a rich and varied country environment. You can take time to sit and enjoy the views of lakes and mountains and listen to and watch the native Australian birds and animals.