Australasian Permaculture Convergence 14 (APC14)

Dr Charles Massy

Farmer and Author


Charles Massy gained a BSc (Zoology, Human Ecology) at ANU (1976), before going farming and developing a prominent Merino sheep stud business. His concern about land degradation and humanity’s sustainability challenge led to him completing a PhD in Human Ecology (ANU) in 2012.

He has chaired and served as a Director on a number of national and international review panels and boards of business, research organisations and statutory wool bodies, involving garment manufacture, wool marketing, R&D, molecular genetics and genomics.

Charles has engaged in freelance journalism since 1977, widely publishing across a range of subjects including mountaineering, history, ecology and the environment, plus fiction and poetry. His first two books told the history of the Australian Merino and his third book, Breaking the Sheep’s Back (2011), recounted the political destruction of the Australian wool industry. The latter was short listed in 2012 for the Prime Minister’s Literary Award for Australian History and for the Ashurst Business Literature Prize. He also contributed a chapter to the ground-breaking anthology Fair Food (2015).

His new book, Call of the Reed Warbler: A New Agriculture – A New Earth (UQP Sept. 2017) concerns the emergence of a regenerative agriculture in Australia and its positive implications for both addressing humanity’s emerging Anthropocene crisis and also for human health (physical and mental).

Charles still manages the family’s grazing property in NSW while teaching at universities and consulting widely in the fields of Merino breeding, landscape design, and transformative change in agriculture.

Charles  has managed an 1820 ha. (4500 acre) sheep and cattle property (running an average 8,000 to 10,000 stock units) for 40 years. In addition he has managed other properties totalling 7,000 ha for city business interests. In the course of this he has led various local rural organizations plus was a regional bushfire captain.

Public Speaking/Lecturing/Education

Conducted over many years, initially in the fields of transformation and innovation in the Merino sheep and wool industries, and more latterly in the fields of regenerative landscape management, grazing systems for healthy landscape function, and addressing climate change and the current global ecological challenges for our species – including for such organisations as Greening Australia, Regional Landcare groups, and the Federal Governments Carbon Farming Initiative; plus lectures to Human Ecology students ANU.

More recent engagement has been in on-farm workshopping with farmers in regenerative agricultural fields, and also begun working with Aboriginal elders in regard to regenerating ‘Country’, including with cool patch-burning.


BSc (ANU), PhD (ANU)

Relevant Awards

2011 – OAM for service to the wool industry and community

2008 – Power House Museum, Sydney – Distinguished Service Award (re. their Wool & pastoral Collection)

1992 – Silver Medal for contribution to the Australian Merino and wool industry – AASMB (Australian Association of Stud Merino Breeders)

All session by Dr Charles Massy