Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Christmas in Victoria

Rain Hail Snow! Not the summer Christmas conditions I remember as a child.

On the week before Christmas we stayed with family in Geelong and visited the fairy park in Anakie.

Fairy park

This place is like a time capsule stolen from some sparsely forested hillside in Bavaria and teleported to a tinder dry and fire scarred rural town in drought stricken Victoria.
I remember visiting there years ago when I was a kid. I think it was already quite old back in the seventies bypassed by the major tourist routs, I expected it to have become run down and neglected since then.
It was a pleasant supprize to find the park had been well maintained despite apparent lack of visitors.


gnome

Although there were some very obvious characters peering at us from various vantage points I had a sense of unseen presence amongst the rocks on this hill. Maybe the accumulation of mythical european stories were mingling with indigenous forces?


Koala

The surrounding countryside had been burned and there was little cover of edible foliage for Koalas on any of the surrounding hills. I thought this was a result of the recent fires but was told the fire had been over one year ago!
The land is so dry that the plant life hadn't even begun to recover and much of the land looked charred. No wonder this little fella was hanging around so close to people.



Dry lake

Drought
The belarine countryside has been well affected by drought and the abundance of empty lakes and dams makes this quite obvious.
Some of Geelongs storm water flows into the Barwon River via a lake which is usually full of water fowl of all sorts. Unfortunately the extended dry spell has caused the lake to dry out leaving some very deep cracks in the hard mud and much of the local wildlife without a home. (We nearly skittled a snake necked turtle as we drove by the lake).


Dry lake mud

Grass tree

A pretty consequence of recent fires was this lovely display of Grass trees which burst into flower about a month ago and are still sporting some magnificent spikes.

Grass trees amongst the regrowth

Remnant grass trees

In contrast to my home in Darwin where schools grounds keepers pump megalitres of water through 6ft high sprinklers on hot windy days; The people of Victoria are now well aware of the effects of our changing climate. There is no denying the lack of water down here. People can be seen carrying tubs of bath water which they pour carefully on to their favorite plants in the hope of saving them from a dehydrated death.
Water is scarce and food production is suffering but still the urban sprawl continues as our government presses on with it's policy of population growth for the sake of the economy.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Christmas is coming!
With a Two and a Half year old our home is alive with the mystery and magic of Christmas.

Christmas lights - Darwin winner

Last night we escaped the heat of our claustrophobic unit in search of *CHRISTMAS LIGHTS*

What a relief it was to be in the air-conditioned car after a sticky cranky day at home. We took the list of prize winning lights from the paper and headed for the winner of the Power and Water Christmas lights competition. (My feelings about wise use of electricity and the evils of power generation on hold for the night, surely the spread of joy and good will worthy of the extra power consumption!?)
There was a real festive feel in the neighbourhood, people had set up tables and chairs in the park opposite the winners house and families mingled happily as children ran around in the street and through the yard of the house which took the form of an open playground.


Books I haven't read

I don't know why but this year I have accumulated a pile of books that will likely take me several years to read. I am a slow reader but I've traded bloging for reading in the mornings and it has been a great boost to my sluggish imagination which often flounders in the tepid shallows of my own inadequate reserves of original thought. !

Greenfrog

Oh yeh and after the Christmas Lights we continued on for a cruise through town and down to the Wharf where we discovered that 100's of frogs had invaded the muddy flats of the newly reclaimed development site. We must have heard about four species and 100's of individuals. The sound of the amphibious chorus was thrilling

Monday, December 11, 2006

Unusual bird sighting at Nightcliff foreshore

Nightcliff foreshore

On Sunday afternoon the family and I went down to Nightcliff foreshore for a picnic after a fantastic rainstorm. The sky was clearing and the atmosphere charged with activity as the birds all came out to take advantage of the pleasant conditions and abundance of food. We parked the car under Casuarina trees bursting with Red-tailed Black Cockatoos, Lorikeets, Friarbirds and Torres Straight (Torresian) or (Pied Imperial) Pigeons. There were Bar-shouldered and Peaceful doves all over the ground and a variety of Honeyeaters in the bushes. Amongst the squawking of the cockatoos and the screeching Lorikeets I heard the familiar gentle whistle of a Cockatiel (I used to breed them in cages). I looked around for a while and before too long found one solitary bird picking at the cracked Casuarina nuts that the huge black cockatoos had dropped.

Cockatiel
The Wild male bird perched close to where we were sitting


A pair of Cockatiels
The Male and most likely a Female feeding on the ground (the second bird appeared to be immature).

I gathered that the bird was an aviary escapee but who knows how long an escaped Cockatiel could survive so far from any wild flocks. Soon after I could hear another one in the trees nearby. I watched for a while and discovered them feeding amongst the Barshouldered doves on the ground right at the edge of the cliffs. Wow I never expected to see two of them! They were both grey birds (The natural colour of wild Cockatiels) so I'm still not sure if they were wayward wild birds or escaped pets.

Since I have lived in Darwin I have seen quite a few stray Cockatiels and I often wonder if they could possibly all be escapees. Generaly speaking pet birds don't last too long in the wild but it could be possible that these birds are able to survive for extended periods if the conditions are suitable. Having said that their natural habitat is in arid regions and these birds are in the Tropical North during the Wet Season! They must be recent escapees!????


Nightcliff jetti 12.06

Bowerbird update...

Bowerbird chick
Chicks wait

Bowerbird mother
Mother approaches

Mother Bowerbird feeding chick
Feeding success

Last week the 2 eggs hatched and the mother bird has been very active keeping the chicks well fed and clean. When I visited this morning I was lucky enough to see her feeding the two plump chicks and removing all their waste from the nest. Unfortunately it's a little dificulut to get a decent photo of them because my camera doesn't have much of a zoom and I find it dificult to focus when shooting out of a grubby window.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

First week in December....


Had a nice weekend at the Casino Hotel (great pool) . Caught a cold last week and have spent the past two days laid-up.

Curious Monitor

Saw a curious Pool Monitor


Geese on the lawn

MP geese

Some Magpie Geese cruising the proposed development site nextdoor

The State of the Environment Report was released this week.
Although the outlook is bleak and the report most likely has understated the threats, I think it is good that we have these 5 yearly updates to remind us that there is an environment and it is in quite a sorry state....
I heard it may be dropped for a regularly updated online version Hopefully I am jumping to conclusions and this is not the case.

Monday, November 27, 2006

City planning?

Darwin carpark

Hi ye all. Well it's no secret that Darwin in booming and there appears to be no limits as to what kind of construction is permitted within the CBD. High-rise apartment blocks rise like Phallices all over town a symbol of our virile economy and a monument to Darwins develop at all costs Government! Along with the apparently un-restricted erection of high-rise apartment blocks (each directly "blocking" the sea views of those before it) we are also the proud recipients of multi level fluorescent-light carparks!

Just to prove that we are a civilised city and to flaunt our blatant disregard for the environment this ugly monstrosity appears to be lit up all night! Surely now we will be granted statehood?


Night Heron

Just to balance this negative perspective with something a little less troubling. Last night when we left the Rapid Creek shops we came across this Nankeen Night Heron on the footpath. He must have ventured out of the mangroves looking for food. It is absolutely astounding how much wildlife seems to survive in the urban environment of Darwin

Friday, November 24, 2006

Cancer in Kakadu

ABC News online

Last Update: Thursday, November 23, 2006. 10:19am (AEDT)
Indigenous cancer rate 90pc higher in Kakadu region

An ABC news report yesterday indicated that the incidence of cancer among Indigenous people living in Kakadu is considerably higher than the national average and also much higher than other Aboriginal populations in the Northern Territory.
Questions are being directed toward a link between cancer and the peoples proximity to the Ranger Uranium Mine.
Although no evidence or proof of a connection was put forward that suggested the cancer stems from mining activities, it seems bizar the the NT Health Department would make a statement that appears to exhonorate the mine before any furhter investigation is conducted.
According to the ABC report:
"The NT Health Department says the high cancer rate is lifestyle related."

Now I wonder if they have conducted the research that will show a direct link between these peoples lifestyle and the cancer that appears to be prevelent in their community?
They must have some unique activities that they do not share with the rest of the population. What is so different about these peoples lifestyle? If the Health Department know so much about it they must have a program in place to deal with this apparent epidemic. I wonder what they are doing to help these people avoid their cancer causing activities?

I wonder if the lifestyle choices they are talking about include drinking contaminated water, breathing the same air that contains dust from the mine? Or maybe they have been deliberately eating the yellow cake.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Great Bowerbird

I don't know if it's been done but I am sure an ecological survey of the CDU campus grounds would reveal an incredible array of wildlife. I can't believe the variety of creatures I have seen while working there.

Bowerbird nest

I had noticed a Great Bowerbird hanging around for the past couple of months and wondered if it was going to become a permanent resident. Well yesterday it was pointed out to me that it (I haven't yet seen two together) had built a nest that could easily be seen from a window on the third floor of the library. I swear working in that place is like being at a wildlife diorama! There's always something interesting to see right outside the library window.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Significant Rock Art under threat


Dampier Petition
(image by R. G. Bednarik - thanks to Rock Art Research Association Inc. Victorial 3162)

http://mc2.vicnet.net.au/home/dampier/web/FAQs.html

http://www.petitiononline.com/dampier/petition.html

This is an issue that has been ongoing for quite a while and these postcards occasionaly turn up so I thought I'd post it before the time for action has passed. As with many of our cultural and natural treasures out of sight out of mind. These petroglyphs are in a rather remote part of the country.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

shore debris


shore debris
Originally uploaded by davidfntau.
Beauty in the backwash
These globular treasures washed up on the shore of Casuarina beach recently and have been washed up the the edge of the cliffs. The collage of rock, sand, wood and other sea debris makes a beautiful image. No matter how close to town the coastline always manages to display it's untamed nature in odd and subtly wonderful ways.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Life by the sea


galley

The entry to the dining area on Stokes Hill Warf

An idyllic view of Stokes Hill Warf at dusk; where people toss scraps of their deep fried dinner to a writhing throng of fish and the feathered rats called silver gulls that have infested our populated shore. The people are blissfully unaware that the scraps they throw are feeding a growing population of verminous birds.
When I arrived in Darwin I noticed the absence of Seagulls. There may have been one or two floating around at that time but I don't recall seing them.
Like the handfed pigeons that had infested our suburbs and carried an infectious disease to our native birds I believe the number of gulls has increased because of our ignorance.

Gulls on lamps

Silver Gulls on lamps

Beware the gulls; they are a winged scourge of the sea that invade rookeries and wipe out whole colonies of rare seabirds. These birds are one of the many animals that have benefited from human colonisation and have proliferated as a result of our wasteful ways. And the fools keep feeding them!
Ignorance must be bliss! It would be so nice to visit the coast and throw a chip to a bird with no comprehension of the disastrous repercussions of my benevolent act. But I can not un-know what is an obvious fact. Once aware of the truth there is no going back!
Suppose I could, like in the film ‘The Matrix’. Which pill would I take? The Red or the Green?

boy fish

Boy feeding fish

With the build-up settling in it’s a good time to get out of our hot flat and spend as much time as we can near the coast. It’s usually a bit cooler and there is sometimes a breeze.
Last week we took our daughter to the fish feeding in Doctors Gully they have built a gift shop and put up the price for visitors but the show was essentially the same as it has always been.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Message of the week


Church mesage

This week I've been in the Blogger doldrums. Searching for inspiration I found the Baptist Church in Casuarina. I suppose they're in the business and had just the message.
Carpe Deum baby!

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

PM backs closing wetlands for drinking water supply
(ABC News online: Wednesday, November 8, 2006. 12:28pm)

http://abc.net.au/news/newsitems/200611/s1783697.htm


What is it with this guy?
Does he have to smell the corpses rotting before he realises that our land has been plundered enough? How can our politicians be advocating unlimited development, population growth and the expansion of suburbia while the land is already unable to support our current needs? Will Mr Howard sell out every scrap of our environment to feed the shortfalls in his precious economy?

More importantly: Why aren't we stopping this insanity? Who will pay for our greed? What will be left for our children? If you think the shares you are buying today will secure a comfortable future for your children you may find that all you are investing in is a hand full of ashes!
It does not take a visionary to know that what we are allowing to be done to our earth is suicidal, the evidence is writen throughout history and science is constantly revealing the effects of our actions. We can no longer say that we acted in ignorance, are innocent or did not understand; that time has passed well before most of us were born . We can not deny our part in this we have known the truth of it for too long now.

Although there is considerable doubt about the acuracy of Dr. Henry Smith's translation of the famous speach made by Chief Seattle in 1854, it is a beutiful piece of writing and carries a message of truth that speaks beyond fact. Please see the link below and maybe ask yourself; how much is enough?
http://www.halcyon.com/arborhts/chiefsea.html

Monday, November 06, 2006

High Tides Low Tides


There has been a lot of energy about this weekend. A full moon and extreme tidal movements have given us some very beautiful views of the foreshore.


Claystone cliff

The beautiful tricoloured claystone cliffs at Nightcliff beach

Ant on a Beach Hibiscus

Beach Hibiscus (Flourishing in the humid air)


Although the coming of the wet season can be uncomfortable it is a great time to be outdoors, especially by the sea. Some times the sea breeze is the only thing that can offer any relief from the build-up conditions, until the rains come.


Man fishing (optical illusion)

The overhanging cliff in this photo appears to be several meters high. However it is an optical illusion. The man fishing in the photo is actualy quite some distance away from the overhang, he is not standing on top of it. When I saw this photo I was supprized by how dramatic it appeared. If you look at the waves below they appear to be quite large but they are actualy only about knee high.



Casuarina beach low tide

At about midday on Sunday the tide had receded all the way to Dariba Nungalinya (Old Man Rock) but by the evening it was lapping at the cliffs in Dripstone park

High tide Cas beach

Sunday, November 05, 2006

WALK AGAINST WARMING

Saturday November 4th was the International Action Day on Climate Change.

waw banner

walk against warming Darwin 11.06


A large group of people met at the Nightcliff Jetty at 5.00pm to Walk against Warming. The event coincided with similar action in cities around the country to raise awareness of community concerns about the issue of climate change.

walk against warming Darwin.  11.06



We made a short walk along the foreshore from the Nightcliff jetty to the park outside Nightcliff Pool. So many people attended that the leaders had almost arrived at their destination by the time the tail end of the walkers had left the jetty.

There was a great turnout with many cyclists and families joining the struggle for the reduction of carbon emissions. There was a strong push for the government to take climate change seriously and to make serious commitment to developing alternative power sources rather than resorting to nuclear energy. Those in atendance were unified in their commitment to do something to reduce carbon emmissions at a local and a national level. THe environment centre took on new conscripts, speaches were made and petitions were signed. We were unified in our desire to affect positive environmentaly responsible change in our world.

As we sat under the Casuarina trees on the Nightcliff forshore listening to warnings of global warming I couldn't help but notice the conflicting sounds of agressive drivers blasting along Casuarina Dve while Red-tailed Black Cockatoos squarked and lorikeets screeched in the trees above our heads and a high tide lapped at the white claystone cliffs. There we sat between two worlds. The haste and noise of suburbia just meters away and the relief of the natural environment, (however reduced to the barest fringes) amongst the trees that surrounded and the soil beneath our feet. If the question is asked "How are we to live?" Surely there must be a way for human beings to live comfortably without destroying the very things that make living possible!

Stamp out global warmingpetition

Signing the pettition


walk against warming

Marching in the street


Environment Centre NT spokesperson

Rallying the troops


Musical Family

A musical family


Solar not nuclear

The old debate fires up once again!


A representative from COOL MOB gave some great examples of how we could all make our homes much more energy efficient, reduce our carbon emissions and save money. I am sure there were several people on the day who signed up for a COOL MOB audit.

I have had a COOL MOB energy audit and would personally recommend it to anyone who is serious about tackling climate change at home.

heads in the sand

(Another great cartoon about the current state of political leadership in this country!)

Friday, November 03, 2006

WORLD CHANGING


While browsing bikeblog I was directed to a link to the 'World Changing' website and the book 'World Changing' (please click on the link and bump up their Amazon book view rating).
It looks like quite a positive aproach to dealing with the reality of social and environmental instability that are quickly defining the 21st century. Maybe its sites like this that will give direction to the growing discontent environmentaly concious people have with the political representation offered in this country. Hopefuly rather than increasing the levels of dispair in our society peoples attention will be directed to positive community building action.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

After the Victory
The NT News entertainment page features a film premiere tonigt of Max Stahl's 'After the Victory'.
A documentary film focusses on the Registration Process of Resistance Veterans and continued conflict between East Timorese, after independance.
This may be a good opportunity to get an independant presentation of the current situation in East Timor. The discontent of Resistance Veterans and the opposing viewpoints which are continuing to fuel disunity within the country.

at:
The Theatrette
Museum and Art Gallery
7pm

$10/$5


The death of a journalist

The reality of the danger is unnavoidable.

Independant journalists take many chances to provide us a wider world view. The following link is a reminder that freedom can not be taken for granted and injustice and tyranny have powerful friends.

Check this story out on BikeBlog
BikeBlog: Rest in Peace Brad

Here's some other links to the story.

villagevoice.com

www.alternet.org

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Living without the car

Firstly I have to say that I have this idea is just a concept I have been entertaining. I can’t yet claim to have freed myself from the automobile trap and I can’t imagine it would go down too well with my wife. However we are suburbanites and the past month has shown us both that most trips we make can be done comfortably by bicycle.
Our car was put off the road about a month ago when Sam took it in late for it’s registration and roadworthy inspection. Of course the inspector went over it with a fine-toothed comb and subsequently it came home without registration and with a list of repairs to be done!
So after a trip to the mechanic two extensions of our special licence (allowing us to drive to the mechanic and the MVR only) and a mounting pile of bills we have only been granted a temporary registration for one month because the seatbelt we ordered 3 weeks ago still hasn’t arrived! This is the reality of owning a car. Total cost so far:

$BIG MOBS!

Am I pissed off? YES I AM!

Last year we must have payed about $3,000 to keep the thing on the road! Then there’s the escalating cost of fuel. I have to ask myself do we really need it? We could go into debt and buy a new one but would still have expenses and the trouble free lifespan of a car is not long. Is it even necessary to own a car? Most of our travel is within a five km radius of our home. Obviously we do like to travel further and for longer trips a personal automobile is quite essential but is it worth what it is costing us? Or is it just some kind of weird social prank that we have been conned into.

I recall a line of Aidan Quin’s from the film ‘Song Catcher’. In the scene he’s an Appalachian Mountain man having a brief conversation with a professor from the city. He says about the city folk they’re too busy “….work’in and gett’in and work’in and gett’in…” Well I guess that about sums it up really! Working to support the car; that seems to be the objective.

I do not hate cars. In fact I quite like them and on long journeys a car is quite a suitable form of transport. What I can't understand is how have they become so necessary for us who live in cities? In the bigger picture it is not sensible, practical, healthy or sustainable. It does not improve our lives and contributes greatly to environmental issues on a local as well as a global scale. It appears to be complete madness!

It is just one of those weird situations that we human beings have created for ourselves, kind of like painting ourselves into a metaphorical transport corner. But there is hope; if I am discontent with this situation I need only remember "The revolution is just a bicycle ride away"

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Friends of Brook Park Green Team Mentoring Program

What a great example these guys are. Great way to care for their environment and each other.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Urban wild spaces.
Since I was a kid I have loved visiting the urban wild spaces that seem to go unnoticed by the general population.
Being a regular train user in Melbourne I often glanced odd little corners that had been neglected or forgotten. Although I had a great love for undisturbed natural environments the vacant lands of the inner suburbs were great examples of natures struggle to exist. Due to neglect many of these spaces are left un mown for years and self sown seeds are often given the opportunity to grow. Although many of the plants are introduced species they have earned their place in the urban environment by struggling against the odds. These may be considered weeds but they do show the enormous power of life’s persistence. Where there is an opportunity for something to live, life will find a way. I really enjoyed learning about the concepts of the ecology of Niche habitats when I studied Lands Parks and Wildlife management. My teachers showed me how every living thing exists in it’s own Niche; A multi dimensional space that provides the conditions essential for that organism’s survival.

Being a social fringe dweller myself I found these places very attractive, hidden places within plain view of everyone but beyond most peoples scope of comprehension. People may see them every day but rarely consider them any more that an eyesore, a waste of space or a potential site for real-estate development. Once discovered our Urban Wild Spaces are often exploited for their only profitable asset, the space they occupy. But for a brief moment in time they are free and offer refuge to plants, animals and occasionally people that find it difficult to survive in the harsher urban landscape outside.
I used to explore these places whenever I found them and took great delight in finding odd plants and habitats that had escaped the scrutiny of the throng of people who pass them daily.

It seems that I am not unique in my appreciation of these spaces (thanks be to God!). There are some really cool groups out there who are committed to protecting the natural beauty of these spaces and using them for improving the lifestyles of their local communities. Ceres in Melbourne is one such place but I have also read of some fantastic projects in New York City that have grown from the same connection that people know must exist between human beings and their natural environment. Friends of Brook Park is a great project that is engaging children in their environment and providing them a way out of the usual traps of urban living. The testimonials from their website are a great example of how peoples lives can be inhanced by forming a connection with their environment. This is how communities become!
There is also a great article in The Vilager about a disused rail line that has gone wild.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

The cheeky God of Taxi cabs

On Sunday our neighbor arrived home in a taxi. I couldn’t help scoffing about how I would never use a taxi unless it was absolutely necessary and how pleased I have been that we have managed so well since our car was put off the road about three weeks ago. Sam isn’t so pleased! It’s been much more of a hindrance to her as she doesn’t feel safe riding at night and has had to forgo some of her activities because it would mean night riding. It’s so great not to be dependent on a car and most places people travel to or from in a taxi can be reached easily by bike.

So after enjoying my moral superiority for a while I went out in the yard with the dog and my mate and pottered around with the bikes, and enjoying the thought of my independence from the automobile trapped society.

We had an accident and wound up spending the afternoon at the hospital.
So just two hours after my sanctimonious speech about taxi’s and there I was riding in one for the first time since went to Melbourne last year and needed a ride to the airport. The Imortals were definitely with me on the weekend and did they have some fun! This coincidence had to have been some kind of divine practical joke!

Anyway when we got there the nurse practically saw us immediately, it was a dislocated elbow, she’d had these cases heaps of times and quickly sorted the problem with a click. As soon as she clicked it back in the pain was gone! Amazing! I still felt guilty but was so relieved. We then walked back to Lisa and Steve’s place where we spent the rest of the afternoon and were very grateful for the lift home.

I don’t know what the moral of this story is but I guess there are times when it is necessary to use a taxi. I then started figuring out the average cost of using taxis occasionally to the cost of keeping a car…. Still looking for a way to escape the automobile trap.

Oh and I had a good time on Saturday because I managed to fix the crank on my Clasic Cruiser. After scrounging a good set of bearings from our friend Chris and a chrome crank from a BMX left out for the cyclone cleanup I was very happy with the results.

Take a look.


Bearing cups


Crank, sproket and bearings

Of course I didn't take the opportunity to clean up the paintwork which was obviously quite dirty when I did this job, and I'm not about to pull the whole thing apart so I can get back into those hard to reach places! The point is she rolls like a dream.

The old bearing cups had been seriously warn and the bearing cases bent so there was a constant grinding when I pedaled.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Politics and Passion

I’m thinking I’ll need to start another blog where I can post my thoughts on all these environmental and social issues, they appear to be taking up a large part of my blogging space here. There’s probably a good reason why. Unfortunately I have tried to stick my head in the sand and remain faithfully compliant to the world as it is. I’ve had a go at keeping my opinions to myself and not rocking the boat or questioning the status quo. It hasn’t worked! Although there is spiritual relief in accepting the world, as it is, remaining mindful that I am not responsible for changing the whole world, I still believe I am obliged to fight for what I believe is right!
Surely the greatest harm can be done by those who see wrongdoing yet remain silent?

I have linked to a copy of Hansard from the debates of 10/10/06 the McArthur River mine was discussed and there are more Hansard records that document parliaments actions on this matter. Time will tell the truth of this story.

Debates - Tenth Assembly, First Session - 10/10/2006 - Parliamentary Record No: 10


Barbara Mcarthy's speach


Saturday, October 21, 2006. 6:33am
McArthur mining chief discounts traditional owners' concerns
http://www.abc.net.au/news/newsitems/200610/s1770224.htm

Also it appears that the Environment Centre will be taking the government to court regarding it’s approval process. I wish them luck but don’t imagine they will have any success. However I believe that it is time that the Australian courts got serious about holding government to their environmental obligations! How can it be that law designed to protect our environment can be whittled down to a bunch of dribble when it comes to the power of industry? Who is protecting the future of our children?

Clair Martin said she is thinking of the future for Territorians but what future is she thinking about? The river is an irreplaceable source of life that has supplied life giving water and food to people for thousands of years. How long will the money last and will it buy a new river? Will tomorrow’s children be grateful to this government for selling their river when the money is all gone? I doubt it! It will just be another terrible mistake of the past from a government that will probably claim they acted on the best information at the time and couldn’t possibly have foreseen the damage they have caused! Isn’t this the way it always goes?

It is time this country got fairdinkum about fighting these decisions in the courts! If this company stuffs up it should suffer the full weight of the law! A case could easily be made if we didn’t put their right to profit ahead of the true security of our country!

Now I’m really annoyed because I wanted to talk about what’s been going on in my own little world and I’ve run out of time to post it!

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

An hour in the Gallery

McArthur River protest


Yesterday I took advantage of my privileged right of flexitime and headed into Darwin to take part in another day of action against the decision to mine the McArthur River. I arrived just in time to join a group of people from Borroloola as they attended the parliamentary question time of the Northern Territory Government.
An air of freedom and power overcame me as I peddled away from my place of employment to take part in action that, according to my conscience and that odd feeling in my heart and in my gut, was long overdue!
Arriving in the Gardens outside Parliament House, hot and sweating profusely, I was glad to see a rather large gathering of people waiting for Parliament to sit at 2pm. I quickly headed for a public toilet where I could change into clean dry cloths before I joined the group. By the time I returned they had gathered outside Parliament House and were holding their banner as they posed for a photo shoot. Being a reasonably shy person I hung back and didn’t make conversation but I did notice there’s a huge benefit to having outgoing leaders who can raise the group’s spirits and bolster morale. Unfortunately as much as I appreciate the nee I don’t think it’s a role I could ever play.

Question time was very disappointing and way too predictable. It began something a little like this:
Member responsible for approving mine being questioned by the honourable member for somewhere or other (Same party as the Member being questioned).
Q. How goes it with this very important, yet environmentally sensitive McArthur River mine Minister? The mine in which government has worked so hard to come to an equitable solution for all.
A. I’m glad you should ask me that difficult question, honourable member for somewhere or other. You see this issue is quite important to the people of the Northern Territory and it has been quite challenging for the government to reach a solution that will please everyone. However due to the quality of our government and the hard work done by our caring ministers I believe we have resolved this issue in a way that will make everyone rich and happy and not impact on the environment in any way, at all, whatsoever ever. Not only have we assured the future financial security of the NT, but with the help of our philanthropic friends at XXX Mining corp. we have saved the environment, created an opportunity for unimaginable wealth for Territorians, and enriched the lives of the good people of Borroloola! Bla…bla…bla…

Then the opposition took the opportunity to use the presence of the people in the Gallery to make outlandish statements in a pathetic attempt to embarrass the government. Opposition leader Jodeen Carney Implored the Chief Minister to repent for her lies to the community and stated that the difference between the Labour Party and the CLP is that the CLP tell the truth! Please spare us the CRAP Ms Carney! How na├»ve do you think we are? This condescending pontification to the Gallary came across no better than if you'd said in your most condescending voice. "Jodeen GOOOOOOD person tell truth, Clare Martin BAAAAD…..tell lies! ME GOOOOD her yucky yucky BAAAAAAD!" (ha ha ha, I'm sorry I still laugh at the image this conjurs in my head and still it doesn't differ too much from what realy went down!)

So anyway the whole thing pretty much followed those lines. Ms Martin tried her hardest to assure us that the Governments decision was for the good of us all and that the environmental safeguards were fantastic and more than we could have hoped for. She made several ridiculous comments about how safe the mine would be and if it wasn't there's always the money... She made reference to the amount of money promised in trust for any unforseen environmental problems, as though it would be capable of fixing the problem. One comment was quite funny. The Chief Minister said that in the past the environmental damage was unsubstantiated due to lack of scientific evidence, but with proceeds from the new mine we will be able to monitor pollution levels much more adequately. I cracked and laughed out loud (lucky I wasn’t turfed out). It almost sounded as if she was saying if it wasn't for the mine we wouldn't be able to measure how much shit the mine releases into the river. (I'm still trying to figure that logic out)
She also conceded that a 5 km river diversion was quite a substantial diversion. Compared to what?! How many tropical river diversions has she had experience with?
The Xtrata web site had pictures of a river diversion they visited down in Morwell Victoria where a stretch of rive had been confined to a nice neat channel. Do they think that a tropical river can be contained in the same way?
I believe that the government has sold us out; they have sold the river off for promises’ of financial rewards and apparently spared little thought for the real future needs of the nation; Fresh water, un contaminated fish!

There are enough precedents to show that no amount of money can buy back a river, Mining companies will do as little as they must to honour any agreements and even the most stringent environmental protection amounts to nothing more than a diluted compromise when the possible effects of the mining opperation are considdered.
As far as I could see we have traded our future for (in the words of Simon and Garfunkel) “a pocketful of mumbles…”

“such are promises”!

I lingered for a while after the event, disillusioned and saddened. I rode home with the thought of Clare Martin trying to assure the people of Borroloola that everything would work out for the best but I think she knew in her heart she had failed them. I saw her falter as she spoke and she was looking directly into the eyes of people who would not forget her promises. Like a soldier who is trained to kill for the good of his nation a politician may some time after realize that the blood cannot be washed of his or her hands with bureaucratic rationalization?

Monday, October 16, 2006

A car a river a muffin and a basket

The car is off the road, out of rego and deemed un-roadworthy by the MVR. Good news for those of us who would rather ride our bicycle. (Me) So we’ve been cycling around like tourists and loving it. I don’t even mind travelling at a quarter of my usual pace just, it’s great to be free of the car for a while and get Sam out on her bike!

Before I continue just a reminder that there will still be a gathering Parliament House tomorrow to protest the mine approval. A contingent will also be attending the parliamentary halls when the government is in session at about 2 pm.

NT News story on the mine today:

McArthur mine challenge
By EMMA GUMBLETON
16oct06

http://www.ntnews.news.com.au/common/story_page/0,7034,20587178%255E13569,00.html



Sam and I both got a bit creative over the weekend and came up with some rather satisfying results.


Mango & Macadamia Muffin
Mango and macadamia muffin

Firstly Sam found a great way to dispose of some of those delicious mangos we’d been given. She made some absolutely delicious mango and macadamia muffins! We’ve finished eating them now but she has promised to make some more this week.

Our tiny storage shed was starting to overflow with spare wheels, tyres and other assorted bike stuff including two extra child seats for the bikes. So I decided to put a long time plan into action and put one of the child seats to good purpose.
The plan was to create a bicycle basket that could easily be transferred from one bike to the other and wouldn’t be too difficult to remove when we wanted to put a child seat on either of the bikes.

Sam and I each have a Rosebank child seat and rack on our bikes but we only need to use one of the child seats when we are cycling together. So the idea I had was to use the simple Rosebank claim system to attach a basket. This way the basket could easily be installed or removed in seconds to suit our needs.


Interchangeable child seat and basket

Bike seat and basket


Clip on bike basket

So I unbolted the backrest from the seat, cut the handle off at the base and the sidewalls down with a hacksaw, finishing the base off to a reasonably smooth surface with my pocketknife. I then cut a few grooves drilled some small holes and snipped off some unwanted wire filed down the rough edges and cable-tied what remained together. Then bada..bing… bada..bang! Walah! A clip on bicycle basket that is fully interchangeable with your Rosebank bike seat.

I left the foot rests on because I found they are just the right size to fit a 1.5 litre water bottle in one side and a rolled up picnic blanket in the other side. The Velcro straps do a great job holding the picnic blanket in.