Thursday, May 31, 2007

Environment Day is coming

The inflatable cooling stack on the lawns of Parliament House

On Tuesday morning I donned my cycling attire pumped up the tires on my road bike and instead of trudging off to work, I headed off to town to join the APEC protest.
The APEC conference was a big event for Darwin as Energy ministers from 20 counties have come together to discuss how they will meet the worlds energy demands. As global warming is challenging traditional energy production methods there is a strong push these days for nuclear energy. the purpose of the protest was to remind those in power that thy have a responsibility to develop renewable sources of energy. Most importantly we oppose the use of nuclear reactors. At 8:00 am there wasn't much of a show, I counted seven of us but am sure more would have arrived later in the day!
It was kind of a funny situation really as the whole perimeter of parliament house was fenced off, including the public road at the rear of the building! There were police and security guards all over the place inside and out! It's hard to tell who posed the greatest threat. The handful of placard waving protesters or the City council and police themselves? On Monday a home made pipe bomb was discovered at East Point park (some considerable distance from the town center) so they brought it in to town and detonated it on the esplanade just meters away from parliament house!
WOW! that must have been a botched security procedure!


This Sunday on the lawns of the NT Museum and Art Gallery, just beyond the a shoreline washed by the waters of the Arafura sea will be held Darwin's second 'World Environment Day Expo'.

There will be a full day of events and activities.
I believe the newly formed bicycle advocacy group will have a stall there. With so much going on in the NT at the moment it will be well worth visiting. It is time for the community to take action and show their commitment to demanding a healthy environment for our children and future generations.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Reconciliation week

This week is an important one on the human rights calendar in Australia and a very important week for Aboriginal people in particular. It is Reconciliation Week.
This past weekend marked what should be two very significant days for Australians.

Saturday 26th was Sorry Day a national day of healing. An opportunity for non-indigenous Australians & Governments to share in an expression of sorrow for the harm done to indigenous people by policies which allowed children to be removed from their families simply due to the colour of their skin.
Our Prime Minister, who in recent history elicited an apology from the Japanese Government for acts committed by Japan during the 2nd World War continues to refuse stolen generations any apology for crimes committed against them. However the government website does acknowledge the day see link... Sorry Day.

Sunday 27th marked the 40th anniversary of the 1967 Referendum, which resulted in the changing of sections 51 and 127 of the Australian constitution where Aboriginal people were specifically excluded from the census. Although Aboriginal people had already been given the right to vote, just a few years earlier the referendum was a key step in the struggle for equality in this country.

I think it is important that non Indigenous people do not pass these two very important days off as 'Aboriginal' days. They are both opportunities for all Australians to acknowledge our past and atone for harm done to our own people.
Although it was just one of several reforms needed to give Aboriginal Australians equal status under the law, I believe the 1967 Referendum was a threshold moment in Australia's democratic history. If all Australians were to embrace this day and celebrate our humanity and disdain for oppression it might help us to affirm our commitment to justice and equality as a unified nation.

I'm sure there are plenty of other events through the week so keep an eye out and spare a thought for what it could mean to you personally.

Sunday, May 27, 2007


Well that intrepid, wacky adventurer Anthony Mann is wrapping up his bicycle tour of Australia. According to his most recent generic email to a long list of friends and supporters he has visited Uluru, I presume he didn't climb. (If you go there please DON'T CLIMB THE ROCK!) He is about to leave Alice headed back to Tassie. Check out his diary on the website and add a comment to his guest book if you're interested.

Anthony Mann OzByBike reaches Uluru and the center
(photo by: Anthony Mann)

"The 12 month anniversary has come and gone, and I've racked up over 22,000 kms. I'm in Alice Springs at the moment – which means I've nearly reached number 6 of my 7 goals, the Lambert Centre of Australia, with only the lowest point (Lake Eyre, SA) to go after that before I complete the '7 extremes'." Anthony Mann (email)
If you're interested in long distance cycling this is for you. But even if you're not, have a read and a laugh while Anthony shares his outback and city adventures, some funny some harrowing but all extremely entertaining and written in Anthony's very own style click on a link and have a look at OzByBike
Extreme heat, little water, the dust the flies, thrills and spills...! (How did he ever make it this far?)

Anthony, possibly after a meal of sticky flies
(photo by: Anthony Mann)

On a more serious note, the ride does have a purpose. Anthony hopes to encourage people to consider environmentally sustainable transport options. By cycling around the whole country he challenges us all to consider if we really need the car to make those less distant journeys, like going to the corner shop to work or school. It is possible to cycle vast distances on a bicycle and once you're in the habit it can prove a more practical, healthy, enjoyable and social way of getting around your own neighborhood.

Anyway if you do nothing else please checkout OzByBike and have a look at Anthony's video at the Media center page Here it's well worth the effort of clicking on a link. :)

Saturday, May 26, 2007

CRUDE - the incredible journey of oil

On Thursday Night we watched the ABC documentary 'CRUDE'. It was a fantastic look at the carbon cycle, oil and how we use it. There were some very moving interviews with men who recall the beginning of the age of oil and various other experts who provided pretty convincing evidence to support the concepts of Peak Oil and Global Warming.

What I gathered from the film.

The experts all agree that we are facing the decline of oil. Although their speculations varied about the actual time, date or year when we would or have reached 'Peak', the consensus was that the time is pretty much now! The warning was pretty clear that alternatives need to be found and more importantly adopted if civilization is to continue in any semblance of what we now take for granted.

The program gave a great explanation of how oil was/is created. It was fascinating and mostly news to me. The carbon cycle has huge implications for all life on earth and the documentary showed how imbalance can disrupt so many other systems on Earth.

There seems to be two major areas where our use of oil will impact on our future. One is economically (supply will not continue to meet demand) and the other is environmentally (Global Warming resulting from the release of CO2 into the atmosphere). The world as we know it is fueled by oil and world economies are so totally dependent on oil that the impacts of rising oil prices will be catastrophic unless we can drastically restructure our transport and energy sources. However the cumulative effects of Global Warming may overtake any presumed impact caused by reduced access to the oil itself.

Anyway I'm posting this to remind you all that if you missed it the whole documentary is available as an ABC Video On Demand (VOD). HERE.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Reptiles in our rivers

For the past couple of weeks I've been collecting my daughter in the early afternoon so we can go for a decent ride and have a little out door adventure instead of going straight home where she inevitably wants to watch videos!
I often take my camera just in case we see something really cool... So as we were skirting rapid creek looking at piles of scorched 'Long bums' (A mangrove shellfish), the remains of Aboriginal picnics, I noticed something in the water. "Look over there!" It's a.... err... It's.... Hey it's a crocodile! WOW! I quickly reached behind be and unzipped my bag as my daughter stood up in her chair trying to get a better look.
I whipped out the camera and turned it on just as the croc passed under some mangrove and out of view. I waited and edged my way slightly to the right until I could see him again. There he is, it was a little far away but I should get something in frame. I pressed my finger down on the button and waited for the synthesized click from my digital camera..... I waited some more.... I heard nothing. This was not so unusual I often miss the sound. I quickly turned the camera over so I could see the image. There was nothing! Some text flashed on the screen. "NO MEMORY CARD" No memory card!?!?!?! What!?
So many times I've lugged my camera along without taking a single shot but when there is something truly worthy of a photo I find that I've left the card in the card reader at home! Oh well it was a great thing to see anyway.
Today I reported the 1.5m (aprox) crocodile to the Parks and Wildlife department. As a matter of public safety they have to remove crocodiles from city beaches. I would have gladly sacrificed an afternoon of Data cleanup at work to go out with them and was tempted to ask but didn't. My adventure was over. I slumped back in my chair, opened another spreadsheet and continued my mindless assessment of data no one may ever want or look at again. Humpfff.... 1,375 lines down,9,438 lines to go!

The crocodile we saw resembled this skink...vaguely... kind of...
(species unknown)

Cleaning up our community
On the way home from work I saw Trevor picking up rubbish along Lee Point Rd, he'd managed to accumulate a couple of large rubbish bags full of junk in what seemed like a fairly short distance. It amazes me that people can just drop their rubbish on the ground like that.
When I got home I grabbed a bottle of water and headed back to catch up with Trev for a chat. After spending my days indoors surrounded by computers, and obnoxious, technology dependent teens whose values I can not comprehend it was a great relief to make a human connection. There are times when I am kind of envious of his lifestyle and I know I am taking the easier softer way.
It can't be easy being on the streets but it is one way to avoid certain kinds of corruption. In this age of human induced Global Warming, when interest in the growth of our shares continues to take precedence over the renewal of our forests. When we are ruled by economic prophecy; slaves to corporate propaganda and bound by the fear of rising interest rates or the price we pay for fuel, there are far less noble positions one could take in this world than to be unemployed and voluntarily cleaning up other peoples mess.


Thursday, May 24, 2007

Blackfella rebellion!

People must be wondering what's going on in the Territory at the moment. Is it some kind of Blackfella rebellion?

Indigenous Members of Parliament turning against their party, Town Camps in Alice Springs turning down multi million dollar offers from the Federal Government, and Traditional Owners in Kakadu refusing to allow a Uranium mine when demand is booming! (Click here)

Ha! ...

But isn't it all so confusing!

I've heard radio announcers and commentators speculating all week. What is to be done about these trouble makers? Of course each one of these cases is totally separate from the others but the collective question is why would they do such a stupid thing?

Maybe the whole country's gotten so used to rolling over when the bucks come out we really are baffled! I reckon the average Australian has so successfully divorced finance from ethics that we really are confused about why anyone would do anything on principal if it interfered with making a profit. Is it possible that in this day and age there could actually be things that can not be bought?
This reminds me of a page from the book 'Stark'. I think it went something like, "This place may be a dingo's toilet but it's ours and you can't have it!"
So the Federal Government's offer may be a good one and would possibly go a long way toward improving the situation in town camps, by the sound of it anything would be an improvement on the current situation. But why do the people say no? Could it be that with all their problems they still don't trust the government to do the right thing? Surely for anyone to knock back such a huge amount there must be more to the story than just pig-headed stubbornness?
It astounds me that a respected Territory radio announcer has been voicing his opinion and criticizing the community leaders for refusing the $60M. Wouldn't it be a good idea to ask why people would knock back such an offer. It seems though no one cares much to hear that story. Everyone is too caught up in the rapture of blaming the blackfellas for perpetuating the whole atrocious state of affairs.
After voicing his own opinion the radio announcer then proceeded to ask callers to phone in with their opinions without providing any more information than you might find in a tabloid Headline! Why not dig a little deeper and find out what the offer consists of, or what this might mean to the autonomy of the communities? Why would the people distrust their so called saviors?
It seems the offer could do a lot to improve living conditions in Alice Springs. If it is genuine maybe discussion in a public forum could be useful in extracting some of the background and help to build understanding of the issues. It's possible the radio could facilitate information sharing which might improve the negotiations in some way but this is not what I see happening. Not by a long shot. Just another page in a history of oppression and condemnation. Three cheers for the Righteous White. Why can't everybody be more like us?

Peak Oil?

Tonight at 8:30 pm across Australia the ABC will broadcast a much anticipated documentary called 'Crude'. A documentary about Oil, the liquid fuel and primary building block that underpins many of our modern conveniences. It is a non renewable resource that we are almost totally dependent on yet we burn so much of it with apparent disregard for the consequences.

"Crude takes a step back from the day to day news to illuminate the Earth's extraordinary carbon cycle and the role of oil in our impending climate crisis." (ABC TV blurb)

Peak oil

My Boss recently directed me to the ABC's Video On Demand (VOD) webpage where they make available some of the programs that have been shown on ABC TV in the past. It's fantastic and offers very good streaming video of some great documentaries. Personally I'll be looking for something a bit less serious! I hope they have kept episodes of the Chaser or Raw Comedy!

A while ago, well maybe several months ago The ABC aired a mini documentary on their 4 Corners program related to the theory and expected consequences of 'Peak Oil'. If you're not familiar with this term it basically means the turning point in availability of oil where demand begins to surpass supply. As oil is a finite resource there must be a time when it's availability will no longer be assured. So this documentary is available on the ABC VOD site and is well worth watching. Please click this link >Peak Oil?<>

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Brave spirit

As I am doing nothing that would interest anyone but myself (actually I'm not all that interested in anything I've been doing lately) I thought I would direct the focus of this post to a phenomenal woman named Catra (Dirt Diva). She is an endurance / cross country runner who, along with her friend Julien, is about to commence a 2,666 mile (not km) hike/dash along a track on the West Coast of the USA known as the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT).

I can not begin to describe the awe I find myself in whenever I try to contemplate the magnitude of such a journey! I think about all the times I could have or should have done something extraordinary but didn't. Although I am flat out just trying to successfully live an ordinary life, for me this alone can be a considderable challenge. Though I often wonder what if I tried something else? Something big. Would I ever achieve anything that others would find remarkable? Maybe something beyond my current goals of remainingg married, employed and non institutionalized....? Maybe I'll just stick to those goals for now...
To face such incredible challenges must be a life altering experience! I believe every religion contains some kind of concept of life death and rebirth. Metaphorically and sometimes literally. We must shed the skin of an old life in order to commence a new one. The process I am thinking about takes place on a spiritual plane but I can see that by pushing her physical and psychological boundaries and by enduring such hardship (although her photos don't show it) it looks like Catra dwells somewhere in the flux between the earth and the ether! A spiritual adventurer on the edge of what is humanly possible... If you think I'm ranting check out her blog. I don't think it's such an exaggeration.

Regardless of whether they complete the journey this will be an awesome story to follow and I believe they commence their journey today!
You can follow their progress on

Check out the PCT website to see more information about the country they will be traveling.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Cyclists Special - parts one & two

pt 1

pt 2

A fine cycling life.
I discovered these videos on the blog Planetary Gears.
This reminds me so much of the old cycling books I've been collecting, Thanks to my mother- in-law down in Geelong.

I find the style of these books quite exciting, they offer conventional suggestions for the choice and maintenance of bicycles and emphasize cooperation with other road users. Standards of roadmanship, are also promoted in the books, which at the time must have been universally granted and expected. It's like, functioning as part of a cooperative group or a contributing member of one’s society was the keystone to the individual’s capacity for joy or fulfillment. There is also a considerable amount of space given to road rules and codes of conduct.
The authors make a lot of personal statements and judgments that imply a formula for successful enjoyment of cycling, whether alone or in a group, I can’t help thinking that we could use a little of this kind of guidance today.
Although I do remembering a time, back when I rode a motorbike. I’d gone on a ride with the Harley owners group and found all their rules and structured rides particularly overbearing. After about an hour of chugging along in formation on a ridiculously straight and very boring road, I couldn’t stand the monotony and decided to go for a blast breaking the club rule ‘Thou shalt not pass the Road Captain’.
This was not appreciated and I soon found myself back in the place I am most comfortable; riding solo on the back roads and bush tracks that may or may not bring me to where I think I’m heading.

But I digress….

My cycling books

  • Bicycling / by Ruth and Raymond Benedict (New York, A.S. Barnes, 1944)
  • Bikes and Riders / James Wagenvoord (New York, Van Nostrand, 1972.)
  • Cycling book of maintenance (London, Temple Press, 1954)
  • Let’s go cycling / Reginald C. Shaw (London, Thomas Nelson and Sons, 1960.)

Online source of older reading material

Here’s an example of the writing style in Let’s go cycling:

Chapter VIII Roadmanship
“Seamanship is the quality of a good skipper at sea, and roadmanship is the quality of a good skipper on land. The skippers on land are those who drive and steer vehicles, including cycles, that travel along our roads. Cyclists are indeed skippers; their cycles are their craft, the little ships of the roads, as dainty as yachts.”… (p.132)

Now here’s the bit that I really dig.

From the same chapter:
“Helping one another is in fact the idea behind the rules of the road, just as it is the foundation of the rules of the sea. Road users are not individuals competing one against the other, but members of a team –a gigantic team—that can only work well if everybody keeps to the rules.” (p.136)

What's the big deal about Roadmanship?

The comparison between maritime law and the rules of the road was very interesting but somehow I feel the mutual respect part has long since vanished from our roads. On the sea amongst most seafarers there is an understanding which compels human beings to cooperate with each other for the greater good. There are codes of etiquette that should be understood by all, many of which are enforceable under the ancient codes of Maritime law. Good sailors are respected for their 'Seamanship' as there are times when it can prevent the needless death of others.
When I typed the word ‘Roadmanship’ in MS Word I got a red squiggly line under it and I could not find it in my Oxford dictionary either. It seems the word has been lost to time an extinct relic of a concept never truly adopted or understood. (At least by the broad majority of road users.)
It seems on many Australian roads today there exists only the conflicting forces of the law and an overwhelming presence of unenlightened self-interest. Stress and agro. However there are places where there are obvious exceptions to this theory. If you are lucky enough to travel in Outback Australia one of the first things that may surprise you is the sense of camaraderie between travelers.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Raw Comedy

Last night (after and exhausting day of homework, commuting about 50km, doing three days worth of dishes and entertaining a 3 year old) I took an interrupted 1 hour reprieve. What's on the box tonight! I'm gonna crash. So I lay down switched on the tube and there was actually something cool on! (I'd missed the doco about Spartacus!)

It was 'Raw Comedy' at 9:25pm on the ABC.
Excellent stuff! It was a live recording of a comedy venue in Melbourne and the gags were coming thick and fast! What a way to end the night! Thank goodness for ABC TV!
Comedians are brave! No doubt about it... The tallent last night had us chuckling and cheering! No small feat considdering the moodiness that proceeded it.
I reckon the grumpy librarian/mother should have won a prize though.. The general standard of the comedians was excelent. There was even an entry from the NT, can't remember her name though. :(

Here are the competition results:

Jonathan Schuster (VIC)
Runner Up:
Aamer Ramaan (VIC)
Raw Recruit Prize for the best first-time Raw entrant:
Jack Druce (NSW)

Aamer, made more of a political statement than really great comedy but he hit the nail on the head so well when he commented on Anglo Australian racism that he just had to get something! I'd love to get a transcript of the show so I can quote the guy!
The question goes through my head every time I see the TV news, commercial network current affairs programs or read our blessed NT news.
Not his exact words but he said something along the lines of:
'Why is it that all I see are white people complaining about everyone else in this country?' Thank GOD! Someone has bravely ridiculed the Anglo centric bullshit we are fed daily! He made some other extremely confronting observations about the Anglo Ausie way of life that are so vulgar and hypocritical that many people would have been stunned to hear them and shamed into squeezing out a self conscious chuckle if only to appear un-offended!
Good on you Aamer, I think you'd make a better diplomat than a terrorist!

Monday, May 14, 2007

Arafura 07

Arafura games stands
Crowd at the stadium

The Arafura Games opening ceremony on Saturday night was fantastic. On Saturday afternoon we met up with a friend and her daughter, gathered some food a rug and a couple of chairs and headed off to the Marrara Sports Stadium along with just about everybody else who lives in Darwin. We arrived at the grounds at about 5:30 to join the huge cues of people eager see the ceremony and welcome the athletes. I thought we would be standing there for ages but the gate keepers did such a great job we all filed through in no time.
There was a great deal of excitement amongst the athletes many of whom have never been outside their own country before. We all cheered as they made their way around the stadium and the sound of plastic clappers filled the air. The atmosphere was very friendly, the only trouble the police seemed to have was stopping kids from running too far out onto the field and mingling with the athletes during the ceremony. Performers included Yuliana Pascoe, Jessica Mauboy and NEO. I can't wait to see Yuliana gain National recognition for her talent; she is an awesome performer! When NEO came out in their flamboyant jumpsuits I expected the crowd to go wild..... but...... they didn't! WHat is wrong with these people? This is possibly the greatest band Darwin has ever produced and all they raised was a muffled applause. I had to sit down quietly when I realized I was the only one jumping up and down Roaring YEHHHHH NEO.... YEHHHHHhhh..... Oh? Ok. no one else is really into them. I think Sam was a little embarrassed.
The highlight was an acrobat floating around the stadium on a huge floating ball. I think it was called a Heliosphere, but the kids called it the fairy. You can imagine the rest of the weekend "Where is the fairy? I want to see the fairy!" It was awesome!

Arafura games
Papua New Guinea

The only real disappointment was the crap that the NT news decided to print on the front page that day! It is the opening ceremony of the Arafura games, one of, if not the biggest event on Darwin's calender, and international event drawing people from a broad range of cultural and ethnic backgrounds. For many this is their first experience of another country and for even more their first experience of a Western country and what does our news paper print on it's front page? Half a page of colour images of beer, and yet another story about how much Territorians drink! There is no point trying to hide the fact from our visitors they are visiting a heathen country. Our dominant cultural icon appears to be a polar bear who promotes the consumption of rum! As I drove the family home from the wharf via Mitchel St past The Deck bar, I reflected on how one might explain to a visitor that a bunch of semi naked bikini girls prancing around in high heals is not perverted headonism but more a cultural expression of equality.... I still haven't figured out how that might be done amid the common chorus of "Get yer geer orf!" Oh well maybe one day they will understand.


Pots-o-fruit becoming jam
I made the Rosella Jam. :)

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Injustice in the NT

More on the McArthur River issue.
The events in Parliament and the courts over the past couple of weeks have been a great opportunity for our government to prove themselves worthy leaders and they have failed disgracefully!
If there was ever a time to test the metal of our members of parliament, an issue such as this would have to be it. When presented with an opportunity to act in the interests of their citizens and environment and to lay down binding safeguards for the future of the territory they have chosen to roll over to the will of a mining company and forsake the future of those people who are closest to the land they are selling out!
Why? Why submit so easily? Why disregard the people and the rights of all Territorians so freely? Why was their a split in the party over this issue and why was it only the indigenous members of parliament who opposed this decision, a decision which holds the supreme court, the environment and the people of the Northern Territory in absolute contempt?
The members who crossed the floor on this issue aught to be commended by all Australians. They stood up for democracy, human rights and the laws which are meant to defend each and every one of us. They did this in the face of their own Party's indifference and beligerance. I hope we all remember their courage. However I am worried that the split along ethnic lines has revealed the true interests of the majority within our government.
If they do not see what they have done as an attack on the rights of all Territorians then they obviously must value the rights of indigenous people less than those of the rest of us! Various displays of governments apathy and a general disregard for the pleas made by various delegations from Borroloola make this appear to be the case.

What is the deal with altering legislation retrospectively anyway? If the Government are going to go back and re-visit the past they should remember the golden rule of time travel. LOOK BUT DON'T TOUCH! This is the general mandate that governs our business with the past. The consequences of interference have been demonstrated by all our favorite time traveler heroes from Homer Simpson to Doctor Who?!

As the lyrics from Bob Dylan's 'Clean cut Kid' go:
"They said what's up is down, they said what isn't is
They put ideas in his head he thought were his"
They took a clean cut Bill.... and they made a noose out of it that's what they did!
(my own little improvisation)

Although Territorians still appear to have their heads in the sand over this issue there are people of conscience watching and taking note. Check out what Jon Tippett QC from the Bar Association had to say on Northern Territory Stateline last night:
Bar Association Condemns NT Government

Friday, May 11, 2007

Tall Grass (Gamba)

On my way to Palmerston I pass an area so thick with Gamba Grass that nothing else can exist where it stands! Although earlier this year the environment minister failed to declare it a noxious weed this grass it threatening to destroy native habitat in the Territory and a great example greets commuters within 15 km of Darwin itself!
At the Stuart Hwy end of McMillan's Rd there is a clear example of how Gamba intrudes into native habitats and totally consumes it!

Gamba eats trees
Gamba eats trees

10 ft tall gamba
This stand of Gamba is about 10 ft tall

This grass, grows faster, is much taller, denser and carries a far higher fuel load than our native grasses. The result is that it provides good feed for cattle but if allowed to grow to maturity becomes a deadly enemy to all other life. The intensity and frequency of Gamba Grass fires threatens to destroy native savanna wherever it spreads to. Trees life is decimated within a couple of years and small shrubs and other low lying life forms can not survive at all amongst the thick stands of Gamba!
Gamba burns when it's seeds are dry and they are lifted by dry season winds and the updraft of the fire and then spread across the land.

Enough about the killer Grass.

The phantom rubbish collector

As I rode the bike path yesterday I came across a fella who was carrying a bunch of plastic bags full of stuff. There are lots of Long Grassers (itinerant people make camp in the bush) around at this time of year but I rarely see any out this far. As I approached I realized that his bags contained nothing but rubbish. Food wrappers, beer cans, all the stuff that you'd expect to see littering the roadside scrub if you cared to look.
Earlier yesterday I was listening to the radio and heard about a, supposedly unemployed, guy who has been going around Darwin picking up rubbish from the parks or scrubland and leaving it in neat bundles to be collectedby the side of the road. The story stirred me and it reminded me that there are still some people around who will do things because they feel right rather than simply for profit.
I was curious about the guy on the track so stopped to talk. Low and behold it was the very same guy I'd heard about that very morning. (I'll allow him some anonymity and won't print his name) We chatted for about half an hour and I asked him why he was doing this, it's so hot! In a calm and relaxed voice he simply said he was doing it to fill in his days. He went on to say it seemed a good thing to do. I can't argue with that! I thought about that a little and reflected on all the Rhetoric and big ideas that are floating around in the name of protecting the environment or serving the public and here's this guy just quietly getting about picking up our trash! I know he has made an impact because I've seen his piles of junk heaps of times and wondered who had left them and why.
When I first arrived in Darwin I was shocked to find that people leave rubbish everywhere! They just drop it in the street and take no responsibility for it at all. They mustn't have had the don't rubbish Australia campaign up here! I was equally astounded when I saw guys riding quad bikes with bins on the back going around picking up after every body! This is ridiculous! Contractors have to be payed to clean up after us! So it was a great relief to meet a citizen who has taken it upon himself to clean up the masses of stuff that the contractors can't reach. What a great example this fella is.
I was in a bit of a rush and had to leave but noticed that the guy looked parched, he was a long way from any taps that I knew of and had no water! It's so easy to dehydrate out there! I shared some of my water and continued on my way, a feeling of satisfaction came over me as I peddled on. Being a cyclist pays hearty dividends! I'd taken the time to stop and talk to someone quite remarkable who I would never have noticed if I was driving the car!

Wild Gamba
Grass reaching for the sun

Just for a bit of paradoxical relief, the my view of the Gamba grass as ugly is very much biased by my understanding of the destruction it causes to native habitat. Like many destructive imports it can also appear quite beautiful when viewed in isolation or in a different context.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

May Day 2007

Yesterday afternoon we intended to go to the May Day march with friends but somehow managed to miss it totally.
After an extended afternoon nap we woke at about 6:00 pm 1 and a half hours after the march! We leaped out of bed, threw on some rags and jumped into the car. Well it was a bit slower than this but far quicker than our usual efforts. It was about 6:30 when we reached the Esplanade and there were plenty of car parks left for lazy latecomers who couldn't be bothered walking to far.
It was a great evening. The air was light and breezy as the sun set over a fairly relaxed crowd of unionists and revelers. People were loosely gathered around the main stage and food stalls. There were heaps of kids around and plenty of orange slogan clad balloons and T-shirts. When we arrived we found our place among the other families sprawled comfortably on picnic blankets listening to Lea Flanagan and band pumping out some great songs.

Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu of the Salt Water Band played guitar accompanied by double bass and sang beautifully in a mixture of English and his own language. One of his songs Bapak reminded me that the people who live on the northern coast of Australia have had a long history of connection to people from the Indonesian Islands.
An article about Salt Water Band
Check out the promo HERE.

An excellent way to spend the evening! So many kids were dancing and playing amongst the crowd. They were also the focus of speeches made by the union organizers who implored us to dethrone the leaders who has sold out the rights of future generations.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Supreme Court Jesters

Apparently what the Northern Territory Government wants, the Northern Territory Government gets!
According to an ABC online News report, the NT Government plan to amend the wording on mining legislation, in order to sidestep a supreme court ruling. The ruling which was made last week prevented the controversial mine expansion from continuing.
Apparently the Traditional Owners, who won the case against the Government, had not been informed that the mine would go ahead regardless.
The Chief Minister, Ms Martin said:
"I think the TOs [traditional owners] understood the decision had been made"
So it appears that regardless of the law, or any of the procedures we have in place to protect ourselves or our environment against actions that may cause harm what the Government wants takes precedence over everything. They are above the law and if the laws don't suite their present needs they will change the law, with the same disregard for due process they give any other issue that does not support their own interests!
Mines minister Chris Natt describes the fundamental alterations to the mine's operational plan as “...just one small word - the word ‘underground’..."

It is amazing! In real terms the difference between an underground mine and an open cut mine seem enormous! Though when it comes to rewriting documents they are just a few letters on a page and with the aid of a good word processor and an easily amended database no-one need ever know the word was even there in the first place. I'm sure we'll all have forgotten about it in a week or so. So what’s the big Deal!

Check out the story at ABC News Online

Keep up to date with the McArthur River issue: McArthur River Blog

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Rosella Season

Today I was bombarded with messages I'd left to myself at about this time last year. The message was simple and direct. It's Rosella season! Get them early before it's too late!!

Rosella and frog
A small tree frog on a rosella bush

Well it wasn't exactly this time last year as I recall. It was late May or early June and I'd just made my first batch of Rosella Jam! Oh the lovely tart flavour of lightly cooked Rosella Jam with not too much sugar and just enough natural pectin to hold the lot together. As I recall it was a huge success and a total fluke that the jam turned out so well. If only I'd collected the Rosellas just a couple of weeks earlier, I would have had enough to make more than three small jars!
I think they must all ripen within a couple of weeks of each other and should be picked straight away, last time I picked too late. This time it will be different!
So the message is on the wall and the computer screen, the mobile phone, my diary, well I think I left messages everywhere actually. So this Saturday is Rosella picking day! No what ifs, no buts no sleep-ins! The girls are coming with me and we will collect the rosellas! and I will make the jam and it will be good! So let it be written; so let it be done!