Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Slime in the stream

It's not rocket science,
We have a creek close to Darwin which has a catchment of a fairly limited and measurable size. The majority of the creek catchment is contained within land under the management of the Darwin Airport.

Dragonfly larvae are dependent on a healthy aquatic environment
The origin of inputs to the system can be easily tracked to fairly specific locations and water quality tests can tell us at each point in the creek certain contaminants exist or at which point they are likely to have been introduced into the system... I don't possess the water quality testing equipment necessary to identify exactly what the composition of contaminants might be, however logic tells me that a creek which flows through predominantly undisturbed land should have quite clean water...

This morning I went for a ride down to the rock pool at the weir to get some film of the native fish swimming in the creek. There is nothing unusual about rainbow fish in Darwin Creeks today, but given the disgraceful mismanagement of our waterways it's only a matter of time before this habitat is completely ruined.

Rapid Creek appears to be quite clean until it reaches the site of the Mecure Darwin Airport Resort! Then you see something slightly different!

Drain from Mecure flowing into the clear water of Rapid Creek

Filth meets pure

Sludge flowing through nicely formed drain

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Word of the day

Today is Harmony Day...

I'd like to use this day to take a brief look at a very special word in the English Language which has drifted out of use in some quarters but is a much used and loved word here in the NT, in fact it is so commonly used here that some people believe it originated from an Aboriginal Language. This is not true but I am sure Aboriginal people have had enough experience dealing with Colonial bureaucratic BS to know that this word fits the Status Quo perfectly!

That word is Gammon.

I believe the meaning of the word hovers around the concept of something being essentially, False. It may have originally had a fairly narrow range of interpretation, but here in Australia, this land of utterly reprehensible political deceit, shonky traders, thieving speculators and generally disrespectful charlatans I'd say those who have taken to using the term over the past 100 years or so, have a far greater appreciation of the the breadth, depth and range with which this word can be applied.

Here's the Macquarie Dictionary definition of the word as it is currently used.


noun 1. deceitful nonsense. --
verb 2. to pretend; jokingly lie; to kid. --
adjective 3. false; fake; pretend: Gammon plants made of plastic. 
4. lame: What a gammon idea! --interjection 
5. an exclamation of disbelief, equivalent to "As if!". --phrase 
6. gammon around, to fool around. Also, gamin, gammin. 

So as our Government, proceeds with the dismantling of our racial discrimination act by repealing Section 18C on this day Tuesday 21st March (International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination). I would like to make use of my word of the day.

"This Shit is Gammon!"

Yes a most appropriate word which can be applied not only to this and multiple other matters of Public policy and legislation which are currently under attack from the Australian Government but can also be used to describe the nature of the mechanisms of Law and Government they have corrupted and most importantly the actual nature of the people involved. It's all simply "Gammon".

Happy Harmony Day.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Farewell to a neighborhood bike shop

I learned to ride a two wheeler quite late, actually my first bike was just a little smaller than a full size man’s bicycle. I might have been about 8 or 9 I suppose. 

My first bike
Me on that old bike, with my sister and neighbor kid, I have no idea where they found training wheels to fit. (circa 1977)

The bike was handed down to me from my cousin in South Australia. Back in the 70s new bike were still fairly expensive, at the time I got my first bike it was a reasonable proposition to restore an old bike, including re-painting rather than to buy a new one. That's how I got my first bike, a hand-me-down farm bike with great big skinny wheels and a leather saddle when a lot of my mates were riding brand new dragsters with high handle bars, fat tires and a sissy bar on the back! 

There were no department store specials back then. Unbeknownst to me, my cousin's ancient but trusty old farm bike with the leather saddle which proved to be a literal pain in the arse (and embarrassment) to me at the time, was taken down to the bike shop in the back of the Kingswood station-wagon and checked in for a full overhaul. 
The 'bike shop' was Watsonia Cycles in Greensborough road, Watsonia. This was a real workshop where 'wheelmen', (serious cyclists) and hardcore bicycle mechanics (cross between a fitter and a blacksmith) tooled around with greasy bearings and hand made frames all day. This is the place where my first bike was re-born. Watsonia Cycles the place where bicycle guru's (who I believe even back then were slightly arrogant experts in their field) lovingly restored a seriously rusted clunky old piece of farm machinery (possibly belonging to the dawn of the safety bicycle) into a slick and gleaming piece of slightly dated, daggy, too big for a kid to learn on, bike! 

I'm not sure how long I owned that bike, or how long it took me to learn to ride it, but I do know that as soon as I could get rid of it and onto my brand new Malvern Star Dragstar with the extended frame I bloody well ditched that old bone rattler!

Watsonia Cycles (Later called Super Cycles) must have existed in the same place for more than 40 years. On a recent trip to Melbourne I discovered that the shop had closed.

In the 1980s Watsonia cycles played a pretty big part in encouraging the new era of BMX. I recall the time they set up a small circuit on the vacant land across the road which has since become the railway car park. They organized a demonstration day and kids came from all over Watsonia, Greensborough and Macleod to see the best of the best in exciting world of elite sports, Bicycle Moto Cross, do their thing! I have no idea who the guys were but their bike skills were mesmerizing and ensured that every kid in the neighborhood would be nagging their parents for the latest chromolly framed, plastic wheeled, knobby tyre'd over priced dragster usurping machine by, if not before Christmas! (Of course that was the year I finally got my dragster!)

Watsonia Cycles special
Virtually exact replica of my very first bike, on display

In the early days of my cycling life I have to admit I was only an occasional customer at Watsonia Cycles, I rarely had money to spend on bicycle repairs, the stripped threads on my axle nuts and bodgy attempts at puncture repair will attest to that! Actually as time went on nothing much changed, even when I wasn't broke I avoided parting with my hard won cash! However I did spend some money in the shop from time to time and I am very happy to say that I was expertly set up with the Shogun Katana I bought there nearly 30 years ago and still love to ride today. 

Super Cycle Bicycle store (Watsonia, Vic)
Super Cycles, used to be called Watsonia Cycles. Shopfront 365 Greensborough Rd.

A lot of stuff used to revolve around that old bike shop, but I haven't been able to find any references online. It's likely once they re-paint it, the shop will pass out of memory. 

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Starting from this

Starting point for my writing 'my' history of a small section of the Plenty River begins with this...

Exploring the hand cut gold mine on steep cliff edge of Plenty River bank (circa late 1980s)

A few odd photos from times spent on the river bank and exploring an old mine on the hillside of the plenty river...

The author with the dogs Tessa and Ben at camp A (circa 1987)

pinging tin
Renegade delinquents honing their skills (circa 1987)

Good ol boys
The Outlaw retreat - Camp A

Holding my old Bowie knife and dusting off a moldy pair of boots.

Not much of a starting point but a bunch of fading memories could polish up ok with a few visual prompts and the help of my new State Library of Victoria Library Card.

Some say the river was lost after they built the Yan Yean reservoir... Gold was a passing fad... But there is treasure beyond gold in the past and I pray the future of the Plenty River Valley.

Monday, March 06, 2017

Flowing dilutant

Here in Darwin we endured the first tropical cyclone for the season. This meme has been doing the rounds, it pretty much sums up the level of threat we faced.
(republished without permission... sorry dude, how the hell am I supposed to find the source of a meme?!)

Wind speeds got up to about 75kmh... there was a bit of extra rain but we're resilient up here and people seemed to take the hardship in their stride. A couple of trees and shrubs lost weaker limbs... pretty much what you'd expect with the termite problem up here.

With a bit of extra rain around I thought I'd check out upstream Rapid creek (Gurambai)on my way to work this morning. I just wanted to see some fresh water in the creek for a change.

Upper pool

Flood mitigation weir

I entered the reserve from the path behind the dodgy detention camp / workers quarters on the airport side of the creek. There were quite a few fallen branches and trees but the track reasonably clear of debris from flooding. Clear water was flowing over the causeway from the Marrarra wetlands and I could see easily to the bottom at the top pool. Small fish were enjoying the increased flow and for a moment I imagined the place to be a pristine paradise. 
(Sorry, Never miss an opportunity to include a photo of the bike)

Feeling inspired by a couple of really great blogs from writers in Victoria which I’ve been following I thought I’d have a go at writing a page or maybe a series of posts on the Rapid Creek (Gurambai). Water Is Life Yeh? So what better to write about than the role of this particular creek? 

Possibly nothing will appear here for some time, I'm considering actually researching this one, whether or not that happens remains to be seen.

Just a beautiful tree, poor quality image but I like it

If you'd like a good read and are interested in rivers, history or connection to place you may like to visit: 

Created by The Yallambie Guy (anon)

Created by Jo M from Geelong.

Oceans a plenty

This morning I purchased two tins of sandwich tuna.....

I felt kinda bad about it.

As I was ruling pencil lines on the pages of accounts yet to be paid, between the last grey line and the first figure marked in Red I thought to myself:

I am the owner of two tins containing the remains of a Pelagic fish of the deep, a fish from the ocean, a mighty powerful swimmer, muscular and fast, streamline and smooth. Chopped up and steamed and shoved into a tin and sold at half price, only a dollar per can, each with one chili.

A fraction of one hour's pay, delicious to eat, impossible to free.
Do I need it? 

How many tuna remain?

I wish they'd have left that fish in the sea!

Latest report says there are millions of fish turning up dead. The cause...? Radiation poisoning! Fukashima Fallout Fish.
Thought comes to mind of a decadent restaurant at the end of the universe where for the price of an ordinary life you can enjoy the exotic culinary delights of a world gone to hell!

"Fukashima Tuna Sushi, come eat the last fish in the sea."

Will I die from radiation sickness before I eat the last fish? 

The question has to be asked, do we love creation enough to leave some fish in the sea? Or would it be kinder to kill and eat them all?

(Apologies for the self indulgent rant... Disclaimer: 'I'm not on drugs')