02 June 2015

The Dogs at Engawala

As I sat there listening to the yelling and screaming coming from the community, I wondered, not for the first time why the Aboriginal Communities in Central Australia became so bad. While there is a lot to understand about the past, how they could become, essentially ghettos where there an outsider, and I might even guess a resident, never can feel truly safe. This afternoon I went for a walk around the community I saw this first hand. The first house I passed had obscenities painted on the wall of the house. This appeared to be a family home with children’s toys in the front yard and a bit of a garden. The washing was hung along the front verandah of the house and for all intents and purposes it appeared an average house. I soon came to see that while painting swear words on the wall was by no means the norm, there were some that appeared to be a lot worse. A few more houses down I came to another, which I first thought mustn’t be occupied. It had boarded up windows, holes in the front block work, rubbish scattered across the yard and peeling paint as far as the eye could see. However, this one was certainly occupied as from out of nowhere several dogs came running out to me barking away. The door opened and a man appeared yelling at the dogs. Another man came from around the other side of the house and did the same. The dogs retreated back to the verandah, keeping their eyes on me all the way.

As I did a circle of the community I noticed that there were many dogs in the community. Most houses appeared to have 5 or 6 with some having what seemed upwards of 15. Some were quietly sitting around the house in the afternoon sun not batting an eyelid at me walking past, others were up and barking as soon as they heard my clomping steps. The dogs are a mixed bunch. Some are aggressive, some submissive, some chase you and others run away whenever anyone comes too close. After walking about halfway round the community I saw a woman throwing a chair at a dog and at another house several dogs attacking another dog with painful yelping coming from somewhere in the blur of bodies. I did not go close. There was nothing that I could do. What may have happened if I had tired to intervene was highlighted just a few more houses down. It was a large black dog. Surprisingly it had a collar around its neck unlike most of the dogs on the community. This dog wasn’t happy. More precisely, wasn’t happy to see me so close to its home. It came out barking and stopped several meters away, its teeth bared, a low growl resonating from somewhere within its bony frame. Nothing happened of course. I moved away from it walking in the grass by the side of the road as I passed the house it was in front of. It advanced on me several times however each time I turned around and started to advance on it yelling, it backed off. As I passed the house and made my way further down the road away from the dog I could still hear it barking and growling away. I’ll admit it certainly was a scary moment.

You never know with dogs on community. Some a friendly, others seem like they would love to rip a chunk out of your leg and then finish you off as you fall to the ground. I never know what a community dog is thinking when I see it no matter what size it is. There are trained dogs and there are wild dogs each living side by side one another. There is nothing wrong with either, each reacting to the way it was brought up which shaped it into what I saw as I wandered around. You can’t judge any dog for doing what it does. That is how it is. You can however try to retrain it. It is my first trip to Engawala however I think I’ll remember it for the dogs.

31 May 2015

Working Hard at Work and Home

The time since the start of the year has been a bit of a blur.  Work has taken over from study and some of the inequalities of the office are becoming more obvious and favouritism is becoming just part of the everyday.  I don't like the office to feel like that and it is pushing me even harder to leave the department where I work.  You always think that the government would be at the forefront of reforming workers rights (due to the large since of the working population and inherent power of collective bargaining).  Unfortunately that does not seem to be the case at all.  

Still, this post is not about having whinge about a job but removing stresses.  Unfortunately for the lemon tree in my back yard, it did not end well.

After a quick trim I stood back to see if it was lopsided.  It was and so I kept on going.

After a quite a bit of work some galahs came over to have a look.  From what they left on the tree and my tools, lets say they didn't think much of my work.

Finally, after about an hour and a half of hard work, I recruited Anne for this bit, the tree was down.

Now I've just have to admire my haul of lemons and start finding some recipes for them.  That might be even more work than I had in mind.  Either way, at least the cooking will help to destress me from a very busy year so far.

31 January 2015

In the news

I've made it into the local paper.  For the second week in a row I've had my picture in regarding the mosquito treatment that we are undertaking in the Ilparpa Swamp area in Alice Springs.

Centralian Advocate - Friday 30th January 2015.

Centralian Advocate - Friday 16th January 2015.

12 January 2015

A bit of rain in Alice Springs

 It has been quite wet in Alice Springs over the last few days (180mm of rain in January already).  So today I received a call from the Medical Entomology program in Darwin asking if I'd going and check to see how much water was in the swamp from the rains (and a recent effluent release from the sewage ponds).  I took a few photographs when I was there.






They are thinking of bringing down the helicopter from Darwin in order to spray larvicide or growth inhibitor around the area.  I'll be heading back down later in the week to see if the waters have started to recede.

31 December 2014

Christmas Holidays 2014

Another Christmas has come and gone.  As with every year that seem to pass nowadays I'm surprised at how quickly it has gone.  This year has certainly been a big one.  As I look back I notice that I have not updated this blog since May this year and thinking of all the things that have happened I should have had many more entries than are there.  But I will not use this space for that suffice to say that it has been a very busy year.

This Christmas was spent at at my sister's place in Melbourne and I'll head back to Alice Springs next year.  It was a good Christmas with lots of presents, good food and family.  It was good to have Mum in Melbourne too for the lead up and part of Christmas day and it was sad to see her head home.

Max's 5th birthday was another highlight of my Christmas.  On the 28th we went to the zoo and had some of his impressive Olaf Birthday Cake.  After that we came home and watched Max open his presents and then had a fun time playing with all of them for the rest of the afternoon.

Max opening his his first present at breakfast.

The impressive Olaf Birthday Cake.

 Max looking at the present I gave him.

Max and all his birthday presents.

I also went out to visit Anne's Pa's farm and had a tour around the fields (paddocks) to see the sheep.  It is an impressive farm with quite a few sheep on it.  For the moment though the fields looked very dry and on the day we visited a fierce gale was blowing.  The visit to the fields, shearing shed, wool store and the homestead was very interesting thoroughly enjoyable.


And now comes the new year.  While I don't know what the coming year holds for me or others I hope that it is a good one for all.

13 May 2014

To Yulara (...again)

Once again I'm in Yulara for work.  I can't even remember how many times I've been down here so far.  I'm down here again for work doing inspections in and around the tourist town of Yulara.  It has been a busy day with two hotels and a campground inspected.  Tomorrow looks like another busy day.

Me with Ayers Rock (Uluru) in the background.

21 April 2014

Extracting stuff

It is now coming to the end of my second week in Adelaide.  I've been here for nearly two weeks working on my honours project at Flinders University.  This week I've been extracting DNA from my samples this week and will be starting on PCR tomorrow.  While it sounds exciting and brainy the truth is that it isn't really.  You just have to add certain chemicals wait, centrifuge the sample, and repeat (or there abouts).  I'm enjoying it and it makes me sound really smart when I say I've been all day in the lab!


11 October 2013

Finding a Thorny Devil

Today I found something that I'd been looking for since coming out to Central Australia.  Today I found a Thorny Devil (Moloch horridus).  I spotted it on the road while driving out to Mutitjulu on Friday morning.  He just sat there on the road while I picked him up.  After the photo he started to move, obviously having warmed up a bit more.  I was surprised how fast he moved when I released him a minute or so later.  He rushed off to the spinifex, stopped then started his leisurely walk away from me.  He didn't seem scared at all of me.  I was very excited.  I always said that I needed to find one before I left Alice Springs and now I have.  Now I can leave happy.

Me holding the Thorny Devil.

The Thorny Devil getting released after the photo.

29 September 2013

Visiting Darwin

I spend this week in Darwin doing a health promotion course through work.  It was good as I was also able to visit Lewis, Naomi and Edie who have now moved up there.  Mum also came up to visit Lewis during that week so I also got to see her too.  It was good to see everyone again and a bit of Darwin.  We went to markets, museums, beaches, pools and the Territory Wildlife Park.  It was a fun week.

 Relaxing in Lewis's Flat.

Me and Edie on the couch.

On the bus at the Territory Wildlife Park.