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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
This week I went down to Adelaide to work out the final details of my honours project. It was raining as my supervisor picked me up from the front of the Marion Holiday Park where I was staying. I had to run to her car but even so was soaked in the 10 metre dash. It was a big contrast from the hot and sunny conditions that I had left behind in Alice Springs. I wasn't complaining. It certainly made a nice change. My first day was just sorting things out at the uni. Getting my ID card, paying some fees, buying some text books, learning how to use the library and database systems. It was a full day and I met many people in a blur.
For the first few days I was working on my project looking at possible goals and objectives. The last few days was the on campus intensive study period for my microbiology and communicable diseases course.
The Flinders University Campus (taken on the Saturday when it was sunny again). The building I was in was the grey one on the far left of the photo.
The view from the office window on a wet and windy morning. It was a great view and I was happy to sit and look at it everyday.
The Post Grad Office. My desk was the one behind the blow up Dalek.
While there I also had a go at the PCR (Polymerase Chain Reaction) test for matching the DNA. This was my first time and it was certainly interesting and somewhat confusing. You do the test first by extracting the DNA from your sample (we were using poo from a sheep, duck, chicken and dog). You do this by putting in several different chemicals and separating it using filters and a centrifuge. Once you've extracted the DNA you put in some buffers and other chemicals that help to grow lots of DNA strands in an amazing and mind-boggling way. The DNA is then matched up with that of the bacteria that I'm looking at, Campylobacter and says whether it is present in the sample. Unfortunately my samples were all contaminated, including the negative control, which wasn't good. That means that I didn't get any useable results. Still, it was my first time giving it ago. I've been since given some tips of adjusting my aseptic technique to hopefully remove any contamination in the future.
At the end of the week I'd worked out the major details of my project. The main objective will be to look to see whether Campylobacter can be found in lizard poo. There hasn't been much study done on this with the study that has been done been based on American lizards, salmonella and E. coli. I will also be doing a risk assessment to see, if it is present, how that might cause illness and whether or not it is a big risk. My hypothesis is that it is there and isn't really a big risk. it should be interesting to find out.
This morning I drove out 120km or so out of town and went for a walk. The walk started by heading up the river and walking into the pound (a part of the river surrounded by hills). You then walk up one of the hills and around it to the car park. All up, it was 10 km long and quite a big walk.
On the ground of the pound.
A panoramic view of the pound from the mountain top.
After I decided to buy Laura and Paul's car the next thing was to drive it back to Alice Springs from Melbourne. Dad came along for the ride which took four days. We drove via Birdwood in South Australia then up through Port Augusta along the Stuart Highway to Alice Springs.
Dad and me packing the car in Melbourne.
Dad admiring a bike at the National Motor Museum in Birdwood.
Dad and some of the rockets at Woomera.
Ryan and some of the rockets at Woomera.
Dad in the Catacomb Church in Coober Pedy.
Ryan in the Catacomb Church in Coober Pedy.
Dad in the Underground Hotel in Coober Pedy.
Dad and the mulloch heaps of Coober Pedy.
Ryan and the new car by a salt lake on the way to Alice Springs.