17 June 2016

Hail in Alice Springs

It has been a funny afternoon.  It became really dark around three o'clock.  After about an hour of me remarking to anyone who would listen that it was quite dark outside and that it was a funny kind of afternoon the weather did something that I've never seen in Alice Springs before.  It hailed.  First of course, it poured.

The rain coming down off the roof of the office.

And so did the hail.  Lots of hail.

The hail in the vegetable garden outside the office.

When I left work I found my car sitting in a puddle.  At the moment it seems the hail didn't do to much damage to the my car.

 When I left the office though you could certainly see that the hail had fallen.

 And the highway was flooded as the drains were overwhelmed.

 And on the main street off my street.

 My street certainly didn't escape.  The drain was overwhelmed and the water pooled all over the cul-de-sac.  I've never seen that much water.

 There was certainly a lot of of hail next to the truck (it was left at home today).

 My vegetable garden didn't fair too well.  All the plats were totally cut to shreds by the hail.

It looked as if it had snowed in the backyard.

Soon the steam started to rise off my backyard as the rain stopped and the heat of the day started to melt the hail.  Some of the hail was the size of golf balls.

23 May 2016

The bird spreads his wings and leaves the nest

The bird has now grown up and has stopped eating the food that I give him.  After another week in on just seed I thought that it was time for him to head off into the big wide world.  After all, while the nights are still warm I thought it would be best.

The bird sitting on the fence outside in my backyard.

The bird on the fence.

The bird has now spent a couple of nights out in the elements and it is great to see that he keeps coming back each day.  I'll keep putting out seed as long as my neighbours don't complain too much about the bird poo on the fence.  Hopefully he'll stick around.  It's nice having the birds, even if most of those that visit are feral.

02 May 2016

May Day March


This year I was seconded into the Independent Education Union to march in the Bang-tail Muster Parade.  I guess the actual union members had better things to do than support their union.  Maybe that's one reason why to me they haven't been so effective in dealing with some of the politics in the education workplaces.


Anyway, at least it was  bit of exercise for the morning.

22 April 2016

Birdie on my doorstep

Earlier on this week I came home for lunch.  I pulled into my carport and alighted from the car, saw something on the ground in front of my front door.  It looked like a little black rock with a  few leaves and a dirty doormat.  As I moved closer I could see that it was a little chick.  There had been a spotted turtle dove nesting on top of my water heater.  I'm guessing that this little one had come from there.  I tried to get a bit closer to see if I could put him back however the nest was gone.  These birds don't really build nests, they are not really more than just a jumble of sticks.  However there was only one or two sticks up there.  I'd also seen a cat up there so I wasn't thinking that it would be a safe spot.  I therefore took him in.

Now I'm at a bit of a loss of what to do with him.  He's quite small, fitting in the palm of my hand.  At the moment he's just getting his adult feathers and from what I have read he needs feeding about four times a day.  So at the moment that's what I'm doing.  I've bought some hand-rearing food for seed eaters and am plodding away.  First thing in the morning, lunch time, when I get home and then before I go to bed.  Soon I will just make it three times a day if he keeps improving.  He seems a lot more lively since I started feeding him and has started to try and gape at the syringe now.  That might just be him not wanting me to stick it down his throat.  I'm not sure on that.


Hopefully I can get him a bit bigger and then maybe release him with the ones that visit my house each day to come for the free seed.

09 November 2015

Finishing My Honours Project

And so it was done.  After a year and a half of solid and hard work I've finally finished my honours project.


Now to wait for the result.

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.