Monday, 23 July 2012

Barking Owls Revisited

It is a quiet, cool, still and very dark "no moon", dry season evening.  Dinner is just underway.......then it begins.

The clear and distinct sound of a barking owl.  Yes, they have been around here quite regularly, for at least a year or more now.  BUT WAIT........there is not one but definitely two, and they are engaged in a steady, quite animated conversation.

Could it be we now have a breeding pair?

The conversation continues for some time.  A period of quiet.......and then a recommencement of the discussion.

It is now some 30 minutes later, and while now a little further away, there is still the distinct call of a barking owl.

There is a large African mahogany in the front yard, and I mean LARGE.  That is a favoured location it seems, and the area of this evening's discourse.

Usually when they are active and noisy, a short trip outside with a good high power led torch will quickly locate the bird or birds.  But tonight they were let need to interrupt any hi-jinks they may be up to in the tree.

More information on the barking owl is here -
as well as the previous post in 2010 -


Sunday, 22 July 2012

Tour de France 2012

The Tour de France is nearly over for 2012.  As usual, there have been great races, dramas, a single suspicious drug issue, heroes, unsung heroes and trivia.

The Pyrenees have elicited a winner [ Wiggins], and a great climber who might have been a winner [Frome], found some wanting too [Cadel Evans] and another home country hero [Voeckler].

Not over yet, and I have no doubt there will be a very serious race for line honours in Paris.  Wiggins has to finish to claim the winner's yellow jersey, so he  must compete and finish.  Team Sky has clearly dominated the event, yet they may not be the winning team.  Some teams - Rabobank a good example - have been decimated, with only four of the nine team members making it to Paris, and there are only a few teams with all members finishing.

Dogs have starred again with a serious incident on last Friday with one of the riders involved almost trading blows with the dog's stupid owner [ saved by intervention of the team manager luckily].  Surely the dog lovers of Europe on the course can restrain their pooches during the race, or are they too stupid to do so?

The win by Cavendish on Friday as he rocketed out and accelerated at the sprint finish was amazingly fast.  Not to forget sprint wins by Griepel either.  Cancellara was a worthy yellow jersey holder in the first week, after a great prologue win.  Voekler won hearts as well as races with a typical gutsy win in the mountains, as well as being to secure the polka dot jersey.  We saw the emergence of some interesting younger riders - Chris Frome at Sky, Peter Sagan of Liquigas- Cannondale [ what an interesting display as he won his first stage during the first week followed by other stage wins in non sprint finishes] and who should win the green jersey prize, Van Garderen [ Team BMC] and a gutsy win by the experienced Valverde in a mountain stage too.  Not to mention the performance of Orica - Green Edge team, the first Australian team in the Tour de France - with some good performances by Matt Goss and crafty work by O'Grady and others.

Some Aussie cyclists also starrred for other teams - Richie Porte, Michael Rogers being notable ones. Remember - it is a team race; you must have a good team to perform well.

Team Sky performances, especially in the mountains are reminscent of US Postal in the Armstrong era - totally dominant.  BMC tried hard, and if Evans' effort in the mountains had paid off, well.........the result might be different.......but it did not.

One day to go, then a week of rest days [ evenings or nights???] before the Olympics.

There is though, nothing quite like the Tour de France, as a spectacle.   They are all superb athletes often riding close to the limit physically and mentally [ not to mention speed on the downhill descents] with the vision providing a spectacle of France.  That alone going to a world wide audience must do a lot for French travel desires.  The TV coverage is just great!

Vive le Tour pour 2013!!   

Saturday, 21 July 2012

Old Bras

Well ladies, it is now official - bras have been in use for a long time.

Some recent archelogical work in Europe has uncovered a bra made in the 15th century - made of linen.

More details are here -

There is no data on whether burning of bras was practised at this time , however.

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Great New Buildings of Note - Gardens by the Bay - Singapore

One of these of considerable interest to those in Darwin might be the new Gardens by the Bay in Singapore.

These include the Supertrees along with two new fantastic conservatories with controlled climate conditions, which for hot and steamy Singapore means both dry and cooler conditions.

It opened at the end of June, and I have only seen the outside. Although there have been a few pictures around of the insides.

The conservatories are to the left of the photo, out of view.  The "Supertrees" do look better at night and are well lit up.  No doubt they will be even more intriguing once they are plant covered.

Thursday, 5 July 2012

Indonesia - our Neighbour

This link is to an opinion piece in the national newspaper today.  It is a fairly salient examination of the current debacle that the current Australian government has made over relations with our neighbour.  Quite a few near term examples of which the cessation of live cattle trade is but one - although a very major one [What a stuff up by Australia].

Can they fix it up?  It might not matter, if they are not there after the next Australian election, as is widely tipped.  BUT.....the mess still will be.  And I would agree, it will take some fixing.

When you live in north Australia Indonesia is very near, and of much greater relevance.  Unfortunately the latte swilling set of the SE corner of Australia do not understand all.  Self centredness rules - speak English, beggar your neighbour, have no understanding of the rest of the world - sounds increasingly like the mid-west of the USA - pleasant, but disinterested in anything other than football.

We ignore Indonesia at Australia's peril - a rapidly growing middle class, vibrant manufacturing, excellent GDP growth, yet not without problems and very close by.

Monday, 2 July 2012

Does Australia Understand China ? Or Care?

Australia and China seem to be moving towards further intertwining.  Yet do we know China or its people or even more important its leaders or emerging leaders?

Recent announcements by government to promote Australian students studying at Asian institutions is a very important step forward.  Asians come here, and we should have some students study in Asia.  There are some first class universities across many disciplines, so it makes sense.

But a recent Lowy Institute paper also makes a more compelling case for some further interaction to deepen our understanding of Asia, and particularly China.  Language skills is one area where there are some real needs.  And today with the Indonesian President in Darwin is a timely teminder that Indonesian language skills are important to meet our next door neighbour on equal terms  too.  Indonesia seems to have fallen below the vision line.

Read the Lowy Institute article here:

Interestingly in this article there are no formal high level links in relation to agriculture.  Curious, with all the media attention around Chinese land purchases and their interest in Australian agriculture.  Sydney Uni Agriculture Faculty is soon to establish formal relations in China; maybe more should start that process too.