Australia - The Land Down Under

That last one reminds me of the time I kidnapped a pumpkin just before I went out and drove randomly around the country. I picked up a 'burner phone' a couple of states over and started sending pictures of the pumpkin at various tourist destinations and sending them back to the pumpkin grower.

It was just a small pumpkin. I gave it a pirate face and tied a bandanna around it so that it looked like a pirate. We went everywhere until I made the mistake of letting the pumpkin freeze in the car. After that, he started to get soft and smell bad. I gave pumpkin a funeral by feeding him to the gators down in Georgia.

I realize that that looks like I told you about it, but it does not. No, no... We had many grand adventures, pumpkin and I.

Hello "mate" .
Would you believe I have ties to one of yours?
Uncle who "voted with his feet " in 1948 and landed somewhere near Brisbane.
Never met him - but recall a single letter we received once.
He described eating and spitting prawns and we hand no clue what he was talking about ...
I am sure he is in happy hunting ground by now , tried to contact him once but had no luck.
I may try to see if I have some distant relative , again.

I folowed his footstep in 1968 (to US) - after russian tanks rolled in....
Christmas Day 2022.

Australian Singer......Australian Event....Carols by the Sidney Myer Music Bowl, Melbourne Victoria, Australia.


Queensland sunflower crop planted by drone could be first of its kind in the world​

A sunflower crop south-west of Toowoomba could be the first in the world planted solely by a drone.

Key points:​

  • A farmer in southern Queensland has planted what could be a world first drone-planted sunflower crop
  • He hopes the method will become more widely adopted
  • The crop, now in full bloom, is also attracting tourism to the area

The crop, in full bloom at Cambooya, was planted in September as a result of 12 different experiments.

Drone pilot and farmer Roger Woods said drones will be the way of the future.

"To our knowledge, it's the first sunflower crop in the world entirely planted by a big agricultural drone that we use commercially," he said.

'It spreads the seeds and then that drone subsequently fertilised and kept the crop healthy.

"The only thing it doesn't do is harvest it."



Dozens of visitors have already come to see the crop, which is open to the public for another two weeks. (ABC News: Georgie Hewson)
"To pair it with the fact it's planted with drones is very exciting."

Mr Woods said he hopes it will also teach the public about new farming innovations.

"It’s been a dual purpose of satisfying that want people have to be up close and personal with sunflowers, and also educate them about new techniques of farming that are much less harsh on the environment than older techniques."


Ben O'Hara, drone controller Michael Whitehouse, and Tanya Pritchard dispersing the seed mix.(Supplied: WWF)

A new trial using hi-tech drones is being used to bolster dangerously low koala populations across the country.

Key points:​

  • A drone seeding trial is being used to create new koala habitats in eastern Australia
  • It will bolster habitat and food for the threatened species
  • If successful, it could result in hundreds of new koalas in the next decade
In just hours, a drone has spread millions of seeds to plant a koala corridor in Hiddenvale, west of Brisbane, Queensland.

This is one of the first times drones have been used in Australia to create koala habitats.

Ben O'Hara manages the property owned by the Turner Family Foundation, aimed at restoring habitat and wildlife.

"We sort of have to work smarter, not harder," he said, adding that traditional seeding was slow and labour intensive.

"What the drone can do is cover the same area in a fraction of the time, so we're just comparing at the moment traditional method versus new, innovative methods," he said.

The project is a collaboration between the World Wide Fund for Nature-Australia, the Australian government, the Turner Family Foundation, and Dendra Systems.


Koala 'caviar'​

The species include blue gums, a favourite for the region's koalas, dubbed Koala 'caviar' by the project leaders.



Frederick James says he wanted to send a message to the world when he decided to plant 40,000 sunflowers.(Supplied: Mehdi Genest)

A Far North Queensland man says he was "completely gobsmacked" after his special message to the world was a big hit on social media, and attracted thousands of visitors to his property.

Key points:​

  • A Far North Queensland man planted 40,000 sunflowers to send a special message to the world
  • Photos and videos of the sunflowers have gone viral on social media
  • More than 5,000 people from as far as Brisbane and the Gold Coast have travelled to see the flowers

Frederick James decided to write the words "G'day world from Oz" in huge sunflower letters that could be seen from the sky at Innisfail, south of Cairns.

"I thought I'd like to send a message to the whole world and I thought that's what I'll do," he said.

Mr James enlisted the help of his neighbours and a group of seasonal workers from Vanuatu to plant more than 40,000 sunflower seeds on the property.

"It went completely viral," he said.


Cane grower and Nuffield Scholar soil investigator Simon Mattsson with is first major sunflower crop on his cane property in Marian.(ABC Rural: David Sparkes)

Sunflowers could be the next big thing in the Mackay region, following the success of one cane grower in producing a commercial crop of the giant yellow flowers.

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Duration: 6 minutes 4 seconds6m

Canegrower and Nuffield scholar Simon Mattsson discusses his sunflower cropDownload 11.1 MB
Grower Simon Mattsson is also a Nuffield scholar investigating soil health and his work using sunflowers has gradually expanded this year.

Mr Mattsson's primary reason for growing sunflowers is to improve soil health in between sugar cane crops, but this commercial crop will also earn him income when it is harvested in January.

"The sunflowers have certainly been nice and healthy and they have suffered next to no insect damage," he said.

"I haven't had to spray for insects at all and I also haven't needed to fertilise hardly at all.

"The sunflowers are using nutrients that the sugar cane has basically left behind."

Mr Mattsson harvested a much smaller crop of 4 hectares in October, but this is his first major crop, covering two fields of 15 hectares and 4.5 hectares.

The idea of rotating alternative crops to improve soil health in between sugar cane crops is not new — mung beans in particular have been used — but the large scale use of sunflowers is new.

Sunflowers provide several benefits to the soil, including the ability to absorb carbon from the air and put it into the soil.

The flowers on this crop reached the peak of their aesthetic beauty about two weeks ago and from now on will gradually wilt and dry out before harvest in January.

Mr Mattsson said there was no doubt this crop would boost soil health.

"All of my farm has been growing sugar cane for decades, as has all the [farmland] around here basically," he said.

"So, just the fact that I am now growing a different crop on it will help soil health.

Balancing 'rain guilt', La Niña scepticism as big wet hits drought-declared outback​


The day I moved to Longreach, it rained most of the way there. I drove into town with a beautiful afternoon summer storm. I didn't see rain for months after that, but that's just part of normal life out here in western Queensland. You get so used to seeing the dry, dusty brown of the bare paddocks that the slightest tinge of green stands out like a sore thumb. Many people would say to me: "Just add water and we'll be in a much better position." Now, after what was an early start to the season in November, western Queensland is adjusting to seeing blades of green grass in paddocks. For some, it's the first time in almost a decade they've seen grass on their properties, outside their house yard. Graziers lucky enough to get the rain that started falling early say it has been a game changer. "It's turned the season around for us ? it just takes the pressure off," a grazier from near Alpha said. The fact that it was consistent, follow-up rain was just icing on the cake. Some farmers saw close to 200 millimetres fall across the month of November.

For the Americans: 'grazier' raises sheep or cattle - grazing animals.

Port Macquarie father and son prepare to unicycle 480kms across Tasmania​


Lloyd Godson and his son Oliver are going to ride unicycles across Tasmania.(Supplied: Thomas Bauer)

Riding a unicycle almost 500 kilometres over mountainous, rocky terrain is not something many people would consider.

It is a challenge embraced by Port Macquarie secondary school teacher Lloyd Godson and his 11-year-old son Oliver.

They will soon set off from their NSW Mid North Coast home and embark on an expedition unicycling the long-distance Tasmanian Trail which runs from Devonport in the north to Dover in the south-east.

They will cycle an average of 25-35 kilometres a day with a significant elevation gain, camping along the way.

"Our first day is relatively easy … but from there things get a little more difficult," Mr Godson said.

"We go up to the central plateau of Tasmania, up about 1,000 metres of elevation.

"The total elevation gain throughout the 480-kilometre journey is about the equivalent of riding up Mount Everest, so about 8,500 metres.


Inspired by youth in Taiwan​

Mr Godson took up unicycling during a COVID-19 lockdown in 2020 for his own mental health, after a back injury prevented him from running.

He said he found many benefits and decided to share his new hobby with others, gathering together young people and mentors and encouraging them to learn.

Mr Godson says he was then inspired to plan a longer unicycle expedition after seeing a story about a unicycle adventure for youth in Taiwan.

"There was an all-boys Christian home in Taiwan working with disengaged youth and the mentor there decided to use unicycles as a way of re-engaging these young people and building character," he said.


Mr Godson says unicycling involves a different set of muscles from a regular bicycle.(Supplied: Thomas Bauer)


11-year-old Oliver has prepared a detailed trip plan for the Tasmanian Trail.(Supplied: Thomas Bauer)


Lloyd's wife Carolina will also be tackling the expedition on a two-wheeled bicycle, towing their five-year-old daughter.(Supplied: Lloyd Godson)
Mr Godson's wife Carolina Sarasiti and five-year-old daughter Ariadne are also embarking on the expedition — not on unicycles though.

"My wife will be riding a two-wheel bike with my daughter in a bike trailer getting towed … we'll see how that goes getting up the big hills," he said.

Ms Sarasiti says she is looking forward to the challenge.

"Our Tasmanian adventure will be a huge test for my mind and body. I'll be visualising my dog waiting for me at the end. And some chocolate too," she said.
Sixteen-year-old Thomas Bauer, from Port Macquarie, is also joining the adventure.

"He is passionate about filmmaking and will film and photograph the expedition for us," Mr Godson said.

The family, and a support crew, will set off from Devonport in early January.

So how do these hardy Marble Bar locals survive the hottest time in the 'hottest town in Australia'?​



The temp broke the bloody gauge


Marble Bar is both a town and a rock formation


Rock formation that looks like marble....hence the name 'Marble Bar'

Have a good read.




and more

Opals are the last thing these Coober Pedy locals look for when they go underground​


Andy Shiels has gone down plenty of opal mine shafts but not for the reason you might think.

In Australia's opal capital, Andy Shiels goes underground searching for something much more precious than a rainbow-coloured fortune.

Key points:​

  • For decades, Coober Pedy's opals have attracted travellers
  • The town's SES team is the only one in SA trained to rescue people from opal mines
  • Team member Andy Shiels has four decades of experience

For 40 years, he has gone looking for life.

"Back in the 70s and 80s, it was very wild around here and nobody was very safety conscious back then, so we were losing quite a few miners," Mr Shiels recalled.

"We were probably doing a serious mine rescue job every month or so."
Mr Shiels's main focus, in Coober Pedy in South Australia's far north, has been rescuing those who have struck trouble.

"There are 2 million 20-to-30-metre-deep mine shafts around here," he said.

"The odd miner would fall in a shaft, the tourists would fall in a shaft."

On innumerable occasions, Mr Shiels has ventured into the town's subterranean surrounds.

He admits there have been grim emergencies he would rather forget.



Yael Cheme Tumapang volunteers with the Coober Pedy mine rescue team, run by the State Emergency Service.(ABC News: Haidarr Jones)
She said there was also a rush involved with a rescue.

"It's not often that you get down a shaft and it's just so exciting," she said.

Her supervisor, Mr Shiels, agreed.

"The best thing you can do in life is save somebody else's life," he said.
"Your brain gives you all these nice little endorphins, it makes it all worthwhile."

"What 'acute major medical condition', as listed here by Australian authorities, could a healthy No.1-ranked athlete have?

Vaccination shows respect, Novak."

snake eggs, anyone ?

Eurobodalla Snake Catcher Brendan Smith had to be extremely careful when handling this gravid red-bellied black snake. (Eurobodalla Snake Catcher)

A New South Wales snake catcher got a little more than he bargained for when a deadly eastern brown snake left almost two dozen eggs in his bag this week.
Sean Cade, owner of Australian Snake Catchers, removed the six-foot reptile from a home in Emu Heights, in Sydney's west, on Monday evening.
He waited until daylight to release her and was surprised to find "23 perfect eggs" left in the bag.

The eastern brown snake's venom is deemed the world's second most deadly, with the Inland Taipan topping the list.
Inland Taipan

Inland Taipan

The inland taipan, also commonly known as the western taipan, the small-scaled snake or the fierce snake, is a species of extremely venomous snake in the family Elapidae. The species is endemic to semi-arid regions of central east Australia.
Aboriginal Australians living in those regions named the snake dandarabilla.Wikipedia

Acting Australian Border Force Commissioner examining 'issue' relating to Novak Djokovic's Australian Travel Declaration​

The Acting Australian Border Force Commissioner is examining an "issue" that has arisen with Novak Djokovic's Australian Travel Declaration for the Australian Open.

Key points:​

  • Novak Djokovic has been issued a vaccination exemption by Tennis Australia and the Victorian government
  • But Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews says the federal government will enforce border requirements for arrivals
  • Scott Morrison says Djokovic's medical certificate will need to stack up or he will be "on the next plane home"

The news came as federal Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews released a statement saying that while the Victorian government and Tennis Australia might permit a non-vaccinated player to compete in the Australian Open, the federal government would enforce requirements at the Australian border.

"No individual competing at the Australian Open will be afforded any special treatment," the statement said.

"Quarantine requirements for international arrivals in Victoria, including for non-vaccinated individuals, are a matter for the Victorian Government."

No details have been released about the nature of the issue with Djokovic's declaration.

In the statement, Ms Andrews outlined the rules for arrivals.

"Since 15 December 2021 fully vaccinated eligible visa holders can travel to Australia without needing to apply for a travel exemption, and enter eligible states and territories quarantine free," she said.

"If an arriving individual is not vaccinated, they must provide acceptable proof that they cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons to be able to access the same travel arrangement as fully vaccinated travellers.

Speaking after the statement was released, Prime Minister Scott Morrison told reporters that Djokovic would need to "provide acceptable proof" that he cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons.

"We await his presentation and what evidence he provides us to support that," Mr Morrison said.

"If that evidence is insufficient, then he won't be treated any different to anyone else, and he'll be on the next plane home.

The Novak Djokovic enigma brings a love and hate relationship for tennis fans​

OMG. The outrage, the angst, the criticism, the hate. Novak Djokovic has been trending on social media in Australia since Tuesday evening, when it was announced he'd been approved for a medical exemption to compete at the Australian Open.

There was also a lot of support, congratulatory messages and well-wishers hoping to see him claim his 21st major title to surpass his career rivals Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal to become the GOAT, but mostly those sentiments are not reported in the mainstream. Why?

In less than 12 hours, Novak's Twitter post wishing all and sundry a happy new year, and announcing he'd be travelling Down Under, had been liked more than 38,000 times and had 7,632 retweets. There were also 7,500 comments conveying a full spectrum of reactions ranging from adoring fans to hate-filled bile.

Do yourself a favour and READ it all.

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