DROUGHTS AND FLOODING RAINS.

I’ve taken the liberty of pinching the words of my heading from Dorothea Mackellar’s famous Australian poem, ‘My Country’ that she wrote as a 19 year old in 1904.

In the second stanza of the poem Mackellar wrote:- ‘I love a sunburnt country, a land of sweeping plains, of rugged mountain ranges, of droughts and flooding rains’.

Her poem epitomizes our climate here in the Land Down Under and for the last couple of years we have experienced a national drought followed by massive bush fires that  caused enormous destruction during the latter part of 2019 and into February this year.

Additionally, the bushfires created massive areas of smoke haze, so much so that people with breathing problems were advised to remain indoors and the wearing of face masks was recommended. In fact, our local pharmacies were offering their customers free masks. They were uncomfortable but at least made breathing easier and safe.

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A small price to pay for clean air.

Here where I live, the drought’s impact required the local council to impose water restrictions that limited household usage, maintenance of gardens and of course, car washing.

The Wollondilly River which runs through our City was reduced to a trickle and it dropped over a meter below the top of the Marsden Weir.

Then came the rain. Not just a sprinkle here and there but massive falls, some in the north of Queensland  in excess of 500mm a day.  Most of the Nation received good falls and our City and surrounds didn’t miss out. Some local farms received up to 100mm.

Our main water catchment, Peejar Dam is now at 100% capacity and the water restrictions have been lifted.

Then, the floods arrived, Queensland has been strongly hit as has the eastern seaboard of New South Wales and many inland areas.

Here in our City, the Wollondilly River broke its banks and the water volume was such that whole trees were uprooted and carried down stream, over the Marsden weir and onwards towards the dam many kilometers away.

The water level has now dropped.

I was able to make the following images from the road bridge over the river.

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A nice goanna heading for high ground beside the Wollondilly.

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Marsden Weir overflow.
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Looking towards the weir using a variable neutral density filter on the camera lens.
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Flood waters over the river side walking/cycling track.
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Part of a large tree floating down stream.
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Looking upstream towards the road bridge.
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Around a bend down stream, the water was a little more placid.

Over the next few days, the river will drop to it’s normal running depth and any damage to the walking/cycling path and its lighting system will be repaired. At the same time an assessment will be made of any debris left in the river as the flood subsided and the action that may be required to clear the water way.

To end on a positive note, the grass outside Cassa Creakingbones will require mowing this weekend.

Bummer.

Hoo roo for now.

 

FEEDING NATIVE BIRDS DURING DROUGHT AND BUSH FIRES THAT HAVE CAUSED SEVERE HABITAT DAMAGE.

Here in the Land Down Under we are blessed with many native birds and regular back yard visitors are often from the parrot family.

Generally, feeding of our native birds is frowned upon as it encourages them to neglect their normal eating habits in favour of bread scraps and items of that nature.

However during times of drought, bushfires and floods which are a regular part of our natural weather cycle, it’s not unusual for families to feed the native birds that come foraging in  back yards.

Here at Casa Creakingbones we fortunately are out of the fire zones but the severe drought has compelled our local Council to  introduce water restrictions.

Again, we are fortunate that years ago when we sank a bore we discovered that we can draw up to 3,000 gallons of water an hour from the two acquifiers which pass about 30 meters or 100 feet below the surface of our block.

Of course we don’t squander this great resource and limit its use to watering our native trees and grassed areas.

Our flourishing green native trees attract many species of native birds with Sulphur Crested Cockatoos and Carellas often in quite large mobs. Their calls are a  pleasure to listen to and their antics around the place are quite hillarious.

There is only one down side to the pleasure they give and the culprits, in the main, are the Suplhur Crested Cockatoos. You see they really enjoy cleaning and scraping their large and powerful beaks on the timbers that are exposed on the exterior of Casa Creakingbones.

Not structually damaging, just untidy and expensive to continually replace.

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Fortunately all of our windows are framed in aluminium making them immune from attack.

However, the seeds and grasses favoured by the parrots are few and far between and have been so for quite some time and many of we town dwellers have taken to feeding real seed to the visitors. That way we are not harming them as does providing scraps of bread and stale biscuits etc.

Our large Australian parrots have a real liking for sunflower seed, either the grey or the black variety and fortunately supermarkets and pet food suppliers usually have the seeds in stock. However, feeding with loose seeds encourages unwanted visitors like Pigeons, Starlings, Indian Minors and otherspests to join in uninvited.

Our supermarkets stock the ideal answer to the loose seed issue. They have a great product called, wait for it, ‘Bird Munchies – Sunflower Seed Block.’

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It’s just a matter of tearing off the wrapper and hanging the block in a handy tree.

Here are a few images of this morning’s breakfast session on a Sunflower Seed block:

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As the weather improves and the natural environment again provides the  feed that these birds thrive upon, avian breakfast at Casa Creakingbones will gradually be off the menu and all of our feathered friends will depart, only to return when next the weather conditions again turn crook.

Hoo roo for now.

 

 

HENRY LAWSON – AUSTRALIAN POET ON AUSTRALIA AND ITS BUSH FIRES.

The current Australian Bush Fire Season has apparently started earlier than usual.

The severity of the wide ranging bush fires across the nation this season has drawn international attention  because of their ferocity and the extensive destruction of bush land and pastures, thousands of homes, thousands of farm buildings, motor vehicles and equipment together with the shocking loss of human life and the death of millions of native animals and birds.

Bush fires, drought, flood and temperature fluctuations( both up and down the centigrade scale) are common place in this wonderful country, ‘Down Under’.

Without entering into the ‘Globing Warning’, debate, our weather patterns have been written about and been the subject of verbal debate for centuries.

One only has to read Dorothea Mackellar’s epic poem, ‘My Country’,  written in 1904 to learn about ‘A Sunburnt Country’ with it’s droughts and flooding rains.

However, the poem that most sticks in my mind is Henry Lawson’s 1911 poem, ‘ A Bush Fire.’

Henry Archibald Hertzberg Lawson, 17/6/1867 – 2/9/22 was one of Australia’s best loved and admired writers and poets. His work centres on the Colonial Period and his novels and poems depict Australian life duringthat time.

Here is Lawson’s poem to which I refer:

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I found this poem to be quite moving and its few lines so well describe the way  our bush fires spread so rapidly and with such destructive force.

I encourage you to read more of Henry Lawson’s works and I’m sure you will also enjoy those of Dorothea Mackellar.

Hoo roo for now,

Perc

MASSIVE BUSH FIRES SAVAGE PARTS OF NEW SOUTH WALES.

The Australian landmass has always been well known for its droughts, floods and bushfires.

The country has been enduring extreme drought conditions for over a year now and water restrictions at various levels have been implemented in many areas.

Although Casa Creakingbones is connected to the town water supply, many years ago SWMBO and I had contractors sink a bore and we also installed three 20,000 litre rainwater tanks. These mesures have ensured that at least we can  retain some green grass around the house and if circumstances require it, our rain water tanks can be utilised for drinking water and household use.

Fortunately, our town is generally not endangered by bush or grass fires.

However, for the past few weeks many areas of Australia have been ravaged by ferocious bush fires including areas less than 100 klms from here.

The South Coast of New South Wales is a summer/Christmas/New Year holliday destination for thousands of people and its beaches and natural beauty are second to none.

However horrendous bush fires are now burning across hundreds of kilometers of the South Coast with mass evacuations and power, communications , fuel and food either unavailable or in short supply. Over 50,000 homes along the South Coast are now without power.

Since last Monday the 30th December 2019, seven people have perished in the fires, people are missing,  small towns have been totally destroyed and hundreds of houses and out buildings have been razed to the ground by the fires.

The Bush Fire Brigade volunteers and professional firefighters are doing a magnificant job protecing property and saving lives. They are being assisted by the armed forces who have been committed by ther Prime Minister, Scott Morison.

Total fire bans have been declared in many areas of the State, including our local government area. This means that even the outside use of BBQ’s is totally prohibited.

The main impact on us is air quality. For a few weeks now, like the Sydney metropolitan area, many  town on what is known as The South West Slopes have have been enveloped in smoke haze generated by the bush fires.

As we are residents of the South West Slopes, air quality has become a major problem, particularly for sufferers of asthma of whom I am one. Venturing outside for any length of time is risky, particularly if physical activity is involved.

Here are a few images taken around Casa Creakingbones in the last week or so:DSC_1083

SUNRISE ON 31/12/19

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LOOKING NORTH FROM CASA CREAKINGBONES 7.20AM ON 22/12/2019
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LOOKING SOUTH WEST FROM CASA CREAKING BONES 7.25AM 22/12/2019

 

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LOOKING NORTH ACROSS THE ROAD FROM CASA CREAKING BONES, 11.10AM ON 20/12/2019.
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LOOKING TOWARDS OUR TOWN’S CBD, 11.15AM, 20/12/2019.

The weather forecast for next Saturday, 4th January, 2020 is for temperatures in excdess of 40 degress celsius or 104 degrees farenheight if you haven’t gone metric.

Either way, it’s going to be bloody hot.

However, please spare a thought for the people across NSW and the rest of Australia who have lost everything in these dreadful fires.

Hoo roo for now.

 

 

 

 

ALL IN A DAY’S WORK.

My ‘A LUCKY FIND’ blog the other day sent me rumaging through my files to see if there were any other bits and pieces that recorded some of the events in which I became involved during my thirty four years as a member of the New South Wales Police Force.

What I found sent me on a journey back in time from my start as a Probationary Constable in May 1961 until my retirement in May 1995 at the rank of Chief Superintendent.

I was proud to wear these epalettes identifiying my rank.

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Wearing this insignia was a far cry from the simple number and NSW Police Force badge I wore on duty in 1961.

Way back then, a workmate took this photograpoh of me when we were performing duty on a public beach on the shores of Sydney harbour. It was every uniform policeman’s wish that a strong gust of wind would blow our summer helmet under a bus. That didn’t happen to this helmet until my wish was granted in Wagga Wagga in about 1964.2019-12-06-0001 copy.jpg     As was the process way back then, not long after I’d successfully completed my 12 months as a Probationary Constable I was transferred, without notice, ‘In the Interests of the Service’, from Sydney  to rural Wagga Wagga in the Riverina district of New South Wales. As I was a single man I was graciouslly given a week to pack, find accommodation there and complete my move.

I during my five years on General Duties in uniform in Wagga Wagga and it’s surrounding police stations I learned a lot about policing and that experience served me well when I was transferred back to the City of Sydney in late 1967.

Then, in March 1968 I was transferred to  a plain clothes investigation section at the Criminal Investigation Branch(C.I.B).

Then on Sunday, April 21st, 1968 the fun really started.

The Sydney Daily Telegraph newspaper on 22nd April, 1968 ran the following story:

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The Telegraph’s coverage was followed up by this article in Everybody’s Magazine  on the 1st May, 2068

2019-12-06-0004   I was attacked from behind by a man who attempted to tear my eyes out but I was able to arrest my attacker and one other man. By that time a very large angry mob had gathered and they were eventually dispersed by uniform police who arrived on the scene in large numbers.

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Me.1968 copy 2  Fortunately my injuries were not serious and after I’d charged the two offenders I was photographed for evidentiary purposes and taken to the Sydney Eye Hospital where my injured eyes and facial injuries were treated and I was discharged.

After a week or so of ‘Hurt on Duty’ leave when my wounds had closed and I could see without too much difficulty, the Police Medical Officer cleared me as ‘Fit for Duty’ and I returned to work to continue with my normal investigative duties with no continuing anxiety or distress.

At a later date my assailant returned to court, pleaded guilty and  was dealt with appropriately. I was extremely happy with the Court’s decision.

Hoo roo for now.

 

 

 

 

 

 

A LUCKY FIND.

A few days ago a friend and I were having a yarn about a book called, ‘Bradstow, a study of Status, Class and Power in a small Australian Town’, authored by a G.R.A Wild.

The book is about Bowral, a small town in the Southern Highlands of New South Wales. It’s been long out of print but used copies occasionally pop up on the net. If you feel inclined look it up on Google. It’s worth the effort.

Anyway I told my mate I’d lend her my copy. Unfortunately the volume is nowhere to be found in my book collection.

    Now, during my search for the book I came across something totally unrelated and it was indeed, A LUCKY FIND.

   My find had absolutely nothing to do with the first three paragraphs above.

Now, back  in the Dream Time.

Before I retired I was the leader of what was known as ‘The Policy Unit’. The Unit’s task was to analyse arising issues and develop appropriate responses for implementation.

On this occasion the Policy Unit was developing responses to a long list of recommendations arising from a Commmission of Inquiry into the organisation conducted by an eminent Judge.

From time to time the Unit’s responses to the Commission’s recommendations were not well received by the areas of the organisation concerned and the same applied to the personnel impacted by the responses.

Often, the grievences were made directly to the Minister of the Crown responsible to the Government of the day for the Department and this was one of those occasions.

As a consequence I was a regularly summoned to the Minister’s Office to advise on implementation progress and what steps were being taken by the Department to ensure that these specific recommendations of the Commision of Inquiriy would be implemented in full.

My frequent Ministerial visits drew the media’s attention and were often reported in newspapers and occasionally on TV news bulletins and interviews.

One positive outcome of the media’s attention was being sent for specific media presentation training that I received from a firm of consultants.

Now, back to my LUCKY FIND.

Tucked away in the index of my book collection I came across a cartoon that related to my time in the Policy Unit.

Here it is. I had to touch up the Policy Unit printing as it wasn’t clear in the original.POLICY UNIT

The Bulletin was always a top publication and one I always enjoyed reading. It was founded way back in 1880 and continued in circulation until it’s last issue in January 2008.

By the way, the Policy Unit recommendations I referred to above were fully implemented.

Hoo roo for now.

TIME GOES BY SO SWIFTLY.

Its hard to believe that it was on the 6th September, 2018 when I last posted here on WordPress.

Things certainly haven’t stood still here at Cassa Creakingbones during that time.

Age has suddenly crept up on SWMBO and myself with the inevitable increase in health issues, both major and minor for the two of us. As a result I’m now SWMBO’s official carer and many adjustments have been made by both of us to accommodate the changes that have taken place.

One casualty of the changed circumstances was quitting my volunteer role as Photography Tutor for a class of nearly twenty mature students at the local University of the 3rd Age (U3A), an organisation for advanced learning.  The local U3A offers over sixty courses including Astronomy, German, French, Spanish, Yoga and Thi Chi for example.

A further casualty was my motorcycling. During the past four years I’ve only  travelled a mere five hundred and fifty kms on my beloved Harleys.

However, a couple of great motorcycling mates and two of my health advisors whose advice I value, have, over the past twelve months or so, gently lectured me on the need to ‘get out more’ when the opportunity presents itself.  Putting it bluntly, that meant, ‘RIDE YOUR BLOODY HARLEY.’

Once a week SWMBO has a supervised day away from home in what is known as Respite.

Knowing she is in safe hands and well cared for, the day gives me the opportunity to undertake activities that are not possible at other times.

Have I taken the opportunity to ride?

No.  Why?

Firstly the winds have been too strong to make a ride totaly unenjoyable. Secondly, SWMBO has had a minor surgical procedure with post operation attention that requires regular home treatment.  As her carer, that’s my responsibility.

Thirdly, and probably the most significant reason is that my two wheel riding confidence has severely diminished and I’m delaying my return to the road until my confidence is restored.

To assist in the process I’ve purchased a new pair of kevlar lined riding jeans and another pair of Harley sun glasses. I’m feeling more confident already and I’m preparing to venture out as soon as SWMBO can return to her Tuesday respite regime, weather permitting of course.

Here it is, my 2019 Harley Davidson FLHCS, minus the removeable touring windscreen. In common parlance, Harley owners refer to this softail as a Heritage Classic. It’s been a popular Harley for many, many years and with  its new and more powerful engine sitting on a brand new softail frame it’s sure to retain its popularity.

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Hoo roo for now.