Posts Tagged ‘South Australia’


Fresh back from chucking umpteen bazillion dollars at Adelaide in a desperate attempt to shore up Coalition support in South Australia, where about four Coalition seats look very vulnerable to voter anger over the decline of the ship-building industry – Hey! Remember “We’ll build 12 subs in Adelaide” before the last election”? Guess that was a “non core promise. Also called “bullshit” – Tony Abbot was today in Geelong assertively announcing “Everything we do is focused on jobs and growth.”

“Everything we do”? A cheery message to a regional city that has seen it’s car manufacturing industry decimated and it’s ship-building in decline.

Sadly, this was also the day that saw the jobless rate “jump” – the ABC’s word, not mine – from 6% to 6.3%. Against expectations. And a major news item, unsurprisingly.

Could Abbott have chosen his chest-beating words more carefully? Assuredly.

Does he ever come into contact with the real world outside the Canberra bubble?

We wonder, frankly.

We’re with the kid at the front.

Bushfire season has hit again, a combination of dry conditions, steady winds and plentiful fuel lying on the ground providing the perfect environment for devastating conflagrations. Worst hit have once again been the wooded, charming Adelaide Hills, scene of the deadly Ash Wednesday fires that are seared in the minds of all Aussies.

This remarkable photo shows the fire, currently running along a 238 km front, as dusk falls, the flames lighting up the early evening sky.

Terrible. Awe-inspiring. And all too real.

Terrible. Awe-inspiring. And all too real.

Fire is, of course, a natural part of our Eucalypt environment, but that knowledge doesn’t make it any easier to bear, especially for the couple of dozen homeowners (so far) who have lost everything. The day of most danger will be tomorrow, Wednesday, when a cool change will bring strong winds to fan the flames before any quenching rains will help to put it out. The temperature in the south of the state is currently around 100 degrees Fahrenheit.

Our thoughts and prayers are with all residents in the Hills, and with the brave men and women from all over the country who are fighting the fires.

The new normal. God help us.

Angry summer indeed ...

Angry summer indeed …

This has been going on all summer. We smashed heat records in January. And then in February. This is March: South-eastern Australia has been sweltering for well over a week, with the strongest pulse of heat just before the end. This is from Rob Sharpe at the Weather Bureau, about 15 minutes ago. (It’s now 6.30 pm approx AEST on 12/3/13)

South Australia

The heat pushed into South Australia almost two weeks ago beginning an eleven day run of over 30 degree temperatures. This is the third longest run of March heat in over 120 years of records.

Mt Gambier smashed the March record for consecutive days above 30 degrees with eleven. This is five more than the record and is also equal to the summer record set in 1956.


Melbourne has broken multiple records in this run of heat despite having records dating back 156 years. It has had the longest ever run of days above 30 and 32 degrees with nine days reaching 32.7 and above. The previous records were eight days above 30 and seven above 32, set in the same run in February 1961.

Nights have also been very warm in Melbourne meaning that buildings without air conditioning have struggled to cool from the daytime heat. The city has equaled the record of six mornings in a row failing to drop below 20 degrees. Tonight is likely to break the record with the mercury likely to be in the low 30’s or high 20’s most of the night. There is a chance that tonight will break the record for the warmest March minimum of 26.3 degrees.

All of Victoria has been bombarded by this heat with temperatures rising as high as 40 degrees at Cape Nelson. This is 19 degrees above the March average and half a degree short of the March record.


Records have been equaled and they have been doubled in Australia’s southern most state.

Launceston has been staggering in its consistently hot temperatures. It has doubled its record run of four days above 30 degrees with a staggering eight days, including a new record March temperature of 33 degrees.

Hobart came very close to its longstanding March record of 37.3 degrees today, reaching a top of 36.7 degrees. Just inland of Hobart, Bushy Park succeeded in equaling its 47 year old March record of 37.6 degrees. Strathgorden and Strathan had their hottest March day in at least 30 years.

Meanwhile, the northern hemisphere shivers, ironically, in appalling cold and snow, which is, of course, equally due to the chaotic disruption of the planet’s man-made warming.

What will it take before people realise we need to take meaningful action now? Yes, it’s going to hurt. It’s going to affect our lifestyles. It’s going to mean business will have to “box smarter”. And no, it’s not all bad news – climate change will produce winners as well as losers. But the scale of change is going to be massive, even if the effect is at the lowest end of what is predicted.

But we can do it – think of the great efforts made by humanity in times of peril before. We can stop it getting worse than it has to be, and we can ameliorate the effects. Just can we please stop arguing and get started?

This is unbearable.

Apart, perhaps, from lifting one’s spirits, slightly. Oh, OK, and providing the opportunity for a dash of history.

Encounter Bay looking back from the Granite Island causeway

Encounter Bay looking back from the Granite Island causeway

Encounter Bay near Victor Harbour in South Australia was so named because here explorer Matthew Flinders came upon a French vessel also surveying the local coastline. On 8 April 1802 while sailing east Flinders sighted the Géographe, a French corvette commanded by the explorer Nicolas Baudin, who was on a similar expedition for his government. Both men of science, Flinders and Baudin met and exchanged details of their discoveries; as a result, Flinders named the bay Encounter Bay. It was notorious in the early days of South Australian settlement, when Victor Harbour was a major port, for its dangerous shallow reefs on which many incautious vessels came to grief.

Granite Island and the Bluff from the Granite Island Causeway

Granite Island and the Bluff from the Granite Island Causeway

Granite Island is a small island next to Victor Harbor, South Australia, not far from South Australia’s capital city, Adelaide. It is unpopulated, however there are buildings and shelters on the island, including a cafe where you can risk sharing a snack with a flock of apparently homicidal seagulls. It is a popular tourist attraction, particularly for people wishing to see Little Penguins (commonly called “Fairy Penguins”) which breed and live on the island.

The Granite Island causeway

The Granite Island causeway

The island is accessible across a seemingly endless causeway from the mainland, either on foot or by catching a charming antique horse-drawn tram. Which needless to say, is not running while we are here. (I mean, it runs for all but two weeks of the year, right, when they are doing construction work on the causeway entrance, and we choose those two weeks to visit; I mean, don’t you just love that?) So including clambering all over vertiginous Granite Island itself we have today walked a very very long way. I said: A VERY VERY LONG WAY. I trust that is clear for all our readers. It is certainly clear to my aching muscles.

Granite Island is all windswept and salty and scrubby bush and, well, granite-y. The Southern Ocean pounds against it unceasingly, wearing and rubbing the exposed rocks into striking shapes, and the occasional blast of sunshine unexpectedly releases the gleam of quartz in the rock as one wanders by. Some hardy souls run by, treating the entire island as a sort of fantastical macho running tan, but that would seem to defeat the purpose of wandering in such a spot. One would miss sights like this tree, for example.

A fallen tree reminds us of ... what? Something atavistic and lost.

A fallen tree reminds us of ... what? Something atavistic and lost, perhaps.

Pushed over by the clutches of some vast southern storm, it lies propped up at an impossible angle, almost dead, but not quite. A few hardy green spines cling to the end of its trailing limbs. It looks like it has lain there forever, and will lay there defiantly until the end of time. It is in the same moment an intimation of mortality and an affirmation of how life refuses to give up hope of itself.

The whole place is rather like that. Eerily timeless.

There is a sense of walking somewhere both impossibly ancient, and ultimately unfathomable.

The Ngarrindjeri Aboriginal clan group lived in the area for at least forty thousand years: the Ramindjeri clan lived around Encounter Bay. Good rainfall, two rivers and the sea provided reliable food and allowed permanent settlement at nearby Yilki, which meant, literally, “the place by the sea”. The Aboriginal clans had a well-developed cultural and social structure together with a rich mythology: they lived in harmony with nature and each other, and it’s easy, sometimes, to sense why. The Aborigines believed that a fire god threw a spear of fire at one of his enemies but he threw himself into the sea and became the Southern Wright Whale, with the fire forever burning in him, and when they saw the whales surface and blow through their blow-hole that was the smoke coming from inside them.

The coffee in the cafe is very good, too, by the way.