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Showing posts from April, 2018


Riding the Rail to Canberra

  I travelled by train to Canberra last week to meet our latest family member. Mostly I did it because flying direct to Canberra is ridiculously expensive. Instead, I took a cheap flight to Sydney on which they sometimes have discount fares – aside from the fact that you pay extra for luggage, meals, using a credit card and using the discount website, and then took a train from there. If you own up to being a senior and don’t mind booking ahead, you can get quite generous discounts on that too, though not so much on the underground rail trip between the airport and Central. All up though, it was still about half the cost of a one way ticket to our nation's capital. The approach to Central Station in Sydney reminds me of those grand station buildings in Russia Trains have often played a bit part in my life, starting with that all night journey through the Gotthard Tunnel on the way to Australia, to more recent adventures on the Trans Siberian Rail . In between, ther

Home among the Gumtrees - celebrating Australian Eucalypts

River Gum, Goldfields, Western Australia Did you know that March 23 was National Eucalyptus Day?   I only just discovered this while looking through the CSIRO children’s pages for holiday activities. When I looked back at the newspapers for the 23 rd there was no reference to it, though the ABC did mention it on Australia Day on the 26 th of January. Eucalypts vary greatly in size, their seed capsules, bark and flowers and adult leaves often differ from juvenile ones on the same tree There’s scarcely been a film about Australia that doesn’t feature a gum tree or two and they also provide the hazy blue or olive -green backdrop to our lives. We take them for granted because of their ubiquity and seldom stop to consider how amazing and diverse they are. They cover three quarters of Australia’s forest and woodland and have adapted to almost every niche apart from the deserts, from the tropics to the southernmost parts of Tasmania, from sea level to approxim

Two River Rambles – and yes, children, there is something here which you can try at home!

White gums by the North West Bay River Two more short walks between the showers this week. We are slowly working our way through those walks in the Kingborough Municipality. This time we did the North West Bay River Walk and then the delightfully named Snug River Walk, just past Margate, which also has a River Walk. Start of the North West Bay River is easy to miss What is special about both of these walks – and this is the bit where you could get involved no matter where you are, is that much of the work of rehabilitation and tree planting has been done by school children in conjunction with other groups such as Landcare, Coast Care, the Council and others. Are there places near you that look neglected and run down? Do they need trees, places for animals to nest, somewhere for people to rest, or even just rubbish that needs picking up?   Ask permission first and see if any other people or groups want to help and you too can be a friend of Mother Nature. A

Can rising inequality be halted and why should we care?

A smiling and thoughtful Professor Stephen Bell talks about the new book he has co - written with Dr Michael Keating On Saturday, thanks to my walking buddy, I had the good fortune to meet Professor Stephen Bell. Professor Bell is head of the University of Queensland’s School of Political Science and International Studies.  Together with Dr Michael Keating, who has headed three Government departments, including most recently the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, he has just released a new book “ Fair Share –-competing claims and Australia’s economic future,” which looks at rising inequality in Australia and what we can or should do about it. The book explains that like most Western economies, we too are facing growing inequality with declining living standards for many – or at least no improvement, as well as slow economic growth and structural unemployment. While technological change, globalisation and “finacialisation,” low wages and low taxes have been i