Christmas Bells

Christmas Bells
Christmas Bells - Blandfordia nobilis

Thursday, November 30, 2006

The Moths and Butterflies Man.

The Internet is a wonderful resource, and some of the best sites - for me, are those of the Moths and Butterflies Man, Don Herbison-Evans. In fact there is a group of related sites, to do with Moths, Butterflies and their larvae (Caterpillars). These sites are very comprehensive (sure, there are gaps, but many species have yet to be named, or studied in detail).

If you want to have a look, I suggest you start with Butterfly Larvae of Australia:

If you scroll to the bottom of any page, you will find links to "Caterpillars of Australian Moths" and to "Caterpillar FAQs".

It is a great resource - with a mountain of information. Most pages have photos of adults (Butterflies or Moths) and their immature stages - caterpillars.

Don's websites enabled me to hazard a guess that my caterpillars, from yesterday's story were of an introduced pest moth in the Helicoverpa genus. I wrote to Don Herbison-Evans yesterday, I said:

Dear Don,
I am enclosing some photographs of 2 caterpillars which I found inside a Mud Wasp nest, which my daughter asked me to remove, as they were on the glass on her window - and she judged the Wasps to pose a risk to her.

I would not normally break open a wasp nest, nor kill the larvae inside, but the location of the nest made this a question of safety, (in my daughter's opinion).

I am writing to ask if it is possible to identify the type of caterpillars in these Mud Wasp nests? I am guessing that they might be something like the Helicoverpa caterpillars, as per your illustrations on:

Tonight I got this reply back. (Thanks Don, for such a prompt reply.)

Hi Denis,
Very good: yes I think that your wasps are doing a good job keeping the pest Helicoverpa armigera under control, as your illustrated caterpillars appear to be this species. I doubt that the caterpillars are feeding on the Acacia or Doryphora, but are more likely on various herbaceous plants in the understory or open areas.
Your mud wasps are mainly from the family SPHECIDAE, and can deliver a painful sting if annoyed, but being solitary you only have to fend off one beastie. In this way they are less of a threat than the communal wasps (family VESPIDAE) where one needs to fend of dozens if they get annoyed.

Wow, two answers, not just one: The species of Moths (I guessed correctly, based on Don's wonderful website (that is a very satisfying thing).
Plus, I get the family of the Mud Wasps identified too - just from their nest, and their habits.

I want you all to go to one of those links above, and then "bookmark" it, or save it to "Favourites" - or whatever terminology your computer uses. From one site, you can always jump across to the others. These sites are a "Gold Mine" of photographs, and information. It is especially useful for residents of the Southern highlands, as we are blessed with an abundance of wonderful Moths, in particular. And they are so beautiful, and so intricate in design.

Love your local Moth, I say.
In fact, you do not have to love this particular Moth, as it is a pest species.

It is known variously as the Corn Ear Worm, Tomato Grub, Tobacco Budworm, Cotton Bollworm. It is in the family: HELIOTHINAE, of the Order: NOCTUIDAE

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Life and slow death on the front verandah

Today Zoe asked me to remove a new Mud Wasp nest on her window, out on the front verandah. As this is Zoe's favourite sitting area, I agreed to remove the nests, before the wasps got too fond of going back to that spot, time and time again.

The basic safety of humans does count, a bit, in this household.

Anyway, it turned out to be a bit more macabre than I had anticipated. The first thing was that one of the two nests was not completed, and I could see some spotted or bi-coloured creature moving around inside the nest.

I assumed that this was a spider, as I have previously seen wasps carrying or dragging spiders towards their nests.

Turns out both nests had caterpillars inside. Both were still alive, though slightly paralysed.

The Caterpillars were about 4 cm long, and each nest was about 2.5 cm in diameter. I am giving the dimensions, as this nest resembles a large Mexican clay stove. It was quite small (smaller than an Aussie 20 cent coin).

This is what the wasps do, to provide food for their larvae. They sting their prey and semi-paralyse their victims, then lay an egg inside the nest.

I actually thought they laid their egg inside the body of the prey, but evidence in one case clearly shows otherwise.

The last photo clearly shows the larva (or is it the developing egg) inside the remains of the nest, after I had broken it off the window.

From a nature lover's point of view, I can only claim one good aspect of my human intervention. That is, the two caterpillars, which were surely doomed to a terrible, slow death, were despatched under my boot, to a quick death.

I am sure that the wasp will be back making new nests somewhere around the house - but I hope it is not to be at head height on my front verandah.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

The Community Reference Group Report

Regular readers will know that the Kangaloon Aquifer borefield proposal has been assessed (and rejected as unsatisfactorily researched) by the Upper Nepean Groundwater Community Reference Group.

It's an awful mouthful for a dedicated group of local people who have done a terrific amount of work reviewing all the papers produced by the Sydney Catchment Authority in justification of their proposal to pump the Kangaloon Aquifer.

The CRG (or UNGCRG to be precise) came to the conclusion that there should be a five year moratorium on the development of the borefield.

That is in stark contrast to the fact that the SCA is going ahead with developing the borefield as fast as they can (see photo at left, from 14 October 2006)

Anyway, their report is an important document, and it deserves to be more widely available than it currently is. It has been in the public domain at least since 1 November 2006, but it was actually submitted to the SCA in September 2006.
Butler's Swamp.
A wetland of
National Significance.
A vital part of the
Kangaloon Aquifer system.
Clearly the SCA is embarrassed by the fact that their own hand-picked group of people rejected the SCA's Kangaloon Borefield proposal. So the SCA have so far declined to publish the report.
It deserves wider distribution, so it has now been published - on a dedicated site.
"Upper Nepean Groundwater CRG Report"

I am not a member of this Community Reference Group. I am merely serving to publicise their findings - in the public interest.

Late Breaking News.
I have just spoken with Donna Sowry, Community Relations Manager, Metropolitan Water Plan, for the S.C.A. She assures me that the Report of the Upper Nepean Groundwater CRG will be up on the web later this afternoon.

The Report is not there yet, but Donna assures me it will be.
DJW 5:00pm, 28 November 2006

Monday, November 27, 2006

Nepean River water must not be wasted

The Nepean River is a tranquil stream as it leaves the green hills of the Southern Highlands.

Little does it know the battle which is being fought on its behalf.

The SCA is about to waste the precious drinking water which is found in the Kangaloon Aquifer, a mere 10 metres directly underneath this peaceful spot, just beside Tourist Road, in East Kangaloon - just a few kilometers from Robertson.

This environmental vandalism has to be stopped.

As a resident of this area, I feel we are trapped by the web of the Sydney Catchment Authority, like this pretty Damselfly. ***

Above left, is the Spider whose web had trapped the Damselfly.

Like the Damselfly, every turn we make seems to trap us more.
(Click on images to enlarge them)

Rumour has it that the report of the Community Reference Group is about to be watered down by the Chairman of that group, under pressure from the SCA. If that is true, it is a disgrace. So much for a supposedly independent representative body.

It is a move straight from the pages of "Yes, Minister".

Let us hope that the members of the CRG do not have to undergo the indignity of publicly fighting the SCA (or worse the Chairman) in order to demonstrate their genuine independence.

Hopefully, like this wonderful little Damselfly, they can extract themselves out of the web of the SCA "spiders".

The members of the CRG deserve our support.

*** Damselflies are closely related to Dragonflies, but they are distinguished by their "bug eyed" appearance - with widely spaced, protruding eyes. They also (usually) hold their wings closely folded along their bodies when resting. In this case, the wings have been caught in the Spider's web, and might have been damaged.
"Latham's Snipe"
Photo: Harris. COG website.
While waiting for Bernard Eddy and Richard and Andrew Jones to finish filming a story about the Nepean River, I walked along the banks of the Nepean River and flushed a "Latham's Snipe" (Capella hardwickii) a summer migrant to Australia, which breeds in Japan and north Asia in the northern hemisphere summer (our winter).
Postscript: This bird is protected by a Treaty with Japan. As a result it is protected under the Federal environment legislation, the EPBC Act. DJW 5.11.07

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Flying Duck Orchids - and my Blogger Birthday

Thanks to the regular readers who have bothered to follow the path of my steps across the last year. Little did I know quite where the journey would take me, when I started out on 26 November 2005. I wrote three blogs on that first day - because I had not then understood how the system worked, and I was experimenting with it.

I am delighted to see that my very first blog entry was entitled "Odd little things which grow around Robertson"

What is exciting is to see that the very first blog contains a picture of the "Flying Duck Orchid", (Caleana major) - which is still right up there amongst my favourite flowers. It is less satisfying to realise that I did not post a single word of text to go with the photograph. Oh well, I soon sorted out how that worked!

This little Orchid is a sensitive plant, with the "duck head" part of the flower sitting on a flexible hinge. Insects are attracted to enter the centre of the flower, in search of the mysterious scent which it apparently emits.

When the flower senses the movement of the insect, the "duck head" closes over, trapping the insect inside. This is an example of a highly evolved system for achieving pollination.

There is a tiny escape hole (which can actually be seen in the top photo - it is visible on the unopened bud on the right of the open flower). To escape through that little hole, the insect has to pass the pollen sacs of the flower, and it will inevitably get a dob of sticky pollen glued onto its back, as it seeks to exit the flower. Larger insects are liberated after about half an hour, when the flower re-sets itself to the open position.

Click on the photo to enlarge the view.

Interestingly, the second photograph shows a wonderful association of plants and insects. Flower Spiders are often found associated with Orchid flowers. Obviously the spiders know that the Orchid will attract insects to the flower, either by scent, or nectar, or pollen. In this case, there is a tiny spider sitting in her web, which is strung across the front of the flower. The body of the spider is only about the size of a match head, with the legs clearly much larger. (Click on the image for a larger view.)

She is facing outwards, and hanging upside down in her web - waiting for an insect to arrive. Clearly she avoids triggering the movement-sensing device on the flower, by remaining suspended across the front of the flower, on her web.

Two stories from one flower. This plant has given me double value for my sense of "Wonder" at the intricate designs of Nature. Each story is more weird and wonderful story than anything to do with this flower's uncanny cartoon-like resemblance to the head of "Daffy Duck"?

As a matter of statistical record, since I linked the "Site Meter" statistical reporting system on my blog, there have been 4853 separate visits to this blog site, an average of 30 visitors per day. These statistics wildly exceeded any expectation I had at the beginning. And even better, these are not just accidental hits (which does happen on the internet), but there have been 11400 "page views", an average of 2.34 pages per visit, which means people have been actually looking through the blog entries.

Thanks to my loyal readers - you make it all worthwhile.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

"Perfect Day"

Last evening, Boney rang to invite Zoe and myself around for a glass of something. When I got there, I discovered that Zoe and Boney had hatched a plot.

Today is my birthday. Last night was the eve of my birthday, and I was not anticipating any celebration then, so I was taken by surprise.

We had a glass, and went on to record Lou Reed's "Perfect Day" - a song which I fell in love with when in Glasgow. I used sing its heavily ironic lyrics when walking about in Glasgow, often with a throbbing headache (the kind one ought really describe as a "hangover"), while getting "Scotch Mist" sprinkles upon my jacket.

"Scotch Mist" is such a fine fog that it can bead up on one's clothes, without one getting wet. Of course, Robertson can produce similar effects on one's clothes.

But in Robbo, the irony of "Perfect Day" is lost, as one really can say:

"Oh It's such a Perfect Day,
I'm glad I spent it with you".....

Zoe sang the main lyrics and we doubled up on the chorus. Bones was on keyboard, Deb on Bass, and BJ helping out on backing vocals. Thanks to Zoe for thinking up the plan, and for keeping me in time (when singing).

I am now the proud owner of a CD of us all playing and singing "Perfect Day".

A nice surprise. A nice idea, Zoe. Thanks. And thanks to Bone for the technical know-how, and the keyboard playing and the encouragement to sing my favourite song - over the years we have known eachother, at the CTC's Music Nights.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

The country (out there) is burning

The bush is burning.

The Upper Blue Mountains has the worst fires.
See this ABC news report.

And this updated story.

Sitting on my green hillside, where all the local countryside is green as green can be, it is hard to realise how dry the bush is. But look at the sky folks.

That pall of smoke hanging over the Southern Highlands is coming from fires in the rough, inaccessible countryside, beyond Canyonleigh, a mere 50 Km from us.

This fire is down in the Wollondilly River which is wild and inaccessible, and very very dry.

After all, Goulburn, on the Mulwaree River is in the headwaters of the Wollondilly River catchment. Goulburn is famously in drought, and has been so for 5 years at least.

The Pejar Dam (above) was apparently officially declared empty on 21 April this year (according to Wikipedia).

So, it is with some bemusement that I heard this morning that the NSW Premier, Morris ("Nero") Iemma is going to Goulburn tomorrow for a drought forum as requested by the local Mayor, Mr Paul Stephenson. (see photo at left).

One would almost swear there was an election in the wind.

Oh no, that's smoke, folks, in the wind. Real smoke.

The country is burning, while "Nero" fiddles about with NSW State Politics. Goulburn has been in drought for five years.
And now Iemma deigns to visit them?


Would that have anything to do with the Mayor of Goulburn/Mulwaree standing as an independent candidate against the high profile Liberal Party Candidate for Goulburn Pru Goward?

I wonder.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Perth introduces Desalination

Perth has introduced a desalination plant to produce 17% of its drinking water. It is powering the desal plant by wind power.
And all of this without any great fuss at all.

If little Perth can do this, why cannot Australia's leading State Capital city, Sydney?

Leadership has to be the answer. Western Australia clearly has that, but NSW is lacking it. What about it Mr Iemma?

Decide that this needs to be done, announce it, and get on with it.

I heard today that: "The New South Wales Government is promising to spend hundreds of millions of dollars reducing traffic jams in Sydney and improving public transport. It is part of the plan to help Sydney cope with an expected population of 5 million by 2020."

OK, I think to myself. Its all very well for them to plan roads for 5 million people, but what are those 5 million people going to drink? Surely that is more important than where they are going to drive?

What plans does the SCA have for this population, for which the Roads and Transport authorities appear to be planning? Is this covered in the NSW State Plan "A new direction for NSW", launched this week by Mr Iemma. I cannot find this population figure there, but maybe it is buried inside.

I shall keep on digging.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

The Nature of Nature - at the microscopic level

Yesterday, I had the great pleasure of watching 2 fully grown adults discover the beauty of the inner world of flowers.

My friends Jim and Songsri and I went into the Carrington Falls Nature Reserve, near the restored quarry (not close to the falls). This is an easy area to access, with a variety of habitats. You start near the road in open forest, with grass and herbs as undergrowth. Then you pass to an area of almost bare sandstone rock, with typical sandstone forest scrub, with dense undergrowth of Tea Trees (Leptospermum sp.) and the endemic Carrington Falls Grevillea, Grevillea rivularis. (Click to go to a good photo of the flower from Plantnet - the Royal Botanic Gardens plant identification website.)

This plant is one of Jim's favourites. It has long flowers, arranged in a "toothbrush" structure. The flowers are varied in colour, in part, white, then green, then purple (in parts). Also, the seed pods are fascinating. They are hairy, and when fresh, they are green with dark patches, almost resembling a caricature of an eye drawn on each side of the fruiting capsule.

Jim has bought himself a 10 power magnifying glass, and he was revelling in introducing Songsri to the inner world of flowers.

I was enjoying myself too, explaing the convoluted pollination system of the Grevilleas (and the related Waratah too). With the lens, one could see the pollen sacs inside the flower, and how the pollen is transferred onto the end of the "pollen presenter", which subsequently develops into its female stage. Some flowers had been successfully pollinated and we could see the ovary starting to swell. Other seed capsules were well developed - those hairy things described previously.

We also examined some Melaleuca squarrosa flowers, and noticed their sweet scent on the warm afternoon air.

The simplest structure of the flowers which we examined was the Leptospermum rotundifolium, which had large (3 cm wide) lilac flowers, with a very clear structure of a ring of 5 petals, an inner ring of stamens, around a prominent central disc with an obvious green colour. Have a look at the ANBG website photo on the preceding link, or this link for the Royal Botanic Gardens, Sydney, Plantnet site for this Tea Tree.

The best part for me was watching Jim explaining to his wife how to use the lens. Songsri clearly had not ever looked at a flower through a magnifying lens before. It was very satisfying listening to her squeals of delight, as she "got it right" with the lens.

And then she just fell in love with the inner delights of flowers. This is where a novice can develop her sense of wonder about Nature. All power to Jim, the educator.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

WANTED - Minister for the environment

What I want is Bob Debus to get on with his job!
He is the Minister for the Environment - he should do his job.

Regular readers will remember that I bemoaned the fact that he had announced his intention to resign, but still stayed on in the job - thus preventing a new Minister from coming into the portfolio prior to the next election.

But it has got worse, of course, since Mr Debnam decided to make his attacks on Bob Debus (on which this blog makes no comments).

In the second-last week of Parliamentary sittings, Bob Debus, is not doing his real job, but is fighting off attacks on his reputation.

Get on with your job, Bob.
Do what you are supposed to do, including protecting the Kangaloon Aquifer.

You have until the first week of January 2007 to make your mark as Minister for the Environment. Otherwise, you are just taking up space. The first week of January is the date declared by the Premier for when the Kangaloon Aquifer will start being pumped.


Friday, November 17, 2006

The Nature of Wind - those November storms

Well, Robbo has not had snow, but the weather has been truly awful. Last night was down to 2 degrees Celsius. Today was awfully cold. I was wearing a full rig of clothes, and still needed to add a dressing gown over the top. And even then, my fingers were painfully cold.

Yesterday I took some photos of the wind we were having. Now, most of the time the wind is invisible (unless it has clouds of fog swirling around in it). But I was fascinated watching the trees swirling around. So I realised I could photograph the wind, after all.

Well, it is not all that easy. The slow shutter experiments were too swirly to mean anything. So, I have settled for photos which show the backs of leaves as their branches were blown around.

The first is a photo of a Buddleia, growing up on the mound in front of my house. It was this plant which first got my attention, as I was inside the house trying to stay warm, but I was looking out the bedroom window, directly at this plant. This plant has a silver back to the leaf, which makes it stand out as it swirls around.

Several months ago I pruned the tall branches of this shrub to protect it from exactly these conditions, as the longer branches were likely to catch too much wind, and risk damaging the plant, or even having it torn out of the ground.

The second photo is of a "Cedar Wattle" (Acacia elata). This lovely tree is very fast growing, but I worry that it might also be damaged by wind. So, as the tree was very small, I allowed it to branch out very close to the ground. As a result, it is supported by some low-growing branches which actually rest upon the ground. Hopefully this will offer enough support to keep the plant alive, despite these terribly strong winds.

The tips of this plant have a delightul soft red tone. In this photo, you can see the strongly swirled effect of the wind, producing blurred images on the more obvious branches of the Acacia elata, and the closer Acacia. That finely divided "ferny leaved" wattle is the sweetly perfumed Acacia mearnsii. It has very pale flowers, with a delightful perfume which on still, warm days, fills the yard with a floral fragrance.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Matt Brown and the Kangaloon Aquifer

On Monday, 13 November, I led a small delegation to meet with Mr Matt Brown, MLA.

Matt is the Member for Kiama, and is the Local Member for Robertson and Kangaloon. (see Kiama Electorate map below).

The meeting came about because I had previously written to Matt expressing concern about the threat to endangered species of plants, particularly the Leek Orchids in the Kangaloon Aquifer.

My colleagues on the delegation were Dr Karen Guymer, a Robertson resident and a member of the Upper Nepean Groundwater Community Reference Group (CRG), and a member of the Robertson Environment Protection Society (REPS); and Leon Hall, the president of REPS, and also a member of the CRG.

I am grateful to them for accompanying me on this delegation.

On 30 October 2006, Matt replied to my earlier letter about the endangered species in the Kangaloon Aquifer, using the following words:
  • "I would not expect any significant impact on the surface environment from rare extraction events from deep aquifers - even in the driest times Robertson area gets far more rainfall than most areas, with soils and near-surface aquifers being regularly replenished and vegetation being sustained by these."
  • "Deep aquifers as standby reserves for drought events are probably the lowest impact "new water" sources we can tap into - and far more agreeable than desalination or new dams."
I am afraid this got to me, as I knew that it was based upon a false premise, regarding the SCA taking only "deep water".

I replied to Matt Brown, asking for the opportunity to brief him on the subject, as clearly he had been misled by the SCA - along with everyone else, including the community. That is how Monday's meeting came about. And I am grateful to Matt Brown for the opportunity to put the facts on the SCA's drilling proposals in the Kangaloon Aquifer to him.
At Monday's meeting, after introductions, Karen and Leon started off by describing the groundwater structures in the Kangaloon Aquifer, and particularly the inter-relationship between the shallow groundwaters and springs, streams and particularly the "montane swamps" such as Butler's Swamp and especially Stockyard Swamp, which is right at the very peak of the Upper Nepean River catchment.

I then described how the SCA's bores have been fitted with slotted pipes which allow water to drain into the bores at different levels. The depths of these slots are designed for specific bores, to match up with different known groundwater depths in each bore. In the most extreme case, in the large diameter bore at Stockyard Swamp, the slotted pipes start a mere 11 metres below ground. That is hardly taking "deep water"!

I also pointed out that studies of the age of the water conducted by or for the SCA had shown that radioactive traces had been found in the bore samples which indicate that some of the water being taken by the SCA's test bores was "modern" water - less than 50 years old. Some of the water is ancient water - ranging from 1000 years old to more than 10,000 years old. (This is sometimes referred to as "fossil water".)

The massive divergence of age of the waters in the aquifer comes about partly because of the SCA's own practice of taking shallow water, and mixing it with the deeper, older water, in their bores. It is acknowledged that some of these bores are quite deep, but the practice of fitting slotted pipes, to allow shallow water to enter the bores is the real issue - an issue about which the SCA stands accused of deceiving the public (and the local Members of Parliament).

Also, some mixing can occur naturally because of the presence of fault lines in the Sandstone rock strata, which fault lines allow water from recent rainfall to penetrate to low level strata in the rock relatively quickly, because of the much higher permeability of fractured rock strata along the fault line than in the more solid rock strata in the main bore field. Indeed the consultant hydrologist, who conducted the "peer review" of the Technical Overview Report, Mr Don Woolley, stressed that some of the bore sites were far more productive than others, and that this was due to their proximity to the Mount Murray fault line.

So, whether the mixing of old water and new water is due to the natural mixing through the fault line, or the SCA's practice of designing their bores specifically to take both shallow water and deeper water, the fact is that their bores are not taking only deep water.

Matt responded that this was not what he was told.

I said that he need not feel bad about it, as it was not what anybody had been told - not him, nor Peta Seaton MLA, the current Member for the Southern Highlands, nor Joanna Gash MHR, the member for the federal seat of Gilmore, or the local community.

We have all been misled by the public briefings provided by the SCA. And yet, the information we were providing him was all extracted from information within the SCA's own technical reports.

He kept saying this is "new information". Indeed it is - to the public, but not to the SCA.

I left Matt with a submission in which I called upon him to make a Private Member's Statement to Parliament supporting the recommendation of the CRG for a moratorium on pumping from the Kangaloon Aquifer - a position supported by the independent submission by REPS, as well.

Matt said that he could not adopt that position himself, at this stage, however, he did undertake to make representations on our behalf, to the Minister for the Environment, Mr Bob Debus MLA.
I must admit to finding myself disappointed in this response. It is his responsibility as a local Member of Parliament to represent the views of his constituents, when specifically asked to do so. Anything less would be an abrogation of his responsibilities. So, to agree to "make representations on our behalf" is in fact the least that he can be expected to do (it is a far cry from a supporting of our position).

I say this as someone with more than 20 years experience as a federal Public Servant handling Ministerial correspondence - "representations" of precisely the kind Mr Brown has undertaken to make. I know first hand how little impact such representations have, on Government policy, in normal circumstances. Mr Brown challenge is to see if he can, as a member of the governing Party, distance himself from this particular Government policy.

The next NSW State Election, is due on 24 March 2007. However, the Government has announced that pumping from the Kangaloon Aquifer will commence in the new year. In my opinion, Matt Brown does not have much time to switch his personal position on this subject, if he ever will.

As far as I am concerned, after the pumping starts, is too late, Mr Brown. This is my personal opinion.

Once again, and now publicly, I call on Mr Brown to read the material which we left you the other day, absorb it, and decide that indeed, the Kangaloon Aquifer must not be drained. You have enough facts before you to realise that you have been misled by the SCA.

It is time to take a stand, Mr Brown, and support the moratorium on pumping from the Kangaloon Aquifer.
I await Mr Brown's response to our submission, and I look forward to hearing back from him, after he has made representations to Mr Debus. But the January deadline for pumping is looming fast.
I would like to record my appreciation of the hard work of the members of the Upper Nepean Groundwater Community Reference Group , and of people like Dr Emmett O'Loughlin who worked "pro bono" for several months on details of the SCA's investigations into the Kangaloon Aquifer. Dr O'Loughlin addressed the National Parks Association, (NPA) Southern Highlands Branch about the Kangaloon Aquifer in August this year.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Peonies and Orchids - photographs by Denis Wilson

An excellent crowd of friends turned up to see my little exhibition of photographs of Peonies and Native Ground Orchids.

Jim gave a most entertaining introduction, where he strayed into some lesser known moments of my "background".
He made great play of my having "kissed the Pope's Ring".

Thanks for that disclosure, Jim!

I know these two groups of flowers are not well matched, but I love them both dearly. Peonies are exotic plants - originally from China, (these ones). I had several dozen cut flowers - all herbaceous Peonies, mostly the old fashioned "lactifloras". These are the traditonal Peonies which most people know and love. Several of them were really well developed, and the fresh flowers had wonderful fragrances.

The largest, deep pink Peony I had on display is, I believe "Sarah Bernhardt". Scroll down to 11 November for my photo of a bunch of these flowers, last year, on my Peony Diary on Anni's Blog. It has a lovely, but heavy "old rose" perfume. To me, smelling this flower always transforms me to my childhood, beside my Mother's dressing table, where she had a crystal talcum powder bowl, complete with a rose scented "Powder Puff".

Duchesse de Nemours was generally voted the nicest perfume, having a lighter perfume, with less "musk" scent, and perhaps a lighter, but slightly citrus aroma. It is also a lovely cupped flower, in pure white, with a green eye, hidden deep within the flower.

I urged everyone to take the opportunity to sniff the flowers, as that is one thing which photographs cannot capture.
I spoke briefly about the lovely Native Ground Orchids which I had photographed this season. My personal favourite photograph is this little shot of a Flying Duck Orchid, complete with a "Flower Spider" hiding inside the flower, on her web. She is waiting for an insect to be attracted to the flower.
(Click on the photo to enlarge it.)

Thanks to the CTC for the use of their facilities, and especially to BJ, without whose urging, this display would not have happened.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Tourist Road Leek Orchid - a new species.

The "Leek Orchid" which I have written about on this blog, previously, is apparently an as yet undescribed species.

The experts tell me it is not the Wingecarribee Leek Orchid - based on microscopic analysis.

Prasophyllum appendiculatum
(Amended ID, by Dr Mark Clements)

(DJW EDIT 7 March 2012  
Identification subsequently confirmed on 7 March 2012 as Prasophyllum appendiculatum). At the time I originally published this blog, it was believed that this plant was so rare that the National Parks and Wildlife Service has listed it on the Endangered Species List, and it was thought, therefore. to be protected by legislation. 
References to this plant as an endangered species are no longer supported.


Prasophyllum appendiculatum
(Amended ID, by Dr Mark Clements)
When I was talking to David Tranter about this, the other day, he pointed out that if it is not yet described in the scientific journals - it is new to science.

A new species.

I guess that's not a bad result.

Prasophyllum appendiculatum
(Amended ID, by Dr Mark Clements)
Shame that the SCA is constructing the newest bore, on Tourist Road smack in the middle of the Leek Orchid colony.

You can just make out one of these plants here, beside my camera case. The case is there in an attempt to make the Leek Orchid stand out.

Riddle: When is a Leek Orchid not endangered?

When it is new to science, and and is about to be exterminated before it can be described. (DJW: no longer supported - 7 March 2012)

Without being described, it cannot then be classified as an endangered species.


I understand this new bore is to be a "large diameter Production Bore".

Of course it will be, as that will enable them to take as much water as possible from under the farming land across the road - with their "draw down" of water expected to extend at least 2Km.

By one of those strange co-incidences of Nature, Tourist Road is about to be closed for a period of six weeks, for reconstruction of a bridge. Strangely, this bridge (which has always been noisy) suddenly is classed as being in need of urgent repair. It is to be replaced by a nice new concrete bridge, capable of handling heavy traffic.

Why would heavy traffic want to travel along the picturesque Tourist Road?

Well, just possibly it has got to do with the SCA wanting to do even more construction work in the bore field.

Isn't it interesting how, suddenly, the RTA, or the Wingecarribbee Shire Council, has found the money to do this construction right now - when that bridge has been deemed adequate for country traffic, for as long as anyone can remember.

Amazing what can be done when serious politics gets involved in an issue.

Trust me, this is serious politics.

This is a desperate Government, determined to get its own way, no matter at what cost - either in fiscal terms, or in terms of the environment.

It all goes back to Mr Iemma's simplistic and naive announcement back in February that he has "discovered the underground lakes".

Remember that?

I do, I have been blogging about it, since 13 February.

It is time some serious people stated to listen.

Matt Brown?
Peta Seaton?
Pru Goward, Liberal Party Candidate for the seat of Goulburn is starting to take an interest. This was reported in the Southern Highlands News on 10 November.

It is interesting that the SHN has a pathetically poor representation on the Web. You can get only a few headline stories, and then not always the full text of an article. For example, the article about the next member of parliament's views on the Kangaloon Aquifer did not make it to the web. Surely anything she says is newsworthy in Bowral. Sorry. Pru's statement only made it to page 5. What a hopeless "Newspaper".
It is just a local rag.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Robertson's "Walk against Warming" on the Net.

Well, we made it to the GetUp website.
(Photo by David Young).

Robertson is not just on my little blog, but we are on the GetUp website, along side other Walk against Warming reports from Sydney (40,000 people walked), Melbourne (40,000 people walked), Hobart (3000 people walked), Brisbane (1500 people walked), Canberra(2000 people walked) , Port Macquarie (130 people walked), Byron Bay 200 people walked, Rylston (NSW) , and Wollongong (1000 people walked). By the way Robertson walk is officially recorded as 45 people walked. As I said previously, I made it to be 30 adults, 15 kids and 5 dogs! But we did get support from the Bikers too.

Rylstone's walk seems to have been even smaller than ours. 5 people in the photo - no report of numbers, unfortunately. But like us, they obviously had a nice time. Good on them.

Where is Rylestone? I seem to think it is in the Hunter Valley or Mudgee areas. If anyone who reads this has ever been there - please let me know.
t is south east of Mudgee, in the Central Tablelands of NSW. Have a look.

Harriet has advised (see the comments section below) that Rylstone had 250 people "Walk against Warming". Well done them!

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Kangaloon Aquifer - Iemma Government's response

The Iemma Government has responded to the people of the Southern Highlands' objections to the Kangaloon Aquifer borefield proposal.

After months of considered discussion; after months of study of hundreds of pages of documents supplied by the Sydney Catchment Authority, the people of the Southern Highlands have been told that the Kangaloon Aquifer has been deemed a "Project of State Significance". That means it has been exempted from all normal requirements for environmental assessment, and other precautionary controls.

These normal requirements are intended to subject Government agencies, such as the SCA to scrutiny, and indeed to require these agencies to follow "due process".

The SCA set up the "Upper Nepean Catchment Community Reference Group" (CRG) as part of a process of "community consultation". Well the CRG sent in its considered response. It caned the SCA for not having done enough scientific investigation. It criticised the haste with which the SCA was pushing ahead with test boring (while the supposed "community consultation" was still being pursued).

Drill rig on Tourist Road, 14 October 2006

Obviously the CRG was right on the money. Obviously, these criticisms hurt the SCA and the Iemma Government.

How do we know?

The response of the Government is a classic "bully boy" response - equivalent to saying: "Well, if that what you think - take this." They have effectively slammed the door on the local community. Consultation is over. They don't want to hear another word from us.

"Its all over, folks" - that's what they are saying - "We are going to start pumping, no matter whether or not it harms the environment. Stuff You" - that's what they are really saying.

This is my own "graphic" interpretation of the Iemma Government's response to the people of the Southern Highlands. It does not necessarily represent Government Policy. You make up your own mind.

Does the Iemma Government care about farmers in Kangaloon?
Does the Iemma Government care about the general environment in the Southern Highlands?
Does the Iemma Government care about endangered plants and animals in the Kangaloon Aquifer?
Does the Iemma Government care about YOU - THE VOTER?

Make up your own mind.
You be the judge.
You are, after all, the final judge - as a voter!