Christmas Bells

Christmas Bells
Christmas Bells - Blandfordia nobilis

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

"Vandalism" on the Kangaloon Borefield

Mr Debus issued a Press Release on the afternoon of 26 February 2007 complaining that "vandals" had damaged pipes on the Kangaloon Aquifer borefield.

According to Mr Debus's statement, Police had been called to investigate, and security patrols would be stepped up.


Fascinating: Here are some facts, documented with pictures.

When driving along Tourist Road, on Monday morning, at about 10:45am. to check if pumping was occurring (as expected). I happened to notice a relatively small leak (equivalent to one large garden hose worth of "squirt") coming from one of the pipes - spraying about 10 metres into the bush.

I stopped to take a photo of the cracked pipe, to monitor what I assumed to be the SCA's carelessness, in view of the fact that it was still squirting, while workmen were nearby.

Anyway, I realised that the the pipe was cracked at a point where the pipeline was slightly bent, and was therefore under pressure.

So, I figured that this was not unexpected on the first day of pumping. One could reasonably regard it as normal operational problems, I judged.

The crack appeared to be quite straight. I had a pretty good look at it, because I was curious to work out why the pipe was leaking. It appeared to me to be a straight cut, across the side of the pipe where the bend was, so I assumed that it was a result of pressure. The pipe had definitely not been "hacked at" as the crack was very clean. I formed the impression that it might have been a machine cut, presumably made in the factory.

I drove back up the road, to where I had seen one of the workers from Ted Wilson and Sons (TWS) - the pumping contractors - who was at the next pumping station along Tourist Road. I reported that there was water squirting out from a cracked pipe. The workman said "Yeah, we know. Thanks".

The cracked pipe was repaired by the contractors, with a simple metal sleeve fitted over the cracked area, and bolted together (see photo).

Here was water gushing out of the end of the pipe 1.5Km down the road from where the leak was. This photo was taken at approximately 4:20pm, on Monday 26 February.

Little did I know that up in Macquarie Street, Mr Debus was about to disgorge the contemptuous rubbish which you have read (above) which passes for a Ministerial Press Release.

Mr Debus seems to do all his best work late in the afternoon.

The real question is: Who are the true vandals at the Kangaloon Aquifer?

The SCA's pumping proposal will simply suck the life out of the forest and swamps in the Kangaloon Aquifer.

God knows how the farmers will cope, when the groundwater drops to 60 metres.

And yet the local people get a slur of being called "Vandals". Amazing.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Please see David Young's Blog

Please visit David Young's Blog for Sunday 25 February 2007.

It is a good photo essay on the issues of fault lines, water in the faultlines, and possible subsidence following extraction of water.

Also there is a an unusual report of a minor "tremor" or other subterranean movement which occurred, which apparently interrupted the flow of water from a bore, and resulted in a slurry of mud flowing from the bore. This apparently occurred after the very heavy rain, two weekends ago. My own opinion is that this was possibly water movement which was sufficiently strong as to cause audible sounds. After all, the weight of water which fell onto the hills of Trig Station Lane and East Kangaloon is truly enormous. The basalt hills are very porous, and a huge amount of water has soaked into those hills, which were quite dry beforehand.

Try your own calculations. You are dealing with astronomically large numbers - but it amounts to real weight, real pressure inside the earth, as such a huge amount of rainfall enters the groundwater.

Kindly see my previous article about "Fault lines under the Aquifer".

To be forewarned is to be forearmed.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

SCA's breathtaking arrogance revealed.

The Save Water Alliance meeting in Bowral on 24 February went well, with over 300 people present to hear about moves to prevent the Sydney Catchment Authority from pumping from the Southern Highlands (Kangaloon) Aquifer. Amongst the VIPs present at the meeting was Ms Pru Goward, Liberal Party candidate for Goulburn in the forthcoming NSW elections, and Mr Paul Stephenson, Mayor of Goulburn, and an independent candidate for the seat of Goulburn.

The Sydney Catchment Authority reported that they had approached the Federal Department of Environment and Water Resources and proposed a one month test pumping program. The Federal Department concurred in that suggestion. See advice from the Department at Attachment A.

Astonishingly, with that limited approval having been given by the Federal Department, the Catchment Authority then issued a press release (Attachment B) in which they announced that they will commence pumping for 6 months. They claim that “detailed information will be gathered after the pumping has been underway for one month, and provided to the Federal Department of Environment and Water Resources.” However, elsewhere, in correspondence, they make it clear that the reporting will not take place until some time in April. Meanwhile, pumping will continue from the Kangaloon Aquifer.

Their arrogance is overwhelming. The NSW Government is totally disregarding the Federal Environment Minister’s legitimate legal role in this matter, under the Federal Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.

Mr Turnbull is empowered by Federal law to make a decision on this most important matter, and has the power to deem that it is a “Controlled Action”, but the SCA have conned Mr Turnbull’s Department. They are treating the Federal Authorities like fools – and worse, were doing so in a public forum.

How can the SCA justify announcing that they will pump for 6 months, on the very same day that the Federal Department has permitted them to pump for one month? At the very least, proper scientific processes ought to be followed. That is, if they record pumping drawdowns for 1 month, then they need recovery data for 1 month. That might constitute a proper test. But the SCA do not intend to allow any time for the borefield to recharge. They have already announced that they will be pumping for 6 months.

The SCA would surely not disregard the legitimate authority of Mr Turnbull in this matter, unless they were fully confident that they have the backing of Mr Debus, the NSW Environment Minister. It is breathtaking arrogance.

Denis Wilson.
Environmental Consultant to the SWA

25 February 2006

Bowral people turn out to stop pumping

There was a full hall in Bowral last night, which was great.

Phil Herd kicked the meeting off, by backgrounding the work of the Save Water Alliance.
We did our Video presentation, then the SCA Chief Executive Officer, Graeme Head, and the Senior Project Manager, John Ross spoke, and outlined the background to the project. Unfortunately, John Ross happened to mention that their work had been "peer reviewed". That gave me a small "brain explosion" and I got up and told him that: "It's not enough to commission "Peer Reviews" - you've got to Fuckin' read 'em!!!"

Just to make the point (slightly more subtly) I then quoted (by heart) Prof Derek Eamus's last sentence in his Peer Review of the SMEC report:
"There is much work to be done, however, before the following question can be answered: What level of groundwater extraction is sustainable and what level of extraction does NOT pose an unacceptable threat to groundwater dependent ecosystems? This is the core question which must be addressed by the SCA prior to groundwater abstraction."

I then gave a presentation based upon slides of the area, featuring some of the fault lines in the district, and also Riley's Sugarloaf, where I pointed out that the geology model on which they based their assumption is wrong. So, what confidence can we have in their analysis, if their preliminary "assumptions" are wrong?

I am falling asleep at the Computer, so I shall expand the report tomorrow.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Romantic Leopard Slug Aerial Ballet

Here are two Leopard Slugs engaged in the most spectacular mating ritual.

I was requested by Anni to point out that this was occurring on the post of her step hand-rail post. Ah, the need for fame is desperate, isn't it? But I am happy to oblige you Anni.

But, fancy requesting an "owner's credit" for the furniture on which this event was occurring? Think of the mess which Anni was going to have to clean up tomorrow morning!

They are "simultaneous hermaphroditic" creatures, and they each protrude a male organ from close to the back of their head. These two organs then twist around eachother to form a bulbous, flower-like structure, in which they seemingly transfer sperm from one Leopard Slug to the other. Eventually they decide that enough is enough. These particular slugs climbed back up the thread of mucous on which they had been hanging, and each curled up in a "post-coital" mood. Anni assured me that this represented the "male" side of their character (seeing as they are hermaphroditic, she had a point).

As with most things which are visually spectacular in the animal world, David Attenborough's team have captured this ritual on film, and it is available to play from the BBC website.

Click "Play video" on the image "mating Leopard Slugs". The video is quick to download, and to play. I have "real player" - maybe that makes a difference - I don't know. Have a go.

The incident recorded is of a free-hanging pair of Leopard Slugs, the Attenborough team have some of the best equipment available.

There is an audio commentary which explains the process. It is truly intriguing to watch.

The bulb is now swollen with the transferred sperm.

BJ demonstrating the scale of the slugs and their "mating bulb", with her finger.

"So long, it's been good to know you!"

BJ and Boney farewell Music Night

Tonight was the last time that Boney was in the chair, as keyboard player (and/or drummer) for Thursday Night Music Night at the Robertson CTC. It may never be the same.

BJ and Bones posed for this fare-thee-well photograph.

There was a good crowd, which was very pleasant.

A warm sticky night, followed by a heavy shower made for pleasant conditions sitting outside, under the weather-proofed awning at the back of the CTC.

Lucy and the kids posed for a photo with Boney, as they were going out the door.

As anticipated, BJ did her rendition of "Fever" which was a popular song. For some reason the female members of the audience all get a buzz, when she sings this number. Monica, Jodie and some of the other ladies were dancing around.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Clear skies bring out the insects and the Lizards

Here are some photos of clouds which I snapped while baby-sitting the "Summer Break" Photo Exhibition at the local Fettler's Shed at the Robertson Heritage Railway Station.

The sky was stunningly clear, and there were some wonderful cumulo-nimbus clouds floating around.

Celeste found this Katydid insect (a relative of a Grasshopper).

What Celeste was not expecting was what Katy Did Next!

Here it is! (Don't forget to click on the image - to see the full-size image.)


What a critic!

The Katydid is such a tasty morsel, that this Blue Tongue Lizard was licking its lips. (Forgive my use of poetic licence, please - it was in another location - but I could not resist using the line.)

The clear weather seemed to have brought out the best of the clouds, the insects and the Lizards.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Iemma Government = Eco-vandalists

These are not my words.

These are the words of the owner of the property concerned - on Tourist Road, Kangaloon.

Blue-tongue Lizard
on Tourist Road

With Blue Tongue out

Monday, February 19, 2007

The future of water - is black. Black as coal.

Hi Folks. Sorry for the silence over the last few days. I was preparing a further submission to the Federal Department of Environment and Water Resources on the Kangaloon Aquifer.

We hope that the Department can persuade Mr Turnbull that indeed the "upland swamps" in the Kangaloon Aquifer are groundwater dependent ecosystems. The SMEC consultants spent 140 pages of their report debating whether or not they can be categorically ruled as NOT groundwater dependent. They concluded that such a statement could not be said.

Let us see what happens, in due course. My private position has always been that sometimes these things are won or lost on issues outside of the merits of one's particular case. I still remain hopeful, but I am the last of the "naive and sentimental fools". Hopeful, but not confident.
Here is an insight into why the SCA is so keen to steal water from the pristine Kangaloon Aquifer.

They are photos from the Waratah Rivulet, on the Woronora Plateau, above the Woronora Dam. That dam is the water supply for the Helensburgh area and for the Sutherland Shire. The Waratah Rivulet once carried 30% of the inflow of the Woronora Dam. Most of that flow is lost, now, down into the bowels of the earth, into an empty cavern where a coal mining company has removed a vast amount of coal, and then allowed the rock to slump down to partially fill that cavity.

The Coal Miners were allowed to conduct Longwall Mining underneath this particular river. That caused subsidence, with such extraordinary results that the river bed is massively cracked. The river has simply disappeared down the holes in the river bed.

The wonderful people of the Southern Highlands are blissfully unaware that these coal mines are operating under their doorsteps - out there in the so-called "Special Area". It is closer than they might think. One can see some of the coal mines from the top of Mt Murray - they are within sight of Robertson's hills. And they are relentlessly getting closer. There is coal under this entire area. It is a question of whether or not it is "economic" to extract. That equation is really only a factor of time. It might not be economic now, but by the time the rest of the coal seams have been exhausted, they will go ever further, until the coal mines are underneath our Kangaloon Aquifer, and then under Robertson as well? - One day?

What an irony, that I face an $11,000 fine should I trespass into the Special Area along Tourist Road (as if I would ever do such a thing), while the SCA allows this kind of devastating damage to occur.

More significantly, we are truly paying the price for the SCA's inability to stop the Dept of Commerce and the Dept of Natural Resources from approving this totally irresponsible form of coal mining - right under the catchment.

Not only is Sydney not restricting its consumption, the water which is in the catchment is being lost in huge amounts down into coal mines. So, naturally the SCA want to augment their supply, to compensate their mistakes.

Not surprisingly, the SCA's website for the Woronora Dam fails to mention that 30% of its inflow has been lost down a bloody great black hole called a coal mine.
These photographs are real, not doctored. They came to me courtesy of Dave Burgess of the Total Environment Centre. If you wish to find out more about mining and subsidence issues, go to the Rivers SOS website.

Patrice Newell is running as a candidate for the NSW Upper House, largely on the basis of her understanding of water issues and the dangers posed to water conservation by mining activities, especially in the Upper Hunter Valley. Patrice has broadened her field of coverage to embrace this kind of stupidity wherever it might be found. Her campaign is gaining ground, and she has invited some key note speakers to Australia as her guests, to promote the stupidity of this entire process. See "Climate Change Coalition".
It is time the world woke up.

Not only is the pollution from coal going to poison the world's atmosphere, and heat it up impossibly. Now we learn that coal mining is going to waste our last drops of precious water as well. It is obscene.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Robertson - after the rain.

Here are some photos - taken in the gully behind George's place. This was several days after the rain.

We had to gingerly find our way down into the gully, as everything was unbelievably slippery, and there was debris everywhere.

When I got to the bottom of the gully, I crossed the creek (slipped, and got my shoes drenched of course).

Then I went up the creek about 300 metres to a tiny waterfall, about 1 metre high, or just a touch more, perhaps.

I took several shots, at different speeds to give the smooth flow impression, and another at fast speed to "freeze" the droplets of water in mid air.


At the CTC in the afternoon, the weather had warmed up, and I found this drunken Common Mynah. How do I know? Well these birds are normally shy of my camera, this one had such a weird look in its eye, and was falling over.

But the real clue was that this bird was underneath the hedge of Cherry Laurels which the Flying Foxes had been feeding on earlier in the week, and the fruit are now over-ripe. When that happens, in warm weather the fruit naturally ferments. I have observed this with drunken bees and drunken Silvereyes, in the same circumstances, with normal fruiting plums.

The Cherry Laurels are a form of plum, and very fleshy fruit (although not sweet to my taste). But click on this inage, and look at its eye.
Then tell me - was it not away with the Pixies?


Thursday, February 15, 2007

Photo: Andrew Taylor. The Age. 15/2//2007

The article linked below is important reading for all Australians.

We are at a turning point in our history, based upon our sense of national identity.

There are two models of "Australia" being drawn up here -
  • one a client state of America, and
  • the other an independent nation.

Kindly take the time to read Michelle Grattan's article.

I know that this image is digitally enhanced, but it surely must be a candidate for a "Walkley". It is brilliant and tells one at least as much as the article does.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Over twelve inches of rain in 36 hours

As I write (early hours of Monday morning) the total of rain reported (for Robertson) on the Bureau of Metereology's website stands at 277 mm - or just under 11 inches "in the old money". As it is still raining as I write, I am confident that by the time I wake, we will be well over the figure quoted. Also, there is always a delay in the reporting of the figures. So, in truth we are almost certainly over the mark all ready.

That is a huge amount of rain, in anyone's terms.

Robertson has recorded far more than Bowral, (a mere 30 Km away) which has only scored 70 mm. No doubt they are pleased with that, but it does not rate, up against Robertson's score. That is 2 and 3/4 inches (again "in the old money").

Update: The BoM site shows the last two days readings for Robertson as: 155 mm and 167 mm. As it started about 8:00pm on Saturday night, that is a total of 322 mm in less than 36 hours. That converts to 12.67 inches of rain.

Huge rain, and great for the environment.

Lots of water would be flowing down the creeks and rivers. Farm dams will mostly be full. The local basalt soil is very porous, so the run-off from Robertson is less than one would expect. But the water which soaks into the soil is not lost - it comes back out as springs and soaks, over the coming months. And that's what the district needs, as the springs were all drying up.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

RAIN leads to the Inaugural ANNI Award

water washing across
my horse paddock
My fellow blogger, Anni is a "clever clogs".

She posted a blog entry today which told me that Robertson had received over 130 mm of rain overnight. I had previously gone to the regular site I use "NSW 24 hr Rain Bulletin - South Coast". Unfortunately, that site, which used be very reliable, no longer seems to report Robertson - there is a blank entry there.*** That is appalling, in view of the importance of Robertson as the headwaters of 3 separate catchments, which all supply water to Sydney (Wingecarribee (Wollondilly)/Nepean/Kangaroo River (Shoalhaven).

Anyway, now to the good news. I rang Anni and asked her how she obtained that detailed rainfall data. And here it is how she found it - step by step:
  1. Go the BoM home page, and click on "Hydrology".
  2. From there, click on "Floodwarning services". That page will present a map of OZ.
  3. On the right hand side, select "Display on map" - "24 hours rainfalls".
  4. Then click on the map, to zoom in on your chosen location. That will bring up your State map, firstly.
  5. Click on the location you want to investigate, and it will bring up your regional map. In the case of Robertson, it gives you the "Central Coast map" from the Shoalhaven to Tuggerah (north of Sydney) (The URL refers to it as Greater Sydney). Here is the trick, at that level of detail, the data on the map is "clickable".
  6. Find a coloured dot near the place you are interested in (Robertson, in my case). Hold the curser over the dot and it tells you where you are (Robertson)
  7. Then click on that dot, and up comes a dialogue box with "155 mm in 24 hours". That is the current reading, as at 5:30 pm on Sunday.

How amazing that the data is there, seeing as it is not published on the rainfall observations site. *** But how ridiculously hard it is to find the data/

*** Following an email from me, the BoM "Help Desk" revised the entry for Robertson, and promised to check with the record keeper (the owner of the Robertson Pie Shop) to find out what had gone wrong. It now shows 155 mm till 9:00am, and a further 66 mm since then. Thanks, BoM.
(Thanks to them for the record update, Thanks to Huey for the rain.

"Send it down, Huey" means "bring on the rain" - Aussie colloquialism.

The BoM wins my award for the website which has the most interesting information, in the least accessible form.

Some of you might like to take this idea up, so, let's call it the
in honour of the "clever clogs" who found her way through that maze, to find the treasure of information contained therein.

My inaugural "ANNI AWARD" goes to the Bureau of Meteorology Website.

Other nominations for the "ANNI AWARDS" would be welcomed.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Flying Foxes - the "eyes" have it.

For the sake of my pal, Miss Eagle, yes, I do know that the heading is a misquote of the oft-use Parliamentary saying - "The Ayes have it".
On Thursday evening, I went to the CTC's Music Night (the first without BJ and Boney running it). They have not left town yet, but they were at a "gig" in Wollongong, so they could not be at the CTC in Robbo.

Anyway, after the Music Night, I walked around the property, and down the back, near the Scout Hall, there were about 40 Flying Foxes coming and going into the large hedge of Cherry Laurels there. So I tried to photograph them flying in and out of these tall hedge plants (trees). They would fly in, squabble, fight, fly off and come back and crash-land again in the tops of the trees. Eventually I got a few photos of reflective eyes, at least.

Anyway, the evening was quieter than the usual (familiar) Music Night with Boney leading the show.

But Brendan and Royce and the new guard did a pretty fair job. Jenny was singing and jumping around, and John brought a new friend, David, along.

It turned out that David is a pretty good pianist. And Brian and some of the other Musos had a nice time.


Those of us, like Pip, John, Vivienne and myself, who are dedicated audience members had a nice time, and will probably be back next week, and the week after. Lets hope James and Dave and some of the other gang keep on coming along.

On Friday night I went to REPS, where the guest speaker was speaking on Climate Change. He presented the story very well, with amazing statistics on CO2 emissions, rainfall patterns, temperature charts, etc.

At the end of the meeting, I did a "show and tell" with a bunch of
Cherry Laurel leaves and fruit, and mentioned that these trees ripen their fruit at the appropriate season for Flying Foxes to come in on the warm summer evenings, which makes their potential as a weed far greater than I had realised before.

One of the members came up and said that she had just paid a large amount of money to have a large Cherry Laurel removed, because of the Flying Foxes. I think it was their noisy behaviour which triggered the move, but clearly, any removal of these huge and prolific weeds is a great move.

Clearly they were once a popular tall hedge plant in Robertson, before their potential as a weed was understood. As the oldest (largest) plants appear to be in Ranelagh House, it is not hard to work out who is responsible for this problem - the original owners/gardeners there. But they are long since gone - so that does not help our situation, does it?

For any local readers, please do not plant any more Cherry Laurels in this climate and soil.

I have grown them in Canberra, where they simply do not become a weed. It is much colder there, and the soil is much poorer, so they do not seem to have such weed potential there.

But in Robbo, they grow like crazy, and fruit prolifically. They become a 10 metre high weed. That is pretty scary.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

On being relaxed and comfortable in Robbo

Summer Clouds -
viewed from Anni's porch.
People who know me well, will realised that I am anything but "relaxed and comfortable" at present. The fight against the Aquifer is too "all consuming" for that.

But I can admire Anni's ability to stay calm, when all around are losing their heads.

I have just done a "Google" search, and realised that I was more-or-less quoting Kipling's poem "IF". It is worth reading. In fact it ought be obligatory reading.
But back to Anni's front verandah, on Saturday afternoon.

Firstly, there were these beautiful pale pink Oriental Liliums in flower in her front garden.

They have a delicious scent as well.

Then, we saw this gorgeous butter-ball of a Spider. It really was this colour, and rounded shape. She was just forming up her web, when I saw her. There is a single dark strand running back behind the Spider (otherwise she would be unbalanced, and her web would not be as "taut" as it is).

Click on the photo to enlarge it, and see the web, and the text I have added to the image.

You can see her forming the sticky catching web, but it is only just being shaped up. Presumably, later in the afternoon, it would have been fully formed.

This little butter-ball of a Spider is getting on with her life. She might be preparing to catch and kill insects, but that is what she is programmed to do. As such, I regard that as a morally neutral activity.

In these troubled times, I cannot resist asking why humans, who, in contrast with this Spider, do not need to catch and kill, behave so inhumanely to their fellows?

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,

If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,

Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And - which is more - you'll be a Man my son!


Dear female readers, please overlook the sexist language, but Kipling was a child of his times.