Christmas Bells

Christmas Bells
Christmas Bells - Blandfordia nobilis

Saturday, June 30, 2007

Never leave home without your Camera !!!

Light from the rising Moon
behind Pine Tree branches,
moving in a strong wind.
How many times have I muttered this phrase? - Never leave home without your Camera! But I still do it.
This morning, I went to volunteer at the local CTC (Community Technology Centre), and that meant I would be leaving the car in the car park. Then I knew I would go to Bowral, to do some supermarket shopping. Nothing to photograph, plus a risk of losing the camera - right? I know Bowral is not the crime capital of the world, but, lets not take a chance. Better to leave it at home?
Moon rising -
seen through
of a Pine Tree.
As I drove back from Bowral, past Burrawang to Robertson (due east) the most stunning full moon was rising, against a pale blue afternoon sky, over a line of pink-washed cumulus clouds (out over the coast). Damn it was a pretty sky. And my camera was fifteen minutes away.
Of course, I realised- too late - that this was one of those "Blue Moon" events.

Astronomers are not impressed with so called "Blue Moons" - they are just a normal full moon, which for reasons of the calendar, not astronomy, have been ascribed this name. The commonly understood term is when there is a second Full Moon occurring within a month. Today, being 30 June, it means that this is the second 28 day cycle in this month. That is all. Wikipedia, boringly says this usage is a mis-interpretation of this term.***

But gosh, it was a beautiful rising Full Moon, in a clear late afternoon sky, against a backdrop of clouds. That was special, for reasons of ephemeral weather conditions, not for astronomical reasons, nor even reasons to do with the calendar.

Never leave home without the Camera, Denis!
Full Moon 30 June 2007
These photos of the moon were the best which I could come up with, after I got home. My house is has a high easterly horizon, as I am just below a ridge, with tall pine trees on my neighbour's property.
So the moon is quite high in the sky before it shines above the trees, into my property. So, the sky is well and truly dark by the time a full moon has risen that far.

So you get a black sky effect here. Still, it was a lovely full moon.

Blue Moon?
Nope - a tinted one!
Sorry, I could not resist a little Photoshop experiment.

*** How is this for a belated apology?
Referring to the origin of the commonly used meaning of "Calendar Blue Moons" Wikipedia says:

"This definition of blue moon originated from a mistake in an article in the March 1946 Sky & Telescope magazine, which failed in an attempt to infer the earlier definition used in the original Farmer's Almanac (see above). It was helped to popularity when Deborah Byrd of Earth & Sky walked into the Peridier astronomy library at the University of Texas at Austin one day, leafed through some old magazines, and found the 1948 blue moon article in Sky & Telescope. She used the definition – the second full moon in a single month – in the radio series Star Date for some years. As a result, the game Trivial Pursuit used a question and answer about blue moon.
Sky & Telescope discovered the error nearly sixty years later and the magazine printed a retraction and correction."

Goodness me!
On that basis, John Howard has time on his side to apologise to the Aboriginal people, on that calculation!

Friday, June 29, 2007

Kangaloon Aquifer pumping halted - at present

Idle Pump Outlet, reveals
the amount of iron
contamination left by
4 months of pumping.
The SCA has temporarily stopped pumping from the Kangaloon Aquifer. They did this last last Wednesday 20 June 2007. We have not commented on this up until now, as we did not know quite what the SCA was "up to". Here is a photo taken by a "research assistant", showing pump outlet no longer running. The rust staining is clearly evident. It is iron contamination from the water in the Aquifer.
We have now heard that the SCA responded to a question from a journalist, with advice that they have turned off the pumps "to monitor how the Kangaloon aquifer recharges after the recent heavy rainfall and to observe water level recovery patterns across the area".
What a crock ...???
First day of pumping.

The reality is that the Nepean Dam is full, (confirmed by SCA's Bulk Water Supply website reports). Therefore, to continue to pump water down the Nepean River would be to waste precious Groundwater.

The Nepean River was in flood over the weekend of 16, 17 June 2007, but the SCA was still pumping water from the Kangaloon Aquifer.

Nepean River running high,

after the flood peak had passed.

Bernard Eddy protested this scandalous waste, directly to the SCA's Bulk Water Manager, Mr Ian Tanner. He also raised this scandalous waste of precious water in public (via radio in Sydney and the Illawarra and Southern Highlands) on Monday 18 January. Finally they stopped the pumping on the Wednesday, (20 June).

For them to claim that they have stopped pumping "to monitor how the Kangaloon Aquifer recharges" is purely Public Relations "spin". As I mentioned above, to use the vernacular: What a crock....???

David Thompson, of the Save Water Alliance committee, has spoken (in the last few days) with the SCA and has been told that the Aquifer is recharging fast. This is hardly surprising, given that they have been pumping along the coarse fractured zone known as the Mt Murray monocline (or fault). Everyone acknowledges that these coarse fracture zones would likely recharge much more readily than Aquifer zones under the main sandstone plateau.

My point is simply to forewarn you that the SCA will doubtless claim (in the near future) that there has been no long-term effect on the Aquifer.

Let us not forget that the whole testing program was held off deliberately by the SCA until after the major rainfall event in February. John Ross (Project Manager) and Graeme Head (CEO of the SCA) told Bernard Eddy and myself, at a site meeting in January, that they were hoping to get a "rainfall event". That event happened over 10 and 11 February, with some 322 mm of rain in 36 hours. Within days they had written to the Federal Environment Department proposing that they commence "test pumping" (letters of 20 and 22 February from Mr Tony Collins).

We argued at the time that testing in such extreme circumstances would not be representative of a borefield designed to operate as a water supply system "in drought conditions".
Nepean River
Robertson has had huge amounts of rain in June (as has most of the Sydney Catchment). In fact we had 318 mm of rain over the long weekend of 9 -11 June. Subsequently, a further 55 mm fell in several hours on 16 June. That rainfall caused the Nepean River to flood (not the earlier larger rainfall event) - because the countryside was saturated by the huge rain of the previous week. So the run-off was immediate.

We have had subsequent rain. The point is, we are now approaching a record rainfall event, the last such rainfall was in 1950 (a record year).

It would be totally non-sensical for the SCA to use the rainfall events of this year as a gauge of anything which might tell you about how "safe" it is to pump from the Kangaloon Aquifer, under severe drought conditions.

Let us not forget that the whole project is known by the SCA as: "Groundwater - Investigations for drought water supply".

If the SCA could guarantee to get two "one in ten year" rainfall events, as we have had this season, then, hardly anyone would object to limited pumping of the Kangaloon Aquifer. But, to use this year's rainfall events (and any recharge figures they might produce as a result) as justification for pumping to be "safe" would be totally meaningless.

Accordingly, in accordance with their management of the Upper Nepean Borefield project, so far, I expect that they will make exactly such a claim in the near future.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Wingecarribee Shire Council and the Aboriginal Flag

Last night the Wingecarribee Shire Council voted to fly the Aboriginal Flag on a third flagpole outside the Wingecarribee Council Chambers, in Moss Vale "on a permanent basis, and in accordance with appropriate flag protocols".

They already fly the National flag, and the Shire's own flag.

Above is the Council's Logo. I cannot be sure that the flag is the same - but this is the only WSC image which appears on the Council's website.

Wingecarribee Shire
Council Chambers,
in Moss Vale, NSW.

I was proud to accompany Peter Falk to witness this historic debate and decision.

Clr. Larry Whipper, (a Robertson resident), was the proponent of the motion. He deserves credit for bringing the matter before Council (again). It had been defeated previously, several years ago, apparently. Larry spoke well, and with great significance.

Local councillor Jim Mauger ("Big Jim") (another Robertson resident) lived up to his nick-name, with a moving speech in favour of the motion. He said that he had thought about this issue a lot, over a long time, and had come around to the view that the Aboriginal people had looked after this land for 40, 000 years, and so deserved recognition. For a farmer, who values the spirit of looking after the land, Jim's speech was terrific.

Peter Falk, with whom I was sitting, merely muttered "60,000 years" - but he was more than happy with Jim's sentiments.

Mayor Lewis also spoke with considerable conviction about how, having come to this country from Britain, he had come to realise that the British had treated the Aboriginal people badly. He mentioned having been impressed by the recent Aboriginal Film festival, held in Bowral. That point would no doubt have gratified Dr David Tranter, who was in the Council Chamber tonight, and who was involved with that film festival.

The only Councillors to vote against the motion were Nick Campbell-Jones, and Penny George. Paul Tuddenham spoke against the motion, but it was not clear that he actually voted against it. Perhaps a discreet "abstention"? I could not be absolutely sure.

Anyway, as I said, I was proud to be with Peter Falk, to witness this historic decision.

Congratulations to all the Councillors who voted for it.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

George's Whipbird

My friend George took this photo of a Whipbird from his kitchen, the other day. He told me he had seen a rare bird, with a white throat, a black head, with a crest, and a black wedge-shaped tail.

Nicely described George. - you got all the diagnostic points in that description.
I said was it on the ground? He nodded. "Whipbird", said I.

We looked it up in a birdbook which George has, and sure enought, there it was.

The only thing is that the Whipbird is not rare, just "seldom seen". George lives cheek by jowl with these birds, and probably hears their distinctive whip crack call, or their little grumbling, cackling noises regularly. It is just that the Whipbird is a classic rainforest "sculker". It will nearly always manage to keep a shrub between itself and you, so you cannot see it, but it can peer throught the shrubbery and know that you are a safe distance away.

So, while George's bird is not rare, the photo is.

The Whipbird's call is famous. The male makes the long drawn-out whistle, and the "whip-crack" sound. Then the female answers with two fast "chew, chew" sounds. In Robertson the local females do three of these fast calls at the end of the male's call.

If that is too confusing a description, then you can listen to the call of the Whipbird, if you have sound access on your computer. Go to the Lamington National Park website. Click on "Birds of Lamington" (under "special features" - on the right of the screen), and look under the list of "Ground Birds" for Eastern Whipbird. Click on that.

That next screen will show you a description, and a photo. Under "calls/sound" there are two "ear" symbols. Listen to the call. It may take a moment to download, if you are not on broadband (as I am not), but once downloaded, you can play it back smoothly.

Reality birdwatching, from your computer. I love it. Lamington National Park has an excellent website, set up for them by the computer geeks of the local University. Well done guys.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Butler's Swamp - one mystery solved

The hills of Kangaloon have been oozing water, like never before. Robertson has apparently had its wettest June since 1950 (as has Sydney, too).
The flow from
Butler's Swamp.
A few inches deep,
and one can step over it.

As a result of all that rain, Butler's Swamp was flowing water from its lowest point, following just a "top-up" of a mere 5 mm of rain the day before. This sedge-grass swamp, over a peat base, fills to capacity, when everything is saturated, and then, very, very occasionally, it will overflow its reservoir, and water flows out through the sedge grasses.
The photo shows that we are actually beyond the peat base of Butler's Swamp at this point, for in you enlarge the photo you can see quartz pebbles in the base of this "stream" - sure indication that we are over sandstone, not a peat base. But the area is wet enough from soakage through the soil, to support classic swamp plants.

When the overflow runs out of the shrubbery, it crosses across the black soil area which the SCA is using as an access track (beside Tourist Road).
You can tell by looking at the shallow depression in the track, that this is not a regular stream, just a brief "overflow", for otherwise the track would be having to jump over a small gully. But no, not at his point, beside the pipeline - there is just a shallow depression, which the contractors have spanned with an informal arch of the pipeline, supported by a couple of offcut pieces of pipe. The track is normally dry, and cars have been known to drive over where this "stream" is flowing - without there being any need for a "creek-crossing".
On Sunday, there was a tiny flow, a mere trickle of water, flowing out across these tracks, and down beside the road. It was this small flow of water which I noticed, and which I traced back to its source. Sure enough, Butler's Swamp was flowing.

From a botanical point of view, you can tell from the little low-growing Grevillea (the dark green plant through which the stream is flowing) that this is not a permanent waterway. This Grevillea is a typical plant of the dry Sydney Sandstone habitat. It is NOT a water plant. The Lomandra rushes (thin strappy-leafed plants) are plants of damp areas, but the Grevillea is definitely not, as any home gardener will attest - they hate wet feet.
So, this photo is taken on the margin of sandstone soil and wetter soil - hence both types of vegetation growing within a single camera frame.

Monday, June 25, 2007

The birth point of the Nepean River.

Fence knocked over
by flood
and silted over.
Regular readers will know that the Nepean River has been in flood, as a result of recent heavy rains in Robertson and district.

Here is what the flood did to the SCA's protective fence around their aeration tray, and the outlet point (in the river).

Fence partly upright
Although there has been only a small amount of rain (4 mm and 1.8 mm) recorded in Robertson, over the last two days, the hills are absolutely running with water. The dairy farms along Kirkland Road, in East Kangaloon are muddy, slippery and wet, and and the hills are leaking water. See photo of the same paddock, ten days ago. It was flowing here again, today, but not quite so much.

The floods knocked over the SCA's fence, and silted up around it.
Pipe outlet -
tip under water.

The outlet of the pipe which the SCA normally uses to pump water from the Aquifer is still under water - ten days after the main flood has passed. Click on image to enlarge, to see that the tip is under water. Sorry about the quality of the image. The camera got muddy.

Here is a photo from 26 January, for comparison.

Nepean River -
running fast,
but calm
today, after floods.
This is a nice image of the Nepean River, today.

I love this point, for it is exactly the point at which the river is transformed from a creek flowing out of basalt soil, and becomes the true Nepean River, running through sandstone. It will carve huge gorges in the sandstone rock, by the time it reaches Douglas Park, about 60 Km downstream.

That process starts right here, at this point.

This is the birth of the sometimes mighty Nepean River.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Helping hands.

Today Kim and Peter Martin, and Bernard Eddy, came over and gave me hand in the garden. Peter and Kim brought a load of delicious looking compost, which Peter spread over the front garden bed, where the Peonies are.

Kim did the fine weeding, and delicate pruning, while Peter regaled us with stories of his experience as a pruner, starting with the time he pruned an old, and really tall Lemon tree, by shaving off the side branches, up as far as he could reach. Seemingly he ended up with a very nicely trimmed Lollipop shaped Lemon Tree (with all the fruit completely out of reach). I can understand Kim's reaction, when she saw the result. In Peter's defence, it was a long time ago, and he claims that he has learnt a lot about pruning since then. It seemed to come down to a debate between whether the Lemon Tree episode was "a learning experience - for Peter", or whether he had shown, early on, his true nature as a pruner (one who ought never be given anything sharper than a nail file). Anyway, I decided that the Lemon Tree episode was a long time ago. And Peter's help was much appreciated today. He did a great job, but I did keep a close eye on his trimming activities, none-the-less.

On the other hand, Kim kept noticing interesting little plants around the garden, such as the tips of Bluebells popping up, and Cyclamen hederifolium, which are only just showing a few leaves at present. So, I figured she knows her plants pretty well. So I was happy to trust her judgement, while doing the weeding. (Having seen Kim's garden, I know she is an excellent gardener.)

Bernie and Peter did a lot of cutting of broken branches of wattle trees (owing to the recent wild weather). We also managed to remove a large Plumbago, which I had planted in the wrong place, several years ago, and which was beginning to overcrowd many other plants. I like that plant, but this one was definitely in the wrong place. Bernie claimed the "scalp", after Peter and I had had a go at digging it out, without quite managing it. The guys took a number of loads of branches, and shrub-prunings down into the bottom paddock, onto the bonfire pile, where it will be allowed to dry out, before being burn off, at some stage, when the weather is suitable.

Bernie assures me that Melba, the Welsh Mountain Pony, is a lovely little horse, with a sweet nature. Clearly Bernie understands something about horses, which I do not. The only time Melba is ever nice to me is if I bring her an apple.

This was a very generous act on everybody's part, and I really appreciate it. We had a lamb roast, for a late lunch, after a few hours of work, and everybody enjoyed the meal.

Friends like these are a special gift.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

The things one finds in the Forest

I have occasionally commented upon finding stolen (burnt out) cars in the bush. Half way down a track below the Power Lines, at Mt Murray Road, there is a full-size office safe, with the back panel cut out. Obviously it is empty. Clearly a product of a fully serious robbery, which was then dumped over the cliff. It was such a heavy object, it has rolled for hundreds of metres before stopping, against a large rock. It was miles from the nearest road.

Well, today I was walking in the Robertson Nature Reserve, with Greg Chapman. Just before we left the forest, I noticed something unusual, thrown behind a large tree. On close inspection, it turned out to be a brief case. It was half open, and documents were spilling out of it. A quick inspection revealed that it contained book-keeping records from the local Supermarket.

It seems that Heather and Neil's Supermarket had been broken into, last weekend. Obviously the thieves had dumped the briefcase, after finding that it only contained "useless papers". Useless to them - that is. I realised that Neil and Heather would want to get back their shop records, tax papers, etc which were in this briefcase.

After I had had a look at it, and worked out to whom it belonged, Greg told me that their shop had been broken into a few nights before (I did not know). I realised that I would have inadvertently smudged any fingerprints which might have been on the handle. (When I picked it up, I had no idea that there had been a robbery). So, that damage having been done (inadvertently), I decided to carry the briefcase back to the the Supermarket.

Greg and I went there, and when I showed Neil what we had found, he was thrilled. So much so that, having asked me if I "liked Scotch", he reached to the "top shelf" and offered me a bottle of Glenfiddich. Somewhat stunned, I graciously accepted his offer. Greg, who doesn't drink, accepted some Coke Zero.

I had occasion to go back to the Supermarket later in the day, and Neil told me that he had calculated that he would have had to spend a week, or more, trying to reconstruct the Shop's trading records, if I had not found them. No wonder he was pleased to see the "paperwork" turn up intact.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Trip to Canberra? So give the dog a bone.

Lena was one beneficiary of my guilty conscience, this evening. I had been forced to leave her at home today, while I went to Canberra.
Leon, Bernie, Gavan and Ray
Bernie and I lead a Delegation, to make our presentation to the Department of Environment and Water Resources. We went with Leon Hall, representing REPS, Jonathan Bell, representing the NSW Farmers Ass'n, Professor Gavan McDonell, and Consultant Hydrologist, Ray Evans. Jonathan had left before we took these photos.
Leon, DJW, Gavan and Ray
We have done our best to persuade the policy makers in the Department that the SCA's Kangaloon Borefield Proposal poses a risk to matters of National Ecological Significance. Much of the discussion was of a technical nature, to do with hydrology of the sandstone-based Aquifer at Kangaloon, and the connection between the sandstone and the basalt hills in the local area, particularly Mt Butler.
Vegetation in Butler's Swamp
5 February 2007
We also discussed the improbability that Butler's Swamp is dependent upon rainfall for its source of water, as the SCA has claimed. This issue is not rocket science. The SCA's claim is self-evident nonsense! How on earth can the SCA continue to claim that the vegetation of Butler's Swamp not only survived, but thrived, over a period of some 10 years of drought. How, you might ask, if this swamp is supposedly only supplied with water by rainfall. Use your own eyes, and tell me these plants are not vibrant, healthy plants. This was at the end of a 10 year drought, don't forget.

This photo was taken on 5 February, one week prior to the "significant rainfall event" of February, when 322 mm of rain fell in 36 hours.

Anyway, we will not know for a little while whether or not we have been successful in persuading the Department.
Lena with a
Rib Rack bone
Meanwhile Lena was a winner, in the evening - perhaps owing to my guilty conscience for leaving her stuck at home.

Mind you, she was well fed and watered before I left, and there was a heater on, very gently, in the bedroom, where she sleeps. So, I didn't feel too badly about her welfare. But she was very glad to see me arrive back home, as you can imagine.

Lena and big rib steak
Still, she was also lucky enough to find that, when I went to the Robbo Pub for dinner tonight, I ordered what turned out to be a huge Rib Rack. These beef ribs are roasted, and then individual "chops" are cut. I happened to get the "end piece" which was almost double the normal width. Far more than I could eat.

So, although I had intended to keep the spare meat till lunch tomorrow, I weakened, and let Lena enjoy a special treat. She was very happy to get stuck in, and stripped the bone bare. I will find out tomorrow if she buried the bone - she usually does. She came in with a dirty face, and has curled up at my toes, under the computer desk, being gently basked by the new radiant heater, which is gently scanning back and forth to warm her and my toes.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Aquifer flows down drain

Glenquarry Cut pipe outlet

Aquifer flows down drain

Robyn Murray
Southern Highlands News, Wednesday, 21 June 2007
The Sydney Catchment Authority has exacerbated flooding in the Nepean River by continuing to pump water from both the Kangaloon aquifer and the Shoalhaven River into the already overloaded river, the Save Water Alliance said yesterday.
Flood baffles at Pipe outlet.
Although flood warnings for the Nepean River near Menangle were still in force on Tuesday, the SCA continued to pump water from the Kangaloon aquifer trial bores into the headwaters of the Nepean River near Robertson and to divert water from Wingecarribee Reservoir via the Glenquarry Cut.
Nepean River at
Tourist Road Crossing.
Flood peak has passed, but
river downstream still flooding

SWA members Denis Wilson and Bernard Eddy said the continued pumping from the Kangaloon aquifer was in breach of the SCAs own protocols, which stated they would not pump if more than 100 mm of rain fell. "Worse, the Shoalhaven transfers are continuing to pour a great volume of water through the pipeline from the Glenquarry Cut into Doudle's Folly Creek," Mr. Wilson said.

Map of Nepean River system
down to Menangle Weir
Courtesy: Caroline Graham
"The ABC is carrying stories that the Nepean River is in flood, near Menangle, so clearly the entire Nepean River system is overloaded. "Why pour precious water, stolen water, Shoalhaven water, into an already over-full Nepean River system?"

"This water is not free. It costs money to pump it out of Tallawa Dam.

"It is also precious water - just ask the people of Goulburn what they think about wasting water like this.' (Level 5 restrictions appear to be still in force in Goulburn - DJW)

Mr. Wilson said the continued pumping was not only wasteful, but dangerous. "Over the last weekend. Robertson received approximately 260mm of rain (over 11 and a half inches)," he said. "To add water into these already flooded rivers was reckless, if not negligent. "Workers had to help clear farm bridges just downstream from this point, because drift wood was blocking the pipes underneath the low bridges, causing Doudle's Folly Creek to flood over the farm road, creating a dangerous situation.

Even today, they were clearing away branches from dead willow trees which were blocking the river.

SCA Pumping into a flooded river.

The story above was published by Robyn Murray in the Southern Highlands News of 20 June 07.
The placid Nepean River at
Douglas Park Bridge
30 March 2007.
Bridge Pier visible at right

Here is the background to the story and then a lovely denouement.
This story started on ABC 702 on Monday morning, when Sarah MacDonald interviewed Mr Ian Tanner, the Manager (Bulk Water) for the SCA. Mr Tanner was crowing about the huge amount of water that was flowing into the Warragamba Dam, and the other dams, from natural flows, and also the Shoalhaven Transfers, because the Tallowa Dam was full and overflowing. Bernard Eddy and I were speaking on the phone at the time and we both heard that conversation in the background.

Bernie rang off, and straight away rang Sarah, and was patched through just after the News, at 9:00am. He said, in an excited manner: "You ought get that &%*&% Tanner back on the line, and get him to explain why they are pumping vast quantities of water from the Shoalhaven River into an already flooded Nepean River." Something to that effect, anyway.

Bernie worked the phones that morning, and I got going with a press statement, which is pretty much what Robyn has published (above). What we did not know at the time that the story was being drafted was that there was an RTA drilling rig at Douglas Park bridges (the twin bridges on the way to Sydney which span a huge gorge on the Nepean River). That area is about 60 Km downstream from Doudle's Folly Creek and Glenquarry cut, (at Kangaloon, close to Robertson) where the published photo of the Shoalhaven Transfers at full flow was taken. But it is in the very same river system as the Douglas Park Bridge - over the Nepean River.
Twin bridges over Nepean River
at Douglas Park -
from causeway below.

The RTA are worried about the prospect of subsidence which might be caused by Longwall Mining, which is due to commence shortly in the vicinity of the bridge. So they commissioned geotechnical engineers to do a study, which involved taking core samples of the bedrock. Along came the flood, and the drilling rig got flooded, and then tilted over, as may be seen in the attached photo (below).

Meanwhile, Bernie was severely criticised by the Manager, Bulk Water for the SCA (Mr Ian Tanner) for spreading "ridiculous stories" about the SCA pumping extra water into a river which was already in flood. (Bernie was phoned by Mr Tanner, who somehow tracked down his Mobile Phone number. Was that just to make the point that he could do that?)

Mr. Tanner denied that the river was in flood, despite the fact that the Bureau of Meteorology website clearly had the Nepean River flood warning posted at the time of the phone call, and the ABC was still carrying regular warning bulletins on the radio. Unfortunately, the Flood Warning Bulletin is no longer available, but it certainly was up there as late as 11:45pm on 18 June 2007. The flooding had been going since Saturday morning 16 June 2007.
RTA drilling rig in flooded
Nepean River
Photo: Ms Robin Craig
The gem of this story is the photo (click image to enlarge it) made available by Ms Robin Craig, (typo corrected - DJW) who lives in the Nepean River area (Douglas Park or close-by). I understand that she took the photo from the top of the Douglas Park Bridge, looking down, hence the slightly unusual angle of perception. It is a wonderful photo. I understand that the RTA has since rescued the drilling rig, so, that photo could not be taken today. As photographers always say, never leave home without your camera. Well done - Robin.

I understand that Bernie could not resist the temptation to email a copy of the photo to Mr Tanner. Of course. That's Bernie for you!

The sleeper in this story is the issue of longwall mining and subsidence.

If the Douglas Park Bridges do move, can you imagine the outcry which will occur, if they have to be closed?

Apart from the Sydney Harbour Bridge, the Anzac Bridge, the Westgate Bridge in Melbourne, and the bridge over the Hawkesbury, on the road to Newcastle, this bridge is probably the next most strategic and economically important bridge in Australia (and it might outrank the Hawkesbury Bridge). It is a key bridge in a very strategic position, on the Hume Highway, connecting Sydney with all points south - Southern Highlands, Goulburn and Canberra, and ultimately, Melbourne. It carries a vast amount of commercial and industrial traffic, each and every day.

Do you remember going through Bargo and Picton and up and over the Razorback, in the 60s? Well folks, that is a possibility once again, if Longwall mining is allowed to go ahead. Can you imagine the slow lumbering lines of B-Doubles carrying the huge amount of freight which goes by road, today?

And don't forget that the Inquiry into the Southern Coalfields is specifically precluded from investigating buildings and built structures. So this issue is outside their terms of reference.
I feel as if I am writing a new chapter from Alice in Wonderland.

Now you know why I say this should be filed away under "I told you so". Keep it for future reference.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Owen's forest and waterfall

Down in the steep valley, beside Upper Fountaindale Road there is a little creek which flows permanently.

After rain it makes a very significant flow, complete with several small cascades. For artistic licence, let us call them waterfalls.

The rainforest in this deep gorge has wonderful large vines (lianas), which are covered with mosses, lichens and in many cases, fungi as well.

The waterfalls are over head-height, but they are not great leaps of water, of course. Still the sound of running water, the spray, the light, is all that one would want in your own back yard.

Blessed is he with this waterfall to call his own.
(As usual, click on the images, for a better look.)

Of course, this waterfall and forest comes with its own Forest Sprite, in a yellow rain jacket and trousers. You would be disappointed, if that was not the case, would you not?
Wikipedia assures me that I ought not refer to this character as a Leprechaun, as that would risk being an offensive stereotype. Perish the thought.
I am grateful to this cheery character for permission to visit his waterfalls, and forest.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Shoalhaven Transfers via Glenquarry Cut

In case anyone thought I was kidding about the Shoalhaven Transfers running during a time of flooding in the Nepean River, the photos below, of the water flowing out from the Glenquarry Cut, were taken by my assistant today - Monday, 18 June 2007.

Glenquarry Cut and
Wingecarribee Reservoir
Firstly, to back-track, here is the "Glenquarry Cut" - a wonderfully simple branch, from the side of the Wingecarribee Reservoir, cut through a shallow ridge, and dropping water into the valley of the Glenquarry Creek, then it runs into Doudle's Folly Creek, and then into the Upper Nepean River.

Glenquarry Cut and
discharge control
So this simple excavation cuts through an actual "divide" between the Wingecarribee and Wollondilly River catchment, and the Nepean Catchment.
Water is released from below this wall, into a pipeline, which runs about 1.5 Km, down to just below Tourist Road, where it empties into Glenquarry Creek.

The discharge point
into Doudle's Folly Creek
This is where a huge amount of water bursts out from the tunnel from the Glenquarry Cut. My assistant reported that the roar of the sound was quite amazing.

Apparently 600 Megalitres per day is discharged through here when the Shoalhaven Transfers are running.

Tunnel mouth
(Click to enlarge)
The mouth of the pipeline comes out as a kind of tunnel, and you can see the force with which the water is hitting a baffle behind the "gate", and splashing over.
On the left, you can see the natural creek - Glenquarry Creek, (or "Menzies Creek" as the locals apparently know it). Today, the water levels had lowered to a reasonably mild flow. Over the weekend, it was roaring through here.

Glenquarry Creek
gently flows along,
and suddenly is joined by
the mad rush of
the Shoalhaven Transfer waters.

However, while this part of the Nepean River system was quiet today, the Nepean River was still subject tonight, (at 6:00pm) to a flood warning at Menangle Bridge, approximately 60 Km down stream.

The question is: How irresponsible is it of the SCA to empty 600 Megalitres per day of water into a flooded river system?

The Bulk Water Manager for the SCA, Mr Ian Tanner, today told Bernard Eddy, of the Save Water Alliance that the flood warning for the Nepean had been lifted.

  • Firstly, that is incorrect. The warning is still in place. (as at 11:45 pm 18 June 2006)
  • Secondly, that warning was in place all over the weekend when these rivers were running at a full flood peak. To add water into these already flooded rivers was reckless, if not negligent. Workers had to help clear farm bridges, just down stream from this point, because driftwood was blocking the pipes underneath the low bridges/fords, causing Doudle's Folly Creek to flood over the farm road, creating a dangerous situation. Even today, they were still hauling away branches of dead willow trees, etc.
I can only conclude that a lack of common sense is not compensated for by an impressive job title.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

SCA wasting precious water

Oxygenation process:
Aquifer water
being pumped out.
What on earth is the SCA thinking?
Today, the Nepean River is in flood. Yet the SCA's contractors, TWS, are pumping precious water from the Kangaloon Aquifer into a river which is already in flood - contrary to the SCA's own protocols.
Worse, the Shoalhaven Transfers are continuing to pour a great volume of water through the pipeline from the Glenquarry Cut into Doudle's Folly Creek.

Flood Debris in Nepean River
above Tourist Road

From the bridge on TOurist Road, you can see that the Nepean River was higher yesterday, at the height of the rains. Flood debris is apparent.

River Flow meter
just poking out of water
Even the lock on the River Flow Meter is draped with grass, indicating it was clearly under water in recent times.

Shoalhaven Transfer water
entering Nepean River System
Meanwhile the ABC is carrying stories that the Nepean River is in flood, near Menangle, so clearly the entire Nepean River system is overloaded.
Why pour precious water, stolen water, Shoalhaven water, into an already over-full Nepean River system?

This water is not free. It costs money to pump it out of Tallawa Dam. It is also precious water - water than cannot be wasted.
Just ask the people of Goulburn what they think of this waste of precious water.
But to dump Shoalhaven River water into a flooded Nepean River is not only wasteful, it is also potentially dangerous to people living around the Lower Nepean River.
Deliberately raising the level of a River officially in flood is irresponsible, and dangerous.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Rain - enough to drown a few rats

Blocked Gutter
overflowing, causing

water to flow into
CTC driveway

We had a mini-flood at the CTC@Robertson today. Not a real flood like the Hunter River floods, but more water than we wanted.

The CTC is the local "Technology Centre" where I and a bunch of other local people volunteer.

Water in driveway
coming from road
I cannot say how much rain we got today, as the Bureau's reporting system is on the blink (there is no "dot" on the map for Robertson, not today anyway.) I have reported this same fault previously, but today, both the reporting system for both the Caalong St and "Pie Shop" monitoring stations have failed. The Bureau have acknowledged that there is a problem, and have promised to remedy the situation, as the "Pie Shop" meter is a "Flood Alert" station, which is fair enough, given its position beside the Macquarie Rivulet. Water in that stream runs straight over several waterfalls, down Macquarie Pass, and can cause floods in Albion Park.
As a matter of record, Robertson received 104 mm of rain up till 9:00am today. We had 96mm reported for the previous 24 hours, so that is 200mm in total. (Scroll down the Rainfall charts, till you get to the "Lower Shoalhaven" table). Remember that the Bureau's system is not reporting anything for either local station today, and as you can see from these photos it was indeed raining today. These photos were taken between 10:00 am and 11:45 am. When I left, there was water across the road near the School, and down near the railway line crossing on the Illawarra Highway.
I conclude that more rain has fallen today than in either of the previous two days (when the main street of Robbo did not flood). If my estimate is correct, we will have exceeded our February "rainfall event".

This is me, trying to clean up the mud from the back entranceway path. Pretty futile, really, as more rain was falling. Still, I did manage to clear a few blockages, to allow the water to escape more quickly, thus minimising the "backing up" of water.
Thanks to Paula for taking the photo.

I have removed small shrubs which were blocking water from flowing away from the concrete apron for the disabled parking spot.

I will put in a path through the gap in the mini-hedge there, so that it looks OK. But not today! Oh, by the way, I was the "Drowned Rat" in the title, but no doubt there were a few others like me, in Robbo today.