Christmas Bells

Christmas Bells
Christmas Bells - Blandfordia nobilis

Friday, October 31, 2008

Grevillea rivularis - Carrington Falls Grevillea

There is a particular local Grevillea, named the Carrington Falls Grevillea, from its only known locality in the wild. This is a wonderful waterfall, close to Robertson, on the Sandstone Plateau overlooking the Upper Kangaroo Valley. Because it grows only within a single valley habitat, it is hardly surprising that it is classed as an Endangered Species on both Federal and State listings.

In common parlance, this plant is in the general group known as "Toothbrush Grevilleas", because of the shape of the flower trusses.
Fresh flower head
That shot shows a fresh group of flowers opening - they open from the lowest end (closest to the main plant) first. The flowers at the left are just opening. Those at the right are freshly opened, with pollen obvious on the tips of the stigmas. These are the "pollen presenters" which I discussed a few weeks ago, when showing you the parts of a Waratah flower.

mature flower head
pollinated flowers starting to develop swollen ovaries,
which become "seed capsules" eventually.
Note the distinctive hairiness of the ovaries, and the stripes developing.
Now we can look at the individual flower - to analyse its structure.

You can see the green floral tube (perianth), with the swollen knob on the end, where the anthers are located. The long thin structure is the "style" (longer than in a Waratah) which is still tucked into the end of the Perianth. Eventually it will open out nearly straight, protruding from the flower, to help in pollination by birds and insects.
Pollen presenter (with fresh pollen dusting on it)
This shows the anthers which are housed within the top of the "perianth", but once the pollen presenter straightens out, you can see that it is actually located at the base of the total flower. There are four of these organs insuide the perianth tip, and they were touching the "pollen presenter, in the curled up position (two images above).
Two sets of paired flowers, the top one mature, and the lower one, having been pollinated, is starting to develop seeds, inside the hairy tufted ovaries. You can see where the ovary is located (deep withing the flower), in this comparison shot. What is less obvious is that the pollen grains (from another flower) must grow (literally) down the full length of a tube within the style (no longer called a pollen presenter, once it starts to function as the female organ). We tend not to think of pollen as a living organism. But when you see the journey the "germ" must make, (the pollen does not fall down an empty tube), you realise it must literally grow down the full length of the style, to reach the ovaries, within that bulbous bit at the base of the style. Quite a remarkable journey, really.
Two more comments to make. I mentioned when discussing Waratah flowers, that the botanists class them with the Grevilleas, because of the "paired flowers". This is what I mean. Within the composite flower head (truss of flowers), the flowers are arranged in pairs.
Finally, this is another species - Grevillea arenaria, and I have included it, for it shows all aspects of the discussion I have just presented, within a single image. Somehow, its parts are more conveniently arranged. The perianth segments do not seem to twist around as much as Waratahs or Grevillea rivularis do - so you can clearly see the pollen presenter, (style and stigma, with its dusting of fresh pollen) and the anthers neatly showing underneath the flower. That species has a large swollen base of the flower, which is where the ovary is located.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Kell's Plovers (Lapwings)

I confess to being an unreconstructed birdwatcher from the 1960s, when it comes to this bird. To me it will always be a "Spur-winged Plover" (Vanellus miles).

These wonderful photos were sent to me by an email colleague of mine in SE Queensland. His name is Kell, and he took these photos near the Hinze Dam (at Gilston).

Since the 1960s, this bird has had two name changes. Firstly it was merged with its northern cousin the Masked Plover. Then both got re-named to join their Northern Hemisphere cousins, the Lapwings. So it is now the "Masked Lapwing".
Nest on the ground with four eggs.

Egg in Kell's hand.
Most ground-nesting birds have large eggs.
"Domestic Chickens" employ this same system.
This is to allow the chick to hatch at a precocious stage of development.
These chicks are fully feathered and ready to run, within hours of hatching.
By contrast, most perching birds are naked and defenceless when they hatch.
I like to think that names ought be given to birds according to their most distinctive characteristics, rather than following "priority" or "precedence" - the use of the "first accurate name".

In this case, I like the idea of naming the bird according to that feature which most clearly distinguishes this bird from others. Sure it does have a "mask" - but so do many other birds, such as Muscovy Ducks, and Swamp Hens.
But this bird has evolved in such a way that the tiny bones which all birds have in their wings which are equivalent to our "thumbs" have developed as spurs which protrude prominently through their feathers, to become attack weapons. And that is a unique attribute. And the birds behaviour is distinctive, because of this feature.

Anyone who has ever seen these birds nesting, and tried to approach them (and we all did, as school children on parks and ovals, surely?) will recall that these birds use their spurs to terrify intruders. Many birds will attack intruders. Magpies and Currawongs do that, but they use their beaks. Falcons will dive bomb you, but with their talons out to strike you. These Plovers attack intruders, with their wings held in such away as to try and strike with the spurs.
Wings held open, revealing the prominent spurs.

Of course, it is a defence strategy - to protect the eggs and chicks. It is not a random act of violence - far from it.

Click on image to enlarge it.
Chicks beaks labelled A, B, and C for ease of sorting out where they are. D is an opened egg - which one of these chicks had just crawled out of. E is an egg as yet unopened.

Kell told me that these birds know him well. He said:
"They have been nesting here for about four years. When I drive by them in a small tractor they stay put. ( 3 foot away ) But if I approach them on foot, they get a bit agro but don’t attack me."

Chick at about 10 minutes after hatching.
Kell continues: "They lay one egg each day for four days. But when they hatch they all hatch in 8 hours. And by 3 pm that day they are gone. I do see them through the next 2 weeks -
but never in the same spot on 28 acres."

Note the Mask is already present - in developmental stage.
The Egg Tooth is clearly visible on the tip of the beak.
Young birds use this calcareous tip to break through the egg - from the inside.
The Egg Tooth drops off the beak, after a few weeks.
Lovely photos Kell. Thank you very much for sharing them.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Peonies and Clematis open today

Today, Red Charm, the most spectacular Herbaceous Peony I grow has opened for the first time this year. Here it is seen growing in the paddock.

This is the same flower, seen as a cut flower, sitting on a window ledge - looking through the plant to the brighter light outside. It is quite extraordinary.

This lovely Blue Clematis has just opened. This plant is growing in a wild section of my garden, underneath a lovely creamy rose.

Here are two images of Coral Charm. In the Australian light this plant is so bright it is very hard to portray properly in images.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Leo's "Fall 2008" images - from Nova Scotia.

As it is "Fall" in Canada (and Spring here) I like to exchange images with my friend Leo. I asked him for some Autumn colour images, anticipating some picture postcard images of red (or yellow) Maples, etc. What I got were the following images of a humble herb, almost a weed in Leo's mind - Potentilla repens.

Potentillas are in the Rosaceae. They are related to, and have leaves like strawberries, but have dry fruit, not succulent berries. They are also closely related to other garden plants and alpines, such as Geum. They do not have thorns, or fleshy "heps" like Roses.

Anyway, in response to my request, Leo sent me a few images, of which I have chosen these. Leo said:

"I didn't get any postcard images this fall (or year, really) or I would have sent them to you." (DJW says: To make up for it, I have republished one of Leo's images from last year).

"Strange thing, I did not notice the frost dots (presumably related to hairs or some such on the leaf) at the time, only on the photos after downloading to the puter; I only saw the frost edging in "real life". Then again I never got close enough to a leaf to make it fill my vision the way it does on the monitor."

Clearly, from his comments about what he did not notice about the leaves, until he had blown them up on the 'puter, Leo does not get "down and dirty" as I often do, photographing Ground Orchids, while lying on my belly. I often find that I have photographed a tiny flower spider inside an Orchid, but was totally oblivious of it, until I blew up the image on screen. That's OK - that's normal. Leo gets "down and dirty" by occasionally crashing his Mountain Bike, when he tries crossing a makeshift log bridge over a creek, as happened recently, when riding through the forests in his beloved Nova Scotia. But he is recovering now.

Nice photos Leo. This is my personal favourite.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Rivers SOS planning meeting at Ourimbah

A group of dedicated anti-coal mining and water conservation campaigners met at Ourimbah yesterday.

Click on that image to enlarge it (you might need to scroll the image across the screen to see all the speakers.
David Harris MLA, Caroline Graham, Dave Burgess (from the TEC), Bev Smiles, Dr Ian Wright, Lee Rhiannon MLC, Col Maybury, Dr Steve Robinson, Bernard Eddy, Mike Campbell OAM.
The choice of venue was intended as a compromise to assist people from the Hunter and further afield to attend.

Anyway, we had some people from the Mudgee area, the Hunter (several different locations) and Gloucester, and Stroud, and the Wyong are, as well as Sydney, and the Southern Catchment and Southern Highlands. Mostly we were a typical group of environmental volunteer campaigners, but there were some full-time (professional) campaigners and several politicians and staffers.

There were several speakers who had not addressed the Rivers SOS group as a whole, before, so I have focussed this report on those speakers.

Firstly I would like to mention Dr Ian Wright. Ian is an academic, not an environmental campaigner, but he is trying to attract attention to the problems caused by coal mines leaking out acid leachate into the Grose River. Ian is a seriously well informed researcher, who deserves all the support he can get.

Col Maybury from Kurri Kurri (in the Hunter) has been working for years to actually neutralise acid in creeks which have been damaged by old coal mines leaking highly acid water into creeks and rivers in his area. Last December, his local Landcare group was prevented from continuing this voluntary activity - a practical effort to overcome environmental problems. Strangely, the plight of the Kurri Kurri Landcare Group was not taken up as a campaign issue following yesterday's meeting. Personally I think that there is scope for some lobbying on behalf of Col's group. I do not see why they ought have been stopped by a Departmental official who apparently has not even inspected the work they were doing. At the very least, surely some questions ought be asked in Parliament, as to why that action was taken?

Mike Cambell, from the Australian Coal Alliance (an anti-coal group, in case you were wondering), recounted some of their history in opposing both gas and coal mining in the Wyong catchment area.

They have had some success, and indeed their local MP, David Harris MLA came along to the meeting, and expressed his concern about the prospect of mining occurring under the local water catchment. Pretty amazing, really, for an endorsed Labor member. Good on him.

After lunch, Dr Steve Robinson from Gloucester, presented a paper on the health impacts of coal mining, and especially dust contamination of air (particularly near schools) and of drinking water. Again, while the audience was sympathetic to Steve's concerns, no formal strategy was endorsed by the meeting, to raise the profile of this issue. Perhaps I had a misunderstanding of the purpose of the meeting.

Then Bernard Eddy, my colleague from the Save Water Alliance, spoke to the meeting.

Bernie had taken notes of what the various speakers had said, and quoted back to them examples of them all bemoaning the fact that, despite much hard work on their part, they all felt they were not having the right impact for their work.

"Australia, the driest inhabited continent, is running out of water fast and coal mining is the worst offender."
"It is obvious that our situation in the Southern Catchment is just part of a State-wide picture, as your presence here to day indicates. And worse things are happening in Queensland, and Western Australia and South Australia. And then there is the entire Murray Darling Basin debacle. And then also, there is the abomination of the bottled water industry. A national challenge requires a national response."

At this point, Bernie announced the formation of the Australian Water Network, to act as a national platform for water issues.

We hope to be able to work with the various groups represented at this meeting, and already Bernie has been in contact with many other groups in the Murray Darling, (based in Adelaide) and also people in Melbourne.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Australian Water Network to be announced

Tomorrow the Rivers SOS people will be convening a meeting of coal activists at Ourimbah, near Wyong.
Bernie and I came up on the train today, to Sydney, and we are staying with Kim and Peter tonight. Tomorrow Bernie and Kim and I will travel to Ourimbah (past Gosford, south of Wyong) for this day-long conference.
Bernie will announce the formation of the Australian Water Network.

Mining companies meet little resistance polluting and destroying groundwater sources on a massive scale in every state and territory.
There is a global water crisis. Australia has just suffered the worst drought on record.
Australia has the lowest average rainfall of any inhabited continent on earth. We export huge amounts of virtual water.
The Murray Darling Basin is a near terminal basket case.
Australia is generally acknowledged as the country most prone to the effects of climate change.
Climate Change will result in lower average rainfall in our nation’s most productive areas – perhaps the most devastating aspect of Climate Change, but the least acknowledged aspect – so far.
Australians use more water per capita than any other country.
Poor administration and short-sighted state and federal government decisions have wreaked havoc on water resources for over a century.
Trans-national, un-regulated bottled water companies are free to extract groundwater as they please.
Both major parties advocate privatisation and water trading, expecting self-regulation by investment banks and trans-national corporations.
The Australian media has gone missing in action, with a handful of brave exceptions.

Water is a commons, a public trust, and a human right.

The AWN will provide an urgently needed platform for the large number of environment groups dealing with water issues around Australia. Water is a national problem: we must have a national platform

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Tasmanians - please keep your weather at home

Beloved Taswegians, please keep your awful weather to yourselves.

We do not want it here, in middle NSW (or for any Tolkeinists, should that be "Middle Earth" or "The Shire"?)

Thanks to the magic of the Bureau of Meteorology's website, you can see there is a high pressure system parked just west of Tasmania, with a low out in the Tasman Sea - and that gives direct northerly winds between both systems. That chart is from two days ago (5 am, 22/10/08)

We here in Robertson have shivered for the last 3 days. By chance (not really) I awoke shivering in my bed. I was really cold. I happened to glance at my handy indoor/outdoor thermometer (in the corner of my bedroom) just to see what was going on. It was showing 3 degrees Celsius outside. It gave me a generous reading of 5 degrees inside. That is to be expected in July, but not mid October. Plus it has been "windy as...." - by then a howling gale had arrived.

Our cousins in Katoomba got a dusting of snow. Better them than me, I guess, but then, they are much higher than we are. We are at 750 metres (2460 feet) above sea level - they are about 1000 metres (3280 feet). However, there is always a "happy snap" to take if it does snow. (Linked image - horses at play in Mt Lambie area (near Lithgow) - Nick Moir - SMH) We didn't get that opportunity. But having experienced snow here for 4 days once, I am not all that keen to repeat that exercise.

The Sydney Morning Herald reported it in this fashion:

"A low pressure system over the Tasman sea had the effect of sucking up frigid air from Australia's south, delivering a record breaking cold snap and even snow to highland areas across NSW.

"Bureau of Meteorology senior forecaster Jake Phillips said it was the coldest two days, back to back, in an October since 1973. With the cold temperatures came blustery winds and intermittent showers."

By one of those ironies of Google-based advertising on Internet websites, the SMH story about Sydney's "Tasmanian-style" weather, they carried this advertisement - right next to the lead paragraph.

These photos taken late on Tuesday afternoon (21 October) - (just as the weather arrived) show the fog closing in, from out of Kangaroo Valley (south from my house).

To get a better idea of the contrast from the normal late afternoon view - click on this link.

4:40 pm
Power stanchion outlined against the wave of fog rolling up the valley.
Power stanchion silhouette barely visible
4:43:34pm (24 seconds later)
What power stanchion?
The fog really did roll in as quickly as these timed photographs show:- the power stanchion which is a mere 300 metres away, disappeared from sight- within in 3 minutes. In particular a thick wave of fog blocked it out completely in the last 24 seconds between those last two frames (above). Thank heavens for the mysterious data stored by digital cameras, right down to the second in which the image is taken.

An hour later, all I could see was the trees at 50 metres distance - all else had disappeared.
After the fog rolled in, the evening was followed by a severe weather front, accompanied by strong winds, and rain. Robertson topped the State (again) with 23 mm of rain overnight that night.

To my beloved fellow Tasmanian Bloggers - if that's your idea of weather - please keep it to yourselves. (Nothing personal Mosura, et al - please forgive a little "literary licence" being exercised. With weather like this - we have to blame somebody.)

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Waratah flowers - details

The Waratah flower is actually a complicated structure of paired flowers, joined into a head, which is classed as a "terminal conflorescence" (according to the Botanists). This means, as we can all see, that there is a large flower structure (composed of many individual flowers), at the end of a branch. There is a circle of bracts (modified leaves) which served to protect the flowers as they developed (follow this link to see a photo of the bracts curled up around the flower). The bracts also make the entire flower head more prominent, visually.

What these photos do not show is the bit about the flowers being held "in pairs". That is a botanical distinction which indicates (to botanists) that these flowers are related to members of the Grevillea genus. I shall show some Grevillea flowers in a few days, where that point will be more evident.

Today I wish to concentrate on the intricate flower structure which Waratahs have developed, and discuss the implications for the pollination process of Waratahs.

Where to start? Well, we know that Waratahs are attractive to birds and to bees. That is because they produce copious amounts of nectar. Their red colour also helps make them attractive to birds (for birds "see" red colours very clearly - because of their special optic nerves). In Australia, a whole tribe of birds has evolved along with these Australian members of the Proteaceae group of plants. These plants which are similarly shaped, (nearly all tubular flowers, with nectar). And so there is a mutual dependance arrangement going on, between the Honeyeater tribe of birds (from tiny Spinebills to large Wattlebirds) and this group of related plants. Gardeners and Birdwatchers know this, for they are always talking about planting out "bird-attracting" gardens.

How does it work? This shot shows three flowers from closed bud stage (lowest) to open, and then fully open (top). What it does not show is the "nectary" which is a tiny gland deep within the base of the flower. However, when you look closely at a waratah flower, when it is freshly opened (usually just the first few rows of flowers at the base) you will see tiny gleaming droplets of nectar, inside the curled parts of the opened flower. In some cases, the nectar will leak out, and collect on the red bracts at the base of the flower. In which case, expect ants to be attracted to these flowers.

As the individual flower matures, the style (the long pointed part of the flower) straightens out, and emerges backwards from a longitudinal split in the tubular part flower (which is known as the "perianth"). Then the perianth lobes curl arond on themselves, and shrink back down towards the base of the flower.

From the point of view of pollination, the trick is that the anthers in these flowers are held deep withing the tube (the perianth) and do not protrude at all. That means that unlike many familiar garden plants which present masses of pollen (on long anthers), which makes their pollen readily available to insects, the Waratah and other related plants, use what is known as a "pollen presenter". This is the most remarkable part of their trick, for the "pollen presenter" is in fact the female organ of the flower - the "stigma". But for the first few days after the flower opens, the stigma is not mature (as a female organ) and instead acts to carry the pollen which has been stuck onto it when it was curled up inside the (previously unopened) flower. In the image above, you can see there are four dark dots inside the curled perianth segment. Those are the male anthers, and while the flower was still unopened, and the style was still curled up inside the tube, the stigma (the pad on the inside edge of the style) was in a position to touch the anthers. So, the stigma collects the pollen from the anthers, and as it opens out, it takes the pollen with it.

In the next image, you can clearly see the dark brown coloured pollen on the stigma - the inside of the point of the style (curved rod).

The next stage is less visible. The pollen dries up, and then the face of the stigma (the "inside face" of the curled style then become mature as its female stage, and becomes sticky, ready to receive any pollen from another Waratah flower which might be brushed onto it by a passing Honeyeater, or bee.

The curved shape of these flowers is important, for Honeyeaters have long thin, curved beaks which they use to poke inside the tubular flowers of the Waratah, in search of the reward of some nectar. As they do so, they touch the pollen presenter, and receive a dusting of pollen on top of their forehead (or just around the beak). The bird then goes off to another flower. And if that flower is at the slightly later stage of development, when its female stigma is now mature (sticky), it till be able to receive pollen dusted onto it by the bird's feathers on its forehead.

You will often notice a Honeyeater (of some description) sitting on top of a Waratah flower. As it reaches down toward the base of the flower, to get the nectar, its head will come down from above the flower, making a perfect match between its forehead and the position of the stigma. That is why Waratah flowers are shaped they way they are - to suit the pollinators which have evolved with them.

I noticed today that my blogging colleague who writes "A Snail's Eye View" has written a report on pollination structures in Western Australian Banksias, which are related plants, despite some apparent differences. Their internal flower structure is very similar, and hence the pollination process is nearly identical, except that they rely more on insects, and tiny "Honey Possums" for pollination. Banksias develop a woody cone after pollination, whereas Waratahs develop a pod. Apart from that the pollination system is very similar indeed. You can also clearly see on Snail's Blog that Banksia flowers are also held in "pairs", even though the overall structure is also a "conflorescence" (as is the Waratah head).

In an example of "parallel evolution" many red tubular flowers in Central and South America are pollinated by Hummingbirds, which are not particularly closely relate to our Honeyeaters, but which have adapted to feed on long tubular red flowers. As they do so, Hummingbirds receive dobs of pollen on their foreheads, from the plants, which they then take on to other plants. Sound familiar?

In my opinion, this is just an illustration of the fact that plants have shaped the world to suit their interests.

And we like to kid ourselves that we are the "masters of the universe"?

Monday, October 20, 2008

Irish Dancers and "Mr Fibby"

Yesterday, the last day of the Springtime in Robertson program, saw the Highs and Lows of the Festival program coincide.

Firstly, it must be said that there was some "ambiguity" (to say the least) about the way in which this event was advertised.
What we had was a local Irish Dance School giving a performance. OK. As a parent myself, I understand that kids are cute (sometimes) and that it is important to encourage them (always).
But, why not tell people that instead of a program of Irish and Gypsy dance music, we were going to have a display of Irish Dance - by young girls (some of them barely beginners). It is always fair enough to have a display for the parents, grandparents and persons interested in the arcane art of Irish Dance.
But let us not mix young Irish Dance class performers with an adult-style "Viennese Cabaret performance". When the girls had finished their routines, the Irish Dance troupe left, as did many of the parents and supporters (understandably). That left a mostly empty hall. That is very discouraging to other performers.
After the girls left, a trio called the "Pilgrim Band" came on. Nice people, no doubt. And they could play their instruments. But their repertoire was boring, monotonous and soporific.
Someone (who shall remain nameless) commented to me afterwards that they would have been well received at a Retirement Village. I agree - except my father, who is in a retirement village, probably would have pressed the "panic bell" around his neck and demanded that an attendant wheel him out of the room.
These people were supported by the Australian Irish Welfare Bureau (Illawarra Branch). No doubt, as an organisation they do good deeds, for their clients. But there the story must end.
These were two and a half hours of my life which I will never get back.

When we got inside the hall, (having paid our $20) - we were presented with a printed program, setting out who and what we were going to see - so the organisers knew in advance, exactly who and what were scheduled. So why was the publicity so wildly misleading?
"IRISH AFTERNOON starting at 1.30pm – School of Arts Hall
Enjoy the uplifting Irish Dance, Folk and Gypsy music for $20.
It doesn’t get any better than this!"


Anyway, having vented my spleen, I will show some of the pictures of the little Irish dancers. This group are Celeste, Penny, Matilda and Ramona. Cute as buttons, all of them.
Their performance was touching in the extreme, especially when one of the little ones spotted her Mum in the audience, and gave Christine a little wave - "Hi Mum". That was a genuinely charming (and disarming) moment.This next dancer's costume was described by the Irish Dance instructor as an example of the American influence in the modern world of Irish Dance. I can see what she means. Obviously there is some tension within the ruling elite of Irish Dancing, as to whether or not to remain strictly traditional. This next young lady demonstrated great proficiency in the leaping style which seems to be a feature of Irish Dancing.She was very good, as were several others in the troupe. Here is the full troupe, taking a final and well deserved bow.I was intrigued to witness several of the youngsters (Ramona and Matilda) taking a peak - from the dressing room (past the shoulder of their instructor) at the older girls performing a complicated routine. This innocent innocent gesture at least shows me that they were genuinely interested in the performance. Good for them.I feel that at least some of the girls in this dance school have a bright future in Irish Dancing, if they choose to pursue this challenging discipline.


And then, sometime after 4:00pm, along came Mr Fibby.This amazing group were the most accomplished musicians, with the most imaginative stage show it has been my pleasure to witness in a very long time. According to a somewhat dubious biography, they are "Borracio" - on Cello, "Seraphina" - on Violin, and "Zavi"- on guitar. The artist known as "Not Important" is billed as providing the vocals. In fact his stage presence, even when silent, is very powerful.

Their own "blurb" shows their literary style and humour (which owes something to "Borat"):

"Mr. Fibby are to engulf you in a howling dervish of despair. With them you shall wander through faux fairy tales most lamentable, past monstrous trees, men once dead, jealous lovers, lost gypsies, shattered hearts and a moon, as red as blood. The musicians shall pluck at your heart, as well as their instruments, while a lone man (from where? from when?) spins tales as delicate, and as deadly, as a spider’s web."

"Three young, up and coming acoustic musicians have joined forces with an established playwright and story teller to form a unique group - Mr. Fibby."

"These innovative Canberrans collaborate to perform a highly skilled, endearing and frequently comical ‘manouche’ style show which has already proven to delight and enthrall audiences."

"Mr. Fibby are come to you from a place that you do not know.
There is to be laughter, there is to be tears."

Indeed, yesterday, in Robertson, there was much laughter, but we stopped short of tears (but only just).

The foot of the Artist known as "Not Important" - a comic/tragic genius.

This performance was the highlight of the Springtime in Robertson program for me.

But I can still barely forgive the organisers for such an ill-judged combination of events (on a single bill).

  1. Mr Fibby was done a great injustice by being linked with the most boring presentation of Irish music I have ever heard. Besides, there was nothing even remotely "Irish" about Mr Fibby's performance, so the headline billing was wildly inaccurate.
  2. As for the group of schoolgirls performing their Irish Dancing routines, such performances have their place - in front of their doting parents, friends and relatives. The same might be said of School Concerts, and performances at School Speech Nights, or indeed Swimming Carnivals. I have no problem with parents attending such performances, for they know who they are supporting, and why.
  3. It was inappropriate to advertise the Irish Dancers performance as part of a supposedly "Uplifting Irish, folk and Gypsy Music" event. It was no such thing.
  4. Worse, the Pilgrim Band was a totally inappropropriate choice as a preliminary act for a group of talented, and highly imaginative musicians and actors. As a professional group of performers, Mr Fibby has every right to feel that they were disrespected (to use the modern jargon - they were "dissed") by the organisers of the Springtime in Robertson program.
  5. I also feel it is fair to say that some of the audience - parents and young children - were there under an equally false impression of what they were about to see and hear (as I was). I was not offended, but some of them obviously were.
  6. Mr Fibby's language rating and use of "adult concepts" made them an inappropriate Act to stage in Robertson, on a Sunday afternoon, after a childrens dance performance, at the local School of Arts. It was a "Cabaret" performance - and even the briefest of research into their routine ought have brought that to attention.

Don't get me wrong - the people who did not walk out (including myself) - loved Mr Fibby's performance.

But many of the audience would have every right to feel that the choice of program was inappropriate.


If only Mr Fibby had been billed for the Saturday night - the party could have kicked on for hours, and a great atmosphere, suitable to the content of their performance, could have been engendered. It could have been a legendary performance - as it was indeed fit to be.

And, as a Cabaret performance, appropriately advertised, it would most likely have packed the Hall, which might have helped with the other unspoken problem with the Springtime in Robertson program.