Christmas Bells

Christmas Bells
Christmas Bells - Blandfordia nobilis

Monday, June 29, 2009

ABC Discussion deader than the Murray Darling

I didn't think it possible, but tonight we found something closer to death than the Murray- Darling River system. And that is the intellectual prowess and broadcasting technique of the ABC's "Australia Talks" host Paul Barclay.

The Program started with Rob Freeman, Chairman of the Murray-Darling Basin Authority. Paul kept referring to this body as a new and first-ever single Authority for the Murray-Darling. Had Paul never heard of the Murray-Darling Basin Commission? It was designed to do the same job as the mob Rob Freeman is heading, except that the previous group was headed by former National Farmer's Federation leader Dr. Wendy Craik. See, its all about politics, isn't it?
But how could Paul Barclay be so poorly briefed?

Paul, a personable chappie, had a nice chat with Professor Mike Young, a member of the now-discredited "Wentworth Group of Concerned Scientists". Mike is a South Australian. Mike is an economist. And as such, his main argument to save the Murray-Darling Basin is to let the Free Market apply true value to the resource***. Bit of a problem, that, seeing as the very thing which keeps the River alive, the wetlands and riparian zones along the river, are getting drained of water, by the people with the Money to determine its "true value" - city people (and State Governments on their behalf) and multi-national Agribusinesses. How can the swamps and River Red Gums of the Murray-Darling Basin set the "true value" of the resource, Mike? He kept saying "we have to get the balance right" - referring to the task confronting Rob Freeman and his people at the MDBA. Look into Freeman's history, Mike, and wake up!

Immediately prior to Paul introducing Mike Young, Bernard Eddy rang in and outlined the nature of the problem along the Queensland Border, where the water from the Upper Basin fails to flow across the NSW Border, because foreign-owned Agribusinesses are refusing to release it until such time as Adelaide is about "one week short of running out of water". Paul threw the question to Mike Young, who said that in view of the drought, the basin is really dry, and most of "all that water which fell in Queensland" and which is flowing over the weir at St George will dry up in the parched soils of southern Queensland and northern NSW. Hardly any of it will even make it to the Menindee Weir". Paul kept cutting in and saying how dry those soils were. (Paul is not qualified to comment, and as Moderator, ought behave more professionally and not seek to answer the question himself, when clearly he knows little about the subject. His job as Moderator is surely to ask his guest to answer the question put to him, is it not?)

So it was that Mike Young tap danced his way through the Program, ably assisted by Paul Barclay's timely intervention whenever a question seemed likely to be in any way "difficult" for his guests.

For example, when one woman specifically asked about foreign investors holding large amounts of water in the Upper Basin, Paul cut her off with a facile comment about "not wanting to get bogged down in details". Pathetic. The Devil is in that detail, Paul - and you cut the caller off.

Let me lay this on the line to Paul Barclay - the problem in the Murray Darling Basin is not caused by drought - it is caused by over-allocation of the precious resources we have there. Sure, there is a drought. Yes, one of the recent years did have "the lowest inflow in the system on record". But who is reporting the Usage? It is the imbalance between inflows and usage which is the real problem.

Basically water usage rates (allocation) far exceed inflows. Usage simply has not been moderated to match the inflows. That is why the Eildon Weir on the Goulburn River, for example is sitting at 12% of capacity. And yet the Victorian Government is proposing to drain from it to supplement Melbourne's water.

When Mike was asked about that, his answer was that he had done the modelling, and if Melbourne did not take the water from the Goulburn River, the net result would be the transfer of jobs from Melbourne to South Australia (Adelaide and the Iron Triangle).

Quite an extraordinary answer, which reveals Mike Young's true "angle" on the whole Murray-Darling problem.
Apparently the problem is not about water, but about jobs and about politics.

God help the Murray-Darling Basin if it is influenced by the dry-as-dust-economist's brain of Mike Young.

And what about the dead hand of the Moderator of this talk-back program? His interjections were ill-informed (its all about the drought, according to him). And he did not do his job as Moderator of the discussion:
  • Bernard Eddy pointed out at the very beginning of the program that the answers we (Australians) need about the water reserves in the MDB had been prepared by the Land and Water Australia, but that body was being abolished (tomorrow, as it happens), and the results of their study are being suppressed by the Government. And that is happening, most likely on the basis of advice from Rob Freeman and Mike Young.
  • What did Paul Barclay do to ensure that issue was followed up? Nothing!

For the record, Rob Freeman came to his present job, from South Australia. But he got his start in Queensland. Need one say any more? It is Queensland where the MDB problems start with over-allocation of water. The Queenslanders have written the book on favouritism, croneyism and sheer incompetence in administration of water. So, it is ironic that the one of the people Mike Young look to as potential saviours of the MDB is a former senior bureaucrat - out of Queensland.
  • Before this appointment, Rob (Freeman) was Chief Executive of the South Australian Department of Water, Land and Biodiversity Conservation from September 2002. This role involved participation in many national and inter-jurisdictional committees.
  • Formerly South Australian Commissioner and Deputy President of the Murray–Darling Basin Commission, Rob also chaired the national Natural Resources Policy and Programs Committee.
  • From 1998 to 2002 Rob was Deputy Director General of the Queensland Department of Natural Resources and Mines.
  • Source: MDBA - Governance - Chief Executive
*** I refer you to Mike Young and Jim McColl's Water Droplet article #10

Pricing your water: Is there a smart way to do it?
  • "Economic efficiency when water is scarce

    "When it unexpectedly gets or stays dry, water supplies have to be rationed. There are two ways to ration water use. One way is to introduce water restrictions which impose indirect costs on many people. The other way is to increase the price."
  • Source: "Water Droplet" - No. 10

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Protea flower parts - in detail.

Several weeks ago, I showed some lovely flowers of a popular hybrid Protea "Pink Ice". Here is the primary parent plant of that hybrid.

According to the website, Protea neriifolia was the first protea ever to be mentioned in botanical literature. It is a South African plant (of course). It was first discovered in 1597, and was apparently was first illustrated in 1605. It was described and named in 1810. The name refers to the similarity of the leaves to that of the European plant - the Oleander (Nerium sp)Today it is my intention to examine the details of these spectacular flowers. Of course, in Australia, we have many plants (Waratahs and Banksias and Grevilleas to name the most familiar) which the botanists recognised easily as related to the Proteas - hence they are referred to as members of the Proteaceae family. However, to the untrained eye, the differences are more apparent than the similarities. I wish to concentrate tonight on the similarity of flower structure (with some of our flowers).

When I started this investigation, the first thing I felt was "odd" was the tuft of little "feathered tips" in the centre of the Protea flower. Then I decided to pull out several of these flowers to examine them in detail. Two things happened. The flowers broke off half-way down, with a long thin tube still protruding down to the base of the "flower" (the entire head, I mean). Clearly that would have been the tube through which the pollen grains grow down to the ovary at the base of the flower. The second thing was that my fingers were suddenly covered with pollen, which surprised me, for I had been looking to see where the pollen grains originated, but had not seen them. At least I knew they were there somewhere. Time to look more closely.
Firstly you need to understand that what we see as a flower in in fact a composite flower structure - which is composed of many flowers grouped together inside a set of surrounding bracts. It is the bracts which we see as the main part of the flower - but in botanical terms, the bracts are mere "window dressing". They simply serve to protect the true flowers as they develop.

A Protea flower - an individual "true" flower I mean - does not have separate sepals and petals. Instead, there is one set of four perianth segments (called tepals). Initially these parts are fused. As the flower matures, it ruptures open.

Following up from my first experiment to pluck out a flower (which did not work), I realised I had to break open an entire flower head (removing some of the external bracts), to approach the many flowers from the side. That worked, and in the next image, you can see the "feathered tips" of the tepals, close up.

You can also see the lipstick pink tips of what are similar to our Australian proteaceae flowers - the "pollen presenters". Technically, this is the tip of the style. It is the female organ of the flower, but it acts as the male part of the flower temporarily. That will be familiar to readers of this blog - for it is the secret to their pollination.
This is one of the things which the Proteas have in common with our own Proteaceae flowers, although our plants tend to have a curved flower, and a style "pops out" to the side, under pressure.
This Protea style does not to have that curved shape - just a slight bend near the tip, visible here, just below the red coloured section.
The four tepals are fused into a long narrow tube with a closed cup at the top. (That is the bit which has that feathered external appearance). Inside the perianth, the four stamens are fused to the tepals, in such a way that the anthers are enclosed within the cup. The pistil initially passes along the inside of the perianth tube, so that the stigma too is enclosed within the cup. As the flower develops, the pistil grows rapidly. Since the stigma is trapped, the style must bend in order to elongate, and eventually it bends so far that it splits the perianth along one seam. The style continues to grow until anthesis, when the nectaries begin to produce nectar. Just before anthesis, the anthers release their pollen, depositing it onto the stigma. At this time, the perianth splits apart, and the pistil is released to spring more or less upright. Then the tip of the pistil (the "stigma") functions (for several days usually) as the "pollen presenter". Hopefully a suitable pollinator will visit the flower to get the nectar, and will be dusted with pollen. Once the pollen dries, it falls off the tip of the stigma, which then assumes its true female (receptive) function.
You can see the pollen on the Stigma in this image.
(Click to enlarge)
The male organs (anthers) of Proteas are also distinctive. The anthers do not have long stalks (filaments), but are joined directly to near the top of the tepals. Unlike most other plants, the anthers shed their pollen onto the topmost portion of the style just before the flowers open. Because the style presents the pollen in a position suitable for placing onto any visitor, the top-most portion of the style is called the pollen-presenter. The presence of a pollen-presenter is another diagnostic feature for Proteas. It allows the pollen to be "dusted" onto the natural pollinating vector, be it an insect, a bird or a South African mouse (or Honey Possum for Australian members of the Proteaceae).
Note the split in the perianth. That is where the pollen came from. In this regard it is functionally similar to the Waratah and Grevillea flowers. Click to enlarge the image above to see what I mean.

Four nectaries are apparently situated at the base of the ovary, between the ovary and the tepal bases. These secrete nectar to attract pollinators. Source: Protea Atlas Project

One thing which I have not managed to understand yet is why our Proteaceae flowers split into 4 separate perianth segments, but this Protea seems to keep its anthers closed within a single tube - even after the style has split out. From this reference document, it is obvious that many South African Proteaceae do behave in ways more similar to our Waratahs and Grevilleas (than this Protea does).

Friday, June 26, 2009

Fungi of Nowra

I have not had a chance to review these fungi yet - but I have decided to publish them - just to share with you the beauty of these creatures.

DJW Note: I have edited in comments from other Nature Bloggers - from JL, who publishes "Fungi of Great Western" and Gaye from the Hunter, who publishes "Australian Fungi - a Blog". These valuable contributions are shown in green.

It was a damp day on Sunday, at Nowra, and the fungi were at peak form. Some are unusual. Their colours were totally vibrant.
This is the same species, I believe as the silver one above. These fungi had coarse, fawn-coloured gills.
Gaye advises: "Cortinarius (I am not sure of the species - there a few bluish Cortinarius)"
This is a tiny Mycena type of fungus.
I love these miniature Umbrellas.
This is a small, coarse-gilled fungus, which is growing on wood.
JL advised: I've also photographed the 4th one (growing on wood)
but it remains unidentified.

This one is also growing on wood,
but the stem grows out horizontally.
This is a ground-living fungus, with a most unusual olive tone.
The cap is raised in the middle,
whereas many of the others have recessed centres.
Ah, the joys of co-operative Nature Blogging.
JL and Gaye agree that this
beautiful fungus is Dermocybe austroveneta.

Not keen on the colloquial name Gaye offered - Green Skinhead.
By contrast, this luscious pink one is recessed.
This small fungus grows on very fine dead twigs of Grey Myrtle.
There is no stem, but the caps are pendant,
suspended from a centre point above the middle of the fungus.
I have seen these illustrated in books,
but I have not yet had the chance to look them up.
Gaye came up trumps here.
Not only a name, but a link to one of her posts.

Anthracophyllum archeri (Orange Fan)
As soon as I saw this little thing out in the bush,
I knew I had read about it it somewhere. Now I know where.
I believe this to be a form of Slime Mould,
but it is possible that it is simply a miniature fungus
growing on something like some animal dung.
My money is on the Slime Mould.
Other money is on a tiny fungus attacking another fungus.
Gaye suggested: a parasitic fungus that attacks mainly gilled fungi - probably a Spinellus species of the family Zygomycete.
Finally, the most unusual of all.
These are tiny little salmon pink "fingers" about a 35 mm high,
growing out of the ground.
They were in a very wet gully in a sandstone creek
with rainforest surrounding it.
There was a suggestion that these are a form of "coral fungi"
I reserve my judgement.
Well, the experts all agree - thanks ladies.
It is a "coral fungus".

Clavaria species, possibly C. corallinorosacea (or C. miniata).
Bizarre shapes and forms.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

South Coast Orchids - at Winter Solstice

On Sunday I went with Alan Stephenson and a small group of members of the Australasian Native Orchid Society to search for Orchids in the Nowra area. Alan had already been out to locate plants worth while showing to us, but these things are so small, that one has to "find them" every time - even if you know they are within 5 metres of you.

I was very pleased to find this particular plant of Acianthus fornicatus.
The dorsal sepal is quite broad, and hooded. The flowers are nearly transparent, which as you can see makes them hard to photograph, for all the reflections the flower surface generates.
Here is the closely related plant - Acianthus exsertus. Its stem is purplish, and the flowers have more red than the previous species. More significantly, the flower has a narrower shape. The dorsal sepal is held more upright
(though this does vary with the stage of development of the flower).
The column on this species is much more exposed
(As you can see above, A. fornicatus has the column nearly covered by the hooded dorsal sepal).Here is a familiar Greenhood - the Cobra Greenhood
Diplodium grandiflorum.
This is a lovely flower which I always enjoy seeing.In contrast with the Greenhood above, which is relatively tall, these next group are "Helmet Orchids" - tiny ground-hugging plants.
Corybas aconitiflorus.
The flowers are completely "hooded" over, with their opening approachable only from the underside. These plants are pollinated by fungus gnats (tiny flies), which tend to hang out low down (where the fungi grow).Here is a colony of these plants.
There is great variation in the amount of red amongst these flowers.
Here is a related plant - another "Helmet Orchid".
This species holds its flower much more open to the air.
It also has a fringe around the opening in the flower.
It is these differences which separate the Corysanthes from the Corybas genus (under the new classifications).
This plant is now called Corysanthes pruinosa

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Flowers of the Winter Solstice

In Robertson, we have a pretty mild winter. Certainly much more mild than I grew up with in Canberra. However, it is cold enough for our plants to mark the change of seasons.

One difference though is with Camellias.

In Canberra, Camellias were spring flowers - with the exception of the Sasanquas, which flowered in late autumn, and in winter and then through into Spring. But the larger flowered Camellias were definitely spring flowers (in Canberra).

Here in Robertson, most of my Camellias are now in flower - on Mid-winter's Day (the Winter Solstice). (I apologise that this posting is two days late - but the photos were taken on the right day.)

I love this old fashioned large Camellia. In the books it is referred to as red,. but it is a Camellia which is affected by the soil. On our rich red basalt soils, its red pigment is tinted with blue, and as the flower ages, it goes almost purple. Obviously you can see the blue venation in the flower. Blue on red gives purple. It is not a pure colour, I agree, but I really like this effect anyway. The variety name is "Dona Herzilia de Freitas Magalhaes" (and this is taken from a Camellia catelogue, which acknowledges several variant spelling exist, but it insists this is the correct spelling).

Camellia japonica "Dona Herzilia de Freitas Magalhaes"
Click on the flower to see it in detail.
This is Camellia "Brian" a cross between a large-flowered Reticulata Camellia and C. saluensis variety. Thus, according to traditional naming patterns, it is known as a "Williamsii hybrid" (after the first British nurseryman to popularise the saluensis varieties). The pink in these Williamsii hybrids is generally tinged with blue (or "fuchsine" as the books say). It is a colour I love, and many of my Camellias have this colour. I tend to pass over "baby pink" Camellias, but I keep coming back to flowers which carry this particular tone.

This is "Chansonette", which is a rosette shaped flower in the Sasanqua group, (or is it C. vernalis?). You tell me.
Unfortunately, I appear to have lost the name of this variety. I like its poached egg appearance, and the purity of the white.
For contrast, here is a flower which I recall fondly from my father's garden - a dark striped form of the common Stylosa Iris. This flower has been nibbled already (on its second night) for snails "will crawl over broken glass" to eat these flowers when fresh. Snails have no legs, obviously, with which to crawl. However, I do like that old fashioned expression. Damaged flower or not, I love the colour combination in these classic winter flowers.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Public awareness of water conservation targets

The people of Canberra have been well used to water restrictions, for many years now.

Unlike the Governments of NSW and Victoria, the ACT Government took the people into their confidence, and allowed them to share a sense of pride of achieving low water usage targets. That worked much better than NSW, where the Government panicked prior to the 2007 election, and signed up for a totally un-necessary Desalination Plant, costing us more than 2 billion dollars (and that is just the "published, quoted" price. Who knows what the real cost will turn out to be before it is finished.

I was in Canberra just after the January 2003 fires, which was the peak of their drought. People took it as a matter of civic pride to have a dead lawn. Some went overboard and "dobbed in" their neighbours for so-called illegal watering. These people were quickly dubbed the "Water Nazis". However, six years on the mobile signs are still flashing their message to commuters on the main arterial roads around Canberra. Meanwhile water recycling (draining bath-water onto the front lawn, etc) is still commonplace in Canberra. People feel proud of their kids learning how to conserve water, and more importantly, how to not waste it.
What's wrong with that?

Incidentally, Canberra is a much drier city than Melbourne (normally) but they have a target of 105ML per person per day. Melbourne's target is 155 ML. What's the problem with Melbourne people? Are they 50% dirtier than Canberrans that they need so much more water?
In reality, the actual levels, (in winter admittedly) are well under the target. This was taken on 11 June, so it reports the per person water consumption for 10 June 2009.
Dam levels are published daily, on the main roads - for all the world to see.
Note that with the dam levels holding at 43 per cent, the Canberrans are still being held at Level 3 restrictions - instead of retuning to the traditional wasteful levels of previous years.
Good on them.

This is something which I believe the ACT has managed well.
There are many other things they do with which I do not agree.

Let's give credit where credit is due.

****** ****** ******
The ABC Radio local news service and the Sydney Daily Telegraph report that Sydney Water Restrictions have been eased.

The new rules will also take effect from midnight.

"The community has responded tremendously during the drought to save every drop," Mr Costa said.

"These few simple rules reinforce the importance of using water responsibly and minimising waste. It gives people more flexibility to maintain their gardens and manage water around the home," he said.

Under the old regime, various levels of restrictions were introduced to cut back water usage as dam levels fell.

Over the past five years, Sydney, Illawarra and Blue Mountains residents were forced to live with increasingly tougher restrictions.

Under the existing Level 3 restrictions, hand-held watering could only be done on Wednesdays and Sundays before 10am and after 4pm.

Watering systems and sprinklers were banned entirely.

The new rules allow for the hand-held hoses, sprinklers and watering systems to be used on gardens daily, but in the same time periods.

Children will also be allowed to play under sprinklers on hot days.

Under the old restrictions, businesses such as nurseries and landscape gardeners were required to obtain exemptions for water use. They no longer have to seek them.

Automatic exemptions will also apply to market gardeners, bowling greens, cricket wickets, golf tees and croquet, hockey, tennis and horse-racing surfaces.


Sydney Water's website does not carry this information.

Typical for them to have outdated information on their website.


Current restrictions are now:

  • Hand-held hosing of lawns and gardens and drip irrigation is allowed only on Wednesdays and Sundays before 10 am and after 4 pm
  • Hosing of vehicles at residential premises is permitted only with a trigger nozzle or high-pressure water cleaning equipment (to a maximum of 10L/minute)
  • Hosing residential building structures including windows, walls and gutters is allowed using a hose with a trigger nozzle or high-pressure water cleaning equipment (to a maximum of 10L/minute)
  • No hosing of hard surfaces such as paths or driveways at any time
  • No other watering systems or sprinklers are to be used at any time
  • A permit from Sydney Water is required to fill new or renovated pools bigger than 10,000 litres
  • No hoses or taps to be left running unattended, except when filling pools or containers
Source: Sydney Water - as at 21 June 2009, 8:00am.

It is madness - un-necessary madness - to reduce the restrictions.
It simply promotes wastefulness, of a precious resource.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Wombats suffer with Mange

Warning: This is a post about an unpleasant subject - a Wombat with severe Sarcoptic Mange.

It is published in the interests of public information. Difficult issues are discussed, and unpleasant images shown. If you are sensitive - kindly do not proceed to read any further. I will welcome you back tomorrow.

****** ****** ****** ****** ****** ****** ****** ****** ****** ******

Shortly after I moved to Robertson I saw a Wombat out and about in daylight. It was near a road (itself a dangerous thing for all concerned). On closer examination, it was obviously nearly bald. I made some inquiries and was told two things - Wombats get Mange (supposedly from Foxes); and that the mange causes them to get ill, go blind and eventually die.

Today there was a Wombat wandering around on my neighbour's property, in the late afternoon. It was feeding actively, but its behaviour was sufficiently unusual it had not only attracted my attention, but that of another neighbour, Matt. We both grabbed our cameras, and we walked out to look at it.We ended up standing right beside the poor animal, which was obviously severely infested with the mites which cause "Sarcoptic Mange". You can see the sunken eyes, and the very heavily crusted nose.
If you Google "Wombat + Mange" you will get a number of links. Some will tell you that mange in Wombats is treatable, but in reality, that advice is probably only applicable to people able to care more-or-less full time for wombats. Many Wombats are raised by licensed Carers (with WIRES and other such animal rescue organisations).

After I returned home, I found that Matt had quickly sent me another (more realistic) viewpoint - from this site:
"Wombats that I won't treat -
1. Any adult wombat that is in the last stages of mange i.e. has huge crusts on most of its body and head, crusting over its eyes and ears, open wounds often fly-blown and the wombat is thin and often with nasal discharge. The animal will be seen grazing during the day probably to get warm in the sun, or is nearly blind so can't see the danger. It will be relatively easy to catch. This wombat is very ill and if left will die in a few weeks from starvation and pneumonia. If treated the wombat will be subjected to long and cruel handling and will probably not survive anyway. If he does he will most certainly get the mange again in 3-6 months. The immune system is completely failing and I feel it is irresponsible to put an animal through so much pain and fear for it not to be successful and have a good outlook for a full recovery."

Clearly there are different "protocols" recommended by different experts.I left this Wombat to its own resources - for as far as I was concerned it was untreatable - but it was still feeding actively. However, for the record, I report that it was pretty obviously blind, or very nearly so (and pretty obviously nearly deaf too). The ears were totally "clumped" and the eyes were not only white (as if with cataracts), but also weeping with puss. Its skin was very badly caked on one of its flanks, and its nose was thickly crusted with scabs. I can also say that it really stank, (up close).A few minutes after I left the Wombat, I heard a shot ring out from up the road. I can only assume that one of the other locals (a farmer, no doubt) had assessed the situation was hopeless, and had put the Wombat down. I can say that I do not know exactly who did what, (I know it was certainly not Matt) but I know why the obvious action would have been taken - as a compassionate act - by a person unknown to me.

Such is life.

****** ****** ****** ****** ****** ****** ****** ****** ****** ******

One of the websites I looked at tonight (Sorry, I cannot find the comment again) addressed the issue well - by expressing the following conundrum:

It is illegal to kill a wombat (even a sick one),
but if a farmer or a pet-owner left a domestic animal
or a farm animal alive - in such a condition,
that person could be prosecuted for cruelty to an animal.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Roy Freere "filled the house".

In theatrical terms it was a "sell-out" - standing room only. I mean no disrespect by those references - but the hall at the St John's parish was full today, for the funeral of Roy Freere.

That is a great tribute to the life of Roy Freere and the contribution which he and his family, have made to the local community, and to the wider society - for people came from near and far today to commemorate Roy's life and to honour his memory.Tribute was first paid to Roy by one of his colleagues from the Microscopical Society of Australia - Dr. Peter Rickwood, a Geologist from the University of New South Wales. It appears that Peter was Roy's oldest friend (outside his imediate family), having met Roy when both were at University in England. They met again years later, in Australia, when Roy turned up as a Company Rep for a Microscope manufacturer, and Peter was in charge of purchases for his University laboratory. Their friendship was re-kindled, and subsequently they collaborated on a professional level, jointly founding the Microscopical Society of Australia, and also publishing several technical papers together. Above all, they remained good friends, with profound respect shown by Peter for Roy's memory today.

Professor Ray Kearney spoke lovingly of Roy, from the perspective of a fellow member of the Sydney Fungal Studies Group, and as a friend. A number of members of the SFSG (as well as myself) were present to honour Roy and to comfort Joan. Ray spoke beautifully of Roy's frienship, and his love of the environment, especially "his beloved Robertson Nature Reserve".
Ray and Elma Kearney
listen as Rev Barry Lee reads the funeral prayers.
Dr Peter Freere (Roy's eldest son) then read from notes he had prepared about his Dad. Peter was very emotional, but we all understood that. His brother Ian came up to support Peter as he finished his speech, then very gently made his own comments, ending up with "Sleep well, Dad". A nice personal touch.

Their brother in law, Mark then spoke nicely of his father-in-law, including several amusing anecdotes. Mark's wife Susan, (Roy and Joan's second child) then spoke briefly about her father and then read a very moving letter which a local lady had written to Roy. She commented how it had pleased her Dad to have that letter read to him, as he asked her to read it several times over.

The Service was conducted by the Rev. Barry Lee according to the Anglican Church rites, as per the prevailing "Low Church" interpretation as approved within the Sydney Archdiocese. However "low key" the tone of the service might have been, the personal touches added by the family and friends were very satisfying.

Committing the coffin to the earth.
The Pall Bearers gently lower the coffin on heavy tapes.
Rev. Barry Lee then read the final interment prayer.
Peter (in maroon jacket) looks on.
I did not take any photos in the church, in the interest of not disturbing the Memorial Service. I felt able to discretely take these images at the Graveyard.
Mourners at the graveyard - A
Mourners at the graveyard - B
Flowers were provided by a number of local people, including myself, so that all persons who wished to place a flower on Roy's coffin were able to do so. A nice touch.

Incidentally, Barry Lee commented that Roy had insisted on choosing the readings and hymns of the Service himself. Typical of Roy, wanting to "get it right" - to the end. Personally I think that reveals how well adjusted Roy was to the looming end of his own life.

Roy was a person of deep religious faith.
No fear. No regrets.
***** ***** *****

As an old Catholic myself, let me just add the phrase "Requescat in Pace".

Rest in Peace, good friend.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Lake Cowal - fundraising event in Canberra

Lake Cowal, is in central western NSW.It is the site of a large gold mine, owned by Barrick Gold, the world's largest gold mining company (based in Canada).Caroline Graham, Ted Smith and I, from the Rivers SOS group attended the fundraising event on behalf of the traditional owners at Lake Cowal, hosted by Neville (Chappy) Williams.
The Save Lake Cowal website, (hosted by the Rainforest Information Centre) says:
"Barrick’s gold mine at Lake Cowal encompasses approximately 26.50 square kilometres. One hundred and eight million tons of low to medium grade ore will be excavated from an open cut pit 1km wide and 325 meters deep on the lake shore and partly within the high water level of Lake Cowal. Cyanide will be usedIt is estimated that the pit Barrick will blast to retreive approximately 2.7 million ounces of gold will be comparable to the size of Uluru in the Northern Territory. The mine runs 24 hours a day all year and has a life of about 13 years.
Aerial photo taken 20 March 2008.
The pit is over 1 km wide and 300 metres deep, apparently.
It is huge. The giant trucks look like ants in the pit.
A massive earth slippage is visible on the right of the pit.
"On 27 March 2006 the mine became fully operational despite opposition from Traditional Owners within the Wiradjuri Nation, the Coalition to Protect Lake Cowal and concerned citizens around Australia. The first gold was poured at the mine in April 2006 and NSW Premier, Morris Iemma officially opened it on 29 September.

"Barrick owns eight mines in Australia.

"The company has been accused of a number of environmentally unsound practices, as well as illegal trading activities."

Here is a model of the Lake Cowal Gold Mine,
showing the huge pit, and the sludge ponds.Neville (Chappy) Williams
addressing the fundraiser event in Canberra
Ellie Gilbert, film maker, addressing the group.
There is an amazing legal battle which has been going on for years, involving the Traditional Owners (represented by Chappy Williams) and Barrick Gold, and various Federal and State instrumentalities, from the Mines Department,. and the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service, and the Federal Minister for Environment, Peter Garrett.

The point of this fundraiser was two-fold: to raise funds (obviously) and to raise awareness of the parlous state of this legal battle.