Sunday, June 27, 2010

Coast to Coast Bike Ride 2010

The Road Kill Catering Crew. One of the many volunteers supporting this year's Cairns to Karumba Coast to Coast Bike Ride.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

The Climate Denial Crock of the Week

Peter Sinclair is a long time advocate of environmental awareness and energy alternatives. An award winning graphic artist, illustrator, and animator, Mr. Sinclair runs Greenman Studio from his home in Midland, Michigan in the US.

Mr. Sinclair’s syndicated cartoons have appeared worldwide, and his work has been profiled in numerous publications, including the New York Times. He is the producer of the YouTube series, “Climate Denial Crock of the Week”.

Closer to home is this documentary from the United Nations University regarding the future of coastal Cape York communities and the predicted rising sea levels.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

One of the guests from Spicks and Specks this week

Christa Hughes (formerly in the group Machine Gun Fellatio) once toured with Circus Oz. Here she is performing one of her songs, 'Bikini Parade', on ABC TVs 'Sideshow' (what a loss to see that show canned by the conservative ABC) with visual support from strong woman Mel Fyfe.

Mount Garnet

Steam train, possibly for carrying copper to and from the copper mines at Mount Garnet, going across the Return Creek Railway Bridge, around 1906.

Image sourced from Picture Queensland, State Library of Queensland
This image is free of copyright restrictions

Mount Garnet
Sleepy town on the southern edge of the Atherton Tablelands.
Located approximately 165 km, 185 km or 205 km (it depends which route you want to take - the time is about the same) from Cairns, Mount Garnet is one of those towns that is easy to pass through without stopping. To the traveller it looks like nothing more than a couple of pubs and service stations and a few shops and houses in the middle of nowhere. Why slow down? There's nothing to see.

In fact the miners who first settled the town hardly slowed down as they moved through the area. It is said that when, in about 1904, a rumour went round that the original copper mine was going to close down half the men didn't wait for their notice to quit. They simply packed up their few belongings and were gone by lunchtime.

Mount Garnet was first settled around the turn of the century when copper was found in the area. Within months the Mount Garnet Freehold Copper and Silver Mining Company Ltd had built a smelter and was busy hiring men to dig the valuable mineral out of the ground.

At first the smelted copper was shipped out by camel (there are some interesting photographs of the camel teams on the walls of the Norwestgate Cafe) but by 1902 a branch line connecting the town to the line from Mareeba to Chillagoe had been built and the copper was being railed out to Lappa Junction and then to the coast.

At the time it looked as though the town had a future. Then, quite suddenly, the price of copper dropped and the company, eager to cut its losses, closed the mine.

A few remnants of the mine are still in evidence. Take the road opposite Norwestgate Motel and follow it south on a dirt road which leads past the old Assay House (which is currently being restored). Little is left but there is enough to show the scale of the operation at the turn of the century.

The town did not die. After 1904 the miners turned their attention to the excavation of tin. Today Mount Garnet has a reputation as a good starting place for gold prospectors and gem collectors.

Things to see:

Bill Brotherton and His Rocks
The best collection of rocks and gems in town belongs to Bill Brotherton. A real outback character with a flowing white beard and a compulsively interesting line of conversation, Brotherton has spent over 20 years collecting every kind of rock from the local area as well as working some of the local woods and collecting some fascinating specimens - including the foetus of a two-headed guinea pig which he claims to be the result of Agent Orange. He is an avowed conservationist. Having grown up in the area he can remember the tall stands of trees which were once part of the Atherton Tablelands rainforests. Now at least 80 he has no desire to be inundated with visitors but you can have a look at the rock collection on the verandah of his house in Opal St. Bill does not object if you wish to leave a coin as a donation.

Wurruma Swamp
Just before entering the town from the north there is a dirt road which heads east to Wurruma Swamp. Although little known, this is one of the wonders of the Mount Garnet area. The swamp retains water long after other local wetlands have dried up. Consequently it draws an amazing range of birdlife from the surrounding region. Edged by lilies and with dozens of varieties of birds the swamp is something special. At certain times of the year there are literally thousands of black swans present.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Nature by Numbers

This is a short film inspired on numbers, geometry and nature, by Cristóbal Vila. Go to for more information on the mathematics behind it all, stills, screenshots, tutorials...

Click Image To Enlarge

Nature by Numbers from Cristóbal Vila on Vimeo.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Experts debate homeopathy funding

Several websites have been ordered to remove information suggesting “homeopathic immunisation” is as effective as vaccination and issue a
retraction following a complaint made to the Therapeutic Goods Administration.

Dr Ken Harvey, a lecturer at Latrobe University School of Public Health, who authored the complaint (read the full complaint as a pdf here), objected to claims on the website that “homeopathic immunisation is effective against poliomyelitis, chicken pox, meningococcal disease, hepatitis (all types), Japanese encephalitis, Hib, influenza, measles, pneumococcal disease, smallpox, typhoid, cholera, typhus, whooping cough, rubella, mumps, diptheria, malaria, tetanus, yellow fever, dysentery and many other epidemic diseases”.

More from Dr Harvey from the
latest edition of Australasian Science.

...and a final statement from Mitchell and Webb.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Rocket Launch

So, it wasn't a UFO as originally stated by the Murdoch press on the weekend. Who would have thought? It is however entertaining to read the comments from its intelligent online readership.

The first pass of the SpaceX Falcon9/Dragon satellite over the east coast of Australia before dawn today gave rise to widespread UFO sightings.

This YouTube video was made on a beach at the Gold Coast.

The rocket was leaking fuel and rotating, creating a halo effect similar in some respects to this spectacular ‘pinwheel’ over Norway last year from a failed Russian missile test.

SpaceX reported an anomaly just before the Dragon payload, attached to the second stage of the Falcon 9, reached its programmed shut down on attaining its target orbit.

The camera mounted above the second stage engine captured a rotation that didn’t affect the orbital insertion, but wasn’t in the launch plan either.

The Dragon may still be venting and rotating. There aren’t yet any orbital predictions on the usual sites, and they may be affected by velocity changes caused by residual gas escapes.

Keep watching the skies. (Crikey)

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

From the Huon Valley in southern Tasmania comes a song for the SOCCEROOS !!

Local Cygnet musicians are joined by the kids of The Cygnet SeaDragons FC and the Woodbridge Whalers FC for

"Johnny Warren's Dream"

A tribute to the Socceroos in Memory of J. Warren
Enjoy Aussie Fans!!
GO YOU SOCCEROOS 2010!!!!!!!!!!

While on the topic of Mining which is also big in the news at the moment I found this interesting contribution to the 'argument' from the ABC's Unleashed site. Michael R. James is an Australian research scientist and writer.
Also have a read of Flinthart 's interpretation of the mining tax from his blog a few days ago.

Abbott's Battlers