Monday, December 18

A new Meeting place for the people of Ntandire in Malawi

The next project for the Malawi Support Group are to be building works at Ntandire for a church and hall in shantytown.
The Photos taken on the 10th December are reflective celebrations of a people overjoyed at the prospect of having somwhere to meet.
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Sunday, December 10

Victorias Fiery Summer

Melbourne awakens to an eerie new day
Fiery red Sun through smoky grey haze
Feels like evening as sun seeks its rest
Dust of a landscape signals rain its request

Bush fires in our country unlike any other
Fed by a drought of an endless dry summer
Dry fuel and air as soil has no moisture
Fight fires in vain best just to contain her

Melancholy thoughts of dim days of our past
Black Friday and Ash Wednesday I pray be our last
Volunteer fire fighters can’t see through the smoke
Brave and determined they’re just ordinary blokes

Smoky conditions will drag on with the drought
Summer continues as towns wait in a fright
The rains we seek quench my country I cry
Rains in dreamtime as smoke blots out the sky

Saturday, December 2

Perth to Freemantle

Posted by Picasa Recently I travelled on business to Adelaide and then to Perth. During my stay in Perth I took the boat trip to Fremantle.

The first photo shows the Perth city skyline journeying along the Swan River on the way to Fremantle.

Fremantle was once the western gateway to Australia, as millions of migrants arrived by ship prior to modern day jet aircraft. It remains a popular tourist destination, at the mouth of the Swan River and renowned for its feeling of tranquillity with streets graced by old worldly historic buildings which I have attempted to capture in the photographs.

In 1987 it leapt to prominence as a port City when it hosted the Australian defence of the America's Cup. Perth's isolation can be ascertained by the length of the return flight to Melbourne, it takes nearly 3hours continuos flying in a Boeing Jumbo 747. It is the most isolated City of any country on earth.

Little wonder then its residents have been known to sarcastically refer to certain visitors as “ The Wise Men from the East”.

Monday, November 20

Life’s Mystique

I recall days of sweaty hands
Struggles meeting business plans
Awaken to my daily fears
Ask for help from far off spheres

Journeys now on familiar soil
Needs no longer an ancient foil
Sap of life flows to life’s new leaf
Reverence for life, my own belief

Hills like mountains catch my breath
Winds of change seek nature’s wealth
Random thoughts are life’s myst’ry
Will we learn from earth’s history

Friday, November 17

China’s Sustainable Urban development

China has been an engine room to the world’s economy with annualised growth rates exceeding 10 % over the past decade. Despite this growth nearly 50% of its population remain as peasant farmers on very small incomes. But that aspect is changing rapidly as agriculture becomes more productive and is accompanied by a huge migration of workers to the cities. As china has a population of 1.3 billion we are indeed fortunate she does not consume in the same unsustainable manner as the westernised advanced economies, for if that was the case we would need another 3 universes to meet her requirements. Hopefully China will not follow this disastrous route. Even so the accelerated effect can be gauged by the daily increase in motor vehicles with 55,000 new licences issued every day!!

China currently has engaged a number of world experts on urban planning to assist with a project to construct 300 new sustainable cities. Each to house over 1 million citizens, ensuring all are self sufficient and sustainable, with no need for cars.

Click here to read about China’s sustainable urban development

Wednesday, November 8

Melbourne Cup Party

My winning hat
The winning lady's hat
More hats
My wifes hat

The early morning promised a fine sunny day for staging of the Melbourne Cup before a change from a cool southerly breeze. Bookmakers breathed a collective sign of relief to see Japanese winner Delta Blue @16/1 win by a short nose from its more favoured stable mate Pop Rock, with the Australian horse (aptly named Maybe Better) running a distant 3rd. The $5.3 million Melbourne Cup enters a new era with renewed interest from Japan.

Race day stops a nation. Wherever you are everyone stops to listen to the great race. Maybe next year it will stop 2 nations. Although the spring racing carnival attracts record crowds, 130,000 this year at "Derby Day" and another 107,000 for the Melbourne Cup, most folk like me watch the races from TV. This year we watched the great race from the comfort of a friend’s house where they hosted a Melbourne Cup party.

We enjoyed wonderful hospitality and our hosts added prizes for the best ladies and men’s hats. Yours truly won the best men's hat which was designed by my wife. I have included pictures of the winning lady's hat along with my wife and friends, dressed in sartorial splendour!!

Thursday, November 2

Howard’s wayward way.

Over the past 10 years the Federal Government under Prime Minister John Howard and respective State Labour premiers have largely ignored warnings on global climatic warming. Although numerous comprehensive reports warned of the impending consequences (more particularly to Australia, the driest continent on earth) few initatives have been undertaken as the authors conclusions have been largely dismissed as scaremongering.

It has been disappointing and frustrating for our eminent Scientists working at the Government funded Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) to realise their reports were ignored by the government. In fact it was reported pressure was applied in the form of the possible loss of goverment research funding should they pursue unpopular conclusions on the threat of global warming. click here to visit.

The Government sided with our ally the USA, with both countries refusing to sign the Kyoto protocol, arguing any mandated reductions would harm their respective economies. Howard appears to have recently softened his hard nosed approach, when announcing assistance for several solar and carbon capturing initiatives. The Victorian Premier recently also confirmed financial assistance for a wind farming project.

However these projects will not have any major impact in the near future and we are a long way away from an integrated sustainable clean energy solution. In the bigger picture I dont think much has changed as political scepticism remains.

I think a carbon trading system is vital to ensure we have an immediate large scale industry response to reduce emissions. The imposition of a tax on carbon emissions creates an immeadite cost to industry and trading emissions allows polluters to purchase credits from others who have surplus requirements. Because of the increased cost to industry of emissions you stimulate conservation and investment in technologies to reduce emissions. Alternative cleaner energy sources previously too costly become viable. This will also have a substantial effect on farming, towards sustainability. Emission trading was recommended in the recent Stern Report commissioned by the UK government.

Howard was quick to warn we should not place too much faith in the findings of the Stern Report, rejecting the idea of an emissions trading system on the basis it will harm our industries unless all countries sign up concurrently.

In the Financial Review of the 2nd November 2006 Professor Warwick McKibbin was reported as saying “You need to start at the national level and move out from there”. And he disputed Mr Howard’s central argument that establishing a national emissions trading scheme in the absence of a global agreement including all major emitters would force investment jobs off shore. Professor McKibbin said his own national emissions trading model would make Australia a very attractive investment destination.

Click here for his website.

We are light years away from the UK economy which at least has made a start with large scale targeted emission reductions. Australia remains a laggard and pro rata to population one of the heaviest polluters in the world, apart from the USA. Once again it seems likely we will do nothing, under the leadership of our conservative government.

Friday, October 27

A fair day’s work for a fair days pay.

I think it’s somewhat refreshing that the newly formed “Australian Fair Pay Commission” decided to increase the minimum wage by 5.65% or $27.36 per week for the 1 million lowest paid employees in Australia, those employees who earn less than $700 per week.

The Australian Fair Pay Commission was recently established to set and maintain a federal minimum wage that will promote the economic prosperity of the people of Australia under the Workplace Relations Amendment (Work Choices) Act 2005.

Chairman Professor Ian Harper came to the Commission with very strong economic credentials, but also possessing equal doses of compassion and integrity. Together with his fellow Commissioners he has presided over a decision in stark contrast to the submissions from Government and Industry groups for a minimal increase. These submissions argued the increase recommended by the Australian Council of Trade Unions of $30 per week would be irresponsible, leading to widespread unemployment and inflation. Whilst the Commission acknowledge a nexus between wage rates and employment it nevertheless on balance rejected theses arguments and granted a $27 increase.
I agree with the Commission. Economic outcomes need to be balanced with principles of fairness and integrity by providing protection to lower paid workers. The idea that such decisions will lead to 300,000 job losses and widespread inflation is a highly fanciful notion based upon flawed economic analysis. It all boils down to common sense, that is to say a fair day’s work for a fair days pay for those of minimal bargaining power in a democracy.

Thursday, October 19


Australia is currently in the grip of the worst drought ever faced. The current El Nino weather pattern ensures the dry conditions will continue as we experience much lower than normal rains. Longer term the prognosis remains clouded. Some assert this drought is a natural part of our landscape whilst others contend drier conditions represent the flow on effects of global warming.

Barry Hanstrom, NSW regional director of the Bureau of Meteorology is concerned: The evidence for climate change is compelling, in several examples of that across Australia. The fact is that south-west Western Australia since the 70s has dropped almost 20 per cent. The last 10 years in south-eastern Australia the rainfall's down 10 to 20 per cent. 2005 was the warmest year ever recorded in Australia, so there are strong indications, both with rainfall and temperature across Australia that the climate is changing.

The current position means crops like wheat and barley are likely to yield at most 30% of last year and the effect to country areas is devastating. Increased suicides and depression arise with Rural Councillors streched to the limit, but notwithstanding most remain focused to change what they can for the better, to stay positive and look forward to next years season.It’s also hard for city folk to imagine the devastation of a crippling drought in country towns.

The response of the Government was to announce an extra $350 million for farmers and to confirm they are considering a further $400 million, having already spent $1.25 billion on needy 50,000 farming families since 2001.

The basis of this relief is “exceptional circumstances” since normal drought is expected to be managed by farmers.

Water scientist Professor Peter Cullen, has been quoted has suggested such aid only prolongs producers struggling on land no longer sustainable. Clive Hamilton from the Australia Institute was quoted as saying “Farmers shouldn't be getting assistance; they should be leaving the land when it's like this?”

The debate has raged, as if fanned by our recent hot northerly winds, the familiar smell of smoke from earlier tham expected bush fires.

Our Prime Minister commented.

Well, I reject that completely. I reject it. I mean, the basis of his argument is that in some way the payments farmers receive under Exceptional Circumstances represent us paying people to stay on the land. I think that would come as a great surprise to farmers, who know that the Exceptional Circumstances gives them the equivalent of the dole and provides some interest rate subsidies. And that's hardly paying people to stay on the land. "It is, in many cases, paying people to put some food on the table. It's a very unrealistic attitude for people to take. We are not a country that pays people to stay on the land. We're a country that gives people who want to stay on the land support to survive through desperate drought circumstances, and that's what we're living through at the present time. So I reject completely the argument that this drought assistance is, quote, 'paying to keep people on the land', unquote.

It’s a complex situation but I feel the current position is not enhanced by the current aid programme. Consider the value of rural land in Australia and indeed in many parts of the western world and why it is is vastly overpriced. This is a consequence of continued income support to farmers over successive frequent droughts that ensures the price of land reamains unrealistically high. Overseas huge subsidies paid to farmers inflate the value of the land.

Rural land in Australia has appreciated in real terms around 5-6%, thats 5-6 % above the rate of inflation over the past 20 years, putting undue pressure to obtain a commensurate improved return.

I also think Australian farmers are the most efficient in the world and most are responsible environmentalists who do a magnificent job looking after the land for future generations. During dire times such as we are currently experiencing they immediately begin de stocking and mitigating the effect of drought,in other words caring for the land. Many are debt free 3rd generation farmers whose reserves and or alternative incomes tide then through these most difficult of times.

What I favour as an alternative to income support is government assistance in the form of interest free loans, made during such times but to be repaid during good seasons. I think most farmers would prefer a loan to income support schemes, which is nothing more than a handout.

I also think additionally its worth considering a heritage type annual payment, in recognition of the Farmer custodian role of looking the land, that's on on our behalf to preserve it for future generations.

On the longer terms I believe the current exceptional circumstances will not be so exceptional in years to come, but I also believe the Australians farmers will adapt and cotinine to preserve the land for future generations in a sustainable way. That means much more diversity for Farms, a sole farming income will be unsustainable, and other income streams will need to be added for it to be viable overall as we experience drier conditions. This is already occurring to a marked degree and will accelerate in the near future. In effect it will be engaging of country and the city, with new industries such as echo tourism, as it always could have been. The dichotomy or tension between country and city, farming and non framing and or industry need not exist at all as we are all co dependant upon one to another.

In fact I think it wil be true for most countries the world over. The pooling of skils and sharing between communities, that is between country and city, allows us us to learn together as to how to be sustainable, in partnership with nature. It's how we evolved and its how we will survive the future.

Wednesday, October 11

North Korea

We have reaffirmed our commitment to a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula. . . . The actions taken by North Korea are unacceptable and deserve an immediate response by the UN Security Council.” --President George Bush; following the detonation of North Korea’s first nuclear weapon.

North Korea has a population of 23 million, similar to Iraq, where I estimate about 700 billion has already been expended for an end result of near civil war. In North Korea, we have a country taking up a disproportionate slice of world attention, attention seeking to an extreme and provocative. Yet surely there could have been a more sensible line followed by the US and its allies.

I think this current crisis with North Korea could have been avoided given reasonable diplomatic skills and the use of psychology.

Bush has insisted North Korea was on the “Axis of Evil” list, and publicly announced that he “loathed” Kim Jung Il.

From North Korea's perspective they have no intention of being the next victim of Bush’s pre-emptive policy. Donald Rumsfield even boasted the US is capable of operating in 3 theatres of war simultaneously.

So Kim Jong-Il has built North Korea’s first nuclear bomb. By all accounts the first explosion was less than 1,000 tonnes, either a partial success or a partial failure, who knows! But tests in the past by other powers have been around the 10,000 tonnes, judged at that level to be a successful test of capability. Already he has vowed to continue testings if the US imposes sanctions.

It reminds me of the cold war, where we saw a continuance of a fear driven weaponry build up by the United States and Russia, both fed on a diet of incompetent intelligence. At the time the Russian economy was estimated to be three times its actual size, by the CIA and accepted as factual by a gullible eager Administration. So we continued on in this mindless exchange and build up of weaponry until the Soviet Union eventually collapsed inwards as it became unsustainable.

The current situation with North Korea I think could be much more easily resolved. So what is it they want or hope to achieve? The seeds of the current situation go back to 1994 as North Korea’s wants to go back to the original 1994 “Framework Agreement” originated by Clinton where food, fuel and two light water reactors were to be provided in exchange for North Korea’s abandoning its nuclear weapons programs. The North had agreed to these terms, but the United States has never honoured its obligations.

Time will tell, but it’s high time we had sensible foreign policy initiatives from the USA and its allies!, administrations that don’t regard compromise as a dirty word, and are willing to hold talks and consider alternatives.

Maybe the United Nations will be able to negotiate a way forward, but only with support from its previous most powerful critic, the USA.

Wednesday, October 4

Nuclear Madness

Oct. 3 (Bloomberg) – “North Korea will conduct a nuclear test, its Foreign Ministry said, a move Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said would be "unforgivable'' and require a severe response from the international community. “

"The DPRK will in the future conduct a nuclear test under the condition where safety is firmly guaranteed,'' the ministry said in a statement published on the country's official Korea Central News Agency. DPRK are the initials for the country's formal name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea”

North Korea’s stance is unpredictable, but I think they would realise any engagement of nuclear weapons in warfare will only bring about annihilation, just as was realised by Mao and other consummate psychopaths even though they were willing to sacrifice millions of lives for a stated aim of world supremacy.

At the same time France Says Iran Must Halt Uranium Enrichment.

Oct. 3 (Bloomberg) -- France said Iran must suspend its uranium enrichment program before it makes further proposals on how to break a deadlock with the U.S. and other countries over its nuclear program.

Iran must first give an answer to an offer made by the five members of the United Nations Security Council plus Germany that they would enter into negotiations with Iran and suspend the threat of sanctions if it halts enrichment, said Jean-Baptiste Mattei, a spokesman for the French Foreign Ministry.

Iran said earlier today that French nuclear company Areva SA could oversee uranium enrichment in Iran to guarantee that it was intended for peaceful purposes.

"Mohammad Saeedi, deputy head of Iran's nuclear agency, said in an interview with France Info radio that Iran's proposal to break the deadlock was to have Areva oversee enrichment in Iran."

When the cold war ended with the collapse of the Soviet Union and the East German wall, a renewed sense of optimism flourished.

Now we have different threats to world peace.

But it’s also true for the world at large, for it is madness for any country to have, keep or manufacture nuclear weapons. Forget about Star wars and other fanciful notions about defence systems blowing these missiles or bombs out of the sky.

Ultimately I think the only way foreword is a return to negotiation and mediation through a present feeble United Nations, which needs to be rebuilt, strengthened and re energised under a new Secreartary- General, almost certainty to be South Korea's Foreign Minister, Ban Ki-moon, maybe to give peace a chance.

Wednesday, September 27

Sunday, September 24

Mud Glorious Mud

The above pictures are of my neighbour’s mud brick house, a common site where I live here in Eltham, Melbourne, Victoria, home to mud brick building in Australia. ‘Muddies” as that are called became popular in the mid fifties when Eltham was a remote small community and their champion was Alistair Knox.

It is axiomatic that mud bricks will be a fundamental element in the alternative social structure today,'' he wrote.

"The material itself is free. It costs a man his physical labour only, which is the same for both rich and poor. "The making can be a wholly natural activity. It has great therapeutic properties. Watching the earth dry and the varying characteristics of its physical structure, immerse us in poetic deliberations that unite our hearts, heads and hands.

Click here to read his story.

Using mud bricks as building materials is relatively straightforward; homes are generally cooler in summer and warmer in winter. Apart from ensuring they have slightly longer eaves, mud brick homes don’t require any special maintenance and will outlast those constructed of more conventional materials.

To day there are small pockets of homes in the older areas where most of the homes are made from mud bricks. If you’re interested in modern designs click here for pictures.

Wednesday, September 20


Rupert McCall, a Queensland poet.wrote this tribute to Steve Irwin...

Endless visions fill my head - this man - as large as life. And instantly my heart mourns for his angels and his wife. Because the way I see Steve Irwin - just put everything aside. It comes back to his family - it comes back to his pride.

His animals inclusive - Crikey - light the place with love! Shine his star with everything he fought to rise above. The crazy-man of Khaki from the day he left the pouch. Living out his dream and in that classic 'Stevo' crouch.

Exploding forth with character and redefining cheek. It's one thing to be honoured as a champion unique. It's one thing to have microphones and spotlight cameras shoved. It's another to be taken in and genuinely loved.

But that was where he had it right - I guess he always knew. From his fathers' modest reptile park and then Australia Zoo. We cringed at times and shook our heads - but true to natures call. There was something very Irwin in the make up of us all.

Yes the more I care to think of it - the more he had it right. If you're going to make a difference - make it big and make it bright!. Yes - he was a lunatic! Yes - he went head first! But he made the world feel happy with his energetic burst.

A world so large and loyal that it's hard to comprehend. I doubt we truly count the warmth until life meets an end .To count it now I say a prayer with words of inspiration. May the spotlight shine forever on his dream for conservation.

…My daughter broke the news to me - my six year old in tears. It was like she'd just turned old enough to show her honest fears. I tried to make some sense of it but whilst her Dad was trying .His little girl explained it best…she said "The crocodiles are crying"

Their best mate's up in heaven now - the crocs up there are smiling! And as sure as flowers, poems and cards and memories are piling. As sure as we'll continue with the trademarks of his spiel. Of all the tributes worthy - he was rough…but he was real.

As sure as 'Crikey!' fills the sky I think we'll miss ya Steve…goodbye

Friday, September 1

Suicide Bombers & Violence

What brings Suicide Bombers to detonate themselves and cause loss of life to innocent bystanders? Is it a religious fervour, the fragrant perfume of promised paradise for martyrdom?

In Islam suicide is forbidden and its incidence is at a lower pro rata rate to population than the West. A taking of a life is only allowed by way of justice with the death penalty for murder, but it is also acknowledged that forgiveness is better. Harming innocent bystanders, even in war, is forbidden under the Qur’an. On a personal level Muslims are generally peaceful, honest, hard working, civic minded people, no different to any other societies. The profile of the Suicide Bombers is not as you would expect. About 50% have a university degree; the majority are aged 18-23 and indistinuisble from the general populace. The largest share doesn’t come from Bush's proclaimed axis of evil, but from Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.

The crux of the matter and what brings fear to the mind is the term Jihad, which is to exert utmost effort, to strive, to struggle. Jihad has many different meanings, but it is simplistically attributed in non Islamic cultures to a “Religious War”. It has the same negative connotation in the West as “Crusade” has in the Islamic world, an association there with the Christen Crusaders who fought the Muslims for control of the Holy Land. The Link to a religious fervour as a precursor to violence is indeed a tenuous one. You might say Islamic fundamentalism is an enabler, rather than a motivator for theses acts of Terror. Violence and conflict in the region is largely a secular struggle, unconnected to religion. For example when Israel withdrew from 70% of it occupation of Gaza, captured mostly in the 7day war 40 years earlier, the number of suicide attacks by Hamas reduced by 90%. This type of example in the region is duplicated in every conflict. Dr Robert Pape from the University of Chicago sums up the position very well in my opinion: What nearly all suicide terrorist attacks actually have in common is specific secular and strategic goal: to compel modern democracies to withdraw military forces from territory that the terrorists consider to be their homeland.

Religion is often used as a tool by terrorist organisations in recruiting and in seeking aid from abroad, but it is rarely the root cause.The general pattern in data supports these conclusions.
First, nearly all suicide terrorist attacks –301 of the 315 I studied –took place as part of organised political or military campaigns.

Second democracies are uniquely vulnerable to suicide terrorists: America, France, and India. Israel, Russia. Sri Lanka and Turkey have been the targets of almost every suicide attack of the past two decade.
Third suicide terrorist campaigns are directed toward a strategic objective from Lebanon to Israel to Sri Lanka to Kashmir to Chechnya. The sponsors of every campaign-18 organisations in all-are seeking to maintain political self determination.Before Israel’s invasion of Lebanon in 1982 there was no Hezbollah suicide terrorist campaign against Israel; indeed Hezbollah came into existence only after this event. Before the Sri Lankan military began moving into Tamil homelands of the Island in 1987, the Tamil Tigers did not use suicide attacks. Before the increase in the Jewish settlers on the West bank in the 1980”s Palestinian groups did not use suicide terrorist, and true to form, there has never been documented suicide attack in Iraq until the American Invasion in 2003

It is essential America stage a planned withdrawal from Iraq. In fact I believe this is already occurring to a mild degree, despite recent rhetoric to the contrary, as there are currently 3 less brigades in operation.

I am quite sure If America had understood better the nature of the true conflicts in the region, factions kept at bay by a brutal Dictator, it would not have invaded Iraq ion the first place. I also think behind the scenes in Washington there is a growing realisation the US must get out of Iraq in a staged manner. Keep your eyes on the numbers of brigades not the rhetoric in the months ahead.

I laso think ther idea being advanced by the US that if we don’t fight theses Terrorists in Iraq, they will come after you in the USA and elsewhere is a fanciful notion.

We all know the weapons of mass destruction were a complete furphy; and I think history will judge the decision to invade Iraq one of the worst ill conceived wars in modern day times. It will take along time for America to recover from is loss of credibility in the world stage, to be respected as genuine peacekeeper who is able to help make the world a better a place.

Monday, August 21

Rachael’s Jazz Band

Rachael (my daughter) has been studying with a group of musicians who have formed a Jazz band called Tardis. Here is her rendition of the old classic “Autumn Leaves” Click here to listen to this lovely recording.

Wednesday, August 16

Mighty Murray River

Our mighty Murray River desperately needs an increase in its water flow, depleted by massive irrigation. As our respective Premiers in NSW, Victoria and SA argue over "Water Rights ' its remains in its parlous position. Above is a picture I took on Monday, with a paddle steamers docked, in Albury while travelling up to sydney in NSW.

Here is my poem.

Torrents of water from far off Mountain streams
Over rocky outcrops to valleys in between
Once flowed our mighty Murray, Nations debt
Irrigated in ignorance, environmental threat

Farewell mighty Murray, flows in doubt
From the high country to trickle at sea mouth
Mouth dry and silted, Oceans regret
Might Murray river, past flows to rescue yet

Saturday, August 12

Book Tagged

One book that changed your life?

I don’t think books have been life changing for me; rather they have influenced my general philosophy. In my earlier life I was influenced by the writings of Albert Schweitzer, and should you be interested in his life and thought click here. I like his idea to show reverence to all life.

More recently Stephen Wolframs lengthy book “A New Kind of Science” was interesting and confirmed to me the idea that immense complexity arises effortlessly from non complex beginnings. Click here to read my review of his book. I am also interested in why societies choose to fail or survive, so I found Jarred Diamonds ‘Collapse’ of interest.

One book you have read more than once?
I have read the Books of Albert Schweitzer many times.

One book that made you laughs?
I like listening too interviews by Michael Parkinson on the BBC.
Michael Parkinson’s book, entitled Michael Parkinson on Golf made me laugh.

One book that made you cry?
The author Paul Calico was one who comes to mind, as child I loved the “the Snow Goose”.

One book you wish you had written?
“Can Of Worms” A book depicting large scale systemic corruption of police, the judiciary and politicians at the highest level of society in Australia and their link to well known criminals.

I am interested in corruption, how it arises and why it continues to flourish. I have been involved in a minor way in the past in “stamping out” corrupt practices.

One book you wish had never been written?
I don’t think books harm people generally.

One book you are currently reading?
I have been too busy lately, barely able to even read newspaper and magazines. I am travelling to Sydney this week and hope to do reading there.

One book you've been meaning to read?
Robert Mann's book “Do Not Disturb” about media failings in Australia and the crisis in our liberal democracy.

Thursday, August 3

Grandchildrens delight

Recently we celebrated Liam’s 1st birthday party, pictured with me directly above. Alice was also a happy girl on the day as you cans see from her photo.

Let’s hope their generation enjoys a more peaceful world, which prompted me to compose a short poem.


Torments of our violent earth
Cries for freedom let peace re- birth
Peaceful form, oh pure delight
To banish violence from all sight

Form of peace itself to know
Form of peace, desires to show
Form of peace, peaceful review
May new life a peace renew

Spirit of peace call forth surrender
To the light filled, peace agenda
Form of peace, peaceful review
May new life a peace renew

Tuesday, July 25

Malawi Catholic church firebombed

Twenty people were injured in a deliberately set explosion during Mass at a church near the Malawi capital of Lilongwe.Reuters reports that a man dressed as a choir member set off an explosion at the St Francis Church in a township outside of the capital Lilongwe, igniting a ferocious fire that injured at least 20 people.Police spokesman Willie Mwaluka said the blast on Sunday appeared to have been deliberately set."We have dispatched our explosives experts to the scene to investigate whether indeed this was a bomb or simply petrol carried in a bag," Mr Mwaluka said."The motive by the suspect is unknown, because he is still at-large. He ran away during the stampede," he said.Mr Mwaluka said the man arrived at the church carrying a bag and dressed as a choir member. Other choristers detected a strong smell of petrol but before they could raise the alarm the suspect lit a match and the bag exploded.Malawi Home Affairs Minister Bob Khamisa condemned the incident and ordered police to thoroughly investigate the motive."Places of worship are sacred and should be the safest places for society. I want to assure Malawians that government will tighten security in all public places," Mr Khamisa said in a brief statement.Relations between members of the different religions in Malawi have been largely harmonious.Catholics make up around a fifth of Malawi's 10 million people. At least 70 percent of Malawians are Christians, while about 20 percent are Muslims. The remaining 10 percent are members of traditional sects. Click here for the article
The community effected is not connected with our Support group.

For the latest pictures from Malawi visit the Malawi web site or click here.

Sunday, July 23

Hot Rocks

The question of greenhouse emissions and global warming highlight the pressing need to develop alternative pollutant free sources of energy. Sun, wind and water play only a minor role as an alternative energy sources, satisfying 18% of the world energy needs.

Recent studies indicate the possibility of an abundant renewable energy supply just below our feet, in the form of hot rocks. We are all familiar with molten rock breaking through the earths crust to spew lavy into the atmosphere but in such a state it is far too hot and difficult to harness as a viable energy source.However just below the earths surface there are vast pockets of hot granite rocks with enough heat to drive steam turbines and generate electricity.

Dr Doone Wybong from the Australian National University and his geophysicist colleague, Dr Prame Chopra, have spent two decades searching for clues to the whereabouts of this energy source, which is as old as the earth itself. If they are able to locate reasonable reserves of theses rocks, our energy problems would largely be resolved.

How does the idea work? The technology is ingenious !!

Water is injected into a borehole and circulated through a "heat exchanger" to hot cracked rocks several kilometres below the surface. The water is heated through contact with the rocks and is then returned to the surface through another borehole where it is used to generate electricity. The water is then re-injected into the first borehole to be reheated and used again.

The heat used in this hot rock energy process is eventually replaced by the Earth; it can be classified as renewable energy.

Heat mining for the future?

For further technical data and the complete interview click here.

Wednesday, July 12

An act of kindness

A close friend is recovering from surgery and treatment. It’s been a stressful worrying time and his wife recently recounted an incident to me which highlights the positive effect of continued acts of kindness.

The headlights of their car were not working, so they stopped at Eltham Auto Barn to purchase a globe costing $10. Although parts are not fitted the Store attendant asked a young chap present “would you like to help this women fit the globe”. Our Friends medical position was unknown to them.
The young man proceeded with enthusiasm, realising the old globe has badly melted into its socket requiring the entire assembly to be dismantled involving 40 minutes of tedious work. The husbands frustration at not being able to help his wife soon subsided.

Afterwards the young man told them how much he enjoyed working on cars, thanking them for an opportunity and refusing any monetary reward.

It lifted our friend’s spirits immediately and it was evident in its afterglow a few days later as the story was recounted to me.

Here is a poem about it -

An act of kindness

Kindness of an ordinary man
To strangers he does lend a hand
Can foresee a pressing need
Spirit sowed a thoughtful seed

Globe had melted in headlight
Help from stranger will reunite
Cars model was the one he knew
Problem sorted, cars lights renew

Kindly man swaggers off
Head held high, spirits aloft
Time no issue you understand
Youthful man a man so grand

The moral of a bleeding heart
Compassion knows, intended part
Rewards a giver, tis plain to see
Help to human family

Wednesday, July 5


Have been tagged by Vee from Toronto and have to reply on my blog.

I am thinking about
I enjoy thinking about different things concurrently. I try and suspend judgments to what to think about, but I guess retiring from work in about a year time is a recurrent theme.

I said.
As we become obsessed with control and a fear of the loss of control, we become unhappy as we strive for the unattainable

I want to.
I want to go on learning new things every day

I wish
For peace.

I hear
The changing cycle of nature.

I wonder.
About the meaning of life.

I regret
I don't think about regrets, rather I like looking back on my life and thinking about the different choices.

What I am
I am wiser as I an older.

I dance
poorly and prefer to sing

I sing.
in the shower, at church, and occasionally elsewhere.

I cry.
Over life's tragedies.

I am not always.
Easily satisfied.

I make with my hands.
Very little as I am not a handy person.

I write.
What I think.

I confuse
Not something I worry about occasionally with wrong numbers. I don't mind being confused, it's the first stage in new learning.

I need.
Company and friendship

And finally
Best wishes

Saturday, July 1

Water Use

Apart from the 70% of water used in agriculture, another 7% is consumed by Industry and despite reduced usage over recent years quantities used in manufacture for individual items remain subtantial as my poem indicates.

Water serves our nations folk
40litres to make one can of coke

It’s our lifeblood; in things so real
50 litres to make one kg of steel

Time to satisfy your sweet appetite
120 litres makes one kg sugars delight

Faithful newsprint records our daily fate
280litres makes one kg paperweight

Car tis freedom your travellers delight
300,000 litres to for fill delight

Based on these Facts
40 Litres of water is used to manufacture I can of coke
50 Litres of water is used to manufacture I kg of steel
120 Litres of water is used to manufacture 1 kg of sugar
280 Litres of water is used to manufacture I kg of paper
300,000 Litres of water is used to manufacture 1 automobile.

Water is more valuable than Oil

Water water everywhere, but not a drop to drink.

Our planet earth is a very watery place as the sea occupies over 70% of the Earths surface.Coincidentally, water makes up 70% of our human body mass.

The bulk of our fresh water resides in the polar icecaps, which are gradually melting due to global warming. Fresh water sources are from surface catchments, lakes and rivers and underground sources, and water as a finite resource has been largely taken for granted in the developed world until fairly recently.

Our cradle of civilisation began with the birth of agriculture, allowing stored grains to be used as required without the need of a nomadic lifestyle in search of seasonal food. Civilisations great leap forward however came from the use of irrigation, allowing many varieties to be grown with less dependence on seasonal rainfall.

Our Pioneers were blissfully unaware of the consequences of large scale irrigation in arid areas and its resultant salination effects over time on the soil. In Australia away from our dense populations on the eastern seaboard, the country is fragile, dry and one without the rich volcanic soil seen in many other parts of the globe, except for a few isolated pockets. This is the legacy of 4 billion years under the sea which washed out most of the soils nutrients. The aboriginals occupied the land prior to colonisation for 45,000 years but the early settlers reshaped the landscape in the shadow of British farming practices, with extensive tree felling and overgrazing by sheep and cattle. The combination of tree felling and irrigation raised the water levels causing salination problems in many parts of the countryside: miles and miles of desolate, salt filled land with pools of salt water render land unusable. Similar outcomes are prevalent in parts of the USA, Egypt, Iraq and Pakistan, all effected by salination.

Irrigation impacted adversely on our largest river system, the Murray, which flows along the eastern side of South Australia, New South Wales and Victoria borders. Irrigation from the Murray sustains this region which produces 50% of Australia’s fresh fruit and vegetables, but at a terrible cost to the river and its eco system. Irrigation water drawn from the Murray has resulted in so little water remaining in the once mighty river its flow was insufficient to carry any fresh water into the ocean.
This environmental position for the river if allowed to continue would have a devastating affect on its biology, eliminating most species.

Fortunately there is a ground for cautious optimism today as both our Commonwealth and Sate Governments have put aside substantial funds directed to restoring an environmental flow of water to the Murray river, but at the time of writing no conclusive settlement has been reached.The new water deal will see 120 billion liters of water returned to the Murray River from farmers in exchange for funds for upgrades to irrigation and other farming infrastructure. Some irrigation systems loose up to 40% of water to evaporation. The deal has been welcomed by Farmers but remains bogged down because of interstate rivalries involving the "unbundling" of state water rights.

The framework will not be implemented until agreement is reached with other states on issues such as the value of water. Under the Bill rivers will be legally entitled to a certain amount of water known as an environmental water reserve.The bill demands a review of the state's water resources every 15 years, in part examining how events such as climate change and bushfires affect levels.

Today there is also an industry being built up around water. The idea is that water rights could be traded, like other commodities; ensuring users pay a market price for those facilities to be made available. The rights would only aggregate in total to the level calculated as sustainable by respective country authorities. I like the idea rivers will be legally entitled to a certain amount of water known as an Environmental Water Reserves as I think it’s another practical way of entering a covenant with nature. It’s vitally important for Australia as it is even more so, for the developing world. To day the developed world still uses around 70% of all available water for irrigation

Overall we are learning from past mistakes and per capita use of water in Australia has reduced by 20% per year for the past few years. I think farming and looking after the environment go hand in hand. Both can co-exist as an expression of long term sustainability. It's often Farmers who are the ones most interested in preserving their environment to farm in a sustainable way.

Notwithstanding some of these positive aspects of reduced agricultural water usage the provision of fresh drinking water remains one of the largest challenges for the world to day. But that’s another topic.

Thursday, June 22

Peak Oil

Peak oil describes the point in time when oil production declines. Peak oil theory assumes demand will outstrip supply as future deposits become increasingly costly to extract, ensuring price escalation and an end to oil dependant economies with catastrophic results. Nobody can tell reliably when that will happen but a groundswell of current opinion suggests it is already upon us. In June last year the prediction was $46 a barrel for oil, compared to our actual average cost so far of $67.

It is an undeniable fact that reduced oil use, particularly in agriculture and most types of transport require huge societal shifts to sustainable limited alternatives. Alternative technology is far from encouraging. Man made fuels such as ethanol, derived from plants or diesel from coal only partially cover the gap and are much more expensive. There is no viable alternative other than to drastically curtail our use of oil, with less dependence on transport and requiring communities to become more self sufficient.

But is the peak oil theory creditable? Are we at the end of the oil age?

In the past we have encountered similar sharp price increases in the 1970’s when OPEC curtailed production, in 1981 when Iraq was at war with Iran, and in 1991 during the gulf war. This time proponents of the peak oil theory say it’s a different scenario because our reserves have been in decline and new fields will be increasingly costly. We cannot change geology. Oil and gas will become increasingly expensive to extract from dwindling reserves. It seems creditable enough to believe we have reached this point in the cycle where oil prices can only escalate rapidly.

However recent statistics on world reserves show a small net increase, cementing a continuing trend of the oil industry each year to find more oil then it produces. In other words the net effect of new discoveries of economically feasible oil fields and assessment of the life of existing reserves of what’s left in the ground showed an incremental increase over previous years, in line with a positive continuing trend. The proponents of the peak oil theory argue countries like Saudi Arabia deliberately lie about their level of reserves, overstating the figures to justify pumping more oil. But their motivation for doing this is at odds with their investment plans, as they implement large scale infrastructure spending. Why spend vast sums of money to increase your capacity if your reserves are running out!!

Herein then lies the confusion, assuming there is a fudging of figures than the theory remains creditable, if not we have time to adjust. And if the latter be correct than the price of oil will actually fall back to somewhere in the range of $50 per barrel, or even below within a year, assuming countries don’t simply turn off the pump and also barring another War or a cataclysmic event.

What of the future? No one knows!

Maybe there is a window of opportunity over the next 30 years to finally make some headway in reducing our reliance on oil, time for consumers to adjust. Either way the key is to change towards a sustainable pollutant free lifestyle.

Oil markets and futures contracts are going to be in for a very rocky ride in the meantime. The same analysists who predicted $46 for this year are now predicting $60 for 2007.

Wednesday, June 14

To Russia with love

The era of new freedom, market force your new way
Don’t rule out compassion as economics give sway

Speak of the devil, beware shadowy cloaks
Time for renewal, cast off bitter yokes

Arise now new leaders with hearts now restored
Bring justice mighty homeland for one and for all

Tuesday, June 13

Headless Chickens

I am pleased to report the Migration and Amendment Bill 2006 I commented on in the last post received a frosty reception from the Senate Committee who concluded that in its current state it was unfair, undemocratic and violated human rights.

At least 2 Government back benchers signalled their intention to “cross the floor” and vote against the provisions of the Bill with the Opposition Parties in Federal Parliament. By all accounts it’s a Bill which will be defeated. It’s also worth mentioning the reason for the legislation, arising as an intended appeasement to Indonesia for the recent action in granting asylum in Australia. to a group of Papuans. The Indonesian Government withdrew its Ambassador and was exceedingly displeased with Australia’s actions in recognising the Papuans as refugees. .

The heading for this post brought to mind my Father beheading a chicken to be eaten, by chopping off its head. But on rare occasions the hapless headless chicken ran around the back yard briefly in an involuntary action.
And so it reminds me of the current state of play of politics in Australia. Given there are some good things going on in Government but there has largely been a void of genuine policy initiatives, for quite some time. For policy to work well I believe it must have as its roots prescribed community values. Values need to be reflective of ethics that provide such things as equal opportunity, minimum heath care, rewarding working conditions, universal education opportunities to all, care for our environment, human rights and freedoms of expression. The effectiveness of policy is to measure its implementation and effect against theses core values. This is not rocket science, nor should it be, but it’s a far cry from the attempted knee jerk reactions to governance responding just to opinion polls on the run and around elections time.

A good example recently was the proposed 2 billion dollar float of the Snowy Mountain Scheme. After a public outcry the Commonwealth reversed its decision to sell its stake, only weeks after our Prime Minister was espousing its virtues.The absence of serious policy initiatives remands me of those hapless chooks.

Monday, June 12

Migration and Amendment Bill 2006

In Australia next week our Government debates a new Bill which will divert future refugees to Nauru, a tiny island in the Pacific. Other Provisions of the Bill reintroduce child detention indefinitely.

I have visited Nauru, known for its past mining of phosphate, and it now resembles a lunar landscape, except for the tiny green perimeter around the island. Otherwise the island consists of massive grey cones, a legacy of the phosphate mining when no attempt was made towards restoration.

This detention centre, for processing of Refugees away from the public, frees the government from the responsibility to accept refugees. By processing refugees off shore the government is also freed from the responsibility do case managed mental care. I have signed a partition against the Bill and refer you to the various submissions to the Senate Enquiry to view comments of many concerned citizens.

If only One Liberal member will vote with Labour against the Bill it will be defeated.Click here for the various submissions.

Tuesday, June 6

Young Hearts

Who can recite multiverses?
Could there be strangers in parallel universes?

Are new births, new stars every day?
New dimensions in time far away?

Behold our precious light so profound
Rejoice in one universe for all of mankind

Saturday, June 3


Last weekend our parish celebrated jointly our patrons Mary and St Kizito who is the patron saint of our sister parish in Malawi. I had been asked to say a few words on what it means to be part of our parish and what motivated me to join the Malawi Support Group.

I first joined the parish in 1983, becoming a catholic in 1986 and I think I can say what it meant to me then, applies equally to day, that is to be part of a vibrant community.

That community like the branches of a tree needs nourishment. For me that nourishment of community has its expression in a parish fellowship and friendship together, a spiritual uplifting liturgy, sharing in a common faith and hope that enhance our wellbeing. To join in our parish is to join in a communal oasis. A sanctuary to be sustained in a renewed reverence for life. Hence I rather like the expression, the deer refreshed from the cool steams.

Turning to the second question on what motivated me to join the Malawi Support group I also begin with the idea of community which was the primary motivational force, to share one community’s gifts with another.
Many years ago when I belonged to an Anglican Fellowship I was interested in communities abroad and drawn to become their Missionary Secretary, raising small amounts of money for African missions.
So my interest in a sister parish in Malawi was a natural corollary that quickly caught my attention, just after formation. My motivation arises from a desire to share our gifts with those in the poorest communities, wherever they are but particularly in Africa and in Malawi.

For me there was strong motivation to help in a small way the warm heart of Malawi and Africa, cradle of our civilisation, bleeding badly to day.

Just after the talk we shared with the congregation recent photos from Malawi. The photos are also posted on the Malawi Website(click here to view) and include pictures of women knitting sweaters for orphans for the coming cold season.
Currently there is a group of 60 girls learning to knit and trying to improve their English. All have just about completed knitting hats and sweaters for themselves. Fr. Paddy Hagan from Mtsiriza who has also started a small project where he is distributing fruit tree seedlings for folk to plant trees.

Their mosquito net scheme is proving to be an effective deterrent to the incidence of malaria, with nets distributed by woman vendors who make a small profit of 20KW on each net sold. Their VCT-ARV clinic dispenses AIDS drugs for aids sufferers as part of the home based care centre and has up to 35 clients a day.

At the same time we also presented contrasting scenes of our own parish life, to give a perspective of the two communities.

On the Saturday evening as part of that celebration we were entertained in our School Hall by the ‘DEGENERATES”, a musical group of fathers of students attending Genazzao school in Melbourner who had kindly agreed to play for us on the night. The dollars raised on the night go to a parish fund for the legal costs for our friends we are currently supporting in an application to allow them to stay in Australia.

It was great night and we look forword to having the “THE DEGENARATES “back in the future for a fully supported function.

I had the pleasure of singing one number with the band, "White Christmas" as one of our parishioners has requested it. He had served in the Merchant Navy in WW2, and tells the story of how morale was low, following an Air raid, when over the loud speakers they heard the recording of “White Christmas” which immediately had a calming effect, as morale was restored. Just as it did on so many other occasions during WW2.

Saturday, May 27


My wife is a writer and I have managed to persuad her to allow me to publish one of her short stories, about our adventure holiday.

Its Entitled Odyssey

It’s midday in late July and I’m huddled in a large fishing dinghy on the Pacific Ocean. The equatorial sun attempts to penetrate the swaddling of this mummy-like figure clinging to the wooden rim of the boat. What am I doing here, I wonder, as I drink greedily from my water bottle? I could be lounging lazily in Melbourne beside a cosy fire, sipping hot chocolate.

My friend, Barbara, sitting up on the side of this craft, soaking up the experience, knows why she is here. My husband, Lindsay, perched further forward on the opposite side, unconcerned about the sun’s perforating rays, knows what he is doing here. They are responding to an invitation to visit Abaiang, a small coral island, part of Kiribati (KIR-UH-BAHS) (formerly the Gilbert Islands).

“Come and visit my island; you will see the most amazing sunsets,” Judy, a 27 year old Canadian missionary, offered to Barbara some months earlier.

Barbara has come because she has visited Kiribati before, and feels the need to return, perhaps to commit to some volunteer work later. Lindsay wished to accompany a friend, to experience something new, and I am, somewhat reluctantly, accompanying partner and friend.

“Look, dolphins,” calls Lindsay over the whirr of the outboard motor.

I struggle to make myself a little more comfortable on my luggage seat, at the same time following Lindsay’s gaze. Two grey forms leap gracefully from the cobalt sea ahead then disappear, like children playing hide and seek, into the inky depths. I’m mesmerised, waiting enthusiastically for their next display.

The ocean is relatively calm, dispelling my fear of huge swells, sea sickness, and most of all, the possibility of capsizing. I did read in Arthur Grimble’s, “A Pattern of Islands,” that the south-east trades breathe steadily at 25 miles an hour for months on end, but can slam round to the north and blow a 40 mile gale. I wonder if our two boatmen are expecting heavy weather? They’re wearing hard hats for some reason, and we can’t ask them why as their English is limited. We can but speculate! Perhaps there are large flying fish in the waters. Maybe they were a gift, or left over from a building site job some time. The latter seems unlikely, though, as there was little evidence of large building works at Basio, the port of Tarawa, from where we had cast off only an hour ago. There were, however, remains of industrious activity from the Second World War. The Japanese invaded Tarawa, building a landing strip, road and later cement bunkers to defend the island from the American rescuers. The beach, where once one of the largest and bloodiest battles of the Pacific was fought, is now covered with cramped village housing and the bunkers have become the children’s climbing equipment. Oh, there is really nothing to worry about, as we are still in sight of land: Tarawa, a slate silhouette on the horizon behind us, and Abaiang appearing ahead like a mirage, through the sun’s metallic rays.
I hope my water lasts. Of course it will. Only an hour to go and the temperature is unlikely to change much. The internet printout states that the temperature here varies little between 26 and 32 degrees Celsius all year round and I’m sure it’s reached the maximum. Wouldn’t it be pleasant if we could slip over the side to cool off. On second thought I don’t think I would like to risk the wrath of the tiger sharks (Tababa) said to hunt for trevally in these waters. Legend has it that if you stay still in the sea the Tababa will charge you. If you swim away from them in fear they will smell your fear and chase you. If you swim without fear towards them they will be afraid and leave you in peace. Still, this is not the time or place to prove myth or fact.

“Coming, ready or not.”

Where are those cheeky dolphins? I want to take a photo. Oh, good, there they are, so sleek and graceful. I wonder if they are marine guardian angels guiding us from island to island. That is a comforting thought. Is the sun addling my brain?

“What an amazing sight,” Barbara comments, wrenching me from my reverie.
“Yes, that is incredible. It looks like a house boat.”
“ Fam-ly fish,” responds one of our smiling boatmen.
The family doesn’t appear to be doing much fishing at the moment. I wouldn’t mind changing places with them. They seem very comfortable sitting cross-legged on that flat wooden roof beneath the shade of a tarpaulin, which, like a misplaced sail is tied loosely between the side of the vessel and two poles fastened to the deck. I imagine they are enjoying the gentle breeze generated by the propulsion of the craft through the sultry salty air.

Still, like us, they have little room to move around. Two thirds of the roof is covered with rolls of hand woven pandanus leaf mats which the native women weave to sell in the Tarawa market places. All their worldly possessions are stacked haphazardly on the lower deck. I wonder if those splashed of colour filtering through the open sided structure are sarongs drying in the heat.

Heat! Was it only two days ago I stepped from the plane to a burst of hot air which momentarily stopped me in my tracks? I should have expected it, as we are, after all, two degrees above the equator. The stifling, corrugated iron airport building was a far cry from the modern Tullamarine air terminal. Our luggage had been piled in the far corner, on a cement floor, among dozens of those striped plastic carry-all bags which the I-Kirabiti passengers used as luggage. Various packages and boxes full of purchases from Australia littered the unloading bay entrance, slowing our customs clearance. It was 10:00am and 28 degrees in the shade, and I was anxious for a cold shower and a change of clothes.

A pale hand beckoned like a beacon above a sea of dark faces, guiding us through the crowd. A handsome young man, hair tied loosely behind his neck, moved leisurely towards us , smiling lazily. Gently he placed a brightly-coloured, delicately-woven garland of tiny blossoms on our heads, evoking memories of frangipani, daisy chains and a carefree childhood. Introductions followed this unexpected moving gesture. Then John, Barbara’s Australian Volunteers Abroad friend, announced,
“Your plane to Abaiang is grounded due to mechanical problems. But, I have managed to get some local fishermen to run you over.”

So here I am , slowly cooking to a lobster red but fascinated by the changing colours of the waters beneath. Azure, like the cloudless sky above, and now aqua marine as we glide closer to our island destination. Not far to go now. That line of palm trees, rising sentry-like from the horizon, must be concealing the mission buildings and our expectant host. Can’t see a wharf anywhere. Neither can our fishermen apparently, as one has been scouring the shore line with binoculars for the past half hour. Hope we are not lost. Can’t see any sign-posts or markers. Those natives snorkelling over there might point us in the right direction as there seems to be a great deal of calling and gesticulating.

Is that a cross ahead on the beach? Yes! We’re here at last. But where’s the wharf? I should have realised this is not your everyday tropical paradise but an equatorial outpost. Beautiful, peaceful and pristine, yes, but remote, nonetheless. If my friends could only see me now, stumbling knee deep through the lagoon shallows, water-bottle and camera held high. The fine coral bed gripping my ankles like shallow quick-sand is making progress extremely difficult. Barbara’s suggestion to wear water resistant shoes was sound advice. Our fishermen, now loaded down with backpacks and boxes of groceries, seem quite at home with this aquatic landing.

What a strange sight we must seem to those striking-looking students observing our sluggish arrival. Their smiles radiating from cocoa coloured features are beacons to this broiled flotsam.

“How did you get here?” called a pretty,freckled-faced red head joyously. “The plane was cancelled!”

“John arranged a lift with some local fishermen. We couldn’t miss your promised sunset,” Barbara replied.

“Come in, freshen up,and meet my house mates, then we will walk down to the lagoon and watch the show.”

At last we’re here, rested and expectant, beneath the lanky coconut trees clustered along the foreshore. The offshore breeze, caressing our faces and playing tag with the palms, heralds the reposing sun. Magenta, crimson, orange and lavender downy clouds fashion its bedding. I am not disappointed. My reluctance fades with the sunset. The journey to this land of endless summer is worth the taking. Once in a lifetime one should step out of life’s rut and experience something different. This is my season.

Sunday, May 21

Birthday Blooms

My wife will be 60 soon in June, so I composed this poem.

I thought of a poem for my dear wife
A trusted companion, for 40 years of my life
Rather not sing to her, a usual birthday line
Prefer short verse, best keep it in rhyme

Anne celebrates 60 years of her life
She cares for her family, has cared all her life
Her emotions like oceans, her writings so deep
Stories of childhood, day dreams for sweet sleep

Opinions are sought, children’s ask every day
Answers from Anne, you can trust her to say
What she thinks, in her own logical way
Emotion gives notions emotional sway

Anne celebrates 60 years of her life
She cares for her family, has cared all her life
Her emotions like oceans, her writings so deep
Stories of childhood, day dreams for sweet sleep

Happy birthday my wife, my dearest best friend
Lifetimes together, are the blooms every spring
Life branches grow to one limb to one life
Sweet birthday wishes, one family to dear wife

Monday, May 15

Pritchard’s Power for the World

The advent of steam power ushered in a period of great expansion in the industrialised world, as ships substituted steam for sail opening up the waterways to become our first highways. People and cargo were linked to other communities over our vast continent. But it was to be the motor car that most revolutionised the world of the 20th century, creating a freedom of mobility that only could have been dreamed by our forebears.

It seems as if by accident those first motor vehicles were petrol driven rather than by steam. Perhaps it was assumed inefficient and slow start up steam engines could not be improved by clever design and hence the internal combustion petrol engine was seen as superior. An enormous infrastructure quickly built up around that investment, to the exclusion of alternatives.
Estates and cities could now be created away from the waterways, as motor vehicles gave us unpanelled new freedom spurred on by abundant cheap oil. A populace oblivious to the polluting force about to be unleased upon it.

The oil spike in the mid seventies gave the westernised world an oil shock and a small stimulus to consider alternatives. About that time Ted Pritchard produced a steam powered engine for an Australian Falcon which covered thousands of kilometres both in Australia and the USA.

However once oil stabilised and the initial concern diminished, interest in his engine subsided.

But as the price of oil rises and its polluting nature becomes unsustainable a renewed interest led Pritchard Power to set up in 2003 a company to develop and license their unique steam drive power systems.

I am very interested in sustainability and hence when I first read about Pritchard Power Systems, it was exciting to realise such systems with low emissions are also quiet, light weight and have miserly fuel consumption.

Their power systems have many different stationary and mobile applications. The have particular relevance and advantage to developing countries and agricultural communities.

Key advantages of the Pritchard technology from their Information Memorandum of January 2006 are:

  • Very high fuel efficiency and high thermal efficiency:
  • Existing multi –fuel capability _eg (sawdust, rice husks, nut shells and other agricultural wastes etc) and relative simple development step to liquid fields (ethanol: kerosene: reclyed oil) and potentially solar.
  • Multi services –electricity generation: sterilising or process steam; Hot water "distilled water”: direct shaft power take off:
  • Very low emissions on any fuel type and very quiet running:
  • Simple and safe, with low maintenance, no pressure vessels (and in automotive application no gears or clutch)

    If you would like to learn more about the Pritchard Power systems visit their website at

Sunday, May 7

Future Greener Cities

In the country we have the green nature corridors but already there is evidence of a new green landscape emerging in our cities towards a more sustainable model.

In many cities cars are unwelcome or banned from the centre, water is recycled many times and buildings are much more environmentally friendly. In the future its likely city rooftops and city squares will house gardens and community vegetables plots.

Buildings themselves from top to bottom are becoming green. Click here to visit a website dedicated to this objective

In Melbourne the recently completed Councils Towers incorporates:

1. A basement water tank for chilled pumped water to cool the building in summer.
2. Shower Towers to provide cool water for building reticulation and cool air.
3.Fresh air is fed at low speed though floor vents
4. Concrete slab ceilings to absorb excess heat.
5. 100 % outside air via vertical ducts.
6. Chilled ceiling panels absorb internally generated heat
7. Ceiling exhausts empty warm air
8. Shelf and balcony floors provide horizontal shading from a Northern Sun 9. Vertical planting of greenery for shade, glare, air quality and staff interaction with nature.
10.Rooftop wind turbines powered by motors from converted washing machines.

Food into the Cities
In Australia we are blessed with self sufficiency in food production and are a major world exporter of agriculture. Many crops can be grown all year round with the “ripening” season spread (as one regions harvest finishes another begins). Fresh fruit and vegetables are a feature of daily life but the main problem involves transportation from vast land areas. Each year a staggering 167 million tonnes of food transported 2.5 billion kilometres.

The means of transport primarily is currently by road transport which accounts for 13.5% of Australia green house emissions. It is expected that the total transport task will grow with economic and population trends.
Rail-based transportation uses far less in resources than road and air, yet rail manages to attract far less of the Australian task than it could.

It follows that we are using far more resources for transportation than we need to. There is an urgent need to revert to rail by insuring future investments in infrastructure to support rail services.

Sunday, April 30

Nothing is certain, only the certain spring."

Charles Kovess’s passion point reminds us of our ANZAC (Australian and New Zealand Army Corps) heritage. Australian troops landed at Gallipoli on the 25th April 1915 and suffered 25,000 casualties, before final evacuation in Dec of that year. Australia had become a Federation in 1901 and the Gallipoli campaign served to create the notion of the ANZAC spirit and our Nations spirit. Ideals of courage, endurance and mateship were etched into a fledgling nation’s consciousness.

It is ironic that the ANZAC spirit arose from an ill conceived battle with its needless defeat and slaughter of innocent blood. The British maps of the landing area were flawed, depicting gentle slopes rather than the steep cliffs, not expecting that landing parties would be wading through deep water where many would drown, and be sitting ducks for Turkish machine gunners. There was a narrow strip of beach then tall cliffs to be scaled to face the Turkish enemy. The fleet could have sailed on further with little Turkish defences to a much easier landing.

The fallen became “They that will not grow old”, our ANZACS, who died for a mother country for another’s war on far off fateful shores. It’s a sobering thought to realise in the Great War of 1914 to 1918 over 300,000 young Australians volunteered to defend what was “Mother England” from a total population of only around 3 million, with 66% either killed or returning incapacitated.

During the 1960s and 1970s numbers attending ANZAC marches fell but the tide of sentiment has turned from the 1990’s to a remarkable resurgence of interest, particularly amongst young people, with many making the pilgrimage to the Gallipoli Peninsula to attend the Dawn Service. Our younger generation wants to learn of this history and to understand how it impacted in their communities. School Children learn of their equivalents then, since many lied about their age (typically only 16) on enlistment. They do the detailed research of the families and where they fell; even some visit their gravesites in Turkey to “live” that history. It becomes very emotional for them, influencing their future lives to the better. It’s as if the ANZAC consciousness urges them to live each moment to the full for "Nothing is certain, only the certain spring."

Included below is his Passion point.

Welcome to the 4th Passion Point for 2006.

Our goal with these Passion Points continues to be to provoke you so that your business, and the rest of your life, become filled with more passion, performance, and improved balance of mental, physical, and spiritual elements. A special welcome to the many new subscribers who have recently joined our passionate community.

MAN’S INNER JOURNEY: A GREAT PROGRAMI attended a great weekend seminar entitled ‘Man’s Inner Journey’ in July 2005. It’s excellent. It’s being repeated in Melbourne on 13 & 14 May 2006. Details are below."DIRECTION THROUGH REFLECTION” A day, a pen and a poem have strong connections.

The 25th of April has special significance forAustralians and New Zealanders, and also for Turks.

It was on 25 April,1915 that Anzac troops landed on the Turkish shore of Gallipoli, shaping history and, arguably, their nations.
23 years later, on 25 April, 1938, theHungarian Laszlo Biro lodged a patent for what is nowthe universal ballpoint pen. Little did Laszlo realisethat his humble invention would soon become aninstrument of war.
The Biro was mass produced inEngland for Second World War RAF navigators to use inunpressurised aircraft cockpits, where fountain pensfailed.
It is on Anzac Day, more than any other, that we pauseto remember those who fell in all wars.
The most quoted memorial words are:

"They shall grow not old, as we that are left growold:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them."

"The Ode", as it is known, is the fourth verse from aseven verse poem
"For the Fallen", by English poet Laurence Binyon.

Although Binyon's 1914 poem predates Anzac Day and the Biro, all are connected through warand history.

It is through reflective times like Anzac Day that we recognise and realise many things--history, respect, and gratitude, are but a few. It is through reflection that we recognise the sacrifice of others towards our uniqueness and our tomorrows.
War, directly or indirectly, still influences us through our freedom. The pen, despite the typewriter and the mouse, still helps record our history. Words, if not always in poetic form, are fundamental to civilisation, education and freedom.
As we pause to reflect this Anzac Day, war and wordswill become inseparable, contributing to our unique, yet shared experiences.

Unlike the fallen, "who grownot old", we will age and, only through our efforts,grow.
Whether we will be remembered is up to us.


I'll choose this moment and keep it, He said to himself, for a vow, To remember for ever and ever As if it were always now."Laurence Binyon (1869-1843), English poet.

Do you vow to use the now to shape your future?
"Nothing is certain, only the certain spring."Laurence Binyon (1869-1843), English poet.

What do you bring to the certain spring; at curtaincall, will few or all, remember what you did?

Have a passion-filled day, week, and month, till our next Passion Point.
Charles Kovess Australia’s Passion Provocateur © Copyright- Charles B. Kovess & David J. Wood of Passionate Performance. Republication welcome provided authors are acknowledged & advised at above address. If you want to see Charles on video, or listen to audio, just go to and follow the links.

For a list of keynote speech topics that Charles would love to deliver in a passionate, entertaining, provocative, and educational way to your teams, clients, or prospects, at breakfast, lunch or dinner, see below.

All 141 published Passion Points to Ponder are on our website. If you wish to review them, please visit the site. If you wish to receive a list of the 141 titles of the Passion Points please let us know.

MAN’S INNER JOURNEY For Men: How often do you invest in YOU?Commence the journey from your head, to your heart. Discover the tools to improve the way your life works! The Man's Inner Journey Seminar is designed specifically for Men. The workshop offers you a practical blend of information and experience for you to develop insights into the beliefs, attitudes, influences and patterns ofbehaviour that impact (positively and/or negatively) on the quality of your life outcomes. The workshop offers you the tools to change and develop.

The next Man's Inner Journey workshop is on 13 & 14 May 2006 9AM-6PM in Melbourne.For more information visit the website, or send us a REPLY to this email, and we’ll send you some more information.KEY NOTE SPEECH TOPICS

Best regards from Australia's Passion ProvocateurCharles Kovess LL.B.(Hons), LL.M., CSP*, MAICD, MAITDPast National President National Speakers' Association of Australia(*CSP means Certified Speaking Professional, the highest membership category of NSAA and the only internationally recognised designation for professional speakers.)

Saturday, April 15

Tenebrae At Eltham - Good Friday 2006

We gathered to meditate on the most sacred day of the year. The focus of our ceremony was the seven sayings of Christ uttered when he was dying on the cross. Through a series of psalms, reflections and sacred music, we were led to the foot of the Cross. In our darkened narthex the lighted candles represented our world about to be plunged into darkness. The lights were gradually extinguished throughout the ceremony until only one flame remained, symbolising Christ. When the last light disappeared a loud noise (strepitus) was made to remind us of the earthquake on that fateful day on Calvary.

Friday, April 14

Friends of the Peeps

Have you heard about Peeps? Peeps are a type of Sandpiper bird native to North America. I recently learnt about them as a consequence of visiting Sylvana’a blog although her peeps are the “nylon” or “porcelain” variety. The picture above represents some Australian “mates” of the peeps (covered by Australian Enterprise Workplace Agreement) who send their best wishes via Lindsay Lobe. I hope this leads to a more genuine understanding between the two countries without the need to beat around the BUSH.

Wednesday, April 12

Escape to Adventure

The steady “drumming of an army” of rain drops on the tin roof above temporarily lifted, providing a welcome respite. A night sky was silent and threatening with faint moon beams casting their deathly shadow through the clouds over the murky brown waters below cascading in endless eddies of debris and swirling mud.

It was just a few days ago that a blue sky was endless, pastures beckoned, cattle grazed beside a tranquil river, that flowed leisurely behind our Fawcett Street Home in Kyogle.

Returning from school each day I would rush out into the paddocks with my companions and go on to the river bank to play imaginative adventures of conquests and danger. The grazing cattle were wild animals, trees our refuge, dog and cat our guardians and wooden swords our protectors.
At the same time each day my mother would shout from the porch “The Search” a signal for us to return and listen in bated breath to the radio series “The Search for the Golden Boomerang”.

Our family house had been purchased on the basis it was flood free. As an added precaution it was built on high stilts. Despite the cyclonic rain on that fateful day it was not thought our house would be flooded and hence we were not concerned. As the floodwaters entered our backyard I imagined myself as fisherman and dangled my fishing line in the brown waters.
However soon the rising waters were inching their way up our back steps so we evacuated to neighbours on higher ground. My father told us he was staying on to protect our furniture and effects.
That night I peered out over the murky waters to see my Father swimming around in the flooded house, placing objects onto higher vantage points in a futile attempt to avoid the ever rising floodwaters.

The waters were rising at an alarming rate and it was with some relief, we watched in silence as my father finally wearily swam out through the bedroom window and with measured strokes struck out for the bank and safety at last. Fully clothed, cold, exhausted but determined he slowly hauled himself up onto the bank to join us on the veranda, in time to see our house disappear under the mighty waters of the Richmond River.

In other parts of town tragedies were occurring.

People watched helpless from the Kyogle railway station as six persons drowned when their home was washed away. A mother and her two children drowned when a small rescue boat capsized in waves on Fawcett’s plain.

An aboriginal man was caught in floodwaters and drowned. Others were washed away but survived by clinging to trees until rescuers arrived.

I can still remember afterwards that smell from the flood and the endless mud. There were pieces of corrugated iron from rooves around and it was soon turned to good use in makeshift canoes, folded over and sealed both ends with tar, to deliver milk and supplies.

I remember search parties each morning looking for bodies and everyone helping one another.Amongst the sadness there were stories told of courage and heroism as men and their boats tried to rescue people in desperate trouble.

The two most courageous were Eddie Towns and Max Biggs who later received a Bronze Medal and Certificate of Merit of the Royal Shipwreck Relief and Humane Society of NSW.

Amongst the people who assisted with the clean-up was the 1st Kyogle Girl Guide Company, who was later awarded with the Walter Donald Ross Trophy. Only one Girl Guide Company is the recipient of this International Award each year for Outstanding Community Work. Each received a memento bracelet.

My parent’s sold there house at a tremendous financial loss and decided to leave Kyogle not long after.

If you click on the icon link or here you can see pictures of the Kyogle Flood of 1954 including the Fawcett Street plains.

Sunday, April 9

The Times they are a Changing

For those countries that adopt daylight saving, depending upon which hemisphere you live in it was time recently to either wind your clocks back as is the case in Australia in the Southern Hemisphere or forward for summer for those in the Northern Hemisphere.

Charles Kovess reminds us life is about change. I think that’s true of marriage, as each partner adapts to changes in circumstances and in a sense re marries many times as one becomes wedded to new ideas of a changing environment. Life’s achievement is generally 3% inspiration and 97% handwork contingent on a willingness to make many small changes.

I have produced his Passion Point as per below.

A Passion Point to Ponder 5 April 2006
Welcome to the 3rd Passion Point for 2006. Our goal with these Passion Points continues to be to provoke you so that your business, and the rest of yourlife, become filled with more passion, performance, and improved balance of mental, physical, and spiritual elements. A special welcome to the many new subscribers who haverecently joined our passionate community.


2006 is a special year for Hungarians, being the 50thanniversary of the Freedom Fight against Russian occupation in October 1956, and also the 50th anniversary of the Melbourne Olympics where Hungary won the goldmedal in the water polo, after defeating Russia in a famous ‘bloodbath’ match in the semi-finals.

Therewill be lots of celebrations later in the year!
Charles is the President here in Melbourne of the Australia-Hungary Chamber of Commerce & Industry.
If you have any links of any description with Hungary,be they family, ancestral, business, or sporting, we’d love to hear from you.

”Here in the Southern Hemisphere, the autumn days growshorter; leaves and fruit fall, the harvest and gardenbeckon, and winter sports begin. It's a time ofchange, a reflective season, as summer fades from view.

The recent Melbourne Commonwealth Games gave us greenand gold aplenty. In beautiful weather, they were the perfect bridge between the green fields of summer and autumn's golden ways. Yet, they were more, much more.
Like a harvest, they displayed the fruits of discipline, hard work and sacrifice by the athletes, support teams and administrators. For the athletes,who trained hard during all weathers, it was their time to perform before an audience of millions and reach for a higher level.

Gold, silver and bronze may only be seasonal colours to most of us, but to the athletes they are the highest measures of performance; the culmination of their dedication and disciplined efforts.

Do you want to reach a higher level and be better than you are?
Do you need to give your life a greater purpose?
Do you have the courage, discipline and passion to pursue your dreams?

Just as the seasons inevitably change, so can we. Change need only be small disciplined steps towards a greater goal and every day is a golden opportunity to take them; but do we?

The seasons change gradually; do we, or do we remain captive to the habits of yesterday, fearful of the growth today?

QUOTES TO CONSIDER "Discipline is the bridge between goals andaccomplishment." Jim Rohn, American speaker andauthor.

What are your goals, do you achieve what you believein?
"Change is a measure of time and, in the autumn, timeseems speeded up. What was is not and never again will be; what is is change." Edwin Way Teale (1899-1980),American author.

As the seasons change do you? Do you pursue what is,are you true to self; or do you change not and watchthe seasons slip, like golden dreams on silverstreams, away?
And now, it’s time to lighten up, with our favourite
humorous quote on change:

“Change is inevitable, except from vending machines!”

Have a passion-filled day, week, and month, till ournext Passion Point. Charles Kovess Australia’s Passion Provocateur © Copyright- Charles B. Kovess & David J. Wood of Passionate Performance. Republication welcome provided authors are acknowledged & advised at above address. If you want to see Charles on video, or listen to audio, just go to and follow the links.

For a list of keynote speech topics that Charles would love to deliver in a passionate, entertaining, provocative, and educational way to your teams, clients, or prospects, at breakfast, lunch or dinner, see below.All 140 published Passion Points to Ponder are on our website. If you wish to review them, please visit the site. If you wish to receive a list of the 140 titles of the Passion Points please let us know.


Best regards from Australia's Passion ProvocateurCharles Kovess LL.B.(Hons), LL.M., CSP*, MAICD, MAITDPast National President National Speakers' Association of Australia(*CSP means Certified Speaking Professional, the highest membership category of NSAA and the only internationally recognised designation for professional speakers.) ph 0395622248 mobile 0412317404 PO Box 1412, Central Park East Malvern Vic 3145 Office: 17 Notre Dame Parade, Mulgrave Vic 3170
Author of 'Passionate People Produce' and 'Passionate Performance'Co-author of '7 Heavenly Virtues of Leadership'