Bunya Mountain

November 27, 2013

 I have been to a number of forests now that have evoked images of Middle Earth and Tolkein’s Ent Forest. DoveLake in the Cradle Mountain NP and the huon pine forests on the GordonRiver in Tassie come to mind. More recently I was on BunyaMountain amongst Bunya Pines so big that their trunks seemed to be crinkling up at the base under the weight of  the vast tree above. Like an old man  with his pants a bit too big for him.


We went for a walk through the forest late in the afternoon, dawdling as we gazed up to see the pine fronds silhouetted against the sky. The tree ferns hundreds of feet above on the trunk of a crooked red cedar tree – the only one we found. The beautiful soft hoop pines and huge strangler figs. I would not have been surprised if the splayed feet  of one had moved and I’d been picked up and placed high on its shoulders. Anyway, it started to get dark and peering into the bush, trying to identify a little bird We noticed a tiny bright light move in the grass. As we walked they started , like a fairy land, flashing, intensely bright but tiny lights moving across the path and through the bush. It was stunning. As the path led us through the trunk of a giant fig tree the low growl of hundreds of frogs started, feeling dizzy from the lights I was sure I was on another world.


I have been thinking of the loggers and their families whose lives and industry this mountain supported for a hundred years. They would have thought the timber would last forever. Even when the cedar ran out,- logged virtually out of existence – the people whose lives depended on the industry would have seen no alternative but to move on and log the pines. Such beautiful straight trees would be perfect for building. In the end though, the lives of these people, like the rest of us are but the blink of an eye in the life of this mountain. What did they achieve for their hard work and dedication? They very nearly destroyed a landscape that had outlasted the dinosaurs.

Perhaps in another hundred years or so the forest will recover across much of the mountain but time has shed light on the falsehood and the transience of the loggers efforts against the timeless beauty of the forest.


To the people, the families and businesses who are now defending their right to log in the old forests of Tasmania. I see you so defiant and angry on TV as if the greenies are lunatics trying to destroy a way of life and an industry. I suggest you visit the red cedar forests of the north to see the real cost of your industry. You are destroying so much to create so little.


Ross Gittins’ letter to grand children

November 26, 2013

Ross Gittins’ letter to grand children

This article is very powerful. If you are a baby boomer, you might wonder if we are spending the kids inheritence in more ways than one.

Ross Garnaut in the SMH

November 26, 2013

Ross Garnaut in the SMH

Ross Garnaut as usual has great insight into the state of the economy. He needs support for us to avoid his business as usual outcomes.

Am I a Barbarian?

December 7, 2012

Listening to ABC current affairs recently I feel that society has moved past me. That is probably so in many ways but on this point I wish to dissent. The four corners exposé’s on the slaughter of animals sourced from Australia were shocking because of the cruelty perpetrated upon the animals and because of the indifference displayed by the perpetrators. There was no recognition of any cruelty amongst the Indonesian slaughtermen as they hauled cattle out of the slaughter box and eventually cut their throats while the next in line watched their prospective fate. You don’t have to go back far in our history to find the same attitude toward animals. My grandfather believed the only way to kill a pig was to straddle the animal, then “stick him” and let it run around until it dropped. That way you could be sure it had bled properly.
I have euthanased animals (is that a noun being turned into a verb? My apologies); cows injured or sick, I have shot; sheep with cancers or other indeterminate illnesses have had their throat cut and neck broken- I reckon the process takes about 10 seconds. I have also killed animals before their time. Prime lambs for the table, foxes, rabbits and kangaroos that threaten my farm and my livelihood. I have even killed faithful sheepdogs that are just not up to the task and I cannot afford to continue to feed. That is the most difficult job, to shoot an animal that gives so much and expects so little. It is not cruel though. It feels no pain and has no expectation of its demise. I am a farmer; I am responsible for the premature death of thousands of animals; killed for the tables of families all over NSW and overseas. I don’t believe that this makes me cruel. I am familiar with death. This may make me callous but not necessarily cruel.
I do cause my animals stress, you can tell a sheep is stressed when a carnivore leaps onto their backs and yells in their face. However the stress seems to pass quickly, as they soon resume standard behaviour and will look at the dog nonchalantly from a distance.
The ABC reported recently on the horse racing industry and the greyhound racing industry culling horses and dogs that had either finished their career or did not make the grade. This act of culling was reported as cruel. What else are the owners meant to do? Release them into the wild? You may object to the exploitation of animals for the entertainment of humans, perhaps future generations may look back at this generation as I look back at my grandfather but the quick death of an animal by human hand is not necessarily cruel. We have been exploiting animals for our own purposes for tens of thousands of years. We have been distorting the natural way for generations; we cannot walk away from the responsibility of dealing with the consequences of breeding domestic animals. People who cannot face their responsibilities are the types who dump pet cats and dogs in the bush to either die a miserable death or breed up to wreak havoc on native wildlife.
If the ABC feels the need to instil outrage at the exploitation of animals, it should be honest about it. It may be immoral to race animals around a track however dealing with surplus animals in as quick and painless way as possible is not the issue.

Cape Cod

October 26, 2012

On ferry returning from a day on Nantucket which seems to be closing down for winter. Stunning day, very large houses- many of which are closed down- lots of money. Barman tells us that the season starts up again in April. Very nice clothes shops apparently, fantastic museum. Apparently Nantucket was the capital of the whaling industry in the 19th century. It’s doing pretty well on tourism now though.
Got to drive back to Provincetown which will be ok. I have a tendency to drift to the right; apart from this and Kim’s exclamations and instructions it’s easy.

New York update

October 24, 2012

I forgot to mention the show. The Book of Mormon is the best musical I’ve seen (I’ve seen 3), sacrilegious, very rude, hilariously funny with great songs all put together smoothly and with apparent ease. It mercilessly ridicules the Mormon religion and religion in general. It questions the relevance of our western stories to other cultures facing huge problems in their everyday lives. It then draws you to the conclusion;- happy or sad, depending on your point of view- that we are all susceptible to the same message delivered in stories that are relevant to our own lives. Haven’t laughed so much since……..

New York is not just another city it is cities within a city. One week touristing gave us but a glimpse. I think it is about the people more than the buildings. Their history and their achievements, all over the place. The tenement buildings in the lower east was a fascinating area. We wandered aimlessly around Greenwich Village and walked the high line to dinner at “Pastis” in Chelsea, had a few beers on pier 26 looking over the Hudson to New Jersey. A fantastic place to spend time with friends and to shop.

On the train to Providence and thence to Cape Cod. I can see the autumn colours everywhere and can feel the cares of the city peel off (until I start to drive that is). The Europeans must have thought they’d found Eden when they landed in this place.


October 24, 2012


View from our bedroom at P town Massachusetts. Note the time of day (dawn) and the sky line.

Netherlands June 2012

October 21, 2012

I started this about four months ago and have not been back since so here it is, posted from New York.
Am in the Netherlands for a couple of weeks. Attended a day of Rabobank international farmer master class which was fascinating. Not there because I’m a master farmer but because Kim was a key note speaker. She went well, lots of positive feedback. Went to Wageningen University to hear the Dutch perspective on the challenges facing agriculture. Essentially, food demand is expected to double and productive land not expected to increase, which leaves increase in production per hectare. Plus reduction in supply chain waste which represents up to 25%. I can not believe that Netherlands is the 2nd largest exporter of agricultural produce after the US. It is 250 km by 150 km for god’s sake! Obviously they mean by value but it is still an extraordinary achievement. Interestingly, the scientists at the uni see great potential in genetically modified plants despite the current EU policies.
Love Amsterdam 700,000 bicycles and 200,000 cars! Bikes rule, even pedestrians have to give way. Crooked old building leaning against each other. Rode our bikes out along the dykes for lunch by the sea. Ran into another group of Aussies doing the same thing. In the afternoon we sit at our local bar by the canal with a beer and a plate of Bitterbollen. Bliss.

Pretty feeble travelogue, I must have got busy. I think I like Amsterdam more than NYC.

New York City

October 20, 2012

No one that I know that has been to NY has not loved it. Anyone who has been to the US says forget the stereo types it is a big country, it’s great, there are all types of people and circumstances. I’ve been here four days and most of my prejudices are being confirmed. Don’t get me wrong we are having a ball. This city is vibrant, huge, never stops; never seems to slow down even (Not that I can confirm the hours from 2am to 7am). The stereotypes stand though, the food is too salty for me, too much, much too much. The poverty and class and racial divides seem to be huge. I suppose magnificent tall, modern buildings don’t do as much for me as magnificent ancient buildings do because I am not overawed by NY like I have been in the cities of Europe. I have got a stiff neck though. Central Park is magnificent but because of the grid pattern of the streets there are not many other parks or little squares in Manhattan, only Broadway enables the monotony of intersections to be broken. They are doing a great job with the piers and foreshore parks, it is a blessed relief to get down their.
Four Middle aged Aussie friends have walked across Brooklyn Bridge and up into Brooklyn, caught the ferry to Stratin Island and admired the lady. She was a lot smaller than my imagination had built her up to be, but magnificent alone on her island. We wanted to see the sun set from the top of the Rockefella building but by the time we had battled the alternately crawling and then surging cues to get to the top it was well and truly dark. We discussed whether the sight was beautiful and decided that was not the right adjective. Awesome, incredible, BIG, “”bright””, a monument to all the little workers and queens that had lived and worked down there for decades. The termite metaphor works on a number of levels. There is beauty in the Frick Museum (now that’s a house), and in Central Park. We rode bikes around Central Park the other day after doing battle with the bike hire hawkers as soon as we emerged from the subway. Following a man from Algiers blocks from the park we found to our surprise a good business and great bikes. You need 3 hours at least, it is beautiful but you can’t get a decent cup of coffee. After declaring the cliches confirmed here’s one shattered. The land of service and smiles has two levels of service. The commission salespeople who service you to within an inch of your life and the Footlocker staff who don’t give a shit.
I have bought 12 pairs of socks for $7 and Kim has found a pair of shoes on 5th Avenue that make her really happy. She has just got to negotiate the sale of Some real estate to afford them. About a week to go and a few days up the coast yet so well see how the prejudices go.

Lots of Lambs

April 7, 2012