30 September 2005

Bogong clouds over Manly heath

Where there is still coastal bush and heath left in Manly today there were huge clouds of bogong moths (Agrotis infusa). Flying at dusk in high winds in a very directed way, tanking up especially on the flowers of the coastal tea-tree (Leptospermum laevigatum). Their migration path of some 1000 km each year has been going on forever. Before they contained arsenic they made good tucker.

Swooping birds & butterflies

Some handy advice what you can do to avoid swooping birds and how to encourage butterflies in your environment.

Protecting property without dying from it

White ants and other insects were bombarded with pesticides (chlorinated hydrocarbons, e.g.Dieldrin) well into the 70s in Australia. Rarely a house, wood or soil was not doused in this deadly stuff. The nerve poison, chrome arsenate used to impregnate housing timber at present, ' has recently been banned from use on children's playground equipment'. The discovery of a native plant of the (over-exploited) sandelwood family is found to have natural repellent properties against unwanted bugs. But first it has to be bottled & commercialised to protect property from insects, unless everyone were to grow a beautiful sandelwood forest around their infrastructure. Lets hope they haven't cleared it all yet.

28 September 2005

'Why do people like the sound of cars more than koels?'

The Koels (Eudynamys scolopacea) are back in their breeding place. After the long journey from New Guinea, the strong "coo-ee" or "ko-el" can be heard at night especially. Up to 46 cm they are a stately and beautiful bird. They will put their eggs into the nest of the local birds. (Red Wattlebird, Figbirds etc).
The depicted image is on exhibition at the Manly Library at the moment. Wonderful to see, that kids are raised with an awaress of their local habitat. Still switched on to ask questions like: "Why do people like the sound of cars more than koels? " Meanwhile adults complain about the sounds of frogs and birds, but not traffic, 'air-conditioners', building noises etc etc
I did not get the name of the budding artist, but promise I'll look it up next time....
Update: The name of the artist of the above picture is: Helena Todd. She is 10 years old. Also forgot to mention that there are many more nice pictures in the 'Art and Nature' Competition.

27 September 2005

Cocktails & Food trends

Cocktails today in cudabar, stylish lounge, cool music. Bit tucked away, but a nice atmosphere, ocean views and long lasting drinks. An unusual cosmopolitan bar for Manly. The other part is barracuda, a seafood restaurant, smells ok, will test it soon.

Liked these remarks on restaurant trends. Guess they are true for Sydney too.(Via Kottke)
(Update: 23.12.05, yeah, cudabar is still cool, but the food is not for slow food fans.)

Use of country

Other Australian news:

Ibis eradication pill

The ibis, once object of veneration and hurricane indicator is found in most place in Australia. At the Gold Coast, Qld. it is now interfering with tourist revenue and calls to cull or 'round-up & relocate' are growing. Deprived of the huge wetlands it once inhabited it takes to the garbage (dumps) that the present human population leaves in places of 'civilisation'. But science will now provide the magic bullet: 'the pill' to eradicate this population.

via ABC News Online

4WD user profile

"A typical 'city' four-wheel drive owner" is:

  • in their 40s to 50s
  • obese
  • conservative, intolerant
  • homophobic
  • in full employment, well remunerated
  • not keen on Indigenous culture
  • allergic to public & good causes
  • has a low regard for disadvantaged people

they view themselves:
  • as rugged individualists 'lovin a bit of sport'
  • 'it's ok to use force to get my way' (also on & off road)
  • proud 'Mr. Fixit'
  • ok to be digitally illiterate
via ABC news online

24 September 2005

Sydney without bandicoots

Watching the usual extinction, but this time the well documented, researched, career paths forged on it. But the losers are non-homo sapiens (at first). The creature of the moment is the BANDICOOT. While listed on the threatened species list for a while now, it is still mauled by dogs & cats, run over by cars and now the final bullet: 112 housing developments on its habitat. In THE BANDICOOT VS. THE CATHOLIC CHURCH the matter can be followed (from Canada!) in detail. At first (1788) there were many species of bandicoots everywhere. Now the Long-nosed Bandicoot,(Perameles nasuta) population at Nord Head is the LAST one in the Sydney region.
The 'country' of St Patrick's Estate was 'gifted' to the catholic church, official history with them only starts in 1935. Today the grounds are abuzz with building sites, the roads full of mining gear. The noise can be heard all over Manly. Here we go: the bush was/is cleared, cemented and very dear housing plastered all over the headland.This is the end of Bandicoots' habitat. The survivors, pushed to the edges are probably mangled by dogs&cats of the neighbouring McMansions.

What will you tell your kids, how the last bandi disappeard from Manly/Sydney?
No shortage of data, signs, pamphlets, speeches, workshops etc
If the real estate is fine, who gives a 'hoot'
Bandi in previous post

Bad cups in Manly

Tried out Bay Coffee Roasters today. A sickly sweet milky cappuccino and I was wondering about the 'coffee' content. The foam was moving by the deregulated engines jobbing along Darley Road & Wentworth Street. How can people sit on this street and drink stuff like that?

23 September 2005

Bicycle paths in Manly.

I have reported before that Manly is more bicycle-friendly than many other places in Sydney. Here are some of the best routes I know:

  • Along the beach front from Shelley Beach to Queenscliff is car-free cycle territory. Some mums mistake the bike path for a pram path but it is car-free. The Norfolk pines shade the path nicely.
  • At the Queenscliff end continue under the road into Lagoon Park. This path is shared with pedestrians. The lagoon has been well planted with appropriate native plants for the remnant waterway.
  • A dedicated bike path follows Kenneth Road alongside a golf course which has beautiful trees, including riberries, but horrendous machines cutting grass most of the time. This leads to Balgowlah and Seaforth where there are some bike paths too.
  • Pine Street in Manly, near North Steyne SLSC, now has a marked cycle path on the road, i.e. shared with cars. It leads from the beach into a traffic-quietened part of Manly where cycling is pretty safe. I use Pacific Parade and Smith Street quite a lot. The 'official' marked bike path goes down Collingwood Street but the corrugations make it uncomfortable. Pacific Parade leads into Balgowlah Road which has a 40km speed limit (not much enforced I think) and a little-used footpath where a bike rarely meets a pedestrian.
  • If you like hills, the hillside between Balgowlah Road and the Fairlight shops is now officially bicycle-friendly in some places with traffic quietening, and bikes have right of way in Crescent St and possibly elsewhere. Daintrey St and Francis St, Arthur St and Herbert St now have traffic quietening obstacles making the whole area safely usable for bikes (but hilly).
More on Bike paths in Manly


Repelling sharks with the right wetsuit.
Cars 'sensing' pedestrians and avoiding running into these soft bodies.
From running live stock with extreme low maintenance to remote 'husbandry' (electronic flock management) from the CBD.
And here 'the smoker' of the day image.

Freshwater dining

There are still good food experiences possible in this area: Pilu at Freshwater is such an example. The restored 'beach hut' offers various environments. The Sardinian food is fresh and delicious. The crispy Sardinian bread and Pecorino Sardo compliments the dry white wine (2003 Argiolas Costamolino DOC) perfectly. The fresh shellfish zuppa was rich, the wild barramundi cooked just right.(Menu).The staff were competent at creating a relaxed atmosphere. Contemporary music added to the sensation.
Only the garden, towards the car park could have had a better job done on it. Blocking the view, maybe some advanced, local native plants?
Altogether an enjoyable experience.

(Note: we did not get a free meal for this review! and yes it is not cheap!)

21 September 2005

Converting Nat. Parks to 'property'

Here we go again: Move to the bush, cut down trees, erect mansion, insist the surrounding bush is burnt down to not pose a threat to ‘property’. Sydney Harbour National Park at Dobroyd Head is set alight again for the second day running.

19 September 2005

Gorgeous Manly

Choppy ocean today, thunderbolts smelling strongly. Gulls with fishing hooks and nylon hanging out of their mouths. Council's contractors cutting all callistemon in full red flowers to the ground. So much for ringtail, bird food/habitat. To create a 'truck friendly environment' so they say. Lady emptying pack of poodles onto Shelly Beach Headland. When asked to pick up the turds from the freshly weeded bush she snubbed: "But eye live in Bower St., I always...Where do you live dear?" Annexation of bush&beach to mey property?A poodle loo? The large Cunningham skink group (Egenia cunninghami) living under a large sandstone rock up on the headland for probably thousands of years is gone. Groups were sitting on top of each other, touching, giving handsignals. Now there is a MacMansion there, hating the bush, sprouting Bromelias and other foreign horticultural instant fixes. Ladies walk past and go: "Gorgeous"!

16 September 2005

Sub-urban combat vehicles

Four wheel drives are popular in Sydney. These 2,3 tonne lifestyle tanks are actually based on military vehicles. The U.S. army upgraded their jeeps to HMMWVs (High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicles) and used them in the Persian Gulf Conflict in the 90's. After 9/11 the American consumers desired both an aggressive and more protected mobility. Industry responded with "Stealth" and "Warrior" to manoeuvre the drivers to their Gated Communities. Via "Mobile Cocooning" new territories could be conquered and traffic negotiated as a winner. Schwarzenegger was the first civilian to use the HMMWV for shopping and golfing in the urban territory. Elsewhere the bulldozer mentality of the drivers claimed terra nullius with their sub-urban combat vehicles. Governmental tax management further created a push-factor for motorists.

These suburban assault vehicles use up half of the imported petrol in the U.S. and the USA consumes a quarter of all global oil production.

In Europe too, environment, emission and petrol prices are non-issues. German producers are fading out production of 3 litre cars, solar mobiles and other alternatives to 'customize' their output.

For the global pedestrian and bicycle community the height of these vehicles and the bullbars pose an increased danger. The steel tubing is a purely 'spunk accessory' to 'protect' the passengers in case of collision. In most countries these devices are now illegal, but here in Australia the 'roo bar' is legal on most types of vehicles. Often they are additionally studded with a few extra steel tubes pointing foreward (for the many fishing rods).

So after hosing down your 4WD (on a water restriction day), spray on a bit of mud and take care of the many roos cluttering up the roads in Sydney.

Continuation from 'Manly civilian war-zone'
Inspiration from Telepolis

11 September 2005

Food, drink and great visualisations

In the mood for food and sensuous visualisations. Try out Nicky and Oliver's Munich delicious days, fantastic approach to food, super images, good bi-lingual cook-books reviews and of course delicious recipes. Another passionate food writer blogs from Paris in English in chocolate and zucchini. Il Forno is of German background with an Italian bias and a baking thing. Serious cups can be viewed on this blog. BTW are there any English speakers blogging in other languages?
(Pacific lime tart on basket made of Austr. rainforest vine)

Native conifers or expensive, toxic weeds?

Despite the down-turn of the horticultural industry the push factor for atrocious weeds continues. The latest seems to be Thuja in all varieties as hedges or feature plants. Most Thuja are so poisonous, that the mere touch causes irritation. Here we go with the new Australian weed, mass planted as hedges, in containers everywhere. The long term costs are already on the cards.

The most beautiful native conifers grow right here in Sydney. Callitris rhomboidea (Port Jackson Cypress) and many others are suitable for the local conditions and provide food and shelter for endemic fauna.

"Callitris species have outstanding qualities which place them far above the exotic Cupressus . . . whether for utility or for ornament there is a Native Cypress suitable for almost every purpose. They are of very great beauty, fast growing, remarkably free from disease, very hardy and mostly very drought and cold resistant." William de Beuzeville

More on Native Australian Cypress Pines (Callitris) and Port Jackson pine

10 % Australian

Browsing though 'Botanic Gardens of Australia: A Guide to 80 Gardens' it appeares that most of the gardens are more than 90 % exotic. Especially in Victoria they seem to keep to the 90 % foreign ratio in plants. The images in the book recall installations of European splendour or Asian mystic. Yes, there are some very rare '100 % Australian plants' gardens, but they are an insignificant proportion.

  • Why this dislike of Australian plants?
  • Why are the Australian plants, the landscape so undesirable?
  • Why is the easy, low resource-input and sustainably designed land not 'beautiful'?
  • Why does it have to have the flair of 'being somewhere else'?
  • Why pink?
Promoting Australia's flora
Sydney land-design

Botanic Gardens of Australia: A Guide to 80 Gardens, Lockwood, Leslie, Wilson, Jan & Fagg, Murray,
Sydney New Holland Publishers 2001 (Note: This is not a book review!)

Helicopter advertising

On the weekends, Aussie home loans have sent their message into the sky above the suburbs. Noisy helicopters buzz above Manly spoiling the peace and quiet of the weekend at home.
This should encourage people to pay the lender for the money to buy a home.
But who wants to buy a home where those noisy helicopters are constantly flying overhead?
Discourage this antisocial advertising! Borrow from a bank.

06 September 2005

Peak oil and crocs?

BigGav is blogging about peak oil and global warming from Australia. This blog seems very popular with the Furl community and gets a lot of hits.
The croc on his Peak Energy reminds me to ask bloggers to prevent the killing of the N.T. crocs for safari shoots.
Update: (07102005) 'Safari' kills are out. That is taking the hide home for $ 10,000. But the killing of saltwater crocs is conducted by officials, 600 so far.

Old media running out of lifeblood

Mainstream media is fast losing its advertising dollars and therefore its existence as we have known it. The advertising deluge will be unleashed online, worth $ 1.1 billion. 'Professional' journalists will have to migrate with the funds or retrain.

05 September 2005

Feeding flying canetoads and starving native birds

All over Manly people feed birds. Most try to attract the beautiful native birds to their balconies with sugar water or other inappropriate or dangerous offerings. Some even actively feed known flying pests, such as Indian Mynas with dog food, bread and bought seed mixes. In public places, people feed fast food to gulls and pigeons. These areas are caked in avian faeces. People eat in them, sit there or park right in it.

A search on 'attracting birds' offers all the commodities that make the pet industry thrive, but leads to malnutrition, sickness and finally death to the endemic birds. Mice and rats are also attracted.
Where is the pleasure in creating dependent relationships? Is there no knowledge in the act of 'giving', that starves the bird of necessary nutrients and social behaviour?

It takes a lot to allow the 'bush' to co-exist in which birds can thrive even close to human habitats. Earnest devotion, care and resources are required to bird-scape a yard/garden. This is no longer cheap thrill, but a setting aside of one's urban footprint to further the existence of native flora and fauna. It means not having that BBQ-temple, the 4th car space or the white fluffy thing etc.

04 September 2005

Bavarian Bier Cafe at Manly Wharf

Tried out the new Bavarian Bier Cafe at Manly Wharf. First knocked back by council for building a row of 'coffins' around the place, it now re-opened. The bare wood still is reminiscent of primitive campsite furniture, but smells strongly of chemicals. Going inside it resembled a very noisy pub with many desperate screaming babies. More mock-firewood near the kitchen and more rustic design. The kitchen set-up appears professional, but one look and one sees the stuff out of the big plastic bags into the troughs. To make it short we got food poisoning. But the majority of the clientel seem to have cast iron stomachs, washing the 'stuff' down with 'bier'. Primitive cooking, oodles of o.s. beer, but harbour prices. A loss to Manly, as it used to have a restaurant (Armstrongs) there with a nice atmosphere and quality food.

Update: (07102005) There seems to be a lot of traffic here searching for this place. As they do not have a web-presence, as so many other Manly businesses, no contact data can be gathered here. Who needs P.R. anyway?