Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Australian Locust Plague


Australian farmers have a lot to contend with. There is drought for years on end, inevitably followed by unseasonal rain and flooding. They also have a variety of pests to deal with including rabbits, wild goats and pigs and foxes. But did you know that locusts too are a major threat to Australian agriculture?

The Australian Locust Plague Commission is tasked with monitoring locust swarms – especially of the Australian Plague Locust (pictured) - and forecasting their impact on Australian farmers. This year it is expected that there will be locust hatchings in late December and given this summer’s wet conditions, adults could be ready to swarm in late January 2011.

Although insecticide is the traditional method of control, Jason Fowler of Broome in Western Australia has taken to frying the critters and serving them up as a delicacy. Meanwhile, farmers in Victoria have found that their Christmas turkeys like nothing better than to munch on plague locusts.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Fleet Decimated

Rolex Sydney Hobart Jazz

This morning sees the yacht fleet in this year’s Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race decimated with 16 boats retiring. The race is living up to its reputation as one of the world’s most challenging for sailors, as the crews battled stormy seas and winds of up to 50 knots last night.

Wild Oats XI is currently the leader for line honours being 156 nautical miles from the finish. Investec LOYAL, Lahana and Secret Men’s Business 3.5 are all challenging the race leader with Investec LOYAL only 20 nautical miles behind.

It is expected the winner will cross the finish line in Hobart early tomorrow morning.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Crews Prepare for 2010 Rolex Sydney Hobart


Boxing Day in Australia has become synonymous with the Rolex Sydney Hobart yacht race. This year 87 crews have prepared to tackle the 628 nautical mile course.

The race has gained a reputation as being one of world’s most treacherous yacht races after 6 sailors lost their lives in stormy seas during the 1998 Sydney Hobart Yacht Race. Meteorologists have warned crews to prepare for fierce winds and rough seas during this year’s race with a 20-30 knot southerly expected off Wollongong tonight. In these conditions skippers will aim to just make it across the finish line rather than break any race records.

The race starts in Sydney at 13:00 today. You can follow the progress of the yachts using the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia’s Yacht Tracker web site.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Santa’s Visitor Application

We apologise for the late notice but this has just come through from the Department of Immigration and Citizenship. This year they are issuing Santa a restricted working visa from midnight to 4:00AM on 25-December-2010.


To assist Santa during his visit to Australia, please complete the attached form and e-mail to before midnight on Christmas Eve.

We would like to thank you for your assistance and we wish everyone the best for the festive season and a very happy new year.

Australian Roads


Did you know that Australia’s road network is the 9th largest in the world? Today’s fact for Fun Fact Wednesday is that Australia’s roads span 940,000 Km1. Less than half of this distance is paved roadway.

Sadly, in 2009 there were 1,490 fatalities on Australian roads. 250 road deaths occurred between 1-Dec-2009 and 31-Jan-2010.

During the holiday season please drive safely and if you are travelling long distances, remember to Stop. Revive. Survive.

1. Source: CIA World Fact Book

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Australia’s Tallest Building


Today, Fun Fact Wednesday is about Australia’s tallest building which is Q1 located on Queensland’s Gold Coast. The structure is 323 metres (1,060 feet) high and is currently the world’s tallest residential building.

Completed in November 2005, it has 78 floors and is topped by a 98 metre spire that weighs 87 tonnes. There are 1,331 steps from the top to the bottom so it is recommended you take the elevator which can cover the distance in 42.7 seconds.

The top most floors host an observation deck and bar known as QDeck which is a popular Gold Coast holiday attraction. It is open to the public and provides views from Brisbane to Byron Bay, which are some 80 Km away.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Australian Snake Bites

TaipanAmongst Australia’s incredibly diverse and unique wildlife are some of the world’s most venomous and dangerous snakes. Today’s Fun Fact Wednesday is about snake bites in Australia.

It is estimated that several thousand people are bitten by snakes in Australia each year. There are approximately 300 cases requiring treatment with antivenom and around 2-3 bites which are fatal1.

The most venomous snake is the Fierce Snake (or Inland Taipan) but the deadliest snake is the Eastern Brown which is responsible for the largest number of deaths.

In reality, the risk of snake bite is actually very low and if someone is unfortunate enough to be bitten, the recommended treatment is as follows:

  1. Seek medical assistance;
  2. Calm and reassure the patient;
  3. Apply a pressure bandage to the wound.

1. Source: Australian Venom Research Unit

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Farewell Mr Squiggle

Mr Squiggle

On Monday, Australian cartoonist Norman Hetherington OAM, passed away. He is best know as the creator of the Australian children’s television character Mr Squiggle.

Mr Squiggle first aired on the ABC in 1959. He lived on the moon and would fly in his rocket each episode to visit Miss Gina, Miss Pat or Miss Jane and other friends including Blackboard, Snail and Steam Shovel. Using his pencil nose, Mr Squiggle would create an upside down picture from squiggles sent in from children around the country. In reality he was a marionette puppet operated by Norman Hetherington from above.

The ABC is running a tribute to Norman Hetherington over the next week that you can watch on iView.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Last Flight of Australia’s F-111s


After 37 years of service, the Royal Australian Air Force is retiring its fleet of F-111 aircraft today. This long-range, supersonic, strike fighter is operated by No.1 Squadron and No.6 Squadron out of the Amberley RAAF Base in Queensland.

Although being replaced by the F/A-18 Super Hornet from McDonnell Douglas and the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter from Lockheed Martin, their retirement has been shadowed by controversy. Many believe that the upgraded F-111 is still best suited to Australia’s defence needs, despite the age of its design.

The final flights of the aircraft are low-level flyovers of Brisbane and the Gold Coast today.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Oprah’s Australian Itinerary

By vargas2040, Cropped by OsamaK [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

In her farewell season, the US queen of chat – Oprah Winfrey – is heading to Australia and she’s bringing 300 fans with her. The details of the visit are a closely guarded secret other than that two shows will be taped at the Sydney “Oprah” House on Tuesday, 14-December-2010.

With Australia being such a large place it is hard to guess which parts of this amazing country Oprah will showcase to the world. After a bit of research, here is our speculation on Oprah’s itinerary for her upcoming Australian visit.

Tue 7-Dec Fans arrive in Sydney to explore the city and visit Taronga Zoo.
Wed 8-Dec Oprah arrives in Cairns and heads to Hamilton Is. to explore the Whitsunday Islands.
Thu 9-Dec Fly to Alice Springs and travel to Uluru.
Fri 10-Dec Explore Uluru. Fly from Alice Springs to Melbourne.
Sat 11-Dec Shopping in Melbourne. Visit Great Ocean Road & Wilsons Promontory.
Sun 12-Dec Fly to Adelaide. Visit wine making regions.
Mon 13-Dec Fly to Byron Bay then on to Sydney.
Tue 14-Dec Taping of the 2nd & 3rd shows at Oprah House.
Wed 15-Dec Explore Hunter Valley, Blue Mountains.

View Oprah's Itinerary in a larger map

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Australia’s Biggest Wave


Australia’s biggest wave was measured off the coast of Tasmania on 16 September 2010 at 18.4 metres. Not one for you avid surfers to tackle. This was a measure of the absolute wave height from trough to crest. As records of wave heights in Australia only go back 10 years or so, historically there have probably been larger wave events.

The information for today’s Fun Fact Wednesday was sourced from the Bureau of Meteorology who provide regular forecasts of wave heights for Bass Strait. Their reports typically refer to Significant Wave Height which is an average wave height as opposed to the absolute height of any particular one wave.

The Queensland Government also performs monitoring of wave heights for several locations off the coast, from Cairns to Tweed River.

Happy surfing!!