New Venture for Possum Valley!

Your host Paul, has launched into a new venture to start early June.  It will be only part time, but very exciting and challenging.  Please be assured that accommodation services will be maintained to the highest standard, or at least to the highest standard I am capable of, which is what you have been getting so far.  My eldest daughter has volunteered me for a day care centre.  She is returning to work as a nurse in accident and emergency after a lengthy period off with the feeble excuse of looking after her kids now aged 3 and 1 and a bit.  So she has been lazing around, taking advantage of maternity leave with the occasional chore of washing an infant and feeding them now and again.  I mean how hard can that be?  And now she is back to the real world of gainful employment.  I hope she can handle the pace and get back up to speed after the life of leisure she has been enjoying.  

So I will be looking after them for a day or two to fill in the idle time I have operating a B&B.  I intend to get these infants organised as soon as possible along the lines of Baron Von Trapp (Sound of Music).  Get them used to a strict regime and able to obey every command in an instant.  Eating and sleeping to a schedule, and saying ‘thank you’ at every opportunity.  Shouldn’t be too hard, I’ve done it before, though memory is hazy and I don’t think it went quite like that, but I do have a much more developed brain and vastly more experience.  What could possibly go wrong?  A couple of infants with a proclivity for grovelling in mud, which I will quickly stop despite mud being freely available around the property, and a belief that every material is potential foodstuff will surely be easy to curtail.  I will report back to you my successes and triumphs in child raising.  

Henry at work

Henry at work

A couple of days ago I was chatting to a guest on the veranda, when his gaze went over my shoulder and I could see he wasn’t listening to a thing that I said.  Don’t you hate it when that happens and you realise they haven’t the slightest interest in what you are saying?  As I spluttered to a stop, he pointed behind me and there was a cassowary about 30m away.  It was a juvenile looking a bit uncertain about its exploration of the world.  It stayed around for a few minutes and I am pleased his family got to see it before it disappeared into the forest.  

Also the platypus entertained the guests over the weekend just around Blackbean Cottage.  I am pleased to say after a couple of years absence, they are now well ensconced in the pool next to the cottage.  Tonight as I was having dinner of chicken satay with rice, homemade coleslaw and avocados stuffed with hommus (I’m sure you wanted to know that), I heard the GALUMPH GALUMPH of a wallaby hopping across the veranda.  I’m used to the pitter-patter of tiny feet on a wooden floor, and it is usually possums, but the sound of a wallaby on a wooden floor is a magnitude louder.  It paused for a moment at the entrance to the dining room before hopping across and under the table.  Now you may consider this a bit wussy of me, but it was within a meter of my naked legs and feet and I couldn’t see it, so I moved.  It scrambled for the exit.

Wish me luck in my new venture. 

Operating a B&B Part 2

Ok, having recently written a blog (see “Operating a B&B”), but failing to get round to the subject, I had better continue.  In short, it is great.  I get to stay at home in a beautiful place, people come here, give me money and leave again.  What a sweet deal.  I once had a guest tell me I had the second best job in the world.  I thought for a bit and knew I was being suckered into the asking the obvious question, but asked it anyway.  “OK, who has the best job?”  “David Attenborough”.  Fair enough, I don’t mind coming second to the bro.  

Nearly 100% of my guests are really good people I am pleased to meet and I have enjoyed the chats I have had with many.  Nearly 100% treat the place with respect and some are even too diligent and collect the linen and some even mop their way out the door.  For the record, I actually prefer guests not to strip the beds or remake used beds, but I do appreciate the kind thought.  Just take everything you came with, so I don’t have to forward things all over the country, and leave all my stuff.  It’s my role to do the bed stripping and cleaning and stuff.  Do guests pinch stuff?  Quite the reverse.  I have missed a few pillows, probably because some people bring their own and mistake the ones they take home., but the number left accidentally or deliberately, far exceeds that paltry number.  And kitchen equipment!!!! Some guests have remarked about the range of pots pans and kitchen utensils and I modestly blush and mumble something about trying to do my best, when in fact most of it has been left by guests.  I could open a shop for secondhand frypans and utensils, but somehow doubt the market would be strong enough.  

The nicest thing is that some guests have become people I consider friends.  Hi Martin, Robert, Chantall, Sue & Iain, Ross etc etc and many have given me so much help and equipment over the years.  Of the array of IT equipment before me for instance, I was given the desktop computer (and installation and setup), the screen, the modem, the router etc.  I bought only the $39 printer which I barely use.  I had guests/friends diagnose a tricky problem with my tumble-dryer just before Xmas dinner.  I doubt you can imagine the scale of the catastrophe of having a B&B at the busiest time of the year, in the wet season, in a tropical rainforest, if you don’t have a working dryer.  Civilisation would cease.  I was able to order some special solenoids from the US over the internet that arrived in time to avert the collapse of my business.  Thanks guys.  My world would be a much smaller place without you.

General notes on operating a B&B.  Modest income well below national wage levels.  Must have no mortgage, or have another off-property income.  Must actually like people of all ages, shapes, colours, nationalities, political persuasions and abilities.  Must have sense of humour to handle odd-ball situations.  Also a sense of humour highly recommended for guests and travellers as well.  From experience, a very robust sense of humour required for travelling in Africa.  You will find it more than matched by the beautiful African sense of humour, well developed as a survival strategy.  That is if it isn’t trumped by the need to earn a crust, an even more important survival strategy.  The operator must also be flexible in working hours.  Actually, it is a pretty slack job, but with bursts of activity according to guest comings and goings.  

And finally the operator must get satisfaction from providing a generous, relaxing, renewing, educational, enjoyable experience.  In other words, my happiness depends on yours.  Having just written that, I think it could be a catch-call for world peace, but hey, I operate in a small sphere and only apply it to myself.  I take particular satisfaction in providing a wild experience for kids.  A few kids can’t handle it and may get technology withdrawal symptoms, but most like the wildness and the mystery of what is over the ridge? behind the next tree?  Dr Suzuki has remarked (paraphrasing) that kids these days get 90% of what they know about the natural world from the television but there is no substitute for touching, smelling and feeling.  It engages the emotional parts of the brain and has a much more powerful influence.  Now that there is remote sensing of brain activity without the inconvenience of drilling holes in kids heads and shoving wires into the brain, the research seems to be getting greater approval from the ethics committees.  Can’t imagine why.  Anyway, it seems that kids brains really light up in all areas and prioritise memories that have emotional content.  A BGO.  Blinding Glimpse of the Obvious.  Scientists should have saved the expense of machines costing a million dollars each and just asked Mary Poppins.  

Very relaxed wallaby

Very relaxed wallaby

I took this pic a few minutes ago just outside my kitchen window.  A very relaxed wallaby just 4m from my kitchen sink.  I have seen a lot of wallabies , and today I have seen at least a dozen without looking for them, but I have never seen one sitting on it’s bum before.  Nothing to do with the blog, but I thought you would like to see it.

Operating a B&B

I have been operating a B&B continuously now for a quarter of a century now, so I guess I am getting close to being qualified to say something about it.  I do so with a little trepidation as many dear readers will be regular guests and will think I am giving them a report card or something.  So let me say up front ‘I love youse all!’  Am I out of trouble yet? Well nearly all.  I might get to some horror stories.

Like most things in my life, I got into the business accidentally.  Everything important to that has ever happened to me has been an impossible outside chance that swept me along before I could even think about it.  Which is somewhat galling for a logical guy like me who thinks you should always sit down and carefully scrutinise your options.   Put somewhat better by Shakespeare in Macbeth “Can such things be, and o’ercome us like a summer’s cloud without our special wonder?”.  Don’t you hate that guy?  He always said it first.  Even emigrating to Oz was a quick decision as a result of freak meeting with a guy in a shower.  Don’t ask.

So I met this guy (Mike) doing exploration in the deserts of WA, got persuaded to buy some land on the Atherton Tablelands where I had never been, put up a house, got married, had kids, built other houses to keep this menagerie in, then his wife wants to move to Bris and I buy him out.  By this time you will have realised I am a straw in the wind without any self-determination.  Things just happen to me, and other people make the decisions.  When I first heard the phrase “path of least resistance”, I instantly knew what it meant, having trodden down it for a few decades.

Pardon my ramblings, comes with advancing years I’m told.  Which seems to be confirmed by my grandson Henry aged 3, whose years are advancing at exactly the same rate as mine, and he rambles all the time.  Meanwhile back at B&B I ended up with 3 dwellings.  Here I may draw the wrath of young families priced out of housing, asking how this idiot pom can accidentally end up with 3 houses when they are struggling to even raise a deposit for one.  Here I can only plead that not only have I been deprived of choices in my life, I have been dogged by good luck.  I seem to have been at the right place at the right time even though other people chose both the time and the place.   

So I leased the other 2 dwellings to families such as agricultural workers in the district.  Really nice people until I had the tenants from hell.  I totally failed to detect the whiff of sulfur and brimstone at the interview.  Or in Freudian terms, egotism and paranoia.  Relations went from bad to worse when their chooks died and my dog was accused of predation.  No blood, not a feather out of place.  Actually their kids and mine had fed them play dough.  Massive amount of salt, and they had died from dehydration.  Amazing how evidence cannot convince the paranoid.  I cannot imagine their convoluted thoughts as they constructed my motivation for such a heinous crime.  The result of this unfortunate confrontation and considerable stress for my wife Hilary was to totally forget leasing and consider B&B where people would only be here for a few nights.   By now you know me and I do what I am told, so B&B it was.

OK, so I seem to have gotten round to talking about how I got into B&B, but not actually talking about what it is like.  Part 2 sometime later.

Water Water Everywhere

“Nor any drop to drink”.   Samuel Coleridge from the “rime of the ancient mariner”.  Well that was the situation here at Possum Valley recently.  Showers or storms every day adding to the abundant flow in the creek.  As major parts of the globe fight politically or militarily for access to water here in North Queensland we enjoy the beautifully abundant season called “The Wet”.  Sure there are inconveniences, but having travelled the globe a bit, I can tell you that the lack of clean water, or in some places any water, is one of the worst catastrophes a society can face.  Even where it is available, distribution can be problematic and contentious.  Look at Israel/Palestine, or don’t, for those of you with delicate sensibilities.  The Israelis have appropriated the lion’s share of the water by force of arms.  

Meanwhile, back in Possum Valley, the “nor any drop to drink” was the imminent threat for Maple Cottage as the ram pump failed to deliver any water to the top tank.  There is no rainwater input to the top tank.  I had tried to set up a system using rusty old tin sheets from the tip, but found it had to be out in the open as under the canopy, it clogs with leaves on a weekly basis.  I suspected a leak in the delivery pipe to the top tank caused by rodents or melomys or such.  The delivery pipe goes about 600m some parts buried in the open spaces, and some parts through the rainforest on the surface.  It is not possible  to dig a trench in the rainforest as there is a mass of surface roots.  A ditchwitch would be jammed up in the first meter, and to use hand tools would be a project comparable to the pyramids with a workforce of one.  However, the rainforest does the job of burying the pipe for you if you leave it for a couple of decades.  Also for a couple of hundred meters the pipe is buried deep, 600mm deep where I convinced a Telstra worker that the trench for a telephone line he was installing would be really suitable for my water pipe.  

So I set about a search for the leak in the pipe on the exposed parts.  I found two minor leaks caused by animal/pipe predation, and was hopeful that fixing them would restore some water to the top tank (45m above the pump and a considerable friction head as well as only 19mm pipes).  No result.  I spent days doing tests to find the flow rates at various places.  I tried to flush the pipes with reverse flow by carrying water up to the top and running it back down the pipe to check for a blockage.  I installed an outlet at the top tank to back-flush the whole pipeline.  I spent days grovelling through the rainforest digging up the sections the rainforest had covered getting so wet and muddy in the rain.  I thought it could be the rubber non-return valve in the the pump so I refurbished it, then replaced it with a new one.  I honed the clapper valve with valve grinding paste using my pillar drill at slowest speed.  I replaced the top 50m of pipe with new pipe in case there was a blockage.  

For 10 days I got muddy and bloody from scratches and leeches before I reluctantly concluded it was my worst nightmare, an underground leak in the 250m of buried section where I could never find it.  So yesterday I resolved to totally replace the pipeline, and chose the shortest path that would require the least trench digging.  This would require much effort and expense.  I macheted a path through the rainforest so I could pace out the distance hence the length of pipe required.  About 550m I determined.  As I came near the end of  my survey, I noticed a patch of moss and boggy ground only a few meters square.  And a little spring in the middle.  I dug down and 200mm down found the pipe with a fountain of water blasting out.  You beaut!  I had left the pump going for the 10 days in the hope that it would give away the leak, and it finally paid off.  The pipe was nowhere near where I thought I had laid it 30 years ago.  After 10 days hard labour, it took 20 minutes to fix.  

I took my flowmeter (an old battered saucepan) up to the top tank and recorded 5580 litres of water per day.  Top performance.  

I love living at Possum Valley, but as anyone living out in the sticks will tell you there are moments of frustration and difficulty.  In the city you can can pick up the phone to get an expert to deal with utility problems, at some or considerable cost.  In my situation, I am the expert.  I have to fix it and there is nobody better equipped.  

Another way of looking at it is that I could have decided on day 5 that I couldn’t find the leak.  That would have been a reasonable decision.  But I didn’t, and got lucky saving heaps of effort and money.  It is curious how what people call luck, can take a lot of hard work.

Catching Up

I have had a 2 month visit from an old friend, Richard from the UK.  Leeds to be precise.  When I say old, we both have to admit to that, but also old in the sense that we haven’t seen each other in 45 years.  Like many people we rediscovered each other by web search and e-mail and have been in contact for the last few years.  6 months ago his wife of 30 years died after accident and medical mishaps piled up and a decision to end pointless life support had to be made.  Though on the other side of the planet, I could tell how hard it was for him and daughter to make that decision, even though the facts were clear and the answer plain.  After dealing with the formalities and other changes, Richard decided to come to Oz to see how things look from the other way up, take a break, and perhaps adjust perspectives.

Yes, I have been gassing on with Richard quite a bit as we catch up on a 45 year gap.  We did the same course at uni, lived in the same flats, drove to Turkey in an old Thames van donated by his parents, and I even dated his sister for a short while before she dumped me.  That was after I went in Richard’s mini to Italy with her and another girl.  That trip to Turkey was the furthest afield he had ever been before coming to OZ and we both remember it vividly, though mostly different bits.  I stayed in the vicarage with his parents in a delightful village in Suffolk.  Yes, plenty of reminiscing.  I had warned him of the possible dire weather possible in the wet season including incessant rain and scary cyclones, but the weather has made a liar of me.  It has been very good with just showers and storms rather than monsoon and tempest.  Today it was a chilly 14C in the morning but sunny all day warming up to 27C.  Before coming he did say that he would risk the ravages of the ‘wet’ as it would put a big hole in the British winter.  He has made a sound choice.  He arrived 19th Jan and leaves next Sun.  

I met him at Cairns Airport and we had exchange recent pics of ourselves to avoid the embarrassment of walking past each other at arrivals.  But we easily recognised each other.  And we agree we find the other to have much the same character as 45 years ago.  I guess you are pretty much stuck with who you are at uni age.

Before coming, Richard did offer his labour for any project I may have in mind.  For the cottages, it is by far the slackest time of year.  Feb/Mar mostly only weekend bookings.  So I didn’t need help with the servicing.  I did press him into chainsawing and block-splitting.  I wanted some firewood for the guests using the sauna and there was a tree overhanging the back paddock blocking the view from the kitchen window when washing up.  So I decided to cut down a tree so I could see …. well…. more trees, but further away.  So I felled the tree just missing the workshop, which was also threatened by this tree if allowed to grow any larger.  Then we both worked cutting it up (I gave him the baby chainsaw), then the splitting.  A block-splitter is a heavy long-handled axe with a blunt vee.  I use it as a sledgehammer on the flat side.  I knew the tree would be a bastard to split because of twisted grain.  I could see that from the shape of its trunk and limbs even before I felled it.  But I didn’t tell Richard.  I did a demonstration splitting of a block or two before handing the axe to Richard.  I also didn’t mention to him that with my educated eye of 40 years of splitting, I gave him a bastard of a block.  After that, the only splitting that happened was me collapsing with side-splitting laughter.  He flogged and pounded that block till both ends were a pulpy mash without getting a single stick of usable firewood and he was reduced to sweaty despair.  He is bigger, stronger and fitter than me, but you have to be able to hit the same place as last blow.  5mm away is a totally wasted blow.  Cruel I know, but a bloke has to get some mean psychological satisfaction out of 40 years of practice and hard labour.  Stand aside son, this is how it is done.  

I also introduced Richard to the gentle art of septic tank digging.  Having found that contractors take twice the time and charge an infinite multiple of the cost of doing myself, I have devised a method of removing the lid then dealing with the contents with first shovel and then a steel bucket on stick.  That is valuable information for those of you not adept at the art.  But I had to do most of it myself as Richard had failed to bring gum boots with him.  I mean what an oversight!  Surely gum boots should be first on the travel list to Australia.  Mine didn’t fit as he has feet suitable for water skiing.   

We have got on well.  Actually, I have just gone to recharge my red wine and told him we have got on well, as he is cooking dinner.  Also asked if I may put a blog up that takes the piss out of him as the newbie pom splitting blocks.  He agreed.  It has also been interesting to realise that we were both very much in the same situation when we graduated as mechanical engineers, but life is chaos, and like two skis released down a mogul field, or two leaves dropped in the same place in a creek, our lives and fortunes quickly diverged.  With father and grandfather both vicars, and 2 great grandfathers vicars, I think it fair to say he has a very strong moral streak with an ethos of serving.  With my background of staunch atheists, I think I can make the claim to have a strong streak of hedonism.  Slightly moderated by the realisation that if we don’t all treat each other well, life will turn to shit.  

This is by way of an apology for not writing a blog for so long.  



Merry Christmas

When my girls were at Possum Valley I used to make a bit of a fuss about Xmas and follow most of the traditions, however ridiculous and inappropriately imported from the northern hemisphere.  All that stuff about snow and reindeers racing through the sky over the gum trees.  The presents and the turkey.  Nobody much liked turkey.  The tree and the lights and the plastic tinsel stuff that gradually molted so you could find little glittery bits of plastic months later.  The vast meal that left everyone in a food coma.  The Xmas cake that came at the end that nobody had any room for.  It became a family tradition called ‘parading the cake’ where it was a lions charity cake still in original packaging was put on a plate and presented to the stuffed diners to be received by groans of protest.  It was then put back in the cupboard for the next year.  Very economical and it lasted 8 years.  The family never did have much of a sweet tooth and even as kids, my girls would let their meagre supply of Easter eggs languish in the fridge for months.  The cake could have lasted indefinitely except I got curious about the condition of the cake hidden from view all those years.  Sort of like Schrodinger’s cat (quantum physics joke).  So I opened it up and it was in surprisingly good condition.  Not too attractive, and with some crusty bits, but I reckon the middle would have been fine.  No takers.  Having survived 8 years being unmolested, we decided to give it a decent burial.  

A classic from Atherton Department of Redundant Signs.

A classic from Atherton Department of Redundant Signs.


The fact my girls didn’t have much of a sweet tooth was probably down to me.  I don’t have a sweet tooth.  I did the shopping and the cooking.  There is no shop within a camel ride, and I had complete dictatorship of the food provision.  Sweet things were just not in the house.  Which leads me to another Xmas story.  Whilst shopping in a supermarket in Atherton there was Santa ho-ho-hoing and sitting little kids on his knee and giving them little gifts and a photographer taking pictures.  That pic of my little girls made it into the local free newspaper and I probably still have a clipping, if only my filing system would yield up stuff from 25 years ago.  The little gifts Santa gave them were lollies wrapped up in shiny paper.  They came to me and asked what they were.  I was so proud of my little girls not knowing what lollies, sweets or candy were.  It’s just the grinch in me.

Now I am in full ‘Bah Humbug’ mode.  No cards, no presents, no turkey, no tacky tinsel.  Not to anyone including close family.  Then my daughter Josie this year sends me a Xmas present right out of the blue!  What was she thinking?  She knows there is nothing in the mail for her.  But then I find the touching card enclosed which assures me that “You will be happy to know only minimal funds were expended on your christmas gift, with all elements 100% sourced from secondhand retailers”.  Aw shucks, she knows me really well.  I am proudly wearing a shirt right now she sent me.  Also included a shaving brush.  Both daughters had been having a go at me about my shaving brush.  I know it was older than both of them, about 35 years old, the bristles were about 20 mm long after years of attrition, but hey! the handle was fine.  I now have a shaving brush with a magnificent 75mm of luxurious bristles.  But you didn’t think I would throw away the old one did you?  It is now relegated to the workshop to await some menial and perhaps fatal job of spreading glue.  

Grandson Henry discovers saws and demolishes my workshop

Grandson Henry discovers saws and demolishes my workshop

I had an excellent Xmas dinner invited by guests to share their family occasion.  Magnificent food spread out over a whole afternoon, and friendly relaxed feelings.  And here dear readers, I do a complete about face to extol the virtues of Xmas.  To acknowledge the worth of being in the warm embrace of family and friends.  To take time out from the hussle and bussle of getting by, and appreciate relationships and fun.  Thanks Lachy & Nadege.  I really hope you had an excellent Xmas as well.


How to Report Nothing

In this latest review into viability status, customer satisfaction and management performance, it has been found that ongoing policy settings are achieving their aims of furthering the company’s objectives. An analysis of current outcomes compared with historical data shows a continuing trend towards normality. The possible disturbances to this solid future scenario, such as Trump’s election and global warming, nuclear war and the last trump, have been shown to be less significant than formerly thought.  The downgrading of these threats can be largely attributed to consumer fatigue.  Any actual improvement in any of the aforementioned indices can be dismissed as illusory.  The Possum Valley shareholder dividends remains at a historically high level and the recent AGM has re-elected as chairman, CEO, board members and bottlewasher, Paul.  There were no dissenting votes.

So SNAFU.  So all good, if you accept good as less than optimal.  Could do with some more rain.  19mm yesterday afternoon, but much more needed as this is one of the driest years so far with just 1346 mm to date.  Hydro system down to less than half power.  Trees and shrubs stressed out in the rainforest.  Level 2 water restrictions in the district.  Another storm just managed to navigate it’s way safely round Possum Valley leaving only a few drops in it’s wake.  It looked quite promising on the radar.

A couple of nights ago there was a possum in the kitchen as usual.  At this time of year I leave the doors and windows open until I go to bed, as I guess most people do and don’t bother to evict them unless there are a couple having a turf war and things get too rowdy.  I put away any food I wish to keep and leave them bin diving for the vegie scraps and peel.  I wandered past and it was a female with a baby on it’s back.  Ah! , how cute, so I went for the camera, but it had scarpered before I got back.  Usually if I don’t make any hostile moves they stand their ground silent and still until I leave tham to get on with foraging again.  Next day I found the baby in a bucket in the laundry.

foundling possum

foundling possum

There was a window wiper in the bucket so it could have climbed out, or the mother in, but it had been abandoned.  Bad mother!  I took it outside and released it under the house in the hope its mother would find it otherwise it has no chance.  No, I didn’t consider trying to hand rear it, anymore than I thought of adopting the infant black snake that lives in the hydro system governor.  Didn’t bother evicting the snake, I’m just careful when I take a voltage reading with the multimeter a few cms above it’s head.  If I leave the snake there, I can be pretty sure all the surrounding control gear will be free from mice, rats, melomys, etc except for the very large white tailed rat, which I reckon would have that little snake for breakfast.  All those critters damage or even destroy electrical insulation.  I have met people who have had the electrical wiring in their car destroyed by white tailed rats.  Ouch!  Very expensive to replace.  I am lucky only having the knob on the gearstick eaten.  The high density plastic is as hard as a billiard ball.  Melomys can eat aluminium plate as I found when I tried to exclude them from a drawer.  But they can’t eat steel!  Humans rule OK!

Well dear readers, the festive season is upon us.  The full onslaught of the advertising system will be unleashed on us exhorting us to consume, consume, consume.  Oh how tedious.  As a grumpy old man, I can assure you that a large percentage of us ran out of excitement and enthusiasm for this commercial wank long ago.  For those of you with children, keep it going, but remember that extra love is all they really need.  All those ‘special foods’ has been ritualised as we already enjoy an amazing choice of foods all year round.  Eat well, don’t waste.  Have a great Xmas, but center it round relationships not ‘stuff’.




Possum Valley Meltdown

Temperatures at Possum Valley have cooled down in the last day or two after a period of 4 or 5 days of heat wave. I have endured the hottest temps in the 40 years I have been here with the exception of just one day about 15 years ago when it was 1C hotter. Yes, the incendiary weather reached 32C !!!! I can almost hear the laughter and cries of derision “is that all you’re talking about?”  I do know that most of Australia gets a bit hotter than that from time to time, but I’m not used to it!  At over 1000m altitude and surrounded by rainforest, I have got used to a 5-6C differential lower than the coastal temps.  That didn’t happen with the recent event, and on occasion Atherton actually was hotter than Cairns.  Though I did manage a couple of degrees cooler than Atherton as usual.

I do know what hot feels like.  Whilst doing exploration work in central WA in the salt lake regions, I endured a week where the temps were over 50C every day with a max of 52C.  As the ‘shade’ temp as officially measured in Menzies 150 kms away.  They were lucky to have shade to measure it in.  On the salt lakes, there isn’t any shade at all.  Anywhere.  But I’m not as resilient as I used to be, and much lower temps cause me discomfort.  I offer as evidence of the blistering heat a couple of pics taken in the hot spell.  The first was taken at Maple Cottage where a couple of king parrots dropped into the shade of the veranda while the guests were there.

King parrots on Maple veranda, Andrew

King parrots on Maple veranda, Andrew

They even stayed round while the guests went for a camera.  Personally, I think they were hoping for a cold beer rather than a photo shoot.

The next evidence I submit is of a lizard taking refuge in my house.  I tried to chase it out, but it took refuge under the sofa rather than face the sizzling sun.  And the bronze skinks on the veranda were just lethargically meandering around apparently oblivious to the juicy treats of squashed march flies I scattered on the deck.

Boyd's forest dragon

Boyd’s forest dragon

Your long-suffering host had to endure putting the washing out.  As the blistering sun hammered down on my back, I suffered snow blindness from the white sheets. When I took the washing into the storage cupboard, I couldn’t see a thing.  OK, the good news was that I could almost peg out the wet wear on a line, then go to the other end and start collecting it in again.  A contrast to the ‘super-rinse’ washing cycle, where I leave it on the line for days at a time, hoping sometime during the rain episodes I can gather it in dry.

Looks like worldwide temps for 2016 will set yet another ‘hottest on record” record.   Ok, ok, I know what I have just had is weather. Climate change is a mathematical thing derived from weather history without reference to forecasts and what you might expect without consulting a forecast, or even looking out the window.  Weather is what you actually get.  But 2015 was a record, 2014 was a record, perhaps 2013 was a record can’t remember, but the numbers are stacking up.  I am in no doubt the planet is heating up and so are 99% of scientists.  What I don’t understand is why something like 50% of the populace don’t think it is happening, or admit that it is but not because of human activity.  My brother believes the later and I must say I’m disappointed in him.  He’s an educated intelligent bloke who spent his entire career in the police force.  I would have thought he could follow the evidence with reliable estimates of how much carbon dioxide, methane etc, humanity has been putting into the atmosphere, and forensic knowledge from the lab that these gases trap heat, and gone out and banged up the culprits.  I think his problem might be that would mean he, and I, and you and just about everybody in the advanced countries are the culprits.

I was playing with 2 of my grandchildren just an hour ago.

Henry on tractor

Henry on tractor

I am thinking I should include a humble letter of apology to them in my will.  That my generation, the boomers, was primarily instrumental in trashing the planet.  That most of the graphs of the nasty effects started climbing in about 1950.  That was the year I was born, so the worst damage was done on my watch.  I think I woke up to the possibility of future catastrophe earlier than most, and that was part of my motivation in buying Possum Valley in 1976.  I won’t have to endure the worst as I will shuffle off the mortal coil before that happens.  That there is worse to come is already locked in.  That we are living in an age of species extinction of incredible abruptness on the geological scale is a fact, though probably more down to habitat loss than climate change.  That we could be the first species to cause our own extinction is a possibility.  That we know the problems and still walk like zombies into catastrophe would be a tragedy.

The problem and the answer is consumption.  Your consumption, my consumption.  Sorry, there is no getting around it.  Someone cut down the last tree on Easter Island condemning the inhabitants to a miserable life of depravation.  We have conveniently outsourced the effects of our consumption to other countries, but we have only one planet and none can escape the consequences.