Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The Great Barrier Reef / A Video

video

This video was taken by the company marine biologist during our "Wavelength" cruise to the outer Great Barrier Reef in September.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Grevilleas

In another life I had an Australian native plant garden. They were supposedly low maintenance and not so water dependant. However to keep them looking good, this was all a myth.
The one genus I got to enjoy growing were Grevilleas.
They are a very diverse group of of about 360 species of evergreen flowering plants in the Proteaceae family. The species range from prostrate shrubs less than 0.5 m tall to trees 35 m tall.
They have an amazing range of foliage and flower forms as well as flower colour.
Many Grevilleas interbreed freely and extensive hybridisation and selection of horticulturally desirable attributes has led to the commercial release of many cultivars which increases considerably the range of plants available.
Maybe the wet winter has encouraged the flowers this year or maybe I have been unobservant in the past but this year's displays in the gardens around us are magnificent.




Sunday, October 17, 2010

An October Update

Spring is really here despite a two day return to winter with rain and windy conditions. There was also some snow on the mountains. All the fruit trees are in blossom and budburst is over with all four grape varieties now well into shoot growth. The fact that the Pinot Noir was shooting in August only enforces the global warming argument. I think from memory that budburst is now three weeks ahead of what it was when I first planted vines around 15 years ago.
So that all means there is plenty of work to do around the place.
Spraying has begun mainly against downy mildew. A neighbour of mine who runs a commercial winery has not sprayed for powdery mildew for years and has had no problems. This year I will try the same. It is a bit of a risk as there is no 'cure' for this disease but anything to reduce the number of sprays and chemical impact on the environment is welcome. Not that I use too much nasty stuff. Copper oxychloride used against downy mildew is approved for organic vineyards as is wettable sulphur against powdery mildew. Phosphorus acid as a downy curative is also ok. Chlorothalonil used against botrytis isn't too good but there are really no effective sprays of lower toxicity.
Calves have started to arrive. So far everything has gone well. Grass is growing well too after all the rain we had over winter so the new mums will be well nourished eating for two.
A friend and I worked on the fallen trees produced by the big storm for two days solid. We eventually got the fences repaired and and started clearing the accessible trunks and branches. From a distance it's as though we did no work at all. It's a huge job. They will never be completely cleared. At least we have a few year's firewood already.
And the black snake that seemed to have taken residence in that area has apparently moved on due to all our activity.
It was one of the biggest I have seen around here for quite a while so will be keeping an eye out despite the recent no show.
Other than that all the tourists have gone home after the October school holidays and we have a few month's peace until the real invasion starts in mid December for the long summer break well into January.

Friday, October 08, 2010

The Commonwealth Games

Currently we are enjoying live telecasts on six dedicated channels from Delhi, India, of the Commonwealth Games. They run for just under two weeks.
Every four years, members of the Commonwealth of Nations get together for a huge sporting event.
This is the 19th time they have been held and 6800 athletes and officials from 71teams are attending to compete in 17 sports.

It’s great to see so many smaller less wealthy nations competing. The qualification criteria are not as strict as for the Olympic Games so it gives many athletes the chance to experience the ‘big time’ although their performances may not be world class. In fact it is very rare for a world record to be achieved in any of the events. As well as many Olympic sports, the Games also include some sports that are of British origin and are usually played only in Commonwealth countries. These include lawn bowls, rugby and netball.
The Commonwealth of Nations has its roots in the British Empire which eventually became the British Commonwealth before its final transition. It is an intergovernmental organization of 54 independent member states. All but two of these countries were formerly part of the British Empire.

Sixteen members of the Commonwealth recognise the Queen Elizabeth II as their head of state, including Australia. The majority of members, thirty-three, are republics and a further five have monarchs of their own.
It is interesting to note that the four Home Nations of the UK ie. England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland send separate teams to the Commonwealth Games. Individual teams are also sent from the British Crown dependencies of Guernsey, Jersey and the Isle of Man. This is in contrast to the Olympics where all these combine to represent ‘Great Britain’. The Australian external territory of Norfolk Island also sends its own team, as do the Cook Islands and Niue, both two states in free association with New Zealand.
Australia usually does pretty well in this competition and has for many years won the highest number of medals.

Sunday, October 03, 2010

Some Fish of the Great Barrier Reef














All these pictures were taken by Wavelength Charters who sail out of Port Douglas to the outer reef on a daily basis (weather permitting).
We can highly recommend them as a snorkel only trip to the Great Barrier Reef.

Friday, October 01, 2010

The Great Barrier Reef













All pictures taken by Chris, marine biologist with Wavelength Charters during our trip to Opal Reef on 23/09/10.