Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose

On 8 June 2009, while in Fiji, I wrote

I spend a lot of time watching local wildlife of one form or another; landcrabs,  geckos, birds, the odd mongoose; and for a while I kept a few hermit crabs named Eric in an icecream container, until I released them.  From them I learned something important for me to keep in mind while I am here, in this job.  When one is in an ice cream container, one needs patience, and persistence.  Those crabs could not get out of the container, but they never for a moment stopped trying.  I think that may be lesson I should take on board, given my position and my situation.  The history I have been reviewing of the attempts around the Pacific to bring about some sustainable changes look a bit like wandering around in a container, going nowhere.  I have a feeling that for a while at least, I am going to feel a lot like those hermit crabs.

Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.

Surely there must come a time when you can stop trying?


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A few days ago, while cutting my hair, on a sudden whim I shaved my beard.  I do that sometimes.  Of course it meant that I had to start shaving regularly so I fished out my razor and some new blades.  Having been unshaven for so long, my skin was susceptible to the blade and each day I managed to nick myself and bleed.  It was always easy enough to staunch the wound with a tissue and pressure. No problem.

Today however, after work I showered and shaved ready to go out for dinner.  I nicked my face again.  This time the bleeding would not stop.  The blood really flowed, and no pressure, no dressing, would stop it.  I soaked two face cloths, a towel and two shirts and bled constantly for an hour before realising I had better visit the hospital.  There I bled for another hour while the nurses tried pressure and ice before conceding that the bleeding was not going to stop without some further help.

Of course my daily dose of aspirin was first thought to be the cause of the flow but considering I have been taking aspirin for nigh on 28 years now, and have cut myself much more severely many times before, even recently, that does not really explain it.

When I first went in to emergency, they took my BP. It was 149/87.

Less than an hour later it was back down to a normal 125/75. I was still bleeding however and after the second ice pack had melted without stopping the blood something had to be done.

They had no means to cauterise the wound and no dry ice, so they got out the silver nitrate.  That worked.   I now have a silver tattoo where the scratch was. I am told it will fade in time.  The incredible part is that it really was a minor graze, yet we estimated I lost 300ml of blood or more.  Interestingly, the nurse said that only three days before someone had come in with exactly the same problem and bled for 6 hours before they stopped it.  She thought there must be something in Halls Creek water, but I don’t drink the water here. It is safe, but hard and tastes awful.

So now I have to go back on Thursday for blood tests.


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I have been out of touch for a while. At the beginning of June I returned to my post in Billiluna.  The donga was not yet ready, there was no stove or oven, or even a decent lock on the door, but I had been away too long and was told I needed to return.  A new improved NBN (National BroadbandNetwork) satellite link had been installed for me, but unfortunately they had not seen fit to supply it with WiFi.  Since my trashed computer has not yet been replaced, and since my own Macbook and iPad do not have Ethernet connection, I have been off-line.  I am now back in Halls Creek for a training course. Hopefully when I return I shall be taking with me the necessary things to get me back on line.  I hope so, because I have wasted two months subscription to Netflix already.

Lake Stretch is really interesting at present.  The Sturt is no longer flowing through it but the level is quite high still.  It appears to be teeming with fish, because it is teeming with birds.  In the three years I have been visiting this little lake I have never seen so many birds there. There are literally hundreds of pelicans hanging around taking a break from their migration.  I am told the rangers spotted one with a tag and captured it to check. They found it had been tagged in Germany.

There are scores of cormorants, herons and small ducks, as well as kites, eagles, kingfishers hovering above. I saw honeybirds and budgies too.  I love the budgies but they are so shy and hard to approach.  I haven’t taken any photos yet. I shall post some soon. If they are still there on my return at the end of the week.

I still have no oven, and am now somewhat bored with cooking only what I can prepare using a slow cooker or electric frypan; though being a resourceful sort of fellow there is actually quite a bit I can do with those tools.  Nonetheless it is always irksome not to be able to do something one wants to do.  A pizza prepared in a frypan is not quite right. Especially as I have a brand new replacement pizza stone waiting to be used.


Can it be done?


Yes it can, sort of.



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Contemporary Rock Art


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Tiny Shower Companions

Never budged as I showered. I am not sure yet of its species…

And a Green Tree Frog too.


Shower with a friend!

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Last week was a good wildlife observation week for me.  I spent a lot of hours travelling.  Firstly I took a trip to Brown’s Range, beyond Ringer Soak, to conduct an inspection at the rare earth mine that is starting there.  Near Ringer Soak we crossed Sturt Creek, the same river that runs past Billiluna.  It has returned to being a series of ponds and small lakes as the dry season begins.  Only a few weeks ago it seems, it was three kilometres wide, and impassable.  There were herons, ibis and jabiru, magpie geese, cockatoos and galahs.  I flew my drone over them and caught some off guard but a drone is not the best way to photograph birds.

Later, I helped Tika again, transporting his football team between Mulan and Kununurra and back. On the trip I added the two common species of kite and wedge-tail eagles to the list. We saw a few bush turkeys – Australian bustards. No brolgas yet this year.  At home I have bower birds and mudlarks, butcher birds, and the sparrow-like little chap I have finally identified (tentatively) as an Australian pipit. Some little yellow birds I still have not identified.

On the road I dodged two young goanna, a king brown and a fairly large specimen of what I suspect was a greater whipsnake.  I stopped for a closer look at it, but it disappeared into the vegetation on the roadside.  I did not follow.

At home in the Single Persons Quarters, two young green tree frogs have taken up residence in the men’s ablution block.  One is usually in the shower I use and I must take care not to splash him with shampoo or soap.  The other day I found him swimming in the toilet bowl.  Fortunately there are two so I used the other rather than risk flushing him away.


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Extreme Sport

This photo of the Fitzroy river in flood under the Willare Bridge, on the road between Fitzroy Crossing and Broome, was published on FaceBook a while back.

It reminded me of when I drove that way, going to a meeting in Broome in the Holden Colorado.  The river was not so high then.   It was in the dry season.


As I approached the bridge I saw a rental campervan parked on the verge at the end.

A young man was climbing on the parapet in the middle of the bridge and  was clearly about to jump in.  I pulled up beside him and wound down my window.  He looked nervously at the Shire logo on my Colorado, then returned my friendly smile as I said “G’day mate. Having fun?”

“Yes” he answered in a German accent.

I knew it. Tourist.

“You know that’s pretty dangerous”.  I said.

“Oh no! The water is very deep. We checked first before we started to jump”.

“Good”, I answered. “How long have you been swimming here?”

“About twenty minutes.  It is not illegal, yes?”

“Oh it is not illegal. But I am thinking you should stop. Twenty minutes should be just about enough time for the crocodiles to realise you are here. They will have heard you jumping in, with all the big splashes you must be making.”


“Yes. Big man-eating salties live in this river.  If it was only freshies I’d say go on and have fun. Freshies are harmless.  But salties… They eat people”.

He called out urgently to his companions below, in German.  I recognised only the word “Krokodil”.

He looked very pale as he waited for his companions to scramble up the bank..

“it is not a joke, yes?”

“No joke mate.  This area is full of crocodiles. Be very careful where you swim”.

We talked a little more. They had driven up from Perth. They were heading for Darwin.   It seemed no one had told them about the crocs in this part of the country.


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