Spring 2020, Southern Hemisphere

This has been perhaps the shittiest year in my life, not so much personally – though that has not been particularly positive – but because of what is going on in the world. Climate change, extinctions, storms, fires, political empire declining and falling. Caligula suggesting he might like to hold on to the reins of Incitatus. The world is Orwellian. Not 1984, but Animal Farm.

Meanwhile, here in the land next to Godzone, Spring has unequinoxiquivocally arrived. The thunderstorms have begun, and the temperature soars. Time for spring cleaning the caravan. There is quite a bit of mildew on the canvas sides of the poptop, and cooking residue at the kitchen end.

Time also to get rid of all the junk I’ve collected, and somehow managed to keep from the thieves, as it is all just meaningless clutter now.

Then I may prepare to move on. Perhaps I’ll head back to Katanning in the new year, if the borders open. I have a part time job offer in the area. One not too physically demanding. I would have liked to return to NZ but my last trip did not give me reason to think it was such a good idea.

The End is Nig

Sea Song

Sea Song

There’s water in the scuppers and the sea is cutting rough
The bilge pumps are not working and if that’s not bad enough
There’s salt water in the rum lads, there will be no getting drunk
We’ll all drown stone cold sober when the fucking ship has sunk

The skipper’s drinking brandy, for he has a private store
He says he’ll go down with his ship and what can he do more?
He ordered the abandon ship, we cut the lifeboats free
Not one of them would stay afloat. They sank into the sea

The life jackets are useless. They are soggy wet kapok
We tossed them in the ocean and they went down like a rock
The first mate said to swim for it, we’ve minutes to get clear
Before the old girl founders, and drags us down with her

The bosun said there was no point for where then would we go?
Unless there is an island near and that, he did not know
So even if we swam and swam, and then we swam some more
The bloody sharks would take us all before we reached a shore

I’ll take me chances here said he, and go down quick and clean
Just then a huge wave swamped us. The biggest we had seen
The old ship groaned and foundered, then settled on a reef
The water’s really shallow here, to everyone’s relief.

© 2020 ARF

The Times, They Are A Changin’

Bribie Island Caravan Park is closed to people wishing to camp or who want to rent a cabin. Only we permanent residents remain. The pool, kitchen, tennis court and common room are closed, as are half the ablution blocks. Visitors are discouraged. Social distancing is encouraged. It has been suggested we have a “social period” now and then in which we sit outside our own homes and talk to our neighbours.

The doctors at my practice are now doing consultations by phone in all cases when the patient does not need to be physically present. My next consultation, to discuss my last pathology lab test results, will not require me to make the usual two hour round trip.

Federal Police are confining international travellers in motel rooms and standing guard. The first person has been jailed for breaching self-quarantine requirements three times in less than a week.

Body bags have been delivered to remote communities in anticipation of an outbreak there, which, if it happened, is expected to be far more devastating than among the general population. Some see it as sinister that resources for body bags are more easily found than for sending free supplies of soap and sanitising chemicals and cleaning equipment.

Unemployment has spiked since so many businesses must close.

The cost of food has spiralled out of control. Especially in the outback. Drought, fire and flood have no doubt contributed to this.

Grey nomads have been requested to forego travelling to remote areas. Their response so far has been selfish, along the lines of “But we want to visit the Argyll diamond mine before it closes down”.

The public pools are closed. Hotels, clubs and restaurants, also. Only takeaway fast foods are open. Gatherings of more than two non-family members are forbidden.

Sales of duct tape have skyrocketed as shops and banks and pharmacies mark out queuing areas and 1.5 metre spaces with lines and crosses.

More and more old people are appearing in public wearing masks. No one makes a fuss as they did over niqabs and hijabs. Yet these folk terrorise supermarket checkout staff in a manner unprecedented over matters completely beyond their control.

Goanna still drops by…

The Lancet Countdown.

The Effect of climate change on human health

Farah Qaiser, Molecular Genetics. University of Toronto

We often talk about climate change in terms of melting icebergs, rising seawater, and elevated temperatures, but what about the impact of climate change on our health…today? A new report from The Lancet Countdown shows that climate change is already harming human health worldwide, especially young children and the elderly. The report also presents the lifelong health consequences that a child born today will face if the world continues on its current climate path. 

Read on here.


Running Joke

There has been a run on toilet paper. Though runs on toilet paper may not be all that unusual, this one is causing a shortage. Being caught short is not so good.

Many vendors are posting notices such as this:

Following the unprecedented demand for toilet paper we reluctantly introduced a temporary 4 pack limit last week. Unfortunately, many stores are still selling out within an hour of delivery. 
We have therefore made the decision to change the limit to 1 pack per customer so that toilet paper is available for more of our customers, particularly the elderly and people who are unable to purchase in large volumes. 

It seems that many people fear the corona viruse may cause us to wipe ourselves out.

Out of toilet paper.

The very thought rubs me the wrong way.

But I have nothing.

Two Loos.


My coffee this morning also reminded me of cyclones. I’m not complaining, but cyclone season, which runs here from November to April, has so far been cyclone free. BOM say there is a 65% chance it will remain that way. That’s unusual, but maybe in a good way. I’m certainly pleased. I live in a caravan with a pop top and a canvas awning out the side.

Other parts of this huge country are copping the unusual in other ways. Drought, fire, flood.

The balance of the Force has been disturbed, young padawan.

Spare a Thought

Spare a thought for my friends in Katanning, who are on a watch and wait, as fires burn all around. The water bombers are flying constantly. Everyone is packed and ready, but in which direction can they flee?

Photo sent by Jennifer Dowling.

Not with a Bang, Nor with a Whimper


Not with a bang, nor with a whimper

But a sneeze, Mr Eliot

Or gushing bowels, or vomit

Or blood from every aperture

With our children asking “Why?”

That changes the day’s mood somewhat.

The Hollow Men by T.S. Eliot

Mistah Kurtz-he dead
            A penny for the Old Guy


    We are the hollow men
    We are the stuffed men
    Leaning together
    Headpiece filled with straw. Alas!
    Our dried voices, when
    We whisper together
    Are quiet and meaningless
    As wind in dry grass
    Or rats’ feet over broken glass
    In our dry cellar

    Shape without form, shade without colour,
    Paralysed force, gesture without motion;

    Those who have crossed
    With direct eyes, to death’s other Kingdom
    Remember us-if at all-not as lost
    Violent souls, but only
    As the hollow men
    The stuffed men.


    Eyes I dare not meet in dreams
    In death’s dream kingdom
    These do not appear:
    There, the eyes are
    Sunlight on a broken column
    There, is a tree swinging
    And voices are
    In the wind’s singing
    More distant and more solemn
    Than a fading star.

    Let me be no nearer
    In death’s dream kingdom
    Let me also wear
    Such deliberate disguises
    Rat’s coat, crowskin, crossed staves
    In a field
    Behaving as the wind behaves
    No nearer-

    Not that final meeting
    In the twilight kingdom


    This is the dead land
    This is cactus land
    Here the stone images
    Are raised, here they receive
    The supplication of a dead man’s hand
    Under the twinkle of a fading star.

    Is it like this
    In death’s other kingdom
    Waking alone
    At the hour when we are
    Trembling with tenderness
    Lips that would kiss
    Form prayers to broken stone.


    The eyes are not here
    There are no eyes here
    In this valley of dying stars
    In this hollow valley
    This broken jaw of our lost kingdoms

    In this last of meeting places
    We grope together
    And avoid speech
    Gathered on this beach of the tumid river

    Sightless, unless
    The eyes reappear
    As the perpetual star
    Multifoliate rose
    Of death’s twilight kingdom
    The hope only
    Of empty men.


Here we go round the prickly pear
Prickly pear prickly pear
Here we go round the prickly pear
At five o’clock in the morning.

Between the idea
And the reality
Between the motion
And the act
Falls the Shadow
For Thine is the Kingdom

Between the conception
And the creation
Between the emotion
And the response
Falls the Shadow
Life is very long

Between the desire
And the spasm
Between the potency
And the existence
Between the essence
And the descent
Falls the Shadow
For Thine is the Kingdom

For Thine is
Life is
For Thine is the

This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a whimper.