Wednesday, 31 October 2007


On 22 September 2007, I published on an article entitled "Mmmmm - Big Kev dines big time."

I wrongly described Councillor Byrne as being a director of a Shanghai company.

In fact, Councillor Byrne was a director (until February 2006) of a Queensland registered company named Beyond Shanghai Pty Ltd.

My article was also factually incorrect in asserting that Councillor Byrne has a travel fund supplemented by funds from Advance Cairns. I accept that this is not the case.

I unreservedly apologise to Councillor Byrne for the hurt and embarrassment which these errors have caused.

Stop the killing

Paul Taylor of Edmonton writes...

In recent weeks we have seen a number of our native animals being killed by local residents.

Two weeks ago there was a python killed up in Port Douglas in someone's home. This week there was the croc killed by 2 kids and an adult in Westcourt, and in today’s Cairns Post, I see another python killed, and hung on a street sign Manoora.

last year I recall a croc being killed on Reed Road, Trinity Beach and had it teeth pulled out as trophies.

When are people going to learn that it isn’t the animals fault? These animals are being driven out of their homes by developers so they can capitalize on the small amount of available land for housing. I am all for development, as that is the only way a city or town can grow and prosper, but at the same time, we have to consider what damage we are doing to the surrounding environment.

In the case of the crocodile, I am not for culling these creatures as a lot of people believe is the ideal way of dealing with them. If the animal is causing a problem, and cannot be caught, yes, unfortunately, that is the only way of dealing with it.

If it can be caught, then it should be taken to a remote area and released, or sent to a croc farm. If they are only small animals, and not causing problems, let them be.

Council and QPWS should erect signage along all creeks, drains etc notifying people of the possible presence of crocodiles and warning them to stay away. Parents should then take responsibility for their children and pets, and keep them away.

In the case of the snakes, they are suffering the same problem as the crocodiles and other animals. Developers are coming in and bulldozing bushland, and giving the snakes no where else to go. There is plenty of snake handlers around who will come out to a property to catch reptiles that are causing a nuisance. So therefore, there is no real reason for people to be killing snakes.

The other thing that people can do to protect their pets and themselves, is make the yard and house snake proof. With the house, something as simple as screens on the widows is all that is required. There are ways to making the yard snake proof, and if you contact QPWS or any snake handler, they will be able to help you do this.

Cairns residents, developers and the Council have to start thinking about the wildlife of the region before there is none left. Take a drive up the Captain Cook Highway any day and you will see hundreds of Pretty Face Wallabys that are stranded on the eastern side of the highway at Trinity Beach. These animals have been loosing their habitat for years. What ground they have left is disappearing rapidly, and unfortunately, so are they.

Every day you will see dead wallabys on the side of the road after being hit by cars and trucks traveling up the highway. Council needs to address this. Weather it is the current Byrne Council, or a new Council.

At the rate we are loosing bushland, rainforest, and animals around this region it wont be long before we loose the lot.

People of Cairns, have a look around you, and take note of where the money comes from. It comes from the tourists that come and visit our fair city every year. What are these tourists coming here to visit? They are visiting the bush, rainforest, Barrier Reef and the animals.

Take all those things away from Cairns, and we will become the biggest ghost town in the country. We are not like a lot of other regional centers on the east coast of Australia. We are a tourist city. Townsville has its industrial precinct, and the defence force. Mackay has its sugar and mining industries. We have tourism. The sugar is almost all gone. Tobacco has almost gone. Dairy has almost gone.

Don’t just think of the next 5 to 10 years. Think of the next 5 to 10 generations.

Tuesday, 30 October 2007

On this day

It was 89 years ago today, in 1918, a massive alcohol prohibition petition was presented to the New Zealand Parliament with more than 240,000 signatures.

It demanded an end to the manufacture and sale of alcohol in New Zealand.

In 1930, the Rev. J Cocker a staunch advocate for abstention wrote:-

  • For many years a considerable amount of temperance work on moral suasion lines had been done in the colony, before the Prohibition campaign was commenced.

    In the year 1890 a flame of great enthusiasm swept through the land from North Cape to Bluff.

    A breath of God moved the people. In every part of the country godly and patriotic men and women were touched by the finger of Divine Love and they came forward as leaders in the new movement. National distinctions were swept aside. Church differences were forgotten.
    Men of all shades of political opinion found a common meeting place in the ranks of the Prohibition party.
    Opposition only increased their zeal. They gladly suffered for their principles. They gave of their time, energies, and possessions. Buoyed up by the deep conviction that their cause was of God, they bravely fought and sang through the fight. Prohibition became the burning question of the day. Great was the enthusiasm.

    The blood of the reformers was hot. In every part of the land they were found standing by the flag. It was the time of New Zealand's awakening.
    Bliss was it in that dawn to be alive, But to be young was very heaven.

    While there were many gifted leaders, the Rev. L. M. Isitt was the Apostle of the movement. His travels through the country were triumphal tours. For some years the largest halls in towns and cities were packed to hear him.
    Equally popular was T. E. Taylor, a prince of orators and the admired hero of the crowds.
    A great brotherhood was formed of virile men possessing strong, clean characters, and actuated by high ideals.

Results of No-License and Prohibition Polls from 1894 to 1928

Bouquet deserved

The Cairns Post, and related publications, took home a raft of awards at the Queensland Multi Media Awards, and as our predominant local print media in the region, and the people behind it, I offer my congratulations.

Congrats to:-
  • Caitriona Murtagh for her story exposing problems at the emergency department of Cairns Base Hospital, for which she was awarded the "best daily news story".
  • Tableland News Ltd photographer Jennifer Eliot, deservedly won "best news photograph" capturing the stunning image of the Watsonville farm fire.
  • Photographer Chris Scott, won the award for best editorial image/photograph in Cairns Eye.
  • Sub- editor Shannon Du Plessis won best media coverage" about environmental issues in the Weekender.
  • Graphic artist Richard Wattimena for best advertisement for Perfect Match campaign.
  • Roz Pulley, from The Cairns Sun won best non-daily story about first female commanding officer of HMAS Cairns.

11 days till the world cup

Today, wandering along Lambton Quay, Wellington, I signed the truck that is touring the length of New Zealand in support the Silver Ferns.

It’s now only just over a week until the Netball World Championships are held in Auckland, and
it certainly looks like the girls are getting all fired up.

The 'Sign On with the Silver Ferns Tour' truck, has visited 30 towns around the country.

Thousands of fans have scribed their messages on the side of the truck and had a chance to meet some of the Silver Ferns. The Silver Fans website has been following the supporters in the build up to the champs at the end of next week.

Australia has also been working hard in their secret 'beach boot camp'. Australia’s official team launch has been held in Federation Square, Melbourne recently.

Cr Freebody is not a lesbian

Whilst I'm tempted, this email from the esteemed Councillor Freebody really needs no introduction...

  • From: Paul Freebody
    Val Schier.candidate for Mayor
    Sent: Tuesday, October 30, 2007 12:02 PM
    Subject: RE: Jibe in Saturday's paper


    I see Robert Pyne has seen the light and got out of the Looney left.

    The comments about Amanda in your grubby little (kiwi fruit) web site have gone pass [sic] the acceptable level of politics and the rules in any political arena are we don’t touch or hurt / attack family members! You will now see what happens when you break the ethic rules. Even Jason has played by these rules.

    This is a low act and you have now put a fire in my belly which I have not had for some time!

    Bring it on Val because the gloves are off and I will not rest until I have destroyed you and your grubby little mates!

    I have in the pass [sic] shown you respect, however no more you have shown you are a low life and I will treat you as such from now on!

    Paul Freebody
    General Manager (Freebody Group)
    Email :
    Mb: 0418741160
    Wk: 0740534399
    Fax : 0740534299

Monday, 29 October 2007

A very silver lining

If you watched the annual ARIA's, you witnessed history.

Silverchair entered Australian music legend, becoming the most successful ARIA winner of all time. Silverchair picked up awards in all five categories. They have won 19 ARIA's to date.

They took Album of the Year for Young Modern, their 5th album. Their number 1 single Straight Lines won Single of the Year as well as highest selling single.

They also won Best Group, and Young Modern also claimed the Best Rock Album category.

Robert Pyne leaves Cairns 1st

In a dramatic development, Robert Pyne, vocal advocate against Cairns Mayor Byrne, and son of former Mayor Tom Pyne, is walking away from the Cairns 1st team and supporting Val Schier.

"I joined Cairns 1st as an independent, and now find it's largely a group of Labor party members," Robert Pyne said to CairnsBlog today.

"I'm a strong supporter of the communities of the south of Cairns, however cannot continue to feel restrained and restricted about the issues I want to raise the affect my local community."

"I also feel there is little value in being associated with Val Schier's and the Cairns 1st alliance brand," says Robert Pyne.

"I think people who know me, know that I have a lot of energy and passion to contribute as their local Councillor, but I can't have everything I want to say restricted by what they think I should and shouldn't say. That's what a local representative is all about, speaking out on matters that are of concern."

In a heated meeting with Cairns 1st candidates over the weekend, Jason O'Brien confronted Robert and said "Well, are you with us or not?" This was in reference to Robert independent style and a flamboyance for proactive communication with his local residents, something that has caused concerns within the Cairns 1st camp..

Jason O'Brien, State Member for Cook and former Cairns City Councillor, is heading the Cairns 1st team as their campaign director.

Robert is infamous with sending out newsletters and information to thousands of locals every month. He's an excelent communicator and with his restrictive physical access, he's maximised the art of getting his word out and around the community.

"Well, he certainly speaks his mind and that's something I like," said Joanne Harrison of Mt Sheridan. "Robert is a colourful character and engenders humour too, something the current Council doesn't do at all. I know he'll get my vote come March next year," she said. '

"We've had a Council for 8 years now that rarely works at communicating properly with it's residents and ratepayers. I'm delighted that Robert's running and he's made it his business to get to know you. I've seen him at many local events."

Wheelchair-bound Robert Pyne, who has never made an issue with his disability, has ventured into almost every street in Division 3 where he will contest the March 2008 Council election as an independent.

"I can tolerate a vigorous debate however I didn't sign up with Cairns 1st to be railroaded or censored as is now clearly the case," said Robert.

Mark Buttrose and Richie Bates of the Cairns 1st team, seems to have shown a degree of concern about losing Robert Pyne's enthusiasm in the team. It is clear he is an asset to the overall campaign, and is probably the most well-known candidate running for Council. Arguably, Robert has better name recognition than Val Schier, certainly in the southern suburbs, where he has proactively engaged his audience on several key matters that concern local residents.

"I guess that Val doesn't like it when I promote myself and exclude her from my newsletters," he says. "I genuinely believe that there is no added benefit to be part of the Val Schier group or the Cairns 1st banner any longer, and that is why I will be an independent."

"When elected to council, I will make sure I'm a strong voice for local issues. I'm sure that's what people want from their councillor, not to sell out on hillslopes and development that they can't have a say in."

Member for Cook, Jason O'Brien was so concerned with Robert's intention and damage to their campaign that he telephoned Robert's father, who is now in his 80's, in an effort to change his mind.

Cairns 1st candidates all contribute over $6,000 each to the campaign fund for joint marketing and advertising promotion. Now Robert's $1,500 deposit is in question.

"I clearly want my money back, now that I'm not running with them," Robert said today.
"I telephoned Val but she was not prepared to discuss it with me."

With little solidarity of the Mayor's former Unity team than ran in 2004, due to many who have ceased supporting Kevin Byrne, and now the current disarray of the Cairns 1st opposition, it will allow other groupings to emerge.

One possible camp could be led Cr Alan Blake, with the support of Cr Margaret Cochrane, both of which don't enjoy a positive relationship with the current mayor.

The latest turn of events with Robert Pyne's departure will do little to enhance Cairns 1st's support. Whilst there's a strong move to dump the incumbent mayor and his 8 year reign, there will need to be a credible alternative that ratepayers can feel confident to support.

Many community residents' associations have have sub-standard Council representation and relationships on issues over the last four years of the current Council's tenure. These associations hold a lot of weight and voice in the community and will no doubt play a strong role over the next few months in this local body election campaign.

Robert is a former president of James Cook University - Cairns Student Association; a member of the Bentley Park Parents & Citizens; and member of the Forest Gardens Neighbourhood Watch.

Following his accident in 1991, he completed a Bachelor of Arts in History and Politics at JCU and a Law Degree at QUT. He works in disability access services at James Cook University.

Kevin Rudd's memorable day in parliament

13.6 million enrolled to vote

13,645,073 Australians are enrolled to vote at the 2007 federal election, Saturday 24 November 2007, following the close of the electoral roll last Tuesday.

The figure compares with 13,021,230 electors who were enrolled at the close of rolls for the 2004 federal election, an increase of 623,843.

Here's breakdown of the close of rolls figures by State/Territory and age:-

This week's Caption contest

Here's a pic from The Cairns Post with Ian Crossland, John McKenzie from 846AM, and Jim Turnour at the industrial relations political debate forum that Stuart Traill organised last week.

Charlie McKillop didn't attend, hence the empty chair. Nice one Stu.

Therefore, I thought readers would enjoy having some fun with this band of local minor celebs. As always, please keep the comments clean. Points for being clever and funny. Anything too below the belt will be removed.

  1. "I reckon Work Choices are really under-rated Jim, just like your speech writer"
  2. "Jim and Ian, I think you should job share come 24th November"
  3. "John, who ya gunna vote for? Kevin's not standing remember!"
  4. "At least with Charlie absent, her her mobile phone didn't go off!"
  5. "This is really beyond me, I mean we get more listeners on 846, and I can cut them off."
  6. ....your turn.....

Something from Selwyn

As a "prize' for the most votes in last week's poll, we invited Selwyn Johnston to drop us a note...
  • The political landscape in Australia is currently undergoing a long overdue change. At last a shift in attitude within the community is becoming apparent… people are seriously questioning what their elected politicians are actually doing, who they represent, and are they really worth voting for.

    Selwyn Johnston, an Independent Candidate for Leichhardt, is a seventh generation Australian and a fourth generation Queenslander, is significantly concerned at the decline in Australia's way of life over the past 25 or so years.

    He is married and has two grown sons. He is a small business owner, publishes 'The Countryman', a successful Independent Queensland community newspaper, and is a qualified computer systems analyst and administrator. He is politically aware, politically active, and has NEVER been a member of any political party.

    Selwyn is known nationally through his award winning 'International VoteNet' political WebSite, which is a regular source of information for many incumbent politicians. This site is regularly updated and contains articles on current issues of interest together with comment and assessment.

    Selwyn’s campaign blog also has a wealth of information on issues, which will, or do, affect the residents of Leichhardt.

    In short, Selwyn has 'runs on the board' as he has well and truly established his credibility.
    The presence of Independent Parliamentary Representatives such as Selwyn Johnston in Federal Parliament are urgently needed to truly represent their fellow Queenslanders, and to oppose the current decline bought about by party politicians and unelected bureaucrats.

    To achieve electoral success at the coming election, Selwyn seeks your support.

Roving with Tasma

Rove McManus has confirmed he's dating Tasma Walton, of Blue Heelers fame.

This comes nearly a year after Belinda Emmett passed away.

Tricks from developers

I see that Satterly, the lads behind the large Smithfield Village development hd their first open day on the weekend.
I guess there was fun to be had for all the family.. including a BBQ, face painting, pony rides, bouncy castle... etc, etc.
I always cringe when I see property developers or a real estate company host a "family day", or a "Fun Free BBQ" event.
It screams as covert and misleading when a large corporate attempts to lure people along with the carrot of kiddy activities, when their primary objective is to flog off a bunch of dirt of a new $380,000 house with no vegetation.
In my 7 years living in the region, I've seen a myriad of developer tricks that have all the satisfaction of a night in jail with Pauline Hanson.
I guess I've become more cynical over the years, and with a marketing background, it makes you question the advertisers' message and look through those often clever ploys to grab the reader's attention and attempt to close the sale.
Whilst I give kudos to some of the innovation that Satterleys are introducing, I think it's worthy to question the marketing that is used.

This is a story?

I opened up the Weekend Post and saw this "story" that covered three quarters of page 3.
It turns out that it really wasn't a "story" at all. It was merely an advert about the Harbour Lights development.
What a dodgy bit of journalism. When there must be a kizillion community stories to tell, such a huge space is dedicated to some wanky apartment and someone who wants $10K a week to rent it out - not forgetting the Barvirian Motor Works.
This isn't a story at all, but it is presented as one. Displaying a huge photograph of a 60-year-old, dressed in a teenager's hip singlet, with sunglasses on.... ooohh that's another story in itself!
I mean really, who are they kidding? This is nothing more than a shameless advert for the property pages and an apartment block in dire need of some tenants. Nothing more.
Newspapers used to be just that.. papers with NEWS. With a Federal Election here in a few days, there's much to debate and discuss. Yet our main print media used page 3, not for a braless backpacker for a change, but a infomercial!
Whilst I depend on the Post for a local dose of news, this "story" certainly doesn't fall into that category.
Where's the story about Amanda Byrne's lesbian affair? What about the alleged incident of Cr Alan Blake's trip to Korea on a 'fact finding' mission? Where's the tale about Tom Hedley waking up with Anna Bligh sans his trousers? Why Dr Paul Matthews phoned in sick because he caught house flu? Where's the news about the 8 meter Esplanade extensions to Villa Romana... oh, that one was probably true.
I mean, seriously there's a lot of stories to fill up our local newspaper with. Every community has a story to share. Residents and Community meetings around the suburbs are filled with activity and things going on. Issues to respond to, investigate, dodgy developers, good developers, funny stories, sad stories, legacies and reminiscences from our older citizens, why Ian Crossland changed shampoos.
I look forward to the day when there is separation from advertising and strategic business alliances and news.
This story was bought to you by the letters B and C, and the number 6.

All we need is love

This just in from Bryan Law...

  • In early 2003, as part of a national and global peace movement, thousands of Cairns residents went public with their opposition to the proposed invasion and occupation of Iraq.

    Prime Minister John Howard labelled us a “mob”, and told serial lies to justify the worst and most despicable foreign policy crime ever committed by Australia. Weapons of Mass Destruction mysteriously disappeared, then it was “regime change” and “building democracy” in Iraq. We “won” and then started losing. Now we’re holding on desperately while chaos spreads. The only constant is the stream of lies coming from our Commonwealth government.

    We have fed terror and war while dragging Australia’s good name through the mud.

    In 2007, John HoWARd and his criminal gang might finally be held accountable for their actions. Iraq is cited in polls again and again as one reason why Australians have stopped listening to Howard, and are about to change governments.

    Peace by Peace is holding a public meeting upstairs at the Cairns RSL on Thursday 1 November at 7.00 pm to help keep this issue in front of voters as we move towards the end of the HoWARd government.

    ALP candidate Jim Turnour will attend to outline Labor policy. Liberal candidate Charlie McKillop has been invited, but so far won’t say yes or no. Other candidates will be invited to speak from the floor. Bryan Law will give an activist perspective on how to develop peace work irrespective of what government is in power.

    If you’re concerned about building a positive culture of peace, and holding the HoWARd government accountable, come to the meeting on Thursday evening and make your feelings known.

Peace Meeting, Thurs 1 November, 7.00 pm, Cairns RSL

Saturday, 27 October 2007

Jon Nott very happy

About time we see an esteemed local educator telling it how it is.

In this week's The Cairns Sun, Professor Jonathan Nott of James Cook University, has again lashed out at how ill prepared we are as a town, when we face a serious natural disaster.

Following Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans was flooded, 200 billion dollars of damage was done, and over 1,000 people lost their lives. Now as our cyclone season approaches yet again, Jon Nott says it’s only a matter of time before a crisis of that scale happens here.

Jon Nott, also a geologist and and professor in Geomorphology and Natural Hazards, is no stranger to attacking the Cairns Council poor development record in terms of readiness for a natural disaster.

He told a public forum last week that Cairns is known worldwide for is risky location. He points to the disastrous planning over a long period by successive Council and governments for vital infrastructure that is located in disaster areas, like he hospital and the airport, in a high frequency cyclone area.

Nott also highlights the resorts and other tourist infrastructure that is worth millions, possible billions, that will be affected by a Category 5 storm. He says immense cyclones like Katrina have been pounding the Australian coast for centuries.

Nott says the evidence is in 'steps', or terraces piled up by storms at the back of the beach. We know when they occurred by carbon dating buried corals.

"I’d say that coral would be aged between 130 to 200 years. Numerical modelling shows us that to get a surge and waves that big you need a category 5, a severe category 5 to come through and cut away this terrace. Comparing this to Hurricane Katrina, Nott says that it would be more intense.

"A supercyclone like this comes through every 200 years," says Professor Jon Nott. "We know how often they come through and that’s why we’re confident in being able to say that we definitely know another one will occur in the future."

The Cairns Sun gave Nott's repeated claims a strong public airing, and deservedly so.

He said that developers and profits are ruling supreme at the expense of safety.

"I know they're tough words, but I'm sick and tired about beating round the bush," Nott told The Sun. He condemns the places of development, that are ill-thought out planning and approvals by Council in known cyclone and flood storm surge areas.

The Mayor of Cairns got all flustered a year or so ago in a remarkable public debate with Professor Nott. He thought he was smarter, calling scientists 'neanderthals' and saying that 'we've never ever had a natural disaster ever hit in the history Cairns'.

In the debate of global warming that focused whether housing development was right on the coast, making residents vulnerable to increased and more extreme cyclones. Professor Nott accused the Cairns Council of putting people and property at risk. Mayor Byrne regards him as a doomsayer and a neanderthal.

Even the State Government seems to be taking the threat of increased cyclones pretty seriously. Premier Peter Beattie promised $52 million over five years to improve training and equipment for emergency workers in cyclone-prone areas in northern Queensland. Some want to halt beachside development in vulnerable areas.

"They will always blame the council, the easiest way to go is to blame the council," says Byrne. Nott responded saying "How does a newcomer to Cairns find out where it is safe to live?

Professor Jonathan Nott is an internationally published expert in extreme climate events. He says his research shows that Cairns is about to face more cyclones, perhaps many more, because North Queensland is coming out of a relatively quiet century of cyclone activity and that combined with the double whammy of global warming, the cyclones will probably be bigger and more violent than before.

"Every 50 or so years or even less sometimes, it could be every 10 years, we will have big cyclones coming through that will whip up big seas, big storm surge and tides and waves and they will literally go through houses and destroy houses, many houses along the beach front in Cairns."

In Cairns, we are in coastal property boom and we haven't seen a serious cyclone in 100 years - besides Larry last April to hit Innisfail.

Mayor Byrne dismisses the repeated warnings as extremist. "If we listened to neanderthals in this debate we would have to pack up Cairns and move it to the Atherton Tablelands and we are not about to do that, let me tell you we are not about to do that." Byrne points out that Professor Nott's warnings are out of step with official forecasts which predict super-cyclones every 100 or more years. Nott says those forecasts are based on just 30 years of records and his research draws on 5,000 years.

"The frequency of these super storms is 10 times higher than Cairns Council has planned for. That means you could be in deep water because where they allow you to live is in a much more dangerous location than they will acknowledge." "We haven't had any catastrophes hit Cairns in the history of Cairns," says Byrne.

"I think we've been pretty good at development in this part of the world. We've got wonderful growth, a wonderful economy." The precarious nature of beach front development in a low-lying flood-prone city like Cairns is beginning to show. In 2005 tide and strong winds saw houses inundated along the coast.

Cairns Council has spent $1.5 million shoring up Holloways beach wall which would probably collapse again.

Nott also took on the Council over another development on a hillside. It was a site that Geoscience Australia declared was prone to rare but potentially deadly landslides, which could be triggered by severe storms and cyclones.

He took the Geoscience report into Council Chambers. "Many of the councillors had their jaws hitting the table in front of them. They were quite surprised and shocked."

Byrne was asked by the ABC what scientific advice he took from other geologists that said that Geoscience Australia was wrong.

"We take our advice from a whole series of people including our own data including other professional engineers in Cairns. And we don't get too bothered or hot under the collar with what Geoscience Australia says or anybody else says."

It's not surprising that the Cairns City Council is where developers come for the green light, business is booming.

A couple of years ago Byrne put out a press release attacking Professor Nott calling him 'disgraceful, unethical, and ill informed and ignorant'.

"Look, I've been in this job for years, I've attended all sorts of seminars on catastrophes and disasters and everything else over the years and listened to differing views. I've got a whole planning department behind me and a raft of advisors about a range of issues and I'm not taking my riding instructions from Nott," said Mayor Byrne.

McCrappy Deal

They want more than fries with this one.

In an outrageous outburst at the hearing late this week, the legal team acting for McDonalds that want a Maccs situated on Martyn Street where a bunch of old Queenslanders are currently situation, told the judge that the town plan didn't help promote business growth.

They said that preserving three Queenslanders for the purpose they were built, i.e. to be lived in, was inconsistent and contrary to planning objectives.

Where do these people get off?

I have to congratulate the Council in this instance as it's a relatively rare occurrence when this Council has defended the removal / destruction of heritage buildings.

McDonalds believes they have a clear case to win this one and pump up another fast food outlet on a area that is synonymous with character residential homes.

Coming from a Council that has some such consistency on demolishing most heritage buildings where a apartment block was being built, is probably the reason why they are going to the bother to defended the development approval ban.

In what can only be described as phenomenal, Rod Litster acting as the Council's legal adviser said that having a Maccas on that prime corner area, was "not sympathetic to the area."

Rate revenue from an apartment complex, far outweighs what is retrieved from a single business dwelling, and therefore there is more reason to be seen that, rarely, this Council is interested in protecting our older buildings.

It's also interesting that Council would defend this decision in court when the might Maccas lawyers will be rather aggressive, however the opposing arguments are rather weak in this instance.

It's rather amazing that Council picked to fight one, yet there are many more credible ones where this is a larger public vote to stop development or at least improve the plans.

One bad example of approval that should have been challenged, but Councillors were asleep on the job, is the appalling Hedley apartment complex at the lower Freshwater roundabout area. Talk about being "not sympathetic to the area."

Or the Glenwood 4 story 280 apartments at Worre, wrapped around the BP Servo.. talk about "not sympathetic to the area."

Call me cynical, but I reckon it's all about what's compatible with the income stream derived or able to be derived from a development application.

What a jackass

Friday, 26 October 2007

LTC consultation paper now available

Local transition committees and councils have been asked to provide feedback on proposals for transition of existing business to the new Cairns Regional Council.

Local Government Minister Warren Pitt released the Local Government Reform Implementation Regulation consultation paper, which outlines the transition provisions to ensure councils' day-to-day operations continue as usual once new councils are formed.

The consultation paper aims to identify any subject matters not covered in the proposed approach as well as any circumstances that may need different approaches to those proposed in the regulation.

The consultation paper is now available; feedback by 5pm, 1 November.

Thursday, 25 October 2007

Rusty bike parking

Parking your cycle at Rusty's Markets has again been left off the new City Plan for spaces in the city. Looks like they are only catering for tourist hotspots.

If anybody else finds this annoying and disruptive - you can email Fran Lindsay or Margaret Gill.

You can also ring Joan Crawford at the Council on 4044 3044. She's in charge of infrastructure.

It's rather amazing that bike parking was left off the plan in the beginning, given that there is a Council strategic plan for bike parking in large new developments. Or maybe not.

Lack of communication the norm

Just like the deceased doggy story, Trinity Beach residents are pissed at Cairns City Council for not engaging them prior to felling large Melaleuca trees alongside a creek near Keem Street and Strombus Avenue.

Council said they sent a letter to the locals in the area 2 months ago, however residents have not seen anything.

Council plan to remove "all vegetation in the area".

I have two suggestions for these aggrieved Trinity Beach residents: First, ring your Councillor and find out why he hasn't bought you into what's happening on his patch, under his watch. I think his name starts with Sno. His telephone number at home is 4055 3608 and mobile is 0412 653 413.

Secondly, campaign for a change of local government that will fully include you and your neighbours in decision that affect your lifestyle and community. You will have a chance to do this in 141 days time.

Anonymous has left a new comment

Anonymous, well one of the many Anonymous posters on here, has asked like a broken record if I'm a naturalised Australian citizen.

He or she or it, would also like to know why I haven't mentioned that I worked for Telstra in my profile. Oh dear, this is breaking news!

He or she or it is also interested to read a transcript of my debate with Robert Muldoon. Really? What for? Is there a transcript available? Didn't Google turn up anything for you?

Well, I don't debate with faceless invisible people. While I'm happy to declare anything, and I've been reasonably public about who I am and my interest and associations, however expect the same in return. Someone that doesn 't have the balls to declare who he/she is, deserves little respect to demand the same in return.

By the way, anyone who knows me or has followed this blog over the last few months, knows the answers to all of the above.

Last week's Poll results

I guess we should offer congratulations to Selwyn Johnston for taking out this week's poll.

It was a stirling effort by Selwyn's supporters, closely followed by Jim Turnour and a credible 3rd place for Charlie McKillop.

I hope our little bit of publicity assists in raising your profile Selwyn. As reward for 'winning' the poll, we will award you with a free 200-word column here on CairnsBlog. Drop us an email and we'll be happy to air reasons why we should vote for you.

What was surprising is that Ian Crossland only collected 1% of the votes in the poll. Must have been giving his preferences to someone else.

The sample this week was almost double of most of the Cairns Post poll, at 233 online votes. However, don't take this as scientific!

IQ Test

A woman enters the Courthouse pub in Abbott Street and orders a drink.

The bar has a new robot bartender.

The robot serves her a perfectly prepared cocktail, and then asks,“What’s your IQ?”

The woman replies “150″ and the robot proceeds to make conversation about global warming factors, quantum physics and spirituality, bio-mimicry, environmental interconnectedness, string theory, nanotechnology, and sexual proclivities.

She's very impressed and thinks, “This is really cool.” She decides to test the robot.

She walks out of the bar, turns around, and comes back in for another drink. Again, the robot serves her a perfectly prepared drink and asks, “What’s your IQ” the woman responds, “About 100.”

Immediately the robot starts talking, but this time about league, Holden racing, the new BIG MC, tattoos, The Spice Girls and girly mags.

Really impressed, the woman leaves the bar and decides to give the robot one more test. She heads out and returns, the robot serves him and asks, “What’s your IQ?” The woman replies, “Err, 50, I think.”

The robot says … really slowly ….“So……………ya gonna vote for Howard again?”

Dog gone

When I see stories in the Cairns Post about Council pursuing fees from residents about non-existent pets, it strikes me of a Council falling asleep on the job.

We hear from time to time of Government departments and businesses sending out notices for demands and mail can go astray to a recently deceased person. Honest mistakes can occur, I admit.

However, when Jane Martin of City View told Cairns City Council she would no longer register her dog as it had passed away, she was still sent a notice to register her dog or be fined.
The Post revealed that other dog owners also received a similar letter of demand.

I always get frustrated why businesses can't pick up the telephone these days. It seems in this age of digital communication, too many rely on non-verbal, non-face-to-face methods to deliver or engage in debate.

It appears that after a recent "dog audit"the Council work on supplied information where dogs may live. This would probably include if you rang and dobbed in your neighbour. Council told the Post that if “it looks like a dog still lives there or there might be a new dog, then the officer will issue a notice. It could be that they have seen a dog bowl or a sign on the fence.”

What a silly way to conduct authentic checks to validate the real existence of a pet at a residence. I might pop off to The Warehouse at Smithy and buy a bunch of $2 plastic pet bowls and pop them over Sno Bonneau's fence and dog, I mean dob him in.

A thing called the telephone, that was invented in 1876, can be used to quickly connect with people. This would be the first port of call before firing off a demand invoice. Otherwise it seems merely like a revenue grab.

I'm aware that Council "lost" the records of dog neutering several years in a row and sent out demands for payments for full dogs - a difference of $50 several years running. A CairnsBlog reader has told me he pursued this with Council and was told to produce evidence that the dogs were neutered for four years in a row. He told them that if they kept sending demands he would bring in either the dog or the balls, but was not providing them with another piece of paper about his dog's non existent testies.

For every one of these letters that arrive at an unwelcome destination, this Council will loose a vote of confidence. And rightly so. Any business that sends out a bill, that is not correct or is not invalid, deserves the full force of retribution, and Council's get less respect for such goofs as we expect them, by very nature, to be closer to us. We expect our local Council to understand us and therefore want better communication than say a local shop or business, as it is a body we fund to manage our local affairs.

I think this Council will see a lot more barking and some reely rough rough treatment at the next election.

Back in Wellywood

Yesterday afternoon I flew back into Wellington, or Wellywood, as the locals like to say.

It was a crystal clear day to fly north, and the view over Christchurch from my seat was beautiful. It's only a quick 40 minute flight.

The capital has a notorious habit of living up to it's old reputation of windy Wellington, and it was a good old southerly yesterday.
Kiwis talk about the wind from what direction it comes, whereas a Nor Wester in Canterbury can be warm, a Southerly in Wellington is rather biting.
Nevertheless, this city is perched right on the edge of the Cook Strait and the landing runway precipitates to the very edge of the ocean, which, you can imagine, makes for interesting flying.
420,000 now reside in the Wellington region, 164,000 in the city perimeter. 81% are European; 12.5% Maori, 8% Pacific Island; and nearly 7%Asian. It is a very cosmopolitan city.
On the airport side of the Victoria tunnel into town, there now stands a huge wind vane, installed by the Regional Council. It moves in every direction, dependant on conditions.

The international advertising firm, Saatchi & Saatchi worked with the Council 17 years ago to rebrand the city's image that was usually remembered as windy and one of discarded broken brollys down Lambton Quay. It is now Absolutely Positively Wellington, a centre of culture, national theatre and dance schools, universities, political power, public waterfront ownership, and a lot of historic preservation in this 1840's pioneer town.

I wrote early last month about the vibrancy this city boasts. It was something great back when I worked here in that late 90's in Parliament, but the addition of several stunning theatres, eateries and bars along the famous Courtenay Place and the waterfront strip, is truly wonderful.

I grabbed a cab from the airport to parliament, where I headed through the usual arrival checkpoint. I haven't been back here since I worked in the National Research Unit, and advisory wing of the National members of parliament, during the late 90's. However this rather robust Maori security office greeted me by name and asked if I was back for my old job! The are infamous for memory of faces.
The Parliamentary precinct is sprawled across three major buildings. It's the result of a classic Victorian architechure, for the main building that houses the debating chamber, offices and select committee meeting rooms, and was built in 1922. To the right, is the turn of the century Parliamentary library, and the famous iconic Beehive, that houses the Executive wing of the Government.

It's a distinctive building and was designed by British architect Sir Basil Spence and built in 1981. It's is ten storeys (72 metres) high, and the top two floors occupied by the Cabinet meeting room and the Prime Minister's office.

The Beehive sits where the southern wing of Parliament House was planned to go 90 years ago, but was never completed. In 1997 a plan was put in place to move the Beehive behind Parliament House, and to then finish Parliament House to the 1911 original plans, but was quickly scuttled due to a lack of public support.

I head up to the 5th floor from the central internal core of the Beehive, laden with my bags, to catch up with my old mate, Hon Cris Carter. Chris is the MP for Te Atatu, west of Auckland. He's now Minister for Housing, Conservation, and Ethnic Affairs.

Chris introduced me to his staff, some of which I knew from student politics years ago, who look after the different portfolios, and his electorate affairs.

I arrived just in time as he was about to catch a plane to Auckland for an evening function. Chris has kindly provided me his Wellington pad as home for a few days, and the ministerial driver dropped me off on the way to the airport.
Today the House sits at 2pm, so I'll pop in for Question Time, which is always good fun. Here's the order paper for today.

Tuesday, 23 October 2007

No more car washing for Freebody

Councillor Freebody, who owns the Reservoir Road car wash business Car Wash Cafe, is rumoured to have sold the soap suds business.
The Car Wash was ransacked just weeks ago, when the not bolted down safe was stolen.
In an unofficial and highly suspect statement, Cr Freebody said: "It's all because I need more time to write letters to the Editor at The Cairns Post.
"I need to defend our Council's reputation, and it's almost a full time job. This is the best way that I can do it.
"Also, that Richie Bates needs putting in place, I mean those mad cyclists get all flustered... their blood runs to their head with those tight lycra shorts and shaving their legs. What's that all about? Hardly sensible behaviour for a grown man."
Paul could not be reached today for further comment.

Cairns City Council does a VoIP deal

As a 100% home VoIP consumer, I'm delighted to learn that Cairns City Council has commenced the roll out of IP telephony technology by engaging the services of Dimension Data.

This is part of Council's three-year plan to adopt more unified internal communications.

IP telephony Active Directory technology allows users to operate unified communications applications via a single directory and integrates several data communication platforms.

I know this all sounds like geek speak to many, but I kinda love embracing and surfing on new technology. I have blogged about VoIP previously, but it's such an interesting subject that is really on the edge of where any Broadband user should be embracing.

If you're on a 512K connection, you really should upgrade, to get the best performance from this. I'm on a 20meg ADSL2+ on a Telstra Bigpond Liberty connection. However usually pull an download of between 8 and 12 meg, depending on the time of dayu and how many Smithfield High School students are surfing porn after school, before their parents get home.

For those that don't know what VoIP is, it stands for Voice over Internet Protocol. Basically this is where you use a standard telephone, or one of those silly Skype or MSN ones you can buy from Kmart for over $100.

With my VoIP provider, FreeCall, I am able to call anywhere in Australia, UK, USA, and most of Europe for $0.01c/min, and $0.02c/min to New Zealand. I can also access these rates no matter where I am, as long as I have access to the net. All you need is a Analogue Telephone Adaptor, which sits between your Broadband modem and your telephone line. Your standard home telephone plugs in the back, and you're away!

There's nearly 50 VoIP providers in Australia.

Council's move to embrace IP telephony will allow to keep identities consistent across a number of directories including voice, and is currently under going a pilot phase with 30 staff. Over time, it will replace desk phones and deploy software to 1000 users.

VoIP is not largely promoted by the big telcos, for obvious reason: there's nil toll call revenue in it when you don't use the traditional copper wire than runs down the length and breadth of the country. Some other smaller providers, like AAPT and People Telecom often use IP bandwidth to connect you to other fixed line customers, therefore the quality of the toll is not as good as Telstra or Optus will maintain.

I have to say that I'm a huge fan of the Whirlpool site, which can educate you with a lot of things regarding emerging technology. It's an independent, non-commercial, community website and run by a team of volunteers and is devoted to keeping everyone informed about the state of broadband in Australia. It's almost 10 years old and has become the premier destination about broadband internet resource.

Whirlpool was rather active during the rise, fall, rise, fall and eventual death of Rawnot, I mean Rawnet.

So if you have a broadband connection, it's sitting there active 24/7, you'd be a fooll not to embrace VoIP at home.


See if u can WACK-A-POLL .. courtesy of Sydney Morning Herald.

This just in...

  • G’day Mike.

    Just wondered if it would be possible for you to use link to my campaign website rather than the generic version pumped out by Lib Party?

    Think it would be more meaningful if anyone is trying to find out some more info about me.


    I am sad to report Basil Bus is being forced off the road. Unfortunately he has proved too colourful for this campaign and due to unwarranted Labor attacks
    on his virtue, he is being grounded until further notice.

    Charlie McKillop
    Liberal for Leichhardt
    'Getting on with the job in Far North Qld!'
    Mobile 0406 699 506

Monday, 22 October 2007

Selwyn and Jim neck and neck

Looks like Selwyn Johnston, running as an independent for Leichhardt this election, has his band of supporters following CairnsBlog.

With 3 days to go in the poll, he has as many votes at front runner Jim Turnour.

I doubt this will be reflected at the polling booth in 32 days time, however admire his dedication to getting support in an online poll!

My prediction is swaying towards Turnour, however Charlie and Basil the Bus with the Mobile Phone, will give him a good run and the race to the finish line will be a game of two halves.

Catch the bastards

The Weekend Post has reported that Customs nabbed a Trinity beach perve.
One area I have little tolerance for is the area of child porn or child related harm.
In the US, child predators, as they are called, are pursued with a passion and on TV, with great theatre.
Perverted Justice are an online watchdog group that work in conjunction with the local coppers and set up controversial entrapment houses, to lure these weirdos in, complete with child actors playing the 11 year old that they supposedly chatted to in a chat room.
To Catch a Predator is on-the-edge TV, but is necessary work.
There should be no sympathy for crimes or breaches of trust when it involves an adult who always has power of the powerless.

Dumbledore is gay

We've just learnt that the infamous Harry Potter headmaster of Hogwarts is gay.

Joanne "Jo" Murray née Rowling has said what any HP follower kinda knew, Albus Dumbledore, swings from the other side of the castle.

Rowling told a young fan at a recent book launch about his plans to find love, and explained that "Dumbledore is gay!"

Whilst I'm not a big fan of Harry Potter, certainly in terms of reading the monster book series, we all knew that Dumbledore had no "partner", you know, that relatively recent term to not state if someone has a girl/boyfriend.

I recall my mate David Farrar at Kiwiblog having a Lord of the Rings trilogy back-to-back screening one weekend - that's around 11 hours of film in one sitting - and David kept a checklist of what he called "more than friends". This is a moment in a scene when, usually the Hobbits, glanced at each other for that little bit to much to be considered just Hobbits, if you know what I mean.

He noted that the official count of the number of “more than friends” was:
The Fellowship of the Ring: 36
The Twin Towers: 17
The Return of the King: 25

I have the full DVD box set, although there is now an updated extended super better edition available now, probably at half the price... you must look for the easter egg which is an interview of Elijiah Wood by one way video conference with Dominic Monaghan (Merry) pretending to be a German reporter. It's a classic.

The other one I love is the revised version of the Council of Elrond. The Council was a defining scene in the story where the posse was put together in the Fellowship to go return the Ring to Mt Doom. Anyway, the take off was filmed for the MTV Awards the year after the first movie was released. It's rather naughty and puts a whole new meaning on the word Lord of the Rings!

And since I'm scribing this on the West Coast of the South Island, not far from two of the locations, including the spectacular fires on the mountain tops in Return of the King, it's worth stating that this trilogy was one of the biggest movie projects ever undertaken, with a $320 million, the entire project took eight years. The films are the 14th, 7th and 2nd most successful of all time and won 17 Academy Awards.

There ya go, that's enough back rubbing for this morning.

Sunday, 21 October 2007

An oldie, but a goddie

Booze in supermarkets

Yesterday I went out shopping as my brother was getting a few people together at his place for my visit back to Christchurch.

I popped out to get a few things at the local supermarket. It was another crystal clear day here. The air is crispy fresh, and the climate now relatively smog-free, following a long-term plan to reduce and soon ban open fires within homes in Canterbury.

Experiencing the morning dew and the new found relationship of the bedroom heater and hot water bottle, I ventured over to Redcliffs, that nestles against the Sumner hills, to collect a few things for our soiree.

I went to get some local produce for desert, but then stumbled across almost an isle of alcohol. It's about now that I remember and chuckle to myself on how backward and conservative some of Australia is, especially Queensland.

New Zealand passed legislation 18 years ago to allow supermarkets able to sell such products. The experience of New Zealand deregulating is interesting. Since this time, the number of alcohol sales outlets has more than doubled, but the overall alcohol consumption continues to fall. There appears no connection between increased availability and increased alcohol consumption.

Over the last 5 years, there was a marked increase in sales from supermarkets (26%-64%), especially amongst young Kiwis.

There has been few problems associated with this greater access to alcohol.
Studies, including analysing behavior following changes in laws, fail to find any evidence supporting limiting or reducing the number of alcohol outlets or limiting the days or hours during which alcohol can be sold. In fact, some research has found that the tougher the controls over availability, the greater the alcohol abuse.

For example, where taverns and other on-premise outlets are fewer and more geographically spread, the incidence of driving while intoxicated tends to be higher. Others have found that lower availability is associated with less frequent but very heavy drinking and other problems.

The evidence from studies around the world suggests that neither limiting the number of outlets nor the days/hours of sale would be effective in reducing alcohol problems.

On the contrary, it might increase problems or create new ones. For example, past Australian and New Zealand laws closing bars at six o'clock got the working men out of the establishments and possibly home to their families in time for dinner. However, they also produced the custom known as the six o'clock swill, which involves consuming as much alcohol as possible between the end of work and the six o'clock closing time.

New Zealanders tend to led the way on such liberal legislating. For those that knock all things Kiwi, you only have to look at the advances or changes in social legislation over the last 20 years that leave Australia behind, making is a far more liberal and socially progressive society.

Prostitution reform, Succession Law, Homosexual Reform, Civil Unions, adoption and custody. All this radical social legislation, has made New Zealand a more tolerate and respectful country.
Although some would argue, that these is less State interference in the personal lives of it's citizens, there are areas like the recent Child Discipline bill, which caused civil libertarian groups to ask the nanny state to butt out. This bill removed from the Crimes Act the statutory defence of "reasonable force" to 'correct' a child. There is now no justification for the use of force for that purpose. Only seven MPs voted against the proposed legislation.
Oh dear, I think I'll have another drink.

Saturday, 20 October 2007

Bequest notification

I have numerous filters to catch this type of crap, but occasionally, I venture into the junk folder, before I close down Outlook, to have a looksee.

Anyway, this evening I got another one of those infamous offers for a portion of cold hard easy cash if I played a few games with them first.

I often wonder what makes the mind tick of the sad puppies that put this stuff together. They really should be working as script writers on Little Britain 4, instead of wasting their obvious talents sending out spam.

Spam is thought to 'stand for shit posing as mail' or 'stupid pointless annoying messages'. The Esperanto interpretation makes sense as "senpete alsendita mesaĝo", which means 'message being sent to someone without being asked for'. ''

Anyway, there's nothing like real humour to start the day... So today, no other than the good Earl Spencer himself, wanted my attention....


    I am Earl Spencer,Managing Partner,with Earl Spencer & Associates Law firm, London Branch.Admitted, 1974.Education: LL.B 1973 Bristol University Practice Areas: Corporate; Commercial; Oil & Gas, International Trade; Banking, inheritance law, e.t.c On behalf of the Trustees and Executor of the Estate of Late George Brumley, I wish to notify you that late George Brumley made you one of the beneficiaries of his estate.
    He left the sum of Five Million One Hundred Thousand Dollars (USD$5,100.000.00 )to you.This may sound strange and unbelievable to you, but it is real and true.Late Mr. Brumley and all his family were among the victims that died a charter plane crash on Mount Kenya. The flight crashed into the snow-capped,16,355-foot Lenana Peak on Mount Kenya destroying the entire plane and killing all passengers on board.
  • Late George Brumley died on the month of July 2003 at the age of 68. You can see details of his death in the CNN link below:

    He was a widely travelled man and devoted most of his time and wealth to charity and humanitarian work. His great philantropist work is well known and recorded all over the world.
    He must have been in contact with you in the past or you were nominated to him in his vision to expand his Charity work. Simply put, he was a very dedicated sufis and Christian who loved to give out.
    His great philanthropy earned him numerous awards during his life time. In dedicating this funds to you and other beneficiaries, he instructed that you are to sea part of the funds to promote his legacy through activities that aim to help the old, poor, needy and disabled in the society. Late Brumleys' legacy is the love of charity.please If I reach you as I am hopeful, endeavor to get back to me as soon as possible so we can start processing the release of the funds to you.
    You are to reply me immediately providing the following information:
    1.Your Full names.
    2.Valid Contact address.
    3.Contact Telephone and fax numbers.
    Mr.Earl Spencer(ESQ).
    14 York Road,Ilford Essex,
    IG1 3AD London, England.
    PS: For the purpose of confidentiality, please send your response to :

And here's my favourite take off about spam email, delivered door-to-door from the Chaser boys

Charlie & Ian... and Jim

With 33 days to go till the polling booths open, Ian, Charlie and Jim are having fun, but not in a nice way.

The other day Ian Crossland said the Leichhardt patch wasn't fit for a girl ... a poke at McKillop. Too big and dirty he thinks for this school of hard knox grrrl.

CairnsBlog reckons he's a bit of a girl's blouse himself, for letting that one slip out of his peroxide head. Rumour has it, that Charlie is more of a man than he is anyday.

This banter comes on top of Charlie's fopah using her mobile phone (not in Malanda mind you) whilst driving her Proud Purple Patch. Charlie did tell me her baby has a name, which for the life of me I can't recall. I'll call it the Lucky Lavender Limo, for the sake of a good story.

And this week we learn that some eager beaver from her crafty campaign collection, was out at the crack of dawn, doing some dodgy stuff to Saint Jim's corflutes! Jim Turnour was so upset, he was going to deliver another speech, but instead said he'd report the incident to the police.

I mean, Charlie, you really need to rain in your Pit Balls. Although you're just ahead in the local polls, you also way ahead in antics that are hardly the colour of a Federal polly we expect in the sleepy north.

With all these political vans strategically decorating the streets over recent months, you could really mistake them for a wicky campervan. Back in August, I blogged about some of my favorite Wicked vans.

Then there's Ian's Greg Tree Frog van.

Of the balls up about Charlie, Ian told the Post that he's not a slick politician. Marks for being honest. "I’m Ian Crossland,” he said. “I made a mistake. But I’m not sexist.” Me thinks when in glasshouses....

Come the end of this campaign, Charlie, Jim and Ian should all donate their respective babies off to the lads at Wicked and have them outfitted for a tour around Australia by some German backpackers with bigger breasts than work opportunities.

By the way, we heard a rumour that Charlie does get around and was seen recently one Saturday afternoon, on the back of a ute.

Enuf said.

This week's Caption contest

Like Richie Bates, I'm a mad keen cyclist, and wish I was in town last Wednesday for National Ride to Work day.

Even Locco and the Mayor did it, and thank God, he didn't wear lycra. The Cairns Post's Nelli Pratt, one of their fabbo photographers, captured these two infamous celeb wannabes outside Council Chambers.

Now's your chance to put words in their mouth... I know you wanna. As always, I'll start the ball rolling...

  1. "One suck on this Mike, and you'll never go back!"
  2. "What do you mean, I've been on a few bikes Kev??"
  3. "Yeah, those shorts were made out of an old tea towel from a luncheon"
  4. "Margaret was going to come too, but I won't let her play with the boys anymore"
  5. "Yeah, let's go play 'find the cycling paths' ! "
  6. ....your turn...

Coast to coast

Today I drove from the east side of the South Island to the west. The West Coast.
Trying doing that in a day in Aussie.

One of the true great drives in New Zealand is going coast to coast across the South Island. In fact, one of the world's best multi sport events tracks the same course annually.

It's a good 4 hour drive at 267 km across the mighty Southern Alps. You feel smaller than a Hobbit, towered by the Dark Lord of Mordor. In fact, we are in LOTR filming territory.

The journey westward starts across the Canterbury Plains. It was a near perfect day and we headed towards the towering white backdrop that is the Alps. They are new Zealand's largest natural structural feature, running along most of the length of the South Island, nearly 550 kms long, from Mt Aspiring to Nelson lakes in the north.

The Alps are diamond-cut crags and peaks, encompassing the longest and highest mountains in New Zealand. They stand sentinel for the volcanic lakes, ancient forests, greenstone rivers, blue-ice glaciers and wide alluvial mountain valleys that make up an area of such outstanding natural beauty, encompassing four national parks.

The prevailing northwesterly wind pattern and the location of the Southern Alps, provided a unique and predicable weather pattern.

The Alps include all New Zealand summits of over 3,000 metres. They are a very young range, still actively being uplifted. This, combined with extremely high rainfall on the western side and high erosion, results in very dynamic landscapes. High rainfall also causes the range to carry more glaciers at lower altitude than mountains of comparable altitude in other temperate regions of the world.

The rate of uplift movement is dramatic, exceeding 10 mm a year close to the alpine fault.

The drive through Arthur's Pass takes you right through a unique pioneer road that is spectacular in the extreme. Maori discovered access through this region to find the famous greenstone/jade, or Pounamu.

The West Coast goldrush took place between 1864 and 1867 and created numerous towns such as Okarito which became the one time largest town on the West Coast but then quickly almost vanished as miners moved on. Following pounamu and gold, the next mineral to make the West Coast valuable was coal.

There are only three access routes over the Alps, Haast in the south, Arthur's in the middle and Lewis further north. The Alps are largely made up of largely sedimentary rocks.

We arrive at the mountain village of Arthur's Pass around 2pm, and pull over for a hot chocolate and a rest. This place is Iceland for any visitor from Cairns. The backdrop is something that looks like a painted movie set.

Mum and I pose for a quick pic, and although she looks asleep, maybe it was just the high altitude at 920 mt.

I was still doing a brave impression of a tropical visitor, but this was short lived I can assure you.

We soon headed off across the last 160 kms through the Pass, and I see the completion of the spectacular new Otira viaduct, that was started 10 years ago.

This new access by-passes the true adventure road which had to be the most hair-raising road in New Zealand, affectionately known as Deadman's Valley, and it claimed the title without much effort over the last century.

I recall many a trip over that route as a kid, clinging on for life as we moved at snail's pace down the 8 hairpin bends. Oh, they took all the fun out of it.

At the lookout, we come across a family of Kea. The native Kea, is a huge mountain bird and very friendly and rather cheeky. You're instructed not to feed them, for obvious reason when one inspects the size of their beak.

Keas are also very clued up on the workings on rubber seals around car windows. I suspect they would be adequately well-stocked to run their own chain of glazier repair outlets.

I got in a couple of meters to this fella, or fellaess, it's difficult to tell. I was watching the sign, and he was watching me.

Another hour and we arrive into the old gold rush town Hokitika, the birth town of my father.
His childhood home still stands in perfect condition at No 53 Park Street, where he was born in 1915, right next to the now redundant main trunk train line.

At it's height of the rush, 124 pubs graced Revell Street. The in Weather in Hokitika has earned it's reputation as one of the wettest in the country, and it's is a barmy 7 degrees as we arrive this evening.

Just before evening sets, and the old Hoki town clock chimes 7pm, we visit the local fish and chip shop for a classic feed of West Coast whitebait.

This delicacy, at $8 a patty, is what we've been waiting for all day.

Our day was complete.