Sunday 14 March 2010

Cyclone Ului could be bigger than Larry

Tropical Cyclone Ului is going to be a monster by the time it reaches the Queensland coast according to local weather watcher and computer nerd, Carl Butcher.

"Expect a very intense category 5 system, stronger than Cyclone Larry," Carl says.
Ului is still 2,000km off the East coast and would take until next weekend before it gets in striking distance. Last evening the Bureau of Meteorology reported...
  • Tropical Cyclone Ului, now a category 2, was located northwest of Vanuatu near latitude 13.8 south longitude 164.4 east at 10am AEST Saturday.

    Tropical Cyclone Ului is expected to continue to intensify while moving slowly westward.

However, Ului has now intensified to a Category 4 storm overnight. Current position 13.0 SOUTH 162.4 EAST. If you're a real weather watcher, follow Carl's cyclone update on Twitter, or the US Military cyclone observation.

Wednesday 10 March 2010

Compact condoms cause chaos as cunning children cop crowd copulation

Size does matter in Switzerland as they have just launched a range of extra small condoms for those between 12 and 16 years of age.

They're marketed as the Hot Shot, and have been manufactured after Government research showed 12 to 14-year-olds were carrying on like rabbits. The Hot Shot is smaller in diameter, not in length, and measures in at 4.7 centimetres, as opposed to the 5.2 centimetres for adult versions.

They're only available in Switzerland, a country that recorded a 13 and 14 year old becoming parents last year.

Hot Shot's slogan says the condom "fits when passion hits".

Another march for Douglas de-amalgamation on Sunday

Shadow Minister for Local Government, the Hon Howard Hobbs MP, will be one of the main speakers at a march this Sunday who will outline the LNP's plans for re-instating Douglas Shire as a separate Council.

The march will start start at midday from the Port Douglas Community Hall.

Former Unity Council candidate Bill Phillips Turner will also address the rally, along with Hazel Douglas, former Douglas Mayor Mike Berwick, John Anich, and Michael Gabour.

Douglas resident Kim Hurley says it has been two years since the State Government dissolved the Shire and forced amalgamation on the region.

"They forcibly amalgamated our self-governing, culturally rich, unique community with Cairns City to form the Cairns Regional Council. Amalgamation highlighted just how different we are - and remain," says Kim Hurley. "Loss of water quality, 20-40% rate increases, loss of jobs, unresponsive government and much more."

Chlorine was added to the Douglas water supply, a move that outraged many locals, saying theirs was "some of the freshest water in the world."

The Friends of Douglas Shire recently commissioned an internationally-acclaimed water scientist Professor Don Bursill, to assess the local water supply. Many claim that Bursill's report proved the arguments against amalgamation.

"Bursill's report has shed light on the anomalies in the arguments we have been presented with to justify chlorination of our water and his suggestions for the way forward, meet best practice in water management," says Robert Hanan of the Friends of Douglas Shire.

Cairns Regional Council's water manager Bruce Gardiner will now engage Prof Don Bursill and providing advise about the state of the Douglas water supply.

"He [Prof Don Bursill] has given us the knowledge we lacked and the hope we sorely needed," Robert Hanan says. "He will continue to provide advice to the community on this issue. Thanks are also due in no small measure to Julia Leu, Mike Berwick and Michael Gabour for their persistence and determined guardianship of one of Douglas's great assets."

"Bring the kids, bring the dog, bring your friends, bring a brolly this Sunday," Robert Hanan says. "There will be a sausage sizzle and music to entertain all ages."

Monday 8 March 2010

Cairns Council set to change assessment criteria for shopping centres

Cairns Regional Council is set to endorse a dramatic change to the CairnsPlan for the approval of future for all non-residential development at Wednesday's planning meeting.
The recommendation is to endorse the State report that would effectively take a level of assessment away from the community, and applications for new shopping centres would be measured against a code instead of the impact on local surrounding businesses, community and the environment.
Presently, approvals for shopping facilities greater than 10,000 m2 floor space need to make an impact assessable application, that often gives rise to appeals from surrounding business and residents. There has been an ongoing legal dispute for extension to the Smithfield Shopping Centre that have drawn the ire from the management of the Clifton Beach centre, 8 kilometers to the North.
Smithfield has also been strong opponents to the proposed new Northern Beaches town centre, across the Cook Highway. Many believe it will simply be another shopping prescient, in close proximity to the existing centre.
Division 3 Councillor Robert Pyne strongly opposes to the move.
"It concerns me that if this resolution is passed, any future application will not have to jump through this hoop," Councillor Robert Pyne says. "There will be no capacity for a future Council, business or community group to object to any such future applications, as long as they tick all the other boxes."
Pyne is calling debate around this change, as he believes it is heading in a direction that gives serious cause for concern.
However Council's manager of Planning Strategies, Peter Boyd says the proposed amendment and planning scheme policy, will enable a more appropriate level of assessment for non-residential development.
"The proposed amendment will provide a more appropriate level of assessment of applications for shopping facilities greater than 10,000m² by changing the level of assessment from Impact Assessable to Code Assessable," Peter Boyd says. "Using the planning scheme policy to ensure all aspects of the application are carefully considered and enabling community participation and consultation."
"The proposed amendment and Planning Scheme Policy give Council the opportunity to undertake proactive planning and ensure sustainable town planning outcomes are delivered," Boyd says. This simply means that between Council officers and 11 Councillors, the community will be powerless to object or put in submissions.
A Council resolution on 9th September last year agreed to an amendment to the CairnsPlan prior to the commencement of the Sustainable Planning Act coming into force.
Cairns Regional Council says that in response to the ACCC report and also previous appeals in Cairns, it is recommend that the CairnsPlan is amended to change the way in which large commercial developments are assessed.
"It is considered that proposals for Shopping Facilities greater than 10,000m² can be effectively assessed using code assessable provisions under the CairnsPlan whereby the application is assessed against only relevant codes and not the entire scheme which is Impact Assessable," Peter Boyd says.
"Furthermore, to ensure appropriate planning outcomes are achieved, it is recommended that Council endorse the proposed Commercial Impact and Need Planning Scheme Policy that will be triggered by all non-residential development in the Sub Regional Centre Planning Area which includes the Smithfield, Westcourt and Earlville shopping Centres," Boyd says.
This is a bad move for open accountable democracy for residents of Cairns. To leave such important infrastructure decision to a small elite group, is a grave insult to the community which needs to have a strategic role in how its city grows and develops.
It's likely that the vote split will be narrow and similar to the opposition shown to progress the Cairns cycleway network last week. I suspect it will be passed, as a majority of the right faction of this Council maintains a lack of will to actively engage the community in its decision-making process.

Crime Stoppers update

In partnership with the Cairns District Crime Prevention office, CairnsBlog brings you Crime Stoppers update.

Anyone with information which could assist police with their investigations should contact Cairns Police on 40307000 or Crime Stoppers anonymously via 1800 333 000 or Crime Stoppers 24hrs a day.
Crime Stoppers is a charitable community volunteer organisation working in partnership with the Queensland Police Service.

Break and enter, North Cairns:
Police are investigating a break and enter into a Sheridan Street business overnight on Wednesday, March 3. Thieves forced entry to the business and stole a sum of money.

Youth charged over Barlow Park Graffiti damage:
Detectives from the Cairns Child Protection and Investigation Unit charged a 12-year-old Mooroobool boy following an investigation into a graffiti attack committed at the Barlow Park sports facility on February 19. The boy was charged with wilful damage and he will be dealt with under the provisions of the Juvenile Justice Act.

Theft from unlocked motor vehicle, Mossman:
Police are urging Mossman residents to ensure their cars are locked following theft from a Grogan Street residence. Sometime between 4pm to 6pm on Thursday, March 4 thieves entered their car and stole an amount of cash. Initial investigations suggest the vehicle was unlocked at the time of the offence. Police investigations continue.

Man charged over beaches burglaries, Holloways Beach and Yorkeys Knob:
Police have charged a 17-year-old Bungalow man with numerous offences following the investigation into a number of recent property offences at Holloway’s Beach and Yorkey’s Knob. The man was charged with two counts of burglary, two counts of fraud, and one count each of possession of a dangerous drug and possession of drug utensils. He is due to appear in the Cairns Magistrates Court on March 22. Stolen property recovered following the investigation was returned to the rightful owners.

Wilful damage charges, Cairns city:
A 19-year-old Westcourt man was charged with wilful damage after he allegedly smashed the plate glass front door of a Spence Street business around 1am on March 6. He is due to appear in the Cairns Magistrates Court on March 23.

Assault offender arrested, Cairns City:
A 20-year-old man was charged with assault occasioning bodily harm and attempting to enter a licensed premise after being refused. Around 3am on March 6 a man allegedly attempted to push past security personnel and then punched one of them in the face. The man then fled the area however was located by police a short time later. The Manoora man is due to appear in the Cairns Magistrates Court on March 23.

Theft of motorcycle, Woree:
Police are investigating the theft of a sport motorcycle from the carport area of a Rigg Street house sometime between February 18 and March 4. The motorcycle is described as being blue and white in colour, 2000 model Yamaha YZF-R6 and bearing Queensland registration 140-AM.

Break and enter, Holloways Beach:
Smithfield police are reminding residents to secure their homes and valuables after thieves stole a sum of money from a Caribbean Street residence sometime between Wednesday evening (3 March) and Thursday afternoon (4 March). Police investigations continue.

Charges, Holloways Beach:
A 17-year-old Bentley Park youth was charged with unlawful use of a motor vehicle and unlicensed driving following the alleged theft of a car on March 5. It will be alleged that at an unknown time thieves entered a Hibiscus Lane house and stole a car. The car was located by police on March 7 in City View. The man is due to appear in the Cairns Magistrates Court today. Police investigations are continuing in relation to other offenders.

Police also continue their investigations in relations to the a second break and enter into another Hibiscus Lane residence on March 5 in which a digital camera, mobile phones, a purse and a sum of money were stolen.

Break and Enter, Scott Street facility:
Police are investigating a break and enter into a building at Scott Street, Bungalow. Sometime between March 5 -7 unknown offenders ransacked the building before fleeing with sound system equipment.

Woman charged, Parramatta Park:
A 46 year-old Mareeba woman was after she was allegedly in possession of a knife at the intersection of Tea Tree Close and Charles Street at Parramatta Park. The woman was charged with committing a public nuisance and possession of a knife in a public place and is due to appear at the Cairns Magistrates Court on March 31.

Police disappointed with high drink driver figures, Sunday:
Police are urging drivers not drink and drive and reminding motorists that roadside breath tests can be conducted anywhere and anytime. This follows an unusually high amount of drink drivers charged in the Cairns District on March 7. Eight people were charged with driving with a breath alcohol concentration (BAC) and three drivers were charged with driving whilst under the influence of liquor or a drug (UIL).

Man charged, Edmonton:
A 26 year-old Edmonton man was charged with two counts of wilful damage and evading a taxi fare after he allegedly damaged a taxi and another vehicle on January 15. The man is due to appear at the Cairns Magistrates Court on March 17.

Man arrested, Pease Street:
A 40 year-old Manoora man was charged after he allegedly caused a disturbance at a Pease Street caravan park 2am yesterday morning. It will be alleged the man threatened residents with a knife after he was asked to be quiet by residents. Police charged the man with committing a public nuisance and possession of a knife in a public place. He is due to appear at the Cairns Magistrates Court on March 24.

Please forward this onto all your friends, must read

My friend Silvia (not Sylvia) sent me an email that's doing the rounds, the ones we all seem to get.

This one had all the hallmarks of another conspiracy, and was titled "Closed vehicles left in the Sunlight........MUST READ." It was on-forwarded from, among others, Jo Campbell, a senior constable at the NSW Missing Persons Unit at Police Headquarters.

Now, my first port of call when I get one of these messages is to check it against the database, which contains all things dodgy and suspect on the internet.

I'm often bemused when seemingly intelligent people aimlessly forward on dumb messages to almost everyone in their address book, because they think they're doing some moral duty, saving us from an imminent explosion of our computer or the warning signs if you put the cat in the microwave with a tin foil hat.

Anyway. here's the latest doing the rounds...
  • "Please do not turn on A/C as soon as you enter the car.

    Open the windows after you enter your car & wait several minutes before turning ON the air-conditioner.

    Here's why: According to a research, the car dashboard, & interior materials emit Benzene, a Cancer causing toxin (carcinogen) You can actually observe the smell of heated plastic in your car. In addition to causing cancer, Benzene poisons your bones, causes anaemia & reduces white blood cells.

    Prolonged exposure will cause Leukemia, increasing the risk of cancer & may also cause miscarriages. Acceptable Benzene level indoors is 50 mg per sq.ft.

    A car parked indoors with windows closed will contain 400-800 mg of Benzene. If parked outdoors under the sun at a temperature above 60 degrees F, the Benzene level goes up to 2000-4000 mg, 40 times the acceptable level.

    People who get into the car, keeping windows closed will inevitably inhale, in quick succession excessive amounts of the toxin. Benzene is a toxin that affects your kidney & liver.

    What's worse, it is extremely difficult for your body to expel this toxic stuff.. So friends, please open the windows & doors of your car - give some time time before you turn on the a/c..."

This one has been doing the rounds on line for over a year, and although there is some truth to this story, expose to Benzene via build-up in a vehicle, has never been proven to cause cancer.

Sunday 7 March 2010

Cleaning bat faeces turns to electrical shock on Cairns beaches

An exposed 440 volt cable was contacted by an local Ergon customer on Saturday, hospitalising a Northern Beaches woman.

The woman was washing bat faeces off her wall at her Squeaky Close, Kewarra Beach address, when the property's pillar box came into contact with a live exposed cable that had worn through.
Ergon Energy was notified and made repairs on Saturday.

A pillar box is where the underground mains cables terminate from the street power supply and feed to the property boundary. These are usually identified as a small protruding green or beige coloured box. The Kewarra Beach incident had exposed cables that had melted through the box.

The ETU has been campaigning for an increase maintenance inspections carried out by Ergon, and has pointed the blame at the State Government.

"They're not doing the correct inspection process," Stuart Traill of the Electrical Trades Union says. "This incident on the Northern Beaches is just one small step away a strong electrical shock to an electrocution."

Traill says these kinds of failures are all about cost cutting, from Ergon and the Queensland State Government. He says that there was a three-yearly maintenance and infrastructure check in Far North Queensland, two years shorter than elsewhere in the State due to the harsher climate that is experienced in the North.

"Ergon have told us they don't have the same level of defects coming through from the inspection cycle as they had previously, but because the network is in such a poor state in the past, of course you're going to have less defects coming through."

"If you're only going to inspect them every four years instead of every three, that's what we're saying, these [power pole] cross arms are breaking, things are falling apart even with that extra year between inspections," Stuart Traill says.

"People are going to be killed in this level of infrastructure inspection continues," Traill told CairnsBlog.

The Kewarra Beach resident was discharged from hospital on Saturday evening.

Great Barrier Reef weekend fishing trip turns nasty

A Saturday fishing expedition for six young males turned to horror around 2:30pm yesterday, following an incident with a spear fishing device.
A male in his mid-20's pierced a meter long deep sea fishing spear through his leg, whilst loading his spear gun on the back deck of their boat. It's a practice that is not allowed and should only be carried out in water, not on a boat, as water provides a natural resistance.
Rescue crew cut off the protruding spear upon arrival at the Yorkeys Knob Marina, however the young man, believed to be in his late-20's, was conscious as he was transferred into the ambulance and onto Cairns Base Hospital late yesterday afternoon.
Spearguns are often pneumatic-powered, and fire with enormous velocity. A number of fatalities have occurred from misuse of loading, almost all out of water. In Australia only recreational spearfishing and breath-hold free diving is allowed when spearfishing, however it is illegal to spear fish in the Great Barrier Reef's protected zones. It is unclear if the Cairns fishermen were in a illegal area.
Although limited spearfishing is allowed in general use, habitat protection and conservation park zones on the Great Barrier Reef, the Marine Park Authority disallows the use of powerhead, firearm, lights or underwater breathing apparatus (other than a snorkel), and insists a permit is obtained first.
In September last year, Brett Clarke, a Melbourne fisherman was shot in the back from a fishing spear. Medics said it came within millimetres of his heart, which would have killed him.
"It went in up through my ribs, up into my lungs, on the left-hand side there, and the nurses say I must have someone looking out for me upstairs," Brett Clarke told the ABC. It penetrated his internal organs and into his lung and, like the case in Cairns this weekend, was conscious at the time. Clarke required a chest tube to drain air that was accumulating in his lung, making it difficult to breathe.
The Australian Underwater Federation advocates "safe, sustainable, selective, spearfishing." They stipulate in their code of conduct and safety rules that a spear gun should never be loaded or carried out of water, and spear tips should be covered when not in use. They also state that spear users should not be under the influence of anything that could impair senses or judgment.
A local fisherman told CairnsBlog says he has ethical issues with spear fishing and says it is not looked up to by many who respect good fishing practices on the Great Barrier Reef.
"A Coral Trout may hide deliberately in a hole below the coral on the Reef, and feed only when it wants, however a spear corners the fish and traps it," Chris Matthews said today. "It's cheating really."
Another incident occurred early last year off the coast of Nambour when a 25-year-old speared himself in the groin area, piercing his inside upper thigh, just millimetres from his genitals.
The latest Far North Queensland incident occurred on the way out on the Great Barrier Reef, and the boat returned to the Yorkeys Knob marina just before 4pm to a waiting convoy of ambulance and rescue crew.
Senior Constable Anthony Kirkham who attended the incident, couldn't be contacted today, however it is understood that the six crew were in their 20's. It's thought that alcohol could have been a factor in the incident. When they arrived back on shore, onlookers said they were not wearing life jackets.
UPDATE: The young Smithfield man was loading his spear gun by pushing it against the lead weight on his weight belt when it slipped and shot him in the stomach.
Here's an Australian spear fisherman in action...

A marriage licence should be like a fishing licence...

Cut it out Ergon, not cut it off

Queensland consistently experiences one of the highest rates of electricity disconnections for non payment of bills in Australia, according to Queensland Council of Social Service.

They're urging those who've been cut off of having financial trouble to talk with Ergon or their supplier for help.

QCOSS president Karyn Walsh says that Queensland has the second highest rate of disconnections in Australia.

"We have had the highest disconnection rate many times, in recent years," Karyn Walsh says. "Electricity retailers have the ability to help those experiencing difficulties. People need to notify their retailer early before they get cut off. They must ensure consumers get concessions they’re entitled to, and retailers need to make households aware of the support and assistance available,” says Walsh.

Along with the QUT Credit, Commercial and Consumer Law Program, and the Financial Counsellors Association, QCOSS hosted a 'Keeping the Lights On' forum to help organisations who work with those experiencing hardship.

They cite the disconnections with increasing prices and more complaints against electricity suppliers. There is now in place a system that imposes daily penalties on retailers for wrongful disconnection and this has reduced disconnections in other States, a scheme that is be lobbied for in Queensland. Last week the New South Wales government announced it will force retailers to publish a hardship charter for their consumers.

Last year around 16,000 households were disconnected due to non or late payment of their bill in Queensland, and the State owned Ergon Energy still reports the highest number of disconnections at over 11,000.

“Electricity is an essential in life, you can’t survive without it," says QCOSS director Jill Lang says. "We're concerned that more needs to be done to promote hardship programs and support disadvantaged families. We acknowledge more people have been supported by the government’s Home Energy Emergency Assistance Scheme late last year, but we continue to call for greater promotion of hardship schemes to ensure people that need support get it.”

The QCA report also shows complaints increased from 19,507 to 31,377 in 2009, a massive 60% increase which reveals dissatisfaction by consumers.

Sadly in Far North Queensland, there's very little choice in a supplier.

Saturday 6 March 2010

Graeme Connors sings a little further north

Here's a nice lazy weekend tune for us Far North Queenslanders.

Australian songwriter Graeme Connors sings his 1988 hit "A Little Further North." With 14 CDs to his credit, his latest is aptly titled "It's All Good...More of the Best." Connors is a multi award-winning recording artist.

See how many locations you recognise in this video. It's pretty alright living up here, ain't it.

Hat Tip: Brad Martin

Friday 5 March 2010

Cairns Councillor Forsyth rescues baby from 'unsafe' playground

Cairns Regional Councillor Diane Forsyth says her rescue of a 15-month-old baby that had made its way onto the busy Esplanade Parade this morning, showed that there is not sufficient barriers in place for young unsupervised children.

Forysth says that the construction of the planned bike-path will provide an additional barrier from the road, and would prevent potentially tragic incidents.

"I could not believe my eyes when I saw a baby run onto the road from Muddy’s Playground this morning," Di Forsyth said. "The baby was very distressed and disoriented. I tooted the car horn repeatedly and tried to attract attention for someone to notice the little girl on the road," Forsyth said.

Forsyth said that the noise of the car horn scared the baby and she then sat down in the middle of the road, crying and obviously lost.

"I manoeuvred my car to protect the baby from oncoming traffic, and leapt out to pick her up," Diane Forsyth said. "A woman approached and said she knew where the mother was and took the baby to her."

“I was quite shaken by the incident,” Forsyth said. “I went to drive away, but decided I wanted to see how such a young baby could get onto a busy road like the Esplanade at 11 am. I reassured the mother and made sure the baby was OK before checking on how such a near tragedy could happen."

Forsyth said she talked with some of the parents and others that were in the area to identify what is needed to make it safer for children to play at the popular Esplanade children's playground.

"They suggested that a fence needs to be erected along the footpath, as this was the second episode of a child running onto the road recently, they told me," Councillor Diane Forsyth said. "There have also been near misses of children running onto the current cycle and pathway, that crosses nearby the playground."

Forsyth, who has been a vocal advocate for the cycle path network to be completed, says a new dedicated bike-path can’t come along soon enough.

"The new bike-path will be fenced and will stop access to the roadway from the playground," Forsyth says. "The new bike-path will take commuter cyclists off the current pathway [along the Esplanade parklands] and away from little children, making it safer for them to play there."

When the Councillor questioned the child's mother, she was noticeably upset. "She was very remorseful and sorry about what happened," Forsyth said. "I just reassured her that she was now safe and was glad to be there when she ran onto the road."

"I know these things can happen but I ask that all parents keep an eye on their children," Di Forsyth said.

A senior Council manager criticised Forsyth for telling her story publicly today, saying that Council "will only attract bad publicity" from the incident.

"I was questioned why I took the story public, however this is a good opportunity to talk about a serious problem, and fix it," Forsyth told CairnsBlog.

Council Works officers inspected the area this afternoon, to see what could be done to protect the area from wandering children.

"Until the dedicated bike path with fencing is constructed, I will request a temporary fence be erected in the area,” Diane Forsyth said.

Thursday 4 March 2010

Happy birthday to a decomposing composer - Vivaldi

Today is Vivaldi's birthday, born on 4th March, 1678.

Hat Tip: Brad Martin

Unique contact doco - tonight ABC1

There's an extraordinary doco on ABC this evening, telling a story for the first time in 50 years.

In 1964 a team clearing a remote area of Australia's Western desert for rocket testing, came across the last nomadic Aboriginal tribe living in complete isolation from modern society.

No one knew they were there, and they had never seen white man before. Remarkably, this moment " when a group of Martu women and children walked out from the nomadic existence of millennia into the modern world – was captured on film.

ABC says in their promo....
  • Contact tells the story of Yuwali, the beautiful 17 year old girl we see making that giant leap on the 24th of September 1964.

    Now 62, delightfully vibrant and with a gorgeous infectious laugh, Yuwali still remembers life before contact, when her group flourished in one of the most hostile environments on the planet.

    The contact occurred because in 1964 the British and Australian Governments were testing a space rocket " the Blue Streak rocket – by firing it from Woomera to crash land at the Percival Lakes, Yuwali’s home, in the Great Sandy Desert, WA. ‘Native patrol Officers’ were sent in to make sure the debris didn’t land on anyone.

    The days counting down to blast off drive the narrative arc of Contact. Day by day Yuwali, back at the Lakes, gives a riveting account as she and her group are chased hundreds of kilometres around the desert trying to escape the ‘devilmen’ in the ‘rocks that move’ (four wheel drives). At the first patrol in May 1964 the officers failed to make contact. Although they could see the fires and found recently abandoned camps the Martu were too scared of them to allow themselves to be captured.

    With the second Blue Streak scheduled for October the second patrol was better organised and took two Martu speaking guides as well as film cameras. Within days the Martu guides had made contact and it was all captured on film, along with hundreds of photographs.

    The central characters of Contact are Yuwali, and Terry Long, the Native Welfare Officer for the WA Government who made the decision to take the group from their home in the desert, Both tell their first"hand accounts of perhaps the last ‘pure’ first contact in that none of the group had seen or even heard anything of modern Australia. Yuwali in particular reveals a world view and approach to life so different from our range of experience that we get a stunning glimpse of a culture that was able to survive for millennia in a desert that would kill most Europeans in a few days. (Over 50 degrees in summer and freezing in winter)

    Yuwali has lived through contact, missions, remote settlements, Native Title and desperate efforts to hold on to language and culture. In effect, her story represents a microcosm of the Aboriginal experience since settlement in 1788. And in many ways, Contact is THE Australian story. It encapsulates the strange and tragic tale of contact between black and white. Contact is not only a story about the past, it holds up a mirror to contemporary Australian society.

ABC1 - 9:25pm tonight

Sydnude Opera House

World renown mass naked photographer, Spencer Tunick arrived in Sydney this week, and this was the result, on the steps of the Opera House.

He called this one "The Base" and also did a second shot inside the Opera House. Around 5,200 took part.

"A body is a living entity. It represents life, freedom, sensuality, and it is a mechanism to carry out our thoughts. A body is always beautiful to me. It depends on the individual work and what I do with it and what kind of idea lies behind it — if age matters or not,” Spencer Tunick says.

Wednesday 3 March 2010

Where to live or not to live in Cairns, that is the question

Just like the enthusiastic response about good and bad service from the region's eateries, I'm sure this will fire you up.
Tony Lam is relocating to Cairns in September, and has asked through the readers of CairnsBlog, where he should live.
"I move to Cairns in six months time and would appreciate some feedback on which suburb to live and which one to avoid," Tony says.
To this end, I thought I'd seek the moral, spiritual and uncanny honesty from my readers.
If you've been a local here for a while, more than say 5 years, then you've probably heard the stories about the "M" suburbs to avoid, a theory much debunked now, or is it?
South into the old sugar canefields development, on on the northern beaches? Where's your favourite pick? Now that we're in the dept of a property buying glut, where are the bargains and the places to avoid?
An apartment in Woree, or your own chunk of dirt? A rainforest retreat in Kuranda or a beachside bach at Machans? Where would you recommend to a newbie to live?

Tuesday 2 March 2010

John Nicol at Cairns Tropic Jazz this Thursday

Australia’s top indigenous jazz vocalist and guitarist John Nicol, will be a special guest performer this Thursday at the Cairns Tropic Jazz club.

Nicol has performed internationally in the 60’s with many greats in the United States and the United Kingdom, touring on cruise ship Queen Mary and entertaining throughout Asia before returning home to take up a 12-year residency with The Midday Show.

Whilst John's wife Barbara is based in Cairns working in ATSI health, it is our gain having them both here.
John will perform at the Jazz Club this Thursday and has selected a group of excellent musicians to back him.
Guitarist, Giles Smith, who has worked as a music teacher at Newcastle University for 30 years. On drums and vocals is Harry Rivers, who has toured internationally and has recently arrived in Cairns from Sydney where he worked with top performers. Harry’s band 'The Rivers Company' had long residencies at The Basement and Don Burrows Supper Club in Sydney.

The Cairns Jazz Club's own saxman Junior See Poy, who needs no introduction, will join the ensemble. See Poy is pictured right, at the Cairns Hotel recently. There's a chocolate fish in it for the first reader to correctly identify the special guest crooner!
He was born and bred in Innisfail and taught himself to play saxophone whilst at All Souls College in Charters Towers. In his 60-year career, he never gave up his day job, Junior has made it his business to meet and play with all the outstanding musicians who toured North Queensland. Junior has run his own nightclub and cabaret and entertained at all the main events as solo and with Bands Take 5 and Route 66, and now his new band, Junior and the Geriatrics.

Visiting musicians and vocalists are welcome to join the sit-in session. Every type of jazz is represented including mainstream, swing, bee bop, Latin, trad, Dixie, modern and more. The music commences at 8pm and entry is only $5. Tiger’s Den bistro and bar are open from 6.30pm, there is an excellent dance floor or just relax and listen to quality jazz.

Tiger’s Den is part of the North Queensland Football Club building at the corner of Behan and McNamara Streets, North Cairns.

  • Cairns Tropic Jazz
    This Thursday, 8pm - Tiger’s Den
    Corner Behan and McNamara Streets, North Cairns.
    Great jazz music every Thursday.
    Only $5 at the door

Kerie Hull, alive and wildly twittering

Former Cairns regional Council's corporate communication manager has resurfaced publicly, for the first time in nearly a year.

Under the name of "Gumnut00", Kerie Hull is twittering in a campaign against the State and Federal government. A gum nut is the hard woody fruit from the Eucalyptus tree.

Hull was sacked from the Council last September, just one year into her five-year contract, for calling Mayor Val Schier a liar over the a hidden deal between Council and John Mackenzie's 4CA radio talk back programme. The drama first came to light when I released some private emails, showing that Councillor Blake and Kerie Hull were involved and had knowledge of the secret arrangement in April last year.

The saga sparked the end of Noel Briggs as CEO of Cairns Regional Council, Kerie Hull's termination and the Councillor Alan Blake losing confidence from his peers as chair of the finance committee. It also saw a review of media access to Council after both Hull and Briggs refused to allow independents and Blogs to received media invitations, however Councillors over-ruled the direction.

The six-month drama was paraded before the hungry local audience, showed disloyalty and displayed divisions in Council between senior staff and elected Councillors. I revealed that throughout at least some of Hull's employment at Council, she was undertaking her own private consultancy that appeared not to be declared. I said in jest last May, that Kerie had one hull of a month, as it was the precursor to nearly a year-long orchestrated campaign, that the Cairns Post took an active role in.

To see two stories in the Post recently supporting the performing arts centre that Mayor Schier has campaigned for, is in stark contrast to the line trumpeted when mega-journalist of the year winner Thomas Chamberlain was the Council reporter.

In her latest foray into the public communications, Kerie Hull, as a media adviser to Noel Pearson at Cape York Partnerships, is making what appears to be personal statements on issues that Pearson might have some questions about.

"Wild Rivers legislation goes soft on miners. Why does TWS and the QRC have a special arrangement with the government?" Hull writes in reference to the Wilderness Society and Queensland Resources Council, vocal advocates for the State Labor government's Wild Rivers legislation.

"Why Jim Turnour are you silent on Wild Rivers- an immoral breach of Native title?" Hull says in another communication.

Even the Prime Minister comes in for question from Kerie Hull.

"Help Cape York dream- stop immoral stripping of native title- stop wild rivers!"

Kerie first tried to get the Twitter name KerieHull, however the region's most infamous communications guru missed out. Even The Cairns Post had to opt for "cairnsnews" as the TheCairnsPost was taken. The Cairns Post, who joined the Twitter wave in April last year, has 342 'followers' however they are not following anyone else - a key way that social media weaves it's web and grows. CairnsBlog has 929 Twitter followers, and follows 1,970 others.

If Gumnut Kerie, or even Post editor Andrew Webster, would like their original Twitter names, I can probably do a deal ;-)

Monday 1 March 2010

Leaving Berlin and a life-long desire to move to Cairns

Since starting CairnsBlog in mid-2007, which back then looked a bit too much like a 'Do we want Kevin Byrne as Mayor?' blog, the readership has consistently developed.

The local audience has grown to around 29,000 regular return readers (47,325 regular repeat visitors over the last calendar year). Around 87% of these are local North Queenslanders.

I also continue to receive all kinds of communication. There's still the covert ones from Councillor Blake's fan club, a few are rather perverted. There's also been some weird phone calls, professing to be journalists from a southern newspaper investigating CairnsBlog. They never honestly identify themselves, but I've accepted that to be par for the course. The latest took the form of a rather disgusting txt message. Well, at least I use my own mobile number. One day I must publish these, as they will make for delightful reading.

However, I've just received a more inspiring message, that is worthy of sharing with readers of CairnsBlog.

25-year-old Matt, who speaks his native German, also fluent in English, with a a good knowledge of Polish, French and Spanish, is on a search for a Cairns employer who wants to push their online sales.

He's at the end of the line now, and looking for a new start in a new country.

"Cairns is definitely the place I have chosen for my new life, as I am already in the process of immigration with registered agents from Sydney," says Matt.

He says he doesn't need a sponsorship, just an employer. "The employer is the key for my permanent residence in Australia," Matt says, who is currently with a Berlin-based online marketing agency, as a developer of search engine optimization and social media marketing for online PR and communication campaigns.

"I could imagine to become more involved with the creation of content," Mattie says. "Content is king as we all know and the more we have spread all over the web, the better for our search engine rankings. It would be so much joy for me to find a company that I can work with and create new and fresh ideas."

Mattie has lived in New Zealand for almost a year and has also been self-employed with his own company offering online PR/communication services, as well as online research for entrepreneurs.

"You folk in Cairns cannot imagine how cold this place is at the moment. The Northern Hemisphere is really playing a big winter game," Matt writes. "Snow for over a month. So, why is a German guy from the snow writing to the readers of CairnsBlog? This question is easy to answer!" Matt says.

"I´m on my way to immigrate to your beautiful country, well, at least I´m trying this. Because we never know if it´ll work out or not and if Australia will give me a chance. You might imagine how exciting these days are for me."

"I was pretty lucky to have seen a few countries so far. I´ve been to almost all English-speaking countries in the world and decided that OZ is my numero uno," writes Matt.

"There are lots of barriers for me at this stage, at the moment I´m trying to find an employer who wants to improve the online rankings. Nowadays it´s very important to rank very well in the search engines to be visible at all. If you cannot make it into the top 10 or top 20, your chances are very low to find new customers online. Also, communities such as Twitter or Facebook are very good opportunities for businesses to show their repertoire and present this well."

"Very important is of course, to give the people online the chance to understand what you do and to give out very valuable information," he says.

Just posting ads with the wish to make a quick sale, is not effective Matt says.

"The people out there, online, they are not stupid and feel fooled if you do so. Companies who introduce themselves, show who they are, create content, such as pictures, videos, interesting texts, how-to-do-posts, will be definitely more successful than those who don't."

"Online communication wise, it´s always a good thing to build up your 'spider´s net' with people who are opinion leaders online. Blogger or forums, specialized websites will give you the chance to cooperate with them and create win-win situations," Matt says. "With my fresh and sometimes crazy ideas, I want to help you to make more out of your products and services online."

CEC's serial failure to get accounts in on time

Beleaguered Cairns construction giant, CEC has again failed to get accounts in on time.
CEC has again been suspended from trading this morning for failing to lodge its half yearly results with the ASX before the end of February deadline.
They were similarly suspended this time last year while they resolved an “accounting issue”. No explanation has been revealed yet for this delay.
It's worth noting from the most recent on 16th February "media release," [see right] marked "for personal use only", describes its property sales in Gordonvale and says that CECs problems were turning around.
However, with such sloppy reporting, it's just not a good PR look.

Queensland patient subsidy not reviewed since 1989

NOT THE BLUES: Premier Anna Bligh and Cook MP Jason O'Brien listen as Pink in the Tropics representatives put their case on the PTSS accommodation allowance.
Cook MP Jason O’Brien says that a meeting at yesterday’s community cabinet in Innisfail with Premier Anna Bligh and the Mossman-Port Douglas breast cancer support group, Pink in the Tropics, was constructive.
“It took us a step further along the road to easing the financial and emotional burden on people in the Far North who have to travel to get medical treatment,” O'Brien says. “It was a very positive meeting, and Pink in the Tropics got a good reception from the Premier.
O'Brien says that arguments presented on State Government’s Patient Travel Subsidy Scheme will help the Government change the way they look after people who have to travel for medical treatment.

Pink in the Tropics is leading a statewide campaign for an increase in the subsidy scheme accommodation allowance, which is administered by pubic hospitals. It helps people get specialist medical services that are not available in their local area by subsidising the cost of transport and accommodation.
However Jason O’Brien says he wants to reduce the need to travel.
“Treatment as close to home, family and friends as possible is most important,” he said. “That is why our first priority is to build an oncology unit in Cairns. Our second priority is to have purpose-built accommodation available, which is why we have allocated $200,000 in seed funding to the Red Cross and the Cancer Council for accommodation for patients travelling to Cairns for treatment.”
O’Brien is sponsoring a Pink in the Tropics e-petition calling for the allowance to be increased.
The subsidy of $30 a night for meals and accommodation has not been reviewed since 1989.
Jason O'Brien says it's a very personal matter for him, as his mother died from breast cancer.
"She had to travel to Sydney to get radium treatment and support from her family there, so I do know myself how much of a help any increase in the subsidy would be right across rural Queensland if there is a need to travel and if accommodation is not available.”