What Oil Crisis?

It is true that many in the world do not believe in the FACT that we are running low on oil and using 3 x the amount that we pull out of the ground and it is true that there are many who believe climate change is a con…Just to prove that this is true -I have discovered that car manufacturers have produced the Knight XV, a $310 000 USD monster to rival the Hummer by a long shot! What a beast!


Last Child In The Woods

It not be significant to many, but I thought it worth a mention. I finished a book this morning by Richard Louv. The book was called Last Child in the Woods. The significant part is that Richard (a guy who lives in the USA) is in Perth just for this morning speaking at a conference! Anyway I did not get to hear him but I finished his book instead. It was a great read for all people interested in the benefits of growing up with the outdoors in your blood. Good for teachers and parents and lovers of wild things and spirituality! Here’s what Louv’s website says of the book ;

n this influential work about the staggering divide between children and the outdoors, child advocacy expert Richard Louv directly links the lack of nature in the lives of today’s wired generation—he calls it nature-deficit—to some of the most disturbing childhood trends, such as the rises in obesity, attention disorders, and depression.

Last Child in the Woods is the first book to bring together a new and growing body of research indicating that direct exposure to nature is essential for healthy childhood development and for the physical and emotional health of children and adults. More than just raising an alarm, Louv offers practical solutions and simple ways to heal the broken bond—and many are right in our own backyard.

The Mess of it all – Going Green

Well it’s Blog Action Day for Climate Change day – so here goes…

“Going green” is not always as easy as it sounds…if it ever did sound easy.

I live in an established house in suburbia and climate change was a burden to me and I wanted to do something about it…

1) A veggie garden. I wanted to stop buying vegetables that were grown thousands of miles away from where I live, or ones that are grown local but have petro-chemical fertilisers and insecticides all over them. There are some local semi-organic growers, and we use them when we can, but we began to plant the occasional plant in the backyard, then we dug up almost half of the backyard for this purpose. We used old roofing tiles from the rubbish dump to make raised beds and use all organic (mostly made in the back yard) compost. We made a chook pen and bought 3 chickens. The pen was also made from rubbish from the tip bits. This season we have spread into the front yard and have planted melons and pumpkin around the front rose bush. We already have olive, apricot and nectarine in the front along with a bunch of flowering native trees to attract bees and birds. We have a nice pond running on a solar pump in the back that attracts frogs, birds and all sorts of nice visitors. The upside of this is … well obvious, the downsides are, less yard for kids play (we have 3 girls under the age of 13). But this has forced them out into the parks and bush lands with friends and neighbours – so that’s not bad! The garden is very water intensive so…

2. A Water Tank. In Perth, Australia it gets pretty dry! We have major water restrictions at times and vegetable gardens are water intensive. (So is making bio diesel, but we’ll get to that later). So we found a spot that had an ideal spot for a 5000L water tank (after removing a Date Palm). We catch only the water off the patio roof, and this is enough to fill the tank to overflowing numerous times over winter. WHY DONT THESE BECOME LAW FOR EVERY HOUSE BUILT AROUND HERE!! What we have discovered is that 5000L used for the washing machine and the garden and washing bio-diesel does not go far at all. It is only just the end of our Australian winter and a few weeks into Spring and the tank has only about 800L left. I would dearly love to install a couple of others to be honest! Maybe even dig up what is left of the backyard and put in a 10 000L underground one!

3. Biodiesel. Much talk about this alternate fuel is on the internet and in the media. Just the other night on some current affairs programme I saw a guy I know from Perth here talking about running his old Nissan on straight Vegetable Oil. I had been reading about how to convert used vegetable oil into Biodiesel for a while when I attended the Sunfair in 08, an alternate fuels fair at the University of Western Australia. I met a group selling the “BioMaster” processor. I grabbed 3 mates to put in $1600 each, which well and truly paid for itself in a short amount of time. We make sure we only use oil that has already served its original purpose and would otherwise be thrown out or turned into pig food…or women’s cosmetics 🙂  There is too much deforestation and ‘take-over’ of existing crop for the purpose of bio fuels for me to ever justify buying new oil for the purpose of making bio fuel.

This is where the mess of it all comes in…The process of collecting used cooking oil from the back of a restaurant or sports complex etc is rather ugly. I used to hate that used oil smell that wafted up my nose if I rode past the back of the fish and chip shop as a kid, now I loath it! Take last Monday for example. I had to pick up a couple of hundred litres from one place and about 180 from another, and maybe 50 from another.

Place 1 – For some reason unknown to me mould had developed over the whole thing, it was disgusting. Bits of old fish and chicken floated around the open drum and when I tried to extract it all with my pump an old cloth got sucked up. I got as much as I could, oil dripping down my arms and on the floor. I climbed back into our nice family car, oil on the floor, steering wheel and door handles and gear stick!

Place 2 – As usual someone had left the lid open and it had rained, there was so much water mixed in with the oil it was almost worthless, again the pump jammed with some unidentifiable deep fried object and I got frustrated and moved on with only 100L and wondering when I would get back to properly clean out this drum!

Place 3 – easy, clean golden used oil, love it!

I got it all haf way home and was at the traffic lights when a pedestrian called out that I had liquid (oil) running out from the back of my trailer. I jumped out to see that one oil container had fallen over…the only one I had not fixed the lid on well 😦  I kept going, leaving a small trail of oil all the way to my house. At this point I did a silly thing. I removed the trailer, the oil rushed to the end and ran out all over the road, my drive and into my garage as I pushed the trailer in there. For 4 hours yesterday I scrubbed everything with Glycerol (a handy waste product of Biodeisel that is a soap base). This did not work as the brick paved drive and road are porous and soaked it all up. The stain from the oil mixed with Glycerol is all down my street and the smell is wafting through my open office window as I type this.

My shed has never been the same since I installed the plant over 18 months ago, everything I touch around the house has a greasy mark on it, I have bundles of oil covered clothes that stink and I am constantly wondering where to pour all this waste water and glycerol, 2 by-products of the process. Some of the Glyc goes good in the compost.

In the meantime, I have a pretty environmentally clean car (not perfect, but better than normal diesel. I have more money in the bank as this process is cheep. I have a hobby that I quite enjoy and a couple of guys who have been on the journey with me that I enjoy a quiet beer and chat in the shed with while we play with chemicals.

But let me tell you this. I need a bigger bit of land and a bigger shed 🙂 Which makes my footprint bigger I know, but this is getting ugly and the neighbours are only just smiling still – it stinks around here!

It’s fun to live greener and these ways are not the only way we try, we/I catch public transport a bit, we only have one car and a scooter. We catch excess water in buckets to flush toilets where possible, we carbon offset flights when we travel for what that’s worth…or is that just a guilt offset for using such a big carbon emitter(!!??) we compost a lot and feed every bit of food stuff to the chickens! We do a bit here and there, hoping that others might ‘catch the bug’ too. But with 2 working adults and 3 kids in all sorts of activities, it makes for a constant messy active ongoing campaign, but – you know, I think its worth it.

See other posts and pictures – Here (My Backyard) and  here (environment), also here (Bio diesel)

Listening to the West Kimberley People

With his arm elbow deep in muddy water Eddie looks up and winks and mentions that if this mud crab gets a hold of his fingers we had better watch out as we will all know about it! We were out on the Mangrove flats that the people of Ngamagkoon belong to. Eddie is part of the Sampi family, made well known by the Eagles player Ashley Sampi, a Bardi from the mob at Ngamagkoon.

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The 5 of us  began our journey in Broome 4 days previous. We were on what we called a “listening journey”, as part of a programme I run called OnEARTH for Global Mission Partners. We were there to listen to country, to story, to legend, to the people of the Dampier Peninsula –

  • Jawi
  • Bardi
  • Nyulnyul
  • Jabirrjabirr
  • Nimanburru
  • Ngumbarl

Before the arrival of Europeans, the natural environment on the Dampier Peninsula provided plenty of bush tucker for the indigenous people.  Creeks, tidal areas and the ocean are full of fish, dugong, mud crab and oysters and the vine thickets provide fruits and berries to make a varied and nourishing local diet.

Dampier Peninsula people still have a strong affinity with the sea and bushland, as we discovered along our journey.

After driving from Broome we arrived in Looma (120km S/E of Derby) with a population of around 400. We stayed with Natasha and Jamie Short, a wonderful couple who pastor the People’s Church as well as look after the community youth centre. They are fantastic people. Jamie is a White fella from Perth and Natasha, an Aboriginal from the Halls Creek area. They have been serving at Looma for about 7 years now and have 2 great kids.

2009 07 28_1108After lunch and a swim down on the stunning Fitzroy River we drove up to Derby to visit the Whites. Paul and Laurel White pastor the Derby Baptist Church among other activities.  They have bought the Aboriginal Training Centre just out of town and have big plans for growth and extension. Whilst there we did some manual labor… we raked up truck loads of dry leaves (fire hazard) and were asked to remove the stumps of 2 recently cut down Boab trees- hmmm??!!

Laurel White looked after us while we were there. She is a great lady, she has a wonderful gift of hospitality and generosity! Paul, her husband and pastor at the church is a pilot and was away in Perth during our stay.  Outside the life and ministry of the predominantly white church Paul and Laurel have some amazing relationships and ministries in Aboriginal communities.

Kimberly Aid – This business has began as a result of RFDS having bigger planes and not being able to access smaller community airstrips around the Kimberley. Paul and Laurel have got a bunch of medical people and pilots to donate their time to assist in evac when RFDS can’t make it in.

Kingdom Aviation – Paul and Laurel run a 3 plane ministry that flies all over the Kimberley sharing their faith, serving the poor and running programs in schools, parent support group, and other training.

Dentistry – Laurel is a dentist nurse and in her work in Derby has made many an indigenous persons dentistry journey easier as a result of special favours and ‘working the system’ that does not always serve people from remote communities very well at all. Her willingness to make all sorts of tough things just ‘happen’ for people who otherwise couldn’t get there was wonderful! She tells a great story too!

After 2 nights in Derby we drove ‘the back way’ on some very out of the way tracks to get to Cape Leveque up on the top of the Dampier Peninsula. Upon check in at Kooljaman we drove over the hill toward our beach campsite, as we rounded the hill the most amazing view was taken in to gasps from all on board – this place was paradise! Kooljaman is jointly owned by Djarindjin and One Arm Point Aboriginal Communities and sits 220km north of Broome. We visited one of these communities on the road on the drive up the Peninsula –

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Some 200 km from Broome, there are two communities very close together with about 60 Aboriginal (Bardi) people in Lombadina (first settled in the late 1890’s by Thomas Puertiollano who sold the land to the Catholic Church) and over 200 in the more traditional Djarindjin. We called in to Djarindjin specifically to catch up with Barry Ennis, the Principal from the Lombidina/Djarindjin School. We had heard through Sabrina 2009 07 30_0986Haan/ABC radio National that the EON Foundation from Perth had been helping the school set up a organic community Kitchen Garden. Barry showed us around the garden but was also good enough to spend time sharing with us the history of the the area. This community is not without some of the usual issues we read about in the media in remote Aboriginal regions, but there was something about the place that we all loved. We sensed a slowness and peace about it, a friendliness that  drew us in.

P6060072 copyOn our first night at Cape Leveque (and every subsequent one!) we made our way down to the Western Beach and watched the sunset – undoubtably some of the most amazing sunsets I have ever seen!

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On Friday we went to One Arm Point community (Ardiyooloon). This community is the home of the Bardi and Jawi people who were the traditional inhabitants of the area. These people are still active in hunting around the local area and in most cases still using traditional hunting methods as they hunt for sea turtle or goorlil (we saw the evidence of a fresh catch along the beach!), dugong (odorr), and many many of the amazing fish (aarli) up there. They also collect the trochus shells and make jewellery, oysters, mud crabs and more. These people are proud of their hatchery on the point where they nurture all sorts of creatures in giant tanks.

Here at One Arm Point we stopped and and chatted with a wonderful couple called Brian and Violet Carter. Their son is the Chairman of One Arm Point Aboriginal Community. This lovely old couple can tell some stories! Brian moved to Derby as a pilot in 1956, later married Violet and have lived in One Arm Point community for many many years, to look at Brian you know he is not Aboriginal but to listen to him speak and hear his heart beat, you know he is on the inside! They both sat with us and shared some great insights into the local culture, politics, and … well fishing and tides 🙂  Brian and Violet are both followers of Christ


and asked us excitedly if we had seen their ‘church’. It was a roof and some poles with a piece of shade cloth they were quite happy with – we fell in love with these guys and their beautiful faith and love for life and one another.

P6070117 copySaturday morning saw us pulling into Eddie’s place at Ngamagkoon, just south of Kooljaman. We had asked if Eddie could spend a few hours with us telling us about his people and their culture. He was willing and would even show us the basics of living in a coastal Bardi community. We drove out into the Mangrove Flats and went on foot (with spears) into the thick mud searching (and finding!) some VERY large crabs hiding under trees. After crabbing we headed back to the Melaleuca scrub (not venturing too far in as there were sacred ceremony sites in behind) looking for bush honey and pollen. With our ears against the trunks listening for bees we wandered through the scrub until Eddie found the right spot, cut it open and allowed us to sample the most

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beautiful tasting honey and pollen (tastes like sherbet). Interesting, one white person we met, not knowing or respecting much of Aboriginal culture told us with some disdain that “Aboriginal people set fire to everything!

2009 08 01_0804But Eddie taught us that his people light the bush to thin it, also to make it better for collecting their fire wood, as well as for hunting the stuff in the long grass, such a different window we were now looking through! From there we went out onto one of the most stunning coastal scenes I have seen. The Ngamagkoon people’s land has a creek running out into the ocean where they do much of their spearing and fishing from.

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This site was one of untouched bush and mangrove reaching to long white beaches and crystal clear aqua coloured lagoons. After extracting our car from the soft sand we headed back to Eddie’s place to bid him farewell and be told that we were welcome back to his country and community any time.

This time with Eddie was more than we could have hoped for and all voted it as the highlight of our trip that was drawing to a close faster than we wanted. We headed back to camp for one more afternoon sleep (a tradition we embraced…or did we start that one?), a fire with some reflections of our time away, and a dinner of local Barramundi, Kangaroo and … cow! Eddie mentioned that morning that there were a few ‘stray’ cattle around 🙂

Sunday morning, time to make our way back to Broome for a 1pm flight to Perth. On our return down the challenging stretch of unsealed road we took time to visit Beagle Bay Community. It was looking very nice and manicured after a week of political meetings discussing a report written by an old school mate Steve Kinnane. I read Steve’s book Shadow Lines while we travelled this week. The book follows the lives of his Grandmother (a Mirrawong woman stolen from Argyle Station in the early 1900’s) and his grandfather (an Englishman) through to today. What a brilliant read! (See below)

The Beagle Bay community is located 120 kilometres from Broome. In the centre of the community there’s a beautiful church, built of stone from 1914-1918 by German Pallottine monks, who settled here around 1901.

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On entering the Sacred Heart Church you can see a stunning pearl shell altar. Coloured windows create a special mood in the building. But, we forgot it was Sunday and church had already started and we had a plane to catch, so we missed the insides 😦

The community’s name was derived from the vessel “Beagle”, which moored at the bay when the priests were looking for a suitable mission place in 1889, ironic really as this was the ship Charles Darwin sailed on. It was much of his work that was used to base most of the atrocities done to our Aboriginal people!


If you are wanting to connect and learn more with the rich lives of the first Aussies, grab a copy of The First Australians (SBS), or Read Steve’s book Shadow Lines (2003, Fremantle Arts Press). One review says that … “Shadow Lines revolves around two people born a world apart, a half caste Aboriginal woman by the name of Jessie Argyle, and an Englishman named Edward Smith. Edward was born in 1891 and emigrated to Australia in 1909 as an eighteen year-old. Jessie was born in the Argyle region in the far north of Western Australia in 1900, and was taken from her family in 1906 under the newly created Aborigines Act of 1905. This book makes the often dry history of Western Australia since white colonisation come alive, and is probably a far better way to learn about the sordid history of this state than by way of the official history textbooks.

What Kinnane has done here is weave together a rich tapestry of historical tales”…read the rest here.

Not everything we saw ‘impressed’ us. Not every road taken in order to work among the people of the Kimberley would be a road I would have taken. This makes neither my road right or the road we observed wrong, just different tracks people take and our reactions to them. We went to look listen and learn from all we encountered, I trust this is what has happened.

Well I have to say that sometimes I love my job – last week was one of those times 🙂

Thanks to The Wembley Downs Church of Christ (where I hung out for the first 18 years of my life! As our new friend Eddie might say “they grew me up”) for making this trip a reality and for those who travelled the journey Dennis R, Steve M, Matt B and Ken V – What a great a bunch of guys to hang out with for a week, Thanks!

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Stuff White People Like – So Good it HURTS!

I can’t help myself, I love my Vespa, If I am not in my veggie powered 4WD (with Apple sticker on the back window), I drive my Vespa to sit in a non-franchised, un-corporate cafe drinking fairtrade organic coffee, in front of me on the table is my Apple Macbook with a Molskine notebook on top and my iPhone alongside.

I AM A STEREOTYPE – aghhhhhh, I need a new life!  🙂   This website I found has caught me out. I am predictable, readable and … aghhh it hurts so much I could not help but laugh … and laugh  … and laugh. I had tears running down my cheeks. Christine has been saying the things this guy blogs about for years to me. This is so clever!

He was on Triple J last week apparently. He writes about Things White People Like, here is his list – You need to visit his site!

Bulk Rubbish Discoveries

Well, it is the season … for putting out your bulk rubbish.

We live in a funny age, never before has there been the need for so many ‘extra’ rubbish collections. Who remembers growing up with just one of the small round tin bins? The rubbish men would run from house to house, with an even bigger plastic version of what we would put on the verge. They would throw two, maybe three, maybe even four bins worth of rubbish into the bin they carried on their shoulder before manually dumping it into the back of the truck that was being driven (usually by a big fat guy who wouldn’t run!) Where was all our rubbish in those days? Imagine a rubbish man running (just that is enough!) around with 3 or 4 wheelie bins worth of rubbish on his back!!! Now we have 2 full sized wheelie bins for all our rubbish, an occasional trip to the tip as well as our annual bulk rubbish collection!

On this topic have you ever seen Annie Leonard’s “The Story of Stuff“? I have posted it here before, but it’s worth another look.

From Roll 141

It was fun, a few weeks ago when our area had bulk rubbish. Christine and I got up early one Saturday morning before the kids were even stirring. I took the dog for a walk while Christine began the clean up around the yard. Whilst on my walk I discovered a fantastic compost bin as well as 2 big sheets of marine ply maybe 2.5M by 1.5M! I ran home, grabbed the car and went back and grabbed it. As I was off-loading my find, Christine was busy dragging out stuff onto the verge, some of it admittedly was stuff I had brought in last time…one man’s trash is another man’s treasure they say 🙂 We laugh at people in their utes driving up and down the street filling their cars with other peoples ‘rubbish’ but maybe they are the ones with the last laugh. As they never need to spend $500 on that swing set for the kids because they found a perfectly good one on the roadside. They laugh as they remove the broken keyboard from the perfectly good monitor and replace it with the perfect keyboard they found attached to a broken monitor! Where does most of this stuff go? Well after the guys at the tip (who are heroes in my mind!) have sorted the good for the crap…it gets put into landfill, mostly. Our region is just experimenting with a massive composting factory, millions of bucks to avoid so much land fill. Great stuff, but you should see the environmental footprint it creates to keep the engines running 24/7 so the fumes remain neutral! I know, I know, it sounds hopeless and negative, but I guess I don’t see a future in better ways to deal with our rubbish. I only see a future in learning to create less at a domestic level – YES domestic. Because when Mr Production Plant owner has a revelation about how much ‘stuff’ he puts in his household bin, I think…I hope…he would carry that over into his factory waste.

So next time you go to throw out something, I dare you to ask yourself NOT which bin should this go into, NOR do I need to throw this out? BUT rather, did I need to buy what was in this box in the first place, could I have made something? Borrowed it? Done without it? Got it second hand? I know this is the question that perplexes me always too late. That my purchasing of stuff is directly related to my environmental footprint. “stuff in – stuff out”. And I just love ‘stuff’ too much!

I get a pleasure from buying stuff, all that lovely packaging, the sound of unwrapping the box…the smell of the fresh plastic…

From Roll 141

I can even justify stuff. Take for example my new water-pump, lost f nice smelly plastic in that new box hmmm But I justified it ok…prices are low now, I wash my diesel in rain water now, our veggies are watered in rainwater now, we wash our clothes in rain water now… all great, but I still loved the power of the purchase more than all these sweet reason to buy such a ‘nobel’ toy!

We yesterday I put my guilt to rest…for while at least, I was out with master collector and bio-diesel buddy Andy Longhurst and we decided to drive the streets near his house where bulk rubbish is happening, my discoveries?

1) Another great compost bin, this one with a liquid catchment and tap on the bottom.

2) Two good milk crates for the shed, storage and seating 🙂

3) A pair of blundstone boots in my size.

4) A couple of jerry can holders for my car…admittedly they were in Andy’s shed…but he was going to get rid of them!

So call me a scab – but I’m having fun!

The Low Down On Our Solar Rebates

An economical truth (from the Australia Institute)

The solar panel rebate announced by Peter Garrett this week sounded like just the news we need after the weak five per cent emission reduction targets were revealed in the White Paper. Finally, it seemed that the Government was doing something serious to reduce emissions. No such luck.

Minister Garrett chose his words very carefully when he explained the benefits of this new scheme. It would be a boost to the solar industry. True. It was great for families who wanted to put solar panels on their roofs. True. The removal of the means testing meant more families would be able to access the rebate. True.

But what is missing from the Minister’s statements is any mention about Australia’s total greenhouse gas emissions. The silence on this issue is no slip-up—it is part of an elaborate strategy to try and ensure that the public continues to ‘do their bit’ in their homes without revealing the awful truth behind the Rudd Government’s emissions trading scheme. After 2010, nothing households do to reduce their use of f ossil fuels will reduce Australia’s emissions by one kilogram.

The Rudd Government’s proposed emissions trading scheme, now known as the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme (CPRS), will work like this. The government will issue a fixed number of permits to pollute, with the number of the permits ensuring Australia’s emissions will fall by five per cent by 2020. Once these permits are given away (a small number will be sold) to polluters, the polluters can buy and sell them among themselves.

The problem for households keen to ‘do their bit’ to reduce climate change is that if they have shorter showers or put solar panels on their roofs, all they will do is reduce their personal demand for electricity. If less coal is burned to provide households with electricity, the coal-fired power stations won’t need as many permits and they can then sell their ‘spare’ permits to the aluminum or steel industries so that these polluters can INCREASE their emissions.

The real sting in the tail is that the less energy households use, the cheaper the permits bought by the big polluters will be.

Hopefully the Senate will modify the CPRS so that individuals who reduce their energy use can ensure that any ‘spare’ permits get ripped up, thereby reducing Australia’s total emissions. But in the meantime, if Peter Garrett’s announcement has made you think about installing some solar panels, it might be best to call his office first. The question you need to ask is a simple one: ‘Will installing solar panels on my roof reduce Australia’s emissions?’

Feel free to let us know if he answers.