Domestic Travel

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Indian Pacific: Off-train excursions highlight of train journey

<p><strong><em>Justine Tyerman continues her journey on the famous trans-continental Indian Pacific train from Perth to Sydney. On Day 3 of her epic 4352km, three-night, four-day trip across Australia, she visits the South Australian capital of Adelaide, learns the tragic story of two early explorers and meets a couple of drag queens… </em></strong></p> <p>The Indian Pacific was cruising sedately into Adelaide when I woke up on day 3 of my train journey across Australia from Perth to Sydney. Before boarding coaches to explore the city, we farewelled barman Brendan, hostess Nikki, dining room manager Mario and others who had looked after us so well since boarding in Perth. They were taking a break before heading north on the Ghan and we picked up a new crew for the Adelaide to Sydney leg of the journey.</p> <p>I managed to have a quick chat to Brendan before disembarking.</p> <p>He was such a delightful, gregarious fellow, and a whiz at making cocktails so it came as a surprise to find he’d only been behind the bar since April. Prior to this, he was studying for his masters in social work at Flinders University and before that he was teaching maths and science to years 7-10 and in Townsville.</p> <p>He enjoyed teaching and study but loves his new job.</p> <p>“On the train, I work with wonderful, caring, talented people and brilliant guests who are always seeking fun, happiness and good times,” said Brendan.</p> <p>“It’s great being involved in creating fun memories for guests and new friends in what is really a unique atmosphere, and watching passengers build relationships with each other. Everyone arrives as strangers and leaves as friends.</p> <p>“I work on the Ghan as well as the Indian Pacific so I get to see Australia and explore fantastic, scenic places. It’s an awesome job,” he said.</p> <p>“I’ll see you on the Ghan in September,” I said as I thanked him, hopped off the train and onto our smart tour bus. He thought I was kidding!</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img style="width: 500px; height:333.33333333333337px;" src="/media/7820238/1-the-famous-adelaide-oval.jpg" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/3dbecbc48cae4166af281a0335135969" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><em>The famous Adelaide Oval.</em></p> <p>Australia’s capital of festivals and the arts, Adelaide is a most attractive, well-designed city encircled by beautiful parks. Historic buildings like St Peters Cathedral have been carefully-preserved and the lovely River Torrens adds a tranquil feel to the busy metropolis. After an informative bus tour of the city and the option of exploring Adelaide’s fresh produce market, we enjoyed a lavish breakfast at the famous Adelaide Oval. The cricket buffs amongst us were frothing at the mouth with excitement. I watched a team of groundsmen meticulously grooming and conditioning the grass in preparation for the season ahead and envisaged the stands full of excited fans.</p> <p>No disrespect to lovely Adelaide but after two days in the Outback, I felt oddly resentful at the intrusion of civilisation into my bubble. I breathed a sigh of relief when we returned to the Indian Pacific and I snuggled into my cabin, waiting for the next phase of the trip through South Australia and New South Wales.</p> <p>Travelling north though the state’s green and gold fruit-bowl with vast windfarms on the horizon, we skirted the fringes of the Barossa Valley, a world-class wine-growing area famous for its shiraz. Passengers on the Sydney to Perth trip can take a tour of the region’s world-class boutique wineries and dine at a vineyard. I envied my NAMs (new Aussie mates) who were doing the journey both ways.</p> <p>We zipped through settlements rich in history like Peterborough in the wheat-lands, population about 1500. The rail line through Peterborough was once the busiest single track of railway in the world. A huge number of trains loaded with freight and ore, and the Ghan carrying passengers to and from Darwin, all passed through the town. A record was achieved in 1923 with 102 trains in a 24-hour period. An original 1880s Y Class locomotive sits alongside the track as a reminder of the steam-driven era.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img style="width: 500px; height:281.25px;" src="/media/7820240/image_.jpg" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/6af1109e83294bef84d3f5cbdd31e9d9" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><em>The Indian Pacific near Port Augusta with the Flinders Ranges in the background.</em></p> <p>The cuisine on board the train was outstanding every day but lunch on day 3 was exceptional – a chicken salad with pistachio, currants, red onion, lemon rocket, pearl couscous topped with mint yoghurt dressing followed by rhubarb parfait with figs, honey ricotta ice-cream and praline. The Vasse Felix Filius chardonnay from Margaret River was a superb accompaniment, along with a lively political debate with a couple of retired school teachers.</p> <p>The landscape here was not as relentlessly flat as the Nullarbor and featured a few mulga trees and an undulating horizon. Somewhere near the Outback town of Manna Hill, home to about 66 people, I spotted a few kangaroos, emus and something that looked like a camel shimmering in the distance… but no one else saw it so it may have been a mirage.</p> <p>After lunch, my NAMs drew my attention to a plaque on the wall in the Outback Lounge. It told the tragic story of explorers Robert O’Hara Burke and William John Wills who set off in 1860 with the objective of crossing Australia from Melbourne in the south, to the Gulf of Carpentaria in the north, a distance of 3250 kilometres. At the time there was much fervour for epic journeys of exploration. Most of the inland of Australia had not been explored by non-indigenous people and was largely unknown to European settlers.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img style="width: 500px; height:333.33333333333337px;" src="/media/7820241/3-passengers-enjoying-drinks-and-listening-to-mattie-in-the-outback-explorer-lounge-before-the-dancing-began.jpg" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/feab4d21e80549a6ada044b71caa131b" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><em>Passengers enjoying drinks and listening to Mattie in the Outback Explorer Lounge… before the dancing began.</em></p> <p>The expedition team of 15 men, 26 camels, 26 horses, many wagons, 6 tonnes of firewood and enough food for two years left Melbourne on August 20, 1860 amid much fanfare. Bad weather, poor roads and broken-down wagons meant they made slow progress at first.</p> <p>Burke took an advanced party on to Coopers Creek and waited for the majority of the supplies to follow under the supervision of William Wright. But Burke was a man with a mission in a hurry to get to the Gulf of Carpentaria. So he departed with Wills, John King and Charles Gray on December 16 leaving most of the stores behind with four men who were instructed to wait three months until they returned.</p> <p>A diary note on March 28 1861 documented that salt water marshes stopped the explorers from reaching the open ocean at the gulf so they began the retreat just short of their destination.</p> <p>The return trip was plagued by delays and monsoon rains and the death of Gray from scurvy, apparently because the lime juice had been left behind.</p> <p>When they reached Cooper Creek on April 21, 1861, they found the camp had been abandoned just hours earlier. Wright had never arrived with the main supplies but some stores had been buried in a box under a tree marked with the word ‘DIG’.</p> <p>Rather than try to catch up with the rest of the party, Burke decided to make for Mount Hopeless. A relief party was sent to the site but did not find a note left by Burke.</p> <p>With their provisions and strength failing, Burke and Wills died in late June 1861. In September 1861, a search party found the Irish soldier John King living with Aboriginal people who had fed and sheltered him.</p> <p>The remains of Burke and Wills were discovered and returned to Melbourne for a public funeral in January 1863.</p> <p>At some point in the afternoon, the Indian Pacific crossed the path of their doomed expedition. Looking at the unforgiving landscape, I shuddered to think of the men perishing out there in the wilderness.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img style="width: 500px; height:281.25px;" src="/media/7820242/image_.jpg" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/312416c22e61499e8a0043e7be5ea9c8" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><em>The Indian Pacific near Broken Hill at dawn.</em></p> <p>Just as I was about to slip into my customary post-prandial reverie, our guitarist Mattie started tuning up in the lounge. In no time, his ‘fan club’ were singing and dancing in the aisle like a bunch of teenagers at a rock concert.</p> <p>Before I joined them in the ‘mush pit’, I stood at the end of the carriage and looked around the animated faces of my fellow passengers and NAMs who just three short days ago, were strangers to each other. Quite apart from the extraordinary landscapes we witnessed, the trip is an exceptionally social experience – a veritable party on rails with exquisite cuisine and cocktails included. It was hugely enjoyable even without close friends but with a carriage load of old mates, it would be quite a celebration. A great way to mark a 60<sup>th</sup>… or even an 80<sup>th</sup> as some of our fellow passengers were doing.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img style="width: 0px; height:0px;" src="/nothing.jpg" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/1f42c0143dbb4c2baabab412b3f05874" /><img style="width: 0px; height:0px;" src="/nothing.jpg" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/27625e741e2843349a0257e74f8af661" /><img style="width: 500px; height:333.75670335873554px;" src="/media/7820244/5-the-miners-memorial-at-broken-hill-an-off-train-excursion-for-those-travelling-from-sydney-to-perth.jpg" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/27625e741e2843349a0257e74f8af661" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><em>The Miners Memorial at Broken Hill, an off-train excursion for those travelling from Sydney to Perth.</em></p> <p>When we crossed into New South Wales, we lost a few hours and pulled into Broken Hill in darkness. Like many Outback towns, Broken Hill was built on precious metals. In 1883, silver, lead and zinc were discovered here, deposits that proved to be the largest and richest in the world. Broken Hill, known as ‘Silver City’, holds the distinction of being Australia’s oldest mining city. It’s also the base for the legendary Royal Flying Doctor Service and School of the Air.</p> <p>The choices of off-train excursions at Broken Hill had me in a dither. I could opt for culture at the regional art gallery and the world’s largest acrylic painting by local artist Ando, or attend a live drag queen show. When I discovered that the cult movie Priscilla, Queen of the Desert was filmed right there at the Palace Hotel in Broken Hill in 1994, it was no contest. ‘The Main Drag’, starring the brash and brassy Shelita and Christina, was hugely entertaining. The high-energy, up-tempo show totally blew me away and had the audience singing, clapping and participating in no time. The glitzy, sequinned costumes, garish wigs and make-up worn by the two strapping local lads, one an accountant and the other a teacher by day, were hilariously OTT - their eyelashes were so long and thick, I’m surprised they could see at all and their stilettos were so high, they were like stilts.</p> <p>From the moment Shelita and Christina sashayed onto the stage with a couple of dancers, they wowed the audience.</p> <p>Their opening remarks set the outrageous tone for the show:</p> <p>“Welcome to the Main Drag! Firstly there are some simple rules of engagement. Flash photography is strictly…  mandatory!</p> <p>“Do we look gorgeous? Do we look beautiful? Do we look sexy? Well drink up! The more you drink, the prettier we look! Oh come on, you have to spend a lot of money to look as cheap as this.”</p> <p>With scenes from Priscilla projected on the wall above the stage, the girls sang well-known hits from the movie like ‘I will survive,’ ‘Hey, big spender’ and ‘I love the nightlife’ to the delight of the audience.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img style="width: 363.6191915375897px; height:500px;" src="/media/7820245/6-justine-with-shelita-and-christina-after-the-main-drag-show-at-the-palace-hotel-in-broken-hill.jpg" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/70fb0e2a729d406697002fe62e3fdda9" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><em>Justine with Shelita and Christina after the Main Drag show at the Palace Hotel in Broken Hill.</em></p> <p>After the show, I had a look around the grand old Palace Hotel. It’s an icon in its own right with grandiose murals on the walls and ceilings including a copy of Botticelli's Venus – quite surreal with a disco ball lighting effect.</p> <p>Dinner that evening was divine – as usual, there were three or four choices at each course which was always the hardest decision of the day. The lamb shoulder slow cooked in honey and black vinegar looked very tempting but I opted for carrot and coriander soup to leave room for the Hunter Valley beef fillet with Pacific oyster sabayon sauce, and blood orange meringue tart with wild berry salsa. The tart had a handmade chocolate pastry case. It was dreamy.</p> <p>The 80<sup>th</sup> birthday party celebrations continued in the lounge long after I retired. Such energy!</p> <p><em>Read Justine’s account of <span><strong><a href="https://www.oversixty.com.au/travel/domestic-travel/what-it-s-like-travelling-across-australia-on-board-the-indian-pacific">Day 1</a></strong></span> and <span><strong><a href="https://www.oversixty.com.au/travel/domestic-travel/on-board-the-indian-pacific-the-magic-of-the-nullarbor">Day 2</a></strong></span> of the Indian Pacific. </em></p> <p><em>To be continued… Look out for the final part of the Indian Pacific travel series next Wednesday. </em></p> <p><em>Justine Tyerman was a guest of Rail Plus and Great Southern Rail.</em></p> <p><em>* The Indian Pacific is a four-day, three-night 4,352km, 65-hour journey from Sydney to Perth and vice versa operated twice a week by Great Southern Rail. <a href="https://www.railplus.co.nz/australia-by-rail/australias-great-train-journeys/indian-pacific/itinerary.htm"><strong><u>Find more information here.</u></strong> </a></em><span><a href="https://www.railplus.co.nz/australia-by-rail/australias-great-train-journeys/indian-pacific/itinerary.htm"></a></span></p>

Domestic Travel

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Stay indoors: Huge dust storm could hit this city tomorrow

<p><em>A huge dust storm hit Sydney in September 2009. The Double Bay marina is covered in a red haze on September 23, 2009. </em></p> <p> </p> <p>Sydney could be hit with dust storms from Wednesday as winds pick up and temperatures rise ahead of a cold front.</p> <p>Parts of south-western NSW was “sand blasted” by swirling winds and conditions are so dry that most of the winter crop has failed to grow, reports <strong><em><u><a href="https://www.smh.com.au/environment/weather/sand-blasted-large-dust-storm-may-hit-sydney-ahead-of-cold-front-20180813-p4zx8d.html">Sydney Morning Herald.</a> </u></em></strong></p> <p>A strengthening cold weather front this week means the dust could be carried to the NSW coast, possibly creating a similar dust storm to 2009 when Sydney’s skyline turned red.</p> <p>David Wilke, duty forecaster at the Bureau of Meteorology, said although it was more likely that areas in western NSW hit will be hit by dust storms, it was possible the storm could hit Sydney.</p> <p>“The next strong cold front will likely come at the end of this week but there is a weaker front at the moment and we do have very dry conditions,” Mr Wilke said.</p> <p>Cold front often lead to dust storms as warm columns of air lift and carry particles from dry areas, Mr Wilke explained.</p> <p>Most of the dust in NSW is from south-western Queensland and South Australia, both of which are particularly dry. All of NSW was declared in drought last week.</p> <p>Australia has experienced its driest July since 2002, and the driest autumn since 1902.</p>

Domestic Travel

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“Unusually” severe weather warning for three Aussie states

<p>Three Aussie states are being warned of an “unusually” long spell of severe weather, as a fierce cold front is forecasted to move across the country’s southeast.</p> <p>South Australia, Victoria and Tasmania are expected to be hit with dust, thunder, hail, fierce winds and cold temperatures from today.</p> <p>Forecasters have said the weather will be “terrible” for the weekend, with winds of up to 100km/h already being reported.</p> <p>The Bureau of Meteorology released a series of severe weather warnings early today for the three states, as they are all in the cold front’s path.</p> <p>Last night, South Australia was the first to be hit with the severe weather, with wind gusts of 89km/h recorded at Port Lincoln and Strathalbyn.</p> <p>“A cold front will enter the far west of the state (on Thursday) evening, reaching Nullarbor around midnight. The front will continue to move east over central and eastern districts on Friday,” the bureau said in a statement.</p> <p>“Well ahead of the front, north- to north-westerly winds averaging 50-65km/h with isolated damaging gusts of 90-100km/h are forecast to develop.”</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"> <p dir="ltr">Northerly winds are expected to increase on Friday ahead of a front and there is some risk of low-end damaging winds occurring in parts of the warning area. Check details at: <a href="https://t.co/09ed7fDrM2">https://t.co/09ed7fDrM2</a> <a href="https://t.co/K3fqY1NIwR">pic.twitter.com/K3fqY1NIwR</a></p> — Bureau of Meteorology, South Australia (@BOM_SA) <a href="https://twitter.com/BOM_SA/status/1027394794639839232?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">August 9, 2018</a></blockquote> <p>Although Adelaide will not experience the worst of the cold front, the city will still be hit with strong gusts.</p> <p>This morning, Victoria also experienced ferocious winds, with gusts reaching 111km/h at Mount William at 2 am and 87km/h at Melbourne Airport at 4:24am.</p> <p>Yesterday, BOM Victoria senior meteorologist Stephen King said the winds would last the entire day.</p> <p>“A windy day coming up on Friday,” he said.</p> <p>“But by the time people wake up there will be winds across most of Victoria with destructive winds in Alpine regions up to 130km/h while elsewhere wind gusts of 90 to 100km/h from first thing and right through most of the day.</p> <p>“That’s what is unusual about this event. That it will be for a significant amount of time — a good 12 hours — and across a really widespread area.”</p> <p>The winds are also expected to carry dust through Victoria and possibly into Melbourne.</p> <p>“We had some raised dust in the Mallee a few weeks ago and there is again the possibility that dust could make its way through to Victoria or into Melbourne,” Mr King said.</p> <p>“There will be quite miserable weather across all of Victoria on Saturday with widespread shower activity and the possibility of hail and thunder,” he said.</p> <p>Tasmania is also expected to experience miserable weather this weekend, with the BOM revealing that a vigorous north-westerly wind will develop on Saturday.</p> <p>There is also a possibility of flooding in the southeast of Tasmania, due to abnormally high tides coinciding with a king tide in the evening. </p>

Domestic Travel

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On board the Indian Pacific: The magic of the Nullarbor

<p><strong><em>Justine Tyerman continues her journey on the famous trans-continental Indian Pacific train from Perth to Sydney. On Day 2 of her epic 4352km, three-night, four-day trip from the Indian Ocean to the Pacific Ocean, she hears and sees ghosts… </em></strong></p> <p>When hostess Nikki knocked on my cabin door at 5.40am on Day 2 of my Indian Pacific train journey across Australia, I seriously regretted agreeing to such an early call on a chilly winter morning. But then I squinted through a slit in the venetian blinds and witnessed a magical sight - dawn on the Nullarbor Plain. Suddenly wide awake, I leapt from my cosy bed, pulled on every merino and down thing I could find in my case, and bolted down the corridor, hooking my camera strap on the cabin door handle in my haste and almost decapitating myself.</p> <p>The train had stopped at the Outback settlement of Rawlinna for a sunrise breakfast and the early birds among my fellow passengers were already outside, huddled around a series of open fires burning brightly in half drums. Our onboard entertainer Mattie was playing a lively rendition of the Indian Pacific theme song:</p> <p><em>From the waters of the western sea to the eastern ocean sand, the Indian Pacific spans the land…</em></p> <p>and Nikki was carrying huge trays of delicious bacon and egg sliders, vegemite pinwheels and hot drinks around the hungry masses. I’ve never seen food consumed with such speed and gusto.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img style="width: 500px; height:281.25px;" src="/media/7820118/image_.jpg?width=500&amp;height=281.25" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/078cc2a215f044289e1e87ec913e52f1" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;">Caption: <em>A farm house belonging to Rawlinna Station, Australia's largest sheep station.</em></p> <p>Rawlinna is home to the largest sheep station in Australia - the 2.5m-acre Rawlinna Station, established in 1962, runs 70,000 sheep. It’s a popular disembarkation spot for jackaroos and jillaroos, young novices looking for experience on Outback farms.</p> <p>With a slider and pinwheel in hand, I took the opportunity to get some much-needed exercise and walked to the tail end of the Indian Pacific, 700 metres away, talking photos of the sunrise from every angle I could think of - including under the train and between the wheels. I’d love to have been an eagle, like the emblem on the carriages, soaring high above the train to get an aerial perspective of the long silver streak against the red earth. A drone would have done the trick!</p> <p>On the Nullarbor, there are virtually no trees and the horizon is dead flat… or ever so slightly curved. The word is derived from the Latin ‘nullus’ meaning nothing or none, and ‘arbor’ meaning tree. Known to the Aboriginal people as ‘Oondiri’ meaning ‘the waterless’, the Nullarbor was created about 25 million years old when it emerged from the sea. The plain is staggering in size covering an area of nearly 20 million hectares, twice the size of England.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img style="width: 500px; height:281.25px;" src="/media/7820117/image_.jpg?width=500&amp;height=281.25" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/eff378dabcf9456ab869bc9ebcb66e05" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;">Caption: <em>I was mesmerised by the landscape of the Nullarbor.</em></p> <p>For a Kiwi accustomed to landscapes crowded with hills and mountains, the sight of a flat horizon was literally unbelievable. I was staggered by the austerity of the straight line illuminated by the glow of the dawn.</p> <p>It’s the polar opposite of train travel in Switzerland. There the landscape is demanding, constantly yelling ‘Look at me, Look at me’ – you dare not blink let alone go to the bathroom for fear of missing something spectacular. Here there is an absence of anything to focus on. The vast terracotta landscape is scattered with stubbly grey-green vegetation and white rocks as far as the eye can see. The nothingness is soothing.</p> <p>Back onboard, I stayed in my cabin for a while, gazing out the window, hypnotised by the wilderness. The rocking motion and the landscape flickering by was incredibly relaxing and soporific. It gave my busy brain the time and space to wander, drift and range free.</p> <p>It was such a novelty. Nowhere have I experienced such nothing-to-do-ness.</p> <p>There was no wifi and only sporadic internet signal which turned out to be a blessing. There were times when I switched my phone off completely which would have been unheard of at home. No computer, no housework, no laundry, no cooking, no gardening, no deadlines… it was sheer bliss.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img style="width: 500px; height:281.25px;" src="/media/7820116/image_.jpg?width=500&amp;height=281.25" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/a1f0e10d2d3f401686e676b9054c41f2" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><em>The Indian Pacific streaking across the Outback.</em></p> <p>I also relished the absence of choices. The days were entirely mapped out for me. I didn’t have to navigate or make decisions about what direction to take. I could not possibly get lost on this trip.</p> <p>It seemed to lower my heart rate and allow me to quieten the incessant voices in my head. A feeling of great peace enveloped me.</p> <p>I became so accustomed to the lack of visual stimuli, I nearly leapt out of my skin when I spotted emus and kangaroos fleeing the noisy intrusion of the train. Apparently some camels appeared while I was snoozing- I was quite annoyed with myself for having nodded off.</p> <p>Having missed the camel sighting, I was egged on by my new Aussie mates (NAMs) to sample them for lunch instead. They no doubt thought I’d baulk at the idea but the camel tagine with coconut rice and coriander was very tasty and surprisingly tender. The wild berry, mint and natural yoghurt parfait sprinkled with almond and hazelnut crumble was pretty good too.</p> <p>Mid-afternoon on the second day of our journey, we stopped to take on water and fuel at Cook, population four, in the middle of the Nullarbor.</p> <p>Cook is seriously remote – it’s 1138 km from Adelaide, 1523 km from Perth and 100 km on an unsealed track to the closest major road, the Eyre Highway. The nearest town is Ceduna, a five-hour drive and the local doctor is at Port Augusta, a 12-hour drive.</p> <p>Once a thriving town of 200 residents, Cook is now a ghost town, its school, hospital, tennis courts, swimming pool, golf course, shops and houses lying eerily quiet and empty.</p> <p>Small service settlements like Cook were established 30km apart on most remote sections of track on Nullarbor to support the trans-Australia rail link, completed in 1917. But the town effectively closed down in 1997 when the railway was privatised. As the population dwindled, Aussie humour still prevailed with signs like: ‘If you’re Crook, come to Cook’ and ‘Our hospital needs your help. Get sick.’</p> <p>There’s a long-drop with ‘EFTPOS Here’ written on the corrugated iron wall and ‘Deposits Only’ beside the wooden toilet seat.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img style="width: 333.3333333333333px; height:500px;" src="/media/7820115/image_.jpg?width=333.3333333333333&amp;height=500" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/3f75c4d30a944f628cab7a71621ef994" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;">Caption: <em>A sign near the abandoned hospital at Cook - 'Our hospital needs your help. Get sick.’</em></p> <p>The town’s twin jail cells were a sobering sight. Built to hold the unlawful or unruly until the next train transported them out, the buildings were matching ‘his’ and her ‘cells’ with a small barred window at the top and a peephole in the padlocked door. With summer temperatures reaching 49 degrees C, imagine the heat inside those corrugated iron boxes. I doubt there was much recidivism!</p> <p>Many of the buildings were condemned so we were warned to steer clear of them. I tried to visualise children running around in the school grounds and the residents playing tennis, golf and swimming in the pool but all I could see and hear were faint shadows and echoes… ghosts perhaps?</p> <p>Others ventured into the desert but over lunch one of my NAMs pointed out the window at the scrub and mentioned the words ‘taipan’ and ‘lots’ in the same sentence so I stuck to the track.</p> <p>The residents were obviously an optimistic bunch. In 1982, volunteers planted 600 saplings in ‘The Greening of Cook’ campaign. A few survived, a testament to their endeavours, and are now the tallest trees on the Nullarbor.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img style="width: 0px; height:0px;" src="/nothing.jpg" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/afadd04e036643c8816b67d06379e017" /><img style="width: 299.9669093315685px; height:500px;" src="/media/7820114/image_.jpg?width=299.9669093315685&amp;height=500" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/afadd04e036643c8816b67d06379e017" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><em>Caption: Justine at Cook on the Nullarbor Plain.</em></p> <p>Cook is located on the longest stretch of straight train track in the world – there are no corners for 478 km from Loongana in Western Australia to Ooldea in South Australia. When the train finally came to a slight bend in the track by late afternoon, I peered out the window and could just make out the tail-end carriage.</p> <p>After Cook, there was even less vegetation but I never once felt tempted to pick up my book. I was contented to chat in the lounge with my NAMs or daydream in my cabin.</p> <p>That’s one of the wonderful aspects about train travel. You can choose to socialise or not as you please. Some passengers enjoyed the solitude and privacy of their cabins while others frequented the lounge and bar from dawn until well after dark.</p> <p>I also enjoyed listening to the stories broadcast on my cabin radio and reading about the colourful characters associated with the history of the train.</p> <p>Daisy Bates was one such person. An Irish immigrant who arrived in the country in 1882, she lived in a tent in Western and South Australia working tirelessly as an advocate for Aboriginal rights against the assimilation policy of the day. Dressed in a long Victorian gown, boots, veil and gloves, she was known as the Great White Queen of the Never Never, and spent 40 years documenting Aboriginal culture, history, beliefs and customs.  </p> <p>Daisy lived for a time at the railway siding at Ooldea and died at the grand old age of 91.</p> <p>When the Aboriginal people first encountered the steam train at Ooldea, they thought it was great white snake carrying wicked spirits.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img style="width: 0px; height:0px;" src="/nothing.jpg" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/54afe32d91df4f44a54e8850f489d763" /><img style="width: 500px; height:281.25px;" src="/media/7820113/image_.jpg?width=500&amp;height=281.25" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/85da58e3ed0c4a61a3637960f7c57006" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;">Caption: <em>Sunset in the desert. What an awesome sight.</em></p> <p>People-watching was another of my favourite pastimes. A couple of mysterious chaps caught my eye. They looked like secret agents in a spy movie and would have fitted well in an Agatha Christie thriller.</p> <p>By dusk, the landscape had changed to undulating red sand dunes dotted with ragged, wind-sculpted gum trees. I watched as the dying sun flickered behind the gums and sank below the horizon. A knock on my door from one of my NAMs signalled it was high time I joined them in the lounge where Mattie was leading a lively singalong session. Barman Brendan was so busy mixing cocktails, his hands were a blur.</p> <p>Dinner was another delicious feast with three or four choices for each of the three courses – the highlight for me was the spicy Asian dumplings entrée, one of my all-time favourite dishes.</p> <p>We trundled on sedately through the night at an average speed of 85km/h with a top speed of 115km/h. The swaying motion was enough to make me feel mildly wobbly whenever I disembarked on terra firma but was a wonderful sedative at bedtime. Train travel is great therapy for insomniacs.</p> <p><em>Read Justine’s account of </em><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong><em><a href="http://www.oversixty.com.au/travel/domestic-travel/what-it-s-like-travelling-across-australia-on-board-the-indian-pacific">Day 1 on the Indian Pacific</a></em></strong></span><em>. To be continued… Look out for the next part of the Indian Pacific travel series next Wednesday.</em></p> <p><em>Justine Tyerman was a guest of Rail Plus and Great Southern Rail.</em></p> <p><em>* </em><em>The Indian Pacific is a four-day, three-night 4,352km, 65-hour journey from Sydney to Perth and vice versa operated twice a week by Great Southern Rail. <a href="https://www.railplus.co.nz/australia-by-rail/australias-great-train-journeys/indian-pacific/itinerary.htm"><strong><u>Find more information here. </u></strong></a></em></p>

Domestic Travel

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What it’s like travelling across Australia on board the Indian Pacific

<p><strong><em>Justine Tyerman travels on the famous transcontinental Indian Pacific train from Perth to Sydney and never once picks up the book she took… in case she got bored. She shares a day-by-day account of the 4352km, three-night, four-day journey from the Indian Ocean to the Pacific Ocean. </em></strong></p> <p><u>Day 1</u></p> <p>I arrived at East Perth train station ridiculously early in order to absorb the full sensory experience of the pre-boarding ritual.</p> <p>I was in a high state of excitement and I was not the only one. A few other early birds and train buffs were wandering along the platform, gazing at the sleek, silver Indian Pacific with radiant expressions on their faces. Some had dreamed of doing this epic transcontinental train journey for years, I later discovered.</p> <p>I found myself peeking through the venetian blinds at what was to be my home for the next four days, sussing out my fellow passengers, taking selfies with the eagle emblem on the side of the carriages, marvelling at the power of a locomotive that could pull the 700m, 28-carriage train weighing 1300 tonnes, and chatting-up a platform guard to take photos for me in the no-go zone – at the business end of the train.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img style="width: 0px; height:0px;" src="/media/7819999/1-the-beast-that-pulls-the-indian-pacific-700m-28-carriages-1300-tonnes.jpg?width=0&amp;height=0" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/3ff2e82ab5614552889fcfdb6913f697" /><img style="width: 0px; height:0px;" src="/nothing.jpg" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/a9b3da2bbaad424b9fcfe827101df377" /><img style="width: 500px; height:281.25px;" src="/media/7820000/image_.jpg?width=500&amp;height=281.25" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/a9b3da2bbaad424b9fcfe827101df377" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><em>The beast that pulls the Indian Pacific - 700m, 28 carriages, 1300 tonnes.</em></p> <p>Photo mission accomplished, strains of Morningtown Ride drew me back down to the platform to where morning tea and entertainment were being provided by Great Southern Rail who operate the Indian Pacific, the Ghan and the Overland.</p> <p>Matthew, a talented guitarist and born entertainer, was playing train-themed songs including a catchy, toe-tapping Slim Dusty number written about the Indian Pacific: <em>From the waters of the western sea to the eastern ocean sand, the Indian Pacific spans the land… </em></p> <p>Matthew became a great favourite with the passengers who inhabited our end of the train. He entertained us daily, on and off the train.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img style="width: 500px; height:281.25px;" src="/media/7820001/image_.jpg?width=500&amp;height=281.25" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/162acf1891a34d869e0486aac6aa3288" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><em>Matthew, aka Mattie, entertaining us in the Outback Explorer Lounge.</em></p> <p>On the dot of 10am, we were welcomed aboard and shown to our cabins by hostess Nikki. My Gold Class twin cabin with ensuite was supremely comfortable, all the more so because I was a solo traveller with all the space to myself.</p> <p>I stowed my small suitcase under the couch that converted to a luxurious bed at night, and sat with my heart pounding, pulse racing, anticipating the magical moment when the train would set off on the 4352km journey from the Indian Ocean to the Pacific Ocean. She spans Australia from coast-to-coast like the wedge-tail eagle, Australia’s largest bird of prey, that we often saw soaring over the vast desert on wings 2.3m wide. Hence the emblem on the carriages… and the Slim Dusty song.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img style="width: 500px; height:281.25px;" src="/media/7820002/image_.jpg?width=500&amp;height=281.25" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/8928de0b662849e09f71a7cca4f81dcd" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><em>Here's my lovely, spacious Gold Service cabin by day.</em></p> <p>We pulled away so smoothly I hardly knew we were moving. I gasped and a tear or two rolled down my cheek as the rocking motion began and I settled back to watch the landscape unfold.</p> <p>Once we had cleared Perth city and suburbs, we wound our way through the beautiful green Avon Valley with rivers fringed by gum trees. The occasional kangaroo hopped into view but hopped away again before my camera captured him.</p> <p>Over lunch in the classically-decorated Queen Adelaide Restaurant which looked as though it had been plucked straight from the Orient Express, we trundled past a lovely lake with a strange pinky hue and vast wheat lands dotted with giant silos. Apparently they are prone to spontaneous combustion, one of my new Aussie mates (henceforth known as ‘NAMs’) informed me.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img style="width: 0px; height:0px;" src="/nothing.jpg" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/2b0906a346894c779717c8f335740d34" /><img style="width: 500px; height:281.25px;" src="/media/7820003/image_.jpg?width=500&amp;height=281.25" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/2b0906a346894c779717c8f335740d34" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><em>The West Australia wheat lands stretched for miles.</em></p> <p>Another NAM pointed out a pipeline running alongside the train track and explained the tragic story of C.Y. O’Connor, a visionary engineer who wanted to bring water to the arid goldfields of Kalgoorlie. He suffered such ridicule over his ambitious project, he committed suicide in 1902, less than a year before the water reached its destination and transformed the lives of all who lived there.</p> <p>I heard many fascinating stories over the next few days, some from my NAMs and others over Radio Indian Pacific that was broadcast to the cabins along with a commentary. The tales of adventure, heroism, triumph and tragedy added great colour and personality to the journey.</p> <p>My fine plans to eat and drink in moderation over the next four days disappeared out the window the minute I sat down to our first lunch and tried the succulent Fremantle jewfish with tartare sauce.</p> <p>“It’s only four days,” I rationalised as I tucked into a dessert of cherry clafoutis.</p> <p>“Yes, I’d love another bubbly,” I found myself saying to Nikki who was also our waitress.</p> <p>The bubbles matched my effervescent mood! I love train travel.</p> <p>Back in my cabin, the combined effects of the lulling motion of the train and a large midday lunch with bubbles defeated another of my fine plans – to write while travelling.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img style="width: 0px; height:0px;" src="/nothing.jpg" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/d14ca664c0314336b05d5db54e97000e" /><img style="width: 500px; height:281.25px;" src="/media/7820004/image_.jpg?width=500&amp;height=281.25" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/d14ca664c0314336b05d5db54e97000e" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><em>I was mesmerised by the reflection of the train against the red earth.</em></p> <p>Mesmerised by the reflection of the train on the red earth and the huge Aussie sun flickering behind the gum trees, I nodded off for half an hour, seated upright, glasses perched on my nose and iPad open on my lap. I awoke with a heck of a jolt as a freight train thundered past us in the opposite direction while we were on a siding, just in time to witness a dazzling sunset over the desert.</p> <p>The atmosphere relaxed considerably over drinks and canapes in the Outback Explorer Lounge. Barman Brendan was in hot demand pouring bubbly and beer and mixing some pretty impressive cocktails.</p> <p>Matthew, who by now was known as Mattie, livened up the jovial mood even more with country and western favourites that started up a spirited singalong.</p> <p>After dinner – a delicious pulled pork salad entree followed by a main course of tender braised beef and a cheese board – we disembarked at Kalgoorlie-Boulder on the western fringe of Nullarbor Plain for our first off-train excursion.</p> <p>Irishman Paddy Hannan discovered gold near here in June 1893 and sparked one of the biggest gold rushes in Australian history. Within a week of Hannan’s find, 1400 prospectors flooded the region which became known as The Golden Mile, among the richest gold deposits in the world.</p> <p>We watched an entertaining re-enactment of Paddy’s story performed by a couple of talented local actors.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img style="width: 0px; height:0px;" src="/nothing.jpg" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/953c405dca604a8899a1f15abcc0a0df" /><img style="width: 500px; height:500px;" src="/media/7820005/image_.jpg?width=500&amp;height=500" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/953c405dca604a8899a1f15abcc0a0df" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><em>I looked like a dwarf beside the tyre of a giant 793C haul truck at Kalgoorlie.</em></p> <p>Today, the town is home to 31,000 residents home and the massive 3.6km wide, 512m deep Super Pit gold mine, the world’s largest single open-cut mining operation. The pit operates around the clock and is expected to do so until 2029.</p> <p>We went to the rim of the floodlit pit and watched the giant 793C haul trucks slowly grinding their way to the top. Fully laden at 376.49 tonnes, the truck’s top speed is 11kmh. It takes an hour to get from bottom of mine to top and back down again.</p> <p>I looked like a dwarf standing beside one of the truck tyres, worth an eye-watering $30,000 each. And even more minuscule when I climbed the ladder to the cab. The 793C stands a whopping 6.43m high, 7.51m wide and 12.87m long.</p> <p>It was a chilly evening so snuggling down in my comfy bed with highest quality linen, a warm duvet and a profusion of soft pillows was heavenly. With the rocking of the train, I was asleep in no time . . . and awake again rather early.</p> <p><em>To be continued… Look out for the next part of the Indian Pacific travel series next Wednesday. </em></p> <p><em>Justine Tyerman was a guest of Rail Plus and Great Southern Rail.</em></p> <p><em>* The Indian Pacific is a four-day, three night 4,352km, 65-hour journey from Sydney to Perth and vice versa operated twice a week by Great Southern Rail. <a href="https://www.railplus.co.nz/australia-by-rail/australias-great-train-journeys/indian-pacific/itinerary.htm"><strong><u>Find more information here</u></strong></a>. </em></p>

Domestic Travel

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Grant Denyer’s heartbreaking plea

<p>Gold Logie winner Grant Denyer has shared a heartbreaking message after posting a photo of his 27-acre Bathurst farm in extremely dry conditions.</p> <p>The TV and radio host labelled the New South Wales drought as “situation critical”, pleading with people to think about the impact it is having on struggling farmers.</p> <p>“This is how dry it is at our place,” Denyer wrote in his post.</p> <p>“My wife just took this photo of our backyard and paddocks. So dry, the kangaroos are drinking out of our dog bowl.</p> <p><iframe src="https://www.facebook.com/plugins/post.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Fgrantdenyerpage%2Fposts%2F10155695427137135%3A0&amp;width=500" width="500" height="707" style="border: none; overflow: hidden;" scrolling="no" frameborder="0" allowtransparency="true" allow="encrypted-media"></iframe> </p> <p>“We’re lucky we don’t rely on the farm for income but so many in regional Australia do. It’s so sad right now. In many places it’s the worst drought since records began.”</p> <p>Grant said there was not only a financial strain on farmers but also an emotional one.</p> <p>“Some families are at breaking point, unable to afford food &amp; with no choice but to shoot their stock so they don’t starve &amp; suffer a slow death.”</p> <p>The TV star also highlighted how mental health problems had increased by 70 per cent in his region.</p> <p>“Suicide by farmers is the most tragic consequence of such a drastic situation. Farmers harvest our food and the materials for the clothes on our back … please think of them.”</p> <p>“We need them. They need us. That’s why we support @ruralaid and @buyabale”.</p> <p>The first three months of 2018 were the driest for more than 40 years averaged across NSW, with 60 per cent of the state on drought watch, reported the Bureau of Meteorology.</p> <p>According to the <a href="http://www.abc.net.au/news/"><strong><u>ABC</u></strong></a>, some farmers have been forced to pay up to $10,000 a week to maintain livestock in these conditions.</p> <p>In a bid to help ease the financial pressure on Aussie farmers, National Australian Bank chief executive Andrew Thorburn announced the bank will stop charging farmers penalty interest if they fall behind on repayments due to drought.</p> <p>The bank, which is the country’s largest agricultural lender, will also introduce new policies to allow famers to use offset accounts against agribusiness loans.</p> <p>Farm management deposits (FMD) allow farmers to remove money from their taxable income during good years to use later during tough times.</p> <p> Agricultural Minister David Littleproud encouraged other banks to follow NAB’s example, telling famers to “vote with their wallets”.</p> <p>“This is an investment in agriculture’s future and farmers can now vote with their wallets. I hope other Aussie banks follow NAB’s lead and get on board,” Mr Littleproud said in a statement. </p>

Domestic Travel

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Inside Socceroo Tim Cahill’s $3.85 million Melbourne mansion

<p>Socceroos star Tim Cahill may be on the other side of the world for the FIFA World Cup, but that hasn’t stopped him putting his Melbourne house on the market.</p> <p>While he has yet to be given the ‘priceless’ chance to score in his fourth World Cup, he and interior designer wife Rebekah have put a price tag on their home of less than two years.</p> <p>Cahill bought the Lower Plenty property, which spans about 4182 square metres, back in October 2016 for $2,775,000.</p> <p>But don’t let the suburb name fool you, one thing that hasn’t lowered plenty since then is the price, with the pair hoping to score between $3.5 and $3.85 million for the renovated house.</p> <p>The price tag is well above the suburb’s median house price of $1,112,500.</p> <p>“They added a whole new wing to the house, they added a cinema room, two new bedrooms, a bathroom, and have given the house a whole makeover,” said selling agent Rocco Montanaro of Morrison Kleeman Estate Agents.</p> <p>The renovation, which cost in excess of $500,000, was only finished in recent weeks.</p> <p>In total the house has six bedrooms, five bathrooms and two parking spaces, as well as a home office and multiple living zones, including a rumpus room and formal living room.</p> <p>Outside there’s an alfresco dining area, a pool and spa and a floodlit tennis court, where Mr Montanaro said Cahill’s four kids practiced their soccer skills.</p> <p>“What Tim really liked about the place was that it was close to Bundoora, which is where he trained [while with Melbourne City],” Mr Montanaro said.</p> <p>He said the property’s proximity to top private schools, views of the Dandenong Ranges and the privacy it offered, were other key factors.</p> <p>The sale of the house was prompted by Cahill’s move from Melbourne City back to his first professional club Millwall FC in London, with a move back to New York potentially next.</p> <p>It comes after Cahill sold up in Sydney two years ago, offloading his Caringbah South home for $5.7 million. Before that he owned a property in Narrellan Vale near Campbelltown which he sold in 2013 for $440,000.</p> <p>The 38-year-old still owns a Horningsea Park property in Sydney’s west, which he bought with family in 1999 for $260,000.</p> <p>There’s also a 13-hectare property at Eureka, inland from Byron Bay, which his family paid $1.7 million for last year.</p> <p>Scroll through the gallery above to get a sneak peek inside Tim Cahill’s Melbourne family home.</p> <p><em>Written by Kate Burke. Republished with permission of <a href="http://www.domain.com.au" target="_blank"><strong><span style="text-decoration: underline;">Domain.com.au.</span></strong></a></em></p>

Domestic Travel

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At the source of history: Dart River, Aspiring National Park

<p><em><strong>Justine Tyerman is an award-winning travel writer from Gisborne, New Zealand. </strong></em></p> <p>My fingers traced the cool contours of the mauri pounamu touchstone. The massive chunk of pounamu (jade), centrepiece at the Dart River Jet visitor centre in Glenorchy, was alternately smooth and rough in texture.</p> <p>His name was Te Matua o Manatu meaning "precious reminder from the throat of the reclining giant, Te Koroka". He stood on a pathway where ancient Maori once trekked, searching for pounamu.</p> <p>Eight hundred years ago, Maori were the only people here – first the Waiaha tribe, then Ngati Mamoe and now Ngai Tahu. It was here that Maori first discovered the home of the pounamu giant, Te Koroka. High in the mountains, they found him resting with a seam of pounamu tumbling from his gaping mouth. The giant became famed throughout the whole country for his pounamu, treasured equally for its utility and its pearly allure.</p> <p>Trade, economy and culture were built around this precious resource. Then with the arrival of Europeans some 200 years ago, Maori lost their connection to Te Koroka. When the first European explorers encountered these shores, they too heard tales of the celebrated source of pounamu at the head of Lake Whakatipu-wai-maori (Lake Wakatipu.)</p> <p>Preserved in memory, song and oral tradition, the exact location was unclear until the pounamu taonga (treasure) was rediscovered on Pekerakitahi (Mt Earnslaw) in 1970. This sacred pristine source of pounamu is now fiercely protected by the Ngai Tahu tribe as the tangata whenua (people of the land), and the state. He is a lasting remnant of ages past, one that evokes the spirits of the ancestors, the first people to travel these ancient pounamu trails.</p> <p>The throb of the Hamilton jet engines in the distance disturbed my contemplation and brought me tumbling back to the present. We were about to set off on an expedition up the Te Awa Whakatipu (the Dart River), in Te Wahipounamu, a Unesco World Heritage Area. The day ahead would be richer armed with my knowledge of Te Koroka and Te Matua o Manatu.</p> <p style="text-align: center;">  <img class="photoborder" src="https://resources.stuff.co.nz/content/dam/images/1/9/j/n/s/u/image.related.StuffLandscapeSixteenByNine.620x349.19jhxq.png/1454620665260.jpg" alt="Take a jet boat ride to the heart of the Mount Aspiring National Park." /></p> <p align="center"><em>Take a jet boat ride to the heart of the Mount Aspiring National Park. Image credit: Ngai Tahu Tourism</em></p> <p>After a quiet start to the day, the high-octane exhilaration of the jetboat ride set my heart pounding and pulse racing. I sat on the edge of my seat, enthralled as our jetboat driver Daniel took us ever deeper into the Aspiring National Park and the southern reaches of the Main Divide, weaving our way up strands of the braided river at the foot of tall mountains named after Greek gods - Pluto, Nox, Amphion, Chaos, Poseidon.</p> <p>The beautiful silvery face of Pekerakitahi was wet with tears of melting snow. My eyes searched the mountain and clear waters of the Dart, hoping for a glimpse of pounamu. I convinced myself I could see the elusive green stone.</p> <p>I was high on negative ions, intoxicated with the sweet taste of the air, the shock of the ice-cold spray whenever Daniel performed one of his heart-stopping 360s, the dazzling turquoise waters of the Rockburn Chasm where a giant's sword had sliced a deep gash in the side of a mountain, and the throaty roar of the twin Hamilton jet engines.</p> <p>Encircled by craggy peaks with gleaming glaciers and wispy waterfalls, I wanted to speed onwards to the head waters of the Dart but after 90 minutes of pure adrenalin, we were off-loaded on the side of the river with our Ultimate Nature Experience guide Pam. As the boats thundered away, disappearing in a plume of spray, I was momentarily stunned by the sudden silence and abrupt change of pace.</p> <p align="center"><img class="photoborder" src="https://resources.stuff.co.nz/content/dam/images/1/9/j/m/0/d/image.related.StuffLandscapeSixteenByNine.620x349.19jhxq.png/1454620665260.jpg" alt="Take a Dart River Funyak through the Rockburn Chasm." /></p> <p style="text-align: center;" align="center"><em>Take a Dart River Funyak through the Rockburn Chasm. Image credit: Ngai Tahu Tourism</em></p> <p>We followed Pam up a shingle bank and entered another world, a forest wilderness with no tracks or signposts. The bright sunlight, towering mountains and silver river were replaced by the tall, gaunt trees and diffuse, mottled light of the beech forest where the only sounds were bird calls, gurgling streams, and the muted footfall of boots on the spongy leaf-litter carpet. </p> <p>Pam knew the forest like the back of her hand, retracing the steps of early saw millers and prospectors. She led us along the route of a tramway built in the 1920s to transport logs out of the forest for the construction of bridges, buildings and car and bus bodies. A wheel and some rusty kerosene tins were all that remained of what was once a busy thoroughfare.</p> <p>We also came across the debris of a gelignite explosion where a hopeful prospector had blasted away a cliff face in the 1950s in hope of finding tungsten, the metallic element of scheelite, an ore in demand during both World Wars and the Korean War for its metal-hardening properties. His identity is a well-kept secret because there are family members still living at Glenorchy, Pam said.</p> <p>Our lunch venue was sublime. Sitting on a log in the warm winter sunshine, munching hearty sandwiches by the remote Sylvan Lake in the company of cheeky South Island robins as far superior to any fancy gourmet cafe.</p> <p align="center"><img class="photoborder" src="https://resources.stuff.co.nz/content/dam/images/1/9/j/m/0/e/image.related.StuffLandscapeSixteenByNine.620x349.19jhxq.png/1454620665260.jpg" alt="A South Island robin stops by our lunch spot at Lake Sylvan." /></p> <p align="center"><em>A South Island robin stops by our lunch spot at Lake Sylvan. Image credit: Ngai Tahu Tourism</em></p> <p>It was a day of extreme contrasts – the mauri pounamu touchstone grounded me in history. Daniel and his twin Hamiltons administered a hefty shot of adrenalin while the majestic glacier-gouged mountains enthralled me. The peace and solitude of the beech forest soothed me and the simple picnic lunch beside a pristine alpine lake delighted me.</p> <p>Late afternoon, Pam drove us back along the magnificent 46km lakeside road to Queenstown, rated one of the top ten scenic drives in the world by Conde Naste and Lonely Planet.</p> <p>The mountains were under a cloud shroud when we drove to Glenorchy early in the morning but they were dazzlingly clear on our return trip. Tourists on the road that day got a bonus – there were two of everything, mountains upright in their usual position and upside down in the looking-glass lake. It made my Kiwi heart soar with pride.</p> <p align="center"><img class="photoborder" src="https://resources.stuff.co.nz/content/dam/images/1/9/j/m/0/f/image.related.StuffLandscapeSixteenByNine.620x349.19jhxq.png/1454620665260.jpg" alt="Sunshine peaks through as we make our way along an avenue of native red beech trees." /></p> <p align="center"><em>Sunshine peaks through as we make our way along an avenue of native red beech trees. Image credit: Justine Tyerman</em></p> <p><strong>Fact box:</strong></p> <p><em>Getting there: Air New Zealand</em></p> <p><em>Staying there: <span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong><a rel="noopener" href="http://www.crowneplazaqueenstown.co.nz/" target="_blank">crowneplazaqueenstown</a></strong></span></em></p> <p><em>* Dart River Jet, the only operator on the Dart River, and Guided Walks New Zealand, the only company permitted access to the Ultimate Nature Experience wilderness area, are both owned by Ngai Tahu Tourism. </em></p> <p><em>* The Ultimate Nature Experience is a flexible 4 to 7km easy to moderate hike on unformed trails. Transport departs from Queenstown at 8am with pick-ups from all Queenstown accommodation.</em></p> <p><em>Justine Tyerman was a guest of Ngai Tahu Tourism. </em></p> <p><em>Written by Justine Tyerman. Republished with permission of <a rel="noopener" href="https://www.stuff.co.nz/" target="_blank"><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong>Stuff.co.nz</strong></span>.</a></em></p>

Domestic Travel

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Australia hit by cold snap: "Coldest temps for two years"

<p>Weather forecasters have warned a “barrage” of cold fronts sweeping across south eastern Australia could bring the coldest weather for two years.</p> <p>Heavy rainfall, freezing temperatures and gale-force winds are expected in parts of Victoria, South Australia, Tasmania and NSW heading into the weekend.</p> <p>Weatherzone meteorologist Ben Domensino says a low pressure system off the east of Tasmania threatens to blast a wave of polar air across NSW over the weekend.</p> <p>“This system may cause parts of central NSW to have their coldest day in a couple of years,” he told Nine News.</p> <p>“For example, Orange may only reach about four degrees on Sunday, which would be its lowest maximum temperature since 3.1 degrees on June 25th, 2016.”</p> <p>Sydney is likely to see its coldest day since last winter, with temperatures predicted to dip to lows of 8 degrees by Sunday.</p> <p>Sky News Weather meteorologist Tristan Meyers said the biting winds predicted for the weekend will make it seem much colder that the temperature suggests.</p> <p>“Ahead of the cold front in Victoria we’ll see very gusty northerly winds including over Port Phillip Bay (Melbourne) including gusts potentially as high as 70km/h and behind it the westerlies will feel very cold,” Mr Meyers said.</p> <p>“The wind chill is a considerable thing to consider so even though there will be maximum temperatures of around 15C (in Adelaide, it will be colder in Hobart and Melbourne) it will feel much colder, maybe about 10C.”</p> <p>Temperatures in Melbourne are expected to plummet to lows of 7 degrees for the rest of the week.</p> <p>Adelaide will also likely experience similar icy conditions until Sunday, with lows of 7 and highs of 16, as well as a spate of showers.</p> <p>Mr Meyers said the snow line could drop to 1200m or lower with big falls from Friday onwards. The ski fields, such as Thredbo and Perisher, could see temps as low as -6C on the weekend and snow falls of 20-50mm for four days in a row.</p> <p>“There is going to be snowfall and it’s going to be heavy, potentially as much as a metre,” he said.</p> <p>“It’s getting cold enough (for the snow) to spread into NSW and maybe even the Central Tablelands could get snow on Sunday morning. It’s going to be a very cold weekend ahead.”</p>

Domestic Travel

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For sale: Olympic swimmer Samantha Riley's million-dollar Gold Coast mansion

<p><span>Swimming star Samantha Riley is taking her Gold Coast family home in Queenland to auction next month, for the second time this year.</span></p> <p><span>Her Burleigh Waters property also went to auction at the start of the year but failed to sell.</span></p> <p><span>Samantha and her husband, Tim Fydler, purchased the home for $1.25 million in 2006.</span></p> <p><span>“Sam and I have three boys and it’s been a great family house, we wanted a big block close to Burleigh beach,” said Tim.</span></p> <p><span>“We can ride the bikes to the beach or for a coffee, and there’s space for the kids to be outside and also on the water.”</span></p> <p><span>Since owning the home, the couple had made various changes, such as adding in a gym, a designer kitchen, a butler's pantry, solar panels and a BBQ area.</span></p> <p><span>The home also has white polished timber floors, a feature fireplace and a tropical fish tank.</span></p> <p><span>The waterfront alfresco wraps around the house and features an outdoor kitchen and a pizza oven. The backyard also features a pool perfect for a swimming champion.</span></p> <p><span>“It’s now a real entertainer, we’ve had everyone around to enjoy the space and the waterfront, with the boat running around out the back for the kids,” said Tim.</span></p> <p><span>In the meantime, the family are planning to downsize and move close to the beach.</span></p> <p><span>“When you clean the house up and get it ready for sale, it really makes you think, ‘Why are we selling?’,” said Tim.</span></p> <p><span>“We’ve been happy in that house for a long time, but we’re looking forward to the next part of our lives.</span></p> <p><span> Scroll through the gallery above to see inside the stunning property. </span></p>

Domestic Travel

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Why Australia’s deadly animals don’t scare away tourists

<p><em><strong>Bruce Prideaux, Professor of Tourism &amp; Director, Centre for Tourism and Regional Opportunities, CQUniversity Australia, explains why Austrlaia’s deadly animals don’t scare away tourists.</strong></em></p> <p>Part of the allure of visiting Australia is its unique animals. Cuddly koalas, inquisitive kangaroos and colourful birds are often featured in international promotions.</p> <p>However, not all Australian animals are as friendly as <span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong><a href="http://www.buzzfeed.com/simoncrerar/pictures-that-prove-australia-is-the-craziest#.yrj4AvwV9j" target="_blank">kangaroos and koalas</a></strong></span>. Snakes, sharks, spiders, poisonous fish, marine stingers and crocodiles can cause serious injury or death.</p> <p>Tourism is Australia’s largest service sector export industry, accounting for nearly 10% of total export earnings. The industry directly employs over 500,000 people.</p> <p>Keeping tourists safe is important if the industry is to continue to thrive. So do Australia’s deadly animals deter visitors?</p> <p>At a national level the presence of deadly animals does not appear to affect the capacity of the country to attract international tourists. After a long period of low growth, which had more to do with the high value of the Australian dollar than deadly wildlife, international arrivals are again on the rise.</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong><a href="http://www.tourism.australia.com/statistics/arrivals.aspx" target="_blank">Recent figures</a></strong></span> from Tourism Australia show that in the last 12 months international arrivals increased by 7% to reach 6.7 million. Spending rose by 13% to A$34.8 billion.</p> <p><strong>Keeping tourists safe</strong></p> <p>The results of <span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong><a href="http://dx.doi.org/10.1108/S1745-354220150000011004" target="_blank">just published research</a></strong></span> into swimming in the sea in Cairns give some insights into the concerns tourists have about deadly animals.</p> <p>The majority of respondents were worried about dangerous marine animals, with 80% nominating crocodiles as posing the greatest danger to swimmers, closely followed by marine stingers. Concerns about sharks and stingrays were also high.</p> <p>The results of the research confirmed that tourists are at least somewhat aware that they may encounter deadly animals in some areas of Australia. The vast majority of respondents (82%) reported they were aware that marine stingers might be encountered during their trip to Cairns.</p> <p>However, the presence of dangerous animals did not deter people from swimming: 60% of domestic visitors and 83% of international reported going swimming. However, respondents did report taking precautions. Most (81%) chose to swim in beach enclosures and over half reported wearing a stinger-proof swimsuit while swimming.</p> <p>Not all respondents particularly liked stinger-proof suits. One respondent reported that it was like wearing a full-body condom.</p> <p>Apart from educating tourists about the potential to encounter deadly animals there is also a need to protect them.</p> <p>In northern Queensland, as in other parts of the country, coastal communities have developed a range of strategies to protect tourists and members of the local community. Strategies generally include education, lifeguard patrols, warning signs and the installation of stinger-resistant swimming enclosures.</p> <p>Measures of this nature are effective only if tourists, and locals, restrict their swimming activities to protected areas. The evidence from this research indicates that most tourists have recognised the dangers and do swim in protective enclosures.</p> <p><strong>What about the locals?</strong></p> <p>Elsewhere in Australia, the main threats are posed by sharks, crocodiles and, to a lesser extent, snakes.</p> <p>In a recent article on shark attacks in Australia over the period 2002 to June 2014, <span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong><a href="http://www.australiangeographic.com.au/topics/science-environment/2015/07/shark-attacks-in-australia-a-timeline/" target="_blank">Australian Geographic</a></strong></span> reported that there had been 22 fatal attacks. Almost all victims were Australian residents.</p> <p>Over the same period 13 fatalities were attributed to <span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong><a href="http://www.crocodile-attack.info/data/explore" target="_blank">saltwater crocodiles</a></strong></span>. Deaths from marine stingers were much lower with only <span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong><a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jellyfish_stings_in_Australia" target="_blank">four recorded fatalities</a></strong></span>.</p> <p>Crocodile attacks are relatively rate. However, because the coastal rivers and beaches of northern Australia that tourists find so enticing may also overlap with salt water crocodile habits, caution is required.</p> <p>Protecting tourists and locals against shark and crocodile attacks is more difficult than against stingers. Once again education is a key element and based on the evidence of the low overall number of attacks each year appears to have been effective in keeping tourists, and locals, safe.</p> <p>While many tourists are concerned about dangerous animals it does not deter them from visiting Australia. The message for the nation’s tourism industry is that it is important to tell tourist that there are dangerous animals and assure them that strategies have been put into place to protect them. It is also important to tell tourists that they need to adopt sensible precautions such as wearing stinger-proof swimsuits and swimming in areas that are protected.</p> <p>From a destination perspective it is important to ensure that funding is sufficient to maintain protective infrastructure such as stinger nets, warning signs and consumer education programs.</p> <p>It is also important to ensure that emergency services are adequately funded and that staff are trained to assist tourists who may not understand English.</p> <p>Do you agree with this piece?</p> <p><em>Written by Bruce Prideaux. Republished with permission of <a href="http://www.theconversation.com" target="_blank"><strong><span style="text-decoration: underline;">The Conversation</span></strong></a>.</em><img width="1" height="1" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/51029/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-advanced" alt="The Conversation"/></p>

Domestic Travel

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Men in high heels: Tramping The Remarkables

<p><em><strong>Justine Tyerman is an award-winning travel writer from Gisborne, New Zealand. </strong></em></p> <p>My husband has never worn high heels before. He's always been extremely scathing about such silly footwear but on this occasion he thought they were practical and even enhanced his performance. Besides, the other two burly men in our party had donned high heels too so he would have felt left out without them. </p> <p>We were hiking uphill with snowshoes strapped to our tramping boots. Our feet were at a 90-degree angle to the slope thanks to a clever device which lifted the heels of our boots off the frame to the height of a reasonable stiletto.</p> <p>However, there was no mincing or prancing along in these high heels – the technique required a firm, deliberate stride engaging the rows of metal spikes on the soles into the hard-packed snow on the Remarkables. </p> <p><img style="display: block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;" class="photoborder" src="https://resources.stuff.co.nz/content/dam/images/1/8/4/d/z/b/image.related.StuffLandscapeSixteenByNine.620x349.183tm8.png/1447969994454.jpg" alt="Lunch was simple but delicious." width="600" height="NaN" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;" align="center"><em>Lunch was simple but delicious. Image credit: Nigel Kerr</em></p> <p>The snowshoes were lightweight, high-tech models, much more streamlined than the cumbersome ones we had experimented with in Europe earlier in the year.</p> <p>The spikes ensured there was no slippage and with the addition of two height-adjustable walking poles, I felt entirely secure even negotiating quite steep slopes. A quick flick of the cleat engaged the high heel and saved our leg muscles.</p> <p>"Your calves will thank you for it later," said our guide, Shaun, who was practically sprinting up the slope despite carrying a full pack with lunch and snacks for our party of five,  along with a spade and other emergency equipment.Once into the rhythm of the snowshoes, which took all of 20 seconds to master, I forgot about them. It was just like ordinary hiking but with a footprint the size of Sasquatch. </p> <p align="center"><img class="photoborder" src="https://resources.stuff.co.nz/content/dam/images/1/8/4/d/z/f/image.related.StuffLandscapeSixteenByNine.620x349.183tm8.png/1447969994454.jpg" alt="The secret snow cave where groups take shelter when the weather turns nasty." /></p> <p style="text-align: center;" align="center"><em>The secret snow cave where groups take shelter when the weather turns nasty. Image credit: Nigel Kerr</em></p> <p>With every step the sound of the chairlifts, skiers and snowboarders faded and the grandeur of the mountainscape and the Wakatipu Basin unfolded. In a region where even superlatives fall woefully short, it's one of the most awe-inspiring of panoramas.</p> <p>Once we reached the remote, high-altitude Lake Alta cirque, the silence was sublime. The dead flat, smooth surface of the snow was the only indication there was a lake there at all. Shaun got out his spade and dug down through half a metre of snow to prove it . . . and to reassure us the ice was safe to walk on. With visions of cracking ice and plunging into frozen water, I had a strong urge to skirt around the lake edge but Shaun was one of those veteran outdoor Kiwi blokes who inspired total confidence. Still, I felt like a brave intrepid explorer setting off after him into the white wilderness. I expected to see wolves appear at any minute from behind the rocks.</p> <p>Our lunch spot was a rocky promontory just below the jagged jet black sawteeth of the Remarkables range, the reverse side of the iconic view you can see from Queenstown.</p> <p style="text-align: center;" align="center"><img class="photoborder" src="https://resources.stuff.co.nz/content/dam/images/1/8/4/d/z/k/image.related.StuffLandscapeSixteenByNine.620x349.183tm8.png/1447969994454.jpg" alt="'High heels' engaged, heading straight uphill on the Remarkables." /></p> <p style="text-align: center;" align="center"><em>'High heels' engaged, heading straight uphill on the Remarkables. Image credit: Nigel Kerr</em></p> <p>Bathed in winter sunshine, we looked down on our tracks across the frozen teardrop lake as we munched on huge wedges of pumpkin bread sandwiches stuffed with chicken, brie, salad and relish. Simple fare but delicious.The only sounds were the whoops of exhilaration from an occasional extreme skier or snowboarder plummeting down the narrow chutes above us. And the squawks of the kea, the cheeky mountain parrot with its lethal hooked beak and vivid red plumage on the underside of the wings. </p> <p>One of our Aussie companions was a bright spark marketing man. As we chatted over lunch, he decided snowshoeing was a clumsy term so he came up with sniking - snow hiking – with a nod to Nike as a company that might like to rebrand the sport. My contribution was shnoeing. Not quite as marketable.</p> <p align="center"><img class="photoborder" src="https://resources.stuff.co.nz/content/dam/images/1/8/4/d/z/e/image.related.StuffLandscapeSixteenByNine.620x349.183tm8.png/1447969994454.jpg" alt="The view from a lookout on the Remarkables." /></p> <p style="text-align: center;" align="center"><em>The view from a lookout on the Remarkables. Image credit: Nigel Kerr</em></p> <p>On the way down the mountain, we visited a secret snow cave where groups take shelter when the weather turns nasty or have lunch if it's too cold outside. Dug out under a huge jutting rock, it would hold eight to 10 people in cosy comfort. </p> <p>Shaun tailors the degree of difficulty of the expedition to suit the fitness of the group with some overseas visitors opting for a short play around in the snow and a photo opportunity and others climbing as far as the South Wye Saddle at 1950 metres.</p> <p>Ours was a serious workout. We covered about 6-8km with a climb of 300-400m  reaching an elevation of 1900m at the Grand Couloir, a gully between Double and Single Cone, the latter being the highest point on the Remarkables Range at 2319m.</p> <p>The snowshoe concept appealed to the greenie in me. In a tourist town famous for its expensive, high-octane adventures, it's the ultimate accessible low-risk activity. Apart from the 35-minute van trip from Queenstown, there is no artificial means of propulsion. And you don't have to be a finely-tuned athlete or even particularly well co-ordinated to master the technique. The prerequisites are two functioning legs with feet attached, mild to moderate fitness depending on the steepness of the gradient you opt for, and the taste for a gentle, scenic adventure in the Great Outdoors.</p> <p><em>Justine Tyerman was a guest of Ngai Tahu Tourism who own NZ Snowshoe. <span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong><a rel="noopener" href="http://www.ngaitahutourism.co.nz/" target="_blank">www.ngaitahutourism.co.nz</a></strong></span>; <span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong><a rel="noopener" href="http://www.snowshoeing.co.nz/" target="_blank">www.snowshoeing.co.nz</a></strong></span></em></p> <p><em>The writer flew Air NZ from Auckland to Queenstown return. <span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong><a rel="noopener" href="http://www.airnewzealand.co.nz/" target="_blank">www.airnewzealand.co.nz</a></strong></span>  and stayed at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Queenstown <span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong><a rel="noopener" href="http://www.crowneplazaqueenstown.co.nz/" target="_blank">www.crowneplazaqueenstown.co.nz</a></strong></span></em></p> <p><em>Written by Justine Tyerman. Republished with permission of <a rel="noopener" href="http://www.stuff.co.nz/" target="_blank"><strong><span style="text-decoration: underline;">Stuff.co.nz.</span></strong></a></em></p>

Domestic Travel

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Brace yourself: Snow, hail and storms are coming

<p><span>On Thursday, winter will officially be here, and Australia is embracing the season change with below-average temperatures across the south of the country.</span></p> <p><span>Hobart will face a chilly 12C on Thursday while Melbourne will peak at 14C on the same day.</span></p> <p><span>Forecasters predict snow to fall on high ground in Tasmania and, Victoria and NSW will face thunderstorms. It may even hail in Adelaide.</span></p> <p><span>On the other side of Australia, the cities will experience relatively warm weather with Perth hitting temperatures in the low-20s throughout the week.</span></p> <p><span>As the week progresses, a low-pressure system will travel across the Great Australian Bight into South Australia, Victoria and Tasmania.</span></p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet"> <p dir="ltr">A series of cold fronts will bring showers across southern Australia over the coming days. Showers also for the east coast due to onshore winds. Snowfalls for TAS, VIC and NSW on Tue &amp; Wed. Watch out for warnings. <a href="https://t.co/Wht32WMxqY">https://t.co/Wht32WMxqY</a> <a href="https://t.co/UR3wmxJHyC">pic.twitter.com/UR3wmxJHyC</a></p> — Bureau of Meteorology, Australia (@BOM_au) <a href="https://twitter.com/BOM_au/status/1000571144607621121?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">May 27, 2018</a></blockquote> <p style="text-align: center;"><span> </span></p> <p><span>“A series of cold fronts will bring showers across southern Australia over the coming days. Showers also for the east coast due to onshore winds. Snowfalls for TAS, VIC and NSW on Tue &amp; Wed. Watch out for warnings,” the Bureau of Meteorology Australia tweeted.</span></p> <p><span>Two cold fronts connected with the system will bring rain and chilly temperatures into Australia’s southeast.</span></p> <p><span>Despite the cooler temperatures this week in the south, Bureau of Meteorology climatologist Dr Linden Ashcroft said there are no major climate drivers affecting the season.</span></p> <p><span>“Conditions remain neutral across both the Indian and Pacific oceans. The Indian Ocean Dipole is inactive and there are no El Nino or La Nina patterns present," she said. </span></p> <p><span>“This lack of large-scale climate drivers means our winter is likely to be more influenced by local effects.</span></p> <p><span>“It also means for much of the country there is an equal chance of a drier or wetter winter apart from southwestern Western Australia where a drier season is likely,” Dr Ashcroft said.</span></p> <p><span>This winter, the south of Australia is expected to experience warmer than average temperatures while minimum temperatures may be cooler in Queensland.</span></p> <p><strong>When it will be coolest in your city this week</strong></p> <p><strong>Hobart</strong></p> <p><span>Hobart will experience temperatures that are usual for mid-July with Thursday dipping to just 12C.</span></p> <p><strong>Melbourne</strong></p> <p><span>Melbourne is expected to be hit with scattered showers this week and on Wednesday night there will be a low of 8C. On Thursday and Friday, the forecast is 14C.</span></p> <p><strong>Adelaide</strong></p> <p><span>On Wednesday, the temperature will sink to a low of 9C. Rain and possible hail is expected to fall this evening.</span></p> <p><strong>Perth</strong></p> <p><span>This week, temperatures will fluctuate around 19-23C. A possible storm is forecast on Thursday and on Friday, overnight temperatures will sink to 6C.</span></p> <p>MREC-TAG-HERE</p> <p><strong>Darwin</strong></p> <p><span>Overnight lows this week will hit around 21C.</span></p> <p><strong>Brisbane</strong></p> <p><span>By the end of the week it will be sunny, however, nights will get cooler hitting an overnight low of 8C on Friday.</span></p> <p><strong>Sydney</strong></p> <p><span>The end of the week will see the coolest nights in Sydney with overnight lows of 9C.</span></p> <p><strong>Canberra</strong></p> <p><span>The coolest day in Canberra will be on Thursday and Friday with a high of 13C. </span></p>

Domestic Travel

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Why Melbourne Airport is going to be as busy as Heathrow soon

<p><em><strong>Ian Woodcock is a Lecturer at the School of Global, Urban &amp; Social Studies, RMIT University.</strong></em></p> <p>Public discussion of rail links to airports has been narrowly focused on the idea of a single line and <span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong><a href="https://www.theage.com.au/politics/victoria/what-s-my-line-route-dispute-could-delay-airport-rail-by-five-years-20180412-p4z99u.html">where to run it</a></strong></span>. In Melbourne, the politics of this debate has so far prevented a railway from being built, because it is not possible for one line to meet all of the landside access needs of the airport. The issue of rail access for a new western Sydney airport has also not been resolved.</p> <p>If we want anything to happen at all, we must move beyond barracking for one or other route. We have to recognise the need for multiple lines to serve everyone’s needs.</p> <p>If we look further afield, of the world’s top 20 airports, 16 have rail access, 14 have integrated metros (i.e. part of the commuter rail network) and four have dedicated express lines as well as integrated metro lines (<span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong><a href="https://www.heathrow.com/transport-and-directions">London Heathrow</a></strong></span>, <span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong><a href="http://www.haneda-tokyo-access.com/en/transport/">Tokyo Haneda</a></strong></span>, <span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong><a href="https://www.shanghai-airport.com/transport.php">Shanghai Pudong</a></strong></span> and <span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong><a href="https://www.bangkokairportonline.com/public-transport-services-at-suvarnabhumi-airport/">Bangkok Suvarnabhumi</a></strong></span>).</p> <p>In terms of passenger demand, Shanghai Pudong and Bangkok Suvarnabhumi <span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong><a href="http://www.ttf.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/TTF-Rapid-Buses-Road-Rail-Melbourne-Airport-2013.pdf">were comparable in 2012</a></strong></span> with <span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong><a href="https://www.melbourneairport.com.au/Corporate/Planning-projects/Master-plan">where Melbourne will be in 2019</a></strong></span>. London and Bangkok have populations of around 8 million, have other airports and have much greater numbers of passengers transferring within them than Melbourne Airport, but the most salient comparison is the means of landslide access.</p> <p>We’ll look more closely at Heathrow, one of the more comparable airports to Melbourne, later in this article.</p> <p><strong>The political divide on a rail link</strong></p> <p>The history of planning for a Melbourne Airport rail link has been dogged by party-political differences focused on the idea of a single railway and the question of its route out to Tullamarine. Traditionally, the Coalition parties have favoured the express proposals, while the Labor Party has preferred alignments that benefit local commuters.</p> <p>This difference and the impossibility of resolving it with a single line would be one of the reasons we have so far not gone to the bother of actually building anything. It has also distracted attention from more incremental ways to improve landside access to the airport beyond the <span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong><a href="https://www.skybus.com.au/">SkyBus</a></strong></span>. Its market is similar to the main targets of the express route proponents.</p> <p>The most recent express proposal is the <span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong><a href="http://www.railfutures.org.au/2018/04/rfi-media-release-on-federal-governments-melbourne-airport-commitment/">AirTrain</a></strong></span> by the highly respected <span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong><a href="http://www.railfutures.org.au/2017/05/airtrain-the-airport-train-melbourne-needs/">Rail Futures Institute</a></strong></span> (RFI). It’s part of a bold plan to separate Victorian regional services from the metropolitan commuter network. This would eventually provide statewide fast rail services, including a 15-minute ride between the airport and Southern Cross Station in the city centre.</p> <p>The benefits of and urgent need for RFI’s AirTrain proposal are clear. But it still won’t solve all of Melbourne Airport’s landside access demands, nor will it have the city-shaping potential in the northwest region between Tullamarine and the CBD that’s driving the ideas for an airport metro service.</p> <p>Prime Minister Malcom Turnbull’s <span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong><a href="https://www.theage.com.au/politics/victoria/malcolm-turnbull-pledges-5b-for-melbourne-airport-rail-link-20180411-p4z93a.html">embrace</a></strong></span> of these ideas is a welcome change from his side of politics, as is Premier Daniel Andrews’ <span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong><a href="http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-11-23/melbourne-airport-rail-link-could-be-well-underway-by-2026/9182036">apparent support</a></strong></span> for RFI’s proposal. These are amusing reversals of political positions on airport access, but the community should not be swayed by the potential for wedging.</p> <p><strong>We can learn from Heathrow</strong></p> <p>To understand our predicament of airport access, comparisons with London’s Heathrow are useful. Many Australians know this airport and its landside access demands are far more similar to those of Melbourne Airport than may be imagined.</p> <p>The Piccadilly Tube line was extended to Heathrow in 1977. That was a decade before it was serving over <span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong><a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heathrow_Airport#Flight_movements">30 million passengers</a></strong></span> comparable to what Melbourne airport was <span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong><a href="https://www.melbourneairport.com.au/Corporate/Planning-projects/Master-plan">serving in 2013</a></strong></span>.</p> <p>In 1998, Heathrow added a 15-minute express rail line to Paddington Station, when its landside access needs were about <span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong><a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heathrow_Airport#Flight_movements">40 million</a></strong></span>. That’s the demand Melbourne Airport is projected to hit in <span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong><a href="https://www.melbourneairport.com.au/Corporate/Planning-projects/Master-plan">2019</a></strong></span>. When London’s <span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong><a href="http://www.crossrail.co.uk/">Elizabeth line</a></strong></span> (formerly CrossRail) opens next year, it will connect Heathrow to a major east-west line similar to the <span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong><a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Melbourne_Metro_Rail_Project">Melbourne Metro</a></strong></span>.</p> <p>In 2028, Melbourne Airport is <span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong><a href="https://www.melbourneairport.com.au/Corporate/Planning-projects/Master-plan">projected</a></strong></span> to hit the same level of landside access demand as Heathrow experienced in 2017. Currently, 40% of passengers using Heathrow do so via public transport – 27% via rail, 13% via bus or coach. And 35% of airport staff use public transport, and this is rising.</p> <p>Heathrow has 13 public bus lines, 27 coach services and three railway services - the stopping-all-stations commuter service on the Piccadilly line and two levels of express service at premium ticket prices on regional railways (which will be subsumed by CrossRail).</p> <p>By comparison, even though it is one of the world’s busiest, Melbourne Airport has a mere four public buses, some regional coaches and private express bus services. As a result, 86% of access is by car, including 17% by taxi or limo. SkyBus would take the lion’s share of the 14% bus/coach access.</p> <p><strong>What do these comparisons tell us?</strong></p> <p>These comparisons show how much more can be done to improve public transport access to Melbourne Airport, in the short, medium and long term. <span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong><a href="https://www.theage.com.au/national/victoria/melbourne-needs-two-new-rail-tunnels-by-2035-council-says-20180419-p4zalf.html">Melbourne Airport needs express as well as commuter rail access</a></strong></span>, but it needs <span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong><a href="https://participate.melbourne.vic.gov.au/application/files/1915/2412/4069/Transport_Strategy_Public_Transport_Background_Paper.pdf">more than this</a></strong></span>.</p> <p>A wider spread of frequent public buses would be easy to implement. Extending the 59 tram service by 7km from Airport West would also be relatively quick and easy. Light rail lines to the airport from La Trobe University and Deer Park would provide much-needed connections to the main commuter rail system in parts of the metropolitan area where public transport is far worse than average.</p> <p>A genuine commuter metro to the airport would not try to be an express. It would have stations that connect the major and emerging employment centres, such as Airport West, Essendon Fields, Niddrie, Highpoint, Footscray Hospital and Victoria University, and heavy rail stations at Arden and North Melbourne, before connecting with Southern Cross and then Bourke Street, Parliament Station and on to those eastern suburbs where metro services have long been planned.</p> <p>Such a line would help with the redevelopment of <span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong><a href="https://www.minister.defence.gov.au/minister/marise-payne/media-releases/defence-site-maribyrnong-sale-process-commences">Commonwealth land in Maribyrnong</a></strong></span>. In fact, without it, redevelopment would not be viable.</p> <p>The politics of airport access need to be shifted away from focusing on whether one rail route is better than another to the need for a <span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong><a href="https://participate.melbourne.vic.gov.au/transportstrategy/public-transport-network">comprehensive transport plan</a></strong></span> integrated with land use that shows how we can shape our city and our state for a better future.</p> <p>What are your thoughts?</p> <p><em>Written by Ian Woodcock. Republished with permission of <a href="http://www.theconversation.com" target="_blank"><strong><span style="text-decoration: underline;">The Conversation</span></strong></a>.<img width="1" height="1" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/95289/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-advanced" alt="The Conversation"/></em></p>

Domestic Travel

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Why national parks need visitors to survive

<p><em><strong>Susan Moore, Associate Professor, Murdoch University, explains why national parks need visitors to survive.</strong></em></p> <p>Despite what many commentators on The Conversation <span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong><a href="https://theconversation.com/our-national-parks-must-be-more-than-playgrounds-or-paddocks-14389" target="_blank">have said</a></strong></span>, conserving biodiversity in our national parks isn’t the way to save them. Parks need visitors to get vital community and political support.</p> <p>Parks, like every other institution on this planet, are a social construction. Those reserved in the 19th century reflect the values of those times - health and pleasure for humans. In recent decades, social values have led to a strong focus instead on conserving biodiversity.</p> <p>New moves to include grazing, logging and recreational shooting are a reflection of current efforts of some groups to re-construct the purpose of parks.</p> <p>If park managers and other advocates don’t like these moves to change national parks into resource extraction reserves, they have to enlist the support of visitors.</p> <p><strong>Parks need people</strong></p> <p>Conserving biodiversity isn’t enough. It is time for a renewed focus on visitors and their needs. Appreciating the full gamut of park opportunities is essential.</p> <p>We need people in parks, because people vote and parks don’t. Parks are a public institution, like hospitals, schools and prisons, and they rely on public interest and support for funding.</p> <p>Strong advocacy from park visitors for environmentally friendly experiences, like wildlife viewing, photography, hiking, swimming, canoeing and camping, can counter-balance pressures for environmentally destructive activities such as hunting and grazing.</p> <p>People visiting national parks can have extraordinary experiences, through witnessing beautiful scenery and connecting with nature, escaping the urban environment, and reconnecting with family and friends. Promoting these experiences is essential for the political and financial support of parks.</p> <p>Park visitors also matter economically. Tourism accounts for about 10% of GDP internationally. Wildlife viewing and outdoor recreation (both largely centered on protected areas) are <span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong><a href="http://www.plosbiology.org/article/info:doi/10.1371/journal.pbio.1000144" target="_blank">two of the fastest growing sectors</a></strong></span>. In Australia, the nature-based tourism sector contributes an <span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong><a href="http://www.environment.gov.au/parks/publications/landscapes/sustainable-tourism.html" target="_blank">estimated $23 billion</a></strong></span> to the economy each year.</p> <p>But visitor numbers to landmark national parks <span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong><a href="http://www.abc.net.au/news/2012-01-07/tourist-numbers-decline-at-uluru-kakadu/3762172" target="_blank">such as Uluru</a></strong></span> are currently declining. Recent data from Australia, Canada, the United States and Japan shows <span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong><a href="http://www.plosbiology.org/article/info:doi/10.1371/journal.pbio.1000144" target="_blank">visitor numbers to parks are static or declining on a per capita basis</a></strong></span>.</p> <p>One potential reason for this decline could be growing competition from electronic media and other more accessible home- and community-based recreation options. Some people find it hard (or think it’s going to be hard) to get to national parks. Recent migrants may not know how or why to visit national parks.</p> <p>Concerns that fewer and fewer humans are experiencing nature <span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong><a href="http://www.cell.com/trends/ecology-evolution/retrieve/pii/S0169534705001643?cc=y" target="_blank">were first expressed in the 1970s</a></strong></span>. Serious related consequences include declining environmental knowledge and concern (manifested as declining support for parks), the emergence of <span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong><a href="http://richardlouv.com/" target="_blank">nature deficit disorder in children</a></strong></span>, and <span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong><a href="http://www.plosbiology.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pbio.1000144" target="_blank">increasing mental and physical health issues</a></strong></span>.</p> <p>The threat of <span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong><a href="http://works.bepress.com/betty_weiler/" target="_blank">extinction of the park visitor experience</a></strong></span> is a real possibility. This threat to parks is more insidious than stock grazing or timber removal. With this extinction potentially comes a waning in societal support for parks as we know and appreciate them today.</p> <p>Park agencies must develop creative, productive partnerships with the tourism industry to protect biodiversity while providing opportunities for visitors at the same time.</p> <p><strong>A visitor focus</strong></p> <p>By acknowledging that an alliance between parks and visitors is essential for the future of parks, programs and strategies can be put in place to entice visitors and enhance their experiences.</p> <p>Social media and technology could engage and retain the support of visitors. Apps to help locate parks, find and follow walk trails, identify birds and enter sightings on an interactive data base, or book campsites online, are all simple ways of attracting and retaining visitors.</p> <p>Enhancing visitor experiences and maintaining biodiversity conservation is a complicated balancing act. Park workers will need further skills development, especially in understanding, providing for and evaluating the visitor experience.</p> <p>Park visitors come from a very broad cross-section of society, all ages and all lines of work, both nationally and internationally. Politically, park visitors are a much larger group than are those who wish to extract resources from parks. They just need to be politically active.</p> <p>Ultimately, parks rely on societal support for survival. The solution for parks lies in ongoing interactions between those passionate about biodiversity and those with other interests to construct and re-construct the purpose of parks in the decades ahead. Visitors are a critically important part of this dialogue. They can provide an important counter-balance to more utilitarian interests, such as grazing and logging.</p> <p>Do you agree with this?</p> <p><em>Written by Susan Moore. Republished with permission of <a href="http://www.theconversation.com" target="_blank"><strong><span style="text-decoration: underline;">The Conversation</span></strong></a>.<img width="1" height="1" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/15867/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-advanced" alt="The Conversation"/></em></p>

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Why Fiordland National Park is a must-visit

<p><em><strong>Justine Tyerman is an award-winning travel writer from Gisborne, New Zealand. </strong></em></p> <p>I've always been a bit of a greenie but a recent wilderness experience in Fiordland National Park transformed me from a wishy-washy pale granny smith to a radiant evangelical emerald.</p> <p>I have tramped in many a New Zealand native forest, always appreciating the beauty and serenity of the pristine environment but oblivious to the genius of my surroundings, the intelligence of nature.</p> <p>However last month we had the benefit of a wilderness guide on the Hollyford Track whose knowledge of things green — and many other things — was encyclopaedic.</p> <p>It was a subtle change rather than a Road-to-Damascus epiphany-type moment and I only became aware of it when I next set foot in a forest and began to wax eloquent about the tiny umbrella moss that carpets the floor of the forest.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="http://static.stuff.co.nz/1433978275/363/11962363.jpg" alt="" width="500" height="NaN" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><em>Even the little umbrella moss has an important role to play. Photo: Justine Tyerman</em></p> <p>My friends of many years looked bemused as I knelt on the squidgy, damp ground and began caressing the bright green moss, talking reverently about the clever little plant whose job it is to protect the forest floor.</p> <p>They rolled their eyes and carried on hiking as I took close-up photos of my diminutive friends, remembering how I came across our Hollyford guide Graeme Scott in a similar pose, apparently worshipping small green plants at the foot of a tree in deepest Fiordland. </p> <p>This was his favourite part of the track, he said, a place where his "two best friends" reside — a pair of ferns that have adapted perfectly to their environment.</p> <p>I found myself entranced by the delicate filmy fern with its translucent fronds and the ingenious kidney fern which cups and tilts its "leaves" to channel rain water to its root system.</p> <p>Our guide's passion was so infectious, I developed a new reverence for "plant intelligence"... and so the process of my viridescence began.</p> <p>I loved Graeme's analogy of the forest being constructed like a house with all the components designed to make a comfy, safe environment for its inhabitants.</p> <p>Ancient large conifers provide the roof or canopy to protect against rain and wind erosion, beneath which are kamahi that further disperse the rain, then a layer of tree ferns, followed by shrubs like pittosporum, coprosma and ground ferns, and finally mosses which form the carpet, binding the ground together.</p> <p>These are the "furnishings of the forest". Each plant has an intelligent way of protecting the layer beneath. Even the smallest component like the little umbrella moss has a part to play.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="http://static.stuff.co.nz/1433978129/301/11962301.jpg" alt="" width="500" height="NaN" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><em>The protective layers of the native lowland temperate rain forest. Photo: Ngai Tahu Tourism</em></p> <p>When a tree falls over, fern life rushes to shelter the carpet. Everything works in synergy — maintaining balance.</p> <p>Fungi also have a special role, cleaning up dead trees, sucking the nutrients out of the limbs until they drop off. Early Maori used them as their "Little Lucifers", taking smouldering fungi in a basket from one campsite to the next.</p> <p>Later in the day I spotted a lancewood and found myself parroting on again about the juvenile and adult forms of the tree and how it had adapted to protect itself from the eating habits of the moa.</p> <p>I seemed to lack Graeme's gravitas and authority as my friends were highly sceptical at my pontifications, especially the link to a large flightless bird, extinct since the mid-1400s.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="http://static.stuff.co.nz/1433978387/384/11962384.jpg" alt="" width="500" height="NaN" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><em>Guide Graeme Scott beside an ancient rimu tree. Photo: Justine Tyerman</em></p> <p>I ploughed on, talking to myself about this fascinating tree and the way it avoided predation — in the juvenile stage, the lancewood has long thin leaves like spiked sword blades which were inedible to the moa but it changes form radically in the mature stage, growing foliage when it is tall enough to be beyond the reach of its predator. In the Chathams where there were no moa, there is no juvenile form of the lancewood. That proved the theory as far as I was concerned.</p> <p>My male friends showed a flicker of interest when I remembered something about a certain part of the lancewood having Viagra-like properties. I just couldn't recall which bit. I'll have to ask the oracle.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="http://static.stuff.co.nz/1433978590/443/11962443.jpg" alt="" width="500" height="NaN" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><em>The lancewood tree has Viagra-like properties. Photo: Ngai Tahu Tourism</em></p> <p>Anyway, somewhere deep in the Fiordland forest, the pieces all fell into place — the intelligence of nature, the interconnectedness of all living things and how man can easily destroy the delicate balance that exists between such species as the rimu and the flightless kakapo, our critically-endangered native parrot. </p> <p>The kakapo is only fertile when the rimu tree seeds which is once every three or four years, depending on the warmth of the spring. In order to thrive, the chicks need to eat a staggering number of rimu fruit per day and yet our rimu are still not fully protected. There are only 126 kakapo left. </p> <p>The matai and miro are totally dependent on the kereru or native wood pigeon to disperse the seeds of the large plum-shaped fruit. Meddle with one and you risk losing the other. I hugged the pitted trunk of a venerable 200-300 year-old matai to show my solidarity with her... or him. Such co-dependency is both enthralling and terrifying.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="http://static.stuff.co.nz/1433978748/454/11962454.jpg" alt="" width="500" height="NaN" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><em>Mt Madeline in the Darran Mountain Range. Photo: Ngai Tahu Tourism</em></p> <p>We heard about the war being waged in our forests. I knew we had a possum problem in New Zealand but was flabbergasted to hear there are 44 million of them and they consume 25 thousand tons of vegetation per day. The bushtail possum loves nothing better than to feast on the leaves of the southern rata and once a third of the foliage is gone, the tree dies.</p> <p>It was not all serious stuff though. We met some cross-dressing ferns (males that wear long brown skirts), learned how to determine the sex of rimu trees, and visited a few avian pubs, leafy establishments frequented by kereru who topple off their perches after over-indulging on the intoxicating fruit of the miro. The fruit tastes like turpentine so there were no volunteers to sample them.</p> <p>Next day, when he thought no one was looking, I saw one of my track-mates scrutinising the sharp barbs on the leaves of a lancewood with a puzzled look on his face... he walked away, shaking his head, much as the moa might have done.</p> <p>Ahh, the intelligence of nature.</p> <p><strong>Factbox:</strong> The Hollyford Track is an easy-paced, three-day/two-night all-inclusive guided wilderness experience from the mountains to the sea, along the glacier-hewn Hollyford Valley by foot, jet boat and finally helicopter to Milford Sound.</p> <p>The track is 56km long of which hikers walk 43km. The low-altitude, largely flat track begins 100km from Te Anau in beech and fern forest, descends to coastal podocarp forests and ends at the sand dunes of Martins Bay at the mouth of the valley.</p> <p>Expert guides, first-rate cuisine, comfortable private lodges, transport from Queenstown or Te Anau, day packs and rain jackets are included in the price.</p> <p>Hikers carry a light pack with clothing and lunch on their first day and thereafter an even lighter day pack to hold wet weather gear and water.</p> <p>A maximum number of 16 guests provides for a personal experience.</p> <p><em>The author was a <span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong><a rel="noopener" href="http://www.hollyfordtrack.com/" target="_blank">guest of Hollyford Track.</a></strong></span></em></p> <p><em>Written by Justine Tyerman. Republished with permission of <a rel="noopener" href="http://www.stuff.co.nz/" target="_blank"><strong><span style="text-decoration: underline;">Stuff.co.nz.</span></strong></a></em></p>

Domestic Travel

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Why the weather experts have been getting it wrong

<p>A new study out today outlines the risk Australians have been – and will continue to be – because weather experts are getting it wrong when predicting and preparing for extreme weather events.</p> <p>The research stresses now is the time to assess major weather and climate catastrophes as a result of a combination of processes, not just caused by one hazard at a time.</p> <p>In their paper published in Nature Climate Change, the scientists say a better understanding of the combination of factors contributing to a weather event may improve weather projections.</p> <p>University of Adelaide lecturer in civil and environmental engineering, Dr Michael Leonard, said traditional planning and modelling looks at one weather event occurring on its own rather than multiple factors.</p> <p>Pointing to the Brisbane floods of 2011, Dr Leonard said: “With the floods it was two storms in quick succession and there wasn’t enough appreciation for the quick succession of storms.</p> <p>“The problem is we need to look at multiple extreme things happening together.</p> <p>“There’s something that catches us off guard and as a professional community, we could do it better and try come up with these possible combinations to avoid getting caught out like that.</p> <p>“It’s very easy to invent a doomsday scenario and dismiss it because it’s not practical, saying: ‘I can’t plan for that, then what’s the point?’ so people are reluctant.”</p> <p>Dr Leonard said we could be better prepared for floods because computing power to test the variability of storms had come a long way.</p> <p>“There’s really a need to revise our critical infrastructure and use computing power to come up with events that are possible to get a better idea of what can possibly go wrong,” he said.</p> <p>“I think we do a bad job with that.</p> <p>“People have not done as good a job of ‘what’s the chance of some of these things happening together?’”</p> <p>The international paper was led by the Institute for Atmospheric and Climate Science in Switzerland with Australian researchers from the University of Adelaide and ARC Centre of Excellence for Climate Extremes with the University of New South Wales.</p> <p>The paper recommend ways different players like climate scientists, engineers, social scientists, impact modellers and decision-makers can work better together to understand complex weather events.</p> <p>“Usually when we experience these catastrophic failures it’s not one thing that’s gone wrong, it’s a whole sequence of things that have gone wrong and we need to guard against that,” Dr Leonard said.</p> <p>“But there's also lots of practical challenges if we have multiple extremes happening together.</p> <p>“When hazards impact communities we’ll hear, ‘the one that caught us by surprise’ and ‘we didn’t see it coming’ or ‘this wasn’t like the ones we’ve seen before’.</p> <p>“We need to appreciate the variability in conditions we can experience and therefore avoid false complacency or false security — last time there was a fire it didn’t come near us, we got out with plenty of time — the next time there’s an alert it can diminish the implications of it.”</p>

Domestic Travel