Thursday, 24 February 2011

Ewen Jones: "The Townsville Tool" or just an idiot?

Slim writes in follow-up to my earlier post about The Big Ewe's contribution to the national debate and to creating a viable and sustainable policy framework for the our future
A different type of 'substantial contribution' may not make it into local print media.

On the Crikey web site on 23 February in a
report by Bernard Keane (behind their subscriber paywall) about Li'l Bil) Shorten's parliamentary performance the last three paragraphs of the report give a rather sad insight into the parliamentary performance of the Member for Herbert, Ewen Jones -
"It’s only early in the parliamentary year but a low point was plumbed right at the end of question time when Kevin Rudd rose to discuss the Middle East and, in particular, Libya, revealing the Libyan ambassador had been called in for a dressing down and that he’d spoken to the Bahraini foreign minister about the killing of protesters there.

This was, plainly, a matter of complete non-interest to a number of Coalition MPs who used the answer to offer doubtless witty advice to Rudd. Peter Dutton and Greg Hunt both heckled and interjected. And sitting up in the back corner, Queensland MP Ewen Jones spent the entire answer jeering and laughing as Rudd discussed Middle East protests, the slaughter of demonstrators and the presence of Australians in Libya.

What a representative of the citizens of the greater Townsville region!

Note to Slim: what exactly is the difference between identifying him as a 'tool' rather than as an (my preferred) idiot?  Both are equally dangerous aren't they?

Mind you, "The Townsville Tool" (or even better the "Tool of Townsville") has a certain ring to it.  But then, "Idiot" is a lot more to the point and "Schoolyard Idiot" would be even more descriptive....

Libya. Viva la Revolution!

Yet again, Mr Fish gets it in one:

There's important news and then there's REALLY important news

Just in on my RSS Reader. 
Ah!, priorities.

Ewen Jones - talking sense for Townsville

Parliament is sitting again, giving local representative, The Big Ewe, his chance to again contribute to the national debate and make his mark on the country's policy directions and priorities.

Checking for The Ewe's contribution so far this sitting, I was particularly taken by his first entry in Hansard for 23 Feb 2011:

To be fair, The Ewe also made some more substantial contributions yesterday:  There's a nice little suck-up to one of The Ewe's major sponsors, The Townsville Bulletin, and we learn that the Federal Flood Levy will be result in the death of charity in Australia

Perhaps today he'll get to turn his mind to more mundane issues like this prediction out today that the world's reefs (including North Queensland's pre-eminent economic and natural asset, the GBR) will be dead within 40 years - that is, by the time his kids are about as old as he is today.  We'll see.

Thursday, 17 February 2011

The end of the bookstore (as we know it)?

Makes you wonder hey?

...and the coppers get it very wrong

'Poof' goes that warm and fuzzy feeling from my last post:
Quigley attacks WA police commisioner  By Josh Jerga, AAP, February 17, 2011 - 3:49PM

Western Australia's shadow attorney-general John Quigley has launched a blistering attack on the state's police commissioner for distributing what he calls "a litany of lies".

In state parliament, Mr Quigley criticised the role of Police Commissioner Karl O'Callaghan in "vilifying" an Aboriginal man who was tasered up to 41 times in a week by police and corrective services officers.

The behaviour of officers in arresting Kevin Spratt and his treatment at Perth lock-up was the subject of a Corruption and Crime Commission (CCC) inquiry in December.

Mr Spratt's treatment came to light when a video was released last year of police tasering him 14 times while in custody at Perth Watchhouse on August 31, 2008.

Following the release of initial video, which pixellated Mr Spratt's face, WA police issued a flow chart to media outlining the events leading up his tasering and involvement with police, including charges previously brought against him.

Mr Quigley told parliament that when examined against police documents and evidence before the CCC, the flow chart was a "litany of lies".

He called on the government to get to the bottom of the creation of the document, which he said was compiled by the WA police internal affairs unit.

"What discussion (did they have) with Commissioner O'Callaghan and Deputy Commissioner (Chris) Dawson before they so willingly went out into a press conference selling these lies to the public of WA to vilify Kevin Spratt?" Mr Quigley told parliament.

"It is beyond imagination as to why they did it ... but it's got to mark them down as the worst commissioner and deputy commissioner in Australia by their conduct."

Mr Quigley told parliament Mr Spratt had complained to Mr O'Callaghan about his alleged vilification, but was told via a letter in October that police did not identify him.

He said that following the press conference in which Mr O'Callaghan released the flow chart, a Seven Network TV news crew went to the home of Mr Spratt's parents, who told them he was at work.

"The commissioner of police would want us to believe this eye-wash, that there was no communication with Channel Seven of the address or person ... that's just a lie," he said.

Mr Quigley said the flow chart stated Mr Spratt had acted violently and obstructed police at Perth lock-up before being tasered, and as a result had been charged over that behaviour.

However the CCC hearing in December was told Mr Spratt had not been violent and had been convicted on the basis of a misleading statement of facts.

"There's a day of reckoning coming," Mr Quigley said. on
Now, that's much more familiar behaviour from the coppers

The coppers get it right

News just in from the 7 News site:

Police officer sacked over alleged Indigenous alcohol breach  Kim Lyell, ABC February 17, 2011, 2:42 pm
A central Queensland policeman has been sacked over allegations he took alcohol into a 'dry' Aboriginal community.

The Queensland Police Service says a 44-year-old senior sergeant from the central region has been dismissed.

It has issued a statement saying the dismissal followed allegations he transferred an "excessive" amount of alcohol into a community subject to restrictions.  More...
It might not exactly balance the ledger but a damn good response (and a damn good message) I reckon

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Barney Joyce is an idiot - the proof

News from the Courier Mail this morning that Barney Joyce, representative of the man on the land and all things rural and agricultural "has written off an $80,000 taxpayer-funded four-wheel-drive after trying to drive through a swollen creek before Christmas."

This of course is the same idiotic practice that resulted in the deaths of quite a number of people in the lead-up to and during the Queensland floods.

Joyce's excuse?  "There was no flood indicator, the road was not closed and there was a sign saying ''drive slowly." 

In other words, "It wasn't my fault it is the fault of whichever Government is responsible for road signs."  Clearly the man is totally reliant on the nanny state to tell him what to do and what not to do and what is safe and what is not.

Despite not being in his familiar home patch (the incident happened in Burren Creek, in northern NSW) he failed the most basic farmers' test when confronted with a swollen creek - get out, roll your pants up (only if you're gentry, not a working farmer) and wade in to check the depth and strength of the flow.

Not only is this proof of what we've long known in our hearts (that the man is an goose), it also demonstrates that, while he might be a member of the Nationals, he isn't really OF the land.  Dare I say, it also shows him to be a bad example to little children, grey nomads and young ute owners.

Given his stupidity, I wonder if he has to pay the excess on the car insurance ?

Update: Just to highlight my point further, the Murdoch News site reports that he was actually driving through country very familiar to him - making him an even bigger idiot.  They also report that "... he said he didn't feel threatened by the flooded creek which was "more like a lagoon than a raging torrent" - a bit like a 19-year old ute driver who thinks he's infallible - making him a 44-year old idiot!

Update #2: Could it be - a Queenslander who is even more of an idiot that Barney?  While I feel sorry for this guy and his family, why would you use petrol to start a fire (he clearly was never a Boy Scout) and, if you did, why exactly would you choose stand next to the fire with the petrol can by your side?  And just like Barney, this idiot's family figure it's all the fault of Government

Monday, 14 February 2011

Cut everybody's welfare (but not mine)

It's good to see that the Business Council is acting according to script.  The ABC reports today that the BC (an appropriate abbreviation really) is calling for cuts to disability pensions and oversees aid to fund disaster recovery.  Of course no suggestion of any cuts to business welfare:
The Business Council says cuts to disability services and foreign aid should be considered as alternatives to the flood levy. its pre-budget submission, the Business Council, which represents Australia's top 100 companies, says the government should instead press ahead with returning the budget to surplus through short-term spending discipline.

Council president Graham Bradley says all current spending should be reviewed and disability pensions may not be the best use of government money.
Read on and you'll even find the word "incentivised".  Now I haven't heard that one for a while!

Friday, 11 February 2011

Stupid rich people do it in Adelaide too

Just to show that it's not just stupid rich people in Queensland who build homes in stupid places (and stupid planning authorities that let them), there's this from the Adelaide Advertiser's site  about the foothill slopes of the Mt Lofty Ranges behind Adelaide - a city where any property on elevated land is worth a absolute motsa:
Creek dams won't protect 3500 homes from floods
MORE than 3500 homes would be flooded in a 1-in-100 year downpour, even if two dams were built on Brown Hill Creek, a new report has revealed.

The report has reignited tensions between five local councils struggling to strike an accord to protect local homes from flooding along Brown Hill and Keswick creeks, the Hills & Valley Messenger has revealed.

With the April 30 deadline looming for the councils to reach a consensus, Mitcham Mayor Michael Picton has admitted it is unlikely the date will be met.

“It’s unacceptable to have so many properties without protection after over $100 million is being spent,” he said.

A draft report to review a 2006 master plan on flood management along the creeks was recently released by engineering company WorleyParsons.

It states 3500 homes in the lower reaches of Brown Hill and Keswick creeks would be flooded - even if the recommendations in the 2006 plan, including building two concrete detention basins in Brown Hill Creek, were implemented.
Forget about storm and tempest - God protect us from Local Governments and planning authorities!

ET brought a lemon - Stupid rich people and that Cyclone

Stupid rich people's toys.
Port Hinchinbrook post Cyclone Yasi
Most of my posts about Cyclone Yasi (and the SE Qld flood for that matter) have at some point discussed stupid rich people buying or building houses in stupid places (like foreshore sand dunes).

There is no better example of this apparently universal malaise (so energetically supported by planning authorities) than Port Hinchinbook just south of Cardwell.  If you're interested in stupid rich people getting sucked in by property developers to build in stupid places have a read of Critics predicted damage to Port Hinchinbrook by Matthew Moore and Tom Reilly at the SMH but note, their piece doesn't even begin to touch on the graft and corruption that enabled Williams to develop the Port Hinchinbrook site (think Jo and the White Shoe Brigade).

And if you need an example of how stupid stupid rich people really can be, check out this little report from the Nine News site on Andrew Ettingshausen's plans to return to Port Hinchinbrook.  Of course, no mention that he really doesn't have much choice given that he failed to sell his property in 2009 and that it would have been failing in value ever since (and would now be even more unsaleable).

The Townsville Bulletin and Magnetic Island. Again!

I hate to harp on about this, but this morning's Townville Bulletin has done it again. 

Their 32-page "Wrath of a monster" pictorial supplement (not available online) includes some 118 great pics and not a single one of them relate to Magnetic Island!!.

If you are interested in the Island (or not) DON'T visit The Bully's online galleries as it only encourages them - rather, check out these great island pics in The Magnetic Times or even those in my earlier Yasi posts here and here

The young people are revolting and their revolution is live

One of the interesting things about being largely isolated from the world and self-absorbed in the priorities of getting power, water and food during and immediately after Cyclone Yasi, was hearing snippets of information about the people's revolution in Egypt.

This morning our time, Mubarak as essentially given the people of Egypt the finger by installing his vice-president to "lead" the nation.

I suspect that today the real revolution starts in Egypt. 

Image: Tahrir square crowds, Feb. 11, 2011. REUTERS/Dylan Martinez
Watching all of this unfold this morning reminded me of the fantastic Gil Scott-Heron track The Revolution Will Not Be Televised.  Written for an earlier young people's revolution, it still hits the mark.  (I'd also argue as others have that Scott-Heron was one of the originators of rap and hip hop, or street poetry as it use to be known)

I love it when young people are revolting - after all, it is they who create change, not self-interested old men like Mubarak.  However, we know from previous revolutions large and small that, without a clear idea of and manifesto for the change you want to create, the revolution will be unlikely to achieve it's potential, let alone its objectives.

I fear the young people of Egypt aren't organised in this way and as such their organic revolution will either flounder or, in the long-run, result in a worse than status-quo outcome. 

I hope I'm wrong.

Thursday, 10 February 2011

Finally, some great coverage about Cyclone Yasi's impact on Magnetic Island

At last, someone has filled the gaping hole in the mainstream media's coverage of the impact of Cyclone Yasi in this region and on Maggie Island in partcular.

The Magnetic Times has again delivered what The Bulletin and many others have failed to even acknowledge.  It's a great read with some fantastic pics including the one below.  Read it here

The Painic Bay Jetty walkway
Source:  The Magnetic TimesPhoto:  George Hirst

Yasi repair priorities

The Erosion Patrol article in today's Townsville Bulletin about repairing the city's beaches says heaps about both the Bulletin's ability to critically appraise the spin that comes out of Council and Council's priority setting for its Yasi clean-up efforts.

From the article we learn that:
  • Rich idiots built/brought a house on a foreshore sanddune in the city's northern beaches
  • The sea persistantly tries to reclaim it's dune
  • Nobody is responsible for approving the developments or choosing to live in them
  • All taxpayers are responsible for restoring these front yards (and property values)
You'd also assume that, after the Strand, these were the only beaches damaged by Yasi's storm surge.  Mayor Tyrell (or should that be Mayor-in-wanting, the very quiet Dale Last) and the Bulletin would be much better informed if they actually visited that other suburb, Magnetic Island.  If they did they'd see damage like this on the Nelly Bay foreshore:

By my reckoning, this part of Nelly Bay has lost about 15 metres of beachfront!
I would have thought that Tyrell or Last would have worked out by now that:
  1. Magnetic Island is Townsville's prime tourism asset and as such produce an economic benefit for the whole city,
  2. Part of the Island's sales pitch is it's 23 beaches,
  3. Beachfront mansions in Bushland Beach are of no productive benefit to the city or its economy
Naive me! 

I also learn in the Bully's hardcopy that Mayor Les has actually flown over the Island in a helicopter.  I wish I'd known - I'd have given him the finger back

Footnote:  I should also point out that, while the damage in the pics was caused by Yasi's storm surge, the reason for the damage is the reshaping of the Bay when the western end was blow-up, bulldozed and filled-in to make the Nelly Bay Harbour which you can just see the beginning of in the bottom two pics.

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

What I learnt from Cyclone Yasi

While Yasi's winds here were equivalent to a severe Category 2 or weak Cat. 3 cyclone there are some useful things I learnt (or were reminded of) for next time:

  1. The wind follows the land - the gullies and valleys - just as fires and flash floods do

  2. Get a manual coffee grinder

  3. Solar houses don't have to wait for the power to come on

  4. Get an alternative mobile phone charger - car, solar, wind-up, whatever

  5. A surprising number of people build stupid houses in stupid places

  6. Building on or immediately behind the foreshore dune is dumb - it's a sand dune for god's sake! It has a purpose - to move, to replenish the beach! 

  7. The ONLY media that works/adds value in a crisis is local ABC radio and a battery powered receiver - it must be defended at all costs

  8. There is no such thing as too much duct tape

  9. Don't assume that because there's a cyclone, it's gonna rain - fill the bath all the way.

  10. Emergency alert text messages are great - if you have a mobile

  11. Charge the camera beforehand - taking pics on the mobile chews up battery time

  12. Tell everyone beforehand to only text you and not to ring

  13. Get more ice beforehand, fill the fridge up with it (unless you have a solar house of course)

  14. The Internet is invaluable until you lose power - but only because in enables you to track the cyclone closely. 

  15. News sites are hopeless and facebook is downright dangerous in the hands of a teenager who cant discern rumour from fact or possibility from probability.

  16. Print media is useless unless they can can get an edition out before the power comes on

  17. The BOM site is fantastic but I suspect most people don't know how to read the forecast maps

  18. Most people have no idea of the country on which they live or how it works

  19. Most people (and journalists) have no appreciation of the geography of Queensland

  20. Don't wait for the last minute to buy your beer supply and when you do don't forget to get extra for all of those chats with the neighbours after

  21. Always be nice to the Ergon and CityWater guys - they are worth their weight in beer at the very least.  They do an amazing job in appalling conditions
And finally, when everyone is locked down and until the storm passes, you are starkly reminded that ultimately in this world, you are on your own baby.

What is it with The Townsville Bulletin and Magnetic Island?

The Bully (like much of Townsville) has a funny relationship with Magnetic Island, just 3km off the coast and closer to the CBD than most suburbs in the town. 

Their coverage of Cyclone Yasi's impact on the Island since their first edition on Friday has been woeful and amazingly, they haven't even bothered to send a photographer over to capture the impact on the region's major tourism asset.  Then of course, the probably haven't sent one over for the last 6 months either.

But they are determined to make good - in their own inimitable style of course.  They've put Mary Vernon's phone pics up in a gallery (including one of her street number for some reason?) and Maggie actually made front page today!  And a humdinger it is too!  "They've all gone batty" is the witty little editor's effort to headline a story about a guy drinking at the Picnic Bay pub who got bitten by a fruit bat - no doubt because he tried to handle it or was so p*ssed that he fell or walked into it.

Don't bother following the link to read the story as it only encourages them, but to summarise, the innuendo is that Islanders are about to get raped and pillaged by marauding bats whose roosts and food trees have been destroyed or stripped.

Of course, I suspect that the real reason they ran the story (other than a rabid bat scare always sells up here for some reason) was that they finally had a professional Maggie pic (slightly p*ssed man with bandage against a lovely blue backgound) without having to send the photographer to the Island.

As I will expand on in a separate post at some stage, in a natural disaster the print media are a waste of space (as is social media pretty much). 

It's just that, with the exception of their first post cyclone edition which consisted almost entirely of pictures, The Bully is a waste of space most of the other time as well.

Cyclone Yasi hits Magnetic Island - the pics

A week after Yasi started getting serious, the Island is slowly being cleaned up.  For those who have enquired, here are my phone pics of the aftermath. (Not to self: Next time don't use your precious mobile charge to take pics!)
Picnic Bay after Yasi - looking more like the after effects of a super-drought or bushfire

Yasi's cruelest damage.  Picnic Bay Jetty, so familiar to all of those generations who's ferry trip to the Island started and ended with a walk down the Jetty.  If we are lucky, Council and the Port Authority will leave us with maybe half.  If we are really lucky they will cut off it's 'head'.  Given neither authority wants the burden of maintaining it, there is a real danger of losing it altogether

Picnic Bay - one street back from the foreshore. One old paperbark down
and the rest stripped of leaves and bark. Their trunks appear bright orange/pink the morning after.

Yule St Picnic Bay

Trees stripped bare on the Picnic Bay Golf Course

Our Place - Before and after the initial clean-up

Our Nelly Bay house - on the way home from the beach
on the morning after

Bob's Nelly Bay BBQ - the site of many a Sunday lunch, kids birthday
 and meeting of the right wing of the Townsville ALP

Almost high tide on the morning after.
Storm surge damage on the road to X Base and Picnic Bay

After the storm surge and high tide. 50cm of sand on the road to Picnic Bay

Lost!  The morning after and this Black Cocky (Red Tail) let me get within a metre.
The island flock seem to have got separated during the storm and spend a couple
of days after looking for each other.  The 10-12 strong flock seems to be back together again.

Nelly Bay Harbour.  The little boxes of ticky tacky survived but not their sales pitch

Nelly Bay Harbour.  Hard to see, but some people don't know how to tie up their boat.
But Johnny Elliton does - his recently launched, home built trimaran didn't move an inch

Hoop Pine down on the Picnic-Arcadia hill

Geoffrey Bay foreshore

High Tide Horseshoe Bay the morning after

Horseshoe Bay looking West - The storm surge was hours earlier
Horseshoe Bay looking West a few days later

Horseshoe Bay looking East towards the shops

Horseshoe Bay after the road was opened

Monday, 7 February 2011

X Base Backpackers Trashed! But don't blame it on Yasi

Before Yasi - The Boardwalk
and beachfront rubble
I posted some time ago about base Backpackers (X Base) here on Magnetic Island and their apparent disregard for both the environment they seek to make money from and for the responsibilities that come with having one of the most unique commercial tourism sites in North Queensland. 

As I understand it, X Base Magnetic Island is the only 'resort' (loosely defined) in Australia and one of the few in the world where you can lean to scuba dive on coral from the beach.  To do so anywhere else involves a boat trip and associated expense and is a prime reason for backpackers coming to the island - it's the cheapest place to learn to dive and or get your hours up for an instructors ticket.

Before Yasi - Part of the pool retaining wall
showing broken infrastructure and rubble

As the first two pictures show, the Recreational Tourism Group Pty Ltd,  (the owners of X Base who are in turn owned by, amongst others, Babcock & Brown and Accor Hotels) have for a long time treated their absolute beach frontage with contempt.  The second of those pics is of their beach frontage damage that was never repaired/removed after (I think) Cyclone Tessi in 2000 or maybe a king tide since.

That second pic was taken on Tuesday afternoon - the day before Yasi hit.  The 'resort' had (rightfully, given its location) been fully evacuated by then.  On my Yasi night post I wondered what would be left the next morning. 
The results are below:

After Yasi - This more or less corresponds to the second of the before pics.
The spot in the before pics is on the left of this one, next to the bolder.

After Yasi - From a different angle - there is/was a swimming pool behind that wall
After Yasi - The (private) ramp to the beach which has to stretch below the high tide mark.
After Yasi - The boardwalk corresponding to the first of the before pics.
The rubble shown in that before pic has clearly moved.  Some has been lost to the sea
These results were completely predictable - a sure bet.  While none of the buildings at the 'resort' appear damaged, their sea frontage is a wreck for only one or, more likely, both of two reasons:
  • Their sea frontage structures should never have been built there in the first place.  The seawall by the pool and the rocks under the boardwalk have to (at best) be on the high tide line.

  • The structures were extremely poorly (read cheaply) built and certainly not constructed to a standard that would survive the inevitable storm surge.  Some closer pics of their seawall footings which I hope to get over the next few days will provide ample evidence of the shoddy construction.
While there are a lot of questions to be answered about why this was allowed to happen and/or never redressed, the reality is that the Recreational Tourism Group Pty Ltd and X Base are responsible for their structures and they have done nothing in the years that they have been custodians of the beach to ensure that those structures were both attractive to visitors and safe to the environment (and to visitors and beach walkers for that matter).

Given the damage that they will have inflicted on the beach and  inshore reef, I reckon it's time to go this mob - after all, the damage was within in their control and as such is their fault, NOT Yasi's as they will no doubt claim to their insurance company and Authorities. 

Copies of this post will be going to the EPA, National Parks, GBRMPA, Townsville City Council, local members and the relevant State and Federal Ministers over the next day or so.


Getting your bearings: Nelly Bay looking west on the morning after Yasi.
X Base is located at the end of the Bay, just out of frame.  There are no other beachfront structures between where this pic was taken and where X Base are located at the end of the Bay

Sunday, 6 February 2011

Blogging after Yasi

Back online!  Quite a strange sensation I must say.

The power came on at home at about 4:30 this afternoon - the cause of many hoots and whistles and yelps up and down the street. 

We now have all of the essentials back on - water, power and ferries.  We had supermarket bread this afternoon (Steve the local baker will hopefully be baking tomorrow night).  High school opens tomorrow but the Island primary school (where I spent most of today) will be closed for one more day as the trucks continue to take away the green waste from the grounds..  Milk and maybe meat will land on the island tomorrow.  The beer supply is low again and the limited choice is critical.

The espresso machine is roaring again - the first appliance turned on and a long black the first electricity drawn from the grid!

There's lots of stories to tell from the last five days but they'll have to wait for now. I'm buggered and going to bed.  Normality of sorts returns in the morning.

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Blogging Cyclone Yasi

I probably should have started this on Monday and will no doubt get distracted by life from time-to-time but I'll try to update this regularly as Cyclone Yasi gets closer to landfall and for as long as the power stays on.

For those new to the blog, I'm posting from Magnetic Island, off Townsville - a small rural city somewhere east of Mount Isa and somewhere south of Yasi's projected path (we hope).  The most recent post follows:

8:18pm 02/02     Check this out - it might be an hour or so old. Source

8:10pm 02/02     Just checked my blog stats - this has been great for my visitor numbers!!

The background roar is getting louder - I still cant work out whether it's the sea of the wind.  One thing is for sure - they are both pretty wild!

The BOM is still forecasting a midnight crossing and has Yasi still as a Cat 3 when it hits the Atherton Tablelands - and they ain't built for that up there!

8:05pm 02/02     Just been outside for one of those cigars I got earlier.  It is really blowing now - and from every direction.

Just heard that they have apparently evacuated everyone from Cardwell (2 hours up the track and 1/2 way to Cairns)- I'm not surprised as it's right on the coast and very low land.  I hope Risty and his mob are ok.

All of the buckets are full and there's a days worth of dunny water in the bath - after that the gully outside will be running.

And I've almost run out of duct tape!!! That's mistake No 2 (No 1 being not getting a new stove top espresso maker).  I have all that I need for tonight but I'm sure I'll need more in the morning.  How could anyone run out of duck tape!!!!???

7:30pm 02/02     Just had a panic about what I'm gonna read by candle light in the bathroom for 5 or 6 hours!!  Decided on a comedy.

You can watch Yasi here on the BOM radar- you can clearly see her eye relative to Cairns and Townsville and the rain we are copping.

Listening intently to local ABC radio now - they play an incredibly important role at times like this.  It's good to hear first hand accounts about what is happening up and down the coast - it gives you a better idea of what to expect.  There must be thousands of people along the north Qld coast camped in their bathrooms right now listening to their radio.  They are broadcasting on AM, FM and shortwave - how damn good is that!

It's funny, when I started this I was going to blog on the press response to Yasi.  I never did. Until now!  And that's about the assessment - some of the coverage has been ok but most of it sh*t (as normal in other words) and ABC radio is essential

6:45pm 02/02      The office is shut down and all turned off. I'll keep this one running while I can.  It's quite dark now - light nightfall but 30 minutes early.

10 minutes or so and I will pack this up too and maybe try a few posts by phone a bit later on.

Most strange - a wallaby (not Wally) has turned up for a feed.  She has a joey so maybe just had to come out for food??  I certainly wouldn't want to be out in that - it has to be getting close to tree-over winds!

6:10pm 02/02     Just had my first brown-out but the UPS did it's job.  It will start to get nasty in about an hour or so but I don't think power will last that long.  Even though they just finished trimming the trees around the lines one of them has to get taken out sooner or later.

I will go and pack away the other computer and blog again if I can.  If I can't - we're all sorted and the prognosis is good when compared to that for those in Mission Beach.

There is a dull rumble in the background when I go outside - can't tell whether is the wind or the waves!

5:35pm 02/02     There's a new Kookaburra nest created!!  If you look closely in the middle ground there is a tree branch broken in three places - the Kooka's will love it!

Also, just saw what I think is a Garnet (very angular wings)  and it reminded me - i saw about 10 of the same surfing the breeze (in formation no less) when I last went down to the beach.  It was quite extraordinary as I'd seen no other birds all day and yet they were just hanging there about 25 feet of the ground in formation like seagulls surfing the wind currents off a cliff.

4:45pm 02/02     Crazy Hoyt across the way has just lost a tree - you might see it if you compare this pic with the similar one posted a while back:

It looks like I'll soon lose my Frangipani out front too.
BOM has us (Townsville) copping 100km wind gusts

4:40pm 02/02     All the windows are shut now and there are a few quite large branches down in the park across the way.  My Internet connection is starting to drop out intermittently and the nasty stuff is still a couple of hours away and then could take 5-8 hours to pass. 

I'm still glad I don't live Mission Beach! - or Mount Isa for that matter - those guys would have no experience of a cyclone and it's forecast to still be a Cat 1 when it gets out there (8-hours by road).

4:25pm 02/02     Just saw the coppers heading back home to Picnic Bay - Brenden and the boys will be very p*ssed that it had to be this week that their 4x4 went to town for maintenance and they get a sedan as its replacement.

4:20pm 02/02     The 4:00pm forecast - we're now officially starting to experience strong gale force winds but I guess I knew that.

4:05pm 02/02     I've just realised that Cardwell (North of us) is now forecast to get a storm surge PLUS 7 metre waves on top.  Cardwell is just up the channel where Sunferries have apparently sent their boats for shelter (see earlier entry) - Idiots!

3:55pm 02/02     It's starting to get cooler (now down to our normal evening temp of about 25) and after every wind gust there's a flurry of tree leaves in the air.  Looking up the hill next to me, the high trees are already taking a battering

The stories from Cairns are amazing - 2,000 people sheltering in a shopping mall with the supermarkets opening their doors to feed them.

3:40pm 02/02     The coffee won and it's a beauty.  The front door is now shut as it's getting very squally outside.  The wind is coming from all directions and the rain is starting to get horizontal - something that we're not used to up here - tropical rain is vertical.

Larger limbs are starting to come down in the park across the road and the wind is rising to the occasional whistle.  I haven't seen or heard a car on Sooning St for at least an hour.

I bet lots of others are opening their first beer about now so bugger it, the coffee's drunk, why not? 

3:30pm 02/02     Can't work out whether to have another coffee while there's power for the espresso machine or a beer!

3:12pm 02/02     Most of the doors are now shut and Tom's wrestling mattress is in the bathroom ready for the worse.  Starting to get the documents and pics in plastic but will leave the hard drives as long as possible (or until the power goes).

The BOM 3pm forecast has Strong Gale Force winds arriving here in about an hour

2:40pm 02/02    The 2:00pm forecast has Yasi coming in a bit further to the south with the eye covering about 100km with Mission Beach at the centre.  We'll copy the winds in the dark pink bit - officially described as "Destructive" - about the equivalent of Cat 2 or 3 Cyclone.  (The grey shaded area is essentially the margin for error for the track forecast)

The winds should start picking up significantly in a couple of hours with the eye crossing the coast at about 11:00 tonight.  I cant stop thinking that I'm lucky I'm not further north.

2:00pm 02/02     Back from my last drive for a sticky-beak.  The winds must be getting close to gale force down there - Another before pic of X base for later on (see 6:13pm entry from yesterday below).

That will be my last drive.  The car is parked up the hill in a clear spot. 

Small branches are starting to come down as is the odd Banana tree and I'm no longer sure about the walk down to the beach that I had been planning for an hour or twos time.

Still flying the flag

1:41pm 02/02     This is literally true:

1:34pm 02/02     Outside the front door - a lot of those clouds are getting sucked out to Yasi at real speed - exactly opposite to their normal direction

1:18pm 02/02    Just made what will likely be my last espresso for a while and realised that I hadn't replaced my emergency stove top coffee maker  It will be 1-cup filter coffee or Greek coffee in the morning

The news gets worse.  It looks as if the worse winds will between Innisfail and Cardwell (about 2 hours north from us) which means we could easily have 150 km winds!  Mind you, them further north will be copping 300 km winds!!!!

Finished taping the windows and outside is all organised bar bringing the bikes into the lounge.

The winds are constantly picking up now and I'd guess the we only have an hour or two before a line goes down somewhere and we lose power

I'd like to get out for one more look in the car but heavy rain has started and it doesn't look real flash out there - we'll see

12:51pm 02/02     Wow!

12:31am 02/02     Back from a quick drive down to "the front".  The coconuts are starting to bend in the wind (exactly as they're designed to) and, believe me, you wouldn't want to be out on the water!

Satellite TV (all I can get) is cutting out because of the increasing cloud so it's radio from here on in - much more informative anyway.
Looking back to Nelly Bay - the sea is a lot angrier than it looks
Little boxes of ticky tacky at Bright Point - their first real test!

An interesting way of boarding up your restaurant windows!
But then would you take cyclone advice from a Frenchman?

11:45am 02/02     Most recent advice is a storm surge of 3m for us.  I'll be fine as will the kids but it is quite possible that there will be no beer at the Picnic Bay Pub tomorrow either!

News is that Yasi has taken out the Willis Is weather station  (off Cairns) - winds of 295km / hr!!

11:02am 02/02     Back from the shops for last minute supplies - matches for the gas burner and three days supply of cigars!  I don't know who was busier - the mini-mart or the bottle shop!

The rain has started for real and the wind is quite gusty now.  The tide is one the wane but the sea at Nelly is now very dirty - the kite surfers have gone home.

10:25am 02/02     Back from a quick trip around the island after dropping the kids off.  It's morning high tide and a 2m storm surge (what we're expecting) on top of that would be pretty ugly.  (I've rechecked the flood maps to comfort myself). 

The sea is pretty angry on the south and eastern sides of the Island, but Horseshoe Bay on the north is almost a millpond (if a somewhat dirty one!).

The wind is beginning to pickup again, and I've just received my third emergency text alert for the morning.  The Clinic has set up an emergency medical centre at the back of Nelly Bay just in case and the Ambo's building (HQ for emergency services) is a hive of activity.

The supermarkets are much quieter than I expected and will close in a couple of hours.  Everything else on the island is pretty well shut down - except for the kite surfers in Nelly Bay who are having a ball!

Pics from my last venture out - with luck, I'll get out in a few hours for another:
Picnic Bay Jetty - You can't see it but the waves are breaking over
the jetty - something that normally only happens in a king tide

No beer at the Picnic Bay Pub today
The Esplanade is under mandatory evacuation orders

Horseshoe Bay - dead calm and bits of blue

8:29am 02/02     Believe it or not, the sun is out!  Most of the heavy low cloud that was around earlier has gone and you can see the last them being sucked north , feeding Yasi as she lumbers on towards the coast.

The winds are getting quite gusty and I can clearly hear the waves on the beach - quite unusual during the day.

Time to get the kids organised to go to their Mum's - we know that her's was one of the few in Picnic Bay to survive Cyclone Althea and while I'm confident about my place (block construction), it was built since Althea so we just can't be sure.

7:42am 02/02     Just back from buying the last of the milk and day-old bread on the island.  Nelly Bay is very quiet - a few cars and trailers doing last minute trips to the dump and one lone walker on the beach.  Most of the boats are gone from the Harbour (I wonder to where) but Johnny Elliton's new hand-crafted ocean-going trimaran is still sitting there - I hope he'll be ok.

One other guy came into Foodworks while I was there and, while buying his fags, casually asked Robyn whether the "storm" will come anywhere near us.  She explained that we're likely to get Cat 2 or even 3 winds and flooding.  He just looked at her blankly and shrugged - no idea!

The water is beginning to look quite angry and there is a lot of weed on the shore already.  Back at home it is eerily quiet without any of the normal bird noise filling the background

Wally seems to have headed for the hills!

6:52am 02/02     Wally (the Wallaby) has just come in for his morning feed.  He's a lot more skitty than normal at this hour when He'd be thinking of a daytime snooze.  He was certainly looking for a cuddle.

It will be interesting to see if he hangs around here or heads for the rocks for the day.

6:22am 02/02     The rain has started.

6:15am 02/02      Woke to the news that Yasi is already a Cat 5 and is still on track to hit Innisfail / Cairns head on!  They are reporting this morning that the eye of the storm alone is 100km across which means that both Cairns and Innisfail (and certainly any poor buggers left in the Aboriginal community of Yarabah on the coast up up there).

Here on the island, the sky is dark and heavy with cloud and the wind has picked up quite a bit since bed time 8 hours ago.  It's a bit like the beginning of a squally storm except there is none of the bird noise and no sign of Wallaby's heading home after a night on the grass that we would normally hear and see at this hour.

This is going to be a long day but not nearly as long or as frightening as it is gonna be for those people in Cairns!!

10:05pm Tues 01/02     Well that's it for the night.  With the news that some 30,000 people in the Cairns region are being relocated, I can go to bed fairly confident that we are going to be spared the worse.

The kids are getting nervous again - the 10-year old is asleep in my bed and the 15-year old is getting all sorts of cyclone advice from other 15 year olds via facebook.

I see from twitter that the Sunrise program have flown their weatherman into Innisfail so that he can broadcast the action live in the morning.  Trouble is, the real action won't be until the afternoon by which time I'm sure he'll be out of harms way sipping G&T's somewhere.  God, the MSM give me the sh*ts sometimes a lot of the time.

Tomorrow should be interesting

9:00pm Tues 01/02      This was taken at 7:30 tonight - Big bugger hey

8:39pm Tues 01/02      The breeze has picked up but only slightly and I can hear the waves from beach, but the sky is still filled with stars and the bush nightlife seems as active as ever. 

It seems that with every release from the BOM, Yasi's trajectory towards Cairns/Innisfail and then on to the Tablelands becomes more certain.

6:47pm Tues 01/02     Just went out to feed Wally (the Wallaby - of course) and have a pat.  Heard the last ferry going - we're isolated now until Friday I suspect. 

Wally doesn't seem to worried about anything!

6:13pm Tues 01/02      Back from a walk on the beach.  It's surprisingly quiet with fresh sea plants that have been ripped up out to sea the only real sign that anything might be up.

I took the opportunity to take this pic of part the sea frontage at X Base at the western end of Nelly Bay.  I've posted before about this mob's attitude to their location and will be interested to take a pic from the same spot after tomorrow night's storm surge. 

The rubble you can see was never cleaned up since the last cyclone and my bet is that, come Thursday morning, it will either be gone or joined by a whole heap of other rubble from their site.  Either way, it will be off to the EPA!

4:45pm Tues 01/02      Things are getting very quiet on the roads around the Island and many businesses are already shut. 

The shops opposite the Nelly Bay Harbour are boarded up - pretty smart when you consider that the hideous boxes of ticky-tacky on the Harbour are likely to be the first thing to blow away.

Everybody is saying 'take care' or 'stay safe' when you greet them or stop for a chat.

A social game is still going on at the bowls club and the bar is still open.  There is an almost rideable wave developing at Alma Bay

And THE BEER HAS ARRIVED!!  Thank god for Tommy

3:57pm Tues 01/02     Word has it that Sunferries are taking the ferries to the Hinchinbrook channel to ride out the storm.  How bright is that - Hinchinbrook is to the north, between us and Yasi's forecast track. Doh!

On the other hand, Fantasea are sending their barges south to the Whitsundays.  But then, they were always the brighter of the two companies.

3:23pm Tues 01/02     Just received an email from the Dept. of Employment, Economic Development and Innovation with a "Cyclones and storm surge checklist" for local businesses. A bit late but I'm sure they feel better!

2:37pm Tues 01/02     She might be scary but goddamn she's beautiful
From the Joint Typhoon Warning Center

2:31pm Tues 01/02      The Arcadia Pub is OUT OF BEER !!!!!!
The good news is that Tommy is bring 5 pallets back on the next barge. I better make sure I get there soon after!!

2:00pm Tues 01/02     Things are relatively quiet on the island. The ferries will stop at about 6:00 pm tonight and while there is a steady stream of cars leaving by barge there weren't many waiting to go on the last ferry - a few tourists and individual old-timers

The most recent BOM update confirms that (at present) Yasi is tracking towards Cairns.

Jeeze, I'm glad I'm not there (or worse, in Yarrabah). I was once told by a senior copper who had just returned from a disaster planning meeting in the city that the Emergency Management Plan should Cairns be hit head-on by a Cat 4 or 5 Cyclone was bodybags!

As it is, it looks as if the Island and Townsville will cop Cat 1 or maybe 2 winds, but let's wait and see. The real concerns locally now are the expected storm surge and then possible 3 or 4 days without power and water.

Both kids are now home from school (and a lot less nervous as a result). It will be interesting to see if they get back to the grindstone before the end of the week.

For now, it's off to get beer supplies for the next four days or so and then to cleanup the esky