31 July 2005

Mining the subs

Although the industrial age is apparently well behind us, the machinery in Sub-urbia never stands still. Hills are flatted, huge holes ripped into sandstone and luxury-tack is erected. The day shift of industrial building armies moves in with serious mining equipment. The noise can be heard over valleys and bays. Decibel is a foreign word. At knock-off time the residents return home, get their power-tools out and build into the night. The stealing of one's peace is unregulated or at least not enforced (seriously).The wheels of industry have priority over the well-being of people. The apparent way out is to build a bunker. Huge walls go up in Sydney. Triple insulation of windows, etc. If all fails, flee to Sea Change and start all over. Clear the bush...

What water shortage?

According to the SMH (30.07.05 p 20) French environmentalists are accusing golf clubs and private swimming pool owners of wasting water. This is no problem in the lucky country. Private lap pools are a common feature in houses specifically near the ocean and public pools. Both authorities and real estate consumers vote for swimming in private enclosures. Keeping endless lawns green to push balls about also requires huge amounts of water. Sydney Water can’t be serious if this form of water privatisation is encouraged. Also turning a blind eye to the many residents washing their cars in restricted times.
We won’t get into the ‘grey water’ that leaves the pools, golf courses, driveways and industry etc. The Manly Lagoon is grey-silver. This is an unsustainable, irresponsible way of mining a resource and privatising it. But the toxic sludge is shared amongst all species.

28 July 2005


A whale was sighted today at 4.15 pm leaving the Heads and racing north. It stayed closely hugged to North Head cliffs and seemed in a big hurry. The buzzing helicopter continuously encircling the headland might have contributed to the mammal' s exit.
At first a large long shade was visible in the water, then the plume from time to time and then it hurried along the cliff face and I heard a loud exhaling sound once. The back was very arched while it sped out to the open ocean.

These big-brained, breathing mammals, giving birth to live young, might have be on their traditional migration routes for the last 15 - 36 million years.

In some of the last thousands of years the aquatic mammal to land mammal relationship is well documented. Various engravings in the region of whales and tales by the saltwater people speak of custodianship. The first encounters of British and Saltwater people also involved a whale at North Head (Car-rang-gel) (The tale of a whale: significant Aboriginal landscapes of the Northern Beaches, Lee, Emma, 1973)

The utilisation of the animals as cheap oil led settlers to resort to whaling over a long time. The Right Whale was named the 'right' whale, because it was easy to hunt. The animal was not just reduced to tonnes of blubber, but also served as an icon in the Western mind. Moby Dick (here the book) presented the (white) whale as the "metaphor for the elements of life that are out of our control". A big job in colonial empires, terrestrial or aquatic.

Now there is a 'scientific' need for the cetaceans which this time round turns them not into oil, but kebabs. The spectacle-hungry audiences in powerful boats also are impinging on the whale's habitat. The whale industry is re-born: 'whale-watching'.

For eons the whales have undertaken one of the longest journeys of any animal in the world. After feeding in the Antarctic waters, they migrate along the coast of Australia between June and August to meet up. 8 hours sleep, harbours and bays would provide a good rest, specifically when young ones are in the pod.

Engaging in playful behaviour, such as breaching, spyhopping or tail slapping is typical for them. They are vivid
communicators. They sing songs to each other, The Humpback Whale song is reminiscent of human singing. The Killer Whale still has that bit of wolf-sound left.

Collaborative food acquisition such as 'bubblenet feeding' is a specialty of the Humpback.

Well, today's whale had the double plume of a Southern Right Whale, but the dorsal fin of a Humpback and it vocalized and I'm happy IT is there.

So, do not hassle them on the water, or trample the bush to bits and say NO to whaling. They are wonderful giants and they are still here….


26 July 2005

Slaughter on the roads

In some parts of the world I have seen bridges over roads and highways so that animals can cross in safety. The cost of these bridges, which are built only for the animals, is seen as one of the costs of road building. Community groups make it clear that it is not acceptable to see their wildlife squashed all over the roads by cars.
In this country,
the carnage goes unseen and without protest. In Manly, where there are a lot of green spaces, you can see blood and squashed bodies every morning on roads which adjoin parks. These native animals are not even removed from the roads by the culprits or witnesses, but just run over repeatedly until they are flat like a carpet.
Roads which separate two city parks offer no way for animals to cross
without running the gauntlet of speeding traffic. Why are people so insensitive, that they allow such barbarism to continue without saying a word?

23 July 2005

Organic food

When it comes to healthy food and shopping for organic fruit and veges, the best place is the Manly Food Cooperative. Unpackaged food is available at fair prices and it is even cheaper if you are a member.

21 July 2005

Shopping which doesn't cost the Earth

If I go shopping at the supermarket I get the feeling that I am doing the wrong thing. I get so much packaging and mostly unfresh food. Where has all that stuff been before I use it? What chemicals are in it? Can I take the genetically-modified substances? How did it get here? What am I doing to the world when I buy here?

In Manly, one of the places I like to shop without a heavy heart is the Manly Food Coop. Organic fruit and vegetables, bulk food and sustainable goods are sold at reasonable prices to the public and even more cheaply to participating members. The profits are shared via prices.

Waste minimisation and recycling is one of the basic principles of the food coop. You need to bring shopping bags and containers. You can be sure that what you buy there is good for you and does not cost the Earth by undermining the basis for life on this planet. Plastic bags will not choke turtles because of your shopping trip, nor will agricultural land be rendered toxic.

Fauna report

Yesterday was the first sighting of a Blue-tongue in the garden and a large whale spout out from North Head. The lorikeets have young, calling all day. At the same time the industrialised gardening armies swing into action. Blade wielding they are a great danger to the the Eastern Blue-tongue (Tiliqua scincoides scincoides). The Blue-tongue likes hot sandstone and native tussocky grasses and leaf litter (untidy!). Industrial landscapes, such as lawns do not allow for both and additionally cut up a lot of lizards. Many are also killed by cars as they take the hot road to be a nice hot sandstone. Snail bait and cats & dogs are the other dangers to this ancient reptile.

20 July 2005

Link collection for Mnly

The Mnly blog is now looking after their own bookmark collection. Anyone can organise and share their links on this service. There are many more free and collaborative bookmarking services around. We intend to collect relevant links, articles and images related to our topics of living sustainably with the environment. In a broad sense the links will also be relevant to Sydney and Australia on the whole. You can also access the o.g. links from the right sidebar as 'Social Bookmarks Australia'.

Furthermore there is also a tag with Technorati for 'Manly' now. This aggregates everybodies photos and articles that are tagged with the word 'Manly' and you can also click it in the right sidebar.

Also note that the dynamic panel picture show in the right sidebar is home made with JavaScript, all according to the principle of 'many pieces loosly joined'.

19 July 2005


The lorikeets arrive at Manly beach just before sunset. They spend the night there in the Norfolk pines which grow along the length of the beach. You can hear their performance in this MP3 recording.
At first you can hear the waves of the surf with the first birds arriving. Rapidly the birds get louder as they fill the trees. Their sounds agitate the others to ever louder and more intense communication. They reach a crescendo after about 4 minutes. Then they quieten down for the night until dawn.
Not all trees are preferred by the lorikeets. It is not clear what their criteria are, but as they fly from tree to tree they accumulate in the trees with the most lorikeet-friendly qualities. This is what you can hear.
This MP3 is about 1.5 Mb and lasts for about 5 minutes. Enjoy the development of the sound as if you were at Manly Beach at sunset.
Listen to lorikeets

Tolerating the disappearance of Australians

The deep appreciation of things 'foreign' is shown by the high ratio of pet ownership. Barbie-dogs, fierce property defending dogs or obese cats are all chosen by the great majority of Manly residents. Dogs, mostly locked up in the home, yelp for ages once the Valium stops working. The ones imprisoned in backyards all day are no better off.

For some the cute nature of the Australian fauna is discovered, Lorikeets are attracted to balconies with sugar water, birds are fed with inappropriate substances. 'The hand-out' system makes the giver feel 'generous' and in-charge. It is a system of turning them into pets without the onerous responsibility of ownership. Minimum input, maximum gain.

What is definitely not on is allowing habitat for 'them', the native, endemic animals. The war of the species is on and there shall be no survivors. First there is the 'development' of the human species, more & more of the same. 20 garage-houses, private lap-pools at the beach etc. If the knock-em-down-building-process has not erased all soil and vegetation, the 'landscaping' will do the rest to design 'them' out. On the boring weekends the frenzy of tidying up the (remaining) vegetation takes place. Petrol gardening with mega-decibels. A good pesticide, herbicide and fungicide cocktail tops the job off.

Gone is the habitat of the birds, the bandicoots, the lizards, ringtails, the frogs etc. No place and resources to rest, feed or breed and sustainably live. Should some survive by accident the dogs, cats and cars will get them in due time.

The slaughter of native birds in gardens is mainly due to irresponsible cat owners. Fed on tonnes of other species they pounce on the birds like oversized wrestlers and kill for sport. The dogs have their go on the little penguins and anything else that moves. If the long nosed bandicoot, which once covered all of Sydney, now confined to Manly, survives the elimination of its urban bushland with rows of housing, then the next joy-rider to North Head will flatten the little creature for sure. Every day 7000 animals are struck by cars in NSW alone, that's 2.5 million a year. (Manly Daily, 19.07.2005)
Tolerance of things Australian would mean, leaving some habitat to them, allowing other species to prosper as well. Taking joy and pride out of the bio-diversity that could be passed responsibly to the next generations. But the exchange-value thinking, greed and ignorance do not allow for such generous inclusion. It is about mining the place and then moving to other frontier land.

Yes, there might be the odd person out there growing a Robin Gordon or even leaving a native tree, there are the authorities that 'recommend', 'appeal' and 'promote awareness'. To create a substantial urban bushland in the private and in the public form does take considerable knowledge, good will and resources to realise in a community. Deregulatory policies, lack of enforcement and hunger for cash-flow give the official consent to the 'done thing'.

The bandicoot, the penguin, the ringtail possum will all make cute posters one day of extinct species 'that we had and for unexplainable reasons, they all disappeared...''

18 July 2005

All green, blue and sand and 15 min. to the city

There is one special thing about Manly, it has the best of Sydney Harbour National Park, great walks in bushland and heath, fantastic beaches and it is 15 minutes to the CBD (city).

It just had to be said!

15 July 2005

Land and Ocean report

Nearly got run over today in Manly by a yob-mobile, cars parked all over the curb as well. The Pedestrian Council of Australia shows some stunning images how motorists are ignoring the law. Please update site!!

At North Head (Car-rang-gel) today yachts and tin-cans hassled whales on their ancient migration routes. 85 bucks a ride at high speed to chase whale and offspring. The whale (watching) industry is almost as lucrative as in colonial times.

On the sub-urban frontier the British box hedges are grown with the help of the horticultural industry. Rip out these flouring Callistemons, in with wood chips and hedges from Elsewhere.
90% of Manly's sustainably cultured environment is now degraded by settler activities.
There are many native plants that could be planted or encouraged. Endemic plants (PDF) are of course the most appropriate fauna for the area. Many more food and habitat plants could be grown for the endemic fauna. Fruit for the Grey-headed Flying Fox, flowers for the Lorikeets, large trees for the many possums.
For human beings too urban agriculture could could co-exist with the 'bush'. A mapped fruit alert directs the communities' attention to appreciate the abundance of urban activism.

Holiday at the local pool

Just down from the Dee Why headland where the black cockatoos fed, the ocean raged. The local pool provides mega-fun for these mammals on holiday.

13 July 2005

Black - Cockatoos bringing rain...

All the heath at Dee Why Head is bursting in buds.The day was very overcast, when right at the top of the headland a piercing bird call went through the surf. There they were, 3 Yellow-tailed Black-Cockatoos (Calyptorhynchus funereus). A large adult was calling continuously while two juveniles were crushing the banksia-cones. With their stately 55 - 65 cm in lenght, a banksia-yellow patch on the cheek and a lot of yellow in their tail they look very impressive. They are not a common site and have undergone dramatic decline since Europeans changed the environment here. They are now classified as vulnerable. Here are some nice images of it flying with food and there is also some audio of its calling.

Here is another nice image of the Yellow-tailed Black-Cockatoo

11 July 2005

Air conditioners

In Manly, it is not necessary to get council approval to install an air-conditioner, so neighbours do not get a chance to object. If your neighbour wants to, they can put one right next to your house or in the garden. Anywhere they like! After they have, you can try to get council regulations or state laws enforced to control the use of them.

In Waverley, the Greens are trying to make these environmentally-damaging and noisy machines subject to council approval. This would give neighbours a chance to object before one is installed and add to the peace in neighbourhoods by avoiding conflicts. This proposal is described as “ahead of its time” and unlikely to pass. Only after every house has an air-conditioner, will this kind of approval process become law. Will our beach-side suburbs still be worth living in?

Terrorism in Sydney? No worries!

We don't need to worry about a London-style terrorist attack in Sydney. We don't have any public transport.” Overheard at a bus stop.

Bikes and Cycleways

Manly is one of the most bicycle-friendly suburbs in one of the most bicycle-unfriendly cities in the world. In Sydney, Manly is one of the only places with dedicated cycle paths. If you live near one it is possible to go shopping by bike without risking your life under the wheels of one of those large tractors which are so popular in this area. If they can't see their own children under their oversized tyres, they will also have trouble recognising the rights of a cyclist on their road.

Unlike European cities, where bike paths go almost everywhere, cyclists in Manly have to work out a safe strategy combining back-streets and bike paths. This works quite well. The beach has a bike path from north to south and the views are great. The tree cover of Norfolk pines protects you from the sun. The main competition is from pram drivers and pedestrians on weekends who have as little respect for bicycles as the city designers and motorists. Strange they don't push their prams on the roads where the cars go rather than on a bike path.

Recently some forward-looking town planners extended the cycle network by painting paths on existing streets. This is a step forward. In some places you get the impression they were planning especially for mountain bikes. The aim appears to be to challenge the rider. I have never seen a bike going up one steep road despite the white lines on it.

The most suitable candidates for cycle paths are roads which were made when cars had trouble climbing hills. These roads wind gradually up the hill. But you have to be a cyclist to come up with an idea like this, not a town planner.

If there were viable bike paths, people would get on bikes for everyday transport and shopping. It is much easier than other forms of transport. But first, people have to be convinced that you really can go places in safety.

Using satellite constellations to track dog

Lost your pack of dogs on the beach? in the national park? No problem- get your peace of mind now with GPS . Find out what wildlife Fido has caught today with the help of 24 satellites.

Update: (151005) This 'dog poo' is attracting a lot of searches (and footsteps). Can someone let me in on the story?


Cafes come and go in Manly, but Ground Zero has been dishing up good cups. It started really slick and designed, but with the years the grub settled and the take-away enlarged. At times the place gets really jammed with prams and develops into a creche with stuff flying everywhere over the lounge. Pick the right time and you'll still get a very good cup of coffee.

09 July 2005

Civilian war zone

Normal intersection in Manly today was akin to war-zone scenario. Huge tanks (4WDR) revving to show their tonnes of weight (shifted by fossil fuel), bullying pedestrians and small cars. Reckless driving, the curb is a pleasure to crack.

Meanwhile in the subs, the 1 m thick sandstone walls go up, chainsaws 24/7, grinding their way to more and more (of the same). The illusion is of course that they get a bit of peace behind their walled cities or just more capital gain?

Petrol-gardening in between the castles. British lawns without water, Camelias from Elsewhere, Roses from Overthere etc etc- but just make sure there is nothing Australian growing. Tidy edges with whipper-snippers pierce the air, the leafblower blurts. The soundscape of a battlefield.

Non-stop yelping of armies of white shitting fluffbags and neglected wolves tearing the last penguin, bandicoot or lizard. Obese cats pounce at the last little bird on the block. In the war of the species, 'man's best friends' will win over bio-diversity.

Walled and airconditioned castles that are called 'Tuscany', 'El Rancho', 'Riviera' and 'Windsor', hark into landsapes of the mind, anything but this place! When will they arrive? Another 200 years to accommodate to 'New found land' ?

The Common Indian Myna as a sign of degradation

"Why are mynas a problem?
In eastern Australia feral mynas have become a major urban nuisance, pose potential health risks to humans and livestock and have serious, negative impacts on biodiversity. Mynas are listed by the World Conservation Union as one of the World's 100 Worst Invasive Species." http://sres.anu.edu.au/associated/myna/index.html

Most of the action of 'civilising' this place benefits these feral bird pests. Clearing, housing, weeds (palms etc), dog & cat food, garbage, fast food outlets etc all provide rich resources for these pests to take over the habitat of native birds and possums. For humans they are a health risk. Dee Why is an environment where one has bred up a monoculture of these birds, filling the airspace and leaving their droppings everywhere.
As the natural assets of Manly suburbs are being stripped by exchange seekers the native flora and fauna is receding and the 'Dee why-isation' can be heard, seen and felt. Again it is the residents of the area, that moved here to 'have a better, greener environment for my children'. For more life-space the houses are enlarged from fence post to fence post. 'Let the neighbours provide some green'. And so it marches on and on...

Dog epidemic or 'the lap of luxury'

The Manly walkway is full of them, mostly white fluffy yappers. Held in the arms,in handbags, on leashes or just free range. Sometimes couples each have their own, or even three between them. In cafes the poodles get a little Persian rug under their bum. The bubblers are very handy for bum wiping - 'you know, the new carpet!' Where are the sociologists looking into these barbie-dogs and neglected family pets?

The freshly tiled path is studded with turds. Jogging delight! At night packs of mostly larger dogs are brought on to the beach by their owners. A birthright to take one's 'best friend' out into 'nature'. Next morning the bathers are rolling in it.The night is beyond any regulatory restrictions: freedom - real luxury!

Privatising bio-diversity on the foreshore

In the dark night of the protected foreshore, they move in, large buckets are filled up and wheeled away into well-to-do cars. The latest was a family, turning rocks in a haste, greedily torching anything that moved and looked edible. Feeling watched, they stuffed their loot into a rucksack, hopped into their flash 4WDR and raced off.
Although the rocky shores of Sydney's northern beaches are protected, the enforcement is weak. In Manly there are signs, approximately 2-3 m high informing of the fines. In a Wild-West manner all that over- regulation is ignored and the very last oyster is cracked off the rock. The oystercatcher just has to go 'elsewhere'.
Of course the public is free to do the policing, endless phone-numbers are available. Outsourcing the enforcement does not seem to work. But maybe the recommendations are all that is affordable to protect the remaining bio-diversity of the shores.
Who cares anyway?