Tag: South Australia
In Nathaniel Hawthorne’s gothic tale Rappacini’s Daughter, a young scholar falls in love with the lonely, cloistered daughter of a scientist who specialises in plant-based poisons, only to discover that this young woman — Beatrice — is in fact one of her father’s experiments, and has poisoned him by proximity.
Beatrice has breath that kills, is deadly to the touch, and has a “sister” who is an equally poisonous purple-flowered plant. She is called monstrous by her erstwhile lover — but it’s clear to the reader that she is the only really good and innocent character in Hawthorne’s tale.
Visitors to Adelaide Botanic Gardens in March were able to judge for themselves: Beatrice is currently in residence there, inside the Museum of Economic Botany — where (prior to the COVID-19 shutdown of galleries and museums) she was taking visitors.
This Beatrice is plush and purple and tentacled — more creature than woman. Whether visitors found her compelling or repellent might be the subject of artist Julia Robinson’s own experiment.
The creature’s tentacles are covered in lush silk, some of it shot through with iridescence — but this “skin” is patterned with small incisions, or gashes, through which nodules of incipient life bulge.
“My vision of Beatrice is that she’s this kind of metamorphic, loud, brash, birthing, splitting and hybridised creature that’s trying to break the edges of her boundaries to sort of tease herself out of this mess,” says Robinson.
Beatrice is part of the Adelaide Biennial of Australian Art, one of more than 120 works by 25 artists presented in an edition themed “Monster Theatres”, curated by the Art Gallery of South Australia’s Leigh Robb. It marks the 30th anniversary of the nation’s longest-running survey of Australian art.
Robinson was reading a book on poisons when she came across a reference to Rappacini’s Daughter.
At that point, Robb had already offered the Adelaide artist a spot within the Museum of Economic Botany — and she felt like serendipity put the idea in her path.
“I was like ‘Oh my God’, because it describes Beatrice as this toxic plant-woman,” Robinson recalls.
The setting of the museum is more poignant the longer you look: monstrous and monstered Beatrice is hemmed in by glass cases full of pinned specimens — while just outside the museum, in the gardens, her botanical habitat awaits.
The eye of the beholder
Like Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein before it, Rappacini’s Daughter turns the tables on the reader to reveal that the monster is in fact the man who created the “monstrous” being.
That the doctors in both stories care more for science than humankind, and are guided by arrogance rather than compassion, reveals a lot about the era that both authors were writing in.
But more timelessly, these tales reveal the secret truth of monsters: that like beauty, they are in the eye of the beholder; what to one person is monstrous, to another is wonderful.
And so this year’s Adelaide Biennial becomes a kind of litmus test of our times — for it reveals what each artist, and each audience member, most fears, loathes or rejects (in her curator’s essay, Leigh Robb points out that the Latin roots of “monster” are the words for “to warn” and “to show”).
Robb says she picked the artists before the theme: “I’d [initially] looked at 10 artists that I wanted to see together, and that I saw as representing really vital strands in Australian contemporary art practice, and ones that had either defined Australian art history or were in the process of reshaping it through pivotal new work, and shapeshifting, interdisciplinary practices.”
She says that the work of this core group of artists revealed common interests and trends: artists using narrative, figuration (as opposed to abstraction) and immersion to sound warnings about, or simply probe, major sources of trauma and anxiety — climate change, colonisation, patriarchy, to name a few biggies.
From there, she selected other artists and works that more explicitly fit her theme of “Monster Theatres”.
The resulting line-up takes us through from pioneering performance artist Mike Parr to young polymath provocateur Abdul Abdullah; from LA and London-based artist Polly Borland (famous for her 90s photo series Adult Babies) to local hero Karla Dickens.
This Biennial offers visitors Mike Bianco’s quixotic, intimate experience of “resting with bees” in the Botanic Gardens, on the one hand, and the spectacular robot-sculpture of veteran performance and body artist Stelarc, on the other.
Some works position themselves in opposition to particular monsters: Hobart-based artist Willoh S. Weiland says “patriarchy is the monster”, and has created a video tribute to the 300 women, most over the age of 50, who volunteer as guides at the Art Gallery of South Australia.
She presents her work inside a curtained, single-person “shrine” within the gallery, inviting visitors to pay tribute to these under-recognised (and often “invisible”) women who mediate many of our experiences with art in the gallery.
In the adjacent gallery space, Sydney artist Abdul Abdullah strikes out against the dynamics of exclusion, with Understudy: a spot-lit microphone on a small stage, with red curtains behind and seating rows in front — and one sole figure sitting expectantly, clothed in head-to-toe fake designer-wear, as if waiting for the main act.
Visitors who venture to the front of this faux theatre will see that the figure is a human-primate hybrid with large moist eyes and a snubbed skull-shaped nose — an uneasy mix of endearing and grotesque.
Abdullah’s work is one of several that pitch their camp at the threshold between horror and wonder, and are made by artists who are subverting mainstream ideas of what is “monstrous” or deserving of rejection.
For Perth duo Erin Coates and Anna Nazzari, the male-dominated cinema of “body horror” is ripe for an intervention: their short film Dark Water taps into tropes of the monstrous feminine, following a grieving young woman into a watery subterranean zone beneath her house, where her body is transformed or re-birthed.
The horror in Dark Water draws from a real medical syndrome: when one twin dies in the womb, sometimes the survivor absorbs their body — and carries remnants of their deceased sibling within their body for life.
Dark Water is the third film Coates and Nazzari have made together, and the result of roughly four years of work (including an army of volunteers and an elaborate hand-built backyard aquatic set — from which Coates’s lawn hasn’t recovered).
They spent months making the props, which include the fantastical aquatic lifeforms: “evolved” versions of species endemic to Western Australia’s coastal waters.
All their work together centres around ideas of women and water — specifically, the mythologies and superstitions around the sea and sailors. They share an interest in the aesthetics of Australian gothic and “eco horror”, and describe their work as “oceanic gothic”.
For Coates, an interest in the sea stems partly from growing up in the coastal town of Albany (a former whaling town), with a dad who is a diver; Nazzari, conversely, grew up in the landlocked, bone-dry mining town of Kalgoorlie, and developed a fascination with water from the perspective of scarcity.
Their interest in horror, meanwhile, is harder to pin down — but Coates says: “I think both of us — and we’ve talked about this before — have always had this interest in really looking at things closely, and not looking away.
“I remember as a child, if I saw a dead animal I’d always want to know what happened: How did it die? What did it look like inside? It was that sort of interest in biology; in the blood and guts of what’s inside of me.”
They see Dark Water as reclaiming the unique female potential of horror — a genre that has historically been made by and for men.
Nazzari says: “A lot of why women are interested in horror is to do with education and protecting and preserving yourself … We will happily watch the woman holding her car keys and being scared, because in some ways we’re thinking — how does that protect you?”
Coates chimes in: “I think also, when they say that horror and the abject is this unfamiliarity with the insides of our bodies, and this rejection of it — I don’t entirely agree with that. I think for women, we’re actually not unfamiliar with the insides of our bodies. We bleed every month and we give birth.”
The colonial nightmare
Bad scientists and body horror don’t just belong to fiction, of course — and one of the Biennial’s most compelling works is inspired by a real-life Australian monster.
In the Dead House, by Yhonnie Scarce (Kokatha/Nukunu peoples), responds to Adelaide Botanic Gardens’ dark history as a site where Scottish-born doctor and anthropologist William Ramsay Smith conducted experiments on the corpses of Aboriginal people and “unclaimed” bodies, in his position as Adelaide Coroner.
Ramsay Smith’s own writings reveal he robbed graves for his collection; he also stole remains from Aboriginal burial grounds. After his death, 182 skulls were found in his home.
“He had this macabre interest in decapitating Aboriginal bodies and sending their remains internationally — mostly to the UK,” says Scarce.
“Because he was the coroner, it’s almost like he had free rein.”
Scarce’s installation occupies a small square brick building that was formerly a morgue attached to the Adelaide Lunatic Asylum.
Inside, 30 bulbous forms in translucent, cloudy glass are arranged in careful rows. Scarce explains that these are “bush bananas”, endemic to central and western Australia.
Each bulb has been cut open, with the glass curling outwards from each wound, like skin.
“They’ve been cut open to represent that old way of dissecting bodies. It was really important to show that disrespect [with which Ramsay Smith treated the bodies] — the flaying of the bananas was done very roughly.”
The installation has the feeling of a memorial, and like a lot of Scarce’s previous works, it deals with “unnamed” victims of historical violence.
Scarce was born in Woomera, South Australia, and has made work about the effects of 20th-century nuclear testing on the Kokatha people and members of her family.
“For me, it’s really important that I make work that is about these types of stories,” she says.
A dark circus
The monsters in Wiradjuri artist Karla Dickens’ work are more abstract but no less real than William Ramsay Smith.
Her Dickensian Country Show takes over an entire gallery space and turns it into a “fun fair” with a dark twist: there’s a “Colonial Roundabout”, and rides titled “Live Stock” and “Warn a Brother” — each of these repurposing vintage carnival rides to create sinister allusions.
Around the perimeter of the room, dense collage-work “posters” mash up 19th and 20th-century carnival and circus imagery with text to provocative effect: a nightmarish assemblage of monster masks sits alongside hand-written text reading “True horror is Australia’s history of massacring its first people”.
Another poster shows Pauline Hanson in a clown nose and a blood-spattered ruff.
A spoof of a “palm reading” poster reads: “You don’t need a third eye to see the planet’s f*%ked.”
Koalas are everywhere — lightening the mood, but also avatars for country and environment.
The effect of this maximalist gallery space is almost like a 3D collage.
“Why I love collage so much is that people come in here and it’s triggering stuff in their memory,” says Dickens.
“Once people’s memories are opened a little bit, then their hearts are a bit more engaged.”
A Dickensian Country Show takes as its springboard Australia’s chequered Indigenous circus history — from 20th-century “Wizard of Wire” Con Colleano (who “passed” as Spanish during his career) to boxing tent champs like Jack Hassen and Jerry Jerome.
In the 19th and early 20th centuries, Indigenous Australians were kidnapped and forced to perform in circuses (including PT Barnum’s Greatest Show on Earth), but over the ensuing decades, many of them adapted the form and made it their own — in some cases (like Colleano, who was world famous) turning it to their advantage.
“And the thing about circus too is that people were embraced — the misfits and the outcasts. Your colour or your disabilities were celebrated, not shunned,” says Dickens.
A Dickensian Country Show is a major work, and Dickens has created a counterpart titled A Dickensian Circus in the foyer of the Art Gallery of NSW, as part of the Biennale of Sydney.
Work of this scale was only possible thanks to a $80,000 visual arts fellowship from the Copyright Agency, and funding from Create NSW.
Death Song for country
Next door to Karla Dickens’ warped “country show” is an assemblage of rocks, rusted steel drums, wire and supersized drill bits that looks vaguely ominous — almost like an instrument of torture.
In fact it’s an instrument of sound, designed to be played by musicians using modified bows; the rocks are suspended by wires such that they produce different pitches (effectively, it’s a very unwieldy string instrument).
Quandamooka artist Megan Cope conceived this instrument as a way to recreate the distinctive, eerie cry of the yellow-eyed Bush Stone curlew, which is often likened to the wailing of a woman or baby. It’s a bird that is both native and thriving on her home of Minjerribah (North Stradbroke Island) but endangered in New South Wales and Victoria.
For Cope, colonisation, capitalism and our ‘extraction mindset’ are the monsters.
The seed of the idea for her Biennial work, which is titled Untitled (Death Song), was sown in an earlier sound work, from 2018, in which she built an instrument using rocks from the Newcastle region (the lands of the Awabakal people) “to enable the elements of country to sing its story of change upon colonisation”.
The drill bits used in Untitled (Death Song) come from mining machinery; the rocks are from the South Australian Museum: “They’re millions of years old … [but] we overlook their knowledge,” says the artist.
When curator Leigh Robb approached Cope about being part of the Monster Theatres exhibition, the artist immediately knew she wanted to produce another sound work — “because we’re just so overstimulated, visually, these days — and we’re not really listening to the warnings”.
“And I think there’s a lot of warnings [to listen to],” she adds.
“In our culture we learn [to hear] those warnings through the process of listening — with your eyes and with your ears.”
Cope’s hope is that the musicians who play her instrument — who are asked to learn how to mimic the curlew call — are able to “connect with these deeper concepts in the work, through that process of slowing down and focusing on the call of the bird”.
Adelaide Biennial of Australian Art opened on February 28. It is currently temporarily closed due to the shutdown of museums and galleries in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The writer travelled to Adelaide with the assistance of the Art Gallery of South Australia.
Halls Gap 3381
The Schoon family are used to travelling the world, but not like this.
- The caravan industry estimates there could be 75,000 travellers stuck in caravan parks across the country
- With many states and territories closing their borders, travellers are stuck amid reports supermarkets will only sell to locals
- The Prime Minister has made it clear that people who are stuck are essential travellers and should be welcome in caravan parks
During their fourth visit to Australia from Belgium, they find themselves stranded in one of the country’s many caravan parks with nowhere else to go.
They’ve booked flights out of the country only to see them cancelled.
“Nobody knows exactly how long we will be stuck here and that’s a strange feeling,” Koen Schoon said.
Tens of thousands of travellers could be stuck in Australia’s caravan parks, as Australia’s states and territories tighten their borders due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Queensland, South Australia, Western Australia, Tasmania and the Northern Territory have all introduced tough new border restrictions, as Australia’s coronavirus cases pass 2,000.
The Caravan Industry Association of Australia estimates there could be 75,000 people in the country’s caravan parks at the moment.
“There’s a lot who can’t get home and they need to bunker down and get a safe place to ride this out,” the association’s general manager Chris Johnson said.
International travellers can’t get flights out
Mr Schoon and his wife are travelling around Australia in a small van with their three young children.
They are stuck in the Grampians National Park in western Victoria, at the Halls Gap Lakeside Tourist Park.
“Some people are saying it could be one month and others talk about six months,” he said.
“I’ve called the embassy in Canberra, but it’s the first time everyone is dealing with this.”
The Schoons were six weeks into their Australian adventure and were due to fly home at the end of April.
“For the kids it’s a long holiday and they like the weather, and the animals, and at the moment they can play outside,” Mr Schoon said.
“I’m worried about the financial side. My work will pay for one more month and then it will stop.”
But he was remaining positive.
“It is stressful, but if there is one place I would want to be right now it’s in Australia,” he said.
“It’s a good place to be and it’s a safe place. It’s worse in Belgium. People have to stay inside and everything is closed. Social lives have gone.
“If everybody here stays at home, maybe in two weeks the virus might be gone.”
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Towns not so caravan-friendly as they once were
For many Australians, jumping in the caravan and travelling around the country for months at a time is a tradition.
This year, though, it is posing a few extra challenges.
Rene and Julie Thalmann have rented out their Gold Coast home until June and have been travelling for months in their caravan.
“We are virtually stranded and if everywhere closes, it would be challenging,” Mr Thalmann said.
“My stress levels will rise when we have to figure out how to get across two state borders once our home is available again.”
Some regional towns have called on caravaners to stay away, worried they might bring the virus in.
“We are now seeing a lot of towns that would have been caravan-friendly and now they aren’t,” Mr Thalmann said.
“We can only try to explain our situation. Most of the caravaners — we are 65 and 60 — it’s in their interest to practise social distancing anyway, and we have been doing that for a month.
“I feel that, deep down, we are all still humans and eventually it will become clear that we need to find solutions.”
Confusion clears for caravan park owners
On Tuesday night, the Federal Government made it clear that caravan parks should not take in non-essential travellers.
The Caravan Industry Association of Australia’s Chris Johnson said that cleared up a lot of confusion.
“There was a lot of confusion as to what was essential travel and what was not,” he said.
“The Government has seen that workers, people who live within caravan parks, and also people who are travelling around Australia and cannot get back to their place of residence, are classed as essential travellers and are welcome at caravan parks.”
Josephina and Rohan McDonald own and operate the Halls Gap Lakeside Tourist Park where the Thalmanns and Schoons have been staying.
Earlier in the week, they decided to stop taking bookings, despite there being no clear direction from governments if that was the course of action needed to be taken.
“My core business is non-essential travel, so I used my common sense and knowledge and thought we couldn’t continue to operate,” Josephina McDonald said.
“We tried to make a plan A, B and C, but we didn’t get much further than A.”
The park is only taking people who have nowhere to go, and they have set up an online form for people to fill out.
“We have to differentiate between essential and non-essential, and we are being very careful and dealing with it case by case,” Ms McDonald said.
“I will ring them up afterwards and chat to them about their situation.
“We are still charging $20 for a site, but we also have a few cabins where people can self-isolate if they need to.”
Business is suffering
Ms McDonald said she had cancelled $500,000 in forward bookings.
The Easter school holidays are typically a busy time, and the Grampians is one of Victoria’s biggest drawcards.
“We have had to lay off staff so they can go to Centrelink and work out their situations,” Ms McDonald said.
“The honest truth is you wake up extremely positive and the next day you’re flat and aware of the fact you might not be standing by the end of it. It’s just horrible.”
Ms McDonald said, while her business was suffering, she felt happy she could at least provide a roof for those with nowhere to turn.
“There are people who are desperate and are stuck,” she said.
“I have a strong feeling we will go into a lockdown — there are a lot of people out there who don’t have a house or a roof over their heads.”
Your questions on coronavirus answered:
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A two-month-old boy has died in hospital and a Victorian man has been arrested after two vehicles collided at an Adelaide Hills intersection.
- The driver of the car in which the baby suffered fatal injuries has been arrested
- Four people were inside the station wagon when it collided with a van
- A short time later, a motorcyclist was killed in the Riverland
The baby was one of four people in a station wagon when it crashed with a van at Cromer near Birdwood on Saturday.
Emergency services were called to the scene at the intersection of Lucky Hit Road and Warren Road about 12:45pm.
All four occupants of the station wagon — a woman, a man and two young children — were taken to the Lyell McEwin Hospital in Adelaide’s north.
However, police said the condition of the two-month-old worsened and he was transferred to the Women’s and Children’s Hospital.
“Sadly, the child died last night,” police said in a statement on Sunday morning.
The driver of the station wagon — a 42-year-old Victorian man — was arrested and charged with death by dangerous driving, and will face court next month.
Two men who were in the van suffered minor injuries.
The boy was the 25th person to die as a result of a road crash in South Australia this year.
The crash happened less than two hours before a motorcyclist hit a stobie pole on Goolwa Street at Renmark North in the Riverland.
Police said paramedics “worked desperately” to revive the man, but he died at the scene.
It’s perfectly reasonable to be curious, maybe even a little excited, at the prospect of the charity exhibition match the AFL is holding in Melbourne tonight.
At face value, it has the potential to be a really fun, memorable evening. You’ve got two teams loaded with basically the best of the AFL’s best, in front of what will be a very decent crowd and all for an incredibly decent cause.
It’s an event that ought to defy cynicism, and surely would have if not for one piece of pesky branding.
From the day the idea was first mooted, this game has taken on a double life; one as a heartfelt and invaluable means of fundraising for victims of this summer’s bushfires, and the other as the grand return of one of Australian rules football’s grandest old traditions, State of Origin.
Even when large portions of the country pointed out that All Stars is, in fact, not a state or territory of Australia, the branding has remained. Players and pundits and fans have spoken of their excitement at reviving the format, of donning the Big V and representing Victoria just as Lockett and Dunstall and Roos once did.
More than that, the game will inevitably spark further discussion and debate as to the future of the format. The rumblings have already begun, but should the match go well — and absolutely everything is in place to ensure it does — there will be ever more cries to make State of Origin a thing again.
Most involved in the debate will focus on the “how” of it all — how should it be scheduled in relation to the club season? How do we get the best players involved? How do we convince players and clubs to jeopardise their seasons for what is essentially a friendly match?
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But perhaps the more pertinent question, 20 years after the last proper State of Origin match was played and in what is now a truly national competition, is “why?”
Given its half-hearted approach to reviving the format, featuring only one actual state team, it seems the AFL isn’t even completely committed to the entire concept of ‘State of Origin’ for the modern age, and there are justifiable reasons for why that might be so.
State of Origin was once the only chance for the likes of Western Australia and South Australia to be represented on a national footballing scale. That is quite clearly no longer the case.
It was an opportunity for the SA and WA players to prove a point against the perceived evil empire of Victoria — to ‘Kick a Vic’, as it was elegantly put. Those opportunities now exist every week.
The games were opportunities to attract above-average crowds with an above-average spectacle in a time when the league — the VFL that is — was struggling financially. This is far less of an urgent priority.
It’s been close to 30 years since State of Origin held real relevance in Australian rules football. Those who played in and cheered on those classic games in the 70s and especially the 80s will understandably insist on its charm, but for a younger generation — the one the AFL is most desperate to entice — it’s a relic of a bygone era.
All of this is not to say that something similar can not work or should not be investigated. Getting the league’s best players together for an all-action kickabout, especially in the name of charity, is surely a worthwhile endeavour in any context.
And perhaps the solution has already been teased by the AFL — forget Victoria, what about the All Stars?
Would taking state allegiances out of tonight’s game make it any less watchable? Is the collection of players chucked together under the white and gold banner of ‘The Rest’ any less intriguing than those wearing a Big V? Wouldn’t taking all restrictions off player selection just make things more fun?
Given the AFL’s love of all things American sport, they might consider taking a leaf out of the book of NBA All Star weekend or the Pro Bowl. There could be room for skills challenges, goalkicking contests, get Liam Ryan and Jeremy Howe to go nuts on a specky bag for half an hour, anything is possible. They could make a day of it, raise some decent money, make it a spectacle for everyone, not just nostalgic Victorians.
Maybe they could even schedule the AFLW game, played for premiership points and with actual stakes, as the prime-time main event rather than a lobbed-in curtain raiser.
Is this an essential event for the future of the AFL? Probably not. The league is thriving, with or without State of Origin or an All Star game or AFLX or any other glitzy add-on. It has the luxury of contemplating such extravagances without any boom-or-bust consequences attached.
But if this is a route the AFL is determined to go down, and all evidence suggests it probably is, turning back the clock in such a half-hearted way may not be the long-term answer.
Tonight, the entirety of the AFL community will come together for a worthy cause. In the future, the only way to service the entirety of the AFL community is to look forward, not back to the game’s more isolated past.
The Victorian Government will begin rolling out a four-bin kerbside recycling scheme across the state next year and introduce a container deposit scheme by 2023 as part of a $129 million overhaul of Victoria’s recycling industry.
- The plan is expected to reduce waste going to landfill by 80 per cent in ten years
- Details of the container deposit scheme are yet to be determined
- Forty local government areas will add a recycling bin for glass only next year with others to make the addition as they sign new kerbside recycling collection contracts
Premier Daniel Andrews said the aim of the overhaul was to reduce the total waste from residents and industry going to landfill by 80 per cent by 2030.
However, Mr Andrews said the details of the container deposit scheme would be finalised following further consultation with industry and local government.
Every other state and territory in Australia has already introduced or announced such a scheme.
Mr Andrews and Minister for Environment Lily D’Ambrosio announced the Recycling Victoria package at Spotswood, where Hobsons Bay City Council has already put a four-bin system in place.
The addition of a bin specifically for glass is expected to reduce contamination and improve the quality and reliability for end users of recycled materials.
Mr Andrews said the extra bins would be paid for as part of the $129 million funding package through the Sustainability Fund.
He said the new bins would start to be introduced in 2021 as the kerbside collection contracts for about 40 local governments come to an end.
The remainder of councils will add glass bins as they renew their new kerbside recycling collection contracts.
Waste collection will also become classified as an “essential service”, with a specific act introduced to Parliament and a new statewide waste authority.
Mr Andrews declined to answer questions on measures to improve the disposal and reuse of recycled materials, saying more announcements would be made later in the week.
Inquiry triggered by industry crisis
A parliamentary inquiry last year into recycling and waste management found a container deposit scheme could reduce litter and boost the Victorian Government’s budget by about half a billion dollars over 10 years.
The inquiry was triggered by an industry crisis that led to some recyclers going bankrupt and household recycling in some areas ending up in landfill.
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It made 46 recommendations, including creating a container deposit scheme, providing an extra kerbside bin to households and developing the state’s waste-to-energy technologies.
In January 2018, China’s ban on the importation of 24 types of recyclable materials sent Australia’s waste management industry, which indirectly employs around 50,000 people, into a tailspin.
Victoria’s recycling system has been plunged further into chaos after the state’s largest kerbside recycling company was declared insolvent in the Supreme Court.
Victoria last to get on board
In 1977, South Australia set up the first container deposit scheme in Australia, followed by the Northern Territory in 2012, NSW in 2017 and the ACT and Queensland in 2018.
Both Western Australia and Tasmania have also now committed to schemes, leaving Victoria the last state to announce plans to introduce one.
The Victorian Opposition committed earlier this month to introducing a container deposit scheme if it won the next state election to reduce litter and help clubs and groups fundraise.
Victorian Greens MP Ellen Sandell said the Greens had been campaigning on the issue for more than a decade and welcomed the State Government’s decision.
However, she said the scheme should be established as soon as possible.
South Australia is emerging as a location of choice for cutting-edge aviation projects, with a local company reaching a deal to build electric planes just days after another milestone in the state’s outback.
- BAE Systems has successfully tested a solar-powered aircraft in SA’s outback
- It is capable of staying aloft for up to a year, the company said
- An Adelaide company will become the first to make electric aeroplanes in Australia
SA-based Eyre to There Aviation today said it would become the country’s first manufacturer of electric planes, after signing an agreement with European aircraft maker Pipistrel.
It comes two days after British defence giant BAE Systems revealed a solar-powered, unmanned military aircraft had completed its first flight at Woomera, in the state’s outback.
The Persistent High Altitude Solar Aircraft (PHASA-35) “has the potential to stay airborne for a year” without touching down on land, the company said.
BAE Systems engineering director Ian Muldowney said it took less than two years for the aircraft to go from design to its maiden flight above the Royal Australian Air Force’s Woomera test range earlier this month.
“This is an outstanding early result that demonstrates the pace that can be achieved when we bring the best of British capability together,” Mr Muldowney said.
“To go from design to flight in less than two years shows that we can rise to the challenge the UK Government has set industry to deliver a future combat air system within the next decade.”
The aircraft, which has a 35-metre wingspan, was built in collaboration with the company’s Slovenian subsidiary Prismatic, BAE Systems said.
It said the aircraft was a “persistent and affordable alternative to satellites” and could be used for surveillance and communications, including the 5G network.
Further flight trials are scheduled for later this year.
Electric planes to reduce reliance on fossil fuels
Meanwhile, Eyre to There Aviation today said its deal with Pipistrel would allow it to build up to 100 Alpha Electro aircraft every year in Adelaide, providing 20 jobs.
The two-seat plane will be tailored for use in flight schools, with a short take-off distance and a 1,000-feet-per-minute climb capability.
Managing director Barrie Rogers said electric aircraft had a range of benefits, including avoiding fossil fuels.
“We’re using battery technology rather than fuel technology, less maintenance and from a training point of view, obviously, a lot less operating cost,” he said.
Mr Rogers said he hoped the deal would encourage other countries to use electric aircraft for training.
“More importantly, I think it’s about Australia getting recognised on the global scale [with] technology such as this,” he said.
Charitable organisations around Australia say they are seeing a major decline in their funds due to the many generous donations made to those affected by Australia’s recent bushfires.
- The Little Heroes Foundation chairman says donations have ground to a halt
- He says many Australian charities are struggling due to the many bushfire appeals
- A woman diagnosed with cancer in 2017 says charities provide vital support
Adelaide-based charity Little Heroes Foundation, which helps seriously ill children, is on the brink of closing its doors after 24 years of operating, with donations coming to a complete standstill.
It comes after strong financial support for victims of South Australia’s recent bushfire disasters, as well as victims of the bushfire disasters in Victoria, New South Wales and Victoria.
Little Heroes chairman Chris McDermott said he was holding onto a sliver of hope the charity would make it through, but he was not sure what the future looked like.
“It’s probably the least confident I’ve ever been, but again, the reality is the families challenged by serious illness, whether it be cancer or other serious illness, they’re still there and they still need help,” Mr McDermott said.
He said since December, donations and contributions from the public had ground to a halt.
“The way the Australian public have rallied to the [bushfire] cause has been one of the most inspirational things I have ever witnessed,” he said.
“On the flip side, it has impacted a lot of other charities, which you sort of understand, but for us that aren’t government funded it’s made a huge impact.
“Because we’re not government funded we rely on every dollar we make through events or donations and that has come to an absolute standstill. It’s pretty tough times.
“All charities in terms of donations at the moment are finding it difficult and it’s certainly our toughest time in our 24 years.”
Five in six Australians give financially to charities or not-for-profit organisations, with 20 per cent of people donating once a month, according to the Australian Community Trends Report, published last year.
According to the report, charities recorded a total revenue of $142.8 billion in the past year.
Charities a necessary support for sick Australians
Jeanne Moloney-Nicholls, 58, was diagnosed with invasive breast cancer in 2017.
She said her experience showed why supporting charities was vital.
“I’ve had a double mastectomy, 11 lymph nodes, my brachial nerve all removed. I’ve had six months of chemotherapy where I lost all of my hair, my eyebrows, eyelashes,” she said.
“I had 25 radiation sessions, which I was pretty much burnt severely, bright red, blistered burns, which to me was probably the most horrific part of the journey.”
After her treatment was complete, Ms Moloney-Nicholls moved to Adelaide, where she has been visiting the Cancer Care Centre.
The not-for-profit organisation, which is funded through a combination of memberships and donations from the public, provides cancer patients with a wide range of complementary care to enhance their wellbeing.
Ms Moloney-Nicholls said the service was beneficial for people with cancer.
“It’s all the ongoing side effects that I don’t think people are aware of,” she said.
“They think once you have surgery that’s it, you must be back to normal, but you have to find your new normal and it’s not who you used to be.
“Places like the Cancer Care Centre would find it very hard to exist without the kindness and generosity of the donors.”
Central Queensland Mc 4702
John Lever has been catching, nurturing, breeding, showing and selling crocodiles from his Queensland farm for almost 40 years, but don’t go comparing him to Steve Irwin.
- John and Lillian Lever opened a crocodile farm near Yeppoon in 1981
- The Koorana Crocodile Farm houses up to 5,000 at a time, and sells skins and meat
- These days, skins are not making a profit, so the farm is downsizing and will focus more on tourism
Born in Melbourne, Mr Lever, 77, opened one of Queensland’s first crocodile farms in 1981 after studying at an agricultural college and then working at the CSIRO — a job he said became “boring”.
In the early years of the business, Mr Lever traded crocodiles with Steve Irwin’s father, Bob, for display at Australia Zoo.
“I got on really well with Bob and then when Steve started to grow up and got this passion about protection of everything — not conservation, protection of everything — he and I parted ways,” Mr Lever said.
“We both love crocodiles — he loved them.
“I admire [the Irwins’] passion for crocodiles, I don’t admire the philosophy of protectionism.”
The Koorana Crocodile Farm houses anywhere between 3,000 and 5,000 crocodiles at a time.
“It is a commercial farm, we make no apologies for that,” Mr Lever said.
“Our cash flow comes from selling skins and meat.
“I’m a mad keen crocodile conservationist, mad keen, and really unless you make them worth money it’s hard to conserve them.
“This is a potentially dangerous, unloved animal.
“Most people only want to conserve the things they love, only love the things they understand, and only understand those things they’re prepared to share time and space with.”
Wild crocs as pets
Mr Lever has provided a home to many wild crocodiles over the past 40 years with the help of his wife, Lillian, and four sons Simon, Matthew, Jason, and Adam.
The farm recently lost beloved five-metre, one-tonne crocodile Rocky who grew up alongside Adam.
“It’s a shame when you see these big powerful replicas of dinosaurs, survivors of the past, in their demise. It’s really sad,” Mr Lever said.
“When Adam started doing the tours, Rocky was his favourite.”
Rocky was not your average crocodile. He spent the first part of his life as a family pet in the Torres Strait Islands.
“He was caught in a fish bait trap on Thursday Island and the guy who caught him thought he looked so cute that he’d take it home and give it to his kids as a pet,” Mr Lever said.
“So the little crocodile went into the family home, was kept in the bathroom for a while and then as it got bigger they put him out in a tank, so they had a separate area for him.
“But all the time when the kids had a bath, Rocky was in the bath with them. He was a pet.”
Rocky’s unusual upbringing meant he arrived at the farm in 1982 with a unique personality.
“When you get a crocodile from the wild they get really spooked with household sounds like human conversation and music, the smells of a household … but here we had a crocodile [who had] grown up with all of that,” Mr Lever said.
“When he arrived here at 1.8 metres long and about 20 kilograms, we were astounded to find that he ate the next day and I thought, ‘Wow, this is good’.
“Walking up to his pen, he didn’t rush to the water and try to hide. He just stayed out and looked at us lovingly and so he became one of our favourites really early on.”
Rocky died in early January from organ failure caused by a suspected infection.
His head and skin will be treated and displayed on the crocodile farm’s restaurant ceiling in honour of his life.
As well as selling crocodile meat and skin, Mr Lever supplies young crocodiles to schools, zoos, and other demonstrators across Australia.
“The law says [demonstrators] are not allowed to use [the croc] if it’s over 1.2 metres long,” he said.
“We started supplying crocodiles at about 70 centimetres long and then when that crocodile got to 1.2 metres long, they could send it back to us and we’d give them another one.
“From our point of view, someone else is paying for the rearing of that crocodile and we get it back — because they’re always kept on their own — in pristine condition, absolutely lovely condition and very quiet.
“We didn’t have a problem with aggression or anything like that with these crocs.”
Mr Lever sells more than 30 crocodiles a year to individuals and businesses.
“We’ve already sold a five-metre one to Dubai, the one in Melbourne aquarium is ours, there’s one in Istanbul as well,” he said.
“In Victoria and South Australia, you’re allowed to have crocodiles as a pet, so we’re into the pet trade as well.”
Where to next?
Selling crocodile skin and meat has been the farm’s main focus for the past 40 years, but Mr Lever said his focus had changed.
“I was going to be retired about 20 years ago. It didn’t happen, it’s not likely to happen now,” he said.
“Financially the international industry has had a downturn, and this is very sad for us at this stage because we’ve got all of these crocodiles on the farm ready to sell.”
With around 3,000 crocs, they go through about a tonne of chicken necks and heads each week.
Mr Lever said keeping the crocs clean and well fed was a big investment.
“We’ve got all this investment in these crocodiles and the amount of money we get for the skins won’t even pay for the food that was spent over that four years,” he said.
“We’ve got a change in philosophy now. We’re going to focus more on tourism.
“For the past five years, every spare dollar we’ve had has gone into building infrastructure to grow better skins.
“Now we’re going to downsize the number of crocodiles. We’re not collecting from the wild anymore.
“We’re just going to get the eggs we produce on the farm and that’s going to be enough.”
An overseas trip during a bushfire crisis has created a headache for another Australian political leader, with SA Premier Steven Marshall apologising for “any confusion” created by his unannounced week-long trade mission to Singapore and Japan.
- Mr Marshall said it was important to promote South Australia to overseas tourists
- He conceded the announcement of his upcoming trip could have been handled better
- The Premier left for a week-long trade mission days after replacing David Ridgway as Tourism Minister
Mr Marshall left the state on Monday — two days after he announced he would take over as Tourism Minister from David Ridgway.
The Premier defended that decision on the grounds the portfolio would keep Mr Ridgway overseas too often to help Kangaroo Island’s bushfire-ravaged tourism industry, but Labor has accused the Government of hypocrisy.
“It perhaps wasn’t a good look for him to be leaving only hours after he told South Australians that he should be Tourism Minister, and that he needed to be here on the ground,” Shadow Treasurer Stephen Mullighan said.
Deputy Premier Vickie Chapman said it was important that Mr Marshall took “every opportunity” to ensure that “we sell to the world that we are open for business”.
But Mr Marshall, who is currently in Singapore, today conceded the announcement of the trip could have been handled better.
“I think we should have made it definitely a lot clearer to the people of South Australia exactly what the trip was about, what it was intending to achieve,” he told ABC Radio Adelaide.
“I think we probably should have called a press conference, but it was a busy morning that morning with one of three extraordinary Cabinet meetings … and if I’ve got it wrong, I apologise.
“I apologise if people have had any confusion, but this is a really important trip for South Australia.”
Correcting ‘misconceptions’ key for tourism, Premier says
Mr Marshall said the trip focussed on critical areas like tourism, attracting international students and investment, as well as correcting “some of the misconceptions” about Australia’s bushfires.
“While I’ve even been here in Singapore, people were saying to me ‘I hear the whole of Australia is burning down at the moment’,” he said.
“We’ve got to be on the front foot in terms of tourism and making sure that we can keep our tourism numbers up and our travellers up and continue to promote Kangaroo Island, the Adelaide Hills and of course, the whole of South Australia.
“It’s been planned for a long period of time … and while I’m here, it’s already proven to be extraordinarily beneficial.”
The Government previously said Mr Marshall made four trips to Kangaroo Island in two weeks, and would be heading there again upon his return.
It said the overseas trip had been announced before the fire crisis, in the Government Gazette in December — a claim rejected by Labor.
“What was published in the Gazette was that Vickie Chapman would be acting premier during the Premier’s absence — it didn’t say where he would be absent to,” Mr Mullighan said.
The Opposition also said Mr Marshall had not learnt anything from Prime Minister Scott Morrison, who was widely condemned for holidaying while Australia’s bushfires intensified before Christmas.
The Kangaroo Island fires have now burned through more than 200,000 hectares of land, killed 43,000 livestock animals, an estimated 30,000 koalas and affected over 200 producers, according to Livestock SA.
This week authorities said 65 homes were destroyed by the island’s fires which also claimed the lives of respected pilot Dick Lang and his son Clayton, an experienced surgeon.
Animal welfare agencies now hold grave concerns for the ongoing survival of koalas, kangaroos and pademelons still being found alive as starvation becomes a threat.
Stay across our bushfire coverage:
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- Government pledges $50m for fire-affected wildlife as koalas may become endangered
- First all-Indigenous NSW firefighting crews protecting sacred sites, remote communities
- Australia fires photos show startling transformation before and after destruction
- We crunched the numbers on bushfires and arson — the results might surprise you
- Analysis: As Australia burns, Scott Morrison is rattling off an alibi
- Wildlife experts say over a billion animals now dead in NSW bushfires
The only sealed road linking Western Australia and South Australia reopened this morning after being closed for 12 days because of bushfires.
The closure of the Eyre Highway left hundreds of Nullarbor travellers and truck drivers trapped on both sides of the border.
Authorities reopened the 1,600-kilometre highway at 7:00am local time after fire conditions eased.
Frustrated and tired travellers were trapped on either side of the Nullarbor Plain while a bushfire burning near Norseman in Western Australia kept the highway closed to all traffic.
WA Department of Fire and Emergency Services (DFES) Superintendent Andy Duckworth said motorists should be patient as they travel through.
“We appreciate everyone is frustrated and tired so we’ve taken these extraordinary measures over the last few days to keep people safe,” he said.
“The last thing we want now is for people to perhaps be involved in a road traffic crash.”
He said people should drive with care, adhere to the speed limits, be patient if they needed to overtake and be sensible on their journey.
Authorities were staggering the release of traffic to avoid congestion and had flown in extra police officers to patrol the highway.
But Goldfields-Esperance Sergeant Dave Christ said he encouraged people to postpone their travel.
“The advice is to wait at least a day or a couple of days to just give the traffic a chance to clear itself and make your trip a lot smoother,” he said.
The decision to reopen both the Eyre Highway and Coolgardie-Esperance Highway was made after fire conditions eased in the area.
Supt Duckworth said the fires were at advice level but still uncontained.
“There’s still work to be done and obviously as the weather changes so can the situation,” he said.
“We’ll be monitoring and working hard over the next few days, potentially weeks, to get these fires controlled and extinguished.”
Travellers stranded for days
The ABC spoke to visitors from Victoria, New South Wales, Queensland and South Australia who were caught up in the extended closures.
While some were frustrated, most praised emergency services and volunteers in the towns in which they were stranded.
Glenda Allen from Warrnambool was in stuck in Esperance for six days and said she was “absolutely ecstatic” to be heading home.
Adelaide truck driver Glenn Freestone said the closures had “crippled” the transport industry.
“Out of the past month, I’ve been stuck for 22 days,” he said.
“I can’t wait to get back on the road, and hopefully if everyone plays nice we will get there safely.”
An ‘unprecedented’ situation
Coles and Woolworths said the closure had impacted the supply of some fresh produce in stores this week.
The companies used other transport options like rail to bring in products and minimise the impact.
WA’s peak road transport body said while fresh fruit and vegetables would return to shelves in the next few days, it would take much longer for farmers to recover.
Western Roads Federation chief executive Cam Dumesny said closing the vital route for nearly two weeks was unprecedented and would have significant consequences for the state’s economy.
“We have a lot of our produce growers here in WA who were sending their seasonal produce across to the east,” he said.
“Because of this closure, they’ve probably missed a fair chunk of their profits for the season.
“It’ll take some time to stabilise.”
Mr Dumesny applauded DFES, police, volunteers and the communities who supported the stranded motorists.
But he said the state would “need to take a deep breath once this is over and have a hard look at how we’ve managed it”.
“I think there’s some hard lessons we need to learn … how we look after people out there, sustain them and keep them updated with what’s going on.”
The AFL has become the latest sporting organisation to announce plans to support bushfire relief, including $2.5 million in donations and a one-off State of Origin match at Docklands next month.
AFL chief Gillon McLachlan made the announcement of the Origin clash between a Victorian and an Allies side, adding the league, clubs and players were joining together to provide a $1 million donation to the Australian Red Cross relief fund.
The State of Origin match will be played as a double-header with the Collingwood-Melbourne AFLW match — previously scheduled for February 29 — which will be moved from Victoria Park to Docklands.
The Victorian side will be guided by Richmond premiership coach Damien Hardwick, while the All-Stars will be coached by the Sydney Swans’ John Longmire.
All AFL clubs will be asked to make at least three players available for the match.
The last time State of Origin football was played involving AFL players was in 1999, when Victoria played South Australia at the MCG.
Nine years later, a one-off game — the AFL Hall of Fame tribute match — was played at the MCG, when a Victorian line-up beat the Dream Team (a composite side from other states and territories) to celebrate the 150th anniversary of Australian rules football.
The AFL would also set up a $1.5 million community relief fund to help rebuild football clubs damaged in fires, as well as helping football communities dealing with the aftermath of fires.
AFL’s bushfires response
- $1 million donation to Australian Red Cross Relief Fund
- $1.5 million AFL fund to rebuild, repair football clubs in fire-affected areas
- One-off State of Origin match, Victoria v Allies on February 28 at Docklands
- Match to be played as double-header with Collingwood v Melbourne AFLW as bushfire fundraisers
- AFLW clubs to support bushfire donation collection points at matches in the 2020 season
- $2.5m donation split between the AFL ($1.35m), clubs ($900,000) and players ($250,000)
“Our clubs, players and officials have been unanimous in providing a response that could not only raise money but also recognise the local communities impacted,” McLachlan said.
“And most importantly pay tribute to those thousands of volunteers and emergency services personnel who have worked tirelessly to protect us as a community.
“We know that those [fire-affected] communities are suffering now but they are also going to need our support as they start to rebuild.
“Sport builds bonds within communities and we want people to know they have the support of the entire football industry and that we will be there to help them rebuild facilities and programs and ensure people continue to come together.”
Australian sport kicks in for bushfire relief
The AFL announcement joins a string of pledges from players, codes and sports to provide contributions to bushfire relief.
The NRL has announced round one of the 2020 season will be a “bushfire relief round” to raise funds for fire-hit communities.
Australia’s Boxing Day Test team shirts were auctioned off to raise funds, bowlers donated $1,000 per wicket during the Sydney Test against New Zealand, and two one-day internationals against the Black Caps in March will be used for fundraising.
In tennis, Nick Kyrgios pledged $200 for every ace he served in the Australian summer of tennis which was the catalyst for a Tennis Australia program, Aces 4 Bushfire Relief, involving local and international players.
Tennis Australia will also host a concert featuring a number of performers including Jessica Mauboy, and a Rally for Relief exhibition event headlined by Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, both ahead of the Australian Open.
Various Big Bash League cricketers have pledged money for each six hit in the competition, while Australian great Shane Warne is auctioning his baggy green cap —as of Thursday morning, the highest bid is $520,500.
A group of Australian NBA basketballers with the NBA Players Association have banded together to donate US $750,000 ($1.09 million), while NBL superstar and projected NBA number one draft pick Lamelo Ball has pledged one month’s worth of his salary with the Illawarra Hawks.
Major bushfire donors Donor/sAmountAndrew Forrest’s Minderoo Foundation$70mPaul Ramsay Foundation$30mCrown/The Packers$5mNAB$5mColes$4mLeonardo DiCaprio via Earth Alliance $3.4mAFL$2.5mBHP$2mWestpac$1.5mWoolworths$1.5mAustralian NBA stars$1m+Commonwealth Bank$1mANZ$1mRio Tinto$1mOrica$1mPratt Foundation$1mJohn and Pauline Gandel$1mElton John$1mChris Hemsworth$1mKylie Jenner$1mHains family via Portland House Foundation$1mThe Perich Group $1mAuction for Shane Warne’s baggy green cap (purchased by the Commonwealth Bank)$1mMetallica$750kLewis Hamilton$730k approxKylie and Dannii Minogue$500kJustin Hemmes$500kNicole Kidman and Keith Urban$500kPink$500kBette Midler$500k
*Table does not include fundraisers, such as Celeste Barber’s efforts to raise tens of millions, or pledges conditional on future events, such as Nick Krygios’ commitment to donate $200 for every ace he hits.
For nearly 40 years, Susan Laundy has spent her summers living in terror after surviving two major bushfires that hit her Adelaide Hills property.
- Trauma from Ash Wednesday bushfires only appeared years after the disaster
- Children can be especially affected by what they go through
- An expert says tabs need to be kept on victims for a long time after the fire
In 1980, an intense fire saw her running barefoot up a dirt road, trying to escape the flames while herding her horse and six donkeys.
“One donkey doubled back on me — she was so pregnant she could hardly move and I lost her,” Ms Laundy said.
“I just kept running and running on foot with the horse.
“You’re running on adrenaline and it’s only when it all stops that it overwhelms you and you realise what you’ve been through.”
Just three years later, the Ash Wednesday fires came through, bringing the trauma of yet another bushfire.
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While she did not know that she had post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), after nearly four decades she sought professional help.
“I just suffered through years and years of hell every summer and I’d sit here and shake because I didn’t know what was wrong with me and no-one else knew, so I just suffered alone,” she said.
Now, after always staying to defend her property, this summer she has decided to leave on high-risk days, bringing her cats, guinea pig and rabbit with her.
“Listen to the experts — they scared the living daylights out of me back in November on that first really catastrophic day,” she said.
“I was terrified and I just thought, if they’re telling me it’s not safe, they’re serious.”
PTSD takes time to show
The 1983 Ash Wednesday bushfires killed 75 people and burned more than 400,000 hectares across Victoria and South Australia.
Trauma expert Professor Sandy McFarlane studied the longer-term impact of the fires on children, firefighters and the community.
“People in the immediate aftermath are thinking of their survival — they function, they get on with it; the issue is about what you do in the longer term,” he said.
He found that decades later, one-third of the children involved in the fires continued to have enduring fears over what they went through.
He is concerned that the infrequent nature of major bushfires meant lessons were often forgotten, but hopes past experience could inform how communities recover after the fires subside this summer.
“There’s an enormous concern and outpouring of public sympathy in the weeks and months that follow, but that’s not when the most important needs of these communities arise,” he said.
“After the Ash Wednesday bushfires, a case register was set up and most people were actually presenting more than two years after the disaster … that’s the critical issue, that you plan for the longer term.”
He said GPs played a pivotal role in assessing the mental health of people who had been exposed to fire.
“One of the lessons that we learned is that people trust their GPs, they are the people who are already part of that community and they will go and seek their assistance, rather than some health service or counselling service that’s been brought in from the outside,” he said.
Reassure children of their safety
Professor McFarlane’s longitudinal study of bushfire survivors included 800 children across Victoria and South Australia.
His research found that children, like adults, were more likely to show symptoms of bushfire trauma in the years after their exposure.
He also found that in the longer-term, children who had been in the Ash Wednesday fires were less likely to access tertiary education and were more likely to go into relationships early.
“It’s almost as though they came to have a slightly constricted view of what the world could offer them because of the fear and the danger they had faced in their childhoods,” he said.
His advice to parents of young children was to limit their re-exposure to trauma through supervised access to media.
He also said children needed to be reassured of their safety, and if possible needed to remain with their parents.
“It’s important to keep children close to parents,” he said.
“People can sometimes think we should get them out of the environment because they will be seeing the destruction and they might be safer away from us.
“Interestingly, it seems children are safer when they are with their parents because if they’re not with them, they start to worry about their parents’ welfare.”
‘You carry it with you whether you like it or not’
Andrew Auld was 17 when the Ash Wednesday fires swept through his town of Kalangadoo, in the south-east of South Australia.
While attempting to build a fire break on the family property, the wind changed direction and he was caught in his tractor in the fire front.
He said the heat was so intense, it melted the rubber seals on the tractor door.
“The noise of the fire was like a freight train, the tractor was actually rocking with the wind … one minute it was pitch black and you couldn’t see anything, the next minute you couldn’t see beyond the glass with a red inferno,” Mr Auld said.
While he could not see where he was going, he managed to drive through the fire by using the graded edge on the side of the road as a guide, only to rejoin his family to battle the blaze threatening their house throughout the night.
Mr Auld said he was one of the lucky ones, with nine people in the town, including four children, dying in the fire.
While 37 years have since passed, the heat of Australian summer brings memories flooding back.
“You don’t forget what happened,” he said.
“The eucalypt smoke is something for whatever reason that sticks in my mind and just the extremes of the weather.
“Every time one of these occurs, and I’m sure all those people who are in the fires now will be the same, it’s one of those things that you get to carry with you whether you like it or not.”
Australia is in the midst of a bushfire crisis that will affect local communities for years, if not permanently, due to a national crisis of underinsurance.
Already more than 1,500 homes have been destroyed — with months still to go in the bushfire season.
Compare this to 2009, when Victoria’s “Black Saturday” fires claimed more than 2,000 homes in February, or 1983, when the “Ash Wednesday” fires destroyed about 2,400 homes in Victoria and South Australia, also in February.
The 2020 fire season could end up surpassing these tragedies, despite the lessons learnt and improvements in preparedness.
One lesson not really learnt, though, is that home insurance is rarely sufficient to enable recovery. The evidence is many people losing their homes will find themselves unable to rebuild, due to lack of insurance.
We know this from interviews with those affected by the October 2013 Blue Mountains bushfires (in which almost 200 homes were destroyed). Despite past disasters, more than 65 per cent of households affected were underinsured.
Research published by the Victorian government in 2017, meanwhile, estimated just 46 per cent of Victorian households have enough insurance to recover from a disaster, with 28 per cent underinsured and 26 per cent having no insurance.
The consequences aren’t just personal. They potentially harm local communities permanently, as those unable to rebuild move away.
Communities lose the vital knowledge and social networks that make them resilient to disaster.
Miscalculating rebuilding costs
All too often the disaster of having your home and possessions razed by fire is followed by the disaster of realising by how much you are underinsured.
As researchers into the impact of fires, we are interested why people find themselves underinsured. Our research, which includes interviewing those who have lost their homes, shows it is complicated, and not necessarily due to negligence.
For example, a woman who lost her home in Kinglake, northeast of Melbourne, in the 2009 fires, told us how her insurance calculations turned out to bear no resemblance to the actual cost of rebuilding.
“You think okay, this is what I paid for the property,” she said. “I think we had about $550,000 on the house, and the contents was maybe $120,000.”
It was on these estimates that she and her partner took out insurance. She told us:
You think sure, yeah, I can rebuild my life with that much money. But nowhere near. Not even close. We wound up with a $700,000 mortgage at the end of rebuilding.
An extra mortgage
A common issue is that people insure based on their home’s market value. But rebuilding is often more expensive.
For one thing there’s the need to comply with new building codes, which have been improved to ensure buildings take into account their potential exposure to bushfire.
This is likely to increase costs by 20 per cent or more, but is rarely made clear to insurance customers.
Construction costs also often spike following disasters, due to extra demand for building services and materials.
A further contributing factor is that banks can claim insurance payments to pay off mortgages, meaning the only way to rebuild is by taking out another mortgage.
“People who owned houses, any money that was owing, everything was taken back to the bank before they could do anything else,” said a former shop owner from Whittlesea, (about 30km west of Kinglake and also severely hit by the 2009 fires).
This meant, once banks were paid, people had nothing left to restart.
She told us:
People came into the shop and cried on my shoulder, and I cried with them. I helped them all I could there. That’s probably why we lost the business, because how can you ask people to pay when they’ve got nothing?
Undermining social cohesion
In rural areas there is often a shortage of rental properties. Insurance companies generally only cover rent for 12 months, which is not enough time to rebuild.
For families forced to relocate, moving back can feel disruptive to their recovery.
As I waited on the Mallacoota foreshore, I felt helpless
Gus Goswell recounts the moment he and his family prepared to enter the water as a fire roared towards them like “a freight train” on New Year’s Eve.
Underinsurance significantly increases the chances those who lose their homes will move away and never return — hampering social recovery and resilience. Residents that cannot afford to rebuild will sell their property, with “tree changers” the most likely buyers.
Communities not only lose residents with local knowledge and important skills but also social cohesion.
Research in both Australia and the US suggested this can leave those communities less prepared for future disasters.
This is because a sense of community is vital to individuals’ willingness and ability to prepare for and act in a threat situation. A confidence that others will weigh in to help in turn increases people’s confidence and ability to prepare and act.
In Whittlesea, for example, residents reported a change in their sense of community cohesion after the Black Saturday fires.
“The newer people coming in,” one interviewee told us, “aren’t invested like the older people are in the community.”
Australia is one of the few wealthy countries that heavily relies on insurance markets for recovery from disasters.
But the evidence suggests this is an increasingly fraught strategy, particularly when rural communities also have to cope with the reality of more intense and frequent extreme weather events.
If communities are to recover from bushfires, the nation cannot put its trust in individual insurance policies. What’s required is national policy reform to ensure effective disaster preparedness and recovery for all.
Chloe Lucas is a postdoctoral research fellow in geography and spatial sciences at the University of Tasmania. Christine Eriksen is a senior lecturer in geography and sustainable communities at the University of Wollongong. David Bowman is a professor of pyrogeography and fire science at the University of Tasmania. This article originally appeared on The Conversation.
Three thousand Australian Defence Force reservists will be deployed to help with the bushfire recovery, Prime Minister Scott Morrison has announced.
- The Navy’s largest amphibious ship, HMAS Adelaide, will sail from Sydney this afternoon to the south coast
- Defence Minister Linda Reynolds said the compulsory call-out of the 3,000 defence reservists is a first in the nation’s history
- Mr Morrison also confirmed his scheduled visits to India and Japan later this month have been postponed
Mr Morrison said the Federal Government would also invest a further $20 million to lease four additional firefighting aircraft.
The Prime Minister also announced Chinook helicopters from Townsville and other military aircraft would assist, as well as the opening of defence force bases from Adelaide to Brisbane for emergency short-term accommodation.
The Navy’s largest amphibious ship, HMAS Adelaide, will sail from Sydney this afternoon to sit off the coast should it be required to help with evacuations.
“They will sail this afternoon, they will be located offshore from the fire-affected areas from tomorrow afternoon,” Mr Morrison said.
“The Adelaide is fully equipped for disaster relief and humanitarian aid, is able to operate helicopters, 400 crew including medical staff, as well as 300 tonnes [of emergency relief supplies] which have been loaded up in recent days.”
Mr Morrison said the deployment in South Australia would focus on Kangaroo Island, after two people died in a bushfire there.
It brings the nationwide bushfire death toll to 23 since September.
‘Political advertising’ released hours after announcement
Hours after the announcement, Mr Morrison’s office released a social media video outlining the arrangements.
The post, released on Twitter and Facebook, is set to upbeat music overlaid with video of the disaster relief efforts.
“We’re calling out up to 3,000 Defence Force Reservists to help in fire-affected areas,” it reads.
“We’ve also deployed three Australian Navy ships…that’s on top of the $26 million already committed this year.”
@toddsampsonOZ tweet: Advertising! There is something not right about running political advertising during a devastating National Crisis. It’s like being ‘sold to’ at a funeral. PR Crisis 101: say less and do more.(Btw, the bouncy elevator music is too juxtaposing and really annoying.) #bushfires
The video was slammed as “political advertising” on Twitter, with former ABC broadcaster Barrie Cassidy labelling it “absolutely obscene”.
“They are advertising their responses to the fires – promoting themselves – at the height of the crisis,” he said.
Elly Baxter commented: “Really? A party political ad about disaster relief. There is something seriously wrong with everyone involved with this.”
Matt Burke said he had “never seen a politician’s ad like this for natural disaster response with such an upbeat election feel”.
But the video received a warmer response from some on Facebook, with commenters on Mr Morrison’s Facebook page praising his leadership.
Reservist callout a ‘first’
Defence Minister Linda Reynolds said the compulsory call-out of the 3,000 defence reservists was a first in the nation’s history.
“The Government has not taken this decision lightly. In fact, it is the first time that reserves have been called out in this way in living memory and, in fact, I believe for the first time in our nation’s history,” she said.
Ms Reynolds said reservists who were already engaged in the current emergency response would be exempt from this call-out.
“That includes reservists who are already providing service in volunteer fire services, state fire and rescue [services], state and federal police, ambulance, and [those involved in the] emergency repair of power and communication,” she said.
“Any reservists who find themselves, their family or property under threat from fires, of course, will also be exempt from this call-out.“
Ms Reynolds said the reservists would have four key responsibilities:
Labor leader Anthony Albanese welcomed the Federal Government’s expanded emergency bushfire response and said he asked the Prime Minister to consider the extra measures months ago.
“It’s a good thing that that investment is now happening,” he said.
“It’s one of the things we put on the agenda for the November COAG meeting that we proposed in writing to the Prime Minister and it’s good he’s taking up Labor’s suggestion that we made at that time.”
Mr Morrison said two waterbomber aircraft would arrive within seven days, with the other two available within two weeks.
“What we need are waterbombers that meet the technical and specific requirements of the deployment in Australia,” he said.
“It’s not a matter of just trying to hustle up some planes from somewhere around the world.
“What you need is the precise asset to deal with the situation in Australia, NAFC [National Aerial Firefighting Centre] is an organisation we work through to source and locate the specific aircraft that we need and meet those payments.
“Two of those will be available within seven days and the others will be available within 14 days is my advice. We received the request at 8:00pm last night and we have actioned it today.”
Mr Morrison also confirmed his scheduled visits to India and Japan later this month had been postponed.
He was due to visit India from January 13 to 16 and Japan immediately afterwards.
Mr Morrison came under fire for taking a family vacation in Hawaii as the bushfire crisis unfolded in December.
Bushfire evacuees from the Victorian town of Mallacoota in East Gippsland, on Saturday arrived in Hastings on Navy ships.
About 4,000 people, including some 3,000 tourists, had been stranded in the town since they were forced to shelter on the foreshore as the fire approached on New Year’s Eve.
On Friday, about 1,000 people were ferried to the naval vessels HMAS Choules and MV Sycamore.
Stay across our bushfire coverage:
- Thousands of volunteers ‘caught in red tape’ backlog trying to rejoin firefighting efforts
- Firefighter doing ‘incredibly critical work’ confirmed as third person killed in Victorian fires
- Queensland fire chief rejects criticism over hazard reduction shortfall
- Fire in NSW leaves more than 2,000 homes damaged or destroyed as authorities brace for bad conditions
- Bushfires scare off East Gippsland tourists as businesses face struggle to stay afloat
- Craig Kelly and Piers Morgan in tense exchange over bushfires and climate change
- Western Australia bushfires devastate Stirling Ranges — one of the world’s richest biodiversity hotspots
- Woman suffers severe burns after falling into knee-deep hot ash at bushfire site
- Shane Warne auctions off baggy green for bushfire relief
The fire situation in Victoria and New South Wales is still very volatile and fire crews are expected to battle blazes all through the night with New South Wales still experiencing strong wind gusts.
Multiple fires are burning at emergency level in both states, while in South Australia lives were lost on Kangaroo Island in a day of tragedy.
Look back at how the day unfolded on Saturday.
Fire crews in South Australia have spent the night battling an emergency bushfire on Kangaroo Island, which is threatening to engulf most of Australia’s third-largest island.
- The CFS is battling an emergency blaze on the western half of Kangaroo Island
- The island townships of Vivonne Bay and Parndana have been evacuated
- Ferries are running to get people off the island, and last-resort refuges have been set up
On Friday night, Kangaroo Island’s Ravine fire was described as “virtually unstoppable” and the Country Fire Service (CFS) has issued bushfire warnings for the entire 4,400-square-kilometre island.
At 3:00am Saturday, a watch and act warning was issued for the western end of the island, which includes areas west of Parndana such as Flinders Case, Vivonne Bay, Kelly Hill, Western River, Hanson Bay, Gosselands, Middle River and Stokes Bay.
People located in these areas are urged to leave now as a scrub fire is burning in various locations in the area.
An advice warning is in also place for properties east of Parndarna in the areas of Menzies, Seddon and Seal Bay, including Kingscote and Penneshaw.
People on the eastern half of the island are urged to remain alert and monitor local conditions.
@CFSAlerts tweet: There are two warnings for the #Kangaroo_Island fire. A Watch and Act (yellow) for the western end and an Advice (blue) for the eastern end of the island. Kingscote and Penneshaw have identified Bushfire Safer Places, and it is safe to stay within these locations.
Kingscote and Penneshaw, located on the island’s east, have been identified as Bushfire Safer Places.
The distance from Flinders Chase National Park, where the fire is burning on the western end of the island, to the main town of Kingscote in the east, is about 85 kilometres.
Kangaroo Island Mayor Michael Pengilly has reported significant property damage to hotels and facilities around Flinders Chase National Park.
Up to 150,000 hectares has already been burnt on Kangaroo Island as 150 CFS personnel work to stop the fire’s spread.
CFS deputy chief officer Andrew Stark said the fire conditions “prevailed for far longer than we hoped for” and the fire was “moving in a dangerous manner towards the east”.
“The ferry service will continue to operate for people to get off the island,” he said.
He said the fire was much larger than the 2007 Kangaroo Island blaze, which destroyed 95,000 hectares.
Tourist attractions ablaze on Kangaroo Island
Mr Michael Pengilly said the island’s Visitor Information Centre and Kangaroo Island Wilderness Retreat had been destroyed.
He said the Western KI Caravan Park and Hanson Bay Wildlife Sanctuary had also been significantly impacted.
In a statement, Baillie Lodges, which owns the Southern Ocean Lodge, said the tourist attraction had “sustained significant damage” and all guests and staff were evacuated to Kingscote or Adelaide.
@itsdanibrown tweet: Some international context: In terms of area, Kangaroo Island is three times the size of London, over 1000km2 bigger than Rhode Island, and just over three times the size of Phoenix, Arizona. It’s not just some tiny island off SA’s mainland.
“A small team of six senior staff members remained on-site to monitor the situation and activate the lodge’s fire emergency plan,” it said
“While the lodge has sustained structural damage … no injuries have been sustained.”
Lodge owners James and Hayley Baillie said initial plans were already at hand to rebuild the award-winning luxury lodge.
“We are absolutely shocked and saddened by today’s events,” they said.
The Ravine fire is burning through the Flinders Chase National Park in the island’s west and the CFS has said “firefighters are now unable to prevent the fire spreading”.
“You are in danger. Act now. Identify where you will seek shelter, preferably in a solid building. Only leave if your path is clear to a safer place,” the CFS said.
“Heat from the fire can kill you well before the flames reach you.”
Mr Pengilly said the main priority was “people — locals, visitors, firefighters”.
“The safety of humanity is the prime responsibility at this stage,” he said.
“It has been absolutely devastating. It’s a natural fire, it all started with lightning — it’s Australia, it’s summer and it all started with lightning and the north coast looks like it has been hit by a nuclear bomb.
“Flinders Chase is going to come out of this badly. You can’t stop this thing at the moment, it’s bloody impossible.”
The CFS extended the emergency zone for the Ravine fire to include Vivonne Bay at about 6:00pm, as emergency services worked to evacuate the tourist hub. Parndana has also been evacuated.
‘Truly horrific conditions’ as ‘fire twisters’ flare
Footage of a so-called “fire twister” has revealed the intensity of the flames on the island.
Local resident Brenton posted video to social media of one of several fire twisters breaking out in the inferno, as well as kangaroos fleeing the flames.
A relief centre has been established at the Kingscote Football Club on Centenary Avenue.
Flinders Chase National Park has been closed until further notice, along with several other conservation areas on the island and the mainland.
Kangaroo Island is expecting to host a number of cruise ships in the coming days, anchoring off the coast of Penneshaw.
Mr Stark said a decision would be made on Saturday morning about whether those crews will be allowed to dock.
Police charge man with ‘masquerading’ as fire victim
In the Adelaide Hills, an emergency warning was declared for a fire at Kersbrook late on Friday afternoon but was later downgraded to a watch and act.
In a statement, SA Police said a 59-year-old man was on Friday charged with deception after allegedly “masquerading as a bushfire victim” to receive a benefit.
“His actions have caused a great deal of concern in the Adelaide Hills and police appreciate the information provided by the public which has facilitated his swift arrest,” it stated.
He will appear in the Mount Barker Magistrates Court next month.
Earlier this week, a 39-year-old Murray Bridge woman was charged with falsely claiming to be a bushfire victim to “obtain donations to the value of $300” from a local church.
Adelaide hit 42.1 degrees Celsius at 3:20pm on Friday, with even hotter temperatures inland, including 44.8C at Port Augusta, 45.4C at Wudinna and 45.6C at Tarcoola.
Maybe you started 2019 with a goal of running every day. Maybe you said you’d run a marathon.
But you probably didn’t aspire to run further than a marathon every day for four months to cross the outback, fitting all 136 kilograms of your supplies onto a bicycle pedalled by your husband.
Unless you’re Katie Visco.
The 33-year-old American ran from Darwin to Adelaide — 3,556 kilometres in 119 days — finishing what is the only known transcontinental Australian run with no vehicular support.
Katie loves a good challenge
Katie, who owns and operates a bicycle-powered food delivery service, has a knack for transforming physical challenges into ways of serving others.
In 2009, she completed a 5,040km run across the US, limping the final stage on account of a knee injury.
Katie Visco ran across the US in 2009
She now remembers that journey as approximately “five billion times easier than running across Australia,” in part because she could rely on the people she met as a source of motivation.
“It was basically a speaking tour on two feet,” she said.
“All I wanted to do was get in front of people and share this message of, ‘You’re worth following your dreams and goals in life’.
“I talked to thousands of people. No, literally thousands. I know because I wrote their names down in a spreadsheet. I had so much tangible purpose.”
A decade later, Katie aimed for Australia in part to experience what America didn’t provide: isolation.
“It’s a desert continent. You just have to rely on yourself in the desert,” she said.
“Need breeds creativity and need breeds growth. You go out to nothingness, where there are no people, no water, no re-supply … I wanted the experience so I can be a better me.”
In total, Katie and her husband, Henley Phillips, averaged 45km a day.
They began in July. A typical day involved waking in the dark and rising from a bed of dirt to run and bike until the sun came up an hour later.
After a breakfast of nuts, dried fruit and porridge, it was back to running.
Afternoons in the Tanami Desert — where temperatures can reach 50 degrees Celsius in the coolest months — forced Katie to rest her bruised legs, shake off the bugs and, most importantly, seek out shade.
She’d known to expect the heat. She chuckled through the irony of training in Montana’s frozen winters and sweated through Bikram yoga in the six months before her departure. But the sun’s oppressive qualities still amazed her.
“We’d set up a shade tarp held to a dead branch or a bush or a termite mound,” she said. “Sometimes there was nothing.”
When the sun retreated, it was back to (you guessed it) running before a quick dinner and an early sleep. They did this for 119 days.
The first half of the trip was especially difficult, serving the pair with literal bumps in the road. To avoid traffic, Katie and Henley opted to avoid paved roads when possible.
“The dirt roads have all these corrugations. It feels about like riding a bucking horse,” Henley said.
“Adjusting to that was mentally maddening. It made it to where our pace was different. I was behind Katie on the first section because I couldn’t pedal fast enough to keep up with her.”
While dirt marked the first half of the trip, the second half was nearly cancelled on account of sand.
“South Australia is when the shit hit the fan,” Katie said. “[Henley] was literally pushing a 300-pound bicycle through a sandbox. It could’ve been the end of the trip.”
The physical challenges were great, but the mental challenges were always greater
Both Henley and Katie found themselves questioning the reasons they pursued the goal in the first place.
“Running across Australia has been a long-term love-hate affair,” Katie said. “I’d been dreaming about it from before I ran across America.”
She spent three months in Sydney during her university years and committed to the run in 2013. It wasn’t long after starting training that she developed an insurmountable injury. Two years later, she tried again…and again got injured.
She set aside the goal for a while. She opened up her soup business and got married.
In October 2018 she watched the movie Free Solo, finding it to be a jolting reminder of what it’s like to stick to a dream through the impossible.
“This first and foremost was for myself,” she says of her decision to recommit to the run. “It’s hard to legitimise going and doing this crazy thing primarily for oneself.”
“I’ve gotten comments like, ‘You should consider doing this for charity,’ which was like saying, ‘You should be doing this for a purpose.’ I had a hard time hearing that because I did do this for a reason — I did it for the most important purpose, which is to do something for myself so I can grow.
“That’s the only way I can serve others is if I take the time to do some things for myself.”
Patience and self-compassion were key lessons to be learned
In a way, that lesson of serving others by serving yourself is the same one that Henley learned as he cursed himself for struggling behind Katie in the sand and corrugations.
“Because I was a support person, I felt like I couldn’t or shouldn’t be behind her,” he said.
“I felt like I can’t have a bad day. I was having bad days and didn’t want to express it because I’d be bringing the team down.”
It was only when he took the time to prioritise his needs and voice his struggles with Katie that he gained self-acceptance and a new source of mental strength.
In the end, both Henley and Katie say they’ll approach challenges with more patience and self-compassion from now on.
That’ll come in handy for the next trip. A common result of achieving your goals is developing the propensity to reach for more.
“Adventuring is in our bones. We just have to do it,” Katie says before offering her advice for those who’ve got a wild idea in their bones as well.
“Just get off your rump and do the damn thing.”