Welcome to this blog, the story of a great big Australian adventure. It documents my travels, life in Australia, and a subject close to my heart – environmental conservation. 

And then there were two

It is the second week of September.

Springtime in Brisbane
I have been told - by people in Victoria as well as Queensland - that 1 September is the first day of spring in Australia. Never mind equinoxes or any other astronomical data that usually defines the seasons. So, here are a few spring greens from New Farm Park.
There are many more flowers already (shame about the architecture, sorry).
And the various birds of paradise just beyond our garden - so beloved of the Honeyeaters - carry on flowering.
2½ weeks is a long time in politics
On Tuesday Bob Katter came out (ha!) around about lunchtime and declared for the Coalition. Non-Aussie readers will recall that Mr Katter was one of the 'three amigos' Independents who could break the 74-73-seat deadlock between the Labor Party and the Coalition (Liberals and Nationals), and hopefully take one party to the magic number 76. Mr Katter could never really have sided with Labor, however much he enjoys attending the Parliamentary Christian Fellowship with Our Kev (the former Labor Party leader and PM, Kevin Rudd, who happens to be our MP). He would have been lynched back in his constituency of Kennedy - presumably along with any gays who have made their presence known since Mr Katter declared there weren't any in northern Queensland.

So, that left two Indies - Tony Windsor and Rob Oakeshott. They held a press conference a couple of hours later, each speaking for himself and justifying his decision. The Australian people, including Julia Gillard and Tony Abbott - held their breath. Mr Windsor took about five minutes to declare his support for Labor; Mr Oakeshott talked for quite a bit longer, rather excruciatingly for press and people alike, before he, too, announced he would support Ms Gillard. She had succeeded in holding on to power by her beautifully French-manicured finger nails. For the next three years, in theory, she will be one by-election or one misdemeanour away from disaster.

When I was studying Sociology at uni many moons ago, paradigm was a word you liberally sprinkled through your course work to show you'd been paying attention during sociological theory lectures. Now, here, every Tom, Dick or Harry uses it to describe a potential new order of Australian politics whereby people who used not to have any time for each other have to reach a consensus in order to 'move Australia forward'. It's going to be interesting... really.

Magpie babes
They've been all-a-flutter in the nest. On Thursday there were three beaks gaping when Mrs M returned with a tasty lizard for breakfast. But by this morning only two remained. Suddenly one was teetering on a branch beyond the confines of the nest. I was dragged away reluctantly from Magpie Watch to the Powerhouse farmers' market, it being the second Saturday of the month. I knew it. By the time I got back, the moment I've been waiting for since I returned to Brisbane two weeks ago, had passed. The chicks seemed to have flown the bottle tree. There was no sign of life in the nest at all and I was perturbed.

In less than half an hour, however, I was alerted by manic cheeping indicative of a hungry Magpie chick when mum and food are in the offing. Both were atop the television aerial (mother and child reunion, below) where Mrs M often sits to look at the world or, in the old days before the breeding season, to sing. The youngster sat there forlornly all afternoon. And there appeared to be a chick still in the nest.
Festival days
Last Saturday saw the start of the Brisbane Festival, now an annual event that encourages the arts in the city as well as celebrating the Brisbane river. The Aussies were out in force to make a big occasion of it, taking up their places down by the riverside during the afternoon and creating a carnival atmosphere in anticipation of the early-evening F-111 dump-and-burn and Riverfire. This is the last year the strike planes are to be used because they're being retired from service so there was a lot of excitement. Having witnessed a stunning firework display on Australia Day, we knew Riverfire was unlikely to disappoint. We didn't know where to look, in fact, as the choreographed pyrotechnic spectacle was launched from bridge, barge and building at the same time as the F-111s ignited fuel using the plane's afterburner to produce a formidable fiery streak as they crossed the night sky.
I don't wish to end on a churlish note, but might not some people consider the flypast a huge waste of energy? (And was I the only person to have a 9/11 moment as the jets approached the high-rises of the CBD?) And what a pity the police couldn't 'open' the river a tad earlier after the event so that we could all get home easily. Off with her head!

Spring has certainly sprung. The nights are warmer: no more need of the penguin blanket on (my side of) the bed. People are leaving their dogs outside at night again so the silly creatures start a barking chorus at the merest leaf rustle in the dead of night. I can hear geckos - a much nicer noise. And the bugs are back, at least some of them: I have bashed my first locust with a wooden salad serving spoon designated for the job.

Nothing beats Byron

Roadtrip 3: Into the outback