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. 

Crazy days of summer

Raindrops keep falling on the pool. I last saw the sun on Sunday morning, rather appositely.

Today is Wednesday, and I should have been at Eumundi Market, near Noosa. I don't know if anyone will be there. In Brisbane, steady rain has fallen incessantly out of grey Tupperware since 6am. It is now 1.57pm.

I hope all the people who fretted about the water release from Lake Wivenhoe a couple of weeks ago will sleep easier tonight. Under their doonas. It's currently 18C* in the city, 11 below average. Some southern and western towns in Queensland are as much as 15 below average. Coolangatta on the Gold Coast had its coldest December day yesterday for 46 years. And why? Cold air coming from the south, big cloud cover and wind chill.

Yesterday a friend and I went for lunch on the Bay. We doggedly sat outside on the deck at The Lighthouse on Cleveland Point (view from, above) and wished we'd worn more clothes. Even the tufty tops (Crested Pigeons) looked miserable, their crests blown all dishevelled.

I saw two things I've never seen at Cleveland Point before, the first being a Grey-tailed Tattler.

I drove almost 65km for lunch not only because Cleveland Point is a lovely spot but because we need to put kilometres on the clock. Novated leasing is a way of financing the purchase of a car. You do it through your company, as a consequence of which there are 'tax advantages'. Another consequence – of the loopier kind – is that, having predicted how many kilometres you will drive in a year in the car as part of the enormous equation to calculate your monthly payments, if you fall short you will be liable for thousands of dollars of back-tax at the end of the financial year. I have heard of people driving from Brisbane to Sydney or Adelaide, or driving round the city for hours on end day after day, or lending their car to others to take on a trip – and all because they've got to reach the lower limit of their predicted annual kilometerage. So, in a nation that has the highest per capita carbon emissions in the world, the government incentivizes people to drive further and use more fuel and enlarge their carbon footprint.

More disturbing than the weather outlook or our crazy car deal is the news from Japan this morning that the whaling fleet has left port for the Southern Ocean with the intention of slaughtering 900 whales over the next three months. All in the name of 'science', of course. After Sea Shepherd's attempts to thwart them last year – the conservation group estimates they saved 863 whales and sent the Japanese whalers home six weeks early – the whaling boats are putting extra security precautions in place, funded by the Earthquake Recovery Fund. How thankful I am that I didn't donate. I don't eat Japanese food or buy Japanese goods either. And I will never go there.

Japan ignores polite protest and reasoned argument: direct action is the only way. See http://www.seashepherd.org/uk/uk.html or http://www.seashepherd.org/australia/

Also announced today was the fact that the government has awarded a ten-year contract to broadcast Australia's international broadcast service, Australia Network, to the state-owned ABC rather than Sky News, partly owned by News Corp. The alternative would have been akin to the BBC World Service going to BSkyB, a proposition so preposterous and thoroughly unacceptable and galling to those of us with UK experience of Murdoch's odious grip on the media as to induce hysterical outpourings. But the monstrous magnate is Australian, isn't he? So, all they seem to be worried about here is whether or not the decision was taken as part of a power struggle between Julia Gillard and Kevin Rudd. See http://newmatilda.com/2011/12/07/sky-fell-rudd

I haven't even brushed my hair today. It's a day for lots of layers and cabin socks (and the penguin blanket later, I suspect). And numerous cups of tea and sweet treats. And blogging.

On the way home yesterday I passed a Traffic Signal Box that I hadn't previously managed to snap. I'm sure one of them must be screaming, inwardly at least.

* The temperature did not rise further and today was Brisbane's coldest December day since 1888

This post was updated at 9pm on 7 December 2011

The great Australian rip-off

The South Burnett: wine and peanuts