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. 

Gadget of the week

Gadget of the week

I was pottering about the apartment. Suddenly there was the most appalling noise. At first I thought a building was being demolished, either deliberately or accidentally. But it was louder than that. A back-actor dismantled a house just across the river from us over a weekend (why?) a few weeks back, but, although annoying, it didn't make as disturbing a noise as this.

I ran on to the balcony and looked down into the street. And there it was, the culprit. A wood chipper; stump grinder; timber shredder; call it whatever you will. I shall call it a tree eater. I've seen this type of gadget before, of course, but this one reached new noise heights.

Dear gods, did it have to make such an awful racket?

I couldn't hear myself think rationally. I rushed back inside and closed the doors and windows. But no, I had to investigate further. I lurked outside the building behind some bushes and watched. The tree eater made the most noise as it was fed thick branches: this was a cataclysmic din. The reduction of thinner, leafier stuff was less grindy. At one stage both men walked away from the monster, leaving it running. The street was filled with overbearing noise.

I noticed the signs all over the beast. It is, of course, a potentially highly dangerous piece of machinery. And has been used to 'morselize' victims in more than one horror movie.

Job done, the machine was silenced and towed away. I was curious about what had been devoured. Three major branches had been chopped from a medium-sized tree lining the road. No apparent reason. And now the tree has a hole in the middle. There must have been a reason, but it would have to be a damn good one to justify that terrible noise.

No one else in the street had seemed the slightest bit bothered. One man looked down from a balcony, but I suspect he was marvelling at the parking: the chipper was opposite a removal van, restricting the passage of even small cars. Australians tolerate a huge amount of noise on a daily basis, especially in the summer when foliage grow so quickly you can almost see it. Cutting back is always done using a powered gadget; never by hand. Then there are dogs left in yards to bark for hours; utes and bikes and 'accessorized' cars with modified mufflers (silencers); engines left running to keep vehicle occupants cool; and boys' toys (jetskis, powerboats, etc) on the river.

More troubling than the noise pollution, however, was witnessing a tree's mighty limbs converted into dust in a few seconds.

Thought for Australia Day

Is Australia finally waking up?

Is Australia finally waking up?