Black Milk: What happens to the dairy industry when the lights go out?

Milking dairy cows in Gippsland, Victoria.

Having no power, such as the state-wide power loss in South Australia this month can be stressful, slow, and costly.

Storms and power-outages are an everyday worry in Australian life. Usually, the most people will lose is the warm milk in their fridge.

But what happens to everyone else’s milk when the power goes out?

Continue reading “Black Milk: What happens to the dairy industry when the lights go out?”


Quoll-ity Hop to Life

Researchers teaching endangered Quolls not to eat cane toads. Now, Quolls are teaching their young.

Doubling his life expectancy, Brian the quoll has become the favourite amongst rangers at Brisbane’s Walkabout Creek.

Fed only a carnivorous diet, the life expectancy of native Quoll ranges from two to five years. Brian is currently eight years young, with nothing affecting his cheeky attitude.

Quolls are not frequented to the D’Aguilar National Parks, as Brian was bought from a breeder in Northern Queensland. However, Quolls nationally remain a severely endangered species.

Cane toads are quoll’s major threat, since their introduction to Queensland in 1935. Numbers have grown exponentially, and thus the Quoll species declining as they consume their poisonous glands.

In recent years, Queensland has implemented conservation efforts of native species and the eradication of the invasive toad. In spite of this, it looks like we won’t be seeing the back of the toad any time soon.

In a recent report conducted by the CSIRO, the most cost-effective strategies for predator control including cane toads still have an “estimated annualised cost of $16 million over the next 50 years”.

This includes “asset protection, PhD research projects on control efforts, monitoring and trapping: localised eradication, surveillance and biosecurity hotspots, and education.”

In a race to further protect native marsupials, including the endangered Quoll, the University of Sydney created a program in 2010 in a bid to teach species to be repulsed by the smell of cane toads.

The study fed half of 62 young quolls with sausages laced with nausea-inducing thisbendazole along with the scent cane toads – without their fatal toxin. The other half were left as a comparison sample.

After being tagged and released back into the wild, it was found that “toad-smart” quolls survived up to five times longer than “toad-naïve” quolls.

Researchers were inspired by this approach through an adaptation of ‘Little Red Riding Hood’, where the Grandma sews raw onions into the wolf’s stomach – so he felt sick and would vow never to eat another Grandma again.

This study has now been implemented throughout Australia, including Northern Queensland wildlife centres and parks.

In recent months, researchers have noticed “toad-smart” quolls have begun teaching their offspring the dangers of cane toads.

Northern Territory Wildlife Park ranger Damien Stanioch says that the second and third generation released into Kakadu have been surviving alongside cane toads.

“Whether that’s because of a genetic adaptation or a behavioural adaptation we don’t know,” Mr Stanioch said.

“Once they’re bred here at the park we will be crossing Queensland northern quolls with Territory northern quolls.”

Sun Sets on Glenloch

With over 10,000 private gardens shared to the public each year, Glenloch opened this weekend for what will be its last for a three year retirement period.

Glenloch owner and Open Gardens Australia chairman Caroline Tolmie says she’s due to retire in June, and has been chairman for two and a half years.

“There’s so much reward sharing your garden. I think gardeners are wonderful people,” Ms Tolmie said.

Since the late 2012 Cyclone Oswald, Glenloch has recovered well and is beginning to restore its ecosystem.

“We weren’t hit nearly as badly as our neighbours – they had about $20,000 worth of work to repair their property.

“Owls got blown out of their nests; and so I was running around out in the howling winds lifting them up and putting them back with their parents again!

“We also get hares that run across the property, which you’ll see we have a bronze hare on a big rock.”

Gold Coast local Remy Brooks enjoyed her first visit to the Open Gardens, and said it was something she would attend again.

“The surrounds make it a great day on a sunny weekend like this,” Ms Brooks said.

Open Gardens Australia aims to promote the enjoyment, knowledge, and benefits of gardens and gardening in the Australian community.

Over 500 gardens are open each month across Australia, and continue to be open on Mt Tamborine this weekend.

Picture: Young love blossoms in Glenloch as Remy Brooks and Sam De Redder attend Open Gardens


For the University of Queensland

Gold Coast Shows Its Pride

A weekend Mardi-Gras festival is in development for 2014 by local independent organisation Gold Coast Pride, in an “iconic venue” of the Gold Coast.

The aptly named, Gold Coast Pride Festival will replace the former Gold Coast Gay Day – cancelled six years ago due to lack of funding and loss of the Parklands showgrounds.

Samantha Stenberg, member of Gold Coast Pride, said that a venue or date has not been set due to complications, but is aimed for a date after Brisbane Pride.

“Gold Coast Tourism are keen to market the event. Supporters so far include The Closet Night Club, and many non-profit organisations associated with the local gay and lesbian community with more to be announced,” Ms Stenberg said.

Secured talent include leading DJs, models, and performers from Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, and the Gold Coast – including local gay supporter, DJ Sammy.

Gold Coast Pride Festival aims to bring the “pink dollar” to the Gold Coast and surrounds, as well as promote the local gay and lesbian community through tourism and supporting businesses.

Gay local business owner, Jason Degasperi said that the event would be great for business.

“It was a real shame for the previous Gay Day to go, and it would be great to see something like this again,” Mr Degasperi said.


For ilivelocal magazine

Hopping Around the Coast

Looking for activities for the kids over the Easter break? Then look no further than your local shopping centre. There’s tons of fun and festivities around the Coast this year.

Westfield Helensvale will have the Easter Bunny bouncing around the mall and meeting the kids from Mon 25 till Thurs 28 and Easter Saturday, from 11-2. After Easter Monday, the Animal Farm filled with the Easter Bunny’s furry friends will also be available for kids from Tue 2 till Fri 5 of April.

Harbour Town will be home to cute, cuddly and crawling critters these school holidays with the launch of Wildlife on Wheels. Kids are being called upon to put on their ‘Wildlife Rangers’ hats in the Currumbin Wildlife Hospital Foundation Rangers and their Australian fauna educational show, from Monday April 8th until Friday April 12th at 11am and 1.30pm outside 2chillies. Along with the show, visitors are invited to have their photograph taken with their favourite furry friend for only $10 with all proceeds donated to the Currumbin Wildlife Hospital Foundation.

Southport’s very own Australia Fair will see the Easter Bunny roaming around the centre, as he hands out chocolate eggs to the kids (and adults if you’re lucky). Flower pot making and an Ultimate Wii Challenge, for the older kids and young at heart, will also be outside Hungry Jacks.

Ashmore City Shopping Centre has a magical Easter experience in store. The Easter Bunny and his helper will be distributing eggs, bunny ears, and stickers from 26 till 28 March from 10-2. Be sure to find him hopping around the centre, giving cheeky treats for the kids.

Broadbeach Mall will be entertaining locals with its usual music and face-painting activities; creating a fun day out for the whole family over the Easter weekend. Entertainment will be happening in the main under-cover complex, opposite Mama Romas restaurant. Located along Kurrawa Beach, an Aussie Easter can be a treat – as long as the chocolate doesn’t melt in the autumn heat.


Published in ilivelocal magazine

Sanctuary a-Buzz

Open Gardens Australia has once again welcomed its visitors to Tèarman Garden in Highvale, Queensland last Sunday 24th February. Pronounced “tay-a-mun”, the title is an old Celtic word meaning ‘sanctuary’. The garden houses a variety of native bees and plants, creating a buzzing Australian environment.

Ex-farmers Barbara and Robert “Bob” Luttrell said, “Our basic plan was to plant most of the block with native species indigenous to the area with rainforest species along the northern boundary, eucalypt association species across behind the house and along the southern side of the block – hoping to restore the habitat value to wildlife”. All this, they say, is at the expense of grass.

Many areas are starting to assume a natural look. Plants have been chosen largely by their interest to native birds and stingless bee colonies, as well as dozens of species whom visit over the year.  Bob’s lifestyle is determined by the time, research and work that he puts into the stingless bee colonies; as he also creates all bee boxes in Tèarman Garden.

“We awake to their “buzz” each morning as they love the Salvias – thus the topsy-turvey nature of them to provide their special spot”.

Fruit and bush tucker trees have been included through all plantings and will develop in future years. Along with the planting of development flora and fauna, the Luttrell’s aim now is to reduce their carbon foot-print as their garden designs will take new inspirations of environmental cooling.

Tèarman’s motto is, “Cool our planet, one backyard at a time”.

Gold Coast Endures Oz

Gold Coast emergency services were on high alert late January, as the city was wracked by damaging winds and relentless rain caused by ex-Tropical Cyclone Oswald. As at 3:30pm on the 27th January, 3000 Gold Coast residents were without power – spanning throughout the Coast.

Energex were quick on hand to restore power, but were hindered by weather conditions. This led to some homes’ power being restored in hours, whilst others waited for up to three days.

Strong winds caused many roads were blocked due to fallen power lines, roofing ripped, damage to businesses, and major traffic delays at Robina, Nerang, Coomera, and Oxenford.

Around the coast Canungra had received 76mm since 9am, 25mm at the Gold Coast Seaway and 66mm at Little Nerang Dam as of January 27th.

Inconveniences and damages were the remains of the Gold Coast, and had resulted in no fatalities; unlike close by areas in South East Queensland and the Northern Rivers resulting in six deaths.

In past weather conditions, including the floods of 2011, the Gold Coast has been subject to less damage than its circumambient regions. However, after the January storms, recovery is still being undertaken to restore functionality of roads, public areas, beaches, and commercial areas.

Recently on the other spectrum, fire crews battled 30 fires across Queensland, including several blazes at Mt Tamborine and near by hinterland; caused by the drastic heat, and lightning strikes from reoccurring storms.

Quacking for Cancer

It seems like a bath’s worst nightmare; but to locals and tourists at Brisbane’s West End, the Great Brisbane Duck Race took success once again. Now in its 6th year, the PA Research Foundation’s Duck Race is Australia’s largest charity duck race, raising funds for cancer research at Queensland’s leading research hospital – The Princess Alexandra Hospital.

A skip full of up to 40,000 rubber ducks took part, racing over a 100m trail in the Brisbane River. The community or corporate events could buy a duck in the race, and enjoy the strip along the water of entertainment including live music, jumping castles, food stalls, and competitions. Motorised duck races also took place throughout the day, with a few row-boats thrown in. Luckily, the weather brought a bright sunny day for the event, and showed to be a great family and business day out.

Total money hasn’t been totalled yet, but it can only be expected that it will top last year’s 30,000 ducks raising $200,000 for cancer research; with the lucky winner this year of Nick Hopkins. The PA Research Foundation’s hard work of dedicated research teams means that many patients are able to beat the odds and live a full life. The Great Brisbane Duck Race definitely shows the Australian humour and frivolity, with the passion to give a helping-hand.

Country Sunday

Murwillumbah Showground Markets occur every fourth Sunday of the month – featuring arts and crafts, collectables, antiques, plants, produce, and music. For tourists to Murwillumbah, the Sunday markets are a great opportunity to visit the country on a weekend, and to catch up on events and festivals run by locals.

For your artistic side, there is an array of antique tools, memorabilia, and furniture that are a great find for bringing vintage back into your style. Or perhaps the farmland atmosphere and a cold ice-cream can make a relaxing Sunday for the family.

Murwillumbah Showgrounds is easy to find: follow Queensland Rd until you reach Mooball St. Enter through free car parking.

Swell Festival: Best Yet!

Swell Festival 2012


This week holds the Gold Coast’s 10th annual Swell Sculpture Festival, with an astounding fifty displays from Australian and abroad artists being exhibited on Currumbin Beach. During the 10 day exhibition, spectators can be amongst the works, enjoy twilight walks, and join in master classes and children’s workshops. With live entertainment and music, as well as talks from the artists themselves, Swell has fast become a famous and fun day for Gold Coast locals and tourists. This year took no exception.

Being quoted as “the best festival we’ve had yet”, this year’s Swell has become home to box fish, wired insects, hollow swimmers, and buried whales. The inventive uses of materials that differ between sculptures complement their flow of ideas and concepts. Some sculptures however, hold clear and impacting purposes; such as Elysium Greene’s ‘Can’t Sea Through This’ – plastic ‘K’ and ‘G’ initials filled with rubbish collected from the beach in one week. “The council cleans the beach every night, and still there remains so much left”, Greene told ABC Coast FM.

 Not only were sculptures used to complement their surroundings of park and sand, but interactive technology saw a part of this year’s festival. Shelly Kelly and Cameron Spiller’s ‘Dormant’ exhibited a white box, with a moving projected light on its inside, making an inventive idea of art and kids’ entertainment.

Artists hope for buyers of their artwork at the end of the festival, of which many Swell exhibitions can still be seen around the Gold Coast. Swell Sculpture Festival continues till the 23rd of September.