Red Centre holiday: overview

Last year, Eoin, a friend of my brother Len’s from university days, being newly retired, hatched a plan to drive across the Simpson Desert, as you do! Eoin’s wife Betty is not a camper, but agreed to go. Len was keen also, but his Nissan X-trail doesn’t do deserts. Len’s son Geoff offered his 15 year-old Nissan Navara twin cab, so the trip became a possibility for Len. Len recalled my wife Margot saying she’d like to see Simpson Desert before she turned 70, so he invited her. Since Len’s wife Nola doesn’t do camping, then yes there would be room for me, should I so desire, although it was well known that I was a very reluctant camper at best and had mostly avoided it in my 70-plus years.

I agreed to give it a go. Continue reading Red Centre holiday: overview

Saturday salon 20/9


An open thread where, at your leisure, you can discuss anything you like, well, within reason and the Comments Policy. Include here news and views, plus any notable personal experiences from the week and the weekend.

For climate topics please use the most recent Climate clippings.

The gentleman in the image is Voltaire, who for a time graced the court of Frederick II of Prussia, known as Frederick the Great. King Fred loved to talk about the universe and everything at the end of a day’s work. He also used the salons of Berlin to get feedback in the development of public policy.

Fred would only talk in French; he regarded German as barbaric. Here we’ll use English.

The thread will be a stoush-free zone. The Comments Policy says:

The aim [of this site] is to provide a venue for people to contribute and to engage in a civil and respectful manner.

Here are a few bits and pieces that came to my attention last week.

1. Margaret and David call it quits

After 28 years Margaret Pomeranz and David Stratton have announced their retirement and At the Movies will be no more.


For a wonderfully scripted and acted review of Margaret and David, here’s Cate Blanchett and Geoffrey Rush.

2. Toowoomba Carnival of Flowers

From Friday 19 to Sunday 28 September we have the Toowoomba Carnival of Flowers. As they say:

Spectacular gardens, country touring, live music and local food & wine, plus much more.

3. NZ goes to the polls

From The Guardian:

New Zealand prepares to vote after ‘strangest, dirtiest’ election campaign

Allegations of online subterfuge and deception over state surveillance have sidelined conventional policy arguments

From Roy Morgan:

Today’s New Zealand Roy Morgan Poll shows National (46.5%, up 1.5%) set to win a third term in Government on Saturday as support for a potential Labour/Greens alliance slumps to 37.5% (down 4.5% – the lowest since November 2011). Support for both main opposition parties has slipped – Labour (24%, down 2%) and the Greens (13.5%, down 2.5%) less than a week before Saturday’s NZ Election.

New Zealand First (8%, up 2%) appears to be the biggest beneficiary of the Labour/ Greens slump as the election approaches and former Deputy Prime Minister and New Zealand First Leader Winston Peters looks set to have a prominent role in the new Parliament with NZ First projected to win as many as 10 seats. This is the highest support for NZ first for nearly ten years since August 2005.

4. Vlad will attend the G20

A couple of weeks ago Abbott, Julie Bishop and others, Bill Shorten too, were calling for the banning of Russian president Vladimir Putin from the G20 leaders summit in Brisbane later this year. But it’s not our call. The Fin Review says the feeling from other G20 leaders is, let him come so we can tell him what we think of him. Anyway China says he should be allowed to come, so I guess that settles it.

The Courier Mail says his security people have been here looking the joint over.

Meanwhile Obama’s security arrangements should be quite spectacular. The Daily Mail tells us he might use a bunch of helicopters to fly from the airport to his hotel. Will Hagon said the other day that the Americans would be bringing 50 cars, using their own rather than the high security BMWs we are leasing. That may include The Beast, which weighs about 3.5 tonnes, can turn within its own length and take off in any direction like you wouldn’t believe.


5. Meanwhile our politicians are talking

To each other, in a new mood of reasonableness and bipartisanship, according to Laura Tingle.


Talking about terrorism, about dealing with Islamic State, about renewable energy, about a referendum on indigenous recognition, and possibly even the budget.

We’ll have to see where all this leads, but for Abbott dealing with Labor emerges as an alternative to talking with Clive Palmer and the cross bench. Even Christine Milne is talking about talking about renewable energy and direct action.

Shorten, however, is laying down markers where (he says) he will not go, for example he’s OK with attacking ISIL in Iraq, but not in Syria.

On that score Bernard Keane and Guy Rundle are questioning whether our support of the Americans exposes us to more terrorist attention, and whether the action is calling the caliphate into being, plus whether it really has much chance of success. It’s all very troubling. From the outset it was clear that ISIL would do whatever it takes to get the West involved.