Weather, China, and covid

posted in: Life and things | 0

Let’s start with an apology. Today’s post is a little late because I wanted to finish off the first draft of a novella I’ve been taking forever to write. I found writing fiction particularly difficult in the last months of 2020 because of the momentous events in America. To a Boomer like me, born in Europe, and with a history degree, Trump’s antics (antics – makes it sound funny doesn’t it?) were far too reminiscent of the 1930s.

I’m sure the turmoil continues over there, but Joe Biden is quietly getting on with business, whether you like what he’s doing or not. And many people all over the world have breathed a huge sigh of relief. There is on-going concern about the new president’s foreign policy but for that, we’ll have to wait and see.

Here in Australia the promised La Nina, where the Pacific Ocean cools and brings wet weather to much of the continent, has arrived in a timely way in the northern areas. The monsoon is well and truly up and running and there have been a few storms on the north west coast. But the rain hasn’t extended down into the sub-tropics and if we don’t get a substantial fall during the rest of the month we’re in for a dry old time this year. On the other hand, it has been cooler than usual.

There’s always an explanation. Apparently we’re in the midst of a Central Pacific La Nina, where the tropics get the rain and the sub-tropics don’t.

Since this is Australia in summer, of course there are fires. This year the really devastating fires are in the Perth hills, a heavily-wooded area with difficult terrain. So far 86 homes have been lost, but no deaths. The firies are still fighting that one. In our part of the world there were fires in a semi-rural area not far (10-15km) from where we live, but they pose no danger to us.

Covid-19, of course, hovers like a really infectious disease over everything we do. I was frankly astonished that a decision was made to hold the Australian Open Tennis in Melbourne. Apparently, tennis authorities felt there was a real danger of losing the event as a Grand Slam if it didn’t go ahead. Maybe they looked at the cricket tests held successfully between India and Australia and thought it would all work out. But a cricket team is a group from one country, whereas tennis players arrive from places all over the world. I wasn’t at all surprised when covid-positive cases were found. And just as not surprised when players and hangers-on complained about quarantine conditions. Especially one girlfriend who complained about having to WASH HER OWN HAIR FFS! (Couldn’t go to the hairdresser’s, see) Still, we shall see how the tournament goes. I sincerely hope it’s a great success.

Then there’s the Olympic Games, scheduled for August in Tokyo. Frankly, I can’t see how that can go ahead. Polls in Japan indicate as much as 80% of the Japanese people want the event rescheduled. [1] Sounds eminently sensible to me.

Our relationship with China is becoming increasingly worrying. A Chinese firm has a 99 year lease on the Port of Darwin and now we read about a ‘fishing’ port the Chinese are offering to set up in Papua New Guinea a one iron drive across the Torres Strait from Australia. [1] Here’s a brief quote from that article.

“I’m assured by people with a reasonable knowledge of PNG’s fisheries that there are no commercial fishing grounds close to Daru,” Wall states. “A $200 million ‘fishery’ investment in an area not known for an abundance of fisheries but strategically as close to Australia as you can get, surely raises questions about the real agenda.”

I only just found out about another $39 BILLION Chinese proposal to build a whole city in the same area. New Chinese Daru City Plan (paywall).

The likelihood that the government in PNG sees this move for what it really is – a first step for taking control – is low. The PNG government has been a corruption ridden basket case for years and I suspect the “what’s in it for me” reflex is strong in the local politicians. But I’m heartened that PM Morrison is on good terms with the PNG PM. I’m sure Mr Morrison will make the situation clear.

Xi Jinping’s China is a threat to the whole world – or at least to those countries who like freedom. At my age I have no wish to learn Mandarin. Besides, how can you trust a country that has banned Winnie the Pooh? Really. Memes likening Xi to the portly Pooh have become a vehicle in China to mock the country’s leader.

Okay, let’s finish with some scenes from Darngku (Geikie Gorge) on the mighty Fitzroy River. It was a hot day, 39c although that’s not specially hot by the local standards. We were staying at Fitzroy Crossing and joined a boat tour due to set off at 4PM when it was a little cooler. Late afternoon light lit up the sandstone and the reflections in the still water were amazing.

Reflections. You can see how high the water rises in the Wet. Some ancient species like sawfish still exist in these waters (remember, it’s fresh water).
Undercut caves. There are little channels all through the rocks
The ‘dark’ side of the gorge. There are caves all through there, home to many things. The ranger told us a story about two people who went exploring. Their torch died, and they sat down in the dark to take a breather. Until their ‘seat’ moved. It was a 4.5m olive python.
Last light on the rocks as we disembark

If you’d like to see more about this visit, Fitzroy Crossing and Darngku is the place to go.

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