Category Archives: Adelaide

Swan Song

an exhibition by brigid noone & annika evans
opening 9th august 6.30
liverpool street gallery, liverpool street adelaide

9th – 14th august
opening hours – 11am – 6.30pm aug 10, 13 & 14
10am – 6pm aug 11, 12 august

Festival of Ideas: Recommended Listening

Radio Adelaide have started broadcasting recordings of sessions from the Adelaide Festival of Ideas, and many are now available for download, all of the details are here.

I would like to make some recommendations based on session I attended, or have downloaded and listened to. I will update this as I listen to more of them, though I don’t expect to get through all of them, so don’t read anything into the absence of a session from my list. All broadcasts are on 101.5 FM in Adelaide. Also, all sessions are available on cd from Radio Adelaide. All downloads are in mp3 format.

Updated 12/7

  • High and Dry: John Howard, Climate Change and the Selling of Australia’s future with Guy Pearse. A compelling account of the Howard government’s failure on the issue of climate change from a Liberal party insider. To be broadcast on Wednesday July 18 at 12 noon, or download it (17.0MB).
  • Drought Proofing Australia: Heroic Fantasies and Sobering Realities with Peter Cullen. An account of Australia’s water situation from a top expert who is also an excellent speaker who tells it straight. Download it (15.9MB).
  • The Joy MacLennan Oration – Beyond the Long Age of Forgetting with Simon Longstaff. I managed to completely overlook this one on the weekend so I’m glad it was available for download. Longstaff very eloquently pinpoints the substitution of institutional tradition for ethical thinking as a key problem in our society. Download it (16.6MB).
  • Trading places with John Connell, John Buchanan, Tim Harcourt, Colleen Ryan. This one didn’t leap out at me, in fact I wasn’t entirely clear on what it would be about, but it turned out to be probably my favourite group session which I attended. The reason is that I felt that the speakers all has something different to contribute, but it all fit in well with the overall topic, which was essentially the future of trade. Download it (29.3MB).
  • What to Eat: Personal Responsibility vs Social Responsibility with Marion Nestle. An excellent speaker on a topic which effects us all on a daily basis, giving the insight that comes with being at the forefront of the fight for good nutrition in the USA (listen for how she “hurt sugar’s feelings”). Very entertaining and informative. Download it. (15.8MB)
  • Lifting the lid on whistle-blowing with Julian Morrow, Guy Pearse, Norman Swan, Marian Wilkinson, Paul Chadwick (PC). This one was full and I couldn’t get in but now I’ve had a chance to listen to it. A fascinating, and important topic with an impressive and diverse group of speakers … I probably should have realised that it would be popular. Download it. (31.8MB)
  • Mumbo-Jumbo, Snake Oil and Other Delusions with Francis Wheen. I plan to soon write a post about some of the ideas in this one, which is an amusing summary of the main ideas of the speakers latest book about the resurgence of superstition at the expense of critical thinking. Download it. (16.6MB)
  • Survival of the Fittest, Survival of the Richest or Survival of the Thinnest with Norman Swan. The ABC’s medical expert gives an interesting perspective on the factors affecting life expectancy. This has already been broadcast, so if you want to hear it you have to download it. (16.6MB)
  • Troubling times: Dissent and democracy in Australia with Sarah Maddison. Details the approach of the Howard government to dealing with dissent and the implications for democracy. Recommended for anyone who’s views have been dismissed as those of a “Howard Hater”. To be broadcast on Sunday August 26 at 12 noon. Download it. (14.9MB)

Some Ideas for the Festival of Ideas

In a session yesterday Tim Harcourt commented on how great it is that Adelaide people can simultaneously be big fans of sport, and big fans of ideas & the arts. I’ve been putting this to the test personally by seeing how well I can take in ideas at today’s sessions after staying up until 3am watching rugby and cycling, and whether having taken in these ideas I’ll still have the energy left to support some local artists (the Sea Thieves & The Silvermine Tapes) playing a gig at the Prince Albert (oops, that was the Grace Emily) later … oh,yes, and watching stage 1 of Le Tour afterwards.

I have taken my leave from the festival a little early, having absorbed just about all the ideas I can take for now, but perhaps foolishly, rather than getting some sleep before the evenings activities I’ve retired to Le Rayon Vert’s on site office to write a bit about the festival while it’s fresh in my mind. I’m not going to write about the content of the sessions at this point, maybe I will later, but for now you can check out the three “official” blogs – Blogocracy, Public Opinion and Pavlov’s Cat – for some thoughts on specific sessions (and sometimes I’ve had something to say in comments). Each one already has multiple posts on the festival and no doubt there will be more when they’re not too busy attending the festival to write about it. Also, Radio Adelaide are broadcasting all of the talks and are making them available for download. Details aren’t up yet at the time of writing, but when they are I may make some specific recommendations based on the sessions I attended. This is a wonderful service that they are providing, and if you make use of it then you should consider a subscription to help them out.

For now I have some ideas about the festival itself. I should preface all of this by making it clear that these are just minor gripes, and I consider the festival a great success. Continue reading →

All Aboard the Bike Bus (updated with Adelaide BUG news)

Now you know what a bike bus is, if you live in Sydney you can join one, check out the details at don’t know of any operating in Adelaide, though with the smaller volume of traffic, and generally better conditions for cyclists there may be less demand, though I expect that it’s only a matter of time before they get going here.
Via Pedaller.

Update: Not a bike bus, but there is something happening in Adelaide that’s worth mentioning, a Bicycle Users Group (BUG) is being established for the Western Suburbs, read about it at the What’s On in Adelaide blog. Not my area, but there has also recently been established a BUG for people like myself who work in the North Terrace precinct (ie the Universities, RAH etc). You can sign up to the mailing list here if that sounds like you.

Open Day at the Food Forest

The Food Forest at Gawler are having an open day this Sunday April 15, here is the press release:

An incredible range of  fresh organic food will be available for tasting at an Open Day at The Food Forest permaculture farm and learning centre at Gawler on Sunday 15 April.
The property is home to some 150 varieties of fruit, nuts, vegetables and herbs and autumn is harvest time! Apart from freshly pressed apple juice and the perennially delicious pistachios, the unique flavour of the desert-dwelling jojoba bean and the extraordinary taste of carobs will remind the public that they are visiting one of Australia’s most amazing farms. The Food Forest uses a fraction of the water and the energy that normally goes into producing a kilo of food, basically through intelligent garden and farm design, which includes recycling water through reedbeds.
Another clever technique on display is building with straw bales; there will be a builder, an  architect and an engineer who specialize in straw bale construction to lead visitors around the display buildings which also feature solar hot water, photovoltaic power and passive solar design. 
Permaculture design, organic gardening, food self sufficiency and how to keep chooks in the suburbs, add to the smorgasbord of sustainable tricks on the 15 hectare urban farm.
Visitors will be able to meet the management team which was recognised in the Nature Foundation Awards as running  SA’s top small business for Environmental Responsibility and Leadership; this follows the Premier’s Food Award for Leadership through Sustainable Industry and the Organic Federation’s Best Organic Producer in Australia. 

The Open Day will be in two parts, with Strawbale Building Information from 10am sharp-1pm  ($15) and Permaculture talks and inspections from 2pm sharp –5pm ($10). Visitors can also purchase a full-day ticket ($20) and bring a picnic lunch. Children under 16 free. Organic produce will be for sale.
The address: Clifford Rd, Hillier. Phone 85 226450

I’ve been wanting to check it out for some time, so this sounds like the perfect opportunity.

Bicycle Commuting in Adelaide: A guide for beginners

Recently I’ve had a couple of discussion with friends about riding bikes on the road, I thought I might set out some of my ideas in a post. I use a bike to go pretty much everywhere, so I’m out on the roads every day, but I only started riding regularly about 4 years ago, so I can still remember what it is like to be a bit intimidated by the idea of riding on busy roads. All of my riding has been in Adelaide so there’ll be a fair bit of Adelaide-specific comments, but much of it should be generally applicable.

First, you have to know the rules. About the easiest way to sum those up is that they are the same as for cars. There are a few bike specific rules, but if you know the road rules then you pretty much know all you need to know. So if you’re not a motorist then a good starting point before taking to the road is to real the road rules – not just for yourself but also so you know what to expect from other road users. You can read more at Transport SA.
Next you need to be confidant with your riding and have good control over your bike. If you’re pretty new to cycling altogether then it would be a good idea to get a bit of experience on recreational bike paths and quiet suburban streets before taking to the main roads. If you still have to concentrate on the act of riding itself, then you won’t be sufficiently aware of what’s going on around you on the road. You should be able to maintain your course while checking back over your shoulder, and when there are distractions around. You should have the confidence to ride close to others, or through fairly narrow spaces while keeping steady.

OK, so now you’re ready to start commuting. When you’re new to it a good idea is to plan your trips first, some of the major roads (eg South Rd, Main North Rd, North East Rd) aren’t much fun, and even experienced cyclists may like to avoid them. The best thing to do if you’re in Adelaide is to check out the Bike Direct maps provided by Transport SA. These show good routes for cyclists which can get you anywhere around Adelaide. They distinguish between off road bike paths, main roads with bike lanes, smaller roads with bike lanes, and smaller roads which are suitable for cyclists. Using these you should be able to get wherever you are going without encountering too many traffic problems.
Some tips for once you get going:

  1. Don’t ride on footpaths. For a start it is illegal unless you are a kid. Secondly I don’t think it is safer than the road, riding across driveways and cross streets as you go along a footpath is potentially dangerous. Of course, if there are any pedestrians about you are a danger to them as well.
  2. Be aware of your rights as a road user and assert them. This means that you don’t need to go along hugging the curb -in fact this is often dangerous, especially if you ride close to parked cars which might have doors opening. You are entitled to take up a lane and should do so if necessary for safety. Of course, you should also be considerate to other road users and move aside when it is reasonable to do so. Also, you should also be aware that many motorists may not be aware of your rights, so be prepared for this and exercise caution.
  3. Wear bright colours, I would recommend a reflective vest or jacket. This is particularly important at night, but I tend to wear one all the time for better visibility.
  4. If you ride on shared paths then respect the rights of pedestrians. Make sure you have a bell to warn them of your approach.
  5. Right turns at intersections can be a bit daunting. You are entitled to move across into the right lane to turn right just as cars do, but this can be difficult on a busy road, and if you are a beginner you might not feel confident about moving right out onto the road. There is an easy solution, you can do a two stage “hook turn”. This means you cross the intersection as if you are going straight ahead, and then pull over at the other side of the cross road, then turn your bike to face right and wait for the lights to change the other way. This way you stay on the left of the traffic the whole time.
  6. You can move up past traffic waiting at intersections, but you can’t overtake someone on the left if they are turning left – which should just be common sense but I see it happen a lot. You’ll find that you’ll get used to certain intersections which you use regularly and will be able to judge when it is safe to move through the front of the traffic by knowing the order of the light changes and so on. If you are not particularly familiar with a major intersection then you should exercise caution.
  7. (Added 10/4) You should make sure you have the correct equipment. Apart from a helmet, if you want to use a bike for commuting then you’ll want to leave it without it being stolen so a lock will be necessary. A D-Lock is the best, though how much you want to pay for a lock will depend on how much your bike is worth. My first bike I used for commuting cost less than a D-Lock so I didn’t bother getting one! The bike didn’t get stolen, but it wasn’t too long before I wanted an upgrade. If you are going to ride at night – and while you might not when you get started pretty soon you will want to – then you will need lights. A white one for the front and red one for the back. I’m always impressed every time I go to buy a new light because they get better all the time. Now it is quite easy to get compact lights that run on common types of batteries which are very bright, and they are quite inexpensive. Even so, you may want to remove them and keep them with you when you lock up the bike.
    As mentioned in comments by The Don you will also need equipment for repairing punctures, though I tend not to take that stuff everywhere I go – I have the convenience of keeping repair kits at home, and in my office in the city, so for most of my commuting I’m not too far away from either of these.

That’s about all I can think of for now, I may add more later if anything else comes to mind. (Note – I did add an extra point)
Please contribute additions, differing opinions, questions etc to comments.

As a final point, I’d just like to add that once you get it in to it you very quickly get used to riding in traffic. While it is appropriate for people to be cautious, I’m disappointed at how many people seem to be put off commuting by bike because of concern for their safety on roads. Any road use can be dangerous – as a motorist, cyclist or pedestrian – but if you are sensible about it then it can be a safe way to get around that is environmentally friendly, much cheaper than driving, more convenient than public transport, good exercise and lots of fun. And the more people that get out on bikes then the safer it is as motorists become more accustomed to sharing the road with bikes.

Mt Lofty Attempt II: Success!

Yesterday I had another go at Mt Lofty on my bike and this time I made it to the summit. Sure, people ride up there all the time, but I’m hardly known for my physical feats so I thought it was a good achievement. A few things I learnt were

  • I need a headband to keep sweat (and sunscreen) out of my eyes
  • It might be because I’m not used to using the low gears but I had the chain come off a few times so a rag to help put it back on without getting grease all over my hands would be good.
  • I need a second water bottle. By the time I got to the top of Eagle on the Hill I was out of water and really needed more. In fact, I may have turned back at that point, but I figured that Crafers was the nearest place where I’d find a drink.
  • Assuming that I have my second water bottle then I shoud bypass Crafers. From there the climb up the summit road to the entrance to the Botanic Gardens is pretty nasty, it just goes on & on. Also there is no bike lane. Actually there’s something that looks like a bike lane, but the surface is too rough to be useful for cycling. There’s a bit of traffic and the limit is 80km/h so it’s not the best way for cycling. Apparently, back before entering Crafers you can take a back way avoiding the main road, and which also breaks up the climb a bit.

After my next ride, when I’ve found the best way and know the route a bit better I’ll give a detailed description of the route (and maybe I’ll have a go at Bikely) for anyone else who is new to riding in the hills and wants to give it a try.

Wellington Weir Protest this Sunday

Walk against the Weir Flyer
The South Australian Government are planning to build a weir at Wellington, which is situated on the Murray just before it enters Lake Alexandrina. The motivation is to provide more water to irrigators in times of drought, as stated in this media release.

The problem with this is the effect it is likely to have on the Coorong, which is a long, narrow strip of water along the coast from the Murray mouth and stretching over 100km to the south east. This wetland environment is in serious trouble as described in detail here, the reason is essentially a lack of water making it to the Murray mouth. The responsibility for this is shared by South Australia, Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland, and I believe that Mike Rann is correct in claiming that the SA irrigators are the most efficient, however being the best of a bad bunch is not necessarily good enough. Too much water has been taken out for irrigation throughout the whole system, and now in drought there is nothing left for environmental flows, i.e. to keep the river system alive. This has manifested in a number of ways including the death of a huge number of the river red gums along the length of the river. In the Coorong in particular the situation is at crisis level, the wetlands are quite literally dying. It will take a big effort to change this, but it seems pretty certain at least that restricting flows with another weir will ensure that it does not survive.
This area is supposed to be protected by the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands, but it seems that the Government has a way to weasel out of this (link is a pdf), Greens MP Mark Parnell is trying to close this loophole.

In the meantime the people of SA have to get out and show the government that they don’t want to stand by while the Coorong dies. A local activist group from the lower Murray region called The River, Lakes and Coorong have started up a campaign to Stop the Weir. They already had a protest out at Milang a couple of weeks ago, this weekend they bring it to the centre of Adelaide, get out there and show the Government that we will not stand by while they kill off the Coorong.