Some bastard stole my helmet

Why I listened to the bloke who said to put my helmet on the floor I don’t know. It was a pretty good spot. Under a low chair, next to a pole, behind the waitresses stand. I was less than 3 meters away, between the helmet and the door and I knew all the people around me.

It survived less than 2 hrs. Whoever stole it must have literally brushed past me on their way out. Unless they stayed, hoping I would move on. What I don’t understand is why, nearly 3 hours later they gracefully left a very shitty old helmet on the back of my bike, 10 minutes after I reported the theft to the bar staff and with only about 15 people left in the bar. 

Rocket! Go Bang!

A mate of mine, Richard Nolan is doing the Oxfam 100km Trail Walker challenge with a bunch of friends. This is the second time they have done it but thus time they are trying to get it done in under 24hrs. Last time they just wanted to finish, and they did, in about 30hrs from memory.

The Oxfam 100km Trail Walker Challenge is a charity event to raise money for Poverty Alleviation. The Sydney event takes place in Northern Sydney and faces some pretty tough ups and downs, with about 10 150m ascents.

They boys are very dedicated to the cause, having put in numerous training hours, organised poker nights and even a gala dinner. Richy even underwent a chest wax ala ’40yr old virgin’ style. Just to be clear though, Richy is not 40 years old.

They are very close to there $5000 fundraising target, if you would like to support them and help them over the line you can click here tp donate via their official Oxfam Trailwalker Page.

Good luck boys.

International perspectives of home

Spending time with intelligent people who care is a blessing. Its also challenging.
Thankfully, I’d chosen to bring a bottle of Shiraz (Red Belly Black, surprisingly smooth) to the Sunday night dinner party, and it fitted right in. Not sure how it came up, but Australia’s immigration policy took a bit of a hammering, particularly from the European contingent, and this was pre London riots.
The basis of the indignation was a little simplified, and I disagreed with most of the statements and yet I still agreed with its conclusions – that Australia could afford to and economically would probably benefit from increasing the quota of refugees that we take in.
The argument consisted of a number of independent statements, which centred around Australia being a lucky country with plenty to go around, so we should share. Individually this was represented by teh following arguments:
  1. Australia has heaps of land and even if only a small percent of it is habitable and productive, it would still be more than what is available in Europe on a per capita level.
  2. The claim that Australia doesn’t have enough water is a localised issue, as the QLD floods demonstrate that in some places Australia has too much water.
  3. That Australia is a rich country because of its abundance of natural resources and this has contributed to the low level of national debt and low unemployment rate.
Now, I know lots of Australian’s would scoff at some of the statements above. But do we base this understanding on myths or on facts?
1. Population density. 
No one doubts Australia is big (5th largest country globally after Russia, Canada, USA and Brazil), and as a young nation our population (20,601,000 at last count – 2008 census data) is still small compared to other countries our about size (e.g., US, Brazil).
The typical defence to our low population density (2.68 ppl/Sq km compared to Germany’s 230.71 ppl/Sq km) is the amount of arid land we have, mostly due to a lack of water. 
Finding stats for inhabitable land is harder. What I did find was this infogram by which was pretty interesting. If you can’t read the stats below, adjusted for inhabitable land than you should download the original here. The stats unfortunately are not well referenced (other than they come from the University of Wollongong) and I have struggled to find anything better on the web. 
The message is pretty simple though and it is that based on inhabitable land quantity, Australia is still pretty empty. 
Judgement: We have plenty of room – which is not a surprise, but the extent of the difference is.
2. Availability of fresh water in Australia.
Australia has 398 Cubic km of annually renewable fresh water. (Pg 227, ‘The worlds water, 2006-2007: the biennial report on freshwater resources’ By Peter H. Gleick, Heather Cooley, David Katz). That equates to 0.05 Cubic METERS of water per Square km. Comapre that with Austria (Sorry Kristop, Germany wasn’t available) which has 84 Cubic Km of annually renewable fresh water and just 84,000 Sq Km of land. That is 1 Cubic Meter of fresh water per Square Km. Quite a difference but not really a surprise. Access to water is a big issue for us and I will do further research at another time to determine if it is taken into consideration in the ‘inhabitable land’ considerations, as it should be.
Another good source of water data for Australia is the BOM.
Judgement: Availability of water is a major concern for Australia. What is needed to address the issue (in my opinion) is investment in infrastructure for water security and good policy on water rights. Not easy, but achievable and no excuse.
3. Australia is a rich country because of our abundance of natural resources, particularly the mining industry. 
Australias latest national account are available here. They indicate on Pg 32, table 14 that Mining contributes about $120,000 M in Gross value add to the GDP per year. That is 9.26%. That is about the same as manufacturing (which everybody knows is dead, right?) or a little more than construction or a little less than either finance and insurance services or professional and technical services. I wont even go into employment figures which I know are even less! 

According to these latest stats, Mining is by no means going to be our saviour from the current global economic  situation either, as it was the largest shrinking industry in the last year to March 2011.

Judgement: Wake up Australia, the miners have got the government by the balls and are holding us all ransom. Even worse, we are propagating the myth for them at the international level to the detriment of all the other amazing industries we have. Rather than subsidising these companies we should be making sure we get a fair share of what will never be returned to us, and that this share is invested in the infrastructure we need to support a sustainable future, not infrastructure that hastens the existing consumption of natural resources.


Hit the road with dad (almost literally) and a good friend, Maria last weekend.

We headed from Dili to Maliana via the ErMera (inland) road. I had heard that the coast road was better and quicker, but having taken that road a few times before I was keen to take the inland route, plus its typically more fun and more spectacular riding in the mountains.

Would never have thought dad would become a mobile phone addict
Over the mountains, over the bridge and over-night

It was certainly more challenging. The ‘road’ deteriorated drastically passed Er Mera, with some big wash-outs and steep, rocky descents. Not exactly what we were hoping for and certainly not what dad was ready for. After about 6 hrs on the road we were apparently still 1.5 hrs from Maliana, even though we had been told for the last 1.5 hrs that we were 1.5 hrs from Maliana.

So we stayed the night outside of Maliana at a random house. Thankfully the local kiosk was well stocked and I under the watch-full gaze of mum (everybody here calls the matrons of the house-hold ‘mum’) I cooked up a feed of noodles, tuna and egg polished off with timor coffee. Brought back memories of Kayaking in Indonesia, although sleeping on the beach was more comfortable than the concrete floor we had that night. Maria was a trooper and didn’t complain once, even though from Hatolia I was minus a footpeg and a toolkit, even if we didn’t know it at the time.

The family that put us up for the night – Patricio Bereati in Cailaco.
Dad showing of pictures of Charlotte
Wisteria is everywhere here and its beautiful.

Next day we headed into Maliana and onto the Marobo Hot Springs, after taking notes of stores that sell solar cells and touching base with the local Moris Rasik staff. We took confidence in repetitive statements that it was only an hour to Morobo and that the road was ‘ok’. After about 1.5 hrs we started walking because the road would have been nearly impossible to get back up. After a 30 min walk we arrived and it was worth it.

Marobo hot and smelly springs

We didn’t get back onto the main road until nearly 3pm Sunday. Exhausted and relaxed, after about 15min on the road we determined the safest and best thing to do was to ride back to Dili on Monday morning. Dad would continue onto Suai after he recovered a little. So we stayed at a beautiful place in Bobonaro, where they kicked some kids out of a room for us. Had a wonderful conversation with young guy from the village who showed us around town. Bobonaro is a different place, their is a great sense of pride in the homes their, its very beautiful.

We zoomed backed to Dili the next morning on the comparatively heavenly coast road via Balibo. Had hot buns, timor coffee and bananas for breakfast. Beat the hell out of working.

Kiosk kids in Balibo – Fresh warm buns, timor kopi and bananas for breakfast. Brilliant.

Every weekend is supposed to be an adventure, right?

What I wish I could achieve

While i’m here in TL I’m supposed to be developing a distribution and sales network for renewable energy technology (RET). An example what I wish I could develop is contained in this article.

The reality is that these programs are waaaaaaaay more advanced and sophisticated than what I could even wish to develop here in TL.

Its kinda sad actually. Guess it certainly ain’t going to happen if I blog instead of doing work.