It’s Been a Hot One

It’s been hot all over Australia with Tasmania alight and NSW having a shocking day today with over 132 fires.

Out bush we’ve had fires burning out almost continuously for months now. Some of it as planned patch burning, others by lightening strikes and others well, just because…. But we have a bit of room out here so they barely impede us.

It’s also been a bit warm. Here’s the daily maximum temperatures at Warburton (125km away) since Christmas Day

Recent Maximum Temperatures

DateMaximum Temperature (Centigrade)
25 Dec 201240.3
26 Dec 201242.0
27 Dec 201239.5
28 Dec 201239.7
29 Dec 201241.5
30 Dec 201241.9
31 Dec 201240.4
1 Jan 201342.0
2 Jan 201344.4
3 Jan 201341.6
4 Jan 2013 40.6
5 Jan 201341.7
6 Jan 201344.8
7 Jan 201347.0
8 Jan 201347.0

We’ve had eleven days in a row over 40C and if it wasn’t for the cool change on the 27th and 28th of December with maximums of only 39.5 and 39.7 respectively we would have had 19 days straight above 40C.

December’s minimum temeratures were 2.2C above average at 23.7C and the maximum average was 38.3C, 1.9 above average.

Last night was warm, perhaps the warmest January night out here ever at 32.2C and if these temperatures keep going we’ll have our warmest January average at 43.^C which id over five degrees above average.

I don’t know about you lot but I’m going to enjoy the cool change on Sunday. It’s predicted the maximum temperature will drop to 41C.

Read the Journals of Central Australian Explorers

A while ago a friend asked me to provide a list of reading of the some of the explorers that came through the region I now call home. A small amount of research which involved me walking to my bookshelf provided a concise list. And a little more research showed these titles are out of copyright and available on the web for free!

Project Gutenberg is the place to go with the books available in a variety of formats (except there are no audio books listed for the following titles). This site has over 33,000 titles to download.

It is worthwhile to take a look at an Australian version which lists only Australian titles. It has a list of some of the Australian Explorers and their journals which are available online. It also links to a brief biography of the explorer.

Below are three of the books on my book shelf. The biographies are from Project Gutenberg Australia. To download the book click on the book title and a range of formats will be offered to you

David Wynford Carnegie – Spinifex and Sand

Carnegie was the fourth son of the Earl of Suffolk, England. After education as an engineer, David Carnegie worked on tea plantations in Ceylon, but joined the rush to Coolgardie when gold was discovered in Western Australia in 1892. Over a period of five years he prospected, and led several important exploring expeditions into some of Australia’s most arid areas. After leaving Australia, Canegie was appointed Assistant Resident in Nigeria where, at the age of twenty-nine, he died as a result of a wound inflicted by a poison arrow. At the time he was involved in attempting to stop a native uprising.

Ernest Giles – Australia Twice Traversed

Born in England in 1835, and educated in London, where he received a classical and literary education, Giles emigrated when he was 15 years old and joined his family in Adelaide. They had come to Australia the previous year. He spent some time working on cattle and sheep stations along the upper Darling River during which time he became a competent bushman.

Between 1872 and 1876 he led 5 expeditions into Australia’s unknown western interior, the last 2 on camels. He was driven by a desire to be the first to penetrate the area and set out without official support. He was never given material reward for his exploration work, but was awarded the gold medal of the Royal Geographical Society.

During his travels he discovered Mount Olga, named the Gibson Desert and crossed the continent from east to west and later went back again by a different route. Despite initial setbacks and seemingly impenetrable wilderness, Giles never weakened in his purpose or his love of exploration. At one point in his travels, he sent his companion, Gibson, on to fetch help, riding their last horse, then struggled along on foot. Gibson was never heard of again. Giles ate the last of his horse meat and rapidly became weaker. Hunger drove him to eat, whilst still alive, a small dying wallaby, whose mother had evidently thrown it from her pouch. He was so hungry he wished he had its mother and father to “serve in the same way.”

In 1897 he died after contracting pneumonia whilst working as a clerk in the Coolgardie gold fields. Giles styled himself as “the last of the Australian explorers.”

John McDouall Stuart – Explorations in Australia

John McDouall Stuart already had an established reputation as an explorer when, in 1859, the South Australian Government offered £2,000 reward for the first man to cross Australia from south to north.

Setting out from Adelaide in 1860, he eventually reached the centre of Australia-the first man to do so. The hill named Central Mount Stuart commemorates this achievement.

On both this and a later attempt, he was forced to turn back, and it was not until 1862, with his third expedition, that he met with success, reaching the north coast near Darwin on 24th July.

Returning to Adelaide, Stuart was able to report that good pasture land was to be had to the north, and as a result of this expedition, South Australia accepted temporary control of Northern Territory. The Overland Telegraph, completed in 1872, follows very closely the route taken by Stuart.

Have a Pleasant Sunday Afternoon.

Central Australian Bird Knowledge

All wildlife including birds play an integral part in Aboriginal culture from dreamtime stories to the present. Out here I identify a bird, go to the back of my Ngaanyatjarra dictionary where I can look up the scientific name and find the name in language. The dictionary may then have a brief description. I can then sit down with some of the elders and be told of its importance to their culture.

However we all can’t do that.

Bob Gosford over at The Northern Myth has just written about four terrific posters of central Australian bird knowledge. Each poster is from a different language group and has a picture of the bird, name and a brief story of it’s importance in both language and English to the Aboriginal group represented by the poster. Several of Bob’s pictures have made it into the posters.

The posters are from the Cultural Signs of Central Australia project being run at Charles Darwin University.

The project documents cultural signs in Central Australian Aboriginal languages. These are the social and environmental indicators used by Aboriginal people in Central Australia. For example there are signs that tell people when food is available, predict the weather, warn people of bad events and signal when certain kin are coming. Much of this knowledge is in danger of being lost as Aboriginal society rapidly changes. Many Aboriginal people are concerned that such knowledge should be documented and that resources should be created to assist in the teaching of this knowledge.

The Willie Wagtail pictured at the top of the post is from the bird poster “Birds that show people things” in the Kaytetye language which is spoken around Barrow Creek.

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