I’ve just spent a week in my car – driving from Cairns to Broome. It’s an epic road trip, almost an odyssey. A bit late in the year for it, so I ran into storms most afternoons, but it was a great trip. Highly recommended. I opted for the Flinders Highway to Mount Isa, rather than the rougher ride through the Gulf Country – I’ll save that for next time.
Day 1 Cairns to Charters Towers: Day 2 Charters Towers to Mount Isa: Day 3 Mt Isa to Renner Springs: Day 4 Renner Springs to Timber Creek: Day 5 Timber Creek to Lake Argyle: Day 6 Lake Argyle to Fitzroy Crossing: Day 7 home to Broome. I hope you enjoy the pictures.
Well – here I am. I’ve made it to Broome and had my first look around the beautiful Kimberley region of Western Australia. It’s been a huge move from Cairns – I’m still setting up camp just off the Cable Beach road – but I’ve had a good look around and I like it a lot.
I’ve started on the breakfast show on ABC Kimberley– and I’m getting used to the 4.30am alarm after a dozen years working at the other end of the day. I’ve watched the sun set over the sea, I’ve kicked up the dust at the region’s biggest indigenous cultural event, seen a really good film at the world’s oldest outdoor cinema, seen Steve Pigram play at the Roebuck Bay pub – I’m having a great time in my new home town.
Here’s some pictures – more stories from the west soon.
Later today, I will have to do one of the hardest things I’ve ever attempted. I’ll be saying goodbye to the wonderful folk who listen to ABC Far North. Today is my last day. I’ve accepted an offer from the ABC to manage its station in Broome and do the breakfast show. I start over there on September 17th.
It is a tremendous opportunity for me – but the decision to leave far north Queensland was a tough one. Cairns and FNQ have been my home, my patch, since early 2002, and I’ve been coming here since 1997. I’ve come to know and love the place, and it will stay with me long after I set up camp over in the Kimberley. I’m really excited about the move, and about working with the great ABC Kimberley team. But saying goodbye to my ABC Far North colleagues and our amazing listeners is going to be tough – and I’ve brought a clean hanky to mop up the inevitable tears when the time comes at six o’clock.
It’s been almost 13 years since I started in Cairns, introducing a local afternoon show for the first time. Its success is a tribute to the talent and determination of all my ABC Far North colleagues since then, and to our audience, who have been generous in their support and a constant source of inspiration. We’ve shared thousands of stories in my years here, and we’ve shared many happy times. And when things got tough, when cyclones and floods threatened our place, we worked with our listeners to help each other get through the worst and get going again. It has been an honour, a privilege to be of service to you. My experiences here will stay with me as long as I draw breath.
Last days are a bugger. There’s bound to be tears, but I am determined to make my final two hours on the radio at ABC Far North a celebration of the people – my colleagues and you, the listeners – who, together, make it a great radio station. So – we’ve opened up the rarely used Malcolm Turnbull room here at ABC Far North for what will be a memorable radio show, including a long overdue return of our long running local radio play – Bluey Hills.
And yes, thank you for asking. Our mascot C 1 Cassowary is coming with me. He loves to travel. See you on the radio at 4.
LISTEN to Phil Staley and I talking about the move, and some of the stuff we’ve done here at ABC Far North.
Choirs are our theme this week on Tony Hillier’s World of Music – in honour of the Soweto Gospel Choir visit to Cairns. Their gig at the Tanks Arts Centre was sold out long in advance – not surprisingly. Music from them and other choirs from the South Pacific, Bulgaria and Haiti/Cuba.
Fire as an environmental remedy for bushland? At first look, it seems a counter-intuitive notion, especially in a land so determined, for good reasons, to prevent fire in its cities and countryside. But the idea that the right kind of fire at the right time might help rehabilitate “sick” country, get rid of weed pests and promote healthy growth of vegetation – well, it’s catching on. Traditional indigenous use of fire as a land management tool – looking after country – is increasingly informing land management practices by governments, farmers and environmentalists.
But it hasn’t been an easy journey. A decade or so ago, suggestions that indigenous Australians might be on to something were met with indifference, even open hostility. But indigenous fire practitioners were making a persuasive, some say, a compelling case. Fire, they say, is an essential ingredient in the health of the Australian bush – but that’s not a one size fits all prescription. If you’re going to burn a bit of country, you have to use the right kind of fire at the right time, and have a very clear goal in mind.
Today, the sixthIndigenous Fire Workshop gets underway on Cape York Peninsula. People have come from all over Australia to walk the country- it’s Taepithiggi country – and learn from traditional owners and fire practitioners. How to read the land, the animals, trees, the seasons, and talk about the cultural responsibility of looking after country for future generations.
Victor Steffensen is an indigenous fire practitioner based in Cairns, and a director of Mulong, the company supporting the fire workshop. Victor talks about the many ways indigenous people use fire, and how their traditional knowledge increasingly informs non-indigenous land management.
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We’ve had a few cold nights in far north Queensland recently. That’s what happens when we get these lovely fine dry season days – created by cooler dry air from the south. That sends the night time minimums down to the low teens in Cairns, and single figures on the high country west of us, on the lovely Atherton Tablelands.
Those cool nights won’t be worrying Lara Hudson – if anything, it’s probably helping her prepare for sub zero temperatures she will experience in northern Scandinavia later this year. Lara worked in the fashion industy for 13 years. but found herself wondering about things she had not yet experienced. That led her to a dog sledding trip in Sweden – and now Lara is heading to Norway to work as a sledding guide. Lara will live in a remote wilderness camp a couple of hours from Tromso, with no electricity or running water – but there will be plenty of huskies.