Raising the Winter Sun: Reflections on the Antipodean May Day

A long time ago, in a hemisphere quite a reasonable distance away, winter was a time of hardship, and the return of warmth was celebrated with the waving of handkerchiefs, the shaking of bells and the clapping together of sticks. These Morris dancers raised the sun of the turning season, yet – incredibly – they…

Balloon Sunrise Spectacular

Early mornings and I have a civil and mutually beneficial agreement wherein we politely avoid each other, or offer only the briefest nod of acknowledgement if we are akwardly forced to meet. However, Canberra’s aptly named Balloon Spectacular is (at its 29th year) one of the longest-running hot ballooning events in the world, and so…

Walk on the Wildside: Mulligan’s Flat and The National Zoo and Aquarium

“A cheetah just licked my arm.” As excellent as many wildlife documentaries are, there’s nothing quite the same as experiencing wildlife in person. Over the local Human Brochure weekend, we experienced two very different ways that Canberra organisations are combining a conservation philosophy with public engagement: Mulligan’s Flat Woodland Sanctuary, and the National Zoo and…

Presidential Speech

Ladies and Gentlemen of the ANU Mountaineering Club AGM of 2014: Wear Sunscreen. If I could offer you only one tip for the outdoors, sunscreen would be it. The long-term benefits of sunscreen have been proved by scientists, whereas the rest of my speech has no basis more reliable than my own meandering experience, and…

Dead Horse Gap: The Brumby Debate

Ribs prominent beneath a winter coat, and hardly enough energy left to acknowledge our presence, the three brumbies stare at our group of telemark skiiers. It has been a week since the last real snowfall, and the marks on this snow tell us the whole story: the brumbies have moved less than 10 metres in…

On Being Human

Sex sells. But humans sell too. The smiling face of a baby adorns boxes of disposable nappies. Coca Cola advertisements sell a lifestyle as much as a product. And Old Spice is a household name thanks to actor Isaiah Mustafa. Similarly, humanising something makes it more engaging. Compare these two passages: The Budawangs are a…

Balloons, Kayaks and the Majestic Skywhale

Yep. Skywhale. And a quite magnificent beast indeed, whose ten enormous udders allow it to ascend heavenwards over the Australian capital city, Canberra, to the delight (and sometimes disgust) of onlookers. To celebrate Canberra’s centenary in 2013, artist Patricia Piccinini was commissioned to design a hot air balloon, and thus the Skywhale was born. To…

An Antipodean May Day

May Day, the festival celebrating the beginning of spring in the northern hemisphere, seems an appropriate time for beginning a blog for the first time. Of course, as an Australian residing in Canberra, this morning proved to be an aptly chill affair for the welcoming of the coming winter. Leaving behind the mists and autumn…