Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Scenes from the lawn

On Sunday afternoon Frances called out that there was a fox on the lawn.  Neither of us had cameras immediately handy, but Frances got hers a bit quicker than I did and here is the result.
I hope the beast's sleek condition is due to dining on bunnies and not small birds!

On Monday Frances called again, this time to alert me to the presence of a pair of Scarlet Robins.  It is, I think, impossible to have too many images of Scarlet Robins!

Monday, 29 April 2013

Reflections on Berrima and Bundanoon

Following our visit to these towns we were wondering what people did to earn a living in the areas.  My friend Denis, living relatively close to the towns, provided some insights, noting a high level of retired folk and commenting on the tourism focus of Berrima.

I thought one way of attacking this puzzle would be to see what the 2011 Census could tell us.  While Berrima, as defined as a State Suburb in the Census, has quite a small population of 600 that is enough for some broad analysis.

My first avenue of enquiry was to look at the age profile of the two towns and compare this with NSW in total.
The two towns are broadly similar to each other but very different to NSW.  This is shown most dramatically  by

  • the low proportion of 20-29 year olds; and
  • the high proportion of 60-69 year olds.

For Bundanoon, the proportion of of 70-79 year old folks is also very high with the extreme shortfall extending to the 30-39 year cohort.  This is possibly the key finding of this analysis.

Age is a major linking factor between population and labour force attributes.  For NSW 45.4% of the population are in the Labour Force.  For Berrima the proportion is somewhat lower (43.6%) while for Bundanoon it is much lower at 38.8% - presumably because a high proportion are retired.

Comparing occupations of usual residents in the two towns with NSW as a whole,

...  the major under-representation is for Clerical and Administrative workers.   That is what happens when an area is not a nodal centre of public administration!  For Berrima Sales workers are well over-represented, confirming the importance of the tourist-retail industry to the town.  For Bundanoon the over-represented occupations are in the Community and Personal Services group.  Drilling down, this appears to be due to a (relatively) high proportion of cops and/or firies.  While the lushness of the area, and the many large residences suggested an oversupply of high-priced help in the Managerial and Professional occupations, the two towns show a very similar proportion to NW as a whole.

My final topic for this post is to try to get a handle on commuting: is it a factor in the economic life of the two towns?  I had hoped to be able to get at this by comparing the occupational profiles based on place of usual residence (PUR) and place of work (POW).  However the lowest geography available for POW is Local Government Area (LGA) so I will attempt some inferences at that level.

Both towns are in Wingecaribee Shire - contributing a mere 6% of the Shire's population.  Despite that low proportion, the ocupational profile - at least at the 1-digit level - is very similar for the two towns and the LGA.  Before getting down to occupation it might be interesting to look at a map of the Shire, showing its main towns.
 While Sydney CBD is about 1:30 by car (or 2:30 by train) from Mittagong the western edge of the Urban sprawl (eg Campbelltown) is probably no more than 40 minutes in a BMW.  Wollongong is about the same - so there is a possibility of out-commuting.

The approach I adopted was to compare occupations for people who work in Wingecaribee and those usually resident there.  In total there were approximately 3,300 more UR in the Shire Labour Force  than there were people who worked there.  Not surprisingly, every occupational group showed an excess of UR over POW.

Expressing the the number of folk in each occupational group as a % of the total under the two different counting rules gives a more interesting picture.
In interpreting this chart the approach must rely on 'net effects':

  • Where the value for POW is higher than that for UR, as shown by Sales Workers, it implies a higher proportion of people from outside the Shire commute in to work than commute out to work elsewhere.  
  • Where POW is lower than UR (eg Professionals)  the converse applies.  

It is quite possible that I have over-analysed these data but it does appear that overall the Shire is a net exporter of its workforce.  This is particularly true for Professionals, which possibly confirms my expectations (always a suspicious outcome!).

A final issue which arises is the extent to which the usual residents are in fact usual residents.  What follows is pure speculation.

One possibility is than some of the high-priced corporate types have a suave abode in the Highlands, leaving spouse and kiddies there during the week while corporate type - of either sex and/or gender - puts in the 15 hour working days based on a week time apartment in the Eastern Suburbs.  In this case the worker should be counted as a UR of the City as that is where they spend most nights.  However my bet is that the spouse at least works on the principle of 'home is where I am' and reports the commuter as a UR of the Highlands.

Sunday, 28 April 2013

More towns of the Southern Highlands

A few weeks back I posted about our first foray into the Southern Highlands on our "Towns of NSW" project.  We added a few more scalps to that totem pole today.

As we set off in the Executive Jetta towards Berrima the Lake George basin was full of fog and the wind farm was completely still.
The drive was uneventful, and we called in at the Gordon VC rest area to add that to our collection of War Memorials.  It was pleasing to find that after receiving his award in 1941 Gordon lived until 1986.
All the way from Goulburn I had noticed Veteran/Vintage cars and trucks on the road.  Many were being transported on modern trucks but these were under their own steam leaving Berrima.  (I have had a small search round Google and have not been able to find an event the vehicles were heading for.)

On getting to Berrima we parked beside the Park and, as it turned out, right beside the War Memorial.  They had obviously had  good turn-out at their ANZAC day event.
It was a rather sunny day which made exposure difficult but this naff image does show the shape and colour of this huge English Oak planted in 1890 by Sir Henry Parkes.
Since being by-passed by the Hume Highway the town has settled down as an up-market tourist destination, about 90 minutes drive from the Sydney CBD.   AS well as filling the main street all the off-road car parks seemed full.
This grand building is the Court House.  A very well built structure, with the sandstone blocks fitting together almost as well as the Inca temples in Peru.  (I suspect the folk building this didn't have to shift the blocks by hand across a few mountain ranges.)  It is interesting how often Courts are the biggest and most flamboyant building in an area: Sir Garfield Barwick was only following a long tradition with the opulence of the High Court in Canberra!
In a burst of efficiency the Court is close to the Gaol.
The current status of the Gaol is interesting as there are many signs out the front threatening all sorts of dire consequences if people attempt to go inside as it is stated to be still in full operation.   However we spoke to a local who said that the Government had closed the place (after a brief period housing 60 young females, whose institution in Sydney was being refurbished) but they were refusing to allow it to be transformed to a tourist attraction.  He claimed to have spoken to 800 people in the street and all were in favour of that change.

We left a little money behind inn the town, having purchased  a couple of pottery mugs, an interesting looking fuschia and a pie each.  It is an interesting aspect of village politics that neither the pie shop nor the nursery get a mention on the official online map!

We then passed through Moss Vale - which seems to be be developing as a commercial centre - and took the tourist route to Exeter.  Here we found the recreation area with a stone gatepost honouring veterans.
Unlike Berrima, where dogs seemed to be both welcome and numerous, the sign suggests that Exeter was an enclave of canophobia.  The lower right image fascinates me: it seems to suggest a ban on dogs taking a dump, whereas what they are trying to do is get folk to do a post-hoc pick up.
Again they seem to have had a good roll up on the 25th.
Throughout the area we saw many signs suggesting Shoo Cockatoo and "Say NO to POSCO".  I didn't mange to get a photo of them but this small one in Bundanoon highlights a key issue.
The Post Office in Bundanoon had an interesting banner, presumably erected for ANZAC Day.  When clicked you should be able to read the number of Australians killed in various conflicts - the entry for Afghanistan appeared to be editable.  This is just across the road from the War Memorial (see below).

There seemed to have been a bike race in the area finishing just out of the town.  Many of the riders appeared to be heading for the station to go home.  The local bike shop - close to the station - displayed an interesting mural covering both the cyclist attributes and a Scots heritage.
We wandered briefly in the graveyard of a small church.  For some reason it seemed quite an attractive place: perhaps the manicured nature of the grass and close bushes interacted well with the old stones?
There were several stone carvings displayed around the town.  This sample is a Gang-gang.
Here is the main street complete with passing cyclists.
Overall the town seemed very prosperous with many large properties on the outskirts.  The question that arises is what do the people do for a living?  My estimate is that at peak hour it would take at least 2 hours to drive to the Sydney CBD and probably close to an hour to the edge of the metropolitan area.  I had thought about taking the train, but from Bundannoon that is 3.5 hours to Central, and I can't see adding 8 hours per day commuting makes any sense whatsoever.

We were told that Berrima is a relatively dry area (and very cold).  Judging by the density of the roadside vegetation things have got damper by Bundanoon!
On the way back to the Hume Highway we  kept our eye open for potential new War Memorials.  This was not a War Memorial but honouring a fire fighter who died on duty.
To vary the scenery we cam back along Lake George, which is getting close to dry again.  Although not evident in this image the turbines were spinning again!

Saturday, 27 April 2013

A stroll round the bridges of Queanbeyan

This snip from Google Earth shows the Queanbeyan River snaking through the middle of the town (OK, I know it is officially a city, but part of its charm is that it has the feel of a country town).  At times of flood, which happen every so often, it cuts the town in two, largely because there are only 2 vehicular bridges across it and a big flood cuts them both.

The centre of the town is a pleasant park with a fair sized lake caused by a weir (of which more anon).  The weir originally had a water supply function but is now 'just' decorative.  It is well supplied with ducks and is a  good place to see platypus. (I didn't see a 'pus today but a water rat Hydromys chrysogaster swam past.  It dived before I could get a photograph.)  I recorded 20 species of birds in total in the 45 minutes of this walk.
 Carrying on South I got to the suspension bridge.
 The original bridge was built early in the 20th Century to allow the nuns to cross the River other than by stepping stones.  That was washed away by a flood and the current bridge built in 1938 at a cost of Stg400!

The view is quite rural looking upstream!
 Crossing the bridge I got back to the main bridge leading to the main street.
I have commented before about the appearance of metal out poetry signs around the area.  This one gives a pronunciation lesson!
The poetry is close to a new coffee shop.  It is rumoured that the whole place can be swiftly dismantled and moved in case a large flood is evident.  This is possibly part of a push by the Mayor to make the centre of Queanbeyan a more enjoyable locale.  (To some extent it seems to be working with some outdoor eating facilities appearing, and being used, in the Crawford St 'lifestyle precinct'.)
 The weir itself.  The flow is surprising considering the low rainfall in recent months.
Another bit of beautification.
This is the third bridge, the low level crossing at Morisset Street.  This was under 4m of water in the last flood.  The image seems to me to capture the dryness of the area at present.
 There is n point being too active when fishing.  Putting your chair in the middle of the River seems like a good idea.  I have spoken to fisherpersons in the past and been told that it is possible to catch good native fish in this stretch, unlike the carp infested ACT watercourses.

Friday, 26 April 2013

Some loonie images

This is not going to be about Canadian currency!  It is a few snaps of the moon, known in Latin as luna, from which derives the word lunatic.  (It is interesting, reading the wiki related to that term, to contemplate whether electric lighting has altered the incidence of mental illness.  It is also interesting to think about whether the related increased nocturnal ambient light in big cities explains why there are so many crazy people in - eg - New York.)

I digress.  Here are the pictures of the full moon on 25 April.  No particular insights from the images, they're just pleasant!

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Are the seasons a little confused?

There is a fair bit of evidence around that things are happening on time.  We have a bit of Autumn colour (known as Fall color to a fair proportion of the readership) in the area.  I say "a bit"

  • after watching a program about the conposer John Adams last evening which included some images of Yosemite in Fall; 
  • thinking about the October view down Wolf Creek Pass (CO) when we lived in Colorado; and
  • remembering the colours around New England and NYC when we lived there.
I'll begin with a couple of maple leaves.

 A pistachio on our lawn.
This pin-oak is about peak value now: the leaves don't fall off until Spring but just hang on, dry and brown through Winter.
In Inner South Canberra the trees in Telopea Park were doing their thing.

Also seasonal, and sighted on the way back from Telopea, were soldiers practicising their stuff for ANZAC Day (25 April) at the Queanbeyan War Memorial.
I am not sure if flowering Camellias are seasonal.  My memory is that even Sasanquas normally come a couple of months later.  I am not complaining about a bit of colour in the garden however.
However, I am reasonably sure that it is out of season for Little Corellas to be making nice, even in Teleopea Park where that sort of thing is common with H. sapiens.