Monthly Archives: March 2015

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Mrs. Todd and her Roadrunners are looking at Outback Australia. This is a post about an Outback journey I organised for parents and children from a school back in 1985. It's hard to believe those students would now be about 40 years old.

In this post, some video clips I had taken back in 1985 as my group travelled to Uluru and back have been shared. They have been converted from VHS tapes to digital and are being shared for the first time. 

The Australian Outback

I don't know exactly where The Outback is said to start but I've always understood it to be the more isolated, arid (desert-like) areas across the centre of Australia. Most Australians live in coastal areas although there are larger communities in some Outback areas including traditional land owners, miners and graziers (cattle ranchers).

Let's look at a satellite photo of Australia Wikimedia lists as NASA sourced and in the public domain...

This image was sourced through Wikimedia Commons where  it has bee sourced from NASA and is listed in the public domain. http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Australia_satellite_plane.jpg

This image was sourced through Wikimedia Commons where it has bee sourced from NASA and is listed in the public domain. http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Australia_satellite_plane.jpg

If you look at this photo you can see green areas are mostly coastal whereas from the west (left on the photo) to most of the way east you see reds, browns and even white. The white areas, especially the very white areas are not snow. They tend to be salt lakes and high salt areas only filling with water when there are very heavy rains in Queensland. Once the water reachers the lakes, it has nowhere to go as the lakes lie below sea level. The water evaporates and leaves the salt behind.

Let's look at the journey my group took back in 1985. I was the tour organiser and minibus driver on our two week, 7000+km (4350+mi) journey into The Outback and back .

 

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

We started out in Sydney, the capital of the state on New South Wales and headed west then turned north to spend our first night in an isolated school I had worked in in the early 80s.

The school, Marra Creek Public School, is about 670km (415mi) from Sydney and lies 100km (62mi) from the nearest town of Nyngan. It served children from local sheep and cattle properties. I stayed at a neighbouring shearer's house about 20km (13mi) from the school.

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Was the school in The Outback? It was isolated, used water from tanks, had a phone where you had to talk to an operator to be connected, and only sometimes could pick up one television station if the conditions were good. I sometimes had to chase emus and kangaroos or even wild pigs out of the playground.

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

A video clip of emus in an animal sanctuary close to my home.

 

And some kangaroos from the same sanctuary.

 

When I first started there we had been in drought and the water tanks were low, temperatures at times reached 47C (116F). With rains, the clay pans turned green with grass and roads became muddy. We didn't have snow days but we did have mud days when half of the students couldn't make it along the dirt roads. We didn't build mud men. Snow seems to work better and is cleaner.

Heading across country, we visited the town of Bourke most would consider an outback town. It lies along the Darling River, a river sometimes drying out if rains don't fall in Queensland and can also flood when heavy rainfall comes. On our trip, rainfall in the outback had been unusually good but still low compared to coastal.

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Not too far north of Bourke, we crossed into the state of Queensland. You can see in the photo below just how flat and semi-arid (almost desert) much of inland Australia can be.

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Heading north, we were heading towards the town of Longreach. The landscape had dried out.

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Stopping for the night, we were entertained by brolgas, the only cranes native to Australia. While at Marra Creek Public School, I had watched brolgas "dancing" their mating dance as they made jumps into the air.

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

The video clip below isn't one of mine but shows the dance of the brolgas.

Just north of Longreach, we crossed the Tropic of Capricorn. This means we were now in the tropical region of the world.

Near Longreach we saw an echidna on the side of the road. Echidnas and the platypus are the only living mammals that lay eggs but, as they are mammals, the mothers can give milk to their young. Echidnas are also found around my town and have sometimes visited my garden in search of ants.

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Below is a video of an echidna taken at an animal sanctuary near my home.

Our next major settlement was Mount Isa (pictured below), a mining town in western Queensland, an area known as the Gulf Country. Lead, silver, copper and zinc are mined in the Mount Isa area.

You can easily see the red of the soil, a soil colour so common in The Outback.

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

From Mt. Isa, we head west to the border with Northern Territory. The photo below was taken standing in the state of Northern Territory and looking into Queensland.

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

 Reaching the Stuart Highway, a highway running from Adelaide, the capital of the state of South Australia, in the south to Darwin, Northern Territory's capital, in the north. We took a left turn as we had reached as far north as we were going on this journey.

Passing through the town of Tennant Creek,  our next major attraction was Karlu Karlu (known also as the Devil's Marbles) 105km (65mi) south of Tennant Creek. Here are some photos taken at Karlu Karlu.

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

That's not me pretending to hold up the rock.

The video clip below was taken on the 1985 trip and has been converted to digital and shared for the first time.

Karlu Karlu is a sacred site to the Alyawarre (Aboriginal) whose country includes the site. It's also sacred to the Kaytetye, Warumungu and Warlpiri people. There are a number of traditional Dreaming stories for the Karlu Karlu area but only a few are able to be shared with uninitiated people such as us.

From Karlu Karlu, we continues south towards Alice Springs. As we travelled, we again crossed the Tropic of Capricorn, this time heading out of the tropics. Someone with a sense of humour had painted words on the road (not us).

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Alice Springs is the largest town in Central Australia and the third largest in Northern Territory. Central Australia is only a name for the area and is not a state. To the local people, the Arrernte, the Alice Springs area is known as Mparntwe.

On our visit, we managed to see a rare rainbow over Alice Springs.

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Alice Springs lies within the MacDonnell Ranges. There are so many beautiful places to visit in this arid area. Here are just two...

Standley Chasm

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

The video clip of Standley Chasm below was taken on the 1985 trip and has been converted to digital and shared for the first time.

 

Simpsons Gap (it was late in the day)

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

The video clip of Simpsons Gap below was taken on the 1985 trip and has been converted to digital and shared for the first time.

The video clip of black-footed rock wallabies below was taken on the 1985 trip and has been converted to digital and shared for the first time. The rock wallabies were our companions as we explored Simpsons Gap.

After leaving Alice Springs, we took time for a camel ride. Camels aren't native to Australia but were brought here by Afghan camel herders in the 1800s. Before roads and railways, all supplies had to be brought in by camel trains. When road and rail arrived, many camels were released into the wild. Australia now is the country with the largest number of wild camels in the world and at times exports camels back to the Middle East.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

The video clip of camel riding below was taken on the 1985 trip and has been converted to digital and shared for the first time.

We were heading to Uluru and Kata Tjuta. Along the arid way, we saw Mount Conner standing high above the desert.

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Tourists to Central Australia shouldn't miss a chance to see  Uluru and Kata Tjuta. Here are some photos I had taken.

Uluru (aka Ayers Rock) at sunset

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Uluru (aka Ayers Rock) at sunset

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Uluru (aka Ayers Rock) up close

You can get an idea of its size by looking at the people climbing it.

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

And a view from almost the top of Uluru

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Since my visit 30 years ago, visitors have become much more aware of the importance of Uluru to the local people. While they don't stop visitors climbing the rock, many visitors now choose not to climb in respect for the beliefs of the local people.

The video clip of an Uluru sunset below was taken on the 1985 trip and has been converted to digital and shared for the first time. It is running at 20x normal speed.

Around the base of Uluru, there are many sacred sites we are asked to respect. Some are sacred men's sites and some sacred women's sites.

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

However, there are sites visitors can see. Here is a photo taken at one such site, Mutitjula (Maggie Springs). You can see some of the rock paintings.

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

From Uluru, it is possible to see the distant Kata Tjuta rising from the desert plain.

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Back in our mini-bus, we head along the dirt road to Kata Tjuta.

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

 

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

On leaving Uluru and Kata Tjuta, we rejoined the Stuart Highway and again headed  south crossing the state border into South Australia.

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Our next stop would be Coober Pedy, famous for its opal mined in the area. Because of the high temperatures on summer days, some homes in Coober Pedy have been built underground.

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Heading further sour, we started to see salt lakes near the road. As they are low than the distant sea, water entering can't flow our. The water evaporates and leaves the salt behind. You can see a late afternoon photo of a salt lake.

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

There were many kilometres of flat roads as we continued south.

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

On reaching Port Augusta in South Australia, we headed east and back to Sydney. We had travelled over 7000+km (4350+mi) in our journey through The Outback.

For the original post click 20 SOMETHING KIDS AND 1 KOOKY TEACHER 

Hello everyone,

I was reading your post on the Robinsons musicians' visit to your school. Is drumming fun? What I like best is you can feel the beat as well as hear it. I can't quite tell from your video clip but were they djembe drums? If they are, I think they began in West Africa but have since spread around the world.

Did you know schools in my area have drumming groups? In my area, I produce DVDs and CDs for local schools and community groups. This includes filming our area's major 14 school performance. While I can't show the actual video, I can share the sound of the drummers from a couple performances.

Djembe Drums

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Click on the video below to hear the drummers.

Taiko Drums

In another school, a teacher was fascinated by Japanese culture. She introduced Taiko drumming into her school. To buy genuine Taiko drums would have been too expensive for a small school but, being creative, the teacher realised a similar sound could be made using large plastic drums.

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Click the video below to hear the Taiko drum performance.

(Yes, I managed to misspell Taiko on the video clip.)

Click here to see the Blogging Hawks blog.

Hello Blogging Hawks,

Did you find the title interesting? In a comment, I mentioned I would be buying a diamond for my collection of rocks and minerals. That sounds exciting but I have to say I could only afford and industrial quality diamond as I don't have a huge budget. Well, I bought one.

What is an industrial quality diamond?

You might know diamonds are very hard. They can be completely clear or have different colours depending on impurities. As well as white (or clear), I have seen pink, champagne (yellow) and blue diamonds. Good quality diamonds can be cut to make jewels but most diamonds found are not suitable for cutting because they can be flawed and have too many impurities. Industrial quality diamonds can be used to make strong cutting tools such as diamond drills and saws or even diamond cutters for cutting glass. My diamond is definitely in the industrial quality group.

Can you pick the diamond in my collection?

Look at the picture below. It shows photos of 9 stones in my collection. Can you pick the diamond? Once you have decided, click the link below the picture to see if you chose correctly. You can also learn what all are and a little about each.

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Click here when you have chosen.

Gold.

We all know gold is valuable. Here are some gold photos from my collection.

Gold in quartz found in a mine at Hill End, Australia

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

 Gold Nugget (0.127oz) New Zealand

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Panned Gold "Dust", Australia and New Zealand

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Gold coin (0.1oz)

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

 

How is gold made?

In this section, when I type an element I will add its Table of Elements code in brackets... Hydrogen (H) A short way of writing hydrogen in H. You will find some elements don't seem to use letters from their names. Their codes come from their Latin names... Copper (Cu) Latin: cuprum, Silver (Ag) Latin: argentum, Tin (Sn) Latin: sternum, Antimony (Sb) Latin: stibium, Gold (Au) Latin: aurum, Lead (Pb) Latin: plumbum

We all know gold is rare and valuable on Earth but do you know how gold came to be? It's a hot subject, a very hot subject. Did you know new elements (the things that make up us and the whole planet), are made in suns? It's happening right now in our sun.

Hydrogen (H) is being fused (joined) with hydrogen under high temperature and pressure in the core (centre) of suns (nuclear fusion). They fuse to become helium (He). Once the hydrogen runs out, the stars stop fusion (joining) hydrogen. For small stars, they can start to cool and shrink. Larger stars might start fusing helium and even larger elements.

Hydrogen (H) - Helium (He) - Carbon (C) - Oxygen (O) - Neon (Ne) - Silicon (Si) - Iron (Fe)

It's thought that much heavier elements might have been made in supernova reactions in stars (supernova nucleosynthesis). A star that goes supernova becomes very bright. It can be from a very big star collapsing (falling in on itself) and releasing a huge amount of energy or it can be from a smaller, cooler star suddenly exploding back into life (fusion). It's in these supernovae it's thought elements such as gold come into existence and can be thrown out into space.

Isn't our universe amazing? What makes us up, the chemicals in our body, started out in stars.

I can remember seeing one supernova appearing 1987 (SN 1987A). It was about around 168,000 light years away. That means while I saw it in the skies in 1987, it had really gone supernova about 168,000 years ago but the light in our night sky only appeared in 1987.

 

Is All Gold Really Gold?

In the pictures below, you can see samples of iron pyrite crystals in my collection. Pyrite looks like gold but isn't. It isn't worth much but I like the samples more than real gold because I like crystals. What do you think?

How can you tell the difference? Pyrite is much lighter than gold and, being a crystal, can be shattered if hit by a hammer. Gold is the most malleable element. This means it can easily be hammered and shaped without cracking. Gold can be flattened into very thin sheets but I think I will keep my small pieces as they were found.

Iron Pyrites (Fool's Gold) on Calcite

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Iron Pyrite Crystal

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.