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Category Archives: Rural

Nesting and carving now … timber gifts for Christmas

Two of our clients have interesting natural last-minute gift ideas for people in or near Brisbane.

Kelly Matthews of Melomys environmental consultancy in the western suburb of Moggill hand-makes and sells these nest boxes for kookaburras, native gliders, bats, parrots and possums.

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I held one and they’re quite substantial … made of 18mm marine-grade plywood to exacting international standards.

Kelly (who holds two Masters degrees in environmental science) told me that while the boxes are similar designs for these species, there are important differences.

Gliders like their entry door at the back because they’re secretive creatures but parrots like theirs at the front (with a doorstep pole as well) so they can stand there and strut their stuff.

The boxes are priced at less than $100 and are currently on sale for Christmas. So check out her website to finalise your order: www.melomys.net.au.

Next, talented woodworker Bevan Blackshaw hand makes a wide range of useful Australian native timber gadgets and furniture.

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I was captivated (and purchased) one of these top-selling “book birds”. Try this … insert thumb in hole and place inside spine of opened paperback or hardcover printed book. Voila! Book stays open, single-handedly. $12.35 + shipping.

 

 

 

foldingchairsAnd these beautiful stools are $245 each + shipping. They fold up flat for easy carrying and storage. I reckon they might be ideal for the caravan generation.

 

 

 

 

foldingchair1See a whole lot more here and here or phone Bevan in Wavell Heights on 0419 689 723, email timberdimensions@ymail.com.

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Wisdom of the crowd and some homespun …

Thanks to all the net-speed advisors over the past few days … and a little luck. Friends in the Better Internet For Rural, Regional And Remote Australia (BIRRR) FaceBook group suggested I connect my laptop directly (by cable) to our modem and retest … and it didn’t change anything. So I was reassured that our local area network hardware was working OK.

Then I went out of the office today and took my laptop with me and my partner told me the internet speeds were pretty good at home while I was away. Hmmmm? Probably something running on my laptop … hadn’t I just started to use the Microsoft OneDrive desktop folder last month for off-site data storage? Yes, now that I think about it, I had noticed that using the Google Drive desktop application had slowed down our bandwidth dramatically while living in Victoria, so we don’t use that any more, preferring manual webpage uploads for storage and security.

So a couple of minutes ago I manually turned off the OneDrive desktop folder and recorded these speed test results. Not bad … though not as good as Jacen Carpenter in Longreach … jealous.

Memo to self: In future, stick to manual uploads.

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Energy price bites

Anyone else notice electricity costs went up? We’ve just paid our three months of power consumption in Longreach to Ergon Energy and the bill was $1096.37. Our previous three-months’ bill (August-October) was $512.56. So … more than double.

The difference was air-conditioning, of course. As the weather heated up approaching and during Christmas and New Year, our air-conditioner use increased. Probably doubled, by the looks of it.

Here’s how Ergon charges people in the hot droughted Central Western region for power … take a look at Pages 15-17 (Section 5) … it makes interesting reading.

It’s based on the cost of supply and other considerations, especially in the Mt Isa region … basically electricity supply costs along the coast from Cairns to the Darling Downs “have a relatively low distribution cost to supply”, while anywhere else (except the Mt Isa region) “have a significantly higher distribution cost of supply than the East Zone”.

So if you live anywhere else than east of the Great Dividing Range, or in the Mt Isa region, expect to be slugged big time for your “lifestyle decision”. Hmmm, do we get a reduction in tax rates for the same “lifestyle decision” which results in lower service levels in everything else, including power reliability? Not likely! Let me know what you think …

Do you believe in success?

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Last Saturday we travelled 90 minutes south of Longreach to the little town of Stonehenge and cooked a few steaks and snags for the local Christmas Party on behalf of the Rotary Club. Desolate country at the moment but full of warm-hearted real Aussie people, kids and their parents. And out of this country has emerged our new hot Strictly Literary seller, Do You Believe in Dragons? by grazier Paul Currin. Paul and Julia Creek illustrator Maree Power have created a new world for young teens where horses, motorbikes, dogs, feral pigs and (well, there had to be …) dragons rule.

It’s a tale of fantasy based on the Currins’ real-life sheep property near Stonehenge. In the book, kids Ted and his younger brother Bill, along with their best friends Doug and Sarah, are on their school holidays enjoying everyday rural activities, including riding horses, motorbikes, going fishing and chasing feral pigs. Their holiday takes a strange turn when Sarah — the eldest, and only girl of the group — has an unlikely encounter with a magical dragon, which can’t be seen by anyone who doesn’t believe he is real. Excitement ensues, as one by one, the family members come to realise the existence of dragons. This awareness becomes increasingly important when a life-threatening situation unfolds involving the Ted and Bill’s father and a pack of dingoes.

Do You Believe in Dragons? is fine new Australian Outback fiction, professionally edited and produced at Strictly Literary and available for under $20 in paperback, or instantly for ePub, Kindle and for Android on Google Play. Perfect for the young jillaroo or jackaroo for Christmas!

Australian agroforestry movement gains momentum, farmers diversify into timber plantations @ABCRural

The golden rule for growth is diversification, as this report on the ABC last month demonstrates …

Australian agroforestry movement gains momentum, farmers diversify into timber plantations @ABCRural.

Need a mentor for your small business?

 

Very happy to let you know that our business experience and expertise is now available through the TAFE Queensland Small Business Solutions program, which offers business mentoring for a low one-off fee of $395. If you or a friend have a small business which could use the tried and tested advice and methods described here, please contact TAFE here and mention my name. Available all through Central and South-East Queensland. I have run businesses in publishing, retail, and (of course) small-to-medium sized journalism enterprises.

Cokley Mentor

Beer, bitters & a bale

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Here we are ready to share a drink at the 1891-vintage Wellshot Hotel at Ilfracombe, just east of Longreach, central western Queensland. The schooner (centre) is full of VB, the only full-strength brew on tap, while the other glasses contain the refreshing but practically non-alcoholic lemon, lime & bitters, handmade behind the bar. What are they sitting on? A glass panel across a bale of wool (the white fluffy stuff) signifying the district’s long association with grazing and shearing. The town is also famous for being the childhood home of Australia’s first woman governor-general, Quentin Bryce. I have suggested that the front bar be renamed The Quentin Bar but have been howled down as crass and far beneath the dignity of the great lady herself. I agree she’s classy … so it’s probably a dumb idea. Nice pub, though.

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The journey’s the thing …

And so the royal progress back to Queensland begins today with a luxurious session at the Hepburn Bathhouse and Spa. Dreamy soak in the mineral salt pool followed by a sauna and hours being buffetted by bubbles. After a dramatic few months, we’re off to launch our new online education business Edupreneur Services International. If you have an interest in international vocational or tertiary education content and policy, you have an interest in us. And we have a regular blog too, which accepts comments so speak up. Our itinerary over the next two weeks includes Sale, Bermagui, Maitland, Armidale, Brisbane, Roma and finally Longreach. See you on the road. John and Pip

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A June Dozen

We’ve been eating, drinking, testing and tasting and the fruits of our labours are coming here soon. Watch our video … perhaps you’ve visited these places too? Love to hear from you, John and Pip

Vline poor again

And so it goes — the 8:53 to Melbourne has been delayed and they now hope it will be more like the 9:20 if we’re lucky … Official reason? “Defective locomotive”

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