The current Australian Geographic (July-August 2018) has my story on RangerBot, the new generation of starfish-killing robot which may one day be on regular patrol in Queensland waters. IMG_9366

Developed by Queensland University of Technology (QUT) scientists, the ocean-going robot uses artificial intelligence to hunt down and take out Crown of Thorns starfish (COTS) which, in plague proportions, are a leading cause of coral loss on the Great Barrier Reef.

IMG_9367I spoke to roboticist Dr Matthew Dunbabin of QUT about RangerBot’s capabilities and potential – and also how it has improved on the earlier model, COTSbot.

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For the last couple of orbits I’ve been kicking about Sydney’s music traps with Mysterious Universe, contributing electric mandolin, harmonica, guitar and songs.

PIA12266_origRESIZEmuThe first Mysterious Universe release, a four-song EP also called Mysterious Universe, is now ready for the judgement of this world’s ears on Bandcamp.

That’s Mercury on the cover, by the way, not the Moon. It’s that wild Mercury sound (Dylan joke)…

It’s digital-only for now but hopefully not forever; a vinyl or CD version would not be ungood. Meanwhile Mysterious Universe has a website and a Facebook presence, both with information on upcoming shows, et cetera.

 

IMG_8612The new AUSTRALIAN TRAVELLER (May/June/July issue, out now) has my story on all that’s exciting and absorbing in the Ipswich and Scenic Rim area of south-east Queensland, from spectacular scenery to fabulous food to one of the nation’s most happeningly huge country music festivals – CMC Rocks.

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As an Anzac Day special, I’m being interviewed by Graeme Kemlo this afternoon on Melbourne’s J-Air 87.8FM about a remarkable World War Two veteran we both had the privilege of knowing. Graeme talks to me about Brian Walpole, sadly no longer with us, a commando in New Guinea and undercover Z Special Unit operative who joined headhunters to wage guerrilla warfare behind Japanese lines in the Borneo jungle.

MY WARIn 2004 I collaborated with Brian on his gripping memoir, My War: Life Is For Living (ABC Books, 2004). Shortly afterwards, Graeme accompanied Brian on his first and only return visit to Borneo (Sarawak).

BROADCAST: Today (April 25), 5-7pm AEST, J-Air 87.8FM Melbourne.

PODCAST: On Soundcloud – click here

Hunt down a copy of My War if you’re interested in military, Australian or South-East Asian history, the Pacific theatre of WW2 or true adventure tales. It’s a wild ride.

Finally, the video interview with Brian I co-produced for the Australians At War Film Archive is now available to view on the internet here

Chances of anything coming from Mars are a million to one, and yet…

…chances of anyone going to Mars in the next few decades are increasing. The US and China are making Mars-ward gestures of late, and the Mars Society is up to all kinds of exciting simulated missions in extreme Earth environments.

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In April’s Reader’s Digest (out now) I talk to Dr Jonathan Clarke of the Mars Society (that’s NOT him on the left!), an international outfit with an interplanetary goal – furthering the know-how that might lead to human exploration of the Red Planet. Red all about it!

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I rather like the cosmological theory of a world turtle holding the planet on its back. And I’ve no doubt the Mon Repos universe rests on a turtle’s shell.

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The latest issue of Australian Traveller magazine (Feb-Mar-Apr 18: Outback Special) carries my tale about Mon Repos Turtle Centre. A beach near Bundaberg (Queensland), Mon Repos is one of the South Pacific’s most important rookeries for endangered loggerhead sea turtles. The turtle research and conservation programs emanating from there are second to none. Read all about it!

 

You won’t have to dig too far to unearth the current issue of YOURS magazine – flip to pages 56-58 for my travel yarn on digging dinosaurs, riding an old-time stagecoach, cruising a turtle-filled river, checking out the golden years of aviation and generally digging outback hospitality in western Queensland.

IMG_8245The story focuses on the vicinity of Winton and Longreach, immortalised by bush poet Banjo Paterson as “the vision splendid of the sunset plains extended”.IMG_8243

These days Winton is the ‘Dinosaur Capital of Australia’, while Longreach is home to many heritage outback attractions, such as the Qantas Founders Museum.IMG_6052