A few weeks ago I was on Wallaroo station in outback Queensland, a bush wonderworld of sandstone escarpments, lush cycad gorges and traditional Aboriginal hand-stencil rock art. The Travel & Indulgence supplement of today (and yesterday’s) Weekend Australian newspaper has the story, titled Hands On In The Carnarvon Range. Many thanks to Justin and Pauline of Wallaroo Outback Retreat for their hospitality and Craig of Roma’s Boobook Tours for sharing his ecological expertise.

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Here’s more Birdsville coming at ya – the new READER’S DIGEST (September 2018) has my feature story on the way-outback Queensland town.

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Running eight pages, it covers all things Birdsville – the famous Races and associated carnival, including Fred Brophy’s Boxing Tent; the iconic Birdsville Hotel; the broad lonely expanses of the Birdsville Track to Marree in South Australia; and the Big Red Bash music festival on the edge of the Simpson Desert nearby.

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The new issue of AUSTRALIAN TRAVELLER (Aug-Sep-Oct 2018) is out and about. This one’s a Bucket List special of must-do Oz experiences, and has my yarn on the Birdsville Races and Track, way out in the deepest pocket of Queensland’s wild southwest.

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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.

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