The postie and his cockatoo retire

The postie and his cockatoo retire Aberdeen mail contractor Bob Johnston and his cockatoo George. Picture: Catherine Clifford, Muswellbrook Chronicle.
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Aberdeen mail contractor Bob Johnston and his cockatoo George. Picture: Catherine Clifford, Muswellbrook Chronicle.

Aberdeen mail contractor Bob Johnston and his cockatoo George. Picture: Catherine Clifford, Muswellbrook Chronicle.

Aberdeen mail contractor Bob Johnston and his cockatoo George. Picture: Catherine Clifford, Muswellbrook Chronicle.

Aberdeen mail contractor Bob Johnston and his cockatoo George. Picture: Catherine Clifford, Muswellbrook Chronicle.

TweetFacebook ‘‘On normal days George starts calling out from 6am, ‘I’m going to work, I’m going to work, I’m going to work … but if it’s going to rain he sits there all fluffed up and won’t budge.’’

Carole Johnston

Bob was busy doing what posties do when, in 2007, his new pillion passenger unexpectedly arrived on the scene.

‘‘George was kicked out of the nest when he was a baby because he was the runt of the clutch and one of my mates found him and he ended up here,’’ Bob Johnston said.

So how does a cockatoo go from being a bird to being a mail contractor?

‘‘My wife, Carole, and I were delivering the phone books one day and George was in the front of the car with her.

‘‘She said, ‘Why don’t you put him on the bike and see what happens,’ so I did and he’s been a fixture ever since,’’ Bob said.

This is the point where it gets a bit amazing. You see, George the cockatoo was not restrained. There were no chains or ropes or strings that tethered him to the little bar that sat above the front mailbag. He was free to jump off whenever he wanted, but George stayed put.

In fact, George was the quintessential Easy Rider, loving the breeze in his face and around his bright yellow comb, while amigo Bob offloaded their cargo street by street, house by house.

Bob’s wife, Carole, said George wore a ‘‘poopy catcher’’ to keep it in the bag, so to speak.

‘‘I bought the first one off eBay when he was a baby and then just sewed the rest myself, making them a little bigger as he grows. He’s got a Christmas one, a disco one, he’s even got a kilt for the Aberdeen Highland Games,’’ she said.

With that, Bob opened the door on George’s cage and out he jumped. A demonstration ensued as Bob the mail contractor showed this stunned journalist how George the mail contractor eagerly got dressed for work, stepped into a tiny piece of material that sat gently against his undercarriage, fastened by Lycra strips.

‘‘Wait a minute, wait a minute,’’ said Bob trying to slow George’s enthusiasm, ‘‘okay, now you can hop in. You haven’t worn your kilt for a while, mate, have you?’’

Carole Johnston said the routine was pretty much the same on work days.

‘‘On normal days George starts calling out from 6am, ‘I’m going to work, I’m going to work, I’m going to work,’’’ she said, ‘‘but if it’s going to rain he sits there all fluffed up and won’t budge.’’

‘‘He comes in and has a country cheese cracker, and that’s how he starts his day, and at weekends he knows he gets bacon rind and toast. It’s a bit weird, but I’m sure he thinks he’s a person,’’ Carole Johnston whispered.

Were there other phrases in the vocabulary? Yes, quite a few, including ‘I’ve had a shit of a day’.

No prizes for guessing where George picked that one up.

In mail contractor terms in a small country town a ‘‘shit of a day’’ can mean anything from sorting and delivery taking hours longer than expected, a flat tyre, bad drivers doing what they do best, the magpies dive-bombing your bike helmet or the brown snakes out and about looking for water in the hot weather.

‘‘The dogs are not the worst thing; it’s the cat-heads puncturing my tyres,’’ Bob Johnston said.

For the uninitiated, this nasty little sucker, known in science circles as Caltrop Tribulus terrestris, is a low-growing, spreading weed with sharp nuggety spines projecting from a rock-hard little sphere. Stand on it with bare feet and you know you’re alive.

Bob conservatively estimates he’d ‘‘enjoyed’’ at least a dozen flat tyres a year because of the exotic pest.

Apart from these occasional stinker moments, Bob the mail contractor said there’s been a lot of happy days on the Aberdeen mail run. Not surprisingly, George was universally loved on the route, which started with sorting at 7.30am and finishing around mid-afternoon.

‘‘The little kids rush up to you and say, ‘hello’, and they always want to pat him. George hasn’t got a bad bone in his body and he doesn’t mind. In fact, he loves it,’’ he said.

The oldies were equally enamoured, coming out to their mailbox when they heard the Honda approaching.

‘‘They like to have a chat and, although you don’t have a lot of time, you make time. They’ll talk about the weather, their family, George, or they’ll have a whinge about council putting up the rates and, on that one, I agree with them,’’ Bob said.

Christmas time was a veritable feast, with Bob returning from the mail run saddlebags bulging with seed bells, boxes of seed and biscuits for George.

‘‘He’s such a flirt,’’ Bob said.

Some of the generosity was explained because Bob and Carole did their share of Santa and Mrs Claus over the years on Bob’s 650-kilogram touring bike, a Yamaha Royal Star.

‘‘I’ve sold the big bike now, but those days doing the Christmas run for the kids were the best,’’ said Bob, ‘‘with Carole loaded up with lollies, ringing a bell on the back and those kids howling out of the houses to get their gift.’’

Then one day George got spooked and flew off the front veranda.

‘‘The whole town was out looking for him, cars were going everywhere and he was in a nearby yard right down the back in a tree.

‘‘The owner was outside yelling at his kids, ‘I told you to pick up all those sticks and mess from under that tree,’ but it wasn’t the kids,’’ Carole Johnston giggled, ‘‘it was George up the tree picking away at the twigs and making the mess.’’

On the path outside Bob and Carole (and George’s) house there is the legend: ‘‘Just living is not enough,’’ said the butterfly, ‘‘one must have sunshine and freedom and a little flower.’’ – Hans Christian Andersen.

Or a Bob and George.

Lice risk is as high as ever

NASTY: Bovicola ovis, the sheep louse. (Image: Stamp Out Scab.) A RECENTLY published survey shows that around half of Australian sheep flocks show evidence of lice, posing a significant risk to the bottom line of Australia’s sheep producers.
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It is estimated that lice infestations cost the Australian sheep industry more than $120 million a year.

Livestock Biosecurity Network (LBN) Victorian Regional Officer Dr Patrick Kluver says that sheep producers can successfully control lice and save themselves money by carrying out farm biosecurity planning as part of their monitoring and treatment regime.

“Many producers don’t realise there is an almost 50 per cent chance of introducing lice when you buy new sheep,” says Dr Kluver.

“Direct contact with lousy sheep is the most common way lice are spread, so introduced sheep pose a high risk for lice introduction.

“If you’re purchasing sheep of any type, reduce the risk by insisting on a sheep health statement, and inspect the sheep yourself with 10-20 sheep, carrying out 10 partings per side.

Don’t overlook rams – they are just as susceptible.

“The inspection is not foolproof, as lice are very difficult to find in short wool especially if they have been treated.

Even after all the safeguards there is still risk with introduced sheep, so keeping them in a quarantine paddock for three to six months, or until the next shearing, is essential.”

Dr Kluver says that straying sheep from nearby properties also pose a lice risk and livestock owners should discuss strategies with neighbours to prevent and manage lice problems for the benefit of all in their area.

“Talk to your neighbours about having a written stray policy, which clearly states what you want done with your sheep if they are found in a neighbour’s place, and vice versa.

Just throwing them back over the fence is not a good policy,” he said.

“Consider sheep-proofing the boundary, preferably with a double fence.”

CEO of Wool Producers Australia, Jo Hall, says regular monitoring and early detection are critical for a successful lice control program.

“All mobs should be inspected at least twice a year, ideally when sheep are mustered for other management procedures such as drenching,” says Jo.

“Target any sheep that are seen with rubbed or pulled wool and if lice are present consider using a long wool treatment.

Dr Kluver adds that successfully eradicating lice infestations is just as critical as managing the risk of new infestations.

“Every sheep has to be treated with the correct dose and application,” he says. “No product is foolproof. Avoid using some of the older backliners like Clout, Zapp and Magnum as resistance to them is widespread.

“It’s important to rotate between chemicals to avoid resistance.

Wet dipping has made a resurgence in recent years and is highly effective with the correct operator.”

For a full list of techniques and chemical options, and application methods in short and long wool visit 梧桐夜网liceboss南京夜网419论坛.

South Eastern NSW Local Lands Services District Veterinarian Bill Johnson said that farmers with concerns about lice and lice resistance to product could contact him in Goulburn or talk to their local farm produce supplier.

He said that an estimated 30 per cent of sheep suffered from some lice infestation.

Inspections of yardings at various regional saleyards have found infested sheep being presented for sale apparently unbeknown to the seller.

“Poor application of licecide can also contribute to the presence of lice in sheep as well as the increasing resistance to some older products,” he said.

Livestock Biosecurity Network (LBN) is an independent industry initiative established by the Cattle Council of Australia, Sheepmeat Council of Australia and WoolProducers Australia – the initiative will be funded over a three-year pilot period by industry levies held in trust.

One of LBN’s key roles is to improve stakeholder knowledge and understanding of animal health, welfare and biosecurity.

It also plays a key role in a national network of government and industry partners helping protect livestock industries from emergency animal disease.

To help protect their livelihood and income, producers are encouraged to complete the Farm Biosecurity Checklist at 梧桐夜网lbn.org419论坛.

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Fungi are farmers’ friends

Fungi may hold the secret to healthy farms and forests. While many people think of fungi as tasty mushrooms to enjoyfor dinner, fungi are also vital in maintaining soil health.
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Although little known, their clandestine subterranean activitiespurify water, recycle nutrients and underpin terrestrial ecosystems.

The secret is what’s known as fungal mycelia. These are the underground thread-like part of a fungus that look a littlelike spider-webs or cotton wool. Mycelia create expansive scaffolds, binding and aerating soils.

They also secretechemicals that break down large organic molecules into simpler forms, building soils, and governing nutrient flows.

While farmers may be more familiar with the pathogenic fungi that blight their crops and cause economic loss, mostfungi are in fact beneficial.

Agricultural soil is often abundant in nutrients. However, crops can’t always access them without the help of fungi.

Fungi form partnerships with plants, extending their root systems and allowing more efficient absorption of soilnutrients and fertiliser inputs.

One obvious advantage to the farmer is the significant saving in fertiliser costs.

Fungi alsomake crops more drought-tolerant and protect them from soil pathogens.

This also helps to reduce irrigation andchemical costs.

Farmers can enhance crop root growth, nutrition and yield by encouraging fungi in their soils.

The forests and woodlands of Central Victoria are also well-known for hosting a great diversity of fungi.

An autumnstroll can reveal fungi in a variety of colours and forms.

If you’re interested in knowing more about this fascinatingkingdom of organisms and how to identify fungi, you may like to join a fungus foray in Central Victoria this autumn.

Full details 梧桐夜网alisonpouliot南京夜网

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Council bid for funding: Battle to control roadside pests

Digging a funding hole: The ever present rabbit menace.MILDURA Rural City Council has called on the State Government to substantially increase the level of funding it provides for managing roadside pests and weeds across the district.
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Councils have received $50,000 each year from the State Government to control roadside pests, but Cr Judi Harris said it was costing Mildura council between $200,000 and $300,000 to effectively manage pests along the 5000km of roads in its vast municipality.

Local Government Minister Natalie Hutchins yesterday confirmed the government would allocate $5.2 million in next week’s budget for rural councils’ roadside pest management programs.

Ms Hutchins was unable to confirm exactly how much Mildura council would receive, but she said funding allocations would be based on the needs of each municipality.

“We understand that rural councils like Mildura have unique needs,” Ms Hutchins said.

“This funding recognises those needs and provides Mildura council with assistance to keep doing this valuable work.”

Cr Harris said the existing $50,000 was “not even enough to kill all the rabbits” which were an increasing problem in the district.

Weed management was also an issue.

For more of this story, purchase your copy of Saturday’s Sunraysia Daily 02/05/2015.To subscribe to our Digital Edition Click here

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Dark Mofo 2015 Hothouse thinkers revealed

RELATED:ENTRY FORM: Dark Mofo Hothouse competition
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RELATED:Thinking to flourish in Tassie Hothouse

THE Hothouse session one thinkers:

David Adams.

Professor David Adams

Professor of Management in Innovation, University of Tasmania

A graduate of the Universities of Tasmania, Sheffield and Melbourne, David has been instrumental in developing health policy initiatives. His major fields of research concern the locality drivers of innovation and leadership in the public, private and community sectors. He has published extensively in public policy and management focusing on local governance and its links to innovation and wellbeing.

Dirk Balztly.

Professor Dirk Balztly

Professor of Philosophy, University of Tasmania

Dirk Baltzly is Professor of Philosophy at University of Tasmania and Adjunct Professor (Research) at Monash University. He holds a PhD in Philosophy from Ohio State University and a second PhD in Classics from Monash University. One focus of his research on the late Roman Empire has been the question of paideia or ‘higher education’.

Jane Bennett.

Jane Bennett

Non-Executive Director, ABC

After developing the highly successful Ashgrove dairy brand, Jane today works as a non executive director in businesses including the ABC, CSIRO, Australian Farm Institute, Van Diemen’s Land Company, Tasmanian Ports Corporation and Nuffield Australia. She has a range of experience in industry advisory bodies for food, agriculture, education and training and in rural and regional economic development.

John Daley.

John Daley

Chief Executive, Grattan Institute

John Daley is the inaugural Chief Executive of Grattan Institute, which provides independent, rigorous and practical solutions to Australia’s most pressing public policy issues. John’s work at Grattan Institute has focused on economic and budgetary reform with a particular interest in government prioritisation. He has 25 years’ experience spanning policy, academic, government and corporate roles.

Elizabeth Daly OAM.

Elizabeth Daly OAM

Chair, Tasmanian Early Years Foundation

Elizabeth Daly is a semi-retired senior educator with over 50 years of experience in the education sector as a teacher, principal and senior superintendent. She has acted as Commissioner for Children, worked and volunteered in the community sector with the Smith Family and Colony47 and is currently Chair of the Tasmanian Early Years Foundation and Youth Futures Inc.

Saul Eslake.

Saul Eslake

Economist

Saul Eslake has almost thirty years’ experience as an economist working in the Australian financial markets, including 14 years as Chief Economist at ANZ and, more recently, 3 years as Chief Economist (Australia and New Zealand) for Bank of America Merrill Lynch. He has also worked for the Grattan Institute and run his own consulting business.

Leon Ewing.

Leon Ewing

Artist

A musician and media artist who works with young people in remote or regional communities and in tough urban environments, Leon has used art and technology to incentivise attendance and improve literacy. He is currently lecturing at Murdoch University in using tablet technology to deliver the new national arts curriculum in music and new media.

David Gilkes.

David Gilkes

Kindergarten Teacher, Illawarra Primary School, Department of Education

A passionate early childhood educator for 22 years, David has worked in various government and independent schools, including a period of time as Director of the Early Learning Centre at Canberra Grammar School. He is currently convenor of the Tasmanian Reggio Emilia Network and is a recipient of a National Excellence in Teaching Award for innovation in Early Childhood.

Ian Hewitt.

Ian Hewitt

Coordinator, Young Migrant Adult English Program, TasTAFE

Ian has been teaching for over 20 years. His current role at TasTAFE is teaching students from migrant, refugee and asylum seeker backgrounds and has seen him be a vocal advocate for an intensive English language centre for youth from Culturally Linguistic and Diverse Backgrounds (CALD). He currently coordinates the Young Migrant Adult English Program (Y-MEP) at TasTAFE.

Greg Lehman.

Greg Lehman

Research Associate, Australian National University’s Centre for Indigenous Studies

A regular contributor to public discourse on Tasmanian identity and history, Greg has spent most of his life encouraging the recognition and understanding of Tasmania’s Aboriginal culture and heritage. He has served on a number of boards and is currently Research Associate at the Australian National University’s Centre for Indigenous Studies, investigating the role of deficit discourse in educational outcomes.

Nick Probert.

Nick Probert

Tasmanian State Manager, Beacon Foundation

Nick came to the Beacon Foundation after a successful career working with young people in a range of high performance and community coaching and management positions. The Beacon Foundation assists youth from around the state by partnering with secondary schools to engage business and industry to play a stronger role in assisting schools with their education.

James Riggall.

James Riggall

Managing Director, Bitlink

James spent five years at the HITLab teaching courses in virtual reality, augmented reality, entrepreneurship and video game design and went on to establish Bitlink – a technology consultancy and software development house. James also serves as a director of Startup Tasmania, a not-for-profit organisation and networking group for Tasmanian entrepreneurs.

Michael Rowan.

Professor Michael Rowan

Adjunct Professor, University of Tasmania

Michael’s main interests as a philosophy academic were reasoning in natural language and the philosophy of science, but most of his university career was spent in academic management. Today his interest is in improving opportunities and educational outcomes for young Tasmanians, strengthening support for education in all communities and breaking the acceptance that Tasmania will always lag behind the other states.

Joanna Siejka.

Joanna Siejka

CEO, Youth Network of Tasmania

As CEO of the Youth Network of Tasmania – the peak body for the youth sector and young people in Tasmania, Joanna provides input into and responds to policy direction, advocates for the youth sector and lobbies for the needs and initiatives of young people. She has specific interests in the areas of education, homelessness, employment and youth justice.

Miriam Vandenberg (Herzfeld).

Miriam Vandenberg (Herzfeld)

Population Health and Health Promotion Consultant

Miriam has worked in the community sector, for the University of Tasmania, and for both local and state governments in public and environmental health, health promotion and primary health. Her roles have enabled her to work within local communities and at a population level to help improve and strengthen the determinants of health and wellbeing.

Alison Venn.

Professor Alison Venn

Menzies Institute for Medical Research, University of Tasmania

Alison is Deputy Director of the Menzies Institute for Medical Research and leads its Public Health and Primary Care research theme. Her broad research interest spans the molecular and social determinants of health and as Director of the Tasmanian Cancer Registry and the Tasmanian Data Linkage Unit leads the Childhood Determinants of Adult Health study.

The Hothouse session two thinkers:

Simon Ancher.

Simon Ancher

Program Director – Furniture Design, University of Tasmania

In his current role at the University of Tasmania, and through his practice, Simon Ancher Studio, Simon has developed his own furniture range as well as undertaking commission work including public art and seating. His current focus has seen a shift to more collaborative work and finding ways to upscale production and deal with the manufacturing end of making furniture.

Samantha Blackler

Advanced Diploma Student – Information Technology, TasTAFE

Sam came to Tasmania five years ago from South Africa. She is currently studying computing with a focus on the field of user experience, while also working as Practice Manager at a physiotherapy clinic.

Michael Cordover.

Michael Cordover

Commercial Lawyer, M+K dobson mitchell allport lawyers

After graduating from the University of Tasmania with a combined Bachelor of Science and Bachelor of Laws with a science major in pure mathematics, Michael became a commercial lawyer specialising in intellectual property and privacy law. Michael is on the board of the Hobart Community Legal Service and has a long history with by-youth, for-youth programs.

Juliah Fraser.

Juliah Fraser

Tasmanian Youth Forum

A year 10 student at Ogilvie High School, Juliah is passionate about education. Juliah participates in a program called Big Picture, which facilitates workplace internships where she studies a topic using research and hands-on activities. Her plan is to work in the area of science and medicine in a field that impacts on the lives of other people.

Alyssa Geddes

Community Sports Link Coordinator, Special Olympics Tasmania

Being extremely passionate about equality, inclusion and advocacy within the community, Alyssa studied disability at TasTAFE. On graduation she was offered the role of Community Sports Link Coordinator for Special Olympics Tasmania, delivering fun, inclusive and friendly sporting programs for individuals who live with a disability. Alyssa also works for disability service organisations as a support worker.

Lauren Gower.

Lauren Gower

Masters by Research Candidate (Philosophy), University of Tasmania

Lauren is studying a Masters by Research in Philosophy at UTAS and working as a research assistant with the UTAS Tasmanian Institute for Learning and Teaching. In addition, she works as a tutor at UTAS for the Indigenous Tutorial Assistance Scheme and has also been working as a mentor for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander high school students.

Dakoda Leary.

Dakoda Leary

Tasmanian Youth Forum

An Elizabeth College student, Dakoda also volunteers for local youth groups such as the Glenorchy Youth Task Force and is an ambassador for Youth Homelessness Matters Day. Dakoda hopes to become a freelance writer/journalist and believes that to make the world a better place, everyone needs to pitch in rather then turn a blind eye to what’s in front of them.

Joshua Lowe.

Joshua Lowe

Artistic Director, DRILL Performance Company

A Tasmanian-born dancer, choreographer and producer, Joshua is regularly engaged as a choreographer for professional, youth and community-based works. He formed youth dance company DRILL and regularly works for Tasdance, delivering their Education Performance Projects and DanceNET program in schools. Joshua has been awarded both the Bokprint Arts and Cultural Development Award and The Premier’s Young Achiever of the Year Award.

Adam Mostogl.

Adam Mostogl

Founder/Inspirer, illuminate Education & Consulting

In a given week Adam might be helping young entrepreneurs kick-start their companies, stimulating small businesses to challenge the status quo, challenging communities to understand their potential or teaching students to embrace innovation for problem solving. Adam is the 2015 Tasmanian Young Australian of the Year for his education endeavours as well as his work generating positive momentum in Queenstown.

Tegan Pearce.

Tegan Pearce

Tasmanian Youth Forum Policy and Project Officer, Youth Network of Tasmania

Tegan has worked on many local and national youth-led projects to address key issues including mental health, drug and alcohol use. Tegan currently works at the Youth Network of Tasmania as the Policy and Project Officer of the Tasmanian Youth Forum, the peak consultative body for young Tasmanians that addresses a wide range of topics including education, employment and youth homelessness.

Nunami Sculthorpe-Green.

Nunami Sculthorpe-Green

Tasmanian Aboriginal Community Member

Nunami is a palawa (Tasmanian Aboriginal)/warlpiri student at the University of Tasmania. Since 2012 Nunami has been the Indigenous Cadet at the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery, designing and producing Tasmanian Aboriginal cultural and historical educational resources and public programming. She is passionate about the education of the wider community on Tasmanian Aboriginal history, heritage and culture.

Briar Walker.

Briar Walker

Tasmanian Youth Forum

Briar is in Year 12 and is passionate about youth representation and advocating for equality and human rights. She has been involved in the Youth Network of Tasmania and Model United Nations programs and has also been involved in the Youth Parliament program for the last 3 years. Briar hopes to eventually work as a human rights lawyer or neuroscientist.

Lauren Ward.

Lauren Ward

2015 John Monash Scholar, University of Tasmania

A University of Tasmania graduate with First Class Honours in Engineering, Lauren is currently working as part of a CSIRO eHealth project. A keen science communicator and senior member of the University of Tasmania STEM Education and Outreach Team, Lauren has been a part of Young Tassie Scientists, as well as a number of University and Inspiring Australia school outreach programs.

The Hothouse session three thinkers:

Twelve members of the public will be invited to take part in the Hothouse, as nominated by the public via The Advocate, Examiner and the Mercury. They will be joined by four facilitators.

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