Biographical Log of Michael Furstner - Page 68

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Friday February 6, 2009 (diary)

It is overcast in the morning as I drive to Diddilliba for a morning's bridge, but by noon the clouds have gone and it is lovely sunny and warm as I walk through the dunes to the beach. However the extreme weather conditions elsewhere continue.
To our North 60% of Queensland is now flooded with rain still continuing. Access to Townsville and Cairns is by plane, helicopter or ship only.
To the South Victoria and South Australia are again in 43° heat wave conditions and NSW too is bracing itself for a hot day tomorrow with Fire brigades on high alert.

In the Federal Parliament in Canberra too the heat is on with committees grilling Treasury bureaucrats and scrutinising the Government's proposed 42 billion dollar "rescue package". The Liberal Party has firmly voted against it, forcing the Government to negotiate with the Greens and independents to get a modified package approved.

I am planning to go and see 97 years old Irene van Amsterdam in Adelaide for a few days to do her Dutch Tax Return, and spend some time with my friends from my old Bridge Club. But it won't be until at least the end of this month. Doug and Babette will both be overseas in just over a week's time and I have to look after the dogs while they are away. By then the weather in South Australia will have cooled down considerably I am sure.

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Saturday February 7, 2009 (diary)

Coffin Bay oyster In the morning Babette and Doug are off early to a Writers workshop in Brisbane. I have promised to get some oysters today, but my regular shop in Kunda Park has not enough. So I try a new seafood shop in nearby Chancellor Park, where they are advertising their special this week of Coffin Bay oysters at $12.90 per dozen. They look good and fresh and I order three dozen while on my way to the beach.
After my swim, lunch and a read of my book I return to pick them up. I also buy some bacon from Woolworth so I can grill some Oysters Kilpatrick.

Coffin Bay is 30 km NW of Port Lincoln Early evening Babette and Doug return from their workshop, both elated with the success they had. So a good excuse for some celebration with bitterballen and a bottle of Henkell Sekt, while they read back to me some of the 5 minute "warm up" writing exercises they did today. I am most impressed with their efforts, both in their own style reflecting very much their individual nature and interests.
The reading (and listening) is making us thirsty so we open another bottle of Henkell, after which I grill some of the oysters so we can enjoy them half (natural) - half (Kilpatrick). An evening spent like that can never be bad.

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Sunday February 8, 2009 (diary)

ThreePonds rear deck Sunday I wake up to yet another beautiful morning. I sit on ThreePond's rear deck for a change, contemplating the pond below, reading my book and having poached eggs on toast for breakfast with Babette and Doug. Mooloolaba is quite busy with day visitors from Brisbane (100 km to our south), but I do find a parking spot near the beach.
The sea temperature is now 26° C according to the Life Savers' notice board. I remain a long time in the water although it is low tide and many of the waves are dumpers. As I walk back on the beach to the Surf Club I feel happy, very content and lucky to live in such a wonderful place, as yet totally unaware that in Victoria, 1500 km to my south, the biggest natural disaster in Australian history is unfolding.

Bushfire in Victoria Only with the evening news on TV do I get the first inkling of the enormous disaster down south.
Under 45+° C temperatures (48° max) and strong winds, bush fires in Victoria have generated into fast traveling fire storms, destroying everything on their path.
By Monday it has become clear that at least 130 people have been killed, with the death toll still rising, while hundreds of casualties are treated in Melbourne hospital for burns of up to 30-50% of their body.
Whole villages are obliterated with at least 750 houses gone, some literally exploding as the fire engulfs them. An army of 4,500 fire fighters are fighting the blaze which at several places is virtually uncontrollable. Many fire fighters are traumatised by the horrific scenes they encounter of humans burned to a cinder in their houses or cars.

There have been similar disasters before, in 1939 also in Victoria, and in 1983 in South Australia. But loss of life was then in the 70s, rather than double that number this time, perhaps more.
At least some of the fires were lighted by arsonists and some entire villages are now designated "crime scenes". Penalties for arsonists are high in Australia, up to 25 years in jail for fires with loss of life, the same as for murder, but catching the criminals is very difficult.

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Monday & Tuesday February 9 & 10, 2009 (diary)

Hikaru Homestyle Japanese food I promised to drive Babette's friend Sandy to a hospital in Brisbane (100 km to our south), so on Monday I get up early to pick her up. We have a good run into the city and arrive at the hospital within an hour.
On my way back I stop off at the Westfield Shopping Centre in Chermside (a northern suburb of Brisbane) to check out some clothes shops there. The Centre has grown enormously since I was here last, four or five years ago, and includes both a Myers and a David Jones store.

I find a nice white cotton Saba "slub tee" shirt (T-shirt with buttons at the collar) in my XXL size in David Jones and buy it. They have another nice one in mauve, but unfortunately no longer in my size. This happens all the time. When you are in that extra large size range you have to be very quick early in the season otherwise you miss out. Shops buy new stock only once and don't reorder sizes as they run out like they used to do in the past.

I arrive back in Mooloolaba before noon, have my swim (the water temperature is now 26°C) and lunch, then see my GP for the last test results. My bladder infection is now totally gone and the prostate readings have come down with it, but are still higher than normal. So Jennie (my GP) refers me to a specialist, who I will see in two weeks time, just to make sure everything is OK.

Tuesday is another quiet day, sunny in the morning but becoming overcast by noon. In the morning I go to bridge, then a Tempura ramen lunch at the Hikaru stall in the Sunshine Plaza (Maroochydore), a swim followed by a beer at the Surf Club.
On the evening news I hear that the Victoria bush fire toll has now risen to 181 confirmed dead and some fear it may rise to 300. Several fires are still out off control, but without danger to lives at present. Donations for help from the public and businesses are pouring in and has reached $50 million already.
Meanwhile in the North of Queensland monsoonal rains and floods continue. Many who received financial cash payments from the Government for their material loss have donated that money immediately to the Victorian bush fire victims, a wonderful spirit of solidarity and compassion.

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