Boise, Idaho. Great place with great hosts for the Human Dimensions of Wildland Fire Conference

A great 8 days was spent in Boise, Idaho. Too bad it was work related so there was little time to see beyond Boise Centre. This post is written with a wildand fire community in mind, but does give an insight in to the great people we met over those 8 days.


Awareness to Action

The main sessions of the joint Wildland Fire Safety Summit and Human Dimensions of Wildland Fire Conference held in Boise, Idaho, United States, concluded on Thursday 23rd April.


Around 60 participants took in post-conference Field Trips on Friday, including to the National Inter-agency Fire Centre in Boise.

With about 20 others, I enjoyed a presentation and then field trip to the site of the Oregon Trail fire, a quick running sage brush fire that destroyed and damaged dozens of homes, and caused one fatality. The field trip was reported on local KTVB News, and includes a short interview with me! You can view the KTVB News Item here. It only goes for 2 minutes.


Later on Friday, a dozen of us participated in an innovative volunteering opportunity with the Boise Fire Department – visiting a relocatable home village, knocking on doors, and offering free smoke alarms to residents. A great…

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Paint your own picture of Port-Louis

What captures the scene best? My pocket Canon? A fancy camera with a lens of envy? Maybe the awkwardness of an iPad. Possibly even a video vision and sound. Certainly not a selfie. Maybe none of these.

Imagine this. Scrunch of rough sand under foot. Just a few steps. Scrape of jeans on the low stone wall as I settle in to observe the protected port before me.

Maybe it’s the sound of my face muscles forming a wide smile as I look at this beautiful scene. To no inquisitive sea gull in particular I exclaim reasonably loudly – this is fantastic.

And this is what a picture does not capture. The rhythmic lapping of the tiny waves on the bay shore. The squawking birds with silent wings. Distant and occasional click of fittings on masts of boats bobbing against anchored buoys. Wind in my ears.

To my left I detect movement then a low scrapping sound as a leathered sailor drags his wheeled dinghy to the water’s edge. Silently gliding it in and in seemingly one motion jerks the motor into sputtering life, jumps aboard and makes for the distant yachts.

The sound of the dinghy – a muffled gurgle low even to start off with – recedes to silence long before the sailor man is out of sight. Which boat is he heading for? What chore calls him out to the late afternoon sun?

Time passes. Minutes. Maybe 20. Watching the whole scene, yet without focus. Some movement is detected or so I thought. Staring harder, yes I see the speck becoming a blob, then detectable as a human form, then as a dinghy drawing closer.

The sailor man returns to silently beach his small craft. I offer to help with the drag across the sand to the asphalt path. Politely declining, sailor man engages in conversation. About Port Louis. About sailing. About what a beautiful place Sydney is.

I say what a beautiful place Port-Louis is.

Do these pictures match the words?

Europe2014 904 Port-Louis port Europe2014 904A Port-Louis port Europe2014 892B Port-Louis sunset Europe2014 895 Port-Louis harbour Europe2014 893 Port-Louis harbour

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Return from self imposed exile. More travel awaits.

After Japan focused stories, plus a good measure of Disaster Risk Reduction – then follow Having a Ball in Japan, if only for the next few months!

Having a ball in Japan

Its been a long time since my last post.

Thanks for hanging in there, and bigger thanks to hundreds of you avid readers who urged me to return. And just at the right time!

Exciting work, rest and play approaches so I am busily drafting up posts to fire out steadily over the next two months. I have to admit there are about 300 post shells across my three blogs that range from a heading only to 95% complete. Just haven’t had the ideal conditions to pull the finger out and complete them.

But here’s what’s happening to bring me back to writing:

United Nations World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction in Japan and Human Dimensions of Wildland Fire Conference in United States

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Follow the Sun, Xavier Rudd and the Volendam – Marken Express

The Volendam Marken Express is a ferry that plies the usually tranquil waters between these two exquisite old fishing villages in The Netherlands, little more than 30 minutes by bus from Amsterdam.

Resting back in my seat on the open rear deck, waiting for the last of the aged passengers to hobble and shuffle on board, a sweet refrain wafted from the ferry’s PA.

the outside deck of the Volendam-Marken Express

the outside deck of the Volendam-Marken Express

Hey, I recognise that (short) guitar line. That voice is familiar. The line gave it away. “Follow the Sun”, the sweet tune from Xavier Rudd that is quintessentially Australian. Being played on a ferry in the Netherlands?

Go figure.

With a smile to myself and my heart skipping a beat, I could say I knew that tune. A nice connection back to Australia.

Have a look at the “Follow the Sun” video that beautifully melds this soft and soulful tune, lyrics of strength, with images of Indigenous culture of north-west Australia. Enjoy.


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Someone please import fly screens to France.

Here we are, travelling in beautiful Bretagne (Brittany). At this moment in Saint Laurent, staying in an old rural farmhouse, sipping on our locally produced rosé after a day of visiting some fantastic sights.

On my count when walking this village, there are 10 houses amongst the endless fields of maize whose stalks away and rustle in unison to the constant breeze. Looking out through finely sewn lace curtains, the windows frame a view that just has to be from a painting of Monet.

So no neighbourhood noise. No children fighting in the backyard about the toys. No unhappy couples shouting at each other for no good reason. No dogs barking at what they like. No cars zooming by.

But one persistent aural pollution remains – and I hear it now as I type this angry post – buzzing mosquitos.

Saint Laurent is our third AirBnB stop in France after Rennes and Vieux-Vy-sur-Couesnon. Mosquitos at each house by the thousand.

It’s all well and good to have fantastic windows, those fancy ones that open sideways or outwards, or wooden ones with handles from medieval times, but how can you open them without being invaded by mosquitos? And what about the clouds of them inside the house that have bred incessantly since the last tenant?

Where is the good old Australian fly screen when you need it? I can only throw a pillow at the ceiling so many times before I break something. And I am getting a headache from swatting my ear as the annoying creatures orbit my head.

Oh, and by the way, I tried unsuccessfully to buy spray at the nearest supermarket to kill the flying pests. No Luck. Seems as though mosquitos are a protected species here.

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Designer sleepovers. What’s the point?

So another adventure with Veronica commences. A 6:40am flight out of Sydney to Singapore meant we decided to stay over in a hotel near the International Terminal.

The purpose is to get there quickly and easily after work, have something to eat, have a good few hours sleep, hop on the courtesy bus, and be checked in well before 5:00am.

Getting there after work was easy. Training it to Wolli Creek then a flat 10 minute stroll in the evening cool to the hotel. Thumbs up for public transport. And for those folks incensed by the outrageous surcharge to use the International Terminal railway station, keep in mind that you can walk from Wolli Creek to the Terminal in about 15 minutes.

For food, literally next door to the hotel is the St George Sailing Club where you can get a very nice dinner for reasonable club prices. Yumm.

In dropping our bags off in the hotel room before going to the club, we were confronted by all that is bad about the plethora of reality TV home design and building shows.

Thrown over the sofa was this artistically placed bright orange giant pashmina. Maybe it had a previous life as a curtain. At first view I thought it looked very untidy, until my designer savvy partner advised me it had been placed there, with precision, and by a team of 3. It was draped there so sensuously I had to take a peek under it just in case one of the dancers from Moulin Rouge was still under it.

And so finally to sleep. Our so we thought until we got under the doña that was rated to cover an igloo. Turning down the air conditioning to zero only caused frost bite on exposed skin, those bits under cover continued to bubble and melt.

Jolted awake by the alarm, a refreshing shower, then downstairs to the courtesy bus. Considering 99% of the patrons to this hotel are overnighters for the airport, I found it just a tad strange that the first courtesy bus did not align with the first flights.

The walk was nice.

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Biking San Francisco’s Embarcadero

There is something exhilarating and crazy about riding a bike down a famous avenue, wind jacket puffed, white knuckle grip on the handle bars as noisy vehicles literally brush your legs. And San Francisco’s bayside Embarcadero is one of those places.

Discharged at Fisherman’s Wharf after being ferried back from Tiberon, the grand harbour side promenade beckoned.

The Embarcadero goes right along the famous waterfront past parks, weird and beautiful community art installations and numerous working and idle wharves. Traffic constantly moves along, with its incessant horn blowing. Mercifully, there is a defined bike lane for most of its length to give us idiots a limited sense of safety. And you also get the chance to ride beside great old trams as well, giving the good old single finger salute to surprised passengers and vistors with noses pressed against the windows.

052 SF Tram Embarcadero

old tram on the Embarcadero

015 SF public art 3

spectacular community art

It is a buzz to ride on the Embarcadero for about 4 kms, ending up at the famous Candlestick Park where the big baseball games are held.

054 SF Candlestick Park field

empty Candlestick Park

I don’t know much about San Francisco’s history, however I understand the Embarcadero has been a major waterside redevelopment project that included demolishing a rather ugly aerial expressway. What a great result!

Rather than doing the on-road route to return the bike, the preferred route took in the waterside pathways all the way back to Fishermans Wharf.

Read another post about bicycling San Francisco.

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