Known unknowns in New Orleans

“Come on, honey! I need to get laid”, echoes through the hallways of the old building, as I close the door wondering if ‘hotel’ is the right description for the establishment I have just checked in to in New Orleans. As it turns out, these are the parting words of the disappointed woman, as the hotel’s black bouncer escorts her off the premises. The sound of her stiletto heels taps down the street – unevenly.

Later that same afternoon, I once again have the indirect company of the bouncer. As I scribble notes in one corner of the shaded courtyard, he sits in another corner quietly reading aloud one word after another from an English dictionary. Within the first hours of my visit to New Orleans, I am witness to the racial, class and educational divides that Hurricane Katrina brought so brutally to the fore in 2005, as New Orleans first fought to stay alive and then faced the mammoth task of rebuilding the hurricane ravaged city. Continue reading

Let the sea reclaim the pools?

I’ve just returned from the beach. Made my usual, favourite stop at the ocean pool. One of Wollongong’s series of bathing pools cut into the rock platform in the mid- to late-19th Century. Today saw a mix of people there: a bearded guy doing laps; the elderly woman with bright swimming cap I see regularly (I’m sure she swims every day); and a bunch of early 20-somethings looking happy and relaxed.

Climbing the stairs back up to the path, I spotted the flyer – neatly attached with cable-ties to the metal railing – that motivated this post. A newspaper clipping and hand-printed note announcing ‘Save Our Rock Pool’. You see, Wollongong City Council is proposing that it cease to maintain and/or demolish two or three of the city’s ocean pools as a cost-saving measure.

Community action to ‘Save Our Rock Pool’.

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Bulli Beach rip current experiments – volunteers needed!

Feel like a break at the beach with some research involved? Eureka Prize winner Dr Rob Brander (‘Dr Rip’!) of The University of New South Wales is running some experiments on rip currents at Bulli Beach from Feb 4-8 and 11-15. He needs lots of volunteers to help out by putting GPS drifters in the rips and, if you are a good swimmer, jumping in rips with GPS on to test out various escape strategies. Don’t worry, there will be lifeguards at the beach at all times! It’s been done at several beaches already and is an important and fun experiment. Experiments usually run for about 3-4 hours each day. You can help out for a day, two days or the whole week(s). Food is provided and if you’re not a local, accommodation as well. Please contact Rob at if you’d like to help out. For more information on Rob’s award-winning program on surf safety and community awareness check out