Forecast 2nd March – 5th

Fcast  2.3.15)

Important Notification



Forecast to 19th February

Fcast 19.2.15

Persons of Special Interest

Mercy Ships and Torres Strait Islands


Helen Walker

Well known local Nursing Sister


Sometimes we may not appreciate what we have – but Australia is one of the luckiest countries of the world and to live here gives us as individuals a lucky life.

Whilst we may complain about the conditions under which we live – think for a minute what it would be like to live in a third world country and how our life may be different.

One of the greatest problems affecting people living in third world countries is the lack of available health care. Health care infrastructure is either substandard or non-existent.

Many people in developing countries cannot get simple health care. To help those developing countries an organisation called “Mercy Ships” mobilises people with medical backgrounds world- wide and equips a ship as a floating hospital to travel to those developing countries. This organisation was established in 1978 and now has a fleet of ships travelling to various parts of the world. Once in a port the ships crew begin their very important work.

Highly skilled surgeons perform thousands of operations each year free of charge to correct disability, disfigurement and blindness. All volunteers not only work for nothing but also pay their own way whilst on board the Mercy Ship.

The organisation also establishes hospital, medical centres, training facilities and basic housing where none previously existed. Vaccination programme, basic medical and dental treatments are provided free of charge.

Local community health workers receive training in hygiene, nutrition and disease prevention. Training is given in farming methods to boost production and with   help in replacing livestock lost in war torn areas.

Nine years ago I volunteered my services as a Registered Nurse on board “Anastasis”, one of the Mercy Ships which docked at Benin, a poor West African country between Toga and Nigeria.

I worked in the eye area for this three month outreach.

Another nurse and I helped to look after the screening of the thousands of African people outside the stadium before they were escorted to the ophthalmologist and team inside. Many had to be turned away, because we were doing mainly cataract surgery and not corneal grafting. If the person wished, they could be taken to a prayer station, and this helped to ameliorate their sense of rejection that we could not help them. Mercy Ships is run on Christian principles. It was not only eyes that were treated by staff, but orthopaedic work, correcting burns deformities, removal of disfiguring benign tumours, correcting obstetric fistulas, and other general work. The surgeons would volunteer a few weeks of their time from the USA or UK. The forty-four bed ward was staffed by volunteers from many different countries, and total number of ship volunteers was about 135. They were mainly Americans, and Australians were nine. Currently there is only one flag ship, the “Africa Mercy”, which was a Norwegian rail ferry before being converted into an eighty-four bed hospital and the accommodation and infrastructure to house the volunteers.

By keeping computer data of the visual acuity before surgery then afterwards, we could see that the vast majority had their vision improved. This was helpful research for the ophthalmologist as well as the health team on board ship. It was a busy but rewarding time and so satisfying to see the tangible difference that Mercy Ships could make to their lives.

On my return to Australia I commenced specialized training in rural and isolated nursing.

After being asked to be a marker for the next cohort of students, I was seconded on a regular basis to many small rural hospitals around Queensland. This was invaluable experience to then work in indigenous communities in the state. In 2008 I was requested to spear-head regular relief for the nurses on the outer islands of Torres Strait.

Since then, most of my relief nursing work has been in isolated posts on the Torres Strait outer islands or else the remote Aboriginal communities on Cape York. Occasionally I deliver babies either opportunistically or at a rural hospital to keep up my midwifery skills. The senior position I hold allows me to have a fair degree of autonomy in patient care, and I use an up-to-date specialised clinical manual to maintain high standards. The doctors are a phone call away at Thursday Island, which has the only hospital in the Torres, and visit the health centres every three weeks or so. I find it satisfying work, and a lot of my nursing is preventative focus and maintaining the health of the indigenous community before it becomes a problem.

Social life is what you make it, but you are never really ‘off duty’. Respect of person and listening are vital ingredients to earning the trust of the people.


January 5year climate stats


Extreme Weather Events to Increase in Frequency & Intensity


Extreme La Niña events that affect weather conditions on both sides of the Pacific will almost double in frequency as the climate warms, reports a new study by an international team including Australian researchers,

.In Australia, La Niña is associated with flooding, and was linked to the Queensland floods in 2011 that left at least 38 people dead, affected about 70 towns, saw the evacuation of thousands of residents and hit the economy by about $30 billion.

The finding, by an international team including Australian researchers, is published today in Nature Climate Change.

Lead author Dr Wenju Cai, chief scientist at Australia’s CSIRO Oceans and Atmosphere Flagship, says their work shows La Niña events will occur every 13 years compared with a past frequency of one every 23 years.

During typical La Niña events, the central-to-eastern equatorial Pacific is colder than normal, inhibiting formation of rain- producing clouds there, but enhancing atmospheric convection and rainfall in the western equatorial Pacific.

An extreme La Niña is defined as a cooling in the central Pacific that is greater than 1.5 degrees Celsius cooler than normal average temperatures.

This increase is driven by increased land warming relative to the ocean and an increased frequency of extreme El Niño events, Cai says.

While Cai says extreme La Niña events tend to occur after an extreme El Niño because the El Niño events counter-intuitively aid the cooling process in the central Pacific.

“In an El Niño event the heat in the upper ocean tends to release to the upper atmosphere [so that] the cooler water at the ocean’s sub surface is more easily brought to the surface and [therefore it is] easier to generate cooling in the central Pacific.”

The work follows on from a study by the same team last year, also published in Nature Climate Change, which showed a doubling in “super” El Niño events.

This latest study begins to fill the gap in understanding what will happen to El Niño’s counterpart La Niña.

“This issue of how La Niña/El Niño will respond to climate change has been challenging scientists for the past 20 years,” he says.

To assess the potential future pathway for La Niña the team used 21 global climate models that were able to simulate extreme La Niña events.

The study covered 200 years from 1900-2005 and then 2006-2099 and used historical data in the first period and then the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change forecasts on greenhouse emissions growth for the latter period.

The study resulted in 2100 years of virtual climate with only four of the 21 models not predicting an increase, says Cai.

“The inter-model consensus is very strong,” he says.

The team also finds approximately 75 per cent of the extreme La Niñas will occur immediately following an extreme El Niño event.

The implication of this is that weather patterns will switch between extremes of wet and dry

Beerburrum Continued)

The onset of the Great Depression in 1929 was the beginning of the decline in the boom years for Beerburrum. Farmers were unable to run a viable business or sell their property and many walked off their property destitute.

Spanish immigrants arrived in the region and were allocated settlements and grants to clear virgin bush and grow tobacco. Just when the leaves were to be harvested a fungus attacked and destroyed the crop. Once again growers walked off the land.

The ex-servicemen and Spanish tobacco growers who failed to meet the Government settlement requirements were re-possessed for the State re-forestation programme.

Go to any of the ‘Look-outs’ and as far as the eye can see there are regimented plantation of slash pines taking over the flora and fauna that once flourished on  settlements cleared with ‘blood and sweat’.

Never-the-less, the pineapple growers persevered through the hard times and in 1947 formed themselves into a company to build The Golden Circle canning factory. (conclusion}

Beerburrum (continued)

One of Beerburrum’s most colourful tradesmen was the butcher in Anzac Avenue with  the name of Dave Morecroft. The story goes that a local settler’s wife was in the habit of letting the family’s blue cattle dog  enter the butcher shop and urinating  on the butcher’s block, sawn from a large brush box tree. Dave warned the lady on numerous occasions that it was a serious offence to allow a dog into the shop and if continued he would not be responsible for his actions. The customer took no notice of the warnings. It was not long before she allowed the dog to go in and once more cock-a- leg  against the butcher’s block. Dave grab’s the dog and with two deft blows of a meat cleaver, produced the only cattle dog at the settlement with two square ears.

Another of Dave’s customers had run up a substantial account for meat, payment was not forthcoming, even though Dave knew he could afford to pay up. Seeing him in Anzac Avenue opposite the shop one day, Dave, with meat cleaver in hand races across the street and holds the cleaver against the debtor’s ear. The dog’s square ears were a constant reminder that Dave’s threats were not to be taken lightly and the debtor paid up on the spot. (to be continued)


Beerburrum (Continued)

Following the government decision not to proceed with building a canning factory many pineapple growers walked off their property ,  while others were more enterprising and grew  alternative crops. For instance there is the story of one settler, asked to experiment in the suitability of growing groundnuts on his property was given six sacks of peanuts to sow. Due to a  shortage  of  peanuts the price was high and the settler could not resist the temptation for some quick cash flow. After selling the seed peanuts at market he had to explain to the departmental officers come to inspect his crop that the bandicoots had eaten the lot!

During this time the township of Beerburrum grew and became prosperous and supported not only a railway station, State Primary School, Boarding House, Public Hall, General Store, Post Office, Barber Shop, Bake House, Butcher, Cobblers and Blacksmith shops.

I wonder why a town that spells ‘beer’ at the beginning and ‘rum’ at the end had no hotel for the thirsty ex-servicemen ‘diggers’. Beerburrum is an aboriginal name meaning Place of Parrots.

Anzac Avenue became the main shopping area adorned with white painted, post and rail fence and water troughs for the numerous horses that provided the basic means of transport in those days. In 1918 a number of Camphor Laurel and weeping fig trees were planted in the Avenue to commemorate the fallen in World War One. ((to be continued)

From the Archives – Beerburrum

Walking down Anzac Avenue, Beerburrum and talking to locals I found it hard to imagine this wide quiet residential road, with its splendid avenue of trees down the centre, was once the main street of a busy and bustling country town.

 It all started during World War 1 when the Government of the day decided the area would be suitable for small scale farming with its rich sandy soil and subtropical climate.

 ‘Diggers’ returning from Flanders shell shocked and wounded were rehabilitated in a new hospital constructed on a high knoll overlooking Anzac Avenue.

Over 500 selections of varying acreages had been surveyed and were offered to ex-servicemen by ballot. A pick of a marble decided the location and acreage for the settler.

 The government provided basic tools including a spade a wheelbarrow and a long crow bar for clearing the property of scrub. Pineapples were to be the first crop with a promise of a guaranteed market at a canning factory to be built in Brisbane in time for the first harvest in three years time. However, a change of Government and plans for the canning factory were dropped. (to be continued)