Sydney, Australia - Week 4 Down Under (6/12/11 - 6/18/11)

Camera Drought and Other Disorders

Joy Ingram

You may have noticed that photographs were strangely absent in the last post.  Not so strange, really, because between the rain and my ongoing illness, I had no photo opportunities.  This past week was not much better – although the sun finally came out on Friday, June 17th.  Yes, the date is worth noting because before that, it seemed as if it would rain forever!

I still have not shaken this bronchitis, which I’m calling it as a substitute for the expletives I’d really like to use to describe it.  I may need a “lung photo” and so I am considering another brush with Australian healthcare.  Mind you, it will not be with “Dr. Clouseau” (at least the REAL Clouseau had great lines….”There is a time to laugh and a time not to laugh, and this is not one of them.” Inspector Jacques Clouseau).

By Saturday, I really did think I was close to kicking the “Qantas Croup” and even though I had struggled all week just to make it back and forth from the AWA office, I was determined to be more adventurous over the weekend.…

Off to the Zoo

How bad could it be to take a leisurely ferry ride from the Manly Wharf to the Circular Quay (pronounced “key” but don’t ask me why) in Sydney and then another ferry to the Taronga Zoo, then walk leisurely around the zoo and come back?  Well, I had to sleep almost eleven hours to get over it and more on Sunday!  So, you’re wondering, was it at least a good outing before my lungs threatened to collapse?

Yes and no.  The Taronga Zoo (operated by the Taronga Conservation Society) seems to be a very good operation, with well-treated animals and lots of educational outreach.  As a plus, there are nice views of Sydney from the zoo….

Opera House Peeking through the Trees at Taronga Zoo

I enjoyed the visit, except that the Australian animals (my main reason for the visit) were simply not cooperating.  Some were hiding, most were sleeping.  The koalas refused to wake up even when the zookeeper brought in fresh eucalyptus leaves of the highest quality (apparently the koalas are VERY picky and like to sort through many choices of leaves).  Needless to say, I did not get my obligatory photo with a koala.  The Tasmanian devils were also sleeping (check out this link to read about what has killed 80% of them since the 1990s:….and I waited ever so patiently to catch a glimpse of a platypus, but they are so shy (and were probably also sleeping).  Although the kangaroos were sleeping, they are much more photogenic in that state.   In fact, here is the one photo that describes my personal level of energy better than any other:

Roo Channeling Joy's Energy Level

This Week’s Water Issue, or “Project Deadlines are Looming”

Never mind those interesting forays into all manner of water-related “stuff”.  I have a project to complete and it is VERY far behind.  Although I’ve done lots of research, I’ve just been unable to travel around and have had a tough time focusing because of being sick.  Coming up in my fifth week, I do finally have a some site visits lined up to talk to various people in the Australian water industry…and just in case the IRB monitors are reading the blog, these are not interviews or surveys and do not involve personal data collection – just informational visits that will, hopefully, give me some different impressions of the water reforms that have taken place, as well as perspectives from the field on water privatization.

The whole issue of water privatization continues to haunt me, and it seems to find its way into many discussion of water policy – even in Australia where it is still relatively rare.  The government here is intent on Full Cost Recovery of water and, at least in some cases, this seems to mean that they are leaning towards privatization.  At the same time, the public (particularly in Queensland and South Australia) seems as much opposed to privatization as they are in almost every other country, including our own (I just bumped into another recent example of public opposition in the U.S. from June of 2010, in which Trenton, New Jersey’s residents successfully fought the sale of part of their local water assets to American Water:

I struggle between the notion of water privatization as an “evil” force that oppresses poor people and potentially threatens water quality for profit, and the idea that it is manageable with proper and intense regulation.  I just wonder where the efficiencies are, though, if the regulation of water becomes a bulging, bureaucratic process on its own.  Fortunately, there do seem to be other approaches to Full Cost Recovery of water here, and making the full cost of water clear to all users is important in making decisions about water use and conservation.

More on this as I start pulling things together…..

Now I’m Becoming Predictable….

I would call it a “sustainability rut”, but I think that is an oxymoron.  Anyway, here is your parting sustainability thought from a predictable source:  “We cannot hope to create a sustainable culture with any but sustainable souls.”  — Derrick Jensen

The sustainable souls in the SGS class are a good place to start.  Take care, classmates and friends! — Joy

Sun Sets on Sydney

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