The German news programme by the SBS (Special Broadcasting Service) radio brought an interesting report today: the people of Canberra are now allowed to fill their private swimming pools, wash their cars in the driveway and admire public fountains. Why this is newsworthy? Canberra has been going through a severe drought in the last few years, but in the last 6 months (apparently while I was here) there was apparently a lot of rain. Enough to lift the water restrictions that Canberra had been on for three (!) years. Google Maps still has some pictures of Canberra that must have been taken during the drought. Right now, Canberra doesn’t look like a desert capital, everything is lush and green.

book review: down under

Bill Bryson’s book „Down under“ is probably one of the best-selling Australian travel diaries of the last years. Bryson writes about his travels in a very entertaining and easy-to-read style. Down under is quite entertaining and full of supposedly well researched peeks into Australian history, geography, foreign relations and politics. However, while „Down under“ might be an entertaining read, Bryson hasn’t done a great job in portraying the places he visited. Even though Bryson seems to have done a lot of research, he hasn’t done a great job in planning his itineraries and researching the destinations.

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The Parliamentary Triangle

I went to the Parliamentary Triangle today–a part of Canberra mostly occupied by Parliament House (=Parliament Hill), government offices, embassies and very expensive residential properties. Now that most of the trees have leaves and some are still in bloom, Canberra is getting nicer than it was in those cold rainy november (…umm…July) days. I felt as if I was cycling on a highway that had been built right through a park. Of course, highways wouldn’t have bike lanes.

…just the bare necessities of life…

We don’t have any water. We didn’t have water in the morning, and nobody knows when the water supply will be working again. S***. It made me realize how accustomed we get to having water all the time. I hope it will be repaired soon. When I went to see my research project supervisor at 2pm, the repairmen seemed to be busy cutting down a tree so that they could dig down to the water pipe.

Newspapers&TV in Oz

I bought a newspaper last weekend. I normally don’t buy newspapers here, because B&G has a subscription for the Australian, the Canberra Times and the Sydney Morning Herald and these papers are usually lying around on the tables in the kitchen. However, I felt I needed to spend the $2.20 (1,43 Euro) on the weekend edition of the Sydney Morning Herald. The price may seem a bit steep, but in fact the paper had 402 pages altogether and weighed a couple of 100g. Of course, the carreer and cars sections were quite large. But still-one could really spend more than a weekend reading it. The downside is that most Aussie papers are surprisingly light when it comes to international news. The Sydney Morning Herald had a special on the dire consequences of global warming, but as Oz is the nation emitting the largest amount of carbon dioxide per capita, and also very affected by droughts, I won’t really classify this as international news. They also don’t really follow the convention of having politics on the first couple of pages, followed by national and international news. Instead, everything is pretty much mixed up. We do not get any Austrian newspapers or magazines here, which is not really surprising. There are a couple of British papers around, like the „Guardian weekly“. I found a copy of „Die Welt“ in a newsagent in Cairns and would have bought it (even though it was rather expensive), but I was turned away by the fact that it was almost two weeks old. They were also selling the previous day’s edition of the Sydney Morning Herald and the Melbourne Age. Surprising at first, but consider that these papers needed to be transported a few thousand kilometers. The TV and radio is a bit more international. Radio news are often supplied by the BBC and sometimes by Deutsche Welle (in English). A government-owned station, SBS, broadcasts news in a couple of foreign languages (notably including German, Mandarin and Portuguese). I could even watch „Inspector Rex“ if I was desperate.