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Oct 31, 2013


I drive the highways and byways of the NT a lot – mostly for work. In the last few months I’ve driven long stretches up and down the Stuart Highway that runs three thousand and more often very lonely kilometres from Darwin to Adelaide.

Sometimes it is just a short run of 300 or so kilometres to Katherine, more often beyond into the vast open stretches of the Barkly Tablelands and the Gulf Country.

A few months ago I was cruising southbound out of Katherine one fine and too hot morning and something stuck on the side of a tree caught my eye. I’ll pull-up for all manner of road-kill and just about anything else of interest so I hit the brakes and did a u-turn.

Continue reading “On the road with white supremacist David in the NT”


Jun 22, 2013


Last month I travelled to Denton in north Texas to attend the annual Society of Ethnobiology meeting and present a paper on my recent early research into the (possible) role that birds may play in propagation of fire in the Australian landscape. While there I met up with a colleague from Manchaca, Texas who has recently forwarded to me a response she received from another colleague to whom she’d passed some information about my presentation and inviting his comment.

In due course he responded.

Continue reading “Burning down the house. When rats & snakes take their revenge.”

Fun stuff

Jan 30, 2013


In May 2010 I was lucky enough to spend five days on the Mississippi River with the folks from the Quapaw Canoe Company out of the small town of Helena in Arkansas and over the river at the Home of the Blues – Clarksdale Mississippi.

You can read my account of that trip – brief and incomplete as it is – in my Mud and Blood in the Mississippi in Flood post.

I’ve kept in touch with Captain John Ruskey and the Mighty Quapaw crew and in 2011 managed to get back on the river during another flood for a few brief hours at a very soggy Helena. If I’m lucky I may be able to get back there again when I’m next in the States for the Society of Ethnobiology meeting at Denton, Texas in May this year.

Continue reading “Leave no child ashore – a school trip into the “dark heart of the deepest woods” of Mississippi”

Fun stuff

Jan 7, 2013


‘The Big Muddy: An Environmental History of the Mississippi’ … a review

"The Big Muddy" follows centuries of human efforts to conceptualize this landscape of mud as a place with firm barriers between water and land, and then make these conceptions reality. A few examples: early French explorers repeatedly failed to locate the mouth of the Mississippi out of an inability to imagine a vast, multi-channeled delta. Rice, and then indigo, tobacco, and sugar encouraged settlers to drain, divide, and levee the landscape.

Regular readers here will know of my (somewhat distant) love affair with the Mississippi River and the cultures that live in, on and around it.

I’ve written about it here, here and here and have learnt much about the river from my colleagues Mark Bonta, who lives and works at the small town of Cleveland in the Delta and ‘Captain’ John Ruskey of the Quapaw Canoe Company out of Clarksdale Mississippi and across the river at Helena, Arkansas.

Books like the McDowell’s “Mississippi Secrets“, John M. Barry’s magisterial “Rising Tide“, James C. Cobb’s “The Most Southern Place on Earth” and Mikko Saikku’s environmental history of the Yazoo-Mississippi floodplain “This Delta, This Land” have all piqued my interest and ensured that I’ll return to spend more time with this most magnificent creature that is the river and all around it. 

Continue reading “‘The Big Muddy: An Environmental History of the Mississippi’ … a review”

Aboriginal & Islander Art

May 30, 2010



May 29, 2010


My previous posts have looked at various aspects of my most recent trip to Canada & the USA – here are a few incidental point and shoot photos from my wanders around various cities, towns, rivers, bayous and forests over the past month or so…

the Cowboy Church, Kilbourne, Louisiana
the Cowboy Church, Kilbourne, Louisiana

Continue reading “Pointing and shooting part one – Canada & the USA, May 2010”


May 18, 2010


Yesterday I drove from just east of Dallas along I-30 to Texarkana then through Arkansas, down into Louisiana, back up into Arkansas and then across the Mississippi into the small city of Cleveland in the Mississippi Delta where I’ll be based for the next week or so.

Tomorrow I’m off to paddle a big canoe down the wilds of the Mississippi River…

East Texas foggy morning along I-30
East Texas foggy morning along I-30

Continue reading ““Disturbed”, “All Around Cowboy” churches and an East Texas foggy highway”

Fun stuff

Apr 14, 2009


Mississippi Delta rural churches

The Delta has a rich religious heritage, and is a land where faith- in God, in the future, in grace, and in ultimate redemption - unify all people. Episcopal, Baptist, Methodist, and Presbyterian Churches are commonly represented in Delta towns.

Mississippi church
A typical backroads Mississippi church

I spent quite a few hours of the last week or so driving around the backroads of the Mississippi Delta. The Delta is a leaf-shaped region in western Mississippi, bounded by the Mississippi River and Arkansas state border to the west, a line of bluffs to the east and runs from Vicksburg in southern Mississippi to just outside of Memphis in Tennessee to the north.

Continue reading “Mississippi Delta rural churches”