Damage to the Great Barrier Reef

The Great Barrier Reef, the world’s largest reef system stretching along the East coast of Australia from the northern tip down to the town of Bundaberg., composed of roughly 2,900 individual reefs and 940 islands and cays that stretch for 2,300 kilometres (1,616 mi) and cover an area of approximately 344,400 square kilometres (133,000 sq mi). The reef is located in the Coral Sea, off the coast of Queensland in northeast Australia. A large part of the reef is protected by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.
According to the 2014 report of the Australian Government’s Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA), climate change is the most significant environmental threat to the Great Barrier Reef, while the other major environmental pressures are listed as decreased water quality from land-based runoff, impacts from coastal development and some persistent impacts from fishing activities. The reef is also threatened by storms, coral bleaching and ocean acidification. The 2014 report also shows that, while numerous marine life species have recovered after previous declines, the strength of the dugong population is continuing to decline. Terry Hughes, Federation Fellow, ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies at James Cook University, wrote in a 14 August 2014 Conversation piece that harmful government policies and ongoing conflicts of interest over mining royalties are risks of an equivalent magnitude.
The GBRMPA consider climate change, poor water quality, coastal development, and some impacts from fishing to be the area’s major threats, but reef scientists Jon Day, Bob Pressey, Jon Brodie and Hughes stated that the “cumulative effects of many combined impacts” is the real issue. In a Conversation Article, Mathieu Mongin, a biogeochemical modeller at CSIRO and colleagues mapped parts of the Great Barrier Reef that are most exposed to ocean acidification. This map of pH on the Great Barrier Reef presents the exposure to ocean acidification on each of the 3,581 reefs, providing managers with the information they need to tailor management to individual reefs. The Great Barrier Reef is not a singular reef nor a physical barrier that prevents exchange between reefs; it is a mixture of thousands of productive reefs and shallow areas lying on a continental shelf with complex oceanic circulation.
The Australian and Queensland Governments committed to act in partnership in 2007 to protect the reef, and water quality monitoring programmes were implemented. However, the World Wildlife Fund criticised the slow progress of the governments, raising a concern that as many as 700 reefs continued to be at risk from sediment runoff. The Australian government then outlined further action after the WHC called for the completion of a strategic assessment of the Reef area in 2011. The Committee also urged the government to use the assessment data to develop a long-term plan for protecting the “Outstanding Universal Value” of the reef, which is the basis for its World Heritage listing. Again, criticisms emerged from the expert community—due to vague quantitative targets, the absence of clear, specific strategies, and no mention of the implications of climate change—but the significant efforts of both state and federal governments addressed key recommendations from the World Heritage Committee.
A 2012 UNESCO report, published by the World Heritage Committee (WHC), then criticised the government’s management of the Great Barrier Reef, warning that the area could be downgraded to a world heritage site “in danger” unless major changes were implemented. The report expressed “extreme concern” at the rapid rate of coastal development, highlighting the construction of liquefied natural gas plants at Gladstone and Curtis Island, and recommended that thorough assessments are made before any new developments that could affect the reef are approved. UNESCO specifically recommended no new port development in Abbot Point, Gladstone, Hay Point, Mackay, and Townsville.
On the second day of the 2013 round of the biennial training exercise ‘Talisman Saber’, in which 28,000 US and Australian military personnel conduct joint activities over a three-week period,four unarmed bombs were dropped into the Great Barrier Reef by two US AV-8B Harrier jets that were unable to land with the weight of the weapons. To minimize potential harm to the reef, the four bombs, weighing a total 1.8 metric tons (4,000 pounds), were dropped into more than 50 meters (164 ft) of water away from the reef’s coral structures. The bomb drop was originally planned to occur at the Townshend Island bombing range, but after controllers reported that the area was not clear of hazards, the emergency jettison occurred. Australian senator Larissa Waters responded to the news by asking, “Have we gone completely mad? Is this how we look after our World Heritage area now? Letting a foreign power drop bombs on it?”


Australia : End the abuse of refugees on Nauru

Australian immigration detention facilities comprise a number of different facilities throughout Australia (including one on the Australian territory of Christmas Island). They are currently used to imprison people who are detained under Australia’s policy of mandatory immigration detention, and previously under the now defunct Pacific Solution. The facilities are currently operated by Serco, and were previously run under G4S who used to be named Global Solutions Limited (GSL), under contract from the Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP).
The Migration Act 1958 allowed discretionary detention of unauthorised arrivals until 1992. Since the 1990s when the Keating Government created a policy of mandatory detention of unauthorised arrivals, with non-citizens arriving by boat without a valid visa being detained until they were either granted a visa, or deported. Towards the end of the 1990s, a large increase in the number of unauthorised arrivals exceeded the capacity of the existing Immigration Reception and Processing Centres at Port Hedland and Curtin.

The facilities have been a source of much controversy during their time of operation. There have been a number of riots and escapes, as well as accusations of human rights abuses from organisations such as refugee advocates, Amnesty International, the Australian Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission, Human Rights Watch, and the United Nations. Journalists are forbidden from entering the detention centres. On January 2014, the Australian Labor Party and the Australian Greens accused the government of a cover-up over a violent clash on 18 October 2013 at the Manus Island facility between the Papua New Guinea army and the Papua New Guinea police mobile squad hired for the facility’s security, leading to Australian expatriate staff being evacuated, while local staff and asylum seekers remained. On 5 May 2014, it was reported that several Salvation Army staffers had alleged that refugees were regularly subjected to beatings, racist slurs, and sexual assaults within the facility. 
In March 2002, Irene Khan, the Secretary General of Amnesty International, said: It is obvious that the prolonged periods of detention, characterised by frustration and insecurity, are doing further damage to individuals who have fled grave human rights abuses. The detention policy has failed as a deterrent and succeeded only as punishment. How much longer will children and their families be punished for seeking safety from persecution? Former Prime Minister John Howard and successive immigration ministers maintained that their actions were justified in the interests of protecting Australia’s borders and ensuring that immigration law was enforced.

Tennis star Novak Djokovic playing cricket with Shane Warne

Novak Djokovic has put his racket to one side to try his hand at Australian rules football, cricket, basketball and soccer (football, to our English readers) ahead of the upcoming Open. The world No 2 is gearing up for the Australian Open, where he will be hoping to win the competition for a seventh time. He looked in high spirits as he took part in A Night with Novak at the Margaret Court Arena getting to grips with a range of different sports. 

Waveriders brave the heavy seas off Sydney’s Cape Solander…

Surfing is a surface water sport in which the wave rider, referred to as a surfer, rides on the forward or deep face of a moving wave, which is usually carrying the surfer towards the shore. Waves suitable for surfing are primarily found in the ocean, but can also be found in lakes or in rivers in the form of a standing wave or tidal bore. However, surfers can also utilize artificial waves such as those from boat wakes and the waves created in artificial wave pools. The term surfing refers to the act of riding a wave, regardless of whether the wave is ridden with a board or without a board, and regardless of the stance used (goofy or regular stance). The native peoples of the Pacific, for instance, surfed waves on alaia, paipo, and other such craft, and did so on their belly and knees. The actual modern-day definition of surfing, however, most often refers to a surfer riding a wave standing up on a surfboard; this is also referred to as stand-up surfing.

Another prominent form of surfing is body boarding, when a surfer rides a wave on a body board, either lying on their belly, drop knee, or sometimes even standing up on a body board. Other types of surfing include knee boarding, surf matting (riding inflatable mats), and using foils. Body surfing, where the wave is surfed without a board, using the surfer’s own body to catch and ride the wave, is very common and is considered by some to be the purest form of surfing. Three major subdivisions within standing-up surfing are long boarding and short boarding and these two have several major differences, including the board design and length, the riding style, and the kind of wave that is ridden.

Vivid Sydney lights up for world’s brightest festival

Vivid Sydney is an annual outdoor lighting festival with immersive light installations and projections in Sydney. Part of the lighting festival also includes performances from local and international musicians and an ideas exchange forum featuring public talks and debates from leading creative thinkers. This winter event takes place in central Sydney over the course of three weeks in May and June. The centrepiece of Vivid Sydney is the light sculptures, multimedia interactive work and building projections that transform various buildings and landmarks such as the Opera House and Harbour Bridge in and around the Sydney central business district into an outdoor night time canvas of art. During the 2015 festival, sites of interest were Central Park, Chatswood and the University of Sydney as well as around the CBD, Darling Harbour and The Rocks.


Vivid began as a Smart light festival in 2009 for energy efficiency curated by Lighting Designer Mary-Anne Kyriakou and headlined by Brian Eno. Eno, in collaboration with lighting designer Bruce Ramus, projected Light Painting onto both sides of the Opera House. The Festival was championed by Mary-Anne Kyriakou, Anthony Bastic, Mike Day, Davina Jackson, Carolyn Grant and Barry Webb.

 Commercial success for Destination NSW 

According to New South Wales Deputy Premier Andrew Stoner, Vivid 2012 attracted more than 500,000 visitors to the outdoor exhibition and events, generating around $10 million in income for the state, whereas Vivid 2013 attracted more than 800,000 visitors, contributing more than $20 million to the NSW economy. In 2014, the festival involved the Opera House, Walsh Bay, Circular Quay, The Rocks, North Sydney, Darling Harbour, and, joining in for the first time, Harbour Lights, The Star and Carriageworks. A new projected work by London based creative team 59 Productions illuminated the sails of the Sydney Opera House. In 2015, Vivid Sydney attracted more than 1.7 million visitors to the city.[8] The 2016 Vivid event is expected to include an expanded program of multi-genre music, stimulating presentations and Vivid Talks from global presenters and dazzling light projections across the city. In 2016, a display was added at Taronga Zoo.

Heart of the City 

Another activity located in the harbor was called the Heart of the City. This was one of the more popular activities at Vivid Sydney 2015 due to its immersive nature. The Heart of the City resembled a large, solid beanbag chair and was located near the Sydney Opera House. Upon reaching the front of the line, participants would be asked to seat themselves in the middle of the chair. Once seated, they would be instructed by a Vivid Sydney volunteer to insert their finger into a small hole located near the chair. If your finger was inserted right, the chair would begin to light up red to match your heartbeat. As participants began to notice this, their heart rate would increase causing the chair to light up very quickly.

The 2015 PGA Championship golf tournament at Whistling Straits

Jason Day hits his tee shot on the 7th hole during the final round of the 2015 PGA Championship golf tournament at Whistling Straits.

The inaugural Lord Mayor’s Hot Air Balloon Regatta

The inaugural Lord Mayor’s Hot Air Balloon Regatta over London. This new and unique event saw fifty hot air balloons fly across the City of London to raise awareness and funds for the Lord Mayor’s Appeal and to promote the City of London and those associated with it. Upto fifty balloons comprising of ten corporate partner balloons, ten associate sponsor balloons and the Lord Mayor’s Appeal balloon. 2015 also sees the fiftieth anniversary of the British Balloon and Airship Club and as the last mass ascent balloon flight was over twenty years ago, fifty balloons flying over London is a fitting tribute to the club and its milestone anniversary.

Richie Benaud

Richard “Richie” Benaud  was an Australian cricketer who, after his retirement from international cricket in 1964, became a highly regarded commentator on the game. Benaud was a Test cricket all-rounder, blending thoughtful leg spin bowling with lower-order batting aggression. Along with fellow bowling all-rounder Alan Davidson, he helped restore Australia to the top of world cricket in the late 1950s and early 1960s after a slump in the early 1950s. In 1958 he became Australia’s Test captain until his retirement in 1964. He became the first player to reach 200 wickets and 2,000 runs in Test cricket, arriving at that milestone in 1963.Gideon Haigh described him as “perhaps the most influential cricketer and cricket personality since the Second World War.” In his review of Benaud’s autobiography Anything But, Sri Lankan cricket writer Harold de Andrado wrote: “Richie Benaud possibly next to Sir Don Bradman has been one of the greatest cricketing personalities as player, researcher, writer, critic, author, organiser, adviser and student of the game.”
Benaud was born in Penrith, New South Wales, in 1930. He came from a cricket family. His father Louis, a third generation Australian of French Huguenot descent,[4] was a leg spinner who played for Penrith in Sydney Grade Cricket, gaining attention for taking all twenty wickets in a match against St. Marys for 65 runs. Lou later moved to Parramatta region in western Sydney, and played for Cumberland. It was here that Richie Benaud grew up, learning how to bowl leg breaks, googlies and topspinners under his father’s watch.[4] Educated at Parramatta High School, Benaud made his first grade debut for Cumberland at age 16, primarily as a batsman.
In November 1948, at the age of 18, Benaud was selected for the New South Wales Colts, the state youth team. He scored 47 not out and took 3/37 in an innings win over Queensland.[6] As a specialist batsman, he made his first class debut for New South Wales at the Sydney Cricket Ground against Queensland in the New Year’s match of the 1948–49 season. On a green pitch which was struck by a downpour on the opening day, Benaud’s spin was not used by Arthur Morris and he failed to make an impression with the bat in his only innings, scoring only two.[5][6] New South Wales were the dominant state at the time, and vacancies in the team were scarce, particularly as there were no Tests that season and all of the national team players were available for the whole summer.
  Relegated to the Second XI after this match, he was struck in the head above the right eye by a ball from Jack Daniel while batting against Victoria in Melbourne, having missed an attempted hook. After 28 X-rays showed nothing, it was finally diagnosed that the crater in his forehead had resulted in a skull fracture and he was sidelined for the remainder of the season,[5] since a second impact could have been fatal. He spent two weeks in hospital for the surgery.[8] This was the only match he played for the second-string state team that summer.
In his early career, Benaud was a batting all-rounder, marked by a looping backlift which made him suspect against fast bowling but allowed him to have a wide attacking stroke range.[5] At the start of the 1949–50 season, he was still in the Second XI, but when the Test players departed for a tour of South Africa soon afterwards,[6] vacancies opened up. Benaud was recalled to the New South Wales First XI in late December for the Christmas and New Year’s fixtures. With Ray Lindwall, Keith Miller and Ernie Toshack, three of Australia’s leading four bowlers from the 1948 Invincibles tour of England unavailable, Benaud bowled heavily in some matches. However, he did not have much success in his five games, taking only five wickets at 54.00.
He took the wicket of Queensland batsman Bill Brown in his third match of the season. Benaud erroneously recalled in an autobiography that this was his maiden wicket—it was his fourth—and described the ball as “the worst I ever bowled”.[9] He had more success with the bat, scoring 93 and narrowly missing a century against South Australia. He added another fifty and ended with 250 runs at 31.25.
The next season, England toured Australia, and with the Test players back, Benaud was initially forced out of the team. He was recalled for a match against the Englishmen. He was attacked by the touring batsmen, taking 1/75 from 16.5 overs in his first outing against an international outfit.[6] His only victim was the all-rounder Trevor Bailey.[10] He scored 20 not out and was entrusted with the ball in the second innings.[6]
In the next Shield match against Victoria, led by Australian captain Lindsay Hassett, Benaud came in for attack.[6] Hassett was known for his prowess against spin bowling, being the only batsman to score centuries in a match against the leg spin of Bill O’Reilly, regarded as the finest bowler of his age. Hassett struck 179 in four hours, and took 47 runs from Benaud’s seven overs. 
The young leg spinner claimed Hassett in the second innings when a ball landed in a crack and skidded through onto his foot. He ended with 3/56, the first time he had taken three wickets in a match.[6] In the next match against South Australia, he made 48, took 4/93 and 1/29 and suffered three dropped catches by the wicketkeeper in successive balls. Benaud was cementing his position and was in the senior team for four consecutive matches even with the Test players available.[6] He was selected for an Australian XI match against England, in what was effectively a trial for Test selection, but suffered a chipped bone in his thumb. This put him out of action until the last match of the season,[12] and put paid to any hopes of quick rise to international cricket. Benaud returned and scored 37 and took a total of 2/68 in the final match, ending the season with 184 runs at 36.80 and 11 wickets at 34.63.

Emperor penguins huddle together to keep their chicks warm

Emperor penguins huddle together to keep their chicks warm. Marine scientist Frederique Oliver took the pictures of the protective parents in Antarctica as they huddled against the freezing winds…