Wild weather

We have had more than a bit of that in the past few days. Partly it is the effect, most likely, of the La Nina phase we have now entered. US meteorologist Dan Satterfield posted a link to a Washington Post account of that: La Niña is back. Here’s what that means.

It’s one of many drivers in our atmosphere, but it is often among the most important given the extent to which it shuffles other atmospheric features key in determining how weather evolves over the Lower 48.

In brief, here are some of the key impacts La Niña could have in the coming months:

— Extending favorable conditions for Atlantic hurricane activity this fall.
— Worsening drought conditions in the Southwest through the winter and potentially elevating the fire risk through the fall.
— Raising the odds of a cold, stormy winter across the northern tier of the United States and a mild, dry winter across the South.
— Increasing tornado activity in the Plains and South during the spring.

La Niña is the opposite of El Niño, which often makes headlines for spurring powerful southern storms that can generate beneficial rains in California and track across the entire nation.

In Australia:

La Niña is characterized by increased rainfall and cloud cover, especially across the east and north; snow cover is increased. There are also cooler daytime temperatures south of the tropics and fewer extreme highs, and warmer overnight temperatures in the tropics. There is less risk of frost, but increased risk of widespread flooding, tropical cyclones, and the monsoon season starts earlier.

Recent Wollongong weather forecasts

And we have been getting a lot of these warnings, this one from Thursday afternoon.

Wollongong actually has been spared. Not so some other parts of the state, and I especially noted Armidale where Jim Belshaw now lives. There was a tornado there on Thursday night!

Jim himself says he is OK. When I asked he said: “Hi Neil. It was wild while it lasted, very noisy and the car has some hail marks, but the main storm was just to the north of us running along a west-east line. The closed UNE campus which suffered damage starts about 800 metres, away, but is a very big campus.”

I remembered one of my mother’s favourite stories from her childhood in Braefield — my mother and the 1921 tornado! My God, that’s 100 years ago! And note she calls Australia Day “Anniversary Day”, as people did back then.

More tales from my mother 3 — Braefield NSW 1916-1923

Braefield was a small place: three railway night officers’ cottages, a Post Office Store of sorts, and a brand new school building. The old one became the local hall where church services — every denomination — were held once a month, and it was also the scene of all local social activity. It was War time and a very energetic committee made up of farmers’ wives and families knitted for soldiers and every lad that left Braefield was farewelled in the old school hall and presented with a watch, and welcomed home — those that came home — being then given a medal by a now saddened committee….

In December 1920 we went to Sydney for the Christmas vacation, returning on Chaffey’s Mail, which left Central about 2 pm on Saturday and stopped all stations from Murrurundi to Tamworth where it terminated. We arrived home about 2.30 am.

The tornado

The following day, Monday, was Anniversary Day. Dad drove into Quirindi to get supplies; there were Chinese shops always open. Before his return we children had been watching the sky. At first we thought a dust storm was approaching across the Breeza Plains. The sky went from red to purple and then to deep indigo. Thank goodness Dad arrived home, and he said to Mother who was ironing in the kitchen, “There is a storm going to hit the back of the house, and we had better go into the bedrooms.” She refused as she wanted to finish her ironing. Within moments the verandah had gone and dad hustled us all into the dining room and under a heavy oak table. It became pitch dark. The storm only lasted for twenty minutes, but the dining room was all that was left of our home! If it had not been for a 10,000 gallon water tank which was luckily full and sheltered that room only, I would not be here today.

Kind neighbours took us in. The path of the storm could be traced back along the plains as large trees were chopped to match wood, and our place and the railway siding were in its direct path. Both were shattered. A kindly farmer lent us an unoccupied dwelling, scarcely a house, but shelter, and we were given bedding and necessary equipment so that we could survive. The iron roof of our place was found over a mile from the house! The other farmer had our home rebuilt as quickly as possible.

Poor Mother was pregnant again and a still-born child was born in June. Again it nearly cost our Mother’s life, and again, thank God for Dad’s wonderful mother who came and stayed through these very troublesome times.

So, yesterday… And now it’s Day 2 of opening up.

Ziggy’s House of Nomms — Wollongong’s wonderful Chinese tea-house — didn’t open yesterday, but just posted on FB:

And we are all cleaned and polished ready to take your bookings, phone only, no online bookings please.

Yesterday 106-7 days of lockdown came to an end in NSW. Those days were rather like this. Remember?

For some getting a haircut was the greatest priority. I saw such a queue outside the barber shop in West Wollongong, and the Illawarra Mercury captured the early morning queue at the Figtree Centre.

The Illawarra Steelers Club opened their doors right on the stroke of midnight. I wasn’t there but did decide to make it my first stop when I went to town yesterday morning.

Alas when I got there at 9.30am there was a note on the door saying they were reopening at 11. So I walked up to City Diggers which opened at 9.30.

My friend Colin rang soon after to say he would join me there, but didn’t show up! The explanation: they would not let him in because he had no proof he had been double vaccinated. He had been. I got in with the paper given to me by the Medical Centre recording each jab. No problem.

But at lunch another Diggers and Illawarra Leagues Club friend, Maurice from Peru, had some news:

The tyranny of the app and the smart phone? OK, I had no problem at City Diggers with my old-fashioned and absolutely authentic vaccine documentation from the Wollongong Medical Centre — on paper.

But at Diggers an old Diggers and lately Collegians/Illawarra Leagues friend told me that Collegians was only accepting app and smartphone vaccine documentation. If so, this is absolutely deplorable! What are they? Sales agents for tech and smartphone interests?

If they try that on me then they will lose a member!

There have been big changes at Diggers, good changes. But not the bistro menu. You may recall it has never impressed me — in fact it was a prime reason why I (and Maurice and others) took to going the to Leagues instead. So lunch was one of the more edible specials, grilled fish, chips, and something rather laughingly called a salad.

And the Illawarra Leagues?


Unfortunately as we transition into re-opening our clubs Collegians Illawarra Leagues will remain closed.

We hope we can open our doors in the near future and will communicate an open date as soon as we possibly can.

At this time Collegians Wollongong & Collegians Balgownie open from today Monday 11th October.

But all things considered it was great to be back yesterday! I summed it up just before lunch on FB:

Just said HI to Philip from Croatia — a Diggers regular. So nice to talk to actual people face to face after all this time. Sadly my friend Col MacDonald was supposed to have a drink with me this morning but — despite being one of the most tech-savvie people I know — he had no proof of vaccination, so Diggers would not let him in!

On the other hand my old-fashioned paper statement from the Wollongong Medical Centre was accepted, no problem!

Great to chat with some random people too!

And comparatively good news when our Local Health Area’s Covid stats came through:

Illawarra Shoalhaven Local Health District (ISLHD) confirms 38 local residents have tested positive to COVID-19 in the 24 hours to 8pm last night. Of the new cases:– 17 are from the Wollongong Local Government Area (LGA) – 8 are linked to known cases Postcodes – 2500 (2 case), 2502 (4), 2505 (1), 2506 (1), 2515 (2), 2518 (1), 2525 (1), 2530 (5)

— 11 are from the Shellharbour LGA – 3 are linked to a known case Postcodes – 2527 (6), 2528 (3), 2529 (2)

— 10 are from the Shoalhaven LGA – 1 is linked to a known case Postcodes – 2540 (1), 2541 (9)

— There are no new cases from the Kiama LGA

Oh yes — also had a good phone chat with Sirdan in New Zealand.

First day after lockdown here in The Gong…

And more widely of course. I have already expressed some doubts about the way it is being done, and the pace. But we shall see… Today selections from the past weeks.

Breaking news — lockdown

Posted on  by Neil

Current stay at home orders will be extended across all of Greater Sydney including the Blue Mountains, Central Coast and Wollongong from 6pm today (June 26) until 11:59pm Friday July 9.

Everyone in these areas must stay home unless it is for an essential reason:-

-Shopping for food or other essential goods or services

– Medical care or compassionate needs (you may leave home for a covid-19 vaccination unless you have been identified as a close contact)

– Exercise outdoors in groups of 10 or fewer

– Essential work or education where you cannot work or study from home

Community sport will not be permitted during this time.

Weddings will not be permitted from 11:59pm Sunday June 27.

Funerals will be limited to 1 person per 4sqm with a cap of 100 people and masks must be worn indoors…

From our Wollongong lockdown…

Posted on  by Neil

Hoping Willie was right — and anyway the song suits one of my advancing years…. Enjoy.

So, I am rather glad that I went to the Illawarra Leagues Club on Friday for a last meal for a while of their excellent fish and calamari special (@ $7.95!) Took this photo, which now sits at the top of my Facebook:

And I put in the latest footie tips — but I guess that is also now in limbo.

Remembering last year — search this blog for lockdown.

For example, 12 months on from when the pandemic shut down Wollongong. An extract:

So here we are in shutdown…

Posted on March 23, 2020 by Neil

And here, thanks to Siouxsie Wiles and Toby Morris in NZ, is one good reason:

NOTE: 11/10/21 — Illawarra Leagues is not opening today. It is one of five in the Collegians network, only two of which open on the 11th. Perhaps they had problems staffing a full opening right now?

And “At 8.00pm Sunday, there were 669 confirmed cases of coronavirus in NSW — an increase of 136 in 24 hours.”  And “A major crackdown on gatherings will see the closure of indoor venues, including pubs, clubs, sporting and religious venues from midday today in response to the coronavirus pandemic.”

So this morning Wollongong City Diggers posted on Facebook:

Dear Members and Guests, due to an announcement overnight that Clubs will be shut from midday, we have decided not to trade for a short 2.5 hours and then close again. This means Bingo is off, cafe, bistro, bar and gaming are all closed. Anyone with functions still booked will be notified of cancellations. However we will be using this time to commence shutdown procedures and thoroughly cleaning all areas. Obviously, we are unsure when we will reopen, this will be up to the Government and health authorities. We apologise for any inconvenience

And Ziggy’s House of Nomms, to choose just one of the regular Friday lunch haunts of Chris T and myself.

Of course the fact it is now the Delta strain of the virus makes the situation scarier, as NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian says, (And by the way I am simply not going to play partisan politics. I am well used to the fact that fallible humans sit in our parliaments, not Batman, Captain America, or Wonder Woman.)

And let’s face it, we have been very lucky — almost 12 months of comparatively normal life, thanks to our being an island, and also thanks to governments and people doing at least quite a few things right.


Posted on  by Neil

Yes, our Premier, Gladys Berejiklian, did not mince her words yesterday.

Gladys was forthright:

“And I’ll be shocked if it’s less than 100 this time tomorrow of additional new cases,” she said.

“So we can’t stress enough the importance of not only following the rules but also realising the risk that the people who will suffer the most.

“If you don’t worry about yourself, that’s your decision. But think about your closest family members, your closest people in your life, they’re the people that are most impacted.”

And I just saw on Sky Up to Sh*t the juvenile Dolt from the IPA adding his bit to undermining the message. Like father like son. I will not link to their nonsense.

On Facebook today I had a manifesto moment.

In keeping with my attitude over a considerable period, I personally will refrain from political comment on the current COVID outbreak in Greater Sydney including Illawarra, particularly what may be called bitching and moaning comments. There are enough such voices screaming into cyberspace already.

Instead, focus on the objective facts of what we are confronting and do whatever it takes to support every effort to deal with those facts, including police action if it is necessary.

I would certainly include the more recent asinine comments on Sky from yesterday’s man Alan Jones among those whose bitching and moaning are to be ignored. I also on the other hand have stopped taking too much notice of Crikey.com. I do keep an eye on people who really do have something to say based on solid expertise, such as Bill Bowtell or Professor Doherty or Raina MacIntyre — and including my own cousin Dr Julie Christison.

Bill Bowtell

But you already know that I detest politics, really, and the screaming in the dunny side of social media. But maybe that is just me.

And (in passing and I won’t elaborate) it is a shame, and quite ironic really given the attention paid to ScoMo’s religion, sometimes unfairly, that on this issue we have a Prime Minister who is FAR from charismatic!

Stay safe everyone, and try to stay positive.

For every political post, post something beautiful or uplifting, because this world needs such things even more today!

Latest too is that a Wollongong suburb, Fairy Meadow, has hit the list of affected places.

Lockdown — 2

Posted on  by Neil

I didn’t plan to post today, but here is an update.

The club was my social bubble, and I do miss it. This internet (and Facebook) do help.

Illawarra Leagues Club

And though the Great Tipping Competition is in limbo, I still pursue the game…

And the next day I began the Various lockdown hacks and escapes series. There would eventually be 75. The lockdown itself was 107 days.

Yesterday NSW Health posted:

There have been 431 COVID-19 related deaths in NSW since 16 June 2021 and 487 in total since the start of the pandemic.

There have been 62,847 locally acquired cases reported since 16 June 2021, when the first case in this outbreak was reported.

Various lockdown hacks and escapes — 71 — on just about everyone except our government being inspirational about our planet

Sad, isn’t it, the shag on a rock stance of the current Australian government when even the great bastions of tradition are seeing the light! See for example Dozens of prominent religious figures from around the globe meet at the Vatican to demand world leaders take immediate moves.

So radical eh!

And the next is beautiful and gloriously WOKE! As all of us should be in 2021 — :DEAD or ASLEEP are the alternative states after all.

The background to that hymn:

Hymns for Our Contemporary World: a new collection of hymns addressing some of the dominant themes of our contemporary world.

  • Social justice
  • Racial equality
  • Mental health
  • Refugee crisis
  • Environment
  • Societal divisions
  • Global pandemic
  • Isolation
  • Truth
Recording session, Leeds Minster July 2021.

31 October to 12 November 2021 — UN Climate Change Conference UK 2021.

Mind you, there have been crazy tree-hugging greenies in politics for years — and thank God people like Alan Jones and Andrew Bolt to put them in their place — both of whom sadly missed out on the Nobel Prize for Physics yet again! Bloody woke leftist global warmist mainstream media eh!.

Look at this woman — one of the most notorious tree-huggers ever! And she apparently hated fossil fuels too as she caused more coal mines to close than anyone at the time thought possible…

Mind you, her reasons might not entirely have been environmental.

This is the uncut speech made in November 1989. I commend listening to it right through. Some of it may surprise you. She is crystal clear on what the problems are and how we are part of those problems. Her thoughts of 32 years ago would not play at all well in the Murdoch media today, particularly among the denizens of Sky After Dark here in Australia. Yes, you will note her advocacy of nuclear — but she is not alone among environmentalists and advocates of action on climate change in seeing that as part of a solution, even today. I certainly can see merit in the thought.

But that is another argument. In the main the speech is passionate, articulate and still convincing. And as relevant as ever.

And on the 2021 Nobel Prize:

The Nobel Prize in Physics has been awarded to three scientists who have made significant contributions to our understanding of climate science.

Syukuro Manabe, 90, from the US, and Klaus Hasselmann, 89, from Germany, were cited for their work in “the physical modelling of Earth’s climate, quantifying variability and reliably predicting global warming”.

The second half of the prize was awarded to Italian Giorgio Parisi, 73, for “the discovery of the interplay of disorder and fluctuations in physical systems from atomic to planetary scales”.

The panel said Dr Manabe and Dr Hasselmann “laid the foundation of our knowledge of the Earth’s climate and how humanity influences it.

And in The Gong…

While the Covid-19 stats are looking a bit better for the state, and vaccination figures are very encouraging, here in Wollongong things are not so good. Yes, I know the figures look small compared with what has happened elsewhere in the world, but they still are concerning.

I updated the post before last with this graph that appeared on Facebook on Sunday:

You may see that says “Authorised by Paul Scully MP” — he is our representative in the NSW Parliament, and a good one too. There has been, though things are improving, a shortfall in supply of Pfizer vaccines to our area, resulting in the government’s special vaccine hub working below the capacity it was designed for.

There was a rather ominous news item on our local ABC on Sunday.

Wollongong Hospital has a new triage tent installed outside the entrance to the Emergency Department on Darling Street to assist with potential increases in ED demand from COVID.

The Illawarra Shoalhaven Local Health District says the marquee will allow ED staff to access and triage patients, perform rapid testing and transfer patients based on clinical need.

Chief Executive Margot Mains says the marquee is on stand-by and will be activated if required.

(photo: Nick McLaren, ABC Illawarra)

The stats released on Sunday at 11am were as follows:

Here is the breakdown — and do note the increase in The Gong! There were 75 new COVID-19 cases in our Health District, as follows:

59 cases who are residents of Wollongong Local Government Area — 46 the previous day – 14 are linked to known cases and 45 are under investigation

10 cases who are residents of Shellharbour LGA – six are linked to known cases and four are under investigation

5 cases who are residents of Shoalhaven LGA – three are linked to a known cases and two are under investigation

1 case who is a resident of Kiama LGA – investigations are ongoing.


Figures released today at 11.00 am: 787 new cases in the state, 63 in our Health District — so good news and bad news!

Details are as follows:

  • 43 cases who are residents of Wollongong Local Government Area (LGA) – 13 are linked to known cases and 30 are under investigation
  • 11 cases who are residents of Shellharbour LGA – 10 are linked to known cases and one is under investigation
  • 9 cases who are residents of Shoalhaven LGA – four are linked to a known cases and five are under investigation.

Sadly, the District is reporting the death of one person with COVID-19. A man in his 70s from the Wollongong LGA died at Wollongong Hospital. He was not vaccinated. The District extends its sincere condolences to his loved ones.

This is looking encouraging:

Gladys is suggesting 11 October as the day we relax quite a bit.