Pages

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Rural Blogging

I have been reading Jim Belshaw's blogs for quite a while now and only recently got to meet and talk to him face to face at the first New State Movement meeting in Hamilton.

One that initially caught my interest was his Regional Living Australia - Information about work, life and play in Regional Australia.

I have also recently been reading the American blog The Art of the Rural - considering rural arts and culture in the twenty-first century - which I find to be a fascinating look at a multitude of rural and regional cultural topics. The story that got me in was Remembering the High Lonesome - which led me to the wonderful short film itself - well worth a watch to music lovers. I'll also add The Rural Blog to this.

Spinning off from a recent regional radio story also on that site, I found a American blog called Legal Ruralism - a little (legal) realism about the rural - which happens to have four Australian stories.

In the current "Three Amigos" or "Country Independents" era of political theatre, being someone passionate about rural Australia doing my best to publish about my corner of the world, I have been looking around for other Australian blogs, not particularly about a region, but about regional and rural issues.

Three I have found of interest (in no particular order) are:

ABC Rural Blog (a bit obvious I guess)
Rural Australia
Biting the Dust - A view of pharmacy and health from a very remote pharmacist

Apart from the ABC Rural one I haven't spent a lot of time reading these, but look forward to them now popping up in my reading list, inspiring me to do more along these lines as Rural Australia continues to be better connected. The Art of the Rural is a real inspiration to me.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Kelly Club Meetings - Cessnock Planning and Communication Failures

According to The Advertiser - a weekly paper, the Planning Minister Tony Kelly's Cessnock Council Planning Panel meetings commence tomorrow afternoon.

In the article, it states:
Planning panel meetings will be open to the public and meetings and applications will be advertised and appear on council’s website.
and
The pane’s [sic] first meeting will be held tomorrow (Thursday) at 4pm in the upstairs ante room, followed by another on September 23 at 3.30pm.
Yet the two meetings mentioned don't appear anywhere I can see on Council's website.

In fact, I can't find any mention of the Planning Panel on the Council website at all. One would think that it would at least make the News Section!

Get it together Council! No wonder people complain.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

The Rat in the Hat

One down... As predicted, Bob Katter has split ranks for whatever reason, his own ego and to underline his sense of independence presumably.

Don't get me wrong... I love him. He's so passionate about his causes and yet so on the edge that it becomes addictive to watch him.

I can't understand his love of mining in Queensland when agriculture in the Darling Downs is being decimated by coal mining, underground coal gassification and coal seam methane. I guess it doesn't matter in Southern Queensland...

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Political Climate Change

Climate change really did affect the outcome of the 2010 Australian Federal Election, not on the lack of environmental action by either side, but a change in the Political Climate and the perception of Government representation by the Australian People.

There have been polls that suggest that some percentage of people (around 10% from memory) would change their vote if we went to another election. How disingenuous! The ONLY people that should be changing their vote are those that accidentally voted informal, by numbering only one candidate on the green ballot or similar technical errors.

Update 6 Sept: In a survey of 1000 people, asked if they'd prefer a hung parliament or go back to the polls, 54% said they'd go back to the polls. I'm sick of hearing that the Government is being held to ransom by the three Independents. Frankly this is the most pleasant the Government has been in many many years. The Coalition continues to whinge... boo hoo, it's not fair, we didn't win :( Time to take a good hard look at the candidates. If I'd voted for the Coalition, I'd probably want a second vote too, to put them out of a job.

It wasn't really a surprise that a Hung Parliament was in the wind. Don Burke predicted it in May and Kevin Rudd was questioning Rob Oakeshott and Bob Katter on their likely direction in a hung situation the evening before and the night he was knifed.

We need to put Optional Preferential Voting into the Federal ballot. Here in the Hunter, voters were forced to preference either Joel Fitzgibbon (ALP) or Michael Johnsen (Nats) because the other three candidates were never really in the running for a win. This is of course the same in about 140 other electorates.

Given that unfair scenario, I chose to preference Michael Johnsen simply because I want to lower the margin that Labor has for the next election, meaning that Joel may have to come out and actually campaign for something and offer some real policies to the people of the Hunter, and so that some of the financial benefits that Patterson got, happen across the Hunter which is in great need of reform.

The ONLY thing that the sitting member did was turn the sod on the F3 extension, curiously timed during the election campaign, but nowhere near being an election issue. What about health? Especially health issues due to mining and coal seam gas. The Labor Party (I don't care what branch) closed Gulgong Hospital during the election campaign!

The bottom line on voting (though you'd hardly know if from the last election or the 10 previous) is that you vote for the best candidate in your electorate. That's what the people in the "Country Independents" electorates did and look where it has got them now.

You DO NOT vote for a Government or a Prime Minister.

Every one of the 150 people elected to the House have to be accountable to ALL the people and do their best personally to represent the views of their local constituents. ALL votes on the floor of the house should not be encumbered by party room directions and the Cabinet should be made up of the best people in the House, not the best they can manage in the majority party.

I'm not saying that Adam Bandt should be a minister, I don't know that he's qualified in any field to be the best, but in a Labor Government, Malcolm Turnbull is far better at a number of portfolios than most of the Labor cabinet. Kevin Rudd should certainly also play a part, but Joe Hockey, Chris Pyne and Tony Abbott are done - they simply don't play well with others. To the back bench gentlemen.

Bob Brown should however, replace Peter Garrett and maybe Adam Bandt comes in as Parliamentary Secretary and can be Bob's voice in the House.

The real question is who will be the Speaker? "The Independents" have made it clear that this person must be independent (or have independence) of the parties, but if the parliament is split 76/74 as I predict, Labor isn't going to give up such a slim majority by dedicating (as much as I love him as Speaker) Harry Jenkins to the speakership making the floor balance on a 1 seat lead, especially when the three Rural Independents, Wilkie and Bandt have all said that they'll guarantee supply and confidence but won't neccessarily support them in voting.

Making either Rob Oakeshott or Tony Windsor Speaker would be a waste of a good mind and part of the essential power balance, same with Bandt, and Bob Katter is too much of a loose cannon. Wilke?

I doubt that the Coalition will want to let go of a possible voting majority either.

This is the most exciting time in politics that I have ever seen, the hung Parliament is the beginning of getting back to a real democracy, and we need to take advantage of the next three years to reform campaign funding, parliamentary behaviour, throw out the dominance of the Two Party Preferred system and make voting across the country one simple system.

Allowing people to exhaust their vote after their preferred candidate (if they don't win) is fundamental to a democratic vote. Why should I have to choose between whether I hate One Nation more than the Fred Nile Group. The racists against the porn kings!

Had I had a choice, my vote would have been 1 Green and nothing else with neither Michael or Joel getting the use of my vote after Chris was eliminated. Still counted as a Primary vote with no flow-on.

The outcome of this election would have been vastly different, and my guess (based on reports from scrutineers who saw the informal ballots) is that half of the informal votes would have counted and both the Greens and Labor would have had a higher Primary vote. That's about 3% more across the Hunter.

And change doesn't have to end with the federal system. NSW needs serious reform as well. I seriously hope that the same situation occurs in NSW though it virtually impossible that Labor will get anywhere near it. The Coalition will be almost as bad if they dominate in Macquarie Street as Labor have been. We need a wide range of independents and smaller parties to carry a large balance to keep the system clean.

It's not going to work. Even though the bush is in the spotlight at the moment, the Sydney Government will always side on where they can make big money, be it Poker Machines or Mining Royalties, and they will always spend the vast majority of that money in Sydney and I mean in a non-proportionate way. Of course more people live in urban areas than do in the rural and regional areas - two thirds, but do they really need to waste millions of dollars on a V8 Super Car race at Homebush over decent roads in one of the states major tourist regions?

Time for a change, for self-determination and for a split for the North of the state. Agitation for a New State is not a new thing, and the agitation is more than a distant rumble, both in Northern NSW and Northern Queensland. The constitution very clearly affords the people to decide, and while it may be slightly sad for the sake of the history of the state on NSW, it will be a defining moment in the written history for hundreds of years to come.

Bring it on!

I said it last week and I remain convinced that Katter will vote alone for the Coalition and Oakeshott and Windsor will go with Labor. A dream outcome for democracy.

Peter Firminger

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Tony Kelly makes up his own reasons to help Labor Contributors

NSW Planning Minister Tony Kelly's reasons for appointing an Independent Planning Panel are simply ludicrous, apportioning blame to the Council for delays in referrals instead of the NSW Government Departments that hold up DA Processing.

When referring to LEP hold ups , he separates issues as separate LEPs when the (Draft) Comprehensive LEP (2010) is a SINGLE PROCESS that has been modified over time (in the right direction) with a lot of hard work and lobbying from the ratepayers, particularly those in and around Wollombi Valley, at least 20 of which helped at their own considerable expense.

He says "The panel will not, however, take on the role of preparing Cessnock’s new council-wide LEP. This responsibility will remain with the Council, although the Minister has asked the Department of Planning to closely monitor the progress of this important plan."

The best example of Kelly's total incompetence in this is:

DA referrals
  • Cessnock Council has one of the highest rates of DA referrals to State Government agencies, with 52% of applications requiring referral in 2008/09 (up from 43% in 07/08), compared to an average of 16% for similar councils and a State-wide average of just 11%.
  • Moreover, the average referral time for Cessnock Council in 2008/09 was 70 days (up from 55 days in 07/08), compared to 42 days for similar councils and a State-wide average of 54 days.
  • Despite referrals having a significant impact on its gross DA processing times, Council’s response did not seek to explain why there are so many referrals or why it takes longer to resolve referrals than the rest of the State.
  • Similarly, Council’s response does not provide any information on what, if anything, it is doing about the referral process which is clearly causing such delays in its DA processing.

Greens spokesperson on Planning and Local Government, Sylvia Hale says:

"Minister Kelly's failure to revoke a Part 5.5 Direction issued to Cessnock Council until 18 June 2010 has effectively tied the Council's hands in dealing with Cessnock's Draft LEP.

"The direction required the Council not to prepare any planning document that was inconsistent with an agreement between the Minister for Planning and Hardie Holdings in December 2006.

"But the Land and Environment Court in August 2009 considered the agreement amounted to a 'land bribe'. Council has been between a rock and a hard place. If it complied with the Minister's direction, it would be acting illegally. But not complying has resulted in the Minister removing the Council's planning powers."

See also Kitchener land zoning revisited after stuff up another embarrassing blunder by State Labor that they used (and are STILL using) as an excuse for stripping the powers from the 13 people we elected to our Council.

This is a NSW Government failure, not a Cessnock Council failure. How can Cessnock Council comment on why the incompetent Sydney Government can't process issues referred to them without simply saying that the departments, including Kelly's are incompetent. The people will decide on March 26.

Most of the complaints he refers to occurred in the previous Labor-dominant elected council, not the current one which have strived to clean up the filthy Labor legacy in Cessnock Council.

This is clearly a political decision from Sussex Street to control a council that Labor have lost to Independants, Greens and Liberals and to make sure their party contributors Hardie Holdings get some value from their purchased Government, in the Government's remaining 7 months in power.

Cessnock City Council have my full support in this regard. This Government has to go, especially Kerry "Of course I lied" Hickey.

It is also a perfect example of why the Hunter and New England need to form a new Northern State and separate from Sydney interests.

Sylvia Hale: Cessnock Council must resist Labor Government's imposition of Planning Panel

Cessnock Council must resist Labor Government's imposition of Planning Panel - Wollombi Valley Online News

Monday, August 23, 2010

Fwd: Appointment of Planning Panel - Wollombi Valley Online News

Fwd: Appointment of Planning Panel - Wollombi Valley Online News

Today this notification of the removal of Council's planning powers arrived from the Planning Minister Tony Kelly.

It is with utter disgust and palpable frustration I inform the wider community of the obvious implications and impact of a decision like this will have on all sides of opinion.

Those of you who took so much time and consideration in your submissions to Council regarding the LEP, will in effect, have your voices and your wishes removed.

I believe as we watch the Federal Labor Government tear itself apart, and the knives so quickly and easily drawn by State Labor toward their own, we are in for the same treatment at a Local level.

So the headway we have made as a working Council, as your representatives is taken away and a faceless panel installed to determine our futures.

Kind regards,

Clr. Cordelia Burcham

Full details including the letter from Tony Kelly here


Media Release from Tony Kelly here

Cessnock City Council Loses Planning Powers

I have been informed that the Sydney (NSW) Government has stripped Cessnock City Council of its planning powers.

The NSW Labor Party has decided to do this amidst the confusion of the outcome of the Federal Election.

The Planning Minister, Tony Kelly has appointed a Planning Panel which will consist of three people, Tim Rogers (Chair) paid $40,000 pa, Alison McCabe and Vince Berkhout at $30,000 pa each. The Council are responsible for paying the Director-General (NSW Dept Planning) the "remuneration and costs and expenses" [sic] of the panel. The panel has been appointed for a period of five years (with a review after two years), which means Cessnock Ratepayers just lost $500,000 plus expenses from their budget, due to a "closet" of politically endangered and incompetent arseholes in Sussex and Macquarie Streets, headed by Tony Kelly.

215 DAYS TO GO

The Order was written on 11 August and Minister Kelly's letter carries a date stamp of 16 August, recieved in Cessnock on 23 August 2010 - held over to let the Federal Election pass for their little cut-throat mate Mark Arbib no doubt. It was also signed before local member Kerry Hicky's "Why I Lied" (the milkman did it) moment.

My guess is that the Labor-owned panel will make it pretty easy for huge developments like Huntlee near Branxton and Sanctuary Villages at Paxton/Millfield etc. to get up without worrying about the required infrastructure and who's funding it, nor the needs of the current community and ability of the environment to cope with the outfall (into Wollombi Brook). This seems to me to be a final bid to help out their political donors like Hardie Holdings before they get their fat arses kicked out of office in 215 days time.

Update: Sylvia Hale agrees!

Full details and the Letter from Tony Kelly here


Media Release from Tony Kelly here

Monday, August 9, 2010

Friday, May 21, 2010

SAVE CESSNOCK RALLY - Wollombi Valley Online News

A coalition of political parties and community members are joining forces to stage a rally in support of the local community of Cessnock retaining its planning powers.

Representatives from The Greens, Liberal and Nationals along with independent Councillors and residents from North Cessnock, Abernethy and Ellalong will address the rally next Monday at the Cessnock Performing Arts Centre from 6-30pm til 8-30pm. The political parties, which traditionally have different views on many issues, are all concerned that the ALP is playing politics with Cessnock Council... more on Wollombi Valley Online News

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Government's Land Access Bill delivers hefty concessions for mining industry — No New Coal

Government's Land Access Bill delivers hefty concessions for mining industry — No New Coal

Absolutely disgusting that the opposition worked with the Sydney Labor Government on this. NSW landholders have NO rights - no matter whether you bought the property or inherited it from previous generations, the Labor Party and the Liberal Party just don't care - they want the coal or gas or whatever and you have no right to stop them, just for the royalties and foreign trade - f##k you very much Keneally!

Secede from NSW

The Bill is available here (443kb PDF)

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Abolition of States

Here are some links to support the abolition of the states.

Abolishing state govs would save $30bn - The Australian - 28-Aug-2007
"Howard's intervention over Queensland's council amalgamations and grab for power from the states raises a bigger issue: do we really need three very expensive layers of government? The answer is no."

Commonwealth Parliamentarians Who Have Publicly Supported the Abolition of State Governments or Similar Reforms - Mark Drummond PhD Thesis and Public Policy Website
"This page provides links to media reports and other websites that show that numerous Commonwealth Parliamentarians support the abolition of State governments or related reforms."

Abolish state governments: Defence Minister Joel Fitzgibbon - The Australian - 3-Jul-2008
"AUSTRALIA is the most over-governed nation on Earth and reforms should include abolishing the states, Defence Minister Joel Fitzgibbon says."

Abolish Australian States - Eclipse Now blog
"Former Prime Minister’s Bob Hawke and John Howard agree!"

Abolish Australian States - From John August - Homepage Daily
"NSW Ex-Treasurer Michael Costa has dumped on Australian State Governments - we're better off without them. As a Beyond Federation member, I agree."

Sunday, May 9, 2010

2010 Valley Artists Sponsors Night

Photos from the 2010 Valley Artists Sponsors Night - The Fabulous Tivoli

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Why the Hunter wants out from NSW

A post from Jim Belshaw's New England Australia. See also the New England New State Movement page on FaceBook

Friday, April 16, 2010

Demand a Coal Health Study for the Upper Hunter Now!

The government is refusing to respond to calls from Upper Hunter coal communities for a comprehensive population study into the health impacts of the coal and power industries.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Another Telstra Scam!

Telstra/Bigpond sent me an email telling me I had been infected by a Trojan (see below) and that they had detected it due to "unusual activity".

I am not using the account in question at the moment (as I am house sitting elsewhere) and I turned off the other computers before I left about 30 hours before this email arrived.

This is yet another filthy Telstra Bigpond scam to scare customers into using their "BigPond Security" ripoff.

Given that I don't use their poxy bigpond email address (I have it redirected to a real email address and this would be the only way they could detect it as they can't detect it remotely in the boot sector of my hard drive), how the hell would they know if I have been infected and by what - especially when no computers are connected to that account! All my computers are completely up to date with anti-virus software.

Update: I have now been home and tested all three computers and they are free of this trojan.

SCAM SCAM SCAM!

Here is an email I received this afternoon.


BigPond




 

Dear BigPond® Member,

Ref Service ID: [removed]@bigpond.net.au.

Going online should be a safe and secure experience for you and your family. We've recently noticed some unusual activity on your BigPond account and have some ideas for you on how to protect it.

Here's what we've noticed:

  • You have been infected with the Trojan&RootKit (mebroot) malware.

Here's what you can do:

  • Ensure your anti-virus and anti-spyware software is kept up-to-date. Close all applications and run a manual scan using the software to detect and remove any viruses or spyware.
  • Ensure your Firewall is operating correctly.
  • To help protect you and your computer from viruses, malware, spyware, phishing attacks and other threats you should consider a software solution such as BigPond Security.

For any questions in relation to your BigPond account, or to acquire BigPond Security, please contact 13 POND (13 7663). Alternatively if you already have security software, please contact your vendor with any technical support questions.

You can also get more advice on how to be safe online at telstra.com.au/cyber-safety

Kind regards,

The BigPond Team

 












® BigPond is a Registered trade mark of Telstra Corporation Limited. ABN 33 051 775 556.

Telstra




This communication may contain CONFIDENTIAL information of Telstra Corporation Limited (ABN 33 051 775 556). If you are not an intended recipient, you MUST NOT keep, forward, copy, use, save or rely on this communication, and any such action is unauthorised and prohibited. If you have received this communication in error, please reply to this e-mail to notify the sender of its incorrect delivery, and then delete both it and your reply.


As for the disclaimer, I was the "intended recipient", it seems I am free to do what I like with the email!

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Lace Monitor

I have a love-hate relationship with a number of these monitors or Goannas (Varanus varius).

A large one winters in the ceiling and in spring, makes a nuisance of itself climbing up each evening and launching itself into a sapling (which lowers it gently to the ground where it lets go) each late morning. He has come in through the verandah door at one stage and spent more than a few minutes trying to find the door again.

This same individual is fearless and aggressive, and is known to terrorise at least two other houses here on Bulls Run, probably a third as well but there are rarely people at that house.

We currently have a smaller goanna with a "ring" around it's neck. It looks like string to me but we'll need to catch it to find out more and remove the item before it gets too large and chokes itself.

Lace Monitors are one of Australia's largest lizards. They are dark grey to black in colour with cream or yellow scales forming bands and blotches and there are usually black bars across the snout, throat and chin. The tongue is long and forked like a snake. Monitors are the only lizards (apart from NSW Labor party officials) that have a forked tongue.

Spending most of their time in trees, they are found in forests, tall woodlands and open tablelands and slopes.

They are predators and scavengers eating insects, small mammals, lizards, nestling birds, eggs and carrion.

Refs: Oz Animals

Friday, January 15, 2010

Foggy Mountain Jam

The Foggy Mountain Jam is back for 2010!

Promising to be bigger and better, this year the Jam will be held on two nights - Friday 26th 6pm - 10pm and Saturday 27th Feb 4pm - 10pm. Ticket numbers will be kept the same as last year to retain the small and intimate vibe.

Essence Music are excited to announce that this year's line up will once again include Kasey Chambers, Shane Nicholson & Bill Chambers.

Joining them will be Australian Crawl frontman, James Reyne, the magnificent sisters from the Black Sorrows, Vika & Linda Bull and Matt Joe Gow will be returning. They also plan to have a few surprise guests.

The venue will once again be the 100-acre private property 'Foggy Mountain' in Murray's Run Rd, Laguna, 15km from the historic Wollombi Village.

Further Details Here

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Hunter Valley calls for a Northern NSW New State

New England, Australia: Hunter Valley calls for a Northern NSW New State

Further follow up from Jim Belshaw following some comments on The Herald website

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

New England, Australia: New England Story - new states, archives and the preservation of our past

Part of an ongoing series of articles by Jim Belshaw into the establishment of a New England State.

The series commenced here in 2007 but the movement dates back to around 1927 began during the colonial period and was defeated in a referendum in 1967.

More history of the movement on Wikipedia

Eastern Snake-necked Turtle

Five Eastern Snake-necked Turtles (Chelodina longicollis) on a log on Yango Creek, a bit blurry... taken from quite a distance very quickly as they dive when they see you coming. The next shot, focussed and zoomed appropriately five seconds later, only showed the splash of the last one leaving.

I have a dam about 100m from the house which is populated by many turtles. However, I have not yet been able to get a photo of them as they submerge as soon as I get into view.

The are frequently seen on the road and I always stop and move them along when I see one as I can't stand to see them dead.

If you do pick one up to move it along, first be careful as they will spray a foul-smelling liquid from glands (giving them their nickname of "Stinker") so carry them low and with your feet wide apart.

Second, carry them in the exact same direction they were heading. If you alter their course they will likely go back onto the road as they are pretty particular about where they want to go and will deal with obstacles as they come up.

They can live for 50 years with the females laying 10-20 eggs up to three times a year. They are carnivourous, their diet consisting of insects, worms, tadpoles, frogs and small fish that they either swallow whole or shred with their front feet.

Refs: Australian Fauna, OzAnimals

Monday, January 11, 2010

Common Brushtail Possums

Ever since I moved to Bulls Run in July 2004, I have had a close relationship with a number of Common Brushtail Possums (Trichosurus vulpecula). This little guy was the first baby that emerged while I lived here (in Feb 2005), followed by another in October and many since.

The only painting I have ever finished was based on this photo, done in oil pastels, it now hangs in my mother's lounge-room in Colo Vale. Unfortunately, it didn't photograph very well and I'm not really game enough to publish it anyway.

While I see them every evening, I can't recognise them after they grow up so I don't know if this baby is still here as one of two adult males that currently visit.

People in the city tend to get a bit miffed about them but when they are in an isolated environment, they are not at all violent or even careless with their claws. They are totally at ease with me and I have had one come in and sit on the lounge and eat half my sandwich, seemingly watching TV (and making an awful mess with the contents of the sandwich).

I have never been bitten (just an exploratory nip from a youngster who thought my socked foot may be food) and I have become part of the weaning process a number of times with a mother waiting til a large baby was distracted by an apple and running off leaving the baby with me (inside the house) for a while.

Who needs domestic animals... I can happily trade the trust these little companions show me for the perceived love I could get from a dog or cat which would drive them (and the roos) away.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Eastern Bearded Dragon

The Eastern Bearded Dragon (Pogona barbata) is often mistakenly called a "Frill-neck" lizard though the real Frill-necked Lizard only occurs in northern Australia.

Bearded Dragons are frequently seen basking on roads and tend to live in semi-arborial habitats - open forests, heathland, scrub and disturbed areas such as farmland.

They use trees and often fence posts as a means of escape from potential preditors, a safe basking spot or just to survey their territory from a safe place.

They are about 80-90% vegetarian with leaves, berries, flowers and fruit being the main diet, with insects making up the remainder.

When disturbed, their first line of defence is usually to freeze and make use of camoflage. Their second defence is to extend their beard to make them look bigger than they are and to open their mouth showing the bright yellow mouth lining. Last is to flee - they are remarkably quick runners and climbers.

Refs: Burke's Backyard, Australian Reptile Park

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Red-bellied Black Snake

I'm going to blog some of the wildlife shots I have taken in and around Wollombi Valley. The first being this Red-bellied Black Snake that was on Yango Creek Road near Dry Arm in September 2009.

It moved off the road and then sat like this for a few minutes watching me (my car really) allowing me to get to grips with my new camera.

The Red-bellied Black Snake (Pseudechis porphyricus) lives close to water with frogs being a main part of their diet. It is poisionous but not generally fatal to humans.

It is common in woodlands, forests and swamplands in eastern Australia and reproduces by giving birth to up to 40 (average around 20) live young in individual membranous sacs which emerge shortly after birth and are around 22cm in length.

I don't see them at home up on the ridge-top but I see them often on the roads and around other people's houses on the valley-floor... one in Charlie Kessler's kitchen which he gently nudged out the door with a 30cm ruler!

Refs: Wikipedia, Australian Fauna