Back in April, I posted the donation link on behalf of my friends Lina and Thomas Bauer from Dundee Park (Mission Beach, Queensland, Australia) a request to support their initial recovery work in Lina's home village Savulotu (Ra Province, Viti Levu, Fiji). The village was wiped out by a category 5 tropical cyclone earlier this year. Thanks to those who supported Lina's work. Please now find her file of what has been done so far by clicking here.
Yesterday I visited the 2015 Wildlife Photographer of the Year Exhibition at the Natural History Museum in London. Amazing pictures. Wildlife photography today is far more than "only" documentary. On the lawn of the museum, they installed a butterfly house, which reminded me of the one in the making at Dundee Park, Mission Beach (Australia). This is the forth time, I came across butterflies. First of course, like every boy in the countryside, I had a little collection of species which I caught back in the fields in the Westerwald and pinned them to a wall. Then I got quite interest in tropical butterflies, when living on Lamma Island in the South China Sea (see the photo gallery below). Earlier this year, we helped a bit our friends Thomas and Lina Baur in Dundee Park with moving earth inside their butterfly house under construction. It was amazing for me to learn, how picky butterflies are on plants for feeding and breeding, and I realized how important floral diversity really is for them. I was frequently told by Chinese silk producers that this is a big problem on the Chinese part of the Silk Road, where the mulberry trees are cut down and there is a shortage of feed for silk worms now. Instead the farmers grow nuts.
The few butterfly shots below are taken on Lamma Island in 2008 - 2011.
We decided to drive to Cairns a few days early, as there was the potential that Cyclone Nathan makes landfall where it would either flood or blow away our road. Luckily non of this happened and the storm hit about 100 km North of Cairns (strange to think that way, because lucky for us means bad luck for somebody else). But one thing is sure: we are happy, it did not flood Thomas' and Lina's new Butterly House in El Arish (Australia). Now we are having more time ein Cairns than planned and the city is quite a sleepy one: get a haircut at the night market, go for a swim in the lagoon. The reef is not that easy to reach and waters are still rough from the storm. Cairns is an "old" sugar town, and quite nice. There are free barbecues along the sea side. Eating is important in Cairns. Should you consider to go and swim in any of the natural waters here, you might end up as a meal for a salt water crocodile.
All flights are up and running again, so that tomorrow we can leave on time via Sydney to New Zealand.
If you give me a map and ask where "the comfort zone" lies geographically, I would point at the Gold Coast: perfect temperature, blue sky, the ocean at the door step, excellent food. Life is easy and people are very friendly. I was teaching on Sunday a preparation lecture for an upcoming China Field Trip at Bond University, which is headed by Keith Duncan. Thereafter we had an excellent seafood dinner with view on the surprising skyline of Surfer's Paradise. While teaching Australian students about China, I actually learn a lot about Australia. There are a few more guest lectures and chats with the faculty colleagues coming this week. And then we already pack up and travel North. Time flies.
Arrived at Australia's Gold Coast - not for holidays, but as a guest lecturer at the Business School of Bond University. It seems mind boggling to pass by places like Surfer's Paradise on the bus to head for an academic institution. But then really it appears: a small but very fine University under a stunning blue sky. The first thing I noticed was that the library is on weekdays open until 1 am. For those of you who stereotype Bond with surfing and barbecue: does 1 am in the library sound like vacation?
I had a very nice welcome by faculty and students on campus yesterday and gave my first guest lecture in the class of Lars Isaksson. Today I spent with preparing more and meeting students. Excellent environment and excellent people.