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Sunday the 13th of December 2015

2:05 AM

Demanding an apology from Prof John Fischetti, University of Newcastle

I am so frustrated with the non action of the University of Newcastle (UON) that I must make this public. I am going to publish a thread of emails and leave it for all to judge.

As background information, my name was given by the University of Newcastle to one of their PhD students (I have been an outsourced editor for this university for some years and supposedly not any more). She approached me to proofread her PhD proposal. In the emails that follow, a pseudonym will be used to protect her identity. I feel sorry for her that she is dragged into this dispute. When a university admits a student, it has an obligation to bring the student up to par.  By blaming an outsourced editor for the poor quality outcome is a blatant act to shove off the university’s duty and responsibility.  Worst of all, this university asked for a refund. By the same token, can a student who has a poor examination outcome ask the university for a refund of the tuition fees regardless of where the root cause lies?

The emails are in chronological order. They are direct cut and paste except for the pseudonym used. Names and personal email addresses of some UON staff have been removed. Added remarks are in brackets [].

This is the first email:

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From: John Fischetti
To: Cecilia Chiu
Cc: Research ; xxx xxx ; xxx xxx ; SoE-Research

Sent: Monday, 21 September 2015, 10:56

Subject: editing from Mega Wisdom [name of my editing/translation business] for Sheila Lewis [pseudonym]

You all have recently edited a document for Sheila Lewis, a PhD candidate here at the University of Newcastle.

Her co-supervisor and I, Professor Ron Laura, are writing to express our deep concern with the poor editing job that you did.

In fact, the editing did not enhance the document and cost us precious time in our work with Sheila.

We hope you might review the document in hindsight and issue us a full refund for the extremely poor job on this.

We will know [sic] longer be using your firm for any work whatsoever.

Thank you for your attention to this matter.

John

“Every child deserves the education that is right for them.” John Fischetti

John Fischetti
Head of School/Dean
School of Education/Faculty of Education and Arts
john.fischetti@newcastle.edu.au
+61 2 4921 5979
www.newcastle.edu.au/profile/john-fischetti
Twitter: @fischettij

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From: Cecilia Chiu
To: John Fischetti
Cc: Research ; xxx xxx ; xxx xxx ; SoE-Research

Sent: Wednesday, 23 September 2015, 21:05

Subject: Re: editing from Mega Wisdom for Sheila Lewis

Dear Prof Fischetti,

My apologies that it has taken me two days to respond as I would like first to make sure that I get all the facts right .

I suppose you are referring to Ms Tracy Sheila [pseudonym] (this is the name she addressed herself and the only name known to me) with the email address: xxxxx@xxxxx.com. I have never been approached by a student named Sheila Lewis. If your email is about Sheila Lewis, then this has nothing to do with me or Mega Wisdom and you may discard this email.

I received an email from Tracy on 30 July requesting my service to proofread her draft proposal. After sighting her draft (as attached) [attachment removed], I declined giving an excuse (which was also a fact) that I was tied up with other editing jobs. I even referred her to another editor, who also declined.  I received multiple emails and sms messages from Tracy asking for help. Being an Asian myself, I have great empathy with NESB students and having the impression that she had exhausted her avenues to obtain help, I eventually agreed to work for her.

According to the Editing of Research Theses by Professional Editors Policy of your university, “professional editorial intervention should be restricted to Standard D [language and illustrations]” and “Standard E [completeness and consistency]”. I had many questions and comments in my mark-up file that was sent to Tracy. In my email to her, it was mentioned upfront that “I struggle to understand what you want to say” and that what I had done “does not necessarily improve the flow and logic of your work”. In her last email reply, she said she would “rewite (sic) again” (the email attached)  [email removed]. Since then, I received no further communication from her.

Quality management should start at source.  Your university may wish to review your student recruitment and selection criteria in hindsight. I hope this is not your university’s expectation of outsourced editors to completely rewrite for students who have difficulties in producing academic writing of basic acceptable quality.

With regard to a refund, I am sorry that this is not feasible, in part or in full, as I have never billed your university or Tracy for the time I spent, despite that one whole weekend was sacrificed in order to meet her tight time line. I offered help out of my empathy with a desperate and helpless student and admittedly I always have a soft spot for NESB students.  I can confirm that I have never received any money from the University of Newcastle or from Tracy for this.  My accounting records and bank transactions have all been checked and this is the main reason for my slow response.

I am puzzled why you have come to the conclusion that I have in some way charged or provided a poor service to this student. I am also very disappointed that you have circulated this matter widely without having the courtesy to discuss this with me first or the diligence to check the facts first.

Regards,
Cecilia

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From: Cecilia Chiu
To: Cecilia Chiu ; John Fischetti
Cc: Research ; xxx xxx ; xxx xxx ; SoE-Research

Sent: Friday, 2 October 2015, 16:03

Subject: Re: editing from Mega Wisdom for Sheila Lewis

Dear Prof Fishetti,

My email to you dated 23 September 2015 refers.

I am fairly concerned about the long silence from the University of Newcastle. As your email of 21 September copied to a number of departments in your university has been widely circulating for more than a week now and apparently nothing has been done to rectify the allegations, I have reason to believe that this has tainted my reputation as an editor.

I trust that you have had investigated into the issue and thus would request a formal response with regard to the outcome of your investigation and what actions have been taken to mitigate the damage to my reputation.

Regards,
Cecilia

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From: Cecilia Chiu
To: "caroline.mcmillen@newcastle.edu.au"

Cc: John Fischetti ; Research ; xxx xxx ; xxx xxx ; SoE-Research

Sent: Monday, 12 October 2015, 0:43

Subject: Request for a formal apology from Professor Fishetti

Dear Prof McMillen [Vice Chancellor of University of Newcastle],

I received an offensive email from Professor John Fishetti, Dean of Education, on 21 September 2015, copied to various parties, alleging me of having provided a poor editing service to his student, which is unfounded. I wrote to Prof Fishetti on 23 September and 2 October and have not received any response, not even an acknowledgement of receipt of my emails. I hope this is not the sort of behaviour I should expect of from professors at the University of Newcastle. Below is a trail of our email correspondence.

Three weeks have passed and I am yet to be informed of what actions your university has taken to mitigate the damage to my reputation. Now I would like to ask for a written apology from the University of Newcastle, with a copy to all recipients and subsequent recipients of Prof Fishetti’s email. This incident has been upsetting and I am eager to close this as soon as possible.

Regards,
Cecilia

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From: Cecilia Chiu

To: "Chancellor@newcastle.edu.au"
Sent: Sunday, 25 October 2015, 19:59

Subject: Request for a formal apology from Prof John Fishetti and University of Newcastle

Dear Mr Jeans,

I received a defamatory email from Prof John Fishetti, circulated to various parties in the University of Newcastle on 21 September 2015.  In response, I sent a number of emails to Prof Fishetti and Prof McMillen requesting for a reply as to what actions the university has taken to mitigate the damage to my reputation as an editor. Hitherto, I received no response at all, not even an acknowledgement of receipt of my emails.  I am thus utterly disappointed at the behaviour of the senior staff at your university.

The purpose of this communication is to advise the university that if I still receive no response from the University of Newcastle, I will seek alternative actions such as:

  •  
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  • Publicise this in the media (print and/or electronic),
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  • Share this with international student organisations,
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  • File a complaint to the Ombudsman,
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  • Take legal action for this defamatory behaviour in relation to my business.
  •  
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The University of Newcastle has a Complaints Resolution Policy stating that: “the University recognises an individual’s right to make a complaint about the conduct of University operations, services, staff, students, or people associated with the university or using university facilities, where that individual’s interests appear to have been adversely and unjustifiably impacted by such conduct”.

The university’s web page under “Governance and Leadership – Resolving Issues” also mentions that the University of Newcastle encourages “an organisational culture that responds to concerns in a receptive and constructive manner, and in accordance with the principles of procedural fairness and natural justice”.

The university’s refusal to respond to my complaint seriously contravenes the policy adopted by the University of Newcastle and is contrary to the organisational culture the university intends to nurture. I am yet to see the procedural fairness and natural justice as your university advocates.

Below is a trail of my correspondence with Prof McMillen and Prof Fishetti. May I ask the university to at least have the courtesy to acknowledge receipt of this email while you take time to investigate the issue?

Kind regards,
Cecilia

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From: John Fischetti
To: Cecilia Chiu ; Caroline McMillen
Cc: Research ; xxx xxx ; xxx xxx ; SoE-Research

Sent: Tuesday, 27 October 2015, 17:31

Subject: Re: Request for a formal apology

Cecilia, I am writing this note as a formal apology for the mistake I made in indicating that you had been paid for the editing the work for one of our PhD students, Lewis Sheila [sic].

I was told that the work had been invoiced, which was not accurate. I am sorry that I did not have the correct information prior to my email to you.

I am copying our colleagues to whom I sent my original email to correct my error and so that they know that this was my mistake. I want those cc’d on the note that no payment was made for this work and that I incorrectly said it had been paid for. Cecilia was very professional in not seeking payment for the draft proposal that was submitted that was in need of extensive work.

There are a number of other matters indicated in your note to me that are worthy of an in-person conversation. I’d be happy to set a time for a phone or Skype conversation at your convenience to discuss these.

Please let me know if you would like to set that up.

Again, my apologies for this mistake.

John Fischetti

John Fischetti
Head of School/Dean
School of Education/Faculty of Education and Arts
john.fischetti@newcastle.edu.au
+61 2 4921 5979

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From: Cecilia Chiu
To: John Fischetti ; Caroline McMillen
Cc: Research ; xxx xxx ; xxx xxx ; SoE-Research

Sent: Wednesday, 28 October 2015, 18:06

Subject: Re: Request for a formal apology

Dear Prof Fischetti,

I find this apology inadequate.  It only addresses the fact that I have not billed for my fees, which to me is minor. This is not the first time that I did not charge international students for my time as I understand they have limited budget in their university student accounts. Instead I have encouraged them to use their funds on professional development purposes such as attending academic conferences, but this is beyond the point.

Your first email of 21 September 2015 inferred that the quality of your student’s PhD proposal was due to the “poor editing job that [I] did”. I have edited many PhD theses before and, to my clients’ satisfaction, have adhered to the professional editors policies of various universities. Your statement should either be substantiated with evidence or should be retracted in writing.

As the issue has gone this far, I want all communication between the University of Newcastle and me documented. As mentioned in my email to Professor McMillen, “this incident has been upsetting and I am eager to close this as soon as possible”.

Regards,
Cecilia

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From: Chancellor
To: Cecilia Chiu

Sent: Wednesday, 28 October 2015, 20:52

Subject: RE: Request for a formal apology from Prof John Fishetti and University of Newcastle

Dear Ms Chiu,

I wish to acknowledge receipt of your email dated 25 October and confirm that the University of Newcastle treats all complaints seriously.

I understand that the issues you have raised are being assessed and a response will be provided in due course.

Regards,
P.E. JEANS
Chancellor

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From: Cecilia Chiu
To: Chancellor

Sent: Wednesday, 28 October 2015, 22:07

Subject: Re: Request for a formal apology from Prof John Fishetti and University of Newcastle

Dear Mr Jeans,

Thanks for this acknowledgement and that my complaint eventually gets assessed, albeit after a month.

Regards,
Cecilia

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From: Cecilia Chiu
To: "Chancellor@newcastle.edu.au"

Sent: Saturday, 5 December 2015, 16:53

Subject: Fw: Request for a formal apology

Dear Mr Jeans,

I received an email from Prof Fischetti dated 27 October and on 28 October I replied that the apology is inadequate (please see emails below). More than a month has been given to Prof Fishcetti to substantiate his claim that my editing job was poor or to retract what he has said. Again, there is no response including an acknowledgement.

I now request a letter from the University of Newcastle on the university’s letterhead to either retract Prof Fishcetti’s email of 21 September 2015 in entirety or provide evidence to substantiate his claim. My mailing address is [address removed]. A soft copy of the letter should be emailed to me within a week, that is, by 12 December 2015. If this issue cannot be settled by that day, I will have to take alternative actions without further notice.

I must say the statement “that the University of Newcastle treats all complaints seriously” is something I am yet to see.

Regards,
Cecilia

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From: M xxx
To: Cecilia Chiu

Sent: Tuesday, 8 December 2015, 17:04

Subject: RE: Request for a formal apology

Dear Ms Chiu,

I wish to acknowledge receipt of your email to Chancellor Paul Jeans.

The Chancellor has asked me to respond on his behalf, and advise that he has referred the matter to the Vice-Chancellor for review and response.

Kind regards,
M

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From: Cecilia Chiu
To: M xxx

Sent: Tuesday, 8 December 2015, 17:11

Subject: Re: Request for a formal apology

Dear M,

Thanks for the acknowledgement and I look forward to hearing from the Vice Chancellor.

Regards,
Cecilia

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Note: Today is 13 December 2015 and as expected silence is their response.

 

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Friday the 13th of June 2014

7:38 PM

My golly

My golly, she does look like Mother Russia

The differences are that Mother Russia is 184cm tall, toned up and has much less make up.

 

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Friday the 6th of June 2014

11:07 PM

Artbike finally arrives at Launceston

After the student tours today which ended at City Park, I had a quick dash to Design Tasmania to check if the Artbikes are ready for service. Yes, they are. HURRAY!

For visitors to Launceston, if you don't have a car and if you don't want to walk the distance, the Artbike is an ideal option to tour around city Launceston. The bike is free to hire for a day and will come with a helmet, a lock and a city map. 

Address of Design Tasmania: 55 Brisbane Street, Launceston (corner of Brisbane Street and Tamar Street). The centre opens 9:30 am to 5:30 pm Monday to Friday and 10:00am to 4:00 pm Saturday and Sunday. Design Tasmania is itself also a tourist attraction exhibiting top Tasmania design and woodcraft.

Another upcoming tourist friendly initiative will be free WiFi in Launceston CBD. However, the launch date is yet to be known.
 
 

View Larger Map
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Thursday the 5th of June 2014

9:48 PM

The fungus that grows on an ant

Today is the second day of the presentation of our tour projects. Jake did a wonderful tour on Fungi, which was very informative and interesting. What strikes me most is that a fungus called Ophiocordyceps unilateralis will grow out of the head of an ant. It invades the ant's body and manipulates it behaviour by turning it into a zombie. According to a Havard University research, this parasitic mind control is at least 48 million years old - unbelievable!


Another interesting piece of knowledge is Cordyceps gunnii which is also known as the Dark Vegetable Caterpillar. It invades a moth larva and will feed on it and eventually replace the caterpillar. They are usually found under mature wattles. 

There is a similar caterpillar fungus in China, called Ophiocordyceps sinesis, which is used in Chinese medicine and costs an obscene price. In 2013, it cost as much as AUD85,000 per kilogram. If Tasmania had Orphiocordyceps sinesis farmed here, this will be a big boost to the economy.

Here is a photo of the Tasmanian vegetable caterpillar (obviously very different from the Chinese vegetable caterpillar).

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Wednesday the 4th of June 2014

9:53 PM

Spiders in New Zealand

Today is the first day for the Guiding students to present their tour projects. Jonny did one one spiders at the Trevallyn Reserve.  He said spiders are very where except in the extreme artic regions. I remember Mark once mentioned that there are no spiders in New Zealand and so I told Jonny about this. He was surprised and said he would do some further research.

At home, I asked Mark again whether there are spiders in New Zealand and he still said no.

I did my own research and found the opposite. In the State of New Zealand's Environment 1997 Report (published by New Zealand's Ministry for the Environment), spiders were mentioned as part of the New Zealand biodiversity in Chapter Nine: The State of Our Biodiversity. According to the New Zealand government's Land Research institute, over 90% of the spiders in New Zealand are endemic.

I reckon the lesson learnt is that I should not trust all what Mark said (though he is correct most of the time). I should do my own research and verify the facts.

 

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Sunday the 1st of June 2014

10:26 PM

A day of discoveries on our own property

Today was a dry day and we did some works on our property.

A huge trunk of a Silver Wattle fell to the ground and we needed to chop up and remove the fallen timber. We found a large huntsman (of about 10cm long) hidden in the bark of the tree.



We also found a giant and two cutie toadstools.


At dusk, we saw an Eastern Barred Bandicoot on our driveway but it was too shy for a photo. This is not the first time we sighted the Eastern Barred Bandicoot and we are glad that they are visitors to our property.
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Friday the 30th of May 2014

9:27 PM

Bus commentary on Jericho

I did another bus commentary on our way back from Bruny Island to Launceston.

"Jericho is an historical village between Hobart and Launceston off the Midland Highway. It is 130km, 1.5 hour's drive from Launceston and 70km, an hour's drive from Hobart. It was founded in 1816 and is one of the oldest townships in Australia. The main road of Jericho, the Old Jericho Road, is one of the few surviving examples of the convict built roads of the 1830s. It contains many fine examples of early colonial sandstone architecture and constructions, including convict cut culverts, bridges and walls. Many of these date from the 1830s.

Jericho boasts a few first in Tasmania.

The main Anglican church, St James Church which was built in 1888 contains the grave of Trooper John Hutton Bisdee (1900 Second Boer War, S Africa). He was the first Tasmanian to be awarded the Victoria Cross.

The first horse race in Tasmania took place in this town in April 1826 at a land originally known as “Fourteen Tree Plain” which is next to one of Jericho’s most notable buildings, the Jericho Probation Station.

The Jericho Probation Station was one of the 19 probation stations throughout Tasmania. In the Australian convict history, probation stations existed only in Tasmania. The Jericho Probation Station was operational between 1841 and 1844, only for 3 years. It occupied an area of 3 acres and had 3 court yards, an on-site hospital, a bakehouse, a cook house, a tool house, stores, cells for the convicts and accommodation for the superintendants, overseers, storekeepers and medical staff. 200 convicts were housed there and they were used to construct the road linking Hobart and Launceston. These days only some walls of the station remain standing. At the site, there is a layout plan showing the scale and location of the cells and various structures.

Another notable building in Jericho is the commandant’s cottage. It is still standing but is an inconspicuous red brick building.

The town flourished for a time in the 19th century as a resting post in the days of stage coach, but declined in the 20th century. It was bypassed by the Midland Highway about 30 years ago. It is now a sleepy village of a population of 50 (2006 ABS census)."

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Wednesday the 28th of May 2014

9:12 PM

Bus commentary on Ross Village Bakery

Today is the first day of our field trip to Bruny Island and I did a bus commentary on the Ross Village Bakery:

"There is a very special appeal in Ross to Asian tourists. It is the Ross Village Bakery. Before talking about the bakery, I would like to give you some background of a 1989 Japanese animated fantasy film. The cartoon movie is titled Kiki’s Delivery Service. It tells the story of a young witch, Kiki. She spends a year in a town on her own and she uses her magical abilities to deliver bread to earn her living.

The movie was a hit in Japan and the Chinese markets. The setting of the town is inspired by the island of Gotland in Sweden. Movie fans don’t have to go to Sweden to see the bakery Kiki works in because they can find one a lot closer, on the island of Tasmania in Australia – the Ross Village Bakery.

On a trip travelling back from Hobart, we paid a special visit to the Ross Village Bakery. I asked the shop owner if the bakery was featured in a Japanese animé movie years ago. She said she was not sure but a lot of Japanese tourists visit her shop and they even donated guest books to the shop and signed the books. She showed me a few of those books and one even has a cover of the movie poster! She led us to the baking room and showed us the oven. Obviously this is a photo attraction to the tourists visiting her shop.

The wood fired brick oven was built in about 1860 and was rebuilt in 2005. The story about rebuilding the oven is quite interesting. The owner couple wrote a long story which is available on the internet. The title of the story is “How we overcame fear and ignorance to re-build our wood-fired brick bakers’ oven in 10 days”. They got help from an ex-Hobart baker and their first impression of this baker was “[he] comes over as a bit of a cross bred bush mechanic who has just stumbled off the set of Crocodile Dundee”. The couple, this ex-baker and lots of helpers managed to rebuild the oven in 10 days. The ingredients used were: 3,500 bricks (2,500 new, 1,000 recovered), 340kg of mortar, 10 cubic metres of sand, plus cement and lime. On top of these, dozens and hundreds of hamburgers, sandwich loaves, fruit cakes, carrot cakes, cups of tea and coffee.

Probably witch Kiki used her magic to help too." 

 

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Friday the 18th of April 2014

11:00 PM

Notley Gorge & Narawntapu National Park

It was rainy in the morning and we stayed at home. After lunch, the sky cleared up. With only half a day, we took Zoe to nearby attractions - Notley Fern Gorge State Reserve and Narawntapu National Park.

Notley Gorge is a wet sclerophyll forest populated by large, old eucalypts and a variety of fern species. 

The Eucalyptus regnans (Giant Ash) at Notely Gorge are very impressive.

Of all the ferns at Notley Gorge, I like the Hymenophyllum cupressiforme (common filmy fern) most.

Brady's Tree, a burn-out but still living tree with a huge hollow in the centre.

We were in time to get to Narawntapu (one of my most favourite national parks in Tasmania) to catch the sunset. 


A pied oystercatcher on Bakers Beach
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Thursday the 17th of April 2014

11:42 PM

No ARTBIKE!!!

A friend's daughter, Zoe, is staying with us for Easter. As I have class today, I dropped her off in town and suggested a number of places that are worth visiting.  One is the Design Tasmania where she can also get an Artbike and pedal to museums in Launceston.

Photograher: Chris Crerar. Design Tasmania

After seeing the Cataract Gorge, she went to Design Tasmania and the staff there had no idea about the Artbike! 

I was at Design Tasmania about a month ago and I saw with my very eyes the Artbikes parked there and I checked the arts@work website and there is clear information that the Artbikes are available at Design Tasmania Launceston. That the staff there have no knowledge of this initiative is something unfathomable. 
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Thursday the 27th of March 2014

11:21 PM

Cape Hauy walk

The Cape Hauy walk today reminds me of the Hong Kong Geopark walk we had in June last year. There are
 similarities and differences.

Both are coastal walks and feature columnar joints. Both are exposed to the Pacific Ocean (Tasman Sea for Cape Hauy to be exact) and the sea could be rough. Both are national/country parks.

The differences are:
  • The Hong Kong Geopark is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage and is part of the UNESCO Global Geoparks Network.
  • The rock columns in Hong Kong are volcanic and hexagonal while those at Cape Hauy are igneous (dolerite). I am not sure how many sides these columns have but reckon they should be 5-sided like other dolerite columns in Tasmania.
  • Obviously the vegetations are very different.
  • Thanks to tourism investment, the Cape Hauy track is very well constructed, rock paved all the way. It is a longer walk but there will be no drama to finish the walk. The Po Pin Chau (which basically means sea stack in Cantonese) walk is partially paved. Part of the track is formed by running streams and the rest by trekking. Certain sections are steep, slippery and densely vegetated.
  • There is a carpark at the start of the Cape Hauy walk (4 hours return). To get to the Po Pin Chau walk (about 2km, 2.5 hours return), one has to walk 10 km (one way, 4.5 hours return) to the East Dam of High Island. In total, it takes 7 hours to finish the walk.

In essence, it is easier to walk the Cape Hauy track which gives similarly spectacular coastal and geological scenery. Welcome to Tasmania!

High Island Po Pin Chau walk, Hong Kong (June 2013)


Cape Hauy walk, Tasmania (March 2014)

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Wednesday the 26th of March 2014

11:58 PM

An 1860 photo of Port Arthur

Today is the second day of our Port Arthur trip.  I and another classmate were asked to prepare and provide an interpretation on the trade and dockyard of Port Arthur. While we were researching our subject, the instructor showed us a historical photo of Port Arthur (1830 - 1877).

Photographer uncertain, possibly E.W. Searle, National Library of Australia, an23793132

I had this idea that camera was invented in the late 19th century (at roughly the same time as automobile) and was therefore amazed to find that the photo was taken in 1860. (The photo can be viewed here.) Next to the photo, there were also photos of the convicts which are nice and decent head and shoulder photos, very unlike the mug shots these days. 

Having returned home, I researched a bit more about the history of camera. The first practical photographic method - daguerreotype (which is a sensitised plate) - was invented in 1839.  It must be very expensive to take photographs in the old days and this collection must have cost a fortune. 

We also learned a bit more about the life at Port Arthur. Convicts there were secondary offenders and were given training to acquire trade skills so that they could be useful citizens when they became a free man. Harsh punishments such as flogging and separation cells, were for those who committed offences at Port Arthur. The investment in the workshops for skills training (for over 300 trades) and the photographic archives of the convicts portray a very different image for Port Arthur which is often referred to as representative of the dark age of penal history. 

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Tuesday the 25th of March 2014

11:08 PM

Long-nosed Potoroo

Today is the first day of our Port Arthur field trip and we stayed at the Port Arthur Caravan Park. At dinner, I saw a small rat like animal roaming the camping grounds. I have never seen such an animal before and thus asked the others what it is. It is a Long-nosed Potoroo which has a distinctive white tip at the end of the tail. This is a complete alien to me and I have not even heard of the word "Potoroo". So today I know one more Australian animal. 


Potoroos are generally known as rat kangeroos (no wonder) and reach 1.3 kg in weight. The colours range from red-brown on the west coast to grey on the east coast, with paler fur on the belly. A potoroo will live from 2 to 3 years in the wild but can live for up to 7 years. Like most marsupials in Australia, they are nocturnal. They are capable of giving birth throughout the year and there is no specific breeding season. 

According to the Parks and Wildlife Services Tasmania website: "gestation period is 38 days, the longest of any macropod despite its relatively small size. Pouch life is 4 months. Young potoroos are weaned at 5-6 months and are sexually mature at about 8-10 months for females and a little later for males. Up to two young per year are produced".

Potoroos are a protected species in Tasmania.



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Friday the 21st of March 2014

11:46 PM

An Eastern Barred Bandicoot from our backyard

There was a small fire in the kitchen tonight. I put two pies under the grill and went back to my computer to finish off my editing/translation works and homeworks from TAFE. A few minutes later, got into the kitchen to check the pies to found that they were on fire!

My way of making a quick dinner is to microwave the pies and put them under the grill to crisp them up. Probably surface of the pies touched the elements and got to such a heat that it ignited. Dinner is gone.

So we drove to the Legana shopping complex and had KFC there. On our way back when the car was about to turn into our driveway, Mark saw an Eastern Barred Bandicoot walking out from our driveway, crossing the highway! This is the first time he saw an Eastern Barred Bandicoot in the wild. Me being me not very observant and affected by my double vision problem, I did not spot it. It would have been nice to meet this cutie little friend.

The eastern barred bandicoot is an insectivorous marsupial found only in Australia. It is listed as "requiring monitoring" on the Tasmanian Threatened Species List 1995 and is extinct in South Australia and "critically endangered" in Victoria.

The eastern barred bandicoot has a slender, elongated head tapering to a pink nose and well whiskered muzzle. It has large, prominent ears. Its soft fur is greyish brown, while across the hindquarters are the characteristic pale bars or stripes that give the species its name. The belly, feet and short, thin tail are creamy white.

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Thursday the 20th of March 2014

11:09 PM

A course on Provide First Aid

Today is the first day of the two day course on first aid.

There are a few useful acronyms to learn:

DRSABCD

D - for Danger

R - for Response

S - for Send for Help

A - for Airways

B - for Breathing

C - for CPR, Cardiac Pulmonary Resucitation

D - for Defibrilation

 

ICE for "in case of emergency", which should be an entry in the phone book of the mobile phone.

 

RICE (first 3 days) and HARM (4th day onwards) for sprain (muscle injuries) and strain (ligament injuries)

R - for Rest

I - for Ice

C - for Compression

E - for Elevate

H - for Heat

A - for Alcohol

R - for Running or Exercise

M - for Massage

 

In the two days, we learned first aid treatment for stress, bleeding, heart attacks, epilepsy, anaphylactic reactions, burns, bites and stinks, spinal injuries, dislocation, fractures, diabetes, hyperthermia, hypothermia. This does not mean we are competent to provide first aid for all these problems but this is a good start to get some understanding of the symptoms and treatment for the different situations.

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Wednesday the 19th of March 2014

11:15 PM

Amassing my gear for guiding

Today at lunch, Mark and I had a sprint into the outdoor gear shops in town looking for a good 3-quarter length bushwalking jacket. Mark's is getting very old and starts leaking after 4-5 hours of intense rain.

At the Gear Freak Day, Jenni showed us the Mont raincoat which is exactly what Mark has been looking for and Paddy Pallan sells them. In addition to Paddy Pallan, we also went to Kamandu and MacPac to check out what are there in the market.

At MacPac, we saw Annie who works there as a casual. She introduced us to a new fabric - eVent- which has a different technology from Gortex. Annie said it is better than Gortex in ventilation performance and is used in the military, firefighters, emergency response teams, police and other industries.

I searched the eVent fabric website. There is not much information about the technology. In essence, the membrane they use (which is patented of course) is superior in "letting the sweat out". Other than functionality, the design of the MacPac eVent jacket is also better than the Mont one.

So Mark gets one and I get one.

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Tuesday the 18th of March 2014

11:30 PM

ARTBIKE will come to Launceston

After class today, I paid a visit to the Tasmanian Design Centre. There I saw a few ARTBIKES parked in the entrance foyer.

The ARTBIKE idea started in Hobart offering visitor free bicyle hire to visit art galleries and museums in town. This is a very good idea, in particular for tourists who may not have a car and that bus services here is fairly limited.

Hiring an ARTBIKE is free if it is returned on the same day. All one needs is a photo ID and a credit/debit card. You may hire overnight for $22 or over the weekend for $44, which is a good deal. It will come with a helmet, a lock and a cultural map. The ARTBIKES will be available for hire in late March.

The Tasmanian Design Centre showcases local and contemporary designs and crafts including woodwork, ceramics, jewellries and fabrics. Some of the exhibits there are quite inspirational. In future, when I need some ideas for my woodwork project, I certainly will go there.

 

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Friday the 14th of March 2014

11:02 PM

I learnt more about wombat

Today we have a visit to the Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery.

In the Art Gallery at Royal Park, I learnt about a few better known Tasmanian painters: John Glover, Thomas Bock, William Buelow Gould and Robert Dowling.

Most Tasmanians would know John Glover (1767-1849), a fairly well known English painter, when he migrated to Tasmania aged 64. There is a John Glover Society and a life size statue of him in Evandale to honour his contribution to Australian art. The society runs an annual landscape art competition. He is known for his truthful depiction of Australian landscape which is a departure from the darker English country garden model.

Thomas Bock (1790-1855) was an engraver and portrait painter. Came to Tasmania as a convict in 1824 and pardoned in 1832, he was the first professional painter to practise in Tasmania. His portraits of some Tasmanian Aboriginals are significant in that their appearance was affected as these paintings were completed before contact with white settlers.

William Buelow Gould (1801-1853) was also a convict painter and was noted for his Sketchbook of fishes, aka Gould's sketchbook of fishes. 

Robert Dowling (1827-1886) was the first locally trained artist in Australia. He is known for the largest mid-19th century paintings of Australian Aboriginals.

In the Museum at Invermay, there are a lot of stuffed native animals and birds on display. My assigned animals to study are Wombat and Tasmanian Devil. There I learnt one more thing about wombat that it is the only marsupial with teeth that grow continuously through their lifetime.

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Tuesday the 11th of March 2014

11:02 PM

Reptile Day

Today in class we had Mr Simon Fearn, an expert in Reptiles. We learned from him the three largest species of skinks in Tasmania and that there are 3 species of snakes here.

The snakes are: Tiger Snake (Notechis scutatus), Lowland Copperhead (Austrelaps superbus) and White Lipped Snake (Drysdalia coronoides).

Photo: The frontal shield is characteristic of tiger snakes

Tiger Snake has highly toxic venom which is produced in large amounts. They have glossy scales and their colours range from jet black to yellow/orange. They have highly variable markings or bandings. Adult reaches 1-1.8m in length. They can be found in dry rocky areas, woodlands to wet marshes and grasslands. They feed on mostly mammals and birds under 300g in weight and also lizards, smaller snakes, frogs and sometimes even fish.

Copperhead, closely related to Tiger Snake, is not as dangerous but is equally capable of killing a man if first aid is not applied. They have even solid colour and never have any banding or blotches. Their scales are matt in colour. Adult reaches 1-1.5m in length. They are usually found in wet and open areas with low vegetation. They feed typically on frogs and lizards but will also eat smaller snakes, grasshoppers and occasionally carrion. Copperhead can be differentiated by a row of orange/red scales close to the ground and the head has a lighter colour than the body.

White-lipped snake, mildly venomous, is the smallest of the three species, measuring 25-40cm in length. It is easy to be recognised by the white line bordered above by a narrow black line that runs along the upper lip. They love sun bathing and are generally found in healths, grasslands and open woodlands. They feed on small skinks and occasionally frogs. Juvenile snakes always have a bright orange belly.

The three species in Tasmania all give birth to live young.

Of the 17 species of lizards found in Tasmania, other than Mountain Dragon (Rankinia diemensis), all belong to the family Scincidae, commonly known as skink. The largest skink in Tasmania is Blotched Blue Tongue Lizard (Tiliqua nigrolutea) , second largest Sheoak Skink (Cyclodomorphus casuarinae) and third largest White Skink (Liopholis whitii). 

I am afraid of reptiles and insects. In the class and the field trip, I kept an arm's length with these little friends. When I heard comments saying they are cute, I find it hard to comprehend.
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Monday the 10th of March 2014

11:43 PM

Last day of the Queen's Prize Meeting

Today is the last day of the Tasmanian Queen's Prize Meeting which is an annual statewide target shooting competition. I was solicited to take care of the data input and publishing of the results and this is my third year of service.  This year four major competitions took place back to back - Tasmanian Match Rifle Competition, National F Class National Teams Competition, Davies Series and the Queen's Prize Meeting. The Queen's thus have a huge number of competitors making the days really long. The first two days' schedule was leaving the house at 6:30am and returning after 7pm.

That this is the last day today and I can get home by 4pm is a big relief. We at least will have time to fix the fences and keep the Dudley in. Two days ago, we had a note from a kind lady in our letter box saying that she spotted a black dog with curly hair (which is Dudley) ran away from our driveway and got to the highway. We found that he had dug a big hole underneath the fence and freed himself. I am not sure what I can do - keep inspecting and fixing the fences while Dudley keeps digging?!

At the Queen's prize presentation, I eventually had time to leave the office and joined other shooters. It was a pleasant surprise to see Mr. Robert Blacklow. He had a knee operation last year and had not been shooting for a while. He told me he will be awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) for service to the arts through the production of fine furniture and marquetry and he feels very proud. He rightly should be proud and Tasmanians should be proud of his works too. His notable commissions include The Senate Chamber and Parliament House in Canberra. The Central furniture he built for Canberra include the Marquetry Screen Wall, President's Desk, Central Table and the Hansard Desk, which is Tasmania's gift to the New Parliament House. He has also done a marquetry picture for the Queen.

He will receive the medal in May and promised to show me his medal next time he sees me.
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Sunday the 9th of March 2014

11:12 PM

Chinese tourist died at Cradle Mountain

A Chinese student studying in Melbourne embarked on the Overland Track and died of hypothermia on 20 February. I only learned it during the Corinna trip. This is really tragic. While the Tasmanian wilderness is fascinating, it can also be treacherous. 

I haven't done the Overland Track though but have visited the Cradle Mountain National Park and camped there multiple times.  My first time there, I joined a local tour. The group did the Summit Walk and Marion Lookout Walk. It was raining cats and dogs and visibility was like 50m.   

My last time camping there was in October 2010. It was blue skies when we left Launceston. When we got to Dove Lake, the weather started to change. We managed to get to Scott Kilvert Hut without much drama.  On our return journey the next day, we were lost as thick snow on one slope covered the tracks. Every step I took, I sank into the snow almost waist deep. Not expecting snow, I did not have my snow gloves and pants but overall, I was well equipped and managed to stay dry and warm most of the time.


The Scott Kilvert Hut is a memorial hut to commemorate two young men - student David Kilvert (13) and teacher Ewen Scott (26) - died of exposure in a blizzard at Cradle Mountain in 1965. After this tragic incident, many believed that had there been adequate shelter there, lives could have been saved. 

The weather at Cradle Mountain is capricious and any bush walker should be fully equipped even that it is just for a short day walk.
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Saturday the 8th of March 2014

11:33 PM

Found a ringtail possum in our backyard

Find a ring tail possum in our backyard Dudley was berserk barking in the backyard. Mark went out to try to get him inside the house and found a ringtail possum high up on the plum tree. 


I do not have the camera equipment for shooting wildlife in the dark and this photo is the best I can get. This little creature was not bothered by the torch and kept munching the leaves. At the same time, we heard other possums in the tree. Really happy about this find. 

This fella is called "ringtail possum" for its tightly coiled tail, which looks like a ring and its tail is used as a fifth limb. The ringtail possums are lighter in colour than the brushtail possums and have white tail tip. 

They are widespread throughout Tasmania and feed on leaves and flowers. They are strictly noctural and strongly aboreal, i.e. always stick to the trees. Unusual among possums, they are active nest builders and their nests are called "dreys" which are constructed from bark and grass among the dense canopy of the understorey. 

Baby ringtail possums are born between April and November and usually come in twins. They live in the mother's pouch for about 4 months and then ride on the mother's back. I hope I will be able to see baby possums on their mom's back in our own garden. April is not that far away. 




Ringtail possum footprint
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Friday the 7th of March 2014

11:47 PM

Why is the Pieman River named "Pieman"?

On the first day of the trip, classmates were talking  about Alexander Pearce (also known as Pierce), a cannibal convict who escaped twice from Sarah Island, and the name "Pieman" was related to him. Both times he escaped with other convicts and was the only survivor.

Today is the last day of the trip and I have the chance to google and find out whether the story is true. There is another saying that another convict Thomas Kent, who was a pastry maker, also escaped to this area and thus the river was named "Pieman". According to Encyclopaedia Britannica, "it was long thought that the river was named for one Alexander Pierce, but it is now widely believed that the honour belongs to another convict, Thomas Kent, who is thought to have been a baker".

Regardless of which version is true, stories like this add an interesting aspect to the area.

The Fatman ferry at the Pieman River

On our way back to Launceston, we passed a mining site at Salvage River. I would say it a nameless town because  it is certainly much bigger than the town of Corinna (6, 7 years ago when we crossed the Pieman on the Fatman ferry, the ferryman told us that the population in Corinna was 7 and fewer in winter). The only name that can identify this "town" is Grange Resources, the mining company there. Magnetite is mined from here.

The highlight of the day must go to Chloe. She woke up at 4 in the morning to find a possum ate through her tent, day pack and plastic bag to finish all her nuts! And this was a brand new tent.
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Thursday the 6th of March 2014

5:03 PM

Mount Donaldson walk

On the second day of our Corinna tour, we walked up Mount Donaldson. It was my first time there. The walk was not difficult but not having done any hiking for more than 2 years, I was progressing slowly. I made it to the top and the view up there is good. The flora in Western Tasmania are very different from what I see in the Central Plateau giving this part of the State a different feel. On our way up, Jake picked up two pieces of stones and they look like Australia and Tasmania!

 

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Wednesday the 5th of March 2014

11:13 PM

First day of our field trip

This is the first day of the first field trip of the class. Corinna, here we go. I have been to Corinna before but that was years ago. Exactly when I cannot remember now, probably 6/7 years ago. I should have been there again in 2011 but did not make as the car rolled over near Couta Rock on our way to Corinna. Jake showed me a Twany Frogmouth on a tree. Jake is good value. He has good eyesight and is so observant that he is always the first one to spot something. The possums and wallabies were very active at night hanging around our campsite and we were warned to keep our food really secure as these fellas surely will have a go if they have a chance. Chloe's tent was "broken into" by a possum which eat through her tent and backpack to get to her food. It is either very hungry or determined.
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