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Showing posts from October, 2016

Notes from the Road (11) - Meeting with Fellow Collectors of Wood

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The primary reason for this year's visit to Australia was the 2016 Annual General Meeting of the International Wood Collectors Society. You may recall that the 2015 meeting was held here at Penn State; my visit to the 2016 meeting was to reciprocate in appreciation of the several Australian members who trekked all the way to State College last year.

The 2016 Australian Meeting was well worth the trip, and exceeded my expectations in every way. The meeting location was a horse-race track and meeting hall in Charleville, Queensland, and was spacious, comfortable, and memorable.


Our Queensland hosts provided several great field trips. First, we visited the local base of the Royal Flying Doctors Service. What a great story...


Following our tour of the airbase we went on a 4WD/walkabout of Nick Swadling's property.

Notes from the Road (10) - The Fauna of Australia

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My fellow Penn State Extension Educator, David Jackson, posted an interesting story about deer-car collisions yesterday on his blog, noting that Pennsylvania has become the third most dangerous state for deer crossing the road, behind West Virginia and Montana. That got me to remembering one of the strongest, most lingering impressions I had of Australia - dead kangaroos on the road.

If you think you've seen a lot of dead animals on the road, and you've never been to Australia, think again. Even though the speed limits are strictly enforced, uncountable numbers of animals, and kangaroos in particular, find their end on the bumper of a four-wheel drive cruiser or "road train". Road trains are large tractor-trailer rigs that have two, three, and sometimes four trailers. I passed a couple of three-trailer rigs on my drive-about. When you have to pass a moving mountain, about seventy yards long, while it's hurtling ninety kilometers an hour down a two-lane highway...…

What a Tree Can Do

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How you ever thought about what a tree can do, beyond producing lumber, paper, and habitat for the animals of the forest? Well, the folks at Stora Enso do that all the time, and it's exciting.




Tip AmountOption 1 $2.00 USDOption 2 $4.00 USDOption 3 $10.00 USD

The Cutting Edge in Wood Promotion - In the Trunk

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One of our more creative readers, an Italian scientist who works for Procter & Gamble in Germany, has pushed the limits, in fact the outer limits, in his quest to use his film-making skills to feature our favorite material. I'll bet you've never quite seen wood promoted like this before.

In the Trunk from Michele Martinelli on Vimeo.

Thanks, Michele. Way to Go Wood.

Tip AmountOption 1 $2.00 USDOption 2 $4.00 USDOption 3 $10.00 USD

Notes From the Road (9) - Wellington, New South Wales

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I left State College around noon on a Thursday, and after stops in Harrisburg, PA, Toronto, and Vancouver, arrived in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia at 8 in the morning on Saturday. So, even though it was around 6 pm on Friday night by my biological clock, I had to climb bleary-eyed into a wrong-sided Toyota Corolla and begin to navigate my way out of Sydney towards the outback.
By around noon I came to my first stop of the trip. The town was called Wellington, New South Wales, and my re-introduction to the culture and environment of Australia was just beginning. I pulled over in front of the town's park because I was already seeing ghosts on the road. I needed a good stop to clear my head.
Well, if I hadn't yet realized that I was a long way from the USA, this stop brought it into sharp perspective. And naturally, the first tree that caught my eye was non-native to Australia...a Himalayan, or deodar cedar.

This monster is atypical for the species growing in its native ha…

Notes from the Road (8) - Woods and Sights of Queensland

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Well, where to start? How about walking the bush in southern Queensland with my hosts from the Australasian chapter of the IWCS...here are a couple of the trees we identified and for which I was able to collect wood specimens.




Trees weren't the only thing I took in during my walkabout.  Here's an interview of a gentleman and his pet at the Stockman's Hall of Fame in Longreach, Queensland. I loved Queensland...it reminded me of West Texas, except for the swarms of flies and dead kangaroos along the road.



And, oh yeah, I drove a long way...about 4000 kilometers, which is about 2800 miles.  Most of it was like this - long stretches of no civilization, just long vistas, music from my phone playing on the car stereo, and the occasional "road train" to scare the crap out of me as it approached on the wrong side of the road.



Well, that's just a taste of Australia to get things started. I have hundreds of photos of different types of ecosystems, a few more interesti…