February 5 - 11 2023: Issue 570

Our Youth page is for young people aged 13+ - if you are younger than this we have news for you in the Children's pageNews items and articles run at the top of this page. Information, local resources, events and local organisations, sports groups etc. are at the base of this page. All Previous pages for you are listed in Past Features

A Serious Backyard Waterslide: + Manly Water Chute

Spotted last weeked - looks like GREAT fun

Did you know there once was a BIG water slide at Manly called the 'Water Chute'?

Situated in Manly at the corner of South Steyne and Ashburner Street (an area known as Steyne Court), the Manly Chute was established in 1903 by a syndicate called the Manly Chute and Amusements Company. The site had previously operated for some three years as a place of amusement known as The Maze, before being purchased sometime around September 1903. Included in the sale was a building that had operated as a refreshment room. The new company was incorporated on November 6th 1903, and shortly afterwards, General Manager, Archibald Baird, struck a deal with previous refreshment room operator, Henry Bardolph, to buy his business. 

After securing the rights to the refreshment room, demolition of the maze began. The company then set about erecting the water slides that were to be the park's main attraction. The Manly Chute's official opening, timed to coincide with the school holidays, took place on December 14th in the presence of Sir John See, members of the New South Wales Ministry and the Mayor of Manly. The first entertainment was presented by a military band under the conductorship of Mr L. De Groen. The Sydney Morning Herald indicates that the park was open at night, with illumination provided by "fairy and other lamps."


The Manly Water Chute and Amusements Company have issued an attractive guidebook profusely illustrated, setting forth the numerous attractions at the company’s grounds at Manly. The chute, toboggan. Bijou Theatre, and the fiery dragon are all depicted, and the letterpress is well and smartly written. Trippers to Manly (the Brighton of Australia) who have not yet experienced the sensation of " chuting" on reading the brochure, will no doubt be tempted to " take the plunge." The little book is a credit alike to its author, printer, and all concerned. THE MANLY CHUTE. (1904, May 7). Watchman (Sydney, NSW : 1902 - 1926), p. 3. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article111920950 

Water Chute, Manly, N.S.W. , postcards courtesy National Museum of Australia, Image No.: 1986.0117.0258 - from an old Postcard, and Manly Library History collection.

The Manly Shute  operated during the warmer months of each year - approximately October to April. While the feature attractions were a Canadian water chute and a Toboggan ride, the management also provided other entertainments, including variety concerts and film exhibitions. The park was leased to music director/manager Lewis De Groen from October 1905 to April 1906. It remained open until the end of June that year, however, and then closed permanently. The site was sold in November 1906, around the same time that the Manly Chute and Amusements Company went into liquidation.

Manly's fascination with fun and water had not ceased though. 

In 1981 Manly Waterworks opened and now named Manly Surf'n'Slide, although most people still call it Manly Waterworks and it's still opne on Saturdays and Sundays. Interestingly this site was, apparently, used in the movie BMX Bandits starring Nicole Kidman during which an escape is staged in one of the waterslides.

Moth Eggs

It's that time of year when all the insects that have been busy feeding and flitting during Summer are laying eggs. This one was flapping about in our bathroom, and we though 'oh, pretty.'.

When we went back in a few hours later we noticed it had laid some eggs on the outside of the shower screen. Pretty colour:

This one is Gastrophora henricaria, described by A. Guenée, in 1857, also called a 'Beautiful Leaf Moth' or 'Fallen-bark Looper'.

The Caterpillars of this species are brown, with a pair of protuberances on abdominal segment three. The first three pairs of prolegs are vestigial, and there are dark triangular ventral marks under those segments. Intermediate instars have a dark chevron on the back of each segment, and an orange dorsal patch on the fourth segment.

The Larvae feed on eucalypts and Brush Box. 

The male adult moths have fawn forewings, each with a dark brown transverse line, and a prominent dark brown dot near the base of the hind margin.

The female adult moths have fawn forewings, each with a broad slightly darker trapezoidal transverse band, and a faint dark brown dot near the base of the hind margin.

In its resting position, the underside of each hindwing covers the undersides of the forewings, and is pale brown with a large slightly darker patch, and a submarginal arc of black dots. The underside of each forewing is displayed when the moth is disturbed, and is a startling yellow to orange with a large black patch containing a bluish-purple blotch, connected by an orange triangle to the base.

This is quite a large moth - Body length to 35 mm, wingspan to 80 mm. 

As you can see, this mum has a bald spot. Moths and butterflies constantly accumulate damage on their wings and bodies over time, and they're especially prone to loosing the delicate scales that coat their exoskeleton (which is usually visible as a 'bald spot' on the top part of a moth's thorax when it's been bumping around a light for a few hours). You can even get a sense of a moth's age by seeing how worn and tattered its wings are; newly emerged individuals are usually pristine, while older ones have frayed wings and patches of missing scales.

The species is found over much of the south-eastern quarter of Australia. Information courtesy and from: http://lepidoptera.butterflyhouse.com.au/chro/henricaria.html - This page also has more great photos.

This photo of a male shows you how they look if they haven't been bumping around too much and thos glorious colours underneath:

Gastrophora henricaria, moth, male. Great Otway National Park, Victoria. Photographer: Frank Pierce. Source: Museums Victoria. Copyright Museums Victoria / CC BY (Licensed as Attribution 4.0 International)

Gastrophora henricaria Guenée, 1857, to MV light, Aranda, ACT, 30 November/1 December 2008. Photo: Donald Hobern via Flickr

How long do eggs take to hatch?

The eggs for this moth are usually laid on eucalyptus leaves.

The female lays the eggs individually and she can lay as many as 220 eggs over a 2 week period. The eggs usually hatch after 4 - 8 days but can take as long as 3 weeks. The hatching larvae begin feeding and spinning immediately. They produce two lengthy tubes that run onto or into the infested material. The larvae can molt over 40 times and the larval stage can take between 1 - 24 months. The larval period can vary greatly because of the ability of the larvae to undergo diapause (phase of dormancy). This period of dormancy usually lasts between 8 - 24 months. Pupating larvae spin a quiver like pupal case which is thicker than the feeding tubes and closed at both ends. Pupation usually lasts between 2 - 6 weeks and the hatching adults normally live between 2 - 4 weeks.

Australia has around 22 000 species of moths. Around half of these have been scientifically named. This one has a lovely soft coat - imagine if there was a cloth made like this that you could wear.

The moths hatching out in the bathroom reminds us of a few years back around this time of year, when we had a huntsman mumma deposit her eggs in the bathroom. Soon we had tiny tiny spiders everywhere - but they went outswide when we opened the window - off into the Great Outdoors to continue the yearly cycles of insects and spiders and all those other tiny living things we share the world with.

Lime Cordiale is coming home: two Dee Why Gigs announced, one for ALL AGES - roll up for their Fantastical Country Club Experience

Dee Why RSL: 
FRIDAY, 17 MARCH 2023 AT 19:00
SUNDAY, 19 MARCH 2023 AT 19:00 (ALL AGES)

''Roll up, Roll up! Come one, come all to Lime Cordiale’s fantastical Country Club experience.

A musical cacophony of exceptional quality. You’ll be dazzled by Lou the lion, entranced by Oli the fire breather extraordinaire, bewitched by the mystical masters of the ring, Horn-Blowing Nicholas, Felix of Ivory and Little Drummer Boy James Jennings and sent into a manic daze of music and pure joy.

Expect a never-before-seen performance, a night of magical excess, brought to you by us.

Expect Elephants doing backflips on tiny motorcycles, clowns throwing chainsaws at giant strongmen, trapeze artists from the Czech Republic (wow!).. Horses! Everything you could possibly imagine under one heaving roof.

Bella Amor

Get your tickets for it’s a night not to be missed !!''

Council Seeks Community Members For LGBTQIA+ Working Group

As Sydney prepares to host the world’s largest LGBTQIA+ event, WorldPride, Council is commencing a long-term plan to make sustained and meaningful change.

Rather than simply joining in with WorldPride celebrations over a festive two-week period, Council is seeking expressions of interest to form a LGBTQIA+ working group to identify strategies to make the Northern Beaches increasingly safe, inclusive and welcoming for all.

Mayor Michael Regan said the new working group is an ideal way to make the Northern Beaches a safer and more inclusive place, by getting a diverse group from our community together to identify the most effective ways to create positive culture change over the longer term.

“We value lived experience, the voices of young people and people with strong connections to the local LGBTQIA+ community,” Mayor Regan said. 

“Northern Beaches Council is running a program of activities that celebrate and support Sydney WorldPride, because we believe that social sustainability can only be achieved when we make the Northern Beaches safe, inclusive and welcoming for all.”

The LGBTQIA+ working group will comprise a diverse group of community members across Council’s five wards (Pittwater, Narrabeen, Frenchs Forest, Curl Curl and Manly). 

The group will include up to two community members per Council ward and up to three representatives from local community organisations that have strong connections to the local LGBTQIA+ community.

Expressions of interest open on Tuesday 31 January and close on Tuesday 28 February. 

Belrose gets a new mountain bike track

On January 30 2023 Council announced the opening of another mountain bike trail at Belrose. Wyatt Ave Bike Park in is a purpose-built facility for youngsters and new riders to safely practice and learn skills before progressing to more challenging trails like Bare Creek and Manly Dam.

Northern Beaches Mayor Michael Regan said Council’s own Landscape Construction Team worked with Trail Care to deliver a high-quality result and ensure the best outcome for the riding community.

“Riders of all ages will be super pumped to have a site they can call their own to practice their skills before they even consider going to the much more advanced Bare Creek and Manly Dam tracks.

“The site’s loop trail includes a beginner loop and mini flow loop; climb and descent, technical features, and gravity zone features, as well as bike launching area, a viewing platform, and so many environmentally conscious elements including 1050 new trees planted.

“This project would not have been possible without the instrumental work of local mountain biking advocacy and consultancy group Trail Care who helped design the park based on feedback from local skills coaches and parents of local riders to gain a clear understanding of what the community needed.” Mayor Regan said.

Trail Care’s Matt Ward is thrilled Council is supporting and investing in this growing sport.

“The new park provides awesome opportunities for kids and new riders to progress.  Perhaps they've never ridden a bike on dirt before; here they can build confidence on corners, rock rolls, drops, and jumps.  It's the ideal stepping stone towards other Council facilities like Bare Creek and Manly Dam. 

“Working in collaboration with Council on this project has led to great outcomes, bringing together amazing landscaping work with local trail design knowledge.  The end result is one of the best-looking skills parks I've seen.” Matt Ward said.  

“We’re also so grateful to the local member for Davidson, Jonathan O’Dea, for securing use of the site and advocating for this project. He has been instrumental since its inception, and it will be one of the many projects which will become his legacy.” Mayor Regan said.

Member for Davidson, The Hon, Jonathan O’Dea said he’s delighted to see all the hard work on the project has paid off.

“I was pleased to negotiate for the State Government to dedicate the land for community recreation on the basis that Northern Beaches Council took responsibility for planning and developing a new facility.

“Wyatt Ave Bike Park is designed for younger and less experienced riders and provides a safe introduction to an exciting and energetic sport. It is a wonderful complement to the neighbouring Bear Creek Bike Park” Mr O’Dea said.

In addition to 1050 new plants, 950 tonnes of excavated construction material from local construction sites formed the trail subbase, as well as 120 cubic metres of recycled mulch.

Council encourages all riders at any of the bike parks to wear appropriate safety gear.

Northern Composure Band Competition 2023

Due to the pandemic, Council have had the 20th anniversary on hold but pleased to say that the competition is open and running again.

Northern Composure is the largest and longest-running youth band competition in the area and offers musicians local exposure as well as invaluable stage experience. Bands compete in heats, semi finals and the grand final for a total prize pool of over $15,000. 

Over the past 20 years we have had many success stories and now is your chance to join bands such as: 

  • Ocean Alley
  • Lime Cordiale
  • Dear Seattle
  • What So Not
  • The Rions
  • Winston Surfshirt
  • Crocodylus

And even a Triple J announcer plus a wide range of industry professionals

About the Competition

In 2023, the comp looks a little different.

All bands are invited to enter our heats which will be exclusively run online and voted on by your peers and community by registering below and uploading a video of one song of your choice. (if you are doing a cover, please make sure to credit the original band) We are counting on you to spread the word and get your friends, family, teachers voting for you!

The top 8-12 bands will move on through to our live semi finals with a winner from each moving on to the grand final held during National Youth Week. Not only that but we have raised the age range from 19 to 21 for all those musicians who may have missed out over the past two years.


Key dates

  • Voting open for heats: Mon 13 Feb – Sun 26 Feb
  • Band Briefing: Mon 6 March, Dee Why PCYC
  • Semi 1: Sat 18 March Mona Vale Memorial Hall
  • Semi 2: Sat 25 March, YOYOs, Frenchs Forest
  • Grand Final: Fri 28 April, Dee Why PCYC

For more information contact Youth Development at youth@northernbeaches.nsw.gov.au or call 8495 5104

Stay in the loop and follow Northern Composure Unplugged on KALOF Facebook.

School Leavers Support

Explore the School Leavers Information Kit (SLIK) as your guide to education, training and work options in 2022;
As you prepare to finish your final year of school, the next phase of your journey will be full of interesting and exciting opportunities. You will discover new passions and develop new skills and knowledge.

We know that this transition can sometimes be challenging and the COVID-19 pandemic has presented some uncertainty. With changes to the education and workforce landscape, you might be wondering if your planned decisions are still a good option or what new alternatives are available and how to pursue them.

There are lots of options for education, training and work in 2022 to help you further your career. This information kit has been designed to help you understand what those options might be and assist you to choose the right one for you. Including:
  • Download or explore the SLIK here to help guide Your Career.
  • School Leavers Information Kit (PDF 5.2MB).
  • School Leavers Information Kit (DOCX 0.9MB).
  • The SLIK has also been translated into additional languages.
  • Download our information booklets if you are rural, regional and remote, Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander, or living with disability.
  • Support for Regional, Rural and Remote School Leavers (PDF 2MB).
  • Support for Regional, Rural and Remote School Leavers (DOCX 0.9MB).
  • Support for Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander School Leavers (PDF 2MB).
  • Support for Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander School Leavers (DOCX 1.1MB).
  • Support for School Leavers with Disability (PDF 2MB).
  • Support for School Leavers with Disability (DOCX 0.9MB).
  • Download the Parents and Guardian’s Guide for School Leavers, which summarises the resources and information available to help you explore all the education, training, and work options available to your young person.

School Leavers Information Service

Are you aged between 15 and 24 and looking for career guidance?

Call 1800 CAREER (1800 227 337).

SMS 'SLIS2022' to 0429 009 435.

Our information officers will help you:
  • navigate the School Leavers Information Kit (SLIK),
  • access and use the Your Career website and tools; and
  • find relevant support services if needed.
You may also be referred to a qualified career practitioner for a 45-minute personalised career guidance session. Our career practitioners will provide information, advice and assistance relating to a wide range of matters, such as career planning and management, training and studying, and looking for work.

You can call to book your session on 1800 CAREER (1800 227 337) Monday to Friday, from 9am to 7pm (AEST). Sessions with a career practitioner can be booked from Monday to Friday, 9am to 7pm.

This is a free service, however minimal call/text costs may apply.

Call 1800 CAREER (1800 227 337) or SMS SLIS2022 to 0429 009 435 to start a conversation about how the tools in Your Career can help you or to book a free session with a career practitioner.

All downloads and more available at: www.yourcareer.gov.au/school-leavers-support

Word Of The Week: happiness

Word of the Week returns in 2023 simply to throw some disruption in amongst the 'yeah-nah' mix. 


1. the state of being happy. A state of well-being and contentment: joy. : a pleasurable or satisfying experience. 2 : Felicity, aptness: a striking happiness of expression. 3. obsolete : good fortune : Prosperity; all happiness bechance to thee.

From happy + ness. 

Happy - From Middle English happy (“fortunate, happy”), perhaps an alteration of Middle English happyn, happen (“fortunate, happy”), possibly related to or from Old Norse heppinn (“fortunate, happy”); and potentially assimilated to be equivalent to hap (“chance, luck, fortune”) +‎ -y. Compare also Icelandic heppinn (“lucky”), Old Scots happin (“fortunate, blessed”).

First known use was in the 15th century in the sense of 3. Prior  to that the term happiness comes from the Old Norse term happ meaning “luck” or “chance.” It’s also related to the Old English word hæpic meaning “equal.” 

From Middle English hap, happe (“chance, hap, luck, fortune”), potentially cognate with or from Old English ġehæp (“fit, convenient”) and/or Old Norse happ (“hap, chance, good luck”), from Proto-Germanic hampą (“convenience, happiness”), from Proto-Indo-European kob- (“good fortune, prophecy; to bend, bow, fit in, work, succeed”).

Cognate with Icelandic happ (“hap, chance, good luck”). Related also to Icelandic heppinn (“lucky, fortunate, happy”), Old Danish hap (“fortunate”), Swedish hampa (“to turn out”), Old Church Slavonic кобь (kobĭ, “fate”), Old Irish cob (“victory”).

The verb is from Middle English happen, from Old Norse happa, heppa, from Proto-Germanic hampijaną (“to fit in, be fitting”), from the noun. Cognate with Old Danish happe (“to chance, happen”), Norwegian heppa (“to occur, happen”).

While early senses of happiness dating from the 1500s are still very much in use, such as “good luck,” “success,” and “contentment,” Francis Hutcheson, an Irish reverend and philosopher, brought a new, more political interpretation of happiness to English speakers with his 1725 treatise An Inquiry into the Original of Our Ideas of Beauty and Virtue

His political philosophy: “that Action is best which accomplishes the greatest Happiness for the greatest Numbers; and that worst, which in like manner occasions Misery.” 

The popularity of Hutcheson’s philosophies helped tie the concepts of civic responsibility and happiness to one another in the minds of the great political thinkers of the 18th century, including the writers of the Declaration of Independence.


From Ancient Greek eudaimonía, literally “happiness, well-being”.  In Hebrew Simcha (Hebrew: שמחה), happiness more generally, or a celebration (e.g. a wedding, bar/bat mitzvah), it is also a name for both males and females. Osher (Hebrew: אושר), a deeper, lasting happiness.

Both in Spanish and Portuguese (as well as in the Italian felicità), the words for happiness have a root in the Latin word ‘felix’. ‘Felix’ could also mean ‘fertile’. The Romans venerated a goddess called ‘Felicitas‘, which among others represented fertility (although in modern times, people with children tend to see slightly lower happiness rates). But felicitas meant more than fertility: sharing the meaning of the Germanic terms above, felicitas also means happiness in the sense of ‘good luck’.

As Darrin McMahon writes in his history of the philosophy of happiness, Happiness: A History, it doesn’t even stop there:

“It is a striking fact that in every Indo-European language, without exception, going all the way back to ancient Greek, the word for happiness is a cognate with the word for luck. Hap is the Old Norse and Old English root of happiness, and it just means luck or chance, as did the Old French heur, giving us bonheur, good fortune or happiness. German gives us the word Gluck, which to this day means both happiness and chance.”

Happiness, in the context of mental or emotional states, is positive or pleasant emotions ranging from contentment to intense joy. Other forms include life satisfaction, well-being, subjective well-being, flourishing and eudaimonia.

Since the 1960s, happiness research has been conducted in a wide variety of scientific disciplines, including gerontology, social psychology and positive psychology, clinical and medical research and happiness economics.

A smiling 95-year-old man, Mario Cañete Farías in 2007, from Pichilemu, Chile. Photo: Diego Grez Cañete - this is his grandfather.

Why social media makes you feel bad – and what to do about it

Divna Haslam, Queensland University of Technology and Sabine Baker, Queensland University of Technology

Have you ever found yourself scrolling through social media and noticed you felt a bit down? Maybe a little envious? Why aren’t you on a yacht? Running a startup? Looking amazing 24/7?

The good news is you are not alone. Although social media has some benefits, it can also make us feel a little depressed.

Why does social media make us feel bad?

As humans we inherently compare ourselves to others to determine our self-worth. Psychologists call this social comparison theory.

We primarily make two types of comparisons: upward and downward comparisons.

Upward comparisons occur when we compare ourselves to someone else (in real life or on social media) and feel they are better than us (an unfavourable comparison for us) in whatever domain we are assessing (such as status, beauty, abilities, success, and so on).

For example, comparing your day at work to your friend’s post from the ski fields (we’re looking at you Dave!) is likely to be an upward comparison. Another example is making appearance comparisons which can make you feel worse about yourself or your looks .

Although upward comparison can sometimes motivate you to do better, this depends on the change being achievable and on your esteem. Research suggests upward comparisons may be particularly damaging if you have low self-esteem.

In contrast, downward comparisons occur when we view ourselves more favourably than the other person – for example, by comparing yourself to someone less fortunate. Downward comparisons make us feel better about ourselves but are rare in social media because people don’t tend to post about the mundane realities of life.

Comparisons in social media

Social media showcases the best of people’s lives. It presents a carefully curated version of reality and presents it as fact. Sometimes, as with influencers, this is intentional but often it is unconscious bias. We are just naturally more likely to post when we are happy, on holiday or to share successes – and even then we choose the best version to share.

When we compare ourselves to what we see on social media, we typically make upward comparisons which make us feel worse. We compare ourselves on an average day to others on their best day. In fact, it’s not even their best day. It’s often a perfectly curated, photoshopped, produced, filter-applied moment. It’s not a fair comparison.

That’s not to say social media is all bad. It can help people feel supported, connected, and get information. So don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. Instead, keep your social media use in check with these tips.

Concrete ways you can make yourself feel better about social media

Monitor your reactions. If social media is enjoyable, you may not need to change anything – but if it’s making you exhausted, depressed or anxious, or you are losing time to mindless scrolling, it’s time for change.

Avoid comparisons. Remind yourself that comparing your reality with a selected moment on social media is an unrealistic benchmark. This is especially the case with high-profile accounts who are paid to create perfect content.

Be selective. If you must compare, search for downward comparisons (with those who are worse off) or more equal comparisons to help you feel better. This might include unfollowing celebrities, focusing on real posts by friends, or using reality focused platforms like BeReal.

Redefine success. Influencers and celebrities make luxury seem like the norm. Most people don’t live in pristine homes and sip barista-made coffee in white sheets looking perfect. Consider what real success means to you and measure yourself against that instead.

Practise gratitude. Remind yourself of things that are great in your life, and celebrate your accomplishments (big and small!). Create a “happy me” folder of your favourite life moments, pics with friends, and great pictures of yourself, and look at this if you find yourself falling into the comparison trap.

Unplug. If needed, take a break, or cut down. Avoid mindless scrolling by moving tempting apps to the last page of your phone or use in-built focus features on your device. Alternatively, use an app to temporarily block yourself from social media.

Engage in real life. Sometimes social media makes people notice what is missing in their own lives, which can encourage growth. Get out with friends, start a new hobby, embrace life away from the screen.

Get amongst nature. Nature has health and mood benefits that combat screen time.

Be the change. Avoid only sharing the picture-perfect version of your life and share (in a safe setting) your real life. You’d be surprised how this will resonate with others. This will help you and them feel better.

Seek help. If you are feeling depressed or anxious over a period of time, get support. Talk to your friends, family or a GP about how you are feeling. Alternatively contact one of the support lines like Lifeline, Kids Helpline, or 13Yarn.The Conversation

Divna Haslam, Senior Research Fellow, Queensland University of Technology and Sabine Baker, Research Fellow, Queensland University of Technology

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

I’ve spent years studying happiness – here’s what actually makes for a happier life

Pexels/ajay donga
Christopher Boyce, University of Stirling

It’s one thing to know what makes people happy, but quite another to live a happy life oneself. I didn’t get a true taste of happiness until I quit my decade-long career as a happiness academic, packed all I’d need for many months onto a bicycle, and began meandering my way around the world to Bhutan.

For those unfamiliar with Bhutan, it’s a small Himalayan kingdom, famed for basing all its national policy decisions on happiness.

Quite the destination, quite the journey.

And I would learn more about happiness than I did as an academic. That’s not to dismiss knowledge acquired through books and letters. Yet there’s a lot to be said for actually getting direct experience in life.

Below are some of the important things I learned on a journey for happiness.

For sustained happiness, go deep

When people talk about happiness some dismiss it as a viable societal goal because happiness policy can be misconstrued as being about people smiling and laughing all the time.

Yet pleasant as smiling and laughing are, doing them all the time is neither realistic nor desirable. Difficult emotions are a natural part of life. These days I love a cry – it’s an important release. And anxiety, which I’m prone to, is something I’ll be open and curious about rather than hide from.

Quarter life, a series by The Conversation

This article is part of Quarter Life, a series about issues affecting those of us in our twenties and thirties. From the challenges of beginning a career and taking care of our mental health, to the excitement of starting a family, adopting a pet or just making friends as an adult. The articles in this series explore the questions and bring answers as we navigate this turbulent period of life.

You may be interested in:

Houseplants don’t just look nice – they can also give your mental health a boost

How the philosophy behind the Japanese art form of kintsugi can help us navigate failure

How to spend time wisely – what young people can learn from retirees

The kind of happiness I value is deeper – grounded in connection, purpose and hope, yet has room for sadness and anxiety too. Indeed, it’s this kind of happiness that a country like Bhutan aspires to, and I think more countries (and people) should, too.

Woman with dog.
Happiness can be found in the everyday. Pexels/Gabriela Cheloni

Have goals but prepare to let them go

Goals can be helpful. They give direction in our day-to-day lives. But it’s easy to get wrapped up in attaining an outcome, believing our happiness depends on it.

Rather than being in what psychologists call flow – an immersive, in-the-moment state of being – we might doggedly push on towards a goal. Even though achieving our goals won’t always bring us happiness.

When I was cycling to Bhutan, I let go of the idea of ever reaching Bhutan many times, and through doing so I ensured my journey remained purposeful and enjoyable. And, when I did arrive, beautiful as Bhutan was, exhaustion and homesickness dominated. If we’re not happy along the way, then we ought to question whether it’s worth going at all.

Bridge covered in flags with hills in the background.
Iron Chain Bridge of Tamchog Lhakhang Monastery, Paro River, Bhutan. Shutterstock/Sabine Hortebusch

Don’t be misled by stories

There are many stories about what a happy life entails, but they’re not always backed up by reliable evidence. An example would be the “when I achieve this, I will be happy” story described above. Another popular story is that money buys happiness. I spent much of my research career examining this (and travelling humbly for 18 months).

What is clear is that having more money (beyond the point of meeting basic needs) is inconsequential when compared with having good quality relationships, looking after our mental and physical health, and living meaningfully in line with our beliefs and values. Yet, sadly, these things often get sacrificed in pursuit of more.

These stories persist because they support an economic system that is designed to increase GDP rather than improve the wellbeing of people and the planet.

Allow others to give

Warm and loving relationships are essential for living a happy life. Yet that doesn’t mean these are easy to come by.

As an academic, I saw how important relationships were for happiness in the data. But like many, I had a difficult time realising them in my own life. We’re not taught that way and often think people will only love us when we meet certain criteria, rather than unconditionally for who we are.

People dancing on rooftop.
Enjoy your time with others and let them be there for you. Pexels/Rodnae Productions

What shocked me most on my cycle journey was people’s kindness and generosity. People would invite me into their lives, offering me food or a place to stay, even when they owned little. When I set off, I was either suspicious of this generosity or racing too quickly onwards to consider stopping. But with time, I learned to let people in, and this led to deeper connections and more happiness.

You can get through a crisis

I wouldn’t have been able to reach Bhutan on a bicycle without facing a crisis or two. We will all face a crisis at some point. We might lick our wounds and get back in the saddle, but to find our way through a crisis psychologically, we need support from others. We also need to give ourselves time to make sense of what has happened and to ensure we move forward purposefully. These are all essential for resilience, and what helped me on my journey.

You can’t beat the million-star hotel

Nothing beats lying under the stars after a full day’s cycle through the mountains. Humans are of nature, yet we spend so much of our time indoors in built-up, often contrived, social spaces that do not meet fundamental needs. Nature is essential for our wellbeing – not just to feel calm and peaceful in the moment, but to sustain human life for generations to come.The Conversation

Christopher Boyce, Honorary Research Associate at the Behavioural Science Centre, University of Stirling

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Australia is to have a poet laureate – how will the first appointment define us as a nation?

Dan Peled/AAP
Valentina Gosetti, University of New England

Poetry has often been a matter of nation building, including in Australia. Who hasn’t learnt by heart at school some verses from My Country (1908) by Dorothea Mackellar?

I love a sunburnt country,
A land of sweeping plains
Of ragged mountain ranges,
Of droughts and flooding rains.
I love her far horizons,
I love her jewel-sea,
Her beauty and her terror –
The wide brown land for me!

I discovered this poem when I first visited Canberra, many years before becoming an Australian citizen, when I saw its words sculpted on a hill next to the National Arboretum. There it was: all the emotional strength of local attachment against the deep blue sky of the Australian capital city.

At the launch of Revive, Australia’s new cultural policy, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese announced “the establishment of a poet laureate for Australia”. The statement was welcomed by the audience with cheer and applause. Sarah Holland-Batt read a poem about her late father, called The Gift. “Wonderful to have poetry, books and stories as a central part of the #NationalCulturalPolicy launch,” tweeted the Australian Publisher’s Association.

The enduring links between the arts and national identity could not have been stronger. The prime minister said it is “through the arts that we build our identity as a nation and as a people”.

A new literary funding body, Writers Australia, will oversee the selection of the poet laureate. But some questions remain. Will Australia make a brave choice? And even before this, what is a poet laureate in the first place?

The concept of a poet laureate

A portrait of Petrarch. Wikimedia Commons

On April 8, 1341, poet Francesco Petrarca from the Tuscan town of Arezzo, more widely known as Petrarch (1304–1374), attended an official ceremony that was inspired by revived classical traditions dating back at least 12 centuries. On Rome’s Capitoline Hill, the Campidoglio, a crown of laurels was placed upon his head as an eternal consecration of his poetry.

Since then, Petrarch has been known as il poeta laureato, the poet laureate. Portraits of Petrarch depict him wearing this crown of laurel leaves, the evergreen tree that has symbolised victory since Ancient Greece.

The tradition of the poet laureate has continued through the centuries, all around the world, where the election of a poet laureate has become a national matter.

In the United Kingdom, the position was recognised as a royal office in 1668, when John Dryden (1631–1700) became England’s first official poet laureate. The honorary 10-year appointment, currently held by Simon Armitage, still comes from the monarch, on the advice of the prime minister.

Simon Armitage. Wikimedia Commons

The United States Poet Laureate, a title that dates back to 1937, is appointed by the Librarian of Congress, who is, in turn, appointed by the president. The current laureate is Ada Limón, appointed in 2022, the 24th official laureate and first Latina poet to occupy the position, the present title having been sanctioned by an act of Congress in 1985. The position has previously been held by the likes of Joy Harjo, Rita Dove, Elizabeth Bishop, Robert Lowell, Philip Levine, Mark Strand, Joseph Brodsky and Louise Glück.

Historian Anne-Marie Thiesse has noted that in France “writers are given the power to make – or break – the national consciousness”. In Ireland, upon the death of Nobel Laureate Seamus Heaney (1939–2013), Enda Kenny, the then Taoiseach of the Republic of Ireland, professed that the poet had been “keeper of our language, our codes, our essence as a people”.

But nationalistic conceptions of literature create other issues. The poet laureate embodies the voice of an entire nation. The poet can thus become a highly political and politicised figure. Historically, the formation of national literatures has meant many voices have been excluded.

As Thiesse notes, until very recently “feminine originality has seldom been grounds for recognition as a writer of national significance”. The first woman to be appointed poet laureate of the UK was Carol Ann Duffy only in 2009; she was also the first openly gay writer in this role.

Britain’s first female poet laureate, Carol Ann Duffy, was appointed in 2009. Paul Thomas/AAP

The same goes for poets writing in minority languages, writers from diverse backgrounds, First Nations writers, or whoever questions or challenges the status quo. The current poet laureate of New Zealand, Chris Tse, for example, has sought to address the question of how to negotiate matters of identity alongside the responsibilities of his official position.

Australia’s new arts policy, which includes a commitment to the full adoption of the Uluru Statement from the Heart, takes as its fundamental pillar the principle of “First Nations First” – a recognition of the fact the arts and stories of the oldest continuing living culture in the world are the foundation of who we are as a people and a country.

With the appointment of its very first poet laureate, Australia has an unmissable opportunity. We can only hope that, in keeping with the spirit of Revive, the decision will reflect its call for diversity and honour this foundational pillar. The Conversation

New Zealand’s poet laureate Chris Tse.

Valentina Gosetti, Associate Professor in French and Australian Research Council DECRA Fellow, University of New England

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

The pleasure and pain of cinephilia: what happened when I watched Groundhog Day every day for a year

Columbia Pictures
Adam Daniel, Western Sydney University

“What would you do if you were stuck in one place, and every day was exactly the same, and nothing that you did mattered?”

So asks time-stranded weatherman Phil Connors, played by Bill Murray, as he begins to come to grips with his predicament in the 1993 comedy classic Groundhog Day.

On February 2, while reporting on the annual Groundhog Festival in the quaint Pennsylvanian town of Punxsutawney, Phil becomes trapped in a time warp where he lives the same day over and over again.

In 2021 I was wrestling with the same question. Living in lockdown, I was feeling frustration, ennui, and like forward progress had ground to a halt. The circumstances created an opportunity to subject myself to a very unusual challenge: to watch the same film once a day, every day, for a year.

As a film scholar and cinephile, I wanted to find out how well a movie would sustain this kind of viewing and what a viewer might get out of the experience. Groundhog Day was the natural candidate.

On a Monday morning in September of 2021, I sat down on my couch and hit play.

The act of watching

In the first month, my primary engagement was with the narrative.

Like many previous viewers, I found myself asking how long Phil was trapped in the loop for (my own approximation is 30 years, which sits between the 10 years offered by director Harold Ramis and the 10,000 years in the original screenplay by Danny Rubin).

I questioned the credibility of Rita (Andie MacDowell) falling in love with Phil having only known him for a day. I wondered how much of Murray’s performance was improvised (in Rubin’s words, some “colouring” but proportionally less than is assumed).

Gradually, my familiarity with the narrative led me to shift focus. Rewatching became about exploration, as I sought to discover details the average viewer may have missed.

I began to notice the re-occurrence of certain extras from scene to scene, building my own narrative around their identities. I realised the boy in a wheelchair in the background of the hospital scene is the same boy Phil will eventually save from breaking his leg every day.

I consumed as much extra material on the film as possible. Rubin’s screenplay and accompanying commentary, film critic Ryan Gilbey’s detailed monograph and Harold Ramis’s commentary were all illuminating. I realise in hindsight that I was following my natural inclination as a scholar, to try to understand something more fully by diving more deeply into it.

And then I reached the doldrums.

Shifting perspectives

By the midway point, my viewing had shifted into a mode of cataloguing and memorisation. Phil Connors’ weather reports ran through my head unbidden, and I had built myself a mental map of Punxsutawney to the extent I felt like I could give directions to a visitor. I began to talk to the film as it played.

Some days, the viewing felt like a curse.

When Rita discovers Phil’s dilemma, she says: “Maybe it’s not a curse. Maybe it depends on how you look at it.”

My own shift in perspective came into play in the final three months. I found myself returning to the exploratory mode of viewing, encouraged by sharing and discussing theories with others who liked the film but who weren’t nutty enough to watch it hundreds of times.

New theories emerged.

I decided the bartender at the Pennsylvanian Hotel is clearly aware of Phil’s predicament (make note of his knowing looks and how quickly he serves them their favourite drinks), and that one of the Punxsutawney townspeople is clearly having an affair, as he can be seen visiting the Groundhog Festival with his wife and the banquet with his mistress.

I’m not the first to posit alternative readings of the film, but I understood in my final stretch of viewing that a film can transform with us, revealing new layers from viewing to viewing.

Films as friends

In recent years, many scholars have examined the practice of repeat viewing, particularly with the emergence of technologies that provide flexibility to view when and where we like.

Film theorist Barbara Klinger suggests familiar movies have the capacity to become our “friends” and she introduced the term “karaoke cinema” to describe the joy of deep familiarity and quotability, arguing this experience provides the audience with an element of both comfort and mastery.

My experience certainly affirms her claims. Watching Groundhog Day every day for a year provided me with a deeper appreciation for how a film may contain multitudes – particularly those we choose to willingly re-experience.

The legacy of Groundhog Day can be seen in the recurring appeal of the time loop narrative in TV shows and films such as Palm Springs, Russian Doll and Happy Death Day.

And, like every piece of worthwhile art, it can also sustain its own deep interrogation and reveal to the curious rewatcher its multifaceted layers and dimensions.

On reaching the finish line I was elated and celebrated with a final viewing on the big screen. I have a feeling it will be some time before I revisit the film, but it’s comforting to know it will be there when I’m ready, an old friend who welcomes visitors. The Conversation

Adam Daniel, Tutor / Lecturer in Film and Media Studies, Western Sydney University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Streaming platforms will soon be required to invest more in Australian TV and films, which could be good news for our screen sector

Oliver Eklund, Queensland University of Technology

Streaming platforms like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and Disney+ will soon face regulations to invest in Australian content, as Australian regulations catch up to other world players.

Nearly eight years since the launch of Netflix in Australia in 2015, redressing the “regulatory gap” between unregulated streaming platforms and regulated traditional television is front-of-mind for Arts Minister Tony Burke.

Streaming regulations in Australia

Announced as part of the Labor Party’s new National Cultural Policy, a 6-month consultation period will commence looking at the shape and intensity of new streaming regulations. The implementation deadline for the new streaming regulations will be no later than 1 July, 2024.

The regulation is shaping up as a revenue levy, where a percentage of a streaming platform’s Australian-derived revenues will be required to be spent on local television and films. Existing television regulations in Australia include the transmission quota of 55% local content on commercial free-to-air television, and the 10% expenditure requirement on pay-TV drama content. A revenue levy would be a new policy mechanism in Australia’s television regulation arsenal.

There is a particular urgency to regulating local content on streaming platforms for the government – in 2020-21, Australians for the first time were more likely to watch online video than traditional television. Major American streaming platforms now dominate the viewing landscape, with Netflix a mass service in Australia reaching over 50% of television households.

The government is concerned with the growth of online video that lacks cultural regulation, and fears this, combined with the prominence of American platforms, could contribute to a “drowning out” of Australian voices and stories. Regulating local content on streaming platforms is a way to underpin Australian cultural identity, to ensure Australians will continue to see themselves reflected onscreen, and to support the screen sector with jobs and investment.

Some industry stakeholders like Screen Producers Australia are on record arguing strongly for a high revenue levy of 20%. There are estimates a levy of 20% would result in around $500 million a year alongside 10,000 jobs in the screen sector.

However, some experts have warned such a high levy on local and global platforms could backfire and reduce the competitive edge domestic service Stan might have with Australian content. If every service is required to invest in Australian content, there is less to distinguish Stan’s place in the sector.

Opposition to the new regulation

Unsurprisingly, the major streaming platforms have previously expressed their opposition to new regulation, believing their current levels of investment in Australia are sufficient. The Australian Communications and Media Authority reported Australian content expenditure from five major platforms at $335.1 million in the 2021-22 financial year.

While lobbying against new regulations, the streaming platforms have also been planning ahead for potential obligations. Amazon’s revival of Neighbours for instance would be a big help towards meeting future Australian content obligations.

The government has not been drawn on what percentage a revenue levy would be set at – that’s what the consultation period is for, they say. Nonetheless, no figure has been ruled out either.

Streaming regulations around the world

Some countries around the world have much more advanced regulatory frameworks than Australia for regulating streaming platforms. There are important lessons to impart from these countries, both in terms of seeing what sort of regulation is possible, but also understanding the pitfalls of potential regulation.

The European Union is widely considered the global leader in the regulation of digital platforms. The EU legislated a 30% catalogue quota for European works on streaming platforms in 2018 under the Audiovisual Media Services Directive, which was intended to come into force in 2021. However, several EU member states were slow in implementing this.

The catalogue quota considers the overall size of a streaming library and requires that 30% of these titles are European. For example, the average Netflix library in major markets was around 5,300 movies and TV shows in 2021, which would result in approximately 1,590 European titles. The catalogue quota uses a broad definition of “European” works which includes a range of countries across Europe beyond the EU itself, such as Turkey and ironically the United Kingdom.

Australia’s focus on a revenue levy on streaming platforms looks more like some of the additional regulations from EU member states legislated under the Audiovisual Media Services Directive. France, which has a history of strong cultural policy and “cultural exception”, has been aggressive in legislating a high revenue levy. The French levy of 20-25% is at the higher end in Europe and is also a country that Screen Producers Australia explicitly referenced when arguing for a 20% levy in Australia.

The French levy is not without quirks nor criticisms, and was even considered too high by the European Commission. Part of the 20-25% revenue requirement can be satisfied with spending money on generally European content (which again could include UK content), as well as investing in things like restoring archival footage, and subbing and dubbing of content.

The variety of expenditure options are worth keeping in mind when attempting to compare potential regulation in Australia to the French setting. There are a range of other percentages that have been implemented across EU member states – after extensive negotiations in Denmark, the level reached was 6%. The process in Denmark demonstrated some of the challenges that can come during negotiation of new regulation – during a difficult period, Netflix and other services stopped ordering Danish productions entirely in light of what the services saw as over-burdensome proposals.

As well as the importance of debating the intricacies of policy mechanisms for regulating streaming platforms in Australia, the forthcoming consultation period is a vital opportunity to reflect on the cultural dividend Australian content can pay, as well as how much of the raised money should go to drama, children’s, or independent production. So far, Labor has prioritised First Nations stories and perspectives as the first pillar of the National Cultural Policy, which is a worthy goal to consider for streaming and local content regulation.The Conversation

Oliver Eklund, PhD Candidate in Media and Communication, Queensland University of Technology

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

The world’s oldest fossils or oily gunk? New research suggests these 3.5 billion-year-old rocks don’t contain signs of life

Saul Shepstein, Author provided
Birger Rasmussen, The University of Western Australia and Janet Muhling, The University of Western Australia

The Pilbara region of Western Australia is home to one of the most ancient surviving pieces of Earth’s crust, which has been geologically unchanged since its creation some 3.5 billion years ago.

Some of the oldest signs of life have been found here, in the North Pole area west of the town of Marble Bar, in black rocks composed of fine-grained quartz called chert.

A piece of black rock with veins of other colours, next to an Australian two dollar coin for size comparison.
Veins of black chert found in the Pilbara open a window onto Earth as it was 3.5 billion years ago. Birger Rasmussen

Some features in the so-called “Apex chert” have been identified as the fossilised remains of microbes much like the bacteria that still survive today. However, scientists have debated the true origin of these features ever since they were discovered 30 years ago.

In new research published in Science Advances, we show the carbon-rich compounds also found in the chert may have been produced by non-biological processes. This suggests the supposed “fossils” are not remnants of early lifeforms but rather artefacts of chemical and geological processes.

Controversial Pilbara fossils

In 1993, American palaeobiologist William Schopf spotted carbon-rich filaments in outcrops of the 3.45 billion year old Apex chert. He interpreted them as the charred remains of fossilised microbes similar to cyanobacteria, which were Earth’s first oxygen-producing organisms and are still abundant today.

The existence of fossilised cyanobacteria in such old rocks would imply that life was already pumping oxygen into the air more than a billion years before Earth’s atmosphere became rich in oxygen.

A key piece of evidence in favour of life was the association of organic compounds with the ancient fossils. This is because living cells are made up of large organic molecules, which comprise mainly carbon as well as hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen and other elements.

Microscope images showing biological-looking structures in rock.
Tiny structures like these, found in ancient black chert, have been interpreted as fossilised bacteria. Brasier et al.

In 2002, Schopf’s interpretation was challenged by English palaeobiologist Martin Brasier and his team. They showed the “fossils” displayed a variety of shapes and sizes uncharacteristic of cyanobacteria, and indeed, inconsistent with microbial life. What’s more, they also showed the fossil-bearing black cherts were not horizontal beds deposited on the seafloor, but angled veins cutting across the underlying layers of rock.

The fossil-bearing cherts appeared to have formed at high temperatures during volcanic activity. Brasier argued this environment was hostile to life and the “fossils” were, in fact, formed from graphite impurities in the rock. They also speculated that the carbon associated with the “fossils” may not even be biological in origin.

A lively debate ensued, and it has continued ever since.

Microbes or hot fluids?

To try to determine where the carbon-rich deposits in the black chert veins came from, we took a very close look at them with a high-magnification electron microscope.

We found it did not come from fossilised bacteria. The oil-like substance occurs as residues in fractures and as petrified droplets, which have previously been mistaken for ancient fossils.

The textures in the black chert veins indicate they were formed when hot fluids rich in silica and carbon moved through cracks in lava flows below vents in the seafloor similar to modern “black smoker” vents. Upon approaching the seafloor, the hot fluids infiltrated layers of volcanic sediment, replacing it with black chert.

An underwater photo showing smoke above glowing lava on the seafloor.
Black chert veins may have formed when water came into contact with lava at seafloor vents. NOAA

If the carbon came from such a hot fluid, this supports findings that the carbon-rich filaments in the Apex chert are not fossils. However, it also raises a new question.

Typically, organic compounds such as oil and gas, which are referred to as “fossil fuels” because they form from the dead remains of algae, bacteria and plants, are generated when these remains are buried and heated to temperatures above 65℃. Chemical reactions release organic compounds, which may accumulate to form oil and gas fields.

However, the sediments from the North Pole area are very thin (less than 50m thick), poor in organic molecules, and sandwiched between kilometres of lava flows. So, how did the organic compounds form in such surroundings?

Seafloor vents on early Earth

A possible alternative pathway is suggested from experimental evidence and research on Martian meteorites. In the absence of traditional biological sources, some of the organic molecules in the chert veins could have formed by non-biological processes.

For instance, when hot water circulates through lava or other igneous rock, water and carbon dioxide can react with mineral surfaces to form organic compounds. Similar reactions have been proposed to explain the presence of organic molecules in Martian meteorites and in some igneous rocks on Earth.

The carbon in black cherts from the Pilbara outback may therefore represent relics of organic compounds that were produced by reactions between water and rock. Indeed, on the early Earth seafloor vents may have created more organic compounds than biological processes did, making it difficult to distinguish between authentic carbon-bearing fossils and oily artefacts.

While more work is underway, early results suggest life was only just surviving 3.5 billion years ago, struggling to gain a foothold in an inhospitable environment. The world then was wracked by regular volcanic eruptions that covered Earth’s surface in lava, and bathed in harsh solar radiation streaming through an atmosphere with no protective ozone layer.

Looking further back in time, the black cherts offer a glimpse of a lifeless planet. Reactions between water and rock at seafloor vents produced a cocktail of organic compounds, perhaps supplying the raw materials for the assembly of the first living cells.The Conversation

Birger Rasmussen, Adjunct Professor, The University of Western Australia and Janet Muhling, Adjunct Research Fellow, Earth Sciences, The University of Western Australia

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Australia is finally getting a last-chance view of a green comet not seen for 50,000 years

Alessandro Bianconi/Edu INAF/Flickr , CC BY-SA
Jonti Horner, University of Southern Queensland

Over the past few weeks, social media has been abuzz with excited posts about the green comet that is currently “whizzing” or “flying through the sky”.

Now, comets don’t so much whizz as crawl. Despite that, there is a grain of truth in the reports – along with a whole heap of hype.

There is a relatively bright, green comet in the sky at the moment. Sadly, despite the hyperbole, you’re unlikely to spot it with the unaided eye – unless you have great eyesight, a dark sky, and know where to look.

People in the Northern Hemisphere have been following the comet for weeks. Now, for us in Australia, it will finally become visible, just a few days after its closest approach to Earth. So what’s all the fuss about?

Green and rare

Comet C/2022 E3 (ZTF) is a small dirty snowball discovered in March 2022 by the automated Zwicky Transient Facility (hence the name ZTF).

Unlike asteroids, which are made of rock, comets are icy bodies. When they approach the Sun and the temperature rises, that icy surface sublimates (changes directly from a solid to a gas). The comet thus becomes shrouded in a fuzzy “coma” of gas and dust. Radiation pressure from the Sun, along with the effects of the solar wind, pushes the gas and dust outwards, and the comet grows a “tail”.

The gas released by the comet is exposed to sunlight in the vacuum of space. That radiation, particularly the ultraviolet light, excites the gas. This means the gas gets rid of the energy it absorbs by shining in specific colours.

Much of the work astronomers do is based on breaking the light from distant objects into its component colours, to study what they are made of. Comet tails are usually blue, but comet ZTF has a very distinct greenish hue. Green is the telltale sign the comet is emitting large amounts of diatomic carbon and cyanogen, which both create a greenish glow when excited.

So, by looking at the comet’s colour, we can immediately learn a bit about its composition – which is pretty cool!

A dark star field with a bright green and white light on the lower-right corner, with two white streaks coming out of it in different directions
A close-up view of Comet C/2022 E3 (ZTF) on January 27 2023, captured at Lake Sonoma in California, US. You can see both its tail and even an ‘anti-tail’, an optical illusion caused by our viewing position on Earth. Moshen Chan/Flickr, CC BY-NC

Upon discovery, the comet was just inside the orbit of Jupiter. Astronomers soon realised it would come relatively close to Earth in January and February this year, just a couple of weeks after its closest approach to the Sun (perihelion, which came on January 12).

Comet ZTF is a “long period comet”, which means it’s moving on an extremely elongated orbit around the Sun. It originated in the Oort cloud – a vast cloud of trillions of cometary nuclei that stretches halfway to the nearest star, leftovers from planetary formation 4.5 billion years ago. Those comets are held in cold storage until something nudges them inwards.

The last time comet ZTF graced the inner Solar System was around 50,000 years ago. While long period comets are not uncommon, interestingly this is likely ZTF’s final swing past our star. Thanks to a quirk of celestial mechanics, it is going to leave the Solar System altogether, travelling just fast enough to escape the Sun’s gravity.

Our Solar System (and all other planetary systems) are continually shedding comets like dandruff – with ZTF being just one more flake to add to the interstellar snowstorm.

A perfect ringside seat

Now, under normal circumstances, comet ZTF would be solely of interest to keen amateur and professional astronomers. It is actually a relatively small comet, with a nucleus likely no more than a few hundred metres across.

Were it not for the fact of its relatively close approach, it would never get bright enough to be noteworthy.

Instead, pure chance has led to the comet passing through the inner Solar System at just the right time to come close to us. Instead of a dim and distant view, our planet has a perfect ringside seat to see the comet at its finest.

When and where can we see it in Australia?

At 17:54 UT on February 1 (that’s in the early morning of February 2 in Australia, around 5am on the east coast, but earlier in west), comet ZTF will be just under 42.5 million kilometres (0.284 au) from Earth.

Just as expected, the comet is now at its brightest – visible to observers in the Northern Hemisphere as a faint fuzzy blob (with the naked eye, from dark skies), albeit one that is made significantly harder to spot thanks to the glare of the nearly full Moon.

For observers in the Southern Hemisphere, we had to wait because the comet was too far in the northern sky – essentially “above” our planet in space.

Fortunately, the comet is now moving southwards at a rate of around five or six degrees per day for the first ten days of February. Observers in the far north (Cairns and Darwin) might catch a glimpse low in the northern sky on the evening of February 2. Those in Hobart will have to wait until February 7 or 8 before it creeps high enough above the horizon to be spotted.

A good resource to check when the comet will be above the horizon from your home town is the free web-based planetarium package Stellarium. Go to the site, pan around to the north, and set the clock (at the bottom right) to an hour or two after sunset – then step forward day by day until ‘C/2022 E3 (ZTF)’ is visible above the northern horizon.

Get your gear ready

Technically, the comet is currently bright enough to see with the naked eye. Eagle-eyed northern observers have been reporting sightings without optical aid since mid-January.

However, the comet is only just visible in this way – which means you need to know exactly where to look, and to have a really dark sky. And even if you can, what you see will likely be underwhelming – a dim fuzzy blob.

By the time the comet is visible in Australia, it will be dimming quite rapidly, making it harder to see from one night to the next.

If you’re keen to see it, your best bet is to at least get a pair of binoculars. Work out where it should be, and scan the sky slowly, looking for a fuzzy patch of light.

The best time to find the comet will likely be February 11, when it will be within a degree of Mars, which currently shines bright and red, high to the north in the evening sky.

On the night of the 11th, find Mars with your binoculars, and pan just slightly to the right – you should be able to find the comet there.

But the best way to view the comet will be online. Astronomers worldwide are capturing incredible images of our celestial visitor. Taken with exposures many minutes in length, these photos reveal a view far better than anything possible with the naked eye.The Conversation

Jonti Horner, Professor (Astrophysics), University of Southern Queensland

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

summer reading 2022-2023: We of the Never Never

We of the Never Never is an autobiographical novel by Jeannie Gunn first published in 1908. Although published as a novel, it is an account of the author's experiences in 1902 at Elsey Station near Mataranka, Northern Territory in which she changed the names of people to obscure their identities. She published the book under the name Mrs Aeneas Gunn, using her husband's first and last name. Over the years, newspapers and magazine articles chronicled the fortunes of the Elsey characters. Jeannie outlived all but Bett-Bett.

Jeannie Gunn was the first white woman to settle in the Mataranka area. Her husband Aeneas was a partner in the Elsey cattle station on the Roper River, some 483 km (300 miles) south of Darwin. On 2 January 1902 the couple sailed from Melbourne for Port Darwin so that he could take up a job as the station's new manager. In Palmerston, Gunn was discouraged from accompanying her husband to the station on the basis that as a woman she would be "out of place" on a station such as the Elsey. However, she travelled south and her book describes the journey, settling in, and the difficulties of life in the bush. Jennie Gunn lived on the cattle station for about a year before her husband, Aeneas, died of malarial dysentery on March 16th 1903. Jeannie returned to Melbourne shortly afterwards and never returned to the Northern Territory.

The book is regarded as being significant as a precursor of the 1930s landscape writers. Already in 1908 Australia was a significantly urbanised country and the book was seen to provide symbols of things that made Australia different from anywhere else, underwriting an Australian legend of life and achievement in the outback, where "men and a few women still lived heroic lives in rhythm with the gallop of a horse" in "forbidding faraway places".

Four of the stockmen from Elsey Station in 1933 who were characterised in "We of the Never Never"

Characters from Aeneas Gunn's book 'We of the Never Never', 1933 

Caption: Do you know the men in the above photograph? Probably not, yet thousands of boys and girls throughout Queensland during the past week have had the quartet intimately in their thoughts. They are the originals of characters in 'We of the Never Never', Mrs. Aeneas Gunn's classic tale of early Australian days, which was a textbook for the State scholarship examinations. They worked together on Elsy Station and had the first reunion since those days in 1933 when 'Truth's' photograph was taken. From left to right they are: Irish Mac, The Dandy, Mine Host and The Quiet Stockman. The first-named has since died. The other three are residents of South Australia. (Description supplied with photograph). Photo courtesy State Library of Queensland.

The world at your finger tips: Online

With current advice to stay at home and self-isolate, when you come in out of the garden, have had your fill of watching movies and want to explore something new, there's a whole world of books you can download, films you can watch and art galleries you can stroll through - all from at home and via the internet. This week a few suggestions of some of the resources available for you to explore and enjoy. For those who have a passion for Art - this month's Artist of the Month is the Online Australian Art Galleries and State Libraries where you can see great works of art from all over the world  and here - both older works and contemporary works.

Also remember the Project Gutenberg Australia - link here- has heaps of great books, not just focused on Australian subjects but fiction works by popular authors as well. Well worth a look at.

Short Stories for Teenagers you can read for free online

StoryStar is an online resource where you can access and read short stories for teenagers


Storystar is a totally FREE short stories site featuring some of the best short stories online, written by/for kids, teens, and adults of all ages around the world, where short story writers are the stars, and everyone is free to shine! Storystar is dedicated to providing a free place where everyone can share their stories. Stories can entertain us, enlighten us, and change us. Our lives are full of stories; stories of joy and sorrow, triumph and tragedy, success and failure. The stories of our lives matter. Share them. Sharing stories with each other can bring us closer together and help us get to know one another better. Please invite your friends and family to visit Storystar to read, rate and share all the short stories that have been published here, and to tell their stories too.

StoryStar headquarters are located on the central Oregon coast.

NFSA - National Film and Sound Archive of Australia

The doors may be temporarily closed but when it comes to the NFSA, we are always open online. We have content for Kids, Animal Lovers, Music fans, Film buffs & lots more.

You can explore what’s available online at the NFSA, see more in the link below.


NLA Ebooks - Free To Download

The National Library of Australia provides access to thousands of ebooks through its website, catalogue and eResources service. These include our own publications and digitised historical books from our collections as well as subscriptions to collections such as Chinese eResources, Early English Books Online and Ebsco ebooks.

What are ebooks?
Ebooks are books published in an electronic format. They can be read by using a personal computer or an ebook reader.

This guide will help you find and view different types of ebooks in the National Library collections.

Peruse the NLA's online ebooks, ready to download - HERE

The Internet Archive and Digital Library

The Internet Archive is an American digital library with the stated mission of "universal access to all knowledge." It provides free public access to collections of digitised materials, including websites, software applications/games, music, movies, videos, moving images, and millions of public-domain books. There's lots of Australian materials amongst the millions of works on offer.

Visit:  https://archive.org/

Avalon Youth Hub: More Meditation Spots

Due to popular demand our meditation evenings have EXPANDED. Two sessions will now be run every Wednesday evening at the Hub. Both sessions will be facilitated by Merryn at Soul Safaris.

6-7pm - 12 - 15 year olds welcome
7-8pm - 16 - 25 year olds welcome

No experience needed. Learn and develop your mindfulness and practice meditation in a group setting.

For all enquires, message us via facebook or email help@avalonyouthhub.org.au

BIG THANKS The Burdekin Association for funding these sessions!

Green Team Beach Cleans 

Hosted by The Green Team
It has been estimated that we will have more plastic than fish in the ocean by 2050...These beach cleans are aimed at reducing the vast amounts of plastic from entering our oceans before they harm marine life. 

Anyone and everyone is welcome! If you would like to come along, please bring a bucket, gloves and hat. Kids of all ages are also welcome! 

We will meet in front of the surf club. 
Hope to see you there!

The Green Team is a Youth-run, volunteer-based environment initiative from Avalon, Sydney. Keeping our area green and clean.

 The Project Gutenberg Library of Australiana

Australian writers, works about Australia and works which may be of interest to Australians.This Australiana page boasts many ebooks by Australian writers, or books about Australia. There is a diverse range; from the journals of the land and sea explorers; to the early accounts of white settlement in Australia; to the fiction of 'Banjo' Paterson, Henry Lawson and many other Australian writers.

The list of titles form part of the huge collection of ebooks freely downloadable from Project Gutenberg Australia. Follow the links to read more about the authors and titles and to read and/or download the ebooks. 

Profile: Ingleside Riders Group

Ingleside Riders Group Inc. (IRG) is a not for profit incorporated association and is run solely by volunteers. It was formed in 2003 and provides a facility known as “Ingleside Equestrian Park” which is approximately 9 acres of land between Wattle St and McLean St, Ingleside. IRG has a licence agreement with the Minister of Education to use this land. This facility is very valuable as it is the only designated area solely for equestrian use in the Pittwater District.  IRG promotes equal rights and the respect of one another and our list of rules that all members must sign reflect this.


Research shows that one in five Australian children aged 8 to 17 has been the target of cyberbullying in the past year. The Office of the Children’s eSafety Commissioner can help you make a complaint, find someone to talk to and provide advice and strategies for dealing with these issues.

Make a Complaint 

The Enhancing Online Safety for Children Act 2015 gives the power to provide assistance in relation to serious cyberbullying material. That is, material that is directed at a particular child with the intention to seriously embarrass, harass, threaten or humiliate.


Before you make a complaint you need to have:

  • copies of the cyberbullying material to upload (eg screenshots or photos)
  • reported the material to the social media service (if possible) at least 48 hours ago
  • at hand as much information as possible about where the material is located
  • 15-20 minutes to complete the form

Visit: esafety.gov.au/complaints-and-reporting/cyberbullying

Our mission

The Office of the Children’s eSafety Commissioner is Australia's leader in online safety. The Office is committed to helping young people have safe, positive experiences online and encouraging behavioural change, where a generation of Australian children act responsibly online—just as they would offline.

We provide online safety education for Australian children and young people, a complaints service for young Australians who experience serious cyberbullying, and address illegal online content through the Online Content Scheme.

Our goal is to empower all Australians to explore the online world—safely.

Visit: esafety.gov.au/about-the-office 

The Green Team

This Youth-run, volunteer-based environment initiative has been attracting high praise from the founders of Living Ocean as much as other local environment groups recently. 
Creating Beach Cleans events, starting their own, sustainability days - ‘action speaks louder than words’ ethos is at the core of this group. 

National Training Complaints Hotline – 13 38 73

The National Training Complaints Hotline is accessible on 13 38 73 (Monday to Friday from 8am to 6pm nationally) or via email at skilling@education.gov.au.

Sync Your Breathing with this - to help you Relax

Send In Your Stuff

Pittwater Online News is not only For and About you, it is also BY you.  
We will not publish swearing or the gossip about others. BUT: If you have a poem, story or something you want to see addressed, let us know or send to: pittwateronlinenews@live.com.au

All Are Welcome, All Belong!

Youth Source: Northern Sydney Region

A directory of services and resources relevant to young people and those who work, play and live alongside them.

The YouthSource directory has listings from the following types of service providers: Aboriginal, Accommodation, Alcohol & Other Drugs, Community Service, Counselling, Disability, Education & Training, Emergency Information, Employment, Financial, Gambling,  General Health & Wellbeing, Government Agency, Hospital & GP, Legal & Justice, Library, Mental Health, Multicultural, Nutrition & Eating Disorders, Parenting, Relationships, Sexual Health, University, Youth Centre

Fined Out: Practical guide for people having problems with fines

Legal Aid NSW has just published an updated version of its 'Fined Out' booklet, produced in collaboration with Inner City Legal Centre and Redfern Legal Centre.

Fined Out is a practical guide to the NSW fines system. It provides information about how to deal with fines and contact information for services that can help people with their fines.

A fine is a financial penalty for breaking the law. The Fines Act 1996 (NSW) and Regulations sets out the rules about fines.

The 5th edition of 'Fined Out' includes information on the different types of fines and chapters on the various options to deal with fines at different stages of the fine lifecycle, including court options and pathways to seek a review, a 50% reduction, a write-off, plan, or a Work and Development Order (WDO).

The resource features links to self-help legal tools for people with NSW fines, traffic offence fines and court attendance notices (CANs) and also explains the role of Revenue NSW in administering and enforcing fines.

Other sections of the booklet include information specific to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, young people and driving offences, as well as a series of template letters to assist people to self-advocate.

Hard copies will soon be available to be ordered online through the Publications tab on the Legal Aid NSW website.

Hard copies will also be made available in all public and prison libraries throughout NSW.

Read the resource online, or download the PDF.

Apprenticeships and traineeships info

Are you going to leave school this year?
Looking for an apprenticeship or traineeship to get you started?
This website, Training Services NSW, has stacks of info for you;

It lists the group training organisations (GTOs) that are currently registered in NSW under the Apprenticeship and Traineeship Act 2001. These GTOs have been audited by independent auditors and are compliant with the National Standards for Group Training Organisations.

If you are interested in using the services of a registered GTO, please contact any of the organisations listed here: https://www.training.nsw.gov.au/gto/contacts.html

There are also some great websites, like 1300apprentice, which list what kind of apprenticeships and traineeships they can guide you to securing as well as listing work available right now.

Profile Bayview Yacht Racing Association (BYRA)
1842 Pittwater Rd, Bayview
Website: www.byra.org.au

BYRA has a passion for sharing the great waters of Pittwater and a love of sailing with everyone aged 8 to 80 or over!

 headspace Brookvale

headspace Brookvale provides services to young people aged 12-25. If you are a young person looking for health advice, support and/or information,headspace Brookvale can help you with:

• Mental health • Physical/sexual health • Alcohol and other drug services • Education and employment services

If you ever feel that you are:

• Alone and confused • Down, depressed or anxious • Worried about your use of alcohol and/or other drugs • Not coping at home, school or work • Being bullied, hurt or harassed • Wanting to hurt yourself • Concerned about your sexual health • Struggling with housing or accommodation • Having relationship problems • Finding it hard to get a job

Or if you just need someone to talk to… headspace Brookvale can help! The best part is our service is free, confidential and youth friendly.

headspace Brookvale is open from Monday to Friday 9:00am-5:30pm so if you want to talk or make an appointment give us a call on (02) 9937 6500. If you're not feeling up to contacting us yourself, feel free to ask your family, friend, teacher, doctor or someone close to you to make a referral on your behalf.

When you first come to headspace Brookvale you will be greeted by one of our friendly staff. You will then talk with a member of our headspace Brookvale Youth Access Team. The headspace Brookvale Youth Access Team consists of three workers, who will work with you around whatever problems you are facing. Depending on what's happening for you, you may meet with your Youth Access Worker a number of times or you may be referred on to a more appropriate service provider.

A number of service providers are operating out of headspace Brookvale including Psychologists, Drug & Alcohol Workers, Sexual Health Workers, Employment Services and more! If we can't find a service operating withinheadspace Brookvale that best suits you, the Youth Access Team can also refer you to other services in the Sydney area.

eheadspace provides online and telephone support for young people aged 12-25. It is a confidential, free, secure space where you can chat, email or talk on the phone to qualified youth mental health professionals.

Click here to go to eheadspace

For urgent mental health assistance or if you are in a crisis please call the Northern Sydney 24 hour Mental Health Access Line on 1800 011 511

Need Help Right NOW??

kids help line: 1800 55 1800 - www.kidshelpline.com.au

lifeline australia - 13 11 14 - www.lifeline.org.au

headspace Brookvale is located at Level 2 Brookvale House, 1A Cross Street Brookvale NSW 2100 (Old Medical Centre at Warringah Mall). We are nearby Brookvale Westfield's bus stop on Pittwater road, and have plenty of parking under the building opposite Bunnings. More at: www.headspace.org.au/headspace-centres/headspace-brookvale

Profile: Avalon Soccer Club
Avalon Soccer Club is an amateur club situated at the northern end of Sydney’s Northern Beaches. As a club we pride ourselves on our friendly, family club environment. The club is comprised of over a thousand players aged from 5 to 70 who enjoy playing the beautiful game at a variety of levels and is entirely run by a group of dedicated volunteers. 
Profile: Pittwater Baseball Club

Their Mission: Share a community spirit through the joy of our children engaging in baseball.

Year 13

Year13 is an online resource for post school options that specialises in providing information and services on Apprenticeships, Gap Year Programs, Job Vacancies, Studying, Money Advice, Internships and the fun of life after school. Partnering with leading companies across Australia Year13 helps facilitate positive choices for young Australians when finishing school.

Driver Knowledge Test (DKT) Practice run Online

Did you know you can do a practice run of the DKT online on the RMS site? - check out the base of this page, and the rest on the webpage, it's loaded with information for you!

The DKT Practice test is designed to help you become familiar with the test, and decide if you’re ready to attempt the test for real.  Experienced drivers can also take the practice test to check their knowledge of the road rules. Unlike the real test, the practice DKT allows you to finish all 45 questions, regardless of how many you get wrong. At the end of the practice test, you’ll be advised whether you passed or failed.

NCYLC is a community legal centre dedicated to providing advice to children and young people. NCYLC has developed a Cyber Project called Lawmail, which allows young people to easily access free legal advice from anywhere in Australia, at any time.

NCYLC was set up to ensure children’s rights are not marginalised or ignored. NCYLC helps children across Australia with their problems, including abuse and neglect. The AGD, UNSW, KWM, Telstra and ASIC collaborate by providing financial, in-kind and/or pro bono volunteer resources to NCYLC to operate Lawmail and/or Lawstuff.

Kids Helpline

If you’re aged 5-25 the Kids Helpline provides free and confidential online and phone counselling 24 hours a day, seven days a week on 1800 55 1800. You can chat with us about anything… What’s going on at home, stuff with friends. Something at school or feeling sad, angry or worried. You don’t have to tell us your name if you don’t want to.

You can Webchat, email or phone. Always remember - Everyone deserves to be safe and happy. You’re important and we are here to help you. Visit: https://kidshelpline.com.au/kids/