Monday, 10 December 2007

"One small step for man"

This is another of my "it will become clear, I promise" postings.

Firstly though..... another 'big picture' which is very appropriate on the day when Mark's computer has shown that he has cycled 12,000 miles (two thirds of the total for the race). Here is where he was at close of play today........Sometimes when I'm explaining distances to pupils I might say something like "12,000 miles...... that's like going from here to Australia". Except.... given that Mark hasn't gone in a straight line, it's actually further than here to Australia! 12000 miles as the crow flies is Edinburgh to Dunedin in New Zealand and by any calculation, that is a LONG way. Incidentally, if ever you want to know the direct distance between two locations, try this handy website.

When Mark set out several weeks ago to cross Australia, I was certain that the hardest bit for me (in terms of finding something to write each day) was going to be Nullarbor. In the event, the Nullarbor was easy compared to the outback of New South Wales. After two days of fields and small agricultural service centres this has been another day of fields and small agricultural service centres! Even Mark is saying "same farming countryside with fields all day". However, just here and there are small pockets of higher res imagery which give more intriguing insights into the geography of the area.

The first settlement of any size which Mark reached today was Forbes . With a current population of just 7000, it is a fraction of its former size in the late 19th century when gold was discovered in the alluvial deposits of the Lachlan River on which the settlement stands....

A closer look at Forbes reveals quite a lot about the living conditions of its residents....
... and it might be worth comparing the contrasts of fortune we have seen along the route of Mark's journey. Above, the residential area of an outback town in Australia - low density housing with gardens and pools and below the high density housing of Tabriz in Iran.

Going back to the aerial photo of Forbes, the aridity of the view is very apparent. I am certain that these high res Google images have been taken during the recent droughts in NSW while the 'greener' low res images are much older. To give you some idea of how dry the region has been, above is an image of the area I picked up on Flicker. It would certainly seem to match the 'view' on the high res Google images.

Amidst these scenes of aridity there are, nonetheless, some patches of green...

This is the golf course at Parkes - how can those golfers not feel guilty about using precious water supplies?!

And finally, we get to the subject matter of today's posting. Did you know that the first images of the Appollo 11 moon landing were received and transmitted around the world by the Parkes observatory?

And in 2000 a film was made about the role of the Parkes Observatory in that historic event. The Parkes Observatory is located just off the Newell Highway (sadly in a pocket of low res imagery otherwise we would have certainly seen the 64m dish). Mark, however, is almost certain to have seen it before reaching his destination for the day at Tomingley which he describes as a "one pub, one garage" sort of place...
And because I am posting late today, it's Tuesday in Australia Mark is already up and away!

2 comments:

kiso said...

Val,

I cycled out to meet Mark on his way into Dubbo today. He looks well and relaxed - you wouldn't know he'd just cycled 2/3 of the way around the world!

He plans to camp between Gilgandra and Coonabarabran tonight.

I'm sure you'll find lots to talk about tomorrow (geographically speaking) as he climbs through the foothills of the Warrumbungle Range tomorrow!

John.

Mrs V said...

Good to hear from you, John. I am delighted that you met Mark - it was very kind of you to cycle out to meet him.

You will be glad to know that I am 'on to' the Warrumbungles. It is a relief to have some relief to talk about!