Oil Spill, Still.

6a00e55294635288340105358d70ed970b-320wi When we were in Melbourne, in a post dated 25 August, we wrote that, "The oil rig in the Timor Sea will leak for two more
months while they tow in another rig from Singapore to tap the well and
stem the leak." Those two months were up last week and the rig is now on fire.

The operator of the rig, the Thai company PTTEP Australasia, "will now make a fourth attempt on Thursday after it failed on Saturday to plug the leak." The spill has hit the Indonesian coast, and since our original post from Australia on 25 August, "it has leaked more than 400,000 liters of oil, gas and condensate into
the Timor Sea at a rate reported as being from 300 to 1,200 barrels a
day, and now covers an area estimated at 6,000 square kilometers."

Makes me think about our trip to Pirallahi Island near Baku, Azerbaijan, to see the ravages of Soviet-era environmental practices in the oil business. This photo is from there, and there are more just as lovely in the Azerbaijan Gallery at EarthPhotos.com.

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Common Sense and Whiskey Road Trip

Syd Common Sense and Whiskey gets a bit sparse for a day or two as we travel to ATL today, LAX tomorrow and from there, SYD, arriving Tuesday a.m. local time.

We'll keep a running commentary as we do the Australia circle tour, Sydney to Melbourne to Perth to Broome to Darwin, a short hop up to Dili and back, then across the "Red Centre" by train, the continent north to south, Darwin to Adelaide, aboard the Ghan. Click the little "Subscribe" button just under the masthead to subscribe for free in your reader.

Photos will post on EarthPhotos.com as we go. Bookmark this link and check it regularly for new pics.

The Friday Photo Quiz will resume in September. For now, "Cheers, Mates."

(Photo of tall ship in Sydney Harbour from EarthPhotos.com.)

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The Road Ahead

Hobart It’s been a lovely summer in the southern Appalachians, with hardly a day in the 90’s, and I rue its passing in advance. Especially since where we're traveling, we'll be greeted by the shank of winter. One thing that can be said for southern Australia just now: it’s not tourist season.

On our first trip to Australia, some 14 years ago, we ran the east coast Port Douglas to Hobart. Now it’s time for the circle tour of points west.

And so we’re off in a few days, for our late summer replacement holiday. Replacement, because for reasons I’m beginning to get over now, Australia wasn’t our first choice of destination.

Not that we won’t love cruising aboard Sydney’s ferries. I have the idea that weather permitting, my camera and I will just hop aboard and see where we go. Melbourne holds out the promise of an Australian rules football match, Melbourne v. Carlton, a rivalry, I gather. R W Apple’s 1996 New York Times love letter to Perth is reason enough alone to fly west.

We’ll stop in Broome and Darwin and scoot across the Timor Sea for a brief visit to Dili before the big finish, one of the world’s great train journeys aboard the Ghan, across the “Red Centre,” the continent north to south in 51 hours and ten minutes.

We’ll post a fairly raw, unedited stream of photos to EarthPhotos.com. Give us a bookmark and watch here starting about the third week of August. And we’ll have the odd thing to say about the things we see right here on Common Sense and Whiskey. Why not subscribe?

As we say in the Appalachians, y'all, "Come go with us.”

(Photo of Hobart from the Australia Gallery at EarthPhotos.com.)

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Where to Go in Australia

Ausitinmap

Speaking of East Timor and points south (previous post), our itinerary to Australia is now set. We'll do essentially the circle grand tour, starting with Sydney and Melbourne, make a brief stop in Perth. We'll head up to the Kimberley coastal town of Broome and on to Darwin, from where we'll make the brief hop up to Dili, East Timor on Air North. On our return to Darwin, for the big finish, we'll board the Ghan, rail service through the Red Center all the way down to Adelaide.

It's still chilly in the south in August, with average lows of 41 (5C) in Melbourne. That makes for uncrowded flights and hotels that aren't full of Americans. Broome and Darwin beckon, with highs in the upper 80's (around 30 or 31).

Watch here for photos and pithy commentary throughout.

This will be our third visit, once in 1995 and another just a transit through Brisbane, really, to Papua New Guinea. See photos in the Australia Gallery and the Papua New Guinea Gallery at EarthPhotos.com.

Please email your favorite Aussie photography tips and suggestions.

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