The strict training regime of a cute little fox fighter

Mezzo and companion dog Isola’s training regime will be challenging, not so much for the dogs but for the trainers.Their Italian names loosely translate to Middle and Island, the rugged island the coast of Warrnambool in south-west Victoria where they will spend most of their adult lives protecting penguins from foxes. If he passes his two-year training program Mezzo may be the next real-life Oddball, star of the family-friendly 2015 movie. Cute, right?But don’t be deceived by his fluffy face, this adorable Maremma will soon weigh about 40 kilograms and become the fierce, fox-fighting guardian of a now-famous island colony of little penguins. This is Mezzo, an Italian sheepdog puppy.
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Managed by Warrnambool City Council, the Middle Island project began in 2006 and has successfully bolstered penguin numbers, gained international media attention and famously featured in Oddball. Photo:
Middle Island is often accessible by foot at low tide but can also be surrounded by a treacherous ocean. At the beginning, there were just 10 penguins alive on Middle Island because of sustained fox attack.Twelve years later under the protection of two loyal Maremmas — Eudy and Tula — the colony is thriving with estimates of between 70 and 100 nesting penguins.Eudy and Tula are being retired to make way for Mezzo and Isola and the challenges of training the newcomers are ongoing. Photo:
Mezzo is Warrnambool’s newest penguin protecting recruit and has two years to train up. The way they protect them {the penguins} is via their scent, which is a big deterrent. But if not, I have no doubt they would chase the foxes away,” she said.Ms Corbett said the biggest problem was getting that “fine line between how much to socialise them with people”.Daily socialisation with chickensRecently, new recruits Avis and Amor — bought as part of a $25,000 crowd-funding campaign run by the council — were found to have been over-socialised with people and had not spent enough time on the island.”It hasn’t all been smooth sailing,” a council statement said.”It is likely that at least one of the two puppies acquired in 2016 will be an ambassador dog for the program rather than being based on Middle Island actively defending the penguins.”Mezzo and Isola are on a strict training regime.”Mezzo is being taken to the island every second day while the crossing is safe,” Ms Corbett said. (Supplied: Warrnambool City Council)
“He is taken over {to the island} at night weekly to get used to the shearwaters flying around and landing on the island and boardwalk and penguins arriving.” When he isn’t on the island, Mezzo is having daily socialisation with chickens on a farm.First attack in 10 years was devastatingMiddle Island is small and close to Warrnambool’s mainland, so close that the narrow strip of sometimes shallow ocean between the mainland and the island can be waded through by humans — and foxes.The penguins access the island from its southern side by taking a death-defying leap out of the deep, unfettered waves of the Southern Ocean onto a rocky platform. Photo:
You’ve got big shoes to fill young man — Mezzo meets his mentor, one of the Maremmas that is retiring. That is generally enough to keep predators away. (Supplied: Warrnambool City Council)
“If that’s not enough, they have a really deep bark. “One of the {retiring] dogs is scared of thunder and lightning — there’s a risk she will try and get off the island and we lose her in the current,” Ms Corbett said.At the time, wild winter seas had eroded a deep channel between the island and the mainland, leaving a treacherous ocean pass.A thunderstorm was approaching so the dogs were taken off and with the penguins unprotected, it is assumed a fox made it across to the island for the killing spree. “He is being intensively trained to be calm around birds and other small animals. Training a conservation warriorMaremmas are calm, good-natured, wilful or independent but above all they are fiercely loyal to their flock and wary of strangers.If a Maremma has not been well socialised with other people or dogs and one strays into their territory, they could be in grave danger.This is where the challenge of training the dogs really lies, not just in their ability to protect penguins.”Maremmas have an instinctive ability to protect whatever is in their territory,” Trish Corbett, coordinator of the Middle Island project explained.”Anything that is invading the territory, is a threat. (ABC Open: Melanie Wells)
In August last year, the project team was devastated when it suffered it first fox attack in 10 years.”We counted 140 dead penguins, which was a huge loss,” said Ms Corbett.”The problem with foxes is that one individual can kill hundreds of birds in just one night — they will kill for fun.”How did it happen?
Maremma sheepdogs guarding endangered marsupials back into existence
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Oddball: SW Victoria's Maremma program inspired a feature film
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ABC South West Vic

By Emily Bissland


February 18, 2018 14:23:25

Mezzo is the newest member of the penguin protection team in Warrnambool, south-west Victoria. (Supplied: Warrnambool City Council)
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The reel history of fishing in Australia

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(The Powerhouse Museum: Public domain)
The growth of commercial fishingFishing remained a very localised industry throughout the 1800s, because fresh fish turned bad too quickly if they were not cured or dried.”Sometimes fish would be transported from Port Stevens down to Sydney and the whole load would be off before it got here,” Dr Clark said. Photo:
Bark canoes were used for fishing by many Indigenous groups. Photo:
Two fishermen at Woody Point Jetty, Redcliffe, Queensland, ca 1913. History of fishing on Nightlife Fishing has been a big part of life in Australia for as long as people have lived here. (Alfred William Howitt: Public Domain)
Nets were also used, with reports of a 90-metre-long net seen by early European explorers in western New South Wales.”If you think of these nets being hand spun … and caught fish,” Dr Clark said.Bark canoes were mostly used for fishing off the coast.Dr Clark said the women would build fires on the canoe to cook what they caught; they balanced babies and young children in the canoe while they paddled and fished.”These women were incredible skippers,” Dr Clark said.Fishing line was made from tree bark, chewed or mashed up before being finely rolled into long lines.Hooks were made from abalone or oyster shells. but there are global questions to be answered.”Dr Clark said the days of huge game fish being caught with relative ease in Australia appear to be long gone.”They’re catching smaller fish because those big trophy fish aren’t there as often,” she said.”But they’re catching fewer fish partly because a real change in attitudes has occurred in Australia in the last 30 to 40 years.”In recreational fishing there’s been a big push not to just catch a free for all; you catch what you want for tea and the rest is thrown back.” about how sustainable fishing was in Sydney Harbour, with the pressures of a growing population,” Dr Clark said.”I think in places like Australia, a lot of effort has been made into making commercial fishing sustainable … Sustainability an issue from early onThe sustainability of fishing has been of concern in Australia for longer than many might imagine.”Around Sydney at the turn of the 20th century there were real concerns … Photo:
Indigenous groups fished with nets, hook and line, and spears. They even dammed rivers to catch fish. Australia’s wealth may have ridden on a sheep’s back in the early 20th century, but for many their very survival has weighed on the scales of fish.People have been wetting a line across this vast land as long as it has been inhabited.Anna Clark from the Australian Centre for Public History at University of Technology, Sydney, has written a comprehensive history of fishing in Australia.It explores everything from Indigenous traditions and techniques through to the current commercial industry and concerns about overfishing.”The early settlement nearly did starve one year partly because the fish supply dried up,” Dr Clark told Philip Clark on Nightlife. In 1864, European brown trout were brought to Tasmania by James Youl and introduced into the local rivers.”In the 19th century people of a certain class … (British Library: Public Domain)
Fishing has often been remembered and seen as a male pursuit in English-speaking cultures.But in Australia, early line fishing was mostly done by Indigenous women.”They made their own handlines and nets and they paddled out in incredible canoes … (State Library of Queensland: Public Domain)
“Local communities would have bartered and sold fish locally.”It wasn’t until boats had proper engines and proper refrigeration that the industry was able to expand commercially.”Dr Clark said in the early days, the difficulties in transporting fresh fish lead to the rise of small coastal towns, which profited from fishing for the local area.These towns also benefited from a boom in fishing tourism which really began to take off in Australia at the same time as car ownership.”You cannot go through a coastal town in Australia without driving past a sign that says ‘bait’,” Dr Clark said.An influx of migrants from post-war Europe also changed Australians seafood habits; suddenly things such as calamari and pipis went from bait to plate.”People used to rubbish tuna for running through the nets and chomping up the nets,” Dr Clark said of pre-World War Two Australia.”Now tuna is a prized, boutique, often protected fish.”

Tales from the Tinny podcast Tales from the Tinny is a fishing show – sort of. that’s a massive piece of infrastructure,” Dr Clark said.There is also evidence of stone traps used in rivers in Victoria, and fish being transported from one river to another in an early form of aquaculture.From fishing for survival to fishing for funCatching fish for Indigenous Australians and the first European settlers was a matter of survival more than recreation.But it was not long before the settlers started to fish for fun. they weren’t that interested in standing on a rock on the [River] Derwent and catching a brim or a flatty,” Dr Clark said.”They wanted the high pursuits of the gentlemanly arts of fishing and catching trout.”[It] absolutely devastated native species.”Fly fishing for trout continues to be a popular pastime in Tasmania, and attracts keen anglers from around the world.”[Fishing is] a really an important pastime and it has been that way for a long time,” Dr Clark said. Photo:
Fishing as a family holiday really boomed in Australia after World War II.
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(Supplied: City of Launceston Council) ABC Radio Hobart


Carol Rääbus


February 18, 2018 08:00:39

Fishing for fun has been a popular pastime in Australia centuries.

Small town, big problem when it comes to finding love

They tend to think they’re married, white picket fence and all that.”Problems with finding country loveLauren Charnstrom is young and not ready to settle down, but she knows the challenges of dating in a small town. (ABC Riverland: Sowaibah Hanifie)
She said in the country, peoples’ lives were very exposed and most people knew when someone came with ‘baggage’.”People talk a lot and give their perspective on certain people and say ‘they have a reputation’,” Ms Charnstrom said.”Whereas if you’re in a city there’s a lot more people and you don’t know them, so it’s a lot easier.”She said most young people met through the local pub or nightclub events. Finding a soulmate in the age of one-night stands is hard. I know heaps of people who married the person they were with in high school,” she said.”I just think it’s not so much outside influence.”Old school is the best wayAt the event this weekend Ms Sheridan said organisers would be taking dating back to the old-school ways and making it socially acceptable to express their love in words and not emojis.She said they would have a number of “naughty” games planned as ice breakers to get socially isolated people feeling less awkward.”Oh my goodness, I hope no-one ever sends me an emoji,” Ms Sheridan said.”We grew up passing love letters under the desk, it was the age of innocence, that time when things were simple.”Ms Sheridan said she expected to host many more dating events in regional places across Australia. I don’t think that would happen as much in the city. But when you’re limited to the small population of a country town, your chances are even slimmer.Vickie Warren said when she got divorced she never thought she’d find a new partner living in the regional town of Renmark, South Australia, population 7,500.She said that feeling was not uncommon with people in small towns because they knew their options were not going to change.”There would be some people who would have gone to school here or be working here and they would kind of feel like ‘Well this is it, I know all the people, so if I want to find someone I’ve got to move’,” Ms Warren said.To solve that problem, a sold-out quirky speed dating event is being held in Mildura, Victoria, for over 35s looking for love.It has attracted widespread attention, with participants expected to come from around Australia, and some from towns with a population as small as 700.Event organiser Christina Sheridan said the event had been a hit with people who felt socially isolated because of their gruelling work hours and large rural properties.”We actually got the idea from a farmer who came to one of our other events and said ‘Can you please, please, please do something for singles’,” Ms Sheridan said.”We’ve a lot heard from them [farmers] that this is a fantastic event and they’ve been looking for an event like this for a long time.”Being over 35 years old as well, others [over that age] will not approach them. Photo:
Lauren Charnstrom says it’s hard finding love in country towns because everyone knows everyone’s history. Other than that, there were not many other opportunities to meet a new lover.”I feel like that’s kind of the only way,” she said.”A lot of my friends use Tinder but I feel like it’s kind of phasing out now; it’s always the same people in the country.” For people over 35 the days of nightclubbing are mostly over, so Ms Sheridan said they needed an alternative not just to fall in love, but also for the sake of their mental health.Living in the country, she said people formed strong and close relationships, so half of someone’s social circle ended up being “friend-zoned”.”People have gone to school together, they were babies together, they want to meet new people,” Ms Sheridan said.But Ms Warren said there were perks to country love — most relationships seemed to last longer.”I think a lot of people in the country even marry their first boyfriend from school.
(Supplied: Luke Lowery Photography) ABC Riverland

By Sowaibah Hanifie


February 18, 2018 09:36:16

Finding love in the country can be a challenge, say locals in small towns.
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Odd instruments being readied for Adelaide Festival orchestral opener

Adelaide 5000
The orchestra promises an energetic performance with some pretty usual instruments. Mr Weber promised an energetic show from the orchestra for the festival audience.”This is the first time they have done something this big with such community involvement,” he said.”It’s going to be a chance for us to be on stage with 500 people having a great time and I am sure that energy will be felt in the crowd.” Photo:
Orchestra members manage to get a sound out of everyday things they have never put near their mouths before. An orchestra at this year’s Adelaide Festival will create its odd brand of music from everyday items including soup pots, barrels, a fire extinguisher and drain pipes.There are 500 performers in the Lost and Found Orchestra, an idea which originated in the UK and coming to entertain an Australian audience next month.”It’s a theatrical experience — it’s more like Dr Seuss’s orchestra, it’s anything but a classical orchestra,” creative director Luke Cresswell said.”It’s an eclectic mayhem of an orchestra — the idea was to find objects and sounds that you would use every day but you wouldn’t think of as melodic and to make a symphony out of that.”The orchestra is holding final rehearsals in an old warehouse as it prepares to open the Adelaide Festival in Elder Park in the CBD in early March. It’s just a piece of pipe but so is a trombone, so I guess it all works,” she said. (Supplied: Lost and Found Orchestra)
There are 100 UK orchestra members, who will join forces with hundreds of South Australian performers including school music students and some professional musicians, the creative director said.”Some of them are just learning now, so they are walking up and down with hose pipes, or playing saws and it always sounds a bit weird when it starts and then it slowly comes together.”Hose pipe performer trained abroadLocal musician Chris Weber is leading the brass section, and even made a trip to the UK last year to perfect the art of playing a piece of hose pipe attached to a funnel.”I generally play jazz or hip hop, commercial sorts of styles, usually on a professionally made brass instrument, so this has been very different,” he said. (Supplied: Lost and Found Orchestra)
Mallory Steele is a trombonist who has been rehearsing on a somewhat different instrument for next month’s performance.”This is quite different.
By Sarah Hancock


February 18, 2018 09:48:50

Video: Check out an orchestra filled with everyday items as instruments. (ABC News)