Eumundi & Doonan

This radio feature provides coverage of Eumundi and Doonan, inland suburbs of the Sunshine Coast. The coast is a highly populated region comprising part of South East Queensland. Coincidentally, both these suburbs are included within the voting boundaries that encompass the much-publicized Australian federal seat of Fairfax.

Eumundi is known both for its markets (below) and the Eumundi brewery.  In the 1990s, the independent brewery manufactured the boutique Eumundi Lager, widely acclaimed amongst beer connoisseurs.

Tibetan Momos at Eumundi Markets © 2008 Vanessa Pike-Russell

According to UQ’s Centre for the Government of QLD:

Eumundi, a rural village in hilly country around the upper reaches of the North Maroochy River, is 15 km inland from Peregian Beach and 110 km north of central Brisbane… Eumundi was a timber harvesting area, and a small European settlement emerged in the 1880s.

Next to Eumundi is Doonan, a relatively new suburb which did not exist in directories until the late 1990s. A relatively new street called Panorama Drive (not developed until after 1998) serves as a translator site for the commercial MW and FM stations servicing the Noosa shire. The site encompasses Bicentennial Lookout.

Bicentennial Lookout sign © 2013 FMdxing at wordpress

For tourists, the hill in Doonan provides access to 360 degree views towards Mount Cooroy and Noosa Heads. Gillian Everett captured some of the best views, which are now sadly obscured for daytrippers.

Mt Cooroy from Panorama Drive

There is a golf course near the site, reminiscent of Mount Tamborine on the Gold Coast.

Panorama Drive street sign © 2013 FMdxing at wordpress

Broadcasters Classic Hits 4GY and Zinc 96 relay (that is, rebroadcast) their Gympie-sited transmissions from this site on the frequencies of 107.1 and 100.5 MHz respectively.

Bicentennial Lookout broadcast tower © 2013 FMdxing at wordpress

This modest sized tower is likely to be adequate for the provision of ‘black spot’ FM coverage.

Bicentennial Lookout broadcast tower © 2013 FMdxing at wordpress

It is well established that Noosa shire has known television and radio signal obstructions from the north.

Noosa Local Government Area, Queensland © 2008 Orderinchaos

The signal deficiency is likely caused by the region’s rugged terrain.

The Beach at Alexandrea Bay, Noosa © 2003 Kirsty Bettiol

Perhaps the extensive Great Sandy National Park (north; stretching from the Noosa North Shore to Fraser Island), the Tewantin National Park (west) and the portions of Noosa National Park (east) are the most likely physical impediments to the UHF and FM band signals. Noosa NP is pictured above whilst Fraser’s Great Sandy NP appears below.

Indian Heads, north tip of Fraser Island © 2006 David Simmonds

There are also translators sited in Tewantin, five kilometres north. At Tewantin, broadcaster Hot 91 relays the Maleny-sited transmissions to the Noosa shire. All Maleny television services are also rebroadcast at this site.

Sheraton on Noosa River © 2013 FMdxing at wordpress

The prevalence of national parks in the Noosa shire are one of the reasons that residents and tourists often suggest that the area is so special and relatively untouched.

In 2008, the Beattie Labor government in the state of Queensland mandated the removal of 156 Queensland ‘shires’ (that is, local government areas)  to form just 73 ‘super councils’. The goal was to reduce inefficiencies in public service provision to the community by utilizing economies of scale. The Noosa shire was impacted by this, disappearing to became part of the formidable Sunshine Coast ‘super council’. The natural forest in the region has likely been protected by legislation through the recent reinstatement of the Noosa shire.

Further reading on this region

How the Palmer United Party came out barking

By Scott Prasser

A funny thing happened at the polls in Queensland over the weekend. To great surprise, the two right-of-centre minor parties – Katter’s Australian Party (KAP) and the recently-established Palmer United Party (PUP) – had different levels of electoral success, and not in the way that many pundits had predicted.

While most commentators agreed there would be an overall Coalition win – and there clearly was – many were left red-faced over their prediction that the nascent PUP, led by former LNP member and mining magnate Clive Palmer, would not win any seats.

The view was that the well-known Bob Katter and his KAP – which had a good run in last year’s Queensland election, winning two lower house seats – would perform better than the PUP. Instead, Katter’s own primary vote in his seat of Kennedy in north Queensland plummeted by over 17% as a result of a strong campaign by the LNP. He will just hold on.

Elsewhere, KAP failed to attract much support, receiving just 3.6% of the total primary vote in Queensland. Importantly, the expected win by KAP of the sixth Queensland Senate position also failed, despite a preference deal with Labor.

By contrast, PUP received 11.33% of the overall primary vote in Queensland and outpolled KAP across most seats. More importantly, it appears that Palmer himself will win the once fairly safe LNP seat of Fairfax on the Sunshine Coast, which is just 100km north of Brisbane.

Coolum Beach in the federal seat of Fairfax © 2011 IDS photos

Coolum Beach in the federal seat of Fairfax © 2011 IDS photos

Since its establishment in 1984, Fairfax has always been held by one of the two major non-Labor parties – the Nationals from 1984 to 1990 and then the Liberals since. It was expected to stay that way, even with the retirement of long-standing LNP member Alex Somlyay.

Instead, Palmer received 27.5% of the first preference vote and although seemingly far behind LNP candidate Ted O’Brien’s 40.9%, Palmer is now expected to get elected as he is garnering most of the second preferences from the ALP (18.5%), Greens (8.2%), KAP (1.79%) and other minor parties.

In the Senate, KAP’s lead candidate, country and western singer James Blundell, has been beaten for the sixth spot by the PUP candidate, former rugby league player Glenn Lazarus.

Clive Palmer  © 2013 Benjamin J MacDonald

Clive Palmer © 2013 Benjamin J MacDonald

How has this happened? Is there something about Queensland that spawns these sorts of right-wing movements? Is PUP’s success similar to Pauline Hanson’s One Nation Party’s surge in the 1990s, that saw her party gain 12 seats in Queensland state parliament at the 1998 election?

There are several explanations.

First, the amalgamation of the Liberal and National parties (LNP) in 2008 has caused concern that regional interests were not being adequately represented. The new LNP was seen by some as being dominated by “city” interests. This has had some impact on the success of KAP, particularly at the 2012 Queensland elections – but more importantly, they outpolled the Labor Party across a large number of regional electorates.

Protest poster showing disaffection for QLD LNP © 2012 Leonard John Matthews

Protest poster showing union contempt for QLD LNP © 2012 Leonard John Matthews

It might also be assumed that the vote received by the PUP – especially in Queensland – included a large proportion of Labor voters disaffected with their party, but also those who found it difficult to vote for the LNP and Tony Abbott. Consequently, they decided to park their vote with PUP, partly in protest, partly in jest and partly in frustration with the existing two party system.

Then there is the issue of funding and resources. PUP, thanks to Palmer, had a lot of resources – far more than KAP. PUP spent big, with an estimated advertising spend of over A$3 million. It has helped to create a high profile for a very new political player.

Finally, there is the matter of personalities. In these days of increasingly identikit candidates and lookalike political actors from the major parties, PUP with Palmer as their frontman broke the mould. Palmer said what many voters were thinking but might be unwilling to say themselves. And although some of these comments might be seen purely as entertaining by the media and confusing by political analysts, they resonated with enough people in Queensland to translate into votes.

This election suggests that ideological politics is declining along with party loyalty, and that an increasing part of the electorate is attracted to personalities as distinct from partisan loyalties. Joh Bjelke-Petersen had that personal appeal when he was Premier of Queensland, at one stage attracting considerable support from blue-collar and traditional Labor voters because of his strong leadership style and simplistic solutions to complex issues.

QLD Premier, Joh Bjelke- Petersen & Roy Deicke, Carina Speedway © 1981 srv007

QLD Premier, Joh Bjelke- Petersen & Roy Deicke, Carina Speedway © 1981 srv007

The election of Palmer to the House of Representatives will make for an interesting dynamic. Even more interesting will be how the possible election of a PUP senator from Queensland (and probably also in Tasmania), along with an odd mix of minor party senators, is going to create a new dynamic in federal politics. It might test the skills of the new Abbott government in unexpected ways.

Scott Prasser does not work for, consult to, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has no relevant affiliations.

The Conversation

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The Conversation website

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An evening on Mount Tamborine

On the 17th and 22nd of May, the blogger ventured to Golf Course Road at Mount Tamborine on Queensland’s Gold Coast. The aim of this insanity was to record UHF analogue television signals for historical (that is, archival) purposes before the signals were to be switched off forever. A ‘switch off’ policy was implemented by Australia’s federal government, as in many nations. It takes place incrementally across different regions over a three year period.

This photo illustrates Tamborine around 1930, courtesy of Picture Queensland, State Library of Queensland.

H. J. Jenyns' residence ca. 1930

Before the first trip to Golf Course Road on the 17th, this team of ‘crazies’ stopped to inspect one of the main inland lookouts. Truth be told, the first priority was to buy a mixed carton of boutique local beer at the hotel. Unfortunately, it was closed due to the delayed arrival time to the mountain. Oh, the joys of peak hour traffic in the CBD! With time to spare, the lookout offered a worthwhile distraction.

By 5:45 pm, the sun was about to set. Driving to the destination, it was obvious that many on one of North Tamborine’s lookouts seemed to be obsessed with taking photos. Peer pressure got the better of the team!

Hang Glider's inland lookout

Hang Glider's inland lookout

The weather was fine, but it was cold for May. The security guards at Golf Course Road looked puzzled when photos of the towers were taken from the golf course carpark. Even more bizarre was the fact these correspondents came armed to Tamborine in a sedan loaded with a laptop, metres of coaxial cable and UHF yagi antenna!

Golf Course Road broadcast site

Because it was night time, photos of the broadcast towers did not turn out well.

Site in darkness

Photographer Lewi Hirvela’s golf day photos show the beasts during day time. The golfers seem oblivious to the ugliness they are witnessing!

Golf day

At the towers, the altitude was 551 metres (1,807 ft) above sea level. The broadcasts from this site to the Gold Coast include the UHF local broadcasts, capital city relays (some with live local news) and the FM local commercial and community strations.

Altitude and temperature readings

The temperature between 6-7 pm varied within approximately two kilometres (1 mi) of the broadcast site, but measurements suggest it remained a warm 24-27 degrees celsius. By 7 pm, barometric pressure was 945 hPa with an overcast 27 degrees (80.6 F).

On the 22nd of May, a final trip to Golf Course Road was undertaken. This adventure was made more dangerous than the first due to frequent showers. The weather on this evening was cloudy with warmer temperatures. Because of the altitude, thick fog made driving problematic… even for commuters with Four Wheel Drive vehicles.

By this date, many of the television broadcasting stations had set an analogue closure alert ticker along the bottom of all analogue services, providing an ominous indication of  their forthcoming death!

Final trip inside car

By 7:30 pm, the temperature had dropped to below 20 degrees (68 F). Because of the wind and rain, only the bravest souls dared to venture outside the car to orientate the antenna!

Altitude and temperature readings

The fully charged laptop battery lasted over an hour during recording which was more than adequate. Nonetheless, a pure sine wave inverter and a fully charged 12 volt battery was packed in the boot in case of emergency.  That would only be required if the laptop’s juice fell short of expectations. That happened on the first trip … live and learn.

Final trip inside car

Fortuitous VHF services from the capital on 7 and 10 were also receivable with this UHF yagi. In these photographs, the car is parked in the nearest park. This was probably about a kilometre from the broadcast site. Parking at the broadcast site likely not only looks suspicious, but presents a danger of saturating the tuner with excessively strong signals. So this nearby park suited the needs of the trip perfectly.

UHF yagi in the park

To record the automatic scans, free version of Bandicam software was used. The Gold Coast analogue broadcasts themselves were captured to the hard disk in the standard DVD compliant MPEG2 format using Honestech TVR. Fortunately, analogue recordings that are snowy can be later enhanced with Dscaler noise reduction software.

Final trip inside car

The tuner employed was a simple PCMIA Cardbus analogue TV card picked up for $10 from a Sydney computer wholesaler that was clearing out superseded technology. This cheap beast can be seen protruding from the left side of the laptop. Note the emergency food supplies. This blogger is getting hungry right now writing this!

Stationary in the carpark of Rosser Park, there was plenty of unusual FM stations to be savoured on the Blaupunkt factory radio. These included The Rebel from Stanthorpe on 97.1, The Breeze from Tenterfield on 102.5, News Radio broadcasts from Inverell and Warwick on 93.5 and 96.3 respectively and FM104.7 Grafton. At the inland lookout in North Tamborine on the first trip (illustrated by the photos at the top of the article) Ten FM from Stanthorpe on 98.7 and ABC New England on 99.1 were clearly audible. There may have been more distant FM signals, but time was of the essence. It is a steep descent back to the dirty city and takes concentration during the adverse weather conditions.

Don't Turn It Off! © 2010 dirac3000

Once complete, the day of the analogue switch off was quite historic. Surprisingly, there were a number of pieces focussing on the history of analogue television that aired on the commercial television stations, notably BTQ7. Perhaps not such a terribly niche project after all?