Winter conference – in June.

In the southern hemisphere – of course including Australia, where I was last week – June 1 is the first day of winter. Down under it’s hardly gonna be all snow drifts, frozen-over lakes and -40 degrees temperatures or anything, but it can still get relatively cold at night. The nightly average minimum temperature at this time of year in northwestern Australia is 15 degrees centigrade, but that’s only the average; in some places there can be night frosts. In Oz!! All the same, by day, hardly wintry in the town of Broome in Kimberley:

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So what’s to be done when it’s cold and miserable out? Get the skiis and sledges out maybe? Better idea: feed the crocodiles!

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Here they are, the little beauties:

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The crocs here are both energetic and aggressive. Their cousins – alligators – which also roam here, are altogether calmer and more placid.

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Other interesting wild animals live here too: cassowaries, emus, parrots and others. But the crocs are by far the main attraction. Thanks to my travel companions btw for these pics:

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The place is called the Malcolm Douglas Crocodile Park. I really recommend a visit if you’re ever in this somewhat lesser-traveled part of the world.

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Not long after our croc-fest it was time to head back to the airport…

Now, I’ve flown via Australia a zillion times. However, just about every time it’s always been at night: not so good for views of the Australian outback down below :).

This time, finally, it was daytime. Another bonus: we practically traversed the whole country from west to east – from Broome to Gold Coast. Oh my word. What views! Amazing Australia – endless red desert. Massive, boundless, Martian somehow.

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Judging by a world map one could think Australia is relatively small, tucked out of the way in the bottom right-hand corner like that. But really it’s massive: the size of Europe from the Atlantic coast of France right up to the Ural Mountains, i.e., around 4000 kilometers across and 3000 top to bottom. Flying across most of it took us four and a half hours.

For the whole duration, down below it was nothing but desert. The only thing – actually things – that interrupted the monotony were some strange long stripes that crossed the barren landscape. The pilots told us they’re the work of the wind, which always blows a gale here – but only in one direction mostly. As a result these long furrows are formed instead of the classic Lawrence-of-Arabian dunes of Middle-Eastern deserts. Didn’t know that…

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All the same, my forever questioning mind wasn’t quite ready to settle for that explanation fully: Even if the wind blows mostly in one direction, surely there’d be the odd bit of waviness, like with the sand on a beach? Any of you Einsteins reading this able to shed any light on the physics of this strange phenomenon? I’m just curious.

We were flying fast at a high altitude – ~1000 km/h, some 12 km up.

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Ice Cold in Alice SpringsIce Cold in Alice Springs

I observed this famous town down below, though it was quite a way off. Famed for being right bang in the middle of the Australian land mass with nothing but desert all around for thousands of miles – literally nothing: the distance to the nearest coast – around 1200km; to the nearest town – 1500km!

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Finally, we got to our destination, which needs neither introducing or describing, thanks to its eloquent name: Surfers Paradise. I’ve been here five times already. 5 x euphoric enchantment with the surrounding… paradise.

We were in town paradise for the yearly AusCERT conference. This year not in May as usual, but in June – that is, in winter. Autumn-y May here is quite tolerable when it comes to beach chilling and bathing and all that. But in June – just one month later – it’s actually quite nippy. Really nippy – not like up in Kimberley. So beach fun is… scant. Funnily enough the ocean’s quite warm, so though the beaches are empty, the sea’s packed with surfers. Only to be expected in Surfers Paradise, I guess.

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AusCERT is not such a large conference, but it’s the No. 1 infosec event for the whole of Australia and New Zealand. And since our business down in this corner of the globe is doing very nicely thank you, well, I just had to get on down under to be here and speak a bit at the gig. Thankfully, the packed hall made the long journey getting here seem all the more worthwhile :).

What I like to see: smiling laughing facesWhat I like to see: smiling laughing faces

Modest; does the jobModest; does the job

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Here’s Brian Krebs signing his latest book – this time about spam

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Eek. Spotted :)Eek. Spotted :)

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In all, a good do. Want more detail on the conference and speeches? >twitter tag #AusCERT2015.

Once again we stayed in one of my fave hotels on the planet: the Q1. This time we were on the 66th floor. Here are the views therefrom:

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And let’s not forget the jet skis…

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Crazy speeds, mangrove labyrinths, jumping over ocean waves… At least – that’s what I was expecting…

Turned out ‘health and safety’ had paid a visit and put a stop to all the fun. Instead of the 100km/h speed limit like before it’s now a miserly 75, which makes a huge difference. Now you go along as if on a stool. Before – it was like being on a dragon. You can’t even go out onto the ocean any longer! No more wave hopping! And the labyrinths – they’ve made them somehow dull too, removing all the narrow (“dangerous!”) ones. In short: mega let-down. Alas, everything changes; not always for the better.

Thankfully my travel companion A.Sh. still enjoyed it plenty :).

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And on that slightly lighter note, I’ll finish for today. Next time I promise I’ll be more positive overall and have lots of good stuff to tell you about and show pics of… Really promise!

Hooroo!

All the photos are here here.

 

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