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Where is the Pied Piper when you need him?

Plague of ravenous, destructive mice tormenting Australians


BOGAN GATE, Australia (AP) — At night, the floors of sheds vanish beneath carpets of scampering mice. Ceilings come alive with the sounds of scratching. One family blamed mice chewing electrical wires for their house burning down.

Vast tracts of land in Australia’s New South Wales state are being threatened by a mouse plague that the state government describes as “absolutely unprecedented.” Just how many millions of rodents have infested the agricultural plains across the state is guesswork.

“We’re at a critical point now where if we don’t significantly reduce the number of mice that are in plague proportions by spring, we are facing an absolute economic and social crisis in rural and regional New South Wales,” Agriculture Minister Adam Marshall said this month.

Bruce Barnes said he is taking a gamble by planting crops on his family farm near the central New South Wales town of Bogan Gate.

“We just sow and hope,” he said.

The risk is that the mice will maintain their numbers through the Southern Hemisphere winter and devour the wheat, barley and canola before it can be harvested.

NSW Farmers, the state’s top agricultural association, predicts the plague will wipe more than 1 billion Australian dollars ($775 million) from the value of the winter crop.


The state government has ordered 5,000 liters (1,320 gallons) of the banned poison Bromadiolone from India. The federal government regulator has yet to approve emergency applications to use the poison on the perimeters of crops. Critics fear the poison will kill not only mice but also animals that feed on them. including wedge-tail eagles and family pets.

“We’re having to go down this path because we need something that is super strength, the equivalent of napalm to just blast these mice into oblivion,” Marshall said.

The plague is a cruel blow to farmers in Australia’s most populous state who have been battered by fires, floods and pandemic disruptions in recent years, only to face the new scourge of the introduced house mouse, or Mus musculus.

The same government-commissioned advisers who have helped farmers cope with the drought, fire and floods are returning to help people deal with the stresses of mice.

The worst comes after dark, when millions of mice that had been hiding and dormant during the day become active.

By day, the crisis is less apparent. Patches of road are dotted with squashed mice from the previous night, but birds soon take the carcasses away. Haystacks are disintegrating due to ravenous rodents that have burrowed deep inside. Upending a sheet of scrap metal lying in a paddock will send a dozen mice scurrying. The sidewalks are strewn with dead mice that have eaten poisonous bait.

But a constant, both day and night, is the stench of mice urine and decaying flesh. The smell is people’s greatest gripe.

“You deal with it all day. You’re out baiting, trying your best to manage the situation, then come home and just the stench of dead mice,” said Jason Conn, a fifth generation farmer near Wellington in central New South Wales.

“They’re in the roof cavity of your house. If your house is not well sealed, they’re in bed with you. People are getting bitten in bed,” Conn said. “It doesn’t relent, that’s for sure.”

Colin Tink estimated he drowned 7,500 mice in a single night last week in a trap he set with a cattle feeding bowl full of water at his farm outside Dubbo.

“I thought I might get a couple of hundred. I didn’t think I’d get 7,500,” Tink said.

Barnes said mouse carcasses and excrement in roofs were polluting farmers’ water tanks.

“People are getting sick from the water,” he said.

The mice are already in Barnes’ hay bales. He’s battling them with zinc phosphide baits, the only legal chemical control for mice used in broad-scale agriculture in Australia. He’s hoping that winter frosts will help contain the numbers.

Farmers like Barnes endured four lean years of drought before 2020 brought a good season as well as the worst flooding that some parts of New South Wales have seen in at least 50 years. But the pandemic brought a labor drought. Fruit was left to rot on trees because foreign backpackers who provide the seasonal workforce were absent.

Plagues seemingly appear from nowhere and often vanish just as fast.

Disease and a shortage of food are thought to trigger a dramatic population crash as mice feed on themselves, devouring the sick, weak and their own offspring.

Government researcher Steve Henry, whose agency is developing strategies to reduce the impact of mice on agriculture, said it is too early to predict what damage will occur by spring.

He travels across the state holding community meetings, sometimes twice a day, to discuss the mice problem.

“People are fatigued from dealing with the mice,” Henry said.

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On 5/28/2021 at 1:30 PM, Kip Powick said:


You would never hear this on the CBC in Canada. You’ve got to love the Aussies

You might hear it in Canada if you listen the right sources.  Sky News in Australia is the equivalent of The Rebel in Canada.  Ezra says all the same things.  You're right, you'll never hear it on the CBC just as you wouldn't hear it on ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corp) or any main stream media but here are a few sources, you know, if you're looking for the Right perspective:








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A Look At The Style Of 1980s Qantas Employees


A lot has changed in aviation since the 1980s. There have been plenty of new aircraft, new routes and new cabins to talk about. But what about airline styles and uniforms? Qantas shared some memories, with a look back to its 1980s crew uniforms and guidelines.

Qantas 1980s cabin crew style The Qanats uniform from the 1980s (shown here being used for a 2020 safety video). Photo: Qantas

Bold colors for the 1980s

We love taking a look back at earlier days of aviation, and nothing shows the changing times better than images of the crew and onboard service. Qantas took us back to the 1980s with a fascinating post on their Roo Tales blog, describing their uniforms and attitudes to style back in the mid-1980s.

This focuses on a new uniform they launched in 1986. It was designed by Yves Saint Laurent and, according to Qantas, was “inspired by the bold colors and patterns that defined the 1980s.” The same uniform remained in use until 1994.


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It features dresses with bold colored patterns (mostly Kangaroo images in red, blue, and yellow), along with stylish blue jackets with terracotta and yellow cuffs, scarves, and other accessories.

Qantas 1980s cabin crew style Qantas 1980s uniform. Photo: Qantas

With accompanying guide to style

Perhaps more interesting in Qantas’ recollections is the style guide that was issued to crew alongside the new uniform. This tells staff how to do their hair and makeup, and exactly what can be worn, with seemingly quite strict guidelines.

Qantas style guide 1980s Hairstyling is explained in Qantas’ guide. Photo: Qantas Newsroom Roo Tales

Women should follow the rules for keeping their perm in order, and men should not have sideburns. Nail polish should either be neutral or match the terracotta trim on the uniform. And shades of makeup that clash with the uniform should be avoided (for eye make-up this includes violet, fuchsia, purple and green).

And of course, all crew should avoid “garlic or other pungent foods.” But, as a great reminder of how things have changed, smoking onboard was fine as long as it was in crew rest areas and not in view of passengers.

Qantas style guide An extract from the 1980s Qantas style guide. Photo: Qantas Newsroom Roo Tales

Going back even earlier

Why stop with the 1980s? Uniforms and image have been an important part of aviation since its early days. Looking back through Qantas’ styles shows how things have changed.

Back in the 1930s, the earliest image of Qantas uniforms we can find shows a pilot with smart fawn suit (and shorts). By the 1950s, the time of Qantas’ first transpacific flights with the Boeing 707, crew are wearing smart dark suits and plain dresses. For more on the history of Qantas, see our previous story.

Qantas historical uniforms Qantas 1935 pilot uniform. Photo: Qantas Qantas 1959 uniform Qantas 1959 uniform for the 707 transpacific service. Photo: Qantas

Things spice up a bit from the 1960s. By 1964 we see crew wearing more colorful outfits. And throughout the 1970s there is a range of uniforms, with floral patterns and striking red, green and yellow jackets. These would have been great at the time, but maybe it is best there were replaced with the new 1986 Yves Saint Laurent style!

Qantas historical crew uniform Qantas uniform from 1964. Photo: Qantas Qantas uniform 1970s Qantas uniform styles in the 1970s. Photo: Qantas

If this look back at Qantas uniforms has interested you, take a look at this article for some more historic uniforms from other airlines.

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