From Austin to Oz. I'm planning to flee the country for 7 months - working for 4 and traveling for 3.
Departure = 03 Sep 2003 / Re-entry = 03 Apr 2004

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

marsupial mojados

Wallabies found at Texas-Mexico bridge

2/21/2006 3:59 PM
By: Associated Press

FALCON, Texas -- Two female wallabies have been located in a pickup bound from Texas to Mexico.

Customs officials say the wallabies, which are native to Australia and protected by the Endangered Species Act, were discovered Monday at the remote Falcon Dam International Bridge.

Each of the animals is believed to be about one year old. So far no arrests. The smuggling investigation continues.

Customs spokesman Rick Pauza said the wallabies, which are about 30 inches tall, are worth about $1,400 apiece.

The animals have been turned over to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Aussie line-up at SXSW 2006

Here are the Australian bandsplaying SXSW 2006, so far.

Brisbane's Powerhouse, meet Austin's Seaholm Power Plant

Along the north shore of Town Lake sits the Art Deco Seaholm Power Plant. It has been decommissioned long ago and has just recently received the EPA 'go-ahead' for the City of Austin to convert the power plant into a cultural center. It reminded me of Robin and my, our visit to the Brisbane Powerhouse, also a decommissioned power plant now cultural centre on the bank of the Brisbane River.

On 17 Jan 06, Austin American-Statesman reporter Shonda Novak wrote a story on Seaholm:

Seaholm's rebirth set for 2008
EPA says ex-plant ready for development; summer start possible.
By Shonda Novak
Tuesday, January 17, 2006

The former Seaholm Power Plant overlooking Town Lake could be crackling with new energy by mid-2008.

Work on the transformation of the decommissioned 1950s power plant into a mixed-use project with housing, entertainment and cultural attractions could start as early as June, said John Rosato, managing partner of Seaholm Power LLC, which the City of Austin tapped last year as its partner for redeveloping the site along West Cesar Chavez Street.

A grand opening for at least part of the project is set for July 4, 2008, Rosato said.

The timetable is ambitious for the 110,000-square-foot public-private venture slated to become a major anchor of downtown Austin's western edge.

But with downtown rapidly changing — from an emerging retail district along Second Street to the proposed redevelopment of the Green Water Treatment plant east of Seaholm — Rosato said Austin's development boon is attracting interest from investors and financial institutions.

"We want to stay on the front edge of that wave," said Rosato, who is also a principal with Southwest Strategies Group Inc., which is leading the Seaholm redevelopment team.

The project cleared a major hurdle Tuesday when the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency officially designated the 7.8-acre site suitable for development. During a news conference at the site, federal and state environmental officials said the nine-year, $13 million remediation to clean up hazardous materials there was finished.

Seaholm is the first facility nationwide to receive a "ready for reuse" designation under the federal Toxic Substances Control Act.

Although still being tweaked, plans for the site include a tower with as many as 20 stories on the northeastern portion holding about 150 residential units atop ground-floor retail; a two-story office building on the site's northwestern corner; and 30,000 to 40,000 square feet of retail space in the cavernous main building that once housed the plant's turbines.

About 1.5 acres of public plazas would serve as a neighborhood park.

The development also will include 60,000 square feet of space for a cultural entity, such as a new home for public TV station KLRU and its "Austin City Limits" music program or a proposed Texas Music Hall of Fame. Rosato said talks are continuing.

Rosato expects to sign a master development agreement with the city within three months outlining the parameters of the project and financial details, including the city's contribution.

When completed, Seaholm will create more than 200 jobs and produce $2 million a year in tax revenue, Rosato said.

Although it is too early to say what tenants his team might go after, Rosato said some local retailers have expressed interest, including RunTex and Whole Earth Provision Co.

The development group plans to preserve the former power plant's distinctive character, including its five exterior smokestacks and indoor elements such as a massive crane that once hoisted up to 75 tons of equipment. The art deco-style landmark stopped producing electricity in 1989 and has long been dormant.

"We want as much of the original industrial feel to stay," Rosato said.


So, I wrote to the reporter and various others connected to this project:

"After having read Ms. Novak's story about the Seaholm power plant in the online Austin American-Statesman [link here], I recalled attending a show at the Brisbane Powerhouse [link here] when I lived in Brisbane, Queensland, Australia in 2003. The Brisbane Powerhouse is a converted power station on the Brisbane River that functions as a cultural center for the city, much like Austin envisions Seaholm to become.

From the News8Austin article about Seaholm (,

// "What's interesting is coming from out of town, I don't necessarily think Austin recognizes what kind of national precedent this project will be. That this is really one of the most unique projects in the country," urban designer Tom Liebel said. //

Mr. Liebel may be completely accurate in stating that the Seaholm renovation is one of the most unique projects in the country (USA), yet, there is no need to re-invent the wheel if Austin can engage a prior power plant conversion project. May I suggest contacting and involving the Brisbane Powerhouse to learn from their mistakes and successes?"

[I didn't mention in my e-mail that the show that Robin and I saw was 'Puppetry of the Penis'. Figured that part of the e-mail wasn't important (smirk).]


Recently, after being tossed from person to person, someone in the City of Austin finally replied:

"Thank you very much for the information about the Brisbane Powerhouse. We will look into the lessons learned by their experience as we have tried already to do with other facilities in the United States. Several years ago we hired a specialist in cultural attractions with experience in the reuse of decommissioned power plants to help us understand what works and doesn’t work so that we wouldn’t make the same mistakes. So we have been thinking along the lines you have suggested. Thanks again."


See? Everyone IS entitled to my opinion. Sometimes, I have to prod them to acknowledge that.