Thursday, December 31, 2020

Plague Update #45 - Holiday Edition

 A new year is upon us which is fortunate because we were pretty much finished with the old one.  It would have been slightly embarrassing if we had been sitting about on December 31st as the clock hit midnight and a new year hadn't turned up.  We would have had to pull 2020 out of the bin and run it past its use by date.  Judging by 2021 so far we may indeed have done that.

This blog took a brief sabbatical over the holiday period.  It wasn't deliberate, I'm just lazy.  While I idled and spent a little time in the bosom of my family (it was great guys, we should do it again next year) Britain left the EU but coronavirus didn't take the hint and has stubbornly hung around.  Sudden outbreaks in my home state put the kybosh on New Years celebrations and allowed the Victorian government (with more than a hint of schadenfreude) to lock down our mutual border from the other end.  So far our state leadership has stubbornly refused to make face masks mandatory and is relying on really, really strong recommendations that everyone wear them.  I've taken to wearing a mask at all times myself.  That's nothing to do with coronavirus, my puffin insists.

Still there is light at the end of the tunnel.  The race to produce a vaccine is gathering pace with the Pfizer vaccine entering the last stage of human testing (its being distributed in Great Britain).  If there are no unfortunate side effects it may not be too long before it becomes available elsewhere.  COVID-19 faced up to this challenge with the cheerful enthusiasm that we have come to expect from this most gregarious and flexible of viruses.  It has started throwing up new, even more contagious variants of itself even faster than we can develop vaccines.  This isn't surprising really as COVID-19 doesn't need to undergo all of the safety testing we insist on before unleashing a vaccine, even in Britain.

On more important topics the next cricket test in Sydney is apparently still going ahead despite the miasma of disease hanging over the state.  When I say "the state" I mean of course Sydney.  Very little of the rest of the state seems to be badly affected.  To the best of my knowledge there have been no sudden outbreaks in Wilcannia or Ivanhoe (to pick two names I literally selected at random from the map).  For most of the population of NSW, and virtually all its politicians, Sydney and NSW are pretty much interchangeable terms.  Which is why that part of the population that doesn't live in Sydney sometimes gets annoyed with us.  Fortunately there aren't many of them since most people live in Sydney.  At least most of the people I know do.

Meanwhile I can't help noticing that the current outbreaks in Sydney seem to be creeping ever closer to the rather dilapidated block of flats where I spend most of my time.  I have injected my puffin with a vaccine of my own devising and so far the side affects have been manageable.  Anyway, I think bright green is a rather handsome colour for a puffin.  He disagrees but is a little more concerned about his extra tentacle.

Saturday, December 19, 2020

Silly After Action Report - Armoured Probe at Sidi Nsir

 German and French negotiators stared at each other with mutual distrust.  Eau de Cologne clouds had reached Geneva Convention violation levels and for their part the Germans literally oozed suspicion (Suspicion for Men by Hugo Boss).  Outside the hot sun of Tunisia bathed the guards in their own sweat although the atmosphere was still probably preferable to the indoors.

The French general stared up at the hard eyed German negotiator.

"If we let you into Tunisia," he announced, "I must insist on one thing.  We have no objection to surrendering our arms to German soldiers but there must be no question of the Italians involved."

The German negotiator, in the happy position of a pathological liar being able to tell the truth, nodded in agreement.

"You have my word Herr General.  This will be an agreement between the two great nations of Germany and France.  No Italians in Tunisia."  At that moment a German staff officer entered the room, gasped, choked, saluted and presented his report.

"The Italians have landed in Tunisia!"

The German negotiator stared in horror before turning to the Frenchman babbling words of apology but it was too late.  His moustache quivering with outrage the French general drew himself up to his full three foot nine and flung out a heavily bemedalled finger.

"J'accuse!" he bellowed.  "Perfide!" And a lot of other melodramatic French words (which let's face it, is most of them).

The German negotiator was almost in tears, "I had no idea Herr General, you must believe me!"

"You will receive my answer on the battlefield," replied the French general before turning on his heel and leaving.

The German negotiator slumped back into his seat while the staff officer opened a window.

"What does 'you shall receive my answer on the battlefield?' mean," asked the staff officer.

"With the French it could mean either a mass surrender or a fight to the death."

It is Tunisia late in 1942 and for possibly the last time Mussolini has managed to toss a handful of grit into the gears of the German war machine.  With Rommel retreating from El Alamein and the Allies securely ensconsed in Algeria Tunisia took on great importance as the only part of North Africa left.  The Germans moved in to occupy it and much to the annoyance of literally everyone so did the Italians.  Then it was time to push the suddenly irritated French out of the positions they held before they could be reinforced.

This is scenario FT239 - Armoured Probe at Sidi Nsir which pits a small group of German assault engineers and a somewhat larger group of Italian troops backed by self propelled guns trying to capture some hills from the soon to be no longer Vichy French.  The French troops were equipped for a war in 1940 which was convenient as the Italians had just caught up.

I, naturally, am commanding the brave Italians (with some German hangers on) looking to capture (and hold) one of the two forward hills from Dave Wilson's French.  To do this I have four squads of German assault engineers with a pair of lmgs an atr and a DC.  I also have seven squad equivalents of elite Italians with two light machine guns, a heavy machine gun and a 45mm mortar.  The whole infantry force has to enter mounted on trucks.  Supporting them are six self propelled guns, two little SMV L40s and four quite respectable SMV M41s.  I scoured the OB for a single L3 but found nought, I should have known then that I was doomed.

On the defence Dave has a plethora of superannuated firepower to call upon.  Up front he has six first line squads garrisoning the vital hills with a pair of lmgs.  Each hill must have at least two squads and one lmg.  Somewhat to the rear are another ten more first line squads with a pair of medium machine guns, a 60mm mortar, a light machine gun and a 25mm AT gun.  He also has a pair of only just armoured cars sporting a short barrelled 37mm and a 47mm AT gun with its own truck to haul it around.

On the second turn he receives reinforcements in the shape of two D1 tanks which move at about the same speed as a snail with arthritis.  On turn three he gets a pair of somewhat better armoured cars carrying a 12.7mm machine gun and a wholly unarmoured truck carrying a 75mm artillery piece.

At start, as you can see I have decided to go for the top hill

Above is Dave's set up.  I decided to ignore the bottom hill and concentrate my forces against the top one.  It was my intention to throw enough force at it to overrun the hill early and then challenge Dave's no doubt demoralised troops to try and recapture it.  In the centre I planned to put sufficient of a flank guarding force to prevent Dave's troops on the other hill from successfully intervening.

The first turn didn't go too badly for me although I did make one mistake that would rapidly come back to haunt me.  I sneaked my Germans and a number of Italians behind the woods near the hill I wanted and dispatched no fewer than four semovente to prepare the way by climbing the hill and beating up its defenders.  In the centre I sent one SMV L40 and one M41 forward to ward off the big concealment stacks which were his guns and armoured cars while a bunch of Italians (including the mortar and the hmg) formed a defensive line in the woods.


First turn and things are going not too bad-ish

The one silly thing I did was race a SMV right up to the hedge where it could take on the French.  I had forgotten about the 47mm gun which could tear any of the armour I had to scrap.  I was more sensible with the little SMV L40 which I parked in a reasonably secure location.  The L40 would survive for several more turns while the M75 would go down in the first French turn.

I was fortunate in my choice of target as Dave had expected me to go for the other hill and had set his defences accordingly.  This meant his 25mm gun spent the first two turns being laboriously pushed into a position where it might be effective.  Dave revealed his mortar team which promptly broke a squad and a half of Italians in the woods but when he tried to follow it up with an lmg shot I had the most effective result of the game.  Line of sight was actually blocked and Dave rolled a snake eyes which was my sniper number.  I fatally wounded his best officer in charge of an mmg in a foxhole.  The squad manning the mmg failed their LLMC and for a while I was free of that concern at least.  On the target hill Dave largely forwent firing in order to maintain concealment and hope to live a little longer.

End of French turn 1

The "hope to live a little longer" theory didn't hold much water as my second turn saw me clear the hill of unbroken French (except for one very significant squad, see below) and the death of a couple of them for failure to rout.  This was probably the high point of my game, I invite readers to note that this is turn two of a six turn game.  I did however manage to break the MA of another of my semovente and a six on the subsequent repair roll sent it limping towards the rear.  My infantry, happy now most of the French were gone, were climbing the victory hill while in the centre I actually managed to rally a squad and started assembling support weapons.

Down in the centre one of Dave's armoured cars had been banging away at my little SMV without success so I decided to return the favour, and broke the MA.  Meanwhile up on the hill Dave's sole remaining squad threw caution to the wind and charged into CC with another of my M75s and tore it apart with their bare hands.  At the end of the second turn I had precisely two functional AFV.  Dave's D1 tanks turned up and started making their slow and painful way towards the battlefield.

End of French turn 2. Things are not going well for the Italian armour

Despite the mutilation of my armoured force I did have one consolation.  I had the hill and Dave had to take it back in order to win.  Unfortunately he did have the forces to do so especially now that a significant amount of my firepower had been destroyed.  Still my German troops had entered the battlefield and even my Italians were pushing forward, snuggling into French foxholes.  I sent a pair of squads from my centre forward to occupy the next patch of woods to provide some more flank guards.  This worked for a little while and a couple of French squads from the unmolested hill were broken trying to push forward.  Unfortunately his other medium machine gun took these squads under long range fire.  A two flat shot broke one squad but that didn't worry me as I pushed its comrade forward in its place.  The next two flat generated a morale check which I passed with my only snake eyes of the game.  Heat of Battle, with Italians.  The subsequent roll was an eleven and they broke and disrupted.  So much for my flank guard.

Dave's armoured cars turned up and rolled towards the battlefield while his gun truck found a convenient hill to climb.  Back on the target hill he had pushed a pair of squads forward from the rear to challenge my Germans but surely eight morale troops, led by a 9-1 could hold their own?  Nope.  Dave was getting very bold now that most of my armoured force was gone, he rolled his two tanks and both his armoured cars forward against my lone SMV L40 with the busted MA, once that was gone he could carve up my infantry in the woods at leisure.  He had also pushed forward more troops from the other hill.  My hmg broke a squad but as an encore broke itself thus leaving me a little short of firepower.

Things are getting worse

In desperation I attempted to repair the MA on my SMV and actually succeeded.  I felt a trickle of hope.  Dave's tanks were in motion so possibly not best placed to shoot and it would take a good roll from the 37mm on the armoured cars to actually kill the SMV.  So Dave got a good roll and the newly repaired semovente went to the vehicle graveyard in the sky.  At this point desperation does not adequately describe my feelings.  I had sent my other little semovente looping around towards Dave's mortar team as much in the hopes of scaring them as anything else but having a 47mm gun on the high ground could still be an advantage.  Particularly since it was overlooking Dave's two reinforcing armoured cars which he had sent along to support his troops (who were happily carving up my assault engineers without any help).  Dave's response was to drive both armoured cars up and park in front of me.  I missed the pointblank defensive fire shot and Dave promptly got a critical hit in the advancing fire phase.
OK, I'm going home now


At that point I conceded.  My force wasn't entirely broken but I was.  The simple fact was Dave now had a mass of firepower to help shoot his troops forward to the hill and I had a single SMV41 left to support such of my troops as had survived.  It was a six turn game but I only lasted four turns.  Not it has to be admitted particularly impressive.  Thanks to Dave for the game and the lacerations on my soul.  If the therapy is successful we shall return again next week.

The German negotiator looked up as his staff officer entered.

"Well," he asked without much hope, "how did the Italians do?"

"It's difficult to tell," replied the other, "there aren't any left to ask."

"I don't suppose we could persuade the French that there aren't any Italians left in Tunisia now could we?"

"Doubtful, do you want some dinner?  I know a good pasta restaurant."

"In Tunisia?  When did that open?"


Travelling Pathetically - Berry No Longer an Island Edition

 In the latest of my increasingly desperate attempts to fill the yawning void in my life during the time when I'm not at work I have boldly struck out across the harbour to examine some of the lowest parts of the Lower North Shore.  To be strictly accurate Berry No Longer an Island should really be named Berry Never was an Island Except for a Brief Period in the Nineteenth Century When We Accidentally Made It One.  I think we can all agree that this is a little much to put on a business card so for the purposes of convenience we call it Berry Island.  For the record Berry Island sits in Sydney Harbour but was connected to the mainland by a little isthmus.  In the nineteenth century our habit of dragging boats across said isthmus carved sufficient of a groove for the harbour to flood in and make Berry Island a genuine island.  Sometime after that we filled it in again and turned the former isthmus into a park thus solidly anchoring Berry Island to the mainland.

The former island is located in the suburb of Wollstonecraft.  Wollstonecraft was named after a guy who was related to somebody who was related to the person who wrote Frankenstein.  This is Wollstonecraft's big claim to fame.  The suburb itself is charming, leafy, village like with harbour views and close to the city or to sum it all up in one word "wealthy".  The population of Wollstonecraft falls into that category of people who are sufficiently wealthy to be in the highest tax bracket while not being wealthy enough to avoid paying taxes at all.

My knowledge of Wollstonecraft was actually limited to how to spell the word until my Tasmanian correspondent mentioned Berry Island.  I was suggesting that with most internal travel restrictions lifted I might visit her in Tasmania.  In desperation she suggested I visit Berry Island instead.  With the seed thus planted I checked out Wollstonecraft to reassure myself that I didn't need a passport to visit it (technically no although the inhabitants might prefer it if I did).  A quick glance at the map told me that Wollstonecraft's railway station was at the opposite end of the suburb to Berry Island but also that there appeared to be an extended stretch of green (at least it looked green on google maps) that would take me from the station to my not quite an island destination.

In contrast to my previous excursion the day was grey, overcast and always seemed to be teetering on the edge of pouring with rain.  Fortunately it settled for a light drizzle.  I hopped off the train at Wollstonecraft and set off, making my way past a stationside pet cafe called Chew Chew.  Shortly afterwards I consulted google maps again, turned around and walked in the opposite direction.  A neatly trimmed park rapidly turned into what is referred to as "remnant bushland".  Remnant bushland being code for "it was just too much bother to actually bulldoze and build on this".  A creek ran through this bushland and since the name of the creek was Berrys Creek it seemed propitious for eventually turning up in the vicinity of Berry Island.  A sign requested that I keep to the path and invited me to look out for all of the exciting animals that lived in this tiny shred of nature.  Eels and lizards were particularly mentioned.

I kept a close eye out for eels but there were none on the path.  In fact I was looking for eels so assiduously that I almost missed a rather handsome lizard overcasting itself on a convenient rock.  As you can see he is the perfect colour to be camouflaged against the background if he hadn't picked a bright green rock to sit on.

The photo is fine.  It was the lizard that was blurry


The path and indeed the bushland essentially followed the creek down to the harbour.  It was a narrow sliver of nature sandwiched between housing which was frequently so close that I could probably have held conversations with people in their back yards if I was so inclined.  I wasn't so inclined.  Despite this the area still managed to give off that calming vibe that comes from being in a part of nature not famous for its carnivorous animals.  The only sounds were the gurgle of the creek, the trill of birds and the gentle rattle of the trains in their natural habitat a couple of hundred metres away.  If you tilted your head thus and were careful with your camera angles you could imagine that you were alone with nature (let's not think about how terrifying that would actually be).

Totally unspoilt by the houses approximately ten metres on either side of this picture

Encouraged by my lizard triumph I carried on eager to see if eels would be equally photographically accommodating.  They weren't and my trip would be eelless nevertheless I forged onwards making my way from the Lower North Shore to the Even Lower North Shore.  Along the way, possibly under contractual obligation, a brush turkey wandered out from wherever it had been hiding and posed for photographs.  Apparently being bright black and red is the perfect camouflage for a largely green and grey background because I didn't see the thing until it was about five metres away and prancing back and forward in the hopes I would produce a camera.  Produce a camera I did but once the photo-op was out of the way each of us thankfully went about our business.  We're unlikely to stay in touch.

Can you see the brush turkey hiding in this photo?

Having rid myself of the pushy brush turkey I continued on down the creek until I hit a small snag.  The creek disappeared.  One moment there was trickling water and then a couple of small pools and then nothing.  Fortunately the path was better informed than I was, a mess of boulders later and the creek leapt out again with just a hint of smugness.  I looked carefully but there were still no eels.

So far I had navigated myself through the untamed wilderness of Wollstonecraft with aplomb but now the path had reached the sea.  Or more accurately it had reached a cove which in turn reached the harbour which (several kilometres away) did indeed impact with the sea.  In celebration of this fact the path split in two and a helpful sign pointed the way to Berry Island.  I promptly managed to walk in circles for ten minutes and was also terrified by a stealth spaniel.  It is embarrassing to be terrified by a spaniel.  It's like being mugged by a pensioner.  Still after a few deep breaths (and the possibility of several years of therapy) I managed to continue getting lost.  Since there was essentially only one path this required a special effort on my part but fortunately as I passed the signpost for the third time I noticed the direction I had to follow lurking modestly among the undergrowth and, only slightly dizzy, continued towards the island that isn't.

The sea beckons, now to steal a boat and make my way to freedom

And just like that I was out of the bush and onto a street.  A helpful sign had a map pointing out the direction I had to travel to get to Berry Island (just down the street) but I still studied it for ten minutes to make sure I wasn't going to mess it up again.  Thirty seconds walk down the street brought me to the aforementioned park that had been built on the isthmus we destroyed and in front of me loomed Berry Island in all its glory.  In fairness it probably looms a little more gloriously when it isn't grey and drizzling with rain.

That clump of trees is Berry Island

One of the many traits that I share with Field Marshal Montgomery is my habit of bringing a packed sandwich when journeying far from home (I'm also socially inept and a pathological liar although I do like to think I would not have dropped a parachute unit right on top of an SS panzer division).  I sat enjoying the drizzle and my sandwich while Berry Island issued its siren song.  Finally I could bear it no longer and drawn by forces I could not explain set out on the path that would enable me to circumnavigate the "island".  I had to stay on the path as a thin rope fence formed an impenetrable barrier to plunging through the bush.  Signs informed travelers that the bush was being regenerated (apparently a slower and less convenient process than Doctor Who would lead us to believe) and could we please stay on the path.  Oh yes and please not drop dog faeces anywhere.  Reluctantly sticking my dog faeces back in my pocket I trotted obediently along the path.

To my left was a tangle of (apparently only partially regenerated) bushland while on the right I gazed across the water to massive fuel tanks lurking near the shore.  Lurking near the fuel tanks was a rather shabby looking vessel called the ICS Reliance.  The ICS Reliance was built in Vietnam, is flagged in the Bahamas and is apparently cleaned by nobody.  The only reason why I didn't think it was derelict is because I googled it and apparently it is still operational.


Some rather handsome looking fuel tanks.  The ICS Reliance was too grotty to photograph

Berry Island was once a popular location for the Cammeraygal Aboriginal people due to the abundance of food that could be procured.  The views were pretty good as well.  Along the path is an Aboriginal rock carving of what might be a whale or might not.  Despite the fact that it is well signposted its actually difficult to identify the carving.  Being exposed to the elements the carvings naturally erode over time.  Traditionally Aborigines would continuously maintain and redo significant carvings to ensure they weren't lost.  Sadly, for depressingly obvious reasons, there is no one left with the skill or the knowledge to maintain this carving.  We're not even really certain what its a carving of, whale is just our best guess. 

With Berry Island under my belt there were decisions to be made like "how am I going to get home?"  Despite my problematic relationship with maps in general it appeared that if I continued my journey I could wander through some more bushland and wind up in the general vicinity of Waverton railway station.  Strangely this actually worked.  I walked through what appeared to be virgin bush.  At least it would have appeared to be virgin bush if it weren't for the signs popping up every so often to inform me that this was by no means the case.  In the nineteenth century and presumably before it became a home for the wealthy there was a certain amount of industry in this part of the North Shore including a timber works, a sugar refinery (which didn't last long) and a gas works (which did).  Once these industrial behemoths had been swept aside by the tide of history parks and sometime bush were inserted in their place.

I trotted through the not so virgin bush until I hit a fence with some very serious invitations to keep out posted on it.  For a moment I was outraged then I saw a whole bunch of floating stuff painted grey and decided not to challenge the navy for this part of the foreshore.  Instead I climbed parallel to the fence until I found myself on a street only five minutes from Waverton station.  How's that for navigation?

Saturday, December 12, 2020

Octopus Interlude

"Does this octopus look angry to you?"

This question is quite a typical example of the things my Tasmanian correspondent and I talk about when we've finished discussing blog business but convention and common politeness demand that we each pretend to take an interest in the other's life for a few minutes before signing off the call.  In this instance my correspondent presented me with a photo of a random cephalopod and asked me to pronounce on its emotional state.

The back story to this sudden excursion into octopus analysis is quite simple.  In an increasingly desperate attempt to maintain discipline among her rapidly growing offspring my correspondent has taken to scattering terrifying pictures about her home in the hopes of scaring her recalcitrant children into obedience.  At least this is the excuse she presented for having mural of a great white shark on the ceiling of her youngest daughter's bedroom.  Before the octopus picture she has acquired goes up on a wall she wanted reassurance that the subject looked adequately terrifying.

The invertebrate under discussion

While disavowing any deep understand of the octopus psyche I had to confess that the octopus didn't look particularly angry to me.  But it does most certainly have a decided look about it.  Once glance is enough to assure you that this particular octopus is taking no crap.  This seemed to satisfy my correspondent and the picture is now adorning a wall within eyesight of her beloved children.

I have to admit that I have always thought that octopuses (octopi? octopodes? octomum?) do look somewhat creepy and menacing.  I'm rather fond of octopus (in a non garlic butter sort of way) but a lot of that is due to the low probability of bumping into one in the street.  I suspect it has to do with the fact that they bear absolutely no resemblance to humans and yet manage to give the impression (accurately) that they're quite intelligent.  Once can sense purpose in an octopus which tends to give us the shivers in something that looks so much like an alien.

Actually that previous sentence needs to be reversed.  Octopuses do not look alien.  Aliens look like octopuses.  When, in our demented fever dreams we have come up with pictures of what aliens look like we seem to derive their appearance from the octopus.  I'm not even going to get into daleks which are basically octopuses driving tanks.  HP Lovecraft didn't help matters either.  It would seem that when we seek out stomach churning menace we immediately dial in an octopus.

Possibly its because despite being so thoroughly different octopuses actually have quite a few things we should recognise.  They have arms, they have eyes, they quite obviously have brains yet they've managed to squeeze these things into a package so utterly different from our own that the sight of them sends us climbing the curtains with squeals of terror (I do that anyway but for completely different, puffin related, reasons).

I rather suspect when we do make first contact the alien species we encounter better not look anything like an octopus otherwise I foresee nothing except grim and bloody warfare until one of our two species is extinct.

But back to the octopus de jour.  It is in fact a drawing of a maori octopus which hang about in the waters around Tasmania and New Zealand.  They aren't the biggest of octopuses but they are aggressive and fearless.  They also have the usual depressing reproductive cycle that nature seems to delight in.  The male ambushes the female (we would call that rape but apparently octopuses are unenlightened beings for all their intelligence) and impregnates her.  The effort of this apparently destroys his brain as he then goes senile and dies.  The female produces countless thousands of eggs which she tends fanatically, constantly fanning her tentacles across them to ensure a constant flow of clean water.  To help assure that the water is clean she stops eating so as not to produce any waste products.  The result is that after the baby octopuses hatch the mother usually starves to death.  I'd love to see a remake of The Lion King with that as the cycle of life.

Deprived of parents and surrounded by predators the few of those maori octopus that survive quite naturally grow up surly and overly aggressive, with a tendency to start fights, get into trouble and not ask for consent before initiating sex.  In short, its an entire species of juvenile delinquents.  Thank god they can't drive cars.

Tuesday, December 8, 2020

Gone Fishing

 Things are looking up on the environmental front.  People who keenly watch the doings of Australia's internal waterways may recall that nearly a year ago there was a mass die off of fish in the Murray River.  This came as a surprise and a shock to me as I honestly didn't realise anything lived in the Murray at all.  I also have a bit of a problem with the term "internal waterway".  What is an external waterway?  I think we call them oceans.

To compensate for the Murray's sadly fishless state the NSW government has taken time off from bitching about koalas to dump a couple of million fish that they apparently just had lying around into the river.  So the Murray is once again alive with fish, until they die then the Murray will be dead with fish., again.

The intention, of course, is that the fish thus dumped will ignore their new, low rent surroundings and breed like crazy thus removing the requirement for the government to keep half an ecosystem in ornamental ponds at the back of government house.  This has worked in the past but it usually requires that the water the fish are being dumped into be somewhat liveable.  There has been some rain so the Murray is marginally more liquid than it has been in recent times but other than that nothing much has changed.  Essentially we're simply shovelling in more fish in the hopes that we can beat the death rates by sheer volume.

One of the reasons why the government is eagerly reinpiscinating the river is economic.  Most of the communities along the Murray Darling survive by sucking water out of the river but some of them are centres for sports fishing.  Encouraging anglers to attend your location is a little easier if you can at least plausibly pretend that there might be some fish for them to catch.

Personally I think that these communities (and the state government) have rather missed the point.  Catching fish is time consuming and has no guarantee of success.  Imagine how many anglers would flock to your town if all they had to do was scrape floating dead fish off the surface.  None of that buggering about with rods or hooks.  You could just go out with a net, scoop up your bag and spend the rest of the day in the pub.  Mass fish kills could be the economic recovery plan these towns need.  The only trouble with this plan is you need a constant fish churn to make it succeed.  My personal suggestion is, given the levels of salt in the Murray we should just toss potatoes and oil in with the fish and set the whole thing on fire.  

Still pasting a level of pseudo healthiness over the ecological disaster zone that is the Murray River provides work for fish wranglers if nothing else.  We're going to need more jobs as we come out of the pandemic.  Once we've finished stuffing the rivers with fish we can hire the same people to paint the bleached bits of the Barrier Reef.  With any luck once the thing finally dies nobody will notice.  As long as we don't use water paints of course.