’Scuse Me While I Dis This Sky
(or: ‘Anybody Know Dust?’)


A dust storm blowing in from South Australia and western New South Wales failed to make the news – despite eclipsing Broken Hill the previous afternoon – until it created an eerie early morning red haze when it reached Sydney. Before it eventually faded to a sepia tinge for most of the day, most people awoke to an extended orange coloured sunrise – and then had difficulty avoiding awesome, albeit disturbing, photos online. Which in time gave way to that bloody Kanye West meme. (‘Yo, Sydney, I’m gonna let you finish; but Mars/LA/Africa has better eerie colouring/poluted skies/all-enveloping dust storms…’.)

By the end of the day, news outlets were reporting that the dust clouds were stretching all the way to the Gold Coast and Brisbane. Meanwhile, Sydney’s air was 1500 times more polluted than usual.

I had intended on compiling my favourite photos from around the net – but the day got away from me. And they’re all over the place now, anyway. So I just picked a handful that are representative of a whole bunch.

Of course, the place to start is with an excellent YouTube clip of home video taken in suburban Broken Hill. If I were reporting about this on air or making a YouTube video of my own, I’d use Elvis Costello’s ‘Turning the Town Red’ and a couple of different versions of ‘Orange Coloured Sky’ (including the ridiculous Burt Ward version that Frank Zappa produced back in the late 60s) to orchestrate it. And, of course, anything from Dusty Springfield’s entire oeuvre. Oh, and how could I forget – seeing as I have a later re-issue of the 7-inch single pressed on red vinyl: ‘I See Red’ by Split Enz.

Rayneegirl’s YouTube clip of the dust storm in Broken Hill.


Lauren Jarrott’s photo of the same view of Neutral Bay, before and during the dust storm. From SMH.


Tom Hide’s excellent – but disturbing – photo of Luna Park, from his Flickr page. (How cool is the reflection in the puddle? All that’s missing is a Cyberman’s boot in the bottom left corner.)


St John’s Church, Parramatta, by Kevin Waterson, from the ABC702 breakfast radio blog.

A rather apt excerpt from a Little Britain sketch. (If it’s been particularly annoying, having that soundbite play automatically every time you’ve followed a link to more photos and then come back to this page, consider it the aural equivalent to the abrasive particles carried by high winds in the dust storm itself.)


• Rachel, pointing out this weather is “a reminder that Australia is mainly desert and nature rules everday in every way”, sent me a link to rishian222’s cool slideshow. (The musical accompaniment is ‘Great Southern Land’ by Icehouse.)

• Some 24 hours after I posted this, Adrian Raschella closed his report on the ABC1 7pm News bulletin with the Little Britain ‘Fat Fighters’ sketch that ends with “Dust! Anbody…? No…? Dust…! Anybody…? No…?” Wonder where he got the idea for that.

“Don’t need a weatherman
to know which way the wind blows…”

There’s not much point in reporting old news, even less in recounting past weather reports, but this clip of Tim Bailey is so good, and I’m surprised that there are people who still haven’t seen it.

Here’s what happened: Ten evening news bulletin. Weather report. Anchor throws to weatherman:

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“And now, over to Tim Bailey, who has some very musical friends joining him this evening…”

Tim starts doing his thing:

“Aw, isn’t it lovely to come back to work after a holiday, and work with some of your favourite guests on this weather segment.…”

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I reckon he’s got the slightest look of nerves or fear at this point – he can see something’s about to happen – but he carries on regardless, trooper that he is.

“They’re about to take off not just through New South…”

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But it’s a bit hard to carry on when someone’s invaded your stage. Still, Timba tries to persevere:

“… through New South Wales…”

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He really is trying to carry on the segment despite the two boisterous bogans.

“And… Excuse me…”

The ‘and’ is an attempt to carry on the broadcast; the ‘excuse me’ is his admission that they’ve gotten the better of him. At least he doesn’t curse in front of the cute little girls in the choir who manage to maintain decorum. Some of them smile, but all resist the desire to squeal like the bogans, or join in, running amok.

“Excuse me… Can someone please…”

He’s repeated the polite ‘excuse me’ that once again is ignored. As is his request for “someone” to “please”. Instead he grabs hold of the toothy one in the crimson stripes. She doesn’t stop smiling or squealing, but tries to get free of his grasp by slapping Timba away. She only manages to brush his contact mic.

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My favourite sequence takes place as toothy bogan tries to run away. Timba’s holding tight and she’s kind of ‘cornered’ by TV execs or whoever the off-camera folk are. I say ‘cornered’ – ToBo (toothy bogan) runs straight for them, Timba still attached. When she gets there, ToBo is face-to-face with a power-dressed… I dunno… station executive? Segment producer? Timba groupie? Whatever. ToBo facepalms her (could be a pretty ‘him’; hard to tell…) out of shot with Timba still attached.

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At which point we cut back to the studio, so the anchor can say,

“Some problems obviously with Tim Bailey there with the weather. We’ll try and move forward…”

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I can only assume they couldn’t cut back to her sooner because she was laughing too much. Well, I wanna assume that. By the look of her, she didn’t find it funny at all, either because ‘sense of humour’ was never in the contract (someone at Ten has to be serious about something!) or because she was the one who hired the girls.

You really should see the whole clip – but before you watch it consider this: the Nine Network must be short of a bob – they’ve yet to get Timba’s bogons onto A Current Affair followed by a gig.

“What as?” you’re probably wondering.

The answer is, whatever’s going: ‘entertainment reporters’ (anyone can read a rumour on Twitter and repeat it on air); weather girls (anyone can entertain an audience for thirty  seconds before reading a bunch of places and temperatures off an autocue – as demonstrated by the clip in contention); assistants to Clare Werbeloff, helping her ‘do’ whatever it is she actually ‘does’; the list is virtually endless.

And the beauty of being at Nine means one day, not next week, not the week after, but within the next couple of financial years, say, as long as they don’t get ‘boned’, one of them could actually end up running the joint.

But I digress. Here’s the clip