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A Swiss summit in Sydney02.02.2008

Tags: Australia       Comments: 2

Picture of the day

A washed-up press event, a week of non-stop rain and a broken windscreen wiper - the Solar Taxi is up against all kinds of problems in Sydney. But Louis Palmer isn’t letting anything slow him down in his search for interesting people and environmental protection projects.The fact that environmental protection measures are fairly underdeveloped in Australia and that the country is one of the world’s biggest emitters of greenhouse gases also seems to produce lots of environmental activists. One of them is Keelah from Sydney, who has invited us to stay with her. She also shows us a way to live sustainably. 


Keelah generates power from her roof, using six square meters of solar cells, feeding the electricity back into the grid, and selling it to the power company. The fact that she ends up with less money doing this than she would if she simply bought electricity from the power socket hasn’t stopped her installing the solar cells. "Australia has plenty of sun but only coal mining gets any support here", she says, and disappears into the supermarket.And it’s not just any supermarket. Her "food co-op" has about 400 members who all carry their groceries home in cardboard boxes. There are no plastic bags. Keelah does a quick calculation "6.8 billion plastic bags are handed out in Australia annually. One bag takes up to 1,000 years to break down in the environment." Keelah calls her lifestyle "Sustainable Living”.  And she’s not the only one living sustainably. Luke from Melbourne has got in touch with us. He’s organizing a "Sustainable Living Festival" in ten days time and wants the Solar Taxi to be there. He’s expecting 120,000 visitors.

Press flop because of a murdered policeman

Back to the workshop. "That weld will hold forever!" says Bob, after welding the motor and the wheel suspension. We are becoming skeptical. The Romanian, Saudi and Indian welds didn’t hold. Will this be any better? Thomas stayed back in Bob’s workshop until late at night putting the Solar Taxi back together because we were expecting the press the next day.

That’s the odd thing about our trip. The problems we expected haven’t arisen, only the completely unforeseen ones crop up. In Sydney for example, there’s apparently nowhere where we can present the Solar Taxi to the press. Property owners demand that we take out liability insurance to the tune of six million Euros.It’s actually the New South Wales Parliament that comes to our rescue at the last minute. They allow us to hold a press conference on their forecourt, but no journalists turn up. Finally a woman from a radio station arrives and we find out what’s preoccupying Sydney’s media. A policeman has just been shot and killed in Centennial Park. 

Peak to peak, with wind and muscle power

Just by coincidence, I read in the newspaper that a very fit and famous Swiss family who are traveling around the world on a tour they call "Top to Top" has also just arrived in Sydney. Sabine and Dario Schwörer are traveling the globe with their children Salina (3) and Andri (1) to climb the highest mountains on all seven continents.

The family has been on the road for four years. Before Salina was born she had already sailed 5,000 sea miles, cycled 2,500 kilometers and climbed 4,000 meters. Her little brother had already traveled 6,000 by ship and 600 kilometers by bike before his birth. The family is using only environmentally friendly wind and muscle power as a means of transport. They want to show that people can meet even the toughest challenges and still stay in harmony with nature.I read that their sailing boat is tied up at "Five Dock Point" so I head down there! The Swiss globetrotters are amazed to suddenly find themselves involved in an historic meeting. All three Swiss who are traveling around the world to raise awareness of climate change are in Sydney this evening: the Toptotop sailing boat, Rudi’s cooking oil Mercedes and the Solar Taxi. We have lots to talk about and many stories to tell, so instead of driving on to Canberra, I decide on the spur of the moment to spend a night on the ship. There’s also something to celebrate. The Solar Taxi left Lucerne exactly seven months ago. Our next surprise comes at dawn the next morning. It’s raining, or to be more precise, it’s bucketing down. The heaviest rains in five years lash the town. I’m halfway to Canberra, in the small town of Mittagong. A ship would actually be a more appropriate vehicle for the pouring rain and the huge puddles on the highway. Rain drips into the Solar Taxi.

We have to stop for a while in Mittagong because the only part of the Solar Taxi that we took from a car - the Renault windscreen wipers - has just broken. This time I can wait though. It’s only 800 kilometers to Melbourne and we’ve got ten days to do it in.



by: Rudi

09.02.2008 02:02

Hallo Louis,
hast da ein Topshot gemacht mit der Limosine und wir Zwei unter der Bruecke. Gibt eine tolle Post-
karte. Freue mich auf Perth. Mach weiter so hat echt spass gemacht.
Moechte dann ein paar Topshots, aber
das reicht wenn Ihr im Westen ankommt.
Cheers from Rudi

by: Dario & Sabine

09.04.2008 02:04

Hallo Loius and Ruedi,
vielen Dank fuer den spannenden Bericht auf Deiner Website. WIr haben auch einen Link in unseren Expedition Reports gemacht auf unserer Website
Weiterhin viel Erfolg! Alles Liebe
Dario, Sabine, Salina und Andri auf der TOPtoTOP Global Climate Expedition

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