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Friday, 20 March  2009  Friday review

Today on English Bites we review some of this week's stories.


We'll visit Tasmania, Queensland and the Northern Territory and we'll find out about some problems facing people in each area.

We begin in Tasmania where there is a wool crisis.

Wool growers are worried that they need to find ways to make wool more popular - they need to find a way to sell it straight to consumers.

Let's meet some wool growers and hear their ideas about the future of wool.

GAVIN NICHOLAS: My grandfather came in 1920, he had about 600 acres and we've been lucky enough to build it up now to 11,000. So, I'm the third generation farmer here. My brother and I farm it together.

AIRLIE WARD: Like the family farm, passing down through generations, the story of wool is steeped in tradition. The Nicholas property in the heart of Tasmania's Midlands is no exception. It is part of folklore that Australia and Tasmania rose to economic prosperity on the sheep's back.

GAVIN NICHOLAS: I've always sort of thought you put your effort into what you're keen on and then you'll make a success on it. And I know wool is down a bit at the moment but I'm a great believer that it will turn around, and what goes down must come up.

AIRLIE WARD: Gavin Nicholas is passionate about wool.

The people in today's story farm sheep.

We call them 'wool growers' because wool is the end product of their farms - but of course they actually raise sheep.

The sheep are sheared and then the fleece is used to make wool. Wool can be knitted or woven to make all sorts of things.

The reporter told us that Tasmania 'rose to prosperity on the sheep's back'.

'On the sheep's back' is a common expression used when describing the history of European settlement in Australia.

It means 'because of sheep'. He means Tasmania did very well, earned a lot of money, from growing sheep.

But wool prices are down at the moment.

GAVIN NICHOLAS: I've always sort of thought you put your effort into what you're keen on and then you'll make a success on it. And I know wool is down a bit at the moment but I'm a great believer that it will turn around, and what goes down must come up.

AIRLIE WARD: Gavin Nicholas is passionate about wool.

GAVIN NICHOLAS: Sheep are fairly hard work. You've got to look after them. If you look after your sheep, they'll look after you. A lot of people don't like shearing but I reckon it's good. It's the harvest. So you work at it all year to grow all your wool, a bit like apple growers and that. They look forward to picking their apples, I reckon; we look forward the cutting our wool off. Last year we were getting towards 7 kilos, average. This year, because we had a bad autumn, and the winter was tight, we'd probably be lucky to cut 5 kilos, average. This is on grown sheep.

AIRLIE WARD: Despite some tough years, Mr Nicholas is pretty philosophical about the vagaries of life on the land.

GAVIN NIChOLAS: I don't think it is over. It's all gone up and gone down. You've got to be positive. People get sort of too negative.

AIRLIE WARD: But not everyone is so sure about the future of the wool industry in Tasmania.

Gavin says you've got to be positive. Some people are too negative.

Positive and negative are opposites.

Here, to be negative means to expect things to go badly, to think the worst of things.

To be 'positive' means to expect things to turn out well, to feel good about the future.

Positive can also mean good, or favourable.

For example you might say, 'that was a positive result for everyone', meaning 'that was a good result for everyone'.

Now let's head to the Northern Territory and the town of Jabiru. Listen for another use of the word 'positive'.

LINDY KERIN: For Christine McGuire and her 3 young children the past week has been hectic.

CHRISTINE MCGUIRE: The fire department went around and announced 'don't drink the water, no showers, no water, 'cause the water has got a bug in it', I looked up E. coli which was what it was on the internet, and it said that it was really bad for babies under 5, I've got a 2 year old and a seven month old and they could have got sick.

LINDY KERIN: After the alert Christine McGuire took the recommended precautions to protect her family.

A monthly test of the town's water supply had come back positive for E. coli, a bacteria which causes stomach cramps, diarrhoea and potentially kidney failure in children.

This story is from Jabiru in the Northern Territory. Jabiru is about 250km from Darwin, in Kakadu National Park.

A monthly test of Jabiru's water supply came back positive for E.coli.

The word 'monthly' tells us that the test is done every month.

We can use this form with other periods of time too. We say hourly, daily, weekly, monthly, yearly.

OK, so this month, the test was 'positive' for E. coli.

If a test is 'positive', it shows the presence of a disease or bacteria.

If a test is 'negative' it does not show any bacteria or disease.

You can also use 'positive' to mean certain or without any doubt.

For example:

He was positive he'd made the right decision.

There are many more examples of positive and negative on our website.

It seems Jabiru isn't the only town where the water has tested positive for bacteria.

From remote Jabiru, let's visit Noosa, one of Queensland's favourite beaches.

MATT WORDSWORTH: Noosa is one of Australia's favourite holiday destinations and a brand all of its own. With its mix of postcard beaches, upmarket cafes and ecofriendly attitude, it pulls in about 250 thousand visitors a year.
But for all its clean green image Noosa has a dirty secret.
For the past few years water testing has found high levels of bacteria at Little Cove and has been traced to this stormwater drain which flows onto the beach.
According to the World Health Organisation a reading over 200 is considered poor. Its worst rating, very poor, is anything over 500.

In one day in 2003 the levels reached a massive 3100 at Little Cove and 630 at Main Beach. In December they hit 717 and 203 levels, which experts say can cause stomach pain, vomiting and diarrhoea.

DR HELEN STRATTON, MICROBIOLOGIST: If you swallow enough water there is a high risk of illness occurring. If you don't come into contact and swallow the water there's minimal risk of course. But yes there's a high risk at 717.

DR MEGAN HARGREAVES, MICROBIOLOGIST: It could cause you to become quite sick in the stomach, it's a gastro, it could cause gastrointestinal pain and could cause you to become quite sick, if you were drinking the water.

MATT WORDSWORTH: Dr Megan Hargreaves says the bacteria is normally found in human and animal faeces. All of these events have been triggered by heavy rainfall. The water runs off Noosa Hill and washes the bacteria into the ocean.

Noosa is located North of Brisbane on an area of Queensland known as the Sunshine Coast.

Noosa has become famous because of tourism.

About 250 000 people visit Noosa every year - and the area's beautiful beaches are one of the main attractions.

But recently, water testing has found the water is positive for high levels of bacteria.

It's been traced to a stormwater drain that flows onto the beach.

So the beaches at Noosa have the same problem as the water coming out of the taps in Jabiru - high bacteria levels.

Let's hope they can fix the problem and get negative test results soon. That'll be positive for everyone.

That's all for today - don't forget that you can watch all this week's stories again on our English Bites website.



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English Bites - Friday review
story notes

 came
 
Came is the past tense of the irregular verb come. Follow the link below to find out more and to listen to some examples.
 
more information: come

 build it up
 
improve and expand
 
For more meanings of the phrasal verb build up, follow the link below to our language library.
 
more information: build up

 passing down
 
being transferred to a younger generation
 
Example: This story had been passed down for hundreds of years.
 
For more meanings of the phrasal verb pass down, follow the link below to our language library.
 
more information: pass down

 steeped in
 
To be steeped in something is to have a lot of a particular quality.
 
Example: Rome is a city steeped in history.
 
Click here for more idioms and common expressions.

 in the heart of
 
in the middle of
 
Example: I live in the heart of the suburbs.
 
Click here for more idioms and common expressions.

 rose
 
Rose is the past tense of the irregular verb rise. Follow the link below to find out more and to listen to some examples.
 
more information: rise

 on the sheep's back
 
People say Australia was built on the sheep's back. This means that the success and wealth of Australia came from the sales of wool overseas. In its early colonial history, Australia's economy grew because of the success of sheep farming.

 thought
 
Here thought is the past tense of the irregular verb think. Follow the link below to find out more and to listen to some examples.
 
more information: think

 keen on
 
very interested in
 
Example: My brother is keen on football.
 
Click here for more idioms and common expressions.

 turn around
 
Here turn around means change direction - he believes that prices will start to go up soon.
 
Example: The wind will turn around from the north to the south.
 
For more meanings of the phrasal verb turn around, follow the link below to our language library.
 
more information: turn around

 what goes down must come up
 
He’s reversed a common saying. Usually, we say ‘what goes up, must come down’, meaning that something thrown into the air must fall.

 philosophical
 
To be philosophical means to accept things calmly and without anger.

 vagaries
 
Vagaries are uncertainties, or unexpected or uncontrollable events.

 life on the land
 
Life on the land is the life of a farmer.

 It's
 
Here it's is short for it has. Follow the link below for more about it's and its. .
 
more information: its & it's

 gone
 
Gone is the past participle of the irregular verb go. Follow the link below to find out more and to listen to some examples.
 
more information: go

 went around
 
To go around a number of places or people is to visit them and attend each one in turn.
 
Example: You should go around and make sure everyone knows what's going on.
 
For more meanings of the phrasal verb go around, follow the link below to our language library.
 
more information: go around

 announced
 
To announce means to state or make publicly known.

 'cause
 
Notice that the short form of because is spelled with an apostrophe at the beginning. Follow the link below to find out more.
 
more information: 'cause

 got
 
Here got is the past participle of the irregular verb get. Follow the link below to find out more and to listen to some examples.
 
more information: get

 bug
 
Here, Christine uses the word bug to describe the organism living in the water.

 said
 
Here said is the past tense of the irregular verb say. Follow the link below to find out more and to listen to some examples.
 
more information: say

 monthly
 
The word monthly tells us that the test is done every month. The -ly suffix is used on certain words for time to mean this. Follow the link below to find out more.
 
more information: -ly suffix

 come back
 
returned
 
For more meanings of the phrasal verb come back, follow the link below to our language library.
 
more information: come back

 positive
 
If a test is positive, it shows the presence of a disease or bacteria.

 Noosa
 
Noosa is located North of Brisbane on an area of Queensland known as the Sunshine Coast.
 

 pulls in
 
attracts
 
Example: Star players pull in the crowds.
 
For more meanings of the phrasal verb pull in, follow the link below to our language library.
 
more information: pull in

 found
 
Here found is the past participle of the irregular verb find. Follow the link below to find out more and to listen to some examples.

 traced
 
To trace something means to follow the course or trail of something. They followed the trail of bacteria back to the stormwater drain.

 stormwater drain
 
Stormwater is water that runs off the land. It doesn’t soak into the land but runs off into waterways. After a big storm there can be a lot of stormwater and so most city areas have stormwater drains to allow the water to run off the streets into waterways.
 

 microbiologist
 
A microbiologist is someone who studies bacteria and other small organisms.

 if you were
 
Notice that we use were in if clauses. Follow the link below for more about when to use was and were.
 
more information: was and were

 runs off
 
flows over
 
Example: The rain runs offmy roof into the gutters.
 
For more meanings of the phrasal verb run off, follow the link below to our language library.
 
more information: run off
 
spotlight

What do positive and negative mean?

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