On January 4th, 2013, in the midst of a national heat wave, Tasmania experienced some of the most extreme weather on record, with Hobart recording a record temperature of 41.8°C in the afternoon. Fires blazed around the state, covering almost 50,000 acres, claiming hundreds of properties, and destroying the town of Dunalley. The Tasman peninsula was cut off by the fires, necessitating a sea rescue of over 2,000 people. An image of a family clinging to a jetty in the water to escape from the fire captured the attention of the world. With the launch of their Australian edition, The Guardian have produced a frightening and fascinating multimedia article exploring the human side of the inferno.
Google launches a site dedicated to the upcoming Australian Federal Election with Youtube channels from each party, electoral boundaries integrated into Google Maps, a search engine to allow you to view what each candidate has said on a range of issues, from immigration to interest rates, news from your electorate, and graphs of media activity on candidates and issues. Australians have been lacking a comprehensive political resource like the UK's The Work For You, and Google has brought it one step closer. Unfortunately, many of the resources are in the form of gadgets you add to your iGoogle homepage, rather than standalone applications.
Greenfleet is an Australian environmental organisation who aim to help citizens offset their own greenhouse gas emmissions. Their Tree Totaller (Australian-based, but I'm sure conversions are easy) works out how many trees you need to offset your annual emmissions, based on private car, home energy use and flights. It's a very neat little flash-app, and at the end it lets you chose to "subscribe" to Greenfleet so they'll plant the necessary number of trees for you. I owe 44 trees, for only AU$103 a year.