December 12, 2018

Dutchman makes it to Australia in electric car, still driving

Filed under: Automobiles,Sustainability by Orangemaster @ 3:08 pm

Dutchman Wiebe Wakker took a big long drive in his electric car all the way to Australia. Called ‘Plug me in, an electric trip to Australia’, his journey will bring him from Amsterdam to Sydney. Wakker left on 15 March 2016 (yes, 2016) in a car called ‘the Blue Bandit’ without any money and relying on the kindness of people.

Throughout the journey Wakker engages with organisations, people and initiatives active in the field of sustainability to learn about the environmental challenges in the countries he visits and sees what solutions are available to tackle the climate problem.

It took Wakker 827 days to reach the city of Darwin, which he reached in June 2018, and four days ago, he reached Brisbane after driving for 991 days. “I crossed 33 countries on my way, reached the other side of the world, driving 84,000 km without visiting a single petrol station on the way.”

Wakker claims he has become the first person to cross Turkey, Iran, India, Myanmar, Malaysia and Indonesia in a fully electric, battery-powered vehicle, surpassing the current Guinness World Record of the ‘longest distance covered in an electric vehicle (non-solar)’ of 22,000 km. This, of course, will be reviewed and announced at some point and we’ll be glad to write about it.

And his trip hasn’t ended yet, as he is still 921 km away from Sydney.

The only thing that might irk, is the fact that he has been ‘relying on the kindness of strangers’ for years, which is probably an easy thing to do in his case as a Western man, but might be seen with some contempt, considering he comes from a rich country and can apparently afford his trip.

(Link and photo:

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October 26, 2015

Solar-powered family car wins again in Australia

Filed under: Automobiles by Orangemaster @ 11:55 am


The Eindhoven University of Technology has taken the win in the Cruiser class at the Bridgestone World Solar Challenge in Australia on 18 October 2015 for its solar-powered four-person car, the Stella Lux. It’s the second time in a row that the team from Eindhoven has won in a category that’s only existed for two editions, meaning the Dutch team is still undefeated. Here’s a quick video in English of the Dutch taking the win.

Besides speed, other things such as being environmentally friendly and having comfortable seats also count, which explains the Cruiser class win for the Stella Lux. It consistently had two people driving in the car, which the others did not. Oh, and the car has cup holders.

(Link:, Photo by Bart van Overbeeke/

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July 7, 2015

Solar-powered family car to debut in race

Filed under: Automobiles by Orangemaster @ 10:25 am


The Solar Team Eindhoven from Eindhoven University of Technology presented its new solar-powered car this week, the Stella Lux, an ‘intelligent, solar-powered family car that generates more power than it uses’. The car will participate in the Bridgestone World Solar Challenge in Australia on 18 October 2015.

By combining the aerodynamic design with lightweight materials like carbon and aluminium, the Eindhoven student team has once again come up with a very energy-efficient design. Stella Lux can reach a range of 1,000 km on a sunny day in the Netherlands [yes, we get more sun than we let on]. On balance the car generates more energy than it uses, which makes it energy-positive.

In 2013 Eindhoven took first place in the Cruiser Class title with its first car, Stella, in Australia. This year’s race is more about speed, which is why Solar Team Eindhoven decided to build a new and lighter car with fewer seats, although still a true family car that seats four and is fitted with a specially designed navigation system.

(Link:, Photo by Bart van Overbeeke/

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November 7, 2013

Depressed or not? It depends what you read

Filed under: Health by Orangemaster @ 5:26 pm

In 2011, we were still wondering whether the Dutch population was happy or not. On the list of world’s happiest countries in 2012 and 2013 (PDF) the Netherlands was fourth. However, researchers at University of Queensland in Australia have recently mapped the rates of depression around the world, and some results are surprising:

“The burden is highest in Afghanistan and in Middle Eastern and North African countries, as well as in Eritrea, Rwanda, Botswana, Gabon, Croatia, the Netherlands (!) and Honduras.”

I didn’t add the exclamation mark. Apparently, there are no obvious reasons why the Dutch population is depressed, only guesses: the weather (what about Belgium, the UK, etc.), going through a crisis (stress), not admitting you’re actually depressed (shame) and my personal favourite, readily available antidepressants to anybody feeling a bit blue. If 16% of the Dutch population is depressed and possibly on drugs to ‘feel’ happy, then yes, that’s depression, not happiness.

And actually since all of this is opinion and the research was not a survey of how people feel, the exclamation mark seems warranted.

(Photo of wilted tulip by Graham Keen, some rights reserved)

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October 16, 2013

Eindhoven nails first place in cruiser class at World Solar Challenge

Filed under: Automobiles,Sustainability by Orangemaster @ 5:54 pm

This week a solar-powered street legal car named Stella, built by students from the Eindhoven University of Technology, was entered into the World Solar Challenge in Australia and won first place (PDF) in the new cruiser class.

While earlier this week students from the Delft University of Technology won for speed, the Eindhoven crew won for practicality, “with the ultimate goal of an entrant being able to meet the requirements for road registration in the country of origin.”

Why would a rainy country like the Netherlands even want to become a heavy hitter in solar-powered cars, you may wonder. “The Netherlands has enough sunlight to drive about 70 kilometres a day, given that the average drive only drives about 38 km/h. If you charge up the battery, you can drive 430 kilometres, which is a lot,” says Van Loon, one of the Eindhoven students.

(Link:, Photo of Nuna7 and Stella by Jorrit Lousberg, some rights reserved)

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August 17, 2013

Solar car from Eindhoven rated street legal

Filed under: Automobiles,Sustainability by Branko Collin @ 10:05 pm

A team of students from the Eindhoven University of Technology has created a solar powered family car that is street legal, Telegraaf reported last Tuesday.

The car called Stella was created by Solar Team Eindhoven in a bid to win the Cruiser Class of the World Solar Challenge in Australia this October. Stella is 4.5 metres long, 1.65 metres wide and seats four. It can go 430 kilometres on a single charge. The solar panel has only got an efficiency rating of 22%. Spokesperson Wouter van Loon told Bright last month that this was a conscious decision: “We could have opted for a space-grade panel, but this way we keep the car affordable.”

The car’s top speed is only 120 km/h because the special low-friction tires cannot handle more. In the past teams of the universities of Twente and Delft also participated in the World Solar Challenge. Delft’s car Nuna, shown here, won the race 4 times out of the 7 it entered, and in 2011 it finished second after Japan’s Tokai Challenger.

(Photo of Nuna5 by Nuon Solar Team, some rights reserved)

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September 10, 2011

Laura Dekker in Australia

Filed under: General,Sports by Branko Collin @ 11:23 am

Two weeks ago ‘sailor girl’ Laura Dekker reached the shores of the Northern Territory of Australia, and not a moment too soon.

Her boat Guppy was in desperate need of repairs as both the genoa and the rudder had broken down. In Darwin she re-united with her father who had flown in to celebrate her sixteenth birthday (September 20). From that day on she has about a year and week to complete her global circumnavigation if she wants to become the unofficial record holder of being the youngest person solo sailing around the world.

In the past months Dekker sailed past the country of her birth, New Zealand (she has dual citizenship), even though she professed a desire to visit. Says

Her manager, Australian Lyall Mercer, [said] today Dekker did not take her New Zealand nationality lightly and had especially embraced it since starting to feel “disconnected” from The Netherlands after courts there stopped her from embarking on her trip when she was 13.

“Yet she has failed to find any support from New Zealand, unable even to source a New Zealand flag that she wants to fly from her boat ‘Guppy’ for the duration of her trip,” Mercer said.

I wonder if there is not more to that story. In August 2009, Elsevier reported that the New Zealand authorities had threatened to seize Laura’s boat for reckless behaviour if she ever entered one of the country’s ports while sailing alone.

The best place to follow Dekker’s exploits is still her blog, which she keeps in both English and Dutch. Dekker spends her days playing the guitar, writing her book, and reading. Still no word on if she has ever touched her homework.

See also: more stories about Laura Dekker.

(Photo of an entirely unrelated boat by the US Navy)

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October 25, 2010

Adverts with Dutch model Laura Stone banned

Filed under: Fashion,Photography by Orangemaster @ 1:32 pm

Major Australian cities have decided to ban some Calvin Klein jeans adverts because they are “suggestive of violence and rape”. The sexy pic, shot by British based fashion photographers Mert Alas and Marcus Piggott, show Dutch model Lara Stone “fooling around with a group of half naked guys in what looks like a public basketball court.”

No, no wait. Stop. That’s not what I saw. I saw a painfully orchestrated yet very unplausible photo of a girl that’s getting way too much attention due to her choice of (and lack of) jeans. The guy on the left is bored with the entire deal, too busy looking like James Dean, the one holding her head is not pinning her down or anything and the guy giving Lara some attention looks almost too young and inexperienced to be doing so. Granted, it looks like the light version of a gang bang where everybody looks nice and friendly, and it could be provocative to adults if you were living in a cave and missed out on Madonna’s book ‘Sex’ and oh so many other things. If it was a Jean Paul Gaultier perfume advert with just men, would people have said anything? Or all women? Or women tearing up some young guy’s shirt? Hm?

Granted, young children won’t get this and it is risqué, but this kind of advertising is not going away any time soon. Selling jeans hasn’t been about actually seeing jeans for about 15 years. If you want to protect your kids, educate them, methinks.

(Link: dutchdailynews)

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September 21, 2010

Netherlands gives Australia its half of shared treasure

Filed under: General,History by Branko Collin @ 9:25 am

Last Wednesday the Dutch and Australian governments signed an agreement on how to give Australia the Dutch half of the ANCODS collection, which contains the salvage of four Dutch ships that sank near the Australian coast in the 17th and 18th century.

The agreement to give Australia the Dutch portion of the artefacts had already been taken in 2006, Flevocourant writes.

According to a press release (PDF, 2009) by the ministry of foreign affairs the collections of the Batavia (1629), Vergulde Draeck (1656), Zuytdorp (1712) and the Zeewyk (1727) “include bricks, building blocks, lead ingots, elephant tusk, canon, canon balls, amber and pitch as well as rare objects owned by crew and passengers such as navigational instruments and ornaments”.

“Rather than dividing objects between the two countries, they will be kept as close as possible to the shipwrecks where they have been excavated. This is why the Netherlands has agreed to entrust Australia with safeguarding the objects, which are currently in Dutch possession.”

The agreement was signed aboard a replica of the Batavia which is stationed in Lelystad.

(Photo of the Batavia replica by Wikimedia user ADZee who released it to the public domain)

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August 7, 2009

André Rieu plays in famous Australian soap

Filed under: Music,Weird by Orangemaster @ 3:12 pm

World-famous violinist and orchestra leader André Rieu, the man some of you love and others love to hate, has really done it this time. The Australian soap Neighbours, which is very popular in the UK, is known for some odd storylines, but according to UK site LastBroadcast, “they have strayed from ‘a bit random’ into full-on WTF territory.”

And that’s where our man André comes in — at No. 1! We were already surprised when he got his own postage stamps in July, but now he can be seen coming out of a whale of a limo to serenade Paul and Rebecca on Ramsay Street with other residents join in the ballroom dancing. I’m at a loss for words and so was André when he was reading his lines (or so it sounds like).

(Link:, via, thanks Alex for the tip!)

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