Monday, February 02, 2015

What happened?

What on earth happened in Queensland? The governing Liberal National Party was absolutely routed in the state election, losing its huge majority of seats and it seems the Labor Party will be able to form government. It is often said that governments lose elections rather than the opposition party winning and in Queensland's case, nothing could be truer. I don't think I have ever seen a more arrogant party, the LNP, and a more arrogant premier, Victoria's former premier Jeff Kennett aside, than Campbell Newman. It will take some time to get the pronunciation of her name correct, but well done to Annastacia Palaszczuk, the leader of Queensland Labor and likely new Premier. There is a short video here discussing when journalists asked 34 questions of Newman and he refused to answer any.

But on a more local note, what happened to Victoria's summer weather? As I write this, it is Sunday morning and very wet, cold and grey outside. Later today is our annual gay and lesbian Pride March in St Kilda and we have arranged to go to Fitzroy Street for a pre parade lunch and then watch the parade, but if the weather doesn't improve, we may well not go.

For me, this cooler summer is wonderful but it does disappoint many people who like the heat. Here is a snip from Wikipedia showing five days last January. The first number are the dates. For the past week we have been hovering around 20 degrees. Over the past few years, Australia has broken so many weather records, but of course it is nothing to do with global warming, so our conservative politicians tell us. Our failure to act on climate change will be condemned by future generations.
  • 13 - 31.1 °C (88.0 °F)
  • 14 - 42.8 °C (109.0 °F)
  • 15 - 41.7 °C (107.1 °F)
  • 16 - 43.9 °C (111.0 °F)
  • 17 - 43.9 °C (111.0 °F)

Sunday, February 01, 2015

Where our vegies come from

Vegetables or vegies. I'll have no truck with veg.
I read something in the newspaper about a couple of not well known but nice beaches.  One was Williamstown, and I am really not sure if I have seen the beach. We have certainly explored Williamstown many times. The other was Werribee South beach.

We were a little puzzled. South of Werribee is the freeway to Geelong. Is there anything south of there? R always urges me to follow the directions of the sat nav, but when she said turn north from the freeway exit, I did the opposite and turned south, and I was correct. I may have been incorrect in my programming of the device.

Where are most of our vegetables grown? Well, it seems along the road to Werribee South. Paddock after paddock of vegetables in various states of maturity. To my surprise, easily observed by the dried mud from truck tyres on the road, the soil is a rich red and made me think of the Thorpdale area in Gippsland with similar soil and where potatoes are grown.

I didn't think much of a beach we passed by, coarse sand full of shell grit. Perhaps we did not see the best beach.

While not to the standard of the most excellent pastie in Fairfield, the large local shop for local people adjacent to the caravan park was very busy. The pastie was edible but I had no faith in the coffee and so bought a coffee milk drink from the fridge.  The caravan park seems to be firmly rooted in the 1970s but nevertheless, it is very large and had many vans within.Has anyone else ever seen a caravan park associated with BP or another petrol company? I expect the connection has long been severed.

I told R a pier shows on the map, so further around the coast we went. It appears that a lot of money has been spent to improve the area around the modest pier and boat ramp.

A sign to deter foreign tourists is a great idea. Not a problem for we locals with our knowledge of the Aussie bush and its dangerous animals. We just stick to the concrete paths.

Plenty of birdlife.

Flying pelican on the right and a lamp post occupied by two pelicans.

Pelican circling, thinking what a good post to perch upon.

Pelican trying a little intimidation to remove one pelican so he/she can have a perch. 

Pelican failed to intimidate and resigned to his fate, heads to land where his chums are resting. A minute later the lamp post was abandoned, proving pelicans have human like behaviour by only wanting what someone else has.

The boat ramp and the pier are in the mouth of the Werribee River. The wind wasn't terribly strong, but the boats were certainly bouncing as they left the mouth of the river. No boat ramp rage was observed and no contribution to You Tube 'boat launches gone wrong' to film.

Looking upstream into the Werribee River.

Yes, it was quite a pleasant area and I expect busy on a hot day. While those with boat trailers have to pay for parking, cars do not. I would not bank on it staying like that for long.

As were were leaving, R spotted these units. Always thinking of a change of abode, he said stop so we could have a better look. "Sea views", he exclaimed. "Swamp views", I replied. I doubt we will ever make a return visit to Werribee South, but we were glad we made the journey.

The way to and from Werribee South can be driven as a loop, so we continued on back to the freeway. At the intersection of the turn off to Werribee Park and open range zoo and the freeway off ramp, it took three sets of light to get through and this was on a quiet Sunday. I can't imagine what it is like with umpteen vegetable trucks trying to get through on weekdays.

Instead of turning on to the freeway, we went straight ahead to the town of Werribee itself for some ingredient for dinner. If we went onto the freeway, we would have had to go into the busy and congested South Melbourne for the key ingredient, so instead we went to the busy and congested town of Werribee for the key ingredient. I have never been to Werribee and planned to one day by train. I may well still do that. We only had a taste of the town but it was interesting enough to want to return.

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Is it just me?

Our Friend from Japan sent us an email to say that her visit to Sydney with her students might not go ahead because of the threat to security. Her university did decide the trip could go ahead but some of the parents after being directed to the local equivalent of our Foreign Affairs website travel section decided not to send their children to Sydney, principally because of the Lindt shop tragedy. Too many withdrew, and so the trip is not going ahead.

Well, we had arranged to go to Sydney to catch up with her. Well, that was the initial thought, but a break for me from work and a change of scenery for R, in a wonderful tourist city was a bonus. Our Friend from Japan has decided to visit Melbourne instead, some of the time when we will be in Sydney. No matter, we will see her.

It is rather silly for the Japanese website to have dire warning for personal security in Sydney, but then I am sure our Australian equivalent has similar for countries many people visit without a thought, such as the Indonesian island of Bali.

Now to the nitty gritty. Is is just me who feels so misinformed? The coronial  inquest is underway into the Lindt shop hostage tragedy.

(I won't use names to be picked up by the those who cared for the dead) I thought the dead bloke made a lunge for hostage taker, allowing people to escape in the process and was shot in the process. A hero for sure. Instead now from the inquest, I learn he was made to kneel and shot in the back of the head. From other things I read, he was somewhat of a hero and very brave.

And then the woman who was killed, who I thought was killed by the crazed person, was 'collateral damage' when the police stormed the building. Did you know that?

The question I ask, is why I was so misinformed at the time. Am I just stupid or maybe you thought the same as I did?

The hostages of the siege are making mega bucks with their commercial tv interviews. It seems a little distasteful to me, but then I am old and why should they not sell their story.

Friday, January 30, 2015


If you are British, you may well have seen this on your tv. I kind of know Vinnie Jones from tv or movies or somewhere. I think it quite a good ad and worth watching, and it is educative. The second one with children, well, it is there for you to watch but I didn't find it so interesting.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Save the idots from the bullets

Two very foolish Australian lads are on death row in Indonesia. They were convicted of importing drugs into the country. Haha, as R would say, that is like taking coal to Newcastle, that is Newcastle upon Tyne or Newcastle upon Hunter. Correction: They were taking drugs from Indonesia to bring back to Australia.

Most countries don't like people importing drugs and have varying penalties if the carriers are caught. But in this case, the punishment seems to exceed the crime. The pair, Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran, killed no one, raped no one, did not abuse a child or torture a kitten. It could be argued that they might be indirectly responsible for deaths from drugs, but you can hardly be found guilty of a crime of the future that has not been committed. Never mind, it seems their end in nigh and Indonesia will shoot them dead.

The intrigues of government diplomacy are no doubt working overtime and it would be very interesting to know, but we won't. 

It probably matters little to the new president of Indonesia, Joko Widodo, but I think I will go to my grave thinking badly of Indonesia if the country kills these two lads, who were stupid and no doubt saw an adventurous way to make a quick buck. What is a faithful Moslem in Indonesia who molests a child sentenced to, I wonder.


A teaser for a future post.

It requires a very local knowledge but does anyone know where this caravan park is located? It is less than hour from the city.

Later edit: If you knew where but the question was answered before you saw the post, feel free to mention it.

The Journey of Eels

Do you like eels? I don't very much. They are bit too snake like for me. I've seen them feeding in a seething mass like this and it was the stuff of nightmares.

Photo of eels in Victoria's Royal Botanic Gardens from Wikpedia taken byfir0002

I have eaten smoked eel when I was much younger, but I did not like the taste. Pie and mash with eels at a pub in Greenwich, yuk.

However, Melbourne's resident eels in the lake at the Royal Botanic Gardens, short finned eels, have a quite fascinating life cycle. They can breathe through their skin, and so survive in mud pools and they can exude a mucous like substance from the skin, enabling them to travel overland in damp conditions.

Once mature, they are drawn towards flowing water, in this case Melbourne's Yarra River, travelling either the short distance overland in appropriately damp conditions or using connecting drains. Fat and full of rich oil, they cease feeding and their digestive tract shrivels and for the rest of the lives they will not eat. They make their way down river, dodging container ships on the way, into Port Phillip Bay and out through the heads into Bass Strait, and then across the Tasman Sea to pass south of New Zealand's south island.

They then take a northward course at a distance from New Zealand's east coast to New Caledonia where they mate in the place where they were born, lay their eggs and then die. They have travelled around 4000 kilometres.

The eggs hatch into a larva, which then drifts on the currents towards the north east coast of Australia. As they drift they mature into 'glass eels', quite transparent but now in the shape of an eel. Down the east coast of Australia they travel, not yet eating. They smell fresh water and head into the coastal estuaries and find a river, possibly the one where their parents came from. At full moon when there is a flood tide, they make their way into the river. In our case, they will keep going right down the coast to the south of Australia and into Port Phillip Bay where they will find the mouth of the Yarra River and end up like their parents in the lake of the Royal Botanic Gardens. By this time they have matured into elvers and developed a digestive system and so the cycle begins again as they mature and fatten.

Of course any fresh water source along the east coast of Australia will attract them and they are able to climb waterfalls and at times end up in isolated dams.

For such a small brained creature, what a truly amazing fish they are.

Obviously England has eels, as does Europe and I don't know about America. I wonder where they all breed? I've no idea where it is, but do I have a faint recollection of the Sargasso Sea?

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Moths flying from my wallet

In some ways we have an expensive lifestyle, but in other ways we live quite cheaply. I rarely spend money on myself. Most of my big expenditure is on things R wants, which is fine. I need a good push to spend money.

The credit card received a good bash today and really it was also at R's urging. Apart from a ripped interior lining, there was nothing wrong with my old suitcase. It had wheels, an extendible handle and it had served me well and no reason to retire it. But how light this Antler suitcase is in Strandbags, reduced to half its usual price, strong, with four wheels and a combination lock. I had never really noticed how heavy my old case was. The salesperson did not say the new case would see me out, but I expect it will. I can afford $160 for a new suitcase, I suppose.

Antler is celebrating its 100th birthday.

But that was after spending nearly $600 on something that I have kind of wanted, and I now consider essential for travelling after lugging the heavy notebook and its transformer all over Europe and England, a top of the range Samsung tablet. I just casually enquired of the salesperson about a case for it, and looked at a few on a wall. I casually enquired about a plug in with a USB plug at the end. While I prevaricated, R stepped up and yes, he will have those as well. I had done my internet research and the tablet was a good price, just over $500, and the salesman discounted the case nicely and I am not sorry to have the $12 USB connecting plug.

But here I am, writing on the desktop computer which has been upgraded and repaired a couple of times and is probably like grandfather's axe, with the head and the handle replaced many times but it is still grandfather's axe.  The desktop case must be a decade old, at least.

Although R has a tablet and they are like using a large smart phone really, I am still on steep learning curve. Would you believe once I connected it to our wi-fi signal, after asking for permission, it downloaded all the apps I already have on my phone. These devices can be too damn smart at times.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015


There is a suburb in the north of Melbourne called Fairfield. R, I asked, let's catch the train to Fairfield and have lunch. I knew nothing of Fairfield, except, there were some old memories.

My first boyfriend was R's ex. His mother lived in a cheap flatblock at the corner Carlisle and Barkly Streets in St Kilda. The block is still there, but has been upgraded. He introduced his mother to me as Sue, The St Kilda Do. I, the innocent naive country lad, was so shocked that he could speak about his mother in such a manner. She was pretty rough around the edges and had married a wharf worker at a young age and produced many children. Behind the clouds of Ardarth cigarette smoke, she was nice enough and certainly a fun person.

I recall taking her to bingo once, in Wright Street, Middle Park, in a church hall or something like that. That was my first and last experience of bingo.

I can't remember too much but it was back in the days when Punt Road had a centre lane which changed direction according to traffic flow. The traffic was horrendous and it took ages to get along Punt Road and Hoddle Street. Hey, what has changed in 30 years? I was taking her to her daughter's place in Fairfield. My boyfriend, the daughter's brother, was already there. I think her name was Gail and her husband was Ron. Maybe, I am really not sure. They had a brand new Datsun 180B and took us to a bakery in Station Street to buy lunch. Well, we all would not have fitted in the car, so I can't really remember the details.

So say in about 1979, I did visit Station Street, Fairfield but as you would guess, it was pretty well a new experience to visit Station Street in 2015.

We walked the length of most of the shops and I stopped while R walked to the very end. No sooner than I was alone, a middle aged woman asked me if I was with anyone. I replied yes and wandered away. Unknown to me, R had looked back and saw her speak to me. When he returned he asked who it was. I replied, I think I was just propositioned.

We found a bakery type cafe and I had the best pastie I have ever eaten. Well done Deganis. Look out, here comes your girlfriend, R remarked. I caught her eye and she gave not a flicker of recognition. We only spent an hour and half in the street before catching the train back to town for a little shopping.

The very handsome 333 Collins Street, taken from Flinders Street. 

Flinders Street Station has a fascinating history. There are so many locked doors and areas and rooms that are no longer in use.

Fido watches over Station Street, near the station. I believe he is internally illuminated, which must be a little interesting to see.

The street was very very busy.

Unknown by me until we were leaving, there are even more shops and cafes on the other side of the railway line.

The outbound station platform.

What an extraordinary device. I believe it is called 'selfie stick'. Did you receive one as a gift for Christmas?

Station Street did not turn out to be very photogenic, but it was interesting to see.

Monday, January 26, 2015

The 26th

Happy Australia Day and Happy India Independence Day. I forgot to write something appropriate for Australia Day, so here is a belated attempt.

Victor wrote a very reasonable post about PM Abbott knighting HRH Prince Phillip. I shan't be reasonable about it. The Abbott is a tosser.

Is it just me or does this Australia Day seem less jingoistic than the last few? The only sign on the streets seen by me that it is Australia Day was two cars with Australian flags attached to them.

At an Australia Day barbeque today, one person put forth that Australians are now too scared of Moslems to overtly celebrate the day. Not so sure about that but possible. I liked the more restrained Australia Day.

Also at the barbeque was an acquaintance born in India. Not our Fijian/Indian friend, I hasten to add. He objected to being called mate by all and sundry. R gave him a serve about him being un-Australian and he ameliorated it to being called mate by Indian Australians.

Hope your day was good and lift your glass to Australia, a country stolen from its owners by colonialists but it is my country now.