Thursday, October 12, 2006


I am mad. What possessed me when suffering from a cold to take public transport to Spotswood to visit Sienceworks Museum for the first time on a 37 degree day, ok 36.9, lest I be accused of exaggerating.

I had already called to ascertain that school groups have left by about 2, so I need to visit after 2.

It started badly. After letting a non air-con tram go past, the air-con model behind was very crowded and had stupid little seats so that really only one person can fit onto a double seat. I sat side saddle. I was was pretty well straight onto the train to Spotswood. The Siemens train was blissfully cool. How come these manufacturers can get it so right with train air-con and so wrong with tram air-con? Were trains expensive and the trams cheap? Notice that city train loop underground in that direction nearly reaches North Melbourne.

I alighted at Newport, yes Newport. I had blanked out and for some reason thought I needed to alight at Newport. I walked in the direction of the beach with a growing sense of unease. While there were some nice houses, I don't think Newport or Spotswood are going to be the new Yarraville.

When I got to Douglas Parade, I knew I had gone wrong and should have alighted at Spotswood. I knew I now had to go north. I started to cut across a park, but buildings, a sports centre prevented me and I had to return to the road. I was walking into a blustery north wind, blowing grit over me and the sun was beating down on my unprotected head. Did I have water with me? No, and I normally don't leave home without it. Only when it is 37 degrees in the shade do I leave home without water.

I walked along the beach track. There was little shade. Had a taxi come along, I would have jumped in and said take me back to trees on the south of the city. But there wasn't a taxi, there wasn't even a road.

Trudged is a good word. I continued to trudge. Eventually I caught a glimpse of the building. Not too far. No, here is a sign, 1 km plus yet. It was eerily quiet too. Not a soul about. No other mad person about.

Am I old enough to have a heart attack? This is reassuring, as sign that says 'Emergency, call 000 and quote PMC 05'. Apart from me, what emergency could there be? Ah, is this where someone was stabbed a year or two ago. I think it was.

A Caltex sign. Service station? No, bloody oil refinery or something. Still nothing to drink. A BP, ditto.

Made it. Immediately asked the desk person where I could get a drink. I didn't say a G&T, but gosh that would have been nice......a large one, full of ice. In spite of my somewhat spent state, I must have been charming enough for the desk bloke to be friendly, musta have been a gay, and he direct me out an exit door as a short cut to the cafe.

Now if you are not from this part of the world, we can sometimes have humid heat, but today's was not. It was dry heat and you don't seem to perspire. That is until you sit in air condioning drinking expensive but barely cool water after walking a few kilometres. Then the sweat pours off you. I was dripping everywhere.

Priority, the pump house. I like mechanical things. It was an old sewerage pumping station. Idiot again, went in the wrong entrance and instead of a quick walk down some stairs, I went down ramps that went on forever. The pumping station was interesting. A chappie appeared and asked if I wanted to see it operating. Of course I would. He squirted some oil in a couple of places and away it went. It was a beautiful piece of machinery, almost silent with just a hiss of air. Although some of the machines used to run on steam and later electric motors, it is now driven by compressed air. I was feeling my suffering was worth it. I chatted to him about facts etc. All very fascinating.

I went into the main part of the building, which is really for kids, but it is also interesting for adults. It is very interactive and I think I pretty well pushed every button I could and tried out all the sports/fitness tests. Pulse rate 115, should be under 100. No surprise there. Lucky there wasn't a blood pressure machine.

The most interesting thing I saw first, an electrical game of noughts and crosses. It was a big machine from the early sixties. You play against the machine. It whirred and clanked and took about 20 seconds to decide it's move. I lost both games because I made silly mistakes. Evidently, it is not hard to beat the machine.

Shut up time of 4.30 arrived and I think I saw everything that was included in the normal admission of $6.

Back to heat. As I stepped out, a train in the distance went past. Good, twenty minutes before the next one. I did not know there were non stopping trains going past. I arrived at Spotswood Station and as I was about to walk under the underpass, I half heard an announcement. I am not taking a chance of missing of a train, I ran under the subway. Nah, not my train. I studied the timetable, next train 4.54. But what was that I saw go past earlier? Did it really take me less than ten minutes to walk from the museum. I was very confused and still haven't worked it out, coz it is not that important to bother about.

The family who haunted me in the museum arrived at the station and squashed up my bench. If there was a better place to sit, I would have moved, but there wasn't. Noticed that I had not seen a train in the other direction during my wait. Father of family announced the train was coming. I stood up. Walked toward the front of the platform. The train did not stop. Hey!!!!!! Only trams do that.

Check timetable properly this time and gained a little understanding of this train line. The 4.54 arrived on time. I got into the front carriage, a Comeng train, again blissfully cool.

Arrive at Footscray Station and I noticed a train sitting at the opposite platform showing an Out of Service destination. There were many people on the platform. I bet the air-con has broken down.

Further down the track, a suburban train being held at signals. A total of five trains spaced out and being held a signals. Something really wrong there.

Arrived at North Melbourne Station? and see a Broadmeadows train absolutely packed to the rafters. A fellow passenger engaged me in conversation about the delay in the opposite direction and I mentioned about the packed Broady train and he said it was normal. Eek. Then he overheard an announcement, something about an accident at Footscray. Nothing on the news tonight. Not sure what it was about. Only the western suburbs, not so important.

I am not normally at train stations at peak time. Southern Cross, packed, Flinders Street packed.

A marvellous articulated and cool B class tram home. Home was lovely and cool. I shoulda just stayed there. But then you would have had to read about me making christmas cakes.

Later note. Notice in brochure that the pumps at the pumping station operate at 3.15pm, the exact time I was there. Seems I did not get any favour there.


  1. Train v Car at Tottenham, which was what fucked things up out that way this afternoon.

    It has been said that the driver of the car was an RTBU official.

  2. the first half of this story reminds me of the beach scene in the outsider...

  3. Not seen it Kiki, but I can imagine.

  4. it's a book. Albert Camus. check it out, you seem like it could, potentially, interest you