Wednesday, April 01, 2020

Investment opportunity

I have a plan but I need investors. I trust you will all get on board, pun not intended, and we will all make a fortune converting passenger cruise ships to freighters and container ships. Too soon?

Seriously, cruise ships are a recipe for disaster, especially with the buffet meals where 2000 people may eat, in spite of pre COVID world hand sanitising and hand washing. I really doubt huge cruise ships will ever sail again. There may be smaller cruise ships eventually.

Our government was about to get our federal budget into the black for the first time for years. Clearly that won't happen now. All levels of governments are spending huge amounts of money, and they need to. The full detail of what is available to people is hard to absorb and we can only hope it is well directed and not exploited. We must be looking at billions of dollars of taxpayers money. However, governments like ours can borrow money from world bankers for almost 0%. We have no overseas tourist income and much reduced overseas student income. Yet there is no lessening of our exports with perhaps an increase in some. Some of which we had ceased manufacturing here, we are now doing so again. Money is still circulating in the economy. What we aren't spending now assuming our incomes are ok, we will spend in the future.

In Melbourne at least, supermarkets are almost back to normal, yet both of our major chains are employing so many more people now. This puzzles me a little. Are we still buying more than normal? We might buy two whereas we bought one before, but really we don't have more than we normally would. The media beat up on a run on liquour outlets seems to have mostly just been that, a beat up.

But post COVID, these extra workers will be put off and as people work through their huge stocks in their homes, I expect more workers will be put off. Manufacturing and importing will slow too as excesses are worked through.

A few statistics I read today about COVID; The only infected children in Australia, about five of them, have caught it from their parents who had travelled overseas. The highest two age groups infected in Australia are those in the twenties who continued to gather socially after being advised not to or returned from overseas travel. They can now be fined gathering. The other, the older cruise ship passengers and those related to them, with the Ruby Princess docking in Sydney and freely letting passengers off the ship, incredibly 10% of our total cases. How the eff did that happen? The buck is being passed everywhere and apparently no one is to blame.

Australia numbers today are about four and half thousand positive test results with over two thousand of those in New South Wales. There have been 19 deaths, all over 80 years old bar one. The wealthiest areas of Melbourne and Sydney have been the most affected. So there you go. It is not great here and will become worse, but I think we can hope for a quick decline as measures take effect.

We were up early this morning to pick up Little M at 8.30 after a one hour drive. We've had a good day. She rarely stops talking unless she is mesmerised by tv or devices. We bought ourselves take away coffee and drove to Albert Park Lake and fed the coots, moorhens and ducks some bread. Little M was rather too generous with the two slices of bread we took, so it quickly ran out. Where were the swans? We did see one grazing as we left.

Craft was done. Cup cakes made. Pizza for dinner made. I asked what time she goes to bed, normally between 7 and 8. I said she can stay up until 9 but I doubt she will last that long. Bath time will be after dinner.

I think a purple swamp hen.


I call these coots, but I am not really sure. They are funny to watch as they scoot across the top of the water when on a mission for a crumb of bread.


Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Town Hall Tuesday

I took the photos but this post was much delayed by our Tasmanian holiday and subsequent events.

As I teased, there was something really unusual about South Melbourne Town Hall. I had not noticed before really how grand the town hall is, now under the amalgamated auspices of City of Port Phillip.

No point in delaying further. The town hall clock has blue clock faces. They don't show up terribly well in the photos but you can see they are blue. Blue clock faces are found all over England, but I have never seen them in Australia before.

The town hall was designed by well known at the time Melbourne architect Charles Webb and opened in 1880. I am sure you are as impressed by the building as I was when I looked at it properly.

The building is now used as a community centre and I think the Australian National Academy of Music are peppercorn rental tenants. 2004 saw a restoration but internal ceilings collapsed in 2018, now repaired.

I seem to remember going to a library there, but it is not there now.

A glimpse of the old and the new.


What do you think? Impressive?





Bugger. I chopped the top off.




Across the road was a library of sorts, with a focus on local history and genealogy. I found us on the electoral rolls in 1999 before we moved here. Harold Alexander was a highly respected Town Clerk between 1935 and 1964. Town Clerks were effectively Chief Executive Officers of local government and they were very powerful positions to hold.


Monday, March 30, 2020

Covid lock up

For better or worse, Little M is still coming tomorrow. She lives in an almost country town and is unlikely to be  a risk to R. We will take all care with her of course.

Today we drove twenty minutes to Altona Village, a much less riskier place than out local posh suburbs but we don't really go to those anyway, but there is a cross over in Prahran and we have been there numerous times.

We found a couple of boxes of tissues, at last. We were getting short in spite of my extreme conservation of paper products. I was becoming really worried about hand sanitiser as we are getting low and couldn't seem to get any. Aside from that, the Altona Village supermarket seemed pretty normal.

Today a wall mounted sanitiser dispenser appeared in our foyer. Coincidentally many of our doors around building have been converted to self opening, so less door handles to touch. Cleaning staff are doing extra sensitisation. Then the secretary of the Owners' Corporation knocked at out door and gave us a half litre pump pack of sanitiser.  Yay.

In Altona we bought a packaged supermarket sandwich and a take away cup of coffee and sat in a park at the beach and we agreed it was a risk worth taking. We walked along the beach footpath for a bit. A lad in a ghoul mask and hoodie zoomed past us umpteen times on his electric scooter, once saying hi to which we acknowledged. R asked me why all the idiots wearing stupid masks rather than standard masks are foreign types. I replied, how do you know he is foreign? The colour of his exposed arms! I hadn't noticed but he was right. I thought he was a fun show off guy, doing no harm. R took a different view.

For his own good R was suspended from his volunteer job today as he is of a certain age. He paints it differently, I was sacked! There is a fellow volunteer who he gets on really well with and she will have been suspended too. I asked if he had her phone number and he does. Give her a call and have a chat was my suggestion. They will understand each other's positions and she will be more help to R than I can be.

There is risk to us when we are outside our apartment but after our outing with a sandwich and coffee and our sanity somewhat restored, I had clarity of thought. What I and R and you are mostly suffering from are First World Problems and shock. There are millions of people worse off in the world than us. That doesn't mean I won't stop whining about the impact of this on our lives, but keep what I say in perspective and think of those who are suffering very badly.

Monday Mural

Today, Sunday, was my worst day. Our only outing was a walk in Fawkner Park. Instead of a cheap brunch out as we normally have, and now take away coffee, we had scrambled eggs at home for brunch. I think we both realised why we like to go out for brunch. For about half an hour I sat on the balcony looking at nothing, staring into space, lost in preoccupation.

We did work on a little more Swedish Death Cleaning over the past week. I cleaned out my bedroom drawer of bits and pieces. All zip lock bags of foreign currency went into a flat biscuit tin with a  Bendigo tram on the lid. The foil covered chocolate a once friend and drag performer threw into the audience and I caught went, along with the red envelope Dame M's nearby mine host gave us when we dined there Chinese New Year in the early 2000s. I kept the match books from a restaurant in Budapest, Bodyline Sauna in Sydney, 3 Faces and the long defunct huge gay Precinct 3182.

I kept one rubber rainbow wrist band and threw two out. Wearing one makes you gay, wearing two is questionable and wearing three means you are a total faggot.

All sorts of bits and pieces were found and much discarded.

Anyway, onto the mural in Elizabeth Street, South Yarra. I am not sure if it is still there. I took the photos some time ago, on different days. No idea what it is about. Brightens a blank wall, hey.

Camera phone.


Proper camera, but the sunny skies may have helped.


Sunday, March 29, 2020

Tassie Day 6

While we climbed caught the chairlift to the top of The Nut that morning, we then headed off for the about two hour drive to Queenstown. We stopped off at the quite nice town of Wynyard for lunch. I didn't really take photos but I did use Plant Snap to identify these trees.



The landscape as we travelled along the way to Queenstown was stunning. We could have taken better photos earlier or later.



People in Tasmania are so friendly. A stranger in the street will say hello as you pass by them.  I was a little taken aback the first time it happened.   Nevertheless there is a rough element in Queenstown and it was not our favourite Tassie town. 



Mummy and Daddy MGs?


I think we chose the wrong pub to dine at as it took an hour for our meals to be served., as good as they were when they did come. Perhaps  I should write a bad review for Mount Lyell Hotel. R seemed to think there was a problem with me drinking gin and tonic. What kind of proper man drinks gin and tonic? Well hon behind the bar, we are visiting gay old men from Victoria who are spending money in your town.Your bottled wine was priced outrageously for take home too. We were not impressed, and the out of town older motorbike riders in the streets did not help.

We may have done better at this wonderfully restored Empire Hotel, where Tradie Brother and Ex Sis in Law once stayed. We were told it has a stunning internal staircase.


I am not sure at all what this building is.


Queenstown was once a mineral mining town. It had bare denuded hills surrounding it and after some to and fro, I think the verdict was to let it revegetate but not all areas have yet.


We took a walk along the main street and found a cafe for something to eat and drink. The woman behind the counter was quite rude to R as he fished in his wallet for the correct change to pay. It was so amusing to see him go on the charm offensive and have her eating out of his hand. The motel accommodation was just satisfactory.


We were to catch a train I have long been interested in, the West Coast Wilderness Railway. There are a variety of trips to take, the best being to the lovely coastal town of Strahan with lunch and drinks onboard and a helicopter flight back to Queenstown, or the other way around.  We chose to take this one, https://www.wcwr.com.au/tours/rack-gorge which would have us back in Queenstown at 1pm to journey on for about three hours to Hobart.

R was his usually panicky self about time, so we were there 45 minutes before the train departed at 9am. All we did was collected our booked tickets and wandered around and bought take away coffee to take on the train, that we must board by 8.45 but did not depart until after 9.00.

Where is my train? Somewhere in the steam.


She was not a big engine but the history of all the trains that once operated for commercial reasons was interesting.


The Queenstown station.


Like the train we caught in the hills of Budapest, to climb the steep hills and descend without braking, a cog and pinion system is used and this photo tells a thousand words. The cog is part of the train and obviously the rack is part of the rails. It is the steepest train line in the Southern Hemisphere.


We went up into the temperate rain forest, and what a surprise, it rained. The windows of the train kept fogging up but our wonderful conductor, host and guide Simon kept wiping them down. It wasn't cold.


After the steep climb we descended to our terminus in the King River Gorge town Dubbil Barril, (sic)



We sat opposite a really nice couple from Hobart, who talked a bit too much. She looks after and cares for numerous grandchildren and great nieces and nephews, along with having fostered many children. 





The through train to Queenstown from Strahan was sitting at Dubbil Barril, waiting for us to arrive on the single track. It departed. Dubbil Barril is pronounced Double Barrel, and the reasons for the spelling is not conclusive but interesting nevertheless.








The lad really put his back into turning the engine on the turntable.





I think this was a foot bridge and we walked over it, but I may be wrong.








We arrived back a little late to Queenstown. Our fastest speed was 35 km/h. Mostly it was below 20. As we were leaving Queenstown, I tooted and waved to the Hobart couple walking back to their caravan park and they waved back. We drove for about three hours to our accommodation in Hobart with some great scenery and a couple of stops along the way. I can highly recommend any visitor to Tasmania take one of the West Coast Wilderness Railway trips.