Friday, March 14, 2008

The Tram to Balmoral

For twenty years the residents and the local council of the Sydney seaside suburb of Balmoral agitated, lobbied, pestered, made deputations, petitioned and never let up the pressure for an electric tram to their suburb. For twenty years routes were discussed, costs were discussed, plans made and plans discarded. Finally in 1922 their tram line opened. Why was it so hard? Remember this tracing and I posed the question as to why the tram took such a circuitous route?

Cliffs and steep slopes my friends. Sydney has a lot of very steep areas around the edge of the harbour and the open sea areas, both north and south of the harbour entrances.

While it not so much of a problem now, back then trams could not go down or up very steep hills. Remember my post on the Balmain counterweight tram? They would just slip when trying to climb a hill, or slide when going down.

Eventually route planning and funding was finalised and the new tram line opened on the 29th of May, 1922. Unlike most Sydney tram line openings, the opening was without ceremony. Politicians did not want to give an opportunity for criticism as to why the line took twenty years to build.

No longer did residents have to walk the to the nearest tram line in Military Road. I think Balmoral Beach must have been quite a nice place to visit. Once the tram line opened with a fairly infrequent service, the service had to be rapidly increased, especially on weekends.

Here is a quote from one of the newspapers of the day:
In its tortuous descent to the beach, the new line headed at different stages of the route towards almost every point of the compass, revealing scenes of surpassing beauty at every turn.

Here is a map with the streets and route of the tram. Once it reached the sea, it took a level, curving path along the coast to Rocky Point and a rotunda I think. To the top of the map is Mandolong Road, an obvious route for the tram to connect to Military Road tram on the far left, and travel directly to the beach, but it was far too steep.
This picture by Tim Boxsell of Sydney shows one of the cuttings that was blasted and hacked out of rock to make a path for the tram. After the tram stopped running the cutting became overgrown and almost impassable. Mossman Council recently cleared the cutting. I don't believe that these tracks are the original.
This picture is lovely. A tram travelling through bushland to Balmoral. Picture courtesy The North Sydney lines.

This is one of a tram descending a steep and curving hill. Picture owner unknown.

One thing for sure, the tram line would have never have happened if not for the lobbying and though it took twenty years, it was successful. Take note Doncaster residents, Monash students and Rowville residents who want a train.

The last picture shows at tram at repose at the Balmoral Beach terminus facing the steep slopes it will soon climb. The last tram to Balmoral ran on the 28th of June, 1958. Picture courtesy City of North Sydney.

Thursday, March 13, 2008


When out on walks, we often pass by Lynch's restaurant. Lynch has now retired and new people have taken over, but it seems unchanged. R picked this card up the other night as he passed by.

The restaurant was embroiled in controversy some years ago when a couple of diners with a crying baby were asked to leave. Pual Lynch henceforth banned babies from his establishment.

Should I offer an opinion? Course I should. Not that we would ever feel comfortable in such a posh place, but if we were paying the sort of money that people pay to dine there, then a crying baby next to me would be most unwelcome. But then I am the type to complain about kids cluttering up playground.

Some years later, the baby ban is being used as an advertising gimmick. It good Herr Lynch plenty of publicity at the time.

Dame M update

How long is it since I wrote last about Dame M? A few weeks, maybe four. She has fought tooth and nail to prevent herself receiving any medical treatment.

We have all been visiting, cajoling, threatening and she has finally relented. For the last four weeks she has barely eaten, taken barely any fluids. She has a bed sore. Her weight is down to 45kg. Her ankles are swollen like balloons. She has been washed a few times by one of the Mountain Women, who was a nurse. No amount of tasty tidbits will make her eat more than a mouthful. She was no longer strong enough to get out of bed on her own.

After a visit by an aged care nurse friend of our dyke friend last night, she agreed finally to go to hospital. The threat that she would be compulsorily put in a nursing home must have helped.

I received a call from the dyke friend last night asking if I could take her and the boarder to hospital today. I arrived after ten this morning and the boarder had her packed and ready.

Half an hour later we were at Cabrini Emergency department and the wheels of the system started to work as we knew they would. ECG and bloods taken, a wait on a trolley until test result come back and then either a bed would be found for her there or a transfer to Malvern Private Hospital.

The triage nurse was already to blame her GP for Dame M's condition and that she had slipped through the cracks, but we told the nurse that she has never really had one. Dame M chipped in, I am stubborn. No one's fault but mine.

Although incredibly thin, she looked quite regal sitting up in bed as I said my goodbyes a couple of hours later. We are all so relieved that she is finally getting care.

ABC Website

M'lord's mate Declan has been promoted from news writer and proof reader at the newspapers to webmaster at ABC Melbourne local radio.

Just wondering Declan, have you heard of Firefox? Many people use it and it needs to be able to be viewed with Firefox.

Now Declan, one broken link on a page is bad, but three?

And I don't like the bright green.

You really did 'shoot your bolt' a little early Declan.

Edit: I should have published this faster. It is actually working better now. Why did they release it well before it was ready?

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Sydney Tram Route

This is a tracing of a Sydney tram route. Why for its last kilometre or so would it travel in such a circuitous route? Answer in a day or so. Certain readers know the answer, but don't spoil the idiotic guesses. Oh, that ensures no guesses hey. Never mind. Have a go at where it is if you like. A present bus route almost follows the same path.

Controlling your hairdresser

I do luvs my US blogging mate Daisy Jo. Yesterday she tore around her small Ohio town slipping and sliding on ice. Not quite true, she was having severe traction problems and not getting anywhere fast.

Today she suffered a lightning attack on her eyebrows by her hairdresser with hot wax at hand.

These hair dressers try to disarm you with their endless chit chat but you have to take control.

Not the last time but the time before when I had my hair cut at the usual place in Brunswick Street (no free advertising for him anymore), the owner cut it. I was a little vague about what I wanted buy said basically a buzz cut, perhaps number five on top and three at the sides. He suggested he could merge the two better with scissors and I said ok. Result was fine, except it cost six dollars more.

Next time I got my favourite cutter, a Kiwi born lass. She did as I asked. I know in the past I have said that I prefer males to cut my hair, but I have changed my mind. Ok?

Today she was absent, so I got the boss again. I firmly stated what I wanted in my deepest butch voice and I did not get an argument.

You really do have to be assertive with hairdressers.

Dyke Deborah

It takes a very big feather to knock me down usually, but this one did. Ex model, tv show presenter, ex partner of previously gaoled Harry M. Miller, socialite and social commentator Deborah Hutton is a lesbian or at least a bi-sexual.

Not that there is anything wrong with that of course. Some of my best friends.......

I know her mostly from when she used to make social commentary on our local gay radio station Joy. Duh, clue 1 missed. She also made social commentary on our local ABC radio station.

I always thought she was a hoot. Very witty, dry and laconic. In fact I would go so far as saying she was fabulous.

Being a model I suppose was the reason she was always beautifully dressed and groomed. Her speaking voice is very pleasant.

She has spent the last seven years shacked up with her gold medal winning hockey player girlfriend in Sydney's beach suburb Tamarama.

I have now picked myself up off the grass of Fawkner Park where I was informed of this momentous news and I say good luck to you Debs.

Pic from her website. She won't sue when I said such nice things, will she.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Tuesday as it was

As many of you have noticed, I spent a lot of time today changing my blog. Every url done individually. It was a start from scratch. Once I learnt how this new blogging thing worked, it was so easy. At one point, I realised I had left two important people off the blog list. I hope I haven't left anyone else off.

But blogging is recreational. I needed to do some stuff. I cooked the evening meal, the Body Corporate Owner's Corporation, Blanche's Special Fried Rice. That is the monthly meal I cook when R goes off to building meeting. I don't cook otherwise really. I also had some other housewifely duties to perform, but not in the bedroom.

I also bashed off for a couple of hours in the motor to the west to wash the car at the marvellous CoreyItCreek Road car wash. I stopped off at Altona Gate shopping centre for some oils for the car, some nourishment for me, an easter egg for my beloved and a toilet break. When going back to the car, I was accompanied by a women who was having loudly audible breathing difficulties. I have never heard anything like that before. Stupidly I asked if she was ok, when clearly she wasn't. I should have asked, can I help you? She was headed to her car where I guess she had some Ventolin. I hung around for a bit at a distance to make sure she was ok.

I was dreading the trips across the bridge, well, perhaps more so the earlier part on the freeway. I decided I would just stay in the left lane, impossible to do, and go with the flow of whoever was in front of me. It wasn't a bad choice. All very relaxing. 40kmh road restrictions may be frustrating for regular users of the freeway and bridge, but it was fine for me.

Returning, I remembered how the car lanes work, and avoided a traffic jam by just staying to the left, even though the lane sort of ends and then restarts. VicRoads at its finest.

Amazing that I stayed a fair bit at home today when the weather was pleasant when it will be killer hot in the latter part of the week and I could well stay home.

In Modern Australia...

Can this really happen in Australia now? Read the article here. I fully understand about the Asian backpackers. I can well imagine how they scared. The fault was with them. They need educating and a talking to about their inappropriate reaction. I hope that is not perceived as racist agin Japanese. Those who were kicked out were decent people who were being discriminated against for purely the colour of the skin. As usual, money wins over.

With the proviso that I hope they were not loud and offensive, so then they deserve to be kicked, just like anyone else.

M'lord wrote one of his salient posts on the matter.

The Decorators

As Brian put it in a comment, the decorators have been visiting.

Do not decide to play around with templates late at night after a couple of glasses of Colombard's finest Chardonnay.

Thankfully when switching to the new way of publishing your blog, the old template is saved, sort of. This morning I realised it was in a bit of a mess. I did not like the new style of blog editing, well actually, I did not understand it. But I did want a new look, so I stuck with the old method and just changed the template. Mistake. Nearly all editing had been lost.

Right, bite the bullet. Change to the new system and learn how it works. I did. One area caused me great stress. It would not do what it says it will do. A look at the knowledge base cleared that one. Remove the 2 in the web url that may be there. It was, I removed it and all worked.

It will take some playing to get all running again. If I have left you off my blog list, it was probably deliberate. Just kidding. I will get it right soon enough. If you are not keen on the way your name is displayed or the heading you are under, let me know via email.

Melbourne Karachi Tram

Back in November 2006, we caught the Melbourne tram decorated in the manner of public transport in Karachi, Pakistan. I believe decorators were brought out here for the task. It ran for a couple of summers but no sign of it this year. I think it must be in storage.

I didn't take my camera on the trip but I have just come across a very good youtube of the tram in action. I love the way the sound track slides, almost like it was mixed, from the church bells of St Pauls Cathedral to Pakistani pop music that was being blasted out from the tram.

The best thing about it, among the chaos, is that everyone at least smiles, if not laughs and the grin stays on their faces for the duration of the trip. I can't recall if we had to pay, but if we did, it was the cheapest fun I have ever had. Beat that Fleetwood/Blackpool Brian.

Monday, March 10, 2008

El Syd

Today we braved the Moomba (no link, you don't want to know if you don't already) crowds to see the Sidney Nolans exhibition at Fed Square. It was sad that it was so hot for kiddies who watched the Moomba parade. There is no way in the world I would have taken kiddies there. They would have fried in the 38 degree heat that it reached a bit later, 100 in the very old money.

The Ian Potter Centre was blissfully cool and we wandered the exhibition. Maybe it is because I have seen so many of his paintings reproduced, but I found the exhibition not so exciting. I was a bit afraid to express what I liked and what I didn't as I had heard that the curator hung everything he could get and he thought some were really bad. There was one picture I really liked, which was probably a bad one. It was of Robe St, St Kilda and there was bunting strung across the street. I would guess the bunting was to celebrate the coronation of the queen. Perhaps there had been a street party. Sidney Nolan was a bit of an old grump from what I recall of him.

We adjourned to the less than cool Riverland for a couple of Asahis and a bowl of chips and then home to the cool.

I don't care how much the air con costs to run or how much damage it does to the environment, I cannot live with out it. Every minute I am working in the heat, I am happy because I am earning to pay for my home air con.

Sunday 9th Pt 3

A few pics taken in Kensington. I suppose it is Hardiman's Hotel below. Very distressed and very interesting.

Looking down Macaulay Road towards the railway line with the city in the background.

Belair Street, taken almost opposite Kensington Railway Station.

The Australian Bank, built circa 1891.

An odd pair of houses in nearby Wight Street.

Because it is on a hill, Wight Street is probably as close to any area in Melbourne that can feel like Sydney.

Sunday 9th Pt 2

As well as using the abo word today when she visited for afternoon tea yesterday, my mother also said, referring to an old frock shop called Debbie Ann, next to the fishmonger in Portman Street, Oakleigh, that it was owned and run by a lovely lady called Mrs Silver. She was Jewish, but so nice and so smart. Even step father picked her up on this one, pointing out a few of the Jewish people they know and adding that he has an antecedent with the name of Solomon.

She then went on to defend herself by saying she knew Jewish people many years ago and liked them a lot. She worked for some. This was a very big, never told revelation to me and to my step father. Why has she never mentioned this?

So far as I knew, she only ever worked in a plant nursery potting up seedlings for a few weeks and that was all the paid work she had ever done.

Oh no. Not true, it would seem. For some reason after all this time, she told us that she had been a telephonist, for a week, a sales lass in a haberdashery shop for a couple of days and a cleaner and child carer for a Jewish doctor whose practice was in the city. She worked this job for six months before she got bored. They lived in a new two storey apartment (1940's) at the corner of Murrumbeena Road and Dandenong Road and Mum used to do some general cleaning and walk the doctor's child down Murrumbeena Road to and from kindergarten, times of duty, 8.00 am to 3.30. Mum loved the apartment, furnished with beautiful antique furniture, which I suppose tells me why when she furnished my grandmother's new house in North Road, South Oakleigh with reproduction Queen Anne furniture.

Mater has told me/us quite a few interesting things over the last couple of years that we did not know. She must be feeling mortal and a need to pass on information.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Sunday 9th Pt 1

This morning before it became too hot, we took the motor out to the Commonwealth Games Village in Parkville. After the Melbourne Commonwealth Games, the competitors housing was turned into private dwellings and sold for large sums of money. It is one of the most ugly areas in Melbourne and a thorough waste of our time and petrol. Don't bother.

However, we went on to see where R lived once in Park Street, West Brunswick and then found what must be the most unrenovated Coles supermarket in Melbourne at Union Square. But the staff were lovely, and did we find a little gay enclave in Melbourne? By what we saw, perhaps so. We drove a few of the backstreets and it is quite a nice area and certainly not a high migrant area that I expected it would be. The people we saw at Union Square and on the streets all seemed to be of Anglo heritage. Bit odd really.

Cazzie must have planted this in my head when she mentioned in a post or comment about stopping off for coffee in Kensington. I wanted to go to Kensington. It is a word that I have a trouble saying. For some reason I stretch it out to be a very long word, over one second to say it. I must have heard it like that once and it planted in my head. I am very susceptible to accents.

We were up for coffee and a snack and by sheer co-incidence, we happened across the same Macaulay Road cafe where Cazzie had coffee. Both coffee and fruit toast were nice. From memory it was called Kitc-ch. We watched church goers come and go, so many dogs passing and some really nice looking but down to earth types.

Perhaps we should sell the highrise and move to Kensington? R loves real estate agent windows with a passion, so we took a look at the one opposite the cafe, no prices.

I reminded R that it is quite a busy area, unlike today when we are seeing it at its best on a quiet holiday weekend when so many people are out of the city, and no truck traffic.

R had some other memory of Kensington and could not quite work it out. We walked down the hill to the railway line, crossed the road, and there were many more cafes and shops off Macaulay Road. This was what he remembered, or a very earlier version of it.

We found another real estate agent, who had a picture of a single fronted timber house in his window. The poster stated that it was the first $800,000 house sale in Kensington. Thoughts of selling the highrise, moving to Kensington and become cash rich melted like an ice cream on a February day in the Alice (that was pretty good hey).

Home James, with afternoon tea goodies for the Mater and step father. More on the day to follow.

Tandoori chicken, a chop and a ginger.

We were summoned to a barbecue at South Oakleigh last night. Just us, the brother friends, the hosts ex NT politician and his Fijian/Indian boyfriend and his Australian boyfriend (do not ask me explain how the Fijian/Indian boyfriend can have two boyfriends, I don't understand, just accept), and two younger guys, another Fijian/Indian and his Ukrainian boyfriend.

It was a very pleasant barbecue in the their very lush backyard. Over about six years I have watched the backyard lawn shrink to a postage stamp size as the garden beds extended outward.

We were given two stems of flowers from a ginger lily to take home, then as a last minute thought, a bit of night jasmine. R noted at the market yesterday ginger lily flower stems were selling for five dollars each.

The night jasmine was chucked out the car window on the way home as it was nearly knocking us out with its overpowering scent.

We popped the ginger lily stems into water once home and they lasted ten minutes before they went out onto the balcony because they were so overpowering. What is it with ginger lilies? They are not attractive and the scent is not very pleasant and extremely strong.

My mother who visited today said that they are evil. She planted one once and has never been able to get rid of it. However, her ears pricked up when she learnt that a flower stem sells for five dollars. Twenty stems sold and there would be a new pair of shoes to add to her shoe mountain.