Saturday, April 19, 2008

100 Years Ago

Tomorrow, the twentieth of April, marks the one hundredth anniversary of what I believe is the second worst train disaster in Australia, after Granville.

Forty four people were killed and a couple of hundred injured when the train from Bendigo careered into the back of a packed train from Ballarat that was stationary at Sunshine Railway Station, on the outskirts of Melbourne.

Here are a few phrases from the lurid news story published in The Age the following day.

'appalling railway accident'
'frightful catastrophe'
'injured were supposed to be burned underneath'
'smashed to pieces'
'sight was something pitiable'
'smashed into a conglomerate'
'with hideous wounds'
'the occupants being chopped up and mangled by the broken wood and ironwork'
'impossible for the uninjured passengers, as they rushed up and down in their excitement to avoid trampling on and tumbling over the dead and wounded'
'corpse, with the head completely torn off'
'mangled body of a mother with her dead baby clasped'
'body of another man was hanging up between two carriages '
'impaled on the ends of sharp splintered woodwork'
'violently hurled from their seats'

But the worst,
'Most of the men who had gone through the collision were hatless'.

So, you are catching a train tomorrow?

Top picture from ANU.
Other from the Herald Sun.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Dying Highriser

Melodrama as usual. I am dying. I had my work provided flu injection today and my arm is hurting. Such pain. I need some youthinasia. Work is not only a pain in the arse but now a pain in the arm too. I took the cotton wool pad and bandage off and I am so annoyed that I cannot even find the site of the horrendous wound.

Worse, yesterday I had a very dull headache. Today a tickle in my throat. I fear the prevention arrived after the disease.

I am sure I am almost il morte. Bugger you women and your painful child birthing. Me with a sore arm and a pending cold is much much worse. Plenty of rest is good. I shall go to bed, and hopefully awake tomorrow, but who knows.

A bit on the side

I am posting this full size, sorry dial up folk. It is a gorgeous ad, now removed, on the side of our new 'local', the Palmerston Hotel in Kingsway. I only had my phone camera.

The pub has plain, cheap but good meals and nice staff. Anyone we have asked to go there with us wants to go back and some have already. If you are tempted, don't take a table near the men's toilet. You get a whiff of deodorant when the door opens, and don't sit at a table near the end of the bar. The floor moves too much. Minor quibbles. I like the place.

The caption on the picture says, 'Where a bit on the side mean cream. South Melbourne Market'.

The TV

Wot I bin watchin.

I seem to be watching less and less tv, or rather concentrating less and less on tv.

I am still enjoying my weekly dose of All Saints. You gotta have some schlock in your life. A couple of million other Australians agree with me. I have given up on The Bill, gradually. It was ok when it was one episode Tuesday night and one Saturday night. Two on Saturday night, which usually get taped, have to be watched later. Can't be bothered. Also given up on Desperate Housewives. They should have wrapped it up after the last series.

Collectors, tick. Can We Help, tick, although I find Peter Rowsthorn hard going. Media Watch, without fail, but usually on the pc when I have a spare five. Is it just me, or is Spicks and Specks getting a bit tired? I try and concentrate on Brothers Sisters, but my attention often drifts off.

I check who Peter Thompson is interviewing on Talking Heads. Maybe I will watch. Mostly I see Australian Story.

Often I tune in and out of Today Tonight, depending on the story. 7.30 Report is a must see, although I do sometimes miss it. Stateline really is a must see. Never miss it. I would like to watch every state edition of Stateline and I can on ABC2, but the times don't suit me, even if I had the time, and the tv to myself. I try to catch Landline, but Sunday noon is not a great time for me.

I have been watching East of Everything. Somewhat ponderous, but very pretty. There was a bit of gem on Channel Ten a few weeks ago. Forgotten the name now, but it was set in the Blue Mountains. Also very pretty.

Monday nights, ten pm on SBS never disappoints. After the very good show Skins finished, Synchronisity? started. Excellent!! Missed the last one, bugger. More are being made.

Einstein Factor! Bah, how do some people know so much about one thing. I don't have the passion nor the memory. Weird, but very watchable. I did rather well with geography last week.

Sometimes Meg and Dave on the Movie Show. I heard someone say recently that the best reason to give up smoking is to see Margaret's face. How cruel. I quite like her looks anyway.

Robin Hood has become more and more camp as it goes on. Bit of fun.

Stress Buster had been interesting. I love anything Management V Worker. I have seen one edition of Four Corners this year. Very worthy but would have to tape it and watch it later. I have enough tape confusion as it is.

Catalyst and The Cook and the Chef of course. I just adore Maggie and Simon and the way they interact.

Compass sometimes, ditto Enough Rope.

Sounds like I watch an awful lot of tv, but being a multi tasker, it is usually on while I am sitting here. Actually, not being a great multi tasker, I miss quite a lot of what I supposedly watch.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

The Lady of the Swamp (update)

I wrote this post about the Lady of the Swamp in May last year. It is a fascinating tale about two sisters who fell on very hard times, a murder, the high life and poverty and inaction by authorities.

Margaret Clemment and her sister lived in Tarwin Lower, South Gippsland in the early part of the twentieth century. One sister, Jeannie, died of natural causes and it is alleged that a property developing couple a couple who befriended Margaret shortly before she disappeared, murdered her.

Track it down if you can. It is a great tale. I mention it again because the post just received another comment that adds a little more colour.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Just bloody marvellous

From the Herald Sun today:

EXCLUSIVE: COOLING towers at the state crime squads building in St Kilda Rd have tested positive to the potentially deadly legionella bacteria.

The Herald Sun understands the particles, which can cause legionnaires' disease, were found during tests made when a detective inspector at the complex fell ill with flu-like symptoms and was hospitalised last week.

Couple of doors from us. Little Jo's mother will not be impressed if we return her in a less than perfect condition tonight. Clearly tonight the pram will be heading in the other direction.

We are just above the roof of the building next door to us and our bedroom windows look down onto it. Thankfully it has refrigerated air con rather than water cooling. I don't want no mist of bacteria laden moisture coming in my window.


I would only read a third the number of books I used to in days before www and probably one quarter of the papers and magazines. It is my choice. If I want to read, I read. If I want to sit at pc with the www, then I shall.

What I mostly read are books with an historical bent, often local Australian history, but sometimes about very different subjects. I am known for getting much pleasure from just staring at maps

When someone's partner was on holidays over easter and so no free newspapers were arriving, I thought I would get through a couple of books, but I just did not feel like reading anything full of facts. I wanted something light, something I could not put down, but could also put down for a couple of days and pick up easily where I left off.

I remembered a couple of books my step mother lent me, the time when we went to Broken Hill mid last year and we stayed a night with her.

So I have knocked of John Grisham's The Last Juror and I am half way through The Partner. It is nice to just escape into books like these and enjoy the read.

I still have The Broker to go and it will probably travel to the UK and back with me.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

I scent the odour of a rodent

It was only the Indian overseas students in Melbourne who got a bit bolshie and protested about their second rate educational institutions. Chinese students said nothing and they have been victims for much longer.

Hopelessly stereotyping, but Chinese are much less likely to publicly protest about anything.

Yet Chinese in Australia were out on the streets at the weekend protesting about the protests against the protest disruptions of the Olympic Torch Rely because of China's mistreatment of protesting Tibetans. (That was a lot of protesting).

Spokespersons are saying that they are disappointed with Australian's for being so anti Chinese. They, as Chinese people, feel that Australia is discriminating against the Chinese.

How did it get to this? Who said we hate Chinese? Some of us may not agree with the Chinese government's treatment of Tibetans or China's policies in Tibet, but where did the anti Chinese citzen thing come from.

There must be a very big hand behind this.

Gawd, I hope it is not so simple as Chinese who live in or are staying Australia get brownie points back home for marching in Australia in support of China, or calling up radio station talk back lines and breaking into tears with their emotional distress with all this supposed anti Chinese feeling in Australia.

Blah, do you think we are stupid?

Nice Find

How often do you go into a shop and marvel at the displays? How often do you find the staff friendly, helpful and polite but not overpowering and content to let you browse? T'would be a rare occasion.

I found such a shop the other day and I was mighty impressed. I am talking of Kay Craddock's Antiquarian Bookshop in Collins Street.

It was beautifully laid out. There were also many stylish display cases with extra special books. Areas focused on children. If there was a restaurant equivalent, I could never go there. I would feel uncomfortable, but I did not here.

The website is also quite classy, without be overly complicated. It is easy to find what you want.

Yes, you will pay a premium when buying a book here, but I did not think the prices were unreasonable.

I kept thinking I was in a library and that I could choose books to borrow. Alas not.

An exceedingly large tick to a wonderful business.

Monday, April 14, 2008


The George Hotel in Fitzroy Street, St Kilda, does not look pretty at the moment. Much of its paint is peeling off. Actually, odd as it may seem, I have grown to like the look. Below is an ex State Savings Bank of Victoria I came across in Nicholson Street, North Fitzroy. Not only is the paint peeling, but bits of it are falling off. Such a shame but it is not too late for it to be repaired.
This is the hotel I mentioned yesterday, Lomond. It is freshly painted and looks very grand. It is on the corner of Nicholson Street and Blythe Street. Ripper hey.


I have no great love for cab drivers. Their driving is generally appalling, speaking from the position of both a passenger and a fellow driver. Pay peanuts, you get monkeys, so the saying goes, and boy are we paying peanuts.

In Melbourne, where the minimum adult wage is perhaps $16, these chaps and chapesses work for around $8 per hour. From that, they must pay gst, tax, and provide for their own holiday pay, insurance, sick leave etc etc. This would have to amount to half of that $8, so they are working for $4 an hour. Is it any surprise that is a job only the desperate take on? For this $4, they must put up with drunks, the drugged, nasty people, threats of violence, passengers vomiting and people bolting without paying. Some like the work and the freedom they have but I doubt many do.

I suppose there is an historical reason why they are not paid wages. They get 50% of the takings. The taxi owner gets the other 50% and pays all costs, including fuel. In this day and age, working for $4 per hour is extraordinary. In Sydney, I quote The Age, drivers' earn 115% more.

Now the owners' say they are not getting a good return on their way overpriced taxi plates and want to change it to a 60/40 split in the owner's favour.

One of the few good things former State Premier Kennett did was tidy up the taxi industry. He did not go far enough, and it certainly needs attention now. As passengers and fellow drivers, if taxi drivers were earning a decent income, we could demand better standards. We are in a pretty weak position to demand anything of them at the moment.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

New GG

How marvellous. We have a new Governor General cum September. One Quentin Bryce. In spite of her bloke name, she is a chickie babe. Although our recent GGs have all represented a chickie babe, that is the Betty Battenberg, we have never had a chick as as GG. This is so good. I hope she is not just a Labor Party hack getting a reward.

Well, it had to happen sooner later. People like the to depart Major General Sir Michael Jeffries are a bit of an anachronism.

I do like the idea of Australia being represented by a blonde chickie babe, even if she is a bleach blonde and has had a lift or two. You are game to argue against me on the last point?


Can you be a savant and not autistic? I headlined the original post Savant/Autism. I must have thought for some reason that all savants are autistic. Now I am not so sure. While I don't know if this lad is a savant or not, he is autistic as he wrote in one of his earliest posts. I am enjoying reading Chronicles of Feral Beast. He has a good sense of humour too. I don't comment on his blog except just as Andrew. He is a bit young I think to be exposed to my blog with its occasional filthrisqueness.

Link to original post written in September 2006 with comments.

I have seen a tv show recently about savant people. Also heard a bit on the transistor radio.

This is all new to me. I probably should have watched the movie Rain Man.

R knows a savant, a young adult. Tell him your birthday date and within a couple of seconds, he can tell you on what day it will fall in any given year you mention. It is truly amazing.

In spite of everything I have heard and seen, I can't decide whether it is a pattern thing (it can't be really), a photographic means, that is your brain has photographed certain things and then recalls them, or the most likely, extremely swift mental calculation but for that, you would think that there needs to be a formula to follow and clearly for some things savants are good at, there is not a formula.

People can be trained to do extraordinary mental calculations and they are in Japan.

Like a natural musical ability, it is truly amazing to me.

Off to write this weeks shopping list, or you can be sure, I will forget something..........probably about half of it. A savant I am not.

The Sunday

After a few drinks last night, we decided we would go out for a nice lunch. Brighton Baths? Too busy. Williamstown? Too busy. In the harsh light of the morning, plans changed. The day's food was pancakes at home for breakfast, decent cup of coffee and some KFC.

We had coffee at CERES. I had not been there before. It is perched above the steep bank down to Merri Creek in East Brunswick and covers a several hectares. CERES stands for Centre for Education and Research in Environmental Strategies. I could go into a confusing and detailed explanation of what is there, but you can read the website.

We were still full from the pancakes, so just had coffee. The cafe food was very enticing though. The staff, as many passionate 'green' people are, were dour and serious. At least they were efficient, unlike the staff at the Abbotsford Convent vegetarian place where we tried to eat once, but ended up walking out.

I am reminded too when we ate with our friend from Japan at Soul Mamas at St Kilda. We asked the manager if the staff are vegetarian and he said no as vegos tend not to make good staff.

As for CERES, it would be great for school groups or kids to play, but I did not find it very interesting. There were plenty of community gardens there, and an orchard or two. Perhaps a guided tour would be the way to go.

Unlike most people, and the place was very busy, we left a minimal carbon foot print by catching the tram to and from. There were just so many cars in the carpark area.

We walked the local streets a bit. I felt that discomfort I usually feel once I get past Carlton. Everything seems a bit odd. The same, but different. I did come across a lovely pub on the corner of Blythe and Nicholson Street. Four storey I think. Very impressive.

I have to go back that way with the camera and I will take a picture. I came across three old signs to add to Tony's marvellous old sign Google map. He has just updated it. Please, if you know of some old signs that are not on his site, let one of us know or better still, take a pic yourself and send it to Tony via his website. You will get your name in lights on the google map like I have and he can even link your blog.

For once, there were no tram disruptions and the service worked perfectly. However, a mere hour after we left the city to go to East Brunswick, Bourke and Swanston Street services were disrupted by a demonstration.

Once back in town, we had a single Asahi at Cookie, our wicked meal of KFC, did some shopping and home to peace and quiet, except for the quietly simmering pot of rich spag bol sauce on the stove. Better give it stir as the cook is having a nana nap.

Here is satellite picture of CERES.

View Larger Map

A Traveller's Find

Cazzie went away for Easter. She took this fabulous picture of the Umpherstone Sinkhole at Mount Gambier in South Australia near the Victorian border. I want to see this for myself. Marvellous isn't it. I have never heard of it, let alone seen it. As Dorrie Evans used to say, why wasn't I told. There is a bit about its history here. Don't forget to click for a bigger picture.

The Sisters Three

Time line first.

About 2000, one of R's UK sister visited Orstralya with her husband. They liked it so much, they came again a couple of years later with daughter in tow. Dame M hosted a fab party for the daughter's 21st and R's birthday. My family attended Dame M's bash, overt gay people and Jasmine, aka The Boarder. Education for family. It was a party that went very late and it was magical. Soon after, the 40 odd year old UK sister separated from her partner who she had been with since the age of 16. Scary. Luckily, they are quite well off through shady dealings in the husband's business and did not need to stay with us.

Then there is the sister who I do not know. She has a heart problem that prevents her travelling any further south from the UK than Benidorm in Spain.

Then there is the third sister who came here and stayed with us two years ago. We also hosted her partner's sister and her partner the year before.

You still with me. Most unlikely.

There is a problem. First sister to visit and unmet sister do not speak to last sister to visit. Last sister to visit is the one giving us accommodation in a caravan. Will they be fighting over who is going to pick us up at the train station? Is this going to make our holiday difficult? Juggling non speaking relatives without offending any is what worries us most about our up coming trip.

The sister who is not being spoken to is also the poorest. She is also the one I like the most and she is great fun.

The first sister to visit ex husband works in the motor trade and when R was last there, he gave R a car to use. We need to butter up this sister so her ex will give us at least a cheap car. R better get some friendly phone calls and emails happening.