Saturday, August 29, 2009

New target for Jussy

Here you go Planning Minister Justin Madden. When you have finished with demolishing Art Deco buildings, you can start on Victorian Italianate. This one is in Acland Street, St Kilda. It is an ideal retail site with plenty of passing foot traffic and high population density. I am thinking perhaps a Dan Murphys grog shop.

Here is snip from Melbourne Heritage web site in reference to a public question time of the Minister.

Perhaps you could ask him what happened to the Eastern Arcade; why he authorised the demolition of the heritage listed Telegraph Offices on Little Bourke Street; why he overturned heritage listings to gut an art deco carpark (Melbourne’s oldest) on Little Collins Street; why he ignored Heritage Victoria and the National Trust and approved the demolition of Lonsdale House; why he has allowed towers to breach the height limits of heritage overlay areas or what his plans he has in store for the iconic Windsor Hotel on Spring Street.

Just waiting for your wrecking balls Jussy.

Seriously, no I was being serious, but what a stunning building!

Friday, August 28, 2009

Last Weekend

This is a diary, so need to record.

Saturday, attend Save Lonsdale House protest. Do shopping at QV. Rest. Call in on dyke friends and drop off wine.

Continue on to Milanos Hotel at Brighton Beach. The Brighton Antique Dealer had organised a get together. The ex NT politician and his Fijian Indian b/f were there. The late Dame M's Boarder. A couple of friends of BAD, two gay guys who we had not met before. In spite of being 'antique' people, they were very nice. Our brother friends were there too. One absurdly wrapped in a coat and scarf indoors. Yes, we know you like Thailand and the heat, but stop being so melodramatic. Thirteen people in total.

Like the other two Brighton Hotels we have been in the last year or so, it was noisy. No complaints though. Hang on, just one. The food. I normally don't have roast beef in pubs. It is usually quite coarse. Not at Milanos. It was thinly sliced and melt in your mouth. Melt in your mouth to the point of eating nothing. Little taste and no texture whatsoever.

I paid my share and went outside to wait for everyone to come out. I was looking around the carpark, trying to see any remnants of where the St Kilda to Brighton tram used to pull in, but alas, all history had been removed.

Next to the car park is the Brighton Beach Station, surely one of Melbourne's most attractive railway stations. Searching won't find it, but somewhere back in time I posted a photo of the station. Daniel had posted an even better one earlier.

We went back to BAD's shop/house and stayed way too late chatting.

Next day, Sunday, did stuffs at home and then went for a last visit to Hotham Street flat. Something went wrong. Had strong words with R. I was left there with his car and he had marched off without keys to home. Eventually I went home and he arrived home a bit later.

I went off to model train exhibition at Caulfield Racecourse on the tram. I was well over car driving by this point. I have always fancied having a model train set. I am cured of that now. Boring as batshit is a phrase that comes to mind. Rest assured R, if you go before me, your bedroom won't be turned into a model train room.

Train or tram home? I dunno. I will think about it with a very refreshing gin and tonic at the nearby hotel. I inserted five dollars in the electronic gaming machine and proved once again that gambling does not pay. I finished my drink while reading about negative and positive polarity DC connections to your Hornby train set. I caught the tram home, and the useless thing went via St Kilda, adding ten minutes to my trip home. I tried to read more about Hornby train DC positive polarity connections, but it was making me very sleepy.

Home and R has taken to his bed. Prevaricate between going shopping by bus/tram or car to Prahran. Car wins. Home again as R is going out to do shopping. Curtly exchange details of what has been bought. Another war of attrition has begun.

This weekend, Hawthorn is playing at MCG, Sister's team. The game will be sans the nasty bloke who biffed Benny. Bone Doctor will be at work, so guess what? We will look after Little Jo. Sister said over phone, and would not elaborate, that she had something to tell us tomorrow. Please let it be that she and Bone Doctor are not moving to the the US. Fingers crossed that sister is pregnant. I am not sure we have as much energy for another one, but how I would love a brother or sister for Little Jo.

Slum Clearance, Recommended Listening

Melbourne is not alone in a having high rise housing commission towers. They can be found in Sydney, UK and I expect USA. To define them, publicly owned high rise apartment buildings for the poorer among us. Almost without exception, they have not been successful. They became shabby boxes full of people with social, poverty and drug problems, the elderly, single mothers and recent immigrants. That is a generalisation of course, but a fair call.

Now with residents' action groups, residents' social groups and community gardens and some decent money spent on maintenance, they are probably in a better state and a more cohesive community now than they ever have been.

So what was there before the towers were built?

I knew that the towers were on land cleared of slums. My brain told me that it probably wasn't a bad thing, but my heart remembered seeing photos of urchins happily playing in putrid back lanes. So often those with the least are the happiest.

Fitzroy is a special case. It was the poorest of poor suburbs with the lowest standard of housing. In the early seventies, my grandparents refused to go, or did eventually go with much cajoling, to their niece's wedding. She was marrying an Eye-talian and the wedding was to be in Fitzroy. So although the slums were long gone, the prejudice continued to survive.

One case mentioned in the podcast below, was of a woman who received slum clearance notice to quit in 1956. She did not leave until the wreckers were upon her doorstep in about 1965. She saw her neighbours move on, the cohesive community she knew disintegrate, her family move away and the area she knew become like a bomb site as houses around her were demolished.

She lived with this hanging over her head for nearly a decade before moving to a new housing commission flat in Richmond. She now had running hot water and modern conveniences and she hated it. Her kids went bad, her washing was stolen from the communal laundry and her walls dripped with condensation. She longed to be back in her Fitzroy slum.

So take some time out to listen to Dirty Old Town, a wonderful podcast by the ABC Radio National Hindsight team. I can't recall, but if someone sent me the link to this story, thanks.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Hot Tube

I have caught two ads on tv lately that grabbed me. Unfortunately they were nearly over before I tuned in and I have not seen them again. Both play on stereotypes of our perceptions of the US and UK.

The first I really only caught the end of, but a couple of picnickers are asked directions by an American tourist. The guy replies in a strong Aussie accent, 'sorry mate, we don't speak English'. The American tourist says, 'ok, thanks anyway' and departs. Something like that anyway.

The other I think was for cheap air flights to the UK. At the end of the ad, the woman jumps into the supermarket freezer and says that she is just acclimatising herself, presumably for her visit to the UK. I suppose both ads are amusing. I didn't really laugh.

But believe me, if you intend travelling on the Tube in London, you are better to get into an oven to acclimatise yourself than a freezer.

The heat in London's underground train system is a well known problem. It is not just The Underground as it is just as hot, if not hotter, in the trains themselves. Certainly so in summer, when we visited. I found it very uncomfortable. Just remembered, I think I have mentioned t this before. Oh well, another take on it.

The trains are not air conditioned, although some new air conditioned trains are on their way. Some lines have such tight tunnel clearances that many heads cannot work out how to add air con units which won't foul the tunnels. There are no plans that I know of to air condition stations, although improved ventilation is being looked at.

I came across this nifty little map by The Times showing the temperatures in the Tube on a hot day. They are hot even by our standards.

Cataract Gorge

We had to drop some ordered wine in to our dyke friends' place at the weekend. They had a visitor there from north western Tasmania. We did not stay long, but chatted for a short time with the Tasmanian lass. She assured me that the drought in Tasmania is now history, with widepread heavy rainfall.

We just loved Cataract Gorge, just a few minutes from the centre of Launceston in the north of Tasmania. Like in the stylish or stylised photo below by stephenk1977, I remember the waters in the gorge as being very placid.

The recent rains proved it is not always the case. See the raging torrent pouring through the gorge here at Launceston Daily Photo.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Where am I?

Some may see some train tracks that could be anywhere. Others will identify the greater Melbourne location in five seconds flat. So where are they? If you know, explain what is being seen. The photo raises a question in my mind. If I was a user of the service in the morning peak, travelling from the top of the picture to the bottom, I think I would know the answer for sure. I'll see if anyone answers the question before I ask it.

Later Edit: The question is, do the express trains all use the Frankston line tracks?

Page 3, 5¢, ka-ching

Foreigner Mr Rupey Murdoch has told us that we may well have to pay to read his newspapers. If he does, Fairfax will soon follow. Daily I at least skim through their papers, The Age and the Herald Sun. Usually the Sydney Morning Herald and Sydney Daily Telegraph along with other newspapers at times.

The last time I paid for anything on the net was 1996 for a pass to sites called Mancheck. You can guess for what. It worked for long after the period paid for expired. It was easy to deviously get around the net back then. Such places are much smarter now and I leave it to the experts to pass such stuff on to me.

However, I would pay to read newspapers online, up to a point. Given we are used to being able to read newspapers all over the world for free, and have been for a long time, the price would need to be very low with multiple options. Given I still buy normal newspapers regularly, although not daily, I would object to double paying. Maybe everyone will get their news from ABC online. As a non commercial government owned organisation, they really complicate matters.

No doubt there are many minds puzzling over how to charge online newspaper readers without alienating them. I don't know how they will do it. Do you?

Taxis Off Swanston Street

This morning I saw a taxi pull up to the kerb in Swanston Street, the driver opened his door immediately, straight into the path of a cyclist who crashed hard into the door and fell off his bike. It is not the first time I have seen this happen. I don't think the cyclist was too badly hurt.

Meanwhile City of Melbourne does nothing to protect cyclists from stupid taxi drivers. It is great that so many people are cycling now, but why are they not given some protection. City of Melbourne has gotten rid of most of the large tourist coaches but ridding the street of the airport and mini buses hasn't happened as it was supposed to.

They are less of a problem. Nothing beats taxis for dangerous and illegal driving, danger to cyclists and pedestrians, illegal parking and disruption of trams travelling along Swanston Street.

There is no reason why taxis need to be in Swanston Street. They can quite satisfactorily use the adjacent streets or the east west streets.

City of Melbourne and Victoria Police either cannot or will not enforce present regulations and laws, so I have no faith in any law or bylaw change to remedy the problem.

That is why I am a member of TOSS. Taxis Off Swanston Street. Ban them.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Ejicating Meself

You can come along for the ride too. Correct me where you will.

High Commission: An embassy of one British Commonwealth country to another, normally in the country's capital city. So for us in Australia, that would be Canberra. We would have a High Commission in London and say Wellington in New Zealand. God save the red bits on the globe.

Embassy: A diplomatic mission in the capital city of a foreign country. Same as above. Embassies in Canberra. We would have an Embassy in Washington and Paris.

Consulate: A branch of an embassy or high commission found in major cities. So we have high commissions and embassies in Canberra and consulates in big cities such as Sydney and Melbourne. I expect we would have a Consulate in New York.

Ambassador: A diplomat of the highest rank. So he or she would be in Canberra. We would have an Ambassador to the United States or to France.

High Commissioner: He or she would be the same as an Ambassador but in Commonwealth countries. High Commissioner in London. High Commissioner in New Delhi.

Consul or Consul General: A senior diplomat at a consulate. Consul General would be the senior diplomat at a consulate.

Did I leave anything out? And no, I am not adding the self explanatory honorary consul or the lord high commissioner.

Actively saving Lonsdale House

We protested publicly. We gathered outside Lonsdale House and after milling about for a while, a short speech and signing of petitions, we marched on Town Hall. Sadly there were not enough of us to block Lonsdale Street, but I suppose there were about 150 protestors there.

It isn't too late to sign the online petition, 1800 signatures (2,500 on hard copy) send emails or join the Facebook group with its 1500 members. All can be found at

Look, here we are on the ABC news. I can be briefly glimpsed and a nice view of my and R's backs. I was unseen but standing next to Liana Thompson as she spoke to camera. Just remembered. I think she used to be mayor of City of Port Phillip.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Fire Station Museum

Full marks to Cazzie. She guessed where I was by the photo I posted back here.

I had a poke around the Fire Station Museum at Eastern Hill. Some nice old fire engines there. The photo showed the magnificent old board room of the Melbourne Fire Brigade.

The museum is a work in very slow progress. I would have liked to gone up in the tower and seen some other bits of the building that are not accessible to the general public.

While I highly recommend the Victorian Police Museum, which is free entry, I could just recommend the Fire Museum if it was free. At $9 for adult entry, the price is steep.