Saturday, October 05, 2013

Family do's. Hard work.

Chainsaw/hippy Niece has turned 21. She and her dad, Tradie Brother hosted a party today. It was a wonderful daytime party that is no doubt continuing on into the night as I type. What I thought was a dress up box for kids turned out to be a dress up box for adults and there was much amusement as someone with a serious camera took photos of people holding up a picture frame in front of their faces.

Step Mother came down by train from the north of Victoria for the event. Unbeknownst to us, when we were in Canberra, she was nearby in Goulburn after visiting Sydney for her partner's grandson's wedding. A reception in Rose Bay and then a cruise around Sydney Harbour no less. Not bad for a lass who grew up in a humpy on the banks of the Darling River and only! had aboriginal children to play with. She also slipped in that she had been to Cairns.

What a contrast Step Mother is to Mother. I can't catch trains. I am too scared. Mother was always a train/tram/bus user when she was younger. Step Mother in her seventies still drives but chooses to use the train.

But Mother is in big trouble because the whole point of the party being mostly in the afternoon was to suit Mother who is not keen on being out at night. ABI Brother had to cricket umpire today and normally he would go to the party this evening and have a bit of fun and a drink and stay the night at Tradie Brother's.

But no, Mother manipulated everything to suit her. Tradie Brother who lives near Mother sleeps over at her place on Friday and Saturday nights. Mother feels scared and alone and very fearful of noises that young people make on weekends. She is not unjustified. She has suffered vandalism of her front fence, garden and mail box in the past at weekends.

Sister Bone Doctor and Little Jo attended the party and the plan was for us to pick up or drop off Mother and Sister would do the opposite. But then Mother realised ABI Brother would not stay with her on this Saturday night but stay at Tradie Brother's, and so she declined the party, the timing of which had been arranged to suit her and visit Hippy Niece the next day.

Hippy niece is rather annoyed at her sole surviving grandparent, and that is not a good thing. But in a way it is a bit unfair. Mother did not ask for an afternoon party. She would have attended an evening party, but then ABI Brother could not have a drink and would have to take home. That Mother would stay over is unthinkable. She won't even stay here.

Anyway, it was a great party and would have been even better if I wasn't the nominated driver.

Ness in middle niece and pregnant. I am reminded of Norman Lindsay's book The Cousin from Fiji where the withered and demented grandmother stood up at the dinner table and paraphrasing said about her granddaughter , 'Look at that girl. She is three months if she is a day'. No one else had noticed and Florence was mortified.

Should I wake R from his slumber as a result of excessive consumption of slushies? I want some dinner! Later, dinner was banana, crushed nuts and honey on toast. Perfect.

Day 8 Cooma to Canberra 24/09

Anything I read said that Canberra was a one hour drive from Cooma. More like one and half. My oh my the roads in Canberra were confusing. We meant to park in the National Gallery carpark but mistakenly parked in the Portrait Gallery car park. No matter, it is a short walk away. You have to get reasonably close to this sphere before you can see supporting wires.

I rather liked this.

I found a new appreciation for Australian art in the gallery. Some of it was just glorious. The painting Blue Poles, which we had already seen at home in Victoria, attracts a good crowd. There was an extensive exhibition of pop art by Roy Lichtenstein which we enjoyed very much.

After the gallery, we popped into the Portrait Gallery. I'm afraid the exteriors of the two gallery buildings and the High Court leave me cold. There seem disconnected from their surrounds. We had some lunch and more very average coffee.

Canberra is nothing like we know as our big cities, say Sydney and Melbourne. It is a very planned city with little left to chance. Larger public buildings are often surrounded by tall native trees so that you have a series of individual buildings, rather than an area of buildings. The city part of Canberra is not like that, but you don't have to go far from the city to have tall Eucalyptus trees surrounding your.

Parliament House opened the year of Australia's bi-centenary, 1988, replacing a smaller and less practical one opened in 1927.

Parliament House wasn't quite as large as I expected, but still, quite impressive. Oh, I just saw a workmate here with his wife. Guess I better say hello. This is a nice wall hanging, but nothing compared to the huge tapestry in the Great Hall, made in Melbourne.

I liked these lamps that seemed to be in most of the public areas.

There are many courtyards like this around the building.

We took a fifty minute free guided tour. The guide was excellent. We are in the lower house here, The House of Representatives. Order!!!

Now in the Senate. There were many amusing anecdotes.

The entrance hall with mucho marble. Very little of Parliament House is foreign born, but most of the marble is.

That'd be our Liz, who opened the building.

We were able to go up onto grassed roof top for a fine view of Old Parliament House and in the distance Anzac Parade leading to the War Memorial at the foot of Mount Ainslie.

Ah Peter, what a fine gift your government gave to us.

Grass, lovely green grass. You can't beat it.

We were last in Canberra in the early 1980s and the water jet was spurting then. I took a photo of it back then and it looks like the water jet is coming out of R's head. The jet sits in Lake Burley Griffin, named after the designer of Canberra.

What a fine flag pole, flying a fine flag.

We had driven from Cooma, walked around two galleries and Parliament House and we were now pretty weary. Time to check into our motel in Queanbeyan, which is not in the Australian Capital Territory as we thought, but across the border in New South Wales, which is why the sat nav was being very unhelpful. Google maps on the phone guided us as we did not have a detailed map of Canberra. While R had screwed the motel on the price for our room, we were given a double and not a twin. R sorted it out. He is good at such things. The motel was nearly full, so really the advantage was to them.

In the evening we bought a few supplies at the supermarket and had some Indian food in what was little more than a cafe in an obscure arcade. Quite unremarkable and a somewhat challenging experience.

Friday, October 04, 2013

Road Kill

When I was driving at 100 km/h or 110 as we toured a couple of states, I was well aware of the danger to us and to animals should they step out onto the roadway in front of us. Dawn and dusk are the times when they most active. We didn't drive at such times. Although it was a close call with an echidna in the middle of the day, I avoided hitting it.

The count of dead kangaroos was extraordinary. Most of the cars would have have had significant damage. Our count was over 24. We stopped counting. One was marked with a big pink X, I would guess to indicate it had been checked for a young, a joey, in its pouch.

There were about five wombats. They can do a lot of damage to the undercarriage of a car.

Two magpies and one kookaburra.

One ring tail possum and one brush tail.

Two unidentifiable masses of blood and fur.

Animals and cars on roads don't mix at all well. What to do?

Nothing can be done. We won't stop driving and kangaroos won't stop jumping.

Some years ago I put the number of Victoria's Wild Life Rescue into my phone. If you hit an animal, then call them and tell them, especially if it might have a young in its pouch. Go on, put the appropriate number for wherever you live into your phone now.

And remember, when you write your will, most of these types of organisations have minimal overheads. In fact most of the picker uppers of injured road carnage put their own hands deeply into their own pockets. They are just caring and altruistic people.

For all the horrible human stories you hear, humans are not bad at looking after themselves. Many animals are helpless against the onslaught of humans.

Day 7 Cooma 23/09

The street with what seemed to be the oldest houses in town was a driving distance from the shops but quite near our motel. I could see no reason as to why (The old houses are in Lambie Street and it was the first commercial street). I am not sure if this pub, The Royal Hotel, is open or not, but it is quite a building.

Most of the old houses were on the western side of the street.

The newer on the eastern side.

There must be rooms with a view at the motel sitting on the steep hill. The snowman figure on the building was atop many shops.

A Morry. R said it had been treated to look rusty. He may well have been correct.

A plane fell from the sky near Cooma in the 1920s. The wreckage was discovered by a Snowy Mountain Hydro construction worker in the 1950s.

There was an audio facility to hear but it went on a bit too long. We only wanted to know about the crash and discovery.

Our motel with Nanny Goat Hill behind.


Cooma Railway Station. Unfortunately the train no longer comes to Cooma. The station had to be expanded in the 1950s when the construction of the Snowy Mountains hydro power generating system was underway, with so many passengers and so much freight arriving.

It is now a historical railway, with runs out to Chakola, a little over 10 kms away. The bus on train wheels that can be seen outside the train maintenance shed is the Pay Bus. It ran around the the local tracks delivering the railway workers pay. As train use declined with the ascendancy of the motor car, some seats were added and it was used as a replacement for trains to Bombala.

The high level of maintenance is a credit to Cooma Monaro Railway organisation.

The signal box appears to be in working condition with signal diagrams on the wall.

We went on to the Snowy Mountains Hydro Discovery Centre. It was great. I managed to generate enough power to dry my hair with a hair dryer.

This is a tv screen showing the exchanges of power between the electrically connected states in Australia.

A large LCD screen showed the real time price of power. The green line shows the price paid. The grey line, the projected price. The spike in the graph is of course about 7pm.

The true nerd in me really came out when I was look at this large screen. It show all the catchments, the tunnels, the power stations, the dams, and generating units, what they are doing and whether they are active or not, or broken. We were going to Jindabyne later and the staff member pointed out that its generator showed red and was generating, so there would be water spurting out from the dam wall, but, she wasn't really sure if we could stop on the road to see it.

Der's snow on dem der hills, we saw as we travelled to Jindabyne. I think locals call it Jindy.

A pull off the road area seems to be recently created to see the water flow. I think more is being done for the viewing public elsewhere. People like to see such things.

Above the the spurt of water is the dam wall.

Unlike the strong greens of the east coast, the bush here is very grey.

I think this is from the town of Jindabyne.

The town is a series of what seems like self contained shops in groups.

Just more shops protected from the elements by verandahs and central courtyards, and another bakery that served appalling coffee. I expect we may have found some good coffee in one of the more expensive restaurants.

As we investigated every twist and turn to the lake at East Jindabyne,a woman was pushing a child in a pram. We came across her five times. She must have thought we were mad.

Jindy from East Jindabyne.

Somebody likes to sit and stare out at the lake.

We saw a turn off to a lookout atop Mount Gladstone on the way back. Here is the spread of Cooma.

We weren't sure if we were in the right place for dinner at the Alpine Hotel. It looked posh, with waiter service and white table cloths. But no, it was bistro prices. As we had noticed in other hotels, they have pokie machines outside where you can smoke while wasting your money.

It had the most wonderful art deco interior, but I am not sure what is original what isn't. I expect he fireplace is.

And the staircase.

The weather had warmed since yesterday and the central heating was off when we returned to our motel. We switched on the air con to warm the place up.