Saturday, August 30, 2014

A Pole in Australia

Here is one for Gosia and it is about a very interesting and high achieving fellow.

I had some electronic contact with someone who I discovered grew up in the same small South Gippsland (a region within the State of Victoria) as I spent a couple of years in with my father and step mother in my late teen years, perhaps 18 to 21. I also discovered he lives in the same apartment building near Station Pier as an acquaintance of ours does. He was as a child, and still is very interested in trains. He used to ride with the train drivers in South Gippsland steam locomotives. What fun. Something he said led me to do some searching and I discovered the Strzelecki train line which branched off at Koo Wee Rup from the South Gippsland line, about which I knew nothing or I had forgotten, apart from having heard of a couple of the towns having a station.

One day I plan to drive the Grand Ridge Road over the not particular high Strzelecki Ranges. When I was young, Strzelecki had been Anglicised to Strezlecki. At some point the name was corrected, back to the name of the person who first led an expedition through the area. So who was Strzelecki? Here is a photo of him. Squared jawed, I guess you would say, and handsome enough.

Sir Paweł Edmund Strzelecki,  [ˈpavɛw ˈɛdmunt stʂɛˈlɛt͡skʲi],was born in the South Prussian city of Głuszyna, now in Poland, in 1797 and was the son of a noble man. His parents died when he was 10 years old. He lived with his mother's family in Warsaw. After a brief stint in the army where he found the discipline not to his liking, he travelled in Austria and Italy. For a time he became a successful estate manager for a Prince, who when he died left a portion of his estate to Strzelecki. The family disputed the bequest and it took four years to sort out, whereupon Strzelecki spent some time in France and Africa.

Clearly travel interested him and at the age of 37 via Liverpool, he sailed for New York and spent much time in both North and South America and the South Seas Islands, ending up in New Zealand.

In 1839 he was requested by the Governor Gipps (hence Gippsland) of the Colony of New South Wales, which then controlled the area now known as the State of Victoria, to survey the geological and mineralogical conditions of the south eastern part of Australia. Hence the area he surveyed became known as the Strzelecki Ranges.

He also led an expedition into the Australian Alps and the Snowy Mountains and named Australia's tallest mountain Mount Kosciuszko, after a Polish military leader. He headed back to explore more of Gippsland, and nearly died from starvation. He spent a further two years extensively exploring Van Diemens Land, now our island State of Tasmania.

He returned to England, via China and the West Indies, where he became a naturalised citizen and was appointed as superintendent of relief distribution in County Mayo and County Sligo during the Irish famine in 1846 and came down with the disease himself. He helped Irish people emigrate to Australia (thanks for that :-P ) He also helped soldiers injured fighting in the Crimean War. Was this Polish born person recognised for his achievements? He sure was.

Gold Medal from the Royal Geographical Society
Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society
A member of the Royal Society
Order of Bath
Order of St Michael and St George
Honorary degree from the University of  Oxford

Are you impressed? I am very impressed by his significant achievements and his willingness to risk his personal safety and well being. Australia advanced significantly by his efforts.

He died of natural causes in 1873 at the age of 76 and was buried at Kensal Green Cemetery in west London. However, in 1997 his remains were transferred to the Crypt of Eminent Poles, Church of St Adalbert, (Wojciech) in Poznan, Poland. How odd. What brought this about? It is not easy to find out who was behind the return of his remains to Poland.

Was he honoured in Australia, oh yes, he was that too. This monument, which could do with some maintenance,  was erected in his honour in the Gippsland town of Traralgon in 1966.  Photo by phunnyfotos.

This one in Corinella, Gippsland.

This one, also by hunnyfotos, Korumburra, Gippsland.

This one in Leongatha, Gippsland.

And this one in Mirboo North, Gippsland.

There is even one in Maitland, New South Wales. He is very well recognised in Australia.

Friday, August 29, 2014

The world's most liveable city, bah humbug

Apparently from two different sources, Melbourne is the world's most liveable city. Once source was the Economist magazine. Well, they should be in Melbourne on a Friday night when people are trying to get to places.

Orrong Road, Armadale closed due the road collapsing with buses diverted. Kooyong Road stop start from High Street to Dandenong Road. Dandenong Road clogged with traffic. Traffic banked back from Flinders Street to Dorcas Street in St Kilda Road, and then back from Toorak Road to High Street. Queens Road, stop start in both directions. Dire long journey time warnings on the Monash Freeway and City Link into the city. City trams packed to overflowing. St Kilda Road trams inbound full, one after another, leaving people behind who just want to get home.

Tweets from Yarra Trams, due to traffic congestion in Chapel St/High St/Burke Rd/Clarendon St/Swan St, trams are delayed, except Yarra Trams spelt Burke as Bourke. Nothing like a little local knowledge by our overseas owned tram company. On board tram announcements of delays from the control centre were unintelligible as they are delivered by someone with a very strong foreign accent. I thought heavy accent PA announcements disappeared in the seventies?

Personally, I used my knowledge of back streets and alternative streets to get home from work, and I did so in a reasonable time, half of what it would have taken had I stuck to my normal route. How can the traffic be so extraordinary at 7.30 pm!

As someone once replied to someone complaining about traffic congestion, you are the problem. Well you who are using our public transport are the problem too.

There are some quite nice aspects to Melbourne, but travelling on roads or public transport is not one of them. I am past caring whether I travel by car, train or tram. I just want each of them to work, and they don't. Might it be to do with Melbourne is overpopulated, congested in the inner city and congested in the middle suburbs, and congested in the outer suburbs, and congested in extreme outer areas. There are just too many people and nothing is well managed. The same population lives in a much smaller area in London and much more successfully.

World's most liveable city. C'mon. Don't talk wet.


There is a massive world wide campaign happening to raise awareness and funding for the investigation of the disease ALS. I know what ASL is, age, stats, location but I did not have a clue what ALS is. Ok, it is Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis. Now that sounds bad. Anything with trophic and sclerosis in it can't be good. Still, I have never heard of it.

Ah, it can be called Lou Gehrig Disease, named after an American basketball player. Or even Charcot's Disease, after the doctor who identified it in 1869. Still, I've not heard of it.

Here we go. It is what I know as Motor Neuron Disease, a rather descriptive name given the symptoms.

I thought the challenge was either to donate, or have iced water tipped over you. Apparently you do both and then show the world. This will raise peoples curiosity about the disease and raise funds. Well, it certainly raised my curiosity and I have given the cause publicity.

(insert You Tube video of Highriser taking the challenge here)

Sorry, problem with the link. Here is a link to people who have been very affected by ALS and took the challenge. Thanks John.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Train efficiency in the State of Victoria

A train banged into another train on the regional Geelong line. R heard Altona and said, well the main line is not blocked then. I am pleased he knows that much. I did make him take a ride on the loop not so long ago. But he was wrong, although it was Altona, it was the main line and not the Altona Loop, a suburban diversion off the main line.

I thought, ah well the trains can use the Altona Loop to bypass the crash and in theory they could, but in practice no as most of the Altona Loop is single track. You can't have trains going in two directions on one track very frequently. The suburban trains to Werribee did use the Altona Loop, but I can't imagine at the normal service level. Geelong trains terminated at Werribee and passengers were transferred to buses to complete their journey to So Cross Station.

Melbourne still had quite a lot of single railway tracks and in 2014, it is quite absurd. Single lines totally screw up the Hurstbridge and Lilydale trains, restrict the Upfield line to a twenty minute service even in peak times and as mentioned, are problematic for the Altona Loop. Some might argue that it would not be money well spent where there are light loadings. I might argue that the light loadings might become heavier if the service is more efficient.

Would you believe there was once a dual track to the large country town of Bendigo but a faster more frequent service was promised, which involved making the track a single line.Single tracks with passing loops may work in theory, but as soon as something goes wrong, it all falls apart. To actually remove dual track and replace it with a single line is extraordinary.

I am only guessing of the veracity of this. Where in the world is the longest railway line that was de-electrified and converted to diesel? Our state of Victoria's line from Melbourne to Traralgon would have to be a world contender. Wires were removed, supporting steel poles taken down, along with all the other infrastructure and now diesel electric trains service the line, instead of electric locomotives pulling train carriages. Progress, eh.

Here is a photo of the crash posted on Vicsig. I can't work out whose photo it is, possibly one by Ian Green. A V Line (regional) crashed into a Metro (suburban) train.

This photo by Andrew Cook shows an electric locomotive at Warragul. The wires have now all gone, as have the electric trains.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

A revisit to the past.

Was it really 2007? 25 + 82 equals 107. Must have been. While there was nothing he could he do, I've not forgotten Tony's kind offer of assistance as Dame M lay dying where he worked.

Dame M was our friend and also a rich widow who lived on St Kilda hill in Charnwood Road. She drank, smoked and gambled and we thought she would last forever. Alas she died at the age of 82, a few years ago now. We still miss her.

Her boarder, a gay man, had lived with her for around thirty years and looked after her. She left around a quarter of her estate to him, but after her horrid extended family and step sons contested her will, he received much less, much much less.

After a party there, and there were many, The Boarder asked if we could help him with the vacuuming the next day. Of course. We did not know it entailed moving monster Persian carpets and heavy furniture but we had a good laugh and it was a novelty to use a built in vacuum cleaner system. My, Dame M, what a long hose you have. She was a little prudish at times, but for someone born in 1925, not excessively so. We used to joke about her getting a Brazilian but she said she was too saggy for that to work.

Her house, which comprised her large residence and three flats sold for $1.9 million when her estate was realised. To our surprise, it was not demolished but renovated, still remaining as her residence and the three flats it seems. Two of the flats are up for rent and from the estate agents site and me taking a visit, here are a few photos. I'll see if I can connect up the interior and exterior photos.

The building next door to Dame M's was a rent by the hour St Kilda motel. Dame M fought the re-development of the site using solicitors. She won and while the building changed, it was not enlarged by much.

Dame M chose the name of the property. The window at the top belongs to a flat. At the bottom the front window was an alcove off the dining room, which she used for her painting and her easel was set up there. The next two windows along the side belong to the dining room. I think it was originally a single house, but because of the changes over the years, it would be unrecognisable to what it was originally. Dame M joked that it was owned by a Rabbi and his five ugly daughters.

This is from the inside looking out at the same corner. Dame M's original light fittings remain, hopefully cleaned of smoke stains. The dining room was full of heavy Victorian furniture.The front alcove was where her painting easel was set up.

Here a look further down the same side of the house. Where the exhaust fan protrudes was the guest bathroom, the 'back door' from the kitchen, followed by her bedroom and ensuite. The back air con unit was for her ensuite. The front one was in the dining room, only installed a few months before she died. Another old style model sat above her front door on the other side of the house. There was a fence across here at some point. On a Melbourne Cup Day we sat outside the kitchen door and listened to the races and ate prepared food, and drank of course.

This is her kitchen. Most of the workings were on the other side of the room, with a pinkish mirror tiled wall where the kitchen set up is. You have to remember the house was last renovated in the early seventies and never touched since.

This was Dame M's bedroom and ensuite. I was only in there once. She was a shadow of her former self. Bowls of uneaten food prepared by The Boarder were lined up. Holding back our own tears, not terribly successfully, she cried as we told her she simply had to go to hospital. I think it was early in the week and on the Thursday The Boarder and I got her into my car and we took her to Cabrini Hospital. After extracting $250 from her, the hospital nurse put a device on her finger and said, well, you've really slipped through the cracks. Dame M had self diagnosed and knew she was dying from cancer and probably correctly assumed that treatment was futile. She wanted to live out her last days in her home with The Boarder. Clearly he knew more than he ever told us, but no doubt Dame M asked him not to tell us anything. The rapacious family from Queensland descended the next day. By the Sunday she was dead.

A builder guest at a party told her this fireplace was worth a lot of money. In my memory it had a small electric radiator built into it. Later I mentioned the value fireplace to her, and I don't know if it is worth anything. She replied, that straight redneck bloke. I am forced to have straight men in my house if I want things done, but he will be the last straight male guest ever to cross my doorway. She was at times given to making melodramatic diva like statements. The alcove used to have a couple of divans in it. At R's and his visiting niece from England's 21st birthday, with Mother and the late Step Father, Ex Sis in Law and Hippie Niece attending Hippy Niece, just a kid then, fell asleep on one of divans. More of Dame M's light fittings can be seen, with their dangling crystals, but minus the shades. It may sound hideous to you, but Dame M was a night person, not rising from bed until 11am and she hated going out in the daylight. Her house was always darkly lit and full of seating, objet d'art, fabrics and artwork. It was cluttered and cosy and such a comfortable space.

This is the same corner from the outside. Dame M's front door can be seen down the side of the building, then further down was The Boarder's flat, a huge area full of bolts of fabrics and sewing machines, which had been Dame M's business.

This is one of the upstairs flats, I think the one that our dyke friend rented for a short time.

There are a couple of modernised bathrooms like this now.

Dame M's backyard area was pretty untidy and overgrown. I can't really remember it well. Nice to see it tidy now.

The small angled widow under the external stairs lit the the bar, complete with a bartop with bar stools, a fridge and a sink, right on the edge of the lounge room. How convenient. The old and ugly tall Besser brick style fence has been demolished, but I am not sure this replacement is appropriate. Dame M's tenants were nearly always gay men. Even after they moved on, if the parting was on good terms, she kept in touch with them.

A couple of minutes walk down the St Kilda Road hill after pre dinner drinks at Dame M's, we would visit Jane's Chinese restaurant. Dame M had been going there for decades and knew Jane and her family well. Jane started sending  Dame M her favourite Chinese food when she became unwell. We last saw Jane at Dame M's funeral and how different she looked out of Chinese clothing and in a smart suit. Jane was quite chuffed when I printed out photos of her building when it was once a hotel. Soon after, the restaurant closed and it looks like the building will be demolished and apartments built.

As I was filing the above photos away, I came across a few photos taken after the house was emptied of furniture and the carpets pulled up, and also a floor plan. I had forgotten about them.

Off the kitchen was the door to her bedroom.

It is very bright in this photo. It never was. The arch is where The Boarder, aka Jasmine, used to perform.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

To spit or swallow?

Don't be alarmed. I ain't going down that road, this time at least.

From the balcony I just observed two young Asian men alight from a tram. One went to a rubbish bin and spat into it. I suppose this is a form of polite behaviour for our  Asian students, rather than spitting on the footpath. No matter. I find spitting in public absolutely disgusting and not to be tolerated, whether on the street, the football field or into a rubbish bin.

So where do native born Australians learn this from? There is probably always an amount of it happening in school yards among the younger kids. I can certainly remember, but I don't think the 'play' continues into later years.

Undoubtedly it comes from the sporting field, especially ball sports, picked up by impressionable teenagers. It doesn't matter which code of football. It happens in them all and it ought not. Over to you, clubs and umpires, to stamp this out dead.

We can hardly lecture immigrants about spitting in public when they can turn on tv and see our sports stars projecting saliva and phlegm in all directions on the football fields.

Do your bit by glaring at or making a disgusted face, or even a sound of disgust at someone you see spitting in public.

I think I shall enjoy my old age as a grumpy old man.

Of course I could bring up the matter of The Bieber dribbling spit onto his fans below his balcony, but I would give far too much of myself away. 

Monday, August 25, 2014

Brisbane's Victoria Bridge

Brisbane's present Victoria Bridge is a modern construction and hardly worth me finding a photo of it to publish. The bridge it replaced and seen in the photo from 1897 crossed the Brisbane River linking the shopping area of Brisbane to South Brisbane. Isn't it just a gorgeous piece of architecture.

Perhaps someone can suggest whether we are looking towards the city or South Brisbane? Plume was once a fuel company. In this later photo I've heard that as the trams turned after leaving the bridge, school children would bounce up and down in the tram in an attempt to derail it, at times successfully. This photo looks to have been taken in the 1940s. (duh, the file name says 1930s)

My favourite Melbourne bridge would possibly be the Anderson Street bridge, but I like Princes Bridge too, but for history, I can't beat the Chandler Highway Bridge, a car bridge that was built for trains and now funnels traffic in various directions and many lanes of traffic into one lane each way. The natives are protesting about the congestion caused by a single lane in each direction bridge.  Do you have a bridge you really like?

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Sunday Selections

River has been lounging around in bed for most of the week. I wonder if she, Elephant Child and Jackie will produce a Sunday Selections.

A black Jag, clamped. This normally happens when fines are unpaid. The Sheriff drives around with electronic number plate monitoring equipment and bang, they are easily picked up. If you owe for lots of fines, Prahran car park is not the place to park as the Sheriff is often there and they usually pick up their lunch at Pran Central too.The Sheriff is not part of the police, but operates under the Department of Justice.

A fine building on the corner of Chapel and Chatham Streets, Prahran. Whatever business opens there, never seems to last the distance though. Rents in Chapel Street are very high and there are many empty shops.

Further along Chatham Street, a large building or two was demolished and something larger is going up. You probably won't be able to see these chimneys from this angle once it is built. Note there is one chimney missing. Spoilt.

St Kilda Junction is where about five roads meet, so as you can imagine, it is a very busy intersection. Right on the triangle formed by the Junction of city bound St Kilda Road and Barkly Street is this ugly little building. I guess it is an electric substation. They used to design them so nicely in the early to mid twentieth century.

A fine house on the corner of Williams Road and Clarke Street, Prahran.

The car back ledge is decorated with fake flowers. Beats small fluffy toys.

A new type of shopping trolley, with a bracket for your water bottle.

A whimsical little piece of street art, soon to disappear behind a tall building.

Bernard's Magic Shop, Elizabeth Street, Melbourne. I thought this was a bit of history, but apparently not. The shop is there, on the first floor.

Was it last Saturday when we had a decent fog? I woke and looked out the window from my bed and I thought, oh, another overcast day. It wasn't until I stood up that I realised it was grey all the way to the ground. Media began to bang on about a pea souper, which it certainly is not. A pea souper is when you can't see a metre in front of you. Sadly, a fine day did not really eventuate, with the fog hanging around for most of the day, albeit thinner.