Saturday, October 31, 2015

Along the Merri Creek

After my last big walk, following the route of the Outer Circle Railway, I asked whether my next walk should be along the route of the long ago disused Rosstown Railway (actually, a train never ran on it) or the banks of Merri Creek. Merrie Creek was the peoples' choice and so I plan to start it this week, around a year or more later.

How great is our London friend Marie, who has walked east to west across England, the length of The Thames and is now walking the areas of every Tube station in London. Marie is fit. I am not, so I will break my walk into digestible strolls for me where I can go and get home using public transport. Merri Creek joins Melbourne's major river, the Yarra and maybe I will then walk into the city along the Yarra. That bit would not be hard.

For me it won't be nearly as interesting as following old railway lines where I look for history and remnants. This will be more nature based I think. We shall see, won't we. Err, beginning point is somewhere near Gowrie Station. Where is that exactly? Oh. It is there! Dorothy will not be in Kansas and well out of her comfort zone. There will be bad men with guns and snakes to avoid. Hmm, how bad are the men and what would they do to me?

Later: Well, I began the walk by travelling to Gowrie Station and then catching the 530 bus to the starting point near at Mahoney's Road. I had worked out if the walk was arduous or uninteresting, I would break the journey at Mathieson Street and catch the train back to town from Merlynston Station, or if I had made good time and felt ok, I would continue to Gaffney Street, Coburg and catch the train from Batman Station.  I could have even stopped at Barkers Road and caught the 19 tram. But no. The sun was blazing hot and while I did eventually find a seat in the shade for a break, once I restarted my feet started to feel sore after walking for two hours and I broke off and caught the train back to town from Merlynston Station.

Frankly, the walk was quite uninteresting but as I will continue on to town in the future, it will become better. I will post a few photos from this first stretch in time.

In spite of the links above, which I know people will miss, Marie's website is here and her walks website is here.

Friday, October 30, 2015

Some stupid game

Dear ABC,

I could have worn the coverage of some important rugby match on 7.30, your national evening current affairs programme. I would have just tuned out, in fact I did, and I do recognise this is a national programme and it is of interest to people in more than one state.

What I am annoyed about is extensive coverage on Victoria's state tv news. I don't where the Wallabies are based, I don't know what sort of rugby they play, league or union, I don't know any of the players or any of the other people involved in the sport. I watched the story with glazed eyes and I was none the wiser after. Is this a national team? You didn't say. Is it league or union? You didn't say. Most Victorians would be the same and it is of no interest at all to me, and I expect most Victorians. There is an increasing tendency to force rugby on Victorians and I don't like it.

If you were a commercial tv station, I would suggest rugby is paying you to provide coverage, but that would not happen at my ABC. So why force such irrelevances upon us? Surely there must have some bad boi behaviour by an Aussie Rules player to report?

Just to note while I am bashing my ABC that I love dearly, I stopped listening to Richard Stubbs because there was just too much music and the discussion of such, I did not mind him as a broadcaster and some of his work on war matters was brilliant and I do respect him as a good broadcaster and it is sad to see him retire from his afternoon radio position. Good luck to you Richard.

Andrew. (who thinks my 12 cents a day? is generally well spent)

Later edit: But wait, another ten minutes on tonight's 7.30. I have kind of connected things now, in so far as it is Twickenham in England and maybe an Australian team is playing a New Zealand team in a final. The sport looks very rough, with players charging into each other, so maybe that is rugby union?

How to destroy a washing machine

Funny, I don't think the thought would ever occur to a female to do this. Many years ago Daniel Bowen bought a VCR and he was unhappy with it from the beginning, so along with his children, he destroyed it. I was quite amused at the time. The video of his efforts can be seen here.

Recently I came across this professional washing machine destroyer, ok not paid, but he is a serial washing machine destroyer. This I think this is his best. The clip is 3.42 and there is not much to see after 2.50. Paint drying in some ways, but also mesmerising.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

What? Stop mumbling

I used to have a somewhat flat monotone speaking voice. I don't know why. It is not family trait. After hearing myself on tape a few times, I made an effort to be more expressive when I speak. I am not sure if I was really successful. I am sure I improved but to what degree, I am not sure. It is something I am quite conscious about, but then I am quite conscious about myself to rather a great degree.

When I have my work medical, my hearing is tested. The result is always, your hearing is fine. But then comes the qualifier, for your age. Nevertheless, I think my hearing is ok, for my age. R has never had a hearing test and I can tell his hearing is failing. Sometimes after I have repeated myself twice, I raise my voice to an unreasonable level in frustration. Funnily, a friend mentioned R's hearing issues when the friend himself has his own self unrecognised hearing issues. Getting older is great fun.

Years ago, we had a friend who was deaf in one ear and would only properly hear what was said on one side of him. Where he sat at a table for dinner was something that had to be thought about. More recently another newer friend has a similar issue.

The five senses are touch, hearing, taste, smell and sight. Touch might be a really bad one to lose, but for mine, please never let my lose my sight.

So given many of you are of a certain age, do you have your own hearing or the hearing of a loved one issues?

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

The not so new ferry

It was Saturday and the last day of my work leave. We shopped in the morning and were at a loose end in the afternoon. We could have cleaned something but R asked if I wanted to go out in the afternoon. I did, and made a few suggestions. He went for the easy option of a late lunch and coffee at Station Pier, or Beacon Cove if you like.

It was very busy but as we weren't staying long, we parked in a rare one hour free space. There was a cool breeze blowing and we sat in the sun, rare for me, while we had some food and coffee. There were kiddies with red balloons out and about. What was going on?

We ascertained it was an open day for The New Spirit of Tasmania. I knew about the change to the ferry that makes a daily, sometimes twice daily, journey to our state of Tasmania a while ago. It was decided that the ferry would not be replaced until 2020 but the exiting one (ones) renovated.

R has travelled on many of the ferries to Tasmania, The Empress of Australia, The Princess of Tasmania, The Abel Tasman and The Spirit of Tasmania. One experience had him sitting overnight in a deck chair for the overnight crossing. I have travelled on none. When we visited Tasmania, it was cheaper to fly and hire a car than take the car on the ferry.

So, the ferry was open for inspection, with its new interior. We managed to get into the last group to be allowed on at 3.00. We missed the exhibition area as it was packing up. We followed the red arrows around the ships, changing decks often. It was very interesting and there were so many different public areas.

So Margaret, here a few photos to show you the ferry so that you know what to expect for you next visit to this northern island. I have no idea what it was like before, so I can't compare. I did not have the camera with me, so they are only phone photos, which oddly seem better than the photos I take with my camera.

Lifeboats are essential.

Most of the cabins were twin, but there were some suites with an occasional table and seating and more space along with quite nice bathrooms.


Looking out the front bit of the boat, ok, bow.

Funnels, not cannons.

Somewhere, and I can't find it, is the very top of The Highrise. The top couple of floors have views to Station Pier.

Illuminated seating must look quite trippy at night.

We did.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

How to build a tram system #101

Probably not of interest if you are not really interested in public transport.

I have heard quite a bit about the Gold Coast Light Rail since it was first planned. Naturally I followed the news to see if it would ever come to fruition. A local Gold Coast tour guide said to us, we never wanted the damned thing and now we have it, we love it.

The opposition to G Link, as it is called, was vehement and vicious, with local papers being flooded with letters from opponents. The noise when the trams are travelling past homes will be horrendous. It will divide the Gold Coast, a lengthy strip of beautiful beaches with lots of high rise development along with a more traditional hinterland,  into two (partly true as those who are not near the tram are really missing out). It will devalue properties (only those who are not near it). As per a taxi driver, the biggest negative was during the tram line's construction, where some business failed, perhaps because of the construction disruption or perhaps they were quite marginal businesses anyway. No one can deny construction of such a project is very disruptive but now businesses along the tram line are reaping the rewards. It was suggested that it would be a white elephant and a drain on the public purse. From vague memory I think it carries three times the numbers of passengers forecast and I would be very surprised if it is not a rare beast of Australian public transport and actually makes a profit.

Interestingly Sydney's planned light rail passenger number forecasts have been significantly increased and catered for but I wonder if that will be enough.

Sydney's won't be as successful if the planners and management don't follow what the Gold Coast tram planners and management did. Are you picking up that I was impressed by the Gold Coast tram?

So why? I'll leave the ticket system out for now, except to say you can arrive at what locals call a tram station, sit or stand in shade, and good rain shelter. There is a plethora of information to help you use the tram at the stations. There are next two tram live time indicators. Arrows to streets and local attractions to where you might want to go. Safety and other helpful announcements at the stations. Each station has a public transport smart card machine, giving you a Go Card that can be used on all south eastern Queensland public transport. It is also easy to buy a card elsewhere in local shops. Better than the Myki system in Melbourne, you can claim the cost of the card and the unused credit back.

The trams are Flexity models, the same as Adelaide's older new trams only newer. Yes, Flexity 2, made by Bombardier, which I am never quite sure whether if it is based in Canada or Germany. Ah, Adelaide bought Flexity Classic, quite different and Melbourne's newest trams, the E Class, are Flexity Swift.

The vehicles seemed much smoother and quieter than Melbourne's newest trams, also made by Bombardier. The drivers were skillful and relaxed. The track was sound and smooth, making the combination of a really great ride.

But here is why the system is so great, tram priority, of the kind that is not seen in Melbourne. I did not take the time to study how traffic lights worked but the trams rarely sat for more than 20 seconds at traffic lights. As well, there were sensible speed limits, at times down to a low speed in heavy pedestrian areas but there was a stretch where I was sure the tram was travelling at over 60 km/h and sure enough, I saw tram speed limit signs of 70 km/h.

One valid criticism might be that some stops are a very long way apart, deterring local commuting but then I don't know about Gold Coast demographics, like where populations are that might use the tram.

During our visit, Prime Minister Turnbull announced some federal funding towards an extension from the tram line's present northern terminus to Helensvale railway station, thereby making a rail connection from Brisbane to Surfers Paradise and beyond, ready for the 2018 Gold Coast Olympic Games.

One day it may be extended to the Gold Coast airport, probably about the same time Melbourne gets a rail line to its airport and 400 km/h train travels between Sydney and Melbourne.

I was really quite impressed by the Gold Coast light rail. It was described by at least half the people I heard speak of it as 'the tram'. However, it is very unfortunate that a tram used by so many tourists who are unfamiliar with area and need to see out from the tram, some trams have that terrible all over advertising, blocking your view out of what should be clear windows.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Surfers Paradise Day 6

Here are a few photos of our room. Very comfortable.

A bathroom is off the partitioned bedroom area.

In the lift.

At Seaworld I spotted this unfamiliar bird. Anyone know what it is? I did see more than one, so they are quite common.

A dead sea critter, maybe a puffer fish?

We took a last wander around Surfers Paradise after checking out of our hotel at the usual check out time of 10 am. Along the beach front.

A beach sign.

I don't know what these trees are either. They have a mass of aerial roots. Pandanus?

Surf life saving towers are at frequent intervals along the beach. Always swim between the flags, kiddies.

Well, I'll be. A thong vending machine.

Here comes our tram after we collected our cases from the hotel.

At the tram terminus we changed to this limited express bus to continue on to the airport. While the tram and bus don't connect, we were just lucky a bus was about to leave when we arrived. I don't know what the two trips cost but for both of us, less than $10 and I doubt you could have done it much quicker in a car, as against $60 in a taxi or over $50 for two from memory on an airport express bus from Surfers.

A nice outlook while we had some lunch at the airport. Our plane from Melbourne arrived nearly an hour late and left about the same time late. We arrived in Melbourne forty minutes late. It was disappointing that our Tiger Airways experience wasn't perfect and I would have been feeling very sour had we not have been upgraded to exit row seats with much more leg room, especially important to the 184cm tall R. At least with only economy class, you are not subjected to walking past first and business class when you board.

There is not much more to say, except an observation. In Melbourne we are used to our service people being foreign born, such as in shops, taxis, public transport, guards and hotel workers. Not so in Surfers Paradise where most people were either Anglo Australians or of English/Euro heritage.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Sunday Selections

Joining River and others in Sunday Selections with some random photos.

It seemed works had been underway for a very long time in Fitzroy Gardens, East Melbourne. The completed project has been revealed.

Some landscaping and plantings with seating.

A soak which may well flow after rain, should we ever see any again. I will reserve judgement until the plants grow, but I like the soak.

Captain Cook's cottage, which I seem to recall was actually his parents' cottage and it was shipped out from England. While Cook wasn't the first white person to visit Australia, he is credited with discovering it.

I don't know what the significance of this tree stump is, but it must be important.

A host of golden daffodils.

Quite lovely.

Avenues of elms.

Boarded up old mansion. I think tradies were busy inside.

A modest house where Highriser would be quite content to reside. Does it have a lift? I am used to lifts.

Oh dear, what happened to last house in this terrace. Its verandah has been removed along with much of the decorative embellishments.

For some reason this part has been exposed. And what is that iron thingie up on the wall.

Some kind of cable support? There were never trams nearby that have overhead wires needing support.

Some of the City Square was sold off and used for commercial development. The idea of selling off part a city square would puzzle many Europeans. This is the Westin Hotel built on former City Square land, with its own flag flying, the Australian flag (hope it is not New Zealand), the Union Jack and what??? Flag of Finland as well as I can make out and I can't find a connection between the Westin and Finland.

Possibly my favourite Melbourne building, the Manchester Unity Building, I think is owned by an Indian/Australian doctor. Rather Manhattan, don't you think.

To conclude, this old man one man band was not really old at all. He was just wearing some really bad clothing.