Saturday, October 29, 2016

A most horrible death and cynicism

Remember back in the back in the 1960s where the Buddhist monk self immolated on the streets of a Vietnamese city in protest at the western country invasion of his country? Could there be worse death than being burnt to death. Perhaps. Death at the hands of passionate religions in earlier times were pretty bad. But that Hanoi death was so awful, mainly because it was on our tv screens. 

How about if you are a bus driver, going about your bus driving business in Brisbane and a passenger boards your bus, pours a fuel all over you and flicks his Bic lighter at you and you are burnt to death. This happened a day or so ago in Australia.  Facts are yet to be revealed, but what I guess is that a mentally unwell person saw the Sikh bus driver as a Moslem and has picked up via media that Moslem is bad. There may be a better explanation or even the truth.

Immediately the Queenland police said there was no evidence that it was a race hate crime, but I am not so sure and neither is his family back in the Punjab and quite rightly, they are asking questions. Government, government authorities and organisations who depend on government funding like to keep a very tight lid on racial issues in Australia.......and I would go as far saying that includes our ABC.

R got stuck into me for being so cynical and not believing what the QLD police were saying. I confess, at times it must be hard to live with a cynical smart arse like me, but I reckon I am right in this case.. 

Vale to Brisbane bus driver Manmeet Sharma. You seem to have been a good person and I can offer no explanation for your horrific death, aside from what I have said above and that won't offer you much comfort. At times in this world some really bad things happen.

I don't like being cynical, but one thing to say, it is so great when your cynicism is proved wrong and you have a restoration of faith in humankind. I try to avoid cynicism in my personal life but at times I don't succeed. Sadly that happens so rarely when talking about public figures, the police, celebrities, government, employers and those with a vested financial interests. 

The highly respected John Silvester is a long time crime investigator and reporter for The Age. This is from today's paper. I can only conclude that this story from way back then is correct and nothing has changed my mind since, that governments and a police have changed. Improved perhaps, but changed, no! 

It is so good that we don't live in a corrupt country (insert sad and laconically tired face emoticon). Read more at The Age.

The man on the other end of the phone didn't need to waste time with an introduction. His opening sentence was direct and to the point: "The people you are writing about could kill you stone dead."
This observation immediately gained my attention, because I recognised the caller as the director of the Australian Bureau of Criminal Intelligence who was also my father, Fred Silvester.
The reason for the call was that I had written a story that certain NSW police had advised Mafia boss "Aussie" Bob Trimbole to leave the country rather than risk having to give evidence to the Stewart Royal Commission on drugs.
Trimbole took the advice (there were others urging him to take an extended holiday) and in 1981 nicked off, dying six years later as a free man in Spain.
The story created a furore in Sydney, sparking the then NSW commissioner, that plodding plodder Cec Abbott, to declare the story false and malicious, while the police minister did the same.
I was interviewed by two embarrassed NSW detectives who showed a staggering lack of curiosity, and within a week this internal inquiry cleared everybody of everything.

Arthurs Seat and the Eagle

In another post I will tell you why we were down on the Mornington Peninsula but on our way home the sky was fairly clear so we thought we would travel up to Arthurs Seat to see what progress there had been with the construction of the new chair lift.

Even before the chair lift was built it was a popular area and look at this link to see Garden of the Moon. The first white man to ascend Arthurs Seat was Captain Mathew Flinders in 1802. That is very early in white Australia's history.

As you can see from the map, it is a very steep road up to Arthurs Seat (I can't preview this, so it may not work).,144.9520616,16z?hl=en

After the perplexing event at a kiddie ride and the subsequent horrific deaths at Dreamwold on Queensland's Gold Coast by way of an amusement park ride, it is perhaps not the best time to be opening any sort of ride for the amusement of the masses however, the new chairlift is to open on December the third.

The old chairlift opened in 1960, built by a Czech engineer, and had began to become unreliable and after causing some injuries to people and was finally and probably belatedly shut down in 2006.

The new ride is to be known as the Arthurs Seat Eagle and it looked mighty impressive to me. To our surprise, the cable began running while we were admiring the views and then some pods, or gondolas as they are known, began to turn up. The new chair lift was built by an Austrian company and the pods by a Swiss company, so that is reassuring, although things do go wrong in those countries too with such devices.

Here are a few photos and a 20 second video. The views are wonderful from atop Arthurs Seat. Looking north over Dromana and Safety Beach.

There is a restaurant, Arthurs, and an outdoor area once called Garden of the Moon. There is also a kiosk for we less well heeled types.

About where this pylon is was where the old lift stopped.

Here comes a pod. Some of the pods are fully enclosed and it was certainly windy up there when we visited. I believe the covered over pods are the enclosed ones.

The new lift crosses over the carpark. An unsafe and condemned, but rather nice, concrete lookout tower has been demolished.  There will be a cafe and no doubt, 'exit through the gift shop'.

A couple of the open pods arrived.

Don't have your speakers on. The wind noise is horrible. 20 seconds.

I hope the seat of Arthurs Seat gets a makeover. It is very shabby.

On the way back down at a viewing point we could see that there has been a fire and it seems it was a planned burn to reduce the fire fuel load at Arthurs Seat, a state park. It is a terrific idea as it has improved the views immensely. Only a cynic would smell a rat that in the autumn there was a fire fuel reduction burn and later the same year the new chair lift, years in the planning and construction, will open. I am a cynic. Now looking south over Rosebud.

Another view of Dromana and Safety Beach, around to Mount Martha.

Eagle Arthurs Seat opens on the third of December. As I've seemed to promote the company, I think $250 would be an appropriate ex gratia gesture. Or a free ride.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Friday Humour

I try to post something amusing on Friday and I have failed today, but the day is not over.

Jim Perry recently died. Never heard of him? He was one of the makers of the British tv show Dad's Army.

Here is a clip of opening credits for the character driven comedy show. The characters were members of British Home Guard, unpaid volunteers who managed security and safety on British soil during WWII. The tune is quite good when played with enthusiasm by a large brass band.

The bumbling characters could be very funny and I cracked up at the last line in this clip, 1:47.

Many of the lines from the show slipped into our speech and I still at times say, 'Don't panic Captain Mainwaring', pronounced Mannering.

ABC Country Radio

While we were travelling, as is my want, we listened to a number of different ABC radio stations. While I happily offend Macca as being being tired, old fashioned, offensively red neck and an obvious Liberal Party supporter, I don't like to offend people who do their job competently but there was an experienced long time broadcaster who I heard and he was not at all to my liking. It was Sunday morning, I think, in southern NSW.

Our ABC has many local radio stations all over Australia and each no doubt are tailored to suit to their audience, so as a visitor to the area, my judging of broadcasters is judging from the outside. Nevertheless, I think our ABC needs to bite the bullet at times move some people on. While I don't like rapid fire radio, I like it nicely paced. Not too slow and not too fast. The rest of the broadcasters we heard I thought were quite competent but there was a stand out.

Late in our trip, I heard a first class weekday morning broadcaster on ABC Riverina local radio and I have learnt her name is Anne Delaney. She was everything a good broadcaster should be in that timeslot and I rather selfishly wish she would move to ABC Melbourne.

Speaking of our ABC, Iview for internet tv watching worked well for us over our road trip. The similar apps from commercial tv did not and I go as far as saying they are frustrating to the point of being unusable.

Out with the old

I can't remember how much the new intercom system was quoted at, but it was in the tens of thousands, maybe 20, maybe 40. It is now done. The instructions on the old system were to press the apartment number and then button A. There are two buttons A. One on the left side, one on the right. People would say the intercom would not work for them and I guess this came from them pressing the wrong button A. When we were in Perth early this year, the system failed entirely. It was quickly discovered that replacement parts were not available and an enterprising body corporate member found the failed part replacement on Ebay. This is the old panel, with two buttons A.

This is the new panel. Press the apartment number and the bell symbol and it will put through a double Australian phone ring to the the appropriate apartment and LEDs will light up to illuminate your face, and on the screen and verbally you are given commands, such as calling, answering, and door open. The hole in the wall has been covered over and barely noticeable. We don't know much about using our intercom system as we don't use it. Why would we? It is the same with parking outside. We don't use it so we don't have a need to know about it, but we do, because of visitors.

This is the old handset in each apartment. It rings a single ring loudly for as long as button A is pressed. The picture view of who is calling is in black and white and it is a bulky unit as the screen is an old style cathode ray tube. Sometimes when someone called, the screen would not light up but if you hung up and then picked up the receiver again, it would work. The screen picture lasted a minute or so before the picture shut down. Of the three buttons, only the door open button worked.

This is our new unit. While the screen is smaller, it is in brilliant colour and gives a wide view. I can see passing cars and trams. We can even switch the screen on when no one is calling. We can adjust the volume of the ring and the picture. The lad who installed it was lovely, if you like a Serbian/Israeli  hipster look. I dun mind. Unfortunately there had to be a backing plate to cover the holes from the old system. I just know it is not all square, but it is very close and I will only ever really know if I put the spirit level on it, and I won't but I have an eye for straightness and angles and it is not quite straight, but none of our non existent visitors will ever notice and I will get used to it.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Campervanning Day 10 10/10

After reasonably short drives over the last few days, today's would be a long one as we headed inland from Huskisson, Jervis Bay. I had carefully studied maps and there seemed to be a shorter route to get to Gundagia, as I said, used by Canberrians to get to Jervis Bay but it appeared that there was a short section of unmade, that is gravel, road. The route was a little shorter and not as many hairpin bends. However the park check in person thought the road was made. It was irrelevant as I tried to set the sat nav for that way and it would not accept it as it was an unpaved road. No doubt it was of a high standard, but for all I know the hire company might be tracking us using our sat nav, and there would be a record of it on the sat nav.

We decided to go via Nowra, over the Canbewarra Ranges and along the Kangaroo Valley to meet up with the Hume Freeway near Moss Vale. After Nowra we climbed and climbed and there were many tight curves, then we went down the other side, then climbed and climbed again but we did not have a steep descent as we now up on what I think are called the Southern Tablelands. It had been such a pretty, though mountainous, drive and we were then travelling along the Kangaroo Valley and that was very nice too. I can't now remember where this unusual bridge was.

We stopped for brunch at Fitzroy Falls, well just before the falls for the best coffee in Fitzroy Falls. We thought it was a joke as we thought it was the only place in Fitzroy Falls. The coffee was, shall I say, unremarkable. Just a short distance further on is the Aboriginal run Fitzroy Falls area. I was cross that we had to pay $5 to park there, but that was the only charge and the set up was excellent, with the amenities and walkways very good.


The water drops 81 metres and by the time it reaches the bottom, it is mostly mist and small droplets.

R took this photo with his phone and is it better than mine taken with my camera? I think it is pretty good. I asked him about it and he said he took the photo and then clicked something on his phone named 'fix'.

The mountains were so impressive

It was quite warm and the blue haze is comes from the fumes of oil from Eucalyptus trees.

Well, onwards, and we stopped near Yass at a large service place where there was fuel and a number of chain takeaway food stores. As we had been naughty and had sausage rolls for brunch, we were virtuous and ate some left overs in our van and boiled the kettle.

At some point I felt a little cold and turned the air con off as we sped along the freeway at 110 km/h. The outside temperature had dropped drastically and then light rain began to fall and became steady rain. Truck drivers, and there are way too many trucks on the Hume, carrying freight that should go by an efficient rail freight system, were pretty good to drive with. They tended to drive at 105 km/h to 110 whereas I wanted to travel at the limit of 110. Often I sat behind a truck for a while, but as soon as they reached a hill, their speed would drop and around them I would go. At times hills were steep enough to knock my own speed down.

We just had to stop at the Dog on the Tuckerbox. It was first unveiled in the early 1930s and I had seen it before, but my memory of about forty years ago had no match to what I now saw. I believe the legend began from when the woman who owned a food kiosk in the early twentieth century at the location would for the cost of sixpence, have her dog pose on a tucker box, that is a portable food box, and take a photo with her new fangled camera in the very early twentieth century.

We were surprised to see 'no vacancy' signs flashing at the motels of Gundagai. R suggested that as the weather was so bad, we take a cabin and had an evening in more comfort. At the caravan park, cabins were booked out. All motels were full. We stopped the park's check in chick when she started to call B&B's. No, we will take a powered site. The check in chick was about fifty and had the most fabulous brunette full on big hair wig that at least doubled the size of her head space and told us the Family Hotel was perhaps the best place to dine. To our surprise, we were undercover for the night.....kind of, as I had to move the front of the van out so the wifi aerial would be clear to the sky, or whatever. Apparently some large project in the mountains had been shut down for a day hence the workers had taken the opportunity for some rest in Gundagai.

Dine at the Family Hotel we did, on very nice lamb cutlets but the place was nothing special, just a friendly country hotel. As you can see, the rain did stop. This park had non communal toilets and shower amenities, as you can kind of see in the photo above. You just find a vacant one and lock the door.

The freeway was close by and above was farmland.

Gundagai was not flat, as I remembered, but very steep. The rivers were very high, flooding in places still from the previous week when we could not cross the mountain because of snow and didn't want to because of flooding. More about Gundagai in a subsequent post and our last full day before returning home.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

What are we going to do about Mother?

Oh dear. A day of phone calls, texts and emails between Mother's children. Tradie Brother said to Sister that Mother was an effing selfish bitch and for the first time, TB heard heard the same effing word from Sister. TB and Sister were nearly in tears when they spoke. That is so silly and just illustrates how clever Mother is with manipulation.

I will try not to make this too long and keep it simple.

It started with Mother's circuit breaker tripping when there was rain. She called an electrician, acquaintance of ABI Brother, who only charged her $100 for diagnosis and rectification. But it wasn't. The light circuit tripped again as soon as it rained and a couple of times more.

Mother is now officially stressed, worried, panicked and afraid at home.

She sought another electrician and he actually solved the problem, by disconnecting Mother's lounge room light. But why aren't the lights in the rear bedroom extension working, I wondered. This electrician gave Mother grave news. Her house needs rewiring as the wiring is in a dangerous condition. My goodness, she will be electrified in bed, or burnt up like  a cinder.

The electrician offered to send a quote for rewiring. What email address, he asked, should I send it to? To Son 1, me. $11,000 to rewire the house. The light circuit is the worst and could be done for $5,000.

Mother immediately went into survival mode and called me. I flatly said no, we are not paying, but in not so many words. Your galvanised iron water pipes are tenuous, your water spouting is in decay. Your home is collapsing around you.

Mother argued that we children should spend the money on the wiring, as we would get the money back when the house is sold when she dies. Well, while the cost of a nursing home for old people is not so bad, if they are high functioning, they will go into hostel care, and that is not cheap, as I understand.

I was quite negative and suggested to Mother that she really needed to consider her future life.

I called Sister Saturday night with no answer. She called back Sunday morning and we discussed. She then sent me a frank text and called Tradie Brother. TB subsequently called ABI Brother and then later me. TB wants to set up a balance sheet for what we each give Mother, aside from just paying for her meals when we are out. TB also called Mother to Sister, as selfish old bitch. Oh dear. He was very cross that Mother asked Sister for the whole amount, after I refused.

Easy. Me, $200, R $200, Sister umpteen hundreds. Bone Doctor $5,000. ABI Brother $600.

TB Brother has a granny flat at his place, occupied by a tenant and it is well set up as that is where Ex Sis in Laws parents lived in comfort.  No way will Mother countenance moving there and selling her house. She is probably right suggesting that she and TB would clash. Bone Doctor's medical practice has associated accommodation for old folk, but no. She clearly doesn't want to depend on Sister and well, I don't blame her too much for that.

Mother's partner died six years ago and she should have moved on back then, to somewhere comfortable and sustainable for her old age by selling her house and moving to a unit. Hey, R and I did that in 2001 when slightly more older than teens. '

The upshot is she either stays in her decaying house or buys a granny flat to put into ABI Brother's back yard. ABI Brother is happy with that. He already does her daily shopping and sleeps over on Friday and Saturday nights at Mother's as she is afraid of murderers, youth, vandals, rapists etc. It kind of suits him, as he can have a drink at his local club and walk home, whereas it is a much longer walk to his own home.

Boiled down, Mother can stay in her dangerous house, that does have a very good electricity circuit breaker, until any decision is taken out of her hands or she could sell her house, worth around $350,000 and live in comfort in a unit or retirement village for about change over dollars, or for about $80,000 have a granny flat in ABI Brother's back yard and have plenty of money to spare once her house is sold.  

She has agreed to the granny flat but whether it will happen, who knows.

Stop the presses. I called Mother to ask if she wanted a joint appointment with her bank manger or should I just go. Suddenly, Mother loves her home and does not want to move.

All quite predictable.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Campervanning Day 9 09/10

The skies were bluish the next morning at Batemans Bay. We left reasonably early, 9.30.

The skies had improved muchly by the time we reached Ulladulla and paused for a break.

Ulladulla looked lovely in the sunshine. What's wrong with these kids? Why aren't staring at phone screens?

Obviously there was a old car display somewhere today.

I took five photos of pelicans landing on the water and four are out of focus.

Departing Ulladulla. The storage space in the driving part of the van was as amazing as the storage space within and at the back of the van. Once home our own car felt rather cramped.

If you are familiar with New York's Times Square, Sydney's Bondi Beach, London's Oxford Street or Melbourne's own St Kilda, all on a pleasant summer day, then also add Huskisson at Jervis Bay to the mix, Husky for short. I don't know if there is a township of Jervis Bay, but anything I looked at on the net directed me towards either Husky or the slightly south Vincentia. We arrived at Husky around midday and it was manic.

We had to park some distance away after sitting in stop start traffic as people found, or tried to find, close by parking spaces. We wandered the beach side park for a bit and then found a nice place for lunch. I saw an elderly woman pick up something from a table as she walked past. Did she just steal something? No, the cafe gives away its coffee grounds as mulch for your garden.

The wind that had plagued us was still bad, and the only disaster of the trip occurred when the wind must have blown away my four year old $7 reading glasses from hanging on my shirt pocket.

As Victor will confirm, I am unerringly prone to taking photos of busy places without people in the scene, and this photo is no exception.

A natural harbour for boats.

Whale sightings from what distance? Had we have been staying another night, it would have been tempting.

Surely an oxymoron with the name of this real estate agent company.

We took a pleasant drive down to Vincentia. By then it was 2pm and we could check into a caravan park. Neither of the two adjacent parks in Husky had come to my attention when researching. It could have been us or not, but they were so difficult to find, both down the same street and depending on signage or being left or right handed, we chose one. It was nice, and the fellow caravaners very friendly. It was the most expensive we stayed in, sans Britz discount, and the facilities not quite up with the Big 4 parks, but there was a better class of people.

The check in people at the various parks were mostly friendly and helpful, at times gushy. The chap at this park seemed quite formal but he was actually ok and asked about our future route. I told him where were going to next and what we may see along the way, but he said that there is a better route, a quicker route, that Canberrians use when they visit Jervis Bay.

Note, there is no consistency about the way the 'er' sound is pronounced here in place names. In this case, it is Jarvis Bay. The check in chap had given us good advice, I thought. Our allocated space was good, with views of the water in a semi circle with others with vans and campervans.

HMAS Voyager and HMAS Melbourne collided in Jervis Bay, with a terrible loss of life and ongoing physical and mental health issues for those who survived. From memory, full reparations was not paid until the 1990s.

The stored wine level had dropped to a dangerously low point, and although Husky had a small IGA supermarket, we returned to Vincentia to the supermarket chain liquor store and also bought a roasted chicken and prepared salads for dinner. While a bit of a bother to set up, in the latter stages of our holiday, we did bother and it was quite a good swivel table between the seating, meaning that the table did not trap you as you could push it out of the way. Maybe three times we set up the outside table just because of the awful weather. 

We were in kind of semi circle of caravans and we saw our duty bound conscientious middle class neighbours trundle their suit case cassette off to the dump point.

The next morning before departing, we took a walk on the beach. I was so excited as the sand was very fine and white and made a squeaky noise at each step. Still the wind was fierce.

Monday, October 24, 2016

The Bolt

The fastest sprinter in the world, the appropriately surnamed Usain Bolt, is in Melbourne and boy can he bolt. He will be here for a time; I think he was invited to be part of our Spring Racing Carnival, and he has family here.

He is 195cm tall and weighs 95kg and not an unattractive man. Now if all things are in proportion, and the bulge indicates that this is so........well, my eyes are watering at the very thought, and of course you know what voracious appetites black men have, such is the stereotype.

It was reported on the television news that Usain was out nightclubbing on Saturday night and is expected to continue partying while he is here in Melbourne.

Well, that is all very well, until a doorkeeper at a club doesn't recognise him and refuses him entry because he does not meet the club's 'dress code', which is what they say when they don't want blacks, Asians or Indians in a club.

Most overseas non Australians think that Australia is a racist country but maybe this happens in other countries too? I read somewhere that white men are not particularly welcome in Japanese gay bars. Bars in Japan are small, so perhaps we take up  too much space.

It is quite disgraceful really, but my advice to you Usain is either visit a club with other people of note in the media, or call ahead. Sad that it is like that and you should not have to follow my advice, and if you don't and there is an issue, you can quite rightly go public and shame Australia.

PS Usain, sorry about our weather.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Campervanning Day 8 08/10

Narooma was such a nice place but we journeyed onward and upwards to Batemems Bay. Again not too far, and we turned off the road to see Tuross Head

While sitting on a seat and admiring the scenery, a nearly white bloke who was aboriginal told us about his late wife, about about his home, his tinnie boat, his car, our Prime Minisiter, and the lack of money for pensioners. I am polite, so I did not say what I wanted to, fuck off pest. One must be kind to old people, except he was not so old. My goodness, he was a complainer though.

Before we hit Batemans Bay, we came across the hippie town of Mogo. Hippie customers are about to enter a hippie business.

A bit further along there was a similar hippie business.

Every town should have  a clock tower.

Not just for hippies who eat mung beans. There was a proper cafe. We ate at the bakery, and once again proved that the food is good at country bakeries. Once again I proved that coffee is lousy at country bakeries.

Outside the plant nursery. There did not seem to be a focus on mung bean seedlings in the nursery.

I liked.

The best use for a church.

As we arrived at Batemans Bay, the traffic on the main road stopped and so did we. I turned into what looked like a shopping street but we were soon stationary by traffic being blocked at the bottom of the street by what I thought was some hideous car accident with multiple deaths. I would have been fuming at home if I sat in stationary traffic for 15 minutes but I was very relaxed. Eventually traffic had inched forward to allow me to turn into a side street, which I did and we drove a bit south along the lovely water. We parked with a view of the water and I got busy with the tablet to find a caravan park. Ok, there are two just up the road in Batehaven  and we needed shops. We shopped at the modest and not so nice Batehaven shopping centre. We ended up deciding on the Big 4 park again. I discovered later that the traffic mayhem was not a terrible road accident but that a cable had snapped on the lift bridge at Batemans Bay.

The park was ok. There was a caravan next to us with a large annex and a quite rough looking white occupant, with his Asian partner and their young children. They were no problem but when I said hello to the man as we passed, he looked straight through me. Then I suffered extreme paranoia, well later really, as I left our van to use the amenity block as did the boy next door. His mother came out and stood outside their van watching her lad go and come back, I am sure to make sure that I did not grab him. Because the bloke had ignored me earlier, I surmised he thought, two older men travelling together are up to no good, and you certainly would not want them around your children. It caught up with me that night after a glass of wine. R told me I was being stupid and I probably was, but such is what happens when you have lived a life of being gay, and constantly in the background is the message, gays are bad and child molesters.

The public cooking areas in all Big 4 parks are amazing, but every park had quite good cooking facilities. We never used the pull out barbeque in our van.

Looking back at the caravan park from the beach.

I don't know if these are seen around the world. It is a cold water shower to wash away the sand after you leave beach.

After we checked in to the park, we went for a drive south for a few kilometres to see various viewing spots.

There were two clubs of note in Batemans Bay, and we had a drink at the Soldiers Club, but R had a hunger for exotic food, so we dined at the Sawatdee Thai restaurant. Good tucker for us. This view is from the Soldiers Club terrace.