Saturday, January 14, 2017

A remarkable woman

Journalists were much less known in the past partly because their names were not published with their stories, that is newspaper stories did not have a byline. Perhaps that is one reason I have never heard of Clare Hollingworth who recently died at the age of 105 in Hong Kong, where she has lived since the 1980s.

I wonder if she ever met Helen Thomas, a fine American journalist who was feared and treated with great respect, even by presidents.

Let me tell you a little about Clare Hollingworth. This photo from The Guardian.

In 1939 she was helping refugees on the German Polish border. She was recalled to London and then hired by the London Daily Telegraph and sent back to the Polish border city of Katowice as a reporter. She borrowed a diplomat's car and took a little investigative trip into Germany by simply driving across the closed border. She noticed a hessian barrier which the wind caught and blew aside and she was able to see in the valley below hundreds of German tanks lined up and ready to invade Poland. The consul-general did not initially believe her when he was told. She phoned through her story back to the Tele in London while the consul-general contacted the Foreign Office. Three days after the story headlined, '1000 tanks massed on the Polish border', Germany invaded Poland and so began WWII.

She reported from various trouble spots after the war, Poland, Germany, Algeria, Egypt, Beirut, India, Israel, China, Vietnam, Romania, Greece and Yemen. She exposed Kim Philby as being the third man in the English spy triumvirate. She was the Daily Tele's first resident correspondent in China in Mao's time and watched the Tiananmen Square massacre from her hotel window. 

She finally stopped reporting when she was in her 90s and could be found daily at her own table in the Hong Kong Foreign Correspondents' Club where she would imperiously knock her walking stick on the floor when she wanted service. She was truly a remarkable journalist and woman, and I had never heard of her.

If you would like to read a little more, the best obituary I came across is in The Guardian.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Camera Disasters

R and I are two years short of our 40th anniversary. We have to date this to the consummation of the marriage that never happened and won't because same sex marriage is illegal in Australia. It is not something either of us worry about, but it would be nice to be able to marry, even if we don't. Sister and Bone Doctor legally married  in Australia's capital city of Canberra when it was legal for about a week or so, but quickly enacted federal legislation killed that. However, as they were legally married, can that be taken away by the government? It would be an interesting case to take to the High Court.

Sandra has reached the 40th milestone with her beloved and they took what sounds like a brilliant cruise to celebrate, to no less than the Dominican Republic. Atlases out everyone. There was a camera casualty during the holiday though, which made me remember our camera disasters. There have been none since we bought our first digital camera, only that the camera never captures my true handsomeness. In fact digital cameras are rather cruel to me. Film cameras were much kinder. I could not possibly be the difference in time between film cameras and digital cameras. If you ask what a film camera is, go away and stop reading my blog.

Camera disaster 1, circa 1983. We generally used a Kodak cartridge camera to take snaps. Were they called an Instamatic? I can recall at some point buying a flash bulb holder to put on the top of the camera, and you needed a stock of flash bulbs to insert into the holder. I remember photos of almost white faces with shocked looks as the flash exploded in their faces. Maybe that was an older camera of my youth. We were off to New Zealand. A friend said, take my camera, but you have to put the film in by hand. Wow, a proper 35mm camera in a lovely leather case. We snapped away all over New Zealand, but every photo once developed looked green, very green. Maybe my memory is exaggerating a little, but the photos were pretty bad. We would have taken much nicer photos with a Kodak Instamatic.

Camera disaster number two, circa 1989. R was trying on a cheap tee shirt in a Bangkok market. Stall holders directed fans onto the sweating farang. He put the camera down of course, but by the time he finished deciding whether to spend a $1 buying a tee shirt, the camera had gone, along with the photos of our holiday we had already taken. A hand had slipped under a curtain partition. Fortunately our friends had taken photos too and gave us duplicates when they had theirs printed.

Camera disaster number three, circa 1992. We now own our own 35mm camera and no more green hued photos. Pop in the film and line the film holes up with the sprocket, close the back and the motor whirred away and wound the film on and away you go. We were staying north of Cairns in Queensland. We travelled to Port Douglas and boarded a cruising boat owned by pop singer Johnny Farnham. Insert a new film and set off for the Great Barrier Reef. We had a magical day with lovely food, good company, warm sunshine, a gentle breeze and best of all, novice to it that we were, snorkelling and seeing the spectacularly colourful reefs and fish. We were exhausted and as we returned to shore with our newly found gay kiddie mates, we plonked down and watched repeats of Ab Fab. Strange, I thought, as I went to change the camera film. I thought it was 24 exposure and the counter says 34, so I must have used a 36 photo film. Have you guessed? Yep, the film did not wind on and the blasted counter counted upward regardless. No photos at all! Once back in Melbourne, the camera was ever so carefully stomped to smithereens.

Do you have your own camera disaster story?

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Seeing Melbourne by train and tram for tourists part 2, trains

I always enjoy taking trains, be they long distance or short. I would recommend three train trips in Melbourne, one short and one long.

Let's start with the long one, to Hurstbridge. I suppose it is our longest suburban train trip at about 1 hour and ten minutes. Hurstbridge doesn't really feel like a suburb, more like a country town. You will pass by all the sporting complexes Melbourne is well known for, including the Melbourne Cricket Ground then you are elevated above the cheek by jowl housing and commercial sites of Richmond and Abbotsford then slowly the blocks of the land will become larger and the housing more grand as you head into the middle class eastern suburbs and then the 'mud brick house' area around the very conservation minded Eltham.

The gap between stations starts to increase and there is some single railway line, so at times there are pauses while waiting for a train to pass. The train reaches the countryside, with farms and some bushland. Hurstbridge itself has at least one very nice cafe near the station.

Oh yes, our train system is very modern. Photo from Heritage Council Victoria.

The other train trip I like is to the southern suburb of Sandringham, right on the beach. Beginning in the trendy inner suburbs south of the city, through the very expensive area of Brighton and the just expensive areas subsequently. Between Brighton Beach towards Hampton, the line travels along the seaside, so be sure to sit on the right hand side of the train. There is no shortage of cafes in Bay Road, Sandringham. You may want to break the journey by stopping off at what I suggest is Melbourne's nicest train station, Brighton Beach. There is a good cafe here too.

Right, here is an honourable mention for another train trip I enjoy, to Altona Village. While it is not very far, except in peak, a change of train is required. The change has worked well enough for me when I have taken the trip. I enjoy the trip across the paddocks and every time I have been, I have seen a rabbit in the grassland. The village in Altona is very peaceful and slow paced and a ten minute walk past the shops and cafes brings you to the very wide expanse of Altona Beach. The pier is not overly long and a nice stroll.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

A question for my rural correspondents

I don't tend to mix with people from the countryside anymore, but I do see a good bit of the written word and photos from the country. It is probably no surprise that I don't have contact with country people, so I want them to answer this.

When I was a lad, I stubbornly pronounced paddock as it is written. My family, neighbours, schoolmates and everyone I knew said paddick. The self righteous know it all that I was ( how dare you say I still am), refused to say paddick. How could dock be pronounced as dick.....umm, oh, my mind just ran away with me with another word, a short word ending in ock that has a synonym that ends in ick. Forgive my meanderings.

So, step up to the crease you rural folk. What is said now in the country? Do people still say paddick or did I win the battle with paddock?

I will slap anyone who says field.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Seeing Melbourne by train and tram for tourists part 1, trams

I wonder if I have written the same post before, or similar. I really can't remember.

This is targeted at older tourists who visit Melbourne and have some time to explore by public transport. You will need a Myki card, full fare $6, concession $3. Check your eligibility at the PTV website. $10 credit on your Myki will more than see you clear for a day's travel. Perhaps $5 for a concession.

I assume you are staying in a city hotel and if not, adjustments need to be made.

Every tourist visiting Melbourne will want to travel to St Kilda. There are different trams to catch to St Kilda. Route 96 is the most direct and marginally the fastest and has replaced a former train line. It travels along Bourke and Spencer Streets and terminates at the end of Acland Street, the street being very popular with tourists, with many cafes, cake shops and other things that interest tourists. Apart from the last part, the journey is not so interesting, although it does pass by Crown Casino, if that is your thing.

Along Collins and then Spencer Street you could catch 12 tram, and have quite a pleasant journey through South Melbourne and some bayside suburbs. The final part of the trip will take you past the once modest but now much renovated homes in the expensive areas of Middle Park and St Kilda West. It should be a very calm and relaxing trip, although not terribly exciting. Again, you can catch this tram to the Casino.

I quite enjoy going to Port Melbourne by tram. The 109 takes you along Collins Street and Spencer Street and again past the Casino. It runs along an old railway line reservation too, so it is a quite a quick trip. The terminus is Station Pier, where overseas cruise liners moor, along with the daily Tasmanian ferry. I can't say there is a lot of interest there but there is the historic Princes Pier to visit and you won't be short of somewhere to eat. The map is very out of date.

The creme de la creme of Melbourne tram journeys is from the busiest tram street in the world, Swanston Street, on the route 16 tram which also takes you to St Kilda, as does the 3A on weekends and holidays. You travel down the beautiful boulevarde of St Kilda Road, past some lovely parkland, the army barracks and a number of historic properties, including a large synagogue  The route 16 takes you right through St Kilda and on to Balaclava. Balaclava is full of hipsters, Jewish, recent immigrants, mentally unwell and every type in between. From there you be in Caulfield, full of nice older houses and modern expensive apartment blocks, mostly Jewish owned, along with cheaper rental flats. With a couple of twists and turns, you will be in Malvern, travelling along Glenferrie Road with its expensive designer shops, past the huge and historic tram depot right in the middle of the shops and onto the expensive and grand housing that line Glenferrie Road. You will pass by four railway stations on the journey. Numerous other tram lines intersect the route, including the route 8 tram to the most exclusive area of Toorak. After travelling down a steep hill and crossing the train line at Kooyong, you will pass by The Kooyong Royal Grass Tennis Courts, once the home of the Australian Open tennis and the very posh Scotch College, and then climb the very steep hill to reach Hawthorn, a rather mixed area of cheaper and expensive. The tram will probably crawl through Hawthorn to ultimately terminate at Cotham Road in Kew. You will have seen so much housing of those who have plenty and very expensive private schools. International students will have been on and off the tram, as will have old people who rely on trams to get around. There will also be passengers who clearly can afford to drive in their own cars, but choose not to.

Well, you have ticked that off and don't want to make the almost 90 minute return journey to your city hotel. You don't have to. At the 16 terminus in Kew is the 109 tram, which will take you back to town much more quickly. It travels to the city via the expensive area of Kew and once across the river, into Richmond, or Little Saigon as it is at times known. You will also see the grandeur of another boulevarde, Victoria Parade and the grand former Treasury building at the edge of the city before you travel along Collins Street. You might also notice St Patrick's Cathedral as you pass by.

With an honourable mention is the route 55 tram which runs from William Street on past the zoo and through Royal Park parkland. If you use this tram to get to the zoo and you are weary after your zoo visit, catch the much quicker train back to the city.

Monday, January 09, 2017

Musical Monday - The Running Man

This completely missed me by, a remix and re-release of Utah Saints and their hit from the 80s, Something Good (Running Man). This was the clip for the re-release. I am amused. I've shown you the second clip before but I can't easily find when now. It rather makes more sense after learning about the the first clip.

The wedding clip really demonstrates a difference in the way people dress for a public event in the UK compared to Australia and North America.

Sunday, January 08, 2017

The snouts never leave the trough

We were at the beach today. There was nice looking apartment open for inspection. We took a look and it was classy place with great views, and a bargain at $750,000. Off the cuff, we bought it.

Believe me? No, I wouldn't either. The Minister must go and be prosecuted for committing the crime of cheating every Australian, along with the crime of sheer stupidity, surely the best reason why she should not be a minister. From The Age.

Embattled Health Minister Sussan Ley has admitted she made an "error of judgment" by charging taxpayers for a trip to the Gold Coast in which she bought a $795,000 apartment and will repay the cost of four taxpayer-funded trips.
Ms Ley's decision followed a conversation with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull in which he said she had not met the standards he expects of ministers. 

Ms Ley had come under intense pressure to provide a full explanation of the May2015 trip or resign from the ministry since it was revealed on Friday. Government records show Ms Ley has frequently visited the Gold Coast on taxpayer-funded trips over recent years. 
Ms Ley originally said the apartment purchase, made after a health announcement in Brisbane, was "not planned nor anticipated" and that she had ministerial duties to fulfil on the Gold Coast. That claim was questioned after subsequent revelations that her partner owns a business near the unit and that it was purchased from a Liberal donor.
In a statement released on Sunday afternoon Ms Ley said the apartment auction was not the reason for her trip to the Gold Coast but she understood the purchase had "changed the context of the travel undertaken".
"The distinction between public and private business should be as clear as possible when dealing with taxpayers' money," she said.
"I have spoken to the Prime Minister and he agrees that this claim does not meet the high standards he expects of ministers.
"I apologise for the error of judgment."
The apology failed to satisfy Labor, with the party's health spokeswoman Catherine King calling on Mr Turnbull to sack Ms Ley immediately following her admission that she had breached the standard expected of ministers. 
Ms Ley said she would ask the Department of Finance on Monday to invoice her for all the costs of car and travel allowance claimed for the May 2015 trip and to apply any penalties for erroneous claims. She has also asked the department to review all her taxpayer-funded travel to the Gold Coast. 
Ms Ley and her partner charged taxpayers $3949 for flights during the two-day trip.
Ms Ley said an examination of her travel records had revealed two other claims for accommodation in the Gold Coast where she should have in fact stayed in Brisbane. She will repay the cost of these claims as well as a flight from Coolangatta to Canberra in June 2015. 
Ms Ley billed taxpayers for accommodation on the Gold Coast for four nights in July 2014 while travelling on "official business". She subsequently claimed travel allowance for two nights' accommodation on the Gold Coast in September 2014.
In August 2015 she made two trips to the Gold Coast for "official business", charging taxpayers for five nights accommodation in total. 
Ms Ley said her travel to the Gold Coast was "within the rules" but that she had decided to repay the travel claims because she holds herself to high standards.
She said she had travelled to Brisbane on 9 May 2015 to make an announcement about the availability of new medicines at a specialist breast cancer clinic before going to the Gold Coast to meet with patients. While there she purchased the apartment. 
She said she stayed in the Gold Coast that night because she was due in Canberra the following day.

Crossing the Black Spur to Marysville

As New Year's Day fell on a Sunday, Australia wide, the Monday was a public holiday. It is a wonderfully quiet time in Melbourne, especially on a our roads, so while I would normally be put off by the traffic issues, we decided to visit the tourist township of Marysville, to the far north east of Melbourne. The marvellous Google Maps told me the trip would take 1hr 40mins. R, we need to leave early, by 9:30.

The light traffic in the normally clogged Punt Road/Hoddle Street moved along smartly and we made good time. We passed through Lilydale, and while I would not have remembered, R pointed out where Late Step Father's petshop was. Not a person was to be seen on the streets of  Lilydale.

Which was rather the opposite where we stopped for a break and coffee at Healesville. It was heaving with people. It is a lovely town and popular for good reasons. Ok, my ability to take photos in busy areas without showing people is legendary. You will have to trust me that it was busy.

The main street of Healseville is full of cafes. Not sure where you would buy a chop or a bag of spuds. Interesting looking older home in the background.

A lookout, over Maroondah Dam, one of our water storage dams.

I was puzzled. Marysville is not so far from Healesville. Why is Madame GPS telling me it will take so long to get there. That was because we had to cross the Black Spur, driving along a steep and winding road. As we crested the spur, blue sky began to appear and the weather changed from being grey and drizzly to quite warm. I was very surprised, expecting that it would be even greyer and wetter. We took jackets in case, but they certainly were not needed, but my straw hat was.

Well, you can't mention Marysville without remembering the terrible bush fires of 2009 when the town was pretty well destroyed and so many lost their lives. The town has been rebuilt in the intervening years, but there is little historic about it. The local history society lost all and pleaded with folk to send in their personal histories and photos.

I think we saw one surviving old house in Marysville. This building is a replica of the police post.

Probably once gold and then timber harvesting and milling made Marysville prosperous. Before the terrible fires, it was a tourist place, with both upmarket and downmarket facilities. My grandparents once stayed in a guest house for a week, overlooking the lake, perhaps the Cumberland. Maybe it was the late 80s when I was last there and I can't recall much, but we had nice high tea overlooking a lake.

While it is kind of sad that everything in the town was destroyed, I think those responsible have done quite a good job at renewal.

Steavenson River flows through the town. To my surprise, it is not a Yarra River contributor but ends up in the Murray River, which discharges to the sea in South Australia.

A wisteria arbour walk.

Quackers and young.

The lake and the river seem disconnected, but I suspect the lake is filled from the river.

Above the lake is an sports oval where many people took shelter from the firestorm. Of the state death toll of 173 killed by the fires, 45 people were from the Marysville area.

I know hydrangeas are either pink or blue according to the acidity of the soil, but why are blue ones found so widely in elevated areas? It was a bit early for these to be at there best.

A bit of an effort at a Christmas tree.

At the tourism office is a museum dedicated to that terrible day in 2009 when the town was engulfed in flames. While I would not have minded a visit, I thought R would find it too depressing. Instead we visited Bruno's Sculpture Garden. It too was destroyed in the fires, as was Bruno's house, but both have been rebuilt. I balked a little at the $10 entrance fee, but after visiting, I consider it was worth it. There are many many sculptures and these are a few of my favourites.

Note the bottle in his hand and a transistor radio.

This was my favourite.

The boy second along is poking out his tongue. This is certainly a repaired sculpture burnt in the fire.

Burnt gardens.

We could hear piano music, from somewhere.

While Eucalypts can survive fires, this fire burnt so hotly and intensely, many did not survive, but as nature planned, the bush regenerates as the seeds of the trees, that may have lain on the ground for a long time, burst open in the fire heat and with some rain and the fertile bed of ash, new trees grow.

Steavenson Falls, a four kilometre drive from Marysville.

At the very top of the falls is a lookout. No, we did not climb up there.

I guess the original marker for Damian McKenzie was burnt, but this still marks his disappearance. Mother knows all the details of his disappearance.

There is a small electric hydro plant to supply power for the night time floodlighting of the falls.

From an information board, the falls after the fire.

This photo from the Black Saturday Museum was taken of the falls around six months after the fire. Already there is regeneration, with the tree ferns sending out fronds. The website is very good, with photos, education and personal stories of the day and later.