Saturday, April 28, 2018

A tram to Carr Villa

As is my wont, I had a bit of a look at the former tram routes before we visited Launceston. The last tram ran in Launceston in 1952, replaced by electric trolley buses, which were later replaced by diesel buses. Sadly the replacement of trams with buses happened all over Australia in the 1950s and 60s, except in my own city of Melbourne. Actually, it happened all over the world, aside from Europe.

The system was quite extensive, as this map shows.

The nearest tram to T's place terminated at the corner Brougham Street and Basin Road, West Launceston. It is then a 20 minute walk to T's place, but a very, very steep walk. Sure enough as we approached the intersection for the first time, evidence! An electric substation situated at the tram terminus. Electric trams need a good and reliable power supply and they usually use DC current, so special electrical equipment is needed, along with the current transformed to a higher voltage. I would guess that LMC stands for Launceston Municipal Council, who owned the local power supply along with the tram system.

While researching checking things, I came across this rather nice but slightly mournful photo. It is perhaps not surprising that it is a little mournful as Carr Villa is the name of the main Launceston cemetery and after years of public agitation, the tram line was extended to service Carr Villa. Unlike some former Australian tram systems, there is not a lot online about Launceston trams, so I had to make some guesswork and I think I have it correct.

As you can see above, there is a line of pine trees, which I eventually discovered by using Street View, lined the western edge of the cemetery, and still do. I know the tram terminated at the cemetery gates, which would be to the right in the above photo. The tram must have turned left from Hobart Road into either Opossum Road but more likely Carr Street. It travelled along Carr Street after the road turned right and then turned right again when it reached Nunamina Avenue. The terminus would have been just out of sight to the left in the photo above and in the photo below, visible. The shelter perhaps just behind the trees below.

I had a meeting with an advisor at my superannuation organisation today, and if you think I have too much time on my hands that I bother with such things such as old Launceston trams, just wait until I go on to long service leave on half pay for a year. 

Friday, April 27, 2018

Launceston Day 2&3 Pt 1

We rose early enough on Sunday morning and after showering, to a nice breakfast of bacon and eggs and toast cooked by our host T. It was clearly going to be another gorgeous day in Launceston.

Mea culpa. I knew I was not up to a steep walk in West Launceston, let alone R. T is super fit, and for the health of her transplanted heart maintains her super fitness. We are not fit at all. Our travelling companion A walks a lot and is fitter than us. R really struggled with coming up the steep slopes of Fraser Reserve. I am not sure if it was helpful, but A pushed him up with a hand to his back. Advice to all, judge the fitness levels of your guests and if you are the guest, be clear about your fitness levels. There are times to just say no.

Nevertheless, the walk was good and we saw much.

Smoke haze from bushfire fuel reduction burning.

So many toadstools in the pine forest.

With some recovery from the walk we headed out in T's motor car to drop off  off a top for T to be embroidered, no doubt football related. Sports and football is her love and job. Then to a supermarket in Youngtown that T and her sister used to own, now an IGA. Some things were bought. Eventually we arrived at City Park. By golly there are some nice buildings in Launceston.

The frame of a gasometer, that would have once produced coal gas for the citizens of Launceston. The street was under renovation.

Noice side view of whatever building.

Herbarium? Glasshouse? Hot house? I don't know. Bugger orf you young photo bomber.

Placid water with gentle water jet sprays.

So green.

Young chaps skilled at chess, belying the appalling rates of illiteracy and innumeracy in Tasmania.

The herbarium was simple and lovely.

I don't know what this is but there was also a rotunda which I thought we would get close to but we did not, so no photo.

The park is beautifully maintained.

Now, I am not sure about this at all, keeping Japanese monkeys in a small zoo. This is the breed of monkeys that bathe in hot springs in northern Japan.

There is a long history of animals being kept here, right back to the time of Tasmanian Tigers, that is Thylacines.  I instinctively did not like the little zoo, but the monkeys in their troop seemed happy enough. It is well managed and super clean. I am not sure why my photos are so bad. I think I need a new camera. The monkeys are doing better than Tasmanian Tigers, of which the last died as politicians discussed how they could be saved, having being shot out of existance.

On the rock almost centre is a baby monkey.

Maybe this fine house was once that of the superintendent of the park.


To its credit, many industrial building are still in existence in Launceston.

The building at the entrance to City Park. Albert Hall?

Lunch was at the river front of the North Esk River. While our lunch was nice enough, the area looked very modern and cheap. While we never got to dine at Mud Bar, I am not really that sorry. I'll just say, needs work. Nevertheless, it is clearly a very popular area.

Mud, mud, glorious mud. Fine mud, ideal to be slapped on a body or face. While Launceston is many  kilometres inland, the Tamar River and the first part of North Esk River are very tidal, with a three metre tide rise and fall.

T's abode is very close the dominating tower in the background. Yes, phone, tv and internet signals are strong.

Dearest Launceston, you are so nice and I do love your gorge.

A footbridge is being built across the river, but I am not sure why you would want to cross the river.

Perhaps to get to Silo Hotel, under construction. It is good that the silos are being kept and made into  modern hotel accommodation.

Part 2 will be last Tassie post. The weather was perfect and we just loved Launceston.

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Miscellaneous South Africa

If you want a bit of a laugh, read Cro's post here where his good wife gave him a telling off for not having things in the freezer labelled, and so under wifely pressure, he did label at least the drawers in the freezer.

It reminded me of, oh yes, I haven't mentioned this yet, but we are going to South Africa later this year for a two week tour, health permitting.

I was home for lunch when we absolutely decided to go ahead. I went back to work while R booked. Stupidly I did not leave my passport out. He tried to call me and then text me, where the eff is your passport. I need your passport number. He was very cross and wondered why I did not have a file in the filing cabinet named passport like he does. He eventually found it. R has many more passports than I have, being a Brit, a Euro and an Aussie.

My passport is in a file that is labelled Misc, for Miscellaneous. That is where my three passports, my three wills and my less than glowing school reports are, along with being a place where other miscellaneous stuffs reside. It is quite clear to me, but perhaps understandably not to anyone else.

If I could right click, change name, on the filing cabinet files, I might do something about it, but I think R now knows where to find important stuffs.

The Good News

Amid doom and gloom about what we humans do to our planet and the environment we live in, there are some good news stories.

Portugal generated 103% of its power needs last year by using renewable energy. I expect it still generated some power by other means, and sold some power perhaps to Spain. Portugal is not usually at the forefront of much, aside from tourism for good reasons, so well done Portugal for a remarkable achievement.

China is replacing its diesel buses with electric buses at a furious rate.

The numbers are staggering. China had about 99 percent of the 385,000 electric buses on the roads worldwide in 2017, accounting for 17 percent of the country's entire fleet. Every five weeks, Chinese cities add 9,500 of the zero-emissions transporters -- the equivalent of London's entire working fleet, according Bloomberg New Energy Finance. All this is starting to make an observable reduction in fuel demand.

Edgar Tarimo is changing the world one brick at a time. 
The teenage schoolboy from Tanzania just won a top international environment prize with his inspired project making house bricks out of plastic waste. 

And meanwhile in Australia we have.........not done much really but some effort is underway, only being held back by the influence of the fossil fuel industry and those who make money from petroleum, coal and gas. It is quite interesting that what is actually happening in Australia is overtaking the negativity about renewable energy by politicians and vested interests.

Hey, Yarra Trams are powering our public transport vehicles by green power, whatever that means. As far as I know, our trams are still powered by dirty brown coal electricity production in Latrobe Valley. It must be some offset thingie. Boring and meaningless.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018


I usually post something for ANZAC Day, one of our war commemorative days. I haven't this year and I am rather pleased that after the event, I can post a translation of the speech from the French village of  Villers Bretonneux by the Prime Minister of France, where Australia had such success in WWII but with an enormous loss of life.

Here is a copy and paste from The Guardian as reported.

Then the Frenchman went to the microphone with, it would seem, aggression in his heart and literature in his kitbag, launching himself into the crowd with a line from Erich Maria Remarque’s All Quiet on the Western Front: “He is entirely alone now with his little life of 19 years, and cries because it leaves him.”
Then he seized the high ground: “Coming here, seeing this centre and tower, looking at the names of the 11,000 Australians who died for France and for freedom, I could not help thinking of the terrible loneliness which these thousands of young Australians must have felt as their young lives were cut short in a foreign country.
“A foreign country. A faraway country. A cold country whose earth had neither the colour nor texture of their native bush. A faraway, foreign country which they defended, inch by inch, in Fromelles in the Nord region, in Bullecourt in Pas-de-Calais and of course here, in Villers-Bretonneux. As if it were their own country.
“And it is their own country. ‘The earth is more important to the soldier than to anybody else,’ continues Erich Maria Remarque, ‘the earth is his only friend, his brother, his mother. He groans out his terror and screams into its silence and safety’. For many young Australians, this earth was their final safe place. For many of them, this earth was the final confidante of a thought or a word intended for a loved one from the other side of the world.”
Somehow he wove in Francois I and the Chevalier Bayard with the hell of the trenches: “The mud, the rats, the lice, the gas, the shellfire, the fallen comrades.”
Men and women near me were crying.
We were gathered on a hill not far from Villers-Bretonneux to celebrate $100m spent on a high-tech temple to the memory of General Sir John Monash on the centenary of his victories in this stretch of France.
“Meticulous, wise and dogged,” Philippe called him and ventured the unthinkable at this time and in this place: Monash might have had peers. “This Australian engineer, with his unerring instinct, came to be hailed as one of the best Allied tacticians, on par with France’s Estienne and Britain’s Fuller.”

Launceston Day 1

Our Dyke Friend made us most welcome for our Launceston visit. Let  me call her T and our Hair Dresser Friend who we travelled with A.  T had monitored our flight and knew it would be late. Not too long after we arrived, she picked us up in her sister's car larger car.

Now, we have been to Launceston before, but it is hard to remember. We stayed near the centre of town, I think I have worked out it was near the corner of George and Canning Streets. I remember the city area as being quite flat but also the motorway to the airport being quite steep. Let me tell you, Launceston once out of the central city area is very steep and absolutely gorgeous. We loved it. There are so many stylish old buildings, no real tower glass boxes. The housing, from the historic to the modern is stylish and well maintained. While there must be some not so nice parts, we never saw them.

In my finest stalking manner, I had looked extensively at where T lives and the area. What I could not see on maps and with Street View was the steepness of West Launceston, and really of much of the city. T has a couple of passionfruit vines and in autumn one is valiantly making a last attempt to flower.

We arrived about lunchtime and after settling in and checking out her rather nice place high on the hills of West Launceston, T took us along the eastern side of the Tamar River to where she herself had not been, Low Head. Mein gott, could the weather have not been better.

Low Head was the first area of settlement in northern Tasmania and a springboard point for explorers to prove that Tasmania was an island and not connected to the mainland. So, these very old buildings built by convicts date back to the early 1800s, but they were not for them, but the officer class. The convicts lived in timber housing. We visited the museum and the guide gave us a wonderful chat. the five dollar cost was cheap and we had the time, even though we were hungry. R had not eaten at all that day and it was around 2pm. He normally eats at about 11 to 12 in the morning. He had contracted a cold and it was really manifesting itself.

There was no wind and the sun was shining but not too hot. I never did find out what this thing is. By the time we left the museum, the cafe was only serving coffee and cakes.

A very old church snapped as we were leaving Low Head.

George Town is where we will find food, and after a little searching we did find a nice cafe in Macquarie Street.

I am not saying really, but the owner may have been a stylish slim chick dressed in black and a wearer of sensible shoes. She was very friendly and the food and coffee was good.

After the sustenance, we went to the end of the street where there are timber sculptures of the explorers Bass and Flinders, including Flinders' cat Trim.

Just so beautiful and peaceful.

From the net; in 1804, Lieutenant-Colonel Paterson took possession of Northern Tasmanian in the name of King George III. Memorial to him.

We headed back down the eastern bank of the Tamar River to where we could cross on a rather spectacular bridge. T kept having to take time to upload local football scores to a Facebook site. We were going to call into a football match, but instead we headed up the west coast of the river to Beaconsfield. The mine has closed and this is the remaining minehead.

The Beaconsfield mine has been here for a very long time. It was the site of extraordinary survival by miners when the mine collapsed in 2006, and sadly the death of miner and a respected television journalist.

It is now a museum site. Note how the building is braced with side bars and straps to prevent its collapse if there is earth movement from the abandoned mines underneath.

The town once had a train station and these railway buildings have been preserved.

We drove back along the west coast river highway but diverted off on Rosevears Drive to closely follow the river. As we were back on the highway into Launceston there were some absolutely stunning late 1900s and early 20th century houses. Launceston is just fabulous for old buildings, most repurposed. We were rather weary by the time we arrived back at T's but no time for a nap or rest. It was time for pre dinner drinks and nibbles, and how nice the cheeses, meats, olives etc were. Dinner was curried clams on a bed of mashed potato with some greens, the clams being fresh from King Island, in between the states of Tasmania and Victoria. We watched rubbish television and some football and chatted before going to bed, me and R sharing a double bed. We haven't slept together since we we were in London in  2014, but then it was in a king size bed. It was ok, and I had my earplugs in my ears. Of course I was awake early the next day, having being up at 5.30 the day before to catch our flight. I used the time to check what you had been writing about and catch up on all matters of the internet. Everyone else surfaced at about half past eight and T cooked us toast, bacon and eggs for breakfast washed down by a pot of coffee.