Saturday, April 06, 2019

Catching a tram in Canberra

It will be a year or more until Sydney's massively over engineered new tram lines open. I think you could run high speed bullet trains on the tram lines without a problem. Officially it is referred to as a light rail, although the fall back name is tram. Of course there was nothing to learn from us down south in 'Mexico' about trams and light rail, Melbourne being a city that has trams and more recently light rail, and has had them since the 19th century. Sydney had to reinvent the wheel and tram line construction, a very expensive reinvention at that.

Nevertheless, the best new light rail/tram award must go to the Gold Coast tram system in Queensland. It is only one line but it fast and efficient and soon to be extended and the priority at traffic lights for the trams over cars is how it should be everywhere.

Somewhat more quietly, Canberra, in our capital city territory has been building its own light rail/tram. It should open on the 20th of April this year. Wow, trams can travel at 75 km/h between stops. But speed is far less important for trams than traffic light priority. There is already planning to extend the line. In my opinion, Canberra desperately needs something like this new tram to get tourists from one attraction to another, including our Federal Parliament House, if not for local commuter use.

Even before the line has opened during tram testing there has been a couple of incidents with cars and pedestrians. I came across this video, produced to educate people about using the new tram system. I thought it would be rather ho hum, and doubted I would watch it through, but I did. Of course it is essentially common sense, but then common sense at times is not so common. I assume the Brumbies is the local Canberra rugby team. I am not sure why eating and drinking is not banned on Melbourne's public transport, as it is elsewhere. I hate the stink of hot food circulating through a tram, never mind the rubbish such as take away coffee cups that are left on trams.

Here is the video. As I said, pretty well common sense.

Friday, April 05, 2019

Scum on our streets

Scum number 1, an alleged unprovoked attack by Enea Myrteza, now arrested.

The assault was thought to be a random attack, with police describing it as "terrifying" and the worst assault they have seen.
"He strikes him to the point he's unconscious, hovers over him and appears to taunt him," Detective Senior Constable Matthew Coleiro said.
"Once he regains consciousness he again continues the assault until he's unconscious again, hovers over him again, then leaves him in the middle of the road unconscious."
The 32-year-old eventually regained consciousness and walked towards a main road for help, where he was found by a passer-by almost half an hour after the attack happened.
"It appears to be unmotivated at this point, the victim is seen quite clearly stepping off a tram walking on his own, this unknown male runs up to him and we don't know why at this point," Senior Constable Coleiro said.
"The vision is very confronting, we're only releasing parts of it."
The victim, a travelling musician visiting Melbourne, has required two surgeries since the attack to stop the bleeding on his brain, as well as for a broken jaw.
He was due to fly home on Saturday after spending six weeks in Australia.
It is alleged that this is the scum, Enea Myrteza, who attacked the American.

Scum number 2, the cat thrower, Cheng Lu. In an extraordinary decision by Magistrate Costas Killias, he dismissed the charges of him throwing a cat off the 45th level balcony of a city apartment building. Apparently you can accidently throw a cat off a balcony.

Magistrate Costas Killias on Tuesday dismissed charges of animal cruelty and reckless endangerment against Mr Lu, finding the university computer sciences student threw the cat over the balcony but had no criminal case to answer.

The only comfort is that that the internet does not forget things like this. Both will be forever damned.

Thursday, April 04, 2019

New Zealand Day 5 Akaroa

A rather atmospheric entrance to Akaroa Harbour. It did rain a little but we never got wet.

The ship to shore tenders were out. There was a significant delay for some reason. You never know what is behind issues on a cruise ship. The harbour waters were calm. See the sand that the ship propellers have stirred up.

Hmm, doesn't look very big.

What a delightful little village. Very pretty houses.

Smart apartments sitting above the village. What nice sea views they would have.

We made a couple of circuits of the town. There wasn't much seating at the waterfront. We looked at menus, $27 for fish and chips. We ambled back to the back street and there fish and chips were selling for $17. The further you get away from waterfronts, the cheaper the food is, as we learnt in Europe. The shared fish was delicious and there were so many chips, we could not eat them all. We tried to sit outside at the side of the building but all places under shelter were taken and a shower was coming through. We hovered for a bit inside and a couple at the window seats said they were leaving and offered us their seats, and with much gratitude, we accepted.

The waterfront cafes and restaurants.

There we are, out in harbour. It was about a twenty minute tender trip to reach the ship. Akaroa was just lovely but the memory will always be sadly tainted by the day's mosque massacre in Christchurch, a 1 hour 20 minute drive away but much closer as the crow flies.

Here is what I wrote soon after we arrived home.

A week ago on Friday we were moored at Akaroa, perhaps 30 km from Christchurch. Some of of the ship passengers had taken tours to Christchurch. Thank goodness our ship, the Golden Princess, had ABC News 24 available on out cabin tv. I was informed quickly by Our ABC about the Christchurch massacre. Some of the ship passengers were in Christchurch and caught up in the lockdown. Our ship left three hours late from Akaroa but we arrived on time at our next destination.

We just happened to be in our cabin when NZ PM Adern addressed the nation in the immediate aftermath, so reassuring to her people. She spoke off the cuff without notes and she was magnificent. The only politician who have seen come close to her was former Queensland Premier Anna Bligh in during the Queensland floods a few years ago. Adern was just magnificent. I don't know how much of her first speech was seen in Australia and elsewhere, but we watched it in full.

With notes, again the next day PM Adern addressed the nation with sympathy, reassuring words and strong action about gun control and again coincidently we were in our cabin and caught her speech. Of course we saw a good bit more of her and the aftermath of the shooting via Our ABC.

When ship announcements are made, people keep talking but at six pm on the day of massacre when our captain spoke about the events of the day and our late departure, you could have heard a pin drop. Our Italian captain's voice was a little shaky, clearly showing emotion in his speech. A sombre mood settled over the ship for the evening as people digested the day's events.

Wednesday, April 03, 2019

Better late than never

The kindness of people I have met via the internet just amazes me.

Our 2017 Christmas present from Copperwitch arrived today. Let us blame Australia Post for the late delivery. It is a practical gift of two jugs suitable for mixing and keeping milk in the fridge, and I know our current milk jugs will break, and they will kick into use.

Yes, we use skim milk powder to make milk, as we were advised to by our neighbour, the sister of artist Albert Tucker, some 35 years ago to forgo fatty milk for health reasons. I now know a lot more and I don't think I would do that now, but we are so used to skim milk that normal milk seems like drinking fatty cream. Little Jo, picking up from one of her mothers, says we drink watery milk. We always have homogenised full cream milk in the house for unexpected visitors, normal milk if we know they are coming, and long life soy milk for Mother.

No Grace, it does not have added sugar, but the sugar content is about 3% higher than in normal milk because of the concentration of the milk in processing. Thank you for mentioning it, which sent me off to search.

Thank you dear Copperwitch, but stop trying to ingratiate yourself with R. He has his hands full with my family and his volunteer work (and he would add me). You are not stealing him, although at the moment I would willing hand him over had he not cooked a lovely piece of roast lamb tonight.

Scooter Obstruction

I think it is our State of Victoria responsible for being out of step with every other state in our nation. We allow motorbikes and motor scooters to be parked on footpaths.

It wasn't a huge problem until the advent of food delivery by motorbike and scooters that has just exploded. We haven't used any such service yet. If we want pizza, it is delivered by a lad strolling across the road from Cafe Rosco. For a burger, chicken or fish and chips, we go out and get it but it is a rare event.

But really Premier Daniel Andrews and City of Melbourne Lord Mayor Sally Capp, the situation is way out of hand. Our city is so busy now, with so many pedestrians and there simply is not the space to park vehicles on footpaths, aside from carefully thought out bicycle parking, and even that isn't always, as Marcus Wong informs us.

The northern side footpath of Flinders Street between Elizabeth Street and Swanston Street is very busy. These scooters are a parked in what would be a very long stretch of otherwise unobstructed footpath that should be available to pedestrians.

It rather reminds me of the late American comedian Bob Newhart's conversation with 'Sir Walter Raleigh'. To paraphrase, 'Tobacco Walt, so you put dried leaves inside a roll of paper and set fire to it and inhale the smoke from the other end'.

Isn't the parking of motor scooters and motorbikes on pedestrian walkways just as absurd?

Tuesday, April 02, 2019

NZ Cruise Day 4 Dunedin

Off the ship after three days finally after mooring at the walk off Port Chalmers, Dunedin.

New Zealand has huge Radiata Pine forests. I think in North America they are called Monterey Pine. The country exports a huge amount of timber, as we discovered as our ship moored at Port Chalmers, Dunedin and subsequently.

This was the only organised ship tour we took, a train trip on Dunedin Railways along Taieri Gorge to the nothing there Pukerangi. The train departed right from the port.

Looking back at our ship.

A stylised image of the famous Kiwi bird adorns the back of this bus.

On our way.

I am not sure where we were here, looking out from the train.

Dunedin Station as we briefly paused to load on some supplies.

An old steam locomotive. Upon our return when we paused at the station and I took photos of the loco, but this one from the train is the best.

A snack. Our volunteer carriage hosts were husband and wife couple Paul and Kaye, and they were just lovely and such good hosts. Given how much the tour cost, it is amazing that so many so many on the train are volunteers. Some who do the same task are paid if there is a shortage of volunteers. I am not sure that I like Princess Cruises making money off the backs of volunteer labour who do it for love of the train, the journey and the people. Kaye was just brilliant. I did question her about her role and struck a chord with her when I asked if some passengers treated her like paid staff. She replied, yes, but she now ignores them and she doesn't respond to Americans raising their hands and snapping their fingers. 

Farms. Marie, here are some resting sheep. I tried to take sheep photos but they were out of focus and this is the best of them.

The trip was terrific. What great scenery.

Sadly, I cannot remember the story about the dog this statue commemorates.

I had no idea our train was so long.

It is expensive, but non native and invasive gorse bush is at times controlled by a chemical drop from helicopters. There are no roads, so helicopter is the only access. This lone pine tree is splitting the rock below, but it will be very expensive to remove.

We have reached our terminus, but some trains go on further.

Market stalls of locally made things to sell to us. Seems a little third world. The area was as dry as an old chip, so smoking was not allowed, which did not stop some Asian men from smoking who probably could not understand the announcements on the train. No one challenged them.

Two diesel engines hauled our train followed by the power and storage car.

This is our carriage.

Back on board, it was lunch time.

The bottles of wine were small, so we had two. I poured my second glass as if it was a full bottle of wine, and then there was little left for a second drink for R. When I did with the second bottle, he became quite annoyed. I would be too.

This house is interesting. It is off the electricity grid and has always been. It has never had a telephone wire and does not have mobile phone coverage.

There is not even a road to the house. The road stops at a nearby train tunnel and people coming or going to the house have to walk through the train tunnel. There has always been a way of ensuring people are not in the train tunnel when a train comes through.

On our return, the locos had moved from our end of the train to the other end. I was amazed at the length of our train.

Dunedin Station is just gorgeous. Our train paused there for half an hour and we had a look around. We took a little walk on the streets in the hope of finding a NZ Telecom Spark phone shop, but to no avail. I am another day without internet. So character building. No, fuck off. I want internet.

It was not far back to port on the train but there was much waiting for other trains at sidings on the single track. The carriage we travelled back on was somewhat newer. I don't think the train had any old carriages like Diane and Bill travelled on a couple of years ago. The injuns look the same though.

Home, well to our ship.