Saturday, March 26, 2022

A prize to Yarra Trams

I've travelled on trams in Sydney, the Gold Coast and Adelaide.

I've travelled on trams in Amsterdam, Budapest, Wurzberg, Vienna, Lisbon, Porto, Marseille, Dublin, Edinburgh and Barcelona.

I am frequent user of our Melbourne system run by Yarra Trams, a pairing of the Australian company Downer and the French company Keolis, which is 70 per cent owned by the French government authority SNCF.

I have been a tram user for most of my adult life. Without qualification Melbourne has the worst tram drivers in the world and Yarra Trams needs to be held to account. Clearly its driving training process is flawed as is its monitoring of drivers.

Some tram drivers seem to hope that by keeping right behind the tram in front of them they may get past. It is not possible when on tracks and they block intersections and pedestrian crossings, not unlike private motorists but private motorists are not professional drivers. Just today the tram I was on blocked Punt Road at Toorak Road because traffic was banked up. No, you just have to wait until the path ahead was clear (I may say though, by doing so, I did catch my train at South Yarra Station).

Well done Yarra Trams for employing cleaning vehicles to pick up sand left by trams. The tracks outside our place are cleaned at least daily by a rather noisy truck. Sand left by trams, I hear you ask? Sand is used by trams to increase adhesion between the wheels and the track and to be used in emergency braking and if track conditions are poor, such as drizzling rain where oil and other matter is not washed off the track and of course in Autumn when leaves are juiced between the wheels and the tracks. Unfortunately tram drivers use sand for other unknown reasons, even where lightly braking or just travelling along. On one model of tram you can the electric pump dropping sand onto the track, in some other models you can hear the operation of I guess a sand dropping system. 

That doesn't really affect passengers, except of extra dust on the seat as the next tram wheels grind the dust to powder.

The main reason I think Melbourne's tram drivers are so bad is their rough driving and I've never experienced it like that anywhere else in the world. I would go so far as to say less than half the drivers can be considered smooth. Don't think I mean slow. Some drivers are fast and smooth. The worst are those who alternate between braking and acceleration, terrible if you are sitting sideways as you do in some trams. It's rather like someone I know well drives a car.

Then there are those drivers who clearly have never used trams and don't know what it is like to be locked out of tram when it is at a stop. Some move forward to not let passengers on while they sit at a red traffic light. 

I don't doubt tram driving is a difficult job with a lot of responsibility and probably poor micro management of drivers but still... ,and this post will change nothing, but I feel better.

Friday, March 25, 2022

Adelaide 6 Homeward bound

We flew home from Adelaide. As per usual, R and I argued about the time we needed to be at the airport. I said 30 minutes domestic, allow a little more to check in luggage and if you want something to eat at the airport, allow even more time. I thought arriving an hour before would be fine. R said we needed more time. I think we split the difference. 

We were going to catch a cab, but I had a look at public transport. Cabs seemed in short supply in Adelaide and I decided that we would catch the J1 or J2 public bus. Weekdays you have to check the destination to make sure you do get to airport but on a Saturday the buses terminate at the airport. We walked along Hindley Street towing our suitcases and then along along Morphett Street to Grenfell Street where we caught the bus using our public transport free tickets. I am not sure where I took this photo. River? 

A large mural at the corner of Hindley Street and Morphett Street. 

Roses in Light Square.

The trip to the airport bus was nearly as quick as in a private car, using wide and flat streets. While private cars dropped off right outside the door to airport, we poor people who arrived by bus had a decent walk in the heat to the airport door. This will be noted when I write my Trip Advisor reviews.

R panicked when seeing the queue at security, but the queue moved quickly. R panics at any possible delay. We had some of the usual overpriced food and coffee at the airport, caught our flight home, approached by two touts at Melbourne Airport offering taxi rides. We ignored them and went to the taxi queue and were soon home. 

I've been writing about out holidays in a similar manner since my first in 2005 when we visited Darwin. I hope you enjoy our travels from your comfortable chair. I've never had a holiday I didn't enjoy. 

Thursday, March 24, 2022

Leaving on a high

I don't care how many tennis trophies that intolerant, homophobic, nasty old religious nutter Margaret Court won, Ashleigh Barty will never be like her.

Ash is one class act and after triumphs at Wimbledon and the Australian Open as winner of women's singles competition, she is retiring at 25 years old from professional tennis on a high. 

Most high level sportspeople prove themselves to be terribly human with their public conduct but if Ash has ever put a foot wrong in public, I don't know about it.  

Well done Ash. Australia is very proud of you and I expect you have the respect of tennis fans all over the world, who are no doubt sorry to see you leave. 

Wednesday, March 23, 2022

Adelaide 5 and some kulcha

Returning from dinner the night before.

G had departed and we were on own and that was good. R pleaded to not do much and we decided just a visit to the Art Gallery and Botanic Gardens.

Near us Leigh Street, running off Hindley Street was pretty cool and we had a very nice breakfast there...well just toast and coffee but it was good, and the service nice and the passing foot traffic interesting. 

The history of Leigh Street is interesting. It was part of a landholding bought cheaply in the 18th century and the owner gave the street to the Anglican Church and the church owned it until the 1990s when it was bought by the city and a developer. I assume the deal was the city will own the street and the developer can do what it does, redevelop and make money.

We walked south to Currie Street, then to King William Street and along North Terrace to the Art Gallery. There is a tram, I told R. He said we will walk and we did. It wasn't too far but the weather was warm, so a couple of photo stops were needed. Here are a few nice buildings along the way. 

Dame Roma Mitchell, 1913-2000. 
Judge of the Supreme Court of South Australia, 1965-1983.
Chancellor of the University of Adelaide, 1983-1990.
Governor (Queen's representative) of South Australia 1991-1996.

Along North Terrace is a walk of cultural fame with pavement embedded plaques.

Interesting while looking at maps. I didn't realise we were close to Government House, the residence of the State Governor. I don't know what this building is on the southern side of North Terrace.

The State Library.

We passed by the museum and then reached the art gallery.

Just a few works that appealed to me. Charles Hill, The Artist and his Family.

I don't have a clue what this is about but it was popular camera fodder. 

We both thought we had seen these before in Melbourne.

Here is one for Gattina, Boulevard Waterloo, Brussels - Winter, 1909, by Ambrose Patterson. It's a nice piccie.

This upside down leafless tree rotated. How odd.

How's your Latin? Where is my father when I need him to translate.

Mostly I get things right but I underestimated the walking distance to the Botanic Gardens. We were stuffed by the time we reached the gates. 

We took a short circular walk but we were exhausted and too hot.

Back to the hotel by tram to rest. We liked Leigh Street so much this morning and we noted a tapas bar so we returned for tapas for dinner after happy hour drinks at our hotel bar.

The street was closed off to car traffic and had a good vibe.

We knew it would cost, but it was well worth it. A bottle of wine, a bowl of marinated olives, fried halloumi and chimichurri prawn skewers. It was such a great meal for our last night, sitting out on a balmy evening. I think we finished with coffee.

Tuesday, March 22, 2022


 If you want to comment on a story at The Age newspaper, you need to obey the rules.

  • Subscriber comments are moderated first
  • Respect others
  • Criticise ideas, not people
  • No offensive language

Doesn't it go without saying respect others?

Criticise ideas and not people? What? I can't say we have the worst Prime Minister I can ever remember? I can't say that someone convicted of a terrible crime is a despicable person?  

No offensive language? Please, of course not. If you want a comment published in media, you stay nice.

I think for two decades smoking has been banned in restaurants...well everywhere indoors in  a public spaces yet cafes and restaurants choose to plaster their windows with No Smoking signs. Jesus, the western world knows that you don't smoke indoors in a public space. There is that naughty Chinese mainland tourist in really cheap and nasty clothing who might light up indoors. But even Chinese mainlanders now know about where they can smoke and where they can't.

Be nice. No swearing. No smoking. No criticism of others. No litter. Don't be rude. Respect others. No graffiti. Then more personally there are warnings about how what to do and what not to do when making a blog comment. If someone is not nice in a comment on my blog, I will just delete it, as I have in the past but I've not needed to recently. People know when they are making a rude or offensive comment, and your warning to stay nice won't make one bit of difference. my 60 something years I have learnt the basics of how to interact with society. Most people should have a good grounding by the time they are teenagers. The presence of signs makes no difference to those who offend the standards.

Monday, March 21, 2022

Anti vaxxers are a bit quiet

If ever the fuckwit anti vaxxers doubt the science, just look at the statistics published by the Sydney Morning Herald. These are not good odds for you anti vaxxers.

Those who were unvaccinated made up only 4.6 per cent of COVID-19 cases, but 22.8 per cent of deaths were among people who had not received any doses. The unvaccinated are grossly over-represented in terms of deaths.

If you caught COVID-19 after receiving two or more doses of a vaccine, you had one chance in 800 of dying. If you caught it unvaccinated, your chance of dying of the disease was one in 126.

Adelaide 4 A gadgetbahn to Paradise

A visit to Adelaide must include a stroll along Rundle Mall, if only to check that all is well with the pigs. Once again G came in by train from Mitcham and joined us. We had coffee at  Koko Black. The mall is quiet and peaceful, unlike Melbourne's Bourke Street Mall with trams running through, noisy buskers and a lack of trees. Rundle Mall is a very pleasant space to relax and the street to visit some major stores. 

A gadgetbahn is derisory term for what mostly politicians suggest as a cheap solution to a public transport issue, such as trackless rubber tyred diesel powered trams. That would be a bus then, hey. I believe Germany invented the O'Bahn bus system but soon deserted the system. Adelaide built an O'Bahn bus route to Paradise, well more Tea Tree Plaza, a large shopping centre of the kind we dislike. But I really wanted to experience the guided busway known as the O'Bahn. 

We headed down Adelaide Arcade to Grenfell Street to the O'Bahn bus stop. I worked out the right stop at least but more research was needed as we caught the 506 which did use a short part of the O'Bahn and then took several suburban circles before we reached Tea Tree Plaza. The trip took about 45 minutes a long time to reach Paradise. 

For the short time we were on the guided busway, it travelled at nearly 90 km/h on tracks with the bus driver not steering. I asked R and G congratulate me for a trip on roller coaster ride and an extended viewing of suburban Adelaide architecture. Their gratitude seemed lukewarm.  The O'Bahn bus really did feel like a ride at an amusement park.

We entered the shopping centre and walked for miles to reach the food court where we found something to eat. That is one reason why we dislike these mega shopping centres. We were dreading the walk back to the large bus interchange, but we found a short cut across a car park. Yay! We had learnt that there was a faster O'Bahn back to the city, and after we left the shopping centre, it was pretty well the guided busway back to Adelaide, taking only 20 minutes. The bus does the job and does it well, but  I remember ten years ago there were problems getting parts for this individual type system. Had a fast light rail been built, by now it would have paid the extra initial cost for itself with much cheaper running and maintenance costs. 

After R's nanna nap, we went to the downstairs hotel bar for happy hour drinks, that is cheap drinks for the hour 2pm to 7pm, and ordered an ok pizza at the bar for dinner.

G sent me a text thanking me for the day out, one he would never have thought of doing himself. I replied, I know how to show a girl a good time. G left the next day as he was kicked out of his fully booked  caravan park. Tomorrow we would be on our own for our last full day. Nice. 

Rundle Street Mall was busier than it appears in this photo.

Here we go with the pigs. This is Horatio.

Oliver at the rubbish bin.


Lastly Augustus. 

Dunno this bird's name.

Just one empty shop in the arcade. In Melbourne, there are many empty shops in arcades. I suppose we will recover.

Former tea rooms downstairs.

Faux cherry trees blooming up this lane off Grenfell Street.

On our 506 O'Bahn reticulated articulated bus.

East Terrace.

The bus interchange at Tea Tree Plaza.

Back in the city, we noted this wonderful statue of the Jewish Australian early to mid 20th century comedian.

"Strike me lucky." "You beaut." "Fair suck of the sav (saveloy)." "Don't come the raw prawn with me", all came from the comedian known as Mo McKacky, real name Roy Rene. What a treasure. 

People mean well buy putting their cigarette buts into the this disposal unit, but unfortunately it had no base and the buts ended up on the footpath. To Adelaide's credit, the buts seem to have been swept up twice a day.