John Mellion had a famous dislike of Melbourne, this was his right as a Sydneyophile. I personally think Sydney is one of Australia's greatest dung heaps, and try to avoid it at all costs. Funnily enough though the Airlines insist on sending me, and a lot of other's there at great expense both to myself and them. My friend and I where going to the Cook Islands which only has one direct flight a week, from you guessed it, "Sydney". That's why I found myself driving into the second worst airport in the world on a chilly Saturday night. I'd done the homework and decided to park at the Blue Emu carpark. Book online $99, expensive but cheaper than the other options. We park at the far end, and hop on the free shuttle bus to the domestic terminal. There we find the only way to get to the international terminal is a $5.50 five minute ride on another shuttle. After a ten minute wait,I fork out more of my hard earned and end up with a pocket full of shrapnel to take out of the country. Running Parking cost total $121.00.
Hey, in 6 hours we will be sitting on a beach, soaking up the sun rather than standing here in the rain. We are 2 hours early, so we amble in and check the flights screen to find out what counter to go to. My eyes wander down the screen. 19.35, Check, Rarotonga, Check, Cancelled, Chec_ _ _ _ WTF. FF to the counter where a frazzled Air New Zealand lady tells us it's cancelled due to bad weather and points us to a long line. We get to the counter, get told it's cancelled due to maintenance issues. Why didn't you ring us? We tried came the answer but somehow managed to miss the two hundred people at the counter. As for the poor suckers that came from Sydney they get to go home and wait, at least there going to put us up for the night, The bad news is the next fight is tomorrow arvo, and it goes via New Zealand. Be out front for the bus ride to the hotel in half an hour. We get 30 dollars in vouchers to spend on a meal while we wait. Two beers thanks, sorry you can only buy food and drink. But beer is both food and drink I plead. No good. I settle for a latte, and a muffin.
Out front, we wait with the mob in the cold for the bus. The mood is ugly, it's cold wet and where meant to be on our way to a tropical island. If the New Zealand rugby team walked past I think the pensioners would have ripped them to bits. The bus is meant to be there at 9.20 to take us five minutes to the hotel. 9.30, 940. 9.50. The bus rocks up, we wait, 10.00. 10.10, the mob is about to head inside and rip the Kiwi's to bits. 10.20, I go inside, a bloke is pointing out to the frazzled lady the bus could have driven to the hotel 6 times by now. It's going shortly she says. 'Get your act together', he storms off. The bus driver sensibly has been hiding, finally he starts the bus. The idea of spending 20 hours at an airport hotel is not growing on us. Fortunately everything we have been told so far has been wrong, and so is the location of the hotel. We find ourselves at the Menzies a classic hotel in the heart of Sydney just around the corner from the Coat hanger. We check in and get a $100 room credit, which we head off to the piano bar to drink. Later on I wander out and take a few pics of the harbour. Big breakie, in the morning, and a bit more of a lie in until checkout. We wander down the rocks and check out the market. After lunch we jump a cab and head back to the airport. I check the screen, It's going and on time. I hand over my taxi receipt and get informed I need to ring customer service tomorrow then fill out a form which they don't have. Did you know I'm meant to be on a beach in a foreign country sipping Pina colada's by then, actually I'm meant to be there now. I get the costomer service number.
A week later. Sydney. It's still bloody raining. After a bit of searching we are at the eleven dollar shuttle stop. I check the schedule. It stops at 9.50. It's ten. We walk back to the other end of the terminal and catch a taxi. $17.10 plus a $4.00 fee for getting a taxi from the airport to the airport. If a virus started killing investment bankers I doubt anyone would bother to look for a cure.
The Museum of Old and New Art, or MONA , sits buried in a old vineyard on the outskirts of Hobart. The sign on the front of the building says Sunny Dale shopping centre, the bright reception area would be at home in any corporate office. It's only once you've entered, getting sucked down into the cavernous concrete bowels that you start to realise your in for a different sort of experience. Once you,ve decended to the bottom, you slowly work your way back up through the meseum towards the daylight. The place is full of challenging art, spread out so you never feel like your in a gallery, or crowded out by other punters. There is the pulse room where 200 lights throb with your magnified heartbeat thumping as a backing track, Water fountains spitting out meaninless words. Caverns of display screens full of random data, or unique art from someone who I hope is firmly locked up at night. There is even a whole room dedicated to a huge scientific machine that turns food into poo. I have two of these in my backyard already, and they don't need 3 people to oversee them. The building itself is equal to the works, contrasting and amplifying the experience, full of little nooks and follies, it would be worth the visit even without the exhibits. David Walsh punter mastermind behind it has created something unique and special.
A perfect place for an evil genius to plot the conquest of the world. Sleepy Hobart, who would suspect a concrete fortress, armed with evil death rays hidden under pyramids sheltering yuppie art lovers. Sure the top three basements are an excellent art museum, but we really know there is another ten floors below hiding rooms full of technicians plotting the overthrow of world order. You heard it here first, after all I should know, I am 007.
More pics here.
I can't remember how many times I have been to the Wilsons Promontory Light Station, but it's still is one of my favorite trips. My first trips there where with "Uncle Reg" on his old cray boat in the 70's. At that stage the Light was still a manned light station and you where only permitted to visit on a prearranged trip. The light was on open Tuesdays and Thursdays, ten till two. A crusty old light keeper would begrudgingly show you around the place after opening the gate at the bottom of the hill. If you where lucky you got a ride up the last hill to the light in his land rover. As I got older we walked in, and camped at Roaring Meg Creek. You'd get up in the morning and race off for the hours walk to meet the Light keeper, and trudge back to the campsite for another night of sleeping on rocks and dehydrated food. My aunties once walked all the way there and back in one day. Not a bad effort as the walk in is 19km, 38 return, Lanie said she was a wee tired after that one. It would of killed me, but they made them tougher back then.
When I organize a bike ride I generally Plan the route, get the food, supply the transport,cook the food and drive the support vehicle. When Mick organizes one he plans the route, and I do the others. Don't know how this happens, good delegation Mick ! There is a election on the horizon so my brother though he would do the right thing and have a bit of charity fundraising for his favorite political party. A weekend riding along the Grand Ridge Road from Ellen Bank to the Tarra Vally Guest House, Total distance 80km over 2 days. Throw in a bit of food and luxury camping in the bush, small donation for costs, profits to the party, whats not to love. 6000 emails later, and no takers we decided to do it anyway.
The Strzelecki ranges are a low lying group of hills in between the Latrobe Vally and the coast. They contain towering mountain ash trees, a temperate climate, matching rain forest, and winding dirt roads.Even though they are only a short way from Melbourne, most people don't even know they exist. Once populated by hill farmers, and remote saw millers, they are now mostly State parks and forestry reserves. Through the center of all this runs the Grand ridge road, Victoria's only (mostly) dirt highway.
Wave goodbye to the dogs (no car space), and four starters packed into the wagon for the hour long trip up the hill. The forecast all week had been rain,rain,rain, not unusual for this area, so we where pleasantly surprised to be greeted by a sunny day when we pulled the bikes off the carrier at Ellenbank. The next couple of hours where spent gliding along the rambling road, past farms and old sheds,to Mirboo North and lunch. It's market day, and the center of town is full of people selling eveything from old tools to healing crystals. Lunch consisted of a snag in bread from the CWA van, followed by a couple of beers at the Mirboo North Pub, and cake n coffee at the bakery. A diet designed to keep those calories up for the strenuous riding ahead. A couple more hours meandering through the hills and we arrived at Turtons Creek our stop for the night.
Set up the bedding, Light the fire, nibblies, a couple of heart starters, send Frank off to clear the track, right, lets hit the pub for dinner. I can recommend the Exchange Hotel Foster. Eye Fillet on the menu, Footy on the telly, Frosties on the Bar. Next day after, a fine nights sleep, a shower, and, the breakfast smorgasbord, we head back to the hills. To day is much less rural. We ride through the high mountain ash forests, with sweeping views appearing now and again through the trees. Every now and again there is a sign to a community long gone. A school here, a hall there, all that's left is impenetrable bush. No pubs or Markets today, so we stop at Ryton Junction for a break. We see three cars along the road all day, and one of them is stuck in the bush after taking the corner to fast. Finally we come to the end point Balook and the Tara Vally Guest House. Hot Coffee and a Sunday Roast before 3pm. Whats the time, 3.30, Oh we well Settle for the Scones and Cream. We pack ourselves into the car,and head down the hill towards town. It starts to rain, got away with that one.
more pics here
Click here for the route it's also good drive if you don't want to ride it.
We started off at the center and worked our way out. Mick had agreed to orginize a bike ride route for the Greens senetor elect, to tour her new terrtory, on the way to her new job. I got the job of driver. Keep off the main roads and see the real people was the brief. We got lost, almost bogged, had plenty of small town coffee stops, and we saw a lot of nada. Shep to Benella is going to be a ripper. There is still time to jump onboard ride leaves 15/6/14.
Bendigo Advertiser Click the pic to read the story
A few more pics from the Great White Hell. Spent most of the arvo scanning old relly pics. I found a box of random stuff from my time at Casey. Every thing from the Donga Bar, Jolly's and even a bit of work. It did happen somtime when Wensday night and being "in the field" didn't get in the way.
It's back, Bigger than Texas and, Crazier than a paranoid schizophrenic with a megaphone hollering at a manic depressive with a chain gun. Thirty years ago the inaugural 5 iron comp was played by a band of brave golfer warriors on the royal and ancient Morack course. These brave path finders pioneered the modern game of golf as we know it today.
In honour of these great men a game of golf using the historic original 5 iron rules will be played. True lovers of the game are invited to take place in this grand reenactment which will be followed by a awards presentation ceremony and BBQ.
Where The Royal Public golf course
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