Archive for the ‘Australia’ Category

Rolling Rust

Saturday, May 2nd, 2015

A rolling stone gathers no moss” said the Latin writer Publilus Syrus and this is true of rolling stock (railway carriages plying a nation’s rail system) too.
The very opposite of this ancient proverb lies before our eyes in the once mildly busy shunting yards at Healesville’s railway station. Old train carriages, once the pride of the Victorian Railway’s fleet, lie waiting their turn for restoration by Yarra Valley Tourist Railway volunteers. In the meantime, they march toward “unrepairable” – their patinas attract our attention.
The regular train service in Healesville stopped long ago – 1981 to be exact. How do I know? Because my father was the last serving Station Master at this station and I was present the day the last train rolled into the railway station – a sad day for the community and for rail enthusiasts in the state of Victoria.
For many years after the last train service the station and rail line were virtually abandoned, however, through the efforts of many enthusiastic volunteers, the rail line has been partially re-opened and tourists can now take a short journey from Healesville to the nearby Tarrawarra area. The memories of this beautiful trip are still vivid – out of the station, over the crossing, across the Watts River then up the incline all the way to the beautiful brick tunnel then down the other side toward the Yarra River flats and on to the Tarrawarra Monastery station.
A variety of rolling stock is now located at in the Healesville railway yard. Some of it is serviceable but most of it is in need of time, money and labour all of which is in limited supply.
The old carriages (and even older buildings) may not attract the attention of passersby however, if one stops long enough, the beauty of the blended mix of Mother Nature and Man Made is worth capturing on “film”.
Negotiating the worn rails and ballast we savour the contrast of faded paintwork and rust on the old carriages and delight in the angles created by nature and steel. Safe in the knowledge that nothing is going to move we get up close to wheels, springs and levers.
Like two excited children we delight in the opportunity to be “down in the pit” (off platform), surrounded by the smell of old grease and diesel – a “train spotter’s” Nirvana.
For those interested in anything to do with railways a visit to the Healesville railway station and the Yarra Valley Tourist Railway headquarters is a must. Don’t neglect the neglected and, if you would like to see the railway return to its former glory days become a volunteer or donate some monies to this worthwhile cause.

Click on the FS icon in the bottom right hand corner of the gallery for full screen view:

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Bound For Australia

Tuesday, April 12th, 2011

The Princess and I are traveling to Melbourne, Australia today – a short trip to surprise my father for his 75th birthday.  My extended family know that I am coming down but Dad is in the dark – he will be rather surprised when we arrive unannounced!

I finished work around 0700 and after writing up the training reports I ventured over to the airport for an early morning coffee and to await the arrival of The Princess.  There wasn’t much value in going home and turning around to come back to the airport.

The Princess arrived at the airport around 0830 and we checked-in for our flight to Melbourne.  The loadings were quite light so this meant we were able to secure the seats we wanted in business class.

With no reason to wait outside in the departures area, we proceeded through immigration and headed for the Starbuck’s outlet just inside – another coffee was in order after my midnight to 0700 shift at work.  I was looking forward to getting on the aircraft and laying the seat down for a long sleep!

We walked out to the departure gate (a rather long way at the huge Hong Kong airport) and used the time to finish our coffees and to keep me awake.  We didn’t have to wait too long for the flight to start boarding and before long we were seated in business class with a refreshing orange juice in hand.

The flight departed on time and breakfast was served shortly after we leveled off at cruising altitude.  With a full stomach and a change of clothes I was ready for a long sleep.  In fact, I managed to sleep for about 5 hours during the 9 hour trip to Melbourne – perfect.

We arrived in Melbourne on time (around 2130) and after picking up some duty free goodies for the family we made our way to the Europcar desk and sorted out the paperwork for the hire of the car.  The staff were very efficient and after 15 minutes we were packing the Hyundai hatch and setting course for my brother’s place in Yarraville.

The roads were almost devoid of traffic (must be something to do with people living in suburbia) in and around the city so the trip to Steve’s place took less than 30 minutes.

We were welcomed by Steve and Casey at the front door around 2230 and after unpacking the car we settled into a couple of glasses of wine and some “catch up” talk.  Steve and Casey were due to start work early tomorrow so around midnight we all retired.

Great to be back in Australia and to spend some time with family.

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Perth Map

Wednesday, February 2nd, 2011

I recently created a map of Perth on Umapper and I have added some of the places we visited and some photo’s that were taken in these places.

Check it out by clicking on this link.  When you see the map you can click on the circled numbers on the map or navigate your way around it by zooming into each spot.

Hope you enjoy this little addition to WGT.

[umap id="89015" tp="6" size="t" alignment="center"]

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Hills Drive, Paris Dining, Sunset Farewell

Wednesday, December 15th, 2010

This morning’s breakfast on the balcony was accompanied by a violin.  Someone staying or living in the apartment next door was sharing their talent with us.  The violin competed with noisy crows crowing in the gum trees that surround the apartment complex and it all made for a rather lovely start to our day.

The clouds in the sky today were spectacular.  The beautiful cirrus clouds meant that the beautiful blue sky was partially covered however the skyscape that the clouds made were worth it!

We enjoyed our now familiar morning brew at The Boatshed.  One of the servers we had serve us several times was working this morning – a lovely young girl that was always smiling and happy.  We said our goodbyes to her this morning because we are flying out for Sydney tomorrow.

Before leaving the Boatshed, we “told” surfer dude (our Nokia X6 phone GPS) to take us to Mundaring Weir in the Perth Hills.  The short trip up into the dry landscape was over before we could finish our brews (Perth is such an easy city to get around).

We arrived at the weir around late morning and parked the car in a very empty car parking area.  Mundaring Weir is one of Perth’s water catchment areas and it is also a lovely place to picnic and sightsee. The weir supplies water to surrounding “hill” towns and to the gold mining city of Kalgoorlie (about 6 hours driving east of Perth).

We spent quite a lot of time at the weir taking photos of the dam wall area and the surrounding bush. It was great to get back behind the lens and challenge ourselves.

After leaving the weir we continued driving through the hills to the town of Kalamunda.  This small hill’s town (a suburb of Perth) was our place of choice for lunch so after finding a shady parking spot we went in search of a place to eat.

We settled on a French pattiserie called Le Paris Brest and enjoyed a tasty quiche and ham/salad baguette. The staff at the restaurant were excellent and we enjoyed sitting outside in the lovely afternoon sun.

After lunch we drove to Lesmurdie Falls however, the falls were not running because the dry summer weather has resulted in very low rain fall here in Perth.  However we enjoyed taking some photos and video of the bush during the walk to the falls area.

After our afternoon walk through the falls national park we drove down to Midlands.  On the way we stopped alongside of some brightly decorated bus stops so that The Princess could photograph some of the unique designs.

Tonight was our last night in Perth so we planned to have a feed of fish and chips.  We thought we could find a shop near the apartment and take them back and eat them on the balcony.  However we couldn’t find a shop near where we are staying so drove half way to Fremantle before finding an excellent fish and chip shop.

The fish and chip shop was close to the Swan River so we found a beautiful spot beside the foreshore of the Swan river and witnessed the most incredible sunset whilst eating under the river gums.  The Princess took some spectacular photo’s of the sunset and I was able to capture some of it on the video camera too.

With bags to pack and our early morning departure to prepare for we headed back to the apartment and sorted ourselves out for the trip to Sydney.
The early morning start dictated an early bedtime tonight – 2200 (early for us at least).

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City Strolling, Freeway Driving, Friends Reunite

Tuesday, December 14th, 2010

Today we planned to visit the city centre of Perth so we rose around our body clock time of 0800 and dined to our standard fare on the balcony overlooking the Swan. The sky was marginally overcast this morning and the breeze was blowing early. “The Doctor” must have had an early appointment here in Perth.
After our 13th floor dining experience we prepared our bodies, packed our backpack and headed out the door for a walk to Mends Street cafe. One needed to start the walk around the foreshore with a warm substance in hand. We opted to walk across the western footbridge into the city centre – a pleasant 40 minute flat walk along the foreshore on the southern and northern side of the Swan River. The breeze kept us cool despite the sun being at it’s midday apex.

The walk along the foreshore takes you past some lovely fresh water billabongs and under the shade of beautiful native trees. It was a really nice midday walk and great way to take in a different view of the city and the Swan. We stopped at the bell tower at the Barrack Street ferry terminal and took a few photos and listened to the bells playing – a nice end to the foreshore walk. The Barrack Street ferry precinct had changed a bit since my last visit to Perth.

We strolled through the beautiful Government House gardens before walking along St George Street and then made our way up to Hay Street. One of the lovely features of this river city is that many of the historic buildings have been retained and modernized and makes the city street walking a real tourist experience. I wonder how many of the locals appreciate the foresight of the city planning department?

We left Hay Street and paid a visit to St Mary’s cathedral. The cathedral has been renovated inside and out over the past decade and it was a real treat to view the craftsmanship of the builders and the vision of the archeticts. The blend of modern materials with the historic structure is a work of art.

Our meandering continued past the original Town Hall and into Hay Street mall. The mall is the central business district’s hub and today it was full of Christmas shoppers, workers on their lunch breaks and tourists like ourselves. The perfect weather and the bustling atmosphere meant that we got to experience Perth at it’s best. We took in a couple of the arcades then settled on a place to eat in Murray Street mall just opposite the imposing structures of the original Commonwealth Bank and General Post Office.

We enjoyed two very tasty panninis and a carrot juice in a lovely outdoor dining setting. Our meal was complemented by the moving sidewalk that surrounded the raised dining area.

With our bellies full of food and drink we continued our walking tour of the two malls before returning the Barrack Street ferry pier via the London Court arcade. This beautiful old English style arcade is a great link from the Hay St mall to St George’s Terrace and before exiting it we made sure we explored some of the shops – in particular a lovely little coffee shop right at the exit on the southern side.
We had decided to make our way back to South Perth on the river cat ferry and when we returned to the pier the ferry was only 5 minutes away from departing. The short trip back across the Swan only took 8 minutes so we were disembarking at the Mends St pier before too long.
The short walk back to the apartment took about 8 mins – up the now well trodden Mends Street and past the zoo. The Princess keeps threatening me with a visit to my cousins – the monkeys!
This evening we had arranged to catch up with some friends that I hadn’t seen for around 10 years – Shane and Clare. They live about 45 mins south of Perth in a beachside development called Secret Harbour. We had arranged to arrive at their house just after 1700 however I planned to leave around 1500 so that I could take The Princess on a sightseeing trip around the area near the naval base that I had served in around 1986.
The drive down to Rockingham and Safety Bay didn’t take too long on the relatively new freeway that has been built however, the afternoon exodus from Perth did slow us down a little.  We could only view the naval base from a distance because it is located on an island off the coast. Garden Island is the home to HMAS Stirling and it is the site of Fleet Base West – the Royal Australian Navy’s western fleet’s home port. The island is accessed via a very long causeway and, apart from the naval facilities, it is a pristine natural environment. I was based there on a ship, HMAS Swan, during 1986 & 1987.
I drove to a lookout area to show The Princess the view of Safety Bay however, the Fremantle Doctor was blowing hard so we returned to the car pretty quickly for fear of being sandblasted off our feet!
Further around the bay The Princess enjoyed the opportunity to photograph the kite surfers that call this part of the coast home. The one bonus of The Doctor’s visits – steady winds that kite surfers, sailors and wind surfers love. After a short and windy tour of Safety Bay we drove the final 10 kms to Shane and Clare’s house and arrived just after 1715.

We received a very warm welcome at the front door and after some hugs, kisses and introductions (The Princess had not met Shane and Clare) we settled down to some catch up conversation over a light beer, some wine and delightful pre-dinner nibblies. We enjoyed a sumptuous home cooked rack of lamb, fresh vegetables and local wine for dinner and dessert was a platter of fresh fruit accompanied by chocolate. Mmmmm…. what a night.

There was a lot of catch up conversation to be had after 10 years and we talked into the night before realizing it was close to midnight. With early starts for the family the next day we said our farewells and made our way back to Perth – a much quicker trip at midnight! The trip only took about 40 mins. We laid our heads down around 0130 and drifted off to sleep rather quickly.

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Marsuipials, Black Boys and Indian

Monday, December 13th, 2010

The morning ritual of waking up to a beautiful day of sun and cloudless skies is starting to take on a wonderful conditioning of the mind. Balcony breakfasts, birdsong and 180 degree water views. A lifestyle we are going to continue to be accustom to on the east coast when we arrive on the Gold Coast.
I promised The Princess that we would get her up close and personal with some Australian native animals today so we planned to pay a visit to the Caversham Wildlife Park. My excited Princess was eager to touch and photograph some of the furry national icons so, needless to say, she showered and prepared rather efficiently this morning.
We were out the door around 1000 and put the car on autopilot for The Boatshed – well it seems like it goes that way each morning! The chai and latte were prepared in no time this morning (no weekend crowds) and The Princess chose two more Anzac cookies for the morning tasty treat – she has become a bit partial to the Anzac’s! On leaving the Boatshed “Surfer Dude” (our talking GPS) was given instructions to take us to Karrinyup shopping centre – our pre wildlife park stop. The Princess had spotted some hand towels that she wanted to purchase and the outlet that sold them was located there. An interesting ploy to spend some more time peeking at dresses and shoes! Always one to please my Princess, I turned the wheels of the car and headed off in accordance with the GPS instructions.

We negotiated the Xmas shopping crowds and found a place to park the Tiida in an undercover parking area – not much shade in this place given how warm the summers are here. We found the entrance to the shops and I found myself maneuvered to in the direction of shops various. However, I remained strong in the face of adversity and kept The Princess focused on the reason we went to this place – hand towels. I also reminded her of the little natives she wanted to touch! Fortunately the number of dresses and assorted clothes fitting was kept to a minimum and we escaped the crowds of locals and returned to the car with towels in hand.
The drive to Caversham was straightforward and, in less than 20 minutes we were pulling into the carpark at Whiteman Park ( the park in which the wildlife park is located). We managed to find a shady parking spot under a gum tree and it wasn’t long before we were handing over $44.00 for entry into the park.
We opted for a bite to eat before we set off in search of furry Australians and I treated my Princess to a real Aussie feed – a sausage roll and a meat pie. She even said “crikey” when I bought them to her at the table.
With bellies full of Mrs Mac products we warmed up the cameras and set off for a wonderful three hours of experiencing some very up close and personal time with the assortment of native birds and animals that the park is home to. The array of birds and animals in the park is excellent and there is no lack of personal interaction with Kangaroos, wallabies, Koalas and birds. The Princess was in heaven. She was amazed by how friendly the Kangaroos were, particularly given that a lot of them had joeys in their pouches or were feeding. She was able to pat the adult roos and their joeys and she took a lot of photo’s of the rare albino roos and the assortment of grey and red roos too.
The Roos were not the only subjects for our photography. Indeed, the beautiful native birds and flowers were given a lot of attention too. However, the majority of “film” (digital that is) was used on the Koalas. Yes, my Princess and I were able to get up very close and personal with a number of these beautiful little creatures. We patted them, listened to their grunting and photographed them from above, below and beside. They accommodated our flashes and personal interaction and it was rather difficult to drag The Princess away from these beautiful little marsupials before the park closed. Mental note – arrive at wildlife parks early and let The Princess experience the natives at least twice in the day!
With the memories of our day burnt onto the digital memory banks and in our own minds we returned to the warm car and left the park before it closed too. This beautiful suburban park is located about 20 minutes from the city centre however it really feels like you are in the middle of nowhere when you are driving through the natural landscape.
After a brief stop off at Woolworths to by some fruit and juice we drove back to the apartment, unpacked our collection of cameras and headed back out the door for a long power walk along the foreshore.
The sun was setting as we walked along the river and the reflection of the sunlight off the city high-rise buildings was spectacular. Fortunately the walk warmed us up because the wind off the water was doing it’s best to cool us down.
We slowed our pace down a bit as we approached Mends Street and left the foreshore walkway. We had been thinking about some Indian for dinner so we found the lovely little Indian restaurant that we saw on the first day we arrived – d’Tandoori.
We ordered takeaway because we wanted to savour it with some of the wine purchased at the Sandalford winery the other day. An order of naan bread, samosas and chicken korma was the perfect meal to wash down with two glasses of delightful WA wine. What a wonderful way to finish this special day of getting to know some of the friendly natives here in Perth.

Needless to say that after all the walking and a couple of glasses of wine, we were both struggling to keep our eyesopen so around 2300 we retired to the comfort of our bed and said hello to the land of nod. What a wonderful day!

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