Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Euro An Australian View

An interesting View from the other side of the world.

I found this quite funny.

Maybe the French and the Germans need to view themselves as others see them.

The article is written by Elizabeth Knight, printed in the, "The Sydney Morning  Herald" business day on Monday the 12th 2011.

Please note I have edited and shortened from the original article.

Euro zone Parents get tough as family quarrel heats up

In the parlance of parenthood, the latest master plan to save Europe from economic annihilation is about the German and French parents imposing boundaries on the poorly behaved smaller children in the European union.
They set out their parental plan in Brussels at the weekend; a strict set of fiscal parameters all need to abide by.
In theory its sounds fine. The Kids cant't spend more then there allocated "Pocket Money" and there are penalties for non-compliance.
But re-educating headstrong, profligate European Nations that  have long done whatever they want might have all manner of problems.
"Kids don't always abide by the rules"
The southern Europeans have no experience of living within their mean-that's why they are in their financial mess.
For Australia this is not the kind of family relationship that augurs well for anyone's future.


Friday, 9 December 2011

Sydney Birthday Treat

My Big Birthday Treat

 When we came to Sydney I knew that I wanted to climb the Harbour bridge, so to make it special we booked it for my 50th Birthday. 
On the day of the climb we walked to the bridge as our climb was at 11.15am, making sure to have breakfast first which is one of the rules of the climb, as we will be out here for 3 hours in total. The girl at the desk checked us in and said " you could climb now at 10.45" we looked at each other and decided no, it would be a rush and we needed to chill before we went (Having just walked there!!!) "No worries" just go to the gate at 11am to get kitted out for your walk.

We climbed the stairs and waited outside door 1.  A very friendly girl called Shelly our climb leader opened it and welcomed us in, we had to fill out a form with our details and have a breath test..(no alcohol breath allowed on climb) we all passed that one. Then through another door, there were about 11 of us in our group and we had to introduce ourselves and say why we were there, I proudly told them it was a birthday treat!! other people had their reasons too. Our suits were given to us and as the humidity was 80% they advised us to strip down to our underwear and then put on the suit!!
We were then kitted up with all the other stuff needed to climb, utility belt with safety cable on which was also clipped, a radio, fleece, waterproof jacket, Our own sunglasses were attached, a hanky and most importantly our free hat. We put our other stuff in a locker and we were ready to go...just had to do the simulation test for the kind of ladders we would be on and how to coax the safety cable through some places. 

Still feeling a little apprehensive we walked through the tunnel which lead us out to the first part of the climb, with one last safety check down to make sure we had everything attached Shelly lead us out.... our first part was walking under the pylons above the road, this was not too bad..next we had to squeeze and duck through some tight bits then had  to CLIMB up 3 sets of ladders which were small narrow steps and vertical then we could start the CLIMB!!!

This is the start of the climb up the bridge, still enjoying it!!!

Halfway up, great views Circular Quay behind and Opera House to the right

Nearly there!!!!
Getting ready for a group photograph!!!
When we were at the top everyone sang "Happy Birthday" to me it was fun, even on a cloudy day the views are brilliant!!

Across the top and start of the way down.

My other Special treat was this...........

Yes a Tattoo its great!!!!
Small and pretty, 

It was something I wanted to remind me of my Birthday and this great time that we are having travelling together.

Sunday, 4 December 2011


Our week in 

Well a week in Tasmania watch out for the short runway landing on a windy bumpy day, pick up a compact Hyundai car, alot smaller than the Audi A4 we just handed back in Melbourne, off now to Hobart, capital of Tasmania, as with the Hotel Henry Jones ref to our previous blogg.

Aim of the trip is west coast drive from Hobart to Launceston via Strahan and Cradle Mountain.
Hobart population approx 200k felt like a country town, water water everywhere not a drop to drink, no wonder we sent prisoners here from the other side of the world, another story to be told later. A short walk from the hotel across the harbour, full of fishing boats, large yachts racing in the bay such a windy day. abundance of resturants, cafes, bars and art boutiques and shops, so much to take in you'll enjoy the place and we haven't even walked into the town centre.

A trip to Port Arthur, 90k from Hobart by car relaxing scenic drive, you wouldn't believe it's only 26 nautical miles if you went in a straight line, as I said water water everywhere how else would you keep prisoners in  there lair. On the way we found plenty of photo opportunities around Eaglehawk Neck, Waterfall bay and O'Hara Bluff, Tasmania has it's very own version of Ireland Giants Causeway, called Tessellated Pavement State Reserve.

Tasmans Arch

<<<<<< Devils Kitchen ?

                              Port Arthur

 What a mistake we made thinking this is just a fishing village with a little convict history, how wrong we were !!!! shows how much history England has, that isn't really touched on, in School.
 Included in the entry price was a harbour cruise around the 2 islands, 1 island of the dead, the other was were the boys were held and taught a trade.

 We were given a playing card that is matched up with a prisoner, so you can follow his life around. There is a 45 minute tour guide, he didn't talk about each building time date and what went on but gave a very individual account of history of the site, lives of the prisoners, how they survived, escaped were recaptured and the punishment plus how the system made craftsman out of the inmates,while walking us across the grounds. I (Mark) wish this guy had been my history teacher he is  a very good story teller.

 After the talk he left us to do our own thing and wander around, there not many intact buildings, what buildings you can go in show in detail the life the people, ie, prisoners, army garrison, wives, children and the church.

For us the building most spooky is the isolation block, were the prisoners held in a small cell in the dark they were not allowed to speak or even look at the guards or each other, this was the most feared of the punishments even the lash / cat of 9 tails did not hold the same fear.

 It was a very informative and interesting day.


Our next adventure was to drive to Strahan, which would take us about 3 hours driving through National Park along the Lyell Highway once outside the Hobart area there are not many towns to pass through, we headed for Queenstown which took us up high into the rain forest along twisty roads. We stopped at a lookout point high above Queenstown and the first thing that hits you is how bare the landscape is, this is to do with the mining and the oxidisation of the rock, which has turn it pink, but the other thing is there are no trees, as we drop down into Queens town you can see how isolated this town is!!!
We had a walk around Queenstown and a coffee to refresh us before the drive to Strahan.
Strahan village is set on a quiet bay of Macquarie Harbour on Tasmania's west coast gateway to the magnificent Gordon river. We were here for 1 night, we settled into our small chalet and walked into the  village, population of less than 2,000 for something to eat.
 Look the English weather is not all that bad here is an overview of Strahan's weather : Summer temp peaks at 20 degrees celsius, with about 200mm of rainfall...Winter temp 5.5 degrees max 12, with 650mm of rain..you have to be ready for all these changes in the weather..Even we had the rain while walking back to our chalet....

 Next day we collected our tickets and boarded the Lady Franklin 11 for our 6 hours cruise down the Gordon River..it was a lovely WET day!!! but we were told it will clear...We went along banks of dense rainforest unchanged for thousands of years, cruised through the harbours narrow entrance 'Hells Gate' a once treacherous stretch of water, passing fish farms that produce salmon and trout. The river is stained amber by the buttongrass tannins but is still pure to drink.
We had two stops along the way..Heritage landing where you can walk into the rainforest and see the 2000 year old Huon pines, the lady who was telling us about the rainforest was insistent that this place was different than other rainforest's.."look up what can you see?"she said we all said the sky.."no its simpler than that" ......the leaves are smaller!!!!
Our next stop was Sarah Island site of a feared penal colony..we were taken around this place by a fantastic guide who not only retold the story of this place, but actually included us in the story.. she was excellent, and it also tied in with Port Arthur on the penal history. 

Buttongrass Tannins.

                                          Cradle Mountain 

Cradle Mountain is one of Australia's Wilderness experiences, in Lake St Claire National Park, a place to just relax unwind and forget about the hustle and bustle of normal life. With a lounge full of deep leather chairs and a crackling log fire, were you can sit and read a book or even have nap.( Like an old Gentleman's club)
We had a pencil pine cabin, with a bushland view and our own fire...cosy....
There are over 20 different walks that you can take around the National park, ranging from 20mins to 2 days in length. A night walk to spot local animals, the lake walk for spectacular views of Cradle Mountain.
We spent a relaxing 2 nights here and we walked for 3 hours on the walking tracks...

Cradle Mountain wild life just outside
our cabin door.
How Cute...............................................

A very scenic run to this small town of approx 1800 people, one good reason for visiting here is it's vibrant artistic community with its streetscape art gallery of spectacular murals.
We explored the town through the art / mural walk this took about 45 minutes.
Here are a sample of the murals that are around the town.

And there's more..........

Now on to Launceston / Tamar Valley 

This place is called the 'Garden city' being a place of parks and gardens, with beautiful Victorian streetscapes and architecture. The best thing that we found on our walk was Cataract Gorge, a hidden valley only minutes from the city. You walk along the face of the gorge or take a more adventurous zig zag track that is more appealing to hikers, as it climbs up high above the Gorge which opens out into a reserve that unless you get out and walk you would not find although you can access by car. We were surprised to find it at the end of our walk. There were people crossing the gorge on chairlifts or you can just walk around it. A swimming pool, you can swim in the river as we witnessed a group of teens doing exactly that.  
Peacocks greeted us with their loud calls, and beautiful displays of their tails. It was like a hidden world with lots of people enjoying it.

Now on to Sydney to top up our suntans

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Hobart Hot

Henry Jones Art Hotel Hobart.

What a great start to our Tasmania trip, arrived by plane waited at the carousel for our 2 suit cases, spotted Jeannettes case, waited and waited my case not in sight, ask if there  were any more to come, no that was it, we were pointed in the direction of the check-in desk to log the missing case, which was all I needed, a whole week in the same clothes or having to buy replacements.
Having dug out my boarding pass which had my case reference number on it, when Jeannette shouted "there's your case by the checking desk," "how's that" I said, the guy behind the desk said "is this your case?" Yes why is it here?" "Oh my fault I should have put out an announcement for you, the case came in on the earlier flight." What a relief......

Now to pick up the car and drive into Hobart, an easy trip in to the Hotel, which is a converted dock warehouse, parked in front and went through 2 huge glass sliding doors to the foyer and reception, we booked in with the reception guy, who was very nice and asked if we had a good trip, he also gave us the map of the town pointed out places of interest,  I asked "were can I park the car?" "Don't worry about that we have a car valet service, we will park your car and bring your bags up to the room, you go up and settle in and any time you need your car just give us 5 minutes to get it." he said.

We went up in the lift and walked to our room all the room numbers were illuminated on the floor and loads of beams and art work along each corridor.......

What a room, it really does give you that 'wow' factor......... I'll let the pictures speak for themselves.

His & Hers Showers

Ps Mark Webber will be here at the Henry Jones Art Hotel first week in December.

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

A Day Around Melbourne

After booking our bus ticket for the airport we went to explore the hustle and bustle of Melbourne City, with its busy streets and lots of different sights and sounds from trains, trams, cars, fire engine sirens and hoards of people crossing streets.

Armed with our street map we walked towards the 'Victoria Markets' once there we were amazed at the size of the market with stalls selling everything from leather belts, bags, clothes, jewellery and souvenir kangaroos and fruit and veg, the place was very busy. Not sure were to start so we walked up and down the isles dodging in and out of the crowds. There is so much to see food markets selling pasta and olives, cold meats, sausages, fresh meat and fish, huge crabs and snappers. This is the place to buy your food they were even catering for lunches. Once back out side the next thing we saw was the fruit and veg stalls, traders calling out selling their produce it was magical have never seen so much and such different varieties of veg and fruit in one place before.

Now back to the centre a rest outside the state library. Our next decision, is to ride the circular tram route around the CBD (Central Business District), tram number 35, some of trams were old style, before each stop there is piped information on the points of interest, you can even get off and visit or just stay on and travel all the way round, your choice they go clockwise or anti-clockwise, running roughly every 12 minutes.
Note, they can be rather crowded and getting a seat is more like musical chairs as people get on and off but there is plenty of standing room.

We disembarked the tram outside the Art Gallery, and took a walk amongst the buildings which were amazing in design, lots of different shapes and angles, there were deckchairs available to just sit in and relax, admire the view and enjoy the sunshine, a good 'chillout' place.

Random Art

Fortified with a beer and a light lunch of duck spring rolls freshly made slaw, chilli and soap  flavoured dip accompanied by straw fries, we strolled up the main shopping street and investigated the ally ways.
Ps:- soap flavoured = the taste of coriander. (to Jeannette)

The side streets were full of little gems of street cafe and alfresco dining, small and intimate little places that you can only find if you take time to get out and explore, don't just keep to the main streets, surprises are lurking around every corner if you take the time to find them!!!!

Now for the best bit..>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Said that there were surprises!!! We found this street art down one of the small side streets, I wonder how many people have just walked passed and not noticed it..........

It's up to you to find this!!!!
For Neil