Saturday, November 29, 2008

New modus opperandi: City Loop

As most people will be aware by now 2 or 3 weeks ago changes were made to the way the Epping/Hurstbridge and Werribee lines use the city loop. In peak times the Werribee line has been removed completely running direct to and from Flinders Street via Spencer Street. At non peak times and on weekends and public holidays it operates as normal.

The Epping and Hurstbridge lines have been altered to run in a clockwise direction during the week, direct to Flinders Street before going around the full loop, and anti clockwise around the loop direct to Parliament on weekends.

I for one am in favour as it makes my life for about half the week much easier. I no longer have to travel to Parliament, change to a Northern loop train to get to Flinders Street and then get my Belgrave/Lilydale train from there. The alternative was to travel the whole way around the loop which could take nearly 20 minutes if you got halted a few times on the viaduct between Southern Cross and Flinders Street. Often changing at Parliament was the difference between catching a train and not...

Now I go direct, sure there is sometimes a bit of a crawl between Jolimont and Flinders Street, but that is to be expected when there are only 2 platforms that my train can use, plus conflicting moves with trains on the Burnley Group going the other way. Actually that last part is probably the most contentious issue, as both the Burnley Group and Clifton Hill groups now vie for one piece of track from opposite directions if platform 14 at Flinders Street is occupied. That part really sucks. In general my connections are much smoother than they used to be.

I don't really like the arrangement on weekends though, as I used to like getting off at Flinders Street on a Saturday morning and walking up through the city to where ever I needed to go. I guess I will learn to live with it. From my understanding it is run this way to keep the outbound track from Flinders Street to Jolimont in working order and to keep train drivers knowledge of this track up to date. On the first weekend of this operation I recall the confused expressions of other people on the train as it went into the city loop.

It all seems to have bedded down rather well now, although I understand the Werribee line pax are still having issues with transfers to loop trains at North Melbourne and Southern Cross.

Voting Over

So I voted earlier this morning. All but two of the candidates were at the polling booth. I voted using my own preferences. I have to say that I think that there are definitely "stooge" candidates in my ward (no names sorry). I have a feeling that life for the Banyule council will go on largely unchanged. Of course the biggest disappointment is that there was no sausage sizzle.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Council Elections

Like Daniel, I live in one of the few councils (Banyule) that still insists on attendance voting, and again like Daniel I like the whole ritual of voting (I swear I thought of this before I read Daniels post). I like running the gauntlet of the how to vote cards, collecting one from each offering. Then playing the waiting game in line before, having a go at electoral role lotto. Once in the booth I study the how to vote cards to see where allegiances lie, then I generally vote by the order of my own preference. After the voting papers are numbered and checked I slam dunk them into the appropriate boxes and dump the how to vote cards in the bin (I hope they recycle!). I then stride victorously into the cold hard light of day to enjoy the spoils of voting. A sausage in bread, democracy done. It's all part of the ritual.

As for the candidates in my ward. There are 8 candidates in total for Bakewell. Of those 8, only 3 have bothered to send out election material.

Peter Mckenna (Liberal)

The sitting councilor for Bakewell, as such his views are well known. He is pro development but with appropriate checks and ballances. As such he is for the Greensborough town centre project. Generally he seems pretty even handed and not a bad representative to have.

Michael Paul (Labor)

The next most high profile candidate, his views are also well known. He contended the last election and frequently sends out flyers or writes to the local paper complaining about something that the council is doing. He lists one of his aims as completing a local bicycle/walking path, which I would probably use. Again he is for "sensible" development, but seems somewhat against the Greensborough Project*. (specifically the premature closure of the old Greensborough pool)

Leonard Saw (Ind)

I think he has contended most recent elections at all levels of government as an indepenent. The causes he is passionate about are mainly issues affecting veterans and pensioners, which are very relevant to the area, as there are many ex-servicemen/women who live in the area, but as such he never attracts the mainstream vote.

The remaining candidates are unknowns apart from a small blurb in last weeks Leader. Party affiliations include one Green and one Labor.

I know who I am voting for, but I'm not saying here.

* The Greensborough Project which was given the final go ahead not so long ago is a total redevelopment of much of the land in the Greensborough Business District. It involves mostly council owned land, such as the Swimming Pool, car parks and council buildings, and will recreate the public space in Greensborogh, including a town square, new aquatic sports centre, government services offices, plus retail, commecial office space, new cinemas, as well as multi story car parking. Sadly public transport seems to have been forgotten, Greensborough is crying out for a decent bus/rail interchange, because as it is the buses are spread out across 3 termini, only one of which is near the station.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Album Art

Last week I bought the double compilation of Paul Kelly's Greatest Hits Songs From the South Volumes 1 and 2. Tonight I ripped it to mp3 in iTunes. Finding album art for volume 1 eleven or so years after it was released is no problem but Volume 2 released a few weeks ago is nowhere to be found, not even after searching on the net. iTunes initially had trouble importing the track listing, but persistence in hitting the "Get CD track names" button won out. The Album art is a big problem as I like to "see" what I'm listening to and I'm a big fan of album art. As a last resort I think that I will have to scan the front of the booklet (the CDs come in cardboard folder rather than a regular crystal CD case which is nice).

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Update Update

I promise I will start working on the promised Adelaide rail/transport post, but for now a short update.

Last night I went to a friends birthday in St Kilda, at a pizza restaurant bar type place situated in the old St Kilda station. The food was good and cheap ($5 pizzas), alcohol was okayish pricewise, the doof doof music was terrible. At a table near us were seated the winner of the moddeling show hosted by Jenifer Hawkins on channel 7 and all his friends. Boorish " metro" types in fluro T shirts and wierd haircuts. That guy is probably set for life though, can have any man/woman he chooses, and will rake in millions. Good luck to him.

The view out my front door

Right now it is raining in Melbourne, although most people probably noticed that. There is also the occasional hail shower. At one stage the hail was so thick on the ground it looked a bit like snow. I haven't seen hail like this for years. It's not in much of a hurry to melt away either, and is still sitting on the ground nearly an hour since the first shower (although as I said it has been topped up occasionally).

Looking up the street

Our rain gauge was emptied this morning just after it started to rain, and was reading about 15 mm after the first hail shower. Not sure how accurate it is or how much the hail floating in the top affects it, but I suspect it is actually a bit less than the reading. The near by Viewbank weather station does not seem to agree either.

Hail floating in the rain gauge

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Adelaide - Day 3

(backdated to the day)

Mercure Grosvenor
North Terrace, Adelaide

I rose not so early, after a very good sleep, showered, dressed and headed to a different nearby cafe to yesterday for some breakfast. Having finished my Ham and Cheese Croissant and juice, and found out what horse I had in the work cup sweep (#2 Master Orielly, I'm still not sure where it came) I headed off for the Adelaide Central Market. Walking with the hordes of office workers I followed my nose through a number of back streets and alley ways following before emerging opposite the market.

The Adelaide central market is not so much like the Queen Victoria market, but more like the suburban markets such as Preston market. All the usual stalls, butchers, fruit, deli, bakers etc plus clothing and souveneer stalls. While walking around I also stumbled into Adelaide's China town which is a lane way next to the market.

Check out time was 11AM so it was time to head back to the hotel pack up my things and check out. As my flight wasn't until later in the day I left my bag in the hotels storage room.

Adelaide Station/Casino exterior

Not the best photo, as it was quite difficult to find photograph,
but it gives you some idea of the scale of the main hall of the old station.

It is now the main hall of the casino.

Looking up

I am not at all surprised that this building sent the state
bankrupt when it was bult in the early 20th century

After getting some photos of the hotel and railway station I took the circle line bus around the CBD. This like the tram was a free service (the tram is only free in the CBD), and serves much the same purpose as Melbourne's city circle tram, giving commentary about various attractions and landmarks as you go. It was a good way to see parts of the CBD I hadn't covered by foot, and actually made me realise the city is bigger than I thought. All up the circle line took about 30 minutes for the full lap.

After that I decided I had better get a Jet Bus timetable to plan my trip to the airport later in the day so I went to the Adelaide Metro shop. All I can say is that the shop is so much better organised and staffed than the Metshop in Melbourne.

One thing I noticed was a battle of chocolate shops happening on the corner of King William Street and Rundle Mall, between Haigh's and Darrel Lea. We have both of these in Melbourne too, in fact Andrew made a post about the Melbourne Haigh's outlet with "the tapping man last week.

In the red corner we have Haigh's chocolates...

And in the blue corner we have Darrel Lea

At lunch time I headed to Rundle Mall. While there I had a look at some of the shops, and had lunch in one of the food courts. I also bought some stamps and postcards to send to my niece and nephew, which I wrote out a bit latter. I found a nice quiet spot on North Terrace in a small strip of park that runs along side the road in front of Government House. It was one of those spots that you could sit all day and just watch the people, cars and buses go past.

I walked onward past the State Library, past the Museum to the Art Gallery of South Australia. It was here I spent my last hour or so of my time in Adelaide. The gallery has quite a good collection (not that I know anything about art), with lots of Australian paintings, probably the most famous (to me anyway) being Tom Roberts A Break Away!. Also of note was a Jim Bill Henson photograph in the contemporary section. After seeing it I fail to see what the big deal is about.

By the time I left the gallery it really was time I started heading to the airport, so I returned to the hotel to pick up my bag and made my way to the nearest Jet Bus stop. I waited nearly 15 minutes and then scored the after school rush 1 or 2 stops down the street. It seemed to take forever as we stopped at nearly every stop. I need not have worried as I arrived at the airport with over an hour until my flight. There was no check in queue to be seen and I got to quick check a pretty good seat.

With some free time my first port of call was the Coopers ale house. It was there while watching some subsequent races on the TV that I realised that I had missed the Melbourne cup. Oh well. After having only one Coopers Sparkling Ale. From a bottle as they had none on tap! $$$... I thought I'd have look around the terminal.

I was quite surprised by how big the terminal is, which all airlines share. For international flights it appears that they close off sections to allow for the customs etc. Since I have come home I have realised that the airport is featured in the latest Jetstar ad on TV.

Adelaide Airport, very brown... earthy perhaps?

Looking the other way, this is the part that gets
closed off for international flights. The duty free shops
are currently closed.

I walked all the way down to the Tiger gate where a flight was unloading and was about to load. I was glad I wasn't flying on that flight, the lounge was full of screaming kids (no offence intended to any parents who travel with kids).

Singaporean Tiger, her distinctive stripes are not
visible from this angle.

Then past the Virgin Blue gates.

While I was in the Coopers bar with all the suits a flight had arrived from Sydney, and soon flew back there.

In the mean time the plane that I would fly to Melbourne on arrived from Darwin.

My ride home, a 2003 vintage 737

The flight itself was quite uneventful. I managed to take a few more photos during the flight, but sun glare made it quite difficult towards the end. I'm unsure as to wether photos are allowed during take off and landing, cameras aren't specifically mentioned on the saftey card while video cameras are. What category does a digital camera come under?

I decided to take some photos during take off anyway.

As we turn toward MelbourneI got a good view
of Glenelg and the Airport

Also illustrates how dry Adelaide really is

We had just past the Grampians when we began our decent.

Spoilers deployed at the top of descent, the Grampians
are the greenish lumps towards the horizon.

We flew past Maldon and Castlemaine and for much of the latter part of the flight another aircraft was visible just ahead of us.

The aircraft that we are following flies over Mount Macedon

After turning on to our approach for the runway I realised I could still see the Grampians in the distance. I thought I took a photo of them, but I'm not sure now as it was really hard to see the LCD screen in the glare. I think the Grampians might be just to the right, out of this shot...

The tops of some hills that may or may not be the Grampians
stick out above the haze.

From here our flight path took us over the towns of Lancefield and Romsey, and eventually to the runway.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Adelaide - Day 2

(backdated to the day it happened)

End o' the line at Grange

Day 2 saw me rise relatively early. After wondering where the people were on Sunday I soon discovered that in fact there are people in Adelaide, they just don't all go to the city on Sunday. After breakfast at a nearby cafe I made my way to the railway station for a day of travel on public transport. $8.00 bought me an all day ticket for travel anywhere in Adelaide by bus, train, or tram.

During the day I made the following trips:

-Grange by train
-Terrace to Terrace on tram
-North East Busway
-Tonsley and Brighton (Norlunga Line) by Train

Tram at South Terrace
(damn I cut off the pantograph...)

On the O-Bahn, the driver doesn't need to steer while
on the busway track.

End o' the line at Tonsley.

The main concourse of Adelaide Station

After I got back from Tonsley and Brighton I decided to go for a walk by the River Torrens (SA ligo here). Being late afternoon there was a lot of activity, rowers rowing, people feeding the swans, joggers, cyclists etc. It was just good to sit down and watch the river for a while.

Adelaide's Festival Theatre

Swans and Cygnets on the River Torrens

River Torrens and part of the Adelaide skyline
The Hyatt hotel and convention centre to be exact

Nice green parks surround the Torrens near the
university and Botanic Gardens.

On the way back to the hotel I decided to have a look in the casino. I see no joy in playing pokie machines, but on this occasion I decided I would spend $1 and see what would happen. Choosing a 1 cent machine I played slowly, loosing cent after cent 1 by 1, until I had 50 cents worth of credit left. I then bet the lot and won $1.50 worth of credit. Taking that as a sign I immediately cashed out my 2 x $1 coins. Ben 1 - Casino 0.

After relaxing in my hotel room for an hour or so I got the tram down to Glenelg. Having intended to be there at sunset, the tram ride took a smidgen longer than I had anticipated and by the time I got there it was after 8pm. The tram ride itself was very smooth and the new trams were quite comfortable. Adelaide residents should be proud of the work that has been done to bring the tram up to modern standards. I hope the rest of their plans for the tram system come to fruition.

Glenelg is a bit like Manly in Sydney, and a bit (lot) less crowded. It is still very nice. There are quite a few hotels and apartments along the beach there and I think it would be a good place to stay when visiting Adelaide. I walked out to the end of the jetty where there were a number of people fishing. Catch of the day appeared to be crabs which they were catching in nets baited with fish carcases. There must have been a plague of crabs as they seemed to be baiting them and just throwing them in before pulling them out again with a crab or two inside. There were a couple of people half heartedly jigging for squid, but that seemed more like an exercise to do while waiting to pull out the next crab net.

Glenelg Mosley Square

Glenelg Pier

By the time I was on the tram back to the city it was well and truly dark, so I could not see out the window. All I know is that we stopped at only a few stops an the way back compared to every stop on the way there. My hotel bed was very inviting after long day spent out and about in the city.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Adelaide - Day 1

(Backdated to the day it happened.)

I had a noon flight out so took it easy in the morning. Strange for a Sunday in that there was a traffic jam getting on to the Greensborough Bypass from Grimshaw Street. Some smart alec had set the right turn arrow to only show for about 1 second before turning yellow and then red, it took at least 4 sequences to get around! The rest of the run to the airport was the usual drive along the Northern Ring Road and Tullamarine Freeway.

Having just flown around a mass of cloud

The flight was fun, there were lots of big cumulus clouds around and we were dodging a few larger ones for a good 10 minutes over western Victoria. This was at our cruising altitude of 33000 feet, with the heads of some clouds extending at least another few thousand feet above us. The seatbelt sign got turned on when the turbulence became a bit stronger. As I said it was fun.

My trusty steed, QANTAS Boeing 737-400 "Strahan"

Soon enough we flew over the Coorong, Lake Alexandrina, the Fleurieu Peninsular and over the Gulf of St Vincent to line up for landing at Adelaide airport. After snapping a photo of the plane and collecting my bag I set off to find the the JetBus bus stop. This proved to be more diffucult than I imagined as there was no signage at all. Eventually I found it hidden away at the end of the departures level. The bus gave it away. As I only had a $50 note which the driver wouldn't change for me, I had to go and buy a drink to get some change and wait for the next bus in 15 minutes.

After a quick 15 minute trip to the city I was navigating on foot to my hotel in North Terrace opposite the railway station casino. Called the Mercure Grosvenor, it was an older hotel that has been recently refurbished (I have since found out that my mum stayed there years ago). The room was small but more than enough for my needs, it even had an LCD TV with a selection of Foxtel channels for free plus the usual crappy pay through the nose per view movie channels.

Yes I had been laying down on the bed before I took this photo.

Having settled in to my room I decided to hit the town and grab something to eat. I made my way to Hindley Street and then on to Rundle Mall. Rundle Mall is much like Melbourne's Bourke Street Mall, only it is about 3 times as long. Along it were all the usual shops that you find nearly anywhere else, not really that interesting. By the time I got back to the hotel I was hot and sweaty and decided to have a shower and then relax for an hour or so. I ended up watching episodes of Ren and Stimpy, Sponge Bob Squarepants and the Sarah Jane Adventures on Nickelodeon.

Some pigs who just can't help themselves...
Rundle Mall at night

It was getting past dinner time before I decided to go looking for a meal, but didn't really like the offerings and ended up going on a massive walk through some of the seedier parts of town. Being a Sunday night however all the strip clubs were closed (not the reason I was there, but an interesting observation none the less). In the end I bought a Pizza from a shop around the corner and took it back to my room. Nothing like eating pizza in bed!

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Wasted Space: Kill all the pokies

A few weeks ago I read that the ground floor of the old mail centre on the corner of Bourke Street and Spencer street (above) will be turned into a pokies venue. The up side is that the number of pokie machines in the CBD will not be increasing, with Tattersalls instead downsizing a few other venues and moving the machines across.

The problem is that pokies are a waste of space. Despite what the ads on TV say they are not fun. Not once have I seen anyone playing on a pokie machine even come close to cracking a smile. Surely there is a better use for this part of this building?

It is a weird looking building though. As far as I can tell, the upper floors are used as offices. It is the sort of building that would be good to convert into an art gallery or museum. How about something really fun like an indoor ice skating rink?


Yes you heard me. News today of a teacher in Hungary stripping in front of students and being caught on camera doing it. This is just creepy. I could not think of one teacher from my school that I would have liked to see strip like this, except perhaps the hot young student teacher doing work placement. At the very least this sort of thing should be after hours, extra curricular.

Also notice list of suggested viewing provided by YouTube after the clip finishes, interesting...

Direct link to video

First post of November

This post has no rhyme nor reason other than to bring in the new month.

Tuesday is Melbourne Cup day and I will be returning from a short interstate trip that evening. At work I entered the cup draw/sweep thing and got whatever horse will be in barrier number 2. As far as I know the barriers haven't been drawn yet. I really am not at all interested in horse racing or gambling but thought I may as well go in it. I'm in the $5 draw which has a first prize of about $75 (there are also a $1 and $2 draw). As they say, you have to be in it to win it.

My interstate trip is to Adelaide of all places. It is not quite Australia's least favourite holiday destination, that honour goes to Canberra. when I booked the flights about 6 weeks ago I was trying to get a good deal to Queensland, but all the really cheap flights were already sold. So instead I picked somewhere I hadn't been in a long time. That place just happened to be Adelaide.

I last graced (if you could call it that) her wide streets (I believe King William Street is the widest CBD street in Australia) in 2002 when I did a triangular rail journey from Melbourne-Adelaide-(Broken Hill)-Sydney-Melbourne. I stayed in the YHA hostel in Adelaide and met some interesting people, strangely most people in my room were Australian. There were this young English couple though who I got talking to. For some reason they told me that I was the friendliest Australian they had met on their trip, and that up until that point they thought Australians were stuck up. Mind you they had only been to Queensland, Sydney and Melbourne, and I still wonder who exactly they had been mixing with until that point (perhaps I was the first Australian they had really talked to), or if they were trying to butter me up for some free accommodation or something.

This time however I've opted for more luxurious accommodation, a 4 star hotel no less. Although if the reviews on trip advisor are anything to go by the place should be condemned. The hotel is in an excelent location and has recently been refurbished, so I'm actually looking forward to it.

While in Adelaide I plan to ride the tram to Glenelg and perhaps some of the train lines too. Other than that I'll probably wander around the CBD. Oh I always forget about the O Bahn bus, I should go for a ride on that too. I should try and find some more places to go before I leave.

The first few days of November will be pretty busy for me, but I have no idea what the rest of the month will bring.