Sunday, May 24, 2009


Today I was bored, and decided to go to the airport to watch some planes land and take off. It was quite late by the time I left but I went anyway. Originally I was going to go around near the control tower, but decided to be extravagant and actually pay for parking and go into the terminal. As todays wind was a northerly all planes were landing and taking off on the north south runway. This meant that there is only one place to go, the seats at the very end of the Virgin Blue terminal.

From here you get a front row seat to see all the comings and goings. As this was the only runway in use there were a lot of aircraft lining up to take off. When I first got there, there were at least 7 aircraft banked up (that is a lot for Melbourne) as well as a number of aircraft landing. I only stayed there for about half an hour, but that was enough today, plus it was starting to get dark. Not sure how many aircraft I saw, but I saw aircraft from all 4 main domestic carriers as well as 1 Rex Departure, plus a Thai 777 and Singapore Airlines 747. I slowly walked back through the terminal and to the car park. All up I was parked for just under an hour which cost $12, expensive anywhere else. I expecting a higher charge.

Anyway here are a few shots.

An Embraer E-190 awaiting departure.
Believe it or not, these aircraft are built
in Brazil.

Some of the line up.

From L to R
: Thai 777, QANTAS 737-800, Virgin Blue E-190 and Jetstar A321

The extension to the international terminal
is coming along nicely. International traffic
is growing again after a long period of
decline, so the new gates will be needed.

Up up and away, Virgin Blue E190 off into the
cloudy yonder.


Finally finished all my reports on the Sydney trip, only a week after getting back. I was able to get over the trip by having a 3 day weekend and went back to work last Monday. From there it was downhill all week. I had a terrible week, had a couple of bad nights sleep, that seemed to catch up with me by mid day making the afternoons drag on and on. Plus I started later from Wednesday to Friday and so I didn't finish until after 6 on Wednesday and Thursday. As soon my time sheet ticked over 38 hours at about 4:15 on Friday afternoon I was outta there. I must get a good night's sleep tonight, it set s the whole week up really.

On Saturday I got the train to the City, and went to see Star Trek at my favourite cinema, Greater Union Russel Street. It's the only old school cinema left, by old school, I mean it reminds me of school holidays when I was 10. Village and Hoyts in Bourke Street are now gone, and while Hoyts at Melbourne Central is nice and modern, I still like the run down old cinema in Russell Street. When I first went in the sit I sat down in had two wobbly arm rests (and no cup holders), I moved along the row until I found some stable ones. What was surprising was the reasonable crowd in the theatre with me, normally the audiences are very small.

The movie itself is fantastic. While I wouldn't count myself as a Trekkie (always more in the Star Wars camp), I have always been a bit of a an. It's not a hardcore fan film at all, there is enough there to get anyone interested in. The thing I like is that the film is more or less a prequell to the original TV series from the 60's. One by one the film introduces the main characters. They are all there, Kirk, Ohura, Bones, Sulu, Scotty, Checkov (complete with "nuclear wessels" style "v"s) and everybody's favourite Vulcan, Spock. I can't fault the casting of the crew at all. Leonard Nimoy even makes a cameo as Spock's future self. As with all Star Trek series and films there are a lot of laughs throughout, even a number of in jokes that I have to admit I didn't always get. Laughter from others in the theatre told me they were there though. Eric Bana also stars as the main nemesis to the crew of the Enterprise, I can't say I thought he was very good, maybe it was the character he played but there seemed to be something missing.

Overall Star Trek is a great movie I recommend that people go and see it.

Sydney 2009 - Day 6

It's about time I got around to writing about our last day in Sydney...

We Checked out of the apartment quite early, about 8.30am, after giving a place a bit of a tidy, doing the dishes, and throwing out all the uneaten food.

We walked the length of Kent Street to The Rocks and up some stairs to the Sydney Observatory, it didn't open until 10 and it was only 9 at this stage. After going around to the park at the front of the observatory and looking at the harbour and bridge for the millionth time I suggested to Daniel it might be an idea to go for a ride across the bridge on a train. So we walked down to Wynyard station and got the next train to the north shore.

After crossing the bridge I suggested we stay on the train for a while and after a brief stop at Millsons Point we stopped a North Sydney for a good 5 minutes. I then suggested that we should stay on until Chatswood. Chatswood is one end of the new Epping - Chatswood rail link. This line is in a tunnel that runs bellow the Lane Cove River and gives Macquarie University access to the rail network.

And so after waiting a few minutes at Chatswood our train approached from a siding down the track a bit. The trains used on this line at the moment are the new interurban H sets, as apparently the older trains are unable to climb the steep grades in the tunnel. The journey itself was pretty boring, but at least I can now say I've been somewhere new. Arriving at Epping and up onto the cold hard light of day of the northern line platforms we boarded a citybound train after waiting not even a minute. From here it was a long way back to Sydney, first heading south through Ryde the over the Paramatta River, past the 2000 Olympic site and to Strathfield turning east to Burwood, from where the train then ran express to Redfern and the city stations.

We got off at Town Hall and then had a bite to eat in one of the underground shopping arcades. Then came the second part of my covert mission that day, to find my all time favourite store, Hobbyco. You name it, Hobbyco has it be it planes, cars, trains, boats, rockets etc etc etc. They used to be in Pitt Street near Myer, but I had heard they had moved to The Queen Victoria Building, and that is where I found them.

I usually spend ages just browsing around Hobbyco, but today we were pressed for time as we had a flight to catch. So I made it quick(er) visit. I actually bought 3 things too. Normally I walk out empty handed. The first thing was a model plane for my nephew's birthday. He's been nagging me about helping him build one. I don't think he has the patience for the full glue and paint experience, and I found they had the Revell Easy Kits that don't need glue and come pre painted. I have been looking everywhere for these in Melbourne, but they seem hard to come by in the shops I frequent. So I was happy about that. The other things I bought were an indoor remote control helicopter and an AVRO RJ-85 model kit, both for myself.

Leaving with a rather large bag of goodies we walked back to the appartment, got our bags out the storage and went back to Town Hall to get the train to the airport. In all we arrived at the airport over an hour before our 2:30 flight. The departures hall was deserted (no bikies bashing the living suitcase out eachother either) and we checked in and passed through security rather to quick. That is except for me trying to juggle the three bags I had as carry on (laptop, backpack, and hobbyco) onto the conveyor and off again. We had time to sit down for some lunch before walking straight up to the gate just as boarding was announced, so we were among the first people on the flight.

Good thing we got seats right down the back, 53 A and B as I had to work out where I was going to stow everything, so I didn't block people trying to find their seats. In the end two of the boxes went into my backpack and into the overhead with my laptop, while the remaining box in the Hobbyco bag went under the seat in front.

While we were having lunch inside the terminal earlier they were calling passengers for the preceding flight to Melbourne, which was scheduled to depart at 2pm, half an hour before our flight. That plane was parked right next to ours and it only left about 10 minutes before we did. I saw it push back and taxi from my window before another flight arrived a few minutes later.

As usual when leaving Sydney our flight seemed to taxi half way to Melbourne before turning around onto 34 R (that's the third runway that sticks way out into Botany Bay) and departing to the north. Shortly after take off we made a right hand turn and headed over the eastern suburbs and out into the Tasman Sea. I was begining to think we were being routed via Wellington when we turned to the south, and we eventually made landfall south of the 'Gong. Out the window I could make out Jervis Bay and the township of Nowra.

That was when we entered the cloud and it was actually quite bumpy for about 10 minutes before we reached a smooth cruising altitude. We popped out of the cloud again right over Sugarloaf Reservoir, right there I knew I would be able to see my house soon. Not quite, but I could make out the sporting fields at the end of my street as well as the Greensborough Plaza shopping centre and general roads and train stations etc. It was one of the best approaches I've ever had into Melbourne as I could recognise a lot of stuff that I usually can't see.

We touched down on Runway 27 at exactly 4:07pm. Waiting in the terminal was Daniel's mum, who had agreed to give us both a lift home.

That's it really. It was a good trip and we packed a hell of lot in to our time there. Mostly stuff I've done before though, but it was still good. Even though I'm a bit over Sdyney at the moment, I definitely look forward to going back. Don't know why but the city has a strange attraction. I have heaps of photos from this trip I might get around to posting a few at some stage soon.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Sydney 2009 - Day 5

Our last full day in Sydney. Daniel wanted to have a look around Sydney University so we got a bus from George Street to Camperdown where the main campus is. for some reason I have never really ventured beyond Central Station in this direction and I found the bus ride alone quite interesting.

I would just like to say that Sydney Uni is huge, on the map it seems kilometres across. It is also very old, with some really nice older buildings. It was interesting to walk around for half an hour or so. We both must still look like students because we were getting harassed by candidates in the student union elections that were taking place on the day. After getting a sticker off one of the candidates we walked back to Broadway (the name of the main road) and got a bus back to George Street.

We got off at Haymarket and walked down Hay Street (Trams!) towards the Sydney entertainment centre and then to the Chinese Gardens at Darling Harbour. About the gardens, all I can say is wow. Probably one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen, I really cant describe it you have to see it with your own eyes. We actually stopped for morning tea in the tea house. Daniel had tea, I had Coke, as I don't really drink tea or Cofee (well I eat cofee) and we had some chinese pastries. Some were yum others were just odd. Overall it was very nice though.

Lunch time came very soon after morning tea and after leaving the gardens we went to the food court at Market City. All I wanted was Indian, and that is what I had. Beef vindaloo, lamb curry and butter chicken. I didn't think I could manage a naan, so I left that out. I love Indian food.

On full stomaches we walked to the Powerhouse Museum where we spent the rest of the afternoon until closing time. We didn't get to see everything, before they kicked us out, but it was good all the same. I haven't been there for over 10 years so it was a good refresher. It is a good museum, but I can't help but feel that it is missing something. Makes me think I should visit the Melbourne Museum again one day.

When we got back to the appartment I ended up having a nice 1 hour power nap. The only problem was I woke up a bit cranky.

For dinner went back to Chinatown, but to a different Taiwanese restaurant. It was different in that instead of menus it had computer screens where you made your selection. while I can see why this might seem like a good idea, I think it is a stupid way to run a restaurant. This was a very authentic restaurant, with no western style chinese food at all, and no drinks other than tea or milk based drinks. I had to flag down a waitress to get some water brought to the table (see this is where the impersonal style of ordering breaks down). I was also unhappy with my meal, three cup chicken, which was full of bones, and was a really small serving. I was a bit pissed at the whole experience and took it out on Daniel when he didn't take back the silver we got for change, saying it was a tip. It was a 50 cent coin, and I told him it was a crappy tip and stormed out. I got 2/3 of the way back to the apartment and realised he had the key, so I waited on a corner for him to catch up. I had calmed by then, but felt like a total idiot.

Sydney 2009 - Day 4

After the big trip to the Blue Mountains the day before, it was time to take it easy. First port of call was the Sydney Tower where we enjoyed the spectacularly lame (to an Australian) OZ trek, which is more or less a half hour summary of Australia for international tourists. It is included in the ticket price so we went for it. OZ Trek starts out with a sort of hologram show set in four different dioramas of the Australian environment. When you enter you sit in one of four seating areas and as the show goes on you rotate around to the next scene. We started in the outback, then went to the city, then the rainforest before going to the beach. The second part of OZ Trek is a motion simulator where you get to fly around all different parts of Australia, it's actually quite good. I remember going on theis years ago and I was disappointed that they no longer spray water on your face when you dive under water or get sneezed on, that was the best bit.

Finally we were able to go up the tower, but not before we had our photo taken. We also had to go through a metal detector like at the airport which was a bit wierd. I've got to say I was a bit under whelmed with the view from the top, you couldn't really see the opera house or Circular Quay at all. It was still good though, but I actually think I like the experience at the Eureka tower better. When we arrived back down in the lobby they tried to sell us the photo that they took of us before we went up for $30, what a rip off.

The plan was to go go via government house to Circular Quay and get a ferry to Watsons Bay, although on the way we stopped for about 20 minutes in Hyde Park to watch a giant chess game. Daniel had to commentate for me, but I think I got the gist of what was going on. In the end black conceded to white I think.

Ater walking to Government House and looking at it from the outside we dodged the odd lunch time touch football game in the park and went down to Circular Quay. I needed a toilet, but the ones under the train station were closed for cleaning, so we went into the old customs house, which actually turns out to now be a public library. The floor of the building is see through and under it they have a model of the city of Sydney. It's amazing what you find by accident. Even more amazing was that I didn't even notice it when entering the building, but only after looking down at it from the second floor where the toilets were. Seems I had one thing on my mind at the time.

After a short wait we boarded the ferry to Watsons Bay. Not sure why but the Watsons Bay service always seems to be one of the newer Super Cats, rather than the older First Fleet class of ferries which do the the inner harbour runs. I guess they are quicker and more suited to the longer distance to Watsons Bay. As usual the ferry made stops at Garden Island, Double Bay and Rose Bay (home of Sydney Sea Planes) before arriving at Watsons Bay.

While getting off the ferry and walking past the great big long line of people waiting to get on someone shouted my name. Turning around I realised it was my cousin. We had a quick chat before the line started moving on to the ferry. Only a few weeks before at a family get together my cousin mentioned that he and his girlfriend were going to Sydney at the same time that I was. I jokingly said something like "see you there", I never actually thought it would happen.

By now it was at least 1:30 and Daniel and I were both starving, so we made our way straight to the line for Doyles take away fish and chips. My eyes were bigger than my stomache and I ordered a pack that had fish, chips, about 6 calimari rings and and several scollops. All washed down with an icy cold can of coke. As usual for Doyles it was very delicous and very fresh.

After taking some time out for digestion we walked up the hill through the park and over the road to "The Gap". Took it easy on the way up and made it around near the naval station overlooking the Sydney Heads. Somehow we managed to miss the next ferry and had to wait an hour for the last ferry of the day. I don't understand why the Watsons Bay ferry finishes at 4 in the afternoon, but that's the way it goes. I had a snooze on the ride back and managed to sleep most of the way I think.

We then got the train back to the apartment and then went to an italian restaurant at Harbourside in Darling Harbour for dinner.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Sydney 2009 - Day3

Today was our trip to Katoomba in the Blue Mountains. We more or less did the same things as I did on my own in 2007.

At Central Station in the morning after getting our tickets we went to the Krispy Kreme outlet at the station. Even though they are everywhere, I have never tried them, and never really intended to. Today however I bought a raspberry jam filled chocolate coated doughnut. I fail to see what the fuss is about, it just tastes like any other doughnut. I don't get it?

The best way I have found to get to and see the area around Katoomba is a Blue Mountains Explorer Link ticket, which includes both the rail fare and the explorer bus fare. On Saturday when we first arrived at the airport station we both bought a weekly purple travel pass, I told the man in the ticket booth that we had these, and he gave us tickets from Emu plains to Katoomba. The fare was a bit less than normal, but not by much much.

The 2 hour trip from Central to Katoomba went fairly quick. Once at katoomba we got our proper bus ticket (a booklet with map, timetable and description of the attractions along the route). The Blue Mountains Explorer is a hop on hop off bus that does a loop around Katoomba and Leura that takes about an hour for each run, the buses come around about every half hour. We got off at one of the first stops and walked along the top of the cliffs to Scenic World. there we stopped for lunch before doing the rides.

Scenic World has 3 rides, the most famous being the scenic railway. However, first we did the scenic Skyway, which is a cable car that goes across part of the valley and back again. It is a bit like the edge at the Eureka Tower in Melbourne in that part of the floor goes clear. After surviving the glass bottom cable car we descended on the Scenic Railway into the valley and did the short forest walk to the Cable Way station. Along the way we were overtaken by several large tour groups and so got on the Cable Way with a large group of rather pushy Indian tourists ( I guess that's how things work in India?). After exhausting things to do at scenic world we got back on the bus and went around to Echo Point.

Echo Point is the classic lookout for viewing the three sisters. I seem to recall my uncle threatening to throw me off here when I was about 6 years old. Good to see that the girls are still there, but by now I began to realise that I had way too many photos of the valley.

Our final stop on the bus was the Gordon Falls lookout. The waterfall was more of a trickle, and there were yet more views of the valley, yawn. The second last bus for the day soon came around the corner and took us back to the metropolis of Katoomba. We gathered some snacks at the local Coles supermarket for the 2 hour journey back to Sydney, and trekked back to the station where our train was already waiting.

Back in the city we stopped at KFC to get some take away and returned to the apartment for the night. After dinner I sat down at the computer to catch up on some blog posts.

Sydney 2009 - Day2

The day started off with me having to ring reception to get some bowls brought up. It's a bit hard to eat breakfast cereal when you don't have bowls. I'm not sure where they went, but the new ones were soon brought up to our room by a member of staff.

Yesterdays rain from Melbourne had caught up to us in Sydney and after setting off through Hyde Park it seemed to get heavier and so headed back under cover to a food court in Pitt St for some more breakfast. Continuing on our mission after the rain stopped we walked past the parliament building and the N.S.W state library stopping to admire a statue of Trim, Matthew Flinders' cat that accompanied him all the way from England and on his voyage around Australia.

We then walked down through the botanic gardens to the opera house. our aim was to walk across the bridge, and so we ascended many stairs through the rocks before making it to the bridge walkway. Along the way we stopped at the south-eastern pylon and climbed to the lookout. After seeing the views from there we continued on across the bridge to Kirribilli where the Sunday market was still going (yes it was still Sunday). Here we stopped for some lunch, some sort of middle eastern flat bread that was folded over with meat spinach and chilli inside. It was really tasty actually.

After lunch we headed down to the Millsons Point ferry wharf at Luna Park. While waiting for the ferry I am adamant that a man I saw waiting there was Ricky Gervais. Daniel didn't seem to know whe he is, so couldn't confirm it. Anyway we got the ferry to circular quay and then got the ferry to Manly.

At manly we walked through the Corso and along the beach for a bit before returning for an ice cream. while we were sitting and eating our ice cream some cockatoos were getting stuck into the seeds high up the trees causing a shower of seeds on the unluck people bellow. While making our way back to the ferry we had a look through some of the junky tourist shops in The Corso.

Arriving back a Circular Quay, we got a train back to Town Hall. On the way we checked the times at the cinema around the corner and decided to see the movie, Knowing latter that night. We had a very spicy dinner at a Taiwanese restaurant in Chinatown. I ate so much i was nearly bursting. We had some sort of pancake, a leek cake, and some fried tofu for starters, and had spicy beef noodle soup for the mains. It was probably one of the best meals I've had for ages.

Still having some time to kill before the movie we did a lap on the monorail and then went to a pub for a beer. Knowing was the Nick Cage movie that was recently filmed in Melbourne, which was standing in for Boston. I saw many things I recognised, it was quite strange actually. The movie it self was also quite strange, but quite good at the same time.

Sydney 2009 - Day1

Finally the day arrived for our trip to sydney. My mate Daniel came over at about 10 AM and mum drove us to the airport. As our flight wasn't due to depart until 12 miday we had some time to go and grab a bite to eat and a drink before making our way through security and all the way to gate 12 of the QANTAS terminal. After a fairly short wait we were boarding the aircraft and taking our seats. Also boarding the plane were the Melbourne Storm rugby league team for their game against the Sydney Roosters at the Sydney on .

Our flight, operated by a 767-338 took off from runway 27 and soon after take off penetrated the low cloud that was producing the drizzle in Melbourne that morning. After gaining enough altitude we turned to the north and flew more or less in a straight line over Albury, Yass and Campbelltown. Around there we turned to the east and flew over the Royal National Park and out to sea before doing a lazy arc around Cronulla to line up and land on runway 34 L. We taxied straight into the gate nearest the runway at the Sydney Qantas Terminal.

After collecting our bags we made our way to the train station and each bought our train tickets and waited for the train into town. Soone enough the train came and we stayed on all the to Town hall where we got off and then walked to our accomodation.

The room, or rooms , er appartment is great. it's on the 35th floor , but is really on the 25th as the lobby is level 10 for some reason. We each have a bedroom and a bathroom to ourselves. We flipped for the one with the ensuit, which Daniel won. I don't mind really. The room has a small kitchen with stove, oven, microwave, fridge a laundry with washer and dryer, and has a TV and stereo/DVD player. It is clean and comfortable and is more than adequate really. The only downside is that the balcony is locked and we can't go out there.

Having settled in to our room we set out to see the sites, heading straight along George Street towards the Quay. On the way Daniel stopped to buy a prepaid wireless internet modem. We walked around circular Quay and right around the opera house. To get back to our hotel we took a ferry to Darling harbour via Milsons Point and Balmain East, and we alighted at Sydney Aquarium and made the surprisingly short walk back to appartment.

Soon after we decided to head back to Darling harbour and had dinner at a Japanese restaraunt, we had an entre of gyoza dumplings and miso soup before or main meals. I had Pork Katsu Curry which was quite good. For desert I had some chocolate mud cake. right after we paid our bill a fireworks show began out on the harbour, great timing really. it was in honour of Darling Harbour's 21st birthday and is happening every Friday and Saturday all of May.

After the fireworks finished we decided to walk to the Star City casino to have a bit of a look around. We walked around the floor for a bit stopping to watch some roulette and a few other things, but didn't gamble ourselves. Finally we went back to the apartment and watched some TV before going to bed.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Off again

Like certain other people, I am also going to Sydney. Except I'm going much sooner, this weekend in fact. Initially it was meant to be a short trip of 2 nights but I convinced my mate who I'm going with to stay for a bit longer. It came about as my friend, Kojin (not his real name) said he had never been there and would like to go. Of course I immediately volunteered to go too.

After searching various accommodation sites on the net I came up with reasonably priced flights and a very good deal on an apartment. So this weekend I will be saying goodbye grey and dreary skies of old Melbourne town, and hello to the bright lights and sparkling waters of the Emerald City, Sydney.