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Showing posts from June, 2007

Google Songs - a game for our time.

One morning I had a song going around in my head. I only knew a few disjointed lines. I had no idea of the song title or lyrics. Frustrated, by not knowing how the lines I knew, linked together I found myself thinking what phrases or words would I need to type into Google in order to find the exact song lyrics?

At the time I was traveling around the country. I didn't have immediate access to the internet so my mind kept pondering further over this question. The question is fairly straight forward. There's not much more to add. Thus, my mind extended the idea to thinking about the search results and what combination of phrases and words might result in the lyrics being returned in the number one search result spot?

Then I thought that getting exactly what you're looking for in the number one search spot could be quite a challenge. You could make a game out of this. I may not be the first person to think of 'Google Songs' as a game, since it's such a simple concept…

The Deadly Art of Dish Washing.

Thursday 21 June 2007...

Mother's everywhere worry about their children being out late at night. What do they get up to? Are they being safe? Will they make the right choices and stay out of trouble? Yet not a single concern is given, in fact, mothers often encourage, their children to participate in the deadly art of dish washing.

Yes, dish washing. After traveling, by road, more than half way across a country that contains more perils than a Batman movie, dish washing, the day after my return, is what floors me (quite literally). It is my number two most serious accident, in my life, right after breaking a leg skateboarding. Let me explain.

I was washing the dishes, around about midday. I had the dish cloth inside a glass, wiping around the inner rim when a piece of the glasses side breaks off. My right hand continued to turn in the glass, into the leading edge of the break, slicing deeply into the lower back of my thumb. Shi...ouch!

As you can imagine, blood starts pouring out. I&#…

The remaining days and flying home.

Road Trip Days 26, 27, 28 and 29: 17th to 20th June 2007

The remaining three days of my trip were mostly catching up with family again. Trying to spend as much time as possible with all of them before returning to Gawler on Wednesday.

There's not a lot that I did that can be related in a blog since you don't really want to know family conversations and I don't think it would be right telling you about the things we discussed.

However in between family stuff I had to prepare to go home. Monday morning I washed all my dirty clothes so there wouldn't be much to go in the wash when I arrived home.

Tuesday morning was my final chance to record video in my studio that I could use for my planned film for my Jac Leaps Again Painting. It was a bit of a rushed job to get all the footage shot before lunch time but I managed it. (Despite a dove that insisted on pecking the roof continuously every time I wanted to record).

Then Tuesday night, after having come home relatively late from …

Painting Jac and West Side Story

Road Trip Day 25: 16th June 2007

After spending the morning grocery shopping with Rose I chose to spend my Saturday afternoon finishing the painting I started on Wednesday.

As before I filmed myself doing it, even wearing the same clothes so it looks like I painted the whole thing in one day. All up it took me seven hours over two days to get finished. I'm quite happy with the result. The painting is called 'Jac Leaps Again' and is an all acrylic work on plywood, 60 x 90cm approx.

Since, in my first post on this painting, I talked about my old studio I've decided to make that the theme of the video. This means that I'll need to take some time filming footage of me speaking to camera about... well... my old studio. Once I've done this I'll edit the whole thing together so you can watch me paint and talk about my studio at the same time.

Speaking of filming, that's a nice seg-way into talking about the DVD we watched tonight. Rose bought 'West Side Story&…

Trains, Perth and Fremantle.

Road Trip Day 24: 15th June 2007

The one thing I wanted to do whilst visiting Perth was spend a day on my own, riding the train to visit the Perth CBD and Fremantle. Today was that day.

When I head out on my own I don't really do much except walk and observe. I enjoy walking and I like to get out and see how places have changed from when I was there last.

My morning started with a fairly long walk to the train station. On the way I passed through , what I imagine, is one of the largest Westfield Shopping Malls in the country. It's nearly big enough to have its own postcode. The Westfield was built before I left Perth. Apart from looking a little more lived in, it looked pretty much the same. Maybe a different shop here and there but that's about all.

I was a little worried that the trains ticketing system might be all different and I'd have to spend some time relearning it, however the basic system was unchanged. Put your money in a machine on the platform to buy your tick…

Has Perth become prefabricated?

Road Trip Day 23: 14th June 2007

Today I accompanied my Dad as he drove around the suburbs, just south of the Perth CBD, between jobs as a general home maintanance person. Through the course of the day we covered a fair bit of ground.

Something I noticed is that Perth seems to have really embraced 'prefabricated architecture'. Designing all shapes of building variations from your basic concrete box i.e. all the walls are made from prefabricated concrete slabs made to order. Everything from multi-storey apartments to huge commercial premises, all with unique styling, just to break up the expanse of concrete wall slabs.

Some buildings actually looked quite good whilst others displayed limited imagination beyond four walls. The only thing that lets these buildings down is that they are so obviously prefabricated. Which says something about the building not being quite so 'hand made' as they used to be, where a brickie would literally build a house brick by brick.

Perhaps it&#…

My Old Studio.

Road Trip Day 22: 13th June 2007

My old studio at Roses house is a four car, double door garage with power and water (well almost - there's a tap right next to the door). It's not the last studio I had before I moved but it is the one that has all the art equipment and paintings that I left behind.

I've created a nice, panoramic photo of the studio, not quite how I left it as everything has been pushed to the edges to make room for at least one car. However if you look closely you can make out my old easel, signage from my old shop as well as various other bits and pieces.


This was the best studio I've ever had to date. It even tops my current studio but only because it has double the space (given that my current studio is a two car garage). The studio I had just prior to moving to South Australia was barely a one car garage with no power but it was cool in its own way too.

Whilst I was in Perth I thought I'd take the opportunity to use this studio, perhaps one last ti…

Gosnells, Murals and the Agonis.

Road Trip Day 21: 12th June 2007

My Mum wanted to show me around the town centre of Gosnells (the main suburb of Perth that I grew up in) so Rose and I spent the day with her, walking around the shopping precinct.

I was last here in 2004. Back then there was a lot of development work getting under way. Three years later much of the work has been finished for some time.

There is a brand new railway/bus station right in the middle of town - much less out of the way than the old platform. One of the old shopping complexes, where we used to buy groceries, looks nothing like it used to. It's been renovated to the point where you wouldn't even know that the underlying base structure was built more than forty years ago. You'd swear the whole thing was built within the last couple of years. The changes are a real improvement too.

The centre piece of the town is the 'Agonis' centre. This was being built in 2003. Now it is open and is home to the 'Knowledge Centre' (libr…

Black Cockatoos and Driving in Perth.

Road Trip Day 20: 11th June 2007

Cockatoos.

This morning, at Rose's house, I was just about to start organising my breakfast when I heard a commotion in the backyard that was familiar and clearly a flock of Cockatoos (a species of parrot) feasting on the larger trees. Familiar because I've heard this sound many times in my home town of Gawler with the white cockatoos we get there.

I wouldn't even mention it except that when I went out to have a look (because watching all the debris rain down from the tree tops being stripped by cockatoos is quite a sight) I saw this was a flock of black cockatoos with yellow patches on each side of their heads (roughly where their ears might be if you could see bird ears). I've never seen black cockatoos doing this, not in my home town, nor have I ever seen it in Western Australia.

I tried to take a few photos but the birds were too high up to get a good shot. The photo shown here is about the best I managed.

Perth Driving.

Since being back …

It's not over until I go home.

Road Trip Day 19: 10th June 2007

I guess, at this point my road trip is officially over. The big drive from Gawler, via Broken Hill then across to Perth is finished. It's been quite an interesting journey - well for me it has been anyway. I've seen a lot more of the country I live in than at any other time in my life.

That said, the trip its self isn't over until I jump on a plane and fly back to Gawler, Adelaide in about a weeks time. So I'll continue to post articles about my experiences until then, after which this blog will resume it's eclectic mix of whatever happens to be interesting me at the time.

At the moment I'm catching up with relatives. Today my younger brother came for a visit. Then I went to visit my Dad and after that my Mother. All of them live independent lives from each other which means you rarely see my family all in the one place at the same time.

I'm not doing a great deal of tourist type things whilst in Perth because I lived here for j…

Memories. The Museum of My Life.

Road Trip Day 18: 9th June 2007

For many people a visit to their parents home, years after having left for an independent life, brings back many childhood memories, artifacts and a history of growing up. Coming from, what is usually described as a 'broken home', the history of my early years and previous lives can be found not so much in my parents homes but in my sisters home.

The way my family split to eventually go their separate ways has gradually turned Rose's home (where I'm staying whilst in Perth) into a living family archive - though I'm sure it doesn't feel that way to her.

There is so much of my families history either still in use or stored in Rose's house that for me it's like coming back to a personal museum of our life. For example, Roses kitchen table and chairs are older than me. I think they were the very first table and chairs my parents bought when they arrived in Australia from the U.K. The chairs have been recovered once in nearly 50…

Coolgardie and the Road to Perth.

Road Trip Day 17: 8th June 2007

West of Coolgardie is the Eastern end of the Great Eastern Highway. The road to Perth, Western Australia. When Rose and I turned into our motel last night the car headlights had picked out some curious characters across the road. Before heading off the next morning we just had to investigate.

Rose and I have been sticking with Central Standard Time (rather than change to Western Standard Time) in order to get earlier starts. This meant we had plenty of time to have a quick wander around, what turned out to be 'Ben Prior's Park', an outdoor museum featuring many historical machines and characters from the early gold rush days of the Coolgardie region.

One such character was this prospector, A.P. Brophy and his camel 'Misery'. Brophy is remembered for claiming the world record for riding his camel 600 miles without giving it a single drink back in 1895.

There are other characters in this museum but the majority of the display is old steam …

Australia's longest straight and Skylab.

Road Trip Day 16: 7th June 2007

There comes a point in some road trips where you want to make a certain distance by nightfall and the only way you can do it is to just drive. Rose wanted to make the town of Coolgardie by nightfall, a distance of more than 600 kilometres from Madura.

After driving the first 157 kilometres a sign at a place called 'Cocklebiddy' (don't ask how it got that name, I don't know) informed us that we were about to embark on Australia's longest straight piece of road. 155 kilometres of straight, flat road. I didn't really need to know that.

When you're driving these sort of distances 'speedo creep' can be a problem. The foot gets heavier and before you know it you're 20 kilometres over the speed limit - and it doesn't even feel like you're going fast.

Today was the day for over taking Road Trains. I did more over taking than I've done on any other day since we begun. One thing I've noticed is that if trucks ar…

The Eyre Highway and The Great Aussie Bight.

Road Trip Day 15: 6th June 2007

The last time I travelled along the Eyre Highway from South Australia to Western Australia there was no such thing as ipods. In fact Music CD's were still years away from taking over from LP records and audio cassettes. There was no such thing as a digital camera and even video recorders were just starting to hit the markets as a home consumer item. That was May of 1978 and I'd just turned eight years old.

I don't remember much of the sights coming over because our families trip, back in 1978, was all about getting to Perth as quickly as possible. I think I spent a lot of the trip asleep in the back seat of the car. Most of my recollections of the journey relate to places we stopped for the night or for food on the way.

This time, Rose and I are taking a little longer so we can see a few of the breath taking views we missed the first time.

The Eyre Highway runs right along side the Great Australian Bight - the cliff top, bottom edge of Australia…

Elliston Sculptures on the Cliffs Streaky Bay, Eyre Highway.

Road Trip Day 14: 5th June 2007

Before leaving Elliston, Rose decided we should take a drive around the Elliston Cliff Top Tourist Drive which also happens to be the location of the Biennial Elliston Sculptures on the Cliff Event. Unlike the sculpture parks at Broken Hill and in the Barossa Valley these cliff top sculptures aren't all permanent so the ones you see on this drive are the few permanent sculptures that have remained after each event.

The tourist drive takes you along a dirt track that overlooks Anxious Bay. I wasn't entirely sure of what to expect but after seeing the view I was glad we decided to take this drive. I've lived in Australia all my life and seen these kind of 'edge of the continent' kind of views in brochures all the time but it's not often you actually get to see these views in person when you live in the cities. Just had to have my photo taken with this view to prove I was there.

Along the drive you come across various sculptures left b…

One Steel Tour and Leaving Whyalla.

Road Trip Day 13: 4th June 2007

Whyalla is, and always has been, a mining and steel making town. No visit would be complete without a tour of the steel works that was built and run by BHP until 2000 when it was sold off, by public float, to OneSteel.

Rose and I have a personal interest in the steel works in that our Dad used to be employed there by BHP pre 1978. I never really knew what he did or what part of the plant he worked in though I remember him one time, when I was kid, saying he worked in the coke ovens. That's about all I know about what he did and I'm not entirely sure if that's correct.

I'm not even going to try and describe the tour of the steelworks in great detail. There's a lot to see in the two hour bus ride around the plant. Our guide, Trish, explained a great deal about the production of steel and pointed out as many of the more spectacular processes as she could based on which areas were actually operating.

We did get a very good, close up look at …

Whyalla Foreshore Steam Train Found!

Road Trip Day 12: 3rd June 2007

Whist visiting the Mt Laura Homestead Museum, Rose and I spotted this Steam Locomotive - the only one in the museum - and thought just maybe it was the one I remember playing on at the foreshore as a child.

On closer inspection of the information board we were amazed to learn that it is in fact the very same steam engine! I was even more surprised to learn that this locomotive is more than 100 years old (I bet it didn't get a certificate from the Queen).

Bought new by BHP in 1891 it was used to cart ore along the tramway between Iron Knob and Whyalla. It has a fairly busy history but the key dates for me are that it was placed on the Whyalla foreshore in 1962 where it remained until 1983 when it was moved to the museum. Back then it was all painted black rather than green as you see in the photo. In fact it was the green paint that made me think it couldn't be the same train at first.

Not being able to find any trace of where this train stood on the…

HMAS Whyalla and The Mt Laura Homestead Museum.

Road Trip Day 12: 3rd June 2007

In 1978 my Dad took me along to see the last of the large Carrier ships built at the BHP shipyards being launched. Two more smaller vessels were launched that year but 'The Iron Curtis' was the ship that signaled the end of production and closure of the shipyards.

The HMS Whyalla was the first ship built at the shipyards. Completed back in 1941 (almost a year in the making), it was one of several warships built for the Navy as part of the war effort. Back when Whyalla was simply known as 'SMC 47' to protect it from strategic attack by the Japanese.

As part of our trip to the Whyalla Maritime museum Rose and I went on a guided tour of 'The Whyalla' (formerly the HMS Whyalla), which proudly sits landlocked two kilometres away from the Shipyards where it was built, as centre piece of a very interesting history.

The Whyalla has been lovingly restored back to its former glory days as a mine sweeper and escort corvette after spending a num…

Point Lowly, Fitzgerald Bay, Ada Ryan Gardens.

Road Trip Day 11: 2nd June 2007

Point Lowly is the location of a historic lighthouse that is no longer used for its original purpose but is kept functional by the Whyalla Council as a tourist attraction. It's a 20 minute drive from Whyalla and once you get there you can see... well... a lighthouse.

I can see on a warm summers day that Point Lowly would be a great family outing location. It has nice beaches, playground, picnic and toilet facilities. It's a paradise for shell collectors like Rose is.

On a cold winters day (though thankfully not raining or icy cold) you can walk on the beach and look at the lighthouse - and if you're up for a hike follow the walking trails that include information boards at key locations.

Rose and I weren't up for a hike (as most were more than 1 kilometre long) however we noted you could follow one of the walking trails by car for impressive views of the bay. The trail lead to Fitzgerald Bay, for which we had seen a sign on the road in and t…

Whyalla. Where life began.

Road Trip Day 10: 1st June 2007 (Evening)

Life for me began in Whyalla. Rose wasn't born here (she was born in Elizabeth in Adelaide) however, since my family moved here when she was so young, she pretty much considers Whyalla to be her first home too.

I don't remember the first house we lived in here though I've seen photos of me playing in the yard there. Life for me begins on Noble Street, our second home in Whyalla where I lived until the age of eight years old. Then in 1978, when BHP closed the ship yards, our family moved to Perth, Western Australia.

Rose and I went for a drive around our old neighbourhood. Noble Street. The house we lived in is still there, though now it has two driveways and two carports and a garage - none of which were there in our day (well it only had the one driveway at least).

All the trees along our street are full grown and provide shade that wasn't there when we used to walk to school. I'm surprised that the reserves at each end of our…

Whyalla. Hummock Hill and Flinders Lookouts.

Road Trip Day 10: 1st June 2007 (Afternoon)

Hummock Hill was here on the beach front in 1978, yet I don't remember it at all. In fact Whyalla used to be called 'Hummock Hill' before they changed the name to Whyalla for reasons no one really seems to be sure why?

I'm fairly certain the Hummock Hill lookout was built after 1978 as most of the dates on the commemorative plaques are dated long after my family left for Perth. This particular lookout provides some great views of the Iron Ore loading facility and the One Steel Steel works. It seems to have been built to celebrate the towns industrial history.

Second to that is the section of the look out dedicated to the soldiers that manned an anti aircraft gun on the site during world war 2. A similar gun to that which was used now stands as a monument to that time. It was thought that the Japanese could've attacked the BHP port which supplied Australias defence forces with steel during this period.

Of all the sights on our…

Mining at Iron Knob.

Road Trip Day 10: 1st June 2007 (Morning)

The township of Iron Knob reminds me very much of Silverton in Broken Hill. It is a town that has been largely forgotten once the mines, that gave it life, were closed down in 1999. Like Silverton a few die hard locals still live there, doing what they can to breathe life into a town that truly is the Birth place of the steel industry in Australia.

The town no longer has a council, no one pays rates and consequently it is looking a little run down around the edges (and a bit in the middle too). However the town project committee is dedicated to building a tourist industry that will help build the town again. Either way, Iron Knob isn't destined to become a ghost town as the mines are being reopened. Property values in Whyalla have started to rise because of this and no doubt Iron Knob will follow.

Our tour of Iron Knob began at the Iron Knob Tourist Centre where our guide, Phil, showed us around the various exhibits and explained the history …

Road to Whyalla.

Road Trip Day 9: 31st May 2007 (Afternoon)

Whyalla is our next major stop. The town where Rose and I grew up. The drive is about two and a half hours from Laura cutting through the Flinders Rangers and the town of Port Augusta.

During our journey, the drive between Laura and Port Augusta, has been one of the most scenic so far. Pretty country towns with the Flinders Ranges as a back drop then finally passing through the greenish blue hills of the Flinders Ranges themselves. Such a contrast to the long straight roads through the flat, dry country heading out to Broken Hill.

On this leg of the journey we only made a brief stop in Port Augusta just to stretch our legs after an hour and a half of driving. There's not much to say about the Port except that it is a fairly major town that is run by a fairly controversial local council. It probably has an important place in history given it's location but I've never really had the time to find out.

Between Port Augusta and Whyalla it&…

Laura, C.J. Dennis, The Sentimental Bloke.

Road Trip Day 9: 31st May 2007 (Morning)

Rose and I managed to leave Peterborough in good time enroute to Laura and the C. J. Dennis Statue we'd tried to find in Auburn and Mintaro.

Peterborough is actually an important town in its own right with a strong history of the railway in South Australia. I know Rose wanted to look around more but we had a lot of ground to cover. As much as it would be nice to stop in every town we passed through (and there are many that look very interesting) you just have to hope you'll maybe get back another time.

We made our way down to the town of Laura (via Jamestown) in just under an hour. The town describes its self as the 'home of poet C. J. Dennis during his formative years', implying that he probably moved later in life. However C. J. Dennis is quoted describing his stay in Laura thus:

"Of all country places I know. Laura still remains for me the place of most pleasant memory..."

Hence, Laura can quite rightly claim C. J. Denni…