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Showing posts from April, 2009

Stranded In Kapunda, South Australia

28th & 29th April, 2009

Not content with dropping out of the lime light my frog van continues to find new ways to play a staring role in my blog posts about Rose and I (supposedly) and our South Australian adventures. This time a dead battery left us stranded in the mining town of Kapunda for the night.

I've written about Kapunda on Rose's last trip in 2007, specifically about the annual Celtic Festival and a few other local sites. I thought I'd covered the town pretty well and wasn't going to write another post since we only managed to browse through the town's extensive history and mining museums. However as things transpired the van decided we weren't going home just as the sun was setting and most things were closing for the night.

Rose and I were taking a final look at Sir Sidney Kidman's old residence, now the main building for Kapunda's high school. Sir Sidney is a rather famous land owner in Australia - at one time owning probably more land acr…

The Frog Van - Old Boiler No More

In the continuing saga that is my frog van we left off in my post Getting to Know More About Cars with the van parked in my studio minus one driver seat and radiator.

As mentioned previously I took the radiator in to have it cleaned.

The verdict was, according to the radiator mechanic, that the internal pipes were 95 percent blocked. Overheating problem solved, I guess. Whilst this before and after photo on the right is rather meaningless it does show how painting the thing black can make all the difference. I'm sure that'll help. I wonder if we paid extra for that?

I put the radiator and the engine panel and driver seat back in (thinking I wouldn't need to get down that side of the engine any more), filled the radiator up and gave the van a good run around a few local hills at 80kmph. The good news being that the engine temperature remained constant at its proper level the whole time. Yippee! Old boiler no more!

Next I decided to see what I could do about the fuel problem wi…

Adelaide Pigs, an Echidna and an Urban Cow

22nd April 2009

Since the Frog van was out of action Rose and I decided not to let this week go totally to waste and boarded the train for Adelaide's Central Business and Shopping District (i.e. the city of Adelaide).

Rose specifically wanted to see the Adelaide Pigs of Rundle Mall that she hadn't had time to see last time. I can't tell you much (* see footnote) about these four bronze pig sculptures (see photo) other than each one was named by different people in 1999 and their names are Horatio (pictured with Rose), Truffles, Oliver (looking in the bin behind rose) and Augusta. The two pigs not pictured, more or less, look like they're walking around, as pigs do.

The four are very popular photo opportunities though I suspect Horatio is probably the star given that he is strategically placed to look like he's interacting with whoever sits on the bench in front of him.

Rundle Mall is essentially the main pedestrian shopping strip in the city of Adelaide. Anyone who co…

Getting to Know More About Cars

I've written before on everything I know about cars which is a lot more than some but no trained mechanics will be shaking in their boots any time soon. In fact quite a few backyard mechanics kick sand in my face too (metaphorically speaking of course).

My vehicle, known as the frog van, recently renamed the old boiler in this Barossa Festival post, has finally succumbed to its overheating problems to the point where I had to do something about it.

I tried to fix it the day before we went to see the Vintage Festival Parade at the town of Nuriootpa. I was thinking it may be a thermostat issue. After much research and consideration about where the thermostat actually was on my van I pulled things apart and did the 'boiling water' test to see if the thermostat would open. It did. Crap!

Essentially that meant I'd wasted a bottle of coolant (which had only been in the engine less than a week), had to replace a perfectly fine thermostat gasket and not found the overheating prob…

The Barossa Festival 2009 - Part 4

Vintage Festival Parade, Nuriootpa Town Day (Barossa Brunch) and Tanunda Town Day
April 18th, 2009

Eight days into the Barossa Festival finds Rose and I at the Nuriootpa Town Day. Obviously Nuriootpa is another Town of the Barossa Valley and serves as a commercial/shopping centre for many of the smaller surrounding towns (such as Greenock).

We arrived in town just in time to see the start of the Barossa Vintage Festival Parade that showcases local wineries, businesses, community groups and more. Apparently it's the longest parade in the southern hemisphere given that it runs the distance between Nuriootpa and the town of Tanunda. It includes over 100 floats and 1200 participants and has been a Barossa tradition since 1949 (can you tell I'm just rattling off figures from the brochure now?).

Anyhow, for a parade that isn't a Christmas Pageant (with all the story book and Christmas themes to base floats on) this one was still a lot of fun had a good variety of floats, bands, cars…

The Barossa Festival 2009 - Part 3

Angaston Town Day
April 15th, 2009

If there is one event of the festival that I could highly recommend thus far it is Angaston's Town Day. Angaston is a smallish South Australian country town that, in my opinion, is one of the most scenic and attractive. Located, seemingly part way up a hill, it has a good cross section of history, historic architecture and Shady trees/spots (a real asset to any spectator event).

Importantly, the Angaston community knows how to put on a town day that is what it should be - jam packed with plenty to do and/or see.

The main street was blocked off for the event and was filled with demonstrations and stalls including Yarn Spinning, a man making wooden rocking horses, stone crushing, wine barrel making, local produce stalls, main stage and more.

The highlight of the day were three heats of the Barossa grape stomping competition held right in the middle of the main street where you couldn't miss it (see photo, top right).

Further up the street the local …

Herbig Family Tree, Springton

April 14th, 2009

Rose and I didn't stay that long at the Mengler Lookout. There was still a good part of the afternoon left so Rose suggested we go look at a tree.

Not just any tree but the Herbig Family Tree at the small country town of Springton, South Australia. I looked at the map and noticed the drive would be quite significant for my heat challenged boiler, the frog van. I said to Rose, "This better be one really impressive tree!"

The first part of the drive was the rest of the way up the fairly steep Menglar Hill. I knew this would be the most challenging for the van. Fortunately it made it and fortunately the rest of the drive was largely down hill, following the sealed back roads without too much traffic. In some spots the van's engine temperature actually went down for a bit.

Whilst I had been very skeptical of traveling so far to see a tree I must admit once I saw the Herbig Family Tree it was worth the trip. If only because the tree is so photogenic.

I can…

Mengler Hill: Barossa Sculpture Park Revisited

April 14th, 2009

After the some-what disappointing Step Back in Time, Rose and I decided to head up the road (and up the hill) to the Mengler Hill Lookout, home of the Barossa Sculpture Symposium. I wrote about these sculptures when Rose visited me back in 2007 and at the time was unimpressed with what I saw.

However, sometime during the year 2008 a new Symposium was held with a few more international sculptors being invited to contribute new works to the existing park. Hence, since we were so close, we thought we would have a look.

As near as we could tell about eight (possibly nine) new sculptures have been added to the park. Unusually we couldn't find any information about who made them or what each new sculpture was called (other than some pretty rough signature inscriptions into the sculptures themselves - one even had the artist's web address carved into the base).

All but one of the new sculptures were fairly simplistic abstract shapes much like the existing sculptures. The…

The Barossa Festival 2009 - Part 2

Bethany: A Step Back In Time
April 14th, 2009

Rose wanted to visit the Bethany, Step Back in Time family day. Bethany is a small, South Australian, rural town just before you get to the larger town of Tanunda. It's main attraction is the German 'village' which these days consists of a church, tea rooms and school house art gallery as well as a few smaller surrounding structures.

Rose and I decided to head through the School house art gallery first where the Barossa Art Society had a display of paintings. The exhibition wasn't particularly large and there were certainly a number of nice landscapes and animal pictures however nothing particularly stuck out in my mind to single it out here.

The brochure for this event said there would be demonstrations of traditional bread making, butter churning, noodle making, rope making and more. When we got there the bread making stall was vacant, I heard someone ask the rope making person if he'd be demonstrating (he said "no&q…

The Barossa Festival 2009 - Part 1

Lyndoch Family Fun Day and Greenock Town day.

My sister, The Blonde Rose, is visiting again from Western Australia for a few weeks. As part of her visit we're stopping by a few of the 2009 Barossa Festival events. Neither of us are big wine drinkers so we tend to stay away from the Winery events preferring the family events that focus on the places and history of the Valley.

The festival runs for nine days from April 11, 2009 however our first event was the Lyndoch Family Fun Day, on the 13th, held primarily at the Lyndoch Oval.

Unique to this event is the short helicopter rides (which can't be much more than five minutes) but offer some spectacular aerial views. At AU$25.00 per person neither Rose or I were prepared to part with that kind of cash for such a short trip but with two helicopters going, seemingly non stop all the time we were there, these flights were popular.

Town days (which is really all this 'Family Fun Day' was) in any country town in the Barossa are al…

Is Michelle Obama the New Princess Diana?

Marc Malkin from E!Online recently wrote an article, Another Michelle Obama Fashion Stimulus Package, that talked about how Michelle Obama's taste in clothes is creating a noticeable boost in fashion sales (specifically on clothes she is actually seen wearing as evidenced by this Essence magazine cover - see photo - that is featured alongside Marc's article).

Marc's article prompted me to notice that there are obvious similarities with the late Princess of Wales, Princess Diana, who only had to stick a toe outside her front door for the media to go wild with anticipation to see what she was wearing.

The two are also in the same league when it comes to their fashion choices. Unlike many celebrity women (movie stars and singers etc.) Michelle and Diana have/had to show some conservatism in their wardrobe whilst still highlighting their ability to wear clothes that others want to wear because they make the clothes look so good.

I can't think of any other women, beyond Prince…

If HRP-4C Had a Child Could it be CB2?

My previous blog post about the fashion robot, HRP-4C, talked about the idea of proof of concept and I think this child robot, CB2, also from Japan, almost takes the idea one step further.

At the moment CB2 mimics the behaviors of children roughly around the age of a toddler but where it differs from HRP-4C is that this robot can 'feel', 'see' and 'hear' as well as respond to its environment and the people who are interacting with it - learning as it goes.

It's a little bit creepy to look at just yet but according to this article from Breitbart, Japan child robot mimics infant learning, it, for the most part, can mimic the mother baby relationship (obviously it handles the baby side whilst a human plays the 'mother').

This quote directly from the article sounds more ominous than revolutionary (or is that evolutionary):

A bald, child-like creature dangles its legs from a chair as its shoulders rise and fall with rythmic breathing and its black eyes follo…

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