Sunday, 30 April 2006

Back Home.

On Thursday afternoon at half one I left my sister's house in Sydney, seen off by my sister. brother in law, two nieces, a nephew in law and two second cousins. At 2 pm Friday I arrived home in Torquay. Add on the nine hours difference in Sydney time and Torquay, this means it took me 33 1/2 hours to travel 12 265 miles, half way round the world. Fairly slow compared with the 45 mins it took Yuri Gagarin to travel half way round the world but a big improvement on the two years it took Captain Cook to sail to the Great Southern Island and claim it for the Crown, provided no one had got there first of course. He over looked the fact that some one had got there before him by 50 000 years.

Sunday I started back at work, 5 weeks away. What changes would have occurred in 5 weeks. Well I was late getting out of the depot due to someone parking a bus in the exit and walking away. Then later on a warning light when on on the dash and being safe and not sorry, I had to transfer my passenger to the next bus. Then I had to change the bus. It turned out it was the switch and not the door. When I got to Paignton the bus wasn't ready. Nothing's changed.

Still it was only a short duty, 7 hours 1 min. Oh yes, forgot to mention, on Thursday afternoon, just sat down with a cup of coffee and the allocations officer rang and asked if I could work my rest day on Tuesday. Welcome back.

Tuesday, 25 April 2006

Pacific Highway

The Pacific Highway comes down from Brisbane to Sydney. About 950 Km. On Sunday I drove most of that road. One of my sisters lives in Tweed Heads in Northern New South Wales and the other lives in Sydney ( where else?). While I was staying in Tweed my Sydney sister went up to O'Reilly's for the week end. So sooner then spend 2 miserable hours flying down to Sydney I volunteered to spend 10 hours driving the car down, providing we made it in one trip. All 845 km (530miles for those of you still in the 20th Century), it took 10 hours but was a very easy trip as most of it was done at night. About the only problem was when we got to the 400 km mark the only place we could find open for food was a Red Rooster. I have eaten better, I think. I have eaten in nicer surroundings, maybe?

The road gets more letters to the editor than any other subject but travelling in the dark was the best idea I have had on this trip. Nothing but us and big rigs (semis they are called here, we call them artics). Tuck in behind one of them doing 120 kph in a 100 kph and the Kilometres go like magic. Camera goes of and before it has reset the brakes are on and the speed is down to legal. Nothing but us, rigs and road kill.

Anzac Day

Anzac Day in Australia is a big day. A bit like Remembrance Sunday in the UK but it is an important public holiday and it is a celebration as well. I have been here on Anzac Day before but to day I went to Drummoyne Sailing Club to celebrate Anzac Day.

I excepted it to be a few drinks and conversation about the problems facing the world with reference to the relationship between the UK and Australia or at least between my British relatives and my Australian relatives. But we ended up in the TAB. There the only concern was which horse was going to win the next race. Gambling here in Oz is second only to sleeping. Even surf and the barbie come a long way behind having a bet. Not being a gambling man my job ended up as a mix between getting drunk and getting rid of the duff betting slips. Lots of duff betting slips. Lots of drinks. I'm not totally sure how we all got home but I know I did. Other wise I would not be posting now. A strange place Australia, but a very friendly place none the less.

Friday, 21 April 2006

A Little Trek in the Wilderness

A Little Trek in the Wilderness

This little trek into the wilderness to visit a remote waterfall in the North West of Tasmania starts in Burnie. If you have never heard of Burnie you are in good company, But it is on the North West coast of Tassie and with a population of about 20 000 is the 4th largest town in the state. From Burnie you drive along the coast to Somerset and turn left on to a paved road. About 10 km after Yolla you take a right turn on to a minor road. Watch out for the road kill along this stretch. Road kill is comon in Tassie on the minor roads. After a very short space of time the road turns to gravel and then to dirt. Logging trucks come along here so watch out.

Then over the next 25 Km and lots of ruts, potholes, swear woods, turns but no logging trucks or fresh road kill later, my guide Philip suddenly said “There it is!”

Not expecting to find the promised waterfall at the side of the road I looked round in surprise for it. No where to be seen, “Where?” I ask.
“There.” Says Phil pointing at a red ribbon tied round a tree branch. You have to remember we are deep in a forest of several million trees and we have just driven along a track that the AA and the RAC would class as unpassable in all of their guide books no matter how much money changed hands. And we are parked next to the one with the red ribbon.

So we park up and head into the forest. Bilbo Baggins and Robin Hood both headed into the forest but the stories they were in certainly ment they were going to get out. After about 15 seconds into the trees the name of a Bert Reynolds film was wandering around in side my head but I just didn’t want to put a name to it. (1). Any way, after fallowing a barely dicernable track for hours (15 mins) we came to the waterfall. Someone had put a small tree trunk across the way to stop poeple like me falling down the waterfall. Up until that moment I had walked under the expectation that we would come out at the base of the fall and look up in wonder. No such luck. We were at the top and all we could see were thousands of tree tops and hear the roar as the invisable water crashed on to the rocks far below.

We have to go down.

Now going down isn’t the problem as lots of little old ladies who have got of the number 12 bus in Brixham will atest. Usually as they are about to desend from the top deck I shout up to them, asking if they could save my old legs and check the top deck for me for any lost property. Most of them do! Such nice old ladies.

Phil, seeing that I was a little reluctant explained that he hadn’t been down to the base of the falls and would like to. Emotial blackmail just doesn’t work on me. It goes in one ear, has a good laugh and vanises some where. So he suggested we go down a little way. Then, now we had got this far we may as well go a bit more; before I had noticed I was 50 metres (165 ft) down a ravine in the middle of now where, far from the friendly Mountain Rescue (the 4th emergancy service).

Well it was worth it. Philip my guide, and also the son by partnership of my niece with whom I was staying told me the the falls were so remote and visited by so few poeple that he didn’t know if the had a name. So, in the tradition of Captain Cook and all great explorers I decided to name the falls after my belovered leader. No not Liz, even thought it is her birthday. She has enough named after her. And definately not Tony, I wouldn’t name a pile of horse droppings after him. Actually, come to think of it I just might. No the recipient of the honour is the Managing Director of the company I work for.

I give you :- HILDITCH FALLS

Note (1) Deliverance

Tuesday, 18 April 2006

Horses are bigger than buses.

Well they are when it’s the first time in 62 years that you have been on one. On this trip to Australia, and this is my 6th trip I have done 3 things I have not done before. One is ride in a Saab. A Saab 340 to be exact, which carries 34 passengers and a crew of three. Scroll back a couple of posts to see a picture.

The second is to complete my plan to visit all the states in the Commonwealth of Australia, including the Northern Territories which never made it to statehood for some reason that I, and probably most Australians don’t understand. Nice place though, very hot. I should also add that to call my trip to Victoria a visit is stretching it a little. I spent all the time I was there (5 hours) in Melbourne Airport on my way to and from Tasmania. Next time I come I will spend some more time there. Almost everyone I spoke to suggested places to visit, The Great Ocean Road, a helicopter flight over the 12 Apostles and of course a day out at Torquay.

The Horse was the third. We stayed with my niece in Tassie. She had lots of land around her house and keeps a horse called JJ. On the last full day I was sitting in the house and I could hear some thing going on at the front door. Now where we were was out in the wilderness (most of Tassie is wilderness) so anything going on was bound to attract attention. I mean by the second day we had given up counting cars going past. One pickup had gone by, 3 times in two days. Some parts of the world are quieter I am sure. Anyway I went out to look and discovered my niece and her partner saddling JJ to take him for a ride a round the paddock. Without really thinking how far off the ground you are when sitting on a horse I said, “That looks interesting, can I have a go?”

Let me tell you that up until that moment I would have sooner driven the 15:45 number 12 out of Newton Abbot full of school children than get on a horse. Once up there and I realized that he wasn’t going to turn round and bite me or buck like some crazed rodeo performer driven into a frenzy by a desire to hurtle the poor sod (me!) on it’s back to the ground and pound and stamp with those heavy, very dangerous looking things on the end of his legs until I was nothing more than a bloody mess in the field. After I had got over this very rational fear of looking like road kill, it was fun. We never got beyond a fast walk but that was OK by me. And I think OK by JJ as well. I am looking forward to my next trip to Tassie so I can have another go at riding a horse. Might try and get up to a trot next time.

Sunday, 16 April 2006

Australian Hotel

When I first went to Oz in 1993 I walked over the Bridge on my second day here. As I came down from the walk way a pub caught my eye. It was the Australian Hotel, seemed a good name for a pub in Australia so I went and had a look. Bit of a dump, paint falling of the walls, windows unwashed and cracked, door needed a bit of a hard shove to get it open. Now back in those days the only Ozzies I had met were in London where they seemed to spend a lot of time in the pub. So I entered this pub expecting thousands of friendly cobbers holding the bar down and greating every entering pom with bold cries of, "Good Day mate. " and similar well know australisums. No such luck. When I entered I doubled the number of people in the place. There was on guy on a bar stool who went round the bar and served me a schooner of VB. When I had paid him he looked at his watch and said," We don't usually get this busy at lunch time." Not quite what I expected.

He got talkative after a while and told me that the bar never got busy and he was expecting the place to close down any day and be turned in to a car park.

Now time change and all those tables are full of people eating $20 meals and inside there was only one bar stool empty for me to sit on while I drank a pint of VB to celebrate crossing the bridge, at $7.00 a pint. How times have changed since the Olympics came to Sydney.

Saturday, 8 April 2006

Saab 340

How did I get get to Tasmania? Well I got there in a Saab 340. And this is it. After flying to Australia in a 500 seat Jumbo we flew across the Bass Stait, the worse waters int the world, also know as the roaring forties in a 34 seater airoplane. Bis Thing isn't it? I drive a Bus bigger than this. Not counting the wings that is.

Friday, 7 April 2006


Hi All

Sorry my postings have been a little low. I am in Tasmania at present. This means I have now been to all the states in Australia. Yes I know that the Northern Territories is not a state but it may as well be. Here it is cold with a wind coming from the South West, which means the last interesting place it came past was the South Pole. Where I am staying is 2 km from the nearest neighbour and 35 km from the nearest town, Burnie (pop 19 007, the 4th largest town in Tassie). The computer I am using has dial up which is very slow and I can not down load any photos. Hope to soon.

Only 3 weeks an 2 days before I will be back driving a bus, and I CAN wait.

Tuesday, 4 April 2006

$2 Million for an old railway carriage

A few kilometres down the coast from Sydney there used to be some coal mining villages. The coal has long gone but the villages remain. With house prices in Sydney going almost into outer space and the traffic driving the car drivers mad these former rail way carriages recently sold for $2.1 million (that's 1 Million in pounds). Great view though.

One item in the papers that caught my eye is about a new law called WorkChoice. Now you can be sacked just because the boss dosen't like you. The first case was on the day the law became Law. 29 night workers earning $700 a week were fired and told the could have their jobs back at $560 a week, that is 20 of them could. What about the rest, the boss was asked. "Who cares?" Lets hope Tony tries this in the UK. If he did he would be the first to be sacked. Australia does have problems.

Monday, 3 April 2006

Walking over Sydney Harbour Bridge

I have been to Rome 3 times. The first and second time I dropped a coin in the Trivie Fountain. Doing that is supposed to mean that you will return to Rome one day. The last time I went I gave the dropping coin in fountain a miss. That was 40 years ago and I haven't been back. Must mean something.

I have been to Sydney 6 times now, very nice place. Each time I come I walk over the bridge. For me it's a little like the coin in the fountain, don't do it and you never go back. So at some stage in the trip I do the walk. Not the one the people on the arch are doing (click on the picture for more detail). I do the free walk using the walk way you can just see. Them on the arch pay Au$125 for the privilege and they don't even end up on the other side of the Harbour.

I went out for breakfast on Sunday morning in the city. Everyone was complaining that it was cold, 16C, poor souls.

My sister is getting a computer (her first) and it should arrive to morrow. She doesn't know yet that she has no chance of getting near it for at least 3 days, it will take me that long to make sure that it is working properly. It is hard blogging in an Internet Cafe.

We don't get British news here, papers are full of their own bad news, but I was wondering if Tony had gone yet.