Thursday, 29 January 2015

Ellery Big Hole

Ellery Big Hole is the name of a waterhole not that far from Alice Springs. It's a popular wild swimming destination. This photo is taken from the path to the waterhole, which is just visible as lush vegetation mid-left.

Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Travels with Simon

Ah... back in the day...

Three day weekends when the only food consumed was toasted bacon and egg sandwiches, whilst travelling 1,800km with 4 people and a tonne of gear in a van or car and trailer. Long days and even longer nights.

Conditions may have been cramped
but the views compensated for it
Regrets? None. Not to say that there weren't scary moments - like when the axle of the trailer broke at 100kmh at (well - near) Bollon on our way out to Eulo. All of a sudden the trailer had taken on a life of its own, and the trailer wheel was leading me down the road. Until that moment I was the only person in the car who was awake and as luck would have it - I was driving.

So there we were, miles from nowhere. After finding and retrieving the wheel we sat by the car, waiting for someone to along. I think we waited about 30 minutes for the first car, who gave the drummer and singer a lift to Bollon. When there, they organised the service station owner to drive out to us with a trailer while they phoned the person who had booked us to say we were delayed.

Typical: singer directs guitarist to find wheel while drummer rolls a dhurrie. Bass player documents action.
Once everything was loaded on the second trailer we travelled back to Bollon where we stored the broken trailer and waited in the pub (bad luck - pub was open) while the drummer's uncle drove out to collect us and the gear. He was in a one tonne truck, so a combination of that and our car we completed the trip in time, set up, played for 5 hours, then slept - not surprising, as by that stage we had loaded and unloaded the equipment 4 times in 12 hours.

The next moring we borrowed a trailer to return home only to find that the weight of the old trailer breaking had bent the tow bar of the car all out of shape. So we drove out to the uncle's farm to use his oxy gear. Straightening the tow bar was a long process, as it seemed no matter how much we played the oxy torch on it, it just wouldn't heat up enough for us to bend it. Imagine the conversation (but add more expletives than previously considered possible):

player 1: "hmmm. It isn't heating up"
Player 2: "gosh. why do you reckon that is?"
Player 1: "I don't know, but I am getting jolly bored"
Player 3: "what nozzle do you have?"
Player 1: "ah, would you believe, I have the cutting nozzle on"
Player 3: "oh dear. And what is that metal thing by your jolly old noggin"
Player 1: "you mean the fuel tank?"
All players (in unison): !

Caution: men at work
Once we had applied heat properly and the tow bar was straightened we drove back to Eulo, loaded everything on the borrowed trailer, then drove to Bollon where we unloaded everything, loaded the broken trailer on the borrowed trailer, reloaded all the gear, and drove home.

Fully loaded at at Bollon. The pub was open. Again.
This wasn't a typical weekend, because sometimes we didn't break anything. We did cover a lot of miles over the year, and always found something to laugh at. Do I miss it? Yup - although for the laughs and mateship rather than the loading and unloading of tonnes of speakers and amplifiers.

If I could get a roadie..... 

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

After Sydney

I have written about when my family emigrated to Australia, and also about life in Sydney.

After we had been living in Sydney for just over a year my father got a job working as a printer for the Australian National University. The ANU had been founded in 1949, but even in the late 1960's Canberra was a city that had trouble attracting workers. In order to offset this many employers (well - OK - both employers, and even then one was funded by the other) offered accommodation for an interim period. As well as houses and flats there were hostels, and these were usually available for three years - the time it was anticipated it would take to rise to the top of the government housing list. (There is more on Canberra government housing here, and a photoset of ANU housing here)

The circled house is 16 Mulga Street, O'Connor
being built in 1950, and where we moved to in 1968
Moving from Sydney to Canberra (a distance of about 200 miles) meant a train journey of about a billion-trillion hours (or 6 hours, depending on age), even though Dad had been flown to Canberra for his interview.

The house we were given was a Riley-Newsum prefabricated house, built in Lincoln (England) and shipped to many parts of Australia, somewhat controversially. It had three bedrooms, bathroom, separate toilet, kitchen, laundry, dining room and living room, all set on 1/4 of an acre, and it was, without doubt, the bestest house I had ever lived in. In the above photo about half of the houses are exactly the same type. There are still some Riley-Newsum Houses still doing service in Canberra, 60 years later.

A row of Riley-Newsum houses, just around
the corner from where we lived.
(photo from ACT Archives)
Here is a video about these houses, although the ones shown in the video were destined for Canada, not Australia. I do hope they were better insulated.

There is a picture of where the factory used to stand here

Monday, 26 January 2015

The Kangaroo and the Emu

I am very pleased that those who wanted to use uniquely Australian animals rather than traditional heraldic beasts prevailed in 1908. Australian animals may be funny looking, but they are special, and anyway, heraldic lions always look gormless. Behind the animals are sprigs of wattle Acacia (known as mimosa in France), Australia's national flower. In the middle is a shield with the emblems of each of the states.

This representation is on the Commonwealth Bank building in Martin Place, Sydney.