New South Wales – Big Enough For You?

OK. I can’t take Dani to Darwin in the Northern Territory because all the states seem to be hiding behind the sofa. Not to be put off I started looking into places in New South Wales (NSW). We all know Australia is massive but I somehow had this image of NSW being just a small corner of the country. Bottom right hand corner to be exact. Well it is; but it’s still bloody big!

The Scale is Incredible

Consider how big NSW is compared to the countries we know best. Great Britain and Spain. First of all I just found the surface area sizes for the different countries and NSW. But then I found this great website which not only gives you details on sizes of different areas but also a visual comparison with overlaying maps. Not only countries but continents, states, other areas such as Amazon rainforest, Sahara desert. All sorts of places.

New South Wales vs Great Britain
New South Wales vs Spain

Here’s the data…

Spain has an area of 505,992 km². Great Britain covers an area of 209,331 km².
So, Spain and GB combine to cover an area of 715,323 km².

NSW covers 800,640 km² so is bigger than Spain and GB combined.

In fact if you add on the area of the island of Ireland (that’s north and south) – which covers an area of 84,421 km² – then the total for Spain, GB and Ireland is 799,744 km². So still (just) less than the area of NSW.

That still leaves an extra 896 km² advantage for NSW. If we can’t find a place to have some great adventures in this state there is not much hope is there? And we haven’t done too bad so far have we? I just need to break the news to the boy and convince him that all is not lost. That will be the difficult part.

MapFight – great website for playing around

Check out the website here: https://mapfight.appspot.com/

It’s actually quite good fun. Dropping a small country into a “mapfight” with Australia. Otr comparing any country with another. You can also do country comparisons to continents. So for example, the famous one is Australia vs Europe. That’s one you often see on posters and postcards.

Australia vs Europe – Classic Map

 

Here is the one from MapFight: In the case of ‘Europe’ there are a few options available such as ‘Western Europe’ and Europe including part of Russia. This one is Europe made up of the European Union countries (as of 2017 hence the UK is there).

Australia vs Europe (European Union) – MapFight version

And one last one…  When they mention things like forest destruction on the news they always say thigns like “an area the size of Wales is destroyed every day”. Well here’s the whole of (old) Wales vs New South Wales . It looks lost in the size of just one state.

All of (old) Wales vs New South Wales

 

No Trip to Darwin – New Plans Needed

I had hoped to take Dani to Darwin in the Northern Territory (NT) next month when his end of term 3 holidays start. That is where he wanted to go. That will not be happening now.

NT Elections

They have just had state elections in NT. The biggest party there (Labour as it happens, but they are all garbage) increased its vote and will now rule for four years with an outright majority.

it seems that the party had hijacked the ‘pandemic card’ and instead of making loads of empty promises about all sorts of policies and agendas, the made just one (or is it two?) promise – ‘Life or Death’. Yes. The Labour party leader Michael Gunner actually said that. He made the election all about this bloody coronavirus saying that if he is elected (again) he will keep other Australians out of NT. These people make me sick. This bloke is a megalomaniac, but unfortunately the constant scaremongering has led to people falling for his bullshit.

It’s a common problem…

He even had the audacity to claim he was fighting for their lives but also for their jobs. Well as tourism is a main industry up there how the hell is that going to work? If this “pandemic” is so serious then why isn’t it being dealt with on a nationwide basis? What would people like this Gunner idiot say if, during the second world war the rest of Australia said “Ah, just let the Japanese invade NT. They can have it”?

Well I suppose this is (part of) the problem with the state based political system. It is similar in the UK with England, Wales and Scotland doing slightly different things. Same in Spain with the “regions” like Andalucia and Catalonia etc… Yet I thought this virus was the same in all those places. Odd that eh? Maybe it mutates when crossing borders? Don’t be surprised to hear something equally as stupid any time soon…

NSW it is then…

And so I will have to start looking around for other places to visit. Probably only in New South Wales. It turns out that all states have closed their borders. What a bunch of muppets!

I guess that’s the flip side of having places to yourself locally. The same stupid virus restrictions mean that you cannot venture too far away. I fear nothing will change until early November (at the very earliest) when the US election takes place. Love him or hate him, there seems to be only one leader of the (no longer free) Western  world who will stand up to this nonsense. We shall see…

In any case there seem to be some interesting options in the state of New South Wales. I just need to plan and book…

State Leaders without Accountability

The (very) bad news for NT is that they have just elected a state government with no real plan and without a single significant funding commitment or policy promise to keep. Instead, they only have to be seen to be trying to keep their one and only pledge/slogan – ‘saving lives and jobs’. It may sound like a noble cause but it is so vague and superficial it is impossible to measure their success (or otherwise).

The virus has gone anyway and any so called “2nd wave” can be brushed under the carpet as it will be minor. They can claim to have been a great success. And probably will. Basically with no real set of policies and pledges to keep, it makes it hard for the opposition (who will be equally as shit anyway) to hold them to account. What can they gauge anything by? NT state leaders now have zero accountability. That’s just crazy.

These idiots are talking abut keeping the borders closed for eighteen months. Bloody fools. But of course they are just lying again. They are simply doing everything they can to drag this charade out until November…

Pearl Farming on the Hawkesbury

Today we went just north of Sydney and discovered a small but interesting industry. Pearl farming.

Pearls of Australia

We organised a tour of the little pearl farm and base for a company that operates in two locations. They started off in Western Australia in a place called Cygnet Bay and more recently opened the operation in a place called Mooney Mooney on the Hawkesbury River estuary.

Plenty of ex-oysters. There are shells everywhere

We learned how they make the pearls – or rather how they cultivate them. We then went out on a boat to see where they ‘farm’ the oysters. The skipper of the boat showed us how they check for pearls and wouldn’t you know it… Out of two oysters we found two pearls, one in each. Excellent. We were told that the success rate is actually about two out of three with cultivated pearls. Far less common for natural pearls – something like one in a thousand (or was it more? anyway, quite rare).

A pearl in an oyster…
Shore of Spectacle Island where some of the oysters are farmed
Two out of two ‘aint bad

Skipper Dani

The best part for Dani was when he was allowed to drive the boat, which of course he found very exciting. Now he can’t wait to get back to school to tell everyone. The main reason that was even possible was that there was only the three of us on the trip (and the real skipper). Another covid-1984 effect. The boat was ours. You see, sometimes these “pandemics” bring great opportunities. That probably wouldn’t have happened if these tours could fully book without restrictions..

When we returned to the company’s base we learned about hos the pearls are graded based on size, colour, shape, surface and lustre. You could say we probably know more about it now than the people selling them in your local jewellery store. Well, we can think that for a while can’t we?

Before… Yet Another ‘Reccy’

Before the trip and guided pearl tour we headed further inland of the Hawkesbury to a little place called Spencer.  This looks a great place to rent a boat and do a little tour even further up the river. Hardly anyone on the river. On the road however it was different. This place is very popular with the bikers. Motorbikers that is. Where we stopped for a coffee was a typical bikers stop. And who can blame them? The roads wind around the shore of the river with lush forest on the other side. Perfect for a day’s riding.

A bold claim…
Popular with the bikers
Spencer is on a classic biker’s route
Such a peaceful location for a boat ride

This was just another ‘reccy’. It’s about time we actually did something eh? So, tomorrow we intend to…

A Piss-up in a Brewery – sort of.

Before we left Byron Bay I did manage to do something I had tried (and failed) to do in the past. I had a ‘piss-up in a brewery’.

Stone & Wood

The Stone & Wood brewery is quite a large setup now. They have three sites. One in Brisbane one in Murwillumbah and the one near our campsite in Byron Bay. That Murwillumbah looks like a nice spot. It’s inland about half way up to Queensland and sits on the River Tweed overlooking Mount Warning. Must try and get there next time we are up this way. But for now, back the brewery…

I was reading on their website about their philosophy. They have this idea of a ‘village brewery’ thing going on. Basically, way back in old Europe every village had a little brewery and the village brewer was as important as the village baker or village butcher. Yeah I get that. Great. Nice idea etc… But just give me some beer. I am not driving and want to get a few down me. So no time for chit-chat and forget the “tour” (which you pay extra for). Just show me the beers!

Part of the brewing process area
Inside the brewing area

The place was very busy. Very popular indeed. Some were there for the tour. Others just for the tasting. One or two – like me – were there to get drunk. They even have a little restaurant area so there are no excuses for drinking on an empty stomach.

The Beers

This place being spread over three brewing sites means they have a fair range of brews. From lagers (and lager-like pish) through to dark ales. I took a tasting paddle of five different ales. Dani’s mum had the same. Dani was happy with water, which I have to say, is actually the right choice. But then again, I was in a brewery and kind of on a mission.

After trying those I went back for a couple of larger glasses of two I also wanted to try. Then a couple more. By this time it was getting dark so we had to think about heading back. But then, all of a sudden it was dark. So what the heck. Time for a couple more.

Tasting Paddle for five beers
The Menu. I tried to taste all those that took my fancy.

Conclusions

As usual with these breweries some of their ales are better than others. Everyone has their own tastes etc.. So there were the odd ones where I think they have tried a little too hard. Meanwhile the simple beers were just perfect. For me the Fixation Obsession was the best one. I could have easily stayed and had a few more but I would have been a bit drunk if I had. Anyway we had a little boy to get safely home… I wouldn’t mind more of this sort of afternoon out though, as and when I get the chance.

The Stone & Wood Byron Bay brewery is apparently where they make their experimental, untested pilot batches. I wouldn’t mind being a guinea pig for those.

By the way if you haven’t read it – click here – to see the post about my previous attempts to organise a piss up in a brewery – before all the lockdown crap…

 

From Queensland South to Byron Bay

More from our holidays last month – before I forget…

Returning South to Byron – via the beaches.

We drove back to Byron Bay from Queensland – well, the border at least – via several beach and lookout areas. Stopping first in Kingscliff, a typical purpose-built little holiday town. Next to Cabarita Beach, another pleasant little beach resort which relies almost totally on tourism. One more stop at Hastings Point, a lookout where we saw a whale breaching in the distance. The lookout point overlooks the wild Cudgera Beach and you can just make out the Cape Byron lighthouse in the distance.

One final stop. Just north of Byron Beach is a place called Brunswick Heads. Now this place looks like it warrants further investigation…

Brunswick Heads

The small town of Brunswick Heads is more how I imagined Byron Bay to be. Unpretentious and laid back. Not at all a developed resort town like Byron Bay just to the south. Not that Byron bay is exactly over-developed but you notice the difference here right away. There are plenty of places to get a bite to eat or a drink plus a few little unusual shops. Almost niche markets.

Old style record shop selling original vinyl records.
A rare sight these days. I thought all these had places had shut down.

I know vinyl records are making a bit of a comeback but videos? Well, DVDs in this case of course. I really thought that had all disappeared but this was not the only one we saw in this part of the world.

Minor building maintenance – with a sense of humour.
Zoom in on the active maintenance higher up – using a crane!

Beach and Town

There are plenty of interesting and quirky old buildings here too. Including one of those great old picture houses. Cinemas to kids today. This one was quirky in the extreme but deliberately so I think. Having been closed due to the lockdown this place needed a little tidying up but still puts on shows – it seems.

Quirky and colourful Library
Church of Saint Thomas.
The old Picture House.

The beach is a short walk out of the town and across a river, Simpsons Creek, which itself flows into Brunswick River. The river empties into the sea splitting the shore into two beaches. The main Brunswick beach stretches for miles south all the way to Belongi and Byron. Behind that long beach is – yes you guessed it – a huge nature reserve/rainforest called Tyagarah.

Boats on Simpsons Creek

Brunswick Heads Main Beach looking south. Cape Byron can be seen in the distance.

While not as built up for tourists as Byron Bay, Brunswick Heads does have its fair share of B&Bs and Motels. All those that I saw were fully booked up. ‘No Vacany’ signs were everywhere to be seen. I really think people used this kids school winter school holidays to get away, having been deprived of the chance during the previous holidays due to that lockdown. All that is great for the small local businesses in places like Brunswick Heads. Even the caravan park was almost full…

Lego Braille Bricks: Great. But what am I missing here?

Here’s an odd one. I have just read about this and I can’t quite work out why these bricks are needed.

Lego Braille Bricks – Hmmm?

The Lego company has released some new bricks with Braille characters on them. Check out this website: https://www.legobraillebricks.com/

Aren’t there already braille blocks of some sort? Just as there are wooden blocks with letters painted on them for toddlers who can see. Surely there are already plenty of learning aids for Braille just as there are for any other language or alphabet.

Also isn’t Lego already a tactile toy? Why does it need letters of the alphabet in Braille? What am i missing here? Seriously. I am not being cruel here by saying that I don’t really understand the need for these bricks. Possibly a little naive – granted.

Anyone know?

So can anyone tell me: Are there not already some kind of Braille bricks/blocks already out there? What other Braille learning aids are there? or have there been?

Louis Braille

The Braille system of tactile letters and numbers to help blind people read and write (and do maths) was first invented by the man it was named after – Louis Braille – back in 1824. So, although it needed to be perfected and modified over the next few years that system has been around for nearly two centuries. It is an amazing system and I can clearly recall learning about it many years ago when I was my son’s age (so half a century ago!) in the infants school. I distinctly remember thinking how amazing it was.

Dani knows about it too, but not through school. His Spanish grandmother explained it to him because he had noticed the braille characters on lift (elevator) buttons and on buses.

Nothing wrong with Lego…

However, again, I do wonder… why on earth do we suddenly need Lego Braille bricks? Lego is a great toy. The best, obviously. It is already a tactile learning tool in its own right. I just can’t see the connection. And absolutely no puns intended there!!! There is nothing wrong with what Lego have done here but I am amazed that there was this gap in the market for such learning tools. I suppose they do say that the simplest ideas often get overlooked

Still, if it introduces more kids who are visually impaired to a great children’s toy then that has to be good eh?

Could this be better than any Covid Vaccine? – For those of a certain age

We know they are all scrambling to make a coronavirus vaccine. Many countries and many pharma companies are all hard at it as I type.

We also know that those between the ages of (say) early teens, like 14, to around 50 years old are not even at risk. Virtually nobody of that age has been dying from it. Hardly anyone in that age range has even had the disease and if they did they probably didn’t know about it.

What about the sharks? I hear you cry….

Here in Australia that is the age range for serious surfers. Yes folks, those people that love to get out on the ocean, bobbing around and actually catching the occasional wave. I have pointed out before that more surfers have died from shark attacks (who are obviously the most at risk form sharks)  in recent months in Australia than Covid, – among that age group. The actual figures are something like; Shark attacks, several – Covid, ZERO. So here is something that will be far more useful than any big pharma vaccine. Check out this video from as far back as 1966.

The greatest ideas are often the simplest

Now where can one buy that shark repellent Bat-spray? As daft as it sounds that product would save more lives (in that certain age range) in Australia than any virus vaccine. A great product that could surely be applied at the same time as waxing down the board? Not sure how that explosive effect would go down with the shark lovers though. Hmm… I am sure the product has come a long way since 1966 though…

“Oh, be serious! You sarcastic old fool of an old dad” I hear you scream. Well, when it comes to taking the piss, just remember folks; they started it!

Here We Go – Is this the real coronavirus agenda?

I was never worried by all this coronavirus nonsense. Maybe because I never paid too much attention to the media (something I strongly advise everyone to do). Maybe because I have seen it all before with other “pandemic” scares. Swine flu, bird flu, SARS to name a few. The best text/email/whatever I have seen during this whole farce is the one that reads, “The Media is the Virus”. So true.

Our “Leaders” do worry me…

The virus itself does not bother me. We all know now that it only affects people of a certain age and/or with already existing ‘pre-conditions’ So called ‘vulnerable’ people. It does not affect children.  Even if they are ‘carriers’ their teachers and parents do not seem to be catching this disease. If they were then the schools here would have closed by default not by some government decree. And teachers would have been dropping like flies. This has not happened.

What really bothers me now is the governments. They are beginning to get way out of hand. They are dragging this thing out as much as possible and continually doing everything they can to scare their people. They are loving this a little bit too much for my liking.

No singing, No sports

So the New South Wales government have decreed that all those things that make school enjoyable for many kids are now banned. It really is pathetic.  We received an email from the school saying that choir practice (any form of group singing in fact) and playing of wind instruments are not permitted. Also the competitive sports against other schools has been suspended. It is not the school to blame they are only following the government rules.  Hmm… Only following orders eh? Where have I heard that one before? Vee haf vays of making you talk…

And now…Here it comes….

Anyway, all joking aside it is just another way of dragging out the agony and spreading this pathetic mess out for another two months or so. And now they are talking about making the vaccine mandatory. The first feelers are already being put out there in Australia. Rumours are already circulating that people will not be allowed to work if they do not take up a vaccine that (if it even comes) will have been rushed through and will be unproven. They are only rumours and supposition at this stage but we know where that can lead.

I have worked in the pharmaceutical industry so I know how long these things take and what is involved. Anyone who takes this vaccine that will have clearly been rushed out, is asking for trouble. But forget all that. Why would you even take an injection for something which really does not affect you? This thing is only a real problem for a small number of (mainly) elderly people. Why make everyone of a fit and working age take it?

Now ask yourself the big question: Would you allow your child to be injected with an unproven and unnecessary vaccine?

Unnecessary for kids at least. They are not affected by this corona crap at all!!

Lots of “ifs”

If there are to be penalties and if they do not allow Dani’s mum to continue in her work then it looks like we will be leaving Australia sooner than expected. A lot sooner the way it appears to be heading. We are both agree there is no way they are giving our son that ‘vaccine’. If there even is one…

But it is all ‘ifs, buts and maybes’ isn’t it? Could it be that all this talk of a possible vaccine (that hasn’t been made yet) and what they will do with it (if it ever does get made) is just more crap to keep the people in fear?

So for now let’s just relax and use those three little words…We shall see.

Heading as far North as Possible

July 6th:
More from our holidays. This is what happened on July 6th.
More coronavirus crap as Melbourne has some “new cases” (or so they say – I still think it’s all bullshit) There is talk of closing state borders with Victoria again (yawn!!) but up here we could not get into Queensland without a permit. Despite there being plenty of people from Queensland down here in the Byron Bay area. Dani made two little mates on the camp site who returned home yesterday to Gold Coast – just north of the ‘border’. It is supposed to be a “pandemic” which means a global problem. So why aren’t countries at least doing a nationwide thing. Pathetic. And just goes to show it is not really as bad as they are trying to make out. Anyway, enough of that crap…

Into Queensland – Just…

We headed as far north as we could without driving into Queensland. A town called Tweed Heads directly north. The town sits on the River Tweed estuary and is actually split between New South Wales and Queensland. We got there early enough to avoid the traffic jams caused by the “border” control. We could have driven into the northern state but that would have entailed going online for a permit. Nah!. Can’t be arsed with that rubbish. As it turned out the streets are not policed (and really cannot be) to the same extent – if at all. There are some streets which actually divides the two states. One with the obvious name Boundary Street, runs from the Captain James Cook memorial (and lighthouse) at Point Danger – overlooking the sea – down to a split pyramid like modern artwork at the other end. All along the street the tree-lined centre verge marks the “border”.

Captain James Cook Memorial and Lighthouse
One foot in each State 

Surfers pack the waves at Point Danger

Technically we broke the law but does anyone really care? Where we were staying there were many families from Queensland. Kids playing together with others from New South Wales. Then returning to Queensland. There were even plenty of people on holiday from Melbourne – shock, horror! – that  supposedly plague ridden infestation. Haaa it’s all so laughable. What a pointless exercise closing the “border”. It’s another crazy case of power going to the heads of those in charge of the individual states. They really are loving this planned-demic aren’t they?

The State dividing line

Gold Coast

The Queensland side of Tweed Heads actually marks the start of the Gold Coast. There are a few beaches close to the town but the actual metropolis called Gold Coast can be clearly seen in the distance around the coast. It looks to me like an Aussie version of Benidorm. Once a holiday destination now a sprawling city in its own right.

The Start of the Gold Coast
The Skyscrapers of Gold Coast resort, not too far away…

In hindsight maybe we should have made the effort to get a car permit and driven half an hour more up to Gold Coast. It would be good to see the place without all the tourists. There may not be another opportunity to see it so quiet.

Star Wars on The Big Screen

Today we went to the cinema to see what for me is one of the greatest movies ever made. I say that when it is not even on my all time top ten (well, possibly not) but it was a film that changed everything in the movie industry. It was more spectacular than anything else made before it.  Yet it still managed to appear more realistic than all the computer generated graphics made films of today. That film was Star Wars. The original and arguably the best, also known as Episode IV -A New Hope.

We have this film on DVD of course, just as many people do. It has also been on TV often enough, so Dani has seen it several times already. But only ever on the small screen. Was the big screen showing of this classic good versus evil space tale going to be any different?

The Film…

The film itself was incredibly popular when it first came out back in 1977. I remember sitting in an old cinema being amazed when this thing hit the screen. A cinema long since demolished to make way for some completely garbage shops – many of which are now themselves empty. This was a different cinema experience altogether. I was actually glued to the back of cinema seat totally transfixed with what I saw. They did it all with models and real special effects unlike the computer generated graphics used just about everywhere today.
This film was extra special to any kid who saw it. You could even say out of this world – if you pardon the pun. 

You all know the story right? So that saves any quick plot explanation. Suffice to say it the classic tale of good versus evil. Only in a galaxy far, far away. Oh, and there’s something called a ‘Death Star’.  

How did Dani like it?

This time I never had the cinema to myself. Apart from Dani and his mum there were quite a few others in the theatre. Classic films like this will always draw an audience when they are shown on the big screen.

This was only the second time I had seen this movie on the big screen. Dani’s mum had never seen it in the cinema. In fact this was not the original original. It was the second version where they overlaid some computer graphics and enhanced some of the scenes. I can’t say that I was as blown away as the first time I saw it on this scale but being there with my son was great fun. He definitely loved it more on that huge screen with the loud surround sound. The full cinematic experience. He even wore his Darth Vader costume. 

Back to the Future…

I also saw online that it is the 35th anniversary of another great movie. One which Dani has watched recently and loved. ‘Back to the Future’ with Michael J. Fox. They are showing that classic film on the big screen too. Just not on the cinema that is nearest to us. Yet. I will be keeping and eye out for that one…