Sydney’s Most Iconic Landmark?

Sydney is synonymous with two iconic man made structures. Everyone the world over will shout them out as soon as the city’s name is mentioned. One is the harbour bridge and the other would be the Opera House. But there is a third. And for me, this one is more interesting than the other two and no doubt has far more visitors. I am talking about Luna Park amusement park.

Luna Park?

OK I know what you are thinking. An amusement park? How can that be compared with the bridge and opera house? Well first of all let me say this. Not only do I think it is right up there, I would actually place Luna Park above those other two. That said, my immediate reaction when we visited was; What a waste of money! More on that contradiction to come. First, let’s look at this fantastic landmark…

The famous Luna Park face
The two lesser Sydney icons viewed from the best; Luna Park

Luna Park – Quick History.

First thing: Get a perspective of exactly where Luna Park is and go to that trusty favourite – google maps. It is located at Milson’s Point right on the north side of the harbour bridge. It is visible from various points on the south side of the bridge (namely The Rocks observatory and Circular Quay in the CBD).

Park employees doing their thing

If you zoom in on google maps you can still see the (original) ‘Olympic Pool’ right next to Luna Park. An old open air, Olympic-sized swimming pool right at one end to the harbour bridge was itself an iconic landmark for many years. The old pool is now being refurbished (work started some time ago) so we never got to swim in the original. But I am sure it will be equally spectacular when work is complete.

The history of that “iconic” entrance mouth
“Coney Island Fun Land” A fun-house as we used to call them
Steep slides inside the Coney Island fun-house
Another attraction inside the fun-house

The park opened in 1935 just a few years after the harbour bridge opened.  Most of the original has been replaced or rebuilt over the years but it has managed to maintain it’s art deco charm and many of (what some might call) the old fashioned rides and attractions.

Top of the Wild Mouse ride viewed from ground level

There is a definite historical feel about the place coupled with that eye-catching retro styling that can transport us older people back in time to our own childhoods. There is certainly something appealing about the park that makes it as exciting a place for adults as it is for kids.

Park employees perform various shows as you walk around

Should we pity the residents who live in this ‘highly desirable’ part of Sydney? Who wants a roller coaster running past your windows and balcony? Then there is the noise and the flashing lights. These apartments must cost millions of dollars. Or is it a case of ‘more fool them’?

You have to feel for anyone who has paid millions to live here. Don’t you?

Luna Park could have been demolished. In fact it is nothing short of a miracle, in a city with some of the most expensive real estate on the planet, that it has survived at all. In fact it came close to disappearing when in the late 1970s most of it was demolished and then rebuilt following protests to save the park. It was only saved when the Luna Park entrance face became an item of national heritage by the National Trust of Australia. The park as a whole was added to the New South Wales State Heritage Register on 5th March 2010. That should protect it for many generations to come (and probably beyond).

Why a ‘Waste of Money’?

OK let’s now address that seemingly contradictory point. We paid in advance. Online. Like pretty much everyone else who was there – and it was busy. Yet when we arrived there was an horrendously long queue to pick up your tickets – actually bar-coded wrist bands to allow access to rides. Although the cost was more if you pay on the day, there was hardly any queue, so effectively you spend less time waiting in line and more time in the park having fun. We waited almost 40 minutes!

Those old school clowns
If the clowns don’t scare you then these fellas probably will

As just about everyone queueing said out loud; “what a waste of time booking online!” You pay up front but lose time in the park hence there is a slight waste of time/money involved. But there is another reason I said “what a waste…!”

Basically, as an adult, it is unlikely that there will be any ride in this park the likes of which you have not been on in the past. It is mainly for the kids. I would have been quite happy to just watch the kids having fun. There is nothing stopping you entering and walking freely around the park. Free entry into a world of nostalgia. Why pay? So for adults it is pretty much a waste of money. But of course there is another side to the story…

As fate would have it Dani is still too small for some rides and there were others where the smaller kids needed adult to accompany them. I was that accompanying adult of course.

So if your budget is tight and you have done these rides before I would say do not “waste” your money. But then there is no substitute for sitting next to your child when it is their first time on a scary ride. Not quite seeing them take their first steps or say your name for the first time but it is up there…

Light Up The Park…

As interesting as the park looks during the day it almost takes on another identity when the sun goes down and the lights come on. The mix of the coloured lights on those 1930s style buildings (and amusements) is sure to make you want to walk around the whole park again.

‘Coney Island’ fun-house lighting up as the sun goes down

Comparing Sydney Icons

Look the bridge is just a bridge. Get used to it. There are plenty of bigger and more eye-catching bridges the world over. It serves a transportation process in a big city. For me that’s more or less it.

As for the Opera House I have to say it is impressive and certainly different. But it is only adults that are impressed. Ask any child under (say) 12 where they would rather visit. Make that under 18 even, who knows? My point is that the Opera House is not necessarily everyone’s cup of tea. Photogenic, yes. But to go inside? Most people who make a B-line for the Opera House to photograph it do not go inside. It may as well be a sculpture.

On the other hand: They just don’t make places like Luna Park any more. It is a place for all the family, young and old. You really cannot say that about the Opera House. Of course both the Opera House and bridge will be by far the more photographed (often together) but Luna Park will have more paying visitors. (A bridge technically does not have visitors in the same way.) And for it to be located smack in the middle of a city of 5 million people!? That has to be near impossible nowadays.

Of course all this is just my personal opinion. Feel free to comment if you disagree… or comment even if you agree…

The Daintree Rainforest

Daniel had studied the Daintree Rainforest in his first school year here in Australia. I distinctly remember him telling me all about it. That was two years ago and he has all but forgotten most of what he learnt but he remembers that after those lessons he wanted to visit the place.

Queensland coastline north of Cairns

The rainforest is named after Richard Daintree, an Australian geologist and photographer. The Daintree region is in the northeast coast of Queensland, north of Mossman (which is itself about 75 km north of Cairns). It covers an area of around 1,200 square kilometres (460 sq miles), which makes it about half the size of Luxembourg. Daintree is a part of the largest continuous area of tropical rainforest in Australia. The tropical forest runs along the coastline north of the Daintree River and grows right down to the edge of the sea.

View to the mountains from the Daintree River

This area is home to salt water crocodiles. These scary creatures live along the coast and spend plenty of time in the Daintree River where we took a kind of croc-spotting cruise. Of course the river and its banks are home to many other animals but everyone was mainly interested in the “salty” (as the salt water crocodile is often called) – the largest member of the crocodile family.  We were not disappointed.

An adult crocodile facing into the river
There’s young crocodiles in these two pictures…
…apparently about one year old. Can you spot them?
A bigger specimen
A closer look

These trips do not throw food out for the crocodiles so they never approach the boats as they have become accustomed to doing in other parts of the country (namely Northern Territory). That means that we don’t get to see them  jumping out of the water like some circus act. As exciting as that can be I do think the Daintree park way is a more natural approach.

An even larger crocodile. Likely to be one of the alpha males
… and here he is close up

Into the ‘Jungle’?

Is a rainforest jungle? Or is a jungle just one type of rainforest? I really don’t know and although I did try to find out I could not find any really conclusive answers. I use the terms interchangeably (rightly or wrongly).

At the top of the rainforest covered mountain

The rainforest itself is similar to others we have visited but definitely seemed a lot more dense. The vegetation is incredible. There could be an animal only a few metres away and you would never see it. As luck would have it, we never saw much in the way of animals…

A basket fern

Basket ferns grow on tree trunks and form their own little environment for other plants to sprout as well as a place for animals like birds, snakes, frogs and insects to live. They thrive at all levels, but when you look up you will always see them struggling for light near the top of the forest canopy.

Basket ferns high up in the canopy

Deep inside the forest
A python curls up on the rainforest floor
Dani above the canopy

The one creature I really wanted us to see was the cassowary. A large flightless bird unique to this part of the world. Not only Australia but this specific part of Australia. Sadly we never got to see one. So, as the saying goes, we need to try again. So here’s looking forward to another trip to the north Queensland ‘jungle’.

Cape Tribulation

The rainforest spills down the mountainside to meet the Pacific ocean. One of the places where this rainforest meets beach experience can be witnessed is at Cape Tribulation.

Cape Tribulation beach
Cape Tribulation

Cape Tribulation was named by Lieutenant James Cook on 10 June 1770 after his ship hit a reef north east of the cape. Later the ship ran aground, on what is now named Endeavour Reef (after Cook’s ship). The ship was badly damaged, but Cook and his crew famously managed to refloat it the following day. Cook named Cape Tribulation because, as he wrote, “here begun all our troubles“.

At one end of the beach there is a great example of a mangrove forest. The word ‘mangrove’ does not actually refer to one specific plant or tree but is a generic term for any plant that can survive in saline waters.

Cape Tribulation mangrove forest

Cape Tribulation beach above the mangrove forest

A House DownUnder

So, you’ve all heard about living in Australia and how things are upside down here right? It is not called the land down-under for nothing. Of course we all know that is not the case. We know that things are not upside-down in Australia. Or do we? Dani and his cousin Susana visited an unlikely tourist attraction to discover what it might be like if it was true…

Experience what it would be like if we really did live upside-down in Australia

The weather wasn’t great on their first day in Australia but we did get to see this odd place (currently in the “Entertainment Quarter” near Sydney Cricket Ground).  Dani and Susana had a taste of what it would be like if that was true. And, in case you were wondering, three-year-old Roberto was fast asleep waiting outside – clearly suffering the effects of jetlag.

The rest is speaks for itself, so let’s go inside this weird house…

First check the PC and where we are exactly on this globe…
Piano practice

Solving the Rubik’s cube
Hanging from the ceiling while hiding?
There’s a bed but these kids look like they are sleeping like bats.
Fry-up anyone?
Preparing breakfast in a fully equipped kitchen
Careful not to fall in the toilet!
Now wash your hands kids…

Not only was the house upside down it was also on a slight incline. So walking on the “ceilings” while looking up at the furniture on the “floors” causes a weird sensation. You almost feel like you are on a ship rolling in the waves. If you get the chance give it a try.

Meanwhile, in the merry old land of Oz….

While we had the opportunity – and with Dani in his preferred red trainers – I just had to take this one… Well, it’s in my all time top 10 movies.

Easy one for any of you film buffs. Actually should be easy for anyone.

Can you guess the movie? Or course you can. Write your answers in the comments please.

Great Barrier Reef

The title is self-explanatory I suppose. This was part of a short trip to Cairns with Dani’s abuelos. There are several things to do in and around Cairns, but the main one is just offshore. That means a visit to what is easily Australia’s most famous landmark – even if it is out at sea.

Off to the Great Barrier Reef…

Cairns is probably the Great Barrier Reef’s main launch point for tourists. That is largely to do with the fact that the reef is only an hour and a half away by fast boat. The city has grown in recent years and the port is full of large boats offering all kinds of diving, snorkelling and other trips to the reef. We met our boat for an 8am departure.

On the boat trip out to the reef Dani met the official tour photographer and his impressive underwater camera. A bit bigger than Dani’s V-Tech Action Cam by Kodak (cheap-ish camera we bought online), but we did OK with that little device as you will see…

Dani comparing underwater photography options

Getting to grips with this snorkelling thing…

It was his first time snorkelling so he was understandably a little bit anxious. But he soon picked it up. Before long he was happily moving around the reef taking pictures with his go-pro device.

The trip took us to two separate parts of the reef but they were both pretty much in the same area. The boats use anchor points specifically made for these tours using large concrete blocks. If nothing else it limits the number of tours and the places they can stop. When you see some of the reef has clearly died it can make you wonder about tourism. But then when you stop and think that the Great Barrier Reef covers an area larger than Italy, then it does not seem so bad. The area of Italy is only 87% the size of the reef. You can look it up for yourself, but here is the results of a comparison using the website mapfight.xyz. Tourists are only visiting a tiny fraction of the reef.

More Photos

Here are a few more photos from Dani’s camera including a few of every kids’ favourite reef fish; Nemo – aka the clown fish or anemone fish because they live around the anemone plants. Hence “Nemo”. I had never realised that – doh! Hey! I have only seen the movie once so why would I even give it any thought? Hahaa…

   

And finally here is a little video of Dani snorkelling. Clearly after he had gained his confidence.

A fitting brew after a hard day’s snorkelling

The Reef Exposed

Even this far off the coast the tide has a dramatic effect. When we first arrived at the reef the topmost coral was clearly visible just below the surface. But after the first dive/snorkel expedition the level dropped exposing the top surface of the reef. You could (theoretically) walk along the reef when the tide is so low although that clearly wouldn’t be allowed (nor would it be a good idea).

The reef as seen from our boat
The topmost coral becomes exposed at low tide
Cairns viewed from the sea on our return to land

Dani’s Cousins Land Today

Later today Dani’s Spanish cousins will land in Sydney. They are in the air as I type. Susana and Roberto will be excited to reunite with Dani. The feeling is mutual – when he can prize himself away from an iPad or PC screen. Actually I think he is quite excited.

Unfortunately the weather is predicted to be suitably shit. Those weather forecasts can and do often change, like, well, the weather itself! So hopefully it will not be that bad. But if it is raining most days then we will need to get creative.

One thing they are bound to notice though is the lower temperatures. Coming from Madrid in the height of summer, to the current temperatures here in Sydney is sure to be a bit of shock. Which gives me some scope for mischief….

I will tell them that if they have come to Australia hoping to see kangaroos they will be disappointed. As it is so cold here now, the jumping marsupials have all moved on to warmer places. Maybe Spain?! Yeah, that should do the trick. It’s a good start at least. I just hope the adults in the room don’t interject too soon.

Return to Wentworth Falls

Dani’s abuelos have just returned to Madrid where it is sure to be sunny and very hot. They never had much luck here with the weather. We have had what seems like weeks of non-stop rain. Well it may have stopped a few times over recent weeks but for the duration of their stay, Dani’s abuelos had barely seen the sun and when they took the train up to the mountains (last week) it rained so hard that they could not see anything.  But on their final day in Australia while it was pouring with rain (again) in Sydney, the forecast for the Blue Mountains was mostly sunny”. So Dani and I took them back to the mountains so that they could see some of the highlights. One of them was Wentworth Falls.

It is always good to look back at how something looked in the past. Even just a year back can make a huge difference. That kind of comparison is never more stark than when looking at water levels in Australia. And where better to do such a comparison than the Blue Mountains. Even better; waterfalls in the Blue Mountains. Keeping this blog going has given me the chance to do that and share it with you all, so here goes…

Return to Wentworth Falls

Wentworth Falls was the first place we ever visited in the Blue Mountains and for some reason we had not been back to those falls. Until now.

This was how the main part of the falls looked at the end of February 2020 on our first ever visit to the Blue Mountains. (You can read that post here.)

As you can see barely enough water to make it look dramatic. This was after a hot summer where bush fires ravaged parts of the countryside. It was also just before plenty of rain caused floods. One extreme to another.

This is what it looked like now: That classic bridal veil formation making up the falls’ main decent into the valley. But there are also a couple of smaller falls just upstream…

Wentworth Falls in July 2022

In the upper part of the Wentworth Falls we saw this little cascade back in Feb 2020.

This is what it looked like this week with a slightly older (and sillier) Dani now on top looking down.

Upper falls

There is also a double cascaded mid section, which I did not even think was worth recording back on our first visit.

What I refer to as the Mid falls
Dani at the “mid falls”

Finally, the view across the Jameson valley in this part of the Blue Mountains is just fantastic.  Depending on the hour of the day and the month or the year, this stunning scene is sure to look spectacularly different due to the angle of the sun and the shadows it casts. You could gaze out at this beautiful vista literally hundreds of times over a whole year and it would be like looking at it for the first time.

Jamison valley viewed from above the falls

We were just glad that Dani’s abuelos finally got the chance to experience some of the beauty of the Blue Mountains.

Jamison valley from another angle

Melbourne – Australia’s Most Liveable City (so they say)

In a couple of weeks time we have Dani’s two Spanish cousins coming to visit him (along with their parents of course) and we have an excursion to Melbourne planned. The Victorian state’s main city has recently been listed as “Australia’s most liveable city (2022)” ahead of Adelaide and Sydney. But Melbourne only came 10th overall, in the world list that it topped for eight straight years between 2011 and 2017.

Great eh? Well, not really. What follows can probably be filed under “grumpy old dad”, but please read on…

World’s Most Liveable Cities (list)

About a week ago the annual list was published by the Economist Intelligence Unit (something to do with the Economist magazine I think, they have a website eiu.com – not really bothered to find out). Vienna, in Austria, topped the list and the highest any Aussie city came was 10th. Joint 10th in fact, as Melbourne tied with Osaka (Japan). Adelaide was 13th after finishing 3rd in 2021. No idea where Sydney finished and not really interested.

Then along came covid (I really did not want to mention that word, but hey…). And due to the pathetic, ahem, I mean harsh nature of lockdowns across the whole country, Australian cities dropped down the list. As did (similarly) cities in the people’s republic of New Zealand. Apparently the lifting/relaxing of covid restrictions was slower in Adelaide than Melbourne so the South Australian city dropped further down the list.

What the f*%k?!! Melbourne (and Victoria in general) was basically under martial law for a full fecking year! Who are they trying to kid?

Which brings me nicely on to this: The criteria for determining the ‘most liveable city’. It is called the global liveability index and apparently is a list of some 30+ things. But the exact detail? I do not know. I have been trying to find the complete list but it escapes me. It is not even obvious on the eiu.com website. But one thing that is surely not on the list is “ease of finding a pub in the city centre”. Because if it was, Melbourne would have fallen flat on its arse I can tell you.

Do you know what the list is?  Please feel free to post a reply if you can find it. I really could not find it…

If you ask me all this crap is about as relevant as Eurovision. Or to give it its old, full title; ‘The Eurovision Song Contest’. But that said I do have a question. How the hell did Melbourne still manage to figure so highly?

Anyway the point is; I really do not want to go to Melbourne again. The other week was enough for me for some time at least, if not for good (click here to read about that trip).

Plus the fact that the Victorian government were so dictatorial during the covid crap must be a good enough reason not to take your tourism there. Right?

Do it for the kids…

We are using Melbourne as a base for the main reason of the trip is to take the kids to see the famous little penguins at Philip Island. I think they call it “the penguin parade” or something like that. I went to see the little creatures when I was first in Melbourne way back in time in the 1990s (oddly enough, when it did actually seem like a very liveable city to me).

I know. I know. The kids are going to love the penguins so it is worth it for that alone. But I still don’t fancy tramping around the city centre again. It’s just not as great as some seem to make out. Not only that, but the weather is not too great here in Sydney and it will almost certainly be colder and wetter in Melbourne. Not a great prospect. Do we have to???

So, in the spirit John Cooper Clarke’s “I don’t want ever want to go to Burnley
I’ll tell you each in turn,
I don’t want to go to Melbourne 

Maybe I could fake covid so I have to stay home and self isolate. All jokes aside, I may not need to fake it the way things are going around here at the moment. But that’s another story (perhaps) for another time…

ELVIS – Movie Review

I have never hidden the fact that I am a bit of an Elvis fan. Not one for collecting all of the records and memorabilia etc… but I thought he was a great entertainer. So when this film came out I knew I had to go and see it.

Movie Plot (as if you don’t know)

The movie is written, produced and directed by Baz Luhrmann. It’s a more or less complete biopic of the life of Elvis told through the eyes of the man who became his sole manager, (Colonel) Tom Parker. This man somehow managed Elvis through his whole career. The story of how Elvis rose to conquer the music world is relayed through Parker (played by Tom Hanks) who is on his deathbed in 1997.

Elvis is played by Austin Butler. Not easy (blue suede) shoes to fill for sure but Butler does a fine job overall. From what I have read he also sings (at least some songs) in the movie. If that is indeed true then very well played Mr. Butler.

The story (or plot) is well known. Young Elvis is into his music even before high school and has his own unique style based on various musical influences including Rhythm & Blues, country and gospel. When Tom Parker hears him sing he takes over his career which goes sky high. Then Elvis gets high – on all the various prescription drugs, uppers, downers the lot. He is given drugs to keep him awake or get him to sleep depending on which town he is travelling to for a performance although the film only gets into that late in his career (the Vegas years).

Elvis shocks America – which was incredibly quite prim and proper back in the 1950s – with his gyrating performances. Then he shocks the world. Threatened with prison (so they say) Parker thinks it is a great idea if he is conscripted into the US Army where he serves his time in (West) Germany. Just imagine if he came along a few years later. He could have ended up serving in Vietnam! Now that would have made for some interesting films – fact or fiction.

In Germany Elvis meets his soon to be wife and when he returns to the USA Parker has him making so many movies that he becomes the highest earning movie star (so the story says). But he misses performing in front of a live audience and soon makes a Christmas Special TV show. Following his ‘comeback’ show other outside influencers implant the idea that Elvis should tour Europe and Japan. Parker’s grip on the King of Rock n Roll is slipping until Elvis starts playing big shows in Las Vegas. Through a combination of sweet-talking and pure bullshit Tom Parker persuades Elvis to keep playing in Las Vegas. Elvis’ dream of a world tour is gone but the world just comes to Vegas to see him. The rest, as they say, is history.

There is so much to cover in a movie of a man who lived several lifetimes each year that he was famous. But the movie somehow manages to pack it all in. Largely by featuring several segments of scrapbook montages which handle it very well. Almost documentary style at times. There are times when original footage of his fans is mixed in with the actors during concerts – and it all works well.

In the end his demise is dealt with quite quickly – maybe too quickly. However right at the end there is real footage of Elvis performing on stage (in Vegas) only 3 weeks before he died. An overweight Elvis sat playing the piano while singing Unchained Melody, a real classic. At this point in time he could barely stand on his own feet yet he could still sing a great song perfectly. So much so that he still held the audience in the palm of his hand. Spellbound. The ultimate entertainer right to the end.

Critique

The first thing that strikes you is Hanks doing some ridiculous accent for Tom Parker. I have never heard Parker speak and i doubt many die-hard Elvis fans have either. And even if they had it doesn’t matter. It is both annoying and pathetic.

Now that is off my chest I have to say that as an Elvis fan (of sorts) I liked it. But I will try to be even handed here. I am sure many we saw at the Parkes Elvis Festival in Parkes a couple of months ago – for post click here – will rush to see it. No doubt it will be shown in Parkes cinema at the next festival.

As far as the movie goes it does not paint Parker in a good light at all. He is mostly devious (what showbiz promoters/managers aren’t) and even sinister at times. Not unlike the character of Louis Cyphre played by Robert De Niro in Angel Heart. Probably intentionally so.

Austin Butler was very good. It is a difficult to play such famous people especially entertainers with the stature of Elvis. I won’t get carried away and say he was excellent – judge that for yourselves – but it wouldn’t surprise me if he won an Oscar for this one. Let’s put it this way: If Rami Malik can win an Oscar for playing Freddie Mercury then Butler is a nailed on winner and worth a bet (not that I am encouraging gambling here – that’s just a tip). While the rest of the cast did very well no supporting roles stood out.

The overall production was very good and although the film was 2 hours and 40 minutes long the time flew by. Always a sign of a well made movie I say. Elvis fans will surely flock to see it and there will be plenty for them to debate for sure. As unreal as Elvis’ life was, there seemed to be some poetic licence at times. (I personally don’t know for sure though, maybe older cinema goers would.)

For anyone who even remotely likes Elvis or indeed anyone who simply knows his story, the ending is certain to be emotional. I had never seen that particular footage before.

I believe it will be enjoyed by those who like Elvis’ music and those who are not really bothered. I give this movie 4 stars (out of the usual 5).

Convict Trail & St. Albans (Part 2)

This is kind of a Part 2 to the Wisemans Ferry/Convict Trail post (for that one click here…). Crossing the Hawkesbury and heading in a slightly different direction takes you to the small old colonial village of St. Albans.

Wisemans Ferry to St. Albans

There are two ferry crossings at Wisemans Ferry. The first is the twin (bi-directional) ferry service from the north side of the town over to the area of the Devines Hill part of the Convict Trail. The second ferry crossing is a single ferry operation that also takes you over the Hawkesbury but to the other side of a major tributary – the McDonald River – and onto a road leading to the small village of St. Albans.

During the early colonial days the Macdonald Valley was an important agricultural area due of its accessibility by water. The village of St. Albans is surrounded by mountains and sits alongside the Macdonald River. However with the building of the railways and extensive agricultural development further west, the Macdonald Valley’s importance declined. For that reason the valley is often referred to by the locals as “The Forgotten Valley”.

Dani down by the McDonald river on the edge of the village of St. Albans

 The Settlers Arms Inn – Original Village Pub

The fantastic Settlers Arms Inn was built in 1836 from sandstone blocks excavated and cut by convicts. It remains a pub to this day and is a great example of Georgian simplicity.

The Settlers Arms Inn at St. Albans

Even the inside of the Inn still looks original

Around the Inn there are some great examples of classic abandoned vehicles.

An old VW ‘Kombi’
Another of several abandoned classic vehicles in St. Albans
An early Toyota Land Cruiser

Another interesting place is the Pickled Wombat café. Although the sign above the door suggests another name (The Fickle Wombat).

The Pickled Wombat sign
The café, which says ‘Fickle Wombat’ above the door.

The round trip back down the opposite side of the McDonald river brings you back to the double ferry crossing. Part of that road is unsealed but it is easily driveable in a 2-wheel drive car. It’s a great half day trip from/to Wisemans Ferry and you can have lunch or a snack in St. Albans

Classic original architecture in the village
Ferry crossing for the St. Albans road

Plant a Tree, Have a Son, Write a Book – The Book Bit

The Book Bit – Done!

Although technically I had wrote a book last year, I never actually published it. I did finally publish (a different) one last month however. The ‘Write a Book’ part of that well known phrase has been achieved.

I realise it is a very niche subject so I am by no means expecting it to be a best seller – or anything close. But it is out there in the published world and (within reason) that is where it will now stay. A kind of legacy…

Fighting for Immortality

The book covers four huge boxing matches that span the first two decades of the millennium. Each fight involves a top British boxer and their (equally top class) American opponent. The action of the fights and the build up plus the back stories that brought the two combatants together in each of these battles.

Starting in April 2000 in Madison Square Garden New York, New York, with Lennox Lewis defending his heavyweight crown against the man who most Americans thought was the heir apparent; the huge Michael Grant.

The second section jumps forward seven years to MM 2007 and Fabulous Las Vegas Nevada. The story covers the American and arguably the greatest boxer of his generation, Floyd Mayweather Junior as he takes on the popular British boxer Ricky Hatton.

During the fight-week build up to the Mayweather-Hatton clash, another fight was spawned. Two older fighters would face off to decide who was the best at light-heavyweight. Bernard Hopkins met Joe Calzaghe in Vegas and got in to a heated discussion. when Hopkins shouted that he ‘would never lose to a white boy’ the whole world took notice and the fight was effectively sealed. The two seemingly unbeatable fighters met in April 2008 also in Las Vegas.

Finally to June 2019. Anthony Joshua, arguably at that time the sports biggest star, crossed the pond to make his American debut. It was meant to be a coming out party in the USA for Britain’s Joshua. After his original opponent failed several drug tests a replacement was hastily drafted in. That man was Andy Ruiz Jr. an American born fighter of Mexican heritage. Physically the two boxers could not look more different. This would be a walkover  for Joshua, surely? Yet what followed shocked the boxing world and indeed the whole sporting world.

The Book’s Covers

The great artwork on the front and back covers was done by my friend’s daughter (my God-daughter) Emily Rowley.

The book is available on Amazon in most countries so if sports, boxing and particularly the characters in and around boxing interest you, please go and buy a copy. Alternatively of course, if you know anyone who may be interested in such a book feel free to share this post or simply tell them about the book.