Hot Spring Weekend in Sydney

Yesterday was a hot one. Today even more so. Sydney’s beaches have been very busy this weekend. Temperatures are set to reach 29ºC today. Supposedly the hottest early spring days for some 14 years!

Busy Beaches

So while the authorities continue with their daily scaremongering figures of “new covid cases” and various other excuses for lockdown, the people are getting fed up. When the sun comes out like this weekend the beaches were always going to get busy.

Recent weeks of this mockdown (sic) have seen variable weather. When it has been warm the beaches have been busy. And why not? It’s all part of that healthy way of life that Australia as a country has always proudly shown to the world. Well, at least that used to be the way.

A bit of vitamin D (which you only really get from the sun) is better at keeping illness at bay than most things. I won’t get into comparisons with any vaccines that may be doing the rounds these days. Suffice to say that Mother Nature is a good – if not the best – place to start. A little exercise, walk down the sands, a game of frisbee, volleyball, beach football or even a dip in the sea. All good stuff. Even surf if that’s your thing. Above all however, just enjoying life. Yes, that’s the thing eh? It has to be far better for your health than being locked up indoors.

We decided to go to one of the quieter beaches. I say “quieter” but it too was fairly crowded. By being more secluded and on the harbour side of the ocean there were no surfers, but there were lots of every other time of beach-goer. The photo doesn’t show many but it got a lot busier.

We chose this secluded beach. It did get much busier…

A bit of football and frisbee followed by a dip in the sea. That was the sporting order of play for us. Then a little snack/picnic. Finally another dip in the sea to cool off. It all seemed so normal. You could be forgiven for thinking that the lunatics were not in control of the country after all. So this is what Australia used to be like… This is why people used to love to come to this country.

This 4 foot lizard was happy relaxing in the shade. Despite being bothered by Dani and several other kids.

This mini heatwave won’t last however. Rain is forecast during the week and temperatures set to drop by 10 degrees. Until next weekend when they should rise again.

It’s good to feel human again.

Favourite Post versus Most Popular

Reflections on the past five and a half years of blogging…

I have been doing this blog for over five and half years now. Five years and seven months to be exact. In that time I have written over 600 blog posts and more – not all published online  but they will be printed off for my son to read. 

I thought I would write about two of the blog posts. The one that has been most popular – i.e. has been seen and read most – and my own personal favourite.

So where has this come from?

Two things brought about this particular post.

One: I am writing another post about that famous philosophical phrase “Plant a Tree, Have a Son, Write a Book” . Hopefully that will be online soon.

Two: I am currently watching one of the best western movies ever made with my son; The Good The Bad and The Ugly. When I say ‘currently watching’ I mean we are watching it in stages as, at 2 hours 41 minutes, it is too long for him to remain focussed throughout the entire movie in one sitting. We have seen about two thirds of it and will watch the last third probably tonight.

Favourite

You have probably guessed that my favourite post centres around one of my favourite films. It is the post about Sad Hill Cemetery – from The Good The Bad and The Ugly movie.

I like that post because I really wanted to go to that outdoor film set, especially when I read that it had been restored more or less to its former (1968!) glory. I love that movie. Those are good enough reasons. 

The post itself features the classic scene of Tuco running around the cemetery, frantically searching for the grave of one Arch Stanton. A truly classic scene from any movie genre or era. And that haunting music. That woman’s voice. The guitar strings. Hugely successful rock band Metallica used to play it to the audience before they came on stage. They used it to wind up the crowd and also to psych themselves up before running out to perform.

In the post we made a new version with Dani playing the part of Eli Wallach’s Tuco. I know I say this from his dad’s point of view but I just love it. It makes me smile. It makes me laugh.

You can see that post here.

Most Popular

The most popular post – by a very long way – is ‘Plant a Tree, Have a Son, Write a Book’. It seems this phrase has universal appeal. From the data on the blogging site I can see that it is being viewed from countries all over the planet. Regularly. Quite interesting considering I had never heard of it before my fist job in Spain back in 1998. 

If you haven’t already seen it (or want to read it again) you can read that post here.  

Maybe I should look at getting some ads on that post. But then all that monetisation stuff was never the reason I started this blog. 

There’s another post coming soon about that famous phrase of mysterious origin, so I won’t say much more about it. Keep an eye out for that one…

The Lucky Country. A Book Review (of sorts)

The Lucky County is a book written by Donald Horne, first published in 1964.The same year I was born. The book is quite famous in Australia and the term “The Lucky Country” is still widely used to describe Australia – even though most people do not understand what the phrase really meant to the book’s author.

This book – and certainly it’s title – is so famous here, I decided that I had to read it. Here is my review.

Book Review – of sorts…

Well, first the good news. I read the book, so you don’t have to. And you can thank me for it, because it can be summed up in one word: Shit!

It was dull in the extreme. Near the end with only three chapters remaining I cut to the chase and jumped to the final chapter (also titled The Lucky Country) which summed up the whole purpose of the book. Then returned – disappointed – and read the other bits.

Obviously very out of date because of when it was written and with only a small hint of any historical interest for a non-Australian like myself (or even for a young Australian who probably knows less than I do about the country in those days). Much of what Horne mentions applied equally to where I grew up. I am sure that was the case in most other so called ‘stable westernised democracies’. There was one thing he pointed out that was true. That was that the technical age (something still to take off back then) might pass Australia by whereas Asia – Japan was specifically mentioned – was already embracing it. Again however, that is true for all Western countries. Japan emerged as a manufacturing and technological powerhouse followed by other east Asian countries. More recently of course China has become even more dominant and it is not only Australia that has sat back and watched.

Misuse of “The Lucky Country”

The title has become a kind of nickname for Australia and is generally used to signify that the country has so much to offer. Among other things, it has mainly been used in reference to Australia’s abundant natural resources, both minerals and food. “The land of plenty” as Men at Work sang. It has also been used to describe things like the weather and distance from problems elsewhere in the world. Although oddly, that last one has never stopped Australia being dragged into wars all over the planet.

Yet the origin of the phrase was negative in the context of the book. It is said that in the decades following his book’s publication, Horne was critical of the “lucky country” phrase being used as a term of endearment and pride for Australia. So he was unhappy with the misuse of the phrase eh? Well maybe he should have written a more interesting book then. That’s all I can say.

The Final Chapter.

Right at the back of the book the final chapter has the same title. Finally Horne gets to the bloody point.

Australia is a lucky country run mainly by second rate people who share its luck. It lives on other people’s ideas, and, although its ordinary people are adaptable, most of its leaders (in all fields) so lack curiosity about the events that surround them that they are often taken by surprise.”

Yeah, thanks for those words of wisdom Mr. Horne. That could apply to any government in any country that I know anything about in my lifetime. Therein lies the biggest problem with this book. He talks about Australia as if any other western democracy is (or was) any different at that time. They were not. They still aren’t.

In fact if anyone wants to talk about second rate people running the country they only need to look at this shower (supposedly) running things right now! If only they were second rate. That would be a massive improvement on what we actually have now. Third rate? Fourth rate? No. These idiots now are much lower down the food chain.

Based on the current bunch maybe someone should write a book called The Bloody Unlucky Country.

In and Around Jervis Bay – Again!

I just love this area. I could definitely live around here. I am of course talking about Jervis Bay. Here are a couple of things we got up to on our last visit there a few months ago – well before the lockdowns…

Off To The Pictures…

Finally the great little cinema – or Picture House – at Huskisson was open. It was closed  pretty much just after we arrived in Australia (due to the first part of this coronavirus crap) and remained closed on the first few visits we made to the area. At last, this time, it was open. (Although of course more recently it has been closed down again due to the latest covid farce.) But on this particular visit, while it was open, we were going.

Dani and myself went to watch Godzilla vs King Kong. The movie was OK I thought, better than I expected – although my expectations were fairly low it has to be said. But Dani loved it of course. I was going to write a review for it but then couldn’t be arsed. Suffice to say that kids of a certain age range will enjoy it.

Finally it was Open.

Popcorn for the heavyweight clash that was Godzilla vs King Kong

We later went with Dani’s mum to watch the Tom & Jerry movie. A mix of live actors and animation. I was a little sceptical beforehand and even more so afterwards… But it was OK, and once again the boy loved it. And that is what matters.

Another thing that matters (to me at least) is the survival of these great old picture houses. These kind of places disappeared in the UK decades ago. I remember (just) the last of them closing down. Australia has a surprisingly large amount of these places still and it would be a real shame if they were to close. Once closed they will never return. But with all the crap going on right now it is hard to see how this place (in particular) can survive. I will keep an eye on it – as and when we get the chance – and keep you posted.

Open for a night time screening – the wonderful Huskisson Pictures

Paddling for first time…

There are several places to hire a kayak in the area. We hired a two man (or in our case a man and a half) kayak from the café at the ferry pier in Huskisson. We paddled down the  Currambene Creek and into the mangrove swamp. Then off to a couple of secluded beaches.

You never have to go far around here to have a vast beach (seemingly) all to yourself. Forget those crowded beaches on the ‘costas’ in Europe. This is the place to come if you want a good beach.

Dani did really well and took to it very quickly. I was expecting to do most of the paddling but he actually helped me out. What’s more he enjoyed it. So that’s an activity we can do again…

Point Perpendicular Lighthouse

Replacement for a Cock-up!

Before you read this post I would recommend reading the crazy true story about the Cape St. George Lighthouse that was posted back in November 2020 – you can see that one here.

This is the Point Perpendicular Lighthouse that guards the entrance to Jervis Bay. It is just a couple of hours south of central Sydney. It was built during 1898 and opened in 1899 as a direct replacement for the disaster/fiasco that was Cape St. George lighthouse (see other post). All done in a year! You don’t get that kind of response to public projects now eh?

I don’t know what it is but as buildings go there is something about lighthouses. Hard to put my finger on it. They is definitely something photogenic about them, especially the older ones.

It was built of pre-cast concrete blocks, the first time that method was used in NSW. The tender cost was – wait for it – £20,280 & 17 shillings. Just three shillings short of another pound (£1=20shillings or used to…). No idea why they didn’t just round it up (or down) but you certainly got a lot for £20k in those days. They built the lighthouse the keepers cottage, assistant keepers cottage, plus a post office, jetty, outbuildings, fuel store and stables.

The lighthouse sits on top of the cliffs at the north end of the mouth of the bay. In this corner of Jervis Bay – known as Beecroft Peninsula – there is an army firing range. The beaches that surround the peninsula have signs warning boats not to land if the army is doing firing practice. On normal (non firing) days it is possible to drive into that area as long as you keep to the marked paths.

When we visited the lighthouse it was a grey and overcast day but during our stay in the area we had enough sunny days to capture the lighthouse from other angles. Directly opposite the mouth of the bay at one of the lovely beaches, the lighthouse can be seen with the naked eye. With a little bit of zoom you can clearly make out the detail of the structure.

In 1993 the Australian Maritime Safety Authority built a steel framed tower with an automatic, unmanned, solar powered light to replace the old lighthouse. You can see that alongside the old building above.

Another angle… From the Bay

Warning boats not to land on beach when the army is using the firing range

On another day we took a boat trip around the bay passing several beaches. It’s a great little trip around a fantastic part of the world with some of the best beaches you will ever see. I have said it before in this blog, and will say it again. Jervis Bay is definitely one of my favourite places.

Lighthouse viewed from the bay

Dolphins following the boat

Dolphins play just off Callala Beach

This was all during the Easter school holidays. More to come on that area soon…

Charlie Watts. My Own Little Tribute

Two days ago the drummer of The Rolling Stones, Charlie Watts passed away aged 80.

Today I had my own little tribute to Charlie Watts. Like most people who like the Rolling Stones music I have been playing a lot of their songs on my iPod. – Yes! Some of us still use iPods!

The Rolling Stones are easily the biggest band the planet has ever seen. There was a huge rivalry with the Beatles during the sixties in particular. But The Stones longevity alone eclipses anything that any other band has ever been close to. And Charlie Watts was there from the start of the band’s success. He was one of only three band members to appear on every studio album they made (the others being Jagger and Richards). That’s almost 60 years of playing music and touring.

Even my seven year old son can recognise a Rolling Stones song. He likes them. I do try to point him in the direction of the great bands and their top songs.

They were still hoping to continue with yet another world tour recently until the covid thing kicked in. Only a few weeks ago the band was going to resume the tour in the USA but with a replacement drummer as Charlie was too ill.

Rest In Peace Charlie.

Mask or Run

Well it looks like the need to wear a mask outside is supposedly full on. But then it started to rain in Sydney. I mean heavy rain. So up to now there has not been much reason to be outside.

I have read two versions of the new mask rule. One says it is OK to remove it (or not wear one) while exercising. Another says a similar thing but uses the words “strenuous exercise”. So maybe they don’t think you should be mask-less when just walking. I guess that remians to be seen…

Well there is no way I am wearing a mask outside when on the move. And there is a way around it… I will just have to take a leaf out of Forrest Gump’s book eh…

Good advice from Forrest…

Come to think of it, if you saw someone running with a face mask on you would usually assume that they had just mugged someone or pulled off a robbery. Now – or at least in the near future – people are just going to think it is normal. That’s how crazy this covid crap is and that’s how crazy this mask rule is.

Round Up

OK, here is a round up of what has been going on in Sydney and NSW in general the past few days. Probably nothing you haven’t read in the media but here goes…

Protests? What Protests?

The planned protest never really got going in the city centre on Saturday. About 1400 police stopped anyone entering the centre basically. What a waste of resources I say. The protests managed to take place in other states however. NSW is becoming a basket case. A banana republic. When you can’t protest you are basically living in a police state.

Meanwhile it was good to see the beaches were fairly busy yesterday. That’s a kind of protest in itself. Everyone there knew they shouldn’t be there – at least according to the advice/rules of the useless politicians. They really will have to close the beaches (again) if they want to stop people going there. Also interestingly a very low key police presence. Hardly any at all… All taking the day off from a busy day of arresting anyone trying to enter the city centre yesterday? Maybe…

Dogs Shot

In rural NSW a local council has had stray rescued dogs shot rather than allow dog rescue volunteers to come and collect them from another town. All in the name of covid!

This happened in Bourke where the dogs were held in a dog pound waiting to be collected (rescued). The volunteers are in Cobar – the next town down the road but quite a distance. Despite Cobar not having recorded any “case” of covid (for whatever that may or may not be worth) the Bourke Shire council killed the dogs anyway.

Now I am not the biggest animal lover. There will be many out there that are more angry than me about this one. However, it just shows us two things. How crazy and paranoid some  people have become. But most of all it tells me how much the media is to blame for ramping up all this fear and scaremongering. They have got people in small rural towns frightened of anything or anyone from outside. I joked on this blog some weeks ago about the Monty Python bubonic plague sketch “Bring out your dead”. But the constant rolling news feeds are just propaganda deliberately to scare the public. I wonder how far off we are from a human from a big city wondering into one of these areas and being shot? You think that’s far-fetched? Well just keep reading and watching the mainstream media….

Masks

Despite there being no evidence that masks are making any difference – and enough (for me) to prove that they do nothing – we are being told that we must wear masks outdoors as of midnight tonight unless you are doing exercise. But here’s the thing. I heard (or read) that walking does not count. If walking does count as exercise I really can’t see any need to wear a mask outdoors. If you are outside you are probably walking. If you go into a shop you already have to put on a mask. Not sure how this is going to pan out but will keep an eye on it and report back.

Of course none of this is news to you if you are in the northern hemisphere. You will have gone through a year of this shit – on and off, mostly “on”! – so this is just the same covid crap finally coming to Australia. But don’t get too comfortable. Autumn is approaching and with it the next “variant” and demand for covid “booster” (although you really have to ask yourself what exactly do they think they will be “boosting”). Followed by an annual flu jab and the next covid “variant” vaccine. It will be just like these annoying news feeds full of politicians and so called “chief medical officers”: Just one little prick after another…

This is what a real pandemic looks like

In case you were wondering what a real pandemic looks like… Watch this docu-drama (docu-movie?), called After Armageddon. It was first aired around the year 2000. Here is a youtube link to one of the places you can find it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IPKCYcSk5JE&t=5298s  (There will be other links on youtube and similar platforms.)

This movie has come and gone since the covid scamdemic began. But now it is back up on youtube for you to watch (or at least it was the last time I looked). I first mentioned this back in April of last year when the first “waves” and first lockdowns kicked in. The initial fear-mongering campaign. Wow! Was that 16 months ago? Bloody hell! You can see what I wrote back then by clicking here. Anyway, what has happened over the past 16 months is nothing like a pandemic. And that is no thanks to lockdowns or closing borders either.

How it happens in the docu-movie…

During a real pandemic bodies would pile up quickly. Within weeks civilisation decays rapidly especially in the cities. Within a couple of months it is quite likely that many of the specialised people who operate power stations will have passed away – and when that happens the power will go off! When that happens it will probably never come back on. When power is lost the water supply will soon be lost. Your local water ring main is constantly being pumped. How will the pumps run? Never mind that; the water treatment and purification stations won’t be working. No electricity = No running water. It really is that simple. Then the thin layer of civilisation will disappear in an instant.

Tat was how it went in the docu-movie but if it was a real pandemic it is easy to see that this film is not far off the mark. Imagine what those who survive that far will do. People went crazy fighting over toilet rolls when there was never any threat of genuine shortages. Toilet roll of all things! Whatever covid is; it is not, and never was, a shitting disease. Was it?

Back to a real pandemic situation: If you did manage to find anything in the shops that hasn’t already been looted you will probably be attacked for it on your way home. Anyway, don’t get too scared. That was just a movie and despite what the politicians would have you believe this covid thing is really nothing. Seriously. Watch that docu-movie and see what a real deadly pandemic would be like.

Still think this past year is (or was ever) a real pandemic?

Silo Art – The New ‘Big Thing’ in Australia

Something I noticed a while ago in Australia was the number of silos and water towers that have been used as an artist’s canvas. I am all in favour of using these big blank canvases to brighten up the scenery. In fact, when I now see unpainted silos I wonder why the local council or owners have not asked a painter to produce a large work of art.

Silo Art

It is sometimes referred to as “silo art” but we have seen it on water towers too. It is an extension of the many large mural paintings that seem very popular on town walls. It seems that local councils often ask (street) artists to do something creative with some of the  silos and/or water towers in their area. I suppose it is a specialised form of painting as it is on a much larger scale than your usual artists are used to working with.

Here is a collection of some of those we have seen on our travels.

Weethalle Silos

This art is the work of a guy called Khosnaran Khurelbaatar who also goes by the name of Heesco. He is responsible for  lots of murals and silo art in Australia. Heesco was born in 1979 in Mongolia and moved to Australia in 1999. He studied in Sydney but has lived in Melbourne since 2010.

Silo Art at Weethalle

The Weethalle silos are part of a silo art stamp collection issued by Australia Post in 2018.

Grenfell Silos

This is another work by the same Mongolian born ‘street artist’ – Heesco – who did the Weethalle silos.

He has been a busy lad in recent years doing quite a few up and down NSW as well as other states in Australia.

Hay – A Town That Went to War

Water Tower art at Hay: Commemorating locals who went to war.

We came across this one on our drive back to Sydney after our outback adventure in January. Little did I realise at the time that it had only recently been completed. It took only a few days in December 2020 to paint this magnificent tribute to the servicemen and women of Australia emerged and particularly Hay. It was painted on the towns Water Towers by Melbourne artist Matt Adante.

Gunnedah NSW

The thriving mining town of Gunnedah has a couple of good examples. One on silos another on old water tower – now a museum.

The old water tower was turned into a museum in 1980. On the outside of the museum are two large murals, painted by Jenny McCracken, commemorating those who served in the Vietnam War. An interesting choice I thought.

This is another fantastic work by Heesco, the Melbourne based Mongolian-Australian lad. This shows famous poet Dorothea Mackellar and an extract from her famous poem “My Country”. The ‘canvass’ is the 29 metre high, privately owned maize mill silos in Gunnedah. This artwork shows the famous second verse of Dorothea’s poem as well as the town’s early links to farming.
Walgett Water Tower

There was even a water tower painted in honour of an aboriginal musician in the remote town of Walgett. A town we only passed through on one of our journeys.

Walgett water tower art. Celebrating Jimmy Little, famous Aboriginal musician and actor.

It’s Officially a ‘Big’ Thing

The phenomenal explosion of this street art on the huge curved canvases of silos and water towers has been written about in the August edition of Australian Geographic. A great article. There is even a massive mural painted on the walls of the Wellington Dam in Western Australia. It covers an area 367m long and 34m high. Western Australia is a long way from here. I doubt we will be going there any time soon, especially with this never-ending covid panic…

Even public toilets get an arty make-over in Australia. This toilet block art was painted by renowned artist John Murray in Brewarrina. Murray is based in Lightning Ridge where Dani and myself visited his gallery.

There is also a great website dedicated to this art form which I can highly recommend: www.australiansiloarttrail.com