(no subject)

Saw Noise tonight at our local cinema, about 1km down the road from us. It's a small, family run cinema. Every time we go there, we talk about how it could be improved to attract more people, the people who by default go to a shopping centre cinema complex. Today we had the whole cinema to ourselves, and we were in before any ads started, talking in relative silence, mostly about the cinema and how we would run it. And also at one point I suggested that we contact the owners and talk to them about our ideas, and Jason said that he would almost like it to go broke so that he could buy it. So. That was almost that, and the movie started. We watched it, quite liked it. Movie finished, we started walking out when we noticed this man standing at the door. He asked us how it was and we started chatting. All out of the blue, he showed us the projector rooms, talked about the cinema business and issues. I started to wonder if he's the owner and overheard us talking earlier. Looked him up when we got home and I was right. So now we'll contact him and offer some more ideas and volunteer help in other ways :)

Our trip to SA + NT

We just got back from our trip to NT via Flinders Ranges, Oodnadatta Track, Lake Eyre and William Creek, Uluru, Kings Canyon, Mereenie Loop, Glen Helen Gorge and various places within the West Macdonnell Ranges, Rainbow Valley, Woomera, Naracoorte.. and heaps of small places along the way.

This is what Jason wrote about it:


Posted: Mon Jul 16, 2007 1:26 pm

Okay, well, I am a bit flat out catching up on work but I'll try to give a bit of info on the trip. It was a lot of fun.

We left Melbourne 4am Saturday according to plan, fuelled up at Sunbury and took the quickest route to Mildura, then across the border through Renmark to Waikerie, where we met up with Eddy and Mrs Eddy for a cuppa. The first cool thing was crossing the Murray (twice) on car ferries. Don't ask me why but I found this fun.

Made it (off the really main roads) to a town called Spalding, after skirting past Burra. Got a room at the Spalding Hotel (not the roadhouse), for $30 that night, plus a great pub meal. This pretty much decided us on how to travel the rest of the way north - avoid the Stuart Highway, avoid the really major highways, and navigate by following signs from town to town. All the 2nd-level roads have a 110 speed limit anyway, and we had them virtually to ourselves.

We got an early start the next morning (Sunday), headed to Hawker where we arrived just in time to get the servo owner to open up and let us get LPG and petrol. Then headed towards Wilpena Pound, but didn't end up going there. We took a side-track through a property, and then a side-track off the side-track to a little spot called Black's Camp. This was a really good little side-trip and probably just what Kirragc is looking for - definitely needed 4WD, but a Rav4 could safely do it especially with some more capable vehicles standing by if needed. All dirt/gravel, but fairly well graded and very scenic. We didn't do Brachina Gorge, which was nearby, because we didn't have a permit. I wish we'd organised one.

Continued north through several towns, stopping a fair bit for photo ops, to Marree, which is where the Birdsville and Oodnadatta tracks both have their southern ends. Took the Oodnadatta north for about half its length, and it is on the one hand quite driveable in 4H, but on the other hand pretty shitty with corrugation a lot of the time. Still definitely a hell of a lot more interesting and fun than the Stuart Hwy, and absolutely the most interesting way to go north imho.

Turned left, doubling back south-west a bit to Coober Pedy, where we stayed on night #2. This was the least fun bit of driving on the whole trip, purely because it was getting late, we wanted to find somewhere to sleep, and I had the sun in my eyes half the time due to heading west. Coober Pedy was overall disappointing, nothing really interesting about it to be honest, so we headed out early and got to Uluru that afternoon via the Stuart Hwy. Checked out Uluru, then drove back east to Curtin Springs where we stayed for night #3. There were a few nice stops along the way, but this is definitely where you start needing to eat up a lot of miles to get to the next interesting spot.

From Curtin Springs the next morning we decided we didn't mind missing the Olgas much, and headed straight to Kings Canyon where we did a 4 hour hike through the cliffs. This is a really great place, my second visit and Ana's first and it's still my favourite probably.

From King's Canyon, probably in the late morning as we had an early start again, we headed down the Mereenie Loop, which is a dirt/sand/gravel road that goes to Alice Springs (via two possible tracks halfway along) and was beautiful. This is a really nice drive that the 2WDs don't get to enjoy - it looks like they are sealing more of it towards the Alice Springs end, which is going to mean more traffic, so get out there and drive it while it's still 4WD only! A permit is about two bucks from the last servo before you head out from King's Canyon, at the King's Canyon resort.

Had our only real car trouble on an off-shoot from the Mereenie Loop, blew a short section of heater hose - pretty basic to fix as I brought extra heating hose, right? But then it turned out that the gas setup on my car used these plastic tee pieces to run from the heater hoses to the gas gear, and one of these snapped while I was putting it back together. So, the only option after much fiddling was to block the two heater hoses completely, leaving us with no heater and no LPG until we got new brass tee pieces at Alice Springs.

Anyway, stayed at Glen Helen that night, then headed to Alice the next morning. Alice Springs is a depressing, ugly place and we only stayed long enough to get a couple of car parts, a bottle of coolant (we were running low on spare water and it's all bore water from the taps around there, which I think is probably not right for radiators!), plus a couple of sausage rolls and some fuel, then headed south again.

Checked out Rainbow Valley, again this is only 4WD accessible and this makes it extra cool; it is a really beautiful spot and if I'd known about it, I would have planned one of our overnight sleeps there. It's possible to set up a tent there, but there aren't many people around. Hence it would be a great chance to check out the night sky, which by the way is just so stunning in the NT that I could not believe my eyes. Even in the middle of nowhere in country Vic I have never seen night skies like that.

Got as far as Marla (back south again in SA) that night, which was a fair drive. Marla is a good stop because everything is 24-hours there, so it's safe to press on with the driving a bit and get a room even late at night.

Next day was Marla to Port Augusta, as we'd decided that we'd better get back towards home to make sure we arrived in time for work on Tuesday (plus some rest in between). Again of course we stopped a fair bit to check things out here and there, stopped at Lake Hart and, to avoid being stuck behind a caravan that was pulling into the lookout at the same time, I accidentally put us on a track that went all the way to the edge of the lake - just the Ghan rail track was in between us and the shore. Again, this made us glad we weren't in a 2WD.

Anyway, Port Augusta that night. Port Augusta is in fact a really beautiful town; I liked everything about it. We checked out the botanical gardens there (arid zone plants), and cruised around a bit, then headed east in earnest. We went through the Clare Valley, Crystal Brook, Murray Bridge, etc, toward Narracoorte, where we spent the next night. Again, awesome stay in a local pub, featuring an awesome pub meal that wasn't too pricey at all.

Did a couple of cave tours at Narracoorte in the morning, then headed to Melbourne via Edenhope, basically went through the Grampians rather than the quickest way as we preferred a bit of nice scenery to getting the absolute best possible time.

That's all from memory - I've probably left some major stops out but you get the idea!

It was a really good trip; it's definitely got me revved up to do the Cape next dry season.

One thing I wanted to re-visit from my previous NT trek was Katherine but it's just too far north; we're thinking we'll just fly to Darwin and hire a landcruiser or something, then visit Kakadu, Katherine etc on a four-day weekend or so.

There are stacks of photos but I'll wait until Ana's picked out the better ones and put them online somewhere!


An armed society may be a polite society... but I'd rather be rude and alive than polite and dead.
1974 Triumph Stag
1988 LWB Ford Maverick



About a month ago, Rocci, our accountant, gave us some eucalyptus seed pods. They are most likely Eucalyptus caesia (Gungurru), one of my favourites. About two weeks ago I planted them all into one pot. Many many seeds. Seems like I'll be transplanting them quite soon to bigger pots. Just noticed the first 1cm long bit of growth. Very cool watching them grow.

This particular specimen used to live in Carlton until about two years ago, in one of rare empty terrace sized lots. The lot was half taken up by this tree, and half by car park. Tree is gone, apartments built in its place.


of queenscliffe, bite and other adventures

Three day field trip. Stayed at Queenscliff Inn. Dorms. First day no break. Made model of park, beach, yacht house. The sort of busy where you eat while cutting board, while measuring, while checking that other people's work is correct. At 7:30pm we finally stopped, for an hour. Half and hour was spent on food, fish and chips from a shop that sells everything separately, where a lemon costs 50c, where tomato sauce costs 80c, where it's quite ridiculously priced yet the serve of chips was cheapest and tastiest I've ever seen. Then half hour on bed with National Geographic and a fifteen minute phone call to Jason. Then it was back to work till midnight. Tuesday morning David, drove three of us down to Barwon Heads where he went for an early morning swim in cold cold water while three of us walked along the sandy beach. There was a dog and many seagulls. Took me some time to dare to take my shoes off, because it was so cold. But once I stepped into that water, it felt heavenly. It felt warm and immense around my feet. I wanted every morning to be like that and I wondered why it isn't. It could be. It could so easily be like that every day.

I took photos.

Then later that morning we had breakfast and then David and I went to this little road house to hire a canoe. It's an old petrol station that has no fuel and is now a hire shop that has exactly one of each thing for hire, except four life jackets.

We worked very hard during those three days, and also walked along the beach and played barefoot soccer in the park, and had pancakes for breakfast and potato-and-leek soup for lunch, amongst other delicious things. It was exhausting and like a holiday, and it also felt wonderful to be back at home with Jason and puppy.

Next project is a resort for disabled people. House boathouse pier gardens. A space for young disabled people to go canoeing, swimming, get away from parents and carers. Timeline is quite intimidating. Three weeks to design it all and make a model. It would be quite enough if there was no work and I had lots of energy all the time, but days have been hot and more recently quite humid, and it is easy to walk and read, but quite hard to work and focus.

Had Thursday to catch up with housework, emails and sorting all the bills and paperwork, but then it got to about 40C and I couldn't work any more. After much negotiating we ended up going to air conditioned Borders and spent almost the rest of the day there. I really enjoy spending all afternoons reading various books and magazines, but my initial reaction is that it's a waste of my time because there are so many things to be done at home, so many people waiting to get a response from me about one thing or another, assignments and work deadlines to be met. At the same time, when we go out like this, we both love it and end up talking about so many interesting things and we come up with great ideas.

Friday. All day work. Home around 7pm. Strange day. Pizza for dinner in front of Carnivale. It's a strange show. Religious aspect of it was a bit of a turn off at the start. (Then I remembered that Ultraviolet has it (god vs vampires), Buffy has it (although I have only watched 15mins of it).) We've seen about ten episodes so far. There's this main plot which is revealed very slowly with each episode. It's quite interesting in itself, but what keeps me watching it is the portrayal of carnival life. In some ways it reminds me of Katherine Dunn's Geek Love.

Panicking a little about lack of response from fstoponline. I've told people I would have images ready this week, yet the printer is taking twice the usual time to get them done and since I placed an order, their website has disappeared and their phones got disconnected. I'm not really sure what to do.

Saturday. Housework in the morning. Marina visited in the afternoon. Gave her photos from her engagement party. Then a bit later Jason tells me he's just scored a free clothes dryer on Freecycle that we can pick up a bit later. We left home around 5pm. At 6pm we were in the Emergency section of the Sunshine hospital. Jason got bitten by a dog. Ten minutes earlier we saw a dog lying by the side of a very busy road and thinking that we couldn't just leave it there, we turned around and parked near the dog. Jason went over to him, dog got up and started to walk away, but when Jason tried to grab its collar to keep it from going onto the street in front of more cars, the dog bit his hand. The dog walked off into the park nearby and Jason and I went into the nearest hospital. They cleaned his wound, gave him a tetanus shot and antibiotics.

We still picked up the clothes dryer afterwards. People that gave it to us were so friendly and nice. We talked to them for about an hour. They didn't seem to want us to leave. Felt almost quilty for leaving.

Today. A humid Sunday. A fairly slow day. Things done but very slowly. Jason is busy writing. His deadline is tomorrow. He will be writing well into the night. I went for a swim by myself, which I don't do often. I prefer to go with him, but his hand is in bad shape and I really wanted to get some exercise. On such a humid day, swimming seems like the best option. Had a good run today. Didn't get puffed out although it felt like I swam more than usual. There were a father and son in the lane with me, and the son was following the father, not quite keeping up in speed, but he had the stamina. He was learning different styles. Having such active and fit people swimming in the same lane gave me a boost, so I swam a bit more and a bit faster. Came home around 5:30pm, right on time to get a rescue call from Josh whose bike broke down.

Now it's past midnight and I've just finished making a conceptual model while watching tennis. Am getting cranky. Tired cranky. Should sleep. Goodnight.

Of garlands of carnations

Today started on a slightly wrong note, but I've decided to not dwell on it because after lunch all these little things and events that happened today started to fit in flawlessly. It's all (or so much of it all is) in the attitude. I'm learning.

Today again mostly by chance I ended up at Crossways. The cook approached me as I was half way through my meal and asked me if I would accept a garland of carnations as a gift. She said that in a way it brings good luck. Once again I thought that any good luck that would come my way would be because of the nice, friendly, positive attitude that this garland reminds me to have.

Still today but almost yesterday.. Last night I woke up in the middle of the night. Our bedroom window was open. The sound of rain was immense. The lightning when it flashed so brightly through the room felt almost blinding, even with my eyes closed. This morning as I peered through my half closed eyes, I saw shadows of the blinds on the walls and I thought, oh a change in weather, the sun is out. Got out of bed and looked out. All paving was dry. No sign of any thunderstorm. Streets dry. I expected to see at least some evidence of such strong rainfall, because the drains in our street don't work perfectly and take a bit longer to carry away all the water. The streets were dry. Had a shower, ate breakfast, back to bedroom. By this time Jason was a bit more awake so I asked him if he heard the thunderstorm, to which he said something like yeah, it was so strong, didn't you hear it, you must have slept like a log. But I did hear it. The thing is, I asked eight people today if it rained where they live, and nobody heard anything, not even the person that lives pretty much down the road from here.

Back to today.. I finished the website that I've been working on for the last.. oh, three months on and off. It has been through so many revisions. It is not completely finished. Still got all the project pages to do, but the directors wanted it up (and I did, too) and so it's on

Last night we drove all the way to Berwick to visit our accountant. We were given a tour of the big, very comfortable house, the nature walk, garden, fruit and flower trees (some twenty years old), kids playground, and a thirty year old pony. So adorable. I'd like a pony and a goat, to go with the schnauzer. All in black, perhaps. Then we had dinner made from vegies grown in their garden, and we were given some to take with us. Lots of zucchini and cucumber. Lots of tomatoes and lemons. Speaking of tomatoes, we have little cherry ones growing on the back porch and their flavour is intense. Speaking of taxes, mine is sorted out for the last financial year, but I will have to pay back almost a thousand. !##%!$$$!!

This afternoon was strange. At 4:30pm I walked out of the way too cold air conditioned building I work in and walked into a curtain of hot air. It reminded me of Dubai, when I walked out of the cold airport air into the outside. Such a strong contrast. It's summer in Melbourne, but the day was winter dark. Hopped on the tram and I was so fascinated by the darkness of the inside of the tram that I started to laugh at it. In winter, when days are darker, they turn on the lights. In summer it just stays dark. I sat down and tried to not make any eye contact, but still couldn't help smiling. Could feel a few strange looks on me, but I got my book out (actually, it's Jason's but I steal it from his bedside table in the mornings as it's my current tram reading - Frances Wheen's How Mumbo-Jumbo Conquered the World) and started reading, still smirking. It was so very strange. Then a bit later Jason called and offered to pick me up from the tram stop that's about 50m from our house, just because it was pouring down. By the time I crossed the road to be on the side where he can pick me up, I was drenched. But to be picked up in such a way!

And then tonight we spent with Matt and Trista. Had a very enjoyable evening at the best Mexican restaurant in Melbourne.

welcoming Dudley..

For many years I have been holding back on creating a large collection of plants. I've stuck to small plants like chillies, cactii, stone plants. Now, things are changing. I have decided that I can have my plants in many pots, and not just little ones. Last year Jason's mum gave us Cotinus coggygria 'Grace' as a present. She has a beautiful tree-like one growing in her garden. Till Thursday that was my biggest plant, but still a shrub. (Well, monsteria is bigger at the moment, but won't be forever.) I have a number of other shrubs in pots, though they are still fairly small. On Thursday.. ah, I should first say that I got a credit card last week, so there's this virtual money to spend.. and repay later.. but anyway.. I couldn't hold back and so.. what more important to spend it on if not my first tree..

Jason named him Dudley. He felt that a name like 'Flame' would place too much stress on him and create too many expectations. This way Dudley will always be more beautiful than his name suggests. Dudley is our beautiful 120cm tall Stenocarpus sinuatus :)

(no subject)

got drenched today while the words and moves from singing in the rain were going round and round in my head

i've been certain for years now that I love dates, yet I ate one for the first time only today
  • Current Music
    billy joel - falling of the rain

(no subject)

After getting high on achievement late last week, I went straight into a low which lasted until yesterday morning. This morning I put a few solid hours into the heritage report. Called work and told them I'll be in tomorrow afternoon. Then tomorrow night is dinner with Rob. First one since January.

I wanted to post this picture a few weeks ago. Was taken somewhere in Gippsland. Greg and I were driving back to Melbourne from Bairnsdale. I'm working on the master plan for the river front there. Anyway, I just had to ask Greg to stop the car when I saw the clouds. I saw 'infinity', but then also eyes, and someone said 'UFO'.


(no subject)

Truganina park
Truganina 01

Such gorgeous weather in Melbourne today. A nice sunny morning to start with, then ten minutes of rain, fifteen of sunshine, and so on for most of the afternoon. I was out on a site visit to the City West waste water treatment plant where they treat sewage of about 250,000 people that live in that part of Melbourne. There are a few stages to the treatment. One of the stages involves water passing through a lagoon that's been used by pelicans and other migratory water birds for years. One of my projects this semester will be designing a pelican park, a wetland to suit pelicans and other birds, ducks, parrots, etc.. The above photo is a part of the lagoon where pelicans live. It's just a huge concrete pool and its edges aren't very suitable for plants and birds. I'm not sure if we'll have to work within its limits and fill it up in places and use underwater planters for water plants, because another option would be to destroy it, clean up the site and create a more natural wetland. But once again I have a project on a site within the basalt plain, which means clays that swell and crack, making it tricky to grow any trees. During wet season there's too much water, during hot months the soil cracks, breaking roots in the process.

I might have a really cool job by the start of next week. I had an offer this morning, but I won't know all the details till Monday morning when I meet with them. They want me to start as soon as I can, so I would have to clean up my schedule. This last week, since Saturday, I have been working pretty much non-stop, since I wake up (which has been earlier and earlier, 6:30 this morning) till about this time, 10 or 11pm, and not sleeping all that well due to blocked nose. Assignments are really full on, very time demanding, but I'm really enjoying it all. Studying about the heritage issues, history, conserving natural environments and site engineering.

Also, my next exhibition starts on 22nd August and there's much still left to organise. And two other jobs which I've been struggling to find any time to do, but that's due to having been ill for the last three weeks now.

Things are a bit crazy at the moment.