Archive for the ‘Observations’ Category

2016 Four Hills Challenge   Leave a comment

Thursday, 29th December, 2016

Yesterday on a cloudy damp end of year day I completed my third annual 4 Hills Challenge up and down the 4 main ‘mountains’ that dominate the Canberra.

Drove to the top of Black Mountain (paid parking at the bottom and I’m too tight to pay!) and at the stroke of 11am I was off down and around the side of the hill to its foot where the Centenary Trail enters the reserve, where I turned around headed straight back up the tougher ‘Summit’ trail back the top.

Next up was Mt. Ainslie, which was taken in the traditional way from the bottom starting at the back of the War Memorial up and down via the main track which takes in some fantastic views of the City and probably the view view in Canberra from its summit.

Ather lunch at Poppy’s cafe in the War Memorial, I drove over to Garran, where I used to live, to reacquaint myself with walk that I’ve done dozens of times before.

Finally, all that was left was a hike up and down Mt. Taylor, which saw me walk around its base for a few kms and then climbing up the steep summit trail to the top and coming back the via the usual front route.

All up I walked 17.2 km (not the longest hike I’ve ever done!) in just over 3 1/2 hours returning home at around 4:30pm. The cloud cover made it all bearable and the light rain falling on the way down the last hill made for welcome relief from the heat.

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Posted December 29, 2016 by yermandownunder in Observations, Out and about

Will I fall in love with Kimberley!   Leave a comment

Tuesday, 26 July, 2016

Kimberley Trip Day 1

The Preamble.

Unlike my usual trick of running around at the last minute like a headless chicken, I was all packed up and ready to go over the weekend and just had a couple last minute items to buy during lunch on my last day at work. It’s kinda strange packing for expected 30c heat during the day, but remembering to purchase thermal long johns and vest for the ‘chilly’ nights in the Kimberley. I hope I’ve got the mix right!

Found out one restriction for Uber last night, you can’t book in advance! So I was forced to order a taxi pickup at 5:15am this morning, so with the alarm set for 4:30, I went to bed early, especially after I had heard that the Man Utd v Man City friendly match in the Birds Nest stadium, Beijing had been cancelled due the appalling weather China has been experiencing recently.

Up, showered, shaved and my gear squared away in plenty of time before the taxi arrived on time to take me to the airport. I’ve never seen so much rain fall in Canberra and I was glad that with any luck I won’t be seeing any more for a couple weeks. I had already checked in online, so my only task at the bag drop was to endure that my bag would transit all the way to Broome without me having to check it in again at Sydney.

Canberra Airport

The first flight was packed with mostly early morning commuters, business men and women. Started chatting to the lady sat next to me and it turned out that we work in the same building, albeit for different divisions. I think she was quite jealous that I was off on my Jolly’s while she was going to be stuck in a two day ‘Women in industry’ seminar in the middle of the Sydney CBD! That’s Canberra for you, everybody knows you or where you work, lol.

Sydney airport.

Whilst queuing up to board the second flight I meet Mandy, who funnily enough was heading to Broome to join up with the same tour I’m on, small world indeed. 5 hour flight (Jesus and I’m still in the same country!), so passed the time watching a couple of movies and listened to music on the excellent Bose noise cancelling headphones I purchased last year (an excellent investment!).

Broome/Cable Beach

Bit of a mix up at the airport where I meet up and got chatting to a couple who had Adventure Wild bags and I thought I heard were staying at the same hostel as me, so when I saw a bus with the hostel name on it and they said that they were being picked I naturally thought that I could jump in with them. However, I we were walking across the car park towards the buses they walked pass the empty Beaches of Cable Beach Bus and on to the Breezes of Cable Beach one. Realising my mistake I rushed back towards the terminal looking for the driver of the other bus, but I must have walked past him/her, because after waiting around for a while I walked outside again to discover the bus had gone. So it was a taxi ride to the hostel for me! Numpty.

Even though I’m staying at a Hostel for one night before starting the tour, I decided to push the boat out a little and paid to have an ensuite double room at the Beaches of Broome Backpackers Hostel to myself. Seeing as I’m now officially on holiday grabbed a beer and sat by the pool for a while, until I realised that the beach was just down the road!

Wow, long creasent shaped beach with lifesaver patrolled area. Picked a nice spot at the back and after having a swim in the Pacific Ocean fell asleep on the sand whilst listening to the soundbox the waves. Enough of that, I need beer, so walk up the beach to the bus stop outside the Cable Beach Resort (I’m staying there when I get back form the tour). From there I jump on the bus into the shopping centre to buy a few things I need for the tour including a 24 pack of 150 lashes which I have to lug back to the hostel on the bus. On the way back from the bus stop, speak to a lady who tells me the time of the sunset that Broome is famous for and the best place to go and see it.

So, after a quick change I wonder over to the Sunset Bar and Grill and join the hundreds of others sat around waiting for the 5:35 sunset.

Of course you have to have a beer whilst watching he sunset and what a sunset. The thing is, it’s not just the sunset it’s the light show afterwards as for 30 minutes or so after the we lost the sun the sky turned an amazing spectrum of reds.

I spotted a decent looking bar/restaurant on my way down to the the beaches, so instead of paying the inflated prices of the Sunset B & G, I paid the slightly less inflated prices of the Zee Bar, washed down with another beer of course. I was contemplating having another when I realised that had been up since 4am, flown across Australia, explored the local area, taken in a magnificent sunset and still need to set out my shit ready for a 5:30am start in the morning.

Balloons over Wright   Leave a comment

Saturday, 19 March, 2016

There I was in bed, telling myself off for not getting up before 6am in order to drive down the parliamentary triangle to watch the balloonist taking part in the annual Canberra balloon spectacular, prepare and launch their creations into the early morning light. ‘Only one more day to do it’ telling myself, as tomorrow morning is the last time the forty to fifty balloons would be partaking in the mass lift-off from the lawns in front of the Old Parliament House.

Waking up in time wasn’t the problem, just the act of getting out of bed was my trouble this morning, especially as I’ve been getting up early all week to go into work because we’re extremely busy at the moment. Anyway, I had just resigned myself to the fact that I was staying in bed, when I heard the unmistakable sound of a large gas burning letting rip! Surely not, I thought as I jumped out of bed to check outside. Sure enough, just clearing the apartment block opposite mine was a massive hot air balloon.

I got dressed as quick as I could, grabbed the camera went out onto my balcony to be greeted by the sight of twenty or so balloons taking off from the Mt Stromlo nature reserve just across the road. After taking photographs of these, I noticed that the Royal Australian Air Force balloon was still on the ground preparing for take-off, so I decided to take a walk over that way to see if I could get some decent close-ups of it. As I approached it, I was delighted to see that the ‘new’ RAAF balloon, in the shape of a pilots helmet, was also be readied for take-off.

As they both ‘took off’ at the same time, I got some great shots of them clearing the trees and flying straight over the top of me towards my apartment block. Rushing back that way, I managed to catch up them in time to get some decent shots of the ‘Helmet’ with the apartments in the foreground.

I wonder if we could arrange for them to launch from Mt Stromlo at least once during the next few balloon spectaculars, mmm I feel an email coming on…

Posted March 19, 2016 by yermandownunder in Canberra Events, Observations

Killing the goose that laid the golden egg!   Leave a comment

Friday, 26 February, 2016

Tonight, Barry and I took a bus ride out the Bruce Stadium to watch the Brumbies take on the Hurricanes, from New Zealand, in the opening game of this year’s Super Rugby competition. We took the bus, as we wanted to call into out favourite pub on the way back through town, The Phoenix. However, as we approached the door to get in we were stopped by a sign outside requesting that we paid a $10 entrance fee, which we refused! Being shocked and surprised at the time, we didn’t really agrue the toss at the door, but I was moved to write a large comment/rant on theii FaceBook page and I repeat the post here for your comment…

Unfortunately guys, you’ve killed the goose that laid the golden egg!

We called along on Friday night to partake in couple pints of our favourite black stuff and were met at the door with a demeaning sign demanding $10 of my hard earned! Hang on a second I thought to myself, what’s going on here?

I’ve been coming here for nearly five years now and consider the Phoenix to be one of the best pubs in Canberra. Not anymore! Why? Well what have you done for me recently? It’s been over two years since the fire in the roof space of the Sydney building and understandably you had to close for a while, due to the missing cover above your establishment. Yes you partly opened half the pub as quickly as possible and got bands and other entertainment going soon after that (more about this later!). But wasn’t the same, as the original and best section of the pub steadfastly reminded closed. We understood that there were problems with the insurance claims as to who was going to pay for the replacement roof and the remedial work required to get all the businesses along the strip operational again, but we stuck with you calling in whichever we were in town to keep our iron levels up and to watch the increasingly average bands perform on stage. Then one night we were asked to a pay $5 cover charge to watch a band who had come from out of town. Mmmm, we thought is this the thin edge of the wedge? Sure enough, subsequent visits found us shelling out $5 each time to have our ears assaulted by a string of bands who couldn’t play their instruments or sing properly or even worse, both of the above at the same time.

Okay it’s only $5, what do you expect for a live gig venue! Stick with it guys, all will come good, the pub section will reopen and we can get back to having a true Irish pub atmosphere in Canberra, just like the ones back home with interesting characters propping up the bar and people (Young and old) interested in engaging in conversation late into the evening. Then on Friday night, the final insult, approaching the door with our $5 at the ready, we were greeted with a sign at the door with some supposed witty comments stating that those of us who were employed would have to pay $10 to gain entry while those who weren’t (assuming the unemployed, students, OAPs etc.) would get in for $5. WTF! The thin edge has just got thicker. What’s going on? Is this legal? We were so shocked and disgusted we didn’t even stop to argue to toss and went elsewhere.

Posted February 26, 2016 by yermandownunder in Observations, Out and about

Manly to Taronga Zoo Hike   Leave a comment

Monday, 28th December, 2015

After meeting up with cheeky chops Lucy and her mother Lauren at the Circular Quay wharf terminal this morning, we took the ferry over to Manly for breakfast on the beach side cafe.

The forecast was for a coolish day with a slight chance of a bit of rain, so what better day for me to try out the Manly to Harbour Bridge walk I’ve been hearing so much about recently, WRONG. Woke up to the sound of rain pelting it down and even after consulting the weather app, which told me it was just a passing shower, it continued to rain throughout the trip across the harbour on the boat and during our breakfast. So much for our planned hour or so on the beach, so we opted for a stroll along the boardwalk in order to show Lucy the surfers in the sea.

On the way back to the ferry terminal I was still undecided as to whether or not to take on the hike, but seeing as it had stopped raining and it looked as though it was brightening up, I decided to go for it. So at around noon, a lot later than I had planned, I bode Lucy and Lauren goodbye and set off along the harbour side coastline towards Spit Bridge and Sydney CBD beyond.

This first section is around 9km in length and well signposted, even allowing for a slight detour part way through due the pathway being washed away by a high tide a few months back. Not that I needed direction or a map, as all I had to do was to keep an eye out for the steady flow of people coming towards from the other direction! It seemed that Spit Bridge to Manly is the favoured way to go.

However, once you get to Spit Bridge the numbers coming the other way dropped off massively and I found myself weaving through some very nice real estate until I hit another reserve and the coastal path again which took me into Balmoral, where j had lunch at another beach side cafe. Suitably refreshed, I struck out again to take out the next section of the hike to Taronga Zoo. Probably the best bit of the hike, as the path hogged the coastline dropping into and out of various coves along the way, with the added bonus of passing some historical sites as well.

I had planned to give myself 8 to 9 hours to complete this walk and with a planned 9am start, I would have done it no problem even with lunch, a swim and multiple stops for picture taking and chats thrown in for good measure. However, with my late start I was conscience that I wouldn’t be finishing the hike until 7 or 8 o’clock in the evening. Unfortunately I had made other plans, so I decided to end the walk after 22km at the Taronga Zoo ferry wharf and jump on a boat back over the harbour into Circular Quay, so that could sort myself out for my date at the IMAX theatre in Darling Harbour.

Posted December 28, 2015 by yermandownunder in Observations, Out and about, Travels

Wanderers of the world unite!   Leave a comment

Wednesday, 25 November, 2015

Tonight our regular Wednesday night trip to the Mawson Club for the weekly quiz was further enhanced by the quest appearance of Nick Michell’s wife Ange, who has just recently flown in from the UK on her annual migration south for the summer in Oz. Also joining us tonight was Michelle Bower’s mum Lu Lu, who is visiting from South Africa and Ainslie Desmond’s mother-in-law Kay, who is down from Forster in northern NSW to see her grandson who is 4 tomorrow.

All this new talent didn’t enhance our usual piss poor performance and after a spectacular start, we crashed and burned as usual, finishing well down the pecking order.

Never thought I would be let down by Cassius Clay in my lifetime!

2015 11 25 - Quiz Night

Posted November 25, 2015 by yermandownunder in Observations, Out and about

I have just experienced the future!   Leave a comment

Saturday, 14 November, 2015

This evening I went to a Spanish evening at my friends Tim and Ainslie Desmond place and never being one to knock back an evening of great food, drink and company I was keen not to take the car, thus restricting my ‘fuel’ intake. Now the problem in Canberra is that whenever you’re trying to get home from anywhere after a few too many drinks, it cost a fortune as the local taxi firms have the place have the place stitched up with their scandalous rates.

Not any more, this month UBER arrived in town and after downloading the app a few weeks ago I was keen to give them a try, especially after they offered a first ride promotion of $20. So it was with great excitement when the party was winding up, I fired up the app and requested a ‘pickup’. Bang, straight away I got a message on my phone giving me the ETA, driver’s name, as well as the make, model and rego of the car picking me up.

Turns out the driver was an ex taxi driver who give me the lowdown on how the UBER process works for him and his experiences so far (good and bad!). At the end of the journey, Sajjad (my new best friend!) used his app to complete the ride and I received an email detailing the route, timings and cost breakdown of the trip. We both give each other a 5 star rating via the app and I was home after a 22km journey for the grand total of $28.50!

So here’s the great part, even allowing for the full fare of $48.50 that’s still 40/50% cheaper than a taxi would have charged.

Jez that’s good, I might go out more!

The future is here!

The future is here!

Posted November 14, 2015 by yermandownunder in Observations, Out and about

yermandownunder

A Blog about Mario's life down under!