theoldwolf: (Default)
"Australia is living up to its nickname of "the lucky country," with a new survey marking it as the happiest industrialized nation in the world based on criteria such as jobs, income and health," according to a May 22, 2012 news article in the Wall Street Journal entitled "Australia Tops OECD's Better Life Index."

I thought that was interesting, given other recent articles that show migrants leaving in record numbers and that the high cost of living is driving consumer purchasing offshore.

My travels have taken me to Australia twice, and I enjoyed every minute of each visit, but I was struck by how fast those $1.00 and $2.00 coins melted through my fingers... I could truly relate to auld Mac's sentiments:

Charles Keene, from Punch, 5 December, 1868, p. 235

Text reads:

Peebles Body (to townsman who was supposed to be in London on a visit), "E-eh, Mac, Ye're sune hame again!"
Mac, "E-eh, it's just a ruinous place, that. Mun, A had na' been the-erre abune Twa Hoours when - Bang! - went saxpence!"

Now I know a lot of Aussies, and to a man, woman and child they're capital people. But they're all over the economic spectrum, and my experience is that if you're fortunate enough to have a well-paid job, and can live somewhere outside of a major metropolitan area, life is can be pretty good. But I can see that a lot of people are trying to make ends meet, and are more or less running at 100 kph up a down escalator that's doing 120. I know for a fact I could no more survive in Sydney than I could in Manhattan, unless I wanted to reduce my standard of living considerably.

The WSJ article makes passing reference to high cost of living, high rents, and an industrial exodus, but seems intent on making its point despite these factors. I chuckled when one testimonial came from an Italian who plans on staying because wages are better than in Italy, but his last job was working as a farmhand in Victoria State, and who "next plans to pitch his tent in the remote northern city of Darwin, a frontier in Australia's energy boom."

Despite the economic crisis here, and news items indicating that there is now a reverse flow of Mexican immigrants back over the border because times are getting tougher here, we're still getting many who are willing to risk life and limb to make it to this so-called "land of promise." I suspect that many of those who continue to migrate to Australia have had it far worse in their homelands, and this is one of the major factors driving up housing costs, as supply becomes more and more choked. In the end, it's all relative.

As for me, I'd happily live there if I could keep body and soul together. Except for the buggers who hand out speeding tickets in New South Wales and the annoying buzzing insects (oh, wait, sorry, no difference) I've never met an Aussie I didn't like.

theoldwolf: (Default)
I can't embed this flash vid in LJ, so here's a link to the Australia I know and love...
theoldwolf: (Default)
My good friend, [ profile] thefoxaroo, took a photo of me at Queen's Wharf in Newcastle with Nobby's in the background. Sorry about the damage to your lens, there, Foxaroo!

theoldwolf: (Default)
Never seen a product so well-named:

Jet lag... urgh!
theoldwolf: (Default)
Happy Australia Day!

Yesterday was laid back and enjoyable - while Steam Wolf worked on his Land Rover, I took the Wolfmobile into Newcastle, found a commemorative silver coin that my son wanted, ate a pizza roll at a shopping center, explored Christ Church cathedral overlooking the harbor, and generally enjoyed myself on the dénouement of my Australian sojourn.

In the evening Steam Wolf escorted me to a former military club/casino where we feasted on barramundi, chips (i.e. fries) and salad. Afterwards we sat on the deck chatting for about an hour while lightning raged all above us and around us, eliciting less-than-printable comments from this easily-startled old wolf. But what a light show!

After more sharing of internet movies and other goodies, we retired. It was substantially cooler thanks to the rain.

This morning Steam Wolf took me to the train station, where I (most reluctantly - I hate to leave this most pleasant base camp!) caught the proper trains to Artarmon, and now look forward to a day exploring Sydney with the Foxaroo.

More later.
theoldwolf: (Default)
Nice day. Went up to a beautiful vineyard area for a look-round the shops, and had lunch in a little cafe - a nice beef burgundy pie and a fruit tart. Visited the "Smelly Cheese Shop" where I picked up some nice Australian honeys and got to sample some very nice cheeses. Also stopped in at a chocolatier where we had some interesting chili chocolates, very tasty with a slight chili kick to them.

Spent the bulk of the afternoon at SteamWolf's folks' house chattering and having afternoon tea, a lovely blueberry bread with fresh home-made butter. Later we went down to Lake Macquarie and walked around, watched dolphins and had ice cream. Today was overcast and significantly cooler, which was most welcome.

Came home and tucked into some more cheese and fresh lychee nuts for a light supper - a relaxing, pleasant day all round.

Need to call the Foxaroo and see what his plans are, and coordinate what will happen tomorrow and Tuesday. I'm starting to feel really torn right about now - I miss my own place, but I'm dreadfully sorry this amazing 3-week journey is coming to an end. I just want more...

theoldwolf: (Default)
Arose early and spent a part of the morning reading "Paladin of Souls" on Batty's back porch, while a cute lop-eared bunny with a dark nose came lippety-lipping around my feet to see what this strange creature was. It was a pleasant morning, but I could tell it was going to be hot.

When Batty awoke, I got ready to head East, and we parted ways with many compliments passing between us. He is a most delightful chap, and I hope to be able to visit him again in the near future. Stephan will have the pleasure of his company for the week-end.

Drove to Parkes and by the time I got to the observatory it was scorching. It must have been over 40, but fortunately the humidity out here is quite low, so it wasn't unbearable. Batty recommended I have a meat pie in the cafe there, and I took his advice, to my credit. The experience surpassed the expectation. The pie was divine, and eating it with this huge radio antenna just outside the window, with air conditioning to boot, was as pleasant a brunch as ever I have had elsewhere.

The Dish itself is very impressive. While not quite as large as the one we saw during PonyCon III at the NRAO, it seems bigger just because you can get so close to it. When I got there it was doing quite a bit of moving, which was interesting to see. In the visitor's center there are three little 3D movie clips which I watched, one about Mars, another about the telescope itself, and the third about relative scales in the universe - "Bigger than Big". All very interesting.

Left Parkes and drove back to Newcastle via Sydney, and over the Blue Mountain range, where the climate and the landscape changed from arid plains to bush-laden mountains and hills. Arrived at SteamWolf's place around 9:30, and after spending some time catching up, headed for bed.

The next morning we spent visiting while a workman put some stairs in SteamWolf's backyard down to his lower level, and then his girlfriend came over and I was feted with a fantabulous kangaroo steak lunch with roasted veggies and fried mushrooms, followed by homemade bread for dessert. After lunch, SteamWolf took me out to some amazing sand dunes at Stockton Beach for some 4X4 fun, during which we rescued some poor yob who had gotten stuck in the sand with his trailer. He was lucky that SteamWolf had a snatch strap in his 4X4, and that we were able to get him out without his trailer rolling. We had borrowed his dad's vehicle - I got to meet his parents and his sister, lovely people and I can see where he gets his odd sense of humor - but the vehicle was having a bit of trouble overheating so we didn't do a lot of dune running. But it was great to be there, and spent a bit of time on the seashore gathering the cutest little whelk shells.

It was a blistering hot day, and his parents' thermometer was registering 43 in the shade - not to mention the fact that a brush fire had come very, very close to their home yesterday and there was a hot, dry wind blowing. We got to watch helicopters shuttling water to the hillside behind the folks' house for a while - they have this great 5-acre spread surrounded by bush, and they're very fortunate the fire didn't come closer.

By the time we left the beach, a cool front had moved through, with some concomitant cloudiness, and the temperature dropped at least 15 degrees making it much more bearable. Got back to SteamWolf's place and spent the rest of the evening exploring stuff on the internet. He introduced me to The Dresden Files - show and books - which I had never heard of. Sigh - another series to read, but it will have to wait until I'm done with Chalion. Got some laundry done, and now it's time to climb the wooden hill. It's been a great day!
theoldwolf: (Default)
Tired wolf.

Spent yesterday driving from the Gold Cost to Coonabarabran, and apparently I was a bit too anxious to get there. I had a conversation with one of New South Wales' finest along the way. A very expensive conversation. Spent the next two hours in Resistance, Resentment and Revenge, and said a lot more than "hqiz". Yarg These people are insanely anal about their speed laws.

Well, that's over - I parked the car at a truck stop just outside of Coona and was able to get some acceptable shots of the Southern Cross, even with my dinky little camera. The Magellanic clouds are spectacular to contemplate, but too faint to photograph. Still, it was the first time I had seen them clearly.

Drove into Coona and from thence to Warrumbungles National Monument, where I camped in the car until 6:00 AM. Walked up the White Gum overlook for some sunrise shots of the volcanic valley, and then found the trailhead and started off at 7:00. It was still cool and I was glad I had begun early. At 9:10 I found myself at 910 meters above Sea Level, overlooking the Breadknife and with a magnificent 360-degree panorama of some incredible volcanic remnangs. Many pictures and videos taken. Got back down via a back route at 11:00, so the 16-odd kilometers and very steep rise took me just 4 hours. I was glad I had been in training, because it was quite a strenuous hike to the top - but the views were so worth it.

From there I drove to visit the Anglo-Autralian Telescope ( which also provided beautiful views of the valley. Amazing instrument... I had never been in an observatory before. I was interested to know that they remove the mirror, and strip and re-aluminize it each year. What an undertaking that must be...

Drove the 158 Km to Dubbo, where I met [ profile] dewhitton and was treated to a sumptuous banquet at a chinese all-you-can-eat buffet/private club. And we did... oh, yes, we did. *urp* It was interesting that we had to sign in as "temporary members" to get in, and they were quite insistent that I remove my hat. Odd dress code...

Afterward he took me to see some aboriginal grinding grooves, where the natives would grind grains, and sharpen axes or spear points in the rock. He also showed me some interesting pylons under a bridge which were decorated beautifully in the aboriginal style. Apparently when they catch a tagger, they take him to one of the local artists and teach him how to do wall art properly, and then turh him loose on ugly pylons or other surfaces that need decorating. If he's intractable and won't learn, he gets turned over to the constable. The work they do is impressive, and the program is quite imaginitive.

Dubbo is less humid than the Gold Coast, but today was 38C and tomorrow is slated to be warmer yet. Uff!

Tomorrow I want to drive to Parkes to see "The Dish", and then head back for Newcastle to return the Wolfmobile to its rightful owner. Slowly.
theoldwolf: (Default)

Ran out last night to get the Australian equivalent of Solarcaine and Tylenol, by the grace of which I was able to sleep well last night, but I'm sore today.

This is my second trip to the merry old land of Oz, but the first one in which I've really been able to experience the country. This is just a few thoughts in no particular order that occurred to me this morning.

  • The people are friendly to a fault.
  • Driving on the left is weird, no matter how you look at it. 45 years of driving has trained my subconscious to know where the steering wheel should be with reference to the left edge of the road, which means if I lose focus for even a split second I'm either straddling the lane or off into the ditch. Fortunately, both I and the car are still in one piece. It's getting easier.
  • It's odd that roundabouts, which were designed to create an orderly flow of traffic, are being removed at many intersections. (I know, because the GPS with 2006-based maps gives me instructions for roundabouts that are no longer there.) It may be due to an increase in population which necessitates standard semaphore-based control. Perhaps a roundabout doesn't work well when there are too many people trying to get through at once.
  • Things can be expensive here. A pastry that would be a buck in Smith's at home costs around $3.00 at a kiosk in the mall. A can of the Australian version of Tinactin was $14.00. In addition to a higher base pay here, much of what is sold must be imported, which affects prices. Candy is expensive - they must have to bring in all their sugar.
  • It's humid, at least here on the East side. Like average 65% humidity. Australia is coal-fired, homes heated where necessary by means other than forced air. Hence central air is a rarity. It costs about $3,000 to put in a single wall-mounted cooling unit that would handle one average-sized room. I'm always feeling like I've had a swim in a molasses pool.
  • North NSW and South Queensland has some of the most beautiful, fertile, lush and abundant land I've ever seen over such a large area.
  • I think the whip bird has the most delightful call of any bird in the world.
  • Pastry shops that sell meat and veggie pies are a gift from Heaven.
  • I could spend years exploring this country.

More as I think of it.
theoldwolf: (Default)
I am told that there are places on earth where the scenery is heartstoppingly beautiful, abounding in rainforests, waterfalls, blue lagoons, exotic flora and fauna - places like Hawaiʻi, certain islands of the South Pacific, the Maldives, just to name a few. To these places I have never been.

But mine eyes have seen paradise.

Much verbiage under the cut )
What a huge adventure!
theoldwolf: (Default)
So I was up at 8, which gave me 4 hours to get everything else ready that I had left undone. Got my desk cleared off and down to where the shuttle driver was supposed to come with 10 minutes to spare.

Of course he couldn't find me, despite my having given precise instructions to the dispatcher the night before. So when he did show up 10 minutes late, he tried to blame me for not being where I was supposed to be. Not a good way to win friends and repeat business.

Took me 45 minutes to get through security at Delta's terminal. I didn't have to pass through a full-body scanner, even though they have one. I was glad. I don't want no dimwitted TSA drone ogling my junk.

As it turned out, I had plenty of time, my flight to LA was 30 minutes late. It was a tiny CRJ-900, but fortunately the flight was smooth. I slept most of the way. Snack: Biscotti with the Delta logo stamped in them.

Had a 7-hour layover in LAX. Fortunately the international terminal was comfortable and had all the amenities I needed. Had a grilled chicken sandwich and a St. Pauli's for dinner, and spent most of the time working on "The Curse of Chalion" which was given to me over a year ago by [ profile] sleepyjohn00. I have to admit I had made precious little progress on it because of lack of dedicated reading time, but also because Bujold used about 1/3 of the book setting the stage. As soon as the death magic was worked, the story became riveting. I should be able to finish on the train to Newcastle tomorrow.

My flight to Sydney was an hour late getting off. With all due respect to the airlines, that are doing their best to make air travel possible in impossible economic conditions, the bottom line is that traveling overseas in coach is sheer hell. Add to that a fat seatmate who could barely shoehorn herself into the middle seat, who fidgeted incessantly, who had to get up at least 8 times during the flight, who got airsick halfway through, fat-assed stewardi who kept bumping me as they pushed their carts past, and just the fact of sitting in a barely-adequate, unpadded seat with about 5 degrees of recline for 14 hours, made the trip less than enjoyable. The only redeeming feature was the choice of about 100 different movies at my seat - I watched about 15 minutes of "Push", which was dumb; Blade Runner; The Half Blood Prince; Mulan; and The Soloist, which brought me to tears. Delta did the best they could with the food, which was average but tasty. And they brought round water about every hour, so people wouldn't get dehydrated.

It took a while to get through customs, and I was glad they didn't confiscate one item I had made at home and brought for a friend. Took the train to Artarmon, where I was met by [ profile] scottrell001 who bought me lunch, fed me supper, and showed me around. I suggested a walk after lunch, and we took about a 12-mile hike along Flat Rock Creek Gully (see the Foxaroo's post for some photos, most of which look like the ones I took today). We got back to his place around 5, and spent the evening eating, talking, and enjoying various things on the net. I introduced him to "Fluent Dysphasia" and other things from Dough Productions.

Got cleaned up and ready for bed, but had to get this posted before I forgot the details - tomorrow we head for Newcastle to meet up witn SteamWolf and to pick up the wolfmobile for my drive to Brisbane.

The weather here in Artarmon has been delightful. It was in the 70's around noon, although by the evening it had warmed up to what felt like close to 90. Both of us got a bit sunburned, but it was a very pleasant walk, with much wildlife seen - kookaburras, geckos, magpies (different from our U.S. variety), whip birds (heard but not seen - they have the most awesome call) and much flora. Many interesting sights along the way as well, most of which Stephan recorded in his post.

I'll be posting my pix when I get home, but for now, that's the events of the last two days.

G'night, mates!
theoldwolf: (Default)
Plane leaves tomorrow for the land of Oz. I will be MIA for most of the next 3 weeks, but will check in as computers become available. I hope to have a good report when I return on the 27th.

Play nice while I'm gone.

theoldwolf: (Default)
If you have teenagers, or know teenagers that could benefit from some personal development work, like no kidding, you owe it to them and to yourself to explore the Klemmer & Associates' Teen Camp that will take place from January 12-17, 2010 in Brisbane.

More information is available here.

I have served as staff at two of these events for US-based teens in California, and the results I have seen in the lives of these young people is nothing short of miraculous. And, just so you know - I have precisely zero financial interest in Klemmer and Associates. I'm recommending this program because I've seen that it works.

Oi! Oi! Oi!
theoldwolf: (Default)
♬ We get up at twelve and start to work at one,
Take an hour for lunch and then at two we're done!
Jolly good fun! ♬

♬ Ha Ha Ha, Ho Ho Ho and a couple of tra la la's.
That's how we laugh the day away in the Merry Ole Land of Oz! ♬

Well, all I can say is, if I get down there and find out that's not how it is, I'm gonna be powerful disappointed. I've been looking all my life for a job like that...

Delta Air Lines Flight 17
Arrive: Fri, Jan 8, 2010, 08:40 AM

Depart: 11:25 AM, Wed, Jan 27, 2010
Northwest Airlines Flight 9306

So the die is cast, and there's no turning back. Now all I have to do is arrange transportation to LAX from SLC and back, and put together the scratch to hold body and soul together while I'm down under. Oh, and petrol. Or propane, or whatever the Wolfmobile drinks.

For those of you who worry about my being able to deal with the heat and humidity, come to Salt Lake and spend a winter here... It's not like what [ profile] alaskawolf has to put up with, but we get plenty ice and snow and arctic blasts. So believe me, by January I'll be ready for a change.

theoldwolf: (Default)
With many thanks to [ profile] scottrell001 who sent me the individual snaps, I share a few panoramæ showing views from his balcony. I only cheated on a few corners to fill in parallax gaps - otherwise, what you see is what he saw.


Interesting shot of houses far away, reflecting the light of the sun

Oi! Oi! Oi!


theoldwolf: (Default)

April 2017



RSS Atom

Most Popular Tags

Style Credit

Expand Cut Tags

No cut tags
Page generated Sep. 20th, 2017 05:48 am
Powered by Dreamwidth Studios