Trip to Perth

On the weekend, I was in Perth for my grandfather’s birthday. It was a very relaxing trip, and even so I was able to catch up with quite a few friends and family members. Plus, the weather was nice, so I also got to swim at the beach. All up, very restorative.

There are some things about Perth that make the place very special (some would say “stuck in time”, but that’s a bit mean). As well as the lack of daylight savings, extended trading hours and pokie machines in pubs, there’s an easygoing lifestyle and pace that suggests a level of contentment now rare here over east.

Another thing they’ve got is wildlife. In some suburbs, it’s not uncommon to find snakes in your backyard. If you go to Rottnest, you’ll certainly come face to face with a quokka at some point. Also, the many parkland reservations throughout the city host bigger animals like kangaroos. This photo was taken in a reasonably old suburb that’s about 10-15 minutes drive from the centre of town. My parents live nearby, and the kangaroos are a daily occurrence.

The AFL Grand Final as a spectator

We went to the AFL Grand Final on Saturday, to see the West Coast Eagles win by just a point. It was a frustrating game, but it was very exciting towards the end as Sydney Swans came from hugely behind to close on the Eagles. (And let me say that if you’re going to have a mascot, one based on a bird is guaranteed to look like a chicken. Except if it’s an Eagle, of course).

Anyway, it was the second time I’d been to a Grand Final, but the first time I’d seen the game from the stands. Back in 1997, we were there as part of the talent. Not the sporting talent of course – we were in the pre-match entertainment.

It’s still run by Kerrie Hayes Productions. And they still teach the same dance moves. As the little people dressed in black waved their arms to Up There Kazaly, my arms twitched in synch.

It was much better to be in the stands. You could see everything and there wasn’t a costume. The only way to get a birds-eye view from down on the ground was to dress as a chicken.

Realistic Food Sites

Reading The Age Good Food Guide, a Melbournian might get the idea that everyone’s out there munching on foie gras, quaffing chateau du maison, and quoting French phrases. Most of the foodie websites follow this trend, and discuss high cuisine as if it’s almost an everyday experience for the authors. Maybe it is, but what about the rest of us?

For me, a good brunch out can be the weekend highlight. I recently came across a site that reviews good breakfast spots around Melbourne. It’s fantastic! The pictures get me drooling, and I’ve discovered several new places that I’ve simply got to try.

A little while back, I was pointed towards a site that reviews the best chicken parmagiana in town. These are people who take great pride in their mission, and their rating methodology is extraordinarily detailed. But it doesn’t explain why their ratings show North Melbourne as the centre of the parma universe.

Finally, there’s someone out there who is helping us to choose our morning brew. This site reviews cups of coffee (and the occasional hot chocolate). How useful is that? I haven’t really gone through their back catalogue of reviews yet, but there looked like a couple of places I really should check out. It goes well with the breakfast site.

So, more of it, I say. Not everyone has the ability to dine at two-hat restaurants, but a good coffee is realistically available to everyone, and a good breakfast can make your day. This is what the Internet was invented for!

NZ Snow is good!

Self-portrait at Cardrona

Originally uploaded by 4ndrewScott.

So, there’s no snow in Victoria at the moment, but there is a fair bit over in New Zealand. We’ve just come back from a trip to Queenstown using Value Tours, and can recommend them.

We got to three different mountains: The Remarkables (reasonable snow but a bit small, so it didn’t take long to have skied everything of interest), Coronet Peak (lots of runs, comfy chairs on the lifts, good views, but very exposed, and all the snow was artificial), and Cardrona (a bit further away, but excellent snow, and good pizzas and noodles). There was a fourth, Treble Cone, that only Dan made it to, and it had more skiable area, catering more to the black-run types.

Now that we’re in Spring, the snow is getting a bit soft, and the cover is reducing. Good for boarding, apparently, but is a little too sticky for my taste. Speaking of taste.. the bananas were great. Can’t wait til we get them back in Victoria at a reasonable price.

The State of Snow

What a poor ski-season it’s been this year in Victoria. Admittedly, we went to Lake Mountain and not Mount Hotham, but this picture still gives you an idea of the state of things. It’s mid-August, and there should be enough snow to go tobogganing!

Perhaps this photo overstates things. Even though there were patches of rocks, grass and dirt, it was possible to steer between them, following a winding path of snow to the bottom. In fact, the fact that you needed to steer probably made it a little more fun than it would’ve been normally.

Kids who sing like Adults

I find them unnerving and really quite freaky. The Sound of Music was on TV last night and starred Julie Andrews, who was one such musical mutant. She had a five octave range and debuted on the West End at about the age of 12, according to Wikipedia.

As I was browsing YouTube recently, I came across a performance by Bianca Ryan, who is reputed to be 11. It’s very, very odd to be watching someone that young sing and perform like that.
YouTube Preview Image

Effective Public Transport web site – shock!

I’ve been impressed at the web sites available for public transport, overseas. I’d given up on the hope that Melbourne would get some decent websites for its public transport system, and now I’ve come across two of them in a matter of weeks.

Firstly, there’s the Journey Planner that Metlink runs. It’s just like the one I came across in London, and liked a lot. It schedules train, bus, tram and walking between a flexible set of end points. Previously, looking up timetables on their site and figuring out what to catch when – well, it was a total nightmare. I expect I’ll be using this new one a lot.

And I’ve also come across the best map of Melbourne’s trains and trams I’ve ever seen. It has everything, all on one map. In colour. Print it in A3 and give it to everyone.

I have no idea why I’m so excited about public transport web pages. It’s really not the sort of thing I would normally care about. But these are so much better than what I’d expect that I can’t help but tell people.

I hope I get over it soon.