My cousin’s in town (and a proverb updated for the 21st century)

I can’t tell you what a pleasure it is to have my cousin Justin in town. He grew up in Brisbane, then Newcastle, before moving to Perth, so we barely saw him when growing up.

He moved to Melbourne a couple of weeks ago, and is now settling into his new flat and job here.

The Age Cheap EatsHeading over to the flat on Saturday to help him take a fridge delivery and do an Ikea run for essentials got me thinking about a possible housewarming present.

Problem is I didn’t know what he already had, or what he’d want.

Two ideas presented themselves: a nice packet of ANZAC biscuits spotted at a shop we frequent.

Or a copy of The Age Cheap Eats, to help him navigate Melbourne’s burgeoning numbers of restaurants.

In the end I settled on the latter.

Why?

Well it’s like the old proverb says: Give a man a packet of biscuits, you feed him for a day. Give him a copy of Cheap Eats, and you feed him for a lifetime.

Tullamarine terminal 4 arrivals. What a dump.

So this is Terminal 4 Arrivals — where you greet passengers arriving in Melbourne on Tiger Airways:

Melbourne airport T4 arrivals (outside)

You can’t go in, they can only come out. There’s no shelter to speak of — if it rains, you’d better wait in your car (if you brought one).

Inside there’s just luggage collection. No trolley until you get outside. Up the back there were some toilets and chip machines, and possibly a bench or two for waiting if there’s a luggage delay. It’s open to the wind, and there’d be no air-conditioning, but at least you’re undercover:

Melbourne airport T4 arrivals (inside)

Wow. What a dump.

But anyway — welcome to my cousin Justin, new to Melbourne!

PS. Tuesday night — Matt from the Corporate and Public Affairs department at Melbourne Airport has been in touch to point me to plans for a new domestic terminal, and to note that the proposals for this redevelopment are now open for public comments. He also says Smartbus facilities will be “significantly improved” and that they’re talking with PTV about getting a Smartbus stop into the main forecourt.

A year since Dad left us

It’s a year today since Dad passed-away.

It’s got easier to deal with and think about as the months have passed. Life goes on. But yes, today (and on the 7th, which would have been his 80th birthday), I did find myself in contemplation.

Doubly so when a $7 refund cheque for him for a cancelled utility arrived recently.

His influence is still felt, and he is remembered fondly.

As my sister said so much more eloquently than I:

A year goes by quickly. Hope you are getting in good reading in the great library in the sky, Dad.

(21/8/2010: The funeral)

The memorial bench

At the University of Queensland this week, they installed a park bench, a memorial to my father, who studied there and was editor of the student magazine Sempor Floreat sixty years ago this year.

Dad's memorial bench at UQ

Dad's memorial bench at UQ

Dad's memorial bench at UQ

I’m told it’s beside the lake (obviously) next to College Road, close to the intersection with Staff House Road.

Judging from the pics, I reckon Dad would have liked the spot, though I bet he’d have his head buried in a book rather than be enjoying the scenery.

I’m hoping to get up to Brisbane later in the year with the family to see it for ourselves.

Many thanks to the Property & Faculties division of UQ for being able to organise this for us.

Awesome gigantic pic of my stepfather outside the Immigration Museum

This is officially awesome. My stepfather Peter features on one of the banners at the Immigration Museum, promoting the new Identity — yours mine ours exhibition.

My stepfather's picture at the Immigration Museum

I’ve suggested to him that he ask them if he can keep the banner when they’re finished with it.

Memories in the making

In 2008 I started a project I wish I’d started earlier:

Every few months we get out the tripod, switch the camera to auto, and take a photo of ourselves in front of the house.

I got the idea from a newspaper article.

Some of them are taken just as we leave on a weekday morning, in school uniform/work clothes. Some of them are on a weekend. We try to stand in the same positions each time. Mostly just standing, smiling. Occasionally we’ll do an extra shot in a funny pose.

Over the years, it’s starting to show the kids growing up, all of us getting older, them getting taller, me getting greyer. And the house, now just on 80 years old, remains the same (though we’d keep doing it if we ever moved).

I think everybody, especially people with kids, should consider doing something like this.

It’s priceless memories in the making.

(Sorry no, I won’t be posting the photos publicly for the moment.)

Update: The Age’s Good Weekend magazine of 12/3/2011 had an example of this — pictures of a family every year since the 90s. It was a reprint from this Guardian article, where you can see all the pictures.

Queensland floods

I’m not going to name names, but two people remarked to me last week that the Queensland floods wouldn’t be that bad, because all the houses have stilts, so everyone up there would be fine.

I wasn’t about to get into an argument about it, but at the time I had my doubts. I suspect the people involved (both a generation older than me) have in their minds that the whole state is filled with “traditional” architecture of the Queenslander style — in particular those with stumps/stilts that let’s the house sit above ground level.

I may not have been to Queensland for twenty years, but I know it’s simply not true. As in any modern urban area, places like Brisbane (under threat now from floods) and the many regional cities have a wide variety of architecture, and traditional structures like stilts may or may not be integrated into modern designs, particularly as local drainage systems improved and the risk of termites and other pests (a reason for the stilts) may have been less prominent.

In any case, in the last day or two the flooding has got significantly worse. This video from Toowoomba shows just how quickly it can develop from a mere raging torrent into a dangerous situation where cars are thrown about like toys.

A number of people are confirmed dead, and many more are missing from places like Toowoomba.

Two-thirds of Queensland has been declared a disaster zone, and for those outside Australia trying to judge how big the problem is, the flooded areas are said to be about the size of France and Germany combined, or for our American friends, the size of Texas and Oklahoma combined.

Packed freewayBrisbane is now under threat, with some of the images yesterday of thousands fleeing central Brisbane reminiscent of disaster movies — proving yet again that freeways are no good for moving large numbers of people at once (but if you’ve driven in, and you can’t get back home any other way, what choice do you have?).

[Pic at right: Riverside Expressway, from Queensland government traffic camera, 1:36pm AEST Tuesday]

My uncle lives in Gordon Park, in inner-suburban Brisbane. Thankfully his suburb is not on the list of those likely to be affected by the river breaking its banks, and the excellent flood maps prepared by Brisbane City Council show that even if local flooding occurs, his street (which is on a hill above a park and a creek) should be safe. My sister rang him last night to check on him — he’s doing fine so far.

A lot of areas will not be so lucky though, and one can only offer best wishes to those caught up in the flooding.