Yesterday we headed up for our semi-annual (?) trip to the snow. With Mt Donna Buang (the closest) looking a little lean in the snow department this weekend, we opted for Lake Mountain: myself, Isaac, Jeremy, my nephew Leo and his dad Adrian (driving).
As we headed up the Maroondah Highway, we could see the effect of February’s fires only too clearly. Large numbers of trees burnt; some in their entirety, some only up as high as the first 5-10 metres, as if the fire was too busy rushing through to bother to completely devour it.
We reached Marysville, and stopped to hire some toboggans. It’s quite erie — so many buildings are gone. On several blocks, all that’s left is the Hills Hoist.
We got to Lake Mountain by 10am, and set about putting on the extra layers of clothing, then headed to the first toboggan run, right next to the main building. There was plenty of snow around, and in fact some more was falling. All around the resort were hundreds and hundreds of charred trees.
The toboggan run was pretty busy, but good fun, and we had a few goes there before looking for the second run. That, sadly was quite muddy in parts, and we decided instead to find the third run.
The third run is shorter, but much faster than the first, and there were fewer people around. Initially Isaac and Jeremy declined to go on it, but they relented later. Adrian (and Leo) and I seemed to enjoy it most, though the bumps on the way down left me with a sore bum later. After a few goes on it, we went to find the snow play area, and built a snowman.
After some sandwiches in the shelter, we did the two good toboggan runs again. They were much more busy this time, and by the time we got back to the faster run, a lone resort worker was trying to keep things running in an orderly manner and without too many accidents occurring.
It showed how silly some people can be — despite his repeated pleas, people kept hanging around at the bottom of the run, like sitting ducks to be hit by anybody sliding down — and given the speed at which you flew down, there was little in the way of steering possible. Other idiots were climbing up the middle of the slope rather than using the sides — again, inviting collisions.
Anyway, after a few more slides, young Leo was overdue for a nap, and we headed back to the car, stopping again in Marysville to drop off the toboggans and pick up some hot chips, and then driving back to the big city. All in all, it was a good day out.
We went up to the snow on the weekend. Myself, the kids, cousin Leo, and cousin Leo’s dad Adrian. Five blokes on a snow trip.
The great thing about going to Mt Donna Buang yesterday was there was plenty of snow.
The bad thing about going to Mt Donna Buang yesterday was that lots of other people had the same idea.
This became apparent when we got through Warburton and saw one of those highway signs saying there’d be long delays. They weren’t lying; we probably queued for at least 45 minutes on the mountain road, while the rangers waited for people to come down. They said Lake Mountain was even more packed. We used the time to eat lunch, stretch our legs and throw around a bit of the roadside snow, and to use the handily-placed toilets.
After the delays, we finally got to the mountain itself, put on the cold weather gear, hired some toboggans, and off we went. The last report I saw on Friday said 30cm of snow, and it was probably still a similar amount. The sun came out and we frolicked with half the rest of Melbourne on the summit. Even Leo was eventually convinced to take a toboggan ride, and funnily enough we unexpectedly met a bunch of his little friends and their parents up there.
Then we tried the toboggan runs. It was perilous; the snow in that area had been compacted by the feet of a weekend of visitors, and it was really slippery. I kept falling over and barrelling into complete strangers; then they into me.
Jeremy’s toboggan went off on its own at one point, but was found by a friendly passer-by. After he had a (rather too fast) slide down, while climbing back up he found his hands frozen (he’d taken his gloves off) and was almost unable to move without falling over. Not happy.
Isaac at one point found himself on the ground next to his toboggan, but it was so slippery at that spot he was unable to climb onto it without a struggle. Eventually he slid down on it, then climbed back.
We gave up on the run at that point and climbed back to the summit, which in the circumstances was altogether a more enjoyable spot. Eventually we’d had enough, and climbed back down to the carpark, with (I think) almost everybody falling over at one time or another. A little bit painful, that.
We returned the toboggans (you know, I’m not absolutely positively certain that I paid, but the guy assured me I didn’t owe anything) and got some hot food for the walk back to the car and the drive back.
Halfway back I realised I had something of a damp bum.
All in all, a great day out. Well, apart from the tumbles.
(Post backdated to the day it happened. Posted Tue 10 Oct 2006.)
Over breakfast we pondered if we should go up Mount Wellington. The night before we’d rung about a bus tour, but looking at the weather that day, with snow forecast for the peak, and a lot of fog visible around the top, it wasn’t looking good. (There’s also a bus up, bike down tour which would be fantastic on a nice day). Eventually we decided to hire a car. Thrifty had one for about $80 plus fuel — the last one they had left, in fact. And as a bonus we could pick it up in the city and drop it at the airport, for no extra charge.
The car was going to be ready at 11am, so first we headed down to the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery for a look around. A dinosaur greeted us at the door, and didn’t even charge us admission. Some interesting displays of Hobart’s past (including the whaling — mmmmm… blubber!), Aboriginal culture, and a few other less-related displays too. A notable bit of colonial history was a blue gum couch dating back to the early 1800s. Yep, a couch older and rattier than mine.
Thrifty is just a stone’s throw from the museum (slightly further if you initially walk in the wrong direction, like we did). We picked up the car (a little manual Hyundai jobby) and tried to get back to the B&B to pick up the luggage. Central Hobart is awash with one-way streets, and it took us a little while to figure out which particular combination of them we needed to get to where we needed to be. Add to this unfamiliarity with the car, and the dread of having to do a hill start in traffic, and I wasn’t having a good time during the initial few minutes of driving.
Thankfully there didn’t seem to be many differences in road rules. I’d already noted the UK-style yellow lines indicating parking restrictions, but apart from the one way streets, otherwise nothing seemed different. (As a pedestrian I had noted the pedestrian lights seemed much more responsive than most Victorian ones, and at many intersections they wisely gave pedestrians a few seconds’ head start over cars.)
We managed to find the road up to Mount Wellington. Quite soon we were seemingly beyond the main residential area, the only signs of life being the occasional house and the Hobart “Metro” bus stop signs. A little later even these were left behind, as the road wound its way up the mountain, me gripping the steering wheel and trying not to look over the edge of the road past the guide rail to the plunge below.
The little car did well climbing the mountain, and nearing the top, we found trees with some snow on them. Right at the peak is a comms tower and a car park, and we stopped and parked, then added whatever layers of clothes we could find to have a quick look around.
It was bitterly cold up there, and we initially took shelter in the observation shelter, before braving a couple of the lookouts to take some pictures. The fog had lifted a bit, and we could see some of the city below. Then it started spitting, followed by a little snow, and we high-tailed it back to the car, and headed back down the mountain.
Stopping momentarily about halfway down, it started snowing. The kind of snow you see in movies: big, visible snow flakes. I’ve never been snowed upon before, and it was a nice moment, even if most of them were melting as they hit the ground.
We kept on driving, but instead of going straight back into Hobart, went to the Cascade Brewery. They do tours there, but we hadn’t pre-booked so that wasn’t going to happen. But we did have a rather delicious lunch, accompanied of course with Cascade Lager.
Then onward, back through central Hobart, and out again across the rather impressive Tasman bridge. Down the freeway for a bit then we turned off and headed to Richmond. More and more the country was reminding me of West Sussex where some of my relatives live — very green, but mostly farmland. We initially drove through Richmond and found the bridge: the oldest bridge in the country still in use, in fact, built in 1823.
Some ducks were quacking away nearby, and when the drizzle stopped and the sun came out, it was all rather glorious. Quite soon more tourists arrived, and soon they (and us, I suppose) were swarming around taking pictures. We strolled up to the nearby Catholic church (again, the oldest one in the country) and had a look inside and around the graveyard, a very picturesque location on top of a hill, with graves both old and new dotted around.
We went back into Richmond proper and had a little look around, before driving to the airport, watching out along the way for a petrol station. I thought I saw one in Cambridge, just before getting onto the freeway, but thought “there’s bound to be one at the airport.”
There wasn’t. The Thrifty people looked shocked that we would have even dreamed that there would be such a thing as a petrol station at the airport, and warned us of the surcharge for filling up the car: basically you pay about double the price per litre that you’d pay if you did it yourself. Well, it was only a quarter of a tank, and a small car, and I couldn’t be arsed going and finding a servo, so I said they could do it themselves. And it turned out to be $20 all up, so for the avoidance of effort, $10 wasn’t so bad. Different story if we’d been driving a 4WD and the tank was empty.
Checked-in and were told the flight was delayed 30 minutes. Sigh.
Went through security and I got randomly scanned for explosives.
Got to the lounge and found…
The soccer club boys. Sitting around a table, drinking beers and possibly looking a little the worse for wear after two and a half days’ rampage through Tassie.
We got a newspaper and some drinks and nibblies and filled the time until the flight boarded. Thankfully we were booked on the Qantas flight, whereas the soccer club boys were on the Jetstar flight that left just behind us. The flight was uneventful. Being Qantas, they had what they claimed was a “dinner service”, though it was just an elaborate ham, cheese and salad roll, plus a small chocolate bar. Better than nothing though.
We flew over the rest of Tasmania, Bass Strait and then over metropolitan Melbourne (with me, bored of the Qantas magazine and having checked-in my novel, trying to spot landmarks), then touched down at Tullamarine, before heading home.
All in all, it was a terrific few days. Hobart was really nice. The people seemed friendly, the traffic (even in peak hour) was okay, and, having recently read the book about Whelan The Wrecker’s career, which documented many of Melbourne’s historic buildings, it seemed to me that the city is being similar to what Melbourne might be if it had stopped growing in the 1890s or so, with so many beautiful old buildings remaining in use.
Maybe I should have predicted this before we went, but it seems like I’ve only had a small taste of Tasmania, and there’s plenty more to see. I look forward to going back.
Yesterday, Isaac, Jeremy, Marita, Adrian and myself piled into the car to head for the snow at Lake Mountain. It took about an hour to get past the Edge Of Known Suburbia (Lilydale), then about another hour via Healesville (quick rest stop) and Marysville to the slopes.
Not as much snow present as last time, and some mud on the toboggan runs, but still fun had by all.
(Mouse over the pictures for a description)
The semi-traditional weekend update.
On Friday night I bought some shoes. This is something of an achievement, as I am majorly crap at buying shoes. I’m better at buying clothes than I was, but the shoe-buying skill still eludes me somewhat. It had to happen though – my usual work shoes, having put up for some time with five-day-a-week wear, were showing signs of stress. Time to get a second pair, get the first ones repaired, and rotate thereafter. After a failed attempt at Chadstone on Thursday night, I moseyed down Bourke Street after work and by some miracle fairly quickly found a very nice pair. Very nice. I’m wearing them now. I’m still getting used to them, but they’re muy cÃ³modo. I’m telling you.
Saturday I headed out with the old pair to the local shoe repair place up by Carnegie station. The parallels between car repair and shoe repair were immediately evident, the bloke behind the counter tut-tutting, looking over them and telling me how much work was going to be involved to fix the hole in the bottom of one of them and to re-do the sole and heel, and how it was going to cost $50. Yikes. I pondered this for a little while, and just like when the car mechanic tells me some extraordinary amount of repairs is needed, decided to go for it. After all apart from the hole they were a quite serviceable good pair of shoes (which cost me three times that originally).
Then I caught a tram to
Elsternwick library, where according to the online catalogue there could be found a copy of Virginia Woolf’s "To The Lighthouse" waiting for me. I’ve been scrabbling around for something to read other than the morning paper, so when this came
highly recommended I thought I’d give it a go, though I’m in no mood to be buying any more books when there are still some waiting to be unpacked at home, so borrowing it from the library seemed like a good option. Even if they did make me pay an outstanding sixty cent fine before I could take it.
I started reading it while waiting for a tram back, and obviously looked so engrossed in it that the old lady also waiting there felt compelled to alert me when the tram arrived. With the distractions of Glen Huntly Road noise and movement all around, I found the first few pages rather heavy going, and this may instead be a book that requires as its reading environment a quiet room, a comfortable chair, and a cup of tea at hand.
The summit of Mount Donna Buang on Sunday. My handy-dandy camera’s pan feature came in handy again. Click it for a nice big version (379Kb)
That evening it was time for an evening out with an ever diminishing number of friends. Dinner for seven, a movie and post-movie dessert for four, and eventually just two of us left for a wander around Readings. No matter, all thoroughly enjoyable. The movie ("A Mighty Wind") was very amusing, and gets a thumbs-up from me.
The traffic jam on the way to the snow.
On Sunday I took the kids on our annual outing to the snow atMount Donna Buang. The snow report was very favourable, with heavy falls having occurred earlier in the week, and it seems a lot of other people wandered up the mountain that day, as there were queues along the way – twice on the road, and another to hire toboggans. No matter, a chance to eat our picnic lunch. But after the queues was the mountain, the glorious snow, the sun shining down on the summit, and the joys of skidding down the slopes on a bit of hard plastic. The waiting and the long drive were worth it. Even forgetting to take gloves wasn’t a problem.
That night I caught some of the Concert for Holly/cancer awareness, in between watching a tape of Saturday’sDaily Show. The Daily Show (Global edition) purports to focus on international events covered by the previous week’s Daily Shows aired in the US, but actually it’s more of a best-of compilation with a few "international" links thrown in by Jon Stewart. Some of these links are of doubtful value – the wisecracks about different languages might be amusing to an apparently insular New York studio audience, but I cringe a little when they come up. But the rest of the show is, at least to me, a very funny look at US current affairs. Something along the lines of an American version of CNNNN orBackberner. With anSBS-added blur to obscure the Comedy Central logo in the corner.
When the tape had finished, the Concert for Holly came back on. Problem was, having missed the start, I had no idea who Holly was. It eventually became apparent from watching (and checking the TV listing) that she was Holly Robinson, who had died of cancer, and before she’d died of cancer had hung about the Channel 10 studios. Possibly some kind of Channel 10 gopher or something. The concert itself felt like a Big Gig re-union show, and now I’m wondering if Holly was related to Ted "1990s ABC Comedy Supremo" Robinson.
I once went to a taping of The Big Gig. It was after its halcyon days, the sunset period, when the edge of its comedy was rather less sharp than it had been. Arguably the funniest stuff was all in the audience warmup, material which wasn’t aired, such as theDoug Anthony All Stars doing their impression of Christian youth camps ("Running and leaping and praising God!") And so this resurrection of a lot of the Big Gig characters like Candida and Shirley Purvis felt a bit stale, though the Sandman/Flacco bit and some other segments raised a smile.
The DAAS sung "Throw Your Arms Around Me"yet again - will that damn song never die? It was fabulous the first time they did it – as with their "Heard It Through The Grapevine" (which to their credit they have never repeated), the context made it what it is. Lowest of the low brow innuendo and savage biting sarcasm suddenly give way to a beautifully performed song. A masterstroke. That’s been lost in the subsequent dozen performances – now it’s just tiring.
The addition of some unbearable visiting English boy singer (Gareth someone) and his forgettable song (which they tried to convince us was good by noting that it was a UK hit) did nothing to help. I mean, if it’s a concert specifically dedicated to a particular person, what is the point of shoving in an import like this, someone who has undoubtedly never heard of the person being honoured, and is only trying to gain some publicity for an assault on our local CD-buying teenagers?
Took the kids up to the snow yesterday. As per usual it was a long hard drive, but well worth it for a couple of hours’ frolicking in the snow. My back was killing me when I got home, so I’m glad it’s only an annual excursion.
We stopped off in Warburton on the way there and back. Tell you what, the public toilets in Warburton aren’t up to much. Maybe the locals aren’t fussy about not having toilet seats, hot water, soap or a drier. Who knows.
On Tuesday I turn 32. Some people seem to get all worried when another year passes – myself included, sometimes. But this time, I feel okay about it. Despite my occasional bitching and ranting, life is, by and large, good. Even my finger has just about recovered.
I think Jeremy enjoyed the snow just a little bit.
Yesterday I took the kids to the snow at Mount Donna Buang, which was a heckuva lot of fun. Toboggan rides, building a snowman, throwing snowballs… great stuff. We all got wet of course, but great fun.
Today I turned 31. Most of my recent birthdays, the prospect of being another year older has worried me somewhat. Was I looking older? Was I wasting my life? Was I enjoying myself? Was I happy? Was I getting fatter? Balder? Greyer? More wrinkly? Was I getting old and boring and losing my ability to be outraged when someone dared to ring me at 7:30 on a Sunday morning?
I’ve been so busy recently that I haven’t had time to even think about worrying these things. I’ve thought about them briefly now, and the answers are: Maybe, No, Yes, Yes, Not noticeably, Perhaps, I don’t think so, and No – definitely not. (I don’t think my Grandad has quite mastered this whole time zones thing.)
What I did think about this morning was how happy I am with life at the moment. Life is definitely good, and I probably had something of a spring in my step and a big smile on my face as I walked to the station on the way to work.
So, what presents have I got? A bunch of good ones as a matter of fact. Two Black Adder DVDs and a delicious dinner last night from my mum. A book about the nearby wilderness from my sister, which should encourage me to do what I’ve been saying I’ll do for ages now: to get out and explore the wilderness nearby. Plus I am led to believe that two more DVDs are on the way from her – the entire series of Ultraviolet, which I’m currently hooked on. Onya Sis! A chocolate cake from the ex. And today I got shouted lunch, and surprised by being given the missing book from my Bill Bryson collection, from the girl I’ve been out with a few times recently.
Okay, so it’s not an enormous haul of presents, but it’s all quality stuff that I’ll enjoy using. I’ll take quality over quantity any time. Of course, finding the time to watch all the DVDs (as well as the ones Josh has been lending me) could be tricky.
But the best presents were the card Isaac made at school for me, and knowing that so many people in my life – the ones who contributed tangible presents and those who didn’t – cared enough to wish me a happy birthday.