An early morning flight

3:30am alarm. 3:40am shower. 4:00am Left the house for a 4:30am rendezvous. By 4:45 we were in a minibus headed for our embarkation point. Time for a Sunday morning balloon flight - a Christmas present from last year from M. Hot air balloons are very much at the mercy of the weather. Our flight had been cancelled twice already due to the wintry blast of wind and rain that had be

Culture, Melbourne, Photos, Toxic Custard newsletter

Don’t be a jerk

I was looking through some old photos, and found these from November 1996. I've scanned them from the negatives. As you can see, they provide some good advice... (Click on either photo to view it larger in Flickr) Things to note here: "Don't be a jerk" is a work by Barbara Kruger, originally from 1984 Some of the well-known CBD skyscrapers are visible in the background, b

Melbourne, Toxic Custard newsletter, transport

Walking in suburbia

On Monday I had an errands at Pinewood. Pinewood? Yes, the minor shopping centre somewhere on Blackburn Road between Clayton and Mount Waverley. I caught the bus up there -- the 703 runs from near home in Bentleigh, via Monash Uni, then up Blackburn Road. Unsurprisingly perhaps, we had to wait at the Clayton level crossing for a train... thankfully only one train; it's common for long delays


Ripponlea heritage: Brinsmead’s Pharmacy

I'm not sure if it's new, but I noticed the other day that the old Brinsmead's Pharmacy in Ripponlea now has a plaque marking its significance. When I was a kid, this was still a chemist. Its survival as a chemist for so long, over sixty years, probably helped the original features stay intact. Nowadays it's a florist, but still gorgeous inside. Apart from the period features

Bentleigh, transport

Plain concrete to be replaced by art

This coming Saturday the new Bentleigh, McKinnon and Ormond stations are hosting a "family fun day" featuring a steam train. Should be... well, fun. Edit: Here's the steam train timetable: (Hopefully they've checked if steam trains are okay climbing the higher-than-usual 2.5% (ish) gradient heading north out of Ormond station! I'd assume so, given the 2% standard is a relatively new requir

Bentleigh, transport

Small wins: 703 bus to be improved

Apologies for this very much locally focused (and possibly over-long) blog post: The main bus route through Bentleigh (both the suburb and the highly marginal state seat), the east-west 703 along Centre Road, is getting a slight upgrade. It doesn't seem to have been announced yet, but eagle-eyed timetable watcher Craig Halsall spotted it: on Sundays it will finally run the entire route to Br

Bentleigh, Politics and activism, Toxic Custard newsletter

Bentleigh Uniting Church takes a stand

Many around Australia would know of the Gosford Anglican Church, thanks to Father Rod Bower and his famous signs. A couple of weeks ago this sign appeared at the Bentleigh Uniting Church. It now seems to have disappeared in favour their more usual list of events. It pleases me to see messages like this. Immigration, and the mandatory detention of refugees, is a difficult issue. I'm not go


The fascinating world of high tech garbage collection

A transport podcast I've just discovered is Transit Insight. There's a key difference with this one: it's run by, and features, people who actually work in the public transport industry. There are a lot of other good podcasts out there, but almost all of them feature advocates or academics. I'm working my way through their episodes, but last week I listened to this one: The Dirty Details

Bentleigh, Consumerism, Toxic Custard newsletter

The chains of Bentleigh

My local suburb is increasing in density, and (not entirely disconnected from that) it's also interesting to see how the retail strip is doing. The shopping centre has grown around the railway station, which is still the epicentre, though the east side of the tracks is where most of the busiest shops are located. The chain stores (often referred to as "anchor tenants") have maintained their