Ten years ago: Pics from August 2003

Another in my collection of photos from ten years ago…

Murrumbeena, in the days of M>Train. I quite liked the logo and slogan (“Moving Melbourne”) — less sure about the colours, and of course the splitting of the network into different operators was silly.
Murrumbeena station, August 2003

2003 was probably the best fall of snow at Mount Donna Buang that I’ve ever seen.
Mount Donna Buang, 2003

A 360 degree (and a bit more) pan from the snow… click to see it bigger.
Mount Donna Buang, 2003

Yep, this is probably a tram. (That building in the background on the left is the Melbourne Sports Depot… which is now a big EB Games. See, the geeks have taken over from the jocks.)
"Probably a tram" (2003)

On the 26/8/2003, my first TV appearance on behalf of the PTUA. I was nervous as hell.
Daniel's first PTUA media, August 2003

Lake Mountain snow

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.

Scarred trees at Lake Mountain

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.

The snowman: Jeremy, Adrian, Leo, Isaac

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.

Lake Mountain toboggan run

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.

Snow, snow, snow!

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.

Queue for the snowIsaac and a snowman

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.

Adrian and Leo in the snowJeremy tobogganing

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.

Caught in the snow

(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.

View from Mt Wellington

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.

Richmond bridge

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.

Richmond church

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.

Daniel at the snowMarita at the snow
Isaac and Jeremy at the snowSnowman

(Mouse over the pictures for a description)