S.O.Y. Sauce?

21 March, 2008

Spotted at the Blue Train Cafe, Southbank:


Please, Please, PLEASE Do not FEED ‘The Birds’ Or they will S.O.Y.

(Some grouse punctuation in there, too.)


It took me 37 seconds to get to the 88th floor of this building

11 March, 2008


By the way, it’s Melbourne’s tallest building, the Eureka Tower.

And when I got to the top, the view of the world’s best sporting venue wasn’t bad either.


The rest of my photos from our expedition to the top of Melbourne are here.

Hopefully I’ll be writing up a travel article on our experiences shortly. Stay tuned.

Things to know about driving in Tasmania

11 February, 2008


A few things I learnt on the weekend.

  • In Tasmania, every second car is white.
  • In Tasmania, posted speed limits are just a guide. If the road is dead straight and the speed limit is 100 kmh, it’s perfectly acceptable to potter along at 70 kmh. When the limit drops to 8o kmh, just drop back to 50 kmh. Or 40 kmh if you prefer.
  • A good guide is to take the speed limit and deduct 1 kmh for every year you are older than 60.
  • Under no circumstance should you pull over to let faster cars past. Those hoons who want to drive at reckless speeds approaching the speed limit need to be protected from themselves.
  • In order to assist with the previous point, drive in convoys of three or four cars and stick really close together; that way if a small break in traffic occurs, the hoon will have to overtake all of you in one dangerous manouvre.
  • The typical convoy reads: ‘White Corolla, White Maui motorhome, red Magna; white Laser; White Mauia motorhome; Blue Corolla’. Try to keep this order. It is aesthetically pleasing and bloody hard for hoons to get past.
  • Make sure you use your brake excessively as you negotiate every single 1 degree bend in the road. Just to be safe.
  • Don’t worry about indicating. Or driving on your own side of the road. These considerations are over-rated and were probably invented by people on the mainland.
  • The nearest petrol station is 8km past the airport. Go figure. Even Wellington has a servo at the airport.

On a roll

13 November, 2007

Some more good news – my travel article on free things to do in Melbourne was published in the Dominion newspaper (Wellington, NZ) today.

Here is a copy of the article: Take a free ride in Melbourne

Puss Off Kiwis

16 August, 2007

Interesting article in The Age this morning:

NZ irked by diggers’ flight to Mid-East

New Zealand is furious that it has been dragged into the Iraq war – if only in a token fashion – by flying Australian troops to the Middle East.

The New Zealand Government is demanding answers from Air New Zealand and its diplomats following revelations the national carrier ferried up to 600 troops on charter flights now branded a diplomatic embarrassment.

Prime Minister Helen Clark is believed to be “appalled” that the airline – which is 67 per cent Government-owned – could have helped deploy troops to the Iraq war.

Suggested answer to Helen (Frankenstein’s bride) Clark:

Dear Helen

Sorry about our troops having to fly to Iraq via Air New Zealand while you guys hang on to the coattails of the rest of the Western world.

We would have used Ansett to fly our troops to Iraq, however it appears that Ansett is no longer in existence after being taken over by Air New Zealand and the NZ government several years ago. Many Ansett veterans are still waiting for their payouts.

We seem to remember you washing your hands of the whole affair.

Interesting you have a view on the running of the airline now.


Little Johnnie

PS – Good luck in the World Cup

Le Tour

31 July, 2007


So once again the Tour de France has been dogged by drug controversies, with the media bleating that the Rasmussen & Vinokourov incidents were the worst things t0 happen to the tour since … since … well, since last year.

Most people will know that last year’s winner F Landis (not to be confused with Homer Simpson’s neighbour, Ned) tested positive after a Pegasus-like comeback in the mountains. But even before last year’s tour began, several of the favourites – Ulrich, Basso – were booted out on the eve of the race. This year’s winner Alberto Contador was implicated in the same investigation but has thus far escaped sanction.

Hopefully these recent high profile doping cases mean (a) the tests for cheats are getting better and better; (b) the cheats are being caught and (c) potential cheats will be thinking twice before doping up in future. Or does it?

Interestingly, I read during the week that only 4 samples are tested after each stage – the stage winner, the Yellow jersey holder and two random riders. From a field of around 200 this is hardly comprehensive. By my calculations a rank and file rider who doesn’t win a stage has less than a 1 in 4 chance of being tested during the tour. This doesn’t seem sufficient.

The Tour is looking at introducing 4 year bans for riders testing positive (double the current penalty) and is already fining cheats a year’s salary if caught. Seven figures sums in many cases, so not to be sneezed at.
Despite the controversies I found the tour compelling viewing. Wakes and I had a great time watching the two London stages in person (or at least as much of the stages as we could see from 3 deep with riders flying past our vantage point at around 55 kph), and we watched most of the other stages on TV. (The Portuguese commentary was a bit hard to follow for the week we stayed in Portugal – note to self, must work on Portuguese). The scenery, the drama, the tactics, the incredible physical efforts, the history, and of course the fantastic performance of Cadel Evans in coming second all contributed to a fantastic event. If even one of those athletes is clean, it is an incredible effort just to finish.

I spent a fair bit of time reading the Tour de France forum on the SBS website, and many of the contributors expressed similar sentiments – the Tour itself is a unique, passionate, dramatic, gripping event, and fans are willing to keep up their interest, despite the drugs crap, in the (maybe naive) belief that eventually the sport will clean itself up. Let’s hope so.

Attention now turns to catching up on the sleep debt that has accumulated during the tour. Roll on next year, and onya Cadel.

I wasn’t expecting that…

30 July, 2007

During our week in Portugal we took a sightseeing tour of the Algarve which included a visit to the spectacular Cape St Vincent.

End of World

In the good old days when the world was considered flat, the Portugese thought this spot (situated at the south-westernmost point of Europe), was the end of the world. From the photo above you can probably see why.

We were fortunate enough to experience beautiful weather for our visit, however part of me was a little disappointed that we weren’t there in bad weather. Our tour guide showed us a postcard of a wave breaking right over those massive cliffs during a particulary fierce storm. Now that is something I’d love to see.

On the way home from Cape St Vincent our bus called in at a roadside cafe for refreshments. Our driver told us to make sure we checked out the stuffed animal display inside. We were expecting some sort of quaint teddy bear and purple dinosaur display. Instead, what we got was a full-on 1800s style taxidermy display, complete with a Noah’s Ark of African wildlife, including a lion, cheetah, zebra, giraffe, crocodile, hyena, elephant tusks etc. etc. Not at all what we were expecting and more than a little offputting in today’s politically correct, more enlightened times.

As well as the African stuff there were loads of deer heads, antlers, wild boars etc.

Someone had a hell of a time killing all of those beautiful animals to make their smoking room look cool.

We took a quick look around – the scariest thing was the zebra, which glared at us the whole time and looked as if it was about to spring to life at any moment. A bit like the donkeys that terrorised Wakes during our NZ trip a few years ago.

Anyway, here is what the lion looked like, just to show how real and scary the display was. Probably something we could have done without.