Luckily I managed to sleep through until six. Continued working on the computer on several of the items that have close deadlines. I want to complete a report emphasising just how much work gets done in the Carlton Theatre by Geoff and Margaret. The trouble is I have two other deadlines for Tuesday.
Jean went off in her car on her errand. From about ten on I kept getting phone calls from her regarding items she had found that we could use. Most seemed to be at Dan Murphy.
A nice young serviceman from McGovern Agencies knocked on the door shortly before 10 a.m. to try to get Jean's garage door serviced and working. He said it was just an adjustment to some settings. He adjusted the big springs. Showed me where I could lubricate the rollers every three months and advised me to use Inox rather than WD40. He also suggested a service about every two years.
I went to lunch with the usual mob. Geoff and Margaret were just finishing their morning movies and sat at another table. I told them the bad news about the group. However I still want to produce my report, to emphasise just how much they have done for the theatre.
I thanked Liz at the office for organising the McGovern Agencies work on Jean's garage door opener. Jo-ann asked for help with their new wireless phone headset. Reading the manual after we exposed some interesting switching seemed to help. Not that I know anything about those headsets (I barely tolerate telephones at the best of times). However that raises the question of why the original model suddenly failed with the same symptoms?
I walked with Jean the long way around to the pub. Fair attendance, but it all seemed a little subdued. Asked Col about the ramp. Not him! Decided I must have more ice in my drinks in future, to cut calories. This form of diet may not work for weight loss.
I must have slept well. Up after six, and started the laundry. Tackled more of my deadlines on the computer, usually with little effect, but meanwhile I found I had yet another item due.
We went off to Willows before eight, and I bought my usual array of weekend newspapers. As at lunchtime, I had not found time to even read the headlines. Indeed, evening brought little progress in reading the news. I should give up on newspapers, since they mostly just annoy me.
Homecare delivered our shopping order of cheap Chinese plastic gadgets. On checking it, I found a long handled weed remover was not included. I thought I might be able to find the car around the village, so I rushed off. Managed to find the sales operator. She was very embarrassed, as she had already delivered the wrong order to us (luckily I had spotted that easily). Collected our weeder.
Heading back home, I came upon Ray, and spent a lot of time talking to our Resident's Committee chair about sub-committees. I would hope for no problem, but others may feel otherwise.
More sovereign risk from a tone deaf Gillard Labor government. A carbon (emissions) tax will increase local car prices, which will be passed on to purchasers. Imports will not have that impost (they have plenty of others, like the Luxury Car Tax money grab that has been around for ages).
However to encourage local car manufacturers to stay, the Rudd Labor government provided a carrot, in the form of the Green Car Innovation Fund. This 2008 agreement was for the government to spend $1 for each $3 the three local car makers spent in building more efficient vehicles. It was abolished by the Gillard government in January 2011, while it had ten years to run, and $800 million to spend. They blamed Queensland flood costs. You can simply not rely upon government promises. That is sovereign risk.
Up at five to continue to work on my Carlton Theatre Group report using Pages '09 to do fancy layouts. I have not done a template for this, because I hope it is a one off. Can hardly see the screen, and can not stay awake. This is shaping up as a real disaster. Got to page eight, realised I had forgotten to have breakfast.
Decided to take a break and watch Insiders and Inside Business, while I read the Weekend Australian.
Got the President's report up to page 10, and decided that would have to do. Who reads much anyhow? However I see this is perhaps the final vindication of all the hard work Geoff and Margaret put into the Carlton Theatre, so I wanted to make some sort of offering to show that some of us understand and care.
The report topped out at 150MB by the time I added all the photos. I had to reduce the photos (which blurs them) so it could be emailed. There are tools, but it makes for muddy photos when you crunch it down to a 2.5MB PDF.
Duncan wanted me to explain (again) how to use his DVD with his TV. I took some photos of the remotes. I will have to try to write him a visual manual. Hey, I do not deal well with gardens and plants and flowers (brown thumb disease), so I do not fault anyone for not dealing well with TV and DVD remotes.
Bacon and egg for lunch, thanks to Jean. I got through it real quick, as I had forgotten breakfast, and forgotten my essential morning tablets as well. Managed to complete ANZAPA as a PDF, and ask Jean to print a master. Only one page has a colour graph on it, so maybe it will not cause the printers to go on strike. That seems to leave me two other items with deadlines in the next day or so.
At least I remembered to have some pepper steak soup for dinner. It was loaded with pepper. Had a Pepperjack Shiraz with it (so appropriate). Jean found them at Dan Murphy's the other day when she went shopping. I hardly seem to have left the chair for the past week. Forgot to have my tablets however, until it was time to go to sleep.
I think the Panasonic DMC TZ10 camera has the most useless manual I have ever seen. All I wanted to do was format my camera cards. Do you think you can find that in the manual? I have a Postscript copy of the manual on my iPad, so I can search it.
The secret is to set the camera mode to P instead of Intelligent Auto (essential step). Turn the camera on. Press the Menu Set button in the middle of the direction arrows. This will bring up a fancier menu than usual. Left arrow to get to the left hand items. Down arrow until you get to the Spanner tools icon. Right arrow to get into the menu. Up arrow a few times and you will find Format (it is off the top of the menu display normally). Right arrow to get to the bits about formatting. What a pain!
I would rather take most of my photos on my iPhone, where I do not have to cope with shitty instructions before I can even start.
Deadlines on all sides. Luckily I could do stuff and send it off for review, which meant responses came back separated in time. Got my President's report done, and emailed late afternoon. Had ANZAPA done late yesterday, and Jean got me the final proof versions mid morning. Got FAPA completed (for low values of completed) mid afternoon, and Jean again got the master copy back to me this afternoon. This means these last two can go to Office Works in the morning.
Jean wanted to do her evening walk, so I went with her. Managed to drop the Whitsunday Times newspapers off on the way around. Once more chore done.
Why is the Federal Labor government wasting money sending out flyers asking
Are you ready for Digital TV? Why does the government need to say anything about changes forced upon commercial companies? Surely the companies could (and should) advise their viewers? The relevant change is actually that old style analogue television is to disappear on (or before) 6 December 2011 (in my area of regional Queensland).
As for the Household Assistance Scheme to give a HD set-top box to certain households, that is a disgraceful waste of tax money. These households choose to buy a TV originally. Life happens, that TV now does not work. Tough luck.
In reality, I suspect almost every pensioner who lacks a TV after the change over will find that some friend or neighbour will set them up with something, if they ask around. I have certainly installed enough TV and set-top boxes for people here. Finding old, but working, TVs and set-top boxes is not that hard, if you ask around. If the government is really intent on helping, without waste, it should check in six months time. However anyone who can not get a working TV by then probably has bigger problems (lack of friends and neighbours) than just lacking a gadget.
They key to survival after a disaster is close neighbours in the local community. The more social connections you have, the better your chances. This comes from Daniel P Aldrich, who studies the sociology of disasters. You can find a bunch of Aldrich's disaster studies linked here.
Now the Greens have the balance of power the first question by Bob Brown was about commercial TV being unwilling to air an anti-commercial targeting the Harvey Norman retail group (who do an enormous amount of advertising). This was in Australian Senate Question Time 4 July 2011.
The No Harvey No site is about Harvey Norman destroying native Australian forests. So GetUp made a commercial against Harvey Norman practices. Which was rejected by commercial television.
I got up before six. Found some more stuff (like my swimming trunks) for packing my bag. Lucky I had thought to bring it here, because I thought it might still be at Airlie Beach.
Checked Google Plus demo (it is not accepting logins). It remaps mouse interaction with the web browser. Send stuff to lists (called circles). Sharing video. Photo upload from phones. Streamed content. Group chats. On a very preliminary look, Google Plus seems like a waste of bandwidth and time.
Jean had a medical appointment. She sent me off in her car while she was there to deal with my printing at Office Works. The V8 car races had caused every road I wanted to use to be closed. Some arsehole revhead wants to flog a car around public streets, so as a result I can not get to a shop. I could not reach Office Works to do my printing. Plus every road I took to retrace my steps ended in a dead end. I hate Townsville. I hate printing. There will be ramifications from this outrage.
Lunch with the usual mob. Spent the afternoon boozing in the bar with Jeff. To hell with responsible behaviour.
229 apps is insane, when handling software is so … illusionary. I need to work on keeping my iPhone and iPad in a decent state. However the whole point of iOS is that the end user should never need to worry about file storage issues. That went away in 1974, when I stopped specifying the track and sector to be used for storing data on an OSI floppy disk. Apple need to sharpen up their act even more.
I tried to do my bit for Australian cattle producers during this troubling freeze of live cattle exports to Indonesia. Despite the bar having fresh mackerel, I had a T bone steak for lunch.
The Prime Minister Julia Gillard wants to explain her Carbon Tax on prime time TV. I don't give a stuff what the PM says.
Ten thirty, and the internet disappears. I logged on to the Belkin ADSL modem router. Tried to get an internet connection. Nada. Finally got one on 18.104.22.168. Great, now I can go back to arguing on Twitter. Thus are our lives trivialised.
Early morning, and there is no route to the internet, according to a numeric traceroute. Restarted the WiFi connection, and the traceroute seemed to goose the ADSL modem into action.
A software update on my MacBook Air failed due to the lack of connection. Second try got an error
reset by peer that I have not encountered previously. It started OK on the third try, and has the OS X 10.6.8 update.
The water sprinkling system on the Eastern side operated at 6:30 a.m. I remain unaware of when the Western side sprinkler works.
A rather nice guide on iOS Hardening for security, intended for defence and business contractors. Interesting related items from Apple include Create an iTunes App Store account without a credit card, and How to set up Find My iPhone.
The garage door opener again put up a fault light, and failed to open upon our return today. The garage door was serviced on Friday 1 July, so it appears the service did not actually disclose what the fault was.
We needed to order a taxi for mid afternoon, so we picked 3 p.m. On the assumption the taxi drive would have problems finding the location. Got a driver who had collected us previously, so he knew exactly where to go to. So we reached the airport by 3:30 p.m.
We are on DJ382 from Townsville at 5:10 p.m. arriving Brisbane at 6:55 p.m. Alas, when we checked in, the flight was listed as an hour late. Jean got herself a large chicken roll. The plane arrived about 20 minutes after it was due to take off. We left an hour late, for an uneventful flight arriving a little before 8 p.m. Jean had booked early, and we were in row 9.
We went straight to the Novatel Brisbane Airport by taxi. The driver was a speed demon, but the distance is only about 5 kilometres.
We are staying at the Novatel Brisbane Airport, which is very convenient to the airport. We thought it pretty comfortable last time we stayed there, and basically it is just to have a place to sleep overnight. The State of Origin deciding match was playing in the bar. Jean did not need more food, but I went to the Woolworths opposite to get a bottle of Coke.
The room was large and comfortable. The comfy chair less so, but it was acceptable. Great range of power points scattered around the room. I had forgotten the weird glass panels inset in the bathroom let light leak, even from something as dim as our nightlight. Read some news, but by ten we were ready to get some sleep.
Naturally I ended up awake from a little after two. Maybe I should have taken advantage of their pillow menu, and got a different pillow. We have an early start from the Novatel Brisbane Airport so we set the alarm for 5:50. We were both up, showered and pretty much ready to go before the alarm time. Only advantage of sleeping badly.
We caught the hotel van to the airport. At $5 each it is slightly cheaper than a taxi. Could not spot the business check in until Jean asked. Last time we used automatic luggage handling I managed to stick the luggage tag on badly.
We were early for QF1030 from Brisbane at 7:45 a.m. arriving in Broome at 10:45 a.m. Two hours time zone difference in there so it is actually a five hour flight. We spend about an hour in the Qantas business lounge, reading newspapers. Jean got herself a First breakfast.
The pointy end of the 737-800 was pretty comfortable. Jean got a Second breakfast. She also managed to fall asleep, something I seem unable to manage.
We reached Broome airport just after eleven, after sweeping in from the sea over the magnificent beaches. No problems, although my luggage was sufficiently slower than Jean's bag that I was getting a little concerned. Jean discovered where the free bus was. We were soon at Reception a Moonlight Bay Suites, behind a few other people from the bus.
Most of them got free drink vouchers, as their room was not yet ready. However our room was ready for us. We were also given two vouchers for drinks at Matso's, their brew pub. Plus a free bottle of Matso red wine, with an exceedingly funny label. Only disadvantage was two flights of steps to our room. However we have a great view over the swimming room and out to sea. The room is spacious, with a lounge kitchen, and a separate bedroom.
We headed downtown to Chinatown after dropping off the bags and changing to warm weather clothes. It is headed for 30 degrees, in mid Winter. Jean insisted we walk up the hill. She inspected a number of the pearl shops, which had an astonishing range of designs and pearl colours. The main shopping town is only a few blocks long and wide, so wandering does not take a lot of time.
This time I was the one who had luck with shopping. Found Azure sold cotton Hawaiian shirts, in bold designs. Although not as well made as those Jean makes for me, they were very colourful. I bought two, despite tourist prices.
We stopped at Woolworths to collect milk, orange juice and cereal for breakfast, and Coke to make me happy. Nearly cut my fingers off carrying them all the way back to the Moonlight Bay Suites in a plastic shopping bag.
We set off again, around the corner to Matso's, to use our drink vouchers. Jean had the Monsonal Blond, I had the ale. We ordered an expensive fish and chips (and salad). The server kindly brought us a second plate, so I ate most of the chips. I also had a sampler of their Divers Porter, halfway to a stout from an ale. We thought we might be able to get a take away meal, but that proved not the case.
At five Jean walked with me to a Eagles Boys Pizza, a 1.6 km round rip. She left before the pizza was ready. I rushed the pizza home, but it just did not seem very hot. Luckily in the suite we had a microwave, so we gave the warm pizza a bit of a boost.
Day 1. I slept badly, and was up early. Took a walk along the shore after breakfast. To Reception about 8:45 a.m. and checked out.
Collected by our driver Ian with the Outback Spirit bus from the Moonlight Bay Suites just prior to nine. We took a bad seat, number 4, for the first day. Drove around Broome, collecting other people. A fair number were over in the Cable Beach area, at places like Pinctada and Palm Beach. All seventeen of us were collected by 9:26 a.m. The microphone output was terrible, since someone had fiddled with it? Ian soon had that adjusted.
Ian gave the usual informative talk about the trip while we were parked. Several strings of camels wandered past, as they do in Broome. We headed out of Broome at 9:45 a.m.
We had a long tour of the Willie Creek Pearl Farm, from around 10:15 a.m. until after one. First came a wander around, during which I took photos. Next an information talk about cultured pearls, which was very well presented.
Lunch was at midday, and was followed by a launch trip to see some of the pearl farming examples we had just been told about. I attempted to get a flight on an R44 helicopter, but there were insufficient other people interested.
While Willie Creek present themselves as a pearl farm, and have some shells out, I doubt this is true. Their business is tours, and selling pearls from their shop. However it is an entertaining way to learn a little about pearl farming.
Crossed the Fitzroy River, which in the wet season can flow at a million cubic metres a second, on our way to Derby. The floods take out infrastructure. There was a replacement fibre optic cable, installed to meet the loss of connection, sitting on the surface beside the road for part of our drive.
We had a welcome comfort stop at a roadhouse 55 km from Derby.
We started outside Derby with the Moab Prison Tree, scene of much aboriginal suffering. Adjoining it was Myalls Bore and cattle trough.
As we drove through Derby, we chanced upon a parade, and streets full on onlookers. Alas, they were not there for us. We diverted, and reached the Derby jetty, so we could admire the height of the tides.
The crowds for the parade were dissipating as we drove back through. We stopped at the Old Derby Goal, remarkable for how primitive the conditions.
Then to Woolworths, so we could collect liquor supplies for several dry evenings. They had a one bottle rule. We were able to help one member of our group, as Jean and I only wanted one bottle in any case (we had a half bottle left over from Broome). By then it was 5:30 p.m. and already dark.
Stay at King Sound Resort, which we have used several times previously. I rushed off to start laundry. I had insufficient coins for the machines, and rushed to reception to get 10 one dollar coins, since that is what washing and drying cost. Rushed about until it was time to check the washing machine.
Dropped into the bar and had a small beer. Talked with Carole. SMS back and forth with Jean. Collected a bottle of Gundrey Homestead. SMS Jean again to warn her the staff were already taking orders for dinner.
Had to rush off again between dinner courses, as that is when the dryer stopped. I think I must have basically stopped about that time also, as nothing more is in my notes.
Day 2. Awake at one. Up at 5:30 a.m. Bags out the bus at 6:30 a.m. with breakfast the same time. Bacon eggs, tomato, hash brown, sausage, baked beans. Leave Derby at 7:15 a.m. with the sun well up. Took photos around the King Sound Resort as we prepared to leave.
Leave Derby, in Seat 5. Take the Gibb River Road five kilometres from town, through the King Leopold Ranges. Pass Imintji community on the way to the Tableland Track. Lost mobile phone contact at 7:45 a.m. Saw an eagle in a tree, inconvenient for a photograph. At this point the Gibb River Road is single lane bitumen, part of the old Beef Road Scheme, for perhaps 100 km, to where a mine road enters.
Then it changed to good dirt. The country soon turned to more open plains in the Canning Basin. Through the Napier Ranges at 8:45. King Leopold Range a 9 a.m. We took a photo stop at 9:30, overlooking the areas we had crossed, where there was a grave marker on a tree.
Soon after that we had morning tea at Apex Creek, a little side spot at a clear spring. Someone soon drove in to chat with our bus driver.
We took the road to Mornington at 11 a.m. I volunteered to sit in the front of the cab. That meant I had to open and close three gates as we travelled the one hundred kilometre. Kept seeing shorthorn cattle, rather than the Brahman crosses I expected. Encounter another Outback Spirit bus as midday approached, at the 50 km mark to Mornington.
Arrived at Mornington Wilderness Camp in the Artesian Range around 12:30. Lunch at Mornington Wilderness Camp in the Artesian Range. Australian Wildlife Conservancy have sanctuaries covering 2.6 million hectares.
Prepared spicy chicken on rice with salad lunches in containers were waiting for us, all packed by Jane and Simon. Manager Diane talked about the place, before we went to our rooms. We are staying in ensuite safari tent cabins overlooking Annie Creek. A very peaceful location, with a bubbling brook for background noise.
Drove to Bluebush waterhole around 2:30 p.m. This is a pleasant spot overlooking the Fitzroy River. Despite being close, it took the better part 25 minutes to drive it. I was pleased to see a small sand goana, which posed nicely for photos. Should get a pay increase. The water was warm, although perhaps not by our standards. It was also still running very fast. I would not wanted to swim against the flow, and no-one else did. While returning to the tents we saw a Australian Bustard. We also stopped to look at the large display of termite information along the way.
Sat in the tent. Charged the camera battery and the iPhone while the sun was out (the site runs on solar power).
Walked through the dark and solar path lamps with our torches to Reception at 6:30 p.m. for dinner in the open air dining area. Got a $20 bottle of wine, which was very pleasant. Dinner was very fancy for such a remote area. Roast lamb, with sliced round potatoes, sweet potatoes, on a bed of pumpkin, with medallions of stuffing. Interesting, and more elaborate than I expected.
The after dinner talk by Joey on Mornington experience in wildlife studies was interesting. He also talked some about Australian Wildlife Conservancy. Did a very nice job with a good range of slides in a Keynote presentation. Fire management at Charnley River. Animals in Mornington include Northern Quoll, Wyulda, Monjon, Short eared Rock-wallaby, Northern Brown Bandicoot, Kimberley Rock-rat, Black Grasswren. Plus blow in like dingos and Euros. As we have contributed to AWC for some time, we actually had a lot of this background.
We went to bed at 9 p.m. so as not to use to much battery power.
Day 3. Awake early. It was pretty cold in the tent, once you got out of bed. The Dawn chorus of birds was a mite early. The sun however up by six, and we could roll open the tent covers.
Breakfast is late, at 7:30 a.m. Probably the earliest that the staff can be persuaded to serve. Bacon and some really nice scrambled eggs. I was surprised to see a double slot toaster. These are notoriously hard on solar power systems and their inverters.
Ecology tour with AWC guide Joey was a nice walk along Annie Creek, with Joey explaining what we were seeing in the Riparian zone. Animals in Mornington include Northern Quoll, Wyulda, Monjon, Short eared Rock-wallaby, Northern Brown Bandicoot, Kimberley Rock-rat, Black Grasswren. Plus blow in like dingos and Euros. Joey told me he was in his first year after University, and had done a season of volunteering with AWS previously. We even managed to get back in plenty of time for the departure deadline.
Morning tea. I managed to meet the new owners of Charnley Station. Fire management at Charnley River was something Joey had covered. Leave Mornington.
Leave Mornington several minutes prior to our deadline, just after ten, back out the hundred kilometre driveway. We encountered another Outback Spirit bus at 10:48, coming in the long, long driveway. By 11:36 we were back on the Gibb River Road, and headed further into the Kimberley.
Top of Phillip's Range at 12:15.
Galvan's Gorge walk and scramble for swim and lunch around two hours.
Mt Barnett Roadhouse for fuel. No ice-cream that I liked. Rush for the single hole loo. Pretty crossing at Barnett River. Lots of silt closed road after wet season.
Over often very rough road for 30 km. Mount Elizabeth cattle Station, owned by Peter and Pat Lacy. around 3:30 p.m. Tiny kangaroo one of five pets there. Lots of dogs. Afternoon tea.
Pat talks about their 6000 head of cattle, history of station, forthcoming lease issues and conditions, cattle concerns especially getting cattle out after the rainy season and the live export ban, restrictions on tourism, need to have five months of supplies on hand prior to the wet season.
Dinner was three courses, starting with a potato and leak soup, followed by a pork buffet with vegetables Sweets were self saucing chocolate pudding, or a mango and passionfruit cheese cake.
I brought these notes partly up to date, and competed for the shared facilities a little later. Was in bed not long after nine.
Day 4. I was awake a little after one, and then had trouble sleeping. Joined the queue for the shared facilities around 5:45 a.m. Took a while to get my turn, but I was back in our room packing by six.
We need to take the bags to the bus at 6:30 a.m. Which is when breakfast also starts. We had cereal followed by eggs on toast and were still able to finish up in our room, and take photographs in the early light around seven. We depart at 7:15 a.m.
Leave Mt Elizabeth. The road out was a mere 30 km but took 45 minutes. One particularly virulent section of road threw half the bags from the racks on one side of the coach. We put the bags on the empty seats as a result. We did see a dingo in the distance around 8 a.m.
We drove past the entrance to Gibbs River Station around 8:45 a.m. This is owned by one of the Aboriginal Land Councils, but I gather operates with white contractors. The generation of Aboriginal stockmen may be past.
We saw a guy walking the road with two camels, the second of which had a tendency to walk sideways.
Turnoff to Kurumburu about 9:10 a.m. Our coach driver Ian was also able to get rid of our accumulated rubbish at the dump point there. The road had been graded recently for part of the way, which means this is as good as it will get this season.
We had morning tea just after crossing one of the rivers, and left again at 9:25 a.m. We had a comfort stop at Drysdale, where we planned a quick stop to collect the already prepared lunches. What prepared lunches? There was a delay, which did not please Ian, who had phoned several times to organise the lunches. Drysdale seemed well maintained, at least as far as the grounds went. We got away around 10:50.
Originally we planned a picnic lunch at Miners Pool on the Drysdale river. We passed this and continued to Mitchell Falls turnoff. Turn off to Mitchell Plateau after about 70 km. Unlike the section past the turn off which was closed since the wet season.
Cross King Edward River.
One stop was for aboriginal rock art. Ian knew two sites, so we had our lunch at the first site alongside the bus, from 12:50 to 1:45. This site only had a few items, but the contrast in styles was interesting.
Stop at King Edward River for a short walk to rock art gallery of Bradshaw and Wandjina rock art. Having caught up on our schedule, we had another stop up a bumpy track to view another rock art site. This was much more extensive, and the path in had changed greatly since Ian had visited last. We arrived around 2 p.m. Ian had not set a time to return, and one member of the group had perhaps become a bit bushed. However she emerged while Ian was seeking her, so all ended well, although we were late again. We got away at 3:10, later than we hoped.
This art site had a heap different styles, including some black dancing figures, and kangaroos joined at the head. Some of us walked out via the old car parking area. The track could not be used by vehicles. Had ditches close to a metre deep.
We also made a stop about 4:40 p.m. to take photographs of the view over a valley.
The road into Pandanus Pavilion is certainly exciting. We were met with cold drinks, and shown to our tents. For the first time on the trip, staff brought our luggage around. having learnt we were from Townsville, Jeff joked with us about another Queensland win as he delivered our bags. It was obviously still a construction site (probably thanks to the late wet season).
Stay in Safari Suites at Pandanus Pavilion lodge, on banks of creek. I am truly impressed. Outdoor restaurant. Campfire at six, where a cheese plater appeared. Jeff did steaks, cooked to perfection on the campfire. It was a very enjoyable meal. I overate. Jean had her allergy free meal in plenty of time.
Soon enough we had to collapse. Long day. At least Ian our driver gets a break tomorrow.
Day 5. I was awake at two. However there was little point in arising before 5:30 a.m. Jeff cooked us bacon at 6:30 a.m. Had it with eggs, plus the usual travel cereals and so on. I was surprised at how well the toasters worked, despite temporary power leads all over the place.
Paul drove us to the Mitchell Falls, accompanied by Pam, who had not seen this walk as yet. The 20 km drive took 45 minutes. Our usual driver Ian had the day off.
We walked. Climbed. Saw Little Merton Falls, and Big Merton Falls. Walked under the falls to an Aboriginal rock art site, where the natural air conditioning of the falls thundered down just past where we were gathered under the rock.
We continued to Mitchell Falls. Instead of staying on our side, we crossed the river in the shallows about 50 metres above the falls. The only concession we needed to make to the water was to take our shoes off to wade across the rocks. Paul and Pam assisted everyone. Then a little cross country travel brought us the short distance to some great views of the falls. Those of our group who had flown in were visible across the way, and we soon rejoined them.
Jean was missing. She was back in a shaded area near the helicopter landing site. It was important to find her; she had my lunch with her.
We actually had some time to kill, in some beautiful rugged country.
Flew back to the parking area around two in a six seater helicopter with no doors. I had great views of the Mitchell Falls. I hope the photos do justice to the aerial view.
It took several flights to gather everyone, so it was three before the bus depart the parking area. We were back at Pandanus before four.
We were again met with very welcome cold drinks as we alighted from the bus. Construction was still in full swing, and did not cease until it was nearly dark.
One result of this activity is that the kitchen is now working. Well, the appliances were installed and connected. There still seemed much work to go before it was a modern commercial kitchen.
We gathered around the fire again at six with our wine, but what we had for dinner was roast lamb. First use of the new kitchen (which is still very incomplete). Jeff did cooking, but I gather Sue had been flown out.
Overnight again at Pandanus Pavilions at Mitchell Plateau.
Day 6. While taking photos around the new resort, I saw one of the solar installers who had arrived last night. He said they were doing 54 panels, each 185 Watts, for a 10 kilowatt solar power system. The four battery banks brought in by truck the previous day each weigh 800 kilogram. Since the morning demand on the diesel generator was about 12 kW, the solar system will put a massive dent in fuel use.
We had an egg and bacon breakfast at 6:30 a.m. before boarding the bus at 7:15 a.m. The road out of the Mitchell Plateau was poor. Innumerable bumps, and we were down to 7 kph at times. We passed the rock art site around 8:45. Bounced a heap more. Ian discovered that Paul had managed to break the holder for the headset during his little drive.
Leave Mitchell Plateau and back to Kalumbura Road. We stopped for morning tea at the King Edward River, but managed to get away again at 9:20 a.m. The original schedule had us stop at King Edward River for a short walk to rock art gallery of Bradshaw and Wandjina rock art, but we did that on the way in.
We finally turned off the Mitchell Plateau road at 9:23 a.m. only to soon fund a slow camper trailer in front of us. When half an hour out of Drysdale Station, Ian used the satellite phone to attempt to ensure that this time lunches were ready. First call fails with no answer. Telstra recorded messages. Ian eventually got through with his order for 17 Kimberley Burgers for when we arrived at 11:30 a.m.
I have to admit to being impressed with the size of the Kimberley Burgers. To the classic burger (tomato, lettuce, caramelised onion, beetroot, and a massive slab of mince), they added pineapple, cheese and bacon and egg. I wish I had taken a photo of one of these monsters. We got away again at 12:20 p.m. Which considering the scarcity of toilets, was pretty good.
Rejoin the Gibb River Road at 1:10 p.m.
We made a short detour into EllenBrae Station, at 2:15 and got away around 3 p.m. There we buy cold drinks if we liked. I rate this stop as strange and wonderful, especially the boab with a full set of plumbing including bath and shower. The pit toilet there was probably the most disgusting I have ever encounter. Several of us took photos, since words fail to describe it.
We crossed the Durack River at 3:18 p.m. Later, towards sunset, we had views of the Cockburn Ranges from a lookout overlooking Home Valley Station. This provided a great sunset experience.
In addition, for those of us with Telstra NextG phones and devices, we could make calls, and download email and news from the lookout. That was our first connection in about four days. I got some bad but not totally unexpected news about a friend's illness. I would prefer silly emails to serious ones. Ian always seemed to know just where you could manage to get a mobile phone connection in remote areas.
Home Valley Station is owned by the Indigenous Land Corporation on behalf of the Balanggarra people of East Kimberley. Training centre for young indigenous students. Caters for tourists. This provided very comfortable, and surprisingly modern rooms. Still running off a generator, but I doubt most people knew that.
Dinner at Dusty Bar and Grill, with live entertainment (which we missed). I went to the bar as soon as I decently could. Had a Matso's Smokey Bishop dark lager. Jean had the Matso's Monsoonal Blond. Jean and I both had the kangaroo entree, followed by a barramundi main course. I got a cheese plater for after, and several others in our group shared it.
Day 7. We had a leisurely buffet breakfast at 7 a.m. I went for a walk, and took more photos at the modern Home Valley Station tourist area. Five of our group did not have this leisurely option. The had opted for a fishing tour, and had departed rather early for a fish camp on the Pentecost River.
The rest of us piled into two Land Rovers at 9 a.m. for a station tour. First off was a drive West past the lookout. We stopped so our driver John could collect some boab nuts. They do indeed taste like polystyrene, just like Ian had said.
Off to the Bindalla Falls lookout area. This involved a relatively short walk over raw red rock to have a great view of cliffs down to the river. This was a very accessible chasm.
Next we headed across the station to the fish camp. This was well organised for campers. Our team there had a young aboriginal guide. The had managed to catch a variety of fish, including a stingray. The even had a small shark get away. The deeply sunburnt five seemed very pleased with themselves.
Back at Home Valley Station for assorted sandwiches for lunch. I had another Smokey Bishop dark lager.
Show of horsemanship by station pastoral manager, an old cowboy JR. I did not believe a 90 minutes demonstration of horse training could be interesting. By the time he was half way through, I was wanting to learn way more about how he trains horses. This was followed by a practical demonstration of the results. Very impressive, and no horse whisperer bullshit either.
We left around three. Encountered a Stop Sign! First traffic sign in ages. Crossed the Pentecost River around 3:30 p.m.
Arrive Emma Gorge Resort late afternoon, actually around four. Check in was a bit delayed, as EQ needs to close reception when they get a busload in. No keys, as the tented cabins do not have locks. We were at such a considerable distance that the EQ staff had our bags delivered before we arrived.
I rushed off with the consolidated laundry, despite being in one of the most distant tents. Must have worked, as I was first at the two washing machines. Within five minutes three others of our group had arrived. I set a 25 minute timer and retired to the bar with Peter for an expensive beer ($10 for a Corona).I had only eight pegs with me (none on sale at EQ shop, which I believe a tactical error). My washing machine stopped just as I walked into the laundry. Took my damp clothes on the long walk back to the tent, and took a much needed shower. The damp clothes actually dried well overnight, scattered through the en suite bathroom.
A buffer dinner at six. They had my favourite Pepperjack wine, but at $60 a bottle, I went instead for a Rosemount. It worked fine, and I think better than the Lindeman alternative I also noticed.
Buffet dinner, starting with a potato and bacon soup, a choice of four mains, including barramundi, and a lemon lime cheese cake to end the meal. I stayed up at the bar talk with others from our group. Jean had returned to the tent.
Day 8. Up before 5:45 a.m. Lots of birds chirping. This was after some wallabies lumbered through the brush. Buffet breakfast at 6:30 a.m. But no time to return to the tent before we set off in the bus at 7:15 for our tour.
Sightseeing in El Questro Wilderness Park. First stop was the El Questro township and homestead, which has facilities, and a tourist shop. The helicopter flights seem to leave from there.
We got to see the fancy El Questro guesthouse through the bush, thanks to the floods knocking down most of the former vegetation screening.
Cruise on the Chamberlain River, through 3 km of embankments. We could not travel as far as previously, due to fallen rocks from the previous flood blocking part of the gorge. Enjoy glass of wine on the cruise. The archer fish in the water were very accurate at spitting water at our fingers and dangling objects such as cameras.
We returned to the El Questro township for a comfort break. I changed into my swimming costume.
Zebedee Thermal Springs for a swim. The walk from the parking area is short, perhaps ten minutes. It is a very popular spot, so we had a climb a distance to find space in some of the thermal pools not already thoroughly filled with other people. Very enjoyable.
Lunch at El Questro restaurant was scheduled after we returned around 12:15 p.m. I had time to take the bags back to the tent and get a shower.
Jean was having a beer at the lunch table when I returned at 12:55 p.m. We both had the barramundi for lunch.
Relax by pool, or visit Emma Gorge waterfall (terrain is hard underfoot) were the afternoon choices.
I set out around 1:45 p.m. Got overtaken by geriatrics on crutches, small children in prams. Well, maybe neither of those, but it seemed everyone else overtook me.
Several of our group were stopped some distance from the waterfall and pool. We reached these at 3 p.m. A very pretty site. I headed back with Doug not too much later. Faster returning (fewer photos). We were back for beer o'clock by four.
Back to the tent cabin, to wash my dusty aching feet.
Dinner buffet 6:30. Brought our previous bottle of wine with us.Stopped a little later at the bar. Found they had Ord River rum, so I got one for Peter, our rum drinker. He was not impressed. Got to bed late, by current bus tour standards.
Day 9. Up early, and put our bags out of the tented cabins at 6:15 a.m. Breakfast at 6:30 a.m. Leave El Questro after breakfast.
Short distance on last of Gibb River Road, before reaching the bitumen at 7:40 a.m. Drive to Wyndham, although we were stuck behind a large four trailer 150 tonne mine truck that was very slow up hill, which put us behind schedule.
The Telstra phone system started working as we approached Wyndham at 8 a.m., so we all started downloading messages and data.
Went past the 30 metre crocodile. No one there selling carved boab nuts this time, although there was at one of our 30 second photo stops.
We visited a location we did not know, the 5 Rivers Lookout over Cambridge Gulf. That gave phenomenal views, and is a must see stop in Wyndham. I was also able to make a phone call to John from here, in reply to his message. Morning tea.
We got into Kununurra at 10:30 a.m. for the only shopping stop we would manage. I didn't need anything but grabbed some double sided sticky tape for the driver's cab. Ian had already fixed the problem however, so I returned the tape. Other people got glue to repair shoes and boots. I think the final score was three attempts at glue, and eventually two sets of boots discarded during the trip.
We left Kununnurra at 11:25 a.m. and headed for the old Argyle Station homestead, which was moved while the dam was being built.
We intended to drive to the Lake Argyle dam wall for lunch. There is a pretty spot there. At 11:55 a.m. the front left tyre delaminated around the outside edge. No warning at all, and this was on good bitumen. Lots of damage to the plastic mudguard. One running light disappeared without a trace. After a quick inspection, Ian limped the bus a little further to the shade of a boab on flat land.
We all helped set up an early lunch while Ian tackled the massive tyre. Luckily the spare tyre can be lowered by winch. Photos of Ian jumping on large tyre wrench to loosen nuts. There were eventually three more of us tugging at the tyre to get it off the axle. Plus lots of hands putting nuts back on. Not fun at all for Ian. However we were off again at 12:50 p.m. Behind schedule, but we had multitasked by having lunch early.
We managed to have a decent look at the Argyle Station house, which is now a museum.
Stopped at a lookout, for views over Lake Argyle, and also over the Ord River downstream. The dam is interesting, being a flexible clay core, with massive protective stonework on each side. If you looked at the footprint from above, it would be pretty much a 300 metre square, about 100 metres high. Saw a crocodile in the distance near the water outlets of the hydro electric plants that powers the Argyle diamond mine (and also Kununnurra and Wyndham - the mine takes the majority of the power from the two 15 MW turbines).
Three hour cruise on the Ord River with Triple J tours, to Lake Kununurra, 60 km away. Expert commentary about Ord River and surrounds. The boat is flat bottomed, and takes a decent number of passengers. It is also a heap faster than I expected. We saw a few fresh water crocodiles, but they were pretty small.
Stopped for afternoon tea at a great little bush camp the TripleJ folks have along the river. Cleanest long drop loos I have ever encounter. The keep the camp in great shape.
The overflow creek was running fast, with water several metres high flowing out of the dam overflow. Lots of current the still, enough the raise the water level a half metre earlier in the season. Lots of great scenery. Out into the wider Diversion dam lake area right on cue for a typically rapid tropical sunset. The skipper also mentioned the pump house was now a restaurant. The boat dropped some passengers off at a caravan park, pulling int the ground. The rest of us were met by our respective buses.
Check in to Kununurra Country Club, at the top end of town. A welcome from them, and we we shown where our rooms were. Rather nice rooms.
Dinner at their restaurant. I went to the bar early for a gin and tonic (doctor's orders) and to collect a bottle of wine for dinner. Ordered a Pino Noir. They brought that brand in a much more expensive Cabernet merlot. I asked what happened to the Pinot Noir. A different wine list was produced. I selected a different Pinot Noir, since my first choice was not available.
Day 10. The usual 6:30 a.m. bags to the bus. Breakfast was short of chairs and tableware, but it was pretty tasty as a breakfast buffet. Back to the room, as we did not leave for a drive through town until 7:30 a.m.
Kellys Knob lookout for ten minutes of photography, to give us a feel for the location of things where we could view almost the entire town.
Tour of Packsaddle Plains. Lots of explanations of sandalwood, a 14 year investment involving not just Dragon Flower trees but a second different host tree for the parasitic sandalwood. We saw sunflowers, maize, sorghum, mangos, even some bananas. In the distance was a jabiru, and a bustard. We drove by the airport, and the Diversion Dam. The schedule said free time in Kununurra shopping centre, but that made no sense on Sunday, so Ian did that on Saturday, which was much more sensible.
Visit Zebra Rock Gallery at 8:40 a.m. We really enjoy this place. When we came through last year we bought some nice primordial rock carvings for our art niche. Luckily this time we refrained from big buys, and our spending was under $300 for two slim vases, which we hope will fit in well with out existing works. Zebra Rock Gallery will mail them to us. Jean intends to take carpentry lessons at the hobby workshop to make a nicely polished multilevel wooden plinth on which to display them.
Leave Kununurra on Great Northern Highway, towards Halls Creek, with the Deception Ranges to the south. We crossed the Dunham River for the last time around 10:30 a.m. Stopped at the Doon Doon roadhouse for 15 minutes, for a comfort stop and to collect our pre-ordered lunches. I bought a vile looking Solo Lemon Lime, but Jean did not appear to nice the colour. It tasted OK. Leave Doon Doon at 11:05.
We passed a strange rock formation called Pompy's Pillar at 11:26. At 11:40 we were at our closest to the Argyle Diamond mine, and were able to briefly get a Telstra NextG data signal. I found to my disgust there was an Emergency General Meeting of the Whitsunday Terraces body corporate on 19 August, but it is not at the property. I am predicting they will fail to get a quorum.
We left the Wyndham East Kimberley shire at noon, and entered the Halls Creek shire. Passed the Warman or Turkey Creek roadhouse. At 12:30 we found road construction, guarded by a lollypop man. I sa a grader and a scrapper, which is a fairly major contribution to road works in this area. Looked like there were a bunch of washouts along the roadside from the bad wet season. That was 110 km was of Halls Creek.
Head for Purnululu National Park (Bungle Bungles). The turn off from the Great Northern Highway takes you through about 55 kilometres of private land at Mabel Downs Station. We stopped a few kilometres in on the rough dirt private road at the Mabel Downs caravan park to have lunch, at around 12:40 p.m. The owners have been very good to us, allow use of their facilities.
Over the past 12 days, since a new lease, the owners have been charging a fee for using their private road to reach the Bungle Bungles. Just today the fee was dropped, with news that the Government were now asking the owners to negotiate a fee for the owners to continue to maintain the road, and even add culverts along the way. That seems good news.
Two nights in new Bellburn permanent tented safari camp near Bungle Bungles. We stopped at the Ranger Station (and only shop) at 3:30 p.m. for refreshments and a comfort stop. The shop closes at 4 p.m. Which is when we departed. Even past the Ranger station, the road is severe, with many watercourses to cross. The only National Parks road equipment we saw was a dozer towing three old tyres to fill the corrugations in the road with dust. That did not appear adequate equipment to maintain a road. It took about 30 minutes to cover 17 kilometres.
We arrived early at the bush camp, and so I was able to type some updates. Alas, it took an hour to even add one more day to my notes.
The camp has nice new huts, not yet complete. For example, no shower screens. The late wet season has really delayed construction all over the north.
Luckily the bar opened at 5:30, when the camp staff returned from tour work. I had a gin and tonic or two, purely to help avoid leg cramps.
Dinner in open air restaurant somewhere around seven. By then we were fairly merry outside at the bar. Dinner was a buffet in the open air dining room (mesh screens) and worked well. However I gave up and tried to get some sleep before nine.
Day 11. I was troubled by mosquitos during the pre dawn light. Our resident room spider was not doing his job, despite squatting on the louvre walls.
Off to a cooked breakfast at 6:20, and back to the room to prepare by 6:45. We depart on the bus at 7:20 a.m. Meanwhile, there is a rift right across the sky. One distinct cloud layer.
Paid my $215 by credit card, since even in the wilderness charge cards work. There were several helicopters, and we went in two groups. Ours was the late group, nominally at eight. This was a wonderful eighteen minute flights, zooming over the whole area. I had a wonderful time, as always with helicopters. I was however facing backwards, so sometimes my photographs failed to anticipate features. I took a fair amount of movies, by my standards.
The Bungle Bungles were World Heritage Listed in 2003. Walk through the beehive domes, following Piccaninny Creek up to Cathedral Gorge. Our entire group managed this beautiful walk. The cloudy sky made photographs less attractive, but helped keep the temperature much more tolerable in the gorge. The views are astonishing. Especially the end of Cathedral Gorge. I tried doing some panoramic photos of the surroundings, despite dim light.
Three of our group continued on to the bus, but the rest of us did look at the creek bed and surrounds for another half hour. Peter and I made up the rear and did a lot of counting the group, and checking no one was lagging, as a previous Outback Spirit group had lost a member (temporarily) when they wandered away. Back to the bus by 11:30, so we could return to Bellburn camp for lunch.
Lunch was a very nice cold cuts selection, with what seems to be home made meat pasties as a feature. No shops out here.
Visit Echidna Chasm to the north of Purnululu National Park. Jean and I decided not to go on this walk. It involves walking nearly a kilometre over large smooth loose river rocks. While I always walk in sandals, I thought my chances of twisting an ankle on that terrain while wearing sandals was just too high.
We had a very fancy dinner, celebrating 30 years together for two of our group. The Bellburn camp staff had somehow produced balloons for decorations, had steak, and a chocolate cake as a treat afterward. Fay afterwards told me she was in her third season looking after the camp.
Sat around the fire afterwards, contemplating how nice Gordon's gin and tonic in a can was. I thought it would be pretty ordinary, but the stuff from a regular bar is generally worse.
Day 12. Depart Purnululu National Park early, and head west along the Great Northern Highway.
I was up at 5:30 a.m. Even the birds were too cold to chirp much, so the dawn chorus was unenthusiastic. We had short showers, due to unreliable temperature regulation from the gas.
Started eating a hot breakfast at 6:20, before our schedule. We were all abroad the bus and started just before seven. Passed the Visitor's Centre at 7:21 a.m., or 24 minutes to cover 17 km. Outstanding. Keep passing sections of culvert pipe as we bumped along the very rough road. Lots of traffic inwards as we moved. Lots of bumps, and eventually everything fell out of the overhead racks.
Came across another Outback Spirit bus at 8:45 a.m. We reached the Mabel Downs caravan park at 9:10 a.m. So that was a fair while for 50 km. Morning tea was Coles fruit cake. Off again at 9:35 a.m. One gate to open, and then back on the bitumen at 9:40 a.m.
We crossed Spring Creek, and encounter another lollypop man and a construction crew. The final crossing of the Ord River was at 9:45 a.m.
Lunch at Halls Creek, and inspect the town. Ian stopped the bus at the bakery where he was collecting the giant salads for lunch. This was early, about 10:45 a.m.
We looked at the visitors information centre, which had working loos inside. The fancy musical loos with the push button doors were all marked Out of Order. I donated to the Royal Flying Doctor Service, as is customary at many of these volunteer information centres when you use their facilities.
Ian was soon back with the bus. He produced a set of enormous salad lunches. After about five meats and five salad ingredients, I had to give up my attempts to eat it all. Packed and away by 11:55 a.m. as we still had a long way to go.
Stopped at the Ngumban Cliffs, which we recalled from previous visits. The loo there was disgusting, and has been for ages.
We crossed the Fitzroy River at 3:15 p.m. We did an Old Town tour and looked at the old crossing. Geikie Gorge turnoff is about 18 km, and we turned around 3:30 p.m. River cruise on Fitzroy River in Geikie Gorge National Park. We had Bill do the tour. At least this time he did not threaten to speak me. I think he was just jesting last time, but I thought I might be inconspicuous this time.
We had a dinner buffet around 7 p.m. Spend night at Fitzroy River Lodge.
Day 13. We were to have breakfast at 6:30. The restaurant was not open early, but we still got through in reasonable time. Prepare to leave Fitzroy Crossing. There were only fourteen lunches packed. Ian was not impressed, but we still managed to get away only a few days late.
Good bitumen to the turnoff to Tunnel Creek at 7:45 a.m. Then it was really bad dirt through the Oscar Ranges and through Leopard Downs grasslands that support cattle. Lots of creek crossings. We reached the Tunnel Creek around 9 a.m.
Challenging entrance to underground watercourse that extends about 700 metres. I had a reasonable torch for the walk. That was a great walk, although I had to be very careful not to slip on river pebbles while wearing reef shoes. The water was a bit cold for my liking as we walked halfway through the Napier Ranges. However the water was not too deep for us. We left around 10:35 a.m.
Stopped at the remains of the old police station at Lilliloroola. Interesting how large it was.
Lunch in the area after a walk through the sand along the floor of this magnificent gorge. We carried our sandwiches and drinks along with us. The walls are up to 100 metres above the flood plane. Freshwater crocodiles were sunning themselves by the beach. They did not seem to really mind being photographed.
There was an elaborate stage being set up for a festival being done at the gorge. Very impressive. I scored about three left over Sara Lea chocolate muffins from the lunch leftovers.
We left at 12:45 p.m. on the much better dirt road. Reached the Gibb River Road at 2:25 p.m. 211 km more to Broome on the Derby Road. Phone connections near Derby. A break from 2:55 p.m. to 3:15 p.m. at Wiltare roadhouse. There was another Outback Spirit bus stopped there. Telstra connections for Broome around 4:30 p.m.
Arrive in Broome late afternoon, after about 3600 km, drop off about five at Moonlight Bay Suites. They gave us beer coupons and a bottle of their strange wine.
We were at Matso's brewery at 5:45 p.m. drinking a beer, and contemplating what to oder for dinner (beef and porter pie). We were back to the room for a rest by 6:30 p.m.
Awake early, reading on the iPad and iPhone in the lounge room. To Matso's for an egg on toast breakfast (Jean had Eggs Benedict). Back at the room by 7:30 a.m.
I walked in to Chinatown about 8:30 a.m. Azure opened at nine. They had new stocks of cotton Hawaiian shirts, so I was able to get four different ones. Saw a few of our bus assengers while walking. Walked back to the hotel by 9:30 a.m. The 10:40 a.m. taxi was a little late, but so was the plane.
We are on QF1031 leaving Broome at 11:30 a.m. (actually 12:05 p.m.) and arriving in Brisbane at 6 p.m. The open air areas and fountains of the airport were interesting, in a tropical way. Jean got herself a salad roll, which promptly escaped. There were about four others of our bus passengers at the airport.
We were not too far back in the plane, in row 11. Luckily the economy seats on this 737 were reasonably comfortable.
Our QF978 flight leaves Brisbane at 7:35 p.m. arriving in Townsville at 9:35 p.m. Right towards the back of the plane in row 22. This is going to be a long day. Our taxi from the airport to Carlyle Gardens was after 10 p.m. Then we went out to the mail boxes to collect Jean's mail.
Switched on the ADSL modem. Walked to the postal boxes to collect several weeks of mail. Put clothes in the washing machine for the morning. Collapsed.
Jean was off at appointments all morning. I stayed to do three lots of laundry and await the McGovern Agencies check of her garage door opener. They arrived promptly as scheduled. Alas, no indications that a garage door opener solution was found, since the fault appears intermittent.
I used Jean's iiNet connection to download Apple OS X 10.7 (Lion) to my MacBook Pro. I stopped the install so I could burn the download to a DVD for installation at Airlie Beach, where I do not have an ADSL connection (or a phone line).
Caught up with various people at lunch, although only Dot and Ray were there. Paid Ray the hobby workshop fee. Jean wants to build herself a three level stand in the living room art niche for the primordial rock vases from Zebra Rock Gallery. The hobby workshop folks can probably advise on selecting, staining and polishing the wood.
I have not worn a watch in a decade and a half, since I retired. I do however use an iPhone to set heaps of alarms for events. Fossil make a metaWatch prototype for SDK developers, where the watch would be mostly a Bluetooth connected auxiliary display to a SmartPhone. I can see this has potential. Needs a standards based approach from multiple watch manufacturers.
Apple again moved about two years in front of popular market demand. Apple have dropped their MacBook portable. They can afford this, because their iPad now supplies more revenue than their computer division, even if iPad partly cannibalised laptop computers from everyone. The entry level Apple laptop MacBook Air computers now use solid state drives, and do not have an optical drive. This is a bigger move than dropping the floppy disk a decade or so ago.
The garage door opener which put up a fault light, and failed to open upon our return on Wednesday 6 July, was checked again by McGovern Agencies. The garage door was serviced on Friday 1 July. It opened and close correctly about a dozen times between the service and the failure. We still do not actually know what the fault was. The serviceman adjusted the little screw on the opener this time, just in case that was the issue.
It was no great surprise when the MacBook Air came without an optical drive. Now the Mac mini model also lacks an optical drive.
I was awake early. Eventually gave up and used the computer for a while. Not keen on driving through the remains of the night. Eventually borrowed Jean's car anyhow and left about 5:30 a.m. Reached Centro Cannonvale before nine. Got usual food supplies to supplement what was still in the fridge.
Found a two season War of the Worlds in the BigW bins. This 11 DVD set was from a series I had never heard of. I had the two movie versions.
Unpacked the car. Saw Jim as I was doing so. Told him about Glenn's party. He expressed an interest in attending. Caught up with Glenn at the markets, as I wanted to drop off some birthday presents (but mostly party supplies). I asked if Jim could attend. They did not have a phone number for Jim, but were very happy for him to attend.
Got some very late breakfast, plus a vast number of newspapers and computer magazines. More than I can read.
Each time I went through the increasingly ugly Whitsunday Terraces I took more photos of the crap we are putting up with from Q Resort's soon to leave Resort Managers. The grounds are a disgrace. Some of this is caused by the arseholes that now rent here, and chuck rubbish everywhere. However neither the gardening nor the watering is being done well, and that is the fault of the Resort Managers.
The Resort Managers told me of a stairway where the railing had collapsed last night. One of the duties of the Resort Managers is to check for faults like that, so it can be repaired early. With most of the Body Corporate not living locally, that is why we pay for Resort Managers. I am sick and tired of this mess. I no longer recommend anyone every buy into a resort property in Queensland, unless the Resort Managers are the owners of the management rights. These third party managers working for companies simply do not work. The owners are getting shafted.
Although the birthday was tomorrow, the party was today. Jim and I walked down to the street. Jim stopped to buy a few bottles of red wine, and we caught a taxi around 5:30 p.m. He and I both planned to leave early. I ate one of Glenn's BBQ sausages, as traditional fare. Jim was having too much fun talking with attendees to eat. I organised with Glenn and Alison to invite some of the folks to our Saturday parties. That should be fun. The various children attending seemed to have fun with the glow sticks I brought. Jim and I got away almost last, dropping Rose off from the taxi. That was close to midnight.
The Queensland Labor Party did not get rid of their energy generation assets years ago when the writing was on the wall. Electrical Trade Union pressure saw to that. They keep the power station portfolio mostly isolated in the government owned CS Energy corporation (fourth largest emissions in Australia), which means they can hide the figures off budget. David Brown, head of CS Energy, told the Parliamentary Estimates hearing that a $23 a tonne on carbon dioxide emissions would cost around 50% of their operating costs. That will reflect in the bid volumes into the five minute despatch electricity market. This is what a carbon tax is designed to do. However it means the power stations will demand higher prices, but retail prices are fixed by government fiat. Expect a lot more bankrupt electricity retailers, until retail prices are adjusted upwards. Some energy intensive industries (like aluminium) will probably move refining offshore to someplace that still has cheap power.
Westfield shopping centres have some of the highest rents in the world, claims Scott Pape in Barefoot Investor. The big retailers like Coles, Woolworths, Myer occupy the big spaces, on long term cheap leases, and they attract shoppers. However the hundred or so specialty retailers need customer foot traffic flowing past. They pay the high rents that make up 80% of Westfield's great profit margins. However the shoppers are now starting to buy online. So the specialty stores will move a lot of their trade online (or they will go out of business, like Borders).
The Apple Store shows how you do it. High traffic hands on stores that complement a great online shopping site.
Check Whitsunday Terraces. Again. Garbage bin in Florin Terrace not put out, yet again. Collected the Sunday Mail at the newsagency. Rusty was putting the bins back when I returned.
I collected the two decrepit cane chairs that had been under Florin Terrace for months, and put them into the garbage bin area. There was another plastic chair at the bottom level now that had been there a day or so. Since it was in good condition, I put it in the laundry, where at least it can be some use to tenants and guests.
Brunch at Capers with Glenn and Alison, plus his brother and mother, and Graham. The meal seemed enormous (very tasty). Glenn being the birthday boy, I bought the meal for him an Alison. Jim did not attend.
Exports drive Australia's economy, and make all our imports possible. Australia exports 64% of the metallurgical coal in the world. It exports 19% of the thermal cold (trailing Indonesia's 27.4%). Coal is our fortune.
The coal goes to Japan (35.7% metallurgical, 48.7% thermal). South Korea, Taiwan and China are next in line for thermal coal. India and China next in metallurgical coal. Japan industry would freeze up without our coal, especially now they are frightened of nuclear power.
In 2010, carbon dioxide emissions were up 1.6 Gt to 30.6 Gt. In some current modelling, emissions would have to be held to 32 Gt by 2020 to have any chance of holding temperature rises from greenhouse gases to anywhere near 20C. Power stations have been built or are being constructed that already make this impossible.
Fossil fuel use is a global record levels as economies recover from the Global Financial Crisis. Energy consumption was up 5.6% in 2010. Oil use (34% of energy) rose 3.1%. Coal (30%) rose 7.6%, faster growth than any time since 2003. Gas (24%) rose 7.4%. Oil is a declining percentage of total energy production, whereas coal is increasing rapidly. China, for example, uses 48.2% of all coal. So, energy related carbon dioxide emissions have risen even faster than actual energy production.
Renewable energy use also rose, but is now a smaller than ever percentage of total energy use. Renewable energy, excluding hydro, was 1.3% (1.8% if biofuel is included). Hydro was a healthy 6.5% of total energy, with the biggest increase in output on record. This was partly more dams, but record rainfall contributed greatly.
Watched Season 3 of Battlestar Galactica.
Internode have a bit of a premium on their prices, and a good satisfaction rating. However it is rather discouraging to see them offering Internet connection at 12 mbps via the National Broadband Network at a rather staggering $60 for 30GB a month. 100 mbps is $100 to $190, depending on download volume. I believe it includes a virtual phone circuit, for whatever use that is.
While there is no doubt in my mind that Simon Hackett is using Internode pricing as a political pressure point, it is very discouraging to see higher prices than existing ADSL2+ providers so early in the NBN startup. I have previously warned of the disappearance of low cost connections, and subsequent fall of landline internet access availability. It will be interesting to see what Michael Malone does with iiNet pricing on NBN next month.
Utterly pissed off to find that the only company that does gutter cleaning in the Whitsundays is unable to accept our contract to actually cleaning the Whitsunday Terraces gutters due to insurance issues. This gutter cleaning problem has already flooded bathrooms in Unit 55 and Unit 60. No solution by the wet season, and I am ripping out the idiotic gutter with a crowbar, before it floods my place.
According to my architectural advice, gutters are not needed at the rear of the Whitsunday Terraces premises, due to other drainage arrangements there.
I will also lay long odds that the original gutter design did not meet BCA standards for gutter installs. In particular, high front gutters with a low back. If so, this is why gutter flooding does so much damage to the interior of units.
Watched first half of Season 4.
Up late, with dawn breaking. Allan was headed for the garbage bins as I packed Jean's car. I took the bin out. Allan was pissed off about chairs in the bin area. I was pissed off that the chairs had been left on the common property grounds for months with nothing done about them. The meeting did not go well, but I wished Allan the best for when he left next week.
Did not reach Townsville to return the car until around ten. Still needs tyres replaced. I wonder if the tyre place has the tyres as yet? Only been seeking them for several months so far.
I had brought Jean a present from the Airlie Beach markets, a little backlit display turntable. Put it on the dining room table for testing, with a crystal ornament on it. It seemed to work rather nicely. Not sure where she will eventually put it.
Dot offered me a lift to the restaurant. I told her I would get there first. I think she put her foot down, because she had her car parked and was sitting down with Ray before I walked in. Ray is all ready for the hobby workshop annual general meeting. Saw Geoff and Margaret also at lunch.
Leigh tells me that drainage works are awaiting approval to fix the water problems at Jean's place. Nice to hear that, as I was planning major efforts of my own involving trenching, French drains, and more tonnes of river gravel, in August.
Battery failed on my Apple Magic Mouse. Recharged it while I was at the computer club.
We listened to the new 350 Watt Yamaha amplifier Geoff installed in the rack mount in the Carlton Theatre control booth. It sounded pretty good. Geoff has done his usual fine work on the audio.
Decided we need to look at a support framework for stage lighting. The cheap way is half inch screw threaded steel rods into the ceiling timbers, supporting a single two inch pipe. We do not need an actual truss. Make it heaps longer than we need (maybe five metres), and we can later add more than two remote controlled stage lights.
Asked ourselves what sort of low effort event we could put on, that might attract some more of the residents. The old musicals Geoff puts on attract longer term women residents on the Friday morning once a month. They work great as a low key event, for a small group of residents liking a low impact social event.
Came up with the idea of a politically incorrect background sound, with performers like Rodney Rude, Kevin
Bloody Wilson, and the like. No porn, but lots of swearing. If the restaurant were willing to provide pies, and the bar stay open for drinks, we could promote it as a men's night out. I sought and received permission to do it.
The Carlyle Gardens Computer Club had its last Infonite of the current committee. It was a question and answer session, although written questions were a little scarce. Peter had prepared his own information presentation, to help residents avoid malware, and keep their computers backed up, and generally do better with their computers. The residents are very lucky to have Peter doing his work here.
It appears that the latest Talisman Sabre joint USA Australian military exercises are bombing the shit out of something in the area. Every now and then the windows shake three times in succession from the blast of something, probably multiple munitions drops at the firing range. This is a garrison town.
Up early unable to sleep. The light on the little turntable looked very pretty in the night, shining through the crystal ornament. Off to Willows at eight. Got some plastic food bags for Airlie Beach (why can't I find no name brand ones there?) Found a USB memory stick, so now maybe I can put the Apple OS X 10.7 Lion operating system on a solid state drive.
Attended the Census meeting. Apart from Geoff, Margaret and me, there were nine attendees. Does not look like there is a lot of interest in the Census in Carlyle Gardens. It was also sadly apparent that some people are severely confused, so I hope someone will be able to help them fill out forms.
Followed this up by having lunch at the restaurant with Geoff, Margaret and John when he joined us later.
I like this timezone shape file of the world, showing all the timezones that exist around the world. Eric Muller released it.
A really nice map of all the underwater data cables in the world, with filtering facilities. Check where cables are dense, and where they do not exist.
I see smartphone sales for 2011 are expected to exceed 400 million, or 28% of all phones sold. The Apple iPhone was already 19% of smartphone sales at the end of the first quarter. Samsung showed even greater growth. Nokia will not remain largest smartphone seller much longer, if it has not lost the lead already. Predictions now are that smartphone sales will exceed a billion a year by 2016.
One issue with search engines like Google is they know a lot about you. They also try to provide results biased by your other searches. Generally this is helpful. However it may mean your searches are never outside a limited bubble that agrees with you.
Up at five. However I forgot that I wanted to take the Whitsunday Times off to one of the residents while taking a walk. Instead I downloaded operating system updates via Jean's internet connection. Burnt myself an Apple OS X 10.7 (Lion) bootable USB card.
Jean wanted to visit Kathmandu and Anaconda stores, so I went along. I found nothing of interest, but Jean got one thing she wanted. That managed to waste about two hours.
Happened to see Duanh, the electrician, so I asked him about changing electrical wiring in Jean's house.
Late lunch at the restaurant with Ray (and Geoff and Margaret who were setting up chairs in the Carlton Theatre).
Started installing Apple's OS X 10.7, Lion, on my 2010 MacBook Pro. There were no optional installs, or anything like that. I was wondering how they would handle an install from an app, onto a running operating system. Seems like they managed just fine, after fiddling the partition table. Disk0s3 is a 640MB Apple_Boot Recovery HD, according to diskutil list. This partition does not appear in Finder nor in Disk Utility. After installing, I found the best technical explanation of OS X 10.7 Lion was by John Siracusa in Ars Technica.
Started at 5:25 p.m. The second reboot was at 6:12 p.m. It started fine, which is a good first step. Although only available as a $30 download from the Apple Mac App store, you are allowed to install Lion on any of your Macintosh computers. In practice, that means those less than four years old. You are also allowed two additional virtual instances of it, for those running virtual machines. I would imagine this of more interest to developers than the average user.
Finder crashed every time I attempted to use it. Must have 15 crash reports in the logs over a five minute period. Started looking online for Finder crash reports. There were a few. The crashes stopped after a while, and I still have no idea what the problem was. Basically unable to use the test machine at all to start.
The Brisbane Symphony Orchestra String Quartet were kind enough to give a concert for residents and guests at 2 p.m. As with last year, this was sponsored by the Queensland Public Trustee, who say they would like to do it again next year.
We did encounter access issues with the accessibility bathroom. The door is behind the door to the Men's bathroom, thus hard to see. The light switches are near the Female toilets, and not obvious. The door did not open wide enough to easily get an extra large wheelchair through it. This was partly due to a door closer that made holding the door open difficult.
Both major political parties have a policy to (reluctantly) reduce Australian carbon dioxide equivalent emissions by 5% below 1990 levels by 2020. Increasing population, and increased gross domestic product means far greater efficiency than 5% is required to do this.
Each political party has a flawed scheme to make it appear they are doing this. Labor has a carbon tax. Liberals have a hand waving set of subsidies for alternate energy and emissions capture subsidies. Neither will work, but Labor for once has the cheaper scheme. Labor also has the advantage of using the carbon tax money as a slush fund to buy voters.
Subsidising large scale emission reduction schemes as the Liberals propose is insane. You might subsidise small scale test schemes, so you know what might work, but small scale will not meet targets. Many such schemes will fail, and almost all will be expensive. Governments are lousy at picking technical winners. Large scale is a perfect way to waste tax money and subsidise rent seeking, without any guarantee you will meet targets.
A fixed (or rising) carbon tax means the government ensures it gets the money (subject to enforcement checks). A carbon tax (like any industry tax) will impact industry and exports (which is why many emission sources will be subsidised). A carbon tax provides a wonderful slush fund for buying off critics, and voters. What a carbon tax does not do is actually ensure you meet emission targets. It is a political fix, not an emissions fix.
Late up. Late to St Vincent de Paul to drop of the accumulated items Jean had been putting in a large box. At least Jean's eggs were not forgotten.
There were six at lunch at the restaurant. John tried strangling me with the cord from his phone. It took three tries before Geoff snapped the photo that was not working for Ray. Mindful of the photo competition, I sent it to Leigh. It seems Leigh is putting it into her collection of resident photos. THat is a worry.
The folks organising the handicraft fair tomorrow do not seem totally organised regarding their work force. The three ladies who arrived (and saw Geoff about a half hour after the appointed time) did not bring anyone with them to move the 27 kg tables they will need to use. This worries me.
Jean says the census collector arrived today. As Jean will not be home on Census night, the census collector did not need to leave (or collect) Census forms. I have a bad feeling about this. Not that I really expected eCensus to work. After all, eTax does not work at all if you are not using Microsoft Windows.
I like the idea of Big History being the story of human origins, from the Big Bang to the present. You can find a video of David Christian's 17 minute TED talk. Or read more on the origins of everything at The Big History Project. If students do not respond to this sort of scientific material, they are either intellectually stunted, or fundamentalists.
Off to Willows with Jean at eight, where at least I was able to collect a heap of newspapers. Jean got food at Coles, but we could not find the bean salsa I had run out of. I did find TipTop Cafe raisin toast, which will be the ruin of my diet. At Woolworths, Jean phoned to ask how many packets of chocolate biscuits we should get to split between us. The total number was impressive, and even more dangerous to diet.
Jean suggested stopping at IGA when she drove off. They had the bean salsa we had not found in the two major food stores in weeks. I also bought some more glow sticks in Overflow, since the original 15 had been a hit at Glenn's party.
I did some weeding around Jean's house, to test the fancy extension handle weeding device she had bought. Did not work all that well. I suspect when neither of us can bend, no weeding will be done. Cleaned some fans inside, from the short ladder. However basically all is chaos inside. Actually, probably worse than chaos.
I wanted to check if the Carlton Theatre tables had been put away, and persuaded Jean to walk there with me. The tables were away so well I suspect Geoff and Margaret went through after the event.
A letter from the government (we are here to help) about how the Census tells the government how population is spread throughout the country. Neither of us have been home on any census night in decades. I sure hope the form can handle that. Last Census I was at a convention in melbourne. The one before that I was at Birdsville at a caravan park.
Our respective households are hard to access. Mine at Airlie Beach especially. You can have day guests via reception, owners in residence, permanent rentals via reception or via estate agents. Most of whom are out on the ocean during the day, or partying in nightclubs all night.
My weight is up after all the good food supplied at three meals a day (plus morning and afternoon tea) during the Kimberley bus trip. I do not like this. Especially since I am still hungry.
Went for a walk with Jean and delivered the back issues of the Whitsunday Times to one of the residents. Watched Insiders and Business Inside on the ABC this morning.
Targeted items to throw out from the accumulated stuff here. The disaster lights with dead batteries are one item. But first I need to check Jaycar for replacement batteries. Especially as I can not find those lights again in the hardware stores.
The solar power inverter shows it has produced 1559 kWh to date, and operated for 4805 hours. The solar power output figures last month (June) showed it generated 1450 kWH in 4469 hours of operation. So the total hours operating in the 31 days of July 2011 were 336 hours, during which it generated 109 kWh. About 3.51 kWh per day, or 324 Watts per operating hour. This is a nominal 1 kW panel.