Friday, December 30, 2005


Two days ago (Wednesday) we took a trip out into the hinterland. In my opinion it should be called das hinterland, but since very few Germans live there there's not much of a case for the name change.

But I digress.

We set off early, pointing the car west and enjoying the air conditioned comfort it offered, whilst all around us the world slowly got hotter and starker. After crossing the escarpment, the landscape started to drain of colour. It was as if the grass and few trees needed colour as well as water to live, and were gradually bleeding the colour from the landscape. In the few places where trees had managed to grow, the scenery was breathtaking.

We ambled on and on through the hinterland, until we came to a place called Linville, where the road aprubtly turned into a dirt track. This was true ocka-land. These guys don't even get mains water, instead they pay extortionate amounts of money to have tankers come and fill up their enormous water tanks every week. Linville itself could never really be described as a village, or even a township. There is one street, and seven houses. Despite this there is a pub and general store, however these serve people in the surrounding area too. The most striking feature of the place is the abandoned railway station, which has a small 70's QR train sat on a rail that struggles against and eventually gives up to the bushland only metres from the carridges. As a sign proudly proclaims, the Linville train station is a community restoration project. The sign neglects to mention from when this restoration began, or when it is expected to complete, but this is understandable since the 'community' likely consists of no more than twenty people.

The locals in the villages in this area seem to have found a unique method of recycling old tractors/cars/ploughs, by leaving them in their front gardens and allowing them to rust and become overgrown, thus becoming interesting lawn ornaments. And most cases it works remarkably well, save for a few more eccentric homeowners who turn their gardens into massive graveyards of half consumed farm machinery. It's almost like putting a stone in your house with the year it was built; the older your rotting ute is, the longer your family has been here. Much like the British do with old sofas I guess...

Thursday: The Brisbane Sales

In a nutshell: a disappointment. By the 29th of December, anything in the sales that was my size had been bought already. A perfect example of sod's law. I did head over to Rocking Horse Records though and make a few purchases:

  • Wolfmother - 'Wolfmother'
  • Josh Pyke - 'Recordings 2002 - 2005'
  • The Beautiful Girls - 'Learn yourself'
  • The Boat People - 'yesyesyesyesyes'
  • Decoder Ring - 'Fractions'

Reckon I'll be needing a bigger suitcase for the journey back...

Which brings us rather neatly to today. Mum and I set of at about 10am to Australia Zoo. I've been there before, but the place has expanded to almost twice the size it was. There is an enormous new 'Crocoseum' that seats 5000, and is more like a sports venue than a zoo. We saw tigers and birds, then (after a ridiculous warm up), Steve Irwin and his (odd) wife Terri showed up for the main croc show. It was really entertaining until the croc went off to chew some food, and wouldn't swallow it. Steve had to disappear for a couple of minutes to coax it back into the holding pen, leaving Terri centrestage to entertain us. So she started telling us about how she and Steve first met and how brave he is and blah blah (vomit), much to the bewilderment of her audience who'd just come to watch Steve throw himself around with some crocodiles, not listen to some strange American woman belt on about Steve praying for a girlfriend before she came along.

Monday, December 26, 2005

Bocksing Day

'Boxing day is here, tra la la la laaa', or so the famous song goes (honestly, it does). It's here on the Sunshine Coast and already the sale madness has started. Naturally I'll be diving in head first myself in the coming days, but until I succumb to the sales fever (current bets are on for tomorrow) I'll enjoy the feeling of superiority.

After getting all the preparations out of the way on Christmas eve, I went toddling outside with Mr Nikon and did a bit more shooting:

Christmas lights
After a very warm and sticky night, Christmas day arrived fuelled with uberheat. The temperature was already climbing when we went next door (at 8am I might add) for breakfast 'alfresco', and by the time I left (10am) it was already 34 degrees. Everyone went straight into the pool, which was at a cosy 33 itself. By lunchtime the temperature reached a plateu of 37 degrees (and that was in the shade). We couldn't move. Like beached whales we all lay around trying not to exert any effort that might generate any heat. Bruce and Margaret arrived around 3pm, and by that stage the cloud had started to gather. After checking the aussie government weather warnings site, we were warned that a severe storm would be passing right over Buderim later on in the day. On the plus side, the temperature started to fall to a more comfortable 31, but the humidity started to rocket. Halfway through Christmas dinner (outside obviously), the storm began.

Out here you usually hear storms before you see them. The thunder and lightning is a consistant feature, not like in the the UK. We had about an hour of rumbling and flashing without a drop of rain, then suddenly there were two gunshots from next door. Luckily they weren't gunshots, just the lightning hitting a tree. Scared the roast potatoes out of us I can tell you. Then the rain began. Fate was on our side and we didn't get any hail with this one (the hail out here is the size of tennis balls, and is infamous for trashing car windscreens and concussing people), but we easily got a couple of inches of rain. The rain passed, but the thunder and lightning continued for another two or three hours. I managed to catch a bit of it, will probably do some proper storm chasing tonight though.

The storm

By the evening I was knackered. The storm had cleared away most of the heat and humidity so I had a pretty good nights sleep.

Today we went to the beach, and I tried my hand at sports photography. I was hindered slightly by the zoom capability of the lens I was using (56-200mm [300mm equiv]), but I got a handful of fairly decent surfing shots:


Another surfer

And another

Once we got back home, I came across a Praying Mantis whilst hosing the sand off my feet in the garden. Not actually sure it's a Praying Mantis though; out here they have Fake Praying Mantis (no really), so it's probably one of those. Fast little bugger - took about 20 shots and had to throw about 15 of them!


Hope you all had a great Christmas day. A sizable chunk of the Crawford clan were gathered in York, many of whom I've not seen in about five years. Managed to get a chat with them on the phone, but it wasn't the same. Really must get my arse in gear and pick up communications with them again.

  • Music of the moment: Expatriate: 'The Space Between (demo version)

Friday, December 23, 2005

I'm sure our baracuda has free will

In our pool lives a baracuda. It's job is a simple one, to suck up all the nasty bugs that find their way into the pool at night and expire at the bottom of it, and generally spend around eight hours a day cleaning the bottom and sides of the pool. It's basically an autonomous robot-like thing that moves around the pool using hydrodynamics (apparently), and looks like a cross between a beetle head and a sea urchin (see image below). As it moves around it makes a quick schlurp-schlurp noise (thrumm thrumm if you're underwater and find yourself in it's path), which is basically the sound of it alternately sucking up stuff and propelling itself along with the water it pushes out. Now this thing ain't pretty, and it ain't small either, the diaphragm is about 60cm in diameter, and it's about 50cm tall.

I swear this thing follows me.

I can be at the opposite end of the pool to it; the next thing I know it's simultaneously slurping away at the top of my foot and scaring the living crap out of me. Dave would like to have a word with the designers of this particular baracuda model. For a start, why make it look so scary? What's even more freaky is when it's turned off, and you're minding your own buisness swimming around under the water, then suddenly the surface of the pool starts to undulate and there's a deep throbbing followed by a slurping noise, and it springs to life attaching itself to your head. I think there's something sinister about the way it sucks up all the spiders and roaches and flies then comes after you.

But enough about the killer robot.

Today I thought that I was invincible to UV rays. Unfortunately, the odds were against me. Firstly, the UV index was at extreme today, secondly, I'm a little white English boy, and thirdly, I'm not actually invincible to UV. It wasn't like I was outside for particularly long periods of time either, just a couple of dips in the pool and some time taking photos round-and-about, but now my back and shoulders are a temperature approximating that of magma, and are a lovely shade of beetroot. I'm currently thanking the evolutionary coicidence that created aloe vera (apologies to all you creationists out there).

So life is continuing pretty much unchanged here on the Sunshine Coast. Christmas is now 'only two sleeps away' as all the Coles and Myer adverts keep telling me, and the weather is getting hotter and hotter. NineMSN reckon that it'll be at least 37 on Christmas day, so I'm gonna have to befriend some people with air conditioning pretty quickly...

New CDs:

  • Missy Higgins: The Sound of White
  • Spiderbait: Tonight Alright

Music of the moment: The Boat People: Clean

At Benjamin's Request... is an update.

After a [frankly bizarre] chat on MSN with our mister Johnson, complete with streaming video of my workplace (nice to see people haven't nicked my lovely monitor yet), I set about updating DeviantArt like a good 'un. It's been a long time since I last used the service, and it's now full of so much red tape when it comes to uploading content that I've decided to revert back to the frustrating Blogger way of doing things. Dave: 0, Blogger: 1. Enough said.

So here are the photos:



Another butterfly

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Mmm, crispy flesh

Huzzah! Back again, and this time, with third degree sunburn!

After visiting Brisbane Airport 16 times, I finally made it in to Brisbane itself on Sunday 11th (yea it's been a while since I updated the 'ol blog). I love it. Absolutely fantastic city, and one that I could definately see myself moving to at some point in my life. The whole place (well, the CBD) was spotlessly clean, and there was a general buzz about the place that made you feel relaxed and included. The city is beautiful too - they've managed to strike the perfect balance between modernisation and traditional buildings, and it's all surrounded by tropical plants. They must have some policy on the locals as well, some kinda attractiveness exchange or something. It's like they bus out all the munters and swap them for good looking people in the surrounding areas. There must be some very ugly suburbs nearby...

Brisbane is the type of place where a simple Englishman can be tempted to spend massive amounts of money without thinking about it too much. You walk into a brissie shop and a 'fog of spending' descends upon you and you suddenly lose all control of your credit card. Well at least I did. So I left Brisbane with two stupidly expensive shirts (you can guess what I just typed instead of shirt) and some CDs. At least the CDs were reasonably priced. I got hold of the Go Team's album (which does sound as bass-less in real life, Daz), plus a couple of others:

On Wednesday 14th I flew up to Cairns with my mum, and met my mamie (who'd flown from Sydney) there for a couple of days in northern Queensland. Since I'd not seen my mum in 18 months, she decided to spoil me and put us up in the Bellevue apartments at Trinity Beach. Man, these things were posh. I had the master bedroom suite, which overlooked the ocean. It had aircon that was independent to the main apartment, which had mixed blessings. First night I was too cold, second I was too hot, then on the final night I managed to get it right. I'm a regular Goldilocks me.

On the Thursday we went up into the rainforest on the Kuranda Scenic Railway [there's some photos on my DeviantArt site] and to the Australian Butterfly Sanctuary [more photos on my DeviantArt site]. The sanctuary was amazing, and I went snap happy with the 'ol Nikon (well you would, wouldn't you?). It was a stupidly hot day though with the temperature around 37 degrees, and the humidity up in the 80s. We left Kuranda and took the SkyRail back to Caravonica (which is near Yorkies Knob [smirk]). Whilst in Kuranda I happened across some of Steve Shepherd's work, and of course I had to indulge and buy another piece. This time the piece I got is in Purple Gidgee, which is a very strong and hard to work timber, that turns purple where the bark meets the wood when exposed to light.

Friday saw us up at 6.30 to catch the coach to Cairns so we could board a catamaran to Michaelmas Cay for a spot of diving and snorelling on the Great Barrier Reef. It was brilliant. Did a bit of scuba diving (though couldn't get the hang of equalising my ears properly - ended up evacuating the mask every time as well!) and loads of snorkelling. Saw some clownfish, which was great, and got to swim with a school of about 200 fish with electric blue along the tops of them. Also managed to burn the crown of my head where the the hair parts, as it was in the sun all day whilst my face was underwater.

On the Saturday I went into Cairns and had a mooch around, before boarding possibly the most turbulent flight ever from Cairns to Brisbane. It was like riding a wooden rollercoaster full of drunk chinese businessmen that was belting along at 500mph. I actually thought the plane was going to disintigrate midair. As it turned out, we were flying through storm clouds. We realised just how powerful this storm was when we were on our way back to Buderim, as the storm had felled trees bloking roads (so mum's wee car saw some off road action), and the power was off for 10 hours. No wonder we almost got whiplash midair!

Sunday was much more sedate, spent by the pool relaxing, and on Monday we braved Sunshine Plaza again for some Christmas shopping. Currently I'm trying to find an iPod nano for Jodie (don't say a word, mister Scott-Langley!).

Am gonna update the DeviantArt photos tomorrow (Monday night in the UK), and will post an update when they're available.

Music of the moment: Spiderbait - Four on the Floor

Friday, December 09, 2005

Mmmm, lovely upgrading action

Just managed to get myself upgraded for the brisbane-singapore-dubai section of my trip home for free. Despite being all hot and bothered, Dave is nevertheless a happy boy.

Will sell soul for air conditioning

Despite a delay in Dubai, and consequently missing my connection from Sydney to Maroochydore, I finally arrived at the Sunshine Coast airport at about half eleven on Wednesday.

In general the flights were okay - before boarding at Heathrow (and after spending stupid amounts of money in duty free) I got chatting to a girl called Sian who would be traveling all the way through to Sydney with me. She's a hopeless traveler with even more dietary peculiarities than me and was dosing herself up with anti travel sickness pills. Turned out that she would be sitting a few rows behind me on all of the flights, which gave us a good excuse to play with the intercom on the planes!

And speaking of the toys on the plane - on the 14 hour flight from Dubai we were on a swanky new Airbus A340-500 complete with some kinda natural lighting system that went through all times of day (and even had simulated stars)! The plane also had the ICE system on board, which has hundreds of movies, albums, games, all on demand. Watched an entire series of Kath & Kim and a couple of movies - was tempted by the Lord of the Rings trilogy but couldn't be arsed! Plane had a WiFi connection available for only $10, but my tablet was in the hold :o( Ended up sat next to some smelly bloke from Manchester who kept coming out with Daily Mail gems when he wasn't asking me where we were every ten minutes (cos I can read the land). My favourite was when we were flying over Australia somewhere and he said 'It looks like England doesn't it? I suppose that's why they chose it - it's the same but hotter'.

Apart from the missed flight issue, everything else went without hitch, and I landed in 29 degree heat, which has been soaring over the past couple of days. Took advantage of this and had a bit of a photo sesh in the garden yesterday (don't you dare say anything, Peter!):

(above: thems ferns)

(above: some kinda dying palm leaf)

(above: cicada skin)

Yesterday the temperature climbed to around 34 (the pool was at a steady 32) and when night came it was accompanied by an Armageddon style storm that cut off electricity to the house until the morning.

Today I've been helping out in the office and escaping the frankly crazy heat - trouble is we don't have aircon at home, and today is going to be one of the hottest days in years!

Music of the moment: Ben Lee - 'Awake is the new sleep'