Eric Lindsay's Blog April 2011

Friday 1 April 2011

Internet Dead Again

Internet dead again, after computer slept overnight. For small values of overnight, since I was awake at 4 a.m. When I logged in to the Belkin router, it claimed we were connected via IP number After a few minutes things started working again, without being forced.


I wrote more web pages for the new Whitsunday Terraces web site.

Mouse Batteries

My Apple touch mouse ran out of battery power today. Now recharging the two rechargeable AA NiMH overnight. Luckily the Apple charger shuts down entirely after full charge, and phantom power drops so low I could not measure it with a Wattmeter.

April Fool

Liked the Artline 140 pen that tweets.

April Fool (2)

Mailing 1.5 kg of FAPA printed matter to the USA by Australia Post. Cost is A$55.45, of which $9 is a fee to attend to some paranoid USA idea about security of products in the mail. However A$46.45 is not exactly cheap either. No wonder there is a drift away from sending paper.

I refuse to travel to or via USA territory, due to the TSA. It seems from this now leaked WikiLeaks cable about Air Canada avoiding US air space from 2005 that I am not the only person who wants to avoid the United States.

Saturday 2 April 2011

Internet Missing

Initially it seemed to be merely that the ADSL modem router was not responding to WiFi. Disconnected and reconnected got that going. Claims I am connected as IP number However there is still no actual connection. A traceroute to Google displayed unknown host, so it failed to find a nameserver. A numeric traceroute woke it up.

Whitsunday Terraces

Located another 62 photos to add to the Whitsunday Terraces web site. While many web pages were enhanced with additional photographs, the major focus was making out a list of Whitsunday Terraces air conditioners with potential problems.


Walked at Willows with Jean. Bought weekend newspapers, and even read a heap of them.

Sunday 3 April 2011

Internet Missing Again

No internet connection. Belkin ADSL modem router says it is not connected. Logged on to router. Now says connected via, however nothing works (mail, traceroute via nameserver). Numeric traceroute a few seconds later worked.


I did the final packing of my large bag. Since it does not bulge, I worried about it. Then I realised Jean had suggested I use her large bag, about twice the capacity of the one I usually use.

Watched the Sunday public affairs programs Meet the Press, then broke for a bacon and egg breakfast. This was followed by Insiders and Inside Business on the ABC.

Several people in Stage A of Carlyle Gardens have complained (since the cyclone) of TV reception problems. This is a sudden momentary loss of audio or video. This happens regardless of weather. A large number of people have had TV antenna installers clambering on the roof. The problem seems associated with getting the signal from the TV aerial at Reception, through the equipment that converts it for transmission via the optical fibre to each home. Personally I think the card probably has electrolytic capacitors that are failing, but given what those cards cost, I am not volunteering to pull it, inspect it, and attempt to resolder a multilevel board.

Pat visited, to pay Jean for some of Lyn McConchie's Farming Daze books. I bet she will be back.

Monday 4 April 2011


I talked with various neighbours, who are putting out rubbish, checking the house and so on. Jean phoned for a taxi, and we took our luggage outside. No taxi. Twenty minutes later she phoned again. Luckily the taxi did arrive a little later. After that, we still got to the airport early.

We were on QF971 to Brisbane. Jean had organised a pointy end flight, using points (how appropriate). So we got to check out the Qantas Club room at Townsville airport. Got served a nice and rather filling meal on the flight to Brisbane. There were only about four people in the business seats. We had 2A and 2B. I always figure that flight is shorter than it really is. It is actually plenty long enough to eat lunch and read heaps of a bad novel. We arrived early at Brisbane.

The Qantas Business lounge at Brisbane was reasonably full. However we had less than an hour to wait. No point in eating or drinking anything, as we would doubtless have plenty to eat on the flight. One change of gate, but that was to a slightly closer one.

We were off on time on QF597 to Perth. This time business class had more people in it. We were in 4G and 4K. Lots of drinks offered. I continued to read an airport novel, Vince Flynn's The Third Option. Luckily the nuts distributed as snacks were not aromatic, so Jean did not have problems from the fumes as she would with peanuts. Jean was allergic to all of the main meals on offer, for the first time in a fair while. She settled for two of the entrees, after checking the gluten free meal option. Mind you, there was a lot of alcohol plied us during the day. Started with Penfolds Bin 28, an Evans and Tate with the chicken entree, a Pinot Noir with the braised beef and Thai curry, a sweet dessert wine with the sweets, and a Baily's Irish Cream. Lucky the airline glasses are small.

We were out of Perth airport with our luggage fairly quickly. The number of taxis available far exceeded the passengers seeking them.

CityStay Perth

The hotel was the CityStay, across Perth, near Gordon Street. This is a mid level Golden Chain hotel close to transport (train and bus), and specifically just around the corner from Gordon Street and the Europcar hire car place. However we were able to get a self contained suite with a separate bedroom, which makes it much more comfortable.

I went out to look for the makings for breakfast. Found the parking lot for a shopping centre, which proved mostly factory direct outlets. They had already rolled up the sidewalks. The breakfast options mostly looked like a late opening Subway. No actual food stores in sight. I managed to get some milk and small boxes of cereal at the hotel convenience section on the way back.

We contemplated something for dinner, but although the fare on the plane had been about 4 p.m. our time, there had been a lot of it. We noticed the hotel offered a room service breakfast, and the order time had not yet expired. We each ordered a Big Breakfast. By our times, even the earliest breakfast slot at 7:30 a.m. would be the equivalent of 9:30 a.m.

Book of the Day

Vince Flynn's The Third Option.

I spent most of the evening on my second airport novel, Stephen Coonts' Wages of Sin. I could not manage much more than reading. This decision was helped by the CityStay having a big bright tubular fluorescent in the kitchen space. I could easily sit on the lounge and read.

Tuesday 5 April 2011

Perth Morning

Our morning was devoted entirely to leaving Perth. We had slept badly, partly due to a lot of car door or similar noise around 3 a.m. We were awake and ready to go early by Perth time, but had nothing we could go and do until the Big Breakfast arrived at 7:30 a.m.

The Big Breakfasts were enormous. Two eggs, two large sausages, heap of bacon, two slices of toast, baked beans, a hash brown. Plus we had a fair amount of milk to drink. We ended up taking the sausages with us for a lunchtime snack on the road.

We walked to the factory outlet mall, where I could get a newspaper. It was an interesting place, but not much use to us. The bread shop was not really open yet, but by the time we completed our walk it was, so I got some bread rolls to go with our left over breakfast sausages.

Since we could see the Europcar shop, I suggested we drop in and see if our hire car was ready early. It was. Paperwork complete, we drove back to the CityStay hotel in a Subaru Forester, possibly a model newer than the one Jean has.

Drive South

We were away headed out of Perth on 2, Kwinana Highway, before ten. I was impressed by the number of building cranes. One site had twelve cranes, another had four, plus there were several single crane sites. Much of the area looked new. The highway had massive concrete sound barrier walls for much of thw way, each far higher than is likely in Queensland in those places that have any sound deadening. I was impressed by how nice some of the Shamrock Stone Walls looked.

The countryside seemed flat but well wooden, albeit mostly not densely wooded. There were a number of plantation pine forests. We stopped for a rest break near the Lake Clinton turnoff around 11 a.m. and the temperature was already 330C. Another rest break just before one where we had the left over sausage on bread rolls.

We were on Route 10, south, with 110 kph speed signs for much of the way, on an obviously recent road. At Busselton we checked out the little train that travels the long, long wharf. There was also an old lighthouse converted to a water slide park. Nice beach in the area also. Just as we left town I spotted a Reject Shop, so we stopped and bought a $4 tarpaulin that was 180 x 240 cm. That nicely covered out bags in the back of the Subaru. Somehow there was no cover for the boot of the hire car.

Past Busselton, on the way to Dunsborough, we passed a seemingly unending set of Christian youth camps. We were half way expecting to find the next one was Scientologist or Atheist, as no religion or pseudo-religion seemed to be missing.

Margaret River

We visited the Leeuwin Cape Naturiste lighthouse, although we did not ascent it. That seemed to have a working reflector. There was also a teahouse nearby. That was our last stop.

On the last road headed inland towards Margaret River, we saw the Margaret River Deer Farm. Jean did her usual yum routine. I knew I would have to try to find a restaurant serving venison.

We did not manage to sight the Adamson's on Riverside motel as we went up Higgins Street. My iPhone GPS soon set us right, and we had missed several reasonably conspicuous signs at the corner. Shaun from Adamsons had phoned us before we left Perth, to advise that a single bedroom upgrade to the self contained room was available. As we had already booked and paid for a three day stay, we readily upgraded at a pretty reasonable rate. That certainly seemed a more comfortable choice of accommodation.

Jean sent me off seeking food. I grabbed some breakfast foods at the IGA. A bottle of Churchview 2008 Cabernet Merlot from reception. I asked about venison, but did not find any restaurants serving it. We finally got some take away pizza at Goodfellas Cafe, upstairs a few blocks away. That seemed about all we could manage that evening.

Wednesday 6 April 2011

Cape Leeuwin

I was awake way too early, but resisted getting up. At this rate I will have adjusted time zones about the time we leave West Australia.

We had some WeetBix Wild Berry Bites on hand after my shopping expedition so that sufficed for breakfast. We headed south towards Augusta and Cape Leeuwin, on what unexpectedly proved a good fast road. It even saw three tiny vintage or post-vintage cars trundling along.

We stopped at the Augusta Bakery and Cafe to collect an apple and bilberry pie for morning tea. The toilets at the riverside by the town jetty looked like they had been made from the funnel of a ship, all concealed in the hillside. Rather strange. It also seemed the only way to get across the river was in your own little boat. One person looked like she had motored over with her dog in the boat, just to get coffee.

Cape Leeuwin lighthouse looked impressive from a distance, with a light that still rotated. They had expensive lighthouse tours and tearooms there, but we just wanted a look. After all, there was both the Southern Ocean and the Indian Ocean, seen from the same spot. There was also a fascinating old waterwheel nearby, once used to pump fresh water to the lighthouse. Now fossilised by lime from the flowing water.

Back through Augusta, and onto the Cave Road. The first was Jewel Cave, where there was an elaborate and even elegant tourist structure and tea room. We passed through forests of very nice looking trees, all of them reasonably large. That was a bit different from the plantation pine we had seen previously.

At the Lake Cave parking lot we came across some gumnuts close to the ground, so naturally I photographed these. We also drove out to Cape Freycinet to photograph the ocean crashing into the cape. From there it was a back road filled with wineries.

Margaret River

We were back at Margaret River before one, with rain threatening. While Jean raided the inadequate food supplies in the room, I went for a walk to search for more. I was charged with finding her a restaurant that sold venison. I failed, despite several locals trying to help with suggestions. She sent an SMS saying chocolate. Despite the Fudge Factory and the Old Lolly Shop, I had only partial success with that. I did get her some chocolate biscuits, with some sourdough and some ham for my lunch. At the newsagent, I realise it was the first Wednesday of the month, and thus the Australian Literary Supplement was due. Then I got rained on and soaked before getting back to the Adamsons on Riverside.

While preparing for lunch, I washed the wine glasses. One cracked apart in my hands. Luckily it did not cut me. I took it back to Reception for replacement, as I am really nervous about the dangers of glass edges. I also bought another bottle of wine at Reception, although that was not how I broke the glass.

Somehow all our get and and go had departed. We sat around reading our novels while the first rain in five months dropped down on the town. Obviously we had brought the rain with us. I had bought enough snack food like ham and sourdough that Jean made do with it as dinner, although that had not really been my intention when buying. There seemed to be rain for much of the early evening, and part overnight.

Movie of the Day

In yet another attempt to sync with West Australian time, I stayed up with my iPad and watched half of The Substitute, a 1996 Lionsgate mercenary clean up the drugs in schools effort that was better than I expected.

I do not expect a lot from 99 cent downloads from iTunes rental movies. In fact, I had two of the 99 cent rentals expire before I got around to them. More and more I am seeing 99 cents as the no think rental price. No big deal if you do not even watch it. As long as iTunes remains easier to use than a stolen bit torrent version. The bit torrent versions, being stolen, are likely to not bother including all the warnings and threats and previews that infest a DVD and that waste your time. This makes bit torrent better than a DVD, for those who just want to watch the movie.

Book of the Day

I got through Charles Stross Wireless, which was actually a story collection rather than a novel (Jean had brought two Charles Stross neither of us had read, both in the rather thick paperback British Orbit editions).

Thursday 7 April 2011

Margaret River Morning

I was awake and it was dawning light around 6:30 a.m. so I went into the living room. I read my email on the iPad, and then watched the conclusion of The Substitute. I guess it is first of a series.

I can hear the rain hitting the roof a floor above us. Not a good start to events of the day for us, however welcome it is for this area after five months of dry weather. Being from Queensland's rainy season, we are used to rain.

After breakfast we went for a walk through the town, dodging the showers. Did not visit one of the reputed three wine shops. Nor did we visit a Margaret River winery during our stay. It turned out that the Fudge Shop did actually have real chocolates, which I had somehow failed to notice yesterday.

Stopped at Coles to buy half a hot chicken for lunch, and some crumpets and butter for snacks.

I bought a newspaper and another book to read as we headed back.

I made another trip to buy food supplies, later in the day. Tourism accomplished, absolutely zero. We did not even eat in a restaurant during our three day stay. All of them in Margaret River seemed too fancy for us. It was great to actually relax. Even though retired we always seem to have a full diary at home.

Book of the Day

Charles Stross The Fuller Memorandum. Spy thriller meets HP Lovecraft. I am almost tempted to add Yes, Minister to the description, but it is not exactly appropriate. The rift on the Jesus Phone was priceless.

Friday 8 April 2011

Margaret River Morning

I was up late, around six a.m. It was a cold, damp and miserable day. Abandoned any idea of staying with shorts and sandals, and found my long trousers, socks and Florsheim shoes (ugh). I hate shoes. I even put a flannelette shirt in my pack to use as a light jacket.

The Adamsons Riverside motel want us to comment on Trip Advisor about our stay. The place was great, so we will try to do so.

We filled the car at the service station just up the street. Fuel is over $1.50 a litre, which is not helping trip costs much. We need to remember to add any surplus fuel coupons from Coles to our trip packing list next time. Just in case we find a Coles fuel station.

Drive to Pemberton

We passed a few plantations of pine on our way south. There were also small cattle stations, and later some sheep stations along the way. We had a rest stop near the Stewart Road turnoff. This would have been the quick way to Pemberton, but we wanted the longer scenic roads.

We took the Blackwood River valley, past Poison Swamp Road (a name I simply could not leave out of my notes) and ended up in Nannup.

Nannup seemed to be a small tourist town, well set up to cater to tourists. When we visited the bakery to get a snack, they were unloading freshly baked meat pies from the oven. So we had one each for an early lunch. We took a wander through the interesting small town, noting an internet access place, typical of West Australian country infrastructure. The tourist information centre was also pretty good.

Next was Kurri forest. Giant trees native to West Australia. We drove through some impressive stands of these majestic trees.

Our first stop was the short Beedelup Falls walk, in the National Park. We had to collect a National Park pass at one of the honour booths along the way. Luckily Jean gets concessional rates for the day pass.

As expected after the lengthy dry spell, the little recent rain had not really replenished the water for the Beedelup Falls. I have some contrasting photos from a few years ago. We took the circular track over the swinging bridge to return to the car park.

Next was Warren National Park (now we had a day pass to the parks). We stopped at the Marianne North tree, commemorating the artist.

Then the big tree, the Dave Evans Bicentennial tree. This is one of three trees tourists can (if young and fit and silly) climb. From 50 metres up you can see a wonderful distance over the Kurri forest. Not that I tried climbing it. This is a relatively recent climbing tree, not one of the original fire lookouts that were the purpose of the original spike ladders around the trees. Since few people were around, we did climb a short distance for photographs. This tree has the advantage of a rest platform part way up. With an almost vertical 60 metre climb, all the advantages you can get are worthwhile.

Gloucester National Park was next, with a trip to the Cascades. Again, these were sadly reduced in flow by the lack of water. I probably have previous photographs of most of these, from a typical rushed trip with David Marks air tours in October 2008.


I thought the Pemberton tourist information place was very good. Sold us a fancy D'Entrecasteaux National Park pass for tomorrow. Gave us some maps to the places we needed to find.

We checked in at the Best Western Pembleton Hotel around 3:30 p.m. As soon as we had the luggage inside we headed off to the closest climbing tree, only two kilometres out of town. This is the Gloucester Tree, in nearby Gloucester National Park. I also took the short walking track that let me photograph the Gloucester tree from various angles, as well as take photographs of the forest surrounds.

Dinner at the hotel was the sort of pub food we appreciate. Jean had the fresh water trout. I Had the fish of the day, which was a barramundi fillet with lemon butter and chips. I can hardly waddle now. We tried a Donnoly River chardonnay which was interesting. However it was a 2006 bottle, and I think had been kept a little too long. Not so long we could not drink it however.

Book of the Day

Nancy Kress Steal Across the Sky.

Saturday 9 April 2011

Windy Harbour

We had bacon and egg at the Best Western Pemberton hotel, before departing at 8:15 a.m. I managed to find copies of The Australian newspaper, and the Financial Review at the newsagent, which was also the Post Office.

We made the drive to the coast on Route 10, which was in great shape. Lots of small cattle station holdings, plus plantation timber.

Saw some big Western grey kangaroos on the dirt road approaching Windy Harbour around 9 a.m. They seemed not to be too concerned by vehicles, although they hopped off into the scrub as we approached. Windy Harbour seemed a well organised leasehold community. They obviously put a lot of work into keeping the place clean and pleasant, despite an obvious lack of major facilities. It seemed a place for fishing and coastal scenery, but there was a playground for children, and tourist information on signs.

Later saw what I took for a Euro, since the jaw shape did not seem totally appropriate to a kangaroo. That was on the way to Cathedral Rock.

Coast and Garden Ornaments

Salmon Beach and nearby lookouts had great views along the coast. There were lookouts along the road, so we stopped often to take in the view.

At Tookulup National Park there were lots of cliff top views to Salmon Beach.

We continued to D'Entrecasteaux Point and took a loop walk with views around a modern lighthouse, with solar panels and that sort of stuff. Nothing like a traditional light at all. However the surrounding views were fine. We left around eleven.

Toasted ham cheese tomato plus milkshakes at Northcliffe, some distance inland. It took a little seeking to spot a cafe. We were getting peckish, and were not sure where we would next have a chance for food.

in Northcliffe, Jean finds garden ornaments at the Windmill Gallery. These consisted of a tall stand, with a balancing design resting on top, all in a distressed metal. One was in the shape of a bird with top hat, the other dragon fly. We buy them, with no idea how we will get them home.

Parks and Trees

We visited Shannon National Park, after having driven through it on the main road. There is a Giant Forest Trees drive or half thereof in our case. This is a well made dirt road. We stopped at Snake Gully Lookout to view trees. I think Snake Gully was the name used in the long running Australian radio serial Dad 'n Dave. But I may be wrong.

We stopped at Big Tree Grove, for a short walk through the towering forest. However by the time we had completed half the loop, and were back to the South West Highway, we were ready to give up.

Back to Pemberton. Refuel the car for the next trip. Back to the Pemberton Hotel to collapse. We dined there that evening also. Luckily the live entertainment was much later than our early dinner, and we could not really hear anything happening. I should note we are not big on entertainment. We have not switched on a TV set in any hotel room so far, and that is unlikely to change.

Sunday 10 April 2011

Leaving Pemberton

We were up late. I skipped breakfast, and Jean had a little cereal in the room. I wanted to get the garden ornaments we bought yesterday packed and posted. The local postal agency opened at eight. I found a postage box there. Looked like part of the garden ornaments would fit. We took them all back to the Post Office. For about 2/3rd of what the garden ornaments cost, we mailed them back home in three separate large parcels.

The Pemberton Hotel managed to miss two bottles of beer from our bill. When I noticed, I went back to reception to straighten it up. Seemed too difficult, so they said not to worry. While I remembered to get the stay recorded on my Best Western account, I did not remember to produce a FlyBuys card for that set of points. I never was good at loyalty schemes.

We drove back over the road we had taken yesterday from Northcliffe, this time headed for headed for Albany.

Trails in Transit

A long road through some spectacular forest, with breaks for farm country, mostly with breeds of cattle, but a few sheep. We stopped at Walpole for second breakfast. A giant beef and mushroom pie for Jean, and a more normal size meat pie for me.

We were headed for the Valley of the Giants to see the giant Tingle tree. First stop a lookout, over the countryside. Next a hollowed out Tingle tree with a fire blacked hole in the heartwood many times Jean's height, all along the track in. Then the loop walk to the giant Tingle tree. That hollowed out monster was enormous. I can not understand how it still stands upright, with so much of the interior of the trunk destroyed.

The Valley of the Giants Tree Top Walk at the Walpole Wilderness was less than 30 km away. This is a steel bridge walkway hundreds of metres in length through the treetops, so you can see the tops of the giants of the forest close up. The highest point is 40 metres above the ground, and the trees still tower above the platforms and walkways. It was a most impressive walk. Naturally it has been designed to sway, so you get the real feeling of being up in the air with the tree limbs.


We were thoroughly lost trying to find the Best Western Albany Motel, very near the CBD. Somehow the map and directions had disappeared. My instincts for the direction by going through the town centre were good but insufficient. When I used my iPhone I got some directions, but multiple motels appeared, once you included the keyword motel. In addition, the first set were centred around the USA, not West Australia. Not a good default, for a phone whose GPS already knew where we were.

I gave the phone to Jean, to follow our course. What I had not realised was that as Jean is almost always the driver, I had been using the GPS every other time. Jean had probably never used it before. We phoned the motel and took confusing directions. However with the combined directions and Google maps, we got there fairly directly.

I started laundry very soon. We had six days of washing due, which for two people is about all that will fit in a commercial washing machine. Had to run two 30 minute cycles through the dryer with such a heavy load. So I could not take an afternoon walk to survey the surroundings.

We set out just before six seeking dinner. Our first choice was a very close microbrewery pub. It was playing raucous noise, possibly music. Many Chinese restaurants as we approached York Street, but we did not want Chinese. Finally on York Street we found The Venice, a wonderful Italian restaurant. Jean had the marinara pasta, and I had their special pizza. Best pizza I have had all year. We booked for the next evening as well.

The nearby Premier Hotel bottle shop advised and supplied a 2007 Parish Lane merlot. It was soft and went well with the food. We went back to buy a few extra bottles for later in the trip, and just as well we did.

We were back at the Best Western Albany motel around 7:30 p.m. but were pretty much collapsed by then.

Book of the Day

Brenda Cooper The Silver Ship and the Sea.

Monday 11 April 2011

Albany Wind Farm

Breakfast at Best Western Albany motel was bacon and egg for Jean, poached eggs for me, with us swapping surplus. Jean scored more toast, while I had some bacon. This seems a better choice than us both ordering something too large for us. Jean switched off the TV set, since we were the only people on hand, and we both hate TV making noises at us at any time, but especially at breakfast. The cook remonstrated, but left the TV off. The cook also explained using about 20 ml of white vinegar in your boiling water when cooking poached eggs. It seemed to work great.

We could see the Albany wind farm from the top from the top floor of the motel, about 12 kilometres south west, so we determined to go visit it. We were at the Verve wind farm until 10, checking turbines 1 to 3, of the 12 there. You can take a kilometre or so walk between the wind turbines. The few early lookout points are high up hills, and provide a wonderful view of the magnificent cliffs and coastal scenery. There are more views along the coastal walkway.

The wind farm at Albany was the first large Western Power grid connected wind farm, and opened in October 2001. It runs twelve 1800 kW Enercon E66 wind turbines from Germany. The 65 metre towers were installed by Enercon Power, Australia. Each blade is 35 metres long.

National Parks around Albany

We entered Torndirrup National Park and took the Cable Beach turnoff, but alas can not reach the lighthouse on the point due to a closed road. There was a flock of Carnaby's black cockatoos at the parking lot, and I managed to get a few photos.

Excellent scenery from the parking lot and the beach. Naturally my camera battery started to run out about then. Luckily I had the spare camera battery in the hire car.

Still in Torndirrup National Park, we viewed rocky coastal scenery at The Gap and Natural Bridge around eleven. The light was good, so I took a heap of photographs, until I had to replace my depleted battery.

We stopped along the road at Vancouver lookout, looking over King George Sound.

We gave up on the well publicised Albany Whale World inspection tour since it is a four hour family edutainment tour of the last whaling station to exist in Australia. It closed as recently as 1978. It shows a lot of multimedia shows during the tour. Seems more aimed at families with children.

Salmon Holes lookout gave us views over a pretty beach.

On the way back to Albany we stopped at the Great Southern Distilling Company on Frenchman Bat Road. They have an attractive cafe that lets you sample their single malt Whisky Limeburners. The name comes from the government limestone and lime quarry at Limeburners Creek nearby.

We tried the high strength Directors Cut Whisky which was delightfully smooth even uncut. Plum liquor would go very well with desserts. The citrus vodka was dangerously smooth. There was lots else to sample, but we were driving, and even tiny nips add up. They have local cakes and light lunches. Plus you can order over the internet and have spirits shipped. Had we known they also had free WiFi, I suspect we would have packed our computers and stayed for lunch.

Albany Afternoon

We stopped at the convenient (unless driving) IGA near the foreshore for Coke for me, biscuits to go with Jean's cheese, and more Wild Berry Weetbix Bites for breakfast.

Jean walked to the sushi place in York Street to collect lunch, while I stayed at the motel taking notes.

I took an afternoon walk in the now warm sunlight. Started by checking the University of West Australia in the old Post Office building. This is the earliest purpose built Post Office in West Australia, completed in 1869. It also for a time housed the courthouse, the magistrate's office, and H.M. Customs and Excise. The post office relocated in 1964, Customs left in 1966. The building had many tenants after that. The most recent is the University of West Australia.

Next was the tourist information centre a little lower towards the shore. I was tempted by the morning Kalgan Queen riverboat scenic cruise, which tourists and locals had recommended.

I continued my harbourside walk to the distinctive looking (like a ship sinking) new $80M entertainment centre via an overhead pedestrian way across the highway. Alas, controversy surrounds the four month old building. The initial running costs were covered by State government. It seems unlikely that the Albany Council would be able to cover what I estimate as a four million annual cost of actually looking after and running such a venue. However in mid 2012, that is what is likely to happen.

I walked up York Street taking photos of the Town Hall, the library, St John's Anglican church and other tourist style buildings, plus the Alison Hartman Gardens. Alas, I failed to get a photo of the brig Amity replica sitting on the seashore a few blocks away. Naturally I stopped at bookshops. Angus and Robertsons, and ABC Shop, and Dymocks. I was rather impressed by the range in their popular science and science fiction sections.

Back at Dymocks on our way to dinner at The Venice. Jean bought two science fiction novels she had sought for a while. I bought a book on using the iPhone camera closer to its limits. The iPhone is often the only camera I have with me. Learning how to push it to its limits seemed a reasonable idea. When in tourist mode I always have a compact ultra-zoom digital camera, which can simply do a heap more.

At The Venice Italian restaurant, Jean had a Insalata di Mare seafood salad and I had another of their pizza specials. Drank the last of yesterday's bottle of 2007 Parish Lane merlot.

Tuesday 12 April 2011

Leaving Albany

We were ready for our 7:30 breakfast at the Best Western Albany Motel. Usual sharing of bacon from Jean, and toast from my poached eggs. I have no idea why her bacon and eggs came with one slice of toast, not two. I had raisin toast also, since we also had access to a Continental breakfast.

We stayed working on our notes in the room until nearly ten. Stopped on the way out of Albany to buy a copy of The Australian for me. Refuelled at the Caltex service station as we left.

Stirling Range National Park

The Stirling Range National Park is only about 80 km north from Albany, so we did not have a long drive. Poor weather and rain slowed us down as we travelled through sheep stations and more pine plantations. Even when we could see the Stirling Ranges, photography was difficult, with poor light, cloudy conditions, and some rain.

Kamballup service station 24 km from our destination seemed very small. Then we ran into a heap of road construction, which slowed us down more than the rain. There were flagmen, and a traffic light on another section.

Stirling Range National Park (the Noongar call it Koi Kyenunu-ruff - mist moving around mountains) is an abrupt transition from generally flat planes to sudden low peaks. It is a world heritage site noted for biodiversity. Bluff Knoll (Bular Mial) at 1095 metres is the highest peak in the southern part of West Australia. It even snows there, sometimes.

Stirling Range Retreat

Reached the 10 hectares of Stirling Range Retreat on the far side of the Stirling Range National Park just prior to midday. They kindly made our cabin available soon after we arrived. Alas, the local Bluff Knoll cafe was not open Tuesday or Wednesday. We had not brought sufficient food to last for three days without eating out. We mostly had breakfast cereal, but had not brought milk nor much fruit juice.

We drove about eight km past the park boundary to Amelup service station. They had meat pies, so that was lunch. We continued on 30 km to Borden, where there was a Post Office and general store. Got a heap of supplies, mostly based on what we could find rather than what we needed. The store gave a considerable impression of a place awaiting a supply shipment. However we got cold ham and roast beef, some bacon, a dozen eggs, fresh milk and orange juice. Plus a packaged frozen shepherds pie, some frozen chicken, and a tin of soup. Even with a small fridge in the room, it would be enough to do.

Back at the Stirling Ranges Retreat, we settled in to continue our notes of the trip. The weather did not encourage much wandering around at the moment.

Wednesday 13 April 2011

Stirling Range Retreat

The cool of the morning made us reluctant to get moving all that quickly. You get used to April being warm in the tropics. However we eventually had to get moving, for the sun was shining through the clouds. Jean made us bacon and eggs from our supplies, and we ended with marmalade on toast.

The honesty box for National Park entry was on the nearby Bluff Knoll Road, so we filled in the form, and put our money in the envelope. Then we set off along the main road to the Stirling Range Drive turnoff.

Stirling Range Drive

Stirling Range Drive is around 40 km of dirt road going through much of the Stirling Range National Park. Although we were at the wrong time for wildflowers, we could at least check the more distant peaks before the cloud came in. Alas, we only had a minimum amount of sunshine for taking pictures, as it was overcast most of the time inside the park.

We stopped at Mt Hassell car park for photographs. The walk itself is two hours for those younger and fitter than us.

Talyuberup car park also offered views, so we stopped there. Talyuberup Peak is also a two hour alk to a steep cliff.

At Central Lookout we scrambled up a path that got less and less distinct the further we went. When it started to involve actual climbing I gave up on the last peak. I think the lookout was a considerable distance earlier. Some of the rock formations there are interesting, both in colour and their distinctive stripes. There were also some interesting plants around.

Mt Magog was a three to four hour class five walk. No way!

We ignored the picnic area at White Gum Flat. Basically a flat wide spot in the road.

Our last stop was the Western Lookout. This at least had some flowering red plants.

The threatened rain caught up with us as we were leaving the park, but luckily was very light. Not enough to cause problems on the dirt road. We took a photo of the mist settling around the mountains.

Return to Stirling Range Retreat

We made up some roast beef on toast for lunch back at our room at the Retreat. I went for an afternoon walk around the Stirling Range Retreat. There are a lot of amusing road speed signs, setting the limit as 8 kph, on behalf of the local wildlife.

Many of the bushes, plants and trees have informative labels throughout the resort. These often went in series, giving a history of the use of the plant. That was pretty good, so I took photographs when I noticed a sequence of labels.

Jean fried some frozen chicken, while I microwaved a shepherd's pie that seemed much more potato and vegetable than meat. Still, we seemed to have enough each.

Book of the Day

L.E.Modesitt Jr. Archform: Beauty

Thursday 14 April 2011

Stirling Range Retreat

Jean was hungry when she woke. Had cereal as her First Breakfast. Later she made us both bacon and eggs as Second Breakfast for her. Now she wants morning tea, to be followed by elevenses.

Jean also can no longer resist the lure of working on Libre Office (formerly Open Office) books. So she is busy typing, instead of walking around the countryside. However the weather forecast is for better weather in the afternoon.

Basically I am getting colder and colder in the cabin. The fitful sunlight keeps being replaced by clouded shadows. At least the condensation in the window has now evaporated, so perhaps more sunlight will stream in when (if) the clouds go.

Whitsunday Terraces Web Site

Michael phoned to tell me the door to 63 Whitsunday Terraces is being replaced by Ben (formerly the Chef at the restaurant). I was under the impression some carpenters had already been employed to do a half dozen doors. That door was listed as already done in the Manager's report I received yesterday. However that report was for a committee meeting a few days hence.

I tried adding Schedule 2 of the Caretaker's duties to the Whitsunday Terraces web site.

Part of the list requires lower case alphabetical labelling. While the deprecated type=a notation on the ol works fine (it should not in XHTML 1.1), using a correct <style> { list-style-type: lower-alpha; } </style> in the head or body does not work with Apple's Safari web browser. I finally had to use an inline style <ol style=list-style-type: lower-alpha;> to avoid the deprecated type notation. This inconsistent style support is very annoying.

I discovered that I had not included a stand alone HTML validator in my computer. So I could not validate any of my changes against a full SGML or XHTML validation. All I have is the usual XHTML well-formed check from the actual web browser. I need to add more web tools.

Bluff Knoll and Beyond

We visited the now open Bluff Knoll cafe. I thought I would try their curry, a dinner meal, but wanted lunch. As it was still before noon, we first of all took a walk around the Stirling Range Resort, as far as the rammed earth cabins, and the airfield I had seen yesterday.

Back to the Bluff Knoll cafe for hamburgers, and a glass of house red. The hamburgers were enormous (as was the wine glass). Kitchen accident delayed my hamburger, so it was after one when we walked back to the Stirling Range Resort.

I was so full I could hardly move. Eventually we both recovered somewhat, and Jean drove to Bluff Knoll via the National Park entry. It is only about eight kilometres to the large modern parking lot and lookout for Bluff Knoll. With good weather finally with us, we were able to get some photos of the magnificent area.

Afterwards we headed out to Mount Trio. The hidden turnoff from the Mt Trio road was just a break in the bushes, with no sign. We were both wondering where it had gone as we turned around and proceeded much slower back. This time we found one warning sign, on the other side of the street, and were able to find the dirt road entrance. Once again some great views from the parking area, although unlike Bluff Knoll there were no facilities.

I was too full most of rest of the day to do much more than groan a lot. No chance to walk over and have a curry. I did not eat dinner at all. Read a bit more of my books this evening, and collected email. Today the connection to Telstra 3G was working fine.

Friday 15 April 2011

Leaving Stirling Range Resort

Jean cooked the remaining four eggs for breakfast. Two eggs was more than enough for me after the giant hamburger for lunch yesterday. We still have bread and an unopened package of ham in the fridge, and far more cold items than we have cold storage for while travelling. With the weather fine and sunny, we did not need to wear cold weather gear, so I wore shorts and falling apart sandals.

I did manage a better photo of the little Dutch windmill about seven kilometres from the Stiring Range Resort. Further along the road, there were grain silos on many farms, plus bulk grain storage receiving areas at a few spots.

We were packed ready to go by nine, but in no particular rush to leave. One place we wanted to see was the Mallee Fowl centre at Ongerup, so we detoured a few hundred metres onto the road to Ongerup. The Mallee Fowl centre was closed on Friday! This policy of places being closed was to follow us through the day.

To Hopetoun

We refuelled at Jerramangup, where we joined Highway One, which goes between Albany and Esperance. Jean found herself a meat pie for elevenses, but reported it was inferior. While eating the inferior pie, she could gaze upon a very nice looking Harley Davidson V twin. Although it looked like a classic motorbike in shape and proportions (the low saddle for example), it was actually obviously modern. Belt drive rather than chain drive. Disk brakes not drum. Looked like fuel injection rather than two hard to tune carburetors.

We wanted to view some of the Fitzgerald River National Park. Luckily we ignored the long drive in from the highway, in favour of the shorter but major Hammersley Drive section nearer Ravensthorpe. Seven or eight kilometres along this, we came across a road closed sign. No entry to the National Park, so we could not get to Hopetoun via the Park. We had to turn around and return to the highway, and travel through Ravensthorpe.

We did not see a lot that encouraged us to stop long in Ravensthorpe. No food place that really grabbed us, although there was a Country Kitchen cafe open. We took the turn off to Hopetoun.

As we neared Hopetoun we could see two wind turbines on the horizon. They looked much like the models at Albany. We are told you can take a dirt road and see them close up.


Hopetoun was larger than I expected, and a model of a neat and tidy town, with nice looking facilities. We checked in to the Hopetoun Motel and Chalets, near the Esplanade and centre of the small shopping area. While they have the typical $5 a hour WiFi internet connection, the signal did not reach through our thick rammed earth walls. These days we are finding Telstra's 3G data connections a far better choice for internet access than most hotel WiFi.

We were given a comfortable seeming rammed earth room. I collected our laundry and started it. The reception estimate of 25 minutes for the Speed Queen washer was a little optimistic. The notice that the dryers took 15 minutes per coin was totally wrong. They took 30 minutes (and needed 90 minutes to dry the most recalcitrant of our laundry).

I took a quick walk while the washing was going. Down the street to the IGA Hopetoun General Store (which was also the Post Office) for milk. Why is it that two litres of milk is $2.40 (usually $4.32 according to the docket), while one litre from the same company is $2.68? I bought the two litres. The Beach Cafe was closed for renovations, so that was not available. MacGraths cafe closed at 2:30 p.m., but was scheduled to reopen for dinner at 5 p.m.

Once I had determined I had 30 minutes per drying cycle, I went for another walk in Hopetoun, along with Jean. The bakery that advertised gourmet chocolate had closed. We did find The Deck, which advertised free WiFi, and a buy one get one free ice cream.

On the next laundry drying cycle I made my excuses to Jean, and headed straight for The Deck. They had closed at 4:30 p.m.

By now I was sick of looking for things to eat, to replace my missed lunch. I was ready to sulk and refuse to eat. However Jean liked the MacGraths fish and chip menu, with the local boar fish, so she sent me off to get take away for her. I said I could just eat some of the chips. However once there, I regained my interest in food. Ordered a pavlova as well. Then I spotted some of the Connoisseur Chocolate Obsession ice cream, so I bought that as well. This spontaneous decision was not well received by she who must be obeyed. This is why the usual status with us is that I make decisions on important things like which politics to be mad about, while Jean makes decisions on unimportant things like where we travel and what we eat.

Saturday 16 April 2011

Leaving Hopetoun

I took a morning walk to collect the newspapers at the local IGA General Store. They had the Financial Review for the weekend, but tell me The Australian for the weekend does not arrive until Monday. I took a bunch of photos of the now well sunlit western side of the main street of Hopetoun.

Having not much excuse to stay longer, we left around nine.

Hopetoun Wind Turbine Power Station

Verve Hopetoun diesel wind power station was on the way out of town. I was able to get a close look at the two Enercon E40 600 kW wind turbines at this sensibly designed power station. One was installed in 2004, the second in 2007. They have 22 metre long blades, on a 46 metre tower, and can be used between 18 and 34.5 RPM.

They have made use of the strengths of wind in the west, to supplement seven 320 kW low load diesel generators, instead of the idiot attempts to replace coal fired power. As a result, the wind generates around 45% of the electricity Hopetoun uses, and saves around 600 kilolitre of diesel a year.

We took the Springdale Road east, despite it being a dirt road. This left us closer to the coast so we could more easily drive in to view interesting spots such as Munglinup Beach and inlet.

We visited Stokes National Park, and Stokes Inlet and beach. There were brand new facilities there, opened in March 2011. This time we briefly drove the car on the beach. I also managed to get a nice photograph of a Zamia plant, Macrozamia dyeri.

As we were driving through farmland, I stopped in an attempt to add to my collection of cattle photos. Different breeds to what I am used to in Queensland.

Esperance Wind Turbines

We reached Esperance and refuelled around one. We were too early for the motel, so we set off seeking food for Jean's late lunch, without much luck. Luckily we eventually spotted some turkish bread pizza and made do with them.

The Great Southern Drive took us past numerous magnificent beaches on a splendid day. Fourth Beach. Views from the drive showed beautiful sea colours.

Got a look at the Esperance Verve wind turbine plant. At least, the nine smaller 225 kW Vesta wind turbines installed in 1993, which can produce up to 2 MW in total. The 13.5 metre long blades are mounted on a 31.5 metre steel tower. they start generating at 12.6 kph, and and continue generating until wind speed reached 90 kph. These are a older type two speed induction generator, rotating at either 33 or 43 RPM.

The six other Enercon E40 wind turbines are considerably larger 600 kW units installed in 2003 can produce 3.6 MW in total. These have 22 metre blades on a 46 metre tower. They are direct drive, variable speed, inverter connected, rotating between 18 and 34 RPM. They can start generating at a mere 9 kph breeze, and continue to operate up to 126 kph.

Best Western Esperance

Our room at the Best Western Esperance on The Esplanade was ready when we returned from the forty kilometres drive. I went out afterwards for a walk to collect some milk at the IGA food store a block or two away. They also had a Cellarbrations liquor store attackhed. I also discovered a hot bread bakery that opened early, a Subway, and a Jaycar electronics agency.

At dinner at the motel restaurant, Jean had the sirloin steak, which proved not as gigantic as she feared. I tried the ham, tomato and pineapple pie with a parsley cream sauce. It basically had a filo pastry top, rather than being a full pastry pie shell. It was excellent, and not so large that I could not eat it all. The wine was a Dalyup River 2006 Shiraz

Sunday 17 April 2011

Cape Le Grande National Park

We drove off at eight on Merivale Road to Cape Le Grande National Park. This is about 40 km away, much of the road through Kalina Tree Farm, which appeared to have kilometre after kilometre of mature trees growing, plus more smaller trees in patches.

Saw a bunch of cattle along the way, mostly large black cattle that are difficult to photograph against the morning light. After a while I also spotted and emu, then a bunch of emus.

After paying our $5 park entry fee to a real person at a real entry barrier, we drove the few kilometres on to the stunning Le Grande Beach. Ambitious 4WD folks can drive the entire distance along the beach from Esperance. We are far less ambitious, especially in a hire vehicle.

At Hellfire Bay, we noticed only one person on the entire beach. I thought I saw some people surfing. That actually turned out to be three dolphins playing in the surf. I tried photographing them, but the range was extreme. We also saw more emus as we headed back to the main road.

Viewed Frenchman's Cap from two lookouts. The prospect of climbing all the way up there, and standing on an obviously fragile rock through which you could see sunlight did not appeal at all.

We stopped at the beach at Lucky Cove, and filled the car floor with sand (not by choice). The beach is a very damp one, unlike the firm sand of the first beach we visited.

Our furthest excursion was to Rossiter Bay, a mostly rocky coastline along a dirt road.

As we returned we stopped at Thistle Cove, a pleasant spot with a wind carved whistling rock.

We left the park around midday for the drive back to Esperance through the Kalina Tree Farm.


I went for a walk through part of Esperance during the afternoon, looking for lunch. Being a Sunday, much of the town near The Esplanade was closed. Subway seemed too large a meal when we were scheduled for dinner at the Best Western restaurant. However the Hot Bread shop supplied a tiny party pie for my lunch. They had a great variety of sweets, so I brought a few giant apple slices back for Jean and I for dessert.

Jean had the swordfish dish of the day for her dinner, while I had lamb cutlets. I failed to eat most of the couscous that was the accompaniment, since I think even well prepared couscous is a waste of plate space. We had a white wine. West Cape Howe Semillon Sauvignon Blanc 2010, which was a light fruity wine that went well with our dinner.

Monday 18 April 2011

Esperance Showery Day

The showery weather settled in, along with lower temperatures. After breakfast in the room, I started doing our laundry. The washing machine and dryer were free here, and far more convenient than I expect at a city hotel in a few more days. They were simple domestic models, not commercial strength. So I imagined they would be slow. About 45 minutes for the washing machine. I set the dryer for 90 minutes, and found I could not persuade it to open prior to that time elapsing.

Went along to the museum on the next block and took some photos of the old experimental wind turbines from the 1990's. Not good light for photographs. Also in light clothes, it is too cold in the wind for me to want to wander very much.

Jean and I went out before midday to check the French hot bread shop. Got some lunch rolls with ham and chicken, plus another couple of apple slices. We had the apple slices first, as you do.

We went for another walk in the afternoon, along The Esplanade. We discovered one of the parks had a very lengthy miniature railway line all through it. Alas, open only on weekends, so we never did get to see the train. We went a bit over two kilometres on that walk.

In a world full of superb headphones, why does everyone who is deaf listen to lousy speakers on a TV in the next room at full volume, most of the day? I am about ready to go out and shoot people who put a TV on during the day. No loss to society, in my view.

Dinner at Esperance

Once again we had dinner at the Best Western Esperance Motel, for lack of a better idea. Jean had the fish of the day, on pumpkin mash. I knew I could not manage a decent meal, so I had the meatballs on pasta. The wine was a Margaret River Driftwood Classic White. It seemed much like the Evans and Tate cleanskins we favour when at home.

Now we seem to have three partly empty bottles of wine to take with us when we leave.

Prepared another collection of several days worth of the tablets my doctor says I should take. Looked at packing my bag and thought not again. I think I am tired of travel. That might explain how much time I wasted on my iPad today. I even tried several new applications. Moleskine notebook, and Comic Strip.

Tuesday 19 April 2011

Leaving Esperance

I found a list of neat iPhone apps, including Mirror 3 in 1, HeartRate, ProHDR, and Calvetica. I also deleted a bunch of apps in used to use. iHandy Carpenter (the accelerometer access no longer works). I'm Right Here (Ripe), GeoAlert, BigCanvas PhotoShare, Lab, Dr Solar and Magnus, SimpleNote, SpringPad, Tweeps (does not connect).

We set out at 8:45 a.m. Drove to the old Salmon Beach wind farm near Esperenace, perhaps the first in Australia.

Back through Esperance, refuelled for the long drive, not that the car would hold much.

Drive to the Interior

Meat pies at Munglinup around eleven.

Stopped by police for a licence check outside Ravensthorpe around midday. We took a short break, but could see not food to our liking. We did refuel the car once again, before we left at 12:30 p.m.

Along the empty road, we sighted a truck with the front wheels off a prominent (artificial) hill. Seems like a farm joke.

Wave Rock

Wave Rock Motel at Hyden, after 402 kilometres of driving. Most expensive milk I have ever bought was at the service station next to the hotel. Wave Rock is actually part of the water supply system for the town of Hyden. We managed a fairly long walk over the rock, and around part of it, while taking heaps of photographs. The light was very reasonable for photos.

Dinner at the motel was DIY BBQ with salad.

Wednesday 20 April 2011

Leaving Hayden

We were ready to leave the Wave Rock Motel in Hayden by 8:45 a.m., after breakfast from our supplies box. We originally planned a heavy breakfast before our long drive, but had eaten too much the previous night to really want much more. I was still tired from being awake at three in the morning.

Some birds checked us out in the car park as we prepared to leave. Looked a bit like Indian minors, with green yellow flashes on the sides of the wings, but more bold than I am used to. I took a few photos anyhow, just in case.

We also stopped at the local bakery, also just in case, but saw nothing we really needed. We have a lot of biscuits and bakery style stuff on hand in any case.

I had thought I heard a train in the early morning hours. We noticed that the road towards Perth was parallel to a railway line. As usual, there were numerous grain handling facilities along the rail line.

Jean did the driving at the start, but soon decided she needed to scheme and take notes of the results, so she turned the driving over to me.

Travel to Perth

We stopped briefly in Kondinin, where the park (which also supported caravans rather well) had several metal sculptures by locals. Some were pretty amusing. I noticed a few other sculptures as we were leaving town.

Next stop was Corrigin, where there was a Rotary Park. This at one time included a small model rail line, alas now closed for service to the line. I noticed in the toilet a sign encouraging men to talk to their mates if life was getting them down. An alternative was a helpline. Suicide of stressed men in country communities apparently remains high.

We refuelled the car, and got some water and a salad roll for Jean before departing Corrigin.

Brookton had a metal sculpture of a skeleton in one park near an impressive set of sports facilities. We eventually found public toilets near a nicely preserved former railway station. We checked the shops, including the IGA with everything store, but saw nothing that we really needed. I hoped for something when I found they stocked shorts, but they were mostly downmarket work shorts.

We refuelled the car again in the inner suburbs of Perth, since we needed to return it full. Jean decided to take over the driving at that point. She had made three plans for our entry to Perth. First was drive to the Europcar rental place, return the car, and take a taxi with all our luggage to the hotel. Plan number two was to drive to the hotel, get our room, unload, and then return the car. Plan three was a variation on plan one, with a later transition to the appropriate road to return the car. Jean changed her mind from that, and used plan two. Straight to the hotel.

Jean navigated flawlessly (luckily we only had to follow the road we had been using most of the way). The Hyatt Regency staff took charge of the bags and the car. We checked in, went for an upgrade to a newly renovated river view room on the seventh floor. The desk clerk also signed Jean up for a Hyatt hotel card loyalty card (we did not seem to have one of them). The luggage was arriving at the room just as we emerged from the elevator, so the bag guy hung around for a tip. Just like the U.S.A.

Perth Afternoon

As soon as we had the bags we grabbed our wallets and headed out to grab our car back. I had a bad moment when I realised I no longer had my prescription sunglasses. Luckily they had fallen out in the boot of the car when I was pulling things out of it. I found them during my search of the car.

Jean had no problems with the drive to the Europcar place, except roads were congested and restricted by construction for some future conference. Maybe CHOGM. Took a long time to make the short drive. Europcar was fine. It did not take long to complete the formalities (sign for this large bill).

There is a CAT free bus loop service in just the next street. Neat signs in the bus stops counting down how long before the next such bus arrives. We got out at the Perth shopping area. Great so far.

We walked. As we approached a corner there was a great commotion ahead, with running noises. Stop! A guy shot around the corner nearly colliding with Jean. He was followed closely by about four security guys, all running hard. Jean was a little annoyed she could not react fast enough to trip the first running guy. I am real glad she did not. Although short, the running man looked compact and probably outmassed Jean by 50%. She might have been hurt.

Jean wanted a Woolworths for some food supplies. There was a sign, and it was easy to find. Jean started shopping.

I decided to find a toilet. No luck in the whole shopping complex. Seemed you needed to go to another block, to the railway station, where they wanted to charge 50 cents to stand in a queue for a two hole dunny. I did however see the police escorting the running man (now tastefully attired in handcuffs) to their station. I was fairly pissed off with Perth by now. Who ever heard of a shopping complex with food services that did not have public toilets?

Jean and I co-ordinated our meeting by iPhone, and went to the very busy Apple retail store a block or two further up Hay Street. I could see a return visit for purchases.

This meant that although I carried the bag of groceries, Jean had a very long walk back to the Hyatt. She kept muttering about walking being good for her, but it sounded to me a bit like the teeth grinding was obscuring the words.

Perth Evening

We got stuck into a glass of red from our box of left over travel supplies. Eventually we both made a sandwich from the Bakers Delight bread Jean had bought, and the leg ham and Jarlsberg cheese Jean had also bought. We figure we may need some snack supplies for Easter, when it seems a heap of places close up shop.

Thursday 21 April 2011

Early Perth Walk

I set out for my walk around to the Perth Apple Store at 790 Hay Street around 7:30 a.m. What with all the exploratory side tracks, this ended up 3.12 km, according to RunKeeper. I paused to have breakfast at McDonalds on the way, this being one of the few places actually open. Despite this I reached the Apple store just as they opened at eight, and a crowd of perhaps a dozen people rushed in.

I wanted a video connector for an iPad or iPhone. The new iPhone to HDMI connectors were visible. The iPhone to VGA (needed by most data projectors, since they use obsolete connectors) were not. I asked, and the helpful Apple people got one from their basement. Not enough wall space to display all their products.

Camera House, in one corner of a discount chemist on the mall, had a most knowledgable camera salesman. He showed me a couple of new gadgets in cameras that impressed me. An automatic panorama facility, that probably took advantage of the camera video mode.

I bought more cereal and breakfast supplies at Woolworths, and phoned Jean to report. She was talking to Bill Wright just outside the hotel, about to head for a bus. I continued to seek a replacement pair of shorts, but had no luck anywhere, not even at the helpful Roger David store. I also wanted a tea towel, and thought Crazy Clark might be the place. They were also closed, in what seemed a very unplanned stoppage.

While I waited for Jean I bought a Legacy badge. There were numerous uniformed soldiers, sailors and air force personnel in the Mall selling Legacy badges.

After I met Jean she got the fruit packs she wanted at Woolworths. We took our loaded packs back to the hotel by bus, just in time to encounter Hyatt room service trying to remedy the mess in our room. They always seemed distressed that we would not allow them to do all the tidying they wanted to do.

Swancon Attendees

Saw Craig in the Hyatt lobby. He was attempting to find access for Karen. Saw Robin at the reception, getting exasperated because of the lack of access for Alicia. The Hyatt hotel disabled access was terrible, with stairs all over the place. Fine if you can handle stairs, but there are a lot more people now who can not. Luckily most of the convention facilities were on the Lobby level, but the three panel rooms were down an escalator at the Plaza level.

Danny was headed for the CBD, so Jean pointed out where to get the free bus, and we all headed off. Danny took his leave of us in the middle of the CBD, as we all had different destinations. After a half hour Jean and I sought lunch at the Pancake place upstairs at Carillon. Jean had a bacon and egg, while I went for Devonshire pancakes and iced chocolate for the sugar hit. As we headed for the cashier to pay, we found Danny paying for his meal. Naturally we decided we were stalking him.

I looked for bookshops. Angus and Robertsons were closed, after their untimely demise into Administration. Borders (same group, same Administrators) was open, but I had already determined they had nothing I wanted, and were overly expensive about it. I discovered too late there was another bookshop nearby. I tried Myer for replacement shorts without any luck, and also gave up on David Jones. Caught the free bus back to the hotel.

Saw Melbourne bookseller Justin in the lobby, chatting with Sue Ann.

Swancon Opening Ceremony

The international guest was Justina Robson, a British SF author whose work I had not noticed despite her nomination for Clarke, Philip K Dick John W Campbell and BSFA awards. Editor Ellen Datlow was another international guest, making a welcome return to Swancon.

Fan guest was Sarah Xu, from Brisbane. She certainly seemed visible throughout the convention. Author Sean Williams was another Australian guest. It is always good to see Sean again, and note how his career is progressing.

I was seated in the audience next to Eric Ripper, leader of the Opposition. The West Australian Labor Party had an advertisement supporting Swancon, showing Eric Ripper with an E-Reader, with Iain M Banks's Surface Detail. He was very obviously a happy reader of hard science fiction, especially speculation on future humans.

I was amused to note Eric pass along the little chemical glow sticks (cheap at discount stores) that were being handed out at the ceremony. Most of us promptly activated them, and played at being Jedi Knights (to the extent that was possible with a 15 cm glow stick), or made halos or earpieces. Eric sensibly did not want a photograph of that appearing.

Had a very pleasant chat with him after the opening about the blackouts consequent upon the gas pipeline supply problems in West Australia a few years back. He was Energy Minister at that time, and obviously had a lively appreciation of the problems. He told me only 45% of the public wanted him sacked, which I feel is pretty good considering the alternative. We had been chatting about Townsville cyclone issues, when he heard that was where I was from (I did not want him to think he was wasting his time with a voter not from WA).

Swancon Evening

Eric Ripper opened the Swancon Future Imperfect Art Show, and spent a fair amount of time wandering around checking out the various paintings both before and after. Apart from some very well done art, there were some humorous pieces that I didn't properly appreciate until I found my reading glasses and read the titles.

Future Australia imagined how lives will be lived down under, with scheduled panelists Sean Williams, Simon Brown, Justina Robson, and David Cake, moderated by Karen McKenna.

There were fireworks. Several of us were in the bar having a G&T when we heard what seemed to be thunder. I even checked the weather radar on my iPhone, in case some were scheduled to be drenched on the way back to their hotels. No sign of rain. When I returned to our seventh floor room, Jean pointed out the window at the fireworks at midnight. I am still not sure what the reason was, but will take any fireworks I can get.

Swancon Convention Showbag

I have the impression that the reasonably impressive Swancon 36 program book was put together fairly late, by last minute volunteers. As the convention continued, it became apparent that the program could be nominated for best work of fiction.

The Program Book contained a very nice selection of short contributiuons recalling the fifty year history of Australian Science Fiction. It was great to see some of this early material reprinted.

I did not like the Swancon convention badge. I looked at it closely because the personal laminator Swancon was using had failed very early. Obvious solution for most conventions is to laminate all the badges they can before people arrive. However I imagine this fell foul to the usual shortages of volunteers. In any case, while I was in the hotel room, ironing my badge with the iron conveniently supplied by the Hyatt, I looked at it. When not burning my fingers.

Swancon name badge. Dark ink on a darkish blue background, with the name far smaller than other text. The usual rule of thumb is make the name (especially the first name) large. The other rule is make the ink contrast well with the badge colour. The other, other rule is to put the name on both sides of the badge, so whatever way around the badge is, you can read it. These rules have been around for a long time.

The showbag came from Voyager, who have heavily supported Australian fan events over the years. A number of books were in the showbag. We had weight limits (and the books were not to our normal taste), so we read a few and put them on the free book pile.

City of Rockingham Short Fiction Awards 2011 entry form, which appears to be in conjunction with a publication, the Australian Writer's Marketplace.

Conquilt Auction 10 June 2011, celebrating Aussiecon 4 in Melbourne in 2010, the 68th World Science Fiction Convention, signed by many authors, illustrators publishers and editors. Fundraiser for Continuum.

Airbrush Tattoos WA, generally at the Freemantle Markets weekends, had a both in the Dealer's Room. That seemed a little different. I have no idea whether any masquerade entrants made use of them.

Friday 22 April 2011


I awoke early, despite the partying last night. Did not get much done however, apart from breakfast cereal from leftovers in our food box. Jean reports that she has totally wrecked her back, probably either from all the car travel before arriving here, or walking long distances while carrying things. She will probably be even less visible than usual during the Swancon convention.

We have too much stuff to carry back home with us, so the discarding starts now.

Swancon Morning

I was a little late to Disability and Social Media at 9:30 a.m. with Mike Kent. He was very well prepared, Certainly knew what he was talking about, and gave a great presentation of some of the (many) issues. Covered Apple iTunes, Facebook being better now than formerly, Zenga Farmville being basically evil mouse. MySpace unavailable. Twitter has access problems. There are Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG). Issues with Safari on iPad Viewpoint vs Window paradigm. For further reference, see Disability and New Media by Kattie Ellis and Mike Kent, from Routledge.

The Murdoch University SF Foundation brought Van Ikin, Grant Stone, Bill Wright and Chris Creagh together. There was some issue with getting a room with a projector. Grant Stone collected a magnificent range of science fiction and fan material, including Dr Leigh Edmonds collection, much of John Bangsund's collection, plus early Swancon material. They are seeking donations and help, and are tax deductible.

Australian Science Fiction Distributed Archive Project (ASFDAP) had Anna Hepworth, Elaine Kemp, Elaine Walker, Bill Wright representing Meteor, and Chris Creagh. This was about the material in collections, like that in Grant Stone's collection in the Murdoch University Library basement. The idea is to end up with a Wiki containing indexes and additional material.

I rushed off prior to midday to collect a Subway for Jean, for lunch. Luckily we could use computers to get a map and a list of nearby Subway. It ended up a two kilometre walk by the time I returned with food.

Swancon Afternoon

I wanted to see SF and the Social Network with Alan Baxter, Cathy Cupitt, PRK. This covered Twitter, Facebook, and others.

I seemed to spend a lot of time wandering around during the afternoon.

I did catch Sean Williams and Simon Brown in discussion around five.

Swancon Evening

I stuck my nose in the auction from time to time. However I was unwilling to sit at the front reading an eBook, as Justin would have managed to grab my iPad and auction it.

I gave up at 10:30 p.m. I actually felt conventioned out already, only a day and a half into the convention.

Saturday 23 April 2011

I Hate Mornings in the City

I went out early and bought milk and tonic water at the local twenty four hour convenience store. Plus a copy of the Weekend Australia. I spend (wasted) a fair hunk of the morning reading that.

Swancon Morning

The panels that did not repel me this morning were all in the writer's stream (and I am not a writer, and very much doubt I will ever even attempt to become one). However they seemed to have an interesting stream.

Print on Demand, future or dead end, with Simon Hayes and Stefen Brazil, covered Lulu, self publishing. Simon did very well in publicising his work via POD.

Chanced upon Steve Gunnell, not seen him for decades.

Nobody cares about your dinner, get interesting or GTFO. That scheduled Tansy Raynor, Jonathoan Strawn, Joanne Anderton.

The mid list crisis and the cult of celebrity authors. Ellen Datlow, Justina Robson, Kirstyn McDermott

Walked once again to the Subway and also the BWS. This made the walk well over two kilometres.

Swancon Afternoon

Filthy lucre: writers and money. Naturally enough Ian Nichols presented this.

Talk with Steve Gunnell, not seen or heard from in years.

G&T for three.

Gary Hoff talked on collections of tickets. He should contact some of the people like Allen in ANZAPA about ticket collecting. Meanwhile, I think myself lucky that my decades of collecting (or at least accumulating) stuff is starting to fade.

Swancon evening

There was masquerade in the gaming room. Some spectacular older style costumes. I think I wore my 49 LED flashing badge as a concession to the event. Much of the activity was next door, in the Ballroom, where Sean Williams and David Cake were doing their DJ work. As I can not tolerate noise (in which category I classify almost all music) I soon left for areas out of hearing range.

I did chat with Anne and Don, when out of range of the music. Jean bought books sometime during the events.

Book of Easter Holiday

David Weber The Mighty Fortress.

Sunday 24 April 2011

Swancon Morning

I attempted to locate the panel on the Murdoch SF Collection, despite being mostly convinced it had already been presented. The list of changed panel items did not mention it (despite many changes). About another seven people also tried to find this panel. Several expressed disappointment at having missed the previous presentations on other days.

This time when I walked to Subway I also bought extra chocolate cookies.

Swancon Afternoon

I watched Sean Williams being interviewed by Jonathan Strahan.

G&T at four

There was a Ticonderoga Publications party in the bar at five. I could not hear a word being said (I think a musician was all set up by the hotel and performing across the other side). I believe they launched three collections and anthologies.

Swancon Evening

Orbit Gollancz had a cocktail party in the ballroom.

This was followed by the Ditmar Award ceremony, along with the Swancon Tin Ducks awards.

The Ditmar Awards produced some controversy regarding many awards to one small press publisher, according to these Ditmar Award comments. Amongst much else, it points out voter participation is low (I did not vote, and did not know of most of the entries, so I could not have made an informed vote).

The Norma K Hemming Award was won by A A Bell. The Chandler Award and this year was won by Paul Collins.

Robin and Alysia in 705 took wine

Room party until 3:30 a.m. Crotchless Burka horrible drink shave tongue

Monday 25 April 2011

Swancon Morning

I bought lunch stuff such as more bread, milk and tonic water when I went to the convenience store. That let us make a lunch and a dinner today, when I expected most shops to be closed.

I no longer have any interest in Natcon business sessions. This one was scheduled to last for hours. I did intend to attend the fan fund panel, but do not think I got there at all, let alone in time.

Swancon Afternoon and Close

Censorship and internet freedom @bookbuster Law reform Commission reviewing of all related censorship laws.

Defining fandom seems the usual exercise in futility, but I believe panellists Sarah Xu and Rachel Holkner made a brave attempt at it.

The Swancon 36 closing ceremony started at four, with Danny Oz doing the honours. It seemed a microcosm of the con, since many people were again introduced (so they could be thanked). There was even a mini-auction. I saw Justin sticking his eyes above the curtains at the back of the place. He must have been busy ensuring the dealer's room was cleared.

Post Swancon

I had Roman and Craig from Adelaide up for a last gin and tonic before we considered the convention ended. Gave Roman our last bottle of red wine to take to the dead dog party.

The dead dog party was at David Cake's home. According to Google Maps, it was just off a bus route, about 8 kilometres away. I believe Roman and Craig attended.

We had a very quiet evening, making a meal of the left over items in the food box.

Tuesday 26 April 2011

Leaving Perth

I sent much of the morning taking trip notes on our last day in Perth. The thought of doing more tourist things just did not appeal at all. That was a bit of a pity as the weather looked beautiful. I made sure all my iDevices were fully charged for the trip back to Townsville, and that the MacBook Air was also fully charged. We will be travelling way too many hours without much pause. No fancy airline business lounge this time either. Last thing was paying the expensive Hyatt Hotel bill.

Taxi to the airport through the almost deserted streets of Perth (it was a holiday), so we arrived early. For the first time, we found the machines printed your luggage tags as well as the usual boarding passes. You then interacted with another machine (which scanned your luggage tags) when you out your bags on the conveyor belt feed. What happened to the shortage of staff at airports? It was just mechanised away, and made part of the work customers do. Service is just another dirty word.

After about an hour in the Perth airport lounge, we boarded Qantas Flight 598 from Perth to Brisbane a little after midday. A bit over four hours, during which they fed us well. Even gave us economy passengers in the back of the plane wine in a glass bottle. I was amused to see the bottle of red was labelled Airlie. In the fading light (we cross two time zones) we could see some of Lake Ayre filling with water.

Book of the Flight

Marianne de Pierres Transformation Space.


We got back to Townsville airport around ten at night. Our luggage was off the plane pretty early (thanks to being last on). No problem getting a taxi, as we had hardly joined the queue when another few arrived.

Our UPS for the internet router would not switch on. Probably a dead battery, but sometimes these recharge and start working again.

Magazine of the Evening

Analog May 2011.

Wednesday 27 April 2011

Carlyle Gardens

I started collecting email at 5:30 a.m., after transferring altered files from my portable computer to the Mac mini. 346 items of email. Ouch! I also emptied the mail box. Apart from business mail, ANZAPA and FLAP, another several hundred pages on which to comment. No stand alone fanzines.

I did a load of laundry, in an almost futile attempt to reduce the piles of stuff accumulated in the laundry. Not good drying weather.

Went off to Willows to get Jean milk for her tea. I managed to get some vegetables, but neither of us were tracking well enough to think of adding tomatoes (for instance) to the list. So there will need to be a proper shopping expedition tomorrow.

At Reception, Leigh told me LendLease had found them an enthusiastic young expert on the optical fibre distribution system. I hope this means the system will be repaired. Jo-ann didn't have my package, but said my neighbours had been collecting parcels. When I reached Jean's place, I heard her and Duncan talking out the back patio. Duncan had brought over about a half dozen large parcels, including the one I had been awaiting. The three large packages of garden ornaments were among them.

Last Typewriter Factory Closes

Last Typewriter Factory Closes, or so says the U.K. Daily Mail reporting the Mumbai typewriter factory of Godrej and Boyce had closed. I suspect they got it from this Business Standard story on typewriters about to become a page in history, published a week or so prior.

Luckily, it is not true. You can still buy transparent typewriters for prisons. Plus Brother still makes a half dozen electronic typewriter models.

Tracking Locations

A lot of fuss about Apple tracking location data. This is actually a cache for the Core Location service used by the assisted GPS system. Basically a downloaded (not uploaded) file of nearby (for large values of nearby) cell phone towers and WiFi access points is cached in your iDevice, and transferred (as a plaintext SQLite file) to your computer when you sync your iPhone. This is no big deal (your cellular operator tracks cell tower contacts for billing, amongst other things) unless someone else has access to your computer.

If someone has access to your computer, they can loosely track where you have been. iPhone Tracker by Alasdair Allan and Pete Warden makes an open source tracking application available. It decomposes the file and displays results on an OpenStreetMap based display. They also explain exactly how you can extract the same information more manually with readily available tools.

When I tried this on the file from my iPad, the tracking points listed were generally reasonable, but not spectacularly accurate for country Australia. They covered Airlie Beach and Townsville (but included Proserpine). In West Australia, Margaret River and Albany were totally missed, but it did get Esperance and some inland areas. This inaccuracy could relate to a fairly poor initial database for actual WiFi locations in regional Australia. More likely, I probably did not use a location based service while in some areas. It was sort of interesting to see the map. However I regularly use far better ones to check and map my location. For that matter, the EXIF location information in photographs is more accurate.

I imagine Apple will use anonymised data from phones to crowd-source a more accurate geographical database. Apple will then sell anonymously geotargeted consumers to more marketers, perhaps not just those using iAds. The advertising you can not avoid will be more relevant. However remember Apple mostly make money selling hardware to consumers. Google make all their money selling consumer eyeballs to advertising marketers. If uncertain about how this works, watch Minority Report.

If you want to be anonymous, don't use a phone or computer. Remember that one major reason phones are able to locate you is your government passed a law requiring that a cell phone be able to be located (for emergency services).

Thursday 28 April 2011

Retail Therapy

I was up real early starting a load of washing, from the many that have accumulated on the laundry floor from our travel (and from the continuous rain prior to leaving). The idiotic slow ecologically sound washer I now loath finally completed the wash two hours later, so Jean and I could hang the clothes up under cover on her back porch at 7:30 a.m.

Jean needed to be at the chiropractor before eight, to recover from the Swancon trip. I borrowed her car and collected heart tablets at the discount chemist further along. Using the discount chemist is half the price of buying via the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme.

Back at Willows, I collected a copy of The Australian, and got some raisin toast for breakfast. When the T-Life store opened I bought a one month micro SIM for Telstra 3G data for my new Apple iPad 2. Looked for shorts in Lowes. Finally found some, in cotton, with five pockets, and not some outlandish design. They had a bit of a range gap between size 82 and size 112. Back to the drawing board.

JB HiFi did not seem to have Wake in Fright. However I finally checked the children's section, and found they had Disney's Fantasia … at A$38. For a 70 year old animation? I don't think so.

Jean arrived at 9:30, after I had collected a few of the bits of shopping she had listed. She did the food shopping, as she is far more interested in food than I am. Indeed, I did not even go to lunch today.

Nanny State

We collected three dozen eggs from the farm store in the afternoon. They rejected our egg cartons. Government has told them they can not reuse egg cartons. We have been recycling egg cartons for the past two years. Now a nanny state government tells us that is not allowed. Meanwhile, the farm advises eggs will got up to $3 a dozen next week. I think the government should get their nose out of private dealings between adults. Just what is the health risk in reusing an egg carton? Eggs get cooked before use. I often wish the Queensland state government would just disappear.

Friday 29 April 2011


I was up late. Jean had started the first of two final loads of laundry, since we had good weather. We sat in the living room each reading stuff on our iPads. I think these iPads will get used even more in future.

Geoff phoned me about the Carlton Theatre, so I had a meeting with him and Margaret after lunch. Present at lunch apart from the three of us were Dot, Sue, Pat, Ray and John. I even had nice weather for the walk over and back.

Happy Hour tonight at the bar. Caught up with a whole heap of people I have not seen for a month. Some had even noticed I was away for a while.

Royal Wedding

So someone provided us an invitation to the Royal Wedding. Watch it on the Big Screen at the Carlton Theatre (bring a plate for supper). We are doing a whole heap better than The Chaser team did. It turned out that the wedding TV show idea was from Leigh and (mostly) Jo-ann. A subset of the Social Club seemed to be making all the furniture arrangements. The number of tiaras ($5 at Overflow) was astounding.

Let me get this right. They are having a wedding. The British taxpayer is paying for all that security. However the public mostly do not get invited in. Get away and organise a street party. Maybe there is hope for a republic after all. In Britain!

iPhone Applications

Downloaded Pixamid, a Facebook oriented iPhone photo upload application that is socially and location aware. I suspect this is a better service model than Color will be, however I have no idea what their business model is as yet. Maybe sell their Pixamid iApp, instead of making it available free?

Bought the rather new Schelandars scheduling calendar from Jung Labs, as a compromise GTD application. It has a lot of features. It even includes a Gantt chart. The Korean author even provided an English Users Guide. We shall see if Schelandars works for me.

Book of the Day

Richard Harland's Liberator.

Saturday 30 April 2011


Off to Willows to collect the newspapers. I could not see the Financial Review, so I asked. They had still not untied the small bundle of it that was behind the counter. Jean phoned me from BigW, where she had found men's dress shorts. Alas, the design was wrong in many particulars. No second back pocket, no buttons on them, poor fob pocket design. We also tried Lowes, who still had exactly the right design, in their Farah Gold range, but only in sizes way too small or way too large. Jean only managed two walks around Willows before declaring exercise honours had been done. I took advantage of the shopping to get myself a loaf of raisin bread. All the alternatives were worse.

Rest of the Day

I must have wasted most of the day reading the weekend newspapers. Bad news on the doorstep.

Solar Panel Outputs

The solar power inverter shows it has produced 1241 kWh to date, and operated for 3806 hours. The solar power output figures last month (March) showed it generated 1128 kWh in 3468 hours of operation. So the total hours operating in the 30 days of April 2011 were 338 hours, during which it generated 113 kWh. About 3.1 kWh per day, or 334 Watts per operating hour. Remember, this is a nominal 1 kW panel, pointing east, operating in the tropics.

Meanwhile, the new electronic meter in the outside meter box is showing I imported 1412 kWh (previous 1335) on E1, exported 403 kWh (previous 320) on E1/E2, and imported 1781 kWh on E2 (previous 1711). So we used 77 kWh on E1, exported 83 kWh, and used 70 kWh on E2 in April.

The reason for the low use and high export in April is that we were absent from 4 to 27 April. The only things running while we were away was the main fridge, and a very small amount of security hardware.

Eric Lindsay's Blog April 2011