Monday, August 31, 2009

London Bridge: Uncle Harry’s Revenge!

London bridge is...
This image (Circa 1988) is from Panoramio by atiiota
Falling down…
“Enough of the kid stuff!”

Uncle Harry…

“No son, the blokes reading this blog thing of yours are adults, not a mob of screeching galahs.”

I’m not treating them like galahs…

“Don’t come the raw prawn with me.”

Are you quite finished?

“Only for the moment.”

Right then, I’ll go on.

The coast here is being continually carved by wind and wave. London Bridge lies eastward of Martyrs Bay. Until 1990 it was a double arched formation, when the landward arch collapsed, two unlucky (or perhaps lucky) walkers had to be rescued by helicopter.
Nearby this set of stairs…
leads down to the Grotto.
Back in the car we drove on, stopping in Port Campbell for lunch.

The next place we stopped was at Loch Ard Gorge. This area is named for the clipper ship the Loch Ard which was wrecked here in 1878. There are a number of fascinating sights here.
First we walked along to the Blowhole.
The cave in the picture is the mouth of a tunnel that leads to the ocean about 200 metres away. The spray is from a wave that has come all the way through the tunnel before hitting the wall.
To give some idea of scale, it is about 20-25 metres down to the surface of the water.

Also at the Loch Ard Gorge is Thunder Cave seen here looking into the mouth of the cave.
And from the cave mouth out to sea.
Above the cliffs is the Loch Ard cemetery. Of the 54 people on board when the Loch Ard was wrecked 52 perished. Only four bodies were recovered, they are buried here at the cemetery.
This grave contains the remains of two members of the Carmichael family, the bodies of five more were never found. An eighth member of the family Eva Carmichael, was one of the two survivors of the wreck.

Our final port of call on our way along the Great Ocean Road was The Twelve Apostles. Originally called the “Sow and Piglets” they were renamed in a brilliant piece of marketing back in the 1950s. They must be one of the most popular tourist attractions in Victoria, if not Australia. It has never been possible to see 12 stacks from one place at the Apostles and it is getting harder, the boulders in the front are the remains of stacks that have collapsed from erosion in the past few years.
The height of the cliffs can be judged by how small the people look at the top of this lookout near the Apostles (click on the picture and you'll see what I mean).

By the time we had reached here it was getting late and we elected to head straight for home, bypassing places like Cape Otway (so at some point I foresee another trip down the Great Ocean Road).

We stopped for fuel at Apollo Bay which is really beautiful, although nowhere near as rugged as further west.
Now what do you think Uncle Harry, are you happy now?

Uncle Harry?

Sunday, August 30, 2009

An Award: or Go Away Uncle Harry!

A really quick post to first of all to thank Heather at Gofita’s Pages
for this great award and to nominate some other bloggers.

“BUT you said you were going to show some more of my slides and…”

Uncle Harry shush…


Uncle Harry please!

“But if you don’t do as you said, your mates won’t think you’re fair dinkum.”

Uncle Harry, I am dinkum, but I have to do this first.


For a figment of my imagination you are very rude.

“How do they know you aren’t a figment of MY imagination?”

With you around they are going wonder, NOW GO AWAY.

Anyway, now we are done with interruptions, this award was started by Bookin With BINGO and here are the rules –

This "B-I-N-G-O" Beautiful Blog Award means that this blog is:

B: Beautiful- Rachel at Parajunkee’s View
I: Informative- Tasha at Heidenkind's Hideaway
N: Neighborly- Amanda at The Life and Times of a New New Yorker
G: Gorgeous- Aelisium at The Reckless reader
O: Outstanding- Anne at Suspense by Anne

Next: I will try to keep Uncle Harry happy.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Bay of Islands and Martyr's Bay (Or Uncle Harry rides again)

Deb and I slept in at Warnambool, after all it was the weekend and sleeping in is not something I often get to do in my line of work. It was after 10:00 before we were properly on the road again.

From Warnambool it is about 10 km back toward Melbourne before you reach the western end of the Great Ocean Road. The first section of road runs through very lush (by Australian standards) countryside, mainly dairy farms. For this first section you have no glimpse of the coast. Then suddenly as you come around a corner you catch sight of the ocean framed by a bay of very rugged cliffs.A little further and the road reaches the coast at the Bay of Islands. Words are not sufficient to describe the beauty of this spot. Even photographs only give a hint. The coastline here is sheer limestone cliffs carved into surreal shapes by the weather off the Southern Ocean, south of this coast there is nothing but waves all the way to Antarctica.
We spent some time here walking along paths that led to various lookouts. There was a strong wind blowing, so strong it was hard to hold the camera steady enough. With the wind clouds flitted across the sky continually changing the light and the colours of the ocean and the land.
The bay is filled with limestone stacks and islets of varying sizes and shapes, all shaped and tormented by the sea and wind.
The ocean batters, cuts and undercuts the soft stone.
This stack is so undermined it looks as if it is ready to topple.
This stack has an arch cut through its base.

Despite the rugged terrain this is apparently a reasonably popular launching place. This very steep boat ramp virtually runs down the cliff to the bay. There were obviously no boats out today but judging by the size of the car park it must get busy here sometimes.
I followed the ramp to the bottom and took a few photos looking up at the cliffs.

Back in the car, a few minutes drive east you arrive at Martyrs Bay. How the bay was given its name is not documented, but the local folklore is that in pioneering days the men from the local aboriginal tribe were murdered by being driven over the cliffs near here. There are local legends of this sort in many places around the Australia. Unfortunately, given the nature of European settlement and documented massacres in other areas, it seems likely some of these stories are true.
Despite a possibly bloody history this is also a spectacularly beautiful spot, the contrasting colours of the water, limestone and sky taking my breath away.

The wind continued to blow a gale causing the ocean to get rougher and rougher, although the day was still gloriously sunny.
Once again Uncle Harry has reached the end of his tether and will have to sign off to the evening.

Meanwhile Al needs to get back to editing his manuscript:

Next: A nursery rhyme and a few dark and mysterious caverns.

A taste:

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Warnambool (or Uncle Harry's slide night.)

Well I haven’t posted for a few days. My excuse is that I have been off gallivanting. Deb and I enjoyed our run down to the Great Ocean Road the weekend before last, so much that we decided to have a look at the section we didn’t see.

Being almost entirely selfish we left the sprogs at home to fend for themselves and took off mid morning on Saturday.

I have to admit I went totally nuts with the camera and have come back with around 500 photos from about a day and a half. This kind of leaves me with a dilemma of how to share the experience. I suspect it is a little (or a lot) hard to even give a hint of the spectacular coastal scenery without taking a number of posts. The problem is I don’t want to end up with a blog that seems like Uncle Harry’s slide night.

To all those Uncle Harrys out there, no offence is intended and I am sure your slide nights are both educational and entertaining.

We cut across inland to just past the far end of the Great Ocean Road, to Warnambool about 290 km (180 miles) from home.
We took our time stopping along the way for lunch at Inverleigh. I photographed this pub there, Aussie bush pubs do not normally look like this. Built out of Victorian Bluestone and with a Welsh slate roof this is a type of building that was put up mainly from the 1850’s to 1890’s apart from the local stone I suspect it would look just as happy in a village somewhere in the UK.

As we pulled in to the outskirts of Warnambool I spied a flock of cockatoos on a patch of grass by the side of the road. Thinking they were Sulphur-crested Cockatoos I pulled over to get a photo. They were in fact Long-billed Corellas .

The ground was soft from rain the night before and they were digging clover and grass roots for food.

After checking into our accommodation and having a cuppa we went out to Logan’s Beach which is famed for whale watching. From a lookout up in the sand dunes we quickly spotted whales just off shore. In fact a mother and calf were just beyond the surf maybe 15 to 20 metres from the beach.I think from the tip of a nose they were Southern Right Whales.
They just mucked around just beyond the breakers for more than half an hour.
Eventually a very cold wind drove us away from the shore.

Well Uncle Harry has had a long day, so that is all for now.
I’ll just leave you with a hint of what I might talk about next time.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Another (not at all dread) Award

Carrie (alias Prettysiren) at the Prompt Romp has nominated me for an award, the Kreativ Blogger award. Two awards in two days how exciting!

Here are the rules for the award:

1. Thank the person who nominated you for this award.
Thank you most humbly Carrie - Check.

2. Copy the logo and place it on your blog.

- Check

3. Link to the person who nominated you for this award.
- Check

4. Name 7 things about yourself that people might find interesting. -Check (see below)

5. Nominate 7 Kreativ Bloggers. - Check (see below as well)

6. Post links to the 7 blogs you nominate. - Check (and again see below)

7. Leave a comment on each of the blogs letting them know they have been nominated.
- Check

Seven things people might find interesting about me.

1. I am in love with an amazing, talented, strong, and vulnerable woman with whom I have been married for almost 25 years.

2. I have three amazing daughters who are all much smarter than their dad.

3. I love old rocks, no really, I do: fossils, castles and cathedrals, ruins (especially Roman ones), a nice chunk of granite or marble, any rock really, just as long as it is old.

4. I am trying to get my first novel published while working on my second.

5. I manage a charitable service that helps people who are homeless.

6. One of my ancestors helped set fire to Washington D.C. in 1814

7. I can imagine writing a saga/series based on a heap of my ancestors including the fellow above. The only problem is no one would believe half their stories. What do they say about truth being stranger than fiction?

The seven people/blogs I have chosen to nominate for this creatively spelled award are:

Jemima at the Reading Journey.

Kathleen at A Writers Life

Wendy at A Life Twice Tasted

Corey at Shelf Monkey

Clare at Keeper of the Snails

Heidenkind's Hideaway

And lastly in a shameless display of nepotism

Deb and Shelagh at Here be Knitting

If any of the above people hate the whole concept of blog awards all I can say is: they made me do it.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

A Dread Award

Jemima at The Reading Journey has kindly given me an award called the Zombie Chicken Award!
Thank you Jemima.
The Details:
The blogger who receives this award believes in the Tao of the zombie chicken – excellence, grace and persistence in all situations, even in the midst of a zombie apocalypse. These amazing bloggers regularly produce content so remarkable that their readers would brave a raving pack of zombie chickens just to be able to read their inspiring words. As a recipient of this world-renowned award, you now have the task of passing it on to at least 5 other worthy bloggers. Do not risk the wrath of the zombie chickens by choosing unwisely or not choosing at all.

Quivering fear lest I incur the wrath of the zombie chickens, I would like to nominate the following dedicated bloggers.

Heather, at Gofita's Pages - a dedicated Zombie fan and thus deserving of this terror.

Rebecca, at Living a Life of Writing - a most prolific blogger with, I am sure, the stamina to endure this curse.

Amanda, at Life and Times of a "New" New Yorker - just turn Charlie on the foul beasts, I am sure he will protect you.

Carrie, at Prompt Romp - I am sure you will come up with an imaginative way of foiling the feathered fiends.

and finally

Lit and Life at her blog Lit and Life - I bet you never guessed what you would be letting yourself in for when you signed up as a follower at my blog.

Hope you enjoy the privilege of this award as much as I have and,
as we say here in Oz
May your chickens NOT turn into emus!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

A Heartfelt Thanks

A quick one tonight. A while ago I posted about a visiting editor from the UK having a look at my manuscript. Then I posted about her having really liked it. In the tail end of the second post there was a sentence about my other half Deb’s colleague hanging onto the MS so she could read it now her editor daughter had finished with it.
Well she read it.
She liked it.
… and she copyedited it for me.

Now the MS has been copyedited before, but we all know that if you go over a work again you will find more errors.
Now I have only had a chance to glance at what she has done, but It looks like Cheryl has gone over the MS with a fine tooth comb not only looking for punctuation etc, but also suggesting grammatical and structural improvements.
All this on her own initiative and entirely voluntarily.

In a lovely letter she has included with my returned manuscript, she absolutely minimises the amount of effort she has put into my work. She describes her hard work as “fun”.
As an ex-English teacher and literature enthusiast she may have found the job fun, but Cheryl, like my Deb, is an overworked senior-executive. Her generosity in taking the time to do this for me cannot be overstated. So from the bottom of my heart, thank you Cheryl.

Now to anyone who reads my blog I must apologise (in advance) if I don’t post quite as frequently in the near future. Because I expect over the next little while, I will be a bit busy going over my MS and making the most of Cheryl’s kindness.

Now to keep you busy, a photoCan anyone guess what this is?
Aussies, I know you’ll probably know, don’t spoil the fun!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Great Ocean Road

I’m whining again.
Sorry about that, but it must be a huge character flaw.
All of Saturday night it was blowing a gale.
Sunday it was still blowing a gale. I am sorry but I just have to grumble, I was housebound for a week with the dread ‘hamthrax” (I hadn’t heard the term used for swine-flu before yesterday). Now I was well enough to get out and about, but if I did it looked like I’d get blown away…literally.
Then suddenly the wind began to drop, a quick look out the window and we were off for a drive.

It was late in the day for starting a decent drive (about 1:00pm)
But Deb and I decided on a quick run down to the Great Ocean Road.
We shot down the Eastern Freeway in a few minutes and into city traffic on Alexandria Parade. Suddenly in a Sunday afternoon gridlock it didn’t seem like such a good idea to go the way we did.
I’m grumbling again aren’t I?

The jam only went for about six blocks and after 20 minutes we were through. Down past Melbourne Zoo, across Flemington Rd and turn onto Citylink, from there it is freeway to Geelong.
By 3:00 pm were not only out of the city, but here…
Anglesea 140km (about 90 miles) from home.
Unfortunately it was raining, so we sat in the car and ate fish and chips from the local chippy (a quick translation for any Americans in the audience, chips are like chunky French fries and a chippy is a shop that sells grease in various take-away forms. Take-away is take-out… now I am being stupid. I’ll save my translations for words like ocker, dinkum, or drongo.)

We decided to keep going but stopped as we climbed out of Anglesea to get a couple of photos.
The light wasn’t great but you get the idea, it’s a nice spot.
The Road is in the foreground of the above photo. It is by no means a "great road" but it runs along a beautiful coastline. It was built during the Great Depression as a means of keeping men in employment. Essentially it was built entirely using pick and shovel.

Just a little further along we stopped again to get some shots of the coast looking towards Split Point Lighthouse and Airey’s Inlet. We walked down to the beach across this bridge
and got this view.

Even as we watched more cloud came in from the west covering the lighthouse in rain.
Back in the car we kept going, past the Devils Elbow and to Lorne.
From Lorne you can look back up the coast to Split Point.
There was a nice (if short) rainbow out to sea.

We drove on for about ten minutes past Lorne before stopping again to get photos of the road coming around a headland near She Oak Creek.
At that point we decided we had come far enough. The day was drawing to an end and if we went further we would only miss the scenery in the dark.

The day had one more treat in store for us. Heading back towards Anglesea, we pulled over at the same place we took the first photos of Split Point.
The lighthouse was catching the last of the evening light.
Then minute by minute the light changed…
and again…
We stayed until the last colour had gone from the clouds
and then hit the road homeward bound.

Friday, August 14, 2009

A Monstrous Visitor and a Very Early Morning

At 2:30am this morning I was woken from a deep sleep by my other half. Half out of it, I was expecting to find that the house was burning down, or there was some medical emergency and leapt out of bed.
The cry for support was “There is a white-tailed spider out in the hall.”

Now Australia is very noted for bitey things like:

Saltwater Crocodiles:
The largest crocodile species in the world, salties account for a couple of fatalities each year in Oz.


Oz has something like 10 of the top 12 most venomous land snakes in the world, and many species are very common. We have a population of about one fourteenth that of the USA but have about the same number of snake bites per year (8 to 10 thousand). Due to good treatment we only have 1 or 2 fatalities each year.

Our funnel-web spider is legendarily dangerous, although since the development of an anti-venom in the 1980s there have been no fatalities.
The photos I have used in this post are all from the Wikimedia Commons, click to get a link.

So what about the beast I was summoned to do battle with?
A white-tailed spider, hardly worth mentioning in comparison to our other natural denizens.
Now to be fair these are not nice spiders. I use the term nice advisedly, I am one of those rare people who likes spiders and most species I will catch and move outside, for example huntsman spiders (not funnel-webs, in my opinion funnel-webs are too dangerous to mess with).

But white-tails are not nice, they are active spiders that hunt rather than catching their prey in a web. This means they frequently end up in clothes, or beds, or shoes and bites are common. In fact our number two daughter Io, was bitten by one in her bed when she was about 6. The bite caused a small ulcer on her ankle the size of a little finger nail. As a result I tend to get a bit vengeful in my approach to white-tails.

But was the level of risk worth being woken for at 2:30 am?
Besides what was a swine-flu afflicted woman doing wandering the halls at 2:30?
But maybe I am just a grumble-butt, shouldn’t a fellah leap to the defence of his family?
Even if it is just from a very small monster?