Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Another Australian Story

I think people often believe that Aleisha and I have issues with Australian views because we are New Zealanders. The truth is we have issues with Australian views because they are bloody retarded. Today yet another example of the often narrow minded view of many Australians was shown in a SMH article that you can read here.
A lot of this clearing is being done in outback NSW to make way for farmland, of course Australia is in the middle of a drought so all the farmers manage to do is remove any trace of top soil that they have left. I seriously hope that one day Australians will realise that not every resource needs to be exploited in the shortest time possible.
I wouldnt normally be so forthright with my views (as I'm sure you all know) but my horoscope said that I was tired of pussyfooting around, and that I should go right to the heart of the issue. We all know that only a fool would ignore their horoscope.

Tasmania – Part II

After coming to grips with the unique features of the Holden Commodore I made my way to the Walls of Jerusalem National Park. Even though I had managed to skip out of the conference early I still arrived at the park car cark a little late, 4pm actually. Lucky enough for me it got dark quite late in Tasmania, but it still meant that the first day of hiking was going to be a little rushed as I had ~7km to do. The great thing about this national park is that there are no roads in it, or even to it for that matter. You need to hike for an hour or so to get into the park which I hoped would keep the tourist numbers down, which in the end it did. After a cruel climb I reached that start of the valley and was rewarded with some spectacular views. The clouds started to turn ominously black and with the setting sun created some amazing light for photography. But with the apparent impending doom of a storm and ever reducing light I had to tear myself away from taking photos and make a dash for the campsite.
The next day was overcast, cold and drizzly, not exactly great weather for tramping or photography. I headed off into the “Walls” and then climbed Mt Jerusalem before returning to camp that afternoon.

The West Wall

Camp and a Bennetts wallaby

Me on top of Mt Jerusalem

The West Wall from Mt Jerusalem

Macro Landscape

Friday, February 23, 2007

Simons Holden Commodore Review

The Holden Commodore Executive (aka the shitbox)

When I went to pick up my ultra fuel efficient Hyundai Getz from Avis in Hobart I was informed that I had been "upgraded" to a Holden Commodore Executive. I figured I had been Holden bashing for quite a few years and maybe this would be a good chance to really test the great Australian car. In the end I put the car through 1400km of rough Tasmanian roads so I think that my review is sound. So here goes...
I headed north from Hobart to the Walls of Jerusalem (about 5 hrs drive) and was quite impressed by its handling of straight flat roads at 110 km/h. However, at the first corner things began to change. As it is an automatic there is absolutely no engine braking so I spent the whole trip riding the brakes as the bloody thing wouldn’t slow down when you take your foot off the accelerator. The problem was compounded by the fact that the gear box had, what was possibly the slowest gear shift possible. You would put your foot down, nothing happens, push it further and still nothing, push the bloody thing through the floor and finally it drops 3 gears, loses traction and the rear wheels start spinning. This became a real problem when I attempted a quick 3-point turn on a tight road. The change between drive and reverse took for ever, not to mention that the turning radius for this car is about the size of a Sydney suburb. I discovered that the slow gear change problem could be partially solved by engaging "power shift", I think a more suitable name for this would be "disengage suicidally slow gear change". It was about this time that the ABS brakes failed (after consulting the manual I was relieved to see that the normal breaks would still work) which may explain the metallic grinding sound that often came from the brakes. But Australians reading this will be saying, brakes, turning, what? Power is all that matters and so I will now address that. The engine is a 3.8L V6 producing 152 kW of gas guzzling power for the rear wheels. The problem is that that power doesnt get to the road as there is no traction control and due to the appalling gear box the tyres spend most of their time spinning. This was initially a good laugh but the novelty soon wears off on rough gravel roads. On the plus side the car was packed with all sorts of electronic wizardry that showed the average fuel consumption and how many km's until empty. On the last day I noticed that I had ~160 km left of gas so I figured I would wait before filling up, unfortunately I forgot that it was using the Australian number system so 20 km down the road I was warned that I had less than 50 km of fuel left. Finally lets look at styling, while it is better looking than a PT cruiser, even that is push. So to sum it up the car quickly became affectionately known during the trip as "the shitbox". So the next time I get offered an upgrade to a Holden Commodore I think I will pass on the offer and walk 1400km.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Tasmania - Part I

The main reason for going to Tasmania was to attend the IC07 conference which was being held in Hobart. I was very lucky to be nominated for a talk which I assumed would be in some small room that maybe 30 people would come to, I couldn't be further from the truth. When I arrived at the confernce I was informed that the talk could be 12 min long at the very most (practices had it at ~18 min) so I spent the next few days trying to cut down the talk. Just before leaving for Tasmania I had also discovered that the talk was being held in the main plenary hall (shown below). In the end the talk went well and I even managed to just squeeze it down to 12 min. Unfortunately my arch nemesis won the Stranks prize, but I have put that down to the fact that she has Gingervitis and the judges felt sorry for her. With the talk out of the way I quickly bailed on the conference and went exploring in Tasmania.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

New Zealand - Part II

So after visiting my relatives I joined Aleisha in Palmerston North for Rachels wedding. I had a bit of time to kill so I decided to check out the only tourist attraction of the area, the Te Apiti wind farm.

These turbines were bloody massive, each of the towers were 70m tall! I was using ND filters to reduce the amount of light and give a sense of motion for the blades but the filters were nasty ones from ebay so there is some weird color cast.

So then it was on to the main event, Rachels and Mikes wedding. It was a lovely day and an excellent venue.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Busy few weeks

Well I have now returned to Sydney after a busy couple of weeks. I was in NZ in early Feb to visit some relatives and for Rachel's wedding. After the wedding I flew to Tasmania for a conference and then took a few days off afterwards for a bit of tramping. I took a few photos and these will be put up over the next few weeks.
My Granny

The Kapiti Coast (using grad ND filters)

Swing art