Wednesday, May 04, 2016

Perth Day 4

I think we had to at the rendezvous point at 7.30 for our trip to Margaret River. For so many years R has banged on about seeing Margaret River and I could not let him down. We booked a coach tour with the dominant tour company in Perth. We did not arrive back to our digs until 10pm, tired, but pleased we made the trip. Our accommodation on the edge of the city was across this freeway from the city. How many times did we walk across this pedestrain/cycle bridge, I would hate to count.

Our rendezvous point was at the Rendezvous Studio Hotel. A dog owner arrived to pick up his daily paper. We were picked up by a mini bus and transferred to the rear of the Perth Convention and Exhibition Centre where we boarded a proper coach for our trip. I can't imagine why we were only two of eight on the coach. No matter where we went, anyone who dealt with us told us how lucky we were to not being two among forty people, forty being the norm. The last time I heard this stated I think I smelt a rat. Still, at around $200 per head, 200 x 8 = $1600, I am sure the tour company covered costs. If the norm is 40 people, that is $8,000, but as I said, I am sceptical about this. Nevertheless, the tour was very good. The coach had usb ports for charging things, which should be standard and perhaps is. Our driver, Peter, was terrific with his commentary and his driving skills.

In the middle of the freeway ran the train to Mandurah. There were many trains and our coach driver told us that it is 6 minute train service inbound for the morning peak. We paced an outbound train for a time, with our coach travelling at 110 km/hr and the train was getting away from us until it had to slow down for as station. By Japanese and Euro standards, no big deal, but not bad for Australia. No Melburnian who has a reasonable knowledge of public transport can understand how the Mandurah train line could have built so cheaply, when it costs so much more here to build a rail line. For most of its journey, it runs down the middle of a freeway. If we must build freeways to the gods, the motor car, then always a rail line should be built in the middle.

Western Australia had a terrible bush fire late last year that devastated the small township of Yarloop. The town has gone and it is unlikely to be rebuilt. For some kilometres we passed by burnt trees and landscapes.

We arrived at Busselton, famous for once having the longest timber pier in the southern hemisphere. Alas, it is now concrete but still very long at 2 km, 1.2 miles.

I did not expect the beachside to be quite so beautiful. It really was a delight.

The jetty stretches out so far because the water is very shallow.

A slow train runs out onto the jetty and it was very full.

I don't know what this spinning thing is. Decorative?

Nicely decorated rubbish bins with scenes of the old timber pier.

We had time for coffee and the back onto the coach for our lunch at Bootleg Brewery. There was quite a bit of fuel reduction burning in the forests. This is what my niece and nephew do over summer months into autumn. The smoke became quite thick at times and permeated the coach, leading one person to have a coughing fit.

A little humour at the entrance to Bootleg Brewery.

Here I will go with the former motor mechanic nerdy persona. Most buses and coaches now have automatic gears that seem to work like an automatic car. This Volvo bus had automatic gears, but unlike anything I have experienced. I can best describe it as the gears were changed by an invisible person. You could feel the clutch depressed, the gear changed, and then the clutch let in and the bus then took up power. Yet, it was all done automatically. It was quite weird. It was very obvious when the bus was turning a corner and the gears changed, not a gear change a driver would make half way around a corner.

It was a pretty location for lunch.

Pointless looking at all the brewing equipment as I would not know what did what.

We stopped for some wine tasting at Sandalford Winery and then journeyed on to Mammoth Caves. Many bones from the post dinosaur period (giant fauna?) were found inside the cave, victims of an opening in the roof of the cave.

A pinkish hue to these eucalyptus tree trunks.

I think I kept referring to it as Point, but it is Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse at the most south westerly point of Australia.

Lads fishing. We stopped for a break at the town of Margaret River for a very expensive cup of tea in a super trendy cafe. Margaret River itself was little more than a dry watercourse for much of its length.

I wasn't feeling too well, but still managed to enjoy my dinner back in Busselton. After we journeyed on we had to divert from the freeway because of a car accident. Using my phone map apps, I gave the driver with some navigation help as he did not know where alternative roads were. That added 15 minutes to the journey home and one of our fellow passengers was staying in Perth's Northbridge (nightlife) area and we became firmly stuck in Friday night traffic there and in the city. I was still not feeling well and did some googling to find a doctor who was working on Saturday morning. I found one and booked an appointment using the online system. Finally we were back and decided take things a little easier on Saturday.

Tuesday, May 03, 2016

Federal Budget

The headline in the then Sun newspaper said smokes to rise by 2 cents. 'Dad, can I have two dollars to buy up and beat the price rise?' 'No.' The price of a packet of Park Drive cigarettes rose from 39 cents to 41 cents and I think at the same time a box of matches rose from 2 cents to 3 cents. There was outrage about the matches. Some things in Federal Budgets never change, although I doubt the now Herald Sun will splashing ciggies to go up on their front page in 2016.

Apparently Australia runs a budget deficit. What? We spend more than we earn? That is not right. (the less disingenuous me knows that our budget deficit is very small compared to most countries and no big deal). How will we pay off the deficit?  From taxes of course. So the government increased taxes to pay off the deficit? No, it cut taxes for the rich and small to medium size businesses. When I think of small business, I think of privately owned cafes and the local green grocer. The Liberal Party, conservatives, class very large businesses as small business, so sorry cafe owner and fruit and vegetable person, you are getting nothing.

I am close but I won't benefit from the personal income tax cuts and it seems a figure of around 4/5ths plus of the working population won't.

There may be some more of interest in the detail tomorrow once the journalists have had time to analyse but it was a budget that did not create excitement or distress, and that was perhaps how it was meant to be.

Perth Day 3

I can't recall if Grace and P arrived at 9 or 10 to pick us up. We drove up to Kings Park and took a walk. While we had been there the evening before, we did not venture too far into the park. Of course this morning we left the car and took a stroll.

The Swan Brewery has not been a brewery for a very long time. The buildings date back to 1879. It is now a mix of apartments and restaurants. Across the road is a carpark, once horse stables that burnt down. The brewery's redevelopment was contentious with the local natives at the time, however, it was built on land re-claimed from the river.

A huge double bunger Boab tree in Kings Park. I subsequently learnt it is not a well tree, possibly because it is suited to a very dry climate and it had taken up too much water in the wetter Perth climate and split.

Never mind, trees grow again quickly enough.......but they take a long time to form hollows for birds to nest in, as this lorikeet nesting in the Boab will attest.

Isn't this a nice design for a park. S'cuse the shoe.

I am a little disoriented by this photo. The buildings across the river might be east of the city with the Perth Hills in behind.

We all admired this tree and Grace's subsequent investigation revealed it is a native, a Western Australian Peppermint tree, flowering for five months a year.

This poor photo is Maylands Station. We left Kings Park and drove inland to the Swan Valley. We stopped for excellent coffee at Chapels on Whatley. It was an interesting cafe in an area with many trendy cafes.

I passed the camera over to R to take a snap of the giraffes through the car window. He did not do a fine job.

I forget where this place was, but it is quite impressive.

Our destination was Sitella Winery, for lunch. I had never heard the name Sitella before and I did not know it was the name of a bird. There were no Sitellas at Sitella, perhaps because the land had been cleared where the winery now is?

Yes, the obligatory gift shop. We had a little wine tasting, at about 11.30 am. Our hostess behind the counter was loquacious, bright, cheery, voluble and expansive. It could perhaps have been because she was also doing a little wine tasting with us, and perhaps with previous wine tasters. But then again, she may be just like that normally. She was fun.

A set lunch menu was available for $40, which sounded a lot to me, but then I realised the price was for three courses, including a glass of wine and if you ordered a la carte, it would cost a lot more.

Our food was delicious, the chat flowed and we were very satisfied. I don't normally take photos of food, and perhaps it is just as well as I have no recollection of what I ate.

With a clinking bag of two bottles of wine, Grace and P dropped us back in town, opposite the Perth railway station and the nearby Forrest Place.

This fountain was much more guesswork than the one in Budapest where the water jets dropped away just before you walked through them. There were some wet kiddies, but it was a warm day.

I think we were in the Murray Street Mall when we spied an old friend of ours and Grace, the French busker known as Will Street. He is looking a little older, but still, he ain't half hot. An older Asian man, dressed like a Chinese mainlander tourist, slipped Will a $100 note. I guess if I wanted Will slip me a little something, I would have slip him $400+.

Having had large lunch, we decided on a shared platter near to our digs at The Terrace in St Georges Terrace. We felt a little uncomfortable with the high end service and spending only $27 on our shared meal, but we shouldn't have. Err, plus a glass of wine each. We actually found the service annoyingly cloying, as we experienced in New York. Never mind, the platter was very nice.

What are we doing tomorrow? I can't remember.