Plodding Along

I’ve been noticeably silent the last few days, it’s been hectic for me, lots to do, or rather not enough to do but the days seemed to speed by nevertheless.

Tuesday
I finally got back into AFF (link somewhere on the right), having taken a month off to give myself a break and sort some things out. At least that’s what I’m telling myself.

Wednesday
We took a trip up to Brisbane to see the Matisse exhibition in GOMA. Naturally no trip up the Pacific Motorway is complete without stopping off at IKEA on the way, so we had lunch there and I tried the meatballs with mash, gravy and lingonberry sauce – very nice. We also stopped off at the German Club on the way home to renew our memberships for the year.

The Matisse exhibition turned out to be quite interesting, though my attention in art can be somewhat limited. Luckily they had QR Codes to scan at various points, which when combined with their free wifi allowed you to view short videos explain certain pieces. It certainly helped keep me focused, as there was a little too much text.

At the end of the exhibition was a small area to draw and basically create art as he did. Naturally the attempt I made was awful, while Sze Sze excelled, especially on the digital easels. An example of what she created is here.

Thursday
I had some things to do in Southport today, you know the drill. Went quite well, and I came home with a box of Mi Goreng… you can never have enough noodles.

Got my Medicare rebate from my last session with Dr Barling too, so I should be able to pay him next week, and managed to book a doctors appointment to sign myself up for another mental health plan (so I can get Medicare rebates) and get my eye looked at seeing as everyone thinks it’s a big deal. I can still see can’t I…

I was also watching when Australian cricketer Michael Clarke made his 300 runs and beat quite a few records, really cementing his place as a good captain.

Friday
If I could remember what happened on Friday I’d write about it here… but my memory is just shocking right now. Look out for a future update to this post.

Saturday
Took some photos at the seaway, but haven’t looked at any yet as I was too lazy and tired when I got home.

A number of home improvement type tasks went on, such as slinging a hose pipe over the roof to water the garden, or more easily water the front garden I should say. The garage door had a little fix but I have to now keep my eye on it a bit more… I really hope it doesn’t fall on the car!

And basically, that’s my week!

Happy New Year

Welcome to 2012!

I thought I’d wrap my New Years Eve and New Years Day entries into one, seeing as it all happened on New Years Eve, and nothings has changed on New Years Day.

Where to start? Well I guess yesterday evening was the start of the festivities. Yvonne and Ada were invited over for some drinks and nibbles and to see the 400+ photos of our outback holiday. At the same time as I was inviting them over, Adam stopped by, so we had a full table. Later, Peter and Leone would also show up.

The photo slideshow went reasonably well, and drinks and nibbles were good while catching up and sharing a few stories.

Eventually all but Peter and Leone left, and after some more drinks we headed up to Colin’s house for dinner and to see in the new year.

Earlier this afternoon I’d made a start on cataloguing Colin’s wine cellar with the same app I’d used on dads and my iPad’s. The app is called Vinoteka and despite a few bugs and limitations, I think it’s the best app out there for managing wines in multiple fridges and cellars. That being said, I’m hoping a major update with iCloud support among other things is around the corner.

So when we came round for dinner, I continued the process, and before midnight had managed to sort the whole cellar. Now all he has to do is remember to use it and he’ll have no troubles keeping it organised.

Dinner was nice, Peggy steamed a rather large fish, and made some chicken curry. Dad also made a curry, beef rendang, but added a few too many chillies so it burnt a few mouths. There was another Christmas pudding for dessert, and some sort of gelatinous mango concoction too.

Throughout the evening a few bottles were opened and consumed. Mainly red wines such as from Penfolds or d’Arenburg, but also some sparkling such as Vivant (my cheap choice that I reckon tastes a little like Veuve Cliquot) and the Champagne was Moët. A little closer to midnight I successfully saved a bottle of Grange from being prematurely drunk, so I hope I’m rewarded somehow for that at some stage.

As each hour passed more fireworks were spotted on TV, first in Auckland, next in Sydney and Melbourne and when Brisbane finally rolled around, they seemed to show more highlights of Sydney than Brisbane ‘live’.

Alas, all good parties have to come to an end and this one did. Out of the house at 1:00, in bed by 3:00. No hangover this morning either thanks to a preoccupation with cataloguing wines rather tan drinking them, a choice of Champagne that I didn’t like the taste of much (so didn’t drink a lot of it), and plenty of water before bed.

All that said, today has been exceptionally lazy. I was out of bed before lunchtime, only just, and then proceeded to watch TV… which was strange as FOX Classics was screening The Big Lebowski back-to-back for 24-hours. It’s a good movie, but seeing it 12 times in a row I’m not so sure about? Am I missing something? I could understand doing the same with Groundhog Day!

Headed Home

I think we all had a good sleep last night, in slightly comfort beds, separate rooms with a fan and despite the aircon not being overly powerful, liveable temperatures. It certainly wasn’t freezing this morning, but it was baking outside.

Last night I’d tried to take photos of the skies above, littered with stars, but even with a 15-second exposure on a point and shoot camera I simply got a black canvas. I did slightly better with the moon, constantly disappearing behind far off cloud. Unfortunately none of the photos came out to the point I’d want to upload them. Instead, here’s a quiet street this morning.

A street in Longreach

Dad had ventured out early to refill the car and buy some breakfast, so when he got back we had a home cooked bacon and poached eggs, which all up cost less than one portion of bacon and eggs at the Roadhouse across the street.

Following breakfast mum dropped us off at the Qantas Founders Museum, before heading into town I believe to look at art galleries. Sze Sze, dad and I took in the museum very quickly before heading out on the tour of the 747-200 Classic, VH-EBQ. Admittedly I don’t think they had the full experience in the museum, being in such a rush, but I’d been before and had spent two days absorbing it so there wasn’t much new for me inside.

Outside however was a different story, with the museum recently taking delivery of a Catalina, parked where the DC-3 was last year. The DC-3 was also therefore open to be looked inside, so I had some new experiences. Personally I’d like to see a Short C Class flying boat, but with only 42 built I doubt there’s any left, plus how would they land it at Longreach?

I think Sze Sze and dad enjoyed the tour of VH-EBQ, especially as it was a lot more hands-on and listening to facts and figures than reading. It was more interactive I should say. Having done a more in-depth tour last year I pretty much knew it all already and was helping to point out things to Sze Sze and dad.

Dad in a 747 engine cowling Sam and Sze Sze in a 747 engine cowling Qantas Empire Airways DC-3

Thankfully the tour finished reasonably close to on time and we made our way back to the museum and McGinness’s Cafe to meet mum. She’d already checked-in the bag and was having a cup of tea, enjoyable on an already hot day, and still heating up. Likewise was the aircon.

Soon we were in the air and bidding farewell to Longreach and the outback. It’s been an enjoyable holiday, something different, but perhaps best done when towns haven’t closed down for summer.

The flight landed in Brisbane on time and we were quickly out and on our way down the motorway home. One more sleep at home for the year.

Back in Longreach

This morning I didn’t feel anywhere near as cold as yesterday, as the aircon had been turned down (or up) a bit before bed. That said, I wish I could have been cooler when I got up to the first activity for the day: golf!

Kim kindly leant us his clubs last night, but he turned up anyway at 7:30 for 9 holes of golf at the Winton Golf Course. How do I describe it? I think the photos will sum it up, but it was mostly dirt, some weeds and one hole had about 20m of what could be the bare minimum of grass for a fairway. The greens were also interesting, and they weren’t green, but rather a black oily sand. Sometimes slow, sometimes fast.

The Fairway

I didn’t think I’d finish the round when only halfway through I was sweating profusely, the flies were all over me and I wasn’t scoring under 10! However a 9 on a par 3 helped me persevere. Dad managed a few pars! Kim probably did a little better than me, with his local knowledge… though he didn’t know one water hazard actually contained water, advising it was dry.

Following golf a beer was proffered, and accepted, before I phoned in my probation and then refreshed myself wonderfully in the pool at the motel. The cool water felt so good.

Packing up we were soon checked-out and eating a late breakfast in the Twilight Cafe again. Delicious country fattening food. Dad fueled the car, bought some ice, and I posted some cards, and then we were off again, back to Longreach.

The drive was as uneventful as last time, though the clouds were different. On the way to Winton we were on the edge of a high cloud front, but today the skies were littered with cumulus clouds, and it felt a lot hotter.

We once again checked into our accommodation, this time the Discovery Holiday Parks, where I’ve stayed before on my own. This time we booked a family unit though and it was more than adequate with new appliances and comfy beds.

We visited the Stockman’s Hall of Fame, well the reception and gift shop area at least, as after some enquiries we discovered that the contents were essentially the same as what we’d experienced in the Waltzing Matilda museum in Winton. Admittedly, it’s a much bigger museum, but when you know it all pretty much already, there’s little point in doing it all again.

The town seemed a bit more open than Winton, but after dark it shut down again.

We had dinner at Eagles Nest, and had a good laugh at the Billiards Room, a must visit if you done here. The food was great and the beverage list very large. I ended up having a Tui, what I’d usually only have in Queenstown. Tasted different out of a bottle than on tap though.

Tomorrow we’re heading back home!

The 28th

Well this morning we didn’t have a particularly early start, though I did feel like getting out early due to the temperature in the room. The aircon seems to be set at extremely cold or not at all, so this morning I woke to what felt like below zero temperatures. I promptly turned off the aircon, but it took walking outside to feel better.

Today we did have a very busy day.

Breakfast was at the Twilight Cafe again (we had lunch there yesterday), as the bakery was cash only and we didn’t have cash. This was the result of a lack of ATM’s in town, with the only working one only dispensing $20 per transaction – with a $2.50 transaction fee.

Following breakfast we made our way to Arno’s Wall and then drove on to the Winton Railway Station (I have a friend who loves railways), the Qantas Airfield Commemorative Cairn, Musical Fence and the Diamantina Heritage Truck and Machinery Museum.

Afterwards, we continued on to the Australian Age of Dinosaurs Fossil Preparation Facility where we took a tour of the facility, before walking out along the Jump Up to find three secular views outer the surrounding plains. Once again, a 360° was taken.

Back in Winton we didn’t have lunch, but had some snacks from a grocery store before visiting the Waltzing Matilda Centre, where we learnt the ins and outs of Waltzing Matilda and explored the very large museum incorporating all parts of the outback.

Mum got a headache and Sze Sze just wanted to cool down, so dad and I stopped at the North Gregory Hotel while the ladies headed to the motel. we then headed to the Australian Hotel, where Kim joined us for a couple beers to watch the Aussie cricket team collapse. The beer ended by the pool at the motel, where a swim was very refreshing.

Tonight we had dinner at the RSL, and while Kim wasn’t impressed the only other time he’d been, I think the meals tonight were enjoyed. I certainly liked my chicken kiev. we were also allowed to BYO, though I noticed the table over had their own bottle of vodka. Go figure!

On the way home I picked up some golf clubs from Kim’s place. More on that tomorrow.

A Tuesday in Winton

The aircon in our room made the blankets on the bed necessary, and it was an interesting contrast freezing in the boom and baking outside. Having all had an early night I was surprised we weren’t up until 8:30, though the rest felt good.

We had decided not to stay for breakfast, despite Barcaldine being a very nice town all round. Everything packed up again, we were off on our way to Longreach, where we stopped for breakfast in the Qantas Founders Museum, considering everything else in town was either shut or not serving food till midday.

Qantas Founders Museum Qantas Founders Museum

Continuing on, and with mum electing to drive the whole way, we finally made it to Winton in the early afternoon, a two hour drive from Longreach. We checked into some adequate rooms at the Boulder Opal Motel, promptly turning on the aircon. The temperature in the shade reached 38°C.

A slow walk around town gave us the impression everything was shut, but then it is Christmas and everyone seems to bugger off from these parts around now. Luckily we managed a feed in the Twilight Cafe, but we’re told they’d be shut before dinner. Everything else was also shutting before dinner, leaving us nowhere to eat! Again luckily, we found an open supermarket and got some things for dinner: chicken, tomatoes, bread and drinks.

I met up with Kim, having sent him some messages on Sze Sze’s mobile, as flOptus doesn’t believe in outback reception, but Telstra does.

I found free public wifi in town though, and our motel offers it around the reception and pool areas, so I sat by the pool in the shade of a fern tree… and sweated while being mobbed by flies. The wind slowly picked up in the late afternoon, helping to cool me down. And the pool finished the job.

A refreshing dip in the pool

Boxing Day

It’s Boxing Day and what an early start we had. Also, no boxing here.

My alarm went off at 4:30 and we left the hotel at just 5:00. A nice early start to get us to the airport in time, although as it happens, a little too early. There was no traffic.

I quickly got my bag checked-in at the Qantas bag-injectors, before we all made our way to the Qantas Club for breakfast and to wait for our flight, much earlier than planned.

The flight up to Blackall was just like any other, with the turbulence occurring on the Blackall to Longreach sector. I wasn’t too happy to find I had no signal at Blackall, and later annoyed to hear I wouldn’t get any at Winton either. And neither did I in Barcaldine (though I did find an open wifi network). Thankfully I did at Longreach and Ilfracombe.

So anyway, we arrived on time at Longreach and after collecting our luggage were in our rental car in no time at all, driving down the highway to Barcaldine. Just 105KM / 1 hour later we found ourselves in a quiet town, and soon, checking into our room.

The temperature since we arrived didn’t get past 40°C, despite a forecast high of 42°C, that said though, we were later told in the Union Hotel Motel that Winton would be hotter. However, a lack of humidity does make all the difference.

We watched and listened to the cricket, and I took an afternoon dip in the motel pool… which was very refreshing. And then we all had a siesta. Waking from the siesta we all bar mum completed the pub crawl of the open pubs in town, managing to play some darts too.

The Tree of Knowledge, Barcaldine 360° Tree of Knowledge The Tree of Knowledge at night, Barcaldine

Dinner was big and filling, even though there were only 6 items on the menu, with 5 being meat and 1 fish. The sides made all the difference though. Following dinner we took in the Tree of Knowledge (panorama) at night, with white and green lights illuminating the structure and providing for some good photo opportunities.

Christmas Day

It wasn’t an early start in this household this morning, well except for dad who actually arrived back from 18-holes of golf at 8:30… he must’ve started early and played one of the quickest games of his life.

As he was up, and then Sze Sze, and me, breakfast was started… bubble & squeak, bacon, eggs and black pudding, delicious!

Eventually mum arose and we gathered around the fireplace, where all our presents have appeared over the past several days and started opening cards and presents.

This year, as with most years here I suppose, was full of little presents and clothes. No wrapping paper, or very little this year as the need to have that look and feel subsides, plus we’re all lazy.

So, I ended up with some tech, in the form of keyring bottle-openers, Bang & Olufsen headphones, an iPhone hoodie case and a headphone cord case. Clothes such as shirts (both long and short sleeved), a blue belt, skiing bandana, psychedelic FCUK shorts, boxers and socks. And I’m sure I’ve missed something.

Quickly packing food and clothes into suitcases and bags, we headed up to Brisbane shortly after midday to check into Quay West Suites, on the river. I took a wonderful panorama of the view from the apartment, though it was very windy on the balcony.

The view from Quay West Suites Brisbane on Christmas Day.

We had lunch and champagne after we arrived, before taking a long walk in the late afternoon. Starting in the Botanical Gardens we headed up the river, across the Goodwill Bridge, back down the river and across the Storey Bridge, before walking back up to the hotel. It was a very long walk.

Dinner was also in the unit, as everything was closed. Though we did bring food with us knowing that everything would be closed. Great views at night too.

The view from Quay West Suites Brisbane on Christmas Day… at night.

Christmas Eve

My Christmas eve began with me being woken multiple times, by my alarm and by dad, as my job for the morning was to drive up to Brisbane to pick up mum. Luckily I suppose, her flight was later arriving than scheduled, and this was known while I was still in bed, so I had an extra 20 minutes of sleep.

The drive up to Brisbane, and the drive back down from Brisbane both had little traffic issues, so that part of the journey was actually quite speedy. However after her flight landed it took nearly an hour for her to clear customs, so I had a lot of waiting around.

The day was average, sort of boring I suppose, but the real fun came tonight when we went out for dinner. Colin and Peggy joined us for dinner at Arakawa, where we ate at a private tatami table.

The food was, as usual, amazing, while the company actually proved to be very entertaining tonight, with Peggy on fine form with jokes and all sorts. By the end of the night I almost thought we were laughed out.

On our return home I suggested mum open one of her presents early, due to it being a night time thing, and I think she was very happy with her fountain for the pool, as she got in, followed by dad, and eventually me. Luckily Sze Sze stayed out to take photos. Unfortunately I don’t think mum would be happy with any of the photos being online.

Can’t Seem To Take A Break

I just can’t seem to take a break on all this drinking over the Christmas period. It’s not my fault though, it seems to be the time to be drinking, and I doubt I’ll get a break until the new year. I shall take a break then though, I’ll be very happy to take the much needed break by then.

So anyway, this morning we took a drive out to Mudgeeraba for Christmas presents before picking up some alcohol on the way home. You see the problem already.

Dad met with Peter after lunch, for lunch, and didn’t get back until 21:00, though only because Sze Sze and I met him at Peter’s for dinner where we had a delicious chicken curry with some awesome chillies. The wine accompaniment was an Arrowfield Shiraz from McLaren Vale, 1998 vintage, and was simply superb.

As usual, everyone was in bed before me.