Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Road Trip - Day Four: Charters Towers to Cairns

Last day of the road trip was a relatively short hop, approximately 5 hours from the "Towers" to Cairns.
The trio even slept-in a little, departing at around 9am and taking the road more travelled, heading to Townsville and Highway One (Bruce Highway) on the coast. The increase in traffic was enormous, finally saw police for the first time in Queensland on the Bruce Highway, so had to stick to the speed limits, unlike the inland route.
The trio stopped at Muddys Restaurant in Cardwell as Mami was keen to sample their Chili Crab, however with the listed price as "POA" she changed her mind, just took a photo of the giant crab instead.
Arrived in Cairns at 2:45pm and little Eljay was asleep so wasn't at Granny's house the greet the weary trio who were hanging out to see him! MDR though had a very welcome roast leg of lamb on the Weber, and served up a fantastic dinner by 6pm to the hungry hordes.

Road Trip - Day Three: Charleville to Charters Towers

Another long day, 8am departure from Charleville to Roma, Mitchell and up the inland route to Emerald, Clermont then Charters Towers.
As on previous days MB and FBS did shifts at the wheel. Mami suffers from motion sickness and slept for much of the trip, popping Kwells every few hours.
Lots of triple decker road trains on the inland roads and with the mining boom in central western Queensland there are also many trucks carrying huge loads of mining machinery. In Mitchell both sides of the road were blocked by a truck coming through carrying part of an enormous mining dump truck.
Picture show FBS in the main street of Mitchell which even has a windmill. The main street of Mitchell is also lined with very picturesque baobab trees.
Car parking in Mitchell was reverse 45 degree, funny how every town has a different rules on parking.
The final leg of the day was pretty punishing, Clermont to Charters Towers on the Gregory Developmental Road which is close to 400klm. There is one outpost roughly in the middle called Belyando Crossing, which consists of one roadhouse. The trio pulled in to fuel up and were welcomed by a large bonfire in a 44gal drum just near the petrol bowsers, with one patron dressed in an akubra and drizabone lighting up his cigarette next the "no smoking" sign. The Gregory is a surprisingly good road, however one has to be wary of the road trains, with one 20klm section of the road single lane only.
After traversing a very large section of Queensland, the exhausted trio arrived at Charters Towers at 9:45pm and stayed in a very comfortable cabin at one of the local caravan parks. Dinner was cold roast chicken on french stick picked up in Emerald.

Road Trip - Second Leg: Broken Hill to Charleville

Day two was very long, 8am departure from Broken Hill, driving across north-west NSW through Willcannia, Cobar and Bourke and across the Qld border to Cunnamulla and rolling into Charleville at 9pm.
The lowlight of the day was Willcannia, a small outpost that feels very lonely and neglected, stopped there for the most expensive petrol of the entire trip. The town's only claim to fame is that it's located next to the Darling River.
Lunch stop was plannned for Cobar, a reasonably sized town. The trio found the visitor centre which had some nice outdoor picnic tables. MB had bought some rolls, sopressa and rocket to make lunch but as soon as the trio got out of the car the cold biting wind (even though it was sunny) convinced them to change plans and find a cosy cafe for lunch. Gecko Expresso on the main street was very nice.
Luckily the trio saved their lunch supplies as dinner was over when they arrived in Charleville at 9pm.
Overnighted at the overpriced Charleville Mulga Motel, the hosts made sure the trio were up early by ensuring the empty room next door had it's alarm clock going continuously from the early hours.

Road Trip - First Leg: Adelaide to Broken Hill

After 3300 klm, lots of very long, isolated roads and hundreds of litres of unleaded petrol, first born son, girlfriend Mami and MB arrived home safe and well on Sunday afternoon in the trusty ol' Mitsubishi Magna.
Day One the trio left Adelaide on Thursday morning with their first overnight stop at Broken Hill, which is about 5.5 hours drive north-east of Adelaide. MB prebooked the cheapest accommodation she could find on the excellent Broken Hill Visitor Information website, at the Old Vic B&B. Staying there turned out to be the highlight of the trip, the hosts Anne & Paul were marvellous, the rooms were gorgeous, beds even had electric blankets which were a Godsend as it was bitterly cold, dinner that night was two blocks away at the Old Royal Hotel (host's recommendation), for their steak special. The $12 t-bone steaks were massive, juicy and cooked to perfection.
After dinner the trio dropped into the local supermarket to pick up some supplies for the next day. Mami got very excited in the Deli section and it transpired that she had spotted Dixie, a contestant/participant?? in Big Brother. The trio approached Dixie who was very friendly and even allowed us to take a photo of her and Mami together. A little later Mami called her best friend in Adelaide to relay the exciting news, her animated Japanese conversation in the Broken Hill outback shopping mall had a few heads turning...
Broken Hill looks pretty interesting and warrants a longer visit. The city centre is dominated by a huge slag heap on top of which now sits a couple of buildings.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

South Australian Living Artists Festival

Adelaide is currently hosting SALA, a huge exhibition of every conceivable type of art in all sort of venues, including retail shops near first born son's place, which is located at the south-western, and decidedly downmarket, corner of the Unley City Council local area. Unley appears to be a pretty ritzy area and this was soon confirmed when MB decided to visit Robin Eley's exhibition, just off King William Road in Unley. MB used a gps and enroute was taken through Victoria Avenue which is truly a millionaire's row, lovely old mansions surrounded by very well manicured gardens and secure walls.
Robin Eley is an affable, young and very talented illustrator who has trained in the USA and much of his work has featured in very high profile publications there. His work is nearly photographic and his take on his subjects is subtle and surprising at the same time, very entertaining. MB also managed to catch a few other small exhibitions in shops along King William Road, and of course ended up finding a great shoe shop where three pairs of essential shoes were bought.
SALA is a great way to celebrate art and makes it very accessible to anyone who is interested.

Protection Japanese Style

First Born Son and girlfriend have just arrived back from ten days of Club Med Phuket, both are looking very tanned with FBS even sporting a bit of a beard.
The pair met up with GF's family there and MB is waiting for the "meet the parents" stories, so far not many amusing anecdotes happening, probably due to the pair having flown most of the night and arriving 7:30am this morning.
Some gifts have surfaced with GF's Mum sending MB a set of beautiful lacquerware bowls decorated with cherry blossom and a "chop" with her name in Romaji on it. Very thoughtful gifts which MB will truly enjoy using.
GF also had her Mum stock up on some items which she misses from home in Japan. Various medicines and hair products mostly, one item which tickled MB was the personal battery powered mosquito repellent.
MB is very familiar with mozzie zappers which one plugs into a power point at home to keep the mozzies at bay, however the Japanese have gone one step better and produced a portable version which the manufacturers recommend one straps onto a limb, or around one's neck, or even over the fly of one's trousers (see picture).
When FBS first saw a Japanese tourist in Phuket wearing one on his lower leg he thought it was an ankle cooling fan.

Monday, August 11, 2008

New Best Friend

MB's new best friend, "Love". Shown here staring MB down while she's using the laptop. MB is sure Love's pining for her doting "Mum & Dad" and wanting to check the email to see if they've written to her from Thailand, but so far not a word. MB is agonising over how she is going to break this devastating news to Love.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Adelaide Showgrounds Farmers' Market

The inclement Adelaide weather certainly doesn't deter the local fine food hunters at the weekly Adelaide Showgrounds Farmers' Market, held every Sunday morning. The stalls were doing great business and the beautiful fresh produce was selling like hotcakes. Grazing was the order of the day with MB snacking on samples such as Bierwurst from Hahndorf, organic Murray Bridge yoghurt, Barossa cheese and Lacewood Spicy Plum Sauce from McLaren Flat.

Unique Art in the Burbs

MB spotted this quirky mobile phone "installation" in someone's front garden just near last born son's place in the inner city suburb of Everard Park.
MB has done some exploring of the neighbourhood and when returning some DVD's to the very nearby video library was struck by the beautiful old art deco building in which it is housed, turns out it was once the Roxy Theatre.
Things have gone downhill a bit since then though, as this corner is now home to an adult bookshop, a photography shop with an exterior sound speaker playing scratchy music, which is more or less drowned out by the six lanes of continuous traffic thundering past on the Anzac Highway. There is also a travel agency that operates "by appointment only" and a pine furuniture shop.
Luckily the Adelaide Farmers' Markets operates on Sundays at the nearby showgrounds, so MB was able to walk up there this morning to pick up some essential supplies, such as goat's milk feta and dried muscatels.

Winter Frolics

MB took the tram into town on Saturday for some shopping therapy which included Haigh's and Adelaide Booksellers, an excellent second hand bookshop.
Above is a photo of the Victoria Square tramstop, with commuters huddling under the shelter out of the freezing wind and rain. This is the stop closest to the Adelaide Central Markets where MB stocked up on some fresh provisions.
By the time MB got home her volleys and jeans were pretty much soaked. MDR's Helly Hansen spray jacket has turned out to be wonderful, kept her warm and mostly dry.
The weather is still a novelty for MB, so no complaints whatsoever will be voiced here!

An Adelaide Institution

Haigh's Chocolates at the entrance to the wonderful Victorian Adelaide Arcade off Rundle Mall in Adelaide city.