Monday, 3 April 2017

Maximus Obesus goes to Melbourne.

Well it seemed like a good idea at the time. Over a few glasses of beer sitting out by the pool, the idea of a tour to Victoria and the Snowy Mountains on Fat Max seemed like a great idea.

But.... man makes plans.. and God laughs!

The plan itself was simple, ride to Melbourne in 3 days, spend 3 or 4 days with my wonderful in-laws down there and then spend a few days exploring the Snowy Mountains. And, the Monaro Highway. Ever since I saw my first Monaro in 1968 at Westfield Toombul Shopping Town and was told it was named after the road.. well I had to go there. Actually always wanted to drive a Monaro on the Monaro... perhaps in the future.

March was chosen as it was a compromise between a bit of rain and still not really cold temperatures. Max had his 30K service, new Bridgestone Battlaxe A40 tyres were fitted and all was well. Panniers with tyre repair kit, compressor and tools and also my clothes in a dry bag packed, GPS programmed, cash and plastic in the wallet and a camera with a fully charged battery.

What could possibly go wrong I asked out loud?

Debra had some ideas on what could go wrong... so I asked her to keep them to herself.

So from my perspective, what could possibly go wrong?

Let me put it this way, we really aren't in control.... of anything!

As I headed out to mount up on the leaving day, good mate Brian Wakefield came across the road to wish me well. "This will be a great adventure"' I excitedly told Brian. I mounted up and headed into the Legacy Way tunnel to find a quick way to Ipswich Road and Warwick. The excitement was amazing.. finally the time when the rubber meets the road.

Onwards and up... and hang on.. out of the tunnel I came, to find the Western Freeway bumper to bumper... doing around walking speed... and ..... bucketing down with rain. About an hour after I left Grant Street, I was finally on Ipswich Road.

And wet.

But it is supposed to be an adventure? Right?

Around two hours later McDonalds in Warwick was a heavenly sanctuary that served hot chocolate.... and I tried in vain to dry off while I drank that warm chocolate.

Walk outside and the rain has stopped!

Excellent.

Mount the bike, stab the starter button.. and somehow it is connected to the clouds.. down comes the bloody rain.. again.

Next stop is Deepwater Bakery where they have the world's biggest cream donuts. But today I want a hot lunch. Of course.. it is one hour later in NSW and so when I arrive.. they have a choice of two things in the hot box.

A meat pie (Ned Kelly special pie) or.. nothing. That is it, one miserable bloody pie left. Beggars cannot be choosers as my dad used to say so I settled on that and a bottle of water.

Eventually I ride into Armidale and I decided it was time to give it away for the day. So no pictures because all the way along it has been bucketing down with bloody rain.

The rest of the trip to MEL was rain, rain, speed cameras, rain, more rain and then it rained!

Although I did find a great car museum in Shepparton. Amazingly ALL of the cars and bikes belong to folks who leave them on display here.



2CV Bought one of these new in Paris in 1988 & drove it around Europe.

HK 327. What can you say. Now worth north of $250,000

XR GT. My favourite was the XT GT.

A cabinet of old valve radios.. just for brother Paul!

The mighty EH. Yes a lot of us boomers had them... second hand.

One of my favourite trail bikes, the Yamaha XT500


So gazing at cars and bikes was over.. time to hit the highway and play Russian roulette with the bloody speed cameras. They are bloody everywhere.

Finally hit Melbourne and try my luck riding on wet tram lines... stayed upright. Bonus!

Rolled into 40 Brunel Street on day 3 at around 15:00 hours.

And really glad to get off the bike.

So this was home until the following Monday morning.. 4 days of R&R.

And the sun came out.

Thursday finds me at the Victoria markets.. love that place. Picked up some stubby coolers and a nifty LED torch to carry on the bike.

On Friday, John drove me to Footscray to meet up with an ADV inmate at Big Fish Art Studios. What amazing workspace and what a nice guy Alfonse turned out to be. He had recently purchased a spare Nikon Camera from me so I figured I should stop in and say hello while in Melbourne. Just love his studio.. lots of room to be creative!

This must be the place John!



Got to keep the studio warm in winer.



And motor bikes too! Bonus!


Then we went for a bit of a walk after a coffee next door at a really arty coffee shop / cafe.


Just love these old buildings.



Love doors... just love them!


Lots of good food with the in laws each night and then on Saturday, Steven (Deb's cousin) takes me to Williamstown. Love that place. Home port for Sea Shepherd and one of their ships is in. Also in port is a floating museum.. in the form of the former mine sweeper the HMAS Castlemaine. A good tour of this after lunch and what a day.

Steven manning the anti aircraft gun. Look out for Zeros mate!



The good ship's main gun. Note Golden Circle muzzle cover.



Go get those bloody whalers guys!


Love their logo.

If I was PM I would have black ops crew with a submarine... I would sort the Jap whalers out.. permanently.


I fell in love with this old tin shed.. a bit of judicious cropping and some tweaking and I had this.



These old buildings have character.

Saturday night is barbecue night at Steven's home. And it is here I discover his arty Malvern Star. Slowly being consumed by the environment.


Ashes to ashes and rust to rust in rest.



Sunday dawns and John is off to play bowls so Patrick (cousin Steven's son.. keep up with me here.. written test at the end) takes me off to make some pictures at an old abandoned warehouse. Sort of place crooks tie up villains in distress.

I make some pictures....


Young Patrick... apprentice journalist!



Art for arts sake.


And there is a Buddhist Temple near by too!


With a public toilet.



Finally Monday arrives.... saddle up the bike.. press the start button.. and.. it bloody well rains.  Again! So following the magic GPS I am off to Marysville by a most circuitous route. But it's the journey, not the destination.. right?


This is the bakery at Marysville that I visited in the past, one year after the fires.


So different to just after the fires!



After a rotten pie (sorry bakery) it was off for a look see. Lots of rebuilding has occurred  and the town seems like a magic place to live... when it ain't fire season. While looking for a dunny I found this sign....


Bloody hell!

Readers of past posts on this blog will know about me and snakes.. time to go! Like now! But first a picture of Max!


By now Max was very dirty!




The trip plan now was to ride to Maffra to meet up with Dr AT. However when I got there, the town's motel was full so I ventured on to Sale. The ride down through the forests was pure delight.. apart from some wet leaves on the shoulders of the road.


The view through the windscreen.




Or if you were in a car.. this is what you might see!

In Sale I stayed at the Pit DiFlea Motel.. but the people were very nice and the meals were great. No sat TV however so I missed Paul Murray live. More's the pity...


Tuesday morning arrives and it looks like it might stop raining. Dr AT picks me up in his old truck and we head for a consult in a more relaxing environment... his sailing boat.


Dr AT and the art of being still.. on water. 

Had a magic time with the good Doctor (for a Doctor is what he is) and detoured past Bairnsdale on the way back to Sale to get some new water proof (hopefully) bike gloves along the way. Thanks for the consult Doc.. catch up again soon.

So the next morning the plan is to ride up to Cooma in the Snowy Mountains and spend 3 or 4 days there exploring the area. But on leaving Sale... down comes the rain. And heavier than before. I ride up the Alpine Way towards the Monaro Highway. And even in this freezing, torrential rain, the Socialist Republic of Victoria have their unmarked speed cameras out ripping money from motorists. It is impossible to travel faster than around 80 and still the camera car sits there. In the middle of nowhere. Looking for targets. Speed cameras.. don't get me started.


Eventually I arrive in Cooma and find a nice hotel. Get my gear off and drying out in front of the reverse cycle AC and a hot shower and I am feeling better. Clean dry clothes and time for a walk around town. This place is magic and in a little thought bubble I could imagine retiring up here. Or.. perhaps not. Yes Debra.. I can hear you.. it ain't like the Italian Riviera. That night a great steak in the dining room.. but I do wonder why the chips arrive about 5 months after I have finished my steak and leaves. Yes leaves.

So let's get into this now. Whatever happened to iceberg lettuce? Everywhere I go in the Socialist Republic of Victoria, it is impossible to get a salad that has iceberg lettuce in it. Every single cafe and sandwich bar has a bowl of leaves they shovel onto your plate or into your salad sandwich. They look like weeds pulled out of the ground near the wall of an outside dunny. God I am so over this. I want iceberg lettuce.. not weeds on my meal. Is anybody listening????

Next morning dawns overcast, but no rain! Yippee!

Breakfast over, suit up and ride Max to the visitor's centre. A lovely lady compliments me on my matching outfit.. blue skivvy and blue glasses.. Debra you have trained me well. She gives me a map or two... I go outside to find a Highway Patrol Cop looking at the bike. Nice bloke and we get into a conversation about all sorts of things.. and yes mate.. your helmet camera is legal down here. Unlike Victoria where they need the money.

Mount up, stab the starter and the bloody rain falls down. GIVE ME A  BREAK!!!!


So I ride across to Tumut stopping along the way to look at the Tumut #3 hydro power station. The roads up here are magic, highest point I reached was 1490 metres, fresh!

And it would have been magic to explore all of these roads on two wheels.

But the bloody rain just would not let go. Ended up riding down to Goulburn (Only been here once before in 1974 in my Celica to visit Stephen Hart, my first childhood mate) and the next morning slabbing it all the way home to BNE. A full day of 13 hours and 1150 km to Hendra. I did manage to make a couple of images from the Snowy Mountains. And the one thing that I did see was the wild brumbies. They are magnificent and I urge the Government to let them be.


The views up here are marvellous!



I just love this place.



Magic motorbike roads.... if the weather is sunny.




Tumut Number 3

The Snowy Hydro System.. what an amazing thing it is. Multiple hydro power stations some situated 250 metres underground. And built by an army of Australians. Many of them new Australians seeking a new life in Australia after World War Two tore Europe asunder. They all worked hard, bloody hard and they all got on together. No religious intolerance, no segregation where only those of a certain persuasion could live. These workers, and the engineers and leaders who made all of this possible, a 25 year project, the largest ever undertaken in the world at the time..... would turn in their graves to see Australia now. People worried about being offended, new Australians who refuse to assimilate and want the place changed to resemble the shit hole they came from. Political leaders who cannot lead, can only see the next election and throw up populist policies. Malcolm Turnbull and Bill Shorten. Imagine what the fathers of the Snowy Scheme would think of them.

And imagine what they would say.. stuff 18c. The would tell it like it is!

They would say what they thought.

A sad day for our country now when people are being told not to say what they think. PC gone mad!

The Snowy Hyrdo supplies water to 75% of all irrigated land in Australia. Imagine the Greens and imagine how the project would NOT have happened if they ran the place back when it was being sorted.

I will go back to the Snowy, either on Max or in the Calais as this is something that ALL Australians should see for themselves. What we can do as a nation when we put our shoulders to the wheel and get on with it!

And as for the PM's new Snowy plan.. according to an engineer, that was tried and booted about 20 years ago. Pumping water uphill to let it flow back through turbines costs about 20% in efficiencies according to the hydro engineers.

It contravenes the basic law of nature.. "There ain't no free lunch!"

Until next time....

Sunday, 1 January 2017

2016, the year that was!

Well sitting back on a hot day on the first day of 2017, my mind is thinking about the year that was. Sometimes I wonder how we all do so much in just 365 days.

First of all, this was for us the first year in our new home. We actually shifted in at midnight on December 18, 2015. Home was not completely finished.. no pool for last Christmas, but we loved it. And we still love it. Not a day goes by when one of us doesn't say, "I cannot believe this is our home!" We love the clean look, the tightly closing doors, lack of bugs inside, the air conditioning and we just love our pool. (Going to jump is a soon as I finish this).

Debra loves her end of the media room with her big TV and I love the other end.. my studio!


Well on the way!


Finished.. expecting Angela.. so Scottish flag flying on the day!




Local Councillor David McLachlan is a good friend so when he called on us for some pictures, we were happy to front up with a camera or two!



Fixing the roads in David's patch.

There is that CAT machine again.

At a new tyre store being built.



So 2016 rolled along, Deb busy at her shop and me making pictures for clients. Then older brother Max turned 80... wow I remember his 50th like it was yesterday, so off to the Sunshine Coast we go to celebrate.



Me, Paul, Max & Peter Collins. The Auto electricians are ageing.

No sooner have we fished eating Max's Birthday cake and I am off with great mate Gregor for an adventure ride to visit Boeings and Dinosaurs.




T minus 10 minutes to lift off!

It was a great trip filled with unexpected adventure.. like me coming to grief on wet clay on Fat Max. You can read about it all here if you are so inclined.


Back in Brisbane with my knee on the mend the year keeps ticking by.. Deb thinks that Hawaii would be a great spot for a week of R&R with good travel mates Mark & Libby.. so the planning starts.

Meanwhile, July 4 is creeping up so we decide to do a "Clayfield Studio says G'Day USA" at Grant Street. A lazy Sunday afternoon with hotdogs, spare ribs, Budweiser, Pepsi, Coke and Dr Pepper ensues. Lots of fun and Captain Ben even brings his spanking brand new Mustang to complete that USA ambience.



How's this for a Stars and Stripes?




It's all the way with the USA here!




Now is this a Pony Car or what???




But back to work, there are units to photograph and head shots for clients too. Got to keep those coins and cheques rolling in.



One of Devcorp's Projects.



And then I had a project of my own too..... have actually written a magazine article on a garage that pumps your gas. A real 1950s time warp!



Fat Max at Hendra Motors. 




The wonderful guys at Hendra Motors. 




One day melts into another, the weeks pass and before you know it we are Hawaii bound on a big jet. And we just know that with mark & Libby on board we will have a week of fun. Shopping, eating, drinking, sight seeing and on and on it goes... as it always does.



Mark & Libby wanted to buy the car!

The USS Missouri on board which the Japanese signed their surrender.

Mighty Mo and the Arizona Memorial

That famous photo now a sculpture.

Well see are on an island!

Waikiki beach... pure magic.

The bus tour continues.

Hawaii shares its runways with the military.

Pocket rockets waiting to fly!

Eat your heart our Magnum!

Flying over the Arizona Memorial.


All good things must come to an end and so we headed back to Brisbane so I could shoot a job for the Brisbane City Council. I really like working with their team of people; always so polite and appreciate the work the studio does for them too,



Always love this final group shot!


Lord Mayor Graham Quirk is an easy person to work with and I photographed  him a few times over the course of the year. Like on this CAT road making machine!



The ever smiling Lord Mayor of Brisbane.



Other adventure rides happened through the year and I had a lot of fun with new neighbour (well we're new) Brian Wakefield and old mates Ian and Gregor.  As well as Brian's brother in law Frank. We did a few trips including visiting Captain Heidi on her farm as part of a loop through Northern New South Wales.



Look like Spitfire pilots waiting for the bell!

Frank and Greg discussing something...

Saddling up!

Outside a magic cafe in NSW

Brian and his slice! MMMMMM!

Cheers Frank!


Breast Cancer Awareness Month also happens in October and as usual Deb and I have a few functions to attend. One of our enduring favourites is the Brisbane North Chamber of Commerce.



Debra and the always smiling Jo Hassan




Councillor Norm Wyndham surrounded by beauty yet again!





And before you know it.. Christmas has arrived.

For me this is a time to give thanks to all of those people who have made our lives just so wonderful this past year. To the bride Debra.. I am so thankful to have you as a life partner. Supportive of me and freely give me time to wander off on my bike.. no need to apply for a leave pass in this house.


So from Debra and I to all of our friends and relatives, both here and in the UK.. a big heartfelt thanks for your support and above all else, friendship this past year. We love you all and wish you nothing but many good things in 2017.

Rock on!