Saturday, March 31, 2012

Storm troopers invade Sydney

I thought that I had better post a few pre-invasion pics whilst I could.

The Harbour Bridge. The largest steel arch bridge in the world.

The CBD from Kiribilli


Cowgirls at McMahons Point

The Sun Princess at the Barangaroo wharf

Early Saturday morning and already the wedding photos are underway.

The invasion begins. Run and hide !

Maybe they are just on holiday

Actually they do seem pretty relaxed. Panic over.

Star Wars photo opportunity

Having a lovely sunny weekend.


Posted by Picasa

Friday, March 30, 2012

Only a week left

I have just one week left before going back to the UK for a while. I hope that England has a good summer.

As I use Google as my homepage I found it rather irritating when a couple of days ago they included a "Play" item in the black navigation bar. This Play item is so that you can download games for Android devices. As I and probably millions of others do not have an Android device and have no intention of getting one, this Play button is just wasting screen space.
Luckily I found that you can easily remove it using the "Stylish" addon that is available for most browsers and free of charge. However before I found this solution I also got rid of the equally annoying Google+ that I had been suckered into joining. Google+ was having side effects on other things such as my Picasa Web Albums. Have also downloaded an old version of Picasa and turned off the automatic updates. So things are back to normal now, the way they were before Google tried to mess them all up.
Google used to say that they were not evil. These days they seem to be making a concerted effort to affect our online time. This seemed to start when they recently changed their terms and conditions. Maybe I will have another look at the Bing search engine.

Being my last week in Sydney I thought that I would do a timelapse video of a cruise liner leaving the harbour. I had bought a Canon camera in a promotional deal a couple of years ago. It was a camera base and a couple of lenses. So with the supplied Canon EOSutility software I setup the camera to take a picture every 10 seconds. The photo files end up on your PC.
Lastly with the free Avidemux program it was incredibably simple to point to the first photo and then create the video. I uploaded it to Youtube.
You can see it here.

I will have start thinking about packing soon.


Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Update from Sydney

What has been going on in my bit of Sydney ?

These two cruise liners look like they were having a race to get out to the open ocean.

A Sunday morning was when a load of canoes turned up for a paddle in the harbour.

This yacht was sinking and a while later a police boat turned up to deal with it. It looked like the policemen were not interested in getting their feet wet, they could not start their petrol water pump and it was getting dark. I was convinced that by morning the police boat would have headed back to base with loads of excuses and there would just be a mast sticking out of the water. To my amazement, next morning the yacht was floating and looking totally normal on it's mooring buoy. Obviously I should have give more credence to the police efforts.

In Farm Cove where they normally have the moonlight outdoor cinema, they were building an enormous temporary structure. I saw hundreds of construction workers on the site. It must be costing millions. All this for an outdoor performance of La Traviata. Given that the weather has been a bit suspect this summer, I hope that they manage to sell the tickets. I won't be buying one, I'll just open the balcony door if it is not raining. After a couple of weeks they will take it all down again.

An early morning view across the harbour on a partially cloudy day.

Another Sunday, another kayak event starting here at McMahons Point

Being a Sunday there was also the 2nd Grand Prix of the season taking place at the Sepang circuit in Malaysia. I decided to watch it on the local free to air ONE tv channel. I was expecting the usual badly timed advert breaks, amateur lip sync, etc that I have found is the norm on Australian tv. However the incompetance of the tv production staff was clear for all to see (and hear) when the presenter said that they were now switching over to the race commentary from the SkyF1 channel. In fact it was the BBC race commentary that we were hearing. After a couple of minutes they suddenly realised and the presenter apologised and said that they would try and get the correct commentary as soon as possible. In the meantime they would get the studio presenters to do the commentary. I decided to listen to the 5Live commentary on my iPad while still watching the video from ONE. When I switched back briefly to the ONE audio after about half an hour they had still not got the correct audio feed. I did not try anymore and just listened on my iPad. For anyone who did not see the race it was really affected by some heavy rain at the start. This brought about a totally unexpected result with Alonso finishing first in the Ferrari, while Hamilton managed 3rd and Button was out of the points.

I made a couple of trips by ferry to Darling Harbour.
Here is Cockle Bay

This is Darling Harbour. Enjoy the view while you can as a horrendous Dubai style development is under way at Barangaroo. This will decimate the skyline.

A small naval vessel heading through the harbour.

On my second visit to Darling Harbour I decided to take a trip on the Monorail.
The authorities in Sydney have recently purchased the monorail so that they can scrap it. I am not a fan of local planning (they approved the Barangaroo scheme) and know that the Monorail was preventing expansion of the Sydney International Convention, Exhibition and Entertainment Precinct. They have promised to replace the Monorail with extensions to the light rail system. That would seem unlikely with a four minute service on the Monorail. I suspect that the Monorail will be demolished soon enough and then there will be years of nothing to replace it. I hope I am wrong.

I took this picture of the Monorail last year.

The train approaches the Harbourside station for the start of my journey.

I was surprised how quickly we went, being above all the city traffic. Here we are above Pitt St.

It is a shame that many of the windows are covered with advertising posters making it difficult to see out.
I managed to get this photo as we were completing the circular route back into Darling Harbour.

This tug looks old but full of character. I wonder how a real estate agent would describe it ?

Despite some irritations, I do always enjoy my time in Sydney. In two weeks time I will be back in the UK. Not looking forward to the travelling.


Posted by Picasa

Friday, March 16, 2012

2012 F1 tv coverage

Having been in Australia for five months and with another few weeks to go, I was keen to see if I could watch the new 2012 season races on local tv.
Obviously Bernie Ecclestone is doing a great job in monetising the sport so that in England in order to watch all the races live you have to take out a special f1 channel subscription at considerable expense. However this strategy could fail as previous viewers like myself are unwilling to accept the cost of watching what seems to be becoming a series of increasingly predictable races from increasingly boring circuits.
The new 2012F1 iPad app is also ridiculously priced at £19.99. This is way above the typical pricing of others apps so again it is one that I shall decline.

So my quest is to see if I can watch the F1 races and practice sessions free, both in England and Australia.
Being in Australia at the moment I have found that the ONE channel run by the Ten network are broadcasting all of the sessions of all of the races. That is great as this is a free terrestrial channel with the only snag being the adverts. However a HDD tv recorder with a 60 sec skip button overcomes this problem. ONE will be taking the Sky commentary with Martin Brundle for the Qualifying and the Race but using their own commentary for the practice sessions.
I have just watched P1 and P2 for the Australian GP coming from Melbourne.
Honestly, the commentary was crap. During the last 10 minutes of the sessions when the drivers and teams were going all out to complete their programs, there was a lot of action on the track and on the tv screen. Did Tom Clarkson comment on this action ? No. He just kept droning on about his thoughts on various driver's performance capability. Usually this was totally unrelated to anything on the screen. It was very frustrating. When asked by a co-commentator to explain the colour coding on tyres for 2012, Clarkson never did give the full answer.
So from now on for practice sessions I will watch the video but listen to the Radio 5Live audio on my iPad. OK I will not be able to skip the ads but at least I will not hear them.
Once I am back in the UK I just need to set up a suitable proxy server so that I can watch the streamed version of the ONE broadcast at or if I have problems with that I can try the US coverage from

I suspect that Bernie will eventually try to close these loopholes but by then I suspect that the whole circus will have got so boring with night races around desert circuits that it will not be worth watching anyway.


Thursday, March 15, 2012

Rose Bay to Vaucluse foreshore walk

The autumn weather in Sydney has improved. Just a week ago there was so much rain that the local reservoir/dam overflowed. I was hoping that after a week of dry and mainly sunny weather that the foreshore walk along the Southern part of Port Jackson would have dried out. I was about to find out.

My journey started with a ferry ride to Circular Quay and then a 325 bus via Kings Cross, Double Bay and Rose Bay to the starting point near the Sacred Heart Convent School near the top of the hill that the bus climbs as it leaves Rose Bay. The bus was completely packed even at 10:30 in the morning and this surprised me. It was very noisy and I was regretting not having brought my iPod with me. On the bus there was a group of women from Shellhaven who by coincidence were going to do the same walk as me. This was surprising as usually there are few others doing the walk in the week. I explained that one of my objectives was to have a cream tea at Vaucluse House.
Eventually we arrived at the starting point. I waited for the ladies to get underway as I did not want to force my presence upon their party, I tried to find a nearby spot that is good for taking a panoramic photo across the harbour. Unfortunately, I could not find it, so after a ten minute delay I set off down Tivoli Avenue. Maybe I should I have got off the bus at the next stop. Tivoli Avenue soon joined up with Bayview Hill Road.

As you go down Bayview Hill Road the expanse of Sydney Harbour appears.

At the end of the road, the Foreshore walk starts

Soon you come to a place with fine views across the harbour.

Queens Beach comes into sight.

Sorry, I just need to keep taking photos, despite the cloud in the skies.

As I arrive at Queens Beach so does a canoeist.

The sign confirms my location.

The canoeists have paddled from Rose Bay and say that they are quite tired. When I said that there were cafes at Shark Bay just around the point, they said that they would just be heading back across to Rose Bay after a rest.

I soon arrived at Hermit Point where the narrow foreshore path opened out and you could go onto the beach if you felt the need.

I decided to press on and the track seemed to now have many more steps.

A view across the Bay.

Another photo opportunity mainly taken because I kept catching up with the Ladies group and to give them a chance to get ahead.

I caught up again at Strickland House, so having been here before I said that I would press on ahead so that I was not always upon their heels.

Strickland House

It is slightly tricky at this point to pick up on the foreshore track again but I did locate it.

The track was very boggy along this section (not normally like this) and I did manage to get a bootie (I could not avoid stepping into the bog with my foot sinking in and black muddy ooze getting over my shoe and socks).

Warning sign

Getting close to Shark Bay

The beach at Shark Bay as the sun hides behind the clouds. There are places here where you can stop for lunch. In my case I was saving my appetite for a cream tea later on.

The sun has reappeared as I look back to the beach while walking through Neilsen Park.

When you emerge from the park you walk down Coolong Road. The road runs parallel to the beach where all the multi million dollar properties have their own private boat jetties. Here is one of the houses.

At the end of the road you arrive at Vaucluse Bay and here you get more views across the harbour and can also see those private jetties.

You cross the road to get to Vaucluse House which was built in the 1850's and is set in well maintained grounds. You can even view the pleasure gardens without your pet dog.

In the shaded gardens

Vaucluse House

The tea rooms

My cream tea

View across the gardens from Vaucluse House

At the rear of the house there are some old but impressive stables.

You walk up through the estate grounds

The start of many steps that take you to Hopetoun Avenue which in turn leads right to New South Head Road.

At New South Head Road you can catch the bus back to Sydney. I decided to walk down the hill to Rose Bay and take the ferry. Along the way there were some interesting houses.

An Anglican church.

A good view of the CBD.

After walking through Rose Bay high street I turned onto the path leading around the bay.

Boards for hire.


Take a ride on a seaplane or have a nice meal.

The Catalina restaurant.

Interesting sign

Starting the take off run

Lifting away from the bay.

The Rose Bay ferry wharf.

It was over an hour to wait for the ferry so I decided to walk to the nearby road and catch a bus.

On the bus there was the group of ladies that I had met earlier. They were returning from the walk. Somehow they had not been able to find Vaucluse House, so I guess they were unable to have scones and cream for lunch.
I had enjoyed my walk.


Posted by Picasa