Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Happy 108th birthday Olive!

The local rag reminded me.

Olive was on the telly last week with a cake in her favourite footy teams' colours (Sydney Swans & Woy Woy Roosters). It was her birthday and at 108 she is the world's oldest blogger and YouTuber.

She lives in Woy Woy and her "blob" is here. Pop over and say happy birthday and enjoy her stories about the Great Depression and two World Wars.

Olive's Blogger's Choice award

Olive on YouTube

More on that bit of the Old Pacific Highway that killed that family in the June storms

Documents reveal collapsed highway section needed repairs

Rusty pipe supports NSW highway

And a happy Festival of the Dead to my American readers!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Putt Putt Regatta 2007

Putt Putt Regatta route

Sunday was the 10th annual Putt Putt Regatta. It was held at Davistown, off the Illoura Reserve at the end of Davistown Road.

Putt putt boats are easily distinguished from other power boats by the sound of their engines. That is, their engines make a "putt putt putt" sound.

Before the Regatta

Test runners before the Regatta. The light started off all right then quickly went to buggery and stayed there.

The putt putt boats came in their hundreds from far and wide. The Davistown foreshore swarmed with enthusiasts and gawkers. Unfortunately it was a crap day for photography.

2 putt putts & the Codock II

Two putt putts and the Cockock II. A fair while before the Regatta started.

There were putt putts, there were escort boats, there were dogs, there were ducks, there were stalls, there were crowds, there was a queue for the dunny. There was several seconds of video of the ground with a soundtrack of me swearing at the batteries then getting ticked off by a Dear Old Thing for Language.

It was a crap day for photography anyways. The sky couldn't make up its bloody mind if it was going to storm or not or just lay there sullenly. But dinna fesh yersel', there'll be another Regatta next year and the light will be better.

Before the Regatta

Way before the Regatta. Hardly any traffic on the water at this point and a few moorings still vacant.

Putt Putt coming in to Davistown

Can't decide whether I like this one or Sally-Anne below better. Think I'll have both!

Yes, that's the Australian flag, yes it's usually on a blue background. The red background version is a marine version. All the ferries have got the red version.

Sally Anne tied up

Sally Ann. A lovely wee boat. Just the right size. Note tiller for steering, cushion on seat for comfort on those long regattas, klaxon on port side for politely requesting another boatie to watch where the &%$#! they're going, brolly under back seat (not visible this photo) to serve as shield from inclement weather and emergency sail, and ensign (wee boating flag) to denote country of registration.

Over at the Woy Woy vantage point there was humidity and pelicans and more bloody dogs. Some dickhead zoomed round the point doing the nautical equivalent of 140 in a school zone and the coppers zoomed round after him. There were the mingled perfumes of jasmine and jessamine, pertol fumes and dog shit, spilt beer and barbeques.

Light & dark at Empire Bay

All up, it was a good day. Even though the bloody weather never did make up its mind.

Official Regatta site - scroll down for heaps of photos

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

I shall return

I've taken some nasty punches this year. Feels like I've done ten rounds with bloody Mike Tyson and four halves against the All Blacks.

And it ain't over yet, neither. I've still got some serious legal shit to deal with. Looks like I'll get that refund on that gold brick my father bought but there's more work to do on it.

Anyways, this is not a goodbye post. I just need some headspace. I'll be back at the end of the month with pictures of wooden boats from the Putt Putt Regatta.

Comments and email will be answered (eventually) and I might even get time to catch up on my blogroll.

Stone Curlew update

The Council won't mind my pasting most of their update about the stone curlew:

"Gosford Council has called for the cooperation of Peninsula residents as the endangered bush stone-curlew enters its breeding season. ...

Only 20 of the birds are thought to exist on the Central Coast and the Peninsula is thought to be home to at least one breeding pair.

Guidelines for their treatment during the breeding season:

Dogs, foxes and cats to be kept away from these birds at all times.

Adequate habitat needed to be protected and maintained in the area.

This include[s] sufficient fallen timber being left on the ground as the Bush Stone-curlew required logs for camouflage when roosting or nesting and for foraging for insects.

No fertiliser, insecticide or herbicide should be used in areas used by the birds.

Mowing of grass areas near nest sites should cease until eggs hatch.

Disturbance to the birds should be limited... This may be supported by installing temporary or permanent fencing around the nesting site.

If a nest was abandoned before the eggs hatch, residents should contact Ms Bennetts at the Council offices or contact the National Parks and Wildlife Service Gosford office. ...

This bird is easily recognised as it stands 50-60cm tall with long legs, mottled brown, white and grey plumage, a short, dark beak and a large yellow eye.

It tends to stand or lie motionless in woodlands where it is well camouflaged during the day and becomes active between dusk and dawn while foraging for food.

Its presence is more often indicated by a wailing 'weer-lo' call after dark.

The breeding season usually [begins] around August or September with a noisy courtship.

When preparing for breeding, bush stone-curlews begin to call more frequently and will be seen regularly at their chosen nest site until a clutch is laid.

A pair may have one or two clutches per breeding season containing one or two well-camouflaged brown speckled chicken egg sized eggs.

Eggs are laid directly on bare ground and the site is typically near the edge of open grassy woodland.

The incubation period is between 22 and 30 days after which the nest site will be abandoned.

The parents feed the chick until it is four weeks old and it will be eight to 10 weeks before the chick can fly.

Until this stage, the chick is extremely vulnerable to predation.

The parents may also chase the chick away one to two weeks before attempting to lay a second clutch in the same or nearby site.

The bush stone-curlew (burhinus grallarius) is listed as endangered on Schedule 1 of the NSW Threatened Species Conservation Act 1995. ...

Recovery Plan and further information about bush stone-curlews

For further information or to report abandoned nests, contact Ms Bennetts at Gosford Council on 4325 8844 or the National Parks and Wildlife Service Gosford office on 4320 4280.

Media release, 10 Oct 2007 Nikki Bennetts, Gosford Council" (Full thingy in local rag)

Monday, October 15, 2007

House prowed

(Random walkies)

House prowed

House prowed. (Hur hur.)

Dry dock in a Umina side street.

There's always boats being worked on in driveways on the Peninsula, like everywhere else. But this one was so large it was like a building in its own right.

'Nother angle

Purple People Eater West Street Umina

I call this row of shops the Purple People Eater. It's the last shops on that side before the car yard.

It went up not long before I started my walkies, and I'm damned if I remember what was there before. Older shops I expect.

West Street anomaly

West Street is the shopping precinct of Umina. Between the roundabout (traffic circle) at Ocean Beach Road and Rickard Street it's all shops and banks, the Post Office, doctor's surgeries and the like.

And this place.

It's right on the street front, wedged in between the Charcoal Chicken and the Amcal Chemist.

It seems to be someone's house. Don't know if they own the shop in front and live out the back or are unrelated and just refuse to sell their land. I've never seen movement in there though the cars come and go a bit and the gates were open one time.

The large board on the fence usually details a hand-written grievance against the local council or state government. There's a different grievance every couple of months.

Locals either ignore it completely or slow down a bit as they come up to it, scan the latest grievance quickly then scurry past pretending they didn't see it.

It fascinates me. It's obviously been there since at least the forties, possibly longer. Can't see it in any of the old West Street photos. (There's a rather fun photo in that link of the old Rileys Bros buses that used to run on the Peninsula.)

Friday, October 12, 2007

Lismore and Freo

(Get to the pictures already!)

Just had a storm in Woy Woy. Nice bit of rain, couple of lightning flashes and a decent bit of thunder. Now it's headed up north up the coast.

Lismore, a few hours north, will be getting a bit twitchy again. On Tuesday they copped tennis-ball sized hail and got declared a natural disaster zone.

"...This ... was the worst I have ever seen in 30 years of living in Lismore. Hundreds of cars are a write-off. Orchard and nursery production have received a massive setback. There are over 300 damaged roofs and thousands of broken windows in an area already suffering from a lack of tradesmen due to the housing and renovation boom. Hardware stores remain open late into the night as volunteers and SES workers hurry to secure dwellings against the possibility of further storms. It could be 12 months or more before the full extent of damage is either known or repaired. [There is] extensive damage to shopping centres, government buildings, schools and hospitals." (SMH)

Hailstorm pictures at Flickr:
Hailstones piled up in someone's garden
Veggie patch slaughtered by hailstones

And have a gander at the lighthouse at Lismore in Scotland in a hailstorm. Not the same Lismore what got hit on Wednesday but very purty.

Cop shop Henderson Fremantle

Cop shop (police station) in Henderson Street Freo. Right opposite the multi-storey carpark and backing onto the footy oval. Must be very handy for dragging dickheads out of the stadium by the collar and chucking them in a cell to cool down.

This isn't the best bit of the station, by the way. The two storey building out the back, which I think holds the old cells, is lovely. Cool verandas and, in front of it, a courtyard overhung by the big tree you can see in the left of this picture.

The style might be Old Colonial Regency (1788 - circa 1840). I don't think it's Old Colonial Georgian (same period). It's definitely not Old Colonial Grecian (same period). Doesn't have the whatsit for that.

Former Prison warders' terraces Henderson Street Fremantle

Right next to the cop shop. Rumour has it these terraces used to house the prison warders. Seems likely, given their age and simplicity.

I'm going for Old Colonial Regency (1788 - circa 1840) again for these terraces. Could be Old Colonial Georgian (same period) but I'm sure they're not.

Had a look for the bastard, and the cop shop, in the WA heritage listings but they've got a shitty database.

Former Prison Warders' terraces Henderson Street Fremantle

They're right next to an identical row of terraces which is right next to the Freo Markets. Freo's not a big town.

Creepy but interesting

Dragonfly robot spies. Care of the bloody CIA. Who else?

They've been seen buzzing low over protest rallies in the good ol' U. S. of A. Which is creepy because hello! the CIA already have enough spy gear and video of protest rallies and what are they thinking about with these things? Spraying evil stuff directly into protesters' faces or something?

But really cool and interesting also because it's geeky and sci-fi and I want one for Christmas.

Okay. Woy Woy got hail. Just then. Nuffing exciting but. Pea sized and maybe 15 seconds of it.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Iron lace


Nose to the bloody grindstone again today and anyways, the light's crap for local photos. Overcast again but the forecast was for not a drop of rain to fall. Bastards.

160 High Street Fremantle

Private house once, most likely, and I'm pretty sure it housed a clutch of doctors for a few decades. Some sort of yoga thingy now.

Victorian Filligree (circa 1840 - c. 1890) again. Very nice. Deep shady verandas as well. Just the thing for before the Freo Doctor* comes in.

160 High Street, corner of Ellen Street. Coupla blocks from Bustling Downtown Freo.

* Freo Doctor. Sea breeze that comes ashore in Fremantle early afternoon.

160 High Street Fremantle

Yer classic Freo red-and-white for the main colours of the building then the Federation (circa 1890 - c.1915) colours on the details.

160 High Street Fremantle

There you go. Iron lace and a wooden valance. Don't say I don't spoil yer.

Embiggen it and tell me if you reckon those are sunflowers in the lace.

Point Street Fremantle

Point Street. Victorian Filligree (circa 1840 - c. 1890) this is. And in point of fact, this very row of terraces is in my Big Book of Australian Architecture as a classic example of the style. "Architect and [exact] date unknown" more's the pity.

And you see that blue car? I swear that's the same car parked in the photo in the book.

Point Street Fremantle

Look at that classic Victorian detail. All that missing is a couple of them urn thingies on the top there.

Point Street Fremantle
Embiggened version with clear detail

The lacy iron bits on the veranda and balcony are called, not surprisingly, iron lace. Well loved style then and now.

In the right top background you can see a wee snippet of the hideous highrise just a block away on Adelaide Street. I'll take a nice terrace over a highrise any day.

Water torture

Chained to yer desk today? Excellent photos of Ettalong Beach by Nelson at Flickr.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Umina Beach

Umina Beach from Mt Ettalong Road

This is what Umina Beach looks like when it's crowded. Drink it in.

Took these last week from Mt Ettalong Road on a warm day.

Remains of Umina Beach Pool

Remains of the old pool at Umina Beach, up the end amongst the rocks at the foot of Mount Ettalong. Not sure how long it's been there. Good fifty years at least I'm thinking.

It's been disintegrating for yonks but that lot of storms and big winds this year didn't do it any favours.

Didn't go walkies today. Too much fucking work still to do. I'm promising myself I'll piss work off on Wednesday but I've lied before.

And about that, this being yer own boss bizzo is a massive mound of malarky. It's s'posed to be all beer and skittles, sitting about in yer underpants having 3 hour lunches and stuff.

All I've had so far is sit at the computer in my underpants. No 3 hour lunches, wee bit of beer, no skittles. Nose to the bloody grindstone every day. It's tougher to bloody well stop working. No fair.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Pathway to Pearl Beach

Path to Pearl Beach

Pissed off work for the day and went walkies round to Pearl Beach. The bus goes there once in a blue moon and walking the road is a 50/50 chance of getting knocked off on a hairpin bend. Most of the locals use the path round the head of Mount Ettalong.

The sign says you could get doinked on the head by rocks falling off the cliff. And there's plenty of examples of said rocks, from marble sized to minivan sized. Popular path but.

Walk up the Mount Ettalong Road where it heads up to the first hairpin bend. Just before the bend there's a wee spot for pulling off the road. The guard-rail has a gap in it and the path goes from there. Not that I'm recommending you take a path where you could get doinked by rocks.

Pearl Beach, Pittwater in background

Bustling Downtown Pearl Beach. Busy innit? Actually, it is. There's a few dozen people on the beach, the school holidays crowd. Normally there's just an old bloke and his dog and a couple of skivving teenagers having a sunbake and a ciggy.

Come the Christmas holidays there'll be twice as many peeps on the beach as the holiday home crowd come up from Sydney and the holiday rentals along the beach begin to bulge at the seams.

The actual downtown part isn't visible in this photo. It's a shop-cum-cafe, a postbox (mailbox), a restaurant and a tiny town hall at the corner of Pearl Parade and Tourmaline Avenue.

Pittwater seen in the distance on the left. Northern Beaches of Sydney.

Barrenjoey Head to Green Point Pearl Beach

Not a view you'd ever tire of.

That faint line of brown cloud is the smoke from the still-smoldering bushfire in the Ku-ring-gai.

Bottlebrush blooming

Bottlebrush with bees buzzing about busily in the lull between the howling wind last weekend and the howling wind forecast for this weekend.

Waterfront cottage Pearl Beach

Nice little old place, bit of a backyard for a dog, right across from the beach. I want!

Mind, it's probably got a price tag of half a fucking mil with that location.

Pearl Beach Lagoon

Pearl Beach Lagoon. Still as. Only a street back from the beach and it's a bit weird looking at a very still lagoon and hearing the surf nearby.

Public access from Coral Crescent (squeeze down beside someone's fence on the corner of Agate Avenue or Pearl Beach Drive (can't remember which) or stroll down the path from the "public access" sign on Diamond Road.

Brilliant address or what? 'Where do you live, darling?' 'Diamond Road, Pearl Beach, darling. And you?'

Look closely and you can see a white Spoonbilled Whatsit in the tree on the left and two ducks under it.

The hill in the background is Mount Ettalong.

Pearl Beach Creek, Pearl Beach & Green Point*

Pearl Beach Creek, Pearl Beach & Green Point. (Not that Green Point, the other Green Point.)

Creeks twist and turn all over the Peninsula and this is one. Pearl Beach in the middle distance, Paul Landa Reserve on Green Point in the background.

Previous visits to Pearl Beach

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Dry as a dead dingo's donger

(Random walkies)

Barrenjoey Head, Lion Island & Commodore Heights from Umina Beach

Slept in till arse o'clock this morning. Tired as fuck. Down to the beach for lunch and a gander at the sky.

Faint haze of smoke still visible and there was 2 or 3 choppers hanging about over the Kur-ring-gai and around Woy Woy. The fire started on Monday, long weekend and the start of the bushfire season.

Perfect bloody bushfire weather again today. Dry as a dead dingo's donger and the wind blowing like buggery.

(Barrenjoey Head, Lion Island & Commodore Heights from Umina Beach.)

Fire down below

Map goes from the Central Coast lakes district up past Woy Woy, down past the Ku-ring-gai, Sydney, the Royal National Park and down the South Coast a bit.

Top arrow is the Ku-ring-gai National Park. Fire's still burning there. You can see a bit of smoke today from Umina Beach.

Bottom arrow's the Royal National Park. That fire's out as far as I know.

They both started on the Monday, which was a public holiday, the start of the school holidays and the start of the bushfire season.

Northern Beaches

Map showing the Ku-ring-gai outlined in green. There was a big fire there in January, at Bobbin Head if I remember right. This one's at West Head.

Eric Edgar Cooke

Trainspotty has kindly linked us to The Shark Net, which was the whatsit on Aunty last year about Cooke's murders in Perth in 1963. If you want yer well-filmed creepy as hell true crime, that's the video to get.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

The long drop

(WARNING: This post contains photographs of a mechanism of legal execution.)

Noose & chair Fremantle Prison

This is the gallows within the grounds of Fremantle Prison in Western Australia.

The prisoner was brought in through a door out of frame to the right of this picture, escorted by the chaplain and prison warders. He was made to stand on the closed platform of the gallows. The hangman and his assistant, the doctor and the prison governor came in through the second door, in the back right hand corner of the building. The total of people present in the building was thirteen, twelve and the prisoner.

Gallows Fremantle Prison

Most hangings at Fremantle Prison were carried out on a Monday morning at 8AM.

The gallows building contains nothing else. It's a tiny building next to the small block of solitary confinement cells, almost unnoticeable in the maze of buildings within the prison walls.

Before the prisoner was brought in, the hangman and his assistant had to test the trapdoor to make sure it would open when the lever was pulled, make sure the rope wasn't stretchy, work out from the prisoner's weight and height how long to make the rope and a few other things.

There was no drawing the thing out. It was to be got over and done with carefully but fast. "Once everything was in place the event happened very quickly. The time from leaving the condemned cell in Solitary Confinement to the actual hanging was around 60 seconds." (Freo Prison website)

The chair was to support a prisoner too sick or too frightened to stand.

The rails were for the prison warders. They each hung onto a rail with one hand and onto the prisoner with the other, boxing him in to keep him from struggling while the noose was fitted about his neck.

There were no family members or press present, no witnesses other than the official ones and the minister of religion requested by the prisoner.

Around the rope of the noose is a sleeve of leather. It prevented rope burns on the neck of the hanged man. This was a consideration for the family of the prisoner. After the hanging was officially declared the body was handed over to the family outside the gates of the prison.

The long drop Fremantle Prison

It is from the gallows the expression "the long drop" comes and this picture shows you just how long a drop it was. Thirteen feet from the platform (open in these pictures) to the floor below. Such a long drop is to help make the hanging quick.

After the drop the hangman and the doctor went down the thirteen steps into the pit and checked that the prisoner was fully dead. The last rites were then carried out by the chaplain or whatever minister of religion had been nominated by the prisoner.

The gallows building in Freo Prison was "only place of legal execution in Western Australia between 1888 and 1984. During that time 43 men and 1 woman were hanged there."

Every prisoner hanged was hanged for murder.

The only woman hanged at Fremantle was Martha Rendell. She was tried in 1908 and hanged on the 6th of October 1909. She was convicted of the murders of her children by "swabbing their throats with hydrochloric acid after they had complained of sore throats because she was jealous of the attention her husband gave them. Rendell protested her innocence to the last." (Freo Prison website)

Eric Edgar Cooke was the last person hanged at Freo Prison. They did him on the 26th of October 1964 and he's buried in an unmarked grave at Fremantle cemetery. Same cemetery where most of my family are buried.

Cooke was a serial killer. My Nana used to tell us horror stories about this guy when we were kids. In Perth in January 1963 there was a series of random shootings in the wee hours of the morning.

It was summer and people didn't lock their doors then apparently. Perth was considered a very safe place to live. On the hottest nights some people even slept out on their verandas. Cooke went round with a rifle and shot random strangers, most of them in their beds asleep. People were terrified and locksmiths were suddenly doing a roaring trade and politicians and police commissioners were hauled over the coals in the newspapers every day.

They caught him in November that year and tried him for a single murder. He confessed to more than eight more murders and five hit-and-runs. (ADB)

After Cooke, sentences for hanging were commuted to life imprisonment and no-one else was hanged in Western Australia. Capital punishment was taken off the WA law books in 1984. (Freo Prison website)

The last person hanged in Australia was Ronald Ryan in 1967. He was hanged in Pentridge in Victoria.

Ryan went straight after a bit of teenage petty theft but in his late twenties he got into debt gambling and started forging cheques. He was convicted but got a good behaviour bond instead of a stretch in the nick. But he kept offending and lead a break-and-enter gang turning over shops and factories. He was picked up again twice in the next few years and his missus divorced him while he was inside the second time.

In 1965 Ryan and another prisoner broke out of Pentridge nick and killed a warder in the process. They were picked up in 1966. It was Ryan who picked up the rifle and fired the shot and it was Ryan who was done for murder. The other guy got manslaughter.

Ryan was hanged at 8AM on the 3rd of February 1967 in Pentridge gaol. "Calm and composed on the scaffold, he addressed his last words to the hangman... 'God bless you. Whatever you do, do it quickly'. He was buried with Catholic rites in an unmarked grave in the grounds of Pentridge gaol." (ADB)