Friday, November 18, 2016


Another weekend break possible thanks to cheap Jetstar flights and AirBnB accomodation. Hurray!

A practical tip: on Sundays the public transport in Sydney is capped at $2.50, so you can travel on the trains, ferries, and buses around Sydney practically for free.

Old and new.

A model of the CBD under the glass floor of the Sydney library

A monument to a pioneer woman

Queen Victoria Building - a 19th century shopping centre.

Darling Harbour

Brutalist architecture near the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

The Rocks - Sydney's old town.

The Rocks

The Rocks Museum documents history of the native people of the Sydney area. 

Behind Circular Quay

Sydney ferries

On a ferry to Parramatta
On a ferry to Parramatta, the river quickly becomes narrower.

A typical double-decker Sydney train.

CBD packed tight.

A cruise ship "parked" right in the centre of Sydney - Circular Quay

The view of the Opera House from the bridge on a rainy day.

People sitting in the lower deck have a good view of other people's feet and knees.

Sydney train from a ferry.

Sydney Trains A set from the front.
An interesting thing about Sydney Trains' fleet is that it is custom made for Sydney, currently by companies in China and Australia. There are no labels inside or outside the trains that would tell you who the manufacturer is or what model it is. This method is applied in other cities and to other public transport vehicles in Australia. The buses in Gold Coast, for example, are often of the "no-name" brand.

A postcard from Sydney

Postcard #2 - Darling Harbour
Maritime Museum
Sam Fiszman was a Polish Jew who after the war settled in Australia and was active in the Labor Party. A park overlooking Bondi beach bears his name and features his credo: "I am better than no man and no man is better than I".  I'm not a fan of that credo - the first part sounds stupid: almost everyone alive is better than Hitler or Stalin, the second part sounds like an excuse for any wrong thing you might do.

Postcard #3
Two Canberra class landing-helicopter-dock (LHD) ships of the Royal Australian Navy (RAN): built in Spain and in Australia.
The remaining pictures are from the Australian Navy Museum on Garden Island.
The middle section of a WW2 Japanese midget submarine.

A humorous take on Australian Navy. 
Self-deprecation is part of Australian culture.

Postcard #4 - a view from the top of Garden Island

Australia had and has strict immigration policies, including sometimes deportation of whole groups of people. For another example see: Pacific Island Labourers Act 1901

I didn't know that Australia took part in occupation of Japan.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Currumbin Swell Festival 2016

Bad weather = good parking. Beach art 2016 from Gold Coast. First the oversized turtle and deck chairs:

Then my favourites, this one for the little story that went with it:

Patricia Hoffie & David Sawtell - "Kyoto Protocol Revenant"

These bikes worked as a windmill with 4 little passengers:
Village Bike - "Wind in the Wheelos"

A lot of work went into welding these chains into masks, they are smooth to touch:

Mike Van Dam - "Life is a Masquerade"
Scrap metal pigeons with the inflatable turtle in the background:

Dave Hickson - "Pigeons for Peace"
 My favourite, it makes you want to touch it (I did - it was pleasant):

Ben Carroll - "Nothing But Time"

Saturday, August 20, 2016

NTV Mir - 18 Aug 2016 - Another Lie

I've caught another lie of Russian TV yesterday in NTV's Mir news from 18.08.2016 transmitted by Australian SBS on 19.08.2016. 

In the segment about possible moving of atomic weapons from Turkey to Romania, around 4:45 mark, the station tells its viewers: 

"[...] experts remind that even during Cold War, in Romania, as in other Warsaw Pact countries, there were no Soviet nuclear weapons". 

There were.  

Prior to the end of the Cold War, the Soviet Union maintained large amounts of troops on Polish territory. These troops were equipped with nuclear weapons.
After the dissolution of the Soviet Union altogether 3,000 Soviet nuclear weapons were withdrawn from Central Europe – 2,100 warheads for ground forces and 900 for the air force, among them SS-21, Scud and SS-23 missile warheads; nuclear artillery; and nuclear bombs. Moscow started the deployment of these weapons in the late 1960s. The majority of Soviet nuclear weapons were stationed in East Germany (16 sites) but there were nuclear weapons in Czechoslovakia, Hungary and Poland, as well.

Thursday, August 11, 2016


Another weekend trip thanks to Jetstar: this time to Cairns (pronounced like 'cans' - no 'i', no 'r').

First, the good. The location of the city and the approach to the airport are spectacular:

Cairns airport
The airport seen from the "blue arrow" walking track on Mt Whitfield.
The city seen from the "red arrow"
From the ground level - looking towards The Pier shopping centre.
The shoreline (The Esplanade) with playgrounds and sports facilities:
One of the playgrounds on Esplanade
Beach volleyball courts and the hospital on Esplanade
Art installation near the wharf
I think I saw these metal rocks at the Swell Festival in Gold Coast
The Tanks Arts Centre, the Botanical Gardens, the Rainforest Boardwalk, the Butterfly Garden, the Esplanade:
Near the entrance to the Tanks Arts Centre. The tanks were used during WW2 to store oil.
Art gallery in tank 4
Butterfly garden
Rainforest Boardwalk

There are a few historical buildings in Cairns.
RSL (Returned and Services League) club
Former Customs House, built in 1937, now a Cafe
The Boland Centre, built in 1913
Airport - top left, Tanks Arts Centre, Botanical Gardens and Mt Whitfield below.
The Rainforest Boardwalk to the right of Botanical Gardens.
Top: Esplanade and the wharfs on the right. 

Second, the bad.

Primarily the design of the city: it was designed for cars, not people. The streets are too wide, the sidewalks in the CBD too narrow. It is easy to park, it is hard to walk or ride a bicycle. Walk 150 meters, come to a red light, press a button, wait for a couple of minutes to cross the street, walk 150 meters, come to a red light... There are no shortcuts for pedestrians, no little parks, very few trees. There are a few historical buildings, but it is hard to spot and appreciate them in the sea of cars.

Also, the neglect and mishmash of buildings.

And the noise: of helicopters landing near one end of Esplanade and planes taking off near the other end, of cars at parts of the red and blue arrow walking tracks (Captain Hook Highway) and everywhere else in the city.

Trinity inlet at low tide provides an opportunity to see mudskippers, but doesn't look pretty.

Promenade or esplanade? Trying to confuse tourists?
Most graves in the city cemetery are neglected.
Too wide streets - same problem as in Mackay.
These streets were designed maybe 100 years ago,
and are wide enough for an avenue of an imperial capital.
Today Cairns is 52 km long north-south and has a population of 157 thousand people.
This street is in the centre of the city.
Neglected old houses.
This one looks abandoned, but there are others in not much better shape with people living in them.
Oh, and this is off Esplanade.
Former Telegraph Office barely visible because of cars.
The Central Hotel, built in 1909 - it would be nice if this was a pedestrian plaza, not a sea of asphalt. 

A Peace Park plaque that could use some loving care.

United Nations Manifesto 2000 in Peace Park on Esplanade
 - please maintain it, these are beautiful ideas worth promoting.

Mishmash of new and old off Esplanade
The first tank you see of the Tanks Arts Centre - I thought that was it until I found the other tanks.
No people, no business, concrete ugly sidewalk, and the street so wide, the other side barely fits in the camera.

In Mackay I saw a city beautification project in progress. In Cairns I saw nothing like that. From that short trip I got an impression that Cairns is primarily a base for reef and national park trips, and not a destination in itself.