Archive for December 2011
William McInnes, star of stage and screen was born in Queensland but I won’t hold that against him. He has a beautiful speaking voice and has used that to great effect as the ‘voice’ of so many characters. I’m wondering when he’ll follow in the late Leonard Teale’s footsteps and set Australia’s poems into audio form.
McInnes has an interesting writing style, I quite like it. This book illustrates Australia and our interest in both sports and politics, it makes me wonder if I’m really Australian despite being born here as I don’t like either sport or politics.
McInnes takes a simple walk down to the shops or a visit to the beach to take us back to a particular time in our history and examine the sport of the day and the politics. His father was a big Labour supporter, giving our How To Vote cards during elections and even running on one occasion so he had some inside knowledge but he didn’t leave it at that, he’d often ask people about politicians of the day and share the other person’s thoughts.
I loved this book. I thoroughly recommend it to Australians new and old, and to other nationalities if you’re wanting to try and understand the Australian psyche and why the majority of us are so excited by sport. There is the odd swear word in it.
One day I’m going to ban Squid Ink from reading, one day. He’s now into Terry Pratchett and there’s no telling where he’ll go from there.
I hope everyone caught up with Going Postal on the ABC the other night. They reckon it was mucked about by Terry Pratchett, who insisted on him being in it as well? When he’s dead I’m sure he’ll come back as Death.
All Pratchett fans should sign up for the next Nullus Anxietas in Adelaide next year. I’m sure I saw something about Convivium and scarves. You can find more details here.
While I don’t have Going Postsl for sale you can find a modest selection of Terry Pratchett books and and a few other odd authors for sale here.
Thursday 1st December
Checked out and had a leisurely drive to Dargaville via the Kauri Forest and ferry. The Kauris are only a small part of the forest but tend to dwarf everything else. The main tree is about 2,000 years old and going strong.
Because our drive was so leisurely we only had 40 minutes for the museum in Dargaville, we did the best we could but I strongly recommend at least an hour and a half. It is a fabulous museum and seems to be mostly people’s collections donated to the museum. One room contains a small portion of someone’s accordian collection, he has around 300 of them and this room had maybe 40 or 50. There was a Scouting Display which was worth a longer browse, it had a couple of blankets covered with badges. I could have stayed much longer looking at the handful of old typewriters they had. One room was dedicated to maritime while another large room had some fabulous information about the gum diggers. This is Kauri gum, it’s very big business in this area as are souvenirs made of Kauri wood.
One exhibit we were able to leave to last is the masts from the Rainbow Warrior, they are erected outside and you can see them for miles. Some lovely person has donated lighting for them and they should be visible for quite some distance. It’s string lighting in the shape of the sails.
There’s a lot of information on the web about the Rainbow Warrior so I won’t give you too many details. Basically it was the first ship in the Greenpeace fleet and it was sunk in a New Zealand harbour by the French Intelligence Service killing one of the activists.
Dargaville is known as the Kumara (sweet potato) capital and we couldn’t leave the area without eating some. I did consider buying the cookbook at the I-site but was talked out of as I would have to massage every single recipe to be able to eat them. The lady at the I-site tried to talk me into buying some Kumara but with only one night in town and not knowing what the cooking facilities would be like I had to decline. In the end we went to a restaurant in town and bought desert, it was interesting and I’m glad we did as it was interesting but not something I want to repeat. Kumara and Macadamia Cheesecake with Kumara Gelato is not really my cup of tea. It was served with a tiny drizzle of berry coulis which was delicious and improved things, the Kumara Gelato improved with time but I’m not sure about the cheesecake.
We stayed the night at a very interesting place, the rooms are made of old railway carriages. Ours has an ensuite, a table, two chairs, queensize bed and a miniature kitchen with a fridge, toaster and kettle. There is also a communal toilet block, kitchen and lounge room. We bought some supplies at the local supermarket two minutes away and made use of the kitchen facilities, walking back to our railway carriage we heard the unmistakable sounds of bagpipes so we followed. It turned out it was a group who rehearse once a week and get together to play on different occasions, today they were practicing their Christmas Carols and when they were altogether they marched around town playing very nicely, I wanted to applaud but they hadn’t finished when they went out of sight.
This is my last post dedicated to my holiday in NZ. There is still plenty more I could have said but I’m going back to the topic of this website next week, it’s books, if you hadn’t guessed. I may come back with one more as I have mentioned witch’s hats or traffic cones a couple of times.
It must be useful to have so many tentacles, I wouldn’t mind being able to hold onto other things while holding my book up like this. It also makes it easier for Squid Ink to chase the Five Red Herrings at once. I’m sure Dorothy L Sayers didn’t have this mind when she wrote the book.
Monday 28th November
Checked out of the motel in good time and drove towards Paihia where we’re booked in for two nights. The trip was pleasant as the temperature was warming up. We stopped to do a walk and look at the Kauri trees and a waterfall, the walk would have been rather nice if it hadn’t been for the hilly bits, the scenery was lovely and the trees were amazing.
We stopped in Wellsford for a coffee, I had the interesting experience of being faced with some lovely gluten free choices in cakes, they were actually better looking than the regular cakes, I had a lovely lemon tart. The shop was the Caffe Cozy on the corner.
We arrived in the beautiful Paihia, found our motel and then checked out the details of our cruise and the possibilities for dinner. One of the places is a Kebabs place and he was very understanding about allergies and intolerances as his wife is celiac, we plan to eat there tomorrow night, tonight’s dinner was venison upon a kumara frittata with a blueberry “chutney” (really just warmed through blueberries, went very nicely with the venison).
Tuesday 29th November
The big thing today was the cruise. It was leaving Paihia at 9:30am and we didn’t want to miss it so we ended up being there very early. It was fantabulous, we visited a large number of the islands, from just offshore and received a potted history while waiting in the cove. At one stage they received notice there really was a pod of dolphins in a good area for viewing so off we went. They also asked for volunteers who wanted to possibly go swimming with them. We were told that only strong swimmers would be allowed to swim, they have various regulations they have to abide by to have a license and so were fairly strict about it telling us we needed to be able to swim overarm and be able to swim two lengths of the public pool, if we couldn’t do those then we were not strong enough swimmers. Six people jumped into the net, they were loaned snorkels, flippers and wetsuits, if they wanted them. Everyone else watched for the dolphins and yelled instructions, we did take lots of videos and photos of our own but it was much easier for us to see the dolphins and see them we did. Some of them were enjoying themselves playing in the wake of the boat so we had plenty of time to watch them. Apparently the boat crew name some of the dolphins, one of them was called Badjelly the Witch after the children’s book of the same name by Spike Milligan and her children were also named after the children of this character.
Here is a short video I took of the dolphins.
We stopped for lunch at one of the islands, we had the choice to eat on the island or on the boat, we ate on the boat and the went ashore to have a look around see the sights. We managed to take photos of a bird nesting. The wharf on this island had Zane Grey’s name on it apparently he spent some time living on that island so he could be up and out early in the morning before anyone else. He holds the unbeatable record for marlin fishing as there’s a limit on the number of fish you can catch in one day.
The day was over far too fast but as I stop typing to look at my sunburnt arms I feel it maybe finished just about on time. It’s always best to follow the instructions on the pack and put sunblock on every two hours, also, don’t use one that’s too far out of date it just doesn’t work well.
I didn’t end up having kebabs. The guy behind the counter had a whole day to think about it and to look at the ingredients, seeing as his wife had been diagnosed with celiacs only a few months ago he was very aware of the problems. Everything he looked at had issues and then he thought about the oil things had been cooked in and decided it wasn’t worth it. He’d gone to the trouble of pulling out a clean pair of tongs specially for me.
The following morning we left Napier behind in a cloud of dust, actually in a cloud of rain as it was raining but that’s not nearly so poetic. It’s a fairly quick drive to the oderiferous town of Rotorua and we arrived in time for a late lunch having previously stopped for a walk around Hawkes Bay, buying a Crowded House CD and a bite to eat.
Just giving you two days from my diary. I do promise not to do the whole trip and I’m almost at the point where I’m going to give up. I’ll go back to books some time next week. These were just too stunning for words.
Friday 18th November
Left Queenstown in good time to drive to the Fox Glacier. We stopped in Haast for a picnic lunch and also to buy petrol. We were totally stunned by the price of petrol – $2.37 a litre, by the time you make allowance for the exchange rate it’s still really expensive.
There are so many bridges in the south island. I started noticing they have numbers as well as names at number 7,255. Some of them are really big while others are so small you could easily miss them without the sign. The largest went on forever, like many of them it was one lane only but it had two passing bays. They are signed so that you know whether you’ve got right of way and mostly that works well but just occasionally you can’t see if there’s anyone you should be giving way to so we just went and hoped for the best. The fact that I’m writing this indicates all is okay.
The scenery here has so many WOW moments. Rounding a corner we look up and go WOW. It’s easy to see why so many movies are being made in NZ. I’ve tried to take so many photos from the car, some of them succeeded.
We went for a walk to the Fox Glacier. It’s only a short drive to the car park and then you get some seriously amazing views, at that point you have the choice to wander around the carpark or to do the short walk to be as close to the glacier as the rangers deem safe. Where you walk is where the glacier used to be, so sometimes it is very smooth and other times rather rocky, one part is rather steep and there are a couple of streams to cross, I will have to view photos of the walk after the first stream as I didn’t have the courage to even attempt to cross it. On the drive they’ve thoughtfully erected signs to show where the glacier was at different times. Quite some way back is a sign for 1750 and another one much closer was for 1935, it gives you some idea of how much the glacier has retreated over the centuries. Apparently there’s some controversy as to why the glaciers are retreating, some people ascribe it to global warming but this is challenging as it depends how much snow falls on the top and how much melts at the bottom. If the amount of snow falling at the top is more than the amount melted at the bottom then the glacier will increase but this could be due to global warming as more water could evaporate into the clouds and come down on the glacier as snow. I’m told it’s a very complex issue and I’m sure I haven’t done it justice.
The room at the Lake Matheson Motel is very nice with very modern facilities quite at odds with the modest cost. The staff are very nice and I fell into the trap they have in their office and bought some of the fundraising chocolate conveniently located under my nose, I’m sure we’ll enjoy it.
Saturday 19th November
Rose to find the mountains almost clear of mist and took another photo before heading out again. The previous day I’d taken lots of photos of the mountains with their various coverings of mist so it was nice to see them without. We then drove onto the Franz Josef Glacier. This walk while being an easier walk, as it has no streams to cross using stepping stones, is much longer, it’s roughly a 6 km round trip and we did it in about an hour and a half. It starts off in a forest and I felt a bit silly with my sunhat on but when we suddenly left the forest and found ourselves on the rocks I changed my mind. Just like the Fox Glacier some of it was smooth and other parts were rocky. The path was easily seen as the Rangers had set up green and yellow posts to follow. This time I made it all the way to end about 100 metres to the glacier being about half the distance you could get to the Fox Glacier. Guided groups could go further and, at least for the Fox Glacier, it was well worth it as you pay $12 a person and are driven to the glacier carpark, guided on the walk, given information and taken much closer.
Hokitika was our next port of call, it’s an old gold mining town, a centre for Greenstone and Whitebait. We’d planned on going there as my OH had found some newspaper clippings about a great-great-uncle of mine, he’d apparently been the landlord of one of the pubs in Revell Street, one of the many pubs in this street, we stayed in the only one still standing but we don’t know if it’s the same building as he hasn’t found those details yet. You couldn’t get much closer to the beach than our room, we could drive the car right up to the back door and the beach was just beyond that, only a matter of 50m away. We slept to the sound of the ocean all night, very nice.
There are so many souvenir shops in this small town. They all sell Jade, also called Greenstone. We bought some souvenirs and admired the workmanship. We also took some time out to remember the men lost in the Pike River disaster, one shop had their photos and a brief description in their window while another had their names written on stones and a candle burning.
Our dinner were Whitebait meals. Whitebait are very small fish and they are caught by the truckload, very large truckloads. They are very expensive being $150 per kg. The only way they seem to cook them is in patties, our meal was light on fish in comparison with a video I watched in the museum. They seemed rather bland and while I’m happy to have tried them I don’t plan on having them again. We both had an upset tummy for a couple days following this meal, maybe something wasn’t washed properly.
Poor Squid Ink, he gets into such trouble at times. He really shouldn’t have read the Day of the Triffids by John Wyndham.