Monday, January 29, 2018

Visiting Geelong

Just thought I'd add a few words and some photos from the week I spent in Geelong with Work attending the an indigenous ministry conference.

The highlight of the conference was getting opportunity to listen to the Key Note Speaker Mr Harley Eagle. Harley is an expert on trauma experienced by First Nations people. A very caring and understanding man I wish I'd been able to attend every session but I had some other responsibilities during some of his talk. Here's a brief clip of Harley playing flute. 

Sorry this post isn't about what I was officially there to do, I'll have to skip that commentary. 
Now back to me talking about my own simple life.

I was fortunate to be visiting Geelong for work, accompanying a group of people to a conference, but there wasn't a great deal of actual work involved. My role was driver, gofer, carer and administrative fixit boy. 

Being a relatively small group and due to the fact that the organizers had taken responsibility for basic services the workload was ligher than usual although as usual I was required to be on call 24/7 so there wasn't much free time. I attended the meetings and assisted people with personal needs that weren't covered by the organizers but thankfully meals, agenda, minutes, video and camera duties were all taken care of. 

Geelong Grammar - By appearances it really is all that!
The venue was Geelong Grammar! Being a public school boy I had never actually seen a school like this. Fair Dinkum! It's like something out of a movie about the British aristocracy in the 19th century! The school was surrounded by immaculately cared for gardens and perfectly trimmed hedges! The sports oval was covered in a 1cm high flush of perfect green turf that springs back when you step on it... (Oops I wasn't supposed to step on the grass).

Being school holidays this was the time for maintenance at the school, a huge team of people were busy trimming bushes, polishing windows and applying the annual coat of paint to the sports pavilion. Yes that's right, they paint everything once a year!  

Dining Hall

When I first entered the dining hall I thought I was in Hogwarts!

The Grammar is located in Corio, before you get into Geelong in a space between the heavily industrialized North Shore and the wetlands on Hovell's Creek.

Approaching the school you might think you're headed to a wasteland but if you go for a short walk toward the coast you can find a great little trail that follows Hovell's creek past Lime Burner's Lagoon and some fairly under appreciated wetlands.

Romulus - Where I left him

Lime Burner's Lagoon Jetty

My busy schedule for the week didn't allow much exploring but I managed to bring my bike (Romulus) down from Melbourne so cycled the coastal trail before breakfast and after dinner each day. The weather varied from quite cool to very bloody hot (43C) 
Romulus beside Hovell's creek trail sign. (with bullet hole)

A brief break allowed me time to visit an old work friend who brought me to his home which is nestled in a quiet little corner of North Shore. He'd moved there with his partner to participate in a community development program are Norlane called Urban Seed. Apparently the program has morphed a little since its inception. Funding avenues may have changed but at it's core, I am told, is a decent group of people who are committed to sustaining a vibrant and caring community. Norlane is in a part of Victoria that has experienced decades of economic hardship. 

I enjoyed visiting North Shore. At first glance it doesn't look like much, just a few streets of old houses caught between the refinery and various other dockside industries. In fact it was quite a nice place, a quiet corner close to the sea, and not too far from town. 

In the shadow of what can appear to be a crumbling industrialized wasteland, are little pockets and sanctuaries that give hope and allow life to flourish. There was quite a lot of bird life to be found in the shrubs and wetlands, people came to fish or to walk and I even saw a few hares in the paddocks. 
These are the moments I seek. The 'Thin Spaces'.

View of You Yangs from Hovell's creek

I hope to get back there some time to visit the Church they have converted into a community hub, meet some of the people who have devoted themselves to the project and explore some forgotten corners of the bay if I can. 

Jetty @ Limeburner's lagoon

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Beach path

First day in Melbourne was off to a great start! 
It was hot over 35 C! What better place to be than down on the bay.

I know I'm falling into some very familiar habits but visiting certain places has become a more than a nostalgic trip down memory lane, this little ritual is beginning to forge new memories of my old hangouts. This time I thought I'd extend my range and continue along the beach trail to Mordialoc.

It's such an easy journey on the train. I can cycle to the local train station, take my bike on the train, change lines at Flinders Street (hoicking my bike up the stairs or escalator) complete my train ride at Sandringham and the beach!

The obligatory homage to the Cerberus can be assumed but on a hot day the beach at Half Moon Bay is crowded and somewhat unpleasant with jetskis buzzing around. Busy days here should be avoided. The water gathers a sheen of oily residue from all the sunscreen and coconut scented tanning oil! It really can be disgusting... on the other hand if you're worried about getting burned you can just take a quick dip in the shallows and step out with an even coating of whatever sun-resistant slime happens to be the flavor of the day.

I didn't swim at the Cerberus but decided to explore the coast a little further. The beach road bicycle path passes some fairly interesting little spots and there are a few secluded beaches along the way that don't see nearly as many oil drenched sun bathers. I managed to find a path to the base of the Bluff in front of the Great Southern Hotel where a bunch of pelicans weren't too perturbed by my presence. I had that little space all to myself.

Although I'd been to Black Rock before I hadn't realized just how interesting it would be under water. I had a refreshing swim here and the water was quite clear. I didn't go snorkeling but could easily see that this rocky outcrop with it's sponges and water plants would be a fantastic place to explore.

Wanting to get home before dark I ended my tour at Mordialoc just before the river inlet. I turned around and headed back the way I had come. Rather than catch the train I planned to ride all the way back to Flinders Street Station along the coast. I totally recommend this ride! The path is really well designed some sections even have separate paths for bicycles and pedestrians! 

Plenty of weird and wonderful things to see along the way, not so much in terms of natural beauty but stuff of human creativity and just the humans in general. There's a lot of them and they like to get out and be seen. There are a lot of posers at the beach and they are all so beautiful and ugly at the same time. It's a kind of magic that inspires the primal desire to compete or contempt... ;) 

Being a week day the path became quite busy after 4pm. Cyclists on road bikes come barreling down on you and I noticed several pedestrians become unnerved as a lycra  clad hero wooshed past them at high speed. Thankfully all the bicycle traffic was heading out of town so I didn't have to worry about being constantly overtaken or getting in anyone's way. I was pretty much free to plod along slowly gawking at the freaks, the mansions, the yachts and the posers. 

When I arrived at the station I was able to walk straight through the doors of my train, which departed two minutes later. Made it home with daylight to spare.

Another great day.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Forage abundance

Mobile again.

Last year I was given the news that I would have the opportunity to travel to Geelong to assist with a work conference. I couldn't believe my luck. My family all live in Melbourne, I could spend a couple of days with them  before heading to Geelong.
Whenever I am in Melbourne and don't have the responsibility of managing travel for a family, bicycle is my preferred mode of transport.
Melbourne is a treasure trove of old neighborhoods, lanes and parklands that are really great to explore on a bike. 

$20 bike + $10 backpack (1960s vintage) preparing for commute

As an affirmation of my freedom I always prefer to leave the airport on foot or by bicycle. Several times I have acclimatized to the Melbourne environment by walking from the airport to my sister's place in Kialba, once I tried walking to my parents place but I have to admit my fitness wasn't quite up to scratch and the detours I'd taken added too many foot miles to my trip so I bailed with only a few km to go.

Melb Airport - Fawkner - Watsonia

This time I took an old bike with me and cycled the Western Ring Road, the same path I'd tried walking a couple of years earlier. Riding was infinitely easier and sections which were previously under construction are now open.

After putting the bike together the hardest part of the journey is actually finding a way out of the madness that is the airport carpark and associated roads! While a lot of Melbourne infrastructure is fairly bicycle friendly, the Airport is definitely not!

Although exiting the airport is a bit of tenuous task, once on the ring road the ride becomes much simpler and far more enjoyable.
An example of how cycle paths can be incorporated into existing infrastructure 

Cycling to me is not about sport or fitness, it's just something I do for the sheer joy of it! Basically I get a buzz out of moving in that elusive space between traffic and pedestrian, somewhere in the grey area where registration and insurance don't yet venture, where money does not determine your mobility and alternate routes are the norm!

I love the freedom of being able to explore at a leisurely pace while traveling, virtually free, a journey that would cost me over $50 in a taxi or over $20 on the stupid airport shuttle that would only dump me at a train station where I'd still have to travel back out to where I needed to be.

My favorite part about this ride is the abundance of food that grows along land connected to the ring road. Both wild edible weeds and garden plants that overhang the fences.


Scottish thistle (terrible weed but pretty and edible)

Blackberries are spreading again, yes they  are invasive, if kept trimmed they provide good tucker
Plums overhanging fence

Opportunistic gardens. I have no qualms about taking fruit that overhangs fences but chose not to touch these gardens as they were very well cared for and obviously of higher value to the owner.

There are so many treasures and so much beauty in the smallest of things. If you travel by bicycle, with your eyes and heart open, chances are you will discover treasures that only a cyclist can know.

At this time of year there's a lot of fruit to be found, much of it is still ripening but I was fortunate to find enough ripened fruit to have a reasonable feed. 
By the time I reached my destination I had a belly full of fruit, both wild and domestic! 
Blessed is the life of a Gleaner and a forager.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Buckets and Lists

Dear Blog, Happy 2018.

Finally a chance to do the blog stuff.

OK I'm finally starting to acknowledge that I am approaching the no longer a kid stage of my existence and presence on this planet in this flesh. The mobility vessel that contains my Me is beginning to show it's reluctance to bounce and I may in fact be mortal with a use by date just like the rest of them!

Acknowledging that I have spent a lot of time moaning and grumbling about all the things I don't get to do I also have become determined that if I do not set out to do some of those things despite the difficulty of finding available slivers of time, money etc... I will likely never get another chance.

So the most practical cliche thing I can do seems to  be to create a Bucket List!

The list of all the things I intend to do and plans to make them happen.

After creating said list, when is the best time to start ticking boxes?


Commencement of List:

Walks :

Great Ocean Walk
Jatbula Walk

Other stuff....... (To be continued, probably in private but know that I have started making my plans!)