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More shooting
Firearms and Alcohol
Perfect Sorbet
Passage Peak
Hamilton Island Butterfly
Secret Island Hideaway
No Windsurfing
Tropical Weather
Hamilton Island Arrival
Cheaper to give it away...
Ship and Rainbow
The Mark of the Idiot
Giant Mushrooms
Two Big Ships
Sat Jun 30 07:43:21 2007

More shooting

practice makes perfect

I still need to blog about the reef, the Beach House restaurant, more windsurfing and a load of other stuff. First, I'm going to show off. These are the last two sets of five shots with a .22 rifle yesterday:

Ten shots. six bulls Ten shots. Six bulls. Four nines.

We're heading back to the frozen south today. Melbourne is at 13C.

Fri Jun 29 07:38:59 2007



There was no bloggage yesterday. You can either do stuff, or you can write about it. Yesterday was firmly on the 'doing stuff' side.

After a breakfast (without doughnut) we went to the beach and grabbed a catamaran. There wind was light and offshore. Since the shore is a mountain, this led to frustrating gusty sailing. Still, lots of fun. It was good just to sail a fast boat again.

When Other People had had enough, I went and had a chat with the windsurfing instructor. He gave me another beginner board and a slightly bigger sail - 4.5sq m. I had a happy time with this. Controlled stepping off into the shallows does not constitute a splosh, no matter what Some People say. I didn't fall off at all.

I am starting to get the hang of it. I can usually make the board point where I want, and can turn it around. For some reason all the best gusts happened while I was storming towards the beach. I didn't actually impale any toddlers, but I could have done.

Burblechaz on a windsurfer Windsurfer. With neither wind nor surf.

Next, we kitted up for sea and headed down to the marina. After the usual faffing with wetsuit and fin selection, on to the boat and off to reef. This will get blogged when we have the pictures back. Brief overview:

  • Fish!
  • Even in the tropics, you should dress up warmly
  • Fish!
  • It is possible to swim slower with fins than without.
  • Fish!
  • Man Overboard (for exercise)
  • Fish!
Wed Jun 27 17:17:12 2007

Firearms and Alcohol

the order is critical

We took the bus long way round the island to the Target Sports Centre. 'Target Sports' is, of course, a euphemism for 'Lots and lots of guns'. After signing the usual terrifying disclaimer, we forked over fifty bucks for fifty rounds of .22 ammo and started blasting away.

We started with a Smith and Wesson revolver, chambered for .22. The range is about 25m long. As will be recounted elsewhere, some people have a natural talent for this. However, I would like to present my second set of six shots for your perusal:

Bullseyes Please ignore the sighting shots

Six shots. Three bulls. Smug.

Next we grabbed a couple of little rifles to use up the rest of our ammo. Rumours that I managed to pull the bolt entirely free from my gun will not be dignified with comment. My general woeful performance is best described as consistent. Excellent grouping. Just in the wrong ring.

We used our last five shots to decide who was buying lunch. A perfect bull was scored, but it was I who forked over for the lunchtime beers. Beginners luck.

Wed Jun 27 16:59:52 2007


remarkably little splosh

The rain held off, the gales subsided and the beach team had to resort to idiocy to keep the beach closed. On the dot of 0830 they found themselves surrounded by a restless crowd who were not happy to discover that the keys to the beach hut had been misplaced.

The catamaran briefing started while I tried to hide from the biting wind. Once the keys to the hut had been located, and the first cat sailors despatched towards their capsizes, the windsurfing briefing began.

I listened attentively, laughed at the jokes and tried to remember the important points. It seems that the ability to distinguish right from left may be a requirement. Oh dear.

Briefing completed, we set up our vast boards with tiny sails, and gave it a go. I was first off the beach. Ten metres out, the instructor suggested I try turning round. Tilt the rig forwards, and it starts to bear away. Cool. Shuffle gently round the board. Neat. Pull the rig back into the breeze. Heading for the beach. Spiffy. As the instructor turns his attention to the others, I try a few more turns. Basically, the board gybes as the rig tacks and the whole ensemble drifts to leeward.

I survived a few more turns, and a few gusts and made it back to the beach 100m to leeward of where I'd launched. As far as I can tell, windward perfomance is achieved by trudging through the shallows.

I repeated this performance a couple of times before the tide dropped too far. It was all starting to make sense, and I was getting some sort of control over direction. I was also having a blast. It's fun. I can't have been doing it right, though - I didn't fall in once. Tomorrow I will have a bigger sail.

Tue Jun 26 23:26:12 2007

Perfect Sorbet

my life is complete

The scallop bisque was sweet yet assertive. The Yarra Valley Chardonnay balanced it perfectly. The Pinot Grigio was excellent, but perhaps a little underpowered for the kingfish on an asian salad. Other People started with a few delicious prawns, preceding battered barramundi on a nest of deep-fried potato segments. Do not, please, confuse this with fish and chips. Fish and chips comes with ketchup.

The sticky date and fig dessert was a major success in Certain Quarters. I had the trio of sorbets de jour.

The first was a pleasing confection of melon. Light, clean and pure. The middle one was cucumber. I am not, normally, partial to cucumber. However, this was lifted from cloying sweetness with a good dose of citrus juices.

Finally, chilli sorbet.

Chilli. Sorbet. Cold, icy, fiery, agonizing perfection.

I will die in a state of grace, for I have eaten Chilli Sorbet.

Tue Jun 26 17:10:39 2007

Passage Peak

239 metres

By the time the rain stopped, the tide had gone out, so sailing wasn't an option. My competitive energies were neatly channelled elsewhere. "Why don't you go and climb Passage Peak?" she asked. "I'll stay here and, um, encourage you."

I kitted up with hat, waterproof, water and camera and started climbing. It's about 2.5kms from the hotel to the top, and is meant to take around 90 minutes. I didn't rush, got lost only once and stopped for lots of pictures. 45 minutes. Boo yah.

Steep Descent Path goes up, path goes down. On average, it's level.
Rain-cut channel Perspective is everything
Passage Peak Ascent Once you get past the tricky bit, it gets steep.
Passage peak ascent The path is the stream. The stream is the path. It's probably a metaphor.
View from Passage Peak Yet Another Evil Overlord's Secret Tropical Hideout.
View from Passage Peak You can see our room from here.
Much beer was earned today. Off to the bar.
Tue Jun 26 09:52:37 2007

Hamilton Island Butterfly

because it's pretty

We took this picture before the rain started. As you can tell from the rate of blogging, the rain hasn't stopped.

Hamilton Island Butterfly Pretty
Tue Jun 26 09:25:39 2007

Secret Island Hideaway

infiltrating the enemy base

Hamilton Island is, of course, the Secret Island Hideaway for an Evil Criminal Mastermind. The Hidden Missile Silo is inside Passage Peak

Passage Peak "Open the silo doors"
There are henchmen everywhere, masquerading as tourists. You can tell their true nature from the transport they use:
Hamilton Island Buggy Henchperson at speed
Hamilton island buggies More henchpeople expected soon
My mission is to locate the Evil Mastermind, get them to reveal their dastardly plan, steal their cat and make good my escape by mini-submarine. Or I could have a beer instead.
Tue Jun 26 09:19:29 2007

No Windsurfing


Apparently, drenching rain and a howling gale constitute valid reasons to close the beach. No amount of pouting, cajoling or bribery had any effect on this decision.


Tue Jun 26 07:39:05 2007

Tropical Weather


The drizzle started around fivish yesterday. It gradually got heavier, until in the middle of the night it became torrential. It's still pissing down this morning.

Tropical rain It's worse now

There's only one possible respone to weather like this - I'm going windsurfing.

Mon Jun 25 15:21:57 2007

Hamilton Island Arrival

Flying the missed approach

We crawled out of bed at some unearthly hour on Saturday morning and dragged ourselves to the airport. After leaving my watch at security (muppet), and surviving the world's nastiest chocolate croissant, we boarded the plane and flew up to Queensland. Allegedly, I snored.

After about three hours, the flaps went out, the gear went down and we descended. And descended. The visibility remained piss-poor. Just as I started to get a bit tense, the engines spooled up and we flew the missed approach. Whoops. Cloud to ground level. We loitered around in the general vicinity, waiting for the Sydney flight to turn up and have a go. They got in fine, so we tried again. This time the cloud cleared at about 1500 feet and we landed on the numbers. The runway is a bit on the short side, even for a light A320. Lots of reverse thrust.

On disembarking, our first imperssion of the island was the weather - cold and wet. Apparently, this is the coldest it has been for eight years.

The airport has an authentic tropical third-world feel. They only had one set of steps for the plane. The luggage took half an hour to unload, and was then dumped on the tarmac for the passengers to scramble over. Antigua does it better.

On the plus side, the Reef View hotel has everything we could want, the beer is reasonable, the food is excellent and it's ten degrees warmer than Melbourne.

Fri Jun 22 22:20:37 2007


we're going to the tropical north

Tomorrow I shall be spreading the world's worst cold along the airlanes from southern Victoria to northern Queensland. I am planning to sneeze a lot, and shake hands as often as is socially acceptable. I am a sharing person, just like this rhinovirus. On arrival at Hamilton Island, the plan is simple: for seven days I will:

  • sleep
  • sail
  • swim
  • snorkel
  • swill beer
  • sample sumptuous supper
  • snooze

There may be other things, but you get the general theme. Bloggage may be light.

{Achoo. How do you do?}

Tue Jun 19 20:43:20 2007

Cheaper to give it away...

...than throw it away

The meat hall at Vic Market is a strange place. If you arrive early, you have maximum choice and pay full price. Arrive late, you get the Last Sausage. On Sunday I rocked up a bit after noon. The car park was still full, and the arty-crafty bit was heaving. The cow-dismantling section was less busy. I got the rack of lamb from my favourite stall, the Porterhouse steak from a good place I use a lot, and then went hunting for eye fillet. Decks were being swabbed, chlorine permeated the breeze and the stall with the piece I wanted was shutting up shop.

"Can I have about 300 grams of that one please?" "Sure. Eight dollars."

So how, dear reader, did I end up with 700 grams of prime eye fillet?

Note for the British - this is a pound and a half of prime, aged fillet steak for three quid. Now stop drooling.

Mon Jun 18 17:47:47 2007

Ship and Rainbow

happy thoughts

After the last entry, I thought we might all need some cheering up, so here's a picture of a ship heading out to sea under a rainbow.

Ship under rainbow Not a leprechaun in sight.
Mon Jun 18 17:35:17 2007


Murder in Melbourne

Three people were shot in the centre of Melbourne this morning. This is not a common event.

When our usual tram failed to arrive, we walked over the Collins Street bridge to the next main stop. Collins Street was wedged, and all trams were all being diverted. As we walked further we saw more and more blue flashing lights. Several helicopters were flying around slowly.

Our usual route was clearly not going to work, so we walked down King Street and caught a tram along Flinders Street. The CBD was cordoned off by serious-looking police officers with guns. We heard rumours of a shooting on the tram. The Age has the full story.

Fri Jun 15 21:19:00 2007


cold, too

The visibility today was so low the trams were getting lost. Hard to do on rails, but they managed it.

Tram in fog If you keep going, you'll see something you recognize...
Fog Still foggy
Fog at Telstra Dome Since neither team can kick more than ten metres, this shouldn't be a problem.

More over there.

Mon Jun 11 22:06:46 2007


to shoot a bird, you must think like a bird

Just west of here, in Altona, is Jawbone Conservation Area. Braving freezing winds, we hauled the long lens there today. 176 shots. Some were OK. This pacific gull wasn't impressed.

Pacific gull Better out than in

The good stuff will be posted at the other place. I stole one shot, though:

ibis It's a good day when you have better shots than this
Mon Jun 11 17:08:36 2007

The Mark of the Idiot


Besides being attacked by killer mushrooms, I had a lovely ride yesterday. I parked at the top of Lysterfield Park, hammered down Red Gum Trail and was somewhat surprised by a fallen tree across a fast bit. I held it all together, picked an alternate line, followed some tyre marks, saw a short cut, went for it and realised why no-one else had tried it. A bone-jarring landing from a three-foot drop-off with no preparation was quite enough to dispel any remaining bravado.

I did Middle Trail with a little less enthusiasm, crossed over at Native Track onto Buckle Trail, and headed for the lower car park. Despite nearly being digested by wild saprophytes, I made it to the bottom, crossed the dam and climbed Upper Blair Witch and Hug trails to the car park. The sun was getting low, so I didn't stop for long to chat to this chap:

kangaroo Less than two metres from the trail

I decided to have a quick hack around the competition trail to get some more climbing in. I hammered up to the mountain top, and was just starting the fast traverse out when my path was obstructed by another fallen tree.

Having negotiated lots of these over the last few sessions, my confidence was high. I approached with moderate speed, hefted the front wheel over, landed the freshly-lubricated chain ring on the log and fell over sideways. It happened in slow motion. Leg down, miss log, slide off saddle, still can't touch, hit ground, collabse under bike. Poot.

The bike was fine. For the next few days, however, I shall bear the Mark of the Idiot:

gory injured hand Well, I won't try that again. For a while.
Mon Jun 11 17:01:23 2007

Giant Mushrooms

Unbelievably vast saprophytes

Pottering around Vic Market yesterday, I came across a stall selling wild mushrooms. Knowing little of antipodean mycology, I decided to give these a miss. However, a couple of them did look rather tempting. If you had an army to feed.

huge mushrooms What did they feed those on?

Later in the day, on one of my usual gentle tours of Lysterfield Lake Park, I nearly ran over this one:

giant mushroom I hope it's not hungry
Mon Jun 11 16:47:01 2007

Two Big Ships

for no particular reason

Two pictures of ships. The first is a newish container ship, feeling her way down the Yarra:

MSC Container Ship Left hand down a bit...

And this is the world's ugliest ship, trying to hide behind the headland at the mouth of the Yarra. She's a Japanese car carrier. The design brief was something like 'Build me a box. Make it big and grey.'

car carrier Faster than a dead pig, but not as pretty.
Mon Jun 11 16:38:46 2007


I'll try to do better

It may not have escaped your notice that I have been rather remiss in keeping postings here regular. Apologies. The primary cause is that little has been happening. It's winter, so I can only take the bike out at weekends - evenings are dark, cold and dangerous.

I have a few posts to make, so please have patience.

email BurbleChaz

Last modified: Thu Aug 31 22:46:12 AUSEST 2006