Thursday, 31 August 2017

A Late Winter Ride

Readers who live in less temperate climbs may well scoff at my use of the term "winter" when talking about Hobart. Our winters are very mild here on the coast, with few frosts at sea level. We are lucky enough to be able to cycle in relative comfort year-round. However, we are looking forward to things warming up a bit so we can once again break out the lightweight lycra and go for more extended tours.

The other day Dianne and I decided to have a ride up the Derwent Valley. The wind was relatively light so we thought it would be good to get another 100 kilometres or so into our legs.

Here is the route we took:

You can see a 3-D video of our ride by going to this link. I've also got a new toy I'm trying to become familiar with, so I shot a bit of footage ...

As you saw if you watched the video, before crossing to the northern side of the river at Bridgwater we pulled  into Goulds Lagoon to see what birds were about ...

The northern side of the Derwent River between Bridgewater and New Norfolk is slightly lumpy, but a bit more protected from the wind. And we've got a cycling holiday coming up that will involve quite a lot of climbing so we thought it would useful to choose that route on the way up and come back on the other side of the river. Just before crossing back over the Derwent at Bushy Park one goes through Rosegarland, where a contract shearer resides ...

This route is a lovely ride in all seasons. Spring of course is bustling with new life, summer means that the cherries are ripe and the hops and grapes getting bigger. In autumn, the colours change, the weather is the most stable and the grapes and hops are harvested so there is lots of agricultural activity up this way. Winter is the least attractive, but the views are still quite pretty across the hopfields at Bushy Park ...

Hops have been grown in Bushy Park since 1867, and the area is the largest producer of hops in Australia. There are a number of old buildings still standing, including this somewhat run-down dwelling that is apparently still occupied ...

For most of our ride the temperatures remained in single figures so were were glad to be well rugged-up. Here's Di coming to the top of Plenty Hill ...

... and we were glad to into Banjo's in New Norfolk after about 80 kilometres for a hot sandwich and a cup of coffee ...

On the way back along the bike track I persuaded Di to push our August Gran Fondo distance out by a few more kilometres by riding along through Battery Point and the Sandy Bay shopping precinct rather than going the short way home, so we both ended up with a 125+ kilometre ride. Not bad for late winter, eh!

Tuesday, 22 August 2017

A Skewed Society and its School System

It was unsettling to read this morning of a private school in Melbourne buying a suburban residential property for a million dollars above the reserve price. High school tuition at this elite private school starts at $26 000, which is probably one of the reasons they have so much cash to splash around.

$3.2 million ... and their bins look ... ordinary!

Paying almost $1 million above the reserve is one way to keep the riffraff out of the neighbourhood I guess. What really stinks though is that this school, and many other elitist establishments like it still receive money from ordinary folks like you and me in the  form of government handouts.

There was a time in Australia when we used to prioritise funding for schools that had a high index of social disadvantage. There was a noble notion in the air at the time of giving the less-advantaged in society a leg up, the idea being that we'd end up with a better, more prosperous and happier society for all. That was gradually eroded by the same breed of politician that wants to stop marriage equality from happening in this country.

Isn't it time we stopped funding elitist private schools in Australia, especially those that can afford to throw cash around like this?

Monday, 14 August 2017

Marriage (in)Equality in Australia

So, the reigning political alliance in Australia (that's the so-called "Liberal Party" which is not so liberal; and the also so-called "National Party"  which has no even representation across the nation) who like to call themselves the "coalition" but are really just another minority government:

  •  being afraid to stand up on their hind legs and allow a free vote in parliament on same-sex marriage, and 
  • not being allowed to to spend huge amounts of taxpayer money on a plebiscite
has decided to go with a highly unreliable, voluntary postal vote which will still cost taxpayers an estimated $122 million - which will of course be non-binding. This, despite  being confronted with the fact that poll after poll after poll shows that the majority of Australians and, indeed, the majority of Federal Parliamentarians are in favour of changing the law to allow same-sex marriage. Now we have a situation where massive amounts of money will be spent on advertising, much of it by conservative Christian right lobbyists who will use scare tactics to try to convince people that this change would be the first step onto a slippery slope of moral turpitude.

There is a wonderful article by Amanda Vanstone  in The Age which sums up the situation very nicely and far better than I ever could. If you have a look at it make sure you watch the little video. Well worthwhile I reckon.