Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year

photo by Alison Wynd from Eastern Beach last night.
from w
It was a dark and stormy night... for the New Year as we drove to Melbourne. There was a huge lightnimg display that ecliped any kind of fireworks that would be on. Heavy rain, thunder and lightning and hail in some places. We reached Chadstone right on 10 p.m. for the Fijian church service welcoming in the New Year. I took several photos and some are posted on the babasiga blog where Peceli has posted his contribution.
And a happy New Year to you all.


Monday, December 28, 2009

Smorgies and Cunningham Pier

from w
We go occasionally to Smorgies - eat all that you can - and that's a treat for Pacific Islanders. In fact one rugby team was banned in a Hong Kong restaurant after they cleared out ALL of the food trays at an 'all that you can eat'. Anyway the other day we went with some of our guests to Smorgies and the price was put up by $5 because it was a public holiday to $22. However this is a popular place for families because they used to have a sound and light show with Neptune and a singing seal - though they've gone now. The idea now is to change it all, pull it down and remodel the place as a bit more upmarket. Pity, it's okay for families as it is. Coney Island sort of decor on the pier though. The Geelong Advertiser says this:

Pier gets $4m boost
Danny Lannen
December 29th, 2009

$4M UPGRADE of Geelong's Smorgy's waterfront restaurant will include a makeover of its Cunningham Pier facade and walkway. New operators are determined to emphasise the restaurant's fresh direction and enhance other Geelong waterfront developments.
"It just has to have a whole image change out there, people have to drive past and know it's a totally new venue," partner Darren Holroyd said. "That would be difficult to do with the current facade because that would remind you of what's already there."

Hotelier Mr Holroyd bought the Smorgy's lease in October with Geelong Edge bar partners Dominic Tripodi and Geelong Football Club midfielder Cameron Ling. They announced plans to gut and transform the two-storey building in less than a year, creating a stylish, high-quality hospitality hub. Mr Holroyd said design plans were still being finalised, with a focus on capitalising on the building's size and outlook. "They'll be the best views in town, whatever we do," Mr Holroyd said. "There will be a restaurant, there will be a function, convention, reception centre, it will be multi-purpose and I would assume there will be a nice bar with new decks and things. It's very under-utilised, I think everyone in Geelong drives past and wishes it was something better out there."

The partners plan to close the restaurant at the end of March and hope to have work complete by October 2010. Mr Holroyd said the restaurant remained open with new chef Carmel Alvaro from Lamby's Restaurant but patronage had dipped up to 25 per cent since news of the renovation plans.

"Everyone thinks it started as soon as it was announced," Mr Holroyd said. "So coming into a time of year when it should have been growing it's dropped off a bit.
The funny part is the food is probably better than it's ever been."

Cunningham Pier will become a focus for family fun on Thursday night with rides, roving entertainment and attractions becoming part of New Year's Eve on the Waterfront etc.These sketches were done some time ago.

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Sunday, December 27, 2009


from w
Yesterday while out exploring down new roads we saw a few pelicans on beaches where fishermen were coming in with their catches. Wonderfully shaped birds so I must do some drawings of them.
Later: I didn't do any drawings but did mess about with a photo I saw in the Green Guide of the Age - a picture of a whole mob of pelicans on Lake Eyre.


Saturday, December 26, 2009

A home-made star and a butterfly from the Reject Shop

from w. A little girl in our household decided to put a butterfly on top of the Christmas tree and put the home-made star (from cardboard and foil) down a peg or two. Perhaps she did get the philosophy right - the cross and the cradle have no meaning alone. The star of Bethlehem and the butterfly as a symbol of death and resurrection. That's why my favourite Christmas song is 'Mary did you know'.

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Friday, December 25, 2009

Re-gifting - when the presents don't fit

from w
Today lots of people will be going back to the stores to exchange their Christmas presents as so many gifts don't fit or aren't needed. It's the thought that count, they say, but what a waste. Fortunately in our household we did well here (some vouchers were useful) and my new beautiful dress will be suitable for both church and party.

Here's what was written in today's Age newspaper. Though often these kind of gifts aren't suitable to give to charity either - I know that Donation in Kind have to re-sort everything that comes in before we send the recycled articles into containers for the South Pacific and South-east Asia. We all have too much junk don't we!

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Wednesday, December 23, 2009

A tug and war about a bridge

sletch of old bridge before the new development and the imagined plan
starting to built the second bridgeTwo bridges not too far awayfrom w
The locals protested strongly against the plan to demolish the old familiar bridge but the councils declared it would be unsafe for future traffic so they've come up with a crazy solution as I mentioned in the earlier posting today. Barwon Heads is a delightful small seaside town built alongside an estuary so there are several swimming spots - in the river, and on the ocean.

This is what the powers-that-be have decided to do:
Barwon Heads Bridge – reconstruction project
Work to reconstruct the historic Barwon Heads Bridge started earlier this year and will make sure it retains its iconic status well into the future. The project is being done in three stages and involves rebuilding the existing road bridge as well as building a new, safer pedestrian bridge.

The reconstructed road bridge will feature the heritage character of the existing landmark while making sure it meets the necessary safety and load bearing requirements to be able to continue carrying traffic. The pedestrian bridge will be built 10 metres downstream and will improve safety for pedestrians, cyclists and anglers.

Progress so far

Work is progressing well, with permanent and temporary works being carried out to plan. A number of structures are now under construction that will be used to build the new bridge. Once completed, the project will restore all access for vehicles between Barwon Heads and Ocean Grove.

Temporary works platform

The most visible new structure is the temporary works platform located between the existing bridge and the new downstream pedestrian bridge. This will provide a working platform from which the two permanent bridges can be built. The platform is currently 75 per cent complete and is expected to be finished in early 2010. It will be removed when the two bridges are complete.

New pedestrian bridge

While the second stage of the main road bridge is being built in early 2010, the downstream pedestrian bridge will carry Barwon Heads bound traffic. Initially the new pedestrian bridge won’t have timber cladding applied, this will be added next year. Once the road bridge is finished in late 2010, traffic will be relocated onto it, and the pedestrian bridge will be finished, including the installation of the timber decking.

Road bridge

Works to replace the existing road bridge have started with the construction of a new lane on the downstream side of the existing bridge. This lane will carry traffic travelling towards Ocean Grove and a temporary pedestrian walkway while the upstream side is being rebuilt. Replacement water and sewer lines will be installed under the new downstream lane and will be connected before the existing structure is dismantled.


The failure of Copenhagen

from w
Yesterday was so hot (about 40 and later 27 at midnight) we decided to go for a drive in the early evening, call on friends in Ocean Grive, then buy fish and chips and dabble our feet in the water at Barwon Heads. Keleta and Margaret are salt of the earth gentle people - and Keleta comes from Tuvalu, so the conversation turned to Copenhagen where the name 'Tuvalu' became the example of global warming to a very small island community in the South Pacific.

The Fiji Times editorial today speaks strongly against the countries who blocked the plan for a promise to share the earth, safeguard the earth and consider our children's and grandchildren's future. We have been given such a beautiful world, but what have we done to it!!!

Then Peceli and I left Ocean Grove and headed for neighbouring Barwon Heads where many families were enjoying the beach and the river that runs into the sea. The two bridges are changing shape though. Instead of just fixing the old bridge, they are spending millions on building a new walking bridge, then they will fix the old bridge! What a crazy committee decided that! Anyway Peceli had a swim and dried off a bit in the car on the way back to town. It was very hot at home and the lowest it got in the night was 27. Today is humid with spots of rain, and when I went to town to buy last-minute needs for Christmas it was very much like Suva!

The Fiji Times editorial:
The failure of Copenhagen
Thursday, December 24, 2009

THE United Nations-sponsored climate talks in Copenhagen were a failure and an indictment of three of the world's largest economies. It will be for the United States, China and India to tell the world why we must all suffer because of their inability to reach an agreement on carbon emissions. Their selfishness and unwillingness to make concessions will mean that the rest of the world will suffer the consequences of their greed. It is a sad fact the developing countries around the globe will face the full brunt of global warming.

Tuvalu - only 180 minutes by air from Nausori Airport - has started to sink into the Pacific Ocean.

The same distance away to the west, villagers on the smaller islands of Papua New Guinea have been forced to move to higher ground as sea water seeps through their plantations, ruining food and destroying homes.

Erosion also threatens several coastal communities in Fiji, including villages on Vanuabalavu who have lost up to two metres of foreshore.

Yet the economies of the US, China and India continue to pump millions of tonnes of carbon into the atmosphere. They appear to care little about what happens to smaller nations who depend on them for aid or technical and military support. To add insult to injury, these countries flood the world with products which people in developing nations buy.

In a sense it is the developing nations which - through purchases and reliance on developed economies - help fund the industrialised world. By doing this, smaller nations ultimately pay for the US, India and China to kill smaller countries with limited resources.

The bigger economies of the world have grown so large that they cannot afford to slow down. To do so would lead to the inability to support current lifestyles in those countries. The failure of world leaders to make any real progress on saving the planet will be debated for several years. China, the US and India will all have an opinion on who is to blame. United States President Barack Obama unwisely attempted to institute independent monitoring of China and India's emissions.

In doing so, he put these two economic powerhouses offside and opened a backdoor from which they could exit the talks and avoid taking a major role in reducing their energy consumption.

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao showed such disdain for the rest of the world that he did not bother to attend the final phase of talks. President Obama refused to commit the US to any change in emission policies . Indian Environment Minister Jai Ram Ramesh admitted that he backed China and his country's right to faster economic growth. This shows that these economies think only of themselves. We must each bear that in mind when we choose next to shop.


Sunday, December 20, 2009

Thinking about family and sailing ships

from w
At Christmas time we think of our extended family and also those long gone, such as my Mum and Dad. The other day I was walking past the Polly Woodside sailing ship in the Yarra near the place where I visited the Parliament of the World Religions. The sight of this ship reminded me of my Dad's stories of sailing ships as his father, Charlie Lay, was a Mate on the Loch Line ships when he was young. Dad's stories were about the Flying Dutchman on an iceberg, and lots of adventures told to him as a child and then passed on to us. My father was a great story-teller - tales of the sea and tales of the wool track.

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Wednesday, December 16, 2009

So this is Christmas

from w
There was a nice mix and match of two photos in today's Green Guide from the Age, so I've put them together and maybe call it 'So this is Christmas'.


Tuesday, December 15, 2009

A 60th birthday party

from w
Today Peceli and I went to a birthday party at the Croation Club Bistro for a lovely, but huge meal for my friend Christine's birthday. She's the one wearing the hat! So here are some photos from the gathering. Two friends had come all the way from Warracknabeal in the countryside, a place where Christine had lived on a farm for many years while she was a secondary teacher there before moving to Geelong. So a happy birthday for today Chris!


Donation in Kind Christmas barbecue

from w
Yesterday we went out to the Donation in Kind depot at North Geelong for some more book sorting, gardening, and then a barbecue for about forty volunteers. We had all worked together during the year mainly on Tuesday and Wednesday mornings receiving computers, furniture, books, clothes, medical equipment, kitchenware, even a truck, to send on to South Pacific or South East Asian destinations, mainly for hospitals and schools. So the barbecue was a wind-up Christmas treat, though our work in never done as more truckloads of books etc. arrived again today! Donation in Kind is a Rotary organisation but many of our volunteers are not in the Rotary clubs but others who want to do something useful for the community. Some are retired professors from the university, others former managers of big businesses, some retired clergy, all sorts.


Sunday, December 13, 2009

Some quick sketches

from w
Saturday night during two quiet spots - one, waiting in the car as we had arrived in Williamstown quite early, and the other when Peceli nicked out of the main hall to join the kava circle, I did a couple of sketches. One of my relatives says to me, don't draw at weddings and parties, but I do!


A Fiji-Indian wedding in Melbourne

from w
Last night was a fun evening at Williamstown Town Hall where Peceli officiated at a Christian blessing on the marriage of Saj and Katherine, a lovely young couple who originally came from Fiji, Katherine's family several years ago, and Saj, more recently. The formal ceremony went went with the audience absolutely quiet and respectful. About 300 people were there, mainly people with connections to Fiji with the women dressed beautifully in saris and embroidered clothes. The entertainment included dances by a Fijian group that Peceli arranged and some Indian dances and drumming from a group from Russia! A Fijian singer, Tecove, sang several Christian songs early in the evening. Here are a few photos and others are on the babasiga blog. I had difficulty taking good photos because the hall was lit mainly by candles and also I didn't like to intrude upon formal moments or get in the way of people seeing.

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Tuesday, December 08, 2009

an interfaith exhibition

from w
Yesterday I took the train up to Melbourne to visit the Parliament of the World Religions exhibition in Melbourne. Though the seminars were very expensive, one exhibition was free for locals (though this seemed to be a last minute decision by the organisers). It was interesting to talk with people at the display booths - mostly 'New Age' enthusiasts. I was happy to meet with the Sikhs who had an outstanding display of curved walls and great photos and information and of course handsome men in white. One hundred Sikhs from England had come to Melbourne for the conference. I met some Zoroastrians (Parsi) who have an accent on fire. I had heard about them through reading a novel 'Family Matters' by Mistry. There were many people dressed in fabulous costumes and many Buddhist monks.

It was a mix and match exhibition though - more on advertising, identity, generalisations, human rights, meditation. Not many Christian topics on display - though the Salvation Army were there. Notably absent were the Penticostal Christians and the conservative Muslims. I really wanted to meet the Sufis and see their dancing but they were elsewhere it seems and I couldn't afford the $190 daily fee for the lectures and seminars.

There were plenty of hand-outs, CDs, bangles, badges. I did notice some interaction between different groups conversing and smiling and that's where it should be. Of course some of the topics were no laughing matter - climate change, slavery, poverty. Narana wasn't there but an Aboriginal business from nearby Anakie was, and the playing of the didgeridoo made this display one of the most popular.

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