Saturday, August 29, 2015

This week's links ...

This morning The Big Girl and Riley had testing for the Ideal Dog Australia course. We weren't expecting him to pass but in the end he only missed one criteria ... he was unable to sit in the car without jumping out, so we were pretty happy with that. They can still go into the club and continue their obedience training. It was bitterly cold and rained at the end of the morning so it's good to be back inside, warm and dry.

Here's some links for your weekend.

1. For those of you not in Australia you might or might not be aware that government policy is currently to incarcerate refugees arriving illegally by boat. Some of them are processed offshore to avoid the legal issues that arise once they set foot on Australian soil. There are also many children detention centers. For the Australians I'm sure you're well aware of this issue, but you might not be aware that it is now possible to be a pen pal to children in detention. Hat tip to Pip.

2. Declutter by turning manuals into ibooks.

3. Religion and Violence.
There is faith used for other ends, and there is faith.

4. Orchidaceae in Summer. I got given an orchid in May and it brightened up my kitchen for nearly six weeks before the flower dropped. Since then I cut off the flower stem and I've kept it watered. It's still providing a bit of green on my kitchen bench, will have to see if I can coax it to produce another flower. It's near the kitchen window but probably needs some fertilizer now.

5. Writing makes your life better.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Melbourne to Alice Springs Roadtrip: Day 6 Coober Pedy to Alice Springs

This post continues the series on our two week roadtrip from Melbourne to Alice Springs and back during the July school holidays.

7:30am and it is time to say goodbye for now to Coober Pedy.

Morning Tea Marla: 10:05-10:25am; 233km. 

NT Border: 12:00pm; 393km
I was determined not to miss the NT border, but I needn't have been worried, there's a massive sign and picnic area.

The speed limit in the Northern Territory is 110km unless signed otherwise but on the Stuart Highway the limit is 130km so we clock over the distance rapidly but with increased fuel consumption.

Lunch Kulgera: 12:20pm; 415km. 

Afternoon Tea Stuarts Well: 527km

Emily and Jess Gaps: 3:45pm; 607km
The turnoff to these two gaps in the Eastern MacDonnell Ranges is south of Alice Springs so we decided it would be a good opportunity to get out and stretch our legs. They are two small gaps, with dry sandy river beds. Emily Gap has aboriginal paintings depicting the caterpillar dreaming.

Arrive Alice Springs: 4:45pm; 622km.
We didn't realise that the NT show would be on while we were here which made it more difficult to get into restaurants and many of the attractions were on public holiday hours. Our 2-bedroom apartment accommodation at Quest Alice Springs was excellent.

2015 Album: Weeks 33 & 34

What we did week 33: I presented my paper on The Body of Christ in class. The Little girl played in the string orchestra at her school's annual music concert. She also had her 4th grade AMEB piano exam, passed with a B+. Hubby took The Big Girl and The Boy to look at Melbourne University.

What we did week 34: The Little Girl ran the 1500m in the GSV athletics in 5:57 which is a little off her best but 40s better than her preliminary time a couple of weeks ago when she was on the viral merry-go-round. Riley was up to mischief, sneaking up the front of the house and stealing The Little Girl's banana from her lunch and climbing over the back seat when we took him to the vet ... he's getting clipped in the back from now on.

The pages: I didn't have many photo so I left out a couple and just made one page. I included a series of shots that The Big Girl took of Riley climbing over the back seat.


Sunday, August 23, 2015

This week's links ...

Plum Blossom

It is nearly Spring here after one of our coldest winters. The blossoms are starting and we even got up to 20 degrees this week. We are so ready for winter to be over. I'm a little later this week with my links. We had a busy day yesterday with dog school in the morning and visiting my brother before he flew out with his family for their big move to Park City, Utah in the afternoon.

1. I did about 3 months of a 1s video per day. I love this project but keeping it going would have been a challenge. I'm wondering whether this app would help.

2. I've changed over to paper organization this year and it has been a good move. Why a paper planner is better than digital.

3. With one daughter who avoids processed meats because of the preservatives and two others that just odn't like them that much, I often try to have leftover meat for lunches. Laws of Leftovers: How long do they last?

4. I would have loved to do WITL but being completely honest I knew that I would not be able to follow through, plus the family is not particularly cooperative on the photography side nowadays but I did realise that I could incorporate some of the details captured in the WITL project into our yearly album. This post offers some good tips for WITL to help me.

5. How to write a condolence note.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Melbourne to Alice Springs Roadtrip: Day 5 Coober Pedy

This post continues the series on our two week roadtrip from Melbourne to Alice Springs and back during the July school holidays.

Today was the day for our 4WD Arid Area tour. We booked the 4hr Coober Pedy town and Breakways tour prior to leaving Melbourne. Wayne arrived at 9:30am and we headed off round town. There's a few things that set Coober Pedy apart from other towns ... the first being that a large portion of the town is underground to escape the heat. There are homes, shops, motels and churches, including the Catacomb Church

and the Serbian Orthodox Church.

There are plenty of local characters. We visited Faye's Underground home ... dug out of the ground by three women using picks and shovels.
Faye's Underground House Coober Pedy

Also Crocodile Harry's Nest. Harry spent 13 years hunting crocodiles before settling in Coober Pedy to try some opal mining. His home became a place for backpackers to hang out for free ... as long as they left something behind. The walls and ceiling are plastered with mementos from all over the world, and inside and outside is furnished with re-purposed junk.
Crocodile Harry's Nest Coober Pedy
Crocodile Harry's Nest Coober Pedy

What Coober Pedy is famous for of course are opals and mines are dotted all over the town and surrounds. For that reason you need to be extremely careful. Do not walk off the paths alone and avoid disturbed ground.

In the middle of town is the Old timer's Mine. Rediscovered in 1968, the original mine dates back to 1925 and it is the place to get a good feel for what mining opal originally involved.
Blower Coober Pedy
Blower Old Timers Mine Coober Pedy

We had a good time perusing the highly inappropriate ads in some old newspaper clippings including this one ...

These days, a lot of the miners use large excavating machinery to dig down to opal level and then hollow out massive tunnels through the rock.
Opal Mine Coober Pedy

We also did some noodling. There was a fair bit of opal, we even found some with colour.

The Boy had a good time bashing this rock to reveal the fossilized shells within.

North of town are the Breakways with flat topped mesas and stony gibber planes, they have been the setting for films including Max Max.

We stopped at the dog fence. Built to keep dingoes out of sheep country (north is cattle) it stretches 5614km from Jimbour to the Eyre Peninsula.
The Dog Fence

You may have guessed that all this took longer than the 4hrs advertised. It was a fantastic way to get a good overview of Coober Pedy and get out in the opal fields.

After our tour we relaxed in our apartment ... 

before heading back into town for some opal shopping, kangaroo feeding and dinner at Tom and Mary's Greek Taverna.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

This week's links ...

Well the washing's on, The Boy is at soccer and I'm just chilling until it's time to drive The Big Girl and Riley to dog training. Here's some links for your weekend.

1. I've been doing some time tracking using a doubledex. I'm finding I'm less likely to goof off if I'm keeping track of what I'm actually doing during the day. I just draw it quickly each morning in my journal then it's really quick to fill in.

2. I have always have major issues in my vegtable garden with powdery mildew. Here's an article on what to do about it.

3. Preparing food for the week ahead.

4. How to stop to-do lists from ruining your life.

5. The Boy is a voracious reader so ... 25 Books for kids age 8-12.

Friday, August 14, 2015

2015 Album: Weeks 31 &32

So. despite my best intentions I've got a little behind with our 2015 family album but we'll keep plugging away. Today I've got my latest pages and I'll go back and fill the gaps later.

What we did Week 31: The Boy helped decorate the Makerspace at school where his tech extension group meets. The Little Girl had a GSV PB Athletics Meet, running the 800m. I started second semester classes. Riley had his second IDA class. We went to the Monash Open Day.

The pages: I didn't have many photos so just one page.

What we did week 32: I had an episode of vertigo, luckily Hubby was home to do the morning driving and by lunchtime I was up, if not quite myself. The Little Girl had her GSV Preliminary athletics carnival and ran very badly, then missed swimming for the rest of the week with a cold. The Big Girl had her school social. The Little Girl swam in the Nunawading SC meet at MSAC on Sunday and managed 2 PB's for 3 races. Hubby took the other two kids to the RMIT Open Day. The Big Girl preferred the look of Monash's architecture program. Afterwards we had dinner at my parents.

The pages: Just one page again. I took a photo of the social ticket to include. 


Thursday, August 13, 2015

Melbourne to Alice springs Roadtrip: Day 4 Wilpena to Coober Pedy

This post continues the series on our two week roadtrip from Melbourne to Alice Springs and back during the July school holidays.

Depart Wilpena Resort: 7:30am

Unfortunately, not having a 4WD, we had to head back south to Port Augusta to join the Stuart Highway passing through the town of Quorn on our way south. The historic town has been the backdrop for numerous movies.

Morning Tea at Arid Lands Botanic Gardens: 10:05-10:55am; 165km
We picked up some supplied in Port Augusta before hitting the highway, but not for long because our morning tea stop was just out of town. We had a leisurely stroll around the gardens and milkshakes for morning tea. They even had some of South Australia's state flower, the Sturt Desert Pea in flower.

Lunch at Woomera: 12:45-1:55pm; 344km
We had lunch at Breen Park. There were picnic tables, lovely grassed lawn, some birds including a talking cockatoo who kept the kids entertained but no toilets. The open air rocket museum was a highlight of the trip for The Boy and we had a look in the Woomera Museum which had all sorts of displays detailing the history of the Woomera Rocket Range. 

We had a quick look at Lake Hart, a salt lake close to the highway but time was short so we thought we'd have a closer look on our way back. Not too much further north is Glendambo. We stopped here for petrol and toilets as it is the last town before Coober Pedy 256km north. The highway passes through the Woomera Prohibited Area and you must stay on the highway.

Although the distances are long the driving is easy. The road is excellent, in good condition and wide and the flat landscape offers easy passing when required.

We arrived at Coober Pedy before dark ... just, which was lucky because I'm not sure how we would have found our accomodation. There was no cell coverage, and the gps maps lost us. The way was well signed though and we had a gorgeous sunset view over the opal fields from the Down to Earth driveway. Our hosts Rose and Alex waved us into our carpark and Rose showed us through the 2-bedroom underground apartment. The girls were pleased there was raisin toast for breakfast ... they'd been pestering me for it and the chocolates were well received too. Wifi is included, there are board games, books and magazines, cooking facilities, a plunge pool ... really everything you could want. 

We popped into town for dinner at John's Pizza Bar. It was packed so pizza had a long wait but we had nowhere to be and the food was good. Driving back we had a few issues finding our accomodation in the dark, ending up in someone's yard ... or mine ... not sure which ... there was excavating machinery there ... but we headed back and started again from the highway making sure we followed the exact path we came in on in the afternoon and got home on our second try.

Total Distance Traveled: 716km

Saturday, August 8, 2015

This week's links ...

It's cold and wet here today and Hubby and The Boy are off to Warburton for a soccer match (Hubby coaching, The Boy playing). Meanwhile the girls and I are going to get our runners checked, do some food shopping then I need to come home and get a substantial part of the writing done for the seminar I'm presenting this week.

Here's some links for your enjoyment if you have space in your weekend ...

1. When Information Becomes Clutter. Checking the phone because I'm bored? Yep and something I'm trying to reduce.

2. I want to try this Australian gardening app.

3. Feeling Overwhelmed ... Draw the Pyramid.

4. A basic quick diary format.

5. So I don't have time for this but these quick DIY rope baskets are pretty cute.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Melbourne to Alice Springs Roadtrip: Day 3 Around Wilpena Pound

This post continues the series on our two week roadtrip from Melbourne to Alice Springs and back during the July school holidays. Be warned ... it's photo heavy.

At 8:30am the kangaroos were out in force ...

on our drive to Arkaroo Rock, situated 20 min drive in the foothills south of Wilpena Pound.

We set a cracking pace straight up the hill in an effort to warm up in the frigid 2C air.

It’s quite a steep winding path through bush to the rocky overhang with Aboriginal paintings
Arkaroo Rock Flinders Ranges

before the path winds back downhill to form a 3km loop.
Arkaroo Rock Walk Flinders Ranges

The estimated time for this walk is hours but at our pace it took 50mins with a short stop to see the paintings.

Returning to the resort we decided to walk into the Pound. The single entrance is fairly narrow and follows Wilpena Creek. Past Hills Homestead,
Hills Homestead Wilpena Pound

we turned uphill to Wangarra Lookout from where you have views of the Pound and get a real feel for the countryside that is not possible from down on the tree covered Pound floor.
Wangarra Lookout Walk Wilpena Pound

It is quite a steep trail up but short. We just caught the free shuttle bus back to the resort on our way out.

After lunch we decided to head back south to the Moralana Scenic Drive. Following the south rim it takes in some beautiful scenery.


The road is unmade and fairly rough but suitable for conventional vehicles. The 28km took us 50mins so we decided to return through Hawker, a longer drive, but completed in a similar time in a lot more comfort.

Continuing north after the Wilpena turnoff we visited the Sacred Canyon. Down another dirt road, but not too far, the canyon contains weathered rock carvings. The people who did these have been forgotten by the aboriginal inhabitants of the area.
Ancient Carvings Sacred Canyon Flinders Ranges

A short rest at the room and we headed north once again to Stokes Hill Lookout, a popular sunset location, unfortunately the clouds conspired against us, but the views were spectacular.
View from Stokes Hill Lookout Flinders Ranges

It was a little chilly though.
Stokes Hill Lookout Flinders Ranges

The drive home was tense as we kept a close eye out for kangaroos who have a habit of deciding to jump across the road as you drive towards them instead of away. I did glimpse an echidna but it turned tail and scurried for the bushes when we stopped. We could here it rustling but in the gloom could not pick it out amongst the trees.

Total distance travelled: 252km

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

University Open Day Season

August is University Open Day month in Victoria, so for those of us with teenagers trying to decide on courses and subjects Sundays are spent visiting universities. Sunday just gone was Monash University Open Day. The Big Girl is thinking of architecture as a career so Hubby took her and The Little Girl across to the Caulfield Campus in the morning then after lunch The Boy and I met them at the Clayton campus ... Hubby and my old stomping grounds.

Although there were some changes, much of the university was familiar and we soon found ourselves confidently making our way around the massive site. It was a little surreal sitting in E1 where we both had engineering lectures all those years ago. It's still pretty much the same except for a new coat of white paint on the walls and double screens for the powerpoint presentations. Gone are the double chalkboards that some lecturers would fill every last space up over the course of the hour and the overhead projector with transparencies. One other thing had changed ... Hubby did not take up his standard lecture position of head on the desk asleep!

The Hargrave Cafe is still there, although the long lines of white laminate table and chairs have been replaced with cafe style furniture ... and there's a sign on the front.


There were a few major changes, the multi-storey carpark outside the engineering department threw me a little when I drove in the back way and this massive building is the new chemistry building.

It opened this year with new undergraduate chemistry labs. This is where I did my first year undergraduate as well as a year of teaching ...


That completes #10 (a college or university) of this year's photohunt.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

This week's links ...

1. Feel silly putting all those little things on your gratitude list? Three Good Things ... a less daunting way to do a gratitude journal. I should start this in my bullet journal.

2. How to take a flat lay photo.

3. Hubby and The Little Girl enjoy zucchini slice for their lunches but we usually have uneaten zucchinis in summer because there's only so much slice I can fit in my freezer. Freezing just the zucchini would take up a lot less space. How to Freeze Zucchini.

4. Ok, so I'm not a hipster so if you're not either don't let that put you off checking out 60 free fonts for Hipsters.

5. I'm still using my bullet journal (I'm on to my second book) and have tried various monthly setups before going back the original days listed on one page with tasks the other but I'm finding some days I can't fit everything in. The monthly setup in this bullet journal might solve this problem.