Friday, November 07, 2003


I have a piece on the Australian test batsmen's good form in the Pura Cup prior to the series against India, particularly talking about Steve Waugh, over at ubersportingpundit.

I have a piece on why Canberra's more liberal liquor licensing laws are better than the less liberal laws in New South Wales over at Samizdata.

Thursday, November 06, 2003


I have a piece mainly on the peculiarities of the points systems used in international cricket tournaments (and why these mean Australia have qualiified for the final of their present series) over at ubersportingpundit.

Wednesday, November 05, 2003

More photos

I spent the day today with my parents and my sister in the Blue Mountains west of Sydney. (My sister lives in a nice house in a beautiful location up in the mountains). The mountains are extremely rugged and quite stunningly beautiful. Sydney was founded in 1788, but it was unable to expand west across the mountains into the great plains on the other side of the mountains because the mountains were found to be impassable, or so it appeared. The story Australians are taught at school is that three fine chaps named Blaxland, Wentworth and Lawson bravely set out and in 1813 found a route across the mountains, and the settlement of Australia could continue.

This was pretty much true. Blaxland, Wentworth and Lawson did indeed find a route across the mountains. However, these days we are uncertain that they were the first Europeans to do so. (Of course, indigenous Australians had likely been crossing the mountains for thousands of years). In fact it appears that there were two earlier explorers who (separately) manged to cross. However, one was an escaped convict and the other was French, so it is perhaps fairer to say that Blaxland, Wentworth, and Lawson were the first politically acceptable people to find a route through the mountains.

Soon after the three explorers found the route, Governor Lachlan Macquarie declared that a road should be built across the mountains. Australia was a penal settlement at the time, and a team of convict labourers were set about the task. A very effective incentive scheme was set up to get the road built fast. The convicts were told that they would be freed if the road was built within six months. It was built in this time and they were freed. Of course, it was a very rough road at the time. However, the highway that now crosses the mountains (which follows a single ridge across the mountains) follows almost exactly the same route. (There is another major road that follows a different ridge a little to the north).

In any event, the town of Katoomba is the largest town in the mountains, and in it is a place called Echo Point, which is famous for its beautiful views of the mountains in general and in particular of a rock formation called the three sisters. Here I am at this point earlier today.

Sadly, the way I have not tucked in my shirt properly and the way I am leaning back make the photo perhaps unflattering to me. At least, that's my story and I am sticking to it.

My mother photographed nicely, however.

Charles Darwin once visited, and his words about the view have been engraved on a rock.

Nearby, we have a gloriously kitsch relic from the earlier days of this tourist resort. It is a shelter, with bench style chairs inside for people to sit inside, made in the shape of a large rock. (You can see a person sitting in side if you look carefully).

After seeing the view, my family and I adjourned to a nice outdoor cafe in the nearby town of Leura. (Leura is smaller than Katoomba, but adjacent and full of nice houses and shops. Leura is sort of the Beverly Hills of Katoomba).

After this, we went to visit the first Krispy Kreme outside North America, which is at Penrith at the base of the mountains.

My goodness those doughnuts are sweet. My mother has been alternately cursing and eating them since we bought them. My father has just been eating them.

Tuesday, November 04, 2003

More beer

It's not a wheat beer, so it doesn't taste right for the glass. However, it does kind of look right.

Monday, November 03, 2003

Yes, we finally have a venue

A get together is being held in Sydney this Saturday evening to commemorate the fact, and to allow a whole lot of people who know each other electronically to actually meet one another. A wide assortment of Australian (and other) bloggers will be present. Any additional bloggers and/or readers who will be in the area and would like to come are more than welcome.

When: Saturday November 8 at 6:30 pm until probably quite late.

Where: The Three Wise Monkeys Hotel at 555 George St, Sydney.

Who: Everybody is welcome.

Any questions: Please contact me here

Sunday, November 02, 2003


I think I must nominate this as "Most intriguing blog on which I have been blogrolled"

Update: I left a comment stating that I was intrigued (but not displeased) to be blogrolled from an all Japanese blog. Nobody posted a response, but I now seem to have been removed from the blogroll. Curious.
More good things about Australia

Spirited Away is out on DVD here. It only cost me the equivalent of about £8, too. As I write, my mother is watching it, and seems to be enjoying it immensely.

Update: The eight year old girl from next door also appears to be enjoying it immensely. Miyazaki is a wonderful filmmaker.
A thought

I have only been taking beer seriously for 18 months or so. Part of it has been that I have had a medical problem that means my stomach doesn't cope well with anything acidic, and beer is gentler on it than is wine. Part of it is that I have had to watch how much money I spend, and drinking beer - even good beer - is cheap compared to drinking good wine or whisky, which can be horribly expensive. Even the best beer only costs two or three pounds a bottle.

However, the nice thing is that I have discovered that the world of beer is rich and interesting.

Prior to leaving Australia, I drank beer from time to time, but didn't think about it much. I generally just drank middle of the road lagers, and more interesting beer less regularly. Although I had drunk Coopers occasionally, and it was clearly good beer, I had never thought about it much. It's much cloudier than Australian mass produced beers, and has a rather maltier taste than the lagers, although it isn't a wheat beer. It isn't ale, either, and although the bottled versions are bottle conditioned, they are much bubblier than English bottle conditioned beers.

However, over the last year I have been drinking lots of beer abroad, and I have been wondering just how the Coopers actually compares. Guides to the world's beers often list it, and say that it is very good, but my previous experience of it were prior to all the interesting beers I have consumed in the last while. However, I have still been known to bring the beer up if someone chose to knock Australian beer. "You should try this one. It's very good" is always a useful argument.

But, yesterday, I had the chance. I went to a pub in the Sydney neighbourhood of Newtown, and there was a replay of Australia beating India at cricket on the TV screen, and Coopers sparkling ale on tap. What more could I want. My memories and the beer books were correct. The beer was indeed very good. You should try it.

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