Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Gippsland glee - part II

We woke on the second day of our Gippsland getaway to blue skies and sunshine.  We had a quick breakfast at the Venus Foodtrap (which proved better at word play than food and customer service), then hit the road to Walkerville. 

Walkerville North and South are two tiny neighbouring villages on the picturesque Waratah Bay, accessible only by gravel road. They had their heyday in the early 20th century when lime was mined from the cliffs, bagged and shipped to Melbourne for use in the construction industry. Remnants of the lime kilns remain. 

I don't know what this rock is called, but it looks like a piratey shoe.
 (That's Wilson's  Promontory in the background)

There's a tiny cemetery in the bush between Walkerville North and South. About 15 people were buried there. As I stood there in the sun, listening to the wind in the she-oaks, it struck me as a very peaceful final resting place, but also a lonely, melancholy one. 

There was an information display at Walkerville South which included excerpts of the diary of a man employed in the lime works. I found the entries for 25-27 December amusing (click to enlarge).

(Bonus reflection of Luke and me)

Next we headed to Cape Liptrap. 

On the way - Wilson's Prom in the background again

 Cape Liptrap's old, but still functioning, lighthouse

We stopped for lunch in Sandy Point.


And then to nearby Shallow Inlet where we nearly drove into the water. We were following a road that led off the car parking area, but we came to an abrupt halt when we saw that it led into the water. At first we thought it was a boat launching ramp, but when saw this sign a bit later...

No parking

...we realised the road and surrounding area were submerged at high tide. There was kitesurfer on the inlet and when he stood in the water it didn't reach his waist.

And then we hit the road for home, driving inland via Leongatha which was really pretty with lots of lush green hills and valleys dotted with cows.  

Monday, April 29, 2013

Gippsland glee - part I

So, our little getaway! We hit the road at about 9.00am on Friday and made our first stop for morning tea at Kilkunda, a small seaside town not far past the turn off to the tourist hotspot Phillip Island

We ate at an overpriced cafĂ© ($10 for 2 small pieces of fruit toast!) overlooking the gloomy grey ocean, and then went for a wander to the beach...where I had an accidental paddle in the sea. I was bending over writing in the sand, thinking I was out of reach of the water, but no.  My sneakers, socks and the bottom of my cargo pants were saturated and sandy. Thankfully my pants dried quickly - I didn't have another pair - but I did have another pair of shoes. My socks spent the rest of the trip drying on the dashboard of the car. 

My soggy state didn't deter me from taking photos of the lovely old trestle bridge that runs parallel to the the shore. 

We stopped at Cape Paterson (ho-hum) before heading on to Shack Bay, a pretty little bay with a rock formation we thought looked like Australia rising out of - or sinking into - the ocean. It's called Eagle's Nest. A google search reveals we aren't the only people who see the resemblance to northern Australia. 

Tiny snake - about the size of a big worm - beside the 
steps down to the beach

Luke with big seaweed

Our next stop was our destination - Venus Bay. Before heading to our accommodation we did the rounds of the surf beaches, which are evocatively named Surf Beach 1, Surf Beach 2 and so on. It was very windy on the Bass Strait side of the narrow peninsula where Venus Bay is located, but a few hardy fisherman and paddlers braved the conditions. 

Beachgoers in the mist

We checked into our cabin and then headed to the nearby Tarwin Lower pub for dinner. We stopped on the way to take photos of the sun setting over the Tarwin River. 

 Cow waiting for its close-up while Luke takes sunset shots

We both had a huge T-bone steak for dinner at the pub which has one of those set ups where you get a ticket with a number for your order and they announce it over the PA when your order is ready.  We got a giggle out of the rather nasal voice of the announcer. "Nointy-noin. Your order is ready. Nointy-noin." 

Then it was a back to our cabin where we were lulled to sleep by the sound of the surf and the wind in the trees. 

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Close encounters, the joy of reduplication and being helpful

My extra long weekend is drawing to a close, but it's been a good one. I've left it too late to write a post about our Gippsland adventure tonight, but I'll share a quick pic.

On a whim, we stopped at the Royal Botanic Gardens at Cranbourne on the outskirts of Melbourne on our way home. The gardens feature large tracts of fairly untouched native bushland. At the start of a walking track there was a sign warning of snakes. I secretly thought, "Ooh, I hope we see one", and we did! It was sunning itself on the path and we got within about 1.5 metres of it. No, I wasn't scared. 

I think it was a young brown snake (considered the second most venomous land snake in Australia). It stayed where it was for about 20 seconds, then turned and slithered into the undergrowth. A few metres along we saw a bandicoot, which at first I thought was a rat.

It calmly toddled off into the undergrowth after spotting us too. Hopefully it didn't encounter the nearby snake...or hopefully it did? A snake's gotta eat after all. Circle of life and all that.  

I'll tell you about the rest of our trip soon - and post the photos from my ghost hunting excursion too. 

In the meantime...

I finished reading Let's Bring Back...The Lost Language Edition last night. I didn't think many of the words and phrases really were lost, which is perhaps due to the author being American and me Australian, but I still enjoyed the book. 

Other favourites:

* womblecropped - a state of wretchedness or humiliation
* wiffle-woffles - down in the dumps 

I will now have to choose between mubblefubbles and wiffle-woffles next time I wish to convey that I'm in low spirits. 

I've noticed while reading the book that I have a fondness for words created through reduplication - that is, words created by repeating parts of a word. There are three kinds of reduplication: rhyming (mubblefubbles), exact (bling-bling) and ablaut, in which the vowel is changed, such as in wiffle-woffles and more common words like zig-zag, ding-dong and wishy-washy. I'm not fussed about exact reduplication, but I do get a kick out of the rhyming and ablaut kinds. There are lists of all kinds here

I knew there was a term for these word forms, but I couldn't remember it, so I asked google. Fortunately, 'words like willy nilly rhyming' produced the desired result.  

Fat glee

I had a gleeful moment at the supermarket today. As I waited at the deli, a customer  asked the deli worker if she had goose or duck fat. She didn't, but said there might be some in the meat section. I said I'd just seen duck fat in the butter section - coincidentally the first time I'd ever noticed it. It was obviously in my destiny to help a stranger acquire the fat of poultry today. The man thanked me and wandered off. 

I passed him in the butter aisle looking for it, but it wasn't there. I said maybe it was in the meat section after all and I'd have a look. He said not to worry and wandered off again. The meat section was only in the next aisle, so I got it and gave it to him. He was very thankful.

A small thing, but it made me smile. Never let it be said that I would stand idly by and watch someone leave a shop without their duck fat. 

Thursday, April 25, 2013


I had a long sleep in this morning, but I didn't go to the gym because I wasn't feeling energetic. I walked around the backstreets of inner suburbia for five hours hunting for ghost signs instead.  A Twitter friend had told me about an old sign she passes on her way to work just off Queens Parade in Clifton Hill so I decided to walk there, seeing what other signs I could find along the way.

I was spoilt for both quantity and quality. I also found a teeny tiny house and lots of fantastic street art and other quirky things, but I'm too tired to post them all tonight (partly because I stayed up too late last night watching two fascinating documentaries on polygamy and the history of sex research).

I was going to show you the sign off Queens Road and the other awesome sign I found just a block away from it, but Blogger is being temperamental and won't allow it. Another time.  I'm taking my weary body off to bed now then. 

Venus Bay tomorrow!  

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Sharing the love

A friend who is visiting Melbourne in June (hello, Wendy!) asked me for tips on things to see and do here, apart from visiting the La Trobe reading room at the State Library. The dome is  already at the top of their to-do list so of course I like the cut of their jibs. I recommended a bunch of things I thought would appeal to people for whom the dome is a must-see. I could have gone on and on, but it was late and I had to go to bed.

It was really fun thinking about all the things I love about Melbourne that I think others would also enjoy.  Maybe I should become a tour guide? I would never* tire of traipsing around the city pointing out all the things that I love about it. Melbourne doesn't have Sydney's breathtaking natural beauty. It's very nice, but its true charms are less obvious. I'd get a real kick out of helping others discover what makes Melbourne great. (*OK, maybe it would be a bit tiresome on a wet winter's day.)

I now have four whole days off work. Wooh! Tomorrow I plan to sleep in and go to the gym and not much else. Then on Friday morning we're off to Venus Bay. The weather's actually going to be fairly decent too.

A woman at work I've never met before complimented me on my hair today. A few weeks ago a barrista asked me what brand of hair dye I use. I said I don't know because the hairdresser colours it, and she asked if I could ask next time I'm at the salon. It makes a nice change from people who look at me as if I have two heads!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

I'm going to Sydney!

I'm off to Sydney to see the Inky Fool! Just booked my ticket and flights before. I contemplated staying Saturday night as well to see Cheryl Strayed (author of the memoir Wild and writer of the Dear Sugar advice column on The Rumpus), but the return fare for the Sunday was significantly more expensive, and I'm supposed to be saving money for a trip to the UK with Luke in August. 

I'm still pretty excited about it though. I've never flown anywhere just for a day before. I must remember to take my copy of The Etymologicon with me in case I have an opportunity for Mark to sign it.  (Incidentally, Mark doesn't look the way I imagined. I expected an older, fusty man, perhaps with a bit of ear hair, but no.)

Speaking of Cheryl Strayed, when I read Wild on my Christmas holidays, I made a note of a quote from it that resonated with me and reminded me of the George Bernard Shaw quote in the sidebar of Gleeful, but I forgot to mention it. Now seems like the time to do bring it up.
Wild recounts the story of Cheryl's physically and emotionally gruelling solo trek of more than 1,000 miles up the west coast of the US four years after the death of her mother and breakdown of her marriage. She was a novice hiker lugging a pack almost as heavy as herself on long distances nearly every day for months, in ill-fitting boots that caused painful blisters and the loss of several toenails. Add to that the risks of encountering big cats and strange men and dealing with extreme weather (including snow)... Anyway, she wrote:
"In the moments among my various agonies, I noticed the beauty that surrounded me, the wonder of things both small and large: the colour of a desert flower that brushed against me on the trail or the grand sweep of the sky as the sun faded over the mountains."
Life wasn't meant to be easy...but it can also be delightful.

Fancy some cow facts?

Someone I follow on Twitter tweeted a link to a story on the Top 10 facts about cows. My favourites: 

  • In Moscow circuses cows have been trained to play football. Circus cows! Playing football! 
  • A group of 10 or more cows is called a 'flink'. 
  • In 1983, a Czechoslovakian was refused Swedish citizenship because of his dislike of cowbells, which showed he hadn't assimilated successfully despite living there for 14 years. The Swedish citizenship forms must be quite a read.  

Monday, April 22, 2013

Ghost sign and word nerd glee

Walking home tonight

Remember the ghost sign seminar I went to last month? The one that I haven't got around to blogging about? Well, I finally sat down yesterday with my notes and googled some of the names that came up at the seminar. 

The first speaker, Sam Roberts from the UK, started his talk by mentioning some of the pioneers of the ghost sign movement (I think I can call it a movement). One is William Stage, an American journalist, author and street photographer who published Ghost Signs: Brick Wall Signs in America in 1989.

Another is Frank H Jump, also American, who started photographing vintage signs in New York City in the late 1990s and maintains the Fading Ad Blog. Yesterday I liked the Fading Ad Facebook page and also followed Frank on Twitter. I mention all of this so I can tell you that he sent a request to follow me back and I'm a little bit chuffed. I'd better start tweeting more about my ghost sign finds.

I'm not going to write much else about the seminar now, but I've included a bunch of links if you want to find out more. I haven't had a good look at them yet myself.

Another gem from Let's Bring Back...The Lost Language Edition: quockerwodger, literally a marionette, but figuratively, a term for someone - a politician - whose strings are being pulled by someone else.

Ooh! I just remembered! The Inky Fool (author of The Etymologicon) is coming to Australia! Yay! But he's heading for Sydney for the Sydney Writer's Festival, not to Melbourne. Boo! I'm contemplating flying up there to see him at his Saturday afternoon gig. Return flights and the ticket would cost about $150... I think I'll sleep on it.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

A day at the zoo

We went to the zoo today. Here is a video of young meerkats playfighting. I love the one that hastily exits stage right around the 23 second mark, then runs back into the fray. 

(Note: that annoying voice isn't mine. Neither is.)



Is it a bird? Is it a plane?

 Sleeping cormorant

My, what long legs you have

 An intimate moment
 (yes, they really were doing it)

 I'm not a pig! I'm a peccary! 


Now that's a furry tail (badly photographed)

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Cosy, yummy, mubblefubbles

It's been a wintry day in Melbourne. The heating hasn't been turned back on in my building yet so I've been snuggled under a cashmere blanket on the couch to keep warm. It's very cosy. 

I made a yummy chicken and vegetable curry for dinner and there's leftovers for my lunch tomorrow.  

I'm still slowly working my way through Let's Bring Back...The Lost Language Edition. Next time I'm in low spirits, I shall describe myself as having a case of the mubblefubbles. Some other favourites:

Battyfanging - a thorough beating
Conflabberation - a hullabaloo
Kicksy-wicksy - restless
Lollpoop - lazy idler
Lumpshious - delicious

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

The bright side of the dark

I'm not sorry summer's over, but I am a little sad about the end of daylight savings. Walking home in the dark isn't all bad though. The sun was setting as I crossed Prince's Bridge and once it got dark, the lights of the city and the traffic on Brunton Avenue reflected on the black water of the Yarra.  

After I took the photo above, a colony of bats flew over my head, silhouetted against the clouds, which were lit up by the city lights. (Incidentally, 'cloud' is another collective noun for bats.)

The end of daylight savings also means I get to see the city glowing during the late afternoon 'golden hour' from my office window. 
I'm having yet another long weekend soon. The Anzac Day public holiday is on Thursday 25 April, and I'm taking the Friday off as well. Luke and I are heading to the seaside town of Venus Bay on Friday and staying the night (Luke works Sundays). I've never been there before. I'm looking forward taking in some coastal vistas. 

I got an unexpected email from a woman I used to work with in my old old job (the one I left in 2010). We lost contact, but her email was a pleasant surprise. It made my day. 

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Local adventuring and ghost sign hunting

Luke and I did some exploring (aka ghost sign hunting) in our local area today. When we were stopped at the lights at the intersection of Dandenong Road and  Chapel Street, I saw part of an old sign lurking on the side of The Astor Theatre.

I only had time to take this one photo. The word at the top has to be Thursday, and I'm guessing it was probably advertising a weekly event at the theatre...Maybe they had Thrifty Thursday back in the days when Tight Arse Tuesday would have been too vulgar?

We headed on to Elsternwick, and wandered along Carlisle Street. There were a few old signs. 

 Holt's Big Bargain Drapers

 Self Service

 It's a long way fromTexas...

 Bike manufacturer Malvern Star was founded in Melbourne in 1902. 
It's now New Zealand-owned, according to wikipedia

 Sennitt's Ice Cream

We made a spur of the moment decision to visit Rippon Lea, the National Trust-listed mansion in Elsternwick. Neither of us had been before. It was built in 1868 and is the largest surviving 19th century suburban estate in Australia. 

We had a furry companions as we walked up the path to the house. 


I like the lamps

The front entrance

Taken from the front steps

There's a little sun dial near the foot of the stairs which appeared to be the favourite hang out of a tiny spider not much bigger than a house fly.  When I trained my camera lens on it, the spider assumed its aggressive stance...which was kind of cute. Sorry, spidey. You didn't scare me.  When I passed the sun dial later on, the spider was still there.

In the fernery (supposedly the largest in the
 Southern Hemisphere)

 There was a garden full of dahlias and
some of the blooms were huge

Like peas in a pod

 The lake

Synchronised duck diving

 We didn't go into the house, in case you were wondering

We also visited the St Kilda Botanic Gardens, another first for both of us. They're quite pleasant. 


And then on Barkly Street in St Kilda we came across this milk bar - Jerry's - with fantastic ghost signs.  Unfortunately, I didn't have the spare battery for my camera, so had to use my phone for these shots, so they aren't great. 

The back of the building. Icy cold drinks on the right,
 but I can't work out what the rest says

 A closer view

I love this. Insist on Swallow and Ariell's biscuits and cakes.
Insist! It looks like it's been re-painted at some point

Oh, before Luke and I set off on our adventure, we had brunch on Chapel Street and bought some books at the Salvo's op shop. I got two books for $4 - Bertrand Russell's The Conquest of Happiness, which was first published in 1930. I'm interested to see if his views are still relevant 80 years later. The other is The Prodigal Tongue: dispatches from the future of English by Mark Abley. 

Speaking of books about language, I'm very slowly making my way through Let's Bring Back...The Lost Language Edition and I found the word for canoodling I spotted when I was flicking through it in the bookshop. It's 'firkytoodle'  - to cuddle or fondle. Hehe.