Friday, 30 January 2009

Bronte 6 - The crossword

What a great place to sit and contemplate the crossword, after a dip. Friday's cryptic x-word in the Sydney Morning Herald is notoriously difficult!

Thursday, 29 January 2009

Out 'n' about at the Australian Open tennis

Top row:
Rod Laver Arena (the main court, named after one of Australia's most famous former players, the only two-times Grand Slam* singles winner, and one of only 2 men to do it) and Garden Square, where fans can sit and watch the action from inside RLA on a huge screen. A Grounds Pass costs as little as $30 a day, which gives you access to matches on the courts other than can still catch some great tennis.
Middle: A couple of French fans in Garden Square. The atmosphere is wonderful, with people from all over the world. And it's very relaxed and laid back (mostly)
Right: Part of the crowd inside Rod Laver Arena

Centre Row:
French fans inside RLA supporting Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
Middle: A new star is born
Right: Margaret Court Arena (aka Margaret Court court) named after another former great and Grand Slam winner - and she won two Mixed Doubles Grand Slams as well! The buildings in the background are in central Melbourne. One of Melbourne's great assets is the proximity of its great sporting venues to the city...just a short tram ride or easy walk.

Bottom Row:
View of Melbourne Park and the Yarra River from the 19th floor of the Grand Hyatt Hotel. Next door to the tennis centre is the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG), which was the Olympic Stadium in 1956
Middle: Players Box seats before the Tsonga/Blake match. We were sitting right near them, and during the match Tsonga's people occupied them.
Right: Line umpires and ball kids.

To see these photos enlarged, and others I haven't loaded from elsewhere, visit Sydney Daily Photo Extra.

* Grand Slam - winning the Australian, French, US Opens and Wimbeldon in one calendar year. A "Golden Slam" means winning those 4 AND an Olympic Gold. Does anyone know who the only player to achieve that feat was?

Tomorrow: back to Bronte

Wednesday, 28 January 2009

We interrupt transmission from Bronte.... bring you pictures from the Australian Open tennis in Melbourne.
Here's a collage showing some of the players I watched over two days.
Your mission: see if you can name them all - top left to bottom right. Warning: There's an "odd one out" in there!
I may be able to offer a small prize to the first complete entry (eg a postcard.

If you need to see the photos in larger form, click here on Sydney Daily Photo Extra.

Let me tell you about the experience. Back in decemeber I entered a contest on the Qantas Frequent Flyer site - all I had to do was enter my name and details. Mid way through January I was contacted and told that I'd won! Me and three friends would be flown (business class) to melbourne and as guests of Tennis Australia spend two days there. After the initial shock, I . . . well, stayed shocked!

We left Sydney at 8am, flying up the front of the place. For those who haven't done this, let me assure you that it IS better in the pointy end. The seats are more comfortable, there's real lef and foot rests, you do get proper food, and while the toilet is the same cramped space there's a posy of fresh flora to contemplete. And there's still ridiculous plastic knives, which will do nought to prevent a potential terrorist poking your eye out with the metal fork.

We got met in Melbourne by one of the official fleet of cars (KIA) which ferry the seeded players, officials and other Big Wigs back and forth (unseeded players and others have shuttle buses), and taken direct to the tennis centre. Met our Tennis Australia host, a marvellous young man named Karl, who provided us with tickets for the Rod Laver Arena for that day's and night's sessions. Four matches in all, plus there's open access to matches on the outer courts, where we saw part of a few more matches.

We were transferred to the Grand Hyatt hotel for the night, the official player hotel. Didn't rub shoulders with any tennis stars, but we did see mark Woodford setting up an interview.

Second day we were taken back to Melbourne Park, where we were accredited as "Players For The Day", which meant we were able to be accompanied through various areas "backstage". We had to sign a pledge that we wouldn't approach players, ask for autographs or take photos without permission. We got kitted out with racquets (Wilson) and clothing (Nike) and taken to Court 4, where we managed a bit of hit and giggle for an hour. A couple of famous players arrived for their practice session following us. I'd like to report that they showed fascination with our progress, but it was more truthful to suggest that they noticed us not at all! I did ask permission to take photos and that was okay'ed for a couple (they're included in the collage).

After that "humiliation" we retreated to the audience again for a doubles match, with our "practice partners" displaying their skill.

Next was lunch in the Players' Lounge...a lovely retreat into air conditioning as the temperature climbed outside. We ate from the same good selection of food - not at all ostentatious or pretentious either in food or setting - but good, nutritious fare, lots of carbs for those seekign them, and high quality fresh food from salads to sandwiches, wraps, an hot food, and plastic tables and chairs. It was a considerable step up, however, from the plethora of over-priced mainly junk food available to the punters outside.

Thus ended our Player "experience" and we retreated to "Garden Square", the outdoor area with the huge screen of inside Rod Laver Arena, some shady trees, and tables and chairs...and a grassed area to lie or sit on (more of that tomorrow), then transfer back to the airport and home.

So, no skill was required other than the capacity to fill out a form online, and an experience to remember.

So who are the players above??????

Tomorrow - some more scenes around Melbourne Park.

Tuesday, 27 January 2009

Bronte 5 - Outside the Baths

Not everyone wants to swim in the confines of the baths. There is a ladder enabling access to the ocean from the baths. I'm standing on the edge of the baths looking towards Bronte Beach. Just beyond where the woman is swimming, where you can see a cluster of people in the water, is a "ring of rocks" natural pool called a "bogey hole". The word bogey apparently comes from a local Aboriginal word meaning "to bathe".

Today I'm still in Melbourne at the Australian Open (see previous posts - I won a trip). As I write this on Sunday night, it's predicted to be 35 in Melbourne, and the thought of swimming in the ocean in Sydney will have to suffice to keep me cool!

Monday, 26 January 2009

Bronte 4 - The Leap

This little fella, cute as all get out, took the great leap of faith, into the safe hands of his dad. But not before seeking a little reassurance about where to go.

Today I'm in Melbourne enjoying the Austalian Open tennis (see yesterday's post - I won a trip and tickets!).

Sunday, 25 January 2009

Bronte 3 - Hanging on

The turning board was added to the baths after its construction to enable races to be held. It divides the lap swimming area from that used by young children, and provides a convenient resting spot.

Today was much more pleasant in Sydney - max 26.

Tomorrow mornign my son and I are off to Melbourne to see some of the action in the Australian (tennis) Open. I won a competition which provides us with business class airfares, a night's accommodation at the Grand Hyatt, a whole heap of tennis gear and tickets to the Rod Laver Arena.

I'm presetting the blog to publish for the next couple of days (not taking laptop) and hope to get some good tennis pics!

Saturday, 24 January 2009

Bronte 2 - The stairs

One way in to the pool at Bronte is down these steep stairs. The pool has lane markings for races; it was pretty frantic when I was there and people were all over the place! I had to wait for some time to get a snap with no people in shot. I was pleased with some of the others, but wanted a contrast, and this one with the simplicity of the white contrasting with the greeny blue water pleased me.

Today it reached 41 degrees in Sydney (that's 105.8 fahrenheit), having not dipped below 27 overnight. At 2am I decamped to a chair in the backyard for a while.

My son and his friends opted to go to a public pool today - the large water slides were a great attraction. Being old enough to look after themselves now, I dropped them and went to explore another rock pool - this time at beach further south - Maroubra. I'll bring some photos from there after the Bronte series.

Friday, 23 January 2009

Hot In The City. Bronte baths - Skywatch Friday

Photos taken 9:33 am today. Air temp 30.4 degrees celsius. Sea temp approx 22 deg.

As I mentioned yesterday, it's hot in Sydney at the moment. At 7am it was 26 degrees. So this morning I took myself off to the eastern suburb of Bronte for a swim in Bronte Baths. Mind you, it was an expensive excursion. There is very limited parking anywhere near the beach - maximum one hour. I overstayed by 15 minutes and got pinged $81 for the privilege. That's the problem with those automatic machines - they send a message to the parking inspector as soon as they expire!

The skies are uninterrupted blue, at least until the afternoon, when, typically, it gets cloudy, and there might be a thunderstorm, as there has been the last couple of days.

I'm going to stick around Bronte for the next few bloggy days at least, and there'll be even more pics on my Swimming blog when I get them uploaded.

It' magical swimming in the cool sea (about 22 deg?) looking at the sandstone overhang above.

Bronte Baths were opened in 1887. In late 1887, after complaints to Council about bathing during prohibited hours, Council adopted regulations for the conduct of the Bondi and Bronte Baths. The Bronte Baths 1887 Regulations stated 'gentlemen could bathe between daylight and 10am and from 4pm 'till dark each day. Ladies were welcomed from 10am to 4pm daily' except on Sundays and Public Holidays, when the baths were reserved exclusively for men 'from daylight to dark' and that 'each person using the baths shall wear an appropriate bathing dress'. Baths entry cost fourpence for adult and tuppence for children. Monthly tickets were available and towels could be hired.

In 2003 Waverley Council refused permission for QANTAS to film an advertisement in its I Still Call Australia Home campaign at the Bronte Pool. Council felt the area, which already attracted five million visitors a year, did not need the international publicity, nor an enforced three-day closure of the pool at the busiest time of the year.

Information from NSW Ocean baths website

Thursday, 22 January 2009

Shady play

The only thing missing from this photo is any children playing. It's just too hot! Sydney is having one of its uncomfortably sweltering summer periods - temperatures in the high 30's (celsius), high humidity, and overnights it's only getting down to 23 or so. Horrible to try to sleep in.

This is, of course, a harbinger of the return to school next week - February is traditionally the hottest and stickiest month, and all those kids' bums stick to the plastic chairs in classrooms everywhere.

Wednesday, 21 January 2009

Play Me I'm Yours! Street Pianos for Sydney Festival - Celebrating Obama

Guest photographer: Jenni . Taken 11:10 am 20 January 2009

My friend Jenni has been visiting Sydney. Yesterday she went to the Museum of Contemporary Art at Circular Quay, and happened across this fellow and his 3 mates playing the piano in celebration of the impending Barack Obama inauguration.

It's Sydney Festival time, and 30 pianos have been placed in Sydney and Parramatta in places as diverse as swimming pools, on a Manly ferry and in a tattoo parlour. See here.

Street Pianos is a project best described from its website. Lots of pics to see there!

" Street pianos are appearing in cities across the world. Located in skate parks, industrial estates, laundrettes, precincts, bus shelters and train stations, outside pubs and football grounds, the pianos are for any member of the public to enjoy and claim ownership of.

Who plays them and how long they remain is up to each community. The pianos act as sculptural, musical, blank canvases that become a reflection of the communities they are embedded into. Many pianos are personalised and decorated.

Questioning the ownership and rules of public space 'Play Me I'm yours' is a provocation, inviting the public to engage with, activate and take ownership of their urban environment.

The first pianos appeared in March 2008 when 15 pianos were placed into the streets of Birmingham UK. This website - - was made for the public to post their comments about the pianos and describe their use. The site has helped document each piano's journey whilst connecting the street pianos and their communities across the city.

'Play Me, I'm Yours' is an arts project by Luke Jerram:"

Tuesday, 20 January 2009

Blue pool, Bermagui

Here's me doing what I love doing most - swimming. Here it's a sea pool at Bermagui on the south coast of NSW. Lots more pics of this pool here.

Monday, 19 January 2009

Sydney Sandstone Tour: The coda and a geology lesson

Dark Beach, Murramarang National Park.

This beach, about 275 kilometres south of Sydney, and near where we go for our summer holidays, is significant for its geology.

It is here that the lip of the sandstone Sydney Basin reaches the surface at its southern most end.

The strata of the Sydney Basin, seen at the northen end of the beach, were laid down in the Permian (300-250 million years ago) and Triassic (250 - 205 million years ago) eras. They formed a saucer shape and lay in shallow water. They were lifted up out of the sea bed midway through the Triassic.The sandstone at this beach is the oldest part of the Sydney Basin, where the base rocks curve up and emerge. This is exposed in the magnificent cliff at the northern edge of the beach. To get to the sandy beach you have to climb over the sharp dark rock formation, which we didn't do.

On the southern end of the beach are rocks of the much older Wagonga formation (Ordovician - 500 to 450 million years ago). This junction is known as an Unconformity, where adjoining rocks are separated in age by 200 million years.

The beach derives its name from the dark pebbles on the southern end of the beach.

For the rest of my Sydney Sandstone Tour photos click here.

For more pictures of this beach and its rocks and vegetation, click here.

Sunday, 18 January 2009

You can't take photos of Sydney...

...when you're in Melbourne, which is where I have been (work). When I went to sleep, Will Smith was watching over me, and he was still there when I awoke.

Saturday, 17 January 2009


On the way back from our holiday, we stopped at Gerringong's Boat Harbour. Hungry pelicans wait expectantly while these fishermen clean their catch at the public boat ramp.

Friday, 16 January 2009

Rosedale: Low Tide

To see the contrast between this low tide on 9 January, and a "king" tide on January 12, click here.

Thursday, 15 January 2009

Monday, 12 January 2009

Rosedale mornings: the creek

Saltwater Creek, 6:17am
It reminds me of something Southern (America) Gothic ... all it needs is Spanish moss.
Taken from the footbridge, which we call 'Pooh Sticks Bridge', cos when the water is flowing, it's perfect for playing Pooh Sticks from.

Sunday, 11 January 2009

Rosedale mornings: the fishing trip

A fishing trip which included my son (second from left), a friend, John, and his two sons, set out at 7:15 am from Moruya.

Saturday, 10 January 2009

Wednesday, 7 January 2009

Rosedale mornings: the tussle

These gorgeous dogs were enjoying retrieving the stick their human friend, Ellen, was throwing into the sea when I encountered them at 07:00 this morning.

Sunday, 4 January 2009

Rosedale mornings: the paddler

Photo taken 4 Jan 2009, 8.26am, Nun's Beach (aka Stinky's particularly amongst older locals). The name Nun's comes from a religious retreat house on the cliff above the beach.

See more of my Rosedale pics here

Friday, 2 January 2009

Happy New Year

A rather belated Happy New Year from me....and a HUGE THANKYOU to everyone who has left messages for me over the past few days and especially yesterday. This is not a photo, but a scan of my own hastily constructed message to you all! Read on to see why.

I would love to respond personally, but unfortunately I am on holidays and the only consistent Internet access is via steam-powered (or so it seems) dial -up: it varies from between 11 and 44 kps!! Yep, kilobytes per sec!. So uploading pics and comment boxes is nigh impossible, especially when the sun is shining outside, the waves are rolling in, and life is better lived away from the computer!

To add to this little tale of woe (????) my camera has broken. Kaput. Dead. I have rushed to the shops and bought a replacement, however, and the photography side of things may resume normal transmission soon. To show you what has happened with the camera, here is one of the last shots I attempted on it. Bad huh! The colour filter seems to have keeled over. (Apart from which it is a super-boring photo - under normal circumstances it would never see a blog!)

In the meantime, I have found a computer to upload some pics on, and am putting them on my Rosedale and Beyond Blog, with some of my favourites set up to load automatically here over the next few days. These are all from the old camera before it went bung. I've yet to get out and about with the new one - the battery is still charging. For those interested, I bought a Canon Ixus 970, which has a 5x optical zoom. Still a pocket camera, but 10mpix and a better zoom. I've been very happy with my previous Canon and am familiar with the software, so went with Canon again. I considered SX110 IS but everyone in the 'serious" camera shops recommended the Ixus over it.

Thursday, 1 January 2009

Theme Day: Best photo 2008

Originally posted 7 Nov 2006
I really don't know if this was my "best" photo, but it was favourite piece of artwork from 2008 - Nexus by from Sculpture By The Sea. It was also the photo I went back to capture as well as I could, and took the most discarded shots of!

Click here to view thumbnails of "Best Photos" from around the world