Thursday, July 23, 2009

Hunter Wines 2008/09 - Animoto

Thanks to Animoto, a web application that automatically generates professionally produced DVDs using a high ended motion design processing programme I've been able to come up with an interesting collage of my pictures from around the Hunter Valley wineries

The music I added as a soundtrack is 'Pokolbin Dew' by local entertainer Tony Johns. I went to a few of Tony's gigs a couple of years ago & purchased one of his CD's which had this very appropriate instrumental track included.

This project is just a bit different to my usual postings .... I hope you enjoy

Monday, July 20, 2009

In search of Liquid Gold

In the recorded history of mankind, there has been one constant theme, the search for gold. The Egyptians recorded their quest inside the great pyramid of Giza, built around the 25th century BC & also found amongst the Terracotta Army of Qin Shi Huang, was the Chinese efforts in their eternal quest for gold.

Even in Newcastle there is a story that when Lt John Shortland landed in Newcastle in 1797, he too was on a quest for gold & through his disappointment of not finishing his quest, he lashed out, kicked some rocks & discovered our vast coal reserves instead. Funny how life can take some suprising & unexpected turns.

However the gold I speak of is not the shiny metallic substance (chemical element AU, atomic number of 79), but the even rarer Liquid Gold, aka, a decent cup of coffee for under $5.00!

So last Saturday, armed with my Canon 400D & $5.00 in my pocket, I too went on my quest for Liquid Gold. Parking in Hunter St my journey took me through Civic Park, with its
wonderful fountain, up to the Obelisk with its spectacular view of Newcastle & the Hunter Valley & then down to our pristine Newcastle Beach, glistening like a 1,000 precious jewels in the late winter afternoon sunshine. (ok, cut me some slack for artistic licence!).

It was at Newcastle Beach, nestled away at Shop102/ 61 Shortland Esp., I found, less than 500mtrs from where Lt Shortland landed 212 years ago, Liquid Gold, the best coffee shop in Newcastle, great views, great service & a decent cup of coffee for under $5.00, $3.30 to be exact!

Of course my journey didn't end there, I also stopped at The Brewery at Queens Wharf for a refreshing ale .... a man cannot live on caffeine alone!

So here's the tip, if you want to emulate the Egyptians, the Chinese or even Lt John Shortland, get yourself up to Newcastle & grab a cup of true liquid gold ... & remember to pack your camera!

Monday, July 6, 2009

What Would Isaac Think?

When ex-convict Isaac Nichols (transported for stealing a donkey in 1791) was appointed Postmaster on the 25th April 1809, he commenced the history of what has now become Australia Post. It was a position he held until his death 10 years later, in 1819, running the post office from his private residence located on the corner of George St & Circular Quay in Sydney.

Now 200 years of history is nothing to be taken lightly so Australia Post has ensured that we mark this celebration with the pomp & ceremony that is befitting of such an occasion. However, if you live outside Sydney the celebrations lose a little of the gloss, sort of like kissing your sister!

Here in Newcastle, we tried hard, no re-enactment, no Circus Oz, no free concerts,but we did do what we do best .... we put on a BBQ!

So last Saturday, Hunter Region Mail Centre became the focus of Australia Posts bicentennial celebrations in the Hunter Region with a jumping castle, face painting, a rock band 'Grounds For Divorce' (featuring members of the mail centre & transport) & various items of historical postal significance, such us SPBs, vehicles & employees.

Of course we couldn't use our beautiful old Post Office, which was built in 1903, because we sold it in 2002 & which has now
become just a dilapidated shell of its former stately glory, surrounded by security fencing & attacked on a regular basis by graffiti vandals.

However, all in all it was a pretty good day, the weather turned out to be quite pleasant & I think everyone had a good time, especially the kids.

I do wonder however, if Isaac Nichols had a Canon 400D on his first day, what he would have recorded for posterity?

Sunday, July 5, 2009

The Brewster Brothers gig (warning - contains offensive language)

As a departure from my usual photographic efforts, which mainly involve landscapes & the beauty of nature, I decided to take my Canon 400D (& my good wife) to a 'live' concert.

Now normally I would hesitate to take my camera to a crowded 'live' concert, however The Brewster Brothers were playing at a venue with a slight variation, it was at a private residence. The concert venue is known as Dudley Behind Closed Doors & tickets are limited to around 100 people, so the atomsphere is terrific. It's not often you get to see such great live music, with not only just local bands, but also national & international acts as well, in such an intimate venue. The other great thing is that the venue is BYOG, so you save money there & all monies raised from the sale of tickets goes straight to the bands, it's totally non profit. How good is that!

So how were The Brewster Brothers? .... AWESOME!

John & Rick Brewster were the heart & soul (along with Doc Neeson) behind the iconic Australian rock band The Angels, with great songs such as 'Am I Ever Going To See Yo
ur Face Again' (with the live crowds favourite line 'no way ... get fucked ... fuck off'), 'No Secrets', 'Take A Long Line', 'After The Rain'
& the a host of other hit songs! So along with bass player Paul Robert Burton, they launched their new CD 'Wounded Healer' (they also made sure they played some old rockin' Angels tracks).

It was a great night, however my photography wasn't the best, but I was more there for the music this time !

If you want to check out what host Doug is lining up next at Dudley Behind Closed Doors, go to & get on the mailing list .... you won't be disappointed.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

A Sunday Stroll

Ever woken up on a lazy Sunday morning, looked out the window & thought 'geez it's not raining, I think I'd like to do something different today!'

Well, if you live in Newcastle you are presented with numerous options, you can;

* walk along the harbour foreshore,
* power walk along pristine beaches,
* take in a coffee at the Bar Beach kiosk
* drive out to the wineries
* do some whale watching at historic Fort Scratchley
* do lunch at Nelson Bay

Oh the list is endless.

So what did I do? Well located about 6klms from Newcastle CBD is Blackbutt Reserve. The reserve is a wonderful area of around 180 hectares of lush regenerating rainforest, filled with all manner of wildlife & plants. If you want you can even do the tourist thing & pat a koala.

Blackbutt Reserve took the brunt of the the 2007 'Pasha' storm & as you walk through the area you can still see where former mature tress had there trunks snapped off 1 - 5mtrs off the ground, indicating the force of the wind that run aground the 76000 tonne bulk carrier Pasha Bulker onto Nobbys Beach.

So if you want to spend a relaxing day away from the hustle & bustle of city life, pack a lunch, pack your camera & head out too Blackbutt Reserve, where you can virtually walk back into
Newcastles past.