Thursday, February 24, 2011

When it's a ton in the sun, working ain't much fun

"Summer afternoon, summer afternoon; 
to me those have always been the two most beautiful words in the English language"

It is quite apparent that Henry James, who is attributed to the above quote and one of the leading lights in19th century literary realism, never spent any of his summers in the Pokolbin vineyards during an Australian summer. I'm sure if he had, I bet he would not be so bloody fond of summer afternoons!

Once again I was tasked to work in what is generally a fairly good working outdoor environment, plenty of exercise, excellent photographic location and just a pleasant way to spend a working day. However, the first week of February this year saw the area gripped in an oxygen sapping heatwave with a high of around 47° Celcius (116.6° Fahrenheit) and low of 42°Celcius (107.6° Fahrenheit)   and just to add to the unpleasantness it was accompanied by a hot dry wind. Although the cab of the truck is air conditioned, the temperature in the cab remained at a blistering 37° Celcius and provided very little relief from the outside heat.

Everywhere you looked the landscape was listless, like it was conserving energy until a cooler change moved into the area to provide some relief, however that relief never came and by the end of the week the area surrounding vineyards was in heat distress, no rain came. Given the conditions, what I was trying to capture with the Sanyo S1275, were the fumes that are released by the native eucalypt trees and give the Australian bush that unique blue/purple haze. It is ironic that this beauty also provides the bush a highly flammable fuel during extreme bushfire conditions as the super heated fumes explode in the crown of the trees and is one of the reasons Australian bushfires are so destructive.

The hot, dry weather did provide the vignerons the opportunity to continue the fruit picking without being knee deep in glutinous red clay and remove the last of the grapes for harvest, hoping that it will make the 2011 Hunter vintage one of the best on record. 

While the weather was generally regarded as a boost for the harvest, the sweltering unrelenting heat must have effected tourist numbers, as visitors stayed closer to the coast to take advantage of the cooler weather and the perfect swimming conditions. And who could blame them! No such options for us tasked to work in those searing conditions, the fruit pickers still were out in the vines (albeit finished by midday), roadwork gangs were still out repairing roads, delivery drivers were still out on their rounds and of course there was Australia Post, picking up the wine, making sure it arrived secure and delivered on time, both for domestic and international consumption.

"It is said that as many days as there are in the whole journey, so many are the drivers and vehicles that stand along the road, each vehicle and driver at the interval of a day’s journey; and these are stayed neither by snow nor rain nor heat (even if its 47°) nor darkness from accomplishing their appointed course with all speed."  apologies to Herodotus, Herodotus, trans. A.D. Godley, vol. 4, book 8, verse 98, pp. 96–97 (1924).

So when the temperature hits a ton, working in the sun ain't much fun ... believe me!              

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Australia Day The Newcastle Way

Australia Day is so big in Newcastle these days is that they have to hold it over two days ... unfortunately we still only get one day off!

This Australia Day the Newcastle City Council decided to combine our national holiday with our annual Maritime Festival, which in some ways is a great idea, like having heaps more activities around the harbour, however it does rob us of another weekend festival on our wonderful harbour later during the year! 

So starting on Australia Day Eve, the harbour came alive as all types of water craft assembled on the harbour, from  the Police vessel 'Intrepid' right through to riders on stand up paddle boards to participate in the 'Harbour Lights Boat Parade'. Then at 9pm the sky erupted as a spectacular fireworks display from Dyke Point showered Newcastle with an awesome light display. One of the local cruise operators decided to offer a supper cruise for less than $100 to those who wanted to take advantage of the festivities but didn't want jostle with the crowds. I love harbour cruises, so I decided to spend the dollars and take part in a unique Australia Day experience on the harbour.

Australia Day itself was another picture perfect Newcastle Day and although some may contend that it was a bit on the warm side, long you kept hydrated, with plenty of sunscreen applied, there were plenty of activities to enjoy and participate in such as;

* Beach Volleyball,
* Ski Boat racing,
* Tugboat Ballet,
* Maritime Naval Salutes,
* Aerobatics,
* F/A-18 flyovers,
* Boat building competitions &
* various multi cultural stalls and displays that highlighted our unique Australian culture.

If you couldn't find something to please you in Newcastle on Australia Day, you are very hard to please.

Of course if you are planning to visit Newcastle for Australia Day next year, if possible utilise the wonderful public transport system, make sure you bring plenty of water, wear some very comfortable walking shoes and of course ... make sure you bring the most important item, your camera!      

Australia Day the Newcastle way is a unique way to celebrate everything that is great about our wonderful country ... see you next year!

Friday, February 4, 2011

When You Are Left Up In The Air

Ever have one of the lazy Sunday mornings, when all you want to do is just sit around recovering from an active Saturday night and your plans for the day are still up in the air?

Here in Newcastle when we are faced with this dilemma we can wander down to The Foreshore and the surrounds where you can guarantee that there will be some activity to take in and while away the hours. Lately Livesites has been very active in Newcastle and on Saturday 23 January was no different, with a free circus, Circus Avalon,  that featured high flying aerials on the trapeze, ring and tissue, acrobatics, juggling, hoopists.

Also, located in Foreshore Park was 'Kites Above Newcastle' where the sky was filled with all sorts of kites from the professional kites on display from the Australian Kite Flying Association to young kids just out for the day with the parents enjoying the thrill of their first kite adventure.

Of course once you have seen all the free entertainment, you can take a short stroll down to our two lovely ocean beaches (Newcastle & Nobbys), or to the wonderful ocean baths, where you can soak up the wonderful views, or go for a swim, or grab a coffee or ... oh, the list is endless and varied.  

So if you are ever left up in the air on what to do on the weekend, pack a picnic, pack a towel, pack some sunscreen and head on down to the Newcastle Foreshore where there is always something happening!

Oh, and also, most importantly ... remember to pack your camera