Monthly Archives: March 2008


Docklands #1          Docklands #2

Following on from my earlier post about our sojourn to Docklands last week, I thought I’d share a couple of other photos and thoughts. The pictures above, taken from Docklands, show the Bolte Bridge on the City Link Toll Road (it connects the north of the city with the west and the east, via the Burnley tunnel – still my favourite change to Melbourne’s roads in my lifetime…

Customs Boat     One very interesting sight as we walked along the waterfront, was a Customs Boat tied up at the wharf on NewQuay Promenade. It was a really imposing sight, even though no guns were on show. It looked serious and made the other boats – even the couple of luxury cruisers at rest – look frivolous and light-weight. 

Docklands #3         The architecture down at Docklands is, in many cases, another study in frivolity. I’m not talking about construction here, so much as the ‘arty’ shapes and geometric lines that predominate. It all looks as though it will date very quickly, and appears to be under-populated at the moment, which could be a problem in terms of the infrastructure on offer to those residents who are there.

Docklands #4       NewQuay Promenade itself has the feel of a midway gone wrong. There was even a circus tent, and a giant jumping-contraption that wasn’t still in the two and a half hours we were in the restaurant. Apart from a giant television screen, that was all there was to it, though, so it looked like a poor cousin  of one of the fairs my Dad grew up with, in Great Yarmouth (in England) when he was just a boy.

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Birthday treats

Mecca Bah, Docklands

With Michael’s birthday last Tuesday, and him busy at an evening class (learning Blues Harmonica), we decided to celebrate yesterday (Good Friday) by going to Docklands for lunch.

It’s hard to imagine how – after the heatwave that has just finished – we could want to be inside to be warm and out of the wind, but it was so chilly and gusty down by the water, that that was exactly what we wanted. Fortunately, Mecca Bah – the restaurant of choice – was open and able to accommodate us. They seated us by the window overlooking the harbour, and proceeded to woo us with their Middle Eastern inspired menu and decor.

The food was very good, with the Spicy Lamb and Pinenut Boureks a favourite, but the real highlight of the day was our waiter. His memory was phenomenal and his attention to detail, exemplary, making the meal a real treat. It is nice to see that really good service is still around; I’m only sorry I didn’t ask his name so that I could give him a better plug, here.

Mecca Bah #2

The other reason for choosing Docklands for the celebration, was to look at some of the sculptures that have been installed along the waterfront as part of the Contempora Sculpture Award & Festival of Public Arts.

As with any art, the appeal of sculpture is subjective. I only saw a couple of pieces that I liked, one of which is shown below, but regardless of whether they were to my personal taste or not, they did add a bit of interest to the boardwalk that is NewQuay Promenade.

Sculpture #1      #2

Docklands itself was a let-down. It is a while since I’ve been down there, and there has been massive development in that time, but it seems a soulless place overall. The proliferation of high-rise apartment buildings and the dearth of greenery made it seem cold and sterile, and definitely not somewhere I would like to spend a lot of time. Still – restaurants like the Mecca Bah, and the service they provide, will ensure that we pop past occasionally.


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Adelaide or bust

The weekend saw us traipsing back to Adelaide again, though this time up the Calder Highway to Ouyen, and then down through Lameroo and Pineroo.

Meg on a ponyThis is Meg having a break from the car. Even in 40 deg heat, the park was more appealing!

We left Melbourne late – around 8.30am – and it was raining very lightly when we did, in sharp contrast to the day before, and to what was to follow both at home and in Adelaide. While we were there, I believe a record was broken for the most consecutive days over 35 degrees (Celsius), though I don’t know whether that was for EVER, or for the last however-many years.

Bonython Hall #1          Bonython Hall #2          Bonython Hall #3     Three faces of Bonython Hall.

Both the Adelaide Festival and WOMAD were on last weekend, which prompted a trip in to town for the family on Saturday night to see the light-scape known as the Northern Lights, which had been set up on North Terrace.

The lights were fantastic – we spent much of the night discussing how they would have created the artwork that was projected onto each of the buildings. Whether it was mapped using 3d modelling software, or based on photographs, it was absolutely amazing to see the way the buildings were transformed. By my count, there were up to 8 slides per building, with my favourites being the sketched overlay of Elder Hall (below); the fossils on the Museum and the books on the State Library.

Elder Hall #1Elder Hall.

Although WOMAD was on, we weren’t near the Botanical Gardens, and so hadn’t expected to hear any music but were delighted to catch more than half an hour of Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings as we walked along the Torrens back to where we had parked our cars. I hadn’t heard of them before, but loved them, and my 15-year-old nephew, Josh, told me who they were. He even played me one of their CDs when we got home, and now I’m sold…

These were highlights which made this particular trip really memorable (apart from seeing all the family). Even though the roads are good, the drive between Melbourne and Adelaide can be arduous with at least eight hours on the road each way. Doing the trip twice in four days is a bit of a stretch (particularly when every night there is spent staying up late and socialising), so having this unexpected fun was a bonus.  Still, I’m glad we won’t be doing it again for a while. Maybe I should start saving for airfares now, so that we can fly next time…

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Darebin Community and Kite Festival

red kite

As promised, here are some photos of the Kite Festival held last weekend (March 2nd). Some of these were taken with my phone, and some were taken with my DSLR, and while each camera has its own strengths and weaknesses, the lack of a zoom on my phone camera meant that all but the largest kites looked like specks against the blue.

 Ajak Kwai and bandBy the time I got there it was late afternoon, and Ajak Kwai ( ) was performing on the Bell main stage. Ajak commented on the heat, which had been building all day and was making many people and dogs look a little frazzled. She, on the other hand, was revelling in it. Having moved to Tasmania 11 years ago from the Sudan, she said that she has missed the heat terribly.

Hot dog

Unlike the weekend just gone, though, the heat wasn’t excessive, and there were many families out enjoying the perfect kite-flying weather. WOMAD, on the other hand, – held last weekend in Adelaide – sweltered through a record-breaking heatwave. Clouds of dust stirred by passing crowds apparently coated everything and turned to mud on perspiring skin and on anyone entering the mist tent.

Pink kite There weren’t many large kites in the later part of the day, but lots of smaller ones were up and flying in amongst the few big ones there were.

street performerStreet performers were also part of the entertainment for the day, and this particular one had a large crowd fascinated. He was performing tricks with three batons/rods, and had them moving so quickly that at one stage I wondered of they were actually connected to each other. He proved that they weren’t by tossing them in the air and then catching them and going on to the next trick, but I really wouldn’t have been surprised if they had been.

I had a great time walking around taking pictures – I’m only sorry that there were two  events competing for our attention on the same day!

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A busy weekend

Old railway bridge      Sunday last week was a happily busy one: the Guide Dogs’ (GDV) Open Day in the morning gave us the chance to ‘ooh’ and ‘aah’ over the labrador puppies and show support for a fantastic program; the Darebin kite festival in the afternoon provided some spectacular opportunities for photography (though not, I admit, with my camera phone).

To get to the Guide Dogs’, we parked in a side street north of the Yarra river, then walked across the bridge to cross at the lights just beyond the Yarra Boulevard turnoff. Even walking across the bridge was fun, with the traffic whizzing past but with the robust barrier between pedestrians and traffic still letting you feel secure.

The staff at GDV were hoping for a turnout of around 15,000, and the sunny weather certainly saw lots of people out early. Dr Harry Cooper, of Harry’s Practice fame already had a massive queue by 10.30 in the morning.

9-week-old Labroador pups      The puppies in the puppy playground were only 9 weeks old, and Meg and I had to fight our way through lots of babies, strollers and protective parents to get anywhere near. We didn’t get to pat any, but they were still good to look at.   

  Trainee Guide dog Dogs of various stages were in the kennels – some awaiting assessment, and some ready to go onto their final stage of training before being assigned to their new owners. There was even a cat in the kennels, whose job it is to de-sensitise the dogs from the distractions of cats, and make them better working dogs.

The kite festival – photos to be uploaded on Tuesday – was full of colour and music. It was lovely to see the little children, faces turned up towards the sky, looking in awe at the kites flying overhead. It was hot and the wind was erratic, but overall it was a fantastic day for it.

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