Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Great online site for small signs and plaques

We needed some custom signs for our holiday house so after hunting around on the web I found this great site where you can design your sign and have it shipped.

They don't ship to OZ yet but if you have a US address (or an address in one of a number of other countries) then these guys are just the ticket.

Check them out.

http://www.signomatic.com/

Thursday, December 5, 2013

New venture - Accommodation - Coles Bay - Tasmania

Yes I've been a bit quiet on the travel front.

We've been bust working on a new project on the east coast of Tasmania.

So for any readers interested in a Tassie holiday we have a house for holiday renting in Coles Bay.

Check out these links.

Temporary Website: www.atthebay.com.au
Facebook: www.facebook.com/atthebaytas

We are offering a 20% discount for Feb 2014 (our opening month)
We are taking bookings now.
info@atthebay.com.au

Thanks

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Day 6 & 7 - Paris

So here we are in Paris.

So many people say you need to be ready for the locals to be rude and arrogant. Certainly I found that on my last visit. But not this time. We were told to have a go at french with at least a "bonjour" and "merci" and to explain we were from Australia and not "English". The result has been a very pleasant experience indeed.

Day 6

We thought we would walk to a few places and see how we got on.

First up Notre Dame. After visiting the cathedral in Amiens this was a bit of a let down. Nonetheless an impressive building.
Mrs Gazza trying her hand at getting stamps at a local La Poste
Next the Louvre. Huge. Home to the Mona Lisa and vast amounts of other art. We didn't go in. This is the East Entrance.
This is the West (Main) entrance.
It seemed to us that everywhere we went there were guys from Senegal selling mini Eiffel Towers they get you in by showing the large ones but giving you the price of the small ones. 1.00 EUR each. The big ones are like 10 EUR but they want to haggle so we got one for 4.00 EUR and a small one thrown in.

Nice guy - eventually we learned to simply shake our head. If you engage them in conversation then they do not let up.
From the Louvre we kept walking west towards the Arc De Triomphe through a massive garden filled with statues.
This one needs a caption. Meme anyone?
One the way down the Avenue des Champs-Elysees we stopped in at the Abercrombie & Fitch store. The place is located in what from the outside looks like a small mansion and on the inside is fitted out like a night club. A truly amazing retail experience. Especially because we bought nothing.

Arc De Triomphe. The Arc is in the center of a round-a-bout. No lines marked and seemingly no rules. Its a mad house. The monument commemorates world war I. The sculptures on the arc are intricate and detailed.
That was enough walking so we jumped on the Metro and headed back to the Hotel for a rest.

That night we had dinner at a local Chinese. The food was fantastic. Possibly the best Chinese I have ever had.

Then after a quick stroll to walk it off it was back to the the Hotel for sleep.

A HDR image of the Notre Dame at night.



This guy was looking for money so I swapped him. 1 EUR for being able to take his pic. Fair deal I reckon.
 Day 7

Today we did a recon for tomorrow morning's early start to catch the train to Switzerland. We need to get to Gare De Lyon station. So rather than work it out in a rush tomorrow we thought we would do a dry run today. All good we then went to see the Eiffel Tower.


Having got that out of the way we went to Montparnasse Bienvenue station. Mrs Gazza read something about a shopping centre so we went to check it out. For lunch we found a nice little Patisserie and bought some food then looked for a park to eat it. I had downloaded a map app for my iPhone (Ulmon) which showed a large park nearby so we found a seat and enjoyed our local fare. We were nearly finished when a security guard politely informed us we were not allowed to eat in the cemetery. Ooops!

There was also a tall building nearby - Tour Montparnasse that lets you go to the roof on level 59 where you can get a panoramic view of Paris. So I went up with the camera while Mrs. Gazza went shopping. Another fair trade.
View from Tour Montparnasse

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Day 5 - Anzac Day

What a day! We saw the sun rise and set.

This was my second dawn service. I guess because I don't have any family that were involved in the wars (I or II). Anzac day has been one of those things I have respected but not really been connected with. Until this year.

At the suggestion of Mrs Gazza's brother and his wife, who were at the end of their European trip, we agreed to meet them for the Anzac day service at Villers Bretonneux.

So it was set the alarm for 3:00am for catching a shuttle bus from the outskirts of Amiens at 4:00am. We were rigged for cold and glad of it.

We arrived at the memorial site at around 4:45am. The place was well flood lit, you could see that a lot of effort had been made.

It was the 95th anniversary of the battle the Aussies fought at Villers Bretonneux.

The service was moving and a great reminder that our young country's identity was truly forged on the battlefields of Europe. The ideals of mateship, a fair go, rolling our sleeves up and not taking ourselves too seriously were all things that shaped these young men and values they bought home (those who came home) 500,000 troops left our shores 2/3rds of them were injured or never returned. In a nation of only 5,000,000 people at the time that is very significant and no wonder it changed us. Anzac day is more than remembering the bravery of soldiers past. It's remembering our history, who we are and what our values are. These twenty somethings did more than play a part in saving Europe from a madman they shaped a young nation and remembering them is a way of remembering ourselves.


Pre-dawn the flood lit area and headstones set a sobering tone as we walk towards the memorial
Last minute preparations and an Anzac in full dress. The Chaplain's prayer linked the sacrifice of soldiers to the ultimate sacrifice of Christ. In this way the crosses in the memorials take on even greater significance.

Wreaths were laid by many. Fittingly, apart from the official wreaths, the families of those who died here lay their's first.
This photo has a lot going on. We remembered the horror of war and the value of peace. It was good to be a part of. Lest we forget.

Yep Bob Carr again. C'mon Bob get in the car so our buses can come and pick us up. We're cold. Good speech though.

The rest of the day involved driving to Paris where Mrs Gazza's brother dropped us off at the train station so we could get to our hotel and they could get to the airport.

Now we were on our own (so to speak) having lost our more accomplished French speakers were left to work it out for ourselves.

The ticket machine was broken so we needed to hunt around for another one. That done we then had to find the right platform. Not that obvious at first but with the help of a kind local we got there.

The train was coming from Charles De Gaulle airport so we were not the only travellers, it was pretty full and quite hot. Some guy started yelling in french (not at us) but at other tourists because they were taking up seats with their bags. He was quite imposing and these obvious non-french speaking tourists were quite frightened by him. Now we were the minority and making us feel very unwelcome.

He got off after a few stops and everyone seemed relieved. We found our hotel (Hotel Diana) and a very helpful clerk who gave us all we needed to know, and more, when all we wanted was a bed.

Day 4 - Picardie - Orientation

Day 4 was spent looking around the Picardie area.

The idea was to get orientated and to get into the Anzac spirit by learning more of the history of the Great War. This area was on the Western Front during the war that involved nearly 10% of the then Australian population. Many of the Anzacs though they were coming to an adventure only to find hardship. 2/3rds of them would either come back injured or not at all. The area is dotted with their graves.

First we went to Albert (pronounced "Albear"). On the way we stopped at a war cemetery and quickly became aware of the loss of life by the sheer number of headstones.


There is some pride that rises within you as an Aussie in france seeing the Anzac symbol on so many headstones.
At Albert we went to the tunnel museum an underground museum showing life in the trenches. A reminder that these green lush fields and quaint villages were once a battlefield of mud, trenches and broken bodies.

The French, EU and Aussie flags fly together at the entrance to the museum.

The Tunnel Museum
Old battlefields now lush farmland.
Next we went to Villers Bretonneux the town which celebrates Anzac day. On April 25th 1918 the Australian Infantry took back and held a hill just outside the town. The locals have remembered this event each year since. In fact the site was dedicated in the same year as the start of the second world war. We could not go to the memorial on this day (April 24th) as the roads were blocked to prepare for the following day's events.

Villers Bretonneux prepares to welcome Aussie pilgrims for Anzac day

Villers Bretonneux a sister town to Robinvale Victoria
On the way out of town we stopped at the Adelaide Cemetery.

This plaque says it all



From there we went to do a recon on where we will meet the bus predawn the following morning. On the way we stopped at the Glisy airport to see the locals make the most of the fantastic weather.


Back in Amiens we went to the Cathedral. What an amazing building. We were told you can fit 2 Notre Dames inside. The exquisit detail is awe inspiring and a great example of how architecture can influence the soul. This building encourages reverence and awe. There is no way to represent the building adequately with photos.
Take the time to look at the detail

The preacher reads from that golden pulpit.

And who should be getting a guided tour but Senator Bob Carr  - Australia's Foreign Minister


Ok so now were are hungry and the suggestion is made to get crepes. Check on google and volla! a creperie is suggested near the canal.
Hmmm what to have? Skip mains and go straight to dessert.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Day 3

Day 3 was a travel day.

Dubai - London on QF9 arriving early morning. This meant trying to get as much sleep as possible. Sleep on a plane is greatly helped by flying business class in two ways. 1. You can get a decent meal in the lounge before you board so you can skip the dinner meal served on the plane; and 2. The seats effectively turn into beds so you can sleep lying flat. All in we got nearly 5 hours sleep which is as much as you could hope for on a 7hr flight.

Some of this trip is work for me so we were picked up at the airport and taken to my London office for a quick shower and a 90 min meeting. Then on to St Pancras Station to catch the Eurostar.

I had a fantastic surprise waiting for me after the meeting, our youngest daughter was waiting for me. Mrs Gazza and her had hatched a plan to surprise me. Mrs Gazza let the cat out of the bag a bit earlier but it was great to see her again only a month after she had left to go to the UK on a volunteer program.

So daughter stayed with us at St Pancras until check-in time and then it was off to France.

The Eurostar looked a bit aged to me but it wasn't slow. I had my GPS with me and clocked speeds just under 300kph. It's quiet and smooth, hardly feeling like the speeding bullet that it is.

At Lille we changed trains to an SNCF train to Amiens where we were picked up by Mrs Gazza's brother and his wife. We stayed the night at Josy B&B in Flesselles. Accommodation was hard to find in this area due to the Anzac Day event at Villers Bretonneux. This place is a gem though. The hosts are fantastic, the beds comfortable and the place has been renovated with attention to the important details travellers look for.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Day 1 & 2 - Dubai

It just isn't right to complain about jet lag when you fly Qantas business class. The trick is to set your body clock as soon as possible for the new timezone.

So I stay awake for the 16hr flight which means we arrive dog tired at midnight Dubai time ready for sleep and then try to wake up in the morning of the new timezone. It seems to work ok - although we were tired last night out body clocks are about as good as you could expect.

The flight over was uneventful except for the Pilot being granted permission to turn the plane in such a way that both sides got to see Uluru. So although we missed going outback on this trip we still got to see an Aussie desert icon.

Uluru from the air.
So we arrived on time. It was the first time I could remember arriving in a country where an arrival card was not required. So entry was pretty straight forward.

Our friends met us at the airport and in 20mins we were in our home (for the next 2 days) in Al Sarjah.

View from our friend's apartment.

One lasting memory will be the seeming random nature of development in Sharjah. Our friend's apartment block is in the middle of a sandy area with no driveway or street leading in. For access you simply make your way across what used to be desert towards the building.

Day one included a trip to Dubai to the Dubai Mall where the Burj Khalifa is situated. The Burj Khalifa is the tallest building in the world and like most iconic building you can take a tour to the 124th floor to take in the view from 452m - fantastic! The day we went the views were somewhat obscured due to the haze - but it was a great experience nonetheless.

View from Burj Khalifa looking north towards Downtown Dubai
Jet lag saw me done by 9:00pm last night and after a great sleep we were up around 7:00am ready for day 2.

Day 2

Today we walked down to Al Qasba to wait for the Sarjah bus hop on / off bus tour. For AED 85 you get a 24hr ticket for this tour that runs a few buses around a circuit. The buses have an audio track that must be linked to a GPS to ensure the commentary is in sync with the location.

We stopped at the Souk, a place like a market where you can buy a whole range of things like rugs, jewellery, trinkets and perfume from local suppliers. Next we went to the Mega Mall, not as big as Dubai Mall but reasonably big and the only time we found a shop that I found interesting, a large Electronic store Sharaf DG billed as the largest electronics store in the UAE. It was laid out pretty well and prices seemed OK.

The buses are supposed to run every 35-45mins but we just couldn't get our timing right. After waiting in each spot for over 30mins in 33C heat we gave up trying so we took the rest of the tour staying on the bus and listening to the audio.

The tour explains a bit of the local culture and reassures Westerners that Emiraties are a tolerant and welcoming people. The tour runs past a number of Mosques, the government sector and the Aquarium.

The old traditional fishing village ruins on the shore of the Persian Gulf were very interesting. The traditional desert dwellings are still there albeit in ruins.

The tour is a great way to see Sarjah in a short amount of time, although if all you want to do is go to a few spots, a cab is certainly more efficient and possibly cheaper if there is more than one of you. You will miss the audio which was probably the best thing about the red bus.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Total change of plans

I'm sitting in the Qantas First Class lounge with Mrs Gazza on our way around the world for some long awaited R&R. This is what you do when you have to shorten your Long Service Leave from a 10 week desert, CSR, Kimberley, West coast WA trip.

This trip is mainly pleasure with a bit of work thrown in. I delayed my usual business trip in order to be able to combine Business with pleasure.

No we are not flying first class - but Mr Qantas allows certain frequent flyers to use the First class international lounge. It's a bit posh and a good way to start a long journey.

First leg is Dubai. 15 hours away.

More updates to follow.

Friday, June 1, 2012

UHF Channels

Click here for a link to a doc about UHF channels in OZ.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Hema Navigator Owners - Don't try this at home.

Yes OK I'm gadget junkie. I'm always messing around with my toys.

Even as a kid I use to pull things apart that were not meant to be. I just wanted to see how they worked.

Any way (I digress). I thought it would be cool to tweak my new Hema Navigator HN6 by using the OziExplorer Screen Designer to add a few features to the screen. In particular I wanted to enable the feature that configuration window for the Auto Log Book function.

I downloaded the latest version from www.OziExplorer.com, copied the HEMA-EziOzi2.par1 file made the adjustments and saved the file under a new name.

I changed the page file in the Navigator only to find that none of the Hema buttons were present so I couldn't change the the page file back to the Hema default one.

Stupidly I thought I would delete my file and that should trick the system in going back to the default page file. Nope. That just locked the system up. Sure it tried to load the default page file but it was looking for a file that did not exist. I'm guess it was a legacy issue. It obviously didn't cross anyone's mind that someone like me would be so adventurous. Turning my new HN6 into an expensive brick. Well almost.

I tried renaming a copy of the page file to default.par1 and a few other things but no go.

Another brainwave hit me to check the .cgf files to find the name of the file it was looking for. Sure enough lastpage.cfg said the file name was "Hema Navigator 1.par1" so I renamed a copy of the HEMA-EziOzi2.par1 file to this name and volla! everything back to normal.

It was only then I contacted Hema support and within a few hours they sent me a new HEMA-EziOzi2.par1 file with access to the Log Book configuration settings.

I've dealt with Hema a number of times and they have always been very helpful. Their after sales support is seriously good. Thumps up for them.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Trip Planner

I've put a copy of my trip planner on Google Docs.

Here's the Link

Hopefully its self explanatory.

Please comment here if you have any problems.

To use the sheet you will first need to copy it to your google account using File > Make A Copy.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

The Karavan Setup in 6 Minutes

I've added a new Video on setting up the Karavan.


Thursday, April 26, 2012

Kimberley Karavan in the Aussie Bush

Added a new Video showing the Karavan in the Bush


Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Tallarook - Camping in Style

Last minute decision to go to Tallarook SP last weekend.

Great state park with loads of bush camping opportunities.

The Kimberly Karavan came into its own particularly for that last 100m when the going gets tight. The KK is the same width as, and tracks behind the Landcruiser 200 making it easier to get down overgrown tracks.

The KK also means we can leave almost no trace behind when we leave.

Even under the tree canopy the solar performed well - we stayed two nights and never got close to needing the Honda EU20i

Heaps of butterflies and apart from a few loud motor bikes we didn't see or hear another soul.

Fantastic weekend.