May 31st, 2008

Here is a little video knocked together of our Trip to Tasmania last weekend –

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Also, if you have the time check out the Vice Guide to North Korea a 14 part (about 30 minutes in total) documentary of Shane Smith getting into North Korea. It is a fascinating insight into the isolated country.

May 26th, 2008

Last weekend Amy and I got cheap flights to Tasmania. Where is Tasmania? You may ask. It is a small island located in the bottom right hand corner of Australia as you look at in on a map. I’ve added a picture of Australia and a reference for locating Tasmania below –

We got a fantastic deal on the flights and saved ourselves $20 each by getting the ‘light flyer’ option with jetstar, which meant that we could only take carry on baggage. We bought special suitcases that pass as cabin luggage but still carry a lot of clothes for $100 each, thus a total cost saving of -$80 each.

We booked a suite at the Cradle Mountain Lodge that was recommended to us by everyone so we needed a method of getting there as it was a 2 hour drive from Launceston, the airport we flew into. Our luck had started as we got a “double upgrade” on our car from the basic little cars to a nice Mitsubushi Lancer MI-VTEC. For all the top gear fans, I’d like to say it was a decent car, it was asthetically very nice and it was spacious and easy to drive, however, it lacked any real power and didn’t really feel like it was doing anything when pushed to 100 from zero which felt like it took about 10 minutes. I certainly wouldn’t recommend buying this model.

Hire Car with Hydro Plant in Background

We got to Cradle Mountain driving at dusk and nearly running over about 30 paddy melon’s. We actually saw a Eastern Quoll on the road but didn’t know what it was until later. After the “double upgrade” on the car we thought our luck had come to an end, but not so in Tasmania! The lady at the desk upgraded us from the room we had to the King Billy Suites. This was actually the room we wanted but couldn’t justify the extra costs. It was probably the best hotel experience I’ve ever had, it had a double shower, our own jacuzzi and a fire place that was fun to get going –

King Billy Suite

The next morning we walked down to the main lodge to get breakfast, the walk was down a little footpath and it was icey cold, we came across a lake which had a few lodges around it for this fantastic view –

Lake in the Morning

After breakfast we put on our thermals and hats and coats which we have not done since going to China and the UK and headed down to the actual Cradle Mountain to do some endurance walking. When we got down there we settled on the 2 hour Dove Lake circuit which was a boardwalk around the outside of the lake. Taking all precautions I signed our names into the walkers registration book and we headed off. Cradle Mountain itself is fantastic and the walk lets you take in some great scenary, waterfalls and ‘suicide rock’ which was in the rock in the left hand of this photo next to the water (you can walk right on top of it) –

Cradle Mountain Itself

We were exhausted from the walk because lets face it we are no Rach and Mike so we headed back to our King Billy Suite and had a relaxing afternoon in the jacuzzi. Outside our door was a little paddy melon pademelon that was having a nice time eating a piece of apple –

Cute Little Pademelon

That evening we went on a night spotting tour in a 4WD which probably had the worst window visibility vehicle I’d ever been in, however it was still good fun to drive around with an informed national park driver and shine bright lights into these little creatures eyes (they didn’t seem to mind but I can’t imagine spotlights shined onto nocturnal animals is very good for them). We saw another Quoll which was very lucky apparently and loads more pademelons. We then saw a wombat with a joey and another type of kangaroo different from the pademelon.

Here’s me with the spotlight tour vehicle which deceptively looks like it has great window visibility –

Cradle Mountain Spotlight 4WD

That night we went to the restaurant which was very nice, I had a pancake thing which had beans in it and lots of butter. I probably wouldn’t have it again but it was good to try something different, Amy had Lamb which was very nice. To get a wine you go down to the cellar and choose one yourself which Amy thought was brilliant.

On our last day we did the shorter King Billy Track walk which took only 40 minutes and I found out that King Billy wasn’t just the name of our room type but actually a type of pine. Here’s Amy with the sign –

Amy and the King Billy Track

Our flight out wasn’t until late so we drove up to the North of Tasmania to check out the wine region. It was very nice but not as bustling compared to the Hunter Valley. We also checked out Launceston town centre, it was a bit depressing to be honest just a high street and a Myer’s that looked like it was stocking mainland Australia’s rejects.

It was a brilliant weekend and vey relaxing if you ever get a chance to go to Tasmania and want a nice relaxing time I recommend the Cradle Mountain Lodge King Billy Suites and they didn’t even have to pay me to say that! Video coming soon in High Definition!

May 18th, 2008

This weekend was Stu’s birthday and for it we celebrated with two games of bowling at King Street Wharf, which is on the Darling Harbour side of Sydney on the trendy wharf. It was the same crew as the trip to Melbourne so it was a great reunion.

21st century bowling has really come on a lot, at this over 18’s bowling alley when you throw the ball down a second after it hits the ground a flash goes off and you can then review your stance on the overhead monitor and optionally pay out for a printed photo a lot like the log flumes at Alton Towers. Or you can do what everyone else was doing and take photos of the picture that they want you to pay for –

Me Bowling

Sunday morning we decided to take a drive up the Northern Beaches for a change of scene to have breakfast, we ended up at Dee Why and then did a kind of ‘Tourist Drive’ back to Manly. In the picture below you can see the city of Sydney on the horizon to the right of the telegraph pole, the beach in the front of the picture is Curl Curl and the buildings in the distant headland is Manly.

Curl Curl, Manly and the City

On a separate note, any Northern Beaches fans should checkout Grapevine Magazine, which I found in a boutique clothes shop in Freshwater whilst waiting for Amy to try on an overpriced dress. It is kind of like a VBS for the Northern Beaches.

May 14th, 2008

BhangLassi filmed at the Cat and Fiddle in Balmain on the 10th April 2008. The band will be launching their new EP. “Orange” on the 10th July at the Excelsior – so get down their to get your copyas its sure to sell out in no time.

This is a first time HD video on G2007 of the song Four Degrees that rumour has it was partially inspired by Cooster – the video is in HD 720p format which is the same resolution as HDTV 1280×720 but clearly the bitrate of the video is a lot less (so that it doesn’t take 4 weeks to buffer) at around 1800kbps. You should be able to go full screen on this one and look ok as long as your monitor resolution is around the same level.

This is the first HD video on G2007 as I finally now have the software necessary to work with the AVCHD MTS output files of the camera. I used Sony Vegas 8.0 to produce it and the FLV Encoder of Flash CS3 to get the video into a format that can be played in a flash supporting browser!

The Vegas tool is fantastic, this is a screenshot of the original raw video from the camera which loses a lot of the colours thanks to all the red light –

Original Video Colour
May 11th, 2008

After an extrodinarily long time without comments on the blog (thanks to 10,000 spam messages and akismis not really picking them all up) you can now add comments thanks to a system called disqus which will hopefully end spam, here’s a screenshot of it in action –

Welcome back comments!

May 11th, 2008

This weekend T-Bone organised a BBQ at his place in Chatswood. It was great weather for it and Chris has a webber BBQ which was my first one.

T-Bone Webber Style

It reminded me very much of the BBQs had in England, as this one involved coal and fire lighters, but this time it had a slight ozzie twist to it in that it didn’t go out, we didn’t have to use the cooker and we didn’t get food poisoning from undercooked sausages.

Dylan who showed up his spider man stance in Manly last September (bottom photo here) has now gone one step further and got the full suit –

Spider Man – Spider Man

It was also great to see an old work collegue Ali, who you might remember was famous enough to have his wedding covered by the BBC and his wife Sarah at the BBQ, here’s a picture of everyone minus Dylan and myself –

Issy, Chris, Amy, Ali and Sarah

A great evening and some fun lego building.