Sunday, June 28, 2015

Corin Forest

The world is warming up. Whether you like it or not (and the Australian government sadly has a lot of climate change ‘sceptics’) there appears to be unequivocal evidence that human impact on climate is causing the planet to warm up. Sadly we live in a country which has a love affair with coal and so people in power here are not likely to wake up to the impacts of CO2 and burning fossil fuels until we are all living in bubbles and our beautiful earth is uninhabitable. If you've got any doubts please watching 'Chasing Ice' a film which really should be a wake-up call for governments around the world.

Forecasts suggest that Australia won’t have any viable snow fields remaining by 2020. I do hope these forecasts are overly pessimistic and I can look back on this post in five years time and laugh. I doubt it though.

Every year the kids and I head out for some snow fun. Usually we go to the nearby snowy mountains – Mount Selwyn is a popular spot about 2½ hours drive south of Canberra. All of the snow fields have ‘snow cams’ where you can judge the amount of snow – they’re usually updated every 10 minutes or so. Right now if you look at Mount Selwyn’s ‘snow cam’ – you mostly see grassy banks. It makes sad viewing, especially as the ‘ski season’ opened three or four weeks ago. Here's a picture of the slopes a few minutes ago.

Mount Selwyn's ski slope, but of course climate change is imaginary

In Corin Forest, just outside of Canberra an entrepreneur has seized on this and set up a toboggan area on a shadowy slope. It’s man-made snow and he’s got three large snow makers. I’m a bit dubious about the long term prospects of this even as water becomes scarcer and more expensive, but for now it provided a shorter (45 minute) drive to having fun on the snow (albeit man made snow)

Corin is well laid out – a nice lodge with a big fire where you can melt marshmallows and only a short walk from the carpark to the slope.

The kids were shocked at first (we’d only been to snow fields before, so to find a green wooded car park with just a small square of snow high up on the hill surprised them at first). They had fun though and there was an area set aside where you could make snowmen and have snowball fights so it was well organised.

We went with one of Audrey’s friends and the three kids enjoyed tearing down the slopes on our toboggans. It might be our only trip this year as it seems a bit futile to take a drive to the ‘proper’ snow fields to find ourselves on a grassy bank, perhaps we might go in a month or so to look at the spring flowers.

Audrey on the slopes

enough snow to make a snowman

The nearby (beautiful) Gibraltar falls

A Maze-ing

The Maze – Transit Bar 18th June

It had rained for nearly four days and the rainwater gathered in gutters shiny under Canberran streetlights. It was nice to be in the dry and warmth of the subterranean Transit Bar watching The Maze roll into town.

The night began with two support acts, the admirable and rhythmic Young Monks – who despite announcing that this was only their second gig played a set full of great jangling guitars and Duck Duck Ghost – led by the extremely lanky Alex who jived around the stage and captivated the crowd with the muscle of his voice and complex chord rhythms.

The supports were good, and having escaped the cold and found solace in the warm Transit it would still have had a good night out even had the night ended there.

The rest of the night belonged to the Maze though. Hailing from Woolonong they blazed out of the tracks from the start with the catchy 'On Your Own' – a song surely waiting for commercial exposure via a mobile phone TV ad or inclusion on the Fifa16 tracklist.

Their music warmed the cold night. The band were skilled at their art racing through a number of seductive tracks – their music echoing the cheek of the Arctic Monkeys, the balls of the Stripes and the quirkiness and irony of Pulp. The Maze had poetic depth beyond their years.

Every song had a killer rhythm - frontman Zac Gervaise wooed the crowd with nonchalant ease. Occasionally Zac scrounged bottles of beers from the crowd and sometimes he dipped his head and sang with incredible power and emotion. The songs were met with rapturous applause and a welcome encore made fine work of Britney’s “Baby Baby” and got people dancing.

I chatted to Bassist Angus Bradley afterwards. He told me that the band are all basically mates who were touring round as a result of receiving calls from assorted venues across Australia. They have plans to tour the UK ‘sometime’ but for now were going to a number of States (and Territories!) to see how they got on (they had just arrived from Adelaide that day). Alex was genuinely pleased with the reception given to the band by the crowd at the Transit. Such is life for a band on the road the band and equipment were driving back to Woolongong that night on board a 12 seater minibus (Angus said it was much smaller than it sounded).

Monday, June 8, 2015

Signs and Symbols

Eli had to do a 'topic talk' on signs and symbols. Here's what the two of us came up with

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Fishing the Cotter

A friend (Crispian) very kindly invited me for a few hour's fishing - while his wife Nicola looked after the kids.

It meant that we could escape a short way up the road to the Cotter - near Vanity's Point crossing. It never ceases to amaze me some of the spectacular scenery on Canberra's doorstep. We spotted kangaroos and a couple of emus along the way as well.

Once you turned off the road (onto a fire trail) you did really need a 4x4 which Crispian had - along with a great assortment of fishing tackle which he lent me during our trip.

It was a beautiful afternoon - the chilly morning fog gave way to bright sunshine and we found a good spot to park and hiked down to the river (wearing our waders).

Alas, after a good deal of casting and reeling and the occasional snag on bushes and rocks we departed empty handed. Crispian's waders proved useful more than once as it allowed you to cross the river to recover your lure from entangled positions often on the opposite bank! It was such a pleasant way to spend an afternoon though that it hardly mattered that we had caught nothing - it was such good fun.

The kids were pleased to see me when I got back too which was good and we headed home (for pumpkin soup - rather than wild trout). Maybe next time.

The view - 15 minutes drive from our house - not bad!

Crispian fishing for trout

no bites 

The tranquil Vanity's Crossing