In New Zealand, there is a real culture of Do-It-Yourself. From building homes to renovating homes, the isolation of the country and a lack of nearby tradesmen in many places has probably facilitated this culture of people being more self-sufficient.
This translates onto the TV also, because after thinking about food TV last time out, it then occurred to me how many DIY shows are on TV. There are shows from NZ, Australia, Canada, USA and the UK all about this same thing. I can actually understand this a little more here in NZ because of the culture and I suppose these shows give people ideas on how they might change their abode but how many is too many?
But then I wondered something else, on one Australian show where it is as plain as day that they are shopping in Bunnings (a DIY store which I believe has just arrived in the UK), are shows like this really just a blatant sponsored attempt to get you to spend money in those places?
I have been writing this blog now for around 3.5 years. When it began, my intention was to use it mainly as a way for friends and family to keep in touch and see what I’d been up to after moving to New Zealand from the UK.
I quickly realised – perhaps unsurprisingly – that not many people you know are actually that interested in what you are doing or saying (quite sad really as you might think that friends and family would be a main audience) but yet they are happy to share and read inane content on things like Facebook. Go figure. The flip side of this, however, is that I have been delighted to discover so many other blogs which are out there on WordPress and it has been fantastic to create new connections with people who have shared interests in many different parts of the world.
I thought I would therefore share just a few of these links with you in case you wish to explore them further yourself…
Nature Has No Boss – Mike Bizeau regularly posts some truly amazing landscape and wildlife photography from around the USA, often in wilderness areas like Yellowstone.
Uthamz – Utham captures some stunning images of big game animals in Africa, amazing to see.
Through Open Lens – Lucas Kondraciuk posts a good amount of excellent bird-based photography but with a twist – there is always a light-hearted joke to go with the facts in the post to brighten your day.
Nature’s Place – Mark posts truly incredible photos of insects. If macro photography and seeing the small residents of our planet is your thing, you will love this.
Travelling the World Solo – Ellen is from Australia and travels a lot, with a particular fondness for Greenland and Scandinavian countries. Some lovely photos and experiences are there to explore.
Stephen Liddell – Stephen has possibly the most fascinatingly researched blog that I follow, he regularly posts really interesting insights into the world and its history. He is an author with a varied portfolio too.
That will do for now – hope you enjoy exploring! I will share some more in future!
I never thought I would see someone choose to enter an enclosure with a crocodile…much less sit on it! Here we are at Rob Bredl’s wildlife park in Airlie Beach, Australia.
I mention this because there are two things I wanted to tell you…
First…that the man in picture actually told us about how his niece had slipped in such an enclosure and the crocodile had grabbed her and broken her pelvis (she survived).
Second..he rapped the stick in his hand on both the concrete surrounding the enclosure and on the head of the crocodile…they produced the same sound.
The moral of all of this is simply to respect wildlife and do not trust that because something has always done something that it will always continue to behave in the same way.
In 2002 I visited SeaWorld in Surfer’s Paradise, Australia and saw my first ever dolphin.
No matter what your opinion is on the moral side of housing such intelligent creatures in captivity (which I am not sure I really agree with unless it is linked to conservation efforts), it has to be said that this experience is one of the happiest moments I can recall.
For my final post about my trip to Australia, I thought I would end with something about visiting the iconic Sydney Opera House.
Having never seen opera before, while you can pay for a tour of the Opera House, we figured for a bit more money, we might as well go and watch the opera and (hopefully) be entertained. So off we went to see Mozart’s “The Marriage of Figaro”.
The songs are all in Italian and thankfully they gave out a synopsis before the show and had English surtitles above the stage so you knew what they were singing about. It was much better than I expected, was funny in places and very enjoyable. At over 3 hours long, it needed to be. I am not sure I would want to see a serious opera, but this one was great.
Curiously, there was no fat lady singing. I can only assume that as it is only over when the fat lady sings, perhaps the show is still going on.
The building itself is unlike any other. It cost massively more to build than originally planned and took a lot longer…but the result is there to behold. Supposedly, the pieces of the building are designed to represent a sphere when put together. You have to love architects. And here ends my Australian posts…now back to life in NZ.
The attentive reader may recall that I have previously climbed Auckland harbour bridge. While in Sydney, off I went up its much more ambitious, iconic and grander cousin.
It is interesting to note that over 6 million rivets were used in construction. The two different types of steel came from either Middlesbrough in England (as for Auckland) or from Newcastle in Australia. Workers had no safety harnesses and 16 people died relating to construction…although not many from falling off. Workers who were hammering the white hot rivets into place had a bucket in which to catch them (!!)…you don’t try to make a diving catch in that scenario! The towers at the end are largely ornamental.
If you fall off from the top, it would take around 5 seconds to hit the water (134m from the top). During construction someone fell 50 metres into the harbour and went in feet first. His boots were ripped on impact and found halfway up his thighs and he survived with just 2 broken ribs. Lucky man.
It seems that whereas in NZ, they built a bridge and aimed small and tried to save money (and then had to expand the bridge), in Sydney, they built a bridge and aimed large to put Australia on the map. Sure, a tunnel has since been built as well but what a sight of the surroundings you get when you are up there. It really is a superb tourist activity and worth the expense.
Both bridges are interesting for different reasons, but this one is a better overall experience in my opinion.
A happy accident of the trip was the discovery that I was on something of a Ned Kelly trail. I visited the site of his last stand in Glenrowan, Victoria (which has a 6m high statue of Ned), and also the site of his execution at Old Melbourne Gaol. Ned is something of an Australian icon really – it is interesting how we like to glamourise and perhaps idolise criminals – but then I guess those of us who go through life without putting a foot wrong are kind of dull to the general public.
On that note, I was cautioned by the police in Sydney for jaywalking. Thankfully I played the ignorant tourist card and avoided a fine but it does help to be alert to the rules of where you are going. Lesson learned. Hardly in Ned’s league though – here was a man who received stolen goods, committed assault, stole horses and cattle, robbed banks, took hostages, and was planning to murder the police who were in pursuit of the gang by luring them to their doom.
Their plan was foiled however. We were told at Melbourne Gaol that Ned was shot 28 times (despite wearing a thick suit of armour fashioned from parts of a plough) and suffered a major loss of blood. Other members of the gang were killed and Ned was nursed back to health with the intention of then executing him. He was hanged on 11th November 1880, aged 25. Below is a death mask taken of his shaven head after his execution which is on display at the Gaol. Well worth a visit in Melbourne.