This week I’m at linux.conf.au, the southern hemisphere’s premier open-source conference. This year it is being held in Ballarat, about an hour’s travel from Melbourne. I’ll be documenting the trip and conference as much as I can given the limits of my enthusiasm and awakeness.
Sunday 15th January:
Sunday was spent travelling. My flight from Hobart to Melbourne departed at 8:35am, and it was a perfect day for flying. Warm, clear skies and little wind. An almost perfect flight. I landed in Melbourne before schedule and caught the SkyBus into the city. I was there by 10am, and my train to Ballarat (which I was travelling with my friend Michael Wheeler on) left at 5:08pm, so I had quite a number of hours to spare. Needless to say, I did what any tourist would do, and set about travelling on as many forms of public transport as I could in one day.
I caught a tram down to St. Kilda, the light rail (which was merely a glorified tram) back, a suburban train out into a random suburb and back, as well as the plane, car and bus I had already travelled on. I took a few pictures, mostly from St. Kilda pier. A poster detailing the risks of getting in the way of a tram also caught my eye.
After my random adventures in Melbourne’s transport system came to an end, I met Michael (fresh from his trip down from Rockhampton) and we proceeded to get on the VLine train to Ballarat. We fired up our laptops and were just getting comfortable in a game of OpenTTD, and then the train was off! But not for long. After about 200 metres of travel it was announced that the train was cancelled, and we would all be transported on coaches instead. We finally arrived in Ballarat two hours late, at about 9pm.
This summer I managed to make it to the holy grail of cricket in Australia: Day 1 of the Boxing Day Test at the MCG in Melbourne.
Along with my good friend Chris Neugebauer, I sat through a morning of threatening weather and Australian wickets being taken. Not pleasant. In the afternoon (after lunch and a sizeable rain delay) the English continued to pummel the Australian team, this time with the bat.
Without a doubt the highlights of the day all involved the 84 000+ strong crowd in attendance that day. Cricket matches (and sporting events of all manner in Australia, really) are just an excuse to get drunk, and the crowd in Melbourne that day did not disappoint.
Although I didn’t drink, others did, and the resulting beer cup snakes were very impressive. One was sighted at 6 rows long, which some maths tells me must be at least 1200 cups, which represents around 500 litres of mid-strength beer. Which is a lot for the couple of hundred people who contributed to that particular snake.
Being at the MCG is an awe-inspiring thing. When you first enter the ground and are completely surrounded by the stands, which tower over you, I doubt it’s possible to say anything other than “wow”.
Being an avid enthusiast of public transport (read: train freak), I had a great day in Melbourne, which has a very impressive system, with trams, trains, and buses galore. Although I only caught a couple of buses, it’s great to see that a city can actually get public transport right!
All up, a fantastic day. Even if it did mean getting up at six o’clock in the morning.
The public transport system. It sucks badly. If you want to go anywhere by bus after 6pm or on a weekend, forget it.
People complaining about the public transport system. People love complaining about Metro (I’m one of them). It smells. It’s always late. It goes nowhere near where you want to go. All this complaining is really bad; what we need to do is all get on the busses and give them the money they need to fix it. At the moment I can (and regularly do) catch a bus and be the only person on it.
Bogans. Individually Bogans are fine. I know quite a few, and they’re lovely people (mostly). It’s just when they get into groups; you start to get the feeling deep inside you that it’s no longer safe and you should leave. It’s not a good thing that The Powers That Be decided to build entire suburbs of public housing, which have now become ghettos.
There’s not very much to do. Assuming you don’t drink alcohol (which I don’t), there’s very few things of great excitement in Hobart (if you have ideas, leave comments please!).
Rubbish TV stations. People on the mainland get Channel 7, Channel 9 and Channel 10, as well as digital radio. We get Southern Cross, WIN TV, and TDT, which are bad impersonations of the mainland stations. I know Tasmania is a small market, but wouldn’t it be cheaper then to copy the stations over exactly as they are on the mainland and just change the evening news bulletin?
Badly surfaced roads. I know this is a complaint pretty much everywhere in the world, but in Hobart’s suburbs it’s getting pretty ridiculous. Neither of the two electorates that Hobart covers (Denison and Franklin) are marginal seats (in fact pretty solidly Labor) so there’s not a lot of money spent pork-barrelling here.
Slow Internet. We’re at the end of the world and there’s only a few Internet cables coming into the state. Add to that the high prices charged by ISPs in Australia generally, and it’s a pretty bad situation. The National Broadband Network (NBN) promises to fix the speeds, but at what cost?
The jokes about two-headed Tasmanians when you travel to the mainland. It’s getting old guys, seriously.