Sunday, January 31, 2010

I'm BACK ....

And those of you who read Jim's blog, Nobody Asked Me, already know why I was in Sydney.

Yep, I flew across the country to catch up with a Blogger from the US! And it was worth it too. Had a great time. Jim was as lovely and interesting in person as he is in his blog.

One of the things I found unusual in this "meet" was that apart from leaving comments on each others blogs and one or two emails teeing up getting together in Sydney, Jim and I had never really "chatted". So even though I knew quite a bit about his interests, opinions and life I wasn't sure that we'ld get on and would have more than 30mins of conversation topics! Well, I shouldn't have worried. Jim is full of amusing stories (yes, including more about "Blogarado"!!!!!). We have the same sense of humour and Sydney is a great place for "people watching". Jim is truly a delightful dinner companion (and one of the waiters thought so too!).

Apart from catching up with Jim I took the opportunity to meet another Internet "friend" who lives just outside of Sydney.

We've been members of the same forum for about a year but again haven't really chatted much until a couple of days before I headed East. I hadn't actually twigged at that time where she lived. I sent her a message to say I wouldn't be around for a couple of days (and why) only to get one back saying that she's only an hour out of the city.

So she came up on the Friday with plans to stay with me to the Saturday.

We had left plans for the Friday pretty flexible (as there was a couple of other Internet friends that I was hoping to see) and she wasn't exactly sure when she was arriving. But we ended up getting together for a lunch cruise on a Tall Ship on the Harbour. STUNNING!

I have always wanted to do a Tall Ship cruise. A couple of years ago a friend and I had booked to go on one only to have the ship not turn up :( ... (There was some mix up with the bookings and a corporate booking and we missed out). I have been in Sydney a couple of times since but it never worked out.

Imagine my surprise / pleasure when I walked past a booth selling tickets for that day's cruise on a "Two for One" basis! If you're ever in Sydney and are looking for a river cruise this by far is my recommendation. The crew were friendly (and quite mad) and the food was excellent.

After the cruise we walked around Darling Harbour for a bit and then found a bar doing a "Happy Hour" (for two hours). We had a great table overlooking the pedestrian area and water and proceeded to sit, chat, drink and people watch. The bar got crowded at one stage and we had two Germans share our table. Hilarious conversation resulted, unfortunately it was only a short chat as they were heading off to catch a plane!

In between the "meets" I did some touristy things. One of the highlights was spending most of a day in the Powerhouse Museum. I have been to the museum before, but with the girls. This time I actually had the chance to look at the exhibits without being interrupted.

I listened to a presentation on the Strasburg Clock that they have there (apparently a Sydney clockmaker decided about 100 years ago to make a replica of the clock at Strasburg).

I found the Buller and Watt rotating engine extremely interesting too. It's HUGE. It is a working display, however unfortunately the museum doesn't have a qualified engine driver at the moment to work it. Here's a picture of a model of it:

It's a fascinating place and I especially enjoyed their 80's and the astrological exhibits.

I also took a ferry ride out to Watson's Bay.

The weather all week was pretty awful (overcast and humid) except for the Friday which was a stunning sunny day. Great day for being out on the water.

There were some other people I had hoped to catch up with but for various reasons - work and sickness mainly - this didn't happen. Just means that I'll have to go back again sooner rather than later!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Okay, I'm Off Again

Yep ... really.

To Sydney this time. I fly out at oh dark thirty tomorrow and come back late next Saturday night.

I'll reveal (almost) all then!

Play nice while I'm gone.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Ah, now I KNOW what the hold up is with my gun licence

Decided to ring the Police Licensing Branch again. This time I spoke to a female copper who took time to look at the notes on my Firearms Application (for those who don't know the story look here, here and then here!).

Apparently I filled in my maiden name in the spot for "Previous Names" and that has caused a problem with my application and any other married females who have applied for firearms licenses.

Allegedly the problem was only recently identified (although she did mention that if I had called earlier in the process I would have been told that my application was "non-compliant") and should be rectified this week.

Once the system has been rectified they can start to process these applications.

So I'm guessing I'll be waiting a couple more weeks.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Wow ... First Time I've Seen This

Was just watching some cooking show or other on TV when I saw an ad for a shooting range here in Perth.

This is the FIRST TIME I have ever seen anything gun / shooting related advertised on TV.

WOW ... just WOW.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Back Again

Well we're back from Albany, plus two guinea pigs.

Miss 8 isn't that comfortable around animals so it will be interested to see how it goes. And yes, we have a male and a female. Apparently they're too young to breed yet. YET.

The trip to Albany was good. The main aim of the trip was to catch up with my Dad and his wife. We also found a NICE winery (Ironwood Estate) that does a wonderful Rose.

The weather at the moment is HOT ... Perth officially recorded 42degC today (107.6F), however a friend who lives near me, recorded 46C (114.8F). Tomorrow is forecast as slightly cooler - here's hoping!

Albany is about 400kms from where we live and most of the drive back was on road that was actually melting. Not sure if you can see it in this photo:

Unfortunately I have a white car so we need to clean the tar off it :(

Saturday, January 16, 2010

I'm Off Again

Heading "down south" to Albany for a couple of days ... be good and play nice while I'm away!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Goodbye Xavier - You'll Be Missed

One of the blogs - Xavier Thoughts - listed in my "Other Good Reads" section has decided to hang up the keyboard.

I enjoyed reading his blogs - especially the Ugly Gun Sunday posts that he did. If you want to see some really ugly guns head over there quickly before he turns the blog off.

UPDATE: Looks like Xavier will be hanging around for a bit longer - which is fantastic news. If you haven't read his blog yet I suggest you head over there for a look!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Fun on the Range

Went up the range last night with a group of friends and family, namely:
Hubby, Miss 8, Miss 6, the Club's Chief Instructor, two of Miss 6's friends from school, their parents, their 17y.o. step-sister and another guy.

None of the participants were real "newbies" but most hadn't used handguns before.

We let the kids shoot first - using the Air Pistol. Miss 6 was very keen to give it a go and shot well. After a bit of encouragement the other two 6y.o.s had a few shots too and also did well. Then the adults all had to try it out. I got the one shot into the 10 ring and decided to give up while I was in front :)

We then moved onto my Ruger 22/45, Springfield 9mm, hubby's Beretta .22 and some revolvers (I didn't get to play with the Revolvers so I'm not sure what they were). After everyone had a turn with the handguns they went away and a couple of long arms came out

One was a single shot .410 shotgun. Miss 8 was convinced to give it a go, however the stock was a bit long for her and she didn't really enjoy it (she had said earlier that she didn't want to shoot at all so it might have just been her mood at the time). I liked the .410 - can't wait until I get mine!

The other longarm was a .22 magnum rifle. It was nice to fire but my accuracy was pretty shocking. I blamed the rifle until the Chief Instructor send five rounds down range into a nice neat pattern! Bastard!

Guns were then put away and we sat down to a nice BBQ.

Good time was had by all!

Oh, my camera decided to run out of batteries just after we got started. I will try and see if I can get some photos off the others to post.

Why Did I Bother?

I decided to ring Police Licensing again to see how my licence application was progressing. Here's the conversation:

Me: I'm ringing to find out the status of my firearm's application.

Him: What's your name? What date did you submit the application?

... details given etc ... (For those not up on the story, I submitted an application for two Category A firearms - one a single shot 22 rifle and the other a single shot .410 shotgun on December 7, 2009)

Him: All I can tell you is that it has been received, it has been assigned to an Officer to look at and it's in the queue.

Me: Right. Any idea of how long processing times generally are?

Him: No. I have very little contact with that department. I'm not allowed to put you through to them. Basically if it's assigned to a person they do one after another. You could ring back next week again but I can't tell you anything more.

Me: And I'm guessing when I ring back next week they won't be able to tell me anything more either.

Him: Well you won't know unless you ring back.

Me: Yer, thanks!


FRUSTRATED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I wish I had enough money to go buy another gun just to show them that screwing us around like this won't stop us ....

UPDATE: I have decided to send Police Licensing Services the following email:

Dear Sir / Madam

I would like to know how long I can expect to wait to hear whether or not my Firearms Application submitted on December 7th is approved or not.

I have run the 1300 number on two separate occassions (Jan 7th and today) but they can only tell me that "it has been received, it has been assigned and it's in the queue" and suggest that I ring again in a week.

They can't (or won't) tell me what position it is in the queue or how long I can expect to wait. I don't see any benefit in calling each week if I can't even be told what position it is in the queue.

I would like some idea of how long the processing times are for applications generally and when the "assigned officer" is likely to get to mine.


I'll let you know what, if any, response I get.

UPDATE2: Here's the response:

I am the same person you spoke to on the telephone a short time ago and have attempted to advise you with the best advice I can provide at this time.

It isn't a case of 'CAN'T', or 'WON'T' inform you of information, its the fact that that is the situation. If you do not wish to take the advice given then that is your decision, however the information still stands.

The assessment team will deal with your application as soon as they can. They can't and won't give time frames and are not allowed contact with applicants and members of the public on the direction of the Auditor General.

The reasons time frames aren't given are varied and are largely to do with applicants and dealers not supplying the correct and required information.

As I've previously stated, your application has been assigned and will be processed.


I'm counting to 10 before responding ....

Neat Tool ... What's on the Other Side of the Globe?

Was shown this program by a friend today.

It shows you what is on the other side of the globe from any position that you pick.

You can zoom right down to house number level too.

Perth is directly opposite the Bermuda Triangle - so now I know why socks disappear!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Flying Jellyfish ...

Today's news brings us this article:

A MAN has been stung by an irukandji jellyfish when he was splashed with seawater while fishing from a bulk carrier off north Queensland.

The 45-year-old Filipino man was in a "distressed and very agitated state" following the incident - which occurred 25 metres above sea level at Abbot Point north of Bowen late yesterday afternoon, the Courier-Mail reports.

The RACQ - CQ Rescue helicopter was tasked to the Singaporean-registered bulk carrier Konmax where crew immediately provided pain relief to the victim.

After some initial communication difficulties because of his distress, the crew was able to determine the patient had been fishing from the ship when the sting occurred.

Air crewman Geoff Abrahams said it was an "incredible case".

"Realistically, what are the chances of being stung by a jellyfish when you are safely on board a bulk carrier, 25 metres above the water," Mr Abrahams said.

"This is one of the most fascinating tasks I've worked on."

He said it was not clear if the jellyfish was in the water that splashed him or on his fishing line when he brought it out of the water.

Irukandji are very small stingers – measuring up to 2cm in diameter with four thin tentacles hanging down.

The victim was airlifted to Mackay Hospital where it was confirmed he was suffering the effects of an irukandji sting.

He is now listed as stable.


Okay, I know it wasn't really "flying", but talk about unlucky!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Last Night in Perth ..

From the news today we have this article, which says, in part:

POLICE are investigating a number of violent incidents overnight after a bottle attack, a fire-bombing, a robbery, a stabbing, a nightclub assault and an attack on a man found injured.

First thing that came to mind was that there were no gun related offences listed.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Progress of my Firearm Application

Well I phoned the call centre dealing with Firearms Application enquires.

The guy I spoke to was bright and cheery and well trained in customer service.

Conversation went along these lines:

Me: Hi, I submitted an application for two Cat A firearms on Dec 7th and I've not heard anything yet.

Him: I hear that's been happening.

Me: Well I actually heard some rumours that they've got things under control now.

Him: Mmm, well let's see what's happening ... mumble, mumble, ... need to log on ... mumble, mumble ...what's your surname?

... details given etc ...

Him: Well the good news is that we've received your application and it is just in the queue to be looked at.

Me: I'm guessing that you can't tell me how long the queue is?

Him: No, I just work in the call centre and aren't allowed to put you through to the Firearms section.

Me: Can you tell me what date you received my application?

Him: Let's have a look - it was received at Licencing 20 days ago - which means it took 11 days to get from the Post Office to us.

Me: So you can't give me any idea of how long I've still got to wait?

Him: Nope, I could say a week, a month but no, it's in the queue. Is it for hunting or club use?

Me: Club use.

Him: Well there shouldn't be a hold up - you've got a letter from the club and everything?

Me: Yes.

Him: Well it should be straight forward then. The person who it has been assigned to just needs to get to it. They're doing them in order of date received.

Me: Okay. Thanks.

So I'ld like to know who those people are who are getting them within 2 weeks???

(Or maybe you guys are right - the ones who commented on my last post - I've pissed them off and I keep getting put at the end of the queue).

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Back from Holidays

Hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and a great start to 2010.

We got back from our two weeks away today and I've not yet had time to catch up on my blog reading but I will check out all your blogs over the next day or so.

The holiday was FANTASTIC. We stayed at the Gracetown Caravan Park. It's a lovely park and we had a great bay - large, shady and private. The owners put on a BBQ on Christmas Eve (BYO drinks but everything else provided). It was a nice start to the holiday and a great way to meet people. Over the next couple of days the park filled up but we never felt crowded and only occasionally had to wait for a shower. There was quite a lot of wildlife around the park - we had possums visiting our campsite on a few nights.

Some of the "natives"

The owners of the park also put on movies at an out door screen every second night. The girls loved these!

The first week was just our family at the site. At the start of the second week we had a good friend join us. As our friend had never been in the south-west before we decided to leave most of our sight-seeing until he arrived and spent the first week hanging around the park and beach.

Miss 8 got a new bike for Christmas and Miss 6 had just graduated to her sister's old bike without trainer wheels. Both quickly adapted to their new bikes and there were only the occasional accident - but nothing serious.

I took the opportunity to re-read Julian May's Saga of Pliocene Exile. I have read all the books before but never one after the other. It was nice to get to read them right through without months between.

The weather was pretty much perfect the whole time. We did have one day where it drizzled a bit and another day or two of humidity but the rest of the time it was even on the cold side! As it is the middle of summer this was a major surprise and I was very glad that I had thrown a jumper in for each of us "just in case".

As the weather was so good, Miss 8 and I decided to do some walking. Our first walk (on our second day at the campground) was a walk to the nearest beach - 4kms away.

Our second walk was part of the Cape to Cape walk. We've done sections of this before (which, for some reason I've not blogged about). This time we decided to do the 11km section from Ellenbrook Homestead to the Rivermouth at Prevelly. One of the nicest sections of this walk was along the beach which started at Joey's Nose. It was a nice walk and Miss 8 did really well!

I was hoping to do another section of the Cape to Cape walk later in the holiday but we just didn't get around to it! Once our friend joined us at the campground we did another walk as a whole "family". It was just outside Margaret River and was called the Old Chimney Walk - 2.7kms. Miss 6 doesn't like walking at all but she did okay and it was nice for the rest of us to get out and about and enjoy the scenery.

Spotted out and about

Highlights of the holiday were:

* Gracetown Beach - the girls loved playing along the shoreline and in the rocks. They made friends with some young boys who were catching crabs in the rocks and had a great time crab hunting. Miss 6 also had one of her (baby) teeth knocked out at this beach when she was mucking around with her sister and a wave toppled them. This led to a few tears - but they didn't last long.

Girls at Gracetown Beach

* Canal Rocks - wonderful area for scrambling over rocks and the waves are just spectacular.

* Redgate Beach - never been to this particular beach before - and as it was the middle of the day when we were there we didn't swim but it was beautiful and is definitely on the list of places to go back to.

Watching the waves at Redgate Beach

* Wonky Willmill Farm - there are a number of "petting zoo" type places in this area. We've been to a couple previously, but this time we decided to try a new one and we're glad we did. Not only were we the only people visiting at the time - which means you don't have to struggle to see the animals, they also make wonderful coffee (I'm told their scones are also fantastic but we didn't try them).

* Occy's Brewery - well my friend loved this one! Especially the Stout.

* Bush Shack Brewery - mmmmmmm .... their ginger beer is JUST YUMMY

* Amberley Estate - I like Amerbley wines - especially the Chenin Blanc. But it was a surprise to discover that they also do a Rose - cellar door only and at $10 a bottle it was a delicious bargain.

* Happs Winery - one of our favourite lables ... my friend loved the Late Picked Verdello and I enjoyed their new White Fuscia. We had a look through the pottery studio too and discovered lots of wonderful - but expensive - objects.

* Dunsborough Beach - this used to be the girls' favourite beach. However, this trip they always chose Gracetown Beach over this one when given the option. However, on the last day of our holiday we found ourselves at the beach at a good swimming time (I don't like the girls swimming between 11am and 4pm). The great thing about this beach is that it's wading depth for about a km out. We had fish & chips at the beach which, apart from the flies, was good.

* Joey's Nose / Cape Mentelle - my friend has a 4WD so we spent a day exploring the area around where Miss 8 and I walked and then hanging out on the beach at Joey's Nose. Unfortunately my friend got VERY SUNBURNT and spent the next couple of days suffering! The area however was lovely and the girls (especially Miss 6) loved going over the bumps! (His car however now needs a new wing mirror!).

Cape Mentelle - Looking South
And North

* Cape Leuwin Lighthouse - we also got to the Cape Naturalist lighthouse but was too late to do do a tour of it (we've been before but my friend hadn't). However, we were at the Leuwin Lighthouse in good time for the last tour of the day and my friend and the girls decided to climb it. They all had a great time and hubby and I enjoyed our 30mins of solitude.

In the hills to the North of Cape Leuwin Lighthouse we visited what is considered to be the tallest grass tree (formerly known as a "Blackboy") in Western Australia:

* Boranup Drive - this is a section of road off Caves Road which is forrested with Karri, Marri and Jarrah trees. Very similar to the area around Pemberton (which I blogged about here).

* Playing Monopoly each night - we've not really played board games as a family before but each night of the second week we played an on-going game of Monopoly. I was amazed at how quickly the girls picked up the concept and worked out the money side of things. We're playing the "Australia Here and Now" version.

The holiday was so enjoyable we tried to stay an extra week however the camp ground was booked out :( I guess all good things have to come to an end! But the good news is is that we've booked there for next Christmas!

New Firearms Licencing System - Followup

I received a letter from the Minister for Police; Emergency Services; Road Safety regarding my email which I blogged about in this post.

The letter itself quite impressive (with the gold ministerial crest and all) but only says:
Thank you for your correspondence received in this office on 10 December 2009 regarding the new firearms licensing system.

The matters raised will be brought to the attention of the Minister and a response will be provided to you shortly.

Will be interested to see if I receive a follow up with anything substantial.

In other news, I still have not received any information regarding the application I put in for the shotgun and rifle on December 7th. Apparently some people are getting their licenses approved within two weeks so I will call licensing tomorrow and see if I can get any information as to why mine is taking so long.