Friday, April 15, 2011

Port Pirie

Well the business trip to Port Pirie has been completed and I must now prepare for a week back in Perth.  The last three weeks have been rather hectic.  However Jan’s comment is valid “We are probably going to need the money!”.
I didn’t forget to take a few photo’s. But I did forget to take the camera!  These were taken with our new Samsung Galaxy S smartphone.  The phone is part of our continuous cruising communications strategy which I will post about later.  It has an 8MP camera and appears to take good photo’s.
This first photo was only taken to show you the smelter smoke stack.  I have been informed it’s the tallest stack in the Southern Hemisphere.  The smelter is the world’s leading producer of lead.  Other metals refined as by-products include, gold, silver and zinc.  Every worker undergo a monthly blood test and if the level of lead in their body is too high they are either “stood down” or placed on alternative duties pending a decline in the level of lead present.  Most of the contamination occurs through the mouth.  I was informed this is primarily due to poor personal hygiene (failure to wash hands) or cigarette smoking.  The refinery is very serious in its efforts to minimise contamination with all employees wearing protective overalls and respirators, or facemasks, anywhere on the site.  Also, plastic “bootees” have to be worn over footwear when entering buildings to reduce contamination inside the administration areas. 
The majority of the lead and zinc ingots are exported by rail to either Adelaide or Melbourne.  I was advised the smelter “only” extracted a few tonnes of gold each year with approximately four times as much silver obtained from the ore.  My site escort asked (jokingly) if I’d like one of the grey ingots (lead).  However I asked if I could have one of the bright yellow ingots as it was my favourite colour.  Unfortunately I’m still poor! 
The “International Hotel” outside the smelter.  A quasi Art Deco exterior with that traditional Australian exterior veranda effect. 
The smelter regularly shuts down for planned maintenance which is mostly completed by off-site contractors who need temporary accommodation.  This is probably the main reason why a small town like Port Pirie has so many hotels and motels.

The original railway station is an interesting building.  Classic 1890-1910 Australian architecture. It is now the local museum.

Whilst this is the main street of Port Pirie it is actually very representative of the main street in most Australian country towns.

Wide street with a median strip and the vehicles angle parked.  All the shop fronts have a veranda to provide shade.
It is unlikely I will be able to update the blog during the coming week.  Not only am I likely to be away but our wireless internet gets disconnected on the 19th.  The home phone is already disconnected.  Soon the packers will be here and we will be on the road heading towards northern New South Wales.  Oh, and I’ve received another work inquiry.  “Could I complete another small task in Melbourne”! 

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Back home – but only very briefly!

The last week has flown and I apologise for the lack of posts.  Actually the week really did fly with me departing for Launceston, Tasmania via Melbourne on Monday .  I always find Launceston interesting.  There are many weatherboard homes perched on the sides of reasonably steep hill which brings back memories of my teenage years in Wellington, NZ.  A national car rally was being conducted during my visit, which is probably why I couldn’t obtain a room at my usual hotel.  The alternative hotel proved to be somewhat “tired” although the people were friendly.  I had completed my business and had arrived at the airport to catch the small turbo-prop aircraft back to Melbourne for my onwards connection home only to find the flight had been delayed (Again!).  It seems I nearly always experience a delay when attempting to return home from Tasmania.  There had been a security breach at Melbourne Airport which closed it down for several hours throwing the entire Australian air transport system into chaos. By the time I reached Melbourne I had missed my connection to Adelaide. As a consequence I eventually arrived home late that evening.  Next morning it was back to the airport to catch my flight to Perth.  This is one of the longer domestic routes and also involves a 90 minute time zone change.
Whilst in Perth I managed to catch up with most of my family.  Mum recently turned 83 and I wanted to see her before we depart for the UK next month. One evening mum arranged for the extended family to come around to her house for a chinese takeaway meal together.  It was lovely to spending an evening with my siblings and niece.
I also managed to get mum to agree to have  her photo taken outside her house.  It was a beautiful warm and sunny day.  Actually there have been numerous sunny days in Perth which is why all her lawns have died from lack of water.  You may not be able to see it in the photo however the land is sand.  I fact almost all of Perth is built on sand which makes it rather hard to maintain a lawn.

 

This is the only photo I took during the week.  I really am a bad photographer.  Either I take a poor photo or; more frequently; I simply forget to take any photo’s. 
To my surprise the Qantas aircraft used for my return flight was a 767.  Usually Qantas use a 737.  I assume this aircraft needed to be repositioned.  On my arrival Jan collected me and we arrived home in the dark.  My soiled clothes are now in the laundry and the case has been repacked with clean clothes for this week’s business trip to Port Pirie.
Whilst in Tasmania I received a call asking if I could be in Perth in a fortnight.  So it looks like I’ll be making a return visit to Perth after my trip to Port Pirie.  This leaves poor Jan to do all the packing and cleaning in preparation for the big move.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Ouch!

On arrival in the UK we will have a wait of about three months before Waiouru is delivered.  This means we need to think about transport. It would appear that for at least a third of this time we are going to be rather transient so I’ve considered purchasing an old car for the three months. I set myself a maximum price of £500 and started looking on the internet. It does appear possible to purchase a 12-14 year old car for this amount and as long as it remains roadworthy for the 3 months then whatever we can get on resale will be a bonus. I don’t really want to pay additional tax (registration?) and MOT (which I assume is similar to a warrant of fitness?). Everything was looking fine until I did some research on insurance. The cost for three months looked to be about £400. There was an initial figure of approx £115 and a monthly payment of £80. Suddenly the idea of purchasing starts to appear expensive.

Back to the idea of renting. The need for the car is driven (pardon the pun) by our transient accommodation. We have booked into a number of Travelodge locations in the general area around Stafford. The actual daily location has been determined by the price. Jan has found rooms as cheap as £9 and up to a budget maximum of £19. Actually, “cheap” is a relative term when the original plan had us moving directly onto Waiouru. This means we need a car to move our possessions between Travelodge locations on a frequent basis.

I’ve compared the cost of renting from Australia using www.driveaway.com.au against Enterprise in the UK. The latter has a slightly better price with the car costing about £720 for the first five weeks. This should give us time to get settled and for the remainder of the waiting period we will rent on an “as required” basis.

The unbudgeted cost of the accommodation and car rental is going to increase our establishment costs by about an additional £2000 <ouch!>

Friday, April 1, 2011

More Cars and Travel

Well Bert left home yesterday and Jack looks like he will be leaving towards the end of the month.  It’s been many years since we were last “car less”.

We’ve already started to plan how we are going to catch up with our possessions which the removalist will be taking to Karangi in New South Wales (NSW).  Karangi is inland from Coffs Harbour on the NSW mid-north coast about two thirds the way towards Brisbane.

The quickest way would be for us to fly.  However, given the volume of luggage we will have left after the packers have departed, this probably isn’t economically practical.

By train; you’ve got to be joking!  Not only would it cost a fortune, but IF we arrived it would be weeks after we departed.  Any distant rail passenger travel in Australia is only undertaken by tourists.

We will hire a car.  I’d prefer it was a petrol hybrid or ran on LPG, however they appear to be difficult to hire for a long one-way journey.  Adelaide to Sydney is a trip we have made on a number of previous occasions so we are familiar with the route. 

The route planner advises the journey is 1926 kilometres and will take approximately 22 hours.  A three day trip!  One night somewhere on the central-south plains of NSW; a night with mum in Sydney; and then a short six hour drive on the final day! 

The removalists container will go via Melbourne on the train and take a week.  This should give us time to prepare the container we have purchased in Coffs Harbour.  This should then enable the removalists to transfer everything from their container to ours.

Now I have to go and look a the car rental websites for a car and price that meets our requirements.

Bert Left Home Today

We’re a little teary at the moment.  Bert has just left home after spending the last six years as Jan’s companion. 

Jan named him Bert because he’s the same colour as sherbet.  He has only done 37,000 kilometres and I don’t believe anyone has ever sat in the rear seat!

We’ve both been very impressed with the Getz and I would certainly consider purchasing another Hyundai at some future date.  The Korean car manufacturers are very quick at improving their product and I anticipate within a few years the Chinese will be the same.

Bert’s new owner is a 16 year old girl who has just obtained her provisional drivers license.  We hope she will love Bert as much as we did!

Yet another milestone achieved on our way to life on the cut.