Things I just don’t get

  1. idontgettrumpHow Donald Trump can be the leading candidate in the Republican nomination race for the U.S. presidency.
  2. Why some cyclists (and I saw another example of this just a few days ago) will ride around with a cycle helmet draped over their head, but not buckled on, thereby incurring all the disadvantages of owning, carrying and wearing a helmet, without gaining any of the benefits that a helmet might give in the case of an accident.

Then drain, again drain

Although I didn’t intend it when I set out, a bike ride with my son around town today ended up visiting various sites in Newcastle matching the old photos in my previous drain blog post. Here’s the “Then and Now” comparisons.

Broadmeadow drain

Drain construction workers at Broadmeadow, NSW, 6 April 1900

Drain construction workers at Broadmeadow, NSW, 6 April 1900

Broadmeadow drain, 5th February 2016.

Broadmeadow drain, 6th February 2016.

The stormwater drain at Hamilton North, March 2017.

Update, March 2017: With subsequent research I have found that the location of the 1900 Snowball photo was Hamilton North, not Broadmeadow.


The Premier Hotel

Premier Hotel, Broadmeadow, 1892. Photo by Ralph Snowball. University of Newcastle Cultural Collections.

Premier Hotel, Broadmeadow, 1892. Photo by Ralph Snowball. University of Newcastle Cultural Collections.

Premier Hotel, 6th February 2016.

Premier Hotel, 6th February 2016.

View of the lowlands from Glebe Road

The Newcastle lowlands. 1897. Photo taken from intersection of Beaumont St and Glebe Rd looking north towards Hamilton. University of Newcastle Cultural Collections.

The Newcastle lowlands. 1897. Photo taken from intersection of Beaumont St and Glebe Rd looking north towards Hamilton. University of Newcastle Cultural Collections.


Looking north from Glebe Rd towards Hamilton. 6th February 2016.

This modern view bears almost no resemblance to the 1897 photo, with the previously deserted lowlands now covered with trees, suburbia and industry. The only visible match (apart from Beaumont St sloping down the hill) is a spire of St Peter’s Anglican church in Denison St Hamilton.

St Peters Anglican Church Hamilton

St Peters Anglican Church Hamilton

St Peter's Anglican Church Hamilton.

St Peter’s Anglican Church Hamilton.

It seems that at some time the church has lost one of its spires.

New cycling laws are noise and smoke

cycle10kThe NSW government is introducing in March this year some new laws relating to bicycle riding, including increasing fines and the requirement for adult riders to carry photo ID when cycling. These changes are eliciting varied responses, both positive and negative.

From my point of view as a regular cyclist, commuting to work on weekdays and recreational cycling on the weekends, the practical impact of these changes is somewhere between zero and unimaginably small.

Most times when I cycle I already carry a photo ID in my wallet. The only times I might not have a wallet on me is on a short weekend ride with my son in quiet suburban streets. As for the increase in fines, if you abide by the rules then the size of the fines are irrelevant. But more than that, in my 36 years of driving a car, and 7 years of cycle commuting to work I have never, ever seen a cyclist pulled over to be fined. In fact I have never even heard of a cyclist being fined. No doubt it happens, but the infrequency of it makes all this talk about increased fines a meaningless irrelevance.

But aside from the almost negligible practical implications of these new laws, whenever a change in public policy is proposed, I believe these four questions need to be addressed:

  1. What is the problem that these changes are seeking to solve?
  2. How is it expected that the changes will be the solution to the problem?
  3. Is there any evidence or research that shows that the changes will solve the problem?
  4. What monitoring or assessment mechanisms will be put in place to measure the efficacy of the changes?

It seems to me that these four questions aren’t even being asked let alone answered in the current debate. All in all there’s a lot of noise and smoke, but no motion forward.

Creature from the drain

Cycling home from work this afternoon I found this tortoise, on Bates Street Hamilton North, rapidly dehydrating in the heat of today, and in a prime position for being run over by a car. I placed her1 beside the road under a tree and verified that I was looking at a live’n and not a dead’n, and then pondered for a while.

I’m guessing that with the recent heavy rains she’s been washed down the drain and eventually managed to crawl out in Hamilton North. I wondered what to do for a while – putting her back in the bare concrete drain nearby didn’t seem suitable, so I carried her upstream in my lunchbox, and released her in Kerai Creek in Lambton Park, which is looking pretty nice after the recent restoration work by Hunter Water.

I went back later in the evening with my daughter to see how she was going, and found her lying submerged in the middle of the flow, and my immediate thought was “oh no, she’s slipped in and drowned”, but on picking her up she poked her head out slightly and gave me a healthy but  exasperated “not you again” look.

My daughter has named her “Flo”.


1. Actual gender unknown. Assumed gender for narrative purposes.

Herculean Rubbish

On my cycle ride to work I pass old warehouses that have been converted to apartments. Each week somebody has to put the rubbish bins out on the street to be emptied, and rather than a haphazard and careless placement, the person here consistently does it with an order, precision, method and symmetry that would bring a tear to the eye of Hercule Poirot.

A classic example of this again this morning, even when there’s a car parked in the usual bin spot, there are arranged in a neat evenly spaced row exactly 10 bins on each side.

Herculean Rubbish

Herculean Rubbish

Whoever you are, your work is not unnoticed.

10,000 km of turning wheels

Six and a half years ago I started cycling to work. From the very beginning, to keep myself motivated, I set a target of a certain percentage of work days that I wanted to cycle to work. In the first year I set a fairly modest target of 20%, which I blitzed, and in subsequent years I raised the target, which is now at 80%.

Today I reached a significant milestone (or perhaps kilometrestone) in that I have now clocked up 10,000km riding to and from work.

cycle10k cyclegraph

Drain Plane

Each day I cycle to work I ride beside a fair section of the stormwater drain running through New Lambton, Broadmeadow and Hamilton North. There’s some strange things down the drain sometimes – earlier this year I saw someone’s shiny 4WD down in the drain beside New Lambton Park, obviously a result of forgetting to put the handbrake on. But that’s nothing compared to what the residents of Broadmeadow saw on 10th August 1944.



Photo from Candice Campbell’s collection on Flickr.


IMG_2806At first I wasn’t sure that this photo I took today was the same spot, as the bridge here only has 2 supports, where the bridge in the old photo has 3. A quick check of the plaque on the bridge however shows that the bridge was rebuilt in 1957. What confirms this as the location is that in both the old and modern photo you can clearly see the distinctive outline of St Laurence O’Toole church on Broadmeadow Rd.


The star on this old map marks the approximate location of the plane crash.

The star on this old map marks the approximate location of the plane crash.

Newspaper articles

Article Date Event DateNotes
11 Aug 1944
10 Aug 1944
A D.C. 47 Army transport plane, with 25 men on board, skidded 200 yards on a wet runway, hurtled through a fence and then crashed into a stormwater channel at Broadmeadow aerodrome.
12 Aug 1944
10 Aug 1944
Photo. The Douglas C47 transport plane in the stormwater channel at District Park aerodrome, Broadmeadow, where it landed in bad weather on Thursday.