A hidden gem amongst the urban chaos…

Sydney Harbour

Whether you are a Sydneysider or visitor to our fine city, if you are looking for a hidden gem overlooking the magnificent Sydney Harbour then this is the place for you…

The picturesque Ball’s Head Reserve situated on the Waverton Peninsular.

Covered in native trees the reserve has a number of walking tracks that meander around the headland taking you past the “Ball’s Head Coal Loader” which is situated alongside the Naval Base HMAS Waterhen.

The “Loader” was built in the early 1900s to supply Steamships with coal to use as fuel…

Mind you, it wasn’t without controversy, and our famous poet, Henry Lawson, wrote about it in his poem “The Sacrifice of Ball’s Head” in 1916.

Lawson, who lived in the area at the time, lamented the loss of the bushland to the ugly looking loader, spewing out its ugly “brown rocks” in such a beautiful setting. These days’ picnickers and hikers, who can enjoy this magnificent vista a stone’s throw from the urban chaos that is Sydney, have reclaimed the area…

We often travel thousand’s of kilometres into our colourful outback looking for those little gems of places just off the “beaten track” – but sometimes you don’t need to look much further than your own backyard; just scratch the surface and you never know what you will find.

And hey, Janet and I are pleased to say, just like Henry suggests in his poem, Ball’s Head is a great place to spend a glorious day.

Photos: Baz – The Landy

Baz – The Landy


“The Sacrifice of Ball’s Head” by Henry Lawson


They’re taking it, the shipping push,
As all the rest must go —
The only spot of cliff and bush
That harbour people know.
The spirit of the past is dead
North Sydney has no soul —
The State is cutting down Ball’s Head.
To make a wharf for coal.

Where picnic parties used to go
To spend a glorious day,
With all the scenery of a coast
And not a cent to pay.
The deep cool tangle shall be cleared
To make the glaring roads
And motor lorries jolt and grind
And drag their sordid loads.

And strings of grimy trucks shall run
In everlasting trains
And on the cliffs where wild trees are
Shall stand the soulless cranes,
To dump their grimy loads below,
Where great brown rocks are grand;
And the deep grass and wild flowers grow —
And boating couples land.

No more shall poorer families
Give “Grandma” and “Grandad”
A glimpse of nature’s mysteries
To make their old hearts glad.
No more our eyes shall be relieved
In the city’s garish day —
A sordid crime has been achieved!
And none has aught to say.

So Many Tears…

Art has a wonderful ability to transport us to a place in our mind’s eye…

A place where we can explore the meaning the artist is endeavouring to convey and perhaps even challenging our own bias or prejudice.

Currently, there is an exhibition of wonderful sculptures, hand-crafted by talented artist’s of all backgrounds, in a picturesque harbourside park with sweeping views of the city and the iconic Sydney Harbour Bridge. We spent a morning wandering around Clarke Reserve at Woolwich, an old historic harbour suburb where the exhibition is being held, viewing and photographing the many artworks on display.

For us, one stood out…

 “So Many Tears” by Keith Chidzey”

In creating this work, Keith used two old wharf timbers and embedded glass tears into the wood.

It was simple, poignant, and a very moving tribute to the artist’s great-uncle, Private Ryles, who perished in the mud of Passchendaele, Belgium, over 100-years ago.

The choice of the wharf timbers is to recognise they most likely witnessed the embarkation of Australian Troops onto ships from the many wharfs dotted around the harbour. Loved ones waving, wiping away their tears as they strained to catch one more glimpse as the troop ship pulled away from the wooden dock.

 “We shall remember them…”

Each of the timbers has a carved relief, one of a slouch hat; the other with the inscription on Private Ryle’s headstone where he lays in the cemetery at Tyne Cot.

And, sensitively, one of the timbers is facing the sunset, the other the sunrise.

We reflected on this wonderful piece of artwork, its simplicity amplifying the ultimate sacrifice that too many of our fellow countrymen and women made so we can enjoy the freedoms that we have today; to be able to sit in a quiet reserve on Sydney Harbour’s foreshore in relative safety and free from the anxiety that conflict and war brings.

Bravo Keith, you have created far more than a wonderful sculpture to be admired, it is a wonderful tribute to your great-uncle, to all those who served, and to those who currently serve.

“We shall remember them…”

 Photos: Baz – The Landy, & Janet-Planet, Sydney Harbour, Australia

Stone the Flamin’ Crows – We’re going out with a bang

Sydney Harbour

Crikey, talk about seeing the year off with a bang.

In a few hours-time Sydney Harbour will be engulfed in a blaze of colour as the world’s greatest fireworks show lights the southern sky…

A very happy New Year to all you wonderful people around the globe from the down-under crew…

Baz, Janet-Planet, and TomO the wonderkid!

B,J, andT

Adventure and Youth (How good is this)

Adventure and Youth (TomO the Trailblazer)

Adventure and youth, what a great mix!

TomO lead the way today heading off for his first scuba dive which he did at Clifton Gardens, on beautiful Sydney Harbour…

scuba diving

 Despite Janet and I quite comfortably diving out of airplanes and loving water sports, we’ve never harboured the desire to scuba dive! So TomO has set a first for our family!

Crikey, adventure hey, good on you mate.

Bravo TomO!

Photos: Janet Planet

Win a Classic Aussie Akubra Hat (You’ll be the envy of all!)

Coongie Lake, Desert Country, Outback Australia
Coongie Lake, Desert Country, Outback Australia

I haven’t heard too much back on the Logo design, which is good, I know you will all be hard at work on it…

Strewth, you haven’t forgotten about it already, seriously…

Here, read about how you can win a classic, Aussie,  Akubra Outback Hat by designing a logo!

I tell you what, here is something that might help some of those with an artistic flair.

Our new touring vehicle will travel over the iconic Sydney Harbour Bridge each day.

Sydney Harbour Bridge
Sydney Harbour Bridge

The Sydney Opera House in full view and the spectacular Sydney Harbour as a backdrop…

Sydney Harbour and the Sydney Opera House
Sydney Harbour and the Sydney Opera House

A week later it could be crossing a thousand red sand dunes in the Simpson Desert, Outback Australia…

Simpson Desert, disappearing into the horizon
Simpson Desert, a thousand sand dunes ahead

So maybe something that reflects this might be a reasonable idea…

And when I say Logo, hey, it could be blown up mural style and placed on the gull-wing doors of the canopy…that is what I have in mind!

Okay, get cracking, and yes, you can go and make yourself a cocktail first!

The Crew - Always smiling
The Crew – Always smiling


Pep talk from The Coach (Shop till you drop – In London)

TomO swanning around in the south of England
TomO swanning around in the south of England


If you have ever been to one of those end of year sales at a large department store, that seemingly happen almost every other month, you will appreciate they are not for the faint-hearted.

Success depends on just how quickly you can get out of the “blocks” when the whistle blows.

The front doors opened by men of steely nerve, and where a slow start could well see you being trampled as the stampede gets into full swing.

You need to be a seasoned shopper to even contemplate attending…

And speaking of seasoned shoppers, many of you will know that Janet and TomO are currently visiting England, sunning themselves in the spectacularly beautiful Devon countryside.

The weather has been perfect for them, so I’m told!

Devon Countryside
Devon Countryside

But this is rest ahead of the main event when Janet lines up at the top of The Strand in the heart of London, empty suitcases in one hand, credit card in the other, and at least a hundred boutiques to work her way through…

A daunting prospect for any seasoned shopper, a grueling event by any standard and it all comes down to preparation and a great coach.

The lead-in time to this event was quick and afforded very little time to prepare so she engaged the best shopping coach in the world.

In Janet’s own words…

“I put the call into the Queen of Shop-till-you-drop, a pocket-rocket who wields a Black Amex Card with all the precision of a Jedi Master, and who lives to the motto if you can’t decide on which one to buy than simply buy the lot”.

The Coach and Janet - Discussing event day tactics
“The Coach” and Janet – Discussing event day tactics

Of course, Kimbalee “The Coach” has always shied from the limelight so I won’t mention her name, but in the lead-up to the departure of Qantas Flight QF1 to London, “The Coach” ran Janet through her paces.

There were the early morning starts, 11.45am down in Double Pay Bay, an exclusive harbour-side suburb over-flowing with pretty boutiques in Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs, followed up with lunch down by the Opera House on the world’s greatest harbour, Sydney Harbour.

Shopping is an endurance event and fuelling up is a key ingredient to a successful campaign and there are some divine restaurants dotting the harbour where one can sit back and relax the muscles, aching from the weight of all those boutique bags…

Sydney Harbour - The best place in the world for a lazy lunch
Sydney Harbour – The best place in the world for a lazy lunch

There was speed work to be done…

Standing atop the winners podium, which incidentally simply comes down to being “loaded to the brim” with dozens of shopping bags when the “closed for the day” sign is hung out, will all come down to just how fast Janet can get out the credit card, pay, and sprint move on to the next boutique.

If you think the start of a triathlon is chaotic as entrants jostle for position than you will marvel at the performance of a seasoned shopper. High on adrenalin and with at least a couple of expresso’s under the belt it is best to stand well clear as the “open” for business sign is illuminated on the front door of the first boutique…

Of course, “The Coach” put Janet through her paces with a few sessions of “wait training” after all there are times that you’ll need to stand in line at a cash register.

The bane of all shoppers on a mission…training is key here!

For sure, Janet has had the best of the best work her through the rigors of training for the event.

And as she heads back to London from the English Countryside this week I wish her well as she faces the starters gun in the shadow of Big Ben, ticking away, a reminder that time, or lack of it, is the seasoned shopper’s worst enemy…

TomO - London Town
TomO – London Town

No doubting TomO will be jumping for joy and yelling words of encouragement for his mum from the side-walk as the hours pass by and the fatigue sets in…

And don’t worry, I have been doing some “weight training” of my own this past month. I’m sure all my strength will be called upon to lug those suitcases from the baggage carousel to the car when the jet setters arrive home…

Janet, sweetie, good luck with the event, I know you’ll do us proud, enjoy it and I’ll be cheering you on, you deserve a great win!

And remember those parting words that Kimbalee “The Coach” gave you as the final boarding call was made…

“Shop till you drop and the credit card is exhausted… you can rest on the long flight home!”

Sydney Harbour and the Coat Hangar (Life Down-under)

Sydney Harbour Bridge
Sydney Harbour Bridge

This week marked the passing of another year in the history of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, it turned 81 years old.

 It was officially opened on 19 March, 1932.

Southern Approach - Sydney Harbour Bridge
Southern Approach – Sydney Harbour Bridge

An icon around the world, in more recent times it has become a focal point for New Year celebrations as Sydney-siders herald in another year with the bridge festooned in colourful fireworks.

Of course it is more than that, it is a life-line to those travelling from the north of Sydney to the south and whilst many years ago the Sydney Harbour tunnel was built, taking vehicular traffic under the harbour, it still doesn’t match a trip over the Coat-Hangar.

Sydney Harbour and the Sydney Opera House
Sydney Harbour and the Sydney Opera House

And New Yorkers’ might be just left wondering where you had seen our bridge before. The design of the bridge was heavily influenced by the Hell Gate Bridge in New York.

I drive over the bridge each day on my way to work in Sydney’s central business district and I always take in the view it gives of the harbour and marvel at the engineering feat.

Northern Approach, Sydney Harbour Bridge
Northern Approach, Sydney Harbour Bridge

 Of course, for those who are inclined, make sure you take the bridge climb if you ever visit Sydney – the views of Sydney Harbour are spectacular…

Crikey, you’ve just got to love Sydney, hey?

photos: Baz, The Landy