Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Official Opening of RACT House

Well, I survived: that is the main thing!

The last forty-eight hours has been a fairly hectic period of time getting every little piece of the jigsaw ready for today's official opening of the RACT's new headquarters in Hobart (where I work).

It was a bit stress-filled here and there; but in the end, everything seemed to go pretty well and around two hundred guests had a good time.

I've attached a couple of photos of the new building for your viewing pleasure.

His Excellency the Governor of Tasmania the Honourable Peter Underwood made a lively and engaging official opening speech

The terrifc open spaces of the interior stairs were filled with the gorgeous sounds of a delightful string trio from the Conservatorium of Music.

The team from our cafe - Hybrid Rooftop - did a fabulous food and beverage service too. It really was a spectacular event.

I spent the two hours or so of the official reception afterwards doing a vox pop video record of the event - interviewed about forty or so attendees. Can't wait to see the raw footage of that (the bloopers in particular).

As I blog I'm just chilling out to some grooving beat from NZ acid dance meisters Shapeshifter, their "Live" sets recorded in Christchurch. absolutely brilliant. The opening number is a standout - "Good Looking" - and I also really like "Bring Change".

Decadent relaxation.

John Temple photograph: outside RACT Board Room

The fabulous internal stairs: beautiful design - space, and natural light.

John Temple photograph - Bay of Fires - in the Group Support offices

John Temple photograph - in the Group Support offices

RACT Board Room table - designed by Simon Ancher, UTAS School of Furniture Design at Inveresk - Tasmanian blackwood; two trees only, selected by Mark Bishop of Stanley, Tasmania

The ground floor attraction - Tom Samek's master mural "RACT since 1923" - the biggest mural Samek has painted anywhere in Tasmania took around three months's work.

The original Harley-Davidson road service motorcycle, from 1927: on display in RACT House foyer.

The new retail centre, RACT House ground floor. The building was designed by local architects Heffernan Button Voss.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

my new Canon Ixus does wonderful scene shots...

this is the Derwent River at Granton, north of Hobart, home region of the delicious Stefano Lubiana wines. Taken from the causeway that houses the Bridgewater Bridge and that traverses the river, and I am facing back down the river towards Austins Ferry and further down to Berriedale (where the amazing Museum of Old and New Art - MONA - is being finished off).

Lovely little camera the Canon IXUS 210 - and it was a beautiful day today, too

Sunday, May 30, 2010

District 9

if you haven't seen it yet, get hold of a copy of District 9 and prepare for one of the more interesting movies you will see in a while.

Have a look at the movie's extraordinary original promo website here, too (it's been around for a while, the movie: released in 2009)

Great little game here too

I watched it on the plane on my iPhone recently - so the big-screen effects were completely lost - and yet even so, I found it compulsive viewing.

Perhaps it was those South African accents. I don't know, it just kept me hooked. A good reworking of aliens-come-to-earth and aliens vs humans; so many different intertexts all through the movie, made it all very interesting. Towards the end it became a bit laboured, but that was after two hours at least of being under its spell.

Thanks Iain!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Nic Naitanui up close

We were at the West Coast v Melbourne game at the G on the weekend. My friend (an MCC member) suggested that we sit right down the near the fence next to the players' interchange bench as it was a good view.
he was spot on - what a fantastic vantage point. We sat right next to the West Coast bench; "Doc" Larkins was in a media seat in front of us, with a microphone in his pocket and headphones on, and was doing live commentary on injuries etc (I'm guessing for MMM radio or similar). His comments were interesting.
I could see and hear much of what was going on around the rotations, some bench coaching and the like. As well as some up close views of players.
Much of the pre-game hype in The Age and the Herald-Sun surrounded Nic Naitanui for the Eagles (pictured) and Jack Watts for the Demons.
As a contest, the game really never left first or second gear.
With respect to these two players (#1 picks in the '08 draft respectively) spectators only caught glimpses of their talents.
Watts took a couple of strong contested marks, and was a lot safer on his chest than some of his older colleagues - but that was about it. He really didn't have much influence on the game at all, and seemed a little bit "at sea" at times.
Naitanui took one blinding mark and a couple of other near-misses - and got really high up over J-Ma and Johnson in the rucks to win some good taps - but really didn't do much else either. He was off the ground a lot (and on teh bench next to us) and seemed to be stretching his legs a fair bit throughout. Also, when he did get the ball, he seemed like he really didn't want to kick it at all, handballing it off virtually every time.
The sting went out of the game after Melbourne lost some competitiveness through injuries to Matthew Bate and Aaron Davey. Despite coming back on these two lost their previous impact.
One observation: Eagles ruckman Dean Cox is absolutely massive, and looks in pretty good nick. he gets around the ground in an amazing fashion, and really is a true "follower". It's bad news for other clubs if Cox is getting back to his best form - he really is the complete tall ruckman/follower at his best.
For the Eagles, Mark LeCras has an uncanny ability to put himself in the best position to take marks and kick goals (although he was wayward this day). Priddis wins some really tough ball and Kennedy will just get better and better as a forward-line focal point, although he was pretty sore after some fierec competition in this game. The Eagles seemed to be favoured a little by umpiring decisions, some of them vital turnovers that punished Melbourne.
For Melbourne, it would have been much worse if Jared Rivers hadn't turned back many attacks. he was brilliant and he reminded me of Dustin Fletcher in that regard, winning so many vital 50-50s against Eagles forwards. The Dees lacked a strong marking option inside the forward 50 and simply struggled desperately to get it inside 50 - fullstop. Jones was tough in contests and tried hard but sprayed a few. melbourne's indigenous players showed considerable leg speed and talent here and there as well - very exciting patches once or twice. Davey was brilliant early but faded after getting smacked in the face. I was disappointed that Colin Silvia didn't do more. Green was OK as well.

All in all, it was great fun to go to the footy at the MCG (despite the game petering out a bit!). Most of all, it was fabulous news the next day to hear the Bombers (on the radio back home) get up to beat the Saints in a tough encounter. Go theBombers!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Is this a chequerboard shark?

This is a mean little beastie that my mate's daughter caught off Middleton out in the middle of the D'Entrecasteaux Channel...
wonder what species it is.

Not the most attractive little critter.
We got some lovely flatties as well.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Anzac Day footy and Kilmainham Gaol

I had to write some lines for our corporate website about this weekend's AFL/TSL footy tipping - so I thought I'd post it here as well:

This photo is one Collingwood fans would probably feel at home with (all those vertical stripes...!) …nahhh, actually it is me, in the forecourt of the old Kilmainham Gaol in Dublin, Ireland.

Built as a “new gaol” in 1796, Kilmainham was decommissioned in the 1920s and is a now a museum of Irish nationalism, which my wife and I visited whilst on our first ever overseas trip to UK/Ireland in mid-2008. Over its 128 years as a prison, Kilmainham's cells held many of the most famous people involved in the campaign for Irish independence. The British imprisoned and executed the leaders of the infamous 1916 Easter Rising there.

As nationalist political ideology was one of my major studies in my political science degree at the University of Tasmania, I found the visit to Kilmainham particularly captivating. This eerie building also reminded me at times of the ruins at Port Arthur. It's more than likely a number of Kilmainham's tenants ended up doing time on the Peninsula, too: two scenes of incarceration, separated by thousands of miles of oceans but tragically linked by their inhumanity.

But - back to the FOOTY!

I’m a proud and passionate Essendon Bombers fan, and I'm going to tell you a bit about that.

I have been ever since I saw Paul van der Haar (a talented centre-half-forward renowned for getting up high to take big pack marks) who visited my high school when I was in Grade 7, in 1980. Prior to that I had 'kind of' supported North Melbourne, but without much of a reason other than they had the same colours as my favourite local team, Sandy Bay, and my Grandma’s team from Perth, East Fremantle.
Not long after the Flying Dutchman's fateful visit, my teacher in Grade 7 - also a tragic Essendon fan - gave me a big fold-out football magazine poster of one of the most influential ruckmen/forwards of the modern era, All-Australian Bomber champion Simon Madden. That was the kicker. My fate was sealed. The red and black passion has been with me ever since.

I have been blessed (along with other Bomber fans who joined in the 80s) to see some pretty good footy, along with some very ordinary seasons thrown in. For the vast bulk of that time, the Essendon Football Club was synonymous with the tough, uncompromising, flawed at times yet constantly innovative and always entertaining genius of the Supercoach himself (with the very Irish name), Kevin Sheedy.

Unlike some clubs that I won't name (and if I did I reckon my colleague would kilda me, or would throw pies at me) Bombers fans were spoilt with some great teams, a few amazing individuals, and a reasonable measure of success throughout Sheedy's Golden Age - but it has thinned out in the last ten years.

Under Sheeds, the Bombers achieved a number of night premierships, a couple of Brownlow Medallists and of course four Premierships in 1984, 1985, 1993 and 2000.

In amongst these winning years, we have witnessed one of the game's greatest ever: the sublimely-skilled James Hird, a dead-set AFL legend. A Brownlow Medallist in 1996, Hird's sensational matchwinning career was curtailed by numerous serious injuries leading to him missing whole slabs of seasons.

In addition, a number of Bomber champions emerged: Madden the calm leader, the heroic dashing Tim Watson, goal-kicking machine Matthew Lloyd, tough-as-nails Terry Daniher, hard-nut Mark "Bomber" Thompson and the sheer brilliance of Michael Long and Gavin Wanganeen.

The bleakness of recent years has been punctuated by some questionable draft picks and downright hopeless trades leading to longer-than-expected 'rebuilding' phase. Tragically, these have unfortunately overlapped with strings of serious injuries to some senior players and retirements of irreplaceable champions.

However, there is some serious young talent at the Club in 2010, with the likes of Tayte Pears, Michael Hurley, Kyle Reimers, Jake Melksham, David Zaharakis, Travis Colyer, Jake Carlisle and the wonderfully-named Taite Silverlock. The quality of these sort of youngsters bodes well for the finals future of the Club.

The traditional Anzac Day clash between Collingwood and Essendon has producd some fabulous contests over the years. Possibly the best of recent times was last year's match, which I attended with my wife together with our Collingwood-supporting friends.The tragedy of Essendon ruck David Hille rupturing his ACL in the opening minutes was overtaken by the outstanding efforts of the brilliant Paddy Ryder (a Sheedy protege) rucking in Hille's place, and the heartstopping finish with Zaharakis's matchwinning goal in the last seconds of the game. Worth every cent that we paid for the tickets.

I'm hopping for a similarly entertaining contest for Sunday's big clash; only I will be shouting loudly at my in-laws' TV screen I suspect. Go you MIGHTY BOMBERS !

Round Previews

AFL Round 5 - ANZAC Day fixtures:

My tips are below

In this Anzac Day round, the first match could be a bit of a blow-out. Adelaide are in poor form, and have to travel to Etihad Stadium to meet a Western Bulldogs team that are starting to put it together. Great to see Barry Hall in blistering, don't-argue form, I love watching him give it to weak, part-committed defenders. Not sure which Crow's going to stop Big Baz.

Sydney should stop West Coast's celebrations from last week's win over my Bombers with a home ground win at the SCG. The promise shown by Lewis Jetta is exciting, and with some good service Bradshaw could kick a big bag.

I think Brisbane's multiple avenues to goal will test Melbourne's back six resilience, with Tassie lad Justin Sherman in good form and the absolute X-factor of an in-form Jared Brennan a real worry for Melbourne. I am backing the Lions to get over the improving Demons.

The loss of Chad Cornes with an awful broken nose will curtail Port's rebound ability from half-back, which St Kilda's stoppage experts like Hayes and Dal Santo will exploit. The ripping form of underrated 2002 #1 draft pick Brendon Goddard (I don't care about his antics - I have always liked his skills and hard-at-it style) together with Milne finding his radar will be hard for Port to deal with. The loss of Riewoldt is a big psychological blow, but it appears the Saints have got the cattle to cover it.

In the main game between Collingwood and Essendon, I am tipping the Bombers for no other reason than the fact that they will have more speed around the ground than the Pies who have looked a bit slow at times in recent weeks. Booth teams are suffering from the lack of a consistent goal-kicking forward line. The Bombers will be hoping that Angus Monfries, Brent Stanton and Mark McVeigh make it back into a fairly inexperienced Essendon line-up.I expect the Collingwood defence to perform well, but they may have a problem matching up on ex-Hawk Mark Williams, who will need to kick some goals if the Bombers are to win. I would like to see Knights mix it up a bit again, as he did (too late) against the West Coast when he moved Cale Hooker into the forward line and Gumbleton took some ruck contests: both looked reasonable moves.

The Tassie Hawks have a got a strong record at Aurora Stadium, and I feel have something to prove to their loyal Tasmanian fans after some fairly pedestrian efforts in recent weeks. The form of Jarrod Roughead, in particular, should be a real worry for the Hawks. It may be worth running him a bit more in the ruck, to help him get his hands on the ball early. The brave and highly-talented Brad Sewell (one of my favourite hard-at-it footballers) is set to return after rehab from an injury sustained in that infamous clash with the then Bombers' spearhead (and now commentator) Matthew Lloyd. I think Hawthorn - just.

Fremantle will beat the bitterly disappointing Richmond; leaving Carlton playing Geelong at the MCG, a match-up that will prove to be difficult for the reigning Premiers to overcome - but they should do so. The very underrated James Kelly and Corey Enright have given the Cats some additional drive across the centre and halfback lines in recent games, doing a lot of the heavy lifting so that the glamour finishers like G Ablett, and the downright receivers like Steve Johnson, can cream off the results.

All in all, a great Anzac Day round of football.

Western Bulldogs
Sydney Swans
Brisbane Lions
St Kilda


A number of good contests shaping up in the TSL this weekend – in fact, I think it’s fair to say the competition is still pretty even across most of the clubs, perhaps more so than in the AFL where some teams have clearly dropped off the pace quite early, and last year’s finalists are already again at the top of the ladder. It was pleasing to see the Lauderdale Bombers put a good win on the board over the weekend, so I’m tipping they will take that winning form into a tough home game against Hobart. Quite incredible to see local shops on South Arm Highway on Sunday with “WE WON!” signs in the window. There’s a firm wad of community support around the shores of Ralph’s Bay for the Lauderdale boys – that can sometimes be the X-factor.

In a local derby at Youngtown, I expect another tough encounter, with maybe North Launceston just over South – but could go either way. I’m tipping my mate Richard Colbeck’s old team Devonport to bounce back from their loss to the Demons and get over a well-performing Launceston at Windsor Park. Burnie at West Park can be a bit like Geelong at Kardinia Park: I reckon they’ll upset Glenorchy’s Anzac weekend. Clarence are up against an undefeated North Hobart in the game of the round. The Roos have full-forward Brett Geappen in some rare goalkicking form, and tough operators in defence like Gregg Sharman. I’m tipping Clarence in a physical clash.

North Launceston

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Tasmanian State election 2010: the fight for Denison

That “pokie losses counter” on top of Andrew Wilkie’s campaign vehicle should have somehow been linked to Bruce Taylor’s computer room tonight – that way, it might have ensured that Wilkie’s total vote kept ticking over, when he needed it most.

Wilkie nearly pulled off the heist of the century – coin by coin. Footballers talk about doing “the one percenters”. This described Wilkie’s tilt at the fifth seat in Denison, literally. With nobody else in his column to get slabs of votes from, he just kept finding a little bit from everyone else. Almost the same principle that the pokies run with…just keep some from every player, and you’re bound to win at the end of the day.

His vote total resembled an ant-hill, a little something added to the pile with each scrutiny.

Of the early exclusions, Wilkie kicked off with a blast, picking up 33% (99 votes) of the Socialist Alliance total, but then only little crumbs followed from the early Labor, Liberal and Green casualties:

Percentage to Wilkie of
excluded candidate’s total
3% of Ogilvie
1.5% of Sturges (whose cut-up elected Bartlett 2)
2% of Branch
2.5% of Stevenson (whose cut-up elected Groom 3)
2% of Franks
2.5% of Cover (whose cut-up elected O’Connor 1)
2.2% of Ann

In addition Wilkie received only 2% of Groom’s quota surplus, only 1% of O’Connor’ surplus (3 votes) and one solitary vote from Bartlett’s surplus distribution.

To this point, the leakage (to parties other than their own) from each candidate excluded was nothing unexpected (except for the Socialists) with the excluded Libs leaking around 10-11%, the Greens the same and the ALP slightly higher at around 12%.

As the votes became more concentrated in a lesser number of candidates, the cut-ups started to spray and the exhausting votes began building up.

So too, did Wilkie’s slice of the distributions – and he was coming home with a wet sail…

Lowrie leaked 17.5%: 3.5% to the Greens, 5.5% to Wilkie, 7.5% to Labor and 1% to exhaust
Singh leaked a massive 28%: 6% to Archer, 8% to Wilkie, 10% to Burnett and 4% (157 important votes) exhausting – with 3400 votes still going to Bacon, electing him 4 in the process.

Bacon’s surplus – whose big personal vote had saved Labor’s own “bacon” in Denison – would now part-decide the last seat.

Crucially, almost exactly 50% of this surplus (489 votes) exhausted, demonstrating the strong prevalence of the “1-5 only” voting pattern amongst Labor voters in Denison.

Of the rest of the Bacon surplus, Archer snagged 18% with a significant 16.5% to Wilkie and 15.5% to Burnet. This left Burnet 390 votes in arrears of Wilkie (with Archer leading Wilkie by around 1650 votes). And so the last Green candidate’s 6032 votes were cut up.

So there Andrew Wilkie was – challenging the last woman Liberal standing in Elise Archer for the fifth seat in Denison - and an unprecedented win.

Burnet’s votes fell: Wilkie 44% (2619) Archer 21% (1293) and 35% (2119 votes) going to exhaust; suggesting a moderate rate of 1-5 voting amongst Green voters, as well.

Archer was declared elected in front of Wilkie, leading by 315 votes.

It was not to be for the anti-pokies crusader. At least not here, in Denison, in the Assembly.

There’s always Elwick…and potentially another long list of candidates to work over – some of them more than likely sharing the ballot paper for the second time in a year with the persistent – and undeniably popular - Andrew Wilkie.