Category Archives: Australia

Buskers in the City

Sydney’s Busking Culture

Recently I’ve kicked off a conversation wth a few of the Pitt St mall buskers.

It started from a thought that the buskers would be suffering during the economic downturn and has just grown from there.

I am fascinated with this whole sub culture, the street performers, musicians and entertainers who drop the hat to earn a few coins, maybe a note, from passers by.

Remarkably, unknown to most of the passing crowd is the calibre of musician who stands before us.

Buskers of Renown

The Pitt St mall is quite a hotly contested area for performers, with its foot traffic and central location.

It has attracted renowned musicians including an ARIA award winner guitarist, semi finalist of Australia’s Got Talent and cureent competitor. One group has in excess of 25,000 Facebook fans.

To take the time to hear them perform is well worth the visit. To spare a few coins or buy a CD – well your supporting a local musician ekeing out an existence in a tough circuit.

Unfortunately, at least in Pitt St, you have to wait until after 2:00 pm as council don’t allow buskers to start until then.

Worse, a few shops are complaining trying to close off Busking altogether.


If you’d like to support buskers in the city, please join this Facebook group.

The ANZAC Spirit

Today Australia remembers its armed service men and women who fought, who served and many who gave their lives to retain a lifestyle many of us take for granted.

It’s hard to consider sliding doors, what would have been had WWII gone in a different direction.

What Are We Fighting For?

The question I pondered this morning is what did we fight for? What freedoms, liberties, rights were the lives laid down for?

Are we honouring those lives now?

Are we thankful for our rights? Our right to vote, to worship, to attend school, for equality in race, gender?

More to the point, have we achieved those ideals? Are we any closer now to equality than in the 40’s?

There is still a real under current of rascism and sexism in Australian society – in fact today many Japanese and Korean descended men and women will stay at home today for fear of historic judgment.

Or our modern “enemy” broadly referred to as Muslims or the Islamic community. Are they entitled to the same freedoms?

How about Australian women? Are they achieving equality? Or do they suffer the same limitations of the 1950’s? A facade of opportunity yet still limited by the reality of a male dominated power class.

As we celebrate the bravery, the service of the ANZACs it’s important to remember the legacy they fought for. Why their lives were sacrificed. What rights, freedoms and rules were worth the lives of so many thousands of Australians.

Lest we forget.

First of March

And so ends another glorious summer!

The 1st of March and we wave goodbye to the sun, the heat, the nights of tossing and turning.

Well most years that would be the case, this past summer was at best a continued spring. With lots of rain, patches of sun and great conditions for grass to grow!

So goodbye Australian summer and welcome to Autumn – I can safely say it won’t be a wetter season!


The Aussie Summer

While much of the Northern hemisphere rugs up for their Christmas feast, here in Australia it’s summer – sun, beach and cricket.

Our Christmas day was spent with the air con on! Following an unusually wet December Christmas day was hot and sunny and a great day spent in the backyard.

But it’s boxing day that is a favourite for many Aussies, not always the Aussie wives though! On boxing day begins the Melbourne cricket test.

Cricket 101

The game aptly named test cricket.

I’m not sure how well you know the sport of cricket but a test can go for up to 5 days and still produce no result … and the fans love it!

With 11 players on each side, cricket is played on a large oval. One team bats while the other bowls and fields.

A small baseball sized hard leather ball is hurtled down a pitch at up to 160 km per hour (100 miles) and tries to hit three small wooden pegs (wickets). In a 8 whole day it’s quite feasible not to hit the wickets once.

The batters, one at each end of the pitch, aim to hit the ball to score runs and if it makes it to the boundary it’s 4 runs or 6 if it’s over on the full.

A little like baseball, there are 4 innings. The team bats until 10 batters are out and then changes to bowling. Then once they get there opponents out swap for another turn.

As said, this process can go on for up to 5 days.

Like many sports, it’s the stats that keep it interesting … batting averages, strike rates, fastest, highest, longest, most.

The Boxing Day Test

The boxing day test in Melbourne is one of the pinnacles of Australia’s sporting calendar – coinciding with another major event, the Sydney to Hobart yacht race.

Literally thousands of families throughout Australia are glued to their TV’s for hours watching on boxing day.

This year it’s Australia against India – and it’s been riveting! An on field rivalry between nations has added to the spectacle plus the anticipation of Tendulkar scoring his 100th ton. That’s 100 runs 100 times – a feat never before achieved and he’s one off.

For many the thing that truly makes a test is the commentary – with a choice of TV or radio – and I have to admit the ABC Grandstand commentary is my choice – with Jim Maxwell, Kerry O’Keeffe and many more entertaining us for hours.

With the test kicking off in minutes, I just recommend you check it out – skill, tactics, strategy, patience – a test is aptly named for it tests the endurance of bowlers, the patience of batters, and, of course, the viewers.

Credit Where Credits Due

I feel The spirit of Christmas is upon me … and want to give a shout out for a few government departments.

National Health System

Recently had to deal with Medicare, Australia’s government run health system, and received extraordinary service. Extraordinary is a strong word, yet apt when compared to my expectations.
I’m not sure why, but I’ve been conditioned to expect long waits, brash service and process driven red tape.
Yet here I was needing to phone the hotline, and literally within seconds I was through to customer service (Annie you’re a legend) and all issues resolved on the phone in a jiffy! No recorded message stating my call was important, or that I was 76th in the queue – straight through and sorted. Thanks Medicare.

NSW State Rail

In continuing the spirit of spreading the love want to give a shout out for NSW State Rail.
Trains rolling across the veins of our landscape virtually every waking hour of every day. Providing safe passage for commuters to and from work and largely without hitch.
If only my PC had as good a performance.
I often hear complaints about state rail but gees they do a great job. The staff and crew deserve recognition for dealing with us public each and every day.
For those who work in retail you appreciate what it’s like dealing with the general public – for every decent customer there’s a heap of others that just don’t make your day.
So my Christmas rap goes out to the government run Medicare and State rail for providing a great service that all too often goes unappreciated.

Check 1 2 Check

So ends a whirlwind trip to Manila – and in true Manila fashion ends with the chaos of the airport.

I love the Philippines, its culture, people, their spontaneity and confusion.
Starting with the traffic, the smells, the labour surplus for every job.

The Filipinos are an amazing people, extremely loving and generous.

So to finish the trip it’s braving the airport – and with so little ability to predict the traffic we’ve left 3 hours to get to the airport – knowing like each of the last few trips it will only take 15 – 20 minutes!

It’s a true test of patience departing from Manila – the dozens of check points, the lack of commercial acumen, the chaotic nature all culminating in massive delays. But, now used to all this, I’m prepared – I have a blog to write.

Did we check you in?

You arrive at Manila airport and pass through the security quadrant, then through security screening – you’ve made it to the entrance!

Check your bags, pay customs and through security screening – check 1 2, check.

Approach the gates and, oh, through security screening – did I miss the exit to the roundabout?

We’re now into the main terminal, moving to our departure gate – the flight is called and … through security screening, bag check, frisk down, shoe check, passport and boarding pass check and now we’ve arrived at the gate.

Locked in literally to a cordoned off area. Hope you don’t need to go to the loo! 20111112-204450.jpg

To top it all off … flights are delayed by an hour and a half … but that’s the Philippines. I’m in travel mode so expect the wait.

Salamat Manila, I love travelling here – but please get some decent food and a few shops at the airport – Jollibee just doesn’t cut it! 🙂

The Morning Train

Are you a commuter? Jumping on public transport to get to and from work?

I’m amazed that we can squeeze so many people in such a confined space yet not say a word.

In fact we’re more likely to be texting, calling, blogging than meeting new people.

Sure the environment doesn’t lend itself to developing long term relationships – but I’m sure there must be stories of meeting your wife or forming a great friendship all seeded during a commute to work.

Not me though, it’s Angry Birds or Traffic Rush, maybe a podcast or some music – anything but start a conversation with the person next to you!

The Commuter Challenge

I must admit, there is something of a voyeur in me, I do enjoy sitting in the seat at the end of the carriage and for fun seeing how many people I can make eye contact with.

I think it’s time to break the ice, the commuter challenge or icebreakers – maybe start singing a the Albert Hammond song – I’m A Train, or call out “GROUP HUG”. Surely we cancome up with some great commuter icebreakers and lighten the mood of the train ride!

Guessing by now you’re glad you don’t ride on my train.


Rites of Passage

In cultures throughout history the journey through age has been marked by the rites of passage.

Wikipedia defines it as: “a rite of passage is a ritual event that marks a person’s progress from one status to another.”

Vanuatu rite of passageFrom the tribes of Africa to the Australian Aborigines the journey from boy to man is marked by a whole host of trials, tests and rites of passage. Some of the most extraordinary are captured on 10 Bizarre Rites of Passage. Including the Vanuatu land divers, who as an act of manhood climb rickety old structures and dive headfirst to the ground – it’s bungee jumping Vanuatu style! As the boy gets older he climbs higher and plummets headlong towards the ground.

From Boy to Man

So too in modern Western society the rites of passage are marked by key events in a young man’s life.

My son is encountering one of his earlier rites of passage. Unlike other cultures he doesn’t have to confront lions, leap off rickety structures or be isolated with groups of men. No, my son’s rite of passage is much worse, more confronting – he’s embarking on the modern day rites of passage! It deserves a heading …

The Modern Rites of Passage

Blue tooth fairyThe modern rite of passage my son is confronted with is the dreaded tooth fairy! That’s right, no lions, no fearful leaps off towers, Fletch has a wobbly tooth and is awaiting its release so he can receive the fabled stash from the tooth fairy.

But our modern rites of passage go beyond just the tooth fairy, there are others, so here’s my top 10 list of modern rites of passage:

Top 10 Rites of Passage

  • The move from The Wiggles to Ben 10
  • Standing up to go to the loo
  • Sitting in the front seat of the car
  • Owning your first DSi or numerous other i devices
  • Money for the canteen
  • Tying up your own shoelaces
  • Pocket money!!!
  • Learning the mantra “no, I can do it”
  • First day of big school (kindergarten)
  • The art of deception – at 12 asking “what is Santa bringing this year?”

I’m guessing there are a few Westernised rites of passage I’ve missed, they may only be geographically limited to Australia … any others?

Whale Watching

Recently we went on a short holiday to Port Macquarie. One of the highlights of the trip was going whale watching.


I admit when I first booked it at $30 per head I was thinking gees bit pricey – there were 5 of us. No guarantees we would even see anything!

Sure enough, off we sped out a few kilometres into the Pacific Ocean and started the search.

Meeting the Largest Mammal on Earth

Before long we’d encountered a mother and calf just gracefully cruising South. These enormous mammals, the largest species left on Earth and we’d not only got to see them up close but to appreciate the sheer size. We literally floated along with them within metres of our boat.

The true highlight however didn’t come until we got back to shore when my 7 year old turned and said “daddy, I’ll remember that for the rest of my life” – awesome.

What a Job

Now back in the swing of things, on the train and off to work I can’t help ponder what sort of lifestyle the skipper leads. Cruising his boat out into the ocean a dozen times a day to watch whales for a living … how awful it must be!

20111021-083001.jpgWe got the chance a number of times to encounter nature, including surfing dolphins, lounging lizards and much more.

Pretty spectacular and a chance to slow down.

Watching whales glide through the ocean, dolphins surfing the waves, lizards lounging in the sun … I have to ponder are we truly the most intelligent species?

The World Game


Great chance to see the opening game of Australia’s A League with Sydney’s first home game against Brisbane Roar.

Good time with my dad and brother – albeit watching a loss!

Cracker game, 0 – 2 score.