December 5th, 2005 at 12:30am
Well, this story has been a very long time coming, and I will start it from the tangible starting point, 1PM Wednesday. (Note that this is a long story filled with many pictures, and further articles/comments can be found by scrolling down a very long way, depending on which page you are on).
If you only want to see the photos and videos, you can find the listing here. By clicking on the photos in this post you will be able to view the original large versions, some images (the smaller ones) bring up videos.
It was at this time that I went to bed, having had some lunch (A sausage roll and a coffee), previously in the day I had attended a second job interview with *Removed at request of interviewer* (again, confidentiality agreements, and a mutual trust, prevent me from saying anything). I decided to sleep in the afternoon, so that I wouldn’t have to sleep at night, and therefore could not miss an alarm and then a bus by accident.
My sleep was interrupted at about 2PM when the manager of *removed at request of caller* rang me, I missed the call, but my voicemail kindly informed me that he would call again at 4PM, I promptly turned on the ringer so that it would wake me up. I generally have my phone on silent alert as I find ringtones to be mildly annoying. I went back to sleep and had a couple dreams, the first one involved a nearby carpark, which was flooded in the higher regions with emergency services walking through it, they were discussing how they would remove the flood, and closed access to the carpark. The second dream involved my alarm clock, where the sleep button didn’t turn on the radio for 59 minutes as per usual, but instead made the clock jump forward by one hour and fifteen minutes, I pressed the button twice before deciding there was something wrong.
I was awoken again at 4PM when the manager from *removed at request of caller* rang me to tell me that I was the successful applicant for the position which was available, after this call I went back to sleep.
I woke up again at about 5:30, had a coffee, took Nattie for her walk, had dinner, and set about preparing for my trip. Part of this involved processing my audio cassette playlist, which I manually aligned in Audacity to provide useful and appropriate crossfades.
At some stage I remembered to print out my Murrays Coaches receipt so that I would have my booking number with me for the journey.
Around midnight I gathered two CD-RWs and started burning the single cassette sides to them, to then be taken upstairs for copying to tape. Around 2am I rang 2UE and asked Anastasia (John Kerr’s lovely producer) for a favour, I asked her if she could hand out my 2UE destined christmas cards for me, I even offered to bribe her with a box of chocolates, however she said there was no need for the chocolates and was happy to hand out the cards, she then put me on hold to speak to John Kerr, you can hear my conversation with John Kerr by clicking here.
After this I wrote out the cards, which were for John Kerr, Anastasia, John Laws, John Stanley, Stuart Bocking, Glenn Wheeler & 2UE. After finding the appropriately sized envelopes (I originally had to peel the John Laws label off an incorrect envelope) I labeled them with the recipients name on the front and my name and address on the back. All of the cards contained an individual message for each person. I seem to recall the “All the staff at 2UE” card saying something along the lines of “Your promo is correct, you are everything that radio should be”.
After a somewhat hectic and enjoyable five hours of morning, I decided to prepare my breakfast, this was two croissants and a cup of tea. My attempt at cutting the first croissant in half provided about five unique segments of croissants, I did not attempt to cut the second croissant.
At 5:20 my breakfast was ready and I sat down to eat it, a process which I took slowly and finished at 5:40, at which time I cleaned my teeth and performed more final preparations, and then took a photo of the items which were coming with me.
At the top of the photo you can see the green bag which carried my items, you can also see a greenish 320 page exercise book which was used for keeping notes, it has a blue pen attached to it, to the top right of that it my radio and one of the 90 minute cassette tapes. Below the book is another 90 minute cassette and a bage containing six spare batteries, four for the camera and two for the radio, I am pleased to announce that none were needed. To the right of that is my Murrays Coaches receipt and my headphones. Working in columns of envelopes, you can see the card for John Laws, John Kerr, John Stanley, Anastatsia, Stuart Bocking, 2UE & Glenn Wheeler.
Not long after I took this photo of a hot air balloon. From where I was standing it looked like an innocent yellow balloon, I did not notice the Windows XP markings, lets just hope it doesn’t blue screen…
It was 6:15 when I arrived at the Jolimont Centre. I decided to have a little stroll around the inside and outside areas, after which I came inside and had a cappuccino at one of the coffee shops, this cost $2.90. I enjoyed the coffee, but tried to avoid seeing the Today show which was being showed on the televisions. I am not a fan of breakfast television.
I then walked back outside and placed fifty cents into a payphone as I was saving my mobile phone credit for the afternoon, and rang Mike Jeffreys. It must have been some time after 6:30 but before 6:45 that I had a conversation with him about how nice and peaceful the world is early in the morning, he agreed that it really is a great time of day, even for those who start at 3am each and every day.
Not long after this, boarding of the bus started, I was lucky enough to get the top front seat (all the seats on this coach are on the upper level, as the lower level is the drivers cabin, the luggage and the toilet. This seat gave me perfect views out of the side windows and the front windscreen. I took this photo of the Civic GPO clock.
Sitting next to me was a rather pleasant Bangladeshy man who was heading back to Bangladesh for a holiday, apparently his family had gone back the weeb before, but he had to attend a conference of some sort. Naturally he was going to get off the bus at the airport.
At 6:59 the bus started to move, and I filmed the departure using the video mode of the camera. In the video you can see the Jolimont Centre, the post office back door, the ramp down to the Novotel carpark, Moore Street and the intersection with Alinga Street.
Not long after this I got out my heaphones and resumed my 2CC listening (which had ended upon arrival at the Jolimont Centre and continued briefly while I was on hold, waiting to talk to Mike Jeffreys.
At 7:15 we moved into New South Wales and saw some more fog, most of which we passed by too quickly for me to get any photos of, the clouds of fog below road level were truly fascinating.
At 7:41 we passed the Collector exit and I was having to adjust the position of my radio to recieve 2CC, at 7:44 the signal became too faint to understand, I could hear the people talking, but it was just pure noise with no way of distinguishing between words and syllables. At this stage I turned off the radio and inserted a cassette tape, it was tape number two, so I stopped it and put tape number one in and started it.
At 7:55 we passed the Yass/Gundagai exit and at 7:57 we passed a railway line which ran parallel to the road for a short time.
8:00 was somewhat interesting, up until now I had ignored the driver’s radio as he had it on various FM music stations which did not interest me, however around this time I could hear the somewhat familiar voice of 2UE newsreader Steve Blanda. Whatever station the driver was listening to were taking a NSW Southern Cross Syndication news feed. I suspended the tape for a few minute while I listened to the news, and then resumed my tape, I couldn’t quite hear what station it was that the driver was listening to, although it wasn’t 2GN, despite our close proximity to Goulburn. We passed the first Goulburn exit at 8am, and the second one at 8:06.
At 8:07 I spotted a sign which informed me that I was 189km from Sydney city (I worked out that it was Sydney city later as these countdown signs were still appearing the Sydney.)
At 8:14 we passed a hidden highway patrol car, helping to keep our roads safe by supervising passing traffic, ready to pounce on naughty drivers.
8:20 saw us pass the Marulan exit.
8:22 was the time which signaled the passing of the RTA Heavy Vehicle Inspection Station, on this occasion an electronic sign informed the bus driver that we did not have to pass through for an inspection.
8:32 started off a bit of a mystery, it would appear that somebody removed half of some signs, and left a slightly confusing series. The first sign informed us “next 16 km”, and the sign we passed at 8:36 indicated “next 12km”. I still have no idea what was supposed to be in those distances as there was no real indication. In that 4 minute period we travelled at an average speed of 60km/h. This may have been an uphill section of road, the Scania coaches are reasonably comfortable, but they don’t seem to have as much power as other coaches, and it is very noticeable on uphill portions of road.
8:37 saw us pass the Exeter/Bundanoon exit. I wonder if the Australian Exeter has a racecourse?
8:39 was the Wollongong exit.
At 8:40 a sign informed us that we were 137km from Sydney city, which means that we travelled at an average speed of 94.55km/h since 8:07.
8:44 showed us two signs, one for the Berrima exit, and the other signalling the start of the freeway.
At 8:47 a sign said that we were 125km from Sydney City, meaning that we had travelled at an average speed of 102.86km/h since 8:40 and 96km/h since 8:07
8:48 was the first of a series of very tall, very windy and very scary bridges. This might be an appropriate time to mention my fear of very high heights, this bridge was scarier than most however, as it was being supported by scaffolding, thankfully the bridge was only shortish. A few moments later we passed a Murrays bus going in the other direction.
8:52 brought us a sign saying “Wombats next 16km”.
8:53 brought us the mittagong exit.
8:54 was an appropriate time for the “Wombats next 12km” sign, which indicates that we travelled at an average speed of 120km/h since 8:52. I suspect that we may have passed the first sign closer to 8:51 and the second one closer to 8:55, which would provide an average speed of 60km/h. It must have been somehwere in between those figures. We also passed another tall bridge at this time.
8:56 brought yet another tall bridge.
8:59 provided the Yerrinbool exit.
9:00 was the time at which I saw the sign saying that were only 102km from Sydney, which means that we travelled at an average speed of 106.15km/h since 8:47, 105km/h since 8:40 and 98.49km/h since 8:07.
At 9:05 the road formed an overpass over the railway line, where a train was passing.
9:06 produced the Bargo exit.
9:07 produced a sign saying that it is 90km to Sydney, meaning that we had travelled at an average speed of 102.86km/h since 9:00, 105km/h since 8:47, 104.44km/h since 8:40 & 99km/h since 8:07.
9:14 produced the tallest and windiest bridge, which forced me to grit my teeth and hang on to the seat.
9:15 informed us that we were 78km from Sydney city, meaning that we had travelled at an average speed of 90km/h since 9:07, 96km/h since 9:00, 100.71km/h since 8:47, 101.14km/h since 8:40 & 97.94km/h since 8:07.
9:18 saw us pass the Napean River (something I’m sure we did about five times).
9:24 provided a “60km to Sydney city” sign and a “welcome to Sydney” sign, which means we had travelled at an average speed of 120km/h since 9:15, 105.88km/h since 9:07, 105km/h since 9:00, 105.40km/h since 8:47, 105km/h since 8:40 & 100.52km/h since 8:07. This was also the time when the tape ended and I was able to pick up 2UE and the John Laws Morning Show very clearly.
At 9:29 I heard a 2UE traffic report which said that a bus had hit a pedestrian on Elizabeth Street, which made me start thinking about the traffic in the city.
At 9:31 we passd the Robert Northey Bridge
At 9:33 a sign informed us that we had only 45km to Sydney City, indicating that we had travelled at an average speed of 100km/h since 9:24, 110km/h since 9:15, 103.85km/h since 9:07, 103.64km/h since 9:00, 104.35km/h since 8:47, 96.84km/h since 8:40 & 100.47km/h since 8:07.
At 9:38 I decided to film some Sydney traffic, but instead found myself filming “Bus Fear Syndrome” where car drivers just can’t handle the thought of a bus overtaking them. Watch the white car as it disappears, and then reappears in view.
At 10:22 I arrived at Central Station, and met a correspondent who interviewed me (and subsequently took some of my answers out of context, exaggerated others and plain made up a couple over at The Spin Starts Here, I will forgive him though as he did pay for the coffee. For those of you who are wondering, I decided that Central Station is a good relatively safe public place for a meeting, plus it would be handy to have a local who could inform me of train movements and other street locations.
The correspondent did do a good job of finding a nice place to have coffee, it was a little asian cafe on Eddy Avenue. Sometime just after 11am we headed for trains, as he had to catch the train that would ultimately go to Circular Quay anyway. I purchased a $4 (approx) return ticket, he purchased a ticket of some description, and then we headed upstairs to the trains. This is a picture which was taken with his camera by another person waiting for a train.
The train arrived, it was one of Sydney’s newer trains.
As you can probably see at the other end of the carriage, I was in carriage N1503. These new trains have a very nice feature which tells you which station is next (or in some cases which one you are at), we were still at Central Station when I took this photo.
In this photo you can see the station display at my end of the carriage. It is clearly not designed for viewing from right in front of it. The station listed is “Wynyard”. You can also see some information stickers and the carriage number.
After getting off the train at Circular Quay at 11:25 I took two photos of it, in the first one you can see the doors I got out of the train through, and in the second one you can see the carrriage number of the carriage which I was in.
After this I found the stairs which took me downstairs to ground level, found my way out and asked one of the friendly City Rail staff how I would go about getting to the Opera House. I went the way she suggested and then found myself at the Opear House, not knowing where the Manor Wharf Steps were I walked clockwise around the Opera House and couldn’t find them. Half way around I stopped to take off my jumper in the warm weather, this was the first of a few occasions where I felt like someone might become suspicious of me, as I had placed my green bag on the ground, along with a black device (my radio). Shortly after this I continued walking and asked one of the security guards where to go and they pointed me in the right direction.
There were quite a few people at the steps, another cruise (which appeared to be a business function) took off before our cruise did, much to the confusion of many people. Eventually the Lady Rose turned up, just after midday.
Once on board it was a scramble of sorts for seating in the two diding rooms, I ended up in the upper dining room, with a lovely group of people at one of the many nice tables. Before getting to my seat , I managed to meet John Kerr, who was very cheerful.
Not long after being seated, John Kerr and some of the boat’s staff made announcements, including the fact that we would be able to go the the buffet on a table by table basis. Whilst at the buffet, John Kerr came around with the lucky door prize tickets, my ticket was “Red C 86” and my lunch consisted of two types of pasta, chicken, salad, potato, salami squares and a bread roll. I also had some water with this.
Not long after lunch started we had to turn back and pick someone up who had managed to miss the boat, apparently they rang 2UE who then made contact with someone (John Kerr, Anastasia or All Occasion Cruises). Once we had picked them up we took off again, and I managed to get some nice photos.
After this we docked at a place which may have been the All Occasion Cruises HQ (considering it had a bunch of their other boats anchored I would presume it was), here the staff recieved the afternoon tea. Whilst we were stopped I took a photo of the Lady Rose sign.
I then decided that I had enough photos for now, and put the camera away in it’s carry case, but within reach in case there was something to take a photo of. Eventually I found John Kerr and asked him if I could get a photo with him, he said yes, and went to find Anastasia to take the photo, we found her on the upper “sun deck”, and one of the other people on the boat offered to take the photo, which turned out very nicely. The photo is, from left to right, John Kerr, Anastasia & myself. The Sydney Harbour Bridge is conveniently in the background.
By this stage there was plenty of dancing going on in the lower (and larger) dining room. Here we have a video of some of the dancing to the song “Love Is In The Air”. If my memory serves me correctly then the man on the right of the preview image (light shirt, dark hair) is Joseph.
After this it was presentation and afternoon tea time, and when I went down into the lower deck John Kerr was giving a little speech in which he mentioned a few notable people, including the lovely Georgie (who regular readers may remember from a dream I had a while back). I managed to take a photo of her, she truly is a lovely lady.
John Kerr & Anastasia started drawing out raffle winners, I didn’t win, but somebody cracked a political correctness joke in the middle of it after John announced that a black ticket had won a prize, from that point on we had “coloured” tickets. This was the first on-boat photo where a flash would have been useful, but I didn’t use it, and ended up with a somewhat blurry and dark photo. On the left you can see Anastasia holding a raffle ticket, John Kerr talking into a microphone, and behine them in the redish shirt is Sammy The Cabbie.
As per the buffet spirit, the afternoon tea (and coffee…and cake) was a serve yourself affair. I had two pieces of chocolate cake and a cup of coffee. I managed to take this photo of the cake before it was demolished.
At this stage it was around 3:15 and I realised that it was time to ring Mike Welsh, having specifically made sure I would have mobile phone credit available for the call. Mike Welsh did his John Kerr impersonation which made us both laugh. I think Welshy was being sarcastic when he asked me to say hello to John for him, but I did it anyway. John Kerr could only just hear me over the music.
Georgie also got a dance, which really touched my heart. This video just makes me feel so happy, and always manages to bring a tear to my eye. Georgie really does look like she is very happy. This one contains the song “He’ll have to go”.
This was pretty much the end of the cruise, John Kerr made an announcement, and mentioned that he would love to have us call him to tell him what we thought of the cruise and how wonderful the people at All Occasion Cruises are. Just before he went to greet everyone as they left the Lady Rose, he stopped for me to take a photo of him. He gave me a big smile and even the thumbs up, although I only asked for a big smile so I didn’t notice the thumbs up until long after taking the photo.
After leaving the Lady Rose, I was about to take a photo if her when one of the 200 or so people offered to take a photo of me standing in front of the Lady Rose. It would appear that I put on a “TV weatherman” pose without even noticing it. If you look carefully you will spot Anastasia on the upper deck of the Lady Rose.
At this time it was 3:55 and I decided to walk back to Central Station via Macquarie and Elizabeth Streets. Along the way I remembered something which my earlier correspondent had said about Martin Place being near Macquarie Street, so I decided that I would visit that area and look at the Channel 7 studios. Along the way I asked a city ranger how to get to Martin Place, she was lovely and gave me directions and a big smile. I walked down to Martin Place and spotted the Channel 7 building, and then the Seven News Studio, this was 4:10.
I then made the shocking and astonishing discovery that the Today Tonight studio is in the same room, and just left of, the Seven News studio. In the lower right of the picture you can see a screen showing the Today Tonight logo.
Even more amazing was that the Sunrise studio is also in the same room. You can also see the “Green Screen” (which was changed from a blue screen, possibly due to people being less likely to wear lime green) which is used for weather reports etc. Next time you have a chance to watch Seven News from Sydney, take note of how the newsreader and weather presenter look across the room at each other.
Sometimes the green screen is used to make somebody look like they are on location when they are not, a few weeks back I saw once such example where it was live, and the person was wearing the same colour as the screen, which made the whole thing very obvious. You don’t have many real on location events where you can see through a tie shaped hole in a person. I can’t remember what station I saw it on though, I don’t think it was Seven.
During the ten minutes or so that I was standing around, a few people walked through the studio, preparing for the 4:30 news. They are obviously used to people taking photos of the studio and looking at it, each and every one of these people waved and/or smiled.
Elizabeth Street leads right down to Central Station and as such has a lot of buses, but this many? This was only part of the never ending stream of them…I found myself saying “bus, bus, bus, bus, bus, bus, bus, bus, bus, bus, bus” as I noticed them passing by.
After walking down Elizabeth Street for a while I decided to catch a train back to Central Station. I started rummaging around in my bag for my ticket, but decided this looked suspicious and walked outside to find it, this probably looked even more suspicious as I still had my radio with me, listening to the Steve Price Drive Show on 2UE (which I had been doing since leaving the Opera House). I eventually found my ticket and put my radio away. I only just managed to avoid somebody handing out one of those strange “Green Left Weekly” type of newspapers. If they want to save trees, they can start by not prining that mass nonsense.
After walking down a poorly tiled tunnel and arriving at a platform, I heard an announcement say that the train at platform 1 would take me straight to Central Station, despite the sign saying that it would visit the other side of Sydney first. I boarded the train, which was one of Sydney’s older trains with fold up seats and took a photo (if people weren’t already suspicious, they were now). I was in carriage 3911.
Looking out the window I was convinced I was going the wrong way as I re-passed Hyde Park. I was worried enough without the train stopping for one reason or another for about three minutes, before taking off again.
The security camera which can be seen at the top left of the picture had me concerned as I had put down my bag and taken out a camera in a rather unusual photography position. Thankfully I was not approached by Security.
I passed through the ticket reading gate, which swallowed my ticket as it was now invalid. Whilst this solves litter problems, it prevented me from keeping the ticket as a souvenier. The CityRail staff member gave me an odd look as I passed through the gate looking saddened by the loss of the ticket and grumbling under my breath about it.
I was in need of a coffee, so I went upstairs to the cafe near the interstate railway lines. I noticed that it is licenced premises, which is no longer an issue for me, although I do recall a restuarant in Dickson letting me in, despite their licenced status, when I was 16, I did not attempt to consume alcohol on that occasion, and didn’t even realise it was licenced premises until I spotted the sign in the window.
After my drink I made use of the internet kiosk. It wasn’t until it didn’t work properly that I noticed it was using Internet Explorer…but it was a Bigpond kiosk, and they would use Internet Explorer wouldn’t they. In all my time with Internet Kiosks the is the first one I have ever had a problem with, and it is also the first one which hasn’t used Mozilla Navigator or Mozilla Firefox.
Due to fading light I didn’t take many notes of the journey to Canberra, but we did pass the airport at 6:24 (no stop though). I did spot a Fed Ex jet.
We entered the M5 Tunnel at 6:27 and the Hume Hwy at 6:58.
At 7:01 I lost the 2UE signal, it had been fading for a bit before that, but we passed a few powerlines which improved the signal. I started Tape 2 at 7:03.
At 7:42 we passed an unusual sign, it looked like an overpass with a big red strike through it, the writing said “Next 2KM”. Was this really telling us there were no overpasses for 2KM, when we hadn’t seen an overpass for a while anyway? Very odd.
At 7:43 we passed a Murrays Coach heading in the other direction.
At 8:04 we reached the RTA Heavy Vehicle Inspection Centre, where we were aksed to pull over for a checkup. The bus weighed 23.2 Tonnes, however there were also a dozen or so police cars with sniffer dogs present, who went and searched the bags in the luggage compartment, I stopped my tape for the duration of this.
Despite the photos, it was actually very dark outside, but the camera dealt with that by leaving the shutter open for nearly ten seconds, which is why there are funny red and white streaks from car lights.
Three passengers were called off the bus to open their bags, which turned out not to be containing anything illegal. I suspect that the police had a tipoff of some sort, now that I think of it, I hope it wasn’t somebody informing them of my photo taking activities in a hyped up manner. After about 21 minutes we were underway again.
When my tape finished I went to pick up Canberra radio, but failed, and at one stage picked up South Coast local ABC, and at another, was very surprised to pick up 4BC Brisbane and some golden oldies station from Victoria. Eventually I as able to pick up 2CC (when I pointed the radio the right way) and listened to that for the duration of the journey. We arrived at the Jolimont Centre at about 9:45.
When I got off the bus, there was no sign of my parents and Nattie, so I rushed off to the toilet. Whilst I was washing my hands the bus driver came in and I said thst it was good to be back in Canberra, to which he said something about faulty sniffer dogs. After leaving the toilet I noticed my parents and Nattie arriving. Nattie was very pleased to see me, and I went home and had dinner.
After this I replied to some emails I had recieved, and sent one to John Kerr, as I was too tired to ring him. He may have read it out, but I didn’t hear it, he did however send me a reply on Sunday afternoon.
Also on Sunday afternoon I noticed that I hadn’t given Anastasia the christmas card for Lawsie, so I’ll mail that today (Monday).
My trip was a very good one, and the cruise was absolutley brillian and fantastic, I have the upmost admiration for the people at All Occasion Cruises. The trip back wasn’t quite as good, but overall I had a really great time.
Whilst on the cruise, Anastasia said that I should drop by the 2UE studios next time I’m in Sydney at night, so I will arrange my next leave from work to be at a time when John and Anastasia aren’t on leave, so that I can drop in and say hello, and depending on how tired I am, stay for a while to watch the show unfold.
I will certainly try to get to more of the wonderful New Day Australia functions, they are truly a “hoot”.
UPDATE Monday evening: I rang John Kerr last night and had a good chat with him, and a good off-air chat with Anastasia. The conversation with John Kerr, which was interrupted by the news and “Flicks And Things”, can be heard here.