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A Trip to Crotty
Tue 22/03/2016 09:16 PM


There’s a broken cable under Bass Strait - and Tasmania is running out of both water and power. So we went to visit a town that hasn’t had many visitors.

You see - Tasmania uses mostly hydro power from a series of lakes and power stations around the state. These regions haven’t seen much rain lately - so the lakes were pretty dry anyway - and the policy of selling our ‘green’ power to the mainland at a premium and buying mainland power when we need it has seen them drop even further.

But the Bass-Link cable that allows us to buy and sell our power has been damaged, so Tasmania is an isolated grid again. Unfortunately it’s a grid with very low water levels at the moment, so the government is bringing in diesel generators to take over when the hydro power dries up. 

So as annoying as it is that we sold our hydro power to the mainland and now don’t have enough water for ourselves - that’s not the point of this story.

With the dropping water level, Crotty is back.

Crotty was a mining town in the West Coast near Queenstown. It had been abandoned as a ghost town for approaching 100 years until the early 1990s when it was swallowed by Lake Burbury as part of the King River Hydro scheme.

But with the water levels falling so far, the ruins of Crotty are visible again.


To be fair - some of the ruins are just under the high water level and would have been clear for some time - but others have just recently appeared from the receding lake.

Turks and I had seen an article in the local paper about the re-emergence of Crotty back before he was married and Turks had mentioned he would be keen to take a look - but things were obviously rather busy around then, so we hadn’t done anything about it. 

But along comes March with it’s double long weekends (thanks March!) and we were discussing what we’d get up to, and I suggested a trip to Crotty.


So Em, Turks, and I headed down for the day. Turns out Crotty is really easy to find and with a vaguely capable vehicle you can drive right out to it.

We weren’t the only visitors either, it seems like Crotty is popular again - there were about 6 or so cars kicking around while we were there. Not bad for a ghost town that’s been under water for years..


It was a somewhat random way to spend a Long Weekend’s Monday - but was very enjoyable (apart from the migraine I got on the way home - but that’s unrelated). 

And now I can say I’ve walked around the township of Crotty.

For anyone interested in making the trip themselves - you go to Queenstown and take Conlan St out of town (becomes Lynchford Rd for a while apparently before going back to Conlan St according to Google). 
You follow that road until you arrive at Lake Burbury - and you should soon find a good gravel track that takes you down to the lake side and into Crotty itself. If the lake was full, there would be an island here - and the ruins we found would be submerged. 
You can even see some of the ruins on Google Maps if you know what you’re looking for.

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There but for the Grace of God...
Thu 25/02/2016 08:59 PM


For those unfamiliar with the phrase "There but for the grace of God" (except maybe as an excellent episode of StarGate), it’s a shortened form of "There but for the grace of God go I" which essentially means "that could have been me".

Back a few weeks, we had a fairly nasty storm in Devonport. Work lost power for over 9 hours, and there was a bit of flooding around the place.

And my neighbour still isn’t allowed to return home.

My neighbour is actually a Housing Commission tenant, but she’s been here for years and has the neatest house in the area. She was home reading in the lounge room and had gotten up to get a drink...

When her house was hit by lightning.

The chimney in the photo used to be complete - the missing bricks and the hole in the roof (which is a little hard to see in the photo) - that’s from the lightning strike.

Inside the house, the chair Marcell had been sitting in had bits of ceiling hit it - and the plaster on the wall was blown off.

Marcell was extremely fortunate that she’d gone to get a drink. She still ended up in hospital for a few hours with shock, but it could have been so much worse.

The roof has been repaired (the chimney has been entirely removed as it wasn’t used anymore) and the inside has been repaired, but she is still waiting for the power to be reconnected before she can go home (it’s been three weeks now).

My house didn’t even loose power - but the lightning did surge through the phone line. 

My modem (actually Turkey’s modem), a network switch, a heap of network wall sockets, and network cards in two of my computers were destroyed.

I also had to get Telstra to come and fix my line because it had been damaged.

After ordering replacement gear, and spending a few evenings crawling under the house repairing the network runs, I was starting to get rather annoyed. But then I’d look over the fence at Marcell’s place and realise how fortunate I was.

If the lightning had been slightly further my direction or my house had been slightly higher...

There but for the Gace of God go I...

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Emma and Turks
Fri 19/02/2016 07:40 PM


Wow - a lot has happened since I last blogged. I’ll catch up eventually I hope - but in the meantime this is the most important news.

Martin and Emma are now married!

It was a fantastic day and an awesome ceremony. They both seemed extremely happy - at least until Martin saw what had been done to his car... but I'm sure he'll get over that. :)

According to my calendar, Saturday was "Get a new name day" apparently - which suits my sister who now has a new last name. That’ll take some getting used to.

A massive congrats to you both guys!


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Brickvention 2016 Wandering
Fri 22/01/2016 10:46 PM

Hey look - it’s the Spirit in Melbourne. Hang on, it’s both Spirits! that shouldn’t happen...

Welcome to my annual Brickvention trip.

I had taken the Thursday - Monday off work. The Thursday is set-up day, so I figured I’d get there nice and early and set up my displays. In particular I’d set up the combined M:Tron display that I was sort of co-ordinating ready for everyone else to add their parts.

So Wednesday evening I line up for the Spirit like a regular passenger except with a car full of Lego. While I’m in the queue I get a message from one of my workmates asking if I’d heard what had happened to the other ship, the one currently in Melbourne.

So I jump on the net. Nothing on the news yet, but I find the Port of Melbourne webcams and sure enough, Spirit II is basically sitting on the beach!

As the news sites started reporting the issue, I found out more. There had been a freak wind gust that broke the moorings and swung the ship around. No one was injured, but the ship was damaged and so was the pier. 

I boarded Spirit I in Devonport, but she wasn’t allowed to sail until about midnight - the Captain needed the all clear that we would be able to dock in Melbourne.

So already very much behind schedule, we eventually headed to Melbourne - but because the wharf wasn’t ready yet, we spend a fair chunk of the day doing laps of the bay. We eventually docked mid afternoon.

It was around 5 when I finally made it to Brickvention. 

It all worked out - with some help from the other guys from the M:Tron display (in particular the legendary Paulius) we got it sorted and it turned out to be a pretty awesome display.

From there it was back to the Hotel to check in and hand over the keys to the trusty Forester so the attendant could park it. Never had to do that before - slightly odd feeling.

From there it was another awesome Brickvention. Mike came down for the Friday and Saturday which was awesome. I’ll post some photos in a bit.

After the convention I went crusing around Melbourne. I had a day to kill on Monday before catching the ship (which was delayed anyway) so I went to Ikea for a look (never been there before) and a couple of toy shops. I eventually made it down to Rick James Bricks in Packenham which has been on my to-do list.

Along the way I had to learn how to do a hook turn (left lane to turn right) - thanks to the random car in front that demonstrated how to do it. I ended up on a Toll road by accident and had to work out how to pay that. 

I got sick of highways and things, so I looked at the map and decided Emerald sounded interesting, so headed into the country and eventually wrapped around back to Melbourne. 

Turns out I’ve been to Emerald before, about 20 years ago. It’s part of the Puffing Billy railway - which I only realised when I saw the signs for the model railway and realised I remembered it. It was shut by the time I got there this time though.

I did a search for Fish and Chips in my phone as I got back towards the Bay and thought I’d get some nice fish and chips and sit in front of the beach. Well - I got the fish and chips, but it ended up being a high end expensive sort of fish and chips rather than the corner store I’d been thinking of. Oh well, it tasted good.

So then it was back to the wharf where the Spirit was conspicuously absent. It was running late and not even visible when I arrive. Hung around and met up with some of the other Tasmanian Brickvention attendees - and eventually the Spirit sailed into view, lights shining in the dark. 

Joined the queue and waited until midnight before boarding. Was so close to falling asleep it isn’t funny. I had a shared cabin on the way back - but everyone was so tired we just fell asleep almost instantly. 

The late departure meant a late arrival into Tassie, which was fine as I didn’t wake up until 10. Once off the ship, it was straight into the office and what was left of the working day.

So that’s my Brickvention adventure for 2016, minus the Brickvention itself, which will be in another post.


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Jason and Amy
Tue 12/01/2016 08:47 AM


Congrats to Mr and Mrs Eyles - Jason and Amy! 

Well - I’ve survived my first Groomsman experience, and successfully made sure that Jason got to the location and didn’t back out. He is now a married man!


While the official photographers were doing their thing, Wes managed to snap a couple of photos on my camera. Jason, his best man Grant, and me with other Good-Enough Guys.


We were there to support Jason when he needed it.


Looking sharp in our Aperture Science cuff-links (which you can barely see in the photo).


Poor Amy... just realising what she got herself in for...


And check out the gifts for being a Groomsman - that’s epic Jason, thanks! 

If you haven't noticed the labels, look again.

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