Gallery

Daintree Fungi

A recent trip to Port Douglas and a short bushwalk through the scenic Daintree rainforest of Mossman Gorge yielded some interesting fungi.

Thank you to Kuku Yalanji elders, past and present, for having us on your country.

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Ukulele Video: You’re Sixteen

Here’s a uke song recorded by Alison and I last year. It’s ‘You’re Sixteen’ originally recorded by The Sherman Brothers in 1960 but made famous more recently when covered by Ringo Starr. On a side note, check out the Ringo Starr film-clip as it features Carrie Fisher.

Cars gone by: Dad’s Swift GTi

Suzuki Swift GTi

My father is 70 years of age. He bought a Suzuki Swift GTi, with purple paint, mag wheels, sub-woofer….and a full body-kit. Growing old disgracefully huh.

Total early naughties, Hot 4’s, sex-spec, rice-burner, wannabe show-car. I loved it.

Here is a video of the car arriving after being towed home:

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Unfortunately, both Dad’s ill health and too-many-projects-syndrome has meant the car has been moved on to a new owner who was tickled pink to locate a Swift GTi in purple. All the best to this cars new owner.

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Gallery

Birds of the Torres Strait

Here is a gallery of some bird photographs I have taken while living and travelling across the Torres Strait through 2016, 2017 and 2018. Enjoy.

Cars gone by: Swift GTi

An old car of mine that still sticks in my mind was a 1999 Suzuki Swift GTi that I owned briefly in 2012.

It was a brilliant little tin-can of a buzz box. It was so light with thin steel construction and the entire twin cam 1300cc engine is only supposed to weigh in at 93 kg. Some might call it crude or spartan but compared to cars I have owned like Minis and Austins it was relatively comfortable and well furnished with air conditioning, power windows, tinting, sports seats with decent bolsters and a good stereo.

Having grown up driving mini’s the GTi seems to really capture that hoon factor – cornering on rails, free revving engine and responsive steering.

To my mind this is the last of a breed of cheap, fun cars being a 1999 model. The next generation of cars through the 2000s saw the introduction of thicker pillars, side intrusion bars, airbags etc. which, though great for safety, tend to make cars less nimble. Another thing I notice on modern cars is the glass area always seems to be very reduced. New cars have tall doors to cover the side impact bars and being a tall person I find it hard to see out of modern hatches, almost as though I am ducking down to look through a letterbox of a windscreen. They just don’t make ’em like they used to…

I would have hung onto this car as a perfect second car or shopping trolley but a move overseas for work forced me to sell it. Out of interest I bought it in Sydney for $2000 AUD cash and sold it for $2100 on eBAY.

Gallery

Rust in peace: Datsun 1500 (620) scale model

A fond memory growing up was of our work ute, a 1976 Datsun 1500 (Datsun 620), which my Father owned for about 30 years since new. The ute was always the workhorse for our family business and carted untold amounts of potting mix, gravel, cement and pot plants around Brisbane through the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s. To me it was always a symbol of hard work and reliability. In it’s later years it sat around rusting under a mango tree. It was dusted off every now and then, given a charged battery and it would start without fail and go back into service before being scrapped in the early 2000’s. A while ago my brother sent me a picture of the ute during it’s sad last days which got me thinking about the old beast again….

Seeing my Dad for the Christmas 2017 holidays was an opportunity to make him a special present for this occasion as well as for his 70th birthday in January 2018. I decided to try and make him a scale model of the old Datsun. I mail ordered the MPC brand ‘Datsun Lil Hustler’ in 1/25th scale which arrived in early December from the USA. I had to get cracking on the build. The cab and chassis came together easily but I was posed with a problem. The kit only came with the style-side (wellside) tray, not a flat-back tray like ours was.

The kits rear tub was ditched and I began making a scratch built tray out of polystyrene sheet. The wooden floor boards were made from one piece which I ran a saw down at intervals to give the illusion of individual planks. The planks then received oil paints to simulated streaky wood-grain. I wasn’t satisfied with how ‘new’ the wood-grain effect looked and added a thin coat of white oil paint over the top of this which gave an older, faded look.

Around this floor-pan I made up tray sides out of layers of plastics to simulate the strengthening ribs of the steel tray sides. I added brass bits for the hinges and the distinctive corner latches, mud flaps and the tie down rail which runs underneath.

The model was primed in black and then painted in white acrylic paint, and for the cab and tray I tried to simulate a rust effect. To do so I used the ‘hairspray’ method where I:

  1. Painted areas of the cab and tray in various rust colours (brown, red ochre, yellow ochre, burnt sienna).
  2. Sealed these faux rust areas with lacquer.
  3. Coated the model with a layer of cheap hairspray and let it dry.
  4. Sprayed a final coat of white acrylic over the top.
  5. I went over the rust areas with a scouring pad and a wet toothbrush which chipped away the top coat, showing the rust underneath.

This worked particularly well on the edges of the tray. It was harder to achieve the desired effect on the bonnet but I was generally happy with the result.

Finishing touches were making quarter light windows out of acetate (the kit comeswith no side windows at all), photo-shopping and printing out tiny Queensland number plates, making the distinctive side mirrors, fabricating a rear view mirror and mail-ordering a display case. To add some personal touches I also made a small wheelbarrow from scratch that we always had in the tray as well as a tiny pack of cigarettes (printed and scaled down) which I always remember sitting on the dashboard. Some real leaves were also hole punched with a tiny leaf-punch and scattered into the tray. It was never a tidy ute.

My Dad happily received the unique gift at Christmas which has now found a place on his bookshelf. Merry Christmas and Happy 70th birthday Dad!

Enjoy the photo gallery of this fun build:

Meet ‘Ricky Baker’

It was a beautiful, golden sunset this afternoon so I decided to take some photos of my new project bike – a 2012 Honda CT110 that has been christened ‘Ricky Baker’.

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The rugged, reliable little CT110, or postie bike, needs no introduction. In production since 1966 the postie bike is easily the most numerous and popular bike in Australia. I have been tinkering with this one for about a month now since I purchased it for $1000. I am it’s third owner after Australia Post and one other careful guy and it has just over 30,000 km on it. I have been giving it a good clean up; the paint and chrome was really grotty and I had to remove the stock scratched stickers. I took off the front guard – straightened out a few dings – and body plastics and resprayed them the correct Honda, Monza Red with some clear coat. I sanded back and resprayed the front forks in silver and polished a few of the engine cases with wet and dry sandpaper. I fitted the older style ‘flying wings’ Honda emblems to the side covers where the distinctive Australia Post logo once was.

Additionally, I have fitted older style chrome indicators to the front and I sourced an older style Honda oval CT90 speedometer which sits inside the headlight bowl, instead of being mounted to an ugly bracket on the handlebars. Hope you enjoy the pics as much as I enjoy riding this tiny donkey.

 

Em’s new ride – Suzuki TU250X

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My girlfriend Em recently picked up a new learner bike, a 2012 Suzuki TU250X as an upgrade from her Postie (Honda CT110). Last weekend, we took the opportunity of some nice Canberra winter weather – for a change – to go for a ride together out to Uriarra Crossing, behind Belconnen.

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It was a gentle 70km return journey, generally idling along the backroads at about 80km/hr. I haven’t ridden the Suzuki too much yet, but it seems to be a very sweet little bike with light controls, a slick gear change and smooth revving engine. You really seem to sit on top of it – like a rocking horse – which I find disconcerting after my KLR with it’s big, high bars.

All the best with your new ride dear Em xo Enjoy the pics.

Canberra snow day

13 July 2016

With the temperature only a few degrees below zero, Emily and I were surprised to wake up this morning to see a thin blanket of snow over our rear veranda, garage roof and the wagon. The nearby hilltop of Mt. Majura also had a few centimetres coverage. The motorcycle ride to work was extra frosty, with thin flurries of snow swirling around in the traffic.