Spring in Melbourne

It must be spring in Melbourne: Spring Carnival horse racing has started and there are ladies to be seen in town wearing light & often skimpy spring fashions on their way to & from the races. We’ve just had a week or so of clear blue skies and relative warmth (20-25 degrees Celsius) to get everyone feeling like Spring has sprung and it’s safe to shed a few layers of clothing.

So what does Melbourne’s weather decide to do? Why, flip to cold and start the rain bucketing down, what else? We’re back to 12-16 degrees, it’s raining, there’s storms (with hail, no less) and lots of wind. The Bureau are predicting coldish temperatures into next week and there are currently warnings for flooding in the catchment areas, severe winds across the bay & district (gale force & damaging) and potential for flash flooding.

Great time for my parents to come down from their place in tropical Thailand to visit us, no? :)

NOTE: Actually, the flooding in the catchment areas is not all bad – we need the rain to help refill our water supplies as the 10 year drought we’ve been in had them getting worryingly low.


Sheryl (Kitt’s mom) recently had her 60th birthday, Janet (Sheryl’s stepdaughter) was turning 40 and Tony (Janet’s husband) will be turning 50 soon. Given this, a plan was made to have a big outdoor bash called “Woodstock at Bell’s” with bands, food vendors and stacks of people in Janet & Tony’s back yard. A stage was hired, sound system setup, bands arranged and some foodies brought in. Tents and tarps were rigged, cars & vans parked around the place and a huge crowd was expected (oh, did I mention their back yard is about the size of a football field located in native bushland in the hills & valleys behind Tweed Heads?).

Sadly, instead of the bright blue skies and beach weather we’re told about, Tweed Heads decided to demonstrate why there are no water restrictions here and provided rain, more rain and still more rain. While most of us were lurking under tarps and shelters, Tony wound up having to put a huge tarp over the top of the stage. Seems the idiots who set it up put the roof on backwards – it slopes down from front to back to allow the rain to run off with the water flowing off the top panels onto the middle ones then the back ones and away. Sadly, instead of starting with the back panels, then the middle ones and then the front ones, they’d done it the other way around. As a result, the rain ran down the panels and fell straight onto the stage. Like, DUH!

Eventually the tarp was up and the water was swept off the stage so things could begin. More people began to arrive and the rain backed off a tad. There was some hope that perhaps it was clearing but no, it just kept coming through in waves. Absolutely bucketing down. We spent most of the afternoon getting water off sagging tarps, hanging out at our tent and walking around occasionally with umbrellas to catch up with others. Towards the evening it backed off further and actually stopped – more people started arriving and some were out dancing around in front of the stage.

We wound up leaving around 8pm as Kitt wasn’t feeling well and Andrea was still jetlagged (and had a flu building). We begged a ride off a friend who dropped us home with Nykolai who had decided that spending the night in a tent in the rain wasn’t going to be all that great. During the drive we noticed that the clouds were very low and we were frequently driving through patches of them. It seemed that while the rain was holding off for now, it might not be for long. Sure enough around 2am we woke to the sound of another major downpour – at least we were in warm beds and not trying to spend the night in tents.

I’m not sure how the night wound up with rain, wet ground, mud and music. I imagine that those who stayed will have had a blast but I’m very happy we left when we did. I’m just not cut out for camping at the best of times so a night at “Wetstock” would not have been a wonderful time for me.

Tweed Heads – Rain, Insects and no Net

Once again we’re here in Tweed Heads visiting Kitt’s family and taking a bit of a rest. While I’ve had a few days of clear blue skies during my past visits, I’ve got to say that the bulk of the time here has been overcast, humid and full of biting, itching bug things (and frequently raining). I’m told this is not uncommon around Christmas (when we’re usually here) but so far this trip in October is living up to the norm – although fortunately it’s not too humid.

Sadly, I’m finding it very hard to get a ‘net fix. Kitt’s mom has dial up but the phone is in frequent use, plus I can’t really plug in my laptop. There’s no neighbours around with wireless and the cybercafes are far away so I’ve got to borrow the car to get to them. We were at Tweed Mall the other day and found a public wireless at a cafe although the staff didn’t know anything about it. We grabbed some drinks and powered up to get our fix. Half way through downloading my email though the hotspot shut down – very annoying.

There’s a wireless cafe I know further down the road past Tweed Mall in Coolangatta. Tweed Heads is in New South Wales while Coolangatta is in Queensland – one little step along a footpath and suddenly you’re an hour behind (Queensland don’t do that Daylight Savings thing). We were going to head there yesterday morning so I could do some emails, upload this post and generally get a small fix of ‘net time. That got scrapped though as time was running out and it was decided that we’d all leave early to go further up the valleys to Janet & Tony’s place for a party (see the “Wetstock” blog post). Fortunately they had ADSL at their place with wireless so I was able to jump on briefly. Sadly, their net connection was flakey as heck and it took all my effort to get some emails out, pay a couple of bills and check a few items before I lost patience with it. Janet was saying that the connection had been bad lately – the joys of Telstra’s BigPond network plus being a fair way out from the city.

Finally today I’ve managed to drop by the cybercafe in Coolangatta while Kitt goes to the local craft market with her sister & father. I’ve printed off our boarding pass, checked emails and am now getting a chance to blog and confirm the ‘net still exists.