Turning Lead Into Shot

An article from 1942 in The Argus describes this building and its associated business in great detail. It's the shot tower now housed inside the Melbourne Central shopping mall.

To briefly summarize: bars of lead from Broken Hill were melted at the top of this tower. Surface tension caused many separate streams of lead to separate into round spheres in flight, and solidify as they fell into a pool of water at the bottom.

Melbourne Wholesale Markets

This is Gab Dellios' trading area at the Melbourne Wholesale Fruit Vegetable & Flower Markets. This market hosts most of the wholesale trade in Victoria, excluding that of the major chain grocers that have their own distribution systems.

Gab owns an apple orchard on the Avenue of Honour in Baccus Marsh, a 45min drive west from the market. Here's an overhead view of the orchard.

New York Tomato

Melbourne coffee is just so good, it warrants two posts. This is a latte (left) and flat white, prepared by the careful and cheerful barristas at the New York Tomato.

It's located at the corner of New & York Sts, in Richmond. They serve Coffee Supreme, founded in Wellington NZ but roasted locally in Melbourne.

Bow-tied Barista, Melbourne

A bow-tied professional, working around a mass of gleaming steel and steam, can mean only one place.

Brunetti's! It's expensive, but who cares? The coffee is fantastic, and the selection of cakes, biscuits, and pastries is endless. I had an affogato, which is coffee and dessert, all wrapped into one tidy package.

Acacia pycnantha

Golden Wattle looks fantastic up close, but large groves of it are even more spectacular. It's the Australian national flower.

A good drive to catch it in bloom (now, in the southern spring) is Hwy 1 between Hobart and Launceston in Tasmania.

Non-Roadkill Koala

Taking pictures of a koala is vastly preferable to running over a koala, and quick braking avoided this sort of situation. This fellow scurried over to his gum tree, then posed courteously. Google kindly cataloged the rural roads of Victoria so I could share a view of where we saw him.

It was tempting to go up for a cuddle, but like most Australian wildlife, they're not known to be particularly friendly.

Failed Sheraton

Failed resorts are not unusual, but this one is. Its the abandoned beginnings of the Sheraton Rarotonga.

The Cook Islands government participated in a venture that turned out to be mostly a conduit to crooked investors. When the project fell through, it became solely responsible for half of the national debt.

To put that in perspective, the federal debt of the US is around $13 trillion. Half of that would pay for 9 Iraq wars.

Raemaru, Rarotonga

This is the view looking northeast from Raemaru, the flat topped mountain of Rarotonga.

It's flat because the neighboring islanders of Aitutaki wanted a mountain, snuck up on a raid, and cleaved the top bit of Raemaru with their spears. Carrying it back, they were confronted by Rarotongans - and fought them off one-handed while supporting their stolen mountain with their spears. Fierce!

Then again, it might just be geology.

Island Night, Rarotonga

The Island Night we attended at the Pacific Resort in Muri Beach, Rarotonga was fantastic. The underlying nature of it was serious, powerful drumming with a complex beat. Added to that was a bit of dancing.

I'm not sure about the authenticity of the coconut bras, but everything else seemed honest. The culture is related to that of the New Zealand Maori, but the dancing was quite different. There was a much more mellow vibe as compared to the haka, and extensive reliance on hip movements.

Urban Exploration, Cook Islands Style

This is the interior of the upper floor of the disused Para O Tane Palace. It was officially the seat of power of Makea Nui Teremoana Ariki, the last ruling Queen of Rarotonga. Sadly, she died in 1994, and confusion over her successor has not been resolved.

Here's a postcard from 1908 showing the building's exterior. The treaty that made the Cook Islands a British protectorate was signed here in 1888 by then-Queen Makea Takau Ariki. She's second from the left in this picture.

Sunset District, San Francisco

This perfectly regular grid is the Sunset District of San Francisco.

The contours of the land are visible as the only disturbance to the ruler-straight streets. Google's overhead view is equally mesmerizing.

Sea Nettle, Monterey

This Pacific Sea Nettle (Chrysaora fuscescens) is a ravenous carnivore, but it's not poisonous enough to kill you.

Here it spends its days gliding around the Monterey Bay Aquarium, tantalizingly close to the unbounded expanse of the Pacific.

Oregon Pioneer, Salem

The Oregon Pioneer is a massive statue atop the State Capitol in Salem. It looks fantastic at night with its gold gilding. It was crafted in New Jersey, and shipped via the Panama Canal to the west coast in 1938.