Archives for posts with tag: Sydney

It has taken me a bit of time to work out what I would write in this post. By now the majority of people who will read this post know what happened in Sydney just over 24 hours ago. And I would be lying if I did not say that the incident has shook me up.

I was never in any danger, Sydney is a big city after all with over 4.5 million residents. But I think the siege hit home because at one time I was close to the cafe where the tragedy occurred. I worked directly opposite the Lindt cafe for over three years. Out of all the surrounding cafes, this was my favourite. After all, the Lindt cafe does the best hot chocolate in Sydney. That’s my pick me up – not coffee. Of course, it is stocked with all sorts of chocolate goodness as well. I would love meeting up with co-workers for a sneaky chocolate snack in the afternoon, in the guaranteed knowledge that the Lindt cafe would have a dark chocolate goodie. And a workers in the cafe would always hand me the snack with a smile.

On the day when the criminal assailant walked in, we received an email informing us that something was going on with our office across from the cafe, and the physical lock down procedures were put in place. I sensed something was wrong. Then the TV in the kitchen started to show our NSW Police Officers deploying around the cafe. I have worked very closely with the Police in the past, and I knew immediately that I was watching the Tactical Response Group in action – things were serious. I have the utmost respect and admiration for the NSW Police and the job they do. They deal with bad and the ugly on a daily basis, and very seldom the good. What was unfolding before my eyes was bad. I rang my wife to tell her to stay at home and not meet me for lunch. My wife was confused, until she saw the TV coverage. My son was upset that he would not see me for lunch, but my wife lovingly shielded him from the real reason. At the time no one knew whether this was a coordinated and planned attack – or the act of a lone deranged criminal with a completely shattered moral compass.

Most people now know how the events tragically unfolded…

It all came to an end while most of Sydney slept. We woke up to the awful news. As I kitted up to go cycling training, I could not clear my head. To say this totally clouded my thoughts is an understatement. As I pushed the pedals I could not think of anything else, and my session clearly reflected that. I was not the only one, we were all collectively flat. I was sad, angry, empty, all at once. I waited for any news of who the hostages were, and whether any of them were my old work colleagues. As the reports and the names came in, thankfully none of them were.

Putting it in perspective, this is not about me. Two people lost their lives to a criminal who should have been locked up – not out on bail. He likely planned the murder of his ex-wife and was up on 40 counts of sexual and indecent assault. He took the p!ss when he applied for asylum into Australia under false pretenses, and should never have been let into the country. Then when he got here, he actively fought against the fabric and foundations of our society – flaunting our faces incredulously in our own tolerance. Even when he got here he should have been extradited back to Iran because he was a criminal fraud over there. And all the while our NSW Police knew exactly his character and pleaded with our Legal system who failed to lock him away. He even smeared his own religion with his unconscionable actions, trying to tarnish thousands of Australians of the same faith.

It would be too easy to call this terrorism, the fact is that is was an evil crime.

While I read today about over 140 children who were killed by extremists in Pakistan, the tragedy of my own city is what is occupying my thoughts. I know enough about the world to know that this can happen in my home city. I am not that naive. But I can’t help but feel an indescribable loss. My city was attacked by one person who wanted to take down my fellow Sydneysiders, for no reason other than his own evil motives. My city fought back, and did not allow him the vehicle or platform, and people were hurt as a result.

For Sydney and all those who were dragged into this horrible ordeal, I say a quiet prayer. No photos, no hashtags, just a quiet prayer. And maybe one day I will be able to explain to my son and daughter the real reason why they could not meet me for lunch that day.

Nothing to say, just the photo (with a little help from Pixlr on my Android).

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Jack Mundey, the man who stood up to save ‘The Rocks’ in Sydney. You might not agree with his background, but the outcome has benefited all Sydneysiders.

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It’s a public holiday long weekend in Sydney, so my riding buddy AC made the call – time to go for a ride 120km of epicness. Sounded good to me. The proposed route would be to head south of Sydney, through ‘The Shire’ and into the Royal National Park (RNP). With the return leg via some out of the way roads following one of the train lines. Here is the route, and the profile (yes a bit of uphill ouch in this ride):

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Now Sydney is not known for being friendly for cyclists, us riders wish it was, but it is not. If you want that, then go relocate to Melbourne or Adelaide. So for this ride we set off at 4am, not to get a clean run down to the park, but to avoid the dreaded Sydney traffic on a Saturday on the return. Yes, 4am is when sparrows are farting before they wake up, but hey. This was a tough ride, but also one of the strangest that I have done in a long time.

Firstly I made the mistake of dressing for the cool pre-dawn conditions, and not the warm morning temperature. I got cooked, and received multiple visits late in the ride from the dudes who live in cramp city. Those dudes are buggers, and I am sure they are mates with the ‘Man with the Hammer’.

Secondly after about 30 clicks into our journey, just past 5am, we came up to this rather large guy in khaki shorts riding a flat bar hybrid bike with pannier racks. Our pace was much quicker than his, but as we were coming to overtake him, he looked at us and then buried himself just so we couldn’t overtake him. It was hilarious. He even ran a couple of red lights to get ahead. We were toying with him like a lion does with a mouse, after all we had nothing to prove and had another 90 clicks to go. But as we neared the road that would take us to the RNP we dropped the hammer and dropped him.

Thirdly we had fun(?) on some stupid gradients as we climbed out of the first of several valleys we would be hitting for the day. Only to be buzzed and yelled at by a couple of kids on their learner plates who probably don’t even shave. That would have been around 6:45am – seriously boys, don’t be idiots and get a life.

The final bit of weirdness though was in the final stretches of the ride, with our end in sight. I was cooked and AC rode ahead through a roundabout turning right. I was a good 200m behind him at least, struggling with those cramp city dudes. As I came to the roundabout I signaled with my arm that I would be turning right. I had right of way and the oncoming traffic by law would have to yield, particularly as I was already in the roundabout turning. Rapidly advancing towards me was an Mercedes AMG C63, a car I wish I could afford to drive. But instead of giving way, the Merc sped up and flew into the roundabout cutting me off and forcing me to slam on the brakes and hold the back end of my bike from flying out. The driver didn’t even indicate his change of direction. This is not the first time this has happened and probably won’t be the last, but…

This NEVER happens on a bike ride

The Merc driver took off with me waving my hand at him for the danger he had put me in. Then another large sedan, a Holden (GM) Commodore, came flying past me from behind with its engine revving. This was strange indeed. The Holden flew up behind the Mercedes, almost bumping him. Then a set of red and blue lights in the Holden’s rear window started flashing. The siren came on, indicating to the Merc driver to pull over. Sure enough an unmarked police car witnessed the whole incident and the Merc driver was about to cop a fine or two. The real rub for the miscreant driver is that given it is a long weekend in Sydney it is also double demerit points off your license for any traffic infringement. Ouch! This never ever happens, never! I rode past the cop and the miscreant driver, shaking my head at him. AC was waiting for me and he asked what happened. I gave him the low down, and his jaw dropped – “No way!” The miscreant driver ended up catching up with us, and as he drove past he tapped his finger against his head. Lesson learnt perhaps, I hope so because as riders we are very vulnerable to any metal engined machine on four wheels and we always come out second best.

I am not sure whether I should buy a lottery ticket or not, but thanks to the cop for taking my safety into consideration. And thanks to AC for pulling me along on an epic and weird bike ride.

 

 

Nothing to say, just the photo

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Spring has truly come on in earnest in Sydney, and it is wonderful to see in all its glory. I think that quite often this is the best time of the year. Warm weather, but not too humid. Days are not too short, but the sun is not rising at stupid times in the morning. And the Gardens are in bloom.

The Sydney Botanic Gardens are very accessible from the Sydney CBD, and it is about now that people flock to the grounds to enjoy lunch on the grass or go for a run. Unlike European gardens, you can walk on the grass and sit down to enjoy nature. So with camera phone in hand, I took a short visit at lunchtime to the gardens and snapped the flora in bloom. These didn’t turn out too bad being taken with a camera phone, but I suppose the light was at its brightest. As usual, the images link through to the larger photos on my Flickr account.

Enjoy!

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Nothing to say, just the photo.

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Nothing to say, just the photo.

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Nothing to say, just the photo (albeit noisy).

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10c is all it takes. This was made of plastic bottles – in a way recycled for a different purpose.

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