Page 137: A few more avalon pictures and then to Ballarat
     
   
 

Left:  The Roulettes in perfect formation. If you learn to fly in the RAAF you start on one of these PC9 aircraft.
Right: And if you're really good you may eventually get to fly an FA-18 Hornet.

 
     
   
  Once upon a time front line fighters looked like this . . .  
     
   
  Then another war came along and fighters dispensed with one pair of wings and grew teeth.  
     
   
 

Soon after that they threw away the propellers and cut holes in the back to let the noise out. Then they bent the wings back.
(Crowded skies. This picture is a fake, of course.)

 
     
   
  Today they look like this and make a lot more noise but even these FA-18 Hornets are becoming obsolete now.  
     
   
  All through the show, scheduled commercial flights arrived and departed. This A320-232 Airbus might have been
carrying 200 passengers but there was no great fanfare. It arrived and departed with little more than a whisper
compared to the deafening fighters that carried a crew of one or two. What appears to be a black stripe around
the middle of the engine pod indicates that reverse thrust is in use. VH-VNK was landing.
 
     
 

There was a price to pay for staring up at all those aeroplanes in the bright sunshine. The following day both Pam and I developed lower lips that looked like door steps and felt like thick leather. Pam was sensible and applied lots of cream but she still ended up with cold sores around her mouth. My nose turned red and looked worse than usual with skin flaking off it.

After Avalon we were joined in Geelong by two good friends from Mount Gambier, Rob and Colleen. Rob and I visited the Ford Car Museum where we were warned - by a very lively and mischievous receptionist - not to listen to a particular volunteer guide because he was a "Holden enthusiast".

 
     
   
 

Henry Ford is reputed to have said you could buy the Model T ". . . in any colour as long as it was black".
Well, Henry, this one looks fabulous in red. And you probably spelt 'colour' wrong, too.

 
     
 

My thanks to our lovely friend Libby who has a friend that owns a red Model T and was thus able to explain some interesting facts about the Model T. Her friend's car isn't black because it was produced in Canada! To reduce taxes, parts were shipped across Lake Michigan and Ford cars were assembled in Canada. The Canadian-built cars were not all black.

As Canada was making both RH and LH drive cars, some differences had to be introduced. The USA assembly plant fitted only one door which was on the kerb side - no driver's side door. In Canada the same body was made for both RH and LH drive so a door was fitted on each side so all the bodies were the same. The firewall was even made to be reversible to accommodate the steering column on either side.

Even in America, Henry Ford didn't originally make only black cars but when he began the production line, black became the only colour because it dried faster than coloured paint.

The Ford Museum was excellent and very educational. For example, did you know that new body shapes are first modelled quarter size in clay, and later full size in clay? The museum had clay models on display. It isn't 'clay' as in dug out of the ground, it's a mixture of substances, mainly wax, that is readily moulded and remains pliable. It can also be painted for effect though the paint seems to scratch and flake very easily.

 
     
   
  What do you make of this mud-spattered car? Look at the strange roof. It is a standard BA Falcon modified to accept the front and rear suspension of the new Territory AWD. It also incorporated the all-wheel-drive powertrain. The roof, windscreen, seats, instruments and steering wheel were altered to accurately simulate the Territory driving position. This way the dynamics experts were able to evaluate and develop the driving characteristics of the new car without giving away its body design.  
     
 

There were many cut-away components allowing visitors to see what assemblies looked like inside, and also some interactive models to play with.

 
     
   
  This example showed the interior of a manual gear box.  
     
 

 While Rob and I looked through the Ford Museum, Pam was across the road in the Wool Museum which she also found fascinating. Colleen had disappeared to engage in some retail therapy.

It was good to 'catch up' with Rob and Colleen again, albeit only for a few days. On the Friday we both packed up and headed off in opposite directions.

 
     
  Ballarat  
 

Our next stop after Geelong was Ballarat, just a short ninety kilometre hop north west(ish).

 
     
  Begonia Festival  
 

We arrived in Ballarat just in time for the Begonia Festival at the Botanical Gardens. Groan! Since the Little Woman wanted to go, we went. It was a long weekend and the traffic around the Botanical Gardens was quite congested and parking spaces were as rare as hens' teeth. So we decided to return on the Tuesday when all the unfortunate people - yes, like you - would be at work. (Sorry about the long pauses, I'm drinking red wine and eating Cheddar cheese to die for.)

Anyway, on Tuesday we returned and could have parked a hundred cars. The Botanical Gardens were very nice with large trees and statues and fountains and lots of roses and - you know - stuff. But where were all these begonias?

Eventually we did find some beds of begonias; here they are in the picture on the right.

I said, "Very nice, can we go home now?" Apparently we couldn't. So I took some photos of marble statues of pretty maidens watering flowers. Why they needed one boob exposed to water plants defeats me. There was also an avenue of bronze busts (as in head and shoulder sculptures, nothing to do with boobs) of every prime minister of Australia up to, and including, Kevin Thingy.

I tell you what, the mosquitoes in those gardens were large enough to require airways clearance prior to take-off. Herself was untouched but my legs were ravaged. Ravaged, I tell you. When I squashed one the blood spattered everywhere. I anticipated a long and itchy night but, bugger me, the bites had disappeared by bed time.

Back to those begonias, however. Herself found a large conservatory full of tuberous begonias and a woman on the door with her hand out. "We aren't paying $4 each to go in there, are we?" We were.

Well, I was gob-smacked! No, really. These flowers were so big that their stems couldn't support their weight. Every one - and there were thousands - had a wire cradle to support its neck - or whatever the bit of stem below the flower is called. And they were brilliantly coloured and I use that word advisedly. (I don't really know what that expression means but I've always wanted to use it.)

 
     
   
  Carnations? Roses? No, BIG begonias.  
     
   
  Pam 'lends a hand' to emphasise the size of these blooms. Actually she wanted you all to see that wedding ring to
put those wicked rumours to bed, once and for all. Yes, folks, she is married. But to whom?
 
     
   
  Here she models the 'Mad Woman Hat' which she insists on wearing to embarrass me.  
     
  Just one more picture to prove that I wouldn't lie to you. The statue of the maiden, Flora, watering her plants.  
     
   
  Flora, watering her plants. Hussy!