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Page 160

Time For A Change

Some tightening up on this web site is well overdue. In the old days, browsers were very tolerant of sloppy code but not very consistent in their interpretation of how a web page should appear. The World Wide Web Consortium - or W3C - is battling to get some conformity so that a correctly designed web page will look and behave the same on any browser.

In December 2011 the most-used browsers, in order of popularity, were:

Browser Name Market Share Comments
Firefox 37.7% Declining
Google Chrome 34.6% Increasing
Internet Explorer 20.2% Declining
Safari 4.2% Steady
Opera 2.5% Steady
All others combined 0.8%  

The source for this table was: www.w3schools.com/browsers/browsers_stats.asp though it must be noted that there are many such tables on the 'net, mostly giving wildly varying figures.

The browser, Netscape Navigator, an early leader, became known as Mozilla after 2006 but is now an 'also ran'.

To be candid, our web site: pete-n-pam.com, has never conformed to standards due to the Webmaster's lack of knowledge and understanding. Webmaster? That's me when I'm big-noting myself. For some time I have received warnings that some of the code I have been using is "deprecated" and may not be recognised by future versions of browsers. Clearly it's time to act or risk losing seven years work and the history of our travels. For the benefit of anyone interested I am now conforming to XHTML 1.0 Strict and CSS Level 2.1. Those are the current standards; HTML5 and CSS Level 3 are under development and will be the future standards.

I decided that, while everything is in a state of flux, perhaps now would be a good time to have a change in style though certainly not in content. While in Tamworth I have been studying an extremely good book on HTML and CSS. Pam bought Head First HTML with CSS and XHTML for my birthday and I've hardly put it down since. It seems an odd title for a book, certainly not your average bedtime reading, but I would recommend it for anyone wanting to learn web page design or perhaps to update their knowledge.

Meanwhile, Back in Tamworth, a Brand New Caravan is Up for Grabs

Caravan manufacturer, Jayco, now seems to be the main sponsor of the Tamworth Country Music Festival. They placed a brand new caravan on Peel Street in the centre of town and, by some convoluted system, ended up with ten people around a table placed next to the caravan at midday on the last day of the Festival. On the table were ten keys, only one of which would open the caravan door.

As luck would have it, our neighbours in the caravan park were selected as one of the ten and as Saturday drew nearer they became increasingly nervous and excited; this caravan was worth over $35,000. Their own 'van, although perfectly fine, was getting on in years and they dearly wanted a better one.

On Saturday Pam suggested we turn up at midday to 'support' them so I took the camera along too. Of course, you've already guessed the ending but bear with me. The press and local radio were there and a crowd had gathered. The contestants were asked to draw numbers from a box to decide the order in which they would pick a key and try it in the lock. Neighbours Debbie and Chris drew number two and waited on tenterhooks while the number one contestant selected a key and tried to unlock the door. It was the wrong key.

Debbie before

The strain on Debbie's face was showing as the moment approached.

Next Debbie picked a key and inserted it into the lock. She turned it one way then the other but the door remained closed. I was standing close by taking pictures of the events and noticed that the door handle flipped out as she turned the key one way then retracted as she turned it the other way. That's how nearly all the newer caravan locks operate, including ours, but Debbie, used to an older model, took out the key in disappointment. Several other people had seen what happened and we were all calling to her at the same time. Confused, she tried the key again and as the handle flipped out somebody lifted it and the door opened!

Debbie after

No sign of strain now. Chris and Debbie after winning the caravan.

Naturally celebrations went on until late that Saturday evening. After 'happy hour' we all congregated for a barbecue and more drinks, then walked to the Oasis Hotel at the park entrance where there was entertainment until midnight.

Where are all the photos of the Country Music Festival?

Good question. The answer is that, having previously been to four or five festivals and showed you numerous pictures of them, I decided enough was enough and spared you this time. In addition, when not enjoying the music or catching up with friends, I've been flat out learning how to write a web page correctly and putting it into practise. Tell you what, it ain't easy. It's a bit like a 400 piece jigsaw puzzle; any single piece is simple enough but it's the order in which they all fit together. To make it harder you have to contend with two different codes simultaneously.

The festival went very well and everyone had a lot of fun, but now it's over for another year. We were lucky with weather which was warm and sunny for most of the week but has now turned feral.

What's Happened to the Sun?

I'm writing this on the second day of February, 2012. According to statistics we should be having an average of 10 hours of sunshine per day; it is midsummer, after all. However, of the sun there's been no glimpse.

Also according to statistics, we should expect 67mm of rainfall for the whole month of February. We're halfway through the second day and have had 133mm and it hasn't stopped yet. The level of the Peel River has risen alarmingly in the last twelve hours . . . and we're just three metres from where the bank drops almost vertically to the brown, swirling water. Logs and other debris are rushing past, twirling and dipping in the strong currents.

Peel high

The Peel River, hopefully at its peak. The blue 200 litre drum caught on the opposite bank wasn't there yesterday.

The picture doesn't look as impressive as it might because, along this stretch, the river has eroded its bed vertically into a narrow channel, about fifteen metres (fifty feet) below the level of the surrounding meadows which means it doesn't burst its banks until flooding is extreme elsewhere. The speed of the flow, however, and the churning water are quite scary when you stand right above it and wonder whether there's further erosion taking place under your feet. One still photo can't really show all that that though the half-submerged trees might give you a clue.

Back to our Wandering

Plan

Our planned route to take us to the Autumn Festival in Bright, Victoria,
taking in seven towns we haven't stayed at before.

Our time in Tamworth at an end, we packed up and 'hit the road' on a sunny Sunday morning, heading south west(ish) en route to Porepunkah in the State of Victoria via the following New South Wales towns at which, Temora excepted, we have never previously stayed.

  • Narromine
  • Cowra
  • Young
  • Temora
  • Narrandera
  • Hay
  • Deniliquin, and
  • Chiltern

This meandering route, involving 1,426 kilometres of towing, will take us to Porepunkah in time for the magical Bright Autumn Festival.

Narromine

As it transpired, the only caravan park in Narromine is at the airfield and what a lovely little park it is. The park owner, Nita, gave us a really warm welcome and we were free to select any vacant site in the green and grassy park. The airfield has a gliding club, aero club, ultralight club and an aviation museum.

As luck would have it the gliding club holds a barbecue every Sunday evening to which all in the caravan park are invited. Hearing that they also have a bar, we decided to attend. Of the twenty or so people there, only a quarter were gliding people though most seemed to be aviators. It was an interesting and friendly evening during which I spent a lot of time talking to a remarkable character called Barry Black (aged 84) who still flies his own aircraft. This man, when a boy, actually flew with the one and only Sir Charles Kingsford Smith.

Smithy's last, fatal flight in Lady Southern Cross on 8th November 1935 was made in the company of his good friend and co-pilot/mechanic, Tommy Pethybridge. Neither man was ever seen again. Tommy Pethybridge was a third cousin of Nita, the owner of this caravan park.

As in Temora, there is an aviation park adjoining the large airfield where each block of land has both a home and a hangar. We heard that David Lowy, the founder and president of the wonderful Temora Aviation Museum, had approached the Narromine Council to base his museum here but was knocked back! Well, their loss is Temora's gain and we'll be back there next month.

On the Monday morning, all but one of the few caravans on the park departed. Not, however, before some ardent God-botherers had trapped Pam on her way back from the shower block and launched into their spiel complete with the usual booklet. It seems that they travel Australia pestering people with their beliefs. They received short shrift from Pam and had their pamphlet handed back. The nerve of the people!

We visited the Aviation Museum - three minutes walk from the caravan - on Monday afternoon. It differs greatly from the Temora museum in that it has no aircraft in the building, concentrating more on the history of aviation at Narromine and the personalities involved. Many thousands of pilots learned to fly here, from military pilots in Tiger Moths during WWII to Qantas pilots converting to Lockheed Super Constellations, Douglas DC-4s and British Aerospace 125s.

I heard a funny story about a military flying instructor who taught WWII student pilots to fly Tiger Moths. When he was satisfied his student was sufficiently competent, during flight he would remove his control column in the rear cockpit, show it to his student and throw it overboard. The student would know that whether they lived or died depended on him alone. Word got around about this action by the instructor and next time he showed his control stick to a student and threw it overboard, the student promptly held up a control stick that he had sneaked aboard and threw that over the side too! The instructor's reaction and the subsequent condition of his underwear isn't recorded.

Towards the end of WWII the RAF sent out twenty five DeHavilland Mosquitos to attack Japanese shipping in the Pacific. They were based here, in Narromine. When the war ended they became surplus to requirements and were sold off, mainly to local farmers. Today, not one remains (which is more than you can say about the little critters after which those aircraft were named). One farmer had bought a Mosquito fuselage to house his chickens. He later bought two Rolls Royce Merlin V12 engines for £10 each though only God knows why! Having one Merlin left he offered it to the Museum. It was cleaned up, painted and is now on display.

Having said that there are no aircraft in the museum building, there are a few stored in a hangar a few minutes walk away, awaiting the expansion of the Museum building. These include a CAC (Avon) Sabre without an engine, a pristine Tiger Moth, a Venture glider, a replica of the Wright Flyer and one or two more. Of these, the Wright Flyer is the most interesting.

Wright Flyer

The replica of the 1903 Wright Brothers Flyer. Unfortunately, obtaining a good photograph in a crowded hangar was a non-starter. There is a nice picture of this aircraft flying at Narromine on the web. Go to http://www.abpic.co.uk/photo/1221382/. I dithered over reproducing it here but it's smothered in copyright.

Flyer Powerplant

The replica's engine (at the back on the photo) is a four cylinder car engine as fitted to the British Hillman Imp many years ago. The two chains drive the propellers. In the original design, one chain was crossed to reverse the direction of one propeller but the Civil Aviation Safety Authority drew the line at that and insisted on a gear box (front of the photo) in the replica.

I was more than a little interested in the Venture glider as it closely resembles the old Slingsby T21 in which I received instruction back in 1959. But that's a whole different story. The seating was side-by-side. I don't know if it was sitting off centre or the short-tempered and thoroughly obnoxious instructor by my side but I never did get the hang of that old kite.

Glider

The world's only Hawkridge Venture glider, built in Dubbo in 1953, from plans supplied by Hawkridge (U.K.). The only other Venture, built by Hawkridge in England, crashed in 1962. The Venture closely resembles the Slingsby T21, featuring a side-by-side open cockpit.

Now, just to get away from aeroplanes, here's a photo I took out at the Chaffey Dam near Tamworth a week or two back.

water scooter

These two certainly made a mess of a lovely, placid lake surface.

Footnote: This re-working of Page 160 was completed on 4 April 2013. It conforms to HTML5 and CSS level 3.