Well I suppose even Daleks feel the cold and it was quite cold the night I went to the QVMAG museum in Launceston to see the dinosaurs. After we had seen them we wandered around for a bit before deciding to go and look at Jupiter and Saturn through the huge telescopes on the lawns outside. On our way we passed this fellow rugged up for a cold night also. I thought he should have had a glove for his plunger too.
While I was on holidays with my friend Phillip we decided that we would go to the Queen Victoria Museum in Launceston to see the dinosaur display. We had seen a poster about it on a wall while we were shopping in Launceston one afternoon. When I told Vanda about our plans she mentioned that they were having some special night openings that we might enjoy. This appealed to us as we like going out at night and let’s face it there isn’t much to do anymore unless you like current movies or fine dining. Phillip and I are not into either so it’s a band if we are fortunate enough to find one or a pub meal and the pokies. We embraced the chance to do something out of the ordinary.
Years ago now we had wanted to see a display of dinosaurs and jumped into our car to go to one we thought was in a place called Mount Monster. It was a long drive and we did not see any signs pointed towards the dinosaur park we had heard about. We drove on several kilometres and no dinos to be seen anywhere. We would have been happy with just one in the end but we had to abandon the idea entirely. After driving what must have been close to one hundred kms from Adelaide it suddenly hit me that they had really meant Mount Monster was some ruddy great hill and not a dino park at all like Phillip had been told by some friends. Well we had a nice drive and a laugh about it at least. The day was not wasted. So fast forward nearly thirty years and we finally got to see some.
Well I have to say we were both very impressed. The dinos moved and roared and really looked authentic. They even blinked. They had done a wonderful job in creating them and making them move. Below is a slide show of the dinosaurs. I apologise for not knowing the correct names of the dinos. I did not write them down.
There was a lot more going on at the museum apart from the dinosaur display. There were telescopes outside and we were able to view Jupiter and Saturn. I was amazed that I could actually see the rings around Saturn when it was billions of miles away. The astronomers said they were hobbyists and were only too happy to answer any questions put to them about their interest. It was a full moon too so we were treated to the beauty of the moon as well since it was a very clear night. It was freezing queueing for the telescopes so we went to the cafe inside the museum afterwards and treated ourselves to hot chocolate and cake.
Other things going on were lectures on the stars and science and planetarium shows. I would have loved to have seen the Apollo 11 display but it was not on that night and since Launceston was 113 km from my house I did not want to drive back again as we had already been there for shopping and the casino. I should say that all of this was for National Science Week and was well worth the long drive there and back. Below are some images of the program I saved from the event for anyone who would like to see what else was on at the museum during National Science Week last in August of this year. I think you can just about read the little writing on the program.
One day during our holidays Phillip and I visited Reliquaire which is a very interesting gift shop in Latrobe Tasmania. Reliquaire sells a very good range of gifts, toys and home decor items and we were surprised at the size of the store. It was huge and even had a cosy coffee shop tucked away in the back. There were some surprises to captivate adults as well as children in the way of displays. I took several photos of these and plan to show them to you today as well as giving you the link to their website. Those of you visiting Tasmania in the future might like to visit this fantastic shop. It is well worth your while no matter your age because you are sure to be thrilled with what you find. Latrobe is an easy drive from most places and only a short distance from Launceston. In fact we are lucky to still have this store as it burned down only a few years ago and has arisen from the ashes. It is as good as I remember it being and Phillip and I really enjoyed our visit there.
These are just a few snaps I took. They had all sorts of stuff including stuff from Dr Who, Harry Potter, Alice in Wonderland etc. It’s well worth the look and Latrobe is a lovely town to visit. Reliquaire is on Facebook for those who are into social media so check it out soon. Thanks for reading my post today.
Today my friend Phillip and I decided to go to Willow Court. Those of you who visit our site regularly might remember my post featuring old cars for sale there. They are mostly very old cars and trucks largely in poor condition. I call it the car graveyard as the cars are wrecked but people buy them for parts or to fix up I guess. As there were a lot of different cars I hadn’t seen there I decided to get a few photos. Among them was a big surprise. The sign on this bus said it was the original AC DC tour bus from 1973. I was very surprised and took several photos and here they are.
I’m not sure if Angus would find this very comfy to travel in now. It was full of junk and most of the seats had been pulled out. It really would be a long way to the shop to buy a sausage roll in this old bus. Still quite exciting to find it at Willow Court. Compared with the other cars, trucks and buses this one was in great shape. I was pleased since it was the AC DC bus. It’s part of rock and roll history.
A site called Tygpress.com has been harvesting blogs from many WordPress bloggers and publishing them on the site. There is very little that can be done to stop this sort of behaviour but blogger Fandango has come up with this badge which can be inserted into a post to make it less attractive to these people. Fandango is happy to share the badge with anyone who wants to use it.
With all of the unauthorized harvesting of our posts that is going on at tygpress.com and seemingly not much that can be done to stop it, I created this badge that I will attach to all of my blog posts going forward.Please feel free to grab this image and post it on your blog. By doing so, this image should show up on your posts that have been stolen by tygpress.
In a previous post about the election, I mentioned the people you see at the polling place handing out How-to-Vote cards. What kind of people give up their Saturday to do this seemingly boring and thankless job?
A long time ago, in a suburb far, far away from here, I was one of those people. I can’t recall exactly when I first did it but it would have been some time in the 1980s and as surprising as it may seem today I did it for the Liberal Party. I was a Liberal voter in those days and for a few years even a member of the party. In my defence, they were not such a right-wing party then as they are today.
I think that the first time I helped out was outside of my own electorate, the mother of a friend of mine was involved in the party and she asked or maybe I offered to help out on election day. Prior to 1984, the names of political parties did not appear on ballot papers so it actually was useful to have a card to look at if you were not certain who some of the candidates were.
I have to admit I was a bit apprehensive about it the first time I went but I found that it was mostly a positive experience every time I did it and not always for the reason you might expect.
It was quite interesting to see how people would react as they arrived at the polling place. Some made it quite obvious who they were voting for or who they were not voting for by their treatment of the volunteers. Some would very pointedly refuse to take a card from one party or make a big deal of taking one from another. Others would hurry past trying not to make eye contact with any of us. Some people would take a card from everyone, either to be polite or so there would be no clue to their intentions, while others would politely refuse, saying that they had brought one from home or that they already knew how they were voting. The vast majority of them were civil, at least in my experience. I don’t know if other volunteers had people who were rude to them. I daresay it did happen. Although people were not as waste conscious back then quite a few did come back to us after voting and return the cards to be reused rather than throwing them away.
During the 1990s I worked at my local polling booth in Hallett Cove a couple of times. That was always interesting because I would see people I knew. I never made a big issue of my political leanings so probably seeing me there wearing blue was the first time some of them knew which way I voted. The only negative experience from those years was actually not at the polls but when I was letterbox dropping for a local candidate that David and I knew quite well. A workmate of David’s who lived near us commented that he was surprised that David let me volunteer for the Liberal party. I was more offended that he thought that my husband had a right to tell me who I should support. David put him straight about that anyway.
One of the things that I did not expect was that the volunteers who were working for the different candidates would get along so well together. The two larger parties usually had a team of volunteers that changed throughout the day but the smaller ones often only had one or two people. Sometimes when those people took a break they would leave their box of voting cards unattended but one of the volunteers from the other parties would nearly always point it out to incoming voters in case they wanted one.
It was a friendly atmosphere, a bit of good-natured banter but also some good discussions between opposing factions which never got nasty. I enjoyed listening in on those. One of my favourite memories is from that first time. It was a wet miserable day and a couple of the people handing out the Labor cards decided to get some hot chips which they shared with my friend and me. Maybe it was because we were young but it was a nice gesture.
I found this photo online showing a group shot of volunteers from each party at a Victorian polling place during the 2016 election so it seems that it’s not so uncommon even today.
At the end of the day, you hoped your candidate would win but aside from the feeling of being a part of something I also felt hopeful that if we, the rank and file, could see the other’s point of view then maybe the politicians could as well. Some do, there are politicians who will put party politics aside to work for the greater good but sadly these days not as much as they should.
I thought that as a lot of people who read this blog live outside Australia it might be interesting to know how our voting process works. If this sort of thing bores you tears feel free not to read it.
With our federal election only three weeks away the political material has started to land in the letterbox. Of course, we’ve been deluged with advertising on television and on the internet for some time and in the case of the United Australia Party, long before the election was even called.
Today’s haul was a flyer from the local Labor candidate, an application for a postal vote courtesy of the Liberal candidate and a letter from the Australian Electoral Commission to remind me of when and how to vote. This one is actually useful, not for me because I know all this already but for new voters, it has a helpful explanation of what happens when you go to the polls and how to fill out the ballot papers correctly.
I did want to find out where the local polling place would be, it is usually at the Geeveston Primary School. In fact when the election was announced the first thing that we Op Shop volunteers discussed was having the shop open on election day. Who doesn’t love a captive audience? Occasionally the polling place is at the community hall instead but I was able to check on the AEC website. The school has better parking and it’s always available on a Saturday, the day we vote.
The letter has a step by step guide to what happens from when voters arrive at the polling place. First, it says that you may be approached by representatives of the various candidates who will offer to give you How-To-Vote cards. It goes on to say that nobody is obliged to take these or follow the instructions on them. In fact, there is a rule that no canvassing is allowed within six metres of the entrance to the polling place. That means no signs, buttons or badges are permitted in that area and that the canvassers must make sure that they are the proper distance from the entrance. When they go inside to the polling booths they have to remove any party insignia they may be wearing, or cover it up if it’s a T-Shirt I guess. It doesn’t mention it in the letter but once you have negotiated the political canvassers you may have the opportunity to buy a sausage on a slice of bread, a cake or any other kind of fundraising item that local community groups may be selling.
Once inside the building the first thing that happens is that you have your name and address checked off by workers from the AEC. They will then ask if you have voted previously in this election. That always used to amuse me when I arrived to vote at 8am when the polls opened but these days as so many more people vote early it’s a valid question. I remember how the workers would search for our names in great big books. I’d always have to spell my first name out as it is unusual and there are two or three different ways of spelling my surname too. I think that the last time I voted they had tablets. Once this has been done they will give you your ballot papers. In this case a big white one for the Senate or Upper House and a smaller green one for the House of Representatives, the lower house. If you are lucky there will be empty booths and you won’t have to wait. I guess many countries have these cardboard booths for privacy. Then the real fun begins as you fill out your ballot papers. Although voting is compulsory in Australia technically once your name has been checked off the electoral rolls you are considered to have cast your vote. If you really don’t want to vote you could leave your papers blank or write some slogan on them making them invalid and you won’t get into trouble. It’s a secret ballot, who would know? Still, as I always say, if you can’t be bothered to vote you have no right to complain about the outcome. So go ahead and fill out those papers.
Australia has a preferential voting system but it differs from that of other countries. The system works like this.
The essence of preferential voting is that voters number candidates on the ballot paper in a rank order of choice. You put the number 1 next to your first choice candidate, 2 next to your second choice, and so on. If your first choice candidate is not elected and no candidate receives half of the vote, your vote may be re-examined for its next preference. The point of the system is to elect the most preferred candidate, to choose the candidate that can build an absolute majority of support in the electorate rather than the simple majority required under first past the post voting.
If you are interested in such things I’ll include a couple of links at the end of this post explaining the history of our system and how it compares with some other countries. Parties do deals with other parties to allocate preferences but as stated you don’t have to follow the instructions on any party’s How-to-Vote card, it’s perfectly OK to number the boxes in any order you wish and still valid as long as you number every box on the green paper and the correct number on the white one.
The Senate system is a little different as you can choose to vote “above the line” or “below the line”. Each state has twelve Senators and the two territories the ACT and NT have two each. Senators are elected for a fixed six-year term so normally you are only voting for half of them at any one time. Occasionally, in certain circumstances, the whole Senate is dissolved early, this is called a double dissolution. That means that the Senate ballot paper has a lot more names on it as each party will nominate multiple candidates plus there are more minor parties and independents who run for the Senate. Voting above the line means that all you have to do is number the parties in the order you prefer. If you vote below the line you are voting for individual candidates. You have more control over where your preferences go but you will have to number a lot more boxes, the sample I received specified a minimum of twelve boxes must be numbered. Of course, you are free to number the lot if you like. I usually do. The 2016 federal election was a double dissolution election and it was the biggest ballot paper I had ever seen. I think there were about 58 names on it. I think that in NSW and Victoria they had even more.
Another fun fact and again I don’t know if this happens elsewhere, the names on the ballot papers are not in alphabetical order but decided by random draw.
Lastly, if you can’t make it to the polling place on election day there are several options. You are allowed to vote outside your own electorate if you are away from home. You go to a polling place and ask for an absent vote, I don’t know if that is the right name for it. In 1990 a federal election was called just before David and I went overseas. We went to Australia House in London to cast our votes. I am not sure if you can still do that though. Postal votes have been around for a very long time too, but increasingly people are able to go to a pre-polling place and cast their vote before the election. This used to be just for people who might be away or in hospital on election day but although you are required to give a reason why you need to vote early the AEC does not really seem to check. On the other hand, if you forget to vote you will get a “Please explain” letter from them and if they don’t like your excuse you could receive a fine.
The AEC also visits hospitals and nursing homes allowing people to cast their vote there if attending a polling place is not an option. This is also helpful for staff in these places who may find it difficult to get to the polls in time.
So for those of you who have a different method of voting or maybe have never exercised your right to vote that’s how we do it Aussie style.