Monday, March 19, 2007

Mt Buller Beerfest

After my day of hard riding, I attended the Mt Buller BeerFest which was held practically outside the front door of my hotel in the Village Center. It was a small, intimate affair -- there were only about 100 people on the mountain -- but we still had more than 50 people of all ages.
  • Mountain Goat Hightail Ale: Malty. Rich smooth finish. Low hoppyness. Nice. 85.
  • Jamison Mountain Ale: Darker. Even malty-er. nice finish. Higher alcohol -- maybe like a barley wine. Dark wheatbeer. 88.
  • James Squire Amber: somewhere in between the others. More hops, less malt.
  • Bearings Draft: Lighter, pilsner type. Geelong based. Nice but a little nondescript. 82 at best.
  • Holgate White Ale: Belgian. Banana esthers. White. More hoegarden than hoegarden. 86.
  • Chieftain Amber: Nice. Malty but complex. Interesting finish. Beer drinkers beer.
  • What's Brewing Amber: Nice but not remembersal (?). I might go visit these guys, since they are just down the road from Melbourne in Geelong.
  • Holgate Winter Ale: Porter. Unique in Australia. Nice. Not extremely chocolately but very drinkable w/ a smooth after taste.
The picture below shows the Village Center, the beer tents and the "band."
I think I may have some more beers, but truthfully, I don't think I could remember how to work my Treo after the Winter Ale. I topped the night off with some of my new found mountain bike rider friends at the only pub/restaurant open on the mountain.

Bike Buller

After arriving pretty late on Friday night, I awoke early to catch some breakfast and get up the hill for some biking. Mount Buller repurposes their ski lifts and runs during the summer to be open for mountain bikes. They've paired up with an American manufacturer, Kona, to become one of their approved bike park. While the prices were a bit steep, I decided to hire one of their downhill bikes -- the Kona Stinky. The Stinky is a slightly longer travel, stouter, more downhill oriented bike than my Stumperjumper FSR at home.

Mt Buller has a number of downhill runs, but most of them are pretty advanced. I picked the ABOM run, which was rated intermediate, instead of the International run, which at expert had several jumps and 2 meter drops. This was a wise choice, ABOM was extremely rocky and pretty technical. Unfortunately, half way down I realized that the Aussies reverse their brake levers from Americans (left is back, right is front). Not before going over the handlebars once. But none the worse for wear, I made it down to the village.

After I completed my first run, I decided to hook up with a guide that was leading around another group of riders up from Geelong (near Melbourne). This was cool -- they were worse than I was -- and the guide knew a lot of less downhilly type rides around the mountain and village. This was great since I got to see a lot more of the mountain and get away from the developments. Unfortunately, you still needed to use the chair lift to get back up the mountain (the stinky is a really heavy bike). I believe that I may have used up one of my nine lives here -- I fell off once and felt like I was about to the six other times. This shot is over my shoulder as I went up the lift.

I got in about 7 or 8 runs before calling it a day. All in all, well worth the time and effort.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Morning on Mt Buller

I woke this morning to a scene from my old house in Pacifica: fog rolling over the mountain and through the valleys. When I woke and opened my shades, we were completely fogged in. Five minutes later, it looked like this. You need to click on the photo to see it full size.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Off To The Snow Fields

Due to high hotel demand (the Melbourne F1 race and the FINA swimming world championships are in town this weekend), I have decided to flee to the hills for the weekend. The closest "mountains" to Melbourne is Mount Buller, which is located about 4 hours away by car. Although the drive was an adventure (I really don't drive much and I certainly don't drive on the left side of the road much), I made it up here before nightfall. I was pretty proud that I only drove the wrong side of the road twice.
Mount Buller seems nice so far, but it being low season (it's just getting into the fall here in Australia), there's no one here. When I went down to the pub/restaurant there were only ten other people there -- the waiter told me that was everyone staying in the hotel. That's a little creepy -- almost like "The Shining."
I'll post more news tomorrow -- I am off to mountain bike and attend the beer festival (you knew there was a hook here didn't you?) tomorrow.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Celebrity Sighting #3

I do not know if I am just more observant that I used to be, or I hang out in more glamorous place or I simply travel more often, but I see a lot of celebrities lately. Of course, it could be that celebrities are drawn to me. Then again, I do see most of these people in bars...My latest sighting came last night at the Tank Stream Bar in downtown Sydney. Niall and I had slipped into the trendy bar before most people come and found it empty except for two strange looking blokes hanging out with models. This peaked Niall's interest -- rightly so, it turned out -- and after he came back from the bar, he knew why: it was Simon Pegg and Nick Frost from Shaun of the Dead (Simon above over Niall's shoulder and Nick hiding outside behind the shutter).Apparently, they were in Sydney for the Australian premiere of Hot Fuzz, their new movie, and decided to grab a quick drink before the actual festivities. The bartender said they were actually staying in the hotel.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Third Space Analysis

Although I don't usually link to other site's articles (how many other websites have actual farm animal and tiny car pictures ?), this one did catch my eye:
How Starbucks And WiFi Are Like Movie Theaters And Air Conditioning
I like that they talk about Panera Bread, where I find myself hanging out often times, and comparing their strategy around "third space." I have to agree though, I think Starbucks is more about customer throughput than keeping people hanging around all day.

P.S. Yes, you will hear me using "third space" a lot from now on.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Farm Animals At Breakfast

Goat, originally uploaded by /k.

I forgot to post about this when I uploaded them to Flickr, but they probably need a little bit of explanation. On the last Sunday of my most recent trip to Melbourne, I decided to get up early and get breakfast over in Prahahn. Prahahn is a kinda nice neighborhood in southern Melbourne with a lot of cafes (and loud gay bars, but that's a different story entirely). So I wander over to the Prahahn Market, which is a indoor/outdoor market in the center of the neighborhood. I order my big breakfast (a standard staple of the Aussie breakfast menu) and sit down in the courtyard. And then I hear barking. And whinying. Crap, I thought I was back home. But no. They had a farm animals in a small pen in the courtyard for the kids. Which, although entirely too close to my breakfast, was a lot of fun. You can see the other photos over at my flickr page, but goats, rabbits, chickens, herding dogs and ponies were all represented. The best part of the little show was the herding dogs -- he definitely wasn't amused by the rabbits running around causing trouble. Eventually, he rounded them all up into a little wooden triangle area and kept guard of them for the next hour. I need to teach louie to do that.