What constitutes “news” these days?

I honestly fear for our collective intelligence every time I hop on a “news” site. I regularly scan a few popular sites during my lunch break (or during boring meetings) and every day I am disgusted by what constitutes news.
This morning on news.com.au we have headlines like:

  • “CORPSES HANG FROM TREES”: Super Typhoon bears down on cities. This is a nice change – it is actually NEWS, in spite of the sensationalist headline
  • Sonny Bill Williams‘ new girlfriend. For those not in Australia or New Zealand Sonny Bill Williams is a talented sportsman with strengths in rugby league, rugby union and even boxing. He is celebrated in both Oz and NZ, although I personally question his values – he seems to just follow the money. NOT NEWS.
  • 12 fingered typist can’t get work. Appealing to our curiosity in all things different, this clearly was just an excuse to get a picture of a 6 fingered hand above the fold. The journalism itself is woeful. It’s impossible to ascertain whether the man is an Indian man in India or in Australia. Only that he plans to use his extra digits in the UK.

And even better tonight – JFK’s affairs wins feature article, then we have something else happening to some other rugby league player, another sensational headline about the typhoon tragedy, and of course (model) Megan Gale announcing she is up the duff. Can you believe that this publication lives under the URL news.com.au? It’s shameful. It really should be illegal.

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One of Sydney’s most popular papers, The Sydney Morning Herald, fares just a little better… Tonight we have the green light on Packer’s new casino as the feature, more on Billy Slater (previously mentioned League player), a murder that has been sparked by a love triangle (what else?) and finally something on the rescue effort in the Philippines. The headlines seem a little less sensational (although perhaps the journos were just having a bad day) and the articles generally more parochial due to the local nature of the title. Still, it hardly attacks the issues of today. And to make matters worse, they have now placed a pay wall on the site, so you can read X number of articles per month before you need to pay for the privilege. Fair enough, but where does that leave the general public? Back at news.com.au and their local rags.

Or do I have it wrong? Are the issues of today JFK’s affairs or Megan Gale’s womb?

What hope do we have but the dumbing down of our society when our newspapers publish such rubbish?

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Sunrise from Long Reef Headland

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I mentioned my new found enthusiasm for photography in my last post. My latest adventure was to Long Reef Headland, to take photos of the sunrise over the ocean. Anyone who knows me will understand that this in itself is no mean feat – I am not a morning person AT ALL. So when I came up with the suggestion, my husband was doubtful. Me, get out of my warm bed, pre-dawn, in the middle of winter, to take photos?!? Surely you jest!

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When the alarm went off at 5:45 am, I turned over and told Hubby that we weren’t going anymore. He took it well, asking me if I was sure. We checked the forecast and I dragged my butt out of bed, while my awesome Hubby got the gear together for me. Off we set. And I’m so glad we did.

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It’s so serene at that time of the morning, and the colours in the hour before sunrise are so vivid.

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We even had a soundtrack to enhance the experience – a local guy with a didgeridoo came up and started playing, improvised but perfectly fitting.

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The sunrise itself was quite hard to photograph. There weren’t many clouds to highlight the colours that you’d normally get, and I’m still unsure about what settings will get me the results. Light is my passion in photography, and I think I’ve managed to capture some of that here. I guess I can only keep practising. *Sigh* And I guess that means more pre-dawn alarms going off…

Vivid Sydney 2013

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I am a brand new photography enthusiast. Actually, I lie. I have been into iPhone “photography” (also known as iPhoneography) for a few years, but we recently purchased a real DSLR – a Canon EOS 60D. After a one day photography course I’m in love with it. I’m still no good, but I’m practising!

Here are some shots of Vivid Sydney this year – and my first night shoot. What an awesome program the City of Sydney has put on. From animated light shows with their own sound tracks to interactive light installations along the foreshore – they all fill you with a sense of wonder and joy. It’s kind of like the New Years Fireworks. You’ve seen it all before in various forms, but there is still a buzz when you’re there immersed in it.

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It has drawn thousands of people to the Harbour – scores of locals and tourists alike traipsing about from Walsh Bay through to the Opera House, many carrying their own DSLRs and tripods. Then there was me and the Hubby (my tripod bearer), trying to get my first night shots. And loving it!_MG_0581

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P.S. The Vivid light show is only on the west side of the bridge, unlike the fireworks and almost every other activity they have featuring the bridge. As I had done limited research we ended up at Mrs Macquarie’s chair first off, and got a harbour different shot 🙂

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Cat Adventures – Lovedale Long Lunch

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I’m a massive fan of the weekend away. There’s just nothing like hopping in the car, bags packed and setting off on adventure. Any direction will do – it’s about getting out of the city and really making the most of the weekend.

Hunter Valley VinesThe other weekend we  headed 2 hours north west of Sydney for the beautiful Hunter Valley, and the famous Lovedale Long Lunch. Eight of us set out Friday evening to i villini, the cottage we had rented for the weekend.  The cottage was perfect – 3 bedrooms all with their own ensuites, and a living area complete with two fireplaces. There  was nothing to do but crack open a bottle of red, cheese up some biscuits, crank up some tunes and relax. Before long we were through the 12 bottles we had brought up with us and half a case of beer! True to form we had once again peaked on the first night, and needless to say everyone was slow moving on the Saturday morning… Our only problem was we still had to get through the main event!

After 20 years, the Lovedale Long Lunch organisers have it all sorted. Your $85 ticket gets you your (plastic) wine glass for the day, 2 glasses of wine, 2 meal tickets and a dessert/cheese ticket. All of the wineries involved have food stations, music and seating, and of course plenty of wine! A $25 shuttle ticket gets you unlimited rides between the wineries for the day, so as long as you can get yourself to the first venue  and home again, you’re set.

It was a stunning day – a fresh and warm spring day. We started off at Wandin around lunch time (did I mention that we were slow moving?) which had an reasonable band and a great DJ playing. With the doors opening at 10:30 it was clear that everyone else  had a head start on us. What I hadn’t expected was that people would turn up in costume. There were groups of story book characters, where’s Wallies, flapper girls. You name it – they were there and they were already tipsy!

photo 1After a bite to eat and a few bevvies (which were also relatively slow flowing), we eventually moved on to the next winery, Allendale, which was pretty much the first stop on the shuttle route. After another hour or two there our time was almost up and we needed to find our way back to our pick up point. We arrived back at Wandin with about 20 minutes left of serving time. That of course meant we bought another couple of bottles so we could sit back and watch the end all unfold. By this stage there were a lot of very funny drunks around and they were honestly the best entertainment of the day. People escaping security, people getting walked out by their friends, lots of dirty dancing and many costume crimes.

The girlsBack at our cottage we reflected on an awesome day as we settled back by the fire into another round of cheesy goodness, more wine (although nowhere near as much as we had the previous night!) and a few rounds of poker.

If you get the opportunity, I’d definitely recommend partaking in the Lovedale Long Lunch. It’s a great activity to enjoy with a few mates, a great little weekend escape, and I dare say always an adventure.

Getting out and about in Sydney

Curra MoorThe Hubby and I are making a concerted effort to change our lifestyle. He’d like to be lose a few kilos while I just like the idea of being healthier. We kicked it off in February after a couple of gluttony, with an aim to minimise processed food, carbs and no alcohol (for me anyway). We also started walking at night 2-3 times after dinner just around the neighbourhood. Six weeks later and we plan to continue this new lifestyle. We’ve both gained fitness and lost some weight, although we’ve picked the alcohol back up and relaxed some of the rule a little.Walking has been great for us- we get more time to actually talk to each other rather than just cohabitating the same space. If the hubby happens to have a weekend day off (which is unfortunately rare) we try and get out bushwalking. This Saturday Hubby found a great loop walk at Curra Moor in the Royal National Park. The walk starts off in a coastal bush type environment, decorated with some beautiful angophoras, colourful wild flowers and grass trees. The path then heads to the coast, where you walk cliff side and see some stunning views looking across the Pacific Ocean. The highlight of the walk is definitely the waterfall.

View across the waterfall to the Pacific Ocean

Being at the top means you miss the spectacular drop into the ocean, however the sandstone plateau that preceeds the fall are gorgeous.

These rock pools are so typically AustralianThe walk continues along the coast then loops back in to the car park. All up the ten(nish) km walk took us 2 hours.

After the walk we headed down to beautiful little Bundeena, where we grabbed a sandwich and ate it by the beach. A perfect finish for our little outing.

Sydney has so many beautiful places worth exploring. Time together with the hubby and the calorie burning can become just incidental benefits.

If anyone out there has any good walks I should consider, then do let me know!