A mystery revealed

While cycling I’ve quite often seen people having these spikes coming out of their bike helmets. Like they’ve attached zip ties to their helmets and the ends are sticking out in all directions. It looks really funny and I’ve been wondering what on earth is up with that.

Today somebody finally told me it’s a magpie safety measure.

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Australia is well known for all kinds of dangerous animals, but I think magpie is one of the more suprising ones. In the spring when they have their breeding season the birds can become quite aggessive while protecting their nests and may swoop down on people walking or cycling by (this I’ve also experienced personally!). The spikes on the helmet are supposed to direct the magpie to attack them instead of going for the person’s ears or neck.

I did some research online and apparently other tricks also include attaching fake eyes to the back of your head, because they almost always attack from behind and the fake eyes are supposed to scare them away 🙂

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Australian Magpie. (Picture by jjron/GFDL 1.2, via Wikimedia Commons)

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Vruuuummm

The Grand Prix weekend is here again. It would be difficult not to notice it by the sounds of the motors echoing all over the city, by the helicopters in the air or the loads of tourists in the streets wearing F1 merchandise.

They already started the preparations and building the track and grandstands etc. weeks ago. I play tennis every week in Albert Park, which is where the race track is located, and usually ride my bike there along the same streets where the F1 cars are driving now. The below picture is from last month, I think this is the finish line in the race.

Finish line under construction

Finish line under construction

And no, I’m not planning to go watch the race. 🙂

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Sphinx

Have you ever seen anything this kitschy? Why, it’s a 15 meter sphinx at the outskirts of a midsize Australian town.

The Sphinx - hotel, restaurant, sportsbar, nightclub, you name it.

The Sphinx – hotel, restaurant, sportsbar, nightclub, you name it.

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Wilsons Promontory

Oops, long time no update! I’ve been a lazy blogger, but trying to catch up now before my next guest arrives and it’s time for some travelling again…

Here are some pictures from my trip to Wilsons Promontory last weekend. It’s a national park a few hour’s drive from Melbourne and I had heard so many people raving about how beautiful it is, that I had to go and see for myself. And wow, was it ever.

We took off from Geelong on Friday after work with a friend and took the ferry over from Queenscliff to Sorrento. The ferry ride was nice, the sea was calm and we had a pod of playful dolphins to look at, swimming beside the ferry and occationally jumping out of the water. Maybe they were even the same ones we saw with Mikko at Christmas!

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We were camping in Venus Bay which is a bit further away, and did a day trip to Wilsons Prom on Saturday. We had been planning on doing a couple of hikes on Saturday, but the day turned out to be so hot that we only did one 8km hike and then happily went to spend the rest of the day relaxing on the beach. In 36°C heat even that felt like a huge accomplishment!

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The trees had been burned by a bush fire a few years earlier

The trees had been burned by a bush fire a few years earlier

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Tongue Point

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Darby river

To the beach!

To the beach!

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Go Jarkko!

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Jarkko Nieminen playing at the Australian Open.

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Happy New Year!

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Huge crowd at Federation Square when we were walking past at around 10.30pm.

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Melbourne fireworks as seen from our terrace

 

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Mornington Peninsula

I had booked us a little cottage in Mornington Peninsula for Christmas, so the day before Christmas Eve we took our rental car and headed towards the Red Hill wine region in Mornington Peninsula. I hadn’t told Mikko where we were going, so I had a blast while he was dying of curiosity! 🙂

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We stopped for lunch at one of the wineries nearby.

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Our cottage came with a pony and an alpaca in the backyard!

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On Christmas Eve we woke up early and drove to Sorrento, where I had booked us a tour for swimming with dolphins and seals. The previous day had been sweltering at 39 degrees, but now it was down to about 24. The water was absolutely freezing even with wet suits on, but we did see some dolphins and they were amazing! There was even a baby dolphin with them! I had bought a new underwater housing for my camera so we got to test it for the first time and even managed to snap some photos of the dolphins in the water.

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Look, look, a baby dolphin!

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Very difficult to take a picture when they move so quick!

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The mother and the baby. You’re not actually allowed to swim with them if they have babies with them, but we didn’t see the baby before we got into the water (the other picture is from afterwards).

After the swim with the dolphins I was too cold to even think of another swim, but Mikko bravely jumped in with the seals as well.

The seals really stank! The smell was horrible when we got near! :)

The seals really stank! The smell was horrible when we got near! 🙂

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After the tour we went to the Peninsula Hot Springs to warm up again. I don’t have any photos from there but it’s a beautiful spa and hot springs centre. The highlight is a pool at the top of a hill with views all around the area.

In the evening we went for dinner at the Linden Tree restaurant near where we were staying. The food was great as were the local wines, too. Afterwards we opened our Christmas presents back at the cottage.

On Christmas day we drove around the peninsula and visited Cape Shanck where there was a lighthouse and pretty spectacular sceneries.

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