Humffray Street Walk

Humffray Street is named after one of the leading lights of the Ballarat Reform League which played a key role in the politics on the Ballarat diggings in 1854. His street is one of the main entrance ways into Ballarat if you are coming from Dayleford way or coming off the freeway that bypasses Ballarat to the north so there is a fair amount of traffic on it at peak periods (what passed for peak in Ballarat).

It is usually an interesting but relatively short walk; leaving by the back gate and heading up Barmoral Drive. This time, however, I decided to take a peek into the little court that runs off to the right from the roundabout. I’ve walked past it hundreds of times but never thought to have a look in there. It is a pretty little corner with little cottages, but all the architecture is of the same vintage so it is not visually interesting.

From the entrance to Balmoral Drive we head up to Victoria Street, pass under the railway bridge (seeing the train running in to the Ballarat Station) and then up Water Street a short distance to the Caledonian Primary School on the corner with Thompson Street and up it to Humffray Street with the church on the right hand corner.

Usually I turn left and walk down to Russell Park, down Stawell Street North, over the footbridge and home. This time, however, with my camera in my hand, I thought I’d turn right and walk up to the Brown Hill shops which were, so I thought, not too far up the road. I was wrong, it is a fair walk. By the time I’d got that far I thought I might as well go all the way to take a photo of the freeway intersection where it crosses over Water Street. After that, it was simply a matter of walking back along Humffray Street to Russell Park, turning into Stawell Street and heading for the footbridge. At this point the battery in my camera ran out of power again. I enjoy looking over the houses on the street to the north to the hills and landscape beyond, and some of the photos reflect that.

The additional walk turned out to be quite interesting, taking in the Brown Hill pub, the Brown Hill swimming pool (which gets mentioned in the news occasionally when the council wants to close it) and the Brown Hill Reserve. I’ve driven past these landmarks a few times before but never had the opportunity to look at them in a more leisurely fashion. I also crossed the Warrenheip Creek, which I had not known of before. As I walked back along the street I saw that there is a path alongside the creek heading north. Had I had a map with me I might have taken it because I later found that it goes only a short distance before linking up with the path that goes alongside the Yarrowee Creek which then flown down to central Ballarat. This path would lead down to the bridge over the creek in Stawell Street and then continue along beside the creek on a walk that I was planning to photograph on a later walk. On another occasion, perhaps. (I’m also told that there is a further walk along Yorrowee Creek that follows its course up towards and under the freeway, which sounds interesting but further than I care to walk in the morning.)

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Specimen Vale Creek and Warrenheip Gully Walk

This is perhaps the most picturesque walks in East Ballarat. It follows the valley of the Specimen Vale Creek down to Main Road and then back up the Warrenheip Gully, with a short diversion to York Street to see where that walking track led.  The Warrenheip Gully track ends with a fence, probably the boundary of the Wildlife Park, so I finished off by walking up to Eureka Street, down to Stawell Street, and home. The walk goes between the three main east-west roads in the area; Victoria Street, Eureka Street and York Street which are on the ridges that define the two valleys.

On a normal walking day I would cut across using one of the intersecting streets, usually Queen, Ottway or King Streets, to shorten the walk to the free time I have, and it is rare that I would carry out the entire walk in one go. On this occasion, however, the early morning weather was very pleasant and I wanted to encompass the pleasure of these two valleys in one occasion. There is, as usual, a variety of vistas and architectural styles, reflecting the diverse history of this area since around, I would guess, the 1880s.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

A Tale of Two Kittens (and lost parts)

We’ve let monsters into our house. Not only are they monsters of the usual kind, they are model kit eating monsters.

Last year I decided that it was about time I came to grips with this new (for me) acrylic paint. Having been put off by the first generation of acrylic modelling paints back in the 1990s I’ve stuck to enamels and been more than happy with the Modelmaster range. However, they are no longer available in Australia, and you wouldn’t even wash your dog in Humbrol or Revell paint these days, so it was time to bite the bullet. Following the advice of some of our MoB master modellers I bought a couple of sets of this acrylic paint, one of them being the AK Interactive Imperial Japanese Navy set.

Having paint for Japanese Pacific War aircraft implies making some models of Imperial Japanese Navy aircraft and that led me to make a couple of Aichi dive bombers. To say that I was not happy with the results would be an understatement. After the consistency and paint density of Modelmaster enamels that I’ve been using for decades, spraying this new plastic paint was like airbrushing with dishwater. However, having no other option, I battled on. Part of the problem lay, I think, in my trusty Badger Patriot airbrush with it’s .5mm nozzle. I started getting more reliable results after I bought and started using the new Badger Xtreme Patriot which has, so I am told, a .3mm tip. But that’s not the point of this story.

For seventeen years Valma and I shared our home with two Devon Rex cats who both died earlier in 2018. Having got used to the patter of paws around the house we bought ourselves two more Devon Rex kittens, a brother and sister born on 1August. They arrived in our home in mid October and immediately took control of affairs, as cats are supposed to do. What I didn’t realize is that while cats naturally train their servants into doing what they want when they want it, humans have to train cats in the ways of model making. I forgot this, having trained our previous cats years ago, and paid for it.

cats a

At about the time our new kittens arrived I opened the box of the Anigrand 1/144 Nakajima G5N kit. As is the tradition with Anigrand 1/144 kits, the main kits comes with three ‘bonus’ kits, in this case the Aichi E16A, the Kawasaki Ki-78 and the Yokosuka R2Y. They are not the most detailed 1/144 kits you will find but they are the only ones in that scale and interesting little aircraft. They are also not terribly difficult to make with not an overabundance of parts but they make up into reasonable replicas of the aircraft they represent. There are much better kits of all these aircraft in 1/72 and if you are looking for more lavish detailing and greater accuracy, you should go in that direction, but since I’d paid good money for the kit I decided to put together the bonus kits too, it seemed a better option than tossing them into the bin.

cats b

cats c

Let us, for the sake of propriety and good taste, pass over the part of the process in which I struggled with painting the models. Suffice it to say that it involved a great deal of harsh language and threats of instant expulsion to the rubbish bin if things did not improve next time. (They rarely did.)

I began to first notice my monster problem when I wanted to touch up the underside grey on a couple of the models after some terrible trouble with peeling paint when I removed some of the masking. I had used AK-2061 which is a kind of sickly grey colour but when I went to get the bottle, it wasn’t there. Where had I put it? It wasn’t in the area where I do my modelling and it wasn’t in the garage where I have my painting booth set up. Had it fallen into any of the rubbish bins? No, it had not, I could say with certainty after that unpleasant exercise. After a thorough search of all the likely areas of the house I was certain that I had not misplaced it but it was still nowhere to be seen. Taking the easy option, I decided to simply order another bottle of AK-2061, but it was out of stock at BNA and a couple of other online modelling shops I tried. There was no option for it but to put the paint on-back order with BNA and wait, patiently.

The problem solved itself a couple of weeks later when I was crawling around on the floor looking for something the carpet monster had eaten. There was the bottle of paint rolled up against the wall under the bed.

You know what they say about cats, that they are proof the world is not flat. If it was they would have pushed everything off it by now. No doubt little cat paws had pushed the bottle off my table onto the floor and then the Terrible Twins had entertained themselves pushing it to somewhere where they expected I would never find it. They failed that time, but foiled me with their next escapade.

cats d

With the paint back in my possession the project to complete these four models continued. The first to be finished was the Ki-78, a simple enough paint job made easier by using the new AK Xtreme Metal range which is a lacquer, and I’m happy with lacquers so there was little trauma with this one. Next was the Yokosuka R2Y which is an interesting aeroplane, with two engines buried in the fuselage driving a six bladed propeller in the nose. Making the propeller was a challenge, getting the six tiny blades to line up properly using super glue is not something that soothes the nerves. But it went okay and I was quite proud of that. The airframe was ready to be completed and all I had to do was attach the propeller and the job was done. But, it had disappeared! It was there one minute and gone the next, never to be seen again. The only thing that had happened between when it was there and when it wasn’t was a visit by one of the kittens. Either the monster had decided that the propeller looked interesting enough to eat, or cats have the secret super power of being able to make things disappear. Either way, I had a perfectly acceptable model of a R2Y and no propeller. It was far too complex for me to scratch build so into the bin the model went, and a lesson was learned, I thought.

cats e

What was the lesson? That kittens and tiny plastic parts seem to attract each other, but I don’t think that this has anything to do with Newtonian physics. More likely, little cat eyes are drawn to things that are smaller than they are and that little cat mouths like clasping them. A day or two later, when I was about to finish the E16A, one of the kitten wandered over to look at what I was doing and had the model in its mouth and was heading off with it to its lair before I caught it, just in time.

Eternal vigilance has become my catchcry now that the two little monsters are here. I swear that I was gone from the room for only a minute or two; when I left there were four propeller waiting to be attached to the G5N and when I returned there were only three. Fortunately for the monsters, however, it hadn’t gotten far and was lying in the carpet nearby with two of the blades still attached. I gathered up the kittens, marched them to the spot of their crime and told them that there is nothing in the laws of physics to make a perfectly normal model propeller jump from a table onto a floor and for one if its blades to disappear. They looked at me blankly; ‘What’s physics?’ I could see them thinking.

I have spoken severely to the kittens about their bad habits but they ignore me. Instead, they look up at me with their big soulful eyes and say, telepathically, ‘Not us, we wouldn’t do anything naughty’. I don’t believe them. I’ve also interrogated them about what happened to that small sheet of decals I left on my work table for the Skywest Fokker 50 I’m working on. It is out of print and rare but, again telepathically, they declare their innocence. I expect to find it, half chewed, tucked away in some hidden corner of the house many years from now.

I’ve taken steps to minimize the effects of our new monsters bad habits but, what can I do. They look so adorable, and innocent.

Three months of scale models – November to January 2019

It’s been a while since I’ve had time to put photos of some of my most recent models here, so now it’s time to catch up. For some reason not clear to me they are almost all in 1/144 scale.

Let’s start with the Anigrand kit of the Nakajima G5N2, a fully resin kit which means it’s somewhat more challenging than your ordinary polystyrene injection moulded kit. This was, so I read, a Japanese adaption of the Douglas DC-4E which was too big for American airlines to be interested in, so it went to Japan where it was used as the basis for a design of a heavy bomber. One of these days I will put this along a similarly scaled Boeing B-17 and I’m sure they G5N will dwarf the B-17. It was not a success, only a handful were made and they were used to carry cargo.

G5N2 aG5N2 b

Anigrand 1/144 kits come with three ‘bonus’ kits, usually of subjects related in some way to the big kit. In this case only two of these tiny models survived because our cats made off with a major component of the third and my modelling skills are not sufficient to make a replacement, so it had to go in the bin. There are kits of the two surviving models available in 1/72 and I’d recommend making those if you want to end up with something that looks a bit more than alright.

Aichi E16A

E16A aE16A b

Kawasaki Ki-78

Ki78 aKi78 b

Next is a couple of Fokkers. The Fokker F-27-500 is the Eastern Express kit which is, I think, marginally better than the Welsh Models kit of the F-27-500. Decals are by Hawkeye but in the decal sheet the bands down the sides of the fuselage are a few millimeters shorter than they need to be for the Eastern Express kit. This caused only a slight problem and Hawkeye sent me some more decals to solve the problem when I mentioned it.

F-27 aF-27 b

Both Welsh Models and Eastern Express make a kit of the Fokker 50, the follow-up to the F-27 and looking remarkably like it. I chose the Eastern Express kit because the detailing is slightly better than on the Welsh Models kit but the Southern Skies decals for a Skywest Fokker 50 were designed – as I later found out – for the Welsh Models kit, which caused no end of grief when it came to trying to fit the decals. This, and the fact that I misplaced the decal sheet, caused all kinds of trouble in getting this model finished.

Fokker 50 aFokker 50 b

F-Rsin make a very extensive range of resin kits of airliners you’ve never heard of, most of them French. (They also make some injection moulded kits about which I chose to say very little.) This Potez 621 is a delicate little piece of resin moulding in only a few parts, and the ribbing on the wings and fuselage means it has to be assembled with a minimum of handling to preserve the detail. The decal sheet comes with blue side panels for the fuselage but they are very translucent so it is best to paint them on instead. This causes some other difficulties, but they are not impossible to overcome.

Potez 621 aPotez 621 b

I’ve been badgering Peter of Hawkeye decals for a long time for some decals for an IPEC Armstrong Whitworth Argosy. Just after Christmas he sent me a proof set of the decals and instructions which I’ve now used. The decal set is excellent and well researched and will be available in 1/144, and 1/72 for the new Mach 2 kit. I had the option of making this 1/144 Argosy using either the Welsh Models or the Mikro-Mir kits and I chose the Welsh Models kit because the other kit seemed over engineered to me and I thought the Welsh Models kit would be easier to make. This was partly true, but I’m not sure that I made the right decision. I’m also fairly certain that the yellow I chose for this model is too deep in shade, though you can never be sure unless you have a look at the real thing, and there are none of them left.

Argosy aArgosy b

Moving up to the larger scale 1/72, here’s the Fujimi Aichi D3A2 using Rising Sun decals. It is a fairly straight forward kit to make but I am not a great fan of acrylic paints so I’m not happy with the final appearance of this model. Hopefully the new Taimya range of lacquers will have some good IJA and IJN colours that I can use if I ever get the urge to make more Japanese aircraft of the Pacific War era.

D3A2 aD3A2 b

Here are some other models that I made earlier and took to this month’s club meeting:

Real Space 1/144 Long March 2F Shenzhou

Long March a

RPM 1/72 Hotichkiss H39

Hotchkiss H39 bHotchkiss H39

Sparrow Castings 1/72 Renault R40

Renault R40 aRenault R40 b

Trumpeter 1/72 BAC Lightning F2A of 19 Squadron RAF

Lightning F2A aLightning F2A b

Scott Parade and Victoria Street Walk

This walk is a combination of a couple of paths I normally take. But since my camera battery went flat last time just as we were approaching Victoria Street I thought I’d continue the walk along Scott Parade as far as I normally go, and then come back along Victoria Street rather than along the Specimen Vale Creek path.

I started along the path that runs on the other side of the railway line from Scott Parade, and crossed over at the road and foot bridges at Queen Street that I’d just reached last time.

That path starts with the Bunny Track that crosses the Specimen Vale Creek path just before it comes to an end at Stawell Street. It is the alignment of an old railway track which used to run, so I’ve heard, down to Bunninyong, but certainly to somewhere south of Ballarat. All that is left now is part of the alignment from Eureka Street through to the railway line where it once linked in to the main line. I don’t know if there was once a bridge for Victoria Street over the line, the two footbridges over where the line used to be suggest that there might have been one, but it seems that if there was a structure there it has been replaced by the tunnel which is a much more recent construction. In either case, the walk along the alignment up to the railway line is very pleasant.

Just before we get to Queen Street there is an old public school building which seems to have been taken over for some other purpose these days and, on the railway side, the Ballarat Community Garden which is full of growing vegetation, the occasional person and some chooks.

The walk along Scott Parade continues along much as before, and runs all the way to Humffray Street North, past the old East Ballarat Station and some old and rusting locomotives and rolling stock, but the King Street footbridge is about the limit of my range on foot these days. However, since we were so close to the Bakery Hill shops I thought I’d take a quick look at them, and perhaps breakfast at Hungry Jacks.

Victoria Street, being the first entrance to Ballarat from the Melbourne direction, is suitably grand. Closer to the city we have schools on both of the road, St Alapius and Sisters of Mercy, which tells you something about the early days of Ballarat when Ballarat East was the poor part of town, in comparison to the much more substantial western end of the city. The catholic schools and church are in east Ballarat (although there is also St Pats up in the west). However, from the perspective of a person wandering around the area on foot, Ballarat East is much more interesting than the western end of the town.

Crossing over Victoria Street at Queen Street we come to one of the city’s famous fish and chip shops. In the days before they built the Ballarat bypass all traffic from Melbourne to Ballarat and the country areas beyond used to flow along Victoria Street and this shop was about the first place travelers could stop for refreshments. These days the quality of the food there can be quite variable and is, generally speaking, not to be relied upon.

Continuing along Victoria Street there are some interesting houses and gardens, until we come to the white picket fence which marks where the old railway alignment passes under the street. We can peer down to the walking path we walked along an hour or so earlier. Then past the old pub which used to be the watering hole for the workers on their way home from the station that used to exist just down in the cutting where the line passes under the street. Then we turn right into the Stawell Street South, taking in the vacant land where the Orphanage and later Damascus College used to be on the left and suburban houses on the left, then some views of the Hemsley Park estate on the left, the start of the Specimen Vale Creek path on the left, and it’s home.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Charlesworth Street Walk

The walk along Charlesworth Street is one of the most uninteresting but it is also the shortest so I use it when I don’t feel very energetic or I don’t have much spare time. After walking along Balmoral Drive and Fussell Street you turn to the right with the high fence marking the boundary of Hemsley Park on your right and the open expanse of degraded pasture on your left. This is the first time that I’ve noticed that the house on the corner has its roof fallen in.

Midway down the street there is a culvert which is the link between the source of Specimen Vale Creek up on Fussell Street, the ponds in Hemsley Park and then the Specimen Vale Creek walking path. Like the land it passes through, it looks fairly degraded too.

Since there is little else to see in this section of Charlesworth Street I cut across to Eureka Street along a pathway behind the old brickworks which is now a place where old high end cars come to have their expensive bits and pieces recovered for on-selling. A short walk back along Eureka Street brings us to Frances Crescent and Wesley Court which appear to have been a Housing Commission estate built in the 1950s. It might have been a nice place to live half a century ago but it seems to be a part of Ballarat that has now been forgotten and neglected.

Turning right at the little shopping center (where you can get a more then acceptable hamburger) brings us back to Eureka Street. From there it is a direct walk down Stawell Street to home but, feeling like a little more adventure, we head down Eureka Street with Eurake Park on the other side of the road until we get to the end of the park, cross over and walk behind the park and museum along Rodier Street for a little while and then along the Bunny Track with the museum behind us and the caravan park on our right.

Wishing to take in the more interesting part of Charlesworth Street we walk up one side with the caravan park on our right to Stawell Street and then back down the other side to the path again. You can seen from the railway tracks still in the ground that the caravan park was probably a workshop and shunting yard for the railway that ran along the Bunny Track. Following the track some more we come to the Specimen Vale Creek path, turn right and before we know it we’re back at Stawell Street and ready for a nice rest.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.