mgk has been neglected for a few weeks due to moving house to the Blue Mountains area and the rigamarole of re-establishing network connectivity.
Location, location, location! The new house is at about 600m elevation and has a view of the Sydney skyline from the kitchen windows and front verandah, the Sydney Harbour Bridge smack on the horizon. The back gate opens on to fire trails in the World Heritage listed Blue Mountains National Forest. If you can say you’d live in a tent on your home’s lot, you’ve probably chosen well. I’d live here under a pile of leaves, but the house is built like a bridge, brick piers and massive steel I-beams all set on a site blasted from sandstone bedrock… and has a natural gas kitchen Jamie Oliver would fall in lust with.
You could say that the new place is out past the black stump. The downside of doing a rural/regional ‘tree-change’ is the fairly ordinary network connectivity. Our local telco CO is only set up for standard ADSL, which moves about 1/3 the speed of the cable internet at the last place. The cable system ran at about 4000kbps, though was theoretically capable of 10Mbps. The fastest the DSL will go is 1300kbps. We’re on the list for ADSL2+, which is said to be capable of 24Mbps. Telstra needs to install a new DSLAM in our local CO to suit the higher speed. Given that Telstra now answers to the shareholders and not the gubmint nor subscribers, I’m not going to chug Ol’ Janx Spirit while waiting for the ADSL2+ upgrade, which will never be cost-effective in this tiny village.
Living out bush has some definite downsides. Only a week after putting the key in the door for the first time, we were overwhelmed with catching up on bushfire preparedness as a massive bushfire in the Blackheath and Mount Victoria area repeatedly defied containment due to hot temperatures and strong winds, often gusting to 100km/h.
The house had been unoccupied for close to a year and dry leaves were piled up everywhere around the perimeter, as well as in the rain gutters, a serious no-no in fire prone areas. I could be falling in love with my leaf blower/vac and high-pressure water sprayer, both which made quick work of hazard reduction.
On 22 November, the strong winds carried embers from the Blackheath/Mt Victoria fire for many kilometres. Only massive applications of firefighting skill and tens of millions of dollars worth of equipment in the air and on the ground stopped this fire from consuming everything from Katoomba to Penrith.
After sorting out the hazards around our house, I caught these snaps of water-bombing helicopters over the rough country beyond my back gate. You see an Erickson AirCrane (could be Elvis or Georgia Peach this year) along with a couple of bucket and line water bombers lining up to refill.
Our new neighbours were kind enough to keep us apprised on the moment-by-moment news on the locations of the fires while we were waiting for internet service to be activated. Blue Mountains residents rely heavily on the NSW Rural Fire Service website for updates as well as volunteer to distribute daily fire update newsletters to homes in affected areas.
Phil Koperberg is revered as a demi-god in the Blue Mountains. Koperberg will win the Blue Mountains NSW Senate seat soon to be vacated by the retiring Bob Debus, without any doubts whatsoever.
Our volunteer Bush Fireys are saints. When not spraying water, they’re rumoured to walk on it.
Now… back to the 600 little home repair tasks you always get when moving house…
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