Goofy Smiles and Slack Stairs

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Yesterday I went with two friends to Wentworth Falls and the Valley of the Waters in the Blue Mountains. It was near freezing and the winds were below freezing, but it was a beautiful day. 

Starting from the conservation hut we began on the short cut track, and cut through to breakfast point lookout. From there through to Wentworth Falls and down, down and down the slack stairs to Wentworth Pass, then back up through the Valley of the Waters. It took us 3 hours 45 minutes. This is the first solid hike I’ve done in quite a while and with the massive climb out of the valley my legs are so sore this morning.

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Tramping in Karekare

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While visiting friends and family in Auckland over the ANZAC day weekend, I went tramping at Karekare with some friends whom I used to work with. It was a beautiful walk, on a beautiful day, through the beautiful wild west coast of Auckland.

We started from Watchman Road and walked up Ahu Ahu Track before returning via Comans Track and cutting through to Karekare Beach. 

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Launch of Electric Trains in Auckland

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Last weekend I was in Auckland for the weekend. During this time I went to the launch of Auckland’s new electric trains – something of a major milestone in Auckland transport history.

Below are a set of photos from the day, they aren’t very good quality as I had my camera running in auto mode.

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PhD Examination

On Thursday I was officially notified that I had passed my thesis examination and been awarded a Doctor of Philosophy – PhD in Computer Science.

I still have to make very minor changes to the printed final copy, but the examination version was 165 pages, 43,451 words and took 3 years, 9 months, 13 days to complete.

Now the question is what do I want to do next in my life?

Photos: Adventures on the Hawkesbury

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In late February I went with some mates up to Wisemans Ferry for a drive and a very short walk. Our original plan was continue along Wisemans Ferry Road through to the M1 but this was thwarted by a lack of time that day. Last Saturday we completed the trip by starting at the other end and travelling into Wisemans Ferry via Mooney Mooney and Peats Ridge.

Below is a set of photos from the two trips.

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Vale Parachute Festival

A few weeks ago it was announced that the annual Parachute Music Festival would be no more. This is a great loss to the youth of New Zealand.

With my mate Herbie at Parachute 03

With my mate Herbie at Parachute 03

During my teenage years and early 20s I attended seven Parachute Festivals. My first was as a 15 year old in 2003, this was also the last year Parachute was held at Totara Springs in Matamata. Despite this now being over eleven years ago (wow time goes quick), I still have a number of memories of my first festival: trying to be a good kid and go to bed at 11pm on the Friday night and not being able to sleep cause of the noise from all the music stages; watching TobyMac, a very young Rapture Ruckus, and Pillar perform on the mainstage; trying to join the mosh and circle pits inside the cage; and chilling in the afternoon sun on the grass as Steve Apirana played acoustic.

After that first festival I was hooked, Parachute was like no other concert or festival I’ve been to. While the move to Mystery Creek, Hamilton in 2004 saw the production value of the festival increase the core of the festival remained the same – four days of young people being exposed to a wide variety of music and genres, building closer friendships with the people they travelled to the festival with, randomly bumping into old school friends and church mates, and learning about the relevance of God and Christianity in the present – generally, all without parents.

And this is what made Parachute Festival unique. For me personally, I have so many memories of things that have happened at Parachute over the years, I have seen hundreds of bands play and be exposed to music that in the past I wouldn’t have dared thought to like. But three memories stand out: the Newsboys performing and in the middle of Shine basically stopping their show for ten minutes and standing in worship; Dave Dobbyn having to stop playing as the rain poured down and the mosh pit dancing in the rain chanting ‘da da da slice of heaven’; and no matter how late you had gone to bed the previous night forcing yourself to get up and attend the morning church service.

Dave Dobbyn in the rain

Dave Dobbyn in the rain

Parachute Morning Meeting

Parachute Morning Meeting

In the decision to end Parachute Festival, Mark de Jong is right in saying that there are many more big music festivals in New Zealand now and this makes Parachute Festival commercially difficult. However, the big music, while a key component, is only one component of the festival.

Debut Stage 2009

Debut Stage 2009

Another highlight of the festival over the years has been to see many hundreds of small bands play on the debut stage. Many of these bands are teenagers with their garage bands who would normally only play to a maximum of 50 people at a church find themselves performing in front of hundreds and at times thousands of people. This was something very special to heart of Parachute Festival, again there are battle of the bands and other shows for small bands, but the scale of Parachute Festival in this area was like nothing else.

Overall, the end of Parachute Festival is a great loss to the youth of New Zealand, there is nothing else like it. While I’m certain that some newer events will fill some of the void left e.g. Easter Camp, for a long time yet many people will be saying ‘when I was a teenager.. Parachute Festival.’

The Lion King Musical

A few nights ago I went with friends to see The Lion King Musical in Sydney.

This was the first professional musical I’ve been to since I was about six years old. The whole show was spectacular and amazing, especially the set and prop design. Additionally a kiwi in one of the lead roles was a highlight when the group I was with were mostly Australian.

The show runs until mid August, and is well worth seeing.