Monday, April 9, 2018

Moving Blog to New Site

I am moving this Beautiful Altona blog to a new site at https://beautifulaltona.com.au.

This new platform gives me greater control over the site content and functionality, enabling me to improve the user experience, including the user interface, navigation and interactivity.

This new site is a https site meaning a secure website, like e-commerce and transaction websites.

However, migrating the site from one platform to another also results in various issues such as incompatibility, broken/outdated links, layout problems, issues with the embedded images, videos and maps, categorisation issues, new https requirement, etc. 

I realize that some of the online tools/services that I had previously employed in the blog are no longer operating. This means I either need to find an alternative tool, way of achieving the same result or to rework the content. Many of the older posts also need updating to reflect changes in their contents.

Please be patient while I fix these issues as this may take consierable time.

I will greatly appreciate that those who have subscribed to my latest blog posts to resubscribe at the new site. There is a subscribing form widget at the bottom of the right side bar. You will need to scroll down the homepage to see it.

You can email suggestions and recommendations for the new site to my email address at anton.ang@gmail.com

Sunday, April 1, 2018

An Idyllic Day at Altona Beach

When I first started this blog in 2010, there were not many good YouTube videos on Altona. But you can now find dozens of very high quality, professionally made videos online. This indicates Altona is shedding its image of a working-class, industrial suburb and increasingly being appreciated for its charms and natural beauty.

I am showing two videos from YouTube in this post. Both videos vividly depict the activities and ambience at Altona Beach on a typical sunny day.  In both videos, time-lapse editing is used to speed up the clip to show a flurry of activities in the same location by compressing the timeline while slowing the motion is used for recapturing key moments and achieving dramatic and surreal effects. Drones are used to capture stunning aerial views of the pier, waves, beach and coastline. I am gobsmacked by how breathtaking Altona appears from elevations and angles made possible only through these drones.

I love the nostalgic feel of the first vdeo, rendered by its sepia tone and tune of a bygone era. There is a consistent theme of ubiquitous signages, lapping seawaves, unhurried seagulls and long coastlines throughout the video clip.



In the second video, the emphasis is on the people and actions on the beach. There are people playing volleyball, children running on the sand and people strolling along the pedestrian trail. You can enjoy the whole afternoon at Altona Beach, engaging in a heap of activities or just lazing around.



Such videos do a lot to bring out the best of what Altona has to offer. I enjoy viewing them and will continue to share interesting YouTube videos in the future.


Sunday, March 25, 2018

Legend Blimp Airship in Altona

If you are a person who loves gazing at the sky, there is the opportunity to see a myriad of things in the airspace above Altona - from natural elements such as blue skies, puffy clouds, supermoon, eclipses, southern lights, flocking birds to man-made structures such as fireworks, drones, surfing kites, powered parachutes, helicopters and planes.

On 15th February 2015, I had the fortune to see an airship or more precisely, a blimp. This was hovering above the Altona Pier and I quickly snapped a photo before it moved away. I recalled that was a hot, sunny day and many people were having recreational activities on the beach.


Altona Beach - Melbourne's Bondi Beach

At that time, I thought that this is a remotely-controlled drone. However, I found from my online research that this is a piloted blimp. The bulk and most prominent part of the blimp is the barrage balloon or envelope inflated with a lifting gas, usually helium but can also be heated air. The shape of the blimp is maintained by the balloon's internal overpressure and the strength of its envelope. The only solid parts are the gondola or passenger car attached to the bottom of the balloon and the tail fins. Since the blimp does not have a keel or an internal frame structure, it is also known as a non-rigid airship.



Being the first aircraft capable of controlled powered flight, airships were most commonly used before the 1940s. Their usage declined over time as their capabilities were surpassed by those of aeroplanes and as a result of a series of high-profile accidents.  Blimps were used as patrol airships by the United States Navy during and shortly after World War I. In contrast to airplanes or helicopters which use engines to fly or hover, a blimp depends on its gas to provide the lift, allowing it to stay afloat anywhere for much longer duration, lasting from hours to days, without expending fuel. These properties make blimps ideal for application in advertising, sport event coverage and certain research such as whale scouting. There has been recent renewed interest in using rigid airships for lifting and transporting heavy military or civilian cargo such as ships, tanks and oil rigs.

By 2014, there were about 13 active advertising airships in the world, including one in Australia. The white goods retailer Appliances Online contracted the American-based Van Wagner Airship Group to build the Legend Blimp for flying around Australia as an advertising airship. The stability and slow cruising speed of the Legend Blimp make it ideal for capturing stunning aerial images of the most beautiful natural and man-made landmarks in Australia.



The Legend Blimp was first inflated in October 2014, with test flights conducted around Melbourne before being officially launched at Sydney Harbour in December 2014. The Legend Blimp had since encircled Sydney, returned to Melbourne via Canberra and Albury, flew back to Sydney and continued its journey northward. However it is unable to fly anywhere it desires. For instance, its path is restricted by Victorian laws that prohibit aerial advertising over major sponsored sporting events such as the Australian Open at Melbourne Park.


Aerial photo of Altona Pier and Altona Beach from the Legend Blimp.
Source: The Daily Mail.


With a length of 39 metres, width of 11 metres and height of 13.4 metres, the Legend Blimp has the distinction of being the largest and only blimp currently flying in the southern hemisphere. To get an idea of its size, its length is about that of three buses parked bumper to bumper and it takes five Legend Blimp to stack on top of one another to equal the height of the Sydney Opera House.

The balloon is made from nylon ripstop, similar to the material used for space suits. Inflated with 21,700 cubic metres of the inert gas helium, it is completely non-flammable. Hence it will not suffer the fate of the hydrogen-filled German passenger airship Hindenburg which caught fire and was destroyed in a fatal disaster on 6th May 1937, killing 35 people.


Hindenburg - the Titanic of the Skies

At night, the Legend Blimp is illuminated by two 1000 watt light bulbs located inside its balloon, making it visible in the dark. For this reason, it is also known as the Lightship.

The Legend Blimp has two engines and can be steered. Wheelchair-style controls, attached to either side of the pilot’s seat, control the angle of the nose, thereby determining its upward or downward trajectory. The airship is normally piloted by one or two staff in the gondola. It has a 13-strong crew of two pilots, two aviation mechanics, a crew chief, a clerk and a ground crew including watch keepers.

The crew keeps a close watch on the weather and for safety considerations, the Legend Blimp stays grounded if rain, storms or strong winds are forecasted.



The video above shows two to three ground crew members grabbing cables on each side of the blimp to steady it as it descends, bringing it to a halt in a controlled fashion.

You can track the current location of the Legend Blimp by checking the Blimptracker on Appliance Online's website, which is not available at the time of writing this post.


References

1. Wikipedia article on Blimp
2. How Blimps Work
3. The Hindenburg Disaster
4. News article from The Daily Mail
5. Information on Legend Blimp on Appliances Online website
6. News article from Herald Sun

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Hot Air Ballooning

On a recent Sunday, we decided to wake up early to catch the sunrise at Seaholme. We parked our car at a spot where there is a good view of Melbourne CBD. I thought we were early but there were people already there - someone with a tripod set up as well as a father sitting on the retaining wall overlooking the rocky beach, with a toddler girl on his lap.

Though the sun had not yet popped out of the water, it had already illuminated the sky considerably. As I gazed towards the east in the direction of the city, something caught my attention.

A spherical vesicle-like object emerged from behind the city skyscrapers, detached from the horizon and launched itself into the sky. Immediately after the first vesicle, the second surfaced and too propelled itself into the sky. This was followed in rapid succession by the third, the fourth and finally the fifth vesicle.

While we were enchanted by this scene, a pair of swans graced the placid waters of Port Phillip Bay, completely unflustered by this peculiarity.



My memories flashed back to December 2015 when we returned from a memorable trip to Tasmania. As the Spirit of Tasmania pulled into Port Melbourne at about 6 A.M. and we were preparing to disembark, we were greeted by the sight of hot air balloons rising high above the city skyscrapers.

Before that, I am not aware that Melbourne has this specialty tourism experience. I don't think many cosmospolitan cities would permit this type of activity as this would require considerable technical expertise to navigate the balloons above a densely-populated urban area.



As I watched the balloons intently, I imagined myself swapping role one day - standing inside the gondola of a hot air balloon and waving to someone taking photographs from the beautiful coast of Altona far beneath .....


Thursday, March 15, 2018

Flames of Altona

A benefit of living in Altona is its location by the sea. It only takes two minutes to reach the beach from our home by car. This means we can just take a spin along the Esplanade whenever we fancy it. Have we lived somewhere further inland, we may consider twice whether it is worth the effort just to take a look or whether we should set out earlier and spend at least an hour or two at Altona Beach.



My wife read that it may be possible to see Aurora Australis (the southern lights) tonight. Hence, we decided to try our luck and at the same time, to replenish our stock of bread and milk at the Coles supermarket on Pier Street.

With absolutely no clue of where, when and how to see Aurora Australis, we did not manage to catch any glimpse of what we have set out for. However, we were rewarded with the sight of a spectacular sunset. Stretching from my eyes to the horizon where the sun had set was a blanket of thick crimson clouds, so dense that it was puntuated by blue skies at only a few spots. The sun before retiring for the day had cast its last rays and lit up the dusk sky like burning flames which would soon be extinguished with descent of darkness.



The winds were icy-cold. No wonder there were hardly any people on the beach. Without further ado, we quickly made our way back to the car, fully contented with these new additions to our photo collections, which are way more concrete than the illusive southern lights.