Location: Manning Valley
Date: February 2009

February 28, 2009. Last day of February. About 15 minutes north of Taree, up the Pacific Hwy, is Harrington, which is the location of the Manning River's second mouth. The other is at Old Bar, just east of Taree. Why are they called 'mouths'? Mouths are for putting things in, not out. But I suppose it sounds better than calling a river's exit point -  where it empties into the sea - its 'rectum' or 'urinary bladder'.

Anyway, there's a fairly new urban development at Harrington called Harrington Waters, part of which is Harrigan's Irish Pub and its nearby complex of holiday apartments. I expected to meet some old bloke named Harrigan, smoking a Sherlock Holmes' style pipe and dressed a bit like a leprechaun, but no. The pub is part of an Aussie franchise. But it's a very impressive place, beautifully decorated in the traditional, old fashioned style. After the photo shoot, I called in to enjoy an ale as I gazed through the huge picture windows at the view of the river.

Today, Harrigans is the venue for a display of vintage and veteran cars. There were supposed to be vintage motor cycles on display as well, but someone on the organizing team boo-booed (so I overheard from an official). There were, however, a bunch of modern bikes, so I took a few shots of those. In any case, some of the cars were absolute classics and definitely worth the trip... others I'd seen before.

Oh, yes, Shannon's insurance... a company that specializes in insuring older cars. It's a bit of a private joke, but I have a friend named Shannon who runs quite a successful blog. It occurred to me that "share the passion" is an appropriate slogan for both the insurance company and the Speedo kid from Melbourne.

A minor problem I had during the photo shoot was getting the whole car in frame... the parking bays were surrounded by gardens. In an attempt to get the whole Cadillac into shot I had to disappear into the bushes. I told the owner that if I wasn't back in a few days to call the rescue squad. I also told him his car was too damn big, and to bring a smaller one next time.

My two favs were the '39 Dodge and the '29 Chrysler. When I remarked to an admirer that I thought the Dodge was a lovely car, he said, "It's a '39 model... same year I was born." "I hate to tell you this, mate, but the Dodge looks in better nick than you do." And how about the little triangular sign on the '29 Chrysler... Four Wheel Brakes. How cute is that?

That metallic blue Holden with the white roof is a '64 EH. The brown and light-blue pair are HR Holdens, '66-'67. My dad had one of those - 2-speed Hydramatics. Bleh. So that was the day, folks. Click here for the photo album.

February 27, 2009. Glenn Dunbier, production manager of Stebercraft in Taree, emailed to let me know about the launch of a new Steber 4700, so I whizzed out there today to take a bunch of pics while the boat was still in the shed, undergoing its finishing touches. I'll be back on Monday when the craft is towed to the Manning River and lowered into the water by crane.

The first question I asked Glenn (yes, I learned something... two n's) was how Stebercraft was weathering the global financial crisis. They're doing well, with plenty of orders to keep them occupied. Perhaps part of the secret is that Stebercraft specializes in top shelf equipment... selling a single million-dollar boat beats the hell out of trying to sell a few thousand canoes.

The owner of this latest beauty, which features just about every accessory imaginable, sold his engineering company in Mackay, Queensland, for his retirement. Emma Kate is fitted with twin Cummins diesels that produce a combined total of over 1000 horsepower. The fuel tank takes 3000 liters. Hello? Lemme check... current price about $1.24 a liter... that's close to $4000 a tankful! Come to think of it, that's how much Bluey cost WITH all improvements!

The new owner spends a lot of time at sea... weeks on end. So, it makes sense to have a desalination plant on board, yeah? So much for "water, water everywhere and not a drop to drink". Obviously, during today's shoot, workmen were all over the place making a terrible mess. But you can bet when it's all finished, Emma Kate will look like a million bux.

I just love the timber - southern myrtle, native to Oz, used for doors and furnishings... and teak decks. The myrtle polishes up a treat. I had a wide-angle lens in the camera bag but didn't bring it with me during the walkabout. Dangit. It would have been handy to get better interior shots of the cabins, etc.

When Glenn told me it was a 47 footer (more than 50 with the extra bits added to the pointy and blunt ends), I thought, yeah, so that's more than twice the length of my living room. Well, I'm here to tell you, nothing prepares you for the sight of the thing in the flesh. It's HUGE. And TALL! And WIDE! It's a 15-tonne SHIP! And what gorgeous flowing lines... a stunning piece of engineering and design.

By the way, that shrouded piece of equipment on the forward deck (012) is a winch which can raise and lower a dinghy over the side.

And why did the new owner choose a Steber? His last boat was a Steber. That speaks volumes.

And now for the tecknickel bits: those little lights at the stern (below the water line) are blue, and they attract fish. Very sensible if you happen to have a bit of line wound around a Coke bottle handy. The underwater flaps at the stern help to raise the bow at speed, and are hydraulically controlled. The propellor thingies - screws - and rudder are painted with a special sticky material that stops barnacles adhering to the surfaces, which I think is a stunning idea. Bugger what the whales think. The hole in the bow with the propellor in the middle has a twin at the stern. The boat can maneuver in its own length.

I also met the boss. I mean the boss boss. THE boss! Mr Steber senior, the bloke who started it all back in 1947 in Brookvale, Sydney. He ain't no chicken but he sure scrubs up pretty well - fit as a fiddle.

Meanwhile, I hope you enjoy the pics. There'll be more in a few days when I photograph the launch, including the trip from the factory to the river. Click here for the photo album.

February 15, 2009. Some months ago, I decided to visit a wrecking yard. Why? Because I figured it might present some interesting photographic opportunities. But I was disappointed. I expected (or hoped for) some old classic cars. "You should have been here years ago, mate," the owner said. He had old Plymouths and whatever back then. Not now, though. It seems modern drivers can't wait until their cars are ancient, or just plain worn out, to take them to the wrecker, they want to demolish them now.

Anyway, I came home, checked the pics, and decided not to post them... until now. I changed my mind because my original expectations are no longer relevant, and I decided that the pictures do tell their own story. By the way, the owner saw Tough Titties parked outside and drooled hehe... not because she's a grand old girl but because she's rare these days and well worth cannibalizing! Click here for the photo album.


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