Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Jan 31. We are now in Brisbane – the second day of a 3-day multilevel workshop that seems to be going quite well. Being entertained extremely well by Graham and Joy:

Melbourne was really interesting and professionally productive. The PISA factor modelling talk and a talk on cross classified-multiple membership models, created a lot of interest in what we are doing and useful discussions with various people such as Ray Adams. Also had dinner with Murray Aitkin and Irit who also both provided good contributions at my talks.

Ken and Kathy Rowe were great hosts all week and we saw and did plenty of things – including an outdoors performance of Twelth Night, a superb trip down the great Ocean Road for Barbara, and a visit to the old Gold mining area of Ballarat.
We arrived in Adelaide to a temperature of 460C which was down to 240 the next day when we started our cruise up the Murray river. Very pleasant two days although not enough walking for our liking. Here are some views etc:

Adelaide is a pleasant city with easy access to hills and seaside. A delightful tram ride

takes you down to the seaside town of Glenelg and a short train journey takes you to the Belair national park in the Adelaide hills. We spent one whole day – not enough – touring the Southern Flinders ranges and saw quite a bit of wildlife – yellow footed rock wallabies, emu and several types of Kangaroos:

For a relatively small city Adelaide has quite a bit of artistic culture. A good (free) art gallery, aboriginal collections and an interesting immigration museum – this last being curiously decontextualised ; for example a description of the ‘White Australia’ policy but no discussion of how and why it persisted (politically and socially) until as recently as 1958. Likewise a description of the Vietnamese ‘boat people’ but no mention of Australia’s role in the Vietnam war.
We were very impressed with our one contact with the Australian Health Service – Barbara had broken a toe and we were very well dealt with at the Royal Adelaide Hospital:

More soon:

Monday, January 16, 2006

The Wellington workshop seemed to go well - they worked hard and played quite hard too!

Wellington is rather a pleasant place, with good restaurants and a fine setting - were it not for the rain and the wind!

After Wellington we flew to Melbourne

and have spent the wekkend with ken and Kathy Rowe at their country place at Maryville - delightful:

Acquiring some local skills:

Now getting ready to talk to the ACER PISA team about multilevel factor modelling!

Monday, January 09, 2006

Near Queenstown is Arrowtown, an 1860's Gold Rush town still with that feeling about it - here is a reconstruction of a hut used by Chinese miners from Guandong who had a tough time working the sites the Europeans had abandoned.

After Queenstown (here is Tom doing a bungy):

Two rainy days walking around the Franz Joseph Glacier and finally abandoning the hire car at Greymouth for the tranz-Alpine train across to Christchurch. This line, which nearly folded two years ago - NZ, like UK decided to privatise its trains with predictable results - is spectacular. It climbs through the mountains then down to the Eastern coastal plain, all in 5 hours.

Spent two nights in Christchurch - very provincial English town feeling about this - relaxed and fairly cultured.

From Christchurch back on the train - the Tranz-coastal this time up to Kaikoura to see the whales - despite being held up after one of the locals didn't manage to get his truck over the the railway quickly enough!

The whales were very happy to put on a display for us - here is an orca (killer whale):

After Kaikura back on the train to Picton and then the ferry to Wellington - with much improved weather.

Have just started the Wellington 3-day workshop, organised by Dick Harker, with 27 students, all keen and mainly education and health.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Wed 4 Jan.

We spent a happy day visiting hot springs and Maori celebrations in Rotorua in the North Island - though Rotorua itself isn't much. Then flew to Christchurch which has the feel of a small English town and then drove to spend the New Year in Queenstown - world Centre for Bungy jumping (Tom - not us!). Last two days has been largely rain, but wonderful (Lord of the Rings) scenery nevertheless. Tomorrow we return to Christchurch for a couple of nights, then a train to Picton where we get the Ferry back to Wellington and a 3 day workshop.