About my blog

Hans van Lint is AvL (Antonie van Leeuwenhoek) Professor Traffic Simulation and Computing at the Transport & Planning department, faculty of Civil Engineering and Geosciences. He's also director of education of the Msc TIL (Transport, Logistics and Infrastructure).

His other passion in life is music - check out the Dutch Genesis tribute band Squonk.

Links to Hans' profiles on Facebook and on LinkedIn!

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Posts in category Hans Down Under

2500 kilometers traveled in 10 days …

… and still, we (my wife Christine and I) have barely scratched the surface of all the wonderful things to see, do and experience in Australia. First the bare facts: Melbourne – Launceston – St Helens – Launceston (both Tasmania) – Melbourne and subsequently Bairnsdale – Nelligen – Sidney – Canberra – Beechworth and back to good old Melbourne in time for the fireworks at new years eve.

Our travels first led through some of the most pure unspoiled and oldest landscapes on the planet. Although unlikely, if there is one place where you wouldn’t be surpised if an iguanadon or T-Rex came wondering about from the bushes, it would be along some lagoon on the Tasmanian eastcoast.

Most people take road trips along the golden coast, from say Cairns to Brisbane or even further, to Sydney. That’s definitely on my list too. But for those who already did this, or ones who are interested in an equally beautiful and spectaculair alternative, travel from Melbourne to Sydney via the Victorian / New South Wales coast. Rain forests, national parks, tiny little communities with pittoresk guesthouses, and widescreen views of rocky outcrops and white sandy beaches. And at the end of the trip, there is Sydney …

… with its beautiful botanical garden, fantastic zoo, opera house, harbor bridge and also its line up of literally hundreds of eager Japanese in front of Gucci, Ferragano and Vuitton shops on Boxing day. Help! The pinnacle of consumerism, in line for 150 dollar bags which can only be used to to put more expensive stuff into. On Dec 27, via boring and rainy Canberra and – what a place! – authentic, beautiful and heart-warming Beechworth …

… it was back to Melbourne. Admittedly, Sydney has got the better zoo, the more impressive botanical garden and the best fireworks. But Melbourne has a more pleasant CBD with better bars and cafes, better soy lattes, it has better universities, better food in general, and most importantly, many more genuinly friendly people. I’m gonna miss this place! 

 

 

Why don’t we all move to Perth?

First touched by Dutch VOC explorers in the 17th century (Dirk Hartogh and later famous Abel Tasman), Perth was firmly established as a permanent settlement 2 centuries later by the British after – as in the east – vast quantities of gold were found basically laying around for the taking. Back then – and still today – the capital city of Western Australia (WA) is far, far away from everything, every one and everywhere. Thank God for them and too bad for us. Aside from a series of showers on day two of our visit there to the 30th CAITR conference at the Uni of WA, the only possible conclusion is that this is the closest you get to paradise – city and landscape-wise.

Where else would you see Pelicans chill out on lantarn posts?

would you enjoy a 60 AUD room in 19th century victorian Townhouses

with a view like this

and your private chapel should you need it.

We had a lovely and very useful three days, well organized by the WA Uni (thanks Doina!) …

… and we couldn’t help but enjoy the laid back but cosmopolitan feel of Perth,

and the vibrant seaside town Freemantle 

with its beautiful and historicaly set harbor

its museums and beaches

and its excellent bars and restaurants

some of which even had wood-ovens named after visiting professors … 

A taxi ride from Tullamarine Airport in grey showery and 17 degrees freezing 😉 Melbourne put our feet firmly back on the ground. The most profound novelty of the week came about in the evening when I had my first ever Chinese-made Italian style Pizza (which was excellent by the way)

 

The Nobbies

On saturday, we (Majid, Rob, me) went on a mission to visit the Nobbies, two rocky outcrops on the South-western edge of Philips Island located about 130 km South of Melbourne.

Of course, this involves (like most activities in Australia) 2,5 hours driving – thanks Majid!

Philips Island is (world) famous for is daily penguin parade, where at sunset, thousands of satisfied penguins who have spent the day fouraging at sea, wabble back to shore to rest and (if in the right season) feed their offspring.

To divert mass tourism from harrassing these busy little fellas, a decade or so ago a second eco-tourist attraction was set up: The Nobbies. Two rocky outcrops where large hurds of furry seals enjoyed sunbaths and shelter for their youngsters. A truly mesmerizing and awsum spot, although we did not get to see any furry seals at all. We did see many seagulls …

… and probably a zillion blowflies, who would do great as pets, since they manage to follow you for several hundred meters, and are resistent to any slapping unless it kills them – in which case they multiply. But dealing with annoying flies is less of a burden when there is so much beauty to look at:

Ozzies take conservationism very seriously – and we owe them for it, since their country is home to many unique and invaluable biotopes and natural resources. They also have to, since they live on a continent where climate change has a very serious impact on the here and now. Water is rationed in Queensland as we speak. Although we may seriously overestimate the human role and influence on climate change on a longer time scale (the climate has never been more stable than in the last few thousand years), if the "Al Gore-doctrine" leads to more awareness and to more responsible and sustainable use of our planet, by all means, believe what you will. And so it the right thing to do to spend 5 dollars in the Nobbies giftshop, even if it makes you look ridiculous 😉

 

 

Pizza, room mates and smiles in the sky

Things have changed quite a bit since the last post. First of all, I have got a room mate, in this and the next week I will share my appartment with Robert Bertini from Portland University, which up till now has been a pleasure. It does feel a bit like going back to our student days. Good talks, good food and drinks, and good fun. The major difference between then and now is that now the dishes generally get done before they turn into living organisms. Yep, it just takes two responsible grown ups 😉 Or – preferably – a dishwasher, thank got for that thing back home.

Secondly, now that the summer vacation (!) is approxing and most of their exam marking has been finished, and of course because of Robs arrival there is more time for interaction with Geoff, Yibing and Majid. On Sunday Geoff invited us to their beautiful home in Melbourne…

… where we were treated to fond memories of The Netherlands by Kate and Jennifer (that’s Holland for you in a nutshell: klompen and Remia Frietsaus – Geoff spend his sabbatical two years ago with us in Delft) …

… and a wonderful Ossobuco (how do you spell that) and dito Sauvignon blanc

On monday, Geoff and Majid organised a succesful workshop (more than 30 attendees from both uni and the authorities) where Rob, Yibing and I gave in total five presentations (mine were on the Dutch DTM practice and a second on travel time reliability).

On monday evening we had a typical Ozzie meal in a nice restaurant which advertised its food as Asian Fusion, which is not a bad term for some parts of Melbourne in general. Great stuff: Fish, Curries, Veggies, you name it

On monday night the skies seemed to approve of all of this as Venus (top), Jupiter (right) and the Moon crossed paths to form a giant celestial smiley. You can google several more spectacular pictures on the web, but this one popped out of my camera – a bit shaky not bad I think 🙂 

 

 

From Mt Dandenong to Lorne (or further)

The problem with making weekend trips is of course figuring out when to organize the zillion photo’s you’ve made, make a decent selection and then recall the where’s and why’s of each of them. Last Friday me and Majid went up Mt Dandenong (with 630 meters the highest peak of the Dandenong Hills), which you might still consider within the Melbourne metropolitan area, albeit this area is mostly used by retiries or seasonal visitors. Nonethless, on top of the thing is a beautiful observation site, which on a clear day gives you a pretty spectacular view over the Melbourna area. Great way to spend a friday morning.

note below the tiny high-rise area, that’s the CBD. Monash uni is somewhere in the middle.

On Sunday I was picked up by Jenny and Neil for a road trip toward the other side of the Melbourne area (Geelong and the Great Ocean Road).

This truly was an apetizer for the trip me and Christine will make in a month or so. Ozzies mean business when going for a ride. If you would take this trip starting from Delft towards the West you’d be having fish and chips in Norwich, to the South you would be paying toll in Amiens and to the east be driving 200 km/h on the Autobahn past Dortmund. Anyway, distances are looked upon differently here and understandably so. There simply is a tremendous amount of distance between places. Then again, the worst that can happen is having to stop for a coffee …

or play around with your board a bit

walk the dog

or stay on dry land and enjoy the views

and after a couple-a-hour drive up and down the Great Ocean Road you take the ferry from Queenscliff to the eastern side of the bay-area "embracing" Melbourne and a final 80 km freeway trip back to Clayton.

Yep, although the Melbourne weather this past week has been pretty much like home (in a summer that is), this was a wonderful Sunday trip with great views, talks, drinks and food. Thanks Jenny and Neil!

Short course australian english (part 1)

To emphasize that I’m not in Melbourne just for coffee, zoos, beaches and what have you more, I will regularly update you with some of the essentials regarding the native version of the English language. For example, Ozzies (australian people) will immediately understand if you want them to pass you the dead horse (hand over the tomato ketchup). If not, they’ll most likely tell you to wreck off or if they’re offended to spit the dummy (ease up). If (God forbid) you wind up in some remote camping ground, you might have to take a leak in a Dunny (outside toilet) where you might possibly encounter a Dunny Budgy (a blowfly hanging out in a dunny), which according to the locals here is the most disgusting insect on this island and possibly the planet. But hey, another day, another dollar, before you know it you’ll be fresh as a daisy 😉

And the winner is … Blijdorp!

Todays trip – one I had looked forward to quite a bit – is the Melbourne Zoo next to the Royal Park, a few miles North of Melbourne CBD and in true Melbourne fashion a little over 50 minutes by train from Clayton, the Melbourne suburb I’m living in. I have always had a keen interest in and fondness for zoos, of which in my mind Burgers’ in Arnhem, Noorderdierenpark in Emmen and Blijdorp in Rotterdam are some of the finest examples around the world, and this I say without any chauvinism. Zoos in my view have little to do with preservationism – although they might in the not so distant future – but are there for us so that we can gaze at creatures we scared out of our immediate habitats (in some cases with good reason), and learn and wonder what wonderful creatures have evolved before we accidentally fluked out of the evolutionary equation.

 

One of the things I get from wondering through zoos is some perspective on the mindless hurry we’re all in – at least the one I’m in. Take lizards and lions. Both are exceptionally good at doing as little as possible. The first because it is cold-blooded implying it needs the environment to gear it up into action, and the second because it has little incentive to do anything other than sleep 20 hours a day.

 

Any one maintaining that zoos are essentially cruel institutions depriving animals from their wonderful wild habitats, I recommend reading Life of Pi, written by the Canadian novellist Yann Martel. Although the (by the way wonderful) novel is of course entirely fictional, Martel poses the clever question what damage (proper and caring) zoos exactly do in sheltering animals from the blessings of daily survival such as running for your life, a zillion deseases and fierce competition for space, food and spouses. If that is a morally wrong thing to do we might want to rethink medicine, food aid programs, piece talks and many other things.

 

I like zoos. But I am somewhat dissapointed by the Melbourne zoo. In true Melbourne style, it could have been large and spacious with savannahs full of hopping kangaroos, impressive croc enclosures, aquaria full of queensland wonders and the likes. Don’t get me wrong, the zoo takes good care of its animals, the enclosures are clean and neat, but most space is in fact allocated for homo sapiens, particularly the small and noisy ones. I didn’t pay 26 dollars to hear their quif clamours. More over, it closes (on a sunday in summer!) at 5 o’clock and sells lousy coffee – if at all, the coffee corner shuts its doors at 4 o’clock. A clear 1-0 for Blijdorp …

The beach on a sunday afternoon

There are many things that Melbourne (the metropolitan area as a whole) has in common with the randstad. The populated area is about the same size, approximately the same amount of people live there and there is a wonderfull beach area. For example, in bot cases you might encounter these images:

On the other hand, there are many differences, for example, you’ll be hard-pressed to see these grow in Scheveningen

nor would you look about 6 miles to the North and see this (remember skydeck?)

 

or find crocodile dundee and his sons throwing a line or two

In fact, you can not set one foot past the next without accidentally bumping into a palm tree or some other proof that this place is serious about its climate and its desire to force its population into shorts and t-shirts, and total relaxednes.

Wasn’t there any bad news? Only very temporarily …

But no worries mate, next friday it’ll start to rain again

 

The blues on a saturday evening

Regardless of how wonderful life can be (you’ll see when you read the next post) – there are these moments when it all seems hopelessly unimportant. Thank God, or better, that guy in Syria a mere 3400 years ago who allegedly wrote the oldest piece of music to date – at least of which we know, for music. One and a half year ago I wrote and recorded a song (with the title Alles) as a wedding gift for my wife Christine. Yesterday evening in a melancholic mood I cut a small non-pretentieus video clip for it from video and photo footage on May 11 2007 (our wedding day).

Hope it makes you feel as good as it did me!

PS: The audio quality of the youtube video isn’t very good, Download a much better version right here!

Australia gone mad – Melbourne cup 2008

If you think Holland goes berzerk whenever "orange" (national soccer team) plays, then australia goes completely mad with the Melbourne Cup, the biggest horse race on the planet. The country very literally was on hold today, the joy culminating at 3PM when the race began. This time an australian horse (Viewed) and jockey (Blade Shinn) took the gold (check all results here). If this blog will allow it, you can view the race in the movie object below, if not check this movie on youtube!
 
[object:flash:http://www.youtube.com/v/JoVhnxL583A&hl=en&fs=1 width:425 height:344] 
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