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Showing posts from March, 2014

Blaxland Park and Newington Armory

Time for another local adventure, one worth sharing because it should be on anybody's list if you live in or are visiting Sydney. I can't believe how this gem in Sydney's geographical centre has remained hidden from us. Sydney Olympic Park is, of course, famous for hosting the aforesaid games back in 2000. Today it retains many sporting facilities, a range of hotels and is the venue for events ranging from rock concerts to the yearly agricultural show. The Aquatic Centre is Alex's favourite swimming pool, with a water playground, slides and "river". The area also hosts a number of parks, nature and heritage sites. We visited Blaxland Park after reading reviews of the playground facilities. The entrance via Silverwater Road is a little insalubrious, past a fuel depot and razor wire fenced prison. Once inside the park we could not help but be awestruck by the design and range of play facilities on offer. These weren't the same old plastic forts a

The Kamioka mines: from silver to supernovas

Part of the Kamioka zinc mining and smelter complex Just after posting about the Kamioka Railway another photo from that 2006 set piqued my interest. Up there in the mountains the landscape looked blasted not just by winter but by something more. It was the kind of lonely place where you would not expect to find major industry, so this sight was quite surprising. Even more surprising is the history associated with this photo. According to some sources mining and refining of ores in Kamioka dates back to 710 AD  and only closed in 2001. Undoubtedly the mine was a major reason for the existence of the Kamioka Railway. Refining of zinc still continues to this day under the parent Mitsui Kenzoku zaibatsu . Gold, silver, copper, zinc and lead were all dug out of the rock here. Unfortunately, the process released cadmium into the river, which, when taken up by the rice that was grown in the river, caused the terrible itai-itai disease  - meaning "It hurts! It hurts". Cadm

Kamioka Railway

Inotani Station, April 2006 Back in April 2006 we were on our third trip to Japan and trying to get from Takayama to Kanazawa by train. Unbeknownst to us a section of the railway line north of Takayama had been washed away by a typhoon. So we had to change from train to a bus between Tsunogawa and Inotani. While we waited for our onwards train at quiet Inotani Station a diesel railcar, pictured above, pulled up from somewhere towards the direction where we had come from. Strange, I thought, seeing as the line was supposed to be closed... Then I forgot about it. The maps only show one railway line in the area. Eight years later and I happen to look up the Wikipedia page on Inotani Station . There it mentions that Inotani was the terminus of the Kamioka Line, abandoned in 2006. The year we were there. So that's where that train came from. There seems to be very little English information online about the Kamioka Railway. I love these little railway lines in Japan and it r