April: Whanganui Journey, three papers submitted, and a trip to Tasmania

Posted by Patrick Lam on Monday, May 20, 2024

Table Of Contents

Now that I’ve put the photos into a post by itself, and especially with 848 photos processed last month, I hope that this post will be more tractable.

There was a lot of work this month, but this time bookended by the Whanganui Journey and leaving for Tasmania for the Overland Track. I hope that these efforts will pay off. Certainly one has to submit papers to publish.

In the middle of the month, I had a Bad Tech Day with respect to Zoom. My computer probably doesn’t have enough RAM (16GB), and anyway I always prefer to teleconference from my phone. The only problem with that is that I can’t really open links. Anyway, Zoom said that I needed a new Zoom version to connect to the server, but the new version wasn’t available on Android for another week yet. That seemed incompetent. Maybe tech companies need competent staff, not layoffs. I suspect there was a vulnerability involved also.

May really does start to get cold inside. Back to the 16° indoor temperatures!

Canoe on the Whanganui; leaving Whakahoro; four goats; kayaking a small rapid; School Strike for Climate in Wellington; Upper Hutt judo; brown teal/pāteke at Zealandia; kookaburra at Warrandyte State Park; FARO and Unseen Seen at MONA; black-fronted dotterel at Islands.


Not much to report this month. April was a bit of a lull, with NZ numbers jumping in May again. Next-generation vaccines still being worked on but nothing available to me here right now.


Resubmitted two papers, to ECOOP and OOPSLA, and sent a new paper to Onward!. I think Onward! is actually a strong fit for that paper. I’m not so sure about ECOOP, but we’ll see, I guess; we’ve tried SE venues for that work and it didn’t get in. I also saw similar work get rejected from PLDI. I’d say that I did a lot of work this month.

It was strange that ECOOP did artifact evaluation concurrently with paper review. Unfortunately we forgot to hit the “submit” button on our ECOOP artifact.

Quantitatively, worked on 21 days. There are 22 work days in April.

Grad students/mentees/collaborators

I was talking to my students and collaborators on 13 days, which is on the high side. Plus 1 chat with a prospective student (who I am not taking).


Two early-morning PhD comprehensive exams (ugh) and a master’s presentation. Everyone did fine, even me. I do take a few minutes to prepare for the exams the day before, and the master’s is a day of reading earlier in the week. Scanned written comments and sent them to the student.

Also some freelance undergrad advising about how to get into research and reviewed a course outline for a colleague. (A great thing about Waterloo from an instructor’s point of view is that you don’t have to have your outlines reviewed, although maybe the students would benefit).


Again a light month on the consulting front. Some outcomes work. My favourite!


We did go “overseas” in April: Australia does count as overseas, even if it’s heaps closer than Europe. That was for the Overland Track. And, just over half of the Whanganui Journey was in April. For the rest of the month, I was in Wellington.

Whanganui Journey

There was a condensed version in March’s report and I’ll link to the full report again. There are a few pictures in the highlights and I’ll put the ones from the photos post here as well.

Capital Connection; Palmerston North; Tamaranui Canoe Hire HQ; MP in a canoe setting out; rapids on first day; upside down canoe in rapids on first day; placid water; falls; Whakahoro bunkroom; view from Whakahoro (note elevation gain); welcome swallow; John Coull toilets; Brooke and Claire on day 4; more canoes; me and MP at Bridge to Nowhere; sunset at John Coull Hut (with bats).

Melbourne, Tasmania and Overland Track

So far I’ve written part 1 of the Overland Track TR:

There is probably going to be another part where I write about the day-by-day itinerary (though there are lots of other resources with that information as well). I can write here about the non-track parts of the trip, though.

EDIT: I’ve pulled out the getting-to-Launceston part into its own post and re-edited it.

Melbourne, April 28

Originally we weren’t even supposed to have a stop in Melbourne! We had booked the Auckland-Hobart service but Air New Zealand (and many other airlines) are short on planes, so they rebooked us through Melbourne. I think we actually had two schedule changes, the last one leaving us with almost all day in Melbourne (8am to 4pm). I didn’t appreciate the 6am departure: especially because online checkin didn’t work, we were supposed to get to the airport by 4:30am, and the bus doesn’t work for that. Biking to WLG with gear would have been difficult.

Arrival in Melbourne was smooth, though we futzed a bit with trying to re-check our luggage. The luggage needed to be re-checked after Australian biosecurity and Qantas wouldn’t take it until 4 hours prior to take-off. So we were stuck with it all day, which fortunately wasn’t a big deal this time.

Uncivilized hour at WLG; arrival at MEL at a more civilized hour; crimson rosella; sulphur-crested cockatoo; galah.

Alex came from Eltham to pick us up (and drop us off later). I hadn’t seen Alex and Nora for over a decade (since their wedding?); it was nice to see them and to meet their daughter Elena. After breakfast in the WLG lounge and second breakfast on the plane, we had brunch in Eltham with bagels, pretzels, and cheese from the local farmer’s market, which was good.

Eventually, Fabien and Teresa came by and we went to Warrandyte State Park/Pound Bend for a little walk, which included views of the Yarra River, a couple of birds, and a bunch of jumping kangaroos, which were the first that we’d seen in the wild. From the park it was straight back to the airport and then to Hobart.

Sometimes people say that airline status is overrated. It is more true that in the US you can buy all of the benefits (for some price). It is less true in Canada. Anyway, the point is that we were at MEL and had no status on Qantas. Security moved fast. The plane was delayed. We were hungry since we chose to not bring any food to Australia. Air NZ lounges have pretty good food; on average, better than Maple Leaf Lounges. We didn’t have access to any lounges. One can pay for food, and we did. Somehow the crispy pork banh mi looked good but was not tasty. Sushi Jiro was OK. I wasn’t keen to spend $6 on a small bag of chips.

The airport bus in Hobart for two is about the same price as an Uber. We took the Uber to the Mayfair Plaza in Sandy Bay, which is a relatively posh neighbourhood near the university. Then, we went to Suminato (and came back the next day!) and did a grocery run after supper. Australian grocery stores aren’t quite as extra as US grocery stores, but it feels like they have more choice than NZ stores. I wonder if that’s actually true.

Hobart (MONA), April 29

After a tasty breakfast at Daci and Daci (MP liked it so much that she got dessert there for after dinner), we went to MONA, which is a huge tourist attraction for Tasmania.

Rainbow over Sandy Bay; MONA ROMA boats; Investigator research vessel; sheep on MONA ROMA; industrial Hobart neighbourhood; MONA entrance; words in water; art; Hobart architecture; banh mi stall; judo at Clarence PCYC.

OK, what about MONA? Well, they run a fleet of MONA ROMA boats from central Hobart to the museum, which is a neat way to get there. (“Sit on sheep”.) The formal entrance also involves climbing some stairs to access the museum (though there is an accessible entrance as well). There were indeed lots of people visiting the museum.

Overall, it’s a pretty epic museum built into the Hobart rock. It’s just this facility owned by this guy David Walsh who made some money as an applied mathematician, er, professional gambler. There are some pieces which are neat, but much of the art is somewhat weird or disturbing. I suppose art is supposed to make you feel something. There’s kind of nothing which is “oh, that’s a pretty piece of art”.

My friend Chris strongly recommended that I see the Turrell “art rides” Unseen Seen + Weight of Darkness and Event Horizon.

We went to Event Horizon first. This is a room with no visible borders; all of the surfaces are painted so that you don’t see anything about the room’s configuration. You just see the half dozen people there with you, and the exit if you’re facing that way. The light colour slowly changes throughout your time there.

Then, we went to Unseen Seen, where you sit inside a ball and the light quickly changes colour. You kind of see weird visual effects, but again, no shapes. Unseen Seen is paired with Weight of Darkness, where you navigate to some chairs in a completely dark room for 15 minutes. MP really liked that, despite misgivings about sensory deprivation chambers.

After the Turrell “art rides”, we wandered around the museum and had lunch at Dubsy’s, where a lot of people did not like the not-burgers. We did not have a not-burger. The tagine was actually pretty good.

I was not thrilled that Mayfair Plaza doesn’t store luggage unless you’re coming back, so we had to bring it to our next destination, Hobart Tower Motel. That was a hassle for the next morning.

Also, we got a bunch of dehydrated food from Strive Food which was pretty good. It does require using one’s pot to cook the food, so a bit more stove time, but it’s also lighter. They have a small storefront in Hobart, presumably where their facility is.

I also visited the judo club at the Clarence PCYC, who seemed to like having me visit. Apparently people from Wellington had been there a few years ago to attend a clinic as well. I showed some techniques.

And, as I wrote above, we went to Suminato again (and got recognized as repeat customers).

Launceston, April 30

The bus from Hobart to Launceston was reasonably but not completely full. No complaints about that service. I always prefer trains, but Tasmania isn’t that populated. There were three Sams on the bus and staff got a bit confused when checking off passengers. Other people on the Overland had delays flying into Launceston.

Painting of cat; pink-eared duck and friends; great egret; grey teals; great cormorant (aka black shag); superb fairy wren; yellow-tailed black cockatoos in formation; Tamar Islands sunset.

We walked across town to Sporties (“A Proper Sports Pub”) and stayed in the rooms above the pub. Not posh, but totally fine. Not noisy, in particular. But first, we had tasty Vietnamese food at Noodles N Rolls-tastic just off the bus.

After we got to the hotel (with another quick supermarket stop to get some more things we’d forgotten), we went to the Tamar Islands Wetlands. There was a tour bus which dropped off Asian toursts for a while, and then they left. New birds: Cape Barren Goose, Pink-eared Duck, Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoo, Forest Raven. Good bird site.

I tried to figure out the bus to Tamar Islands but I couldn’t find any reasonable way to pay for the bus. I haven’t had cash for a while now and the withdrawal fee was either $5 (at a white-label ATM) or $7.50 (at a bank ATM). No thank you. I wonder what fee ANZ Australia would have charged to withdraw from our ANZ NZ account, though I did not try that.

MP thought that maybe we should have dinner at Sporties, but we instead went to Alchemy. MP’s bao and tacos were good. So was my chicken parm, though it was enormous.

The Overland post will start with May 1, day 1 of the Overland Track, and our pickup in the morning.

Travel planning

Some upcoming trips:

  • Cascade-Dart: was previously planned for March and rescheduled for May. In April we did a bit of replanning for May, but then when we came back from Overland we decided to aim for December instead. There is 20cm of snow forecast for Ben Lomond for the Saturday before our trip.
  • Old Ghost Road: planning this NZ West Coast trip for late June; it’s not at elevation.

Movement statistics

Only one plane trip, no trains. Relatively large amount of bus and taxi, as well as a boat (MONA ROMA). Less walking and more biking than usual.

  • 🚶 Walking: 72km on 22 days (still canoeing, plus in-town in Wellington, but no hikes; well below average)
  • 🚲 Biking: 83km on 14 days (high for Wellington; includes 8.2km ebike)
  • 🚗 Driving: 130km on 3 days (Upper Hutt and Australia)
  • 🚗 Taxi: 51km (to WLG, from HBA, and around Launceston)
  • 🚌 Inter-city bus: 466km on 2 days (Raetihi to Wellington; Hobart to Launceston)
  • ✈ Plane: 3,206km (WLG-MEL-HBA)
  • 🚣 Canoe distance: 90km (last three days of Whanganui Journey)
  • 🚣 Boat: 24km (MONA ROMA)


None (except for Pound Bend). The Great Walk that isn’t a walk, well, isn’t a walk; it’s a canoe trip. Did walk a bit on the School Strike for Climate.

Also went to Zealandia a couple of times to practice photography.


Some good progress here, though still an enormous backlog. As always, pictures are clickable to go to the full gallery.

  • Sets of pictures posted: 25
  • Total pictures posted: 848
  • Total pictures in selection pool: 3299
  • Accept rate: 25.7% (min 10.8%, max 65.3%; should compute this per camera; I think multi-shots and tricky captures more common on the good cameras)

I also contributed to this photo site:

In other camera news, I got tired of focussing on the trees that are in front of the birds, so I experimented with back-button focus. There were a few misfires on Overland but not bad overall.

South Rim of the Grand Canyon; Grand Canyon Lodge view; kākā at Zealandia; aerial view of Tapuae-O-Uenuku; rainbow lorikeet at Botanic Garden Mount Annan; nearby red-rumped parrot; Bondi Beach in the distance; kata-guruma at Edmonton International; Makara; Arrowtown huts; Mount Barff; canoe on the Whanganui; leaving Whakahoro; four goats; kayaking a small rapid.

April posts

The Whanganui Journey trip report had pretty good turnaround time, and was the only blog post for the month. Of course there were some papers.


Definitely was in Wellington for most of the month: 24 days out of 30. Also submitted Canadian tax returns, as required.


I lost a hat on the bus back from Whanganui, so I got a replacement hat.

Also, my local Synology NAS was complaining about drive failure, so I got a replacement drive. The extra terabyte isn’t usable unless I replace the other drive as well.

We also got another Aarn pack for MP (which seems to have worked well on the Overland) and an actual below-0 sleeping bag.

Also we got some super pricey “ebike brake pads” (NZ$95 for front and rear) and installed them on MP’s bike with the help of Bikespace.


Being mostly in Wellington resulted in 6× judo practice based on how the days of the week lined up (though once in Hobart). I missed judo on ANZAC day and the day after I got back from the Whanganui Journey.

For climbing, I managed 4× at Faultline. It does seem like a monthly pass is going to be worthwhile at Faultline. I still think that one needs to go 3× per week to actually get good at a sport, and I’m closer to 1.5× per week, but do I have time for 3×?


Whanganui Journey (Raetihi):

  • Coach Café: Off the river I ordered creamy mushrooms and eggs, and then I had a toasty to go. Both exceeded expectations for the only option in Raetihi in the afternoon.


  • Saigon Taste: Was there once (when Orange Chinese food truck not available) and the pho was better than at Fisherman’s Plate, though I only have 1 data point so far.
  • Graze Wine Bar: Has been open for two years in Kelburn Village, replacing the butcher, but often looks busy (and I was doubtful about the ventilation). We went on a Saturday afternoon and almost had the place to ourselves. Creative tapas-style menu; we ordered chef’s choice snack attack for 2 which was more than enough for lunch, though we did get extra bread to eat the sauce with. Butterfish tasty.
Creamy mushrooms and eggs, toasty at Coach Café; pho from Saigon Taste; 3 dishes from Graze.

Melbourne Airport:

  • Jiro Sushi: actually seemed to be a good choice, but…
  • Mobo Moga: “fusion SE asian”: wouldn’t do that again, and MP was still hungry, hence the sushi.
  • Qantas in-flight snack: the cheese and crackers they served us on MEL-HBA was quite appreciated.


  • Suminato: we got recognized when we came back the next day; good sushi, grilled eggplant, croquette, and the tempura was just right.
  • Daci & Daci: have expanded to three locations in Hobart; we had worthy croissants and desserts. Would like to have their high tea!
  • Dubsy’s: maybe the least fancy place at MONA? has vegetarian food and “invasive species-meats”; a lot of people hate the burger but we ordered something that is actually supposed to be vegetables, which was good.
  • Banh Mi ‘N Grill: 10× better banh mi than at Mobo Moga, actually tasted like something. Ran over just before closing as MP was trying on some shoes.
  • MONA ROMA: they sold me a scallop pie via PA announcement. I don’t regret it!


  • Noodles N Rolls-tastic: legit Vietnamese place, good pho.
  • Alchemy: I had an enormous chicken parm which was also (cold) breakfast the next day; MP had prawn tacos and bao, which were tasty, more reasonably sized and made for a good dinner.
Second breakfast on Air NZ service to Melbourne; kinda tasteless Mobo Moga banh mi; in-flight snack on Qantas, MEL-HBA; eggplant, croquette, and sushi at Suminato; quiche at Daci & Daci; remains of a scallop pie on MONA ROMA; tagine from Dubsy's; banh mi at Banh Mi 'N Grill in Hobart; sushi, tempura, and sushi at Suminato; enormous chicken parm at Alchemy; pho from Noodles n Rolls-tastic.


The usual. Beaver Valley Climbing Festival is taking shape with the OAC, which is great. I wonder if the Scout group is less cohesive because there are no regular Group-level in-person meetings. Also helped revise a Judo Ontario refereeing exam.


Productive month in terms of both submissions and travel. We’ll see how that goes.