A trip to Sydney

I have recently found that my spotting scope no longer fits well on my tripod.  This is an appalling state of affairs which required a trip to Bintel in Sydney to remedy.

English readers will doubtless be astonished at the idea of driving 300km each way for a bit of shopping, but I did some sums and reckon it was cheaper than posting the scope from Sydney.  As shown by some clever research it was also a good bit safer for the selected scope!

I should note that the old scope had been acquired in Ottawa in 1991 and survived being driven over by a Nissan Patrol in Tanzania in 2003!  So it had done good service.

There are a number of points of interest from the trip.

A first one was that as we drove we kept an eye out for examples of people over 70 driving dangerously.  This follows from some inane comments by a senior member of NSW Police, suggesting that 70 year olds were a major road hazard.  From looking at said cop on the media, he was not exactly fit for service due to  carrying excess condition.  We saw very few examples of bad driving today: the only evil septugenarians we saw were driving about 20kph below the limit and, given Mr Plod's proclivity from blaming everything on excess speed, they would probably regard these semi-mobile roadblocks as extremely good citizens.

A second matter was usage of fuel.  When we left home our car (VW Jetta diesel) told us we had enough fuel to do another 950km.  After driving to Goulburn (90km) this distance had dropped to 1150km!  Obviously we were getting good fuel consumption.  By the time we got to Glebe we had covered 297km and still had 990km left in the tank!  Coming back home was a tad less economical as:
  • there is a net climb of 780m; and
  • the 5+km drive through the M5 tunnel was very congested (2nd gear for a few km).
When we got home our overall average fuel consumption was 4.2 l/100km (~65mpg).  Driving around our area we usually get ~50mpg but on a couple of trips to the Shoalhaven recently (twisty and bumpy roads) we got ~55mpg.  So being on very smooth roads with no sharp bends and steady speeds (basically cruise control the whole time) should do better!  Having now refueled the car - after an additional 218km of typical driving - I have been able to do another estimate of the fuel consumption.  Assuming that the 'extra' was at similar fuel consumption to the last fill up my calculations resolved to 66mpg - extremely close to the car-system estimate.

So: to the purchase decisions.  It was a slight issue that as a result of many sales over Christmas and the wholesalers closing for the holidays a couple of models might have been difficult to acquire.  However some acceptable tests were set up making it clear which model I wanted.  (This was a heritage acquisition: it's the last scope I will ever buy, so a good one was order of the day.)

The basic test was to set the scopes up on tripods and cart them out to a patio to look at a few things.
The shop is the red dot and the basic test was to look for Figbirds in the huge Moreton Bay Fig trees across the road.  And the posters stuck on the supports for the rail line off to the right (less good lighting) and some bushes about 15m away.  All excellent outcomes for the two models still in competition.  Then we got to the standard test which was a sign about 20cm high on the far side of Wentworth Park (approximately the far end of the blue line).  This was ~300m away .  I could read one word on this: 'Park' - through the better scope but not quite on the other.  I then looked at some boats moored at the far end of the yellow line (~900m away) I could clearly read words written on one boat.  So a clear win for a Swarovski ATX 85. 

I also asked about the quality of my tripod and was advised that the legs on the tripod were fine, but the head was showing signs of age.  So a new video head was acquired and a free tune-up applied to the lower sections of the legs.  What excellent service: this is the advantage of local purchasing - try before you buy and great advice.

There is now no question that I will be seeing lots of rarities over the next few weeks!


Sharpen said…
Martin sort of on the same theme, what brand of binocular do you use when bird watching? Thanks Sharon
Flabmeister said…

Swarovski. I was attracted to them by tales I had heard of the excellent service support from the company. Indeed they have delivered for me on that on a couple of occasions. And of course the optical quality is fantastic. They are not cheap, but are very good value for money.

Best regards

Sharpen said…
Thanks Martin I'll look them up on the internet. We live on the Central Coast and can use them for whale and bird watching.

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