President's Report - August 2008

Greetings All,

Imagine you have just stepped off the QEII cruise liner in Oslo, on a round the world cruise... Your choice of transport from the wharf into the city is a 607 taxi or a tractor! Which would you choose? Not a difficult choice, one would imagine, but one that seemingly confronted passengers when I saw the QEII docked in Oslo this week. A quick count of cars on the motorway the other day suggests that Pugs make up about 3% of cars in Oslo, mostly 307, 406 and 206, though I've also seen a few 405, 407 and 306s, not to mention a lone 106 and, of course, the 607 taxi on the wharf. I have spent the past ten days in Oslo, attending a conference. On arrival, the local advice was to trust neither the weather nor the women.

I can't speak knowledgeably about the latter, but the summer weather has been completely untrustworthy with overcast skies and showers almost every day and maximum temps in the mid teens. Today, my last day in Oslo, was an exception (warm and sunny) so I took a ferry ride to the famous museums across the harbour - the Viking ships, the Kon-Tiki and the Fram museums. Talk about a great sea-faring tradition!

The Vikings got to North America, Thor Heyerdahl sailed the Kon-Tiki across the Pacific from South America, and the Fram was used by Fridtjof Nansen, Otto Sverdrup and Roald Amundsen on their polar expeditions to both the North and South poles. Interestingly, for a country that produces a lot of oil and gas, the price of fuel is very high - about 13 Norwegian krones/litre, or about $4/litre in Aussie currency. In fact, everything is expensive - the cost of a Big Mac meal (burger, fries and coke) is about 90 krones or around $20. Not that I've eaten a Big Mac meal, but it's a useful global benchmark.

Speaking of fuel prices, while we pay rather less for fuel in Australia than many countries, including Norway, the price differential between petrol and diesel has crept up to around 30 cents/ litre, or a difference of nearly 20%. Thus while diesel cars normally have more fuel-efficient engines, the fuel cost saving is becoming rather marginal, especially when diesel cars generally cost significantly more to buy. Such was the dilemma I faced when recently looking for a "new" car to replace my aging 505, but that story will have to await my return from Oslo. I'll be home in time for the next club get together at the Canberra Services Club on Tuesday 26 August. I hope to see you there.

Keep on Pugging,

Brad Pillans

Picture of Brad