Saturday, April 28, 2007
Now Here's a Real Tiger
This is a real tough tiger. He lives at the National Zoo in Canberra. I took Dad there for his birthday so that I could show him what the helicopter is named after. This is a mean-looking critter, just like the chopper, but I have no desire whatever to try and have fun with him (the tiger that is, Dad is fun most of the time). There is a big walkway out over the tiger enclosure so that you don't have to look through a fence to see the tigers. For once, Mum didn't have to stop me climbing. No way was I going to take any chance of falling in with this guy and his cobbers.
Here's a Heli-Tiger
At Avalon airshow I saw a really mean-looking helicopter. It was bigger than the one I flew in and it had a big gun under its nose. Gee, I could have some fun with a machine like that. Dad says that it is a Tiger. Well, maybe, but real tigers have yellow and black stripes and this one had brown, green and black ones. The small photo in the corner is a good example of why you never turn your back on Mum when she has the camera. OK, Dad and I were both looking up and we have more or less the same shape but we don't need photos to prove it!
Yep, There's Lizards Here
Now here's a sign that really means it. You would expect a place called Lizard Island to have lizards on it, so Mum and I went looking for them. As soon as the oldies got out of the water that is. Sometimes I think that their ancestors must have been mer-people. We were visiting the island on our 2005 Barrier Reef cruise on Captain Cook's "Reef Endeavour". Anyhow, we walked across the island trying to find some of the big goannas that Cap'n Cook named the island after. The only one we saw was crossing the path but we didn't get his picture because a group of noisy old ladies came along and scared him off. When we got back to the beach Dad took this picture of Mum and I leaning on the sign just to prove we had been there and guess what, this little gecko was hiding on the back of the sign. Mum really loves geckoes and I don't mind them because they aren't as scary as goannas, so I have put a bigger picture of him in the corner.
Monday, April 23, 2007
An Interesting Pyramid
I found this interesting thing at Robe in South Australia. It is the Cape Dombey Obelisk, and it has sat on this crumbling rock spur since 1855. Obelisks are sort of like lighthouses without the light. This one can be seen from 20 km away at sea and helps boats find the way into Robe harbour. For a long time it used to be the storage area for rockets. When boats were in trouble the rockets were fired out across the boat, dragging a line that could be tied to the boat and the shore so that sailors could climb to safety. The cliffs are really dangerous and there are signs up telling people to keep off them. They don't say anything about small bears. I had to climb up the fence to read this sign. Mum was not impressed, particularly when she found me on the wrong side of the safety fence. Sometimes I don't understand mothers.
This Boat Eats Cars!
If you want to drive along the coast below Melbourne, you need to get across the entrance to Port Phillip Bay. Unless your car can swim this means that you need the help of this special boat that opens up at both ends and carries your car across. It is a huge boat. The main deck is big enough for buses and semis to drive on; our car looked tiny in there. We took the car across from Sorrento to Queenscliffe. Once Mum had parked the car we went up onto the top deck and watched ships, dolphins and interesting houses (on shore) during our half-hour trip across the heads. It was a calm day so the trip was smooth. Sometimes when the wind and tide are just right (or maybe just wrong) it gets really rough as the ferry goes across near to the Rip. Actually, we enjoyed the trip so much that we went back to the Queenscliffe wharf the next day, left the car there and just rode the ferry across to Sorrento and back again. I think it is great to watch the front end open up and swallow cars and then, at the other side of the bay, open at the back end and let them all drive out again.
Thursday, April 19, 2007
Wings Over the Sea
Boy, was the ocean rough the day we went helicoptering over the Port Campbell National Park coast! Some of the waves were so big that they actually threw spray right over the top of the cliffs. None of them hit my helicopter though. The town is Port Campbell. Waves were running right into its little harbour so no boats were there. Our helicopter ride wasn't rough at all and the pilot dodged all of the rain showers. It is easy to see why so many ships have been wrecked along this bit of coast, particularly sailing ships which got too close in and hit the reefs and cliffs. There have been over 150 wrecks along the coast we travelled between Melbourne and Adelaide. I'll stick to planes or cars along here. That water is far too rough and cold.
Daydreaming of Fiji
It's cold here in Canberra this morning. Autumn is heading toward winter and this is the first morning that Dad has left the heater on until almost lunchtime. Days like this I want to be somewhere warmer, so I remember the great places we have been. One of the best is the Blue Lagoon at the northern end of the Yasawa islands. We had a perfect day there. Warm but not too hot, crystal clear water, spectacular scenery, friendly fish and a friendlier crew. What more could a bear want. This is one of the small bays hidden along the shore; we wandered off from the main group and had the place to ourselves. Unfortunately, the developers have moved in on this island and it will lose its "Robinson Crusoe" feel, so I was lucky the oldies did this trip with my Captain Cook friends when they did. If you look closely, you will see a small bear in the picture, safely perched on a rock ledge well beyond the reach of crabs.
Monday, April 16, 2007
A Giant Helicopter
I saw a really big helicopter at the Avalon airshow. It was much bigger than the one I flew in a week later. This is a Russian Mil-8 helicopter. It is one of the most successful helicopters ever. It is used in over 40 countries and there are over 10,000 of them in use. This one is used for carrying cargo and aerial agriculture work. The people who import these choppers into Australia told us all about them and let me climb all through this one. Aeroplane people usually like small bears.
Larger Than Life
There is a statue of my hero, James Cook, in the garden of his cottage in Melbourne. It is a bit bigger than life, because if he had been this big he would have had a very sore head from banging it on doorways and ship beams. You can see that he had plenty of space in his uniform for a small bear. History does not record if he actually had one to help him on his voyages of exploration.
Friday, April 13, 2007
The Cutest Little Aeroplane
This is really a Bart-sized aeroplane! I found it at the Avalon airshow and fell in love with it. It is a French ultralight design called Cri-Cri and is the smallest twin-engined 'plane in the world. It is actually aerobatic and you can see some videos of it on the web. The first one flew in1973 near Paris. I couldn't find the pilot of this one so I didn't see inside it and can't tell you much about its history. Isn't it a cutie?
A Strange Critter
For most of our roadtrip we followed the coast between Melbourne and Adelaide. It was not good weather for swimming. It rained a bit, the sky was usually overcast and the ocean was very rough, so not even Dad was keen to go snorkelling. If it had been good weather the oldies would have been looking for this little critter and his relatives. This is a weedy sea dragon and it lives in the ocean water over 2m deep all along the coast we travelled . They are hard to see because they live in areas of rock and kelp and they look just like the background. They are different to sea horses because the dad doesn't have a pouch to carry the young ones around. Instead he sticks the eggs under his tail until they hatch. I'm not keen on swimming in rough water, so I saw this guy in the safety and comfort of Melbourne aquarium.
Visiting My Hero's House
Guess what I found in Melbourne. My number 1 hero's house is there! Hidden away in Fitzroy Gardens is Captain Cook's Cottage. Well, actually it is the cottage of his parents, James and Grace, but it is the one he lived in as a small boy. It was built in Yorkshire in 1755, transported out from England and rebuilt in Melbourne in 1933. I got a real thrill seeing the place that young James lived in and the sort of things that he used when helping his oldies around the place. The most obvious thing is how small the place is for people even though it is a bit big for small bears. And just in case you can't see what's sitting on the hedge, I've put in an insert of two hyped-up visitors.
Remember, you can see the photos bigger if you click on them. And do check out the earlier posts in my archive.
Wednesday, April 11, 2007
I Flew In a Helicopter!
The absolutely most exciting thing we did on our trip was to fly in a helicopter over the Port Campbell National Park. I was a bit worried because the day was overcast and blowing a gale, but Dad wanted to go and Mum let herself be talked into it. I expected to be tossed all over the place but the chopper was a lot more stable than an ordinary aeroplane would have been. We flew over the Twelve Apostles and up the coast past Port Campbell. The sea below us was really wild and smacking onto the cliffs with lots of spray. The oldies got some great pictures and video. I watched the pilot so I could take over if anything went wrong but nothing did. If you visit the Twelve Apostles then take a trip in this helicopter. It really is one of the things you will remember forever.
At Pt Lonsdale Lighthouse
We visited lots of lighthouses. I bet you didn't know that there are over 20 lighthouses between Melbourne and Adelaide. I do now, because I've been to most of them now. This is the one at Pt Lonsdale at the entrance to Port Phillip Bay. All of the ships that go to Melbourne have to go past this lighthouse which guides them through one of the most dangerous entrances in the world, a place called the Rip. There have been lots of shipwrecks in this area, even with the group of lighthouses that mark the entrance. More of them later (the lighthouses, not the wrecks). Scruffy and I enjoyed sunbaking on the wall while the oldies fluttered around taking pictures.
Bart's Back From the Bush
We're back from our road trip. Scruff, Mum, Dad and I flew to Melbourne for the Avalon airshow and drove over 2,500 Km to Adelaide before flying home on Easter Sunday. What a trip! We stayed at Queenscliffe, Apollo Bay, Warnambool, Mt Gambier and Port Elliot along the way. I saw lots of aeroplanes, I drove trains, I drove a horse, I went on boats, I flew in a helicopter and I met some strange new friends. Lots of stuff for the blog coming your way. Here I am at the start of the trip, waiting for help to get these suitcases into Trent's car. I won't say that Mum and Dad shopped too much on the trip, but when the suitcases arrived back here at the end of the trip they were fully expanded and had a third one with them. My shopping was much more restrained.