Wednesday, May 27, 2009
A Rock Arch, Sometimes With Seals
At the western end of Rottnest Island there are some spectacular rock formations. The sea has been eroding them away for ages and they are now rough, rugged and warped shapes. This one has a hole worn right through it. You can walk across the top of the arch if you are game (Dad wasn't). Sometimes seals come up onto the rocks in this little cave to dry off and sun themselves. I waited for ages hoping one would do it for me, but although I saw some swimming around and playing in the ocean near the rocks, none came out where we could take their photo. I couldn't stay long because the bus driver tooted his horn and we had to get back on the bus.
This cute little lighthouse is at a place called Whalers Bluff at Portland in Victoria. It was one of the 21 lighthouses we visited on our Great Ocean Road trip in 2007. It is on a cliff way up above Portland harbour and it guides ships safely past Whalers Reef and into Portland harbour. The lighthouse was built in 1859 at a spot called Battery Point, but it was moved to Whalers Bluff in 1889 so they could put guns on Battery Point. If you look carefully you can see me on one of the posts of the fence around a little garden. This was a good lookout post and I saw lots of small lizards and some wrens while I was there. You can see Mum over by the lighthouse door. She has this thing about taking lots of photos of lighthouses, including the signs on the doors. This lighthouse was easy to get to, you can drive right up to the park it is in. Some others are way out at the end of rough dirt tracks. Either way, I like lighthouses and will be sorry when Mum has finally got to every one in Australia.
Thursday, May 21, 2009
All Set For the Beach
I love beaches (apart from crab-infested ones). The problem is that the Oldies only take me there on sunny days and sometimes it gets really hot. Small bears are immune to sunburn and skin cancer but our fur fades and loses its colour. Not that that worries Scruffy much because his fur is a faded sort of colour to begin with. Now big people get around the problem of too much sun by taking a beach umbrella along with them. That's fine for them but small bears are too close to the sand and the sun leaks around the edges of the shadow and gets them. We need small-bear-sized brollies. Guess what. I found the ideal one in Perf, and in the most unlikely place. We went for a lunch cruise upriver to a winery (Dad's idea of course) and there they were, a stack of just-right-stripey bear beach brollies. Mind you, the winery people called them wine bottle brollies (they clip onto the bottle and keep it shaded), but what do they know? The oldies did the right thing and bought some bottles of port so I got one of the brollies to keep. Next time we hit the beach Scruffy and I are all set for sun protection.
Here's what some of the central part of Perf looks like on a cloudy day. In the centre of the top picture you can see the Barrack Jetty where we got on boats for trips up and down the Swan river. To the left of the jetty is a big white wheel. Know what? It is a Ferris wheel and people and small bears can ride on it. I hadn't been on one before and was not sure if I would like it. The Oldies have been on lots of them of course, including the really big one in London. Anyhow, we all went on this one. Scruffy was a bit scared at first and just sat quietly in the corner of our little cabin thingy. I was OK and raced from side to side trying to look at everything until Mum grabbed me and told me to sit still and look after Scruff. You get a great view from the top of one of these things. I could see most of the centre of Perf and lots of the river. One of the strange things was the brown and blue pointy thing behind me in the photo. Turns out that this is a really special bell tower, so I will show you more of it later. By the time we finished our ride Scruff was actually enjoying it and I had to lure him out of the cabin with ice-cream.
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
Bears Rule, Worldwide
Did you know that bears are found all over the world? Not just travelling bears like Scruffy and I, but bears that live in the same country all the time. Of course, some countries have the big dangerous type of bear, like the Grizzlies and Kodiaks, but in just about every town around the world there is a shop with a sign a bit like this. (Dad says that there are some countries where there is so much trouble that there aren't shops like this, but I bet there is some sort of bear available somehow). This sign is on a shop in a place called York in the UK. York has lots of interesting things, a really big cathedral, ruins of ancient buildings and some preserved ones as well and a really great museum about the Vikings, who founded York (or Jorvik as they called it), way back in the tenth century. For me, the most interesting thing is that right in the middle of the old part of town there is a shop that is full of my cousins waiting for a home.
Bart, Bandaged Bear
Mum was back in hospital two weeks ago and she came back with lots of sticky dressings covering the cuts that the surgeon had made in her. I was allowed to stay in hospital with her, but they wouldn't let me into the operating theatre. That's pretty mean of them because I could probably do a good job as a surgeon. After all, Dad lets me trim the pieces of our models with his craft knives, and scalpels aren't all that much different. And the nurses wouldn't give me any needles, or let me try giving them either. So this stay in hospital was a bit slow for a small bear, just watching Mum get all the attention. I really wanted to see how things are done because if I can't be a sniffer-bear for Customs or a helicopter pilot I wouldn't mind giving doctoring a go. Well, I figured there was one thing I could try. There is a medicine box at home and it has all sorts of medicines and bandages and things in it. So while Dad was busy changing some of Mum's sticky dressings I cut some bits of sticking plaster and put some on me, one to cover an imaginary cut tummy and one on the arm. I thought it looked good but the Oldies weren't happy about me getting into the medicine box. They say it is definitely not a thing for small bears. They weren't happy about the sticky plaster either. Mum said it might pull my fur out when I tried to get it off. Well, she was wrong. I didn't loose any fur but boy, that plaster really sticks. Of course it is hard to remove when you don't have fingers, but I figured it out. Borrow Mum's crimping pliers and tug gently. Plaster problem solved, but another one appeared immediately. That's right, sticky stuff on the jaws of the pliers. Unhappy Mum again. Sometimes small bears just can't win.
Saturday, May 09, 2009
Most lighthouses I have seen are ones that we drove to, but on our trip to Perf I saw some from boats. Of course the whole point of lighthouses is that they are meant to be seen from boats, otherwise they wouldn't be much use at all. This is the Bathurst lighthouse on Rottnest Island. It was built in 1900 and is one of the two lighthouses on the island. Ships use the two lighthouses to take bearings that get them safely around the reefs that make the entry to Fremantle dangerous. Scruffy and I are sitting on the deck of the semi-submarine that took us out to see the shipwrecks. The deck was a good place to see all the boats and things as we went back to the wharf on Rottnest. Of course we weren't allowed to hang on the rail like some kids were, but they didn't see any dolphins so it didn't matter.
A Tiny Basic Aeroplane
This is a very small aeroplane. It is a replica of the very first successful light aircraft, the Santos-Dumont Demoiselle of 1907. The pilot sits on a chair in a framework of bamboo with only a seatbelt to keep him in the 'plane. Actually, the 'plane is small enough that two small bears could probably fly it with one working the pedals and the other one tugging on control wires. One of these aeroplanes was used in the film "Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines". The engine power was so low that only small pilots could fly it. Small bears would have been even better.
Friday, May 01, 2009
Near the Barrack Jetty in Perf there is a nice park. It has the big sundial in it, a big bell tower, and this pool with fountains and pretty mosaic patches. Scruffy and I found the pool one morning while we were filling in time until our river cruise boat was ready to go. By carefully finding a mosaic where the wind was blowing spray from a fountain we managed to get wetter than Mum lets us. We had fun until she found us. Mind you, if she had been a few minutes later we would have been a lot wetter because we had figured out that we could lower one another over the edge and back again easily enough and were just about to play "dunk the bear". One day we will escape the Eagle-Eyed-Mum and get really wet. Anyhow, this time we stretched things a bit because the mosaics were soaked with spray and when she picked us up our posterior portions were soaked. She was not amused.
A Snug Cove
This is one of the small bays on Rottnest Island. Rottie has lots of bays and beaches of all sizes, but this is one of the smallest. It is only about 100m across and is almost circular with a narrow opening to the ocean. It is right at the western end of Rottie. According to the signs, that scoundrel Cliff Edge is here too, and even more trouble than he is in South Australia. The signs there said "Caution Cliff Edge" while here they say "Danger. Cliff Edge" (although this one doesn't). Someday I may meet Cliff and find out just what the problem is. Dad found what the main problem here was. He went for a walk to get some photos of seals and the sandflies just about ate him alive (at least that is what he says, personally I think there is too much of him for even a big swarm of sandflies to eat). Every bay on Rottie has boats moored in it. Some people from Perf even live on their boats here for months at a time over the summer. I think that would be fun.
It's Bad for Animals Too
There is a special exhibition on now at the Australian War Memorial. It is called "A is for Animals" and it tells the story of animals in war. Mostly you hear about the terrible things that happen to people and the bravery of the heroes, but never much about the animals. War is tough on animals. The big tough ones like elephants, camels and horses get called in to carry supplies, haul guns and carry soldiers into battle. The cute little ones sometimes become mascots and get taken all over the world and sometimes even into the battle zones. Some are real heroes, like the dogs that guard camps. I think the dogs that sniff out mines are the bravest animals ever. Some animals even try to tell their people that trouble is on the way, like the cat that tried to run away from its ship 3 times before the ship was sunk in battle. Then there are the animals that pay the ultimate price and are used as food for the troops. And there are the "animal baddies" in the battlefields, usually insects that spread disease and chompy things like crocodiles. Animals have been forced into just about every war ever fought and have always done their best, just as much as the people involved. When you remember the troops don't forget the animals.