Tuesday, March 30, 2010


Bears, Boats and Blue

Kingston, on Norfolk Island, is where old surfboats spend their last days. When they are too old or too damaged to use for unloading ships some of them are placed on the edge of the lagoon so tourists can take THE classic Norfolk Island photo. You will see photos of these boats in this spot in just about every add for NI tourism. Naturally, the Oldies had to take one. They did last time we were there too, back in 2005. The boat was a bit better this time, just check the photo of the 2005 one in the November 2006 archive and you will see what I mean. This boat was a bit more seaworthy, but it was missing some seats and all the metal bits were rusted. To stop small bears pushing it into the lagoon and playing pirate in it, the meanies had removed the oars and rowlocks. So Scruffy, Milkshake and I used our imaginations instead. Here we are navigating our way across dangerous seas in the wake of Captain Bligh. We are at the front of the boat (the bow for you nautical types) because if we get down into the body of the boat we can't see out and that's not a safe way to navigate. Also, the thing at the very front of old boats, the figurehead, was often a carving of a beautiful lady or a ferocious warrior. This boat has two ferocious bears and a beautiful little lady cow. It may be an old, worn-out, derelict boat, but to us it is a thing of beauty.

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Glaas Bohtam Boet

No, it's not my spelling, that's the way that you say "glass bottom boat" in the Norfolk language. Actually, I prefer to call this sort of boat a see-through boat. When the water is clear you can see lots of interesting things through the big glass windows in the bottom of a boat like this. This is the one that takes you out to see the coral reef and fish in Emily Bay on Norfolk Island. It is different to most boats because it is solar powered. That makes it very quiet and it doesn't scare the fish. The water in Emily Bay is some of the clearest that the Oldies have ever seen. You should hear them rave on about it when they come out of the water after a snorkelling session. Of course I am not allowed to go swimming with them so boats like this are the only way I can get an idea what they are talking about. The coral was a bit dull this time; it's the time of year when most coral is brownish or greenish, but the fish were really great. Lots of them and some very pretty colours. Personally, I like parrot fish best of the lot. They are brightly coloured and they also make a lot of the sand in coral lagoons; they eat coral, crunching it up to get the coral polyps and pooing the finely chewed coral sand. I really liked the way that this boat was launched. The tractor pulled the trailer out so deep that the engine was almost in the water, then it let the boat loose on a rope. The tractor then came back out of the water, the boat was hauled up to the end of the trailer, and the trailer was the gangplank we used to get on board. Try it yourself when you go to Norfolk Island.

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Tuesday, March 23, 2010


Blue Cows!!

Yes, there really are blue cows on Norfolk Island. My friends Robyn and Jap breed them on their farm. The cows are called Norfolk Blues, and they have just been registered as a new breed. Robyn also runs the "Norfolk Blue" ressertorornt (I still can't spell restaurant), where the Oldies tell me they found the best people-type food on the island. Now, you all know how Mum is about cows. She thinks they are the bestest critters on Earth, so on the afternoon of our last day on the island she had a really special treat. Robyn and Jap took us out to where the cows were and let Mum feed some of them. Like most cows, they were very curious and came close to see what we were up to. As soon as they realized the plastic bag had food in it they were Mum's friends and Mum was in heaven. I learned a couple of facts that you might like to remember for your next trivia night; cows will actually eat bread, cows won't eat bread that another cow has slobbered on, cows love bananas and won't eat anything else if they think there is a banana in the bag. The one critter that Mum didn't get really close to was the big blue bull. She fed him some bread, but he was safely on the other side of an electric fence. No doubt about Norfolk, it's a really special place. The scenery is as good as anywhere on Earth, the water is warm and clear, the food is great and nowhere else in the whole wide world can you find blue cows like these.

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It's a Long Way To The Top

One of the best walks on Norfolk Island is the one between the summits of Mt Pitt and Mt Bates. It is a fairly easy walk, even my Oldies can manage it. It's a lot tougher if you are a small bear with short legs. I mean, just look at this section. It's a bit steep, so the national park guys have put in steps to help people get up there easier, and to stop the track eroding into a gully. That's fine for people but it's really tough on critters like me. As you can see from the photos, the steps were almost the same height as me. You can almost not see me in the main photo. I was making really heavy going of it until Mum picked me up and carried me the rest of the way.

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My Hero Was Here

Here we are near the spot where my no.1 hero, Captain Cook, came ashore when he discovered Norfolk Island way back in 1774. He actually landed on the rocky beach in Duncombe Bay behind us. That is not really a good place to land because you then have a steep cliff to climb before you are onto the island. Back then the island was totally covered with trees and scrub and Cookie was interested in the big Norfolk pine trees. He thought they would make great masts for sailing ships. None of the island was clear and grassy, like lots of it is today. One of the problems of being a small bear (or cow, if you are Milkshake) is that you have to climb to read the signs. Between us, Scruffy and I can read most of the words, Scruff can even read and spell restaurant (I still can't). Of course, if it is windy you have a job staying balanced on the sign for long enough to read it, but this time it was nice and calm. There is a tall stone memorial marker on this site. Us littlies had a job getting up to read the plaque so we had to get Dad to read it for us. This was my second trip out to Captain Cook's landing site and the road out there has improved tremendously. Back in 2005 it was a slippery, narrow dirt track, but now it is a proper tarred road. It's a pity that my hero couldn't come back now and see how the island has changed. I think he would approve.

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Wednesday, March 17, 2010


Milky Meets the Mooies

Norfolk Island is full of cows. There are paddocks and paddocks full of them, and they are allowed to roam all around the roads as well. In fact they have right-of-way and cars have to give way to them. Milkshake had never met real cows before, so I took her out into the farmland to see some close up. Since they look awfully big and strange from ground level, if you are the size of Milky and I, it makes sense to gain a bit of height and get the proper perspective. So, it's up a fencepost. Now I'll say this for Milky, she climbs awfully well for a small cow, she even beat me to the top of this post. Of course, cows are almost as curious as cats, so before long we had lots of them coming up for a look at us. So close in fact that Mum grabbed us off the post and took us back into the car before one had a chance to see how we tasted.

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Cheerful Convicts

The convict era on Norfolk Island was a terrible time, but today the islanders are proud of their history and celebrate it. One of the fun things that visitors can do is spend an evening at a convict dinner. Part of the fun is to dress up in convict clothes and get bossed around by gaolers. The Oldies get their convict suits when they pay for the evening, but since there were no small bear convicts (as far as history records) mine had to be made specially. Unka Paddy made it for me before we went on the trip and it was a big hit on the night. The "gaolers" were Commandant Hatt (that's him in the black) and Sergeant Philby (the redcoat). They kept us running, dancing and generally mucking up all night and everybody had lots of fun, especially Dad who ended up as the only bloke on a table with 16 women. And one thing is for sure, the food was far better than what the poor convicts had to put up with back in the penal settlement days.



Norfolk Is, Nasty Long Ago, Very Nice Now

We are back from our week on Norfolk Island and have just finished downloading the 972 pictures that the Oldies took while we were there. Norfolk is a beautiful island, so it's not hard to take over 100 pictures a day. Scruffy and I are sitting on a cliff top, looking over at the old settlement area of Kingston. The big square castle-walled thing is the old gaol. This was possibly the worst place that a convict could end up back in the 1800's when Britain sent its prisoners out for hard labour in the colonies. Most of the buildings in Kingston are relics of the convict era. Today they are museums, instead of gaols and soldiers' barracks. One of the buildings is used as the island's parliament house. Norfolk is an independent country, so you have to have a passport to get there. The stone jetty is one of only two places where small boats can safely dock on the island, big ships have to anchor offshore and transfer cargo and passengers in smaller boats, called lighters. I love Norfolk because it is full of history, beautiful scenery, and cows.

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Saturday, March 06, 2010


On the Move Again

There will be no posts for a week now, because tomorrow morning we catch a plane to Norfolk Island. Scruffy, Milkshake and I are all scrubbed up and packed and ready to go. Norfolk is a spectacularly pretty island, so expect lots of pretty pictures when I get back.

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Aquarium Window Shopping

The only way I can see what's under water is to visit aquariums, because the Oldies will not let me go snorkelling with them. Sydney Aquarium is great because it has these huge windows that show you a big section of real coral reef. Looking through these windows is as close as I will get to seeing what the Oldies see, unless Mum eventually crumples under pressure and lets me go with them. The tank has all sorts of coral, anemones and fish in it. I like the clown fish that live in anemones, and the little spotted ones that come right up to the glass and try to nip you to drive you away from their patch of reef. In the wild, these little fish even try to run Dad off, sort of like a mosquito tackling an elephant. I can watch small colourful reef fish for hours.
Another part of the aquarium has a glass tunnel that goes through a big tank full of sharks, rays and big fish. It even has a glass floor. You can see these big fish swimming all around, over and under you. I got a big scare in there. I was watching a spotted ray swimming under the floor and when I sat up and looked around there was a huge shark coming straight for me. For a second I forgot that there was thick glass between me and the shark. It took Mum quite a while to calm me down again.

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Show Critters

There are lots of animals at the Canberra show each year, and Mum drags Dad and I around to see most of them. I don't mind because I like most animals, except for dogs that try to grab me and chew me. One sort that I hadn't seen much of before is the alpaca, and there was a whole shed full of them. They look like long-legged, long-necked sheep but are a lot cuter and heaps smarter. Going by the way that they all looked at me and followed my every move they think that I am cute as well. I really like the noise they make. It sounds a bit like a contented cat in a tin box, and sometimes they sort of whistle as well. But they do scare easily so you have to make sure that you don't make sudden moves near them. That's why I am sitting quietly talking to this one. And the cow? Well, you know about Mum and cows, so we always come home with lots of cow photos. This little calf was a real cutie, the best of the hundreds of cows that were at the show, in my opinion.


Monday, March 01, 2010


After the Show

It's fun going to the Canberra Show each year with the Oldies. Mum, of course, drags us around to all the cows and we go through all the sheds and see the cows just lying around or being washed and combed and then judged. Actually, Mum can usually pick the winning cow in each class before the judges make their decision. I think she has been around cows too long. But then it's off to the pavilions. The Oldies always say that they will not spend much at the show, but just look at the fully-loaded Dad on his way home from the show. You can easily see a radio-controlled helicopter (for me of course) and a bouncy donkey (for my nephew Josh, who has a birthday coming soon), but you can't see what's in the backpack. I can tell you that that backpack was absolutely full to the brim with stuff that the Oldies weren't going to buy. It was so full that you could only just squeeze a small bear in there, and you can guess who the bear in question was. And yes, the helicopter flies really well and once I get the hang of making my paws work independently of each other it will not crash into the garage roof and walls anywhere near as often.



Police Cars!!!

I love cars, and of all the cars that I see on the Canberra roads I love police cars most. They are painted in the prettiest colours and are usually zooming around with flashing lights and sirens wailing. It must be great fun to drive one. I haven't driven one yet, but I had a chance to climb all over one at the Canberra Show last weekend. The police stall at the show is always staffed by the friendliest police people and the policewomen let me go anywhere I want. I checked out the motorbike and the water police boat as well as the car. There was also a very mangled car on display that shows what happened when a young guy drank too much and speeded; it was really gruesome and sad and when I get my drivers licence I will stick to the rules and common sense. There was a fun thing there where you could get your photo taken in a pretend police car. I was the pretend driver and Dad was the passenger. You can see that he doesn't trust my driving yet. He will probably be worse when he starts to teach me to drive, after my legs grow long enough to reach the pedals.

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