Tuesday, May 25, 2010


Shipwrecked "Sirius"

One of the most important shipwrecks in Australian history happened just where the waves are breaking in the picture, taken from the beach at Slaughter Bay on Norfolk Island. This is where HMS "Sirius" was wrecked. "Sirius" was the flagship of the First Fleet which landed the first convicts and settlers in Australia on Jan 18, 1788. Soon after, "Sirius" was sent with a party of convicts to start another settlement on Norfolk Island. In February 1790, "Sirius" and "Supply" were taking supplies and convicts to Norfolk and on March 19, 1790, were caught by rough weather at the anchorage near Kingston. "Supply" escaped but "Sirius" was blown onto the reef and wrecked. Most of the supplies were saved and no lives were lost. Things got very tough on the island for a while. For over a year there was not enough food supplies for the people there. One way they survived was by eating seabirds, and they completely wiped out a colony of over 200,000 mutton birds before relief ships arrived. Divers have been recovering stuff from the "Sirius" wreck for over 20 years now, and you can see some of the things in a museum at Kingston, just near the wreck site. The photo shows one of the big anchors and two of the short-barreled cannons, but there are lots of smaller bits in the museum as well. In really calm weather you can even dive the wreck site, but it has never been calm enough when we are there.

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Robin Woods

Yesterday the Oldies took me to see the new Robin Hood movie. Robin Hood is one of my heroes, up there with Captain Cook and Smithy. Although the critics have been a bit negative about the movie, I thought it was great. None of this squeaky-clean men-in-tights thing, but real 13th century grimy reality; it was a tough and dangerous time to be alive. I didn't even mind the way that history was twisted for the sake of the plot, it is a story about a (possibly) mythical hero after all. One thing that I noticed was the trees. The "greenwood" is ever so different to Australian forests. The Oldies knew that, of course, because they saw what remains of some English and French forests while they were on their big trip overseas. Mind you, most of the "forests" are pretty tame now, very little wildwood left anywhere it seems. The photos are actually of trees in the parklands around castles, but the trees are the same as Robin and his men would have been living among. The most important type is the one in the central image. It is a yew tree. Yew wood is what Robin Hood's bow, and all of the famous English longbows, were made from. They are also trees with character, and they look like something a small bear could easily climb.

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Tuesday, May 18, 2010


Fig Trees, Bears & a Lost Calf

The most impressive trees on Norfolk Island are the huge Moreton Bay Fig trees that grow near 100 Acre Farm. They have strangely-shaped buttress roots that are just perfect highways for small bears out on a climbing expedition. Mind you, it gets a bit tough once you have climbed up the root and have to start up the main trunk. This was Milkshake's first attempt at climbing anything like this, so we had to take a rest along the way. You can just see us on top of the big root. The roots are so big that small animals can get lost among them. We spotted this small calf desperately trying to find his way back to his Mum and getting all confused among the roots. Dad tried to herd him back through the hole in the fence to the paddock, but small calves can move a lot quicker than an Oldie. He must have found his way back eventually, because he was back with the rest of the cows when we went past next day. Oh yes, we didn't make it to the top of the tree, it got too steep for small legs. Next time we will take ropes and spikes.

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Brunch Among the Olives

On Sunday we found a new and different sort of place to drive out to for brunch. Often, when we are driving north of Canberra, we pass a place called Fedra Olive Farm, near the tiny town of Collector. This place has a cafe and bakery as well as a zillion olive trees, so we always said as we zoomed past "We really must call in there some day". Well, on Sunday we did. I had never seen olive trees close up before. These are only baby trees; olive trees can live for over 1000 years. Actually, olives were one of the first plants to be cultivated and they are mentioned in just about all of the classical literature of the Mediterranean countries. Mum really likes olives and Dad can't stand the taste of them, so I was (naturally) curious and wanting to see for myself how they stack up as small bear food. In the cafe there was a tray with four different types of olive and a sign near it that said "Please Try". No need to ask a second time, this was the chance to satisfy curiosity and maybe a few hunger pangs. The result? Well, I have to agree with Mum on this one. Olives are good tucker and Kalimata olives are the best of the lot in my opinion. And the brunch from the bakery was pretty good too.


Thursday, May 13, 2010


Watching Sea-birds

This is one of my favourite places on Norfolk Island. It is near the place where Captain Cook first set foot on the Island, and now there is a great lookout platform there where you can sit and watch sea-birds and even whales if you are lucky. Scruffy, Milkshake and I like watching the birds. The white terns nest here and they are always swooping around and making a lot of noise. Sometimes you see them diving down and catching small fish. There a lot of interesting rocks just offshore too. They have names like Elephant Rock, Bird Rock, Cathedral Rock and Green Pool Stone. If you have any sort of imagination you can see why they are called that from the shape of the rocks. Milky was a bit puzzled by the white streaks on the rocks. Scruff and I explained about the birds that roost there and their habit of just pooing where they roost. Milky was not impressed.

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Get the Point?

This sharp rock marks the evacuation point in the tiny railway town of Cook, on the trans-Australian line. I tried to climb right up to the point of the rock, but it is too pointy for me to balance on. We stopped at Cook for a short break while our Indian-Pacific train was being topped up with fuel and water. I'm not sure why Cook needs an evacuation point. There are only 5 people living there now. There is a shop that opens when the train comes through, a hospital which is now closed except when the flying doctor is called in, an airstrip, and not much else. Still, if they ever need to evacuate everyone can easily see where to go first. A thought; maybe this isn't just a rock, maybe it's a Star Trek style matter-transmitter. If so, it didn't work while I was on the platform.

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Tuesday, May 04, 2010


Bear in the Tower

The tower on Rocky Hill at Goulburn is a memorial to the soldiers from the district who were killed in the wars. It was built in 1925 and originally it remembered the soldiers of World War 1. The tower is built of cemented rock and is 20 metres high. Inside is a wall with the soldiers' names on it, a small shrine of remembrance and about a gazillion steps that let you go up to the lookout level. There are pictures of the original ANZACs around the sides of the stairwell. Now 20 metres may not seem like much to fit people, but it is a long way for a small bear. I had to stop for a breather every so often, and during these breaks I liked to climb up the safety mesh and see how far it looked down to the floor. You can just see me in the main picture, so I have put a little close-up in as well. Dad didn't mind this, he just kept an eye on me for safety, but Mum was her usual worry-wart self and made sure that I was securely in her carry-bag when we were on the way down again. You can see great views from the top of the tower. I will post some pictures of them later.



Rocky Hill

Last weekend we went for a drive to Goulburn. Normally we drive past Goulburn, or zip through it in the train, but this time we decided to see a bit of the town. One of the things you see from just about anywhere in Goulburn is this tower thing on top of the tallest hill. We checked our map and found that it was the War Memorial on Rocky Hill and that there was a road that took you right up to it. Naturally, we had to go take a look. The picture of Mum and I was taken from a parking area near the end of the main road, just before the narrow road into the Memorial. Walking tracks to other interesting places on the hill go off from here. The track from the Memorial car park to the tower is not too steep. It would make a great track to zoom down in my jeep or quad bike, but there is a big sign that says "NO" to bikes, skates, and any other form of transport other than feet. Mind you, to read the signs I had to climb up the metal pipes while the Oldies were busy taking pictures. Just as well that small bear paws can grip just about anything.

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