Sunday, June 26, 2011
It was hot at the Avalon airshow in March. We had been walking for what seemed like hours, looking at all the aircraft parked in the static display areas. Small bears get hot very quickly and I needed to find a shady spot for a short rest. Now, there is one aircraft that has a shady spot just the right size for me. It is the F-16, and this one was visiting from Singapore. While the Oldies were talking to the Singapore crew, I settled down in the gap above the air intake for the engine and below the front fuselage. I recommend it as a resting spot for all small bears who are overheating at airshows where F-16s are parked. Just remember to stay awake and get down before the engine starts.
Green Cape Light
Dad had to go down to Merimbula last week, to give a public talk on astronomy. Naturally, the rest of the crew (Mum, Scruffy, Blu, Milkshake and I) went too. We took a couple of extra days and made a road trip out of it. One of the places we went to was Green Cape lighthouse. Mum needed photos of it to add to her collection of lighthouses of Australia. Green Cape was built in 1883. It is the first concrete lighthouse tower in Australia and is the second tallest and most southerly lighthouse in New South Wales. These days the light does not shine, even though all the mechanism is there. In 1998 it was replaced by an automatic solar-powered light on the lattice tower. I don't think these modern lights are anywhere near as beautiful as the towers they are replacing. The thing we will always remember about Green Cape is that last week it at was at the end of what seemed like the most pot-holed road in Australia. Our little Mazda 3 had a tough job picking its way between holes that were deeper than our ground clearance and covered almost all of the road. It took us 45 minutes to drive the 23 kilometres of dirt road. So bad that the Oldies said that if the photos weren't good enough it was just too bad; they won't go out there again until the road is remade. No doubt about it, lighthouse visits take you to all sorts of out-of-the-way places.
Monday, June 20, 2011
Cockatoo Island was Australia's most important dockyard until its closure in 1992. Hundreds of ships of all sorts were built and repaired there. Today the dockyards are empty of life. No ships are there. The big dockyard cranes are slowly rusting away. Submarines used to be built in the dock near the closest crane in this photo. A visit to the island is a sad experience, seeing the wreckage of what was a busy industrial site. Fortunately, some of the people who used to work there have started a preservation group and they are slowly saving and repairing some of the equipment. The small crane in the bottom picture is one of the current projects. It is a steam crane. The big silver tank at the back is the boiler which used to provide the steam to power the lifting bits and the wheels. Scruffy and I had a good climb around the crane and if all the bits were connected up and the boiler had steam in it, we could have driven it around and shifted things. Can you see us in the photo? The little inset may help. We love old machinery and are really happy that lots of people are helping to save important bits of our history.
Sunday, June 19, 2011
Wet & Windy Windfarm
Last Wednesday we did something really different. The Capital windfarm near Bungendore had a ticketed open day and we managed to get tickets. We have been watching the windfarm grow over the past few years. The roads and the railway take you close enough to see bits of it, but I really wanted to get close to some of the big rotor towers. Well, it was a wet and windy day and really cold. The road in was muddy and slushy and the bus slid around a bit on the way in and out. However, we could get right to the base of one of the towers, and we could even go inside. Actually, there is not much to see in there, just a distribution cupboard and cables and a ladder going up through a hatch to the rotor. I would have loved to go up there, but too many security guys were watching. The big surprise was how quiet the windfarm is. The only noise was a very quiet "swoosh".
Tuesday, June 14, 2011
Beyond the Barrier
Sometimes you just have to go a little bit outside the rules. I mean, just look at this sign. It says that all sorts of nasty things might happen to you if you go off the path or outside the safety fences. The problem of course is that the interesting bits are all off the path and outside the fences. Scruffy and I are very interested in geology and the rocks on the Blowhole Point at Kiama are the best example of weathered volcanic lava that we have ever seen. Naturally, we had to go off the track and climb up the rocks to get a good look at them. There is a lot of moss and lichens in the crevices in the rock, but fortunately the rocks we were on were too high and dry for crabs to be a problem. If only we had remembered to take the geology hammer the expedition would have been a great success. Instead it ended on a bit of a low note when the Oldies found us outside the fence in a spot where a big freak wave could have got us. We knew we were Ok, but Oldies do tend to worry.
Thursday, June 09, 2011
Near the cabin we stayed at in Kiama there is a fascinating thing. The headland is made of old volcanic rock that the sea has been eroding away for millions of years. In one place it has enlarged a crack in the rock to form a pipe with a big chamber at the end. Some of the roof of the pipe collapsed ages ago, so now when the waves are coming from the right direction something spectacular happens. Waves slam into the entrance of the pipe and compress the air in the end of the pipe and the chamber. When the wave tries to run back out the pipe it sometimes gets blocked by the next wave coming in and the compressed air forces the water up the hole in the roof. There is a loud "whoomp" and the water sprays way up into the air. It was doing this really well while we were there. The blowhole has been on maps of Australia since December 1797 when George Bass was exploring the coast south of the new settlement of Sydney. Of course the aboriginals knew about it for thousands of years before that, and now Scruffy, Milkshake, Blu and I know about it as well.
Our day trip on Puffing Billy was great. It was freezing cold, one of the coldest May days that Victoria has had for ages. The carriage we were in was a relic of the early 1900s and had no windows, so the wind blew straight through us. Despite the cold, we loved the trip. Just after the train leaves Belgrave station it goes across a historic 1899 wooden trestle bridge, Horseshoe Bridge over Monbulk Creek. The bridge curves across the creek and the road, so it is a perfect spot to get photos of the engine under full power with steam and smoke pouring out of it. There are always cars waiting on the road near the bridge, with people snapping away on their cameras. After the bridge there is a long stretch through forest and you can see spectacular trees and lots of birds and occasional wallabies. I found a good place to see everything on my side of the train. It was the ledge that would have been a window-sill if the carriage actually had windows. It was just the right width for a small bear to sit on, but it also had a sign below it that Mum says I should have taken notice of. Actually, I don't think it should have applied to me; I wasn't standing on the ledge. Naturally, Mum saw it differently so I had to spend the rest of the trip much further inside the carriage with the Oldies keeping a sharp eye on me.
Saturday, June 04, 2011
The Ship's Bell
A ship's bell is one of the most important things on board. The bell is placed on the ship when it is launched and is only removed if the ship changes it's name or is broken up. Lots of shipwrecks are only identified when divers find the bell and can read the name on it. So here I am at the bell of the "Queen Mary 2". The days when the bell was used to signal the time on the ship are long gone, so this bell is not up on the bridge. Instead it is on a special stand in the Grand Foyer where everyone can see it. Although I climbed on the stand, I was not game to ring the bell. Dad said that they would clap me in irons and toss be in the brig if I did. I am not sure exactly what that means, but it doesn't sound like something I want to have happen. Actually, the crew on QM2 are great and they go out of their way to help passengers. The other photo is a good example. I had wandered off to see the bell while the Oldies were sipping beverages in the Chart Room. It is a fair distance for short-legged small bears. While I was walking back this lady steward called Beatrix saw me and gave me a lift back. I was delivered back to the Oldies, balanced on a silver tray! How's that for service?
They Aren't Real
As long-term readers know, I don't like crabs and things that look like crabs. It's not that I am scared of them, I just don't want to be anywhere near them. The Oldies say that that is not a good thing, because we all like beaches and rock pools and sea-side things and that is where crustaceans live. Fine, just as long as the Oldies are there to keep the horrible critters away from me. So, you may think that this photo is a bit strange. Here I am, sitting next to crab and lobster pots, with a huge lobster climbing out behind my back. Don't worry, I haven't lost my strong sense of self-preservation. This is actually a display about the Western Australian fishing industry and the crabs and lobsters are only model ones. It is in the WA Maritime Museum, somewhere you should visit if you are ever in Fremantle. I can assure you that I would never get this close to real lobsters, but the photo is good for bragging rights when I am showing travel pictures to other small critters who don't know the story.