Friday, November 23, 2012


Wonderful Wallabies

These little critters are Allied Rock Wallabies. They are an endangered species that exist only on a few islands off the Queensland coast near Townsville. Dogs, cats and foxes have eaten all of the ones that lived on the mainland. We found a group of 20 or so of these living in a big rocky area near an old wharf on Magnetic Island. The mother wallaby in the main picture if full size, about 70cm from nose to tail. The joey in her pouch is one of the cutest critters I have ever seen. The wallabies were not scared of the Oldies because people feed them a special mix that you can buy from shops on the island. It took a bit of work to convince them that I wasn't a ferocious carnivore, but eventually they came down for a chat and I am now welcome to visit their rock pile whenever I am passing.

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Eclipse 2012

We are back from our eclipse trip. We saw lots of interesting things, but of course the eclipse was the main thing. We were lucky. There was lots of cloud as the Sun rose and it got thicker as eclipse started. We didn't see the start of the partial phases, but as you can see, we had the special glasses on and caught glimpses of the Sun slowly disappearing behind the Moon. Then just as Totality began the clouds parted and we saw about 90% of the event. People on beaches to either side of ours saw nothing, so we really were lucky. The eclipse photo is from our friend Steve. He drove up to the Atherton Tablelands, inland from Cairns, and had clear skies. Eclipses are spectacular. Even if you don't see the whole thing you experience the eerie darkness and the cool wind that blows during totality. And it's fun to see the confused reactions of birds and animals that can't work out what's happening. That was my second Solar Eclipse and I hope that the Oldies will take me to more of them. Actually the reactions of people (including the Oldies) are some of the funniest things that you see at eclipses.

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Tuesday, November 06, 2012


Planning the Trip

Yes, I am off travelling again. In just over an hour we head to the airport and fly off on our way to Cairns. There is a Total Solar Eclipse there on Wednesday next week and hundreds of thousands of people from all over the world are travelling there to see it. Scruffy and I have seen an eclipse before, at Ceduna in December 2002, and are really keen to see this one. We have had our accommodation at Trinity Beach booked for over 4 years! If you have never experienced a Total Solar Eclipse then you really need to do so. It is totally awesome in every sense of the word. Naturally, planning an eclipse expedition takes a lot of work and here's me doing the background reading on my Kindle (which Mum mistakenly thinks is hers). If any of you are in the Cairns area for the eclipse, look for the two small bears with eclipse glasses and camera.

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She Did It!

This photo shows something that I never expected to see. Mum is actually not all that keen on birds and goes troppo when feathers touch her. The last thing I expected was that she would like a bird, let alone actually hold one and pat it. However, in Souk Al Bahar in Dubai there is a young Arab who lets tourists hold his falcon, called Bahadhor. Of course there is a photographer there to sell photos of the event; in this case an extremely unlikely event. So there is at least one sort of bird that Mum likes.

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Thursday, November 01, 2012


Where Did That Go?

My Da Vinci catapult is ready for action. It is a slightly modified version of the one designed by my engineering idol, Leonardo Da Vinci, back in the 15th century. The big difference between the Da Vinci catapult and earlier ones is that Leo used the energy of bent wooden beams to power the beast. My small model uses bamboo beams. Here's some photos of the first test shot. Naturally, Scruffy, Milky, Blu and Darcy had to be there to see how it worked. Scruff was the loader because he is the biggest of the others. His ammunition for this test was plasticine balls. Blu and Milky were the plasticine packers and passers-to-the-loader. Darcy and I cranked the beams to max and then I pulled the string that released the ratchet gear. The catapult arm swooshed over, faster than the eye could follow, and from somewhere near the top of the glass doors to the courtyard came a "thunk". Just as well it wasn't a ball bearing or one of Dad's fishing sinkers..... I thought we might get a range of a few metres, but instead the beast throws a 1cm ball of plasticine around 10 metres! Mum has banished catapult practice to the outdoors. Swooping magpies beware!

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