Tuesday, February 25, 2014
Point Venus Again
As well as the memorial to Captain Cook, there are other memorials at Venus Point. The photo on the left is of the Bounty Stone,remembering the crew of HMS Bounty and their Tahitian wives who left Tahiti after the mutiny in search of a new home safe from discovery. They left Tahiti in 1789 and eventually settled on Pitcairn Island. The faces on the monument are believed to be Pitcairn islanders John Adams and Martha Young. Most of the Pitcairners eventually moved to Norfolk Island and I have met some of their descendents there. How about that? I have been to the spot where they left Tahiti and to the spot where they landed on Norfolk. I've even seen the graves of some that left Pitcairn and died on Norfolk. That's great for a small bear with an interest in history. I have no idea what the anchor in the ring commemorates. If anybody knows I would be glad to hear. I can tell you that it is a fine climbing frame for small bears. The building in the background is a "modernised" version of a Tahitian longhouse. It is in fact a souvenir and craft shop. Mum bought a small model of the lighthouse here. We found that it was full of smelly oil but it was easy to empty and clean out and it is our best souvenir of Venus Point.
The delay between this post and the last one is, unfortunately, not because I have been away somewhere interesting. I have been looking after Mum. She had a large greebly dug out of her foot last week. It looked like a wart on the side of her foot but we couldn't get rid of it. When the doctor cut it out it looked more like a big transparent slug. Yucky!!! She is almost better now.
Labels: astronomy, boats, Captain Cook, climbing, Norfolk Island, Tahiti
Wednesday, February 12, 2014
Cook Was Here, So Was I
When "Celebrity Millenium" docked in Tahiti, the Oldies and I grabbed a taxi and visited a place that is very important to the history of both science and Australia. The place is Venus Point, the most northern point of Tahiti, 10km east of Papeete. The early European explorers anchored their ships offshore here in Matavai Bay. One of them was my hero, James Cook. He set up a camp, Fort Venus, here in 1769 to observe the Transit of Venus. This was important science. At the time astronomers knew the relative distances between planets but had no measurement to give them the actual distances between planets and the Sun. Cook's measurements helped to give the first measurements of our Solar System, and they were surprisingly accurate when compared to today's numbers. Following the Transit he set sail to find and map New Zealand and the east coast of Australia. Of course both of these were known to the native inhabitants, but Cook "put them on the map". There is a small monument on the spot where Cook made the Transit observations. Nearby is a magnificent lighthouse. It was built in 1868 by Thomas Stevenson, the father of Robert Louis Stevenson. Point Venus is a popular picnic and swimming place for the locals, but the beach is black volcanic sand and the sand flies there are the worst in the known Universe (according to Dad who had his legs severely bitten by them). Despite the sand flies, I am completely thrilled to have visited this historic spot and to have to sat where Cook sat to make those vital observations.
Labels: astronomy, Captain Cook, heroes, lighthouse, Tahiti
Tuesday, February 04, 2014
Here are two really special places on the island of Oahu in Hawaii. Our guide, Roland, took us to both. The first one doesn't look like much to the casual traveller. It is just a few rocks and a cleared track in the middle of a cane field. It is, however, one of the most significant cultural sites on Oahu, Kukaniloko, the place where royal births took place. The actual birthing stones are at the far end of the avenue in a small grove of palms, but we were short of time and didn't walk to them. It was the cultural centre of Oahu and is almost at the geographical centre as well. The other three photos are of the ruins of Pu'u o Mahuka Heiau. Heiau is Hawaiian for Temple, and this was the largest on Oahu. Pu'u o Mahuka means "Hill of Escape" and tradition says that this is where Pele, the volcano godess, left Oahu for Molokai. The heiau is on a ridge overlooking Waimea Bay and from it you can see most of the northern coastline of Oahu. It dates back to the 17th century, a very turbulent time in Hawaii, and it was used as a sacrificial temple to bring success in war. The Oldies were fascinated to see that the walls of the temple are aligned with the cardinal compass points, so it was probably used as an astronomical observatory and calender as well. Tradition says that when observers on Kaena Point, west of Waimea, see the Pleiades star cluster appearing to rise from the heiau at sunset it marks the beginning of the joyful season of Makahiki. There were no doubt other significant astronomical alignments, but they have been forgotten. Tradition dies hard as is shown by the many offerings of leis and taro parcels that locals still leave at the ruins of the heiau.
Saturday, February 01, 2014
Our Great Hawaii Guides
These two gentlemen are the guides that we had for our tours of Oahu and Hawaii (the Big Island). In the top picture our Oahu guide, Roland, is introducing Dad to one of the delicacies of Hawaii. It is called shave-ice, but here in Australia we call it snow cones. The shop they are at is in a suburb of Honolulu called Waiola. It is also the shop where President Obama worked for pocket money when he was at high school. According to the locals he calls in here for a shave-ice whenever he is back in Hawaii. Roland was a perfect guide. His knowledge of Hawaiian history, traditions and culture made our day with him really special. Of course Mum tried the shave-ice too; there are flavours in Hawaii that we don't see at home. In the bottom picture, making sure that I can see over the fence, is our Hawaii guide, Scott. You should recognize where we are from previous posts. We are on the rim of the Kilauea crater. Scott took us to the volcanoes and up to Mauna Kea Observatory. He taught us lots about the geology of Hawaii and we taught him about astronomy. It is a great day when you can share knowledge and we had a ball. We will never forget these two guys. If you are visiting Hawaii and want tours tailored to your interests check them out on the website toursbylocals.com
. You can't do better.
Labels: Hawaii, volcano