Like this butterfly which kept me company on my last afternoon in POM after I’d left the office & gone home to pack, I’ve spread my wings and flown away. (Ah, soooo many flights: pom->cairns->sydney->canberra where I pressed the pause button for three nights; then canberra->sydney->beijing->frankfurt->berlin where I pressed pause for one night then berlin -> amsterdam where I sit in the jetlagged early AM as I post this…) Farewells are not my strength, at least the social part of them: I tend to just get up and go, since for me belaboring the departure simply makes it more painful. I prefer, as it were, to pull the band-aid off in one painful pull rather than try to gently remove it – those staying on have the rest of their lives to get on with, and I…well, I had about a dozen flights awaiting me! And the rest of my own life, I guess. So yeah: the PNG chapter has come to a close, and as of last night when I wrapped up the debriefings I’m again a free agent in the world, unemployed and homeless but at least stranded for now on the shores of Europe where I’ll get to see lots o’ good friends and such in the coming two weeks. Yippee!
It’s become a habit for me to try to photograph, as I leave a project, as many of the faces of the colleagues I’ve been working with as possible. It helps me remember the generous, kind and hard-working people who will carry on the work after I’ve left. There’s a gallery here full of those shots, and otherwise mostly the farwell pizza-party & cake lunch that I threw for the office on my last day, last week on Friday. Otherwise this entry contains only the butterfly who visited me, and one shot of the coast near Cairns…at least I’m fairly sure that’s what it is. I suppose it might be the coast near Sydney airport but I don’t think so. This is also, after all, a farewell to that entire region including Australia which I flew into and out of, or visited long or short, many times while there. The next entry should show some views of Canberra during that three-day intermezzo. Ciao, thanks, peace.
And now smw, slt has has enough relaxing days in Sydney to sort through the trove of aerial shots of the Great Barrier Reef and of the flora and vistas of LIzard Island and share with you some views of what life looks like above sea level out there in far northern Queensland. Naturally I’ve learned more about the GBR, which extends hundreds of miles both north and south even of the rather extended area covered on our cruise and in these aerial shots. There are dozens of what they call “Ribbon Reefs” scattered from the level of Cairns up to Lizard Island, and there are also other little reefs here and there. Then the whole thing continues a good chunk further south, and I believe even further north. Many of the shots from underwater which I posted earlier this week were taken at Osprey Reef, which is an overnight boat trip to the north and east of Lizard Island, out in the true Coral Sea and apparently not officially considered part of the GBR. Live and learn. Hope you enjoy these shots. Cheers.
Below, the mandatory shot of our wonderful crew, and below that a shot of the 17 passengers on the leg that I joined. The ship does a weekly circuit and 7 of the folks this time stayed for the full out-and-back from Cairns, seven nights & six days; ten of us were on the four-night, three-day outward leg; and then more flew into Lizard Island on the planes that took us back. They + the seven who stayed will have worked their way back south toward Cairns, with dives along the ribbon reefs on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of this week and then docked at Cairns again Thursday AM, to board a whole new group again Thursday. This experience was quite wonderful and I really do recommend it for anyone who loves to dive. Do either the 7-night or the 4-night option though – Osprey Reef was amazing and isn’t part of the return leg.
Look closely at the photo below, and you will see the airstrip from which we departed Lizard Island for our one hour+ low-altitude flight back along the ribbon reefs to Cairns. Along the way we saw two different groups of minke whales from the air- a wonderful sight because you see both the whales breaching, and the shadow of their bodies under the water in a clearer way than you can from the air. Both of those occasions passed too quickly for a photo…plus they were on the left side of the plane each time, while I was seated on the right. Ah well…memories. And above is the last shot of the boat which provided such a comfy and well-fed home for a few days.
Immediately below, you see the coast of Trinity Beach where I stayed in January, during the trip from which came the shots in this blog post: https://somuchworldsolittletime.wordpress.com/2013/01/12/flora-fauna-waves-northern-queensland-beaches/
It was fun to fly right past this at the end of this current trip; the building in which I stayed is quite visible, as are the headlands and bays that gave me such pleasure on my long walks and runs back then. Cairns and its region begin to feel like an almost home-away-from-home-away-from-home for me, though deeper inside I still long to be biking along LA’s bike paths. 🙂
This morning in Cairns smw, slt went for a dawn run & a stroll along the esplanade and the boardwalk, watching the strollers stroll, seagulls wheel, and joggers jog. It’s about to be our birthday again, and we try hard not to be at work on our birthday. Since where we live & work tend, these days, to be places where a day off just means hanging around in a gated compound and not having much fun, this usually means we leave our home-of-the-year and go somewhere far away. So yesterday I boarded the morning flight across the Coral Sea, from POM down to Cairns. I dined last night on the nicely-decorated terrace of a lovely restaurant where I ordered vegetarian laksa. Anywhere in the world, finding vegetarian laksa is a challenge. After four months in POM, that plus the late-night star-gazing stroll around the chilly quiet streets of Cairns felt like a tastes of what, for me, = paradise: freedom to roam and good food. What more could a boy (or an ageing geezer, depending on one’s p of v) ask for, around his bday?
Well, thanks for asking. Since the ol’ bday arrives (again!!) at midnight (here in my time zone it’s already Thursday morning the 8th), and since I’ve spent the past 17 months living surrounded by some of the world’s greatest scuba diving while only getting myself below sea level ons single time (documented, you may recall, a few entries right here on this very blog), … well, I’m finally doing that live-aboard drive trip I’ve dreamed of for the past decade+. (This is true. Both that I’m doing it, and that I’ve dreamed of it.) Shortly after finishing this post, I shall re-pack my gear, drop it off at the dive office, then enjoy a free day in Cairns. At 6pm today, I shall board the boat that’ll be my home for the next four nights, out on the Great Barrier Reef. I’ll wake up tomorrow rocking on baord a ship somewhere out over those coral formations they say you can see from outer space, and do five dives – one of them a night dive. The following day, I’ll do the same thing. In between dives, I’ll be chilling and watching the sunshine glimmer on the water. On Sunday evening we’ll wind up near Lizard Island (you can google it ), roughly halfway between Cairns and Cape York. Monday morning, we will do a low-altitude flight back along the reef, from Lizard Island to Cairns. Now, does that not sound a mighty fine way to spend one’s birthday? I thought so, too. That’s why I’m doing it, and that’s why I thought I should post these now, since I hope they will soon be eclipsed by more unusual shots: I’ve no clue if theres internet on the boat (sorta doubt it)…if there is, maybe I’ll post daily pics of all the fishies and corals I’ve been viewing! If not…well, once I get to Sydney next week, I’ll bring you all up to speed.
In the meantime, feel free to imagine the lovely flight I’ll be taking on Monday by re-visiting my Coral Sea from-the-air shots from this January – I didn’t bother taking new ones yesterday since I knew I would soon have even better views from the low-altitude flight on Monday! But here’s the last time so you have a wee sense of what your’s truly’s about to be viewing: https://somuchworldsolittletime.wordpress.com/2013/01/06/coast-highlands-coral-sea-by-land-and-by-air/
It’s been a very quiet week here in what smw, slt has learned is sometimes called fnq: far northern Queensland. It’s been all about runs by the water in the early hours, walks by the water in the evening hours, and being a lazy schlub with tennis on tv in between. All in all a quite restorative little respite just across the ol’ Coral Sea from POM. Herewith, and without further introduction other than the occasional caption, some of the things I’ve been seeing this week. (Yes, there were philosophical moments during all those walks, but I can’t remember any of it at the moment. Aren’t you glad?!)
this is called tidal erosion made visible – above and below
Some flora & fauna in honor of Cate, whose dad mentioned this week that she’s enjoying seeing new members of the animal kingdom when the opportunity arises. Above: fruit bats on their morning migration back to their treetop roosts in the mountains, after a night’s foraging. Below, a gaggle of parrots and all I can say is any number of parrots creates an enormous racket. I have the impression there are lots of Australian-native species of parrot and parakeet and other such. These were the easiest to photograph here because they’re quite numerous; another white parrot was equally loud but higher in the trees and less numerous. Below that, there’s what I think is a kukaburra — stress the “think.” He was hanging out in a tree on my run this AM.
… it would hardly be coastal northern Australia without warnings for salties, and the occasional story of lost pets or worse. (Here, pets; in NT: occasionally the odd person, but the NT salties can beat up the FNQ salties any day.) ‘Twas awareness of the possible salties that made me extra wary when my runs and walks took me close to the mangrove areas – I felt most brave doing so. 🙂