Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Happy Birthday sista!!!

Happy Birthday sis
Today was my sister's birthday so naturally we started the day with a walk to Rocky Point. Now if this was my birthday I would probably start the day swimming in a vat of champagne while eating peppermint patties but my sister and I are different in that way. ( As a result she will probably be walking a lot longer than I will be swimming and peppermint pattying - heh heh!) Still it was a lovely way to start the day because once again the weather and the island colluded together to create the perfect un-storm.

Before the walk we decided to admire a wonderful column of trees that lined a nearby road. Apparently there was once a convict called Barney Duffy  who managed to hide in the hollow of a tree for around seven years. When they caught him they executed him which I think was very unsporting.

Here is my attempt at a Barney Duffy hiding shot although I suspect he was probably a little more subtle and a lot less smiley.

And yes our walk did indeed lead to a Rocky Point! 

Beautiful just the same.

Here I am doing my best to smile and not fall off the cliff. Actually I am not really one for cliffs so I left the others to explore the outer edges and went chasing after some nearby feral hens instead.

In the afternoon my parents and I visited Government House where the Administrator of the island lives (and administrates I suppose.) It is only open once a month for plebs such as myself to traipse through. My sister (being her birthday and all) elected not to add an educational route to her day and went on another massive walk elsewhere instead.

I don't think I would  like to be the Administrator.  The house is very fine but I suspect you would have to be reasonably tidy if people are permitted to walk through your home once a month. This would prove too greater a challenge for me I suspect.

My parents, on the contrary, look quite comfortable in the Administrator's courtyard.

And on the front lawn.
                   They are reasonably tidy people too.

                                                           Happy Birthday Schwester !!!!  

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

A grave moment

Now one of the most interesting places to visit on Norfolk Island is the cemetery. ( Hmm me thinks I am beginning to sound like a tourist guide.) Because of the island's history as both a convict settlement and then later the home of the Bounty mutineers the headstones make for a very lively read: a few murdered soldiers; a lot of drownings at Emily Bay (now they tell me); a number of 'sudden' convict deaths all on the same day in 1834 (I suspect they were not of natural causes); and then there are the names of Bounty descendants (e.g. Christians, Quintals) littered amongst the tombstones. Not all the convicts were buried in the graveyard and many lie in unmarked graves down by the sea.
Apparently nowadays it costs nothing to be buried on the island. You just have to throw a crate of beer in the direction of the grave diggers and the job is done.

Wet hens ... at last!

 At last I have been able to get some shots of the feral ( wet) hens. They live a life of complete freedom. No chop at the end for them as evidenced by the deceased one I found lying under a bush near the sea. In fact the only chicken that is eaten on the island is imported. Given this highly protected state you would have thought they would be a little more forthcoming in the photography department. Some of the roosters are so beautiful but such reluctant models. Thank goodness for obliging cows!

Monday, 29 October 2012

Emily Bay

After man-land we all went to Emily Bay again for lunch. I feel my earlier photos of the bay have not done it justice so I shall indulge in a few more shots to reveal its true loveliness.

The pine in this picture has featured in paintings of the island since convict days. I bet it's known a few bad men in its time. I wonder if it still pines for any of them -ha ha!

I have to say it was a tad windy and cold down by the bay and we ended up eating our sandwiches  behind the shelter of a grassy knoll. After the meal I decided to be brave and went for a swim in the bay. I was the sole swimmer  on account of the wind and general chill but I did get a thumbs up from the local windsurfing dudes who admired my courage from the comfort of their wet suits.

I also met a very friendly crab who was very happy that I did not wish to eat him.

Ship Ahoy

As promised, today we started with a visit to the Norfolk Island version of man-land ( a.k.a. Cascade Bay) to watch the freight ship unload its cargo onto the shore. There isn't actually a port as such on the island and so they have to use enormous lighters made from Norfolk Pine to carry all the goods from the ship to the shore. Many things come to the island this way: all cars and heavy machinery, electrical goods, horses, oil, Christmas cakes...It is an oasis of grit and steel.

Now  - before today's unloading began, I decided I ought to inspect the lighters for seaworthiness. Something which is best done by getting one's sister to assist in the elevation of one's dad to look inside the boat.

Dad reported the lighters to be in satisfactory condition and filled with an 'intestine's worth of ropes.'
mmm rope intestines.
Lighters inspected I then did my best to get the boats down to the shore for the men!

Job Done - the unloading began. It was very exciting and grunty. (Tomato handbag would have loved it.) We sat on the rocks for ages; watching the lighters head out to the ship, seeing them load up then make their way to the shore where they were craned onto the mainland by men with big arms and no helmets. Mum and I could have stayed for many hours but then dad declared himself to be bored (which was rather unmanly of him I thought.)

Sunday, 28 October 2012

Island tour

Anson Bay
So it was a noisy first night of sleep on Norfolk Island thanks to a beauty pageant going on at the community hall next door. I have no idea who ended up winning the pageant but given the potentially limited gene pool (pop: 1500) I would say there were some pretty close calls. Despite my  lack of sleep it was still nice to hear the islanders enjoying a night out on the tiles - the island, from what I understand, is going through some fairly bleak times financially so a little beauty and booze should always be applauded.
Anyway my mama  decided that our first morning on the island should be spent climbing down to (and then later up from) Anson Bay. It is an absolutely gorgeous bay to look at although a local nearly died there last week rescuing his daughter from a swell. (I listened to his exciting account of heroism this afternoon.) We were much more placid in our jaunt to the bay though.

We also visited Captain Cook's lookout where there is a memorial plaque to note his first landing on the island. This is a good place to see birds such as turns and masked boobies ( heh heh). 

In the afternoon we went on  an arranged tour of the island where we took in such sights as: 

Bloody Bridge - named (rumour has it) because once upon a time some convicts decided to paste the body of a murdered officer into the walls of the bridge and later it turned red because all the blood seeped out. Of course there are much more mundane versions of the bridge's origins but I'm going to go with convict story for now.

We also regarded the island from Queen Elisabeth's look-out where we saw the remnants of the penal settlement and a low sweeping view across cemetery bay.

a bit of penal action
a nice way to end

Emily Bay again.

Also Cascade Bay which is the point where the boats come into deliver goods to the island.  Excitingly there are reports that tomorrow there will be a boat ( they only come in once a month and we can all go down and watch the unloading.) Bob the builder eat your heart out.. cranes, trucks, front end central I do believe.

Finally St Barnabas  a pretty church with an inside roof in the shape of the hull of a ship.  There was also a lovely herd of cows watching nearby as well.   Actually there are cows every where on the island. No bells on their necks like in Switzerland but these beasts have complete right of way. I think the fine is 5000 dollars if you accidentally hit one. They have grids near the town to stop the cows ransacking the shops although apparently the odd cunning  cow has worked out how to roll over the grids...Of course the lovely feral wet hens can go anywhere they want. 
You lookin' at me!!!

Saturday, 27 October 2012

Norfolk Island Odyssey

some enjoyable NI signage

Today I flew with my parents, sister and her husband to Norfolk Island. The island is about 2 hours east of Brisbane and is regarded as an external territory of Australia so you need your passport to visit it even if you are coming from the mainland. I’m not completely aufait with Norfolk Island’s history (I shall endeavour to improve my lack in this department over the coming days) but I do know that Captain Cook discovered it in the late 1700s; it has an indigenous population which includes descendants of the Bounty mutineers; it was once a rather nasty penal settlement; and, it has a plethora of feral hens. My mother has been visiting the island for over 20 years (this is her tenth visit) and she has always threatened to take here I am.

I am pleased to report that the Australian Border Security folk at the airport were at their perkiest today on the way to Norfolk as I got personally scanned, had a pat down and then got invited in for an explosives test,where I cheerfully informed them I was heading to ‘that terrorist hub, Norfolk Island.’ I shall never wear a skirt with an in-built studded belt again!  Still they let me through and I did my bit for Norfolk border security at the other end when I found an abandoned blue backpack in the ladies toilet. I informed a very friendly local policeman who asked me to retrieve it from the toilet (what with my bare hands!!! Persicoloso!!!) whereupon he went hunting among the 100 other silver-haired lady passengers until he found its rightful owner. (I believe I was the veritable spring chicken on the flight over.) My job done at the airport (the policeman fast-tracked us out as a thank you) I headed with my parents to Aloha - Hibiscus Apartments in the main drag of Burnt Pine.
We passed the afternoon taking in some of the sights of the island, mainly Emily Bay, which I shall enchant you with pictures  below. The sea was actually quite rough down by the bay but it was very beautiful and rugged and if I was a feral hen I would probably choose to live here too...I’d stay away from the rams though! Heh Heh.

Friday, 26 October 2012

A word from The Guardian

This short newspaper article (see here) beautifully describes what makes Syria so special. I know the area Bab Touma very well and this writer's description of the people and place is both real and heartbreaking.

Peace be with Syria

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Magic in the heat

Last Saturday was incredibly hot so the house -of-krank (well ex-krank now) decided to go on a 1.5 hour car journey to Dayboro. After driving past scorched fields, 1 dead sheep and a lot of the people with their tongues hanging out we decided to stop at the Dayboro pub for lunch. Busy hey! Actually there was a gang of bushmen out the back replete with beards and tall glasses of amber joy but I did not like to trouble them for a photo. It was actually very amenable sitting on the outside verandah catching the oven-like breeze, enjoying a cider. After lunch we drove the 1.5 hours back in the boiling heat again and admired the cat for sleeping under a tree the whole time.

Around dusk I decided to brave the heat again and go for a walk in the neighbouring scrublands. I may have trespassed just a teeny weeny bit but the gate was open and no one should own large slabs of bush anyway. Once I got  thigh deep in grass, running between the trees, I had this wonderful feeling of being free. It reminded me of when I was small and I used to run like a wild child through the scrubs across the road. Often I would be accompanied by the neighbours' dogs ( I was the alpha I believe) and we would have the most brilliant adventures down along the river bank. I had no fear of snakes or goannas or wild beasts then. Sometimes one of the dogs would hurt themselves and I would send them home with a band-aid on their paw. This time though it was just me and seven kangaroos I saw watching me through the long grass. I could feel myself slipping into my  imaginary world again - just like years before - and all I wanted to do was keep running and breathing and seeing magical things.