Archive for February, 2012

Photo Galleries Down

Monday, February 27th, 2012

My attempts to get the Lightroom Gallery3 plugin working again seem to have backfired, at the moment the galleries are down and any attempts to access them will result in an error message. I’ll figure out what the problem is and try to get everything sorted out ASAP.

First Week in Sydney

Monday, February 27th, 2012

My first week in Sydney is now almost over and it has been a really busy (but fun!) one.

After spending the first couple of days exploring the city center I did some slightly longer trips later in the week. On Thursday I explored the Royal Botanic Gardens properly. There’s quite bit of stuff to see there and also some spots with really good views over to the Sydney Harbour. After the Botanic Gardens I took a ferry to Darling Harbour and spent the rest of the day there. I waited for dark and then took a ferry back to get some cool night shots of the Opera House and the rest of the Harbour attractions. On Friday it was time for a slightly longer ferry trip over to Manly. The area is perhaps little too tourist-oriented for my taste, but Manly Beach is nice enough and there were some impressive sights on the way as well.

On the weekend I spent the mornings diving (see the previous post) and then explored Sydney’s eastern shoreline during the evenings. On Saturday I did the coastal walk from Coogee Beach to Bondi Beach (total trip is 6 km), a very nice and scenic walk along the coast. There are numerous smaller beaches along the way, some very impressive cliffs and the graveyard with the best view I have ever seen. It was one of the best coastal walks I have done with lots of great photo opportunities. Unfortunately as I got closer to Bondi it was already getting quite dark and I couldn’t get decent shots of the very impressive sections where the path is carved right into the cliff-faces.

On Sunday evening I got back to the same area, just without my camera this time. Starting at Bondi Beach and working my way south I tested the swimming (in practice, I mostly playing in the waves) at various beaches. Of course in practice, I didn’t really swim that much, most of my time was spent playing around with the waves. While Bondi may be the most famous beach in Australia, I don’t find it that special for swimming. Tamarama was ok with some nice waves, but bit too crowded with surfers when I got there. Bronte Beach ended up being my favorite with some really nice waves and plenty of room. After spending quite a bit of time there riding the waves I was starting to feel quite exhausted after the long weekend (and it was getting dark soon anyway), so it was time to head back home.

With many of the must-see sights already visited, I might take it bit easier this week. But there still remains plenty of stuff to see and do in Sydney!

Bare Island dives

Monday, February 27th, 2012

I did my first two dives in Sydney during the weekend. As the local university club I already joined had no dives scheduled I ended up diving with Sydney Dive Academy’s dive club Sea Masters. This worked out quite well, you don’t have to be a club member to participate in shore dives and they only charge you for the tank rental, the guided dives themselves are free.

On Saturday morning we met at the Dive Academy’s shop and after getting tanks and other rental gear for everyone we headed to the nearby Bare Island. This is one of the most popular dive sites in Sydney and there were plenty of other divers there as well. There are several different dives you can do at the site, we ended up diving the South Wall part. Entry and exit on the rocky shore were quite rough due to big waves and the vis was quite poor near the surface. Luckily conditions improved as we got deeper down (max depth was around 17 meters) and it ended up a nice shore dive with lots to see. We saw several nudibranchs, some nice overhangs at the wall and quite a few different fish species (including one really rare one, but I didn’t catch the name or get a photo of it, sadly). Near the end of the dive we were followed by two large (maybe 80 cm long) blue gropers that got pretty close to us.

On Sunday we ended up doing another pretty similar dive near Bare Island. Seas looked calm enough but underwater there was quite bit of current in the beginning and I didn’t have much chance to focus on photography. We headed to South Wall again but this time we turned back later than on Saturday so the dive ended up a pretty long one. I was actually little low on air when we got back to the Island as I was diving with a pretty small tank. On this dive we didn’t see anything that special. The blue gropers were swimming with us again and got really close and personal this time around. The guy leading our dive even started tickling them at one point!

It is nice to dive somewhere where the dive sites are actually right next to the city. While Melbourne has some great dives, the 100+ km drive from the city to the coast can be bit of a pain. And while the site was not quite rich in sea life as the pier dives near Melbourne, there was still lots to see and quite a few fish species I haven’t spotted before.

#157 Bare Island 2012-02-26

Sunday, February 26th, 2012
Bare Island in Sydney, Australia
59 minutes, max depth 17.1 m, water 18°C
Buddies: Bob

#156 Bare Island 2012-02-25

Saturday, February 25th, 2012
Bare Island in Sydney, Australia
51 minutes, max depth 17.1 m, water 21°C
Buddies: Bob

First Day in Sydney

Tuesday, February 21st, 2012

After arriving to Sydney late yesterday evening this was my first full day in the city. The day ended up quite productive, I did quite a bit of sightseeing and had some time for more practical matters as well.

I spent most of the day near the CBD, first walking through the Hyde Park and the Royal Botanic Gardens, passing by the Sydney Opera House and then heading through Circular Quay to the Rocks, the historic city center. I spent some time wandering around the Rocks and made a brief visit to Sydney Observatory. After that I felt I had done enough sightseeing for the day so I focused on more practical matters.

First on my list was joining a local dive club so I headed to the University of New South Wales campus. Things were quite busy over there with the orientation week (start of the academic year with all the new students) going on, but I still managed to get my membership sorted out. Unfortunately, the club isn’t organizing that many dive days during my stay here, so I’ll have to see if I can sort out some extra dives either through the club or with some other people.

Another item on my list of things to do when arriving to a new city is getting a library membership. Pretty much everything is bit more expensive here than in Melbourne and this was also true for the libraries. I ended up paying 15 dollars for a temporary 3-month membership. The King’s Cross library I visited was quite small too, hopefully some of the other libraries in the city have a better selection of books. Of course, the membership was probably worth the money for just the free wifi alone.

While I took some photos during the day, most of them were pretty quick shots. Going to spend some more time in the next few days to get some better shots. My current plan is to stay in Sydney for around three weeks and then head back Melbourne, but one never knows what happens.

Phillip Island

Sunday, February 19th, 2012

I spent the last weekend diving on Phillip Island with MUUC. It was a joint trip with the mountaineering club and we stayed in a proper (and pretty fancy!) house instead of camping. After quite a few initial problems at the shed on Friday we finally got both the boats and the compressor on the road. While Phillip Island has a lot of stuff to see on the land as well (including the famous Penguin Parade), this was pretty much a pure diving trip for us and we didn’t really do any sightseeing.

On Saturday we did our first dive at George Kermode, a bucket dredge scuttled in 1976. The wreck lies upside down in around 20 meters of water. While some parts of the wreck were quite interesting, I didn’t really care that much for the wreck compared to some other wrecks near Melbourne. The wreck might be more interesting on the inside, we only went for a quick peep with Shawn but did no real penetrations.

The second dive was at the Pinnacles, a popular local site with two pinnacles raising from around 40 meters to 12 meters. Unfortunately, our shot line moved a bit and ended up in the wrong spot. I had already gone down with Shawn before anyone noticed this so we ended up in midwater with nothing special to see. At 20 meters we could barely see the bottom (somewhere around 30-40 meters) but there was nothing else visible. I was already considering heading back up but then Shawn noticed some shapes in the distance and we ended up finding some smaller pinnacles. They were not that impressive though, and while there were two of them, it became clear that they couldn’t be the pinnacles we were supposed to dive as their tops were at around 20 meters. Near the top surge got little annoying and there was quite a bit of current too. Just as we were getting back on boat a pod of 5 or 6 dolphins came to the area. They ended up visiting some of our divers still underwater, unfortunately I only saw them from the surface and didn’t really have chance to take any photos either.

Sunday shaped up to be a better diving day with calm seas and some pretty nice dives. First we went for a return visit to the Pinnacles, this time we got the shot line in the right place as well. It was an awesome dive with superb vis, definitely one of my favorite non-wreck dives in Victoria. While the site is quite deep, we still managed to cover quite a bit of the area. We found some very impressive cliff walls and some nice overhangs. The pinnacles are covered in corals and zoanthids and there was also a huge variety of fish life down there.

The second dive of the day was at Pyramid Rock, a famous landmark near George Kermode. None of us had dived here before and we couldn’t find any real GPS markers, so most of the dive was spent exploring. Unfortunately, we didn’t find any of the more impressive features that should have been down there, but it was still a pretty good dive and quite different to most sites I have done in Victoria. The area was almost completely covered in kelp forests and while there were no proper walls, the bottom was still quite varied with boulders and smaller holes. I also ended up seeing my first Port Jackson Shark just lying on the bottom, unfortunately in a pretty protected area so I wasn’t able to get a good shot.

After the second dive we headed back to Melbourne, cleaned the boats and rinsed the gear. Then I headed to a hostel where I was staying overnight before leaving for Sydney early on Monday morning. The weekend as a whole was another great diving trip with MUUC, too bad it will be a while before I can dive with these guys again as I will be spending a few weeks over in Sydney next before heading back to Melbourne.

#155 Pyramid Rock 2012-02-19

Sunday, February 19th, 2012
Pyramid Rock in Phillip Island, Australia
51 minutes, max depth 18 m, water 19°C
Buddies: Alexandra Law, Joey Clapper, Kathryn, Luke Cawley

#154 Pinnacles 2012-02-19

Sunday, February 19th, 2012
Pinnacles in Phillip Island, Australia
30 minutes, max depth 32 m, water 19°C
Buddies: Shawn Tan Zheng Kai

#153 Pinnacles 2012-02-18

Saturday, February 18th, 2012
Pinnacles in Phillip Island, Australia
33 minutes, max depth 32 m, water 20°C
Buddies: Shawn Tan Zheng Kai