Archive for December, 2012

#257 Portsea Pier 2012-12-30

Sunday, December 30th, 2012
Portsea Pier in Melbourne, Australia
40 minutes, max depth 4.3 m, water 19°C
Buddies:

Final Dives of 2012

Sunday, December 30th, 2012

To wrap up the year we went for a few final dives. Sunday was nice and sunny day and there were quite a few of us keen for some shore dives.

We started out at Flinders. Christine had some problems with her BCD but otherwise things went smoothly. There were plenty of seadragons around and lot of them had eggs too. As usual getting good photo angles on them was a pain but I did my best. In addition to the usual suspects we also saw one medium size black spotted stingray.

And to wrap up the diving year 2012 we headed to Portsea Pier. This was another nice pier dive with nudibranchs, various fish and a surprise visit from a large cuttlefish. A good way to finish an amazing year of diving, let’s see if 2013 turns out even better!

  • 2012-11-03 Pinnacle

#256 Flinders Pier 2012-12-30

Sunday, December 30th, 2012
Flinders Pier in Melbourne, Australia
56 minutes, max depth 4.6 m, water 18°C
Buddies:

Phillip Island with Family

Saturday, December 29th, 2012

As our second longer trip from Melbourne we decided to visit Phillip Island. I had already been there once on a dive trip but didn’t have much chance for sightseeing back then. The others were also quite keen to see the penguin parade and Aleksi was hoping to try out some surfing.

Unfortunately we didn’t pick the best day to visit. We went there on 29th December, the day the Pyramid Rock Festival also started. The road to the island was badly jammed and it probably took us almost an hour to cover the short drive. Luckily on the island itself the roads were not nearly as busy, even if some of the attractions were quite crowded.

We started with a visit to Smiths Beach, one of the best beginner surfing beaches in Victoria. Unfortunately the waves weren’t the best for surfing and there were plenty of people waiting for the few decent waves. So Aleksi decided to give surfing a pass this time around and wait until Sydney with it.

Then we moved on to Nobbies center. While the coastal scenery is certainly quite nice, the visit was still somewhat disappointing. The seal colony is just barely visible from the lookout, fully zoomed in my 70-300mm was just able to resolve individual seals. Tarja had binoculars with her but they didn’t fare much better. And the Nobbies center itself felt way too commercial, at least there was no entrance fee.

Next we drove over to Rhyll for a barbecue lunch. Timo stayed there fishing and the rest of us did the coastal walk along Rhyll Inlet to Conservation Hill. Then it was time for us to split up. Timo dropped me at Cape Woolamai for some bushwalking and the others headed to Penguin Parade.

I was happy to give the Parade a pass, I have already seen the penguins elsewhere several times and besides I feel the Parade is way too commercial. In the end I felt this was definitely the right decision, the bushwalk around Cape Woolamai was quite excellent.

The only major issue was actually finding the track. It took me quite a while to figure out that to reach the track itself I had to first follow the beach for almost a kilometer! This was stated in the description of the shortest track but not for the longer tracks I was planning to do. Eventually I figured things out and got on my way.

The walk was certainly excellent and over pretty easy terrain. The main attraction there are the Pinnacles, a group of rock formations next to some coastal cliffs. The cliffs are quite spectacular and the area in general is really beautiful. The walk also visits the highest point of Phillip Island, from there you can see all the way from San Remo to the Nobbies. It would have made an excellent panorama shot, too bad I didn’t have gear for it.

In addition to scenery itself there were also lots of wallabies and some birds around. My only real complaint was the somewhat disappointing sunset. Still, I got away with some excellent shots so I am really happy how the walk turned out.

I was carrying a couple of lights just in case but I didn’t really need them. Near the end of my walk it was getting pretty dark but as the final part of the return trip was on the beach anyway I had no problems with navigation. It was a pretty windy day and it actually got quite cool while waiting for others in the Cape Woolamai car park. Luckily I had plenty of warm clothes with me. Still, I had to wait quite a while as the Penguin Parade starts around dusk. Eventually I got picked up and we headed back to Melbourne after a nice day out.

  • 2012-11-15 Tauranga

Great Ocean Road with the Family

Saturday, December 22nd, 2012

Great Ocean Road is one of the major attractions in Victoria and certainly worth a visit for anyone spending more than a few days in Melbourne. While the drive itself is not terribly long in kilometers, there are numerous sightseeing stops along the way. For the most part I stuck to the successful plan we used during Eija’s visit. Basically a two day trip with an overnight stop in Apollo Bay covering almost all the major attractions. In summer time there was some more flexibility due to extra day light hours. So I added a visit to Queenscliff and Point Lonsdale to the first day and return trip through the Grampians to the second.

We started out in Queenscliff and visited the pier there for some pelican viewing. I also finally had a taste of the Scandinavian ice cream sold in Queenscliff (it was good). Then we moved on to Point Lonsdale for a view of the Port Phillip Heads. The view is even more impressive on a stormy day but even when the seas are flat the view is quite nice. Next we did a short stop at Barwon Heads, just a brief look from the lookout near the Bluff.

After that we moved on to Torquay and the official starting point of the Great Ocean Road itself. After a very pleasant walk on the beaches and some surf/beach shopping we got back in the car and started the drive towards Apollo Bay. We did brief stops at Bells Beach and Point Addis, both have lookouts with great views of the coastal scenery. Next stop was Anglesea Golf course, one of the easiest places to spot kangaroos in the wild.

From there we drove onward to Aireys Inlet and the Split Point light house there. Next up was Lorne and Erskine Falls. The falls were as nice as I remembered and a great spot for some photos. After the falls we moved on Teddy’s Lookout with a spectacular views down the coastline and the winding Great Ocean Road itself. It was certainly lot nicer than my last visit, at this point of our journey with Eija it had already started raining heavily. 🙁 On the way to the lookout we also spotted a lone kangaroo in the middle of Lorne and stopped to take a few photos on the way back.

The last stop of the day was Kennett river and the koalas. There were a few up the trees and I managed to snatch a couple of pretty nice shots. Then it was time to drive the rest of the way to Apollo Bay, check in at our hostel, grab some dinner and catch some sleep.

After at least couple of hours of sleep (we were all sharing the room with Timo 🙂 ) we woke up and prepared for the second and final day of the trip. The day was really hot, so we decided to keep walking fairly minimal. Our first stop was Marriners Lookout in the Apollo Bay itself. The walk up the hill is nice and the views down to Apollo Bay are great.

After Apollo Bay our next stop was Maits Rest where we did the rainforest walk. Even on the hot day the walk was quite pleasant and cool. Then we drove on to Cape Otway for some more koala spotting. Plenty of koalas in the trees, everyone had plenty of chance for great koala shots. In the end no one was too interested in the Cape Otway lighthouse itself so after a brief visit in the tourist shop we drove on.

Next up was Melba Gully. The rainforest walk there is quite similar to Maits Rest, we did the full walk and afterwards had a quick lunch. The next stretch of the Great Ocean Road is perhaps slightly less interesting and we didn’t do a proper stop until Princetown.

The coastline between Princetown and Port Campbell is obviously packed with attractions (and tourists for that matter). Our first stop in the area was the Twelve Apostles, the most famous attraction on the Great Ocean Road. And on a nice summer day also way too packed with tourists and small very annoying flies. A few kilometers further there’s the Loch Ard Gorge, a nice spot with some nice rock walls and of course the gorge itself. It took us a while to get the car park but the walk down to the gorge is certainly worth it.

Then we moved on to Port Campbell itself for a short break and some swimming. I also did some snorkeling around the Port Campbell jetty. There was one large stingray but otherwise not that much marine life.

Our last two sightseeing stops along the coast were London Bridge (or London Arch these days) and Bay of Islands. Both are nice spots for photos and lot less crowded than the Apostles. Then we drove on to Warrnambool covering the rest of the Great Ocean Road.

After some quick dinner there we turned inland and started the return drive. There were couple of quicker routes but I wanted to do the drive through Grampians to finish up the trip. I had only seen the mountains from the distance and was itching for closer look. Obviously we didn’t have time for much proper sightseeing this time either, we were just able to get through the mountains to Halls Gap by the time the sun had set.

I need to get back there some day for the walks and photos, but even this short drive through the region was very nice. We had to be really careful with kangaroos and wallabies though, lots of them around at dusk. As sun had already set there was not much point in picking further scenic routes after Halls Gap. So we just took the quickest road back to Melbourne and I did my best to keep Timo entertained and awake.

My second Great Ocean Road was even more enjoyable than the first, it was certainly nice to have great weather. And the longer summer days also made the two day trip lot less rushed.

  • 2012-11-16 Whangarei

#255 Rye Pier 2012-12-18

Tuesday, December 18th, 2012
Rye Pier in Melbourne, Australia
106 minutes, max depth 4.9 m, water 19°C
Buddies:

#254 Portsea Pier 2012-12-18

Tuesday, December 18th, 2012
Portsea Pier in Melbourne, Australia
83 minutes, max depth 5.2 m, water 18°C
Buddies:

#253 Flinders Pier 2012-12-18

Tuesday, December 18th, 2012
Flinders Pier in Melbourne, Australia
80 minutes, max depth 5.2 m, water 18°C
Buddies:

Day of diving with Bauke and Karin

Tuesday, December 18th, 2012

Bauke’s girlfriend Karin was visiting Australia so it was time for some shore diving on Tuesday! All three of us are pretty crazy about diving so we decided on a full day out with a total of three planned dives.

The day didn’t actually start out so nicely, it took us ages to get going. Bauke was hiring a car in the morning (they were leaving on a road trip to Brisbane on Wednesday) and it took him ages to get to the shed. His GPS was leading him the wrong way, and a ten minute drive turned into a two hour one. Oops! Eventually he gave me a call and we got him going in the right direction. Luckicly after the initial hassle everything worked out ok, we picked up Karin on the way and started driving down to Mornington Peninsula.

Our first dive was at Flinders Pier. With the (almost) guaranteed Weedy Seadragon sightings this is an obvious spot for any visitors to Victoria. I was trying to be bit more creative and tried to avoid the usual Seadragon shots myself. This was a good long dive with good variety of critters including several nudibranchs.

For the second dive we moved on to Portsea. This was another very long dive with good variety of fish life and nudibranchs. There was one fish in particular I had never seen before and I couldn’t recognize it from the photos either. Probably my poor fish id skills, but still. 🙂

We finished the day under Rye Pier with a super long 106 minute night dive, tied record for my longest dive. This was easily the highlight of the day with loads of various critters. Some nudibranchs, a few hermit crabs and lots of smaller stingrays and dumpling squid on the sand or hiding in it. And last but not least a total of five blue-ringed octopus! While I had taken few shots of them before this was finally chance to photograph these small but extremely venomous critters properly.

Most of the octopuses were on the bottom but there was one that was swimming around too. Little bit disconcerting considering how deadly their venom is!

That was obviously a rather productive dive photo-wise. The only minor annoyance was the huge amount of very small critters in the water. Many of the shots were totally ruined by their presence and even in the more successful shots they are often visible. But that couldn’t ruin an otherwise awesome dive!

It’s a shame I get a chance to do these really long dives so rarely these days. It can be pretty productive for photography when you can just hang around in a small area for longer periods. Even if it does make me little bit impatient at times!

  • 2012-11-04 Skull Rock

Website transfered to a new host

Monday, December 17th, 2012

The website has been transferred to a new hosting company. This resulted in a downtime of few days, sorry for the inconvenience. While in general the process went reasonably smoothly, there are currently some dead links and some parts of the site are not functioning properly. I’ll be fixing any issues over the next few days.

Once everything is working again I’ll be posting some content updates as well. I have a rather large backlog of photos from a couple of trips in November.