Archive for January, 2013

Lonsdale Wall

Saturday, January 12th, 2013
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Our Big Boat had been out of action for ages first getting repaired and then simply sitting in the the shed unused. But now it was finally time to take it for a spin! This was also my first chance to go diving in 2013 as I had spent the first week of the new year in Sydney with the family.

Due to fairly large swell (and the fact the boat hadn’t been out in ages) we decided to do our diving inside the Port Phillip Bay. We started out with a slack dive on the Lonsdale Wall. I went down with Luke, we also had James, Michelle and Kristen in the water with us but they were staying higher up on the wall. This was an excellent part of the wall with nice growth all along the way and several nice overhangs. There were quite a few fish down there as well including several blue devils. And some other divers too, including a group of divers with twins exploring the deeper parts of the wall. The visibility was quite good as well, so there were lots of opportunities for wide-angle shots.

The less said about our second dive the better. We decided to give Pope’s Eye a try at flood tide, which was not really optimal in the first place. The current was pretty strong and fairly unpredictable, lot less pleasant than the usual ebb tide dive. And to make things worse for me my drysuit zipper wasn’t closed up properly. At first I thought it was just one of my gloves letting some water in but as the water just kept coming in I figured it was properly something more serious. I struggled for a while in the current in a drysuit that was slowly getting filled with water. After a while I had had enough and headed back to the surface and the boat. I quick check confirmed that the zipper was slightly ajar. The only silver lining was the water temperature, a stunt like this would have been lot less pleasant in the water!

Luckily weather was nice enough so I was able to get the suit reasonably dry again before our third and final dive. We went back to Lonsdale Wall for the second slack water of the day. This time I went down with Crystal (her 150th dive) and conditions were again very nice. However, near the end of the dive current had started to pick up so we kept the dive reasonably short. This was perhaps an even more interesting part of the wall with several very large overhangs (some which almost qualified as small caves) and other cool features. We also met one fish that was likely a blue groper, unfortunately neither of us managed to get a photo to confirm the id. I had only seen them in Sydney before, so meeting one in Victoria was really nice!

#260 Lonsdale Wall 2013-01-12

Saturday, January 12th, 2013
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#259 Pope’s Eye 2013-01-12

Saturday, January 12th, 2013
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#258 Lonsdale Wall 2013-01-12

Saturday, January 12th, 2013
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Site issues

Friday, January 11th, 2013

The site was almost completely wiped out a few days ago, likely due to a hostile attack. Databases were unaffected and I was able to restore almost all the other content from the latest weekly backup. However, I will need to upload some photo galleries (Wilsons Prom and New Zealand trip) again.

I have updated all WordPress components to their latest versions and temporarily disabled some other parts of the site to ensure there are no exploits on the site. I should have everything back up and running in a few more days.

Sydney with the Family

Wednesday, January 9th, 2013

After New Year it was time for the family to move on to Sydney. On the 3rd January they drove over along the coastal route. Doing this in one day was doable, even if bit rushed and certainly with no time for sightseeing stops. I stayed behind in Melbourne, there was no room in the car in the first place and I also had some matters I had to get sorted in Melbourne. On Saturday I hopped on the train and joined the others in Sydney. During their two days there they had already covered most of the major attractions so it was now time for some day trips.

On Sunday morning we headed to Blue Mountains, one of the major attractions near Sydney. This mountainous area has lots of great views, awesome waterfalls and good walks among other things. I had been to Blue Mountains twice before, but as it is one of my favorite places in Australia I was more than happy to come along as a guide for the day trip. We first stopped at Wentworth Falls. This area has some of the best waterfalls in the Blue Mountains and the Valley of Waters region is particularly beautiful. A walk there was on my list of things to do and we on the walk as a group.

However, as the path started to look quite rough and the steps down were quite deep the others decided to turn back. I drudged on and the Empress Falls were certainly worth it. I also passed a few other waterfalls before turning back towards the car park. The way up was certainly good exercise on a hot day like this. Still, the walk was excellent and certainly worth its reputation as one of the top walks in Australia.

After Wentworth Falls we moved on to Leura and visited Leura cascades and Gordon Falls. Timo also managed to locate an ice cream truck. 🙂

Then it was time to move on to Katoomba, the famous Three Sisters rock formation and some lunch. Tarja and Merja visited the Waradah Aboriginal Centre while the rest of the did some more sightseeing in Katoomba.

After regrouping we moved on to Blackheath. The lookouts and walks around Blackheath are perhaps the best in the Blue Mountains. After a full day out we decided to skip the walks and just visited a few of the lookouts. Evan’s lookout didn’t disappoint this time either, views down to Grose Valley are spectacular. Then we moved on to Govetts Leap lookout for some waterfall. Due to dry weather many of the waterfalls were not as impressive as usual. But Bridal Veil waterfall (aka Govetts Leap) was still quite a sight.’

This was our last major sightseeing stop, we proceeded to Lithgow and then drove back to Sydney via the northern route. Unfortunately photo opportunities were limited. While the views down the valleys on both sides of the road were often very nice, there were always too many trees blocking photos and no good lookouts near the main road either.

All in all it was great day out, Blue Mountains is yet to disappoint.

On Monday we had to move out from the house we were staying in. Initially we were supposed to have the place for the entire Sydney visit but unfortunately the owners had to return from their holiday earlier than planned so we had to spend the last few days in a hostel. The others also had some packing to do so we didn’t plan any major trips for the day. Instead we did some further sightseeing in the city itself. First we took the ferry to Manly and did some swimming and snorkeling there. Shelly beach is a great snorkeling spot and we even saw a lone Port Jackson shark there!

Then we returned to the city, dropped off the beach gear and continued with the sightseeing in the CBD. My Sydney visit wouldn’t have been complete without a visit to the statue of Trim. However, at this point others had had enough of walking (and it was getting dark anyway) so we headed back to Circular Quay and caught a ferry to Darling Harbour. This is a great boat ride in the dark with great views of the city at night. I put my new Canon 17-55 lens to good use. Then from Darling Harbour we walked through Chinatown and then finally caught a train back to our hostel.

While there were some cool nights and even a few slightly cooler days during the time my family was visiting Australia their second to last day here (Tuesday) was nothing of the sort. Forecast in Sydney was for 43 degrees, which was getting really close to all time records. In weather like that walking around is not really a (pleasant) option, so we spent most of the day in the air-conditioned car and visited various beaches.

To avoid the busiest spots and to do some sightseeing at the same time we decided to head over to Terrigal, some 90 km north of Sydney. This popular tourist town has some nice beaches and I also wanted to check out snorkeling there. Terrigal beach was indeed nice, too bad snorkeling at the nearby Haven was somewhat disappointing: poor vis and nothing too special to see apart from one cuttlefish. Still, it was a nice way to spend a really hot day out.

After returning to Sydney we decided to do some more swimming and snorkeling as the weather was still way too hot. So we headed over to Clovelly, the beach (and parking lot!) was still totally packed even though it was getting fairly late. Timo dropped the rest of us off and eventually managed to get the car parked. Despite the throngs of people in the water snorkeling was quite good (as usual at Clovelly) and everyone had a great time. Several Blue Gropers and lots of smaller fish too. We spent several hours there, even after sunset it was still a very pleasant 30 degrees so we were in no hurry to leave. Finally we drove back to our hostel and tried to catch some sleep despite the hot rooms.

In the morning it was time for everyone to get ready to leave Sydney. We visited the house in Newtown to pick up rest of our luggage and the others repacked everything for the flight. Timo had gone way overboard on souvenir shopping and it took him ages to fit everything in his packs (and staying under weight limits at the same time). Then it was time to say goodbyes, the others drove over to Sydney airport and I headed to the Central Railway Station. Few hours and some book shopping later I caught an overnight train back to Melbourne.

It was nice to see the family again after over a year. Even if they can be bit of a pain at times. 🙂

Trip Reports for November

Thursday, January 3rd, 2013

The photos and trip reports for my two major trips in November are finally up! They were Wilsons Prom with MUUC and New Zealand by myself.

With those out of the way there’s still some catching up to do. There has been some excellent diving around Melbourne in late November and December and I have several excellent photos to post. Additionally, some of my family and friends are currently visiting Australia and I have done several nice day trips with them, including another Great Ocean Road trip.

And finally, there are still some files missing from the new site. I’ll get the dead links and missing images fixed as soon as I can.

Happy New Year 2013!

Tuesday, January 1st, 2013

New Year’s Eve was a great day to head out to the beach. We ended up visiting Black Rock, perhaps the best snorkeling spot near Melbourne. We found a really nice reefy area with decent amount of fish and some stingrays. But Black Rock isn’t just about the underwater environment as the coastal cliffs and the Red Bluff in particular provide a great backdrop scenery.

After a few hours on the beach we headed back to the Abbotsford house and started getting ready for the main event of the day: the fireworks. The family works at 9:30pm were visibly from the upstairs window and surprisingly nice. For the midnight fireworks we headed to the banks of Yarra river. The city was totally packed with people, luckily we started out early and got fairly decent spots near the riverbank.

From our vantage point we had a good view of the city skyline and many of the fireworks launch sites. For photos it wasn’t really the best spot, I only have a fairly small travel tripod and nearby people kept blocking many of the shots. But that wasn’t the main point anyway, simply enjoying the fireworks themselves and the beginning of the year 2013.

2012 was a great year for me with the obvious exception of my injury in March. Hopefully 2013 turns out even better!