An unintended 'selfie' while learning how to use the borrowed GoPro camera ….. there were more than this one until I worked out I needed to reverse the camera … I did laugh a lot when viewing the images! My Panasonic underwater camera sprang a leak, but I was able to find another option for today's rerun of the turtle tour.
Purple is a popular colour amongst LHI corals. This staghorn coral is sheltering a school of tiny luminescent blue fish.
Another purple coral, soft and spreading. The many varieties are fascinating, each outcropping rich in fish species too. I think snorkeling might be one of my favourite activities here!
Three-striped Butterfly fish, an LHI special, gathered in a social group just near our pickup point. The lagoon is like a treasure chest, dive beneath the surface to open the lid, then drift about, captured by the beauty and novelty of all you see! Tomorrow we fly back to Sydney, and will be home on Sunday afternoon, thoroughly rested after our island holiday.
The same elements, freshly arranged every evening, endlessly delightful.
On this occasion we were at the Golf Club, where volunteers cook a fabulous simple fish and chips meal once a week as a fundraiser to replace their roof. The raffle helps too, but for me the winner was the sunset.
We were in the first 'bus' home, so when we alighted outside Mary Challis cottages the sky was still glowing. I ran out through the sandy scrub to the beach to capture just one more image.
You can't be tired of seeing these two mountains yet, not when they are daily arrayed in fresh colours and clouds
Malabar is a high point at the northern end of the island, attractive to bird watchers who climb up in summer to see the Red-tailed Tropic birds playing in the updrafts. After recovering from our hike over Intermediate Hill and down to Boat Harbour we thought Malabar would be easy. Last year we went up on a sunny day, but this time the weather was closing in. Even so there are wonderful views all over the island.
The climb begins at the northern end of Ned's Beach, through cow paddocks and Sooty Tern nesting territory, then up the scrubby and rocky ridge to the pinnacle at 208 metres. We passed other walkers going in both directions, some scrambling for shelter before the rains, others quite carefree, and a couple of young locals actually running,
Looking south to the mountains, sheathed in cloud. At the summit Stuart sat down to draw and I tried to photograph tropic birds, but was eventually drawn further north on the precipitous track towards Kims, where the birds were gliding closer to the cliff face. In a graceful ballet they swooped and soared, ever higher, then sailing out to sea, and back around in twos and threes riding the breeze up to the cliff face again. Sooty terns called overhead, other birds glided by, but it was not a time for photos …. this was my best effort.
See those startling long red tail feathers! Soon raindrops were landing on the camera so I climbed back to the summit to meet Stuart, who had also packed up. We scuttled down too, watching our footing on the steep slope, hopped on our bikes and cycled back to the cottage with more promises of no more mountain climbing!
Fish have been fed at Ned's Beach for many many years, so there are always Silver Drummer, Trevally, Sand Mullet, and different species of wrasse waiting along the shore line. See the fish in the shallows above. Healthy fish food is available for a small cost at the shed, where snorkelling gear can be hired on an honour system. Last year I could only photograph the fish from above, but this time the underwater camera came in handy!
Fish circle around me, but I have only come to look …. they have to swim back to the man in the red t-shirt who has the food. This was my view from underwater.
What a crowd! We also snorkelled out to the reefs close inshore, looking at many different corals, anemones, and fishes. For vivid colour the wrasse below cannot be outdone!
This is a common Cleaner Wrasse, not so common really …. and rather pretty.
The reef is lovely, and visibility was excellent this morning.
After all that fun it was time to lie on the sand and warm up before cycling home for a nice cup of rooibos tea.
Today we walked over the mountainous terrain of the southern end of the island, to visit Boat Harbour. We planned to go a more level route via Mutton Bird Point, but that track was closed by an avalanche, so having already climbed about 50 metres we decided to continue via Intermediate Hill. It was another 200m climb over about 1 kilometre, to the summit, where sadly the views mentioned in the walking guide were now obscured by growth. However the forest was lovely, and we had glimpses of Mt Lidgbird and Balls Pyramid as we descended to the south.
Here we met the track to Boat Harbour, stopped for a rest and a snack, and then continued our descent along a creekline, towards Rocky Run.
Passing through an almost mythical forest of pandanus, kentia palms, tree fern, tall stately trees certainly distracted us from our aching legs, which would have preferred some level walking. Fresh water flowed beside us from time to time, so we refilled our water bottle, and stayed cool in the shade of the trees. It must have been about four hours after leaving the cottage when we arrived at Boat Harbour! We found a shady grassy patch above the rocky beach, ate our lunch, and I fell asleep while S went off to draw. The rocky strand is quite unusual here, and such fascinating rocks, lots of coral and other flotsam and jetsam included.
Mt Lidgbird towers over the beach …. I just had to climb out onto the southern rock shelf to get this photo of the beach and mountain together. A cool swim soon refreshed us, and we set off for the return trip, back through the heavenly forest, this time avoiding intermediate hill, instead taking the Smoking Tree Ridge track back to Lagoon Road, where we still had to walk several kilometres to retrieve our bikes, which we had left near the airport where the Mutton Bird Point Track started. Almost seven hours after leaving we got home to the cottage. Now there will be a few hours of lying about, wondering what possessed us to do all that climbing!
This was our view of the mountains at our backs as we walked north towards our bicycles …. note to self … no more mountain climbing this week please ….
Our turtle tour fell foul of the weather, which is still too rough for snorkeling. We did however try to snorkel over a wrecked boat in the lagoon near North Bay. Strong currents and surges created by huge seas spilling over the reef into the lagoon made the whole experience rather alarming, but I did get some photos of fish and corals as I was being swept past them. I quite like this black and white version of LHI Three-Striped Butterfly fish.
Walking amongst the sea birds on North Beach was the highlight of the day. The bay was more sheltered than the rest of the lagoon. Here you can see the waves breaking on the outer reef, and the glorious colours of the island in sunshine. Our glass bottomed boat is being tethered safely before the sea bird walk. Steve told us he had only done two trips in the last ten days due to rough weather.
This section of the island has only recently become a nesting site. High temperatures about 15 years ago burnt off some of the coral, which died and has been relaced by sea grass, which provides a perfect habitat for fish fry and crustaceans. Such small tasty dainties are ideal food for hatchlings, so the birds have moved in! Here are a couple of Brown Noddys engaging in courtship behaviour!
On the rocky foreshore at the end of the beach Black Noddys clustered with Sooty Terns to breed.
I would love to show you more, but it takes too long to upload here …. and today we are going walking on the southern end of the island …. after the markets, which only take place on the second Sunday of the month … a chance we cannot miss
Strong winds whipped up the seas again today, meaning the fishing boats could not catch enough fish to supply the island. Nor-westers wiped out the beaches on the lagoon side, but surfing, playing and fish-feeding was just fine on the lee side. I only took my swimmers, so no photos from the calm side today.
On the wild side I spent a little time at Settlement Beach, where two turtles were swimming in the high tide. Tomorrow we are booked on a Turtle Tour … so I hope to see them again while wearing my flippers and snorkle! I met a woman photographer I have bumped into a few times, and asked if she would like to share our stuffed zucchini for dinner …. she agreed gladly. We are fortunate to be staying at Mary Challis Cottages where Bill and Ginny have a big vegetable garden, so we have some fresh food. It turned out well because we found newly picked corn at the Co-Op, and combined that with some new potatoes Ginny had given us too. Stuart stopped by the roadside to pick Warrigal greens, or New Zealand spinach to you Jo! A sumptuous vegetarian feast ensued to our great delight, followed by another gorgeous sunset for dessert
I hung around the village centre for a while, buying and sending postcards to the grandchildren, browsing one nice shop, and generally relaxing out of the wind. I had already tried to send my post but found it impossible, with one attempt after the other ending in failure. Stuart was doing his last art workshop of the trip, with five keen students back at Ginnies Shed. At last I headed back on my trusty bicycle, stopping only to see if mother white tern was with her chick … and I was in luck …. here they are together sitting on a low stubby branch of a Norfolk Island pine. Late in the afternoon on the way to an art exhibition opening at the Anchorage I sat on the museum steps (it was closed) and logged in, thrilled to find the upload speed was outrageously fast, so the troublesome post went in about ten minutes, compared with 30 minutes for the failed morning attempts … maybe this will be my new plan! I did manage to see my email this morning, many thanks for your wonderful comments, I am so glad to share Lord Howe with my blogging community, even if it is a bit one-sided until we get back to regular internet access on 15th December, when I am expecting to enjoy snow and winter with all my northern hemisphere friends.
As part of the Art Trail week on Lord Howe I attended a photography class this morning. Two teachers gave their time for free, promoting the Photography Weeks they offer at Pinetrees during the year. Our focus was Drama … how to take a dramatic photograph! After a long talk and demonstration we all went to Blinky Beach, where drama abounds … with surf and surfers, Sooty Terns and young, windsock and red flags, and the incredible background of mountains rising 800 metres straight out of the ocean.
In a lucky moment I captured this photo of terns floating in the breeze before dropping into the tall grass to rest or feed their chick. Earlier I had been struggling to use the viewfinder instead of the screen; the inconvenience of wearing glasses meant the viewfinder caused my glasses to smudge …. so I had to find my way around this little problem. The beach light was glary, it was impossible to review photos for exposure, focus and composition, but I made a few adjustments to ISO, white balance and chose a fast shutter speed, and hoped for the best. After our two hour class we were invited back at 5pm, when we offer our photos for inspection. We had to choose our favourite photo, the teachers would choose their favourite photo from our card, then a winner would emerge from the day's efforts.
Later in the afternoon we walked down to Middle Beach, to explore the rock shelf exposed by the low tide. Like all the shoreline of the island it was remarkable, with rounded white rocks scattered along the beach, migratory birds feeding in the shallows, corals, anemones, sea slugs in remnant pools, and of course Sooty Terns nesting along the fringes of the cliffs. To the north stood a series of incredibly jagged rocks, certainly dramatic …. this was my other entry to the competition. You might just see water droplets falling from the dark rock at the top.
To my surprise three photos from eight entrants were chosen as second prize, or runners up …. and two of the three were mine! I felt it was a double honour to win two seconds for the day …. so here they are for your enjoyment.
This morning I cycled out to airport where birds gather both on the mown grass and in the adjacent wetlands. I was looking for Bar-tailed Godwits, and was not disappointed. Look at their marvellous long straight bills for finding edible goodies in the soft marshy earth!
Since the eastern sun was in my eyes and I could not get any closer, I returned later in the day hoping the western sun might provide better illumination …. but no Godwits were to be seen, just a large mixed group of Golden Plovers, black ducks, Eurasian coots, Mallards, Cormorants, and two White-faced Herons. More interesting was the setting, with red flags in stripes reflected in the water, and a brilliant blue sky.
Earlier I had walked around the residential area of Lord Howe, visiting places on the Art Trail. This fabulous Flame tree shone through the green palm foliage near Izak's photographic studio.
After the day's pleasures were past, but before our delicious lentil and rice dinner, we sat on the edge of the lagoon, watching the sunset. Reading 'Autobiography of a Yogi' is giving me so much to think about, and sunset is a perfect time for reflection on how the whole material world is simply light.
Seen foraging at low tide in North Bay on Lord Howe Island, these two species breed in Siberia and come south for the summer. We were wandering, photographing coral outcrops, marvelling at each new discovery, alternately enjoying soft rain or bright sunshine, when we found these birds, which were soon chased away by a man in a rush to catch up with a group of young boys gathered around a rockpool. He was oblivious to the birds!
Today's photo of Mt Gower and Mt Lidgbird, taken from the wharf, where almost everything except people arrives on the island.