Tuesday, July 14, 2009


Paddling at night is nothing new. People have been doing it on Port Jackson for 10,000 years or more. A Joseph Lycett painting (above) from the early 1800's depicting the locals fishing by torch light.

Now the view looks like this ... Paddling towards the Harbour Bridge.

The laughing mask of Luna Park, aflame with electric light.

Mask reflection.

Tony and Luke's nocturnal odyssey.

The highlight of this very enjoyable night paddle was the homeward leg - sailing down the harbour at 11pm and under a starry sky.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Ancient Mariner

A gorgeous mid-winter's day as Tony heads out to sea alone ...

... with the Tasman Sea rolling across south reef and into the bulwark-like cliffs of South Head.

Experience has now taught us two things:
Austalian salmon are often lurking around the Heads and they like attacking the "Xmas tree" lure.
Less common is the sight of Albatross gathering so close to the coast.
The presence of these masters of the ocean skies within sight of the continent's shoreline may be indicative of some unusual phenomenon out to sea. Perhaps an approaching cell of severe weather. Perhaps a lack of pelagic fish offshore. As with most natural behaviour there would be some deeper reasoning underpinning it.

Or perhaps it's just easy mid-winter pickings along the east Australian coastline. These Black-browed Albatross (Thalassarche-melanophris) are feeding on the carcass of a cuttlefish. Click here to see many more of the vast Albatross family.

The view over the stern as Tony leaves the sea to the Albatross.


This sketch is the earliest known rendering of Eora people in canoes ...

It was drawn in 1770 by Tupaia, a Polynesian who was onboard Cook's "Endeavour" when it sailed into Botany Bay. The sketch depicts one of the men spear fishing from his canoe. The sketch was drawn along the southern shore of Botany Bay.
"Details in his painting show the wooden spacers and tied ends of the typical bark canoes used at that time in what is now the Sydney coastal area." (Tupaia's Sketchbook / K.V Smith)

Above is a sketch from an unknown artist depicting an Eora woman and her child in a canoe. (Start 'em young, I say)

"In August 1788, 67 canoes, carrying 94 men, 34 women and nine children, were counted around the (Sydney) harbour, despite the fact that it was the season in which they make their new Canoes, and large parties were known to be in the woods for this purpose'.(An Historical Journal - John Hunter,1793).

Conclusion: paddle craft were here first, maaaaaaaaate.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Angophora Costata

Continuing the indigenous theme, this afternoon's dash across the harbour was to collect seeds from perhaps Sydney Harbour's most beautiful tree species - Angophora Costata - otherwise known as Sydney Red Gum.

Angophora Costata is particularly common on Hawkesbury sandstone where it forms almost pure stands. The genus Angophora is closely allied to Corymbia and Eucalyptus (family Myrtaceae) but differs in that it usually has opposite leaves and possesses overlapping, pointed calyx lobes instead of the operculum or lid on the flower buds of eucalypts. (Australian National Botanic Gardens)

Angophora costata
Angophora : from two Greek words, meaning 'vessel' or 'goblet', and 'to bear or carry', referring to the shape of the fruits;
Costata : ribbed; the capsules bear prominent ribs.

One of the extracted seeds from the capsule which I will attempt to germinate. Apparently germination takes two to three weeks.
When we live in a place with such beautiful endemic flora (that incidentally also supports the local birdlife) it is maddening that so many apparently sane people stuff their gardens with exotic camellias, frangipannis and jacarandas.