Archive for the ‘landscape’ Category

Spinning Yarn: Tauranga Spinners #109

Saturday, January 21st, 2012

 My flight to Tauranga came in the middle of myChristchurchvisit. I wanted to see the North and to visit the Majacraft Spinning Wheel company, present to them a report of my trip and to meet the local spinners who would be interested to hear about my Spinning inAntarctica. Majacraft supplied the Little Gem (whom I have named “Mawson”; all my 38 spinning wheels have names) for me to take toCapeDenisonand report on the effects of extreme temperatures on the workings of the mechanisms – polymer driveband, bearings and oiling, the cold on all the moving parts, its portability and its hypnotic quality.

 Hypnotic quality? Why, yes – just ask the Adelie penguin who chatted with me for about 15 minutes!

 The Spinners loved the presentation, and made a donation to the Mawson’s Huts Foundation as a thank you, and for their part in its restoration. The Tauranga group are numerous, about 25 ladies there on the day I visited, and very active and supportive of the local Spinning Wheel company. I was made to feel very welcome. Thank you, Ladies.

 

 

Spinning Yarn: Majacraft MajaSponsor! #101

Monday, August 15th, 2011

The plan to take my spinning wheel to Antarctica, (fuelled by a dare from my brother), required a bit of research into the most convenient wheel to take. I had been looking at taking a wheel that was compact and very portable, but also one with endurance which was friendly to use, and my research led me to Majacraft, a New Zealand based company in the North Island – at Tauranga. When Glenis and Owen Poad of Majacraft heard about my trip to Antarctica, they wanted to be part of it, and so offered me the Little Gem.

 Made of New Zealand “Rimu” wood, each piece matched for colour and growth ring pattern, it is also modern is size and shape. It is an elegant wheel, by any standards. The polymer drivebands are guaranteed to a temperature of minus 30 for 20 minutes, which was ideal for me at my destination. Add to that the functional and compact carry bag, and it is a wheel for the most discerning Antarctic traveller!

Spinning Yarn: More Heart of the Great Alone #100

Wednesday, August 10th, 2011

 Herbert Ponting was Scott’s photographer, equally skilled with an artistic eye and plenty of film! The shots he took are stunning and evoked the same surprising emotional response– Amazement! Incredulity! Recognition!  I was stunned at how much the ice had changed, yet not changed.

 So many penguin photos – gosh, I took a few of those, myself!! – and so many seal shots, but also the artistic angles. There were the obligatory “happy snaps” and the documentary shots too. Would anyone know or believe that men even went down to Antarctica, had these pictures not been taken? And would anyone have understood the immensity, or the scale, or the proportions of the ice, or seen the beauty of Nature at her most extreme?

 We owe these men, Hurley and Ponting, the utmost respect and admiration, and we owe the expeditioners more of the same.

Spinning Yarn: The Heart of the Great Alone. #99

Saturday, August 6th, 2011

It amazed me how much this exhibition meant to me. As I devoured each of the displays of fabulous black and white photographs of Antarctica taken 100 years ago by the famous Frank Hurley, I was transported not only back in time, but also back to the Frozen Continent, to see it through the eyes and heart of this skillful and daring man.

 Frank Hurley shared the huts with Mawson and his team, not only in his specialty as  photographer but also as a sledger. He man-hauled his fair share sleds and did his share of depot-laying, same as the rest of them. His company was valued on several scientific missions.

 His famous prints are the product of his labours in the tiniest of darkrooms in the most trying conditions of cold and cramped workspace. Some of his chemicals are still in his darkroom at the Huts, the labels still readable and corks still in the bottles.

Spinning Yarn: How Far toChristchurch? #95

Friday, July 8th, 2011

Leaving the ship was not a complicated as it could have been. We said all our passenger goodbyes the night before and had only to wait for our bags to be put on the dock. Some passengers had hotel reservations for Dunedin, some had planes to catch, others had more local sightseeing to do…And me? Well I needed to hire a car – one way —to Christchurch.

The car rental company I spoke to before I left Melbourne told me to call them when I arrived in Dunedin – and I did – but they were not open for the public holiday! Nor were they available the next day, so I boarded Orion without having booked a vehicle. Upon our return, a Saturday morning, I called again. They were open this time, but sorry, they do not do one way trips. (They could have told me that in Melbourne!) Obviously, I was not happy, but I was not worried, either. …..Faith…..

 Out on the wharf, the car rental companies and taxis waited for us to farewell the Expedition Team, lined up to wave us off and give us our parting gift of a  souvenir photographs CD. The Lady from the local rental company very kindly drove me to the tourist bureau, where another learned lady located the rental car I was to have – right in town! Within 40 minutes of leaving Orion, I was back on the road and away on the next leg of my adventure – A drive up the East Coast of South Island.

 Maybe I should have asked for a map…..Nah…..

Spinning Yarn: Campbell Island #92

Wednesday, June 29th, 2011

 The high seas of the last few days had not abated by the time we reached Campbell Island, and it was not safe to take Orion into the harbour. We used the Island body to shelter on the lee side, and broke out the Zodiacs for a bit of an ocean run.

 Campbell Island is another Albatross colony cum sanctuary. There is one species, Dr Alex Watson told us, that lives only here. 

 The picture I took from the Zodiac, showing the rocky outcrop that stands off the coast of the island proper, circled by the “Campbell Island RAF”, shows a busy airport with flights arriving from all over the island, a variety of planes in all shapes and sizes, and an assortment of colours painted on the fuselages. Identity markings….

 The many birds were enjoying the edible bounty that the rough weather had brought to the surface, and the winds, and updrafts, playing with flying – circling and daring each other. I do not think that was my imagination! Birds dogfighting! What next!?

Spinning Yarn: Marion meest Clancy of the Overflow! #91

Saturday, June 25th, 2011

Actor Jack Thompson is a man passionate about Australian History, as evidenced by his portrayals of Australian historical figures. He has brought to life such characters as Clancy of the Overflow in Man from Snowy River, The head shearer in Sunday Too Far Away and the Defending Lawyer Major JF Thomas in Breaker Morant. He is well-known also for his heart connection with the explorers Burke and Wills. It is no wonder then, that he was a guest speaker at the Mawson’s Huts Foundation Luncheon in Sydney, recently.

 Mr Thompson has lent his distinctive voice and heartfelt passion to a specially made documentary presentation, to be screened later this year, about the famous Antarctic explorer Sir Douglas Mawson, and his expedition to the Southern Continent, last century.

 Imagine my thrill in meeting such an amazing man, listening to that magnetic voice, and spinning yarns of history with him! At the podium on stage, his yarn was one responsibility – that it rests on all of us to ensure that younger people know of the courage, strength and endurance of the men who gave us our nation and its territories. He fully supports the work of the Mawson’s Huts Foundation.

 And so do I.

Spinning Yarn: Off to Campbell Island #88

Sunday, June 19th, 2011

…..which gave us our next destination: Campbell Island. The great walking track that goes all the way to the top of the island is supposed to be pretty spectacular. The harbour is a bit tight for the Orion, but manageable and we would be there for the day before turning our bows to Dunedin once more.

Travelling on the ocean can be an eventful experience at times. When we left Dunedin all those days ago, we had a 3m swell. Reaching Commonwealth Bay generally and Boat Harbour in particular, we had a calm, flat sea. Heading north again, the wind and weather was behind us pushing us forward. And now, on the way to Campbell Island, we had 10m swells. All still in possession of our sea legs, we enjoyed the rolling and swaying – the teenagers on board playing “chicken” with the huge wave coming in over the stern of the ship! (Go figure….) The captain had the doors locked once he ordered them inside.

 I believe the kitchen did not have a good time, however. We heard lots of breaking dishes at the extreme end of several rolls of the waves, and we had to catch our dessert before it literally, hit the deck.

Spinning Yarn: Off to the Resort #85

Sunday, June 5th, 2011

 

 How many satisfied customers can one resort hold? I remember seeing photos of resorts where there are as many bodies at the beach as there are in the restaurant, as there are at the disco. Some of the holiday makers love to swim, or sunbake on the sand, or travel back to their rooms to get changed for the next activity. The area is fluid with tourists coming and going and relaxing; everyone does their own thing. Macquarie Island is no different —-not really. It is booked out, though.

…And NO ONE CAN FIND WALLY!!!!

Where's Wally?

Spinning Yarn: Calling All Rabbit Fur! #83

Tuesday, May 31st, 2011

 It’s a pity that rabbits do not have blubber, they could be melted down instead…. You should see what they are doing to the island! It looks like a moonscape! Rabbits were introduced to the island as a way to feed shipwrecked sailors. Left alone for a few years, the rabbits multiplied so much that shipwrecked sailors could not keep up with the numbers – and even the skuas (Antarctic vultures) have trouble. Poison is the answer, and there is pallets of it ready to be distributed – just waiting for the right weather day.

 In the evenings, we had briefings on our progress, what latitude we were, how far we’d come, our speed, etc — all the statistics. We also shared the day’s best photos. Macquarie Island day had this great photo of two flying skuas fighting over a rabbit. Having just seen first hand the devastation these animals cause, a rousing cheer went up for these enterprising skuas. It put me in mind of a soccer game – Skuas 1, Rabbits ½ each!(or should that be Skuas ½ each, Rabbits 0)