Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Holidaying in Northern NSW: Part 2

Continuing on our drive towards Port Macquarie, we took another rest stop in the beautiful country town of Grafton, NSW. I had the pleasure of living there for 11 months in 1988-89 and my oldest son (the prodigal) was born there.

The beauty and peacefulness of the town was much the same, however in 24 years Grafton has grown enormously. We had the pleasure of spending an hour with my blogger friend Karen, husband Jim & their beautiful family. As we drove off on our way, I couldn't help but stop to take a reminiscent shot of the river we used to water ski on each afternoon...

The aim was to catch sunset in Coffs Harbour after we left Grafton, but we enjoyed watching it set over the mountains to the west as we drove south. By the time we reached Coffs Harbour, it was almost dark. I didn't mind though, as we just found the local jetty and I took the opportunity to shoot one of my favourite forms of photography... night time Long Exposure.

As we were running quite late, we decided to drive straight to Port Macquarie from Coffs without any more stops. This turned out to be a risky decision with my DVT. We arrived in Port Macquarie at 8:45pm, had dinner, and around 11pm I noticed that my left calf and ankle were quite swollen so Michael made a call to the local hospital and I was advised to go to emergency. We were there until 3am, so the next day was declared a sleep in, rest day.

But late afternoon, the swelling in my left leg had subsided enough so we decided to go down to the breakwall area of the Hastings River for sunset.

 I also had the chance to try out my new GND filters.

The ship docked at Lady Nelson Wharf is called the "Notorious". It is a replica of a 15th century Caravel which took 10 years to build entirely out of reclaimed timber. The owners have been voyaging the eastern Australian seaboard since February 2011.

Linking up with:

Our World Tuesday Graphic            http://asoutherndaydreamer.blogspot.com.au/            Skywatch Friday

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Holidaying in Northern NSW: Part 1

My parents recently gifted us a week away to a place of our choosing within driving distance from Brisbane. I absolutely love coastal beaches & rocky headlands. Our recent day trips to the Tweed Coast of northern NSW made me want to explore more of the NSW coastline, so I chose Port Macquarie on the mid north coast.

The drive to Port Macquarie from our home in Brisbane is around 600km. Due to developing a DVT after my knee surgery 6 weeks ago, I was required to take hourly stops (about every 100km) to walk around. We decided to stop at some towns we hadn't visited yet.

Before we left the state, we had to vote in the Government elections. Then we were off on our adventure. First stop was Tweed Heads, but only for fuel & a morning tea break.

The next stop was Lennox Head, a seaside village in northern NSW, situated on the stretch of coast between Byron Bay & Ballina.

Looking north along 7 mile beach.

The beach is a popular spot for kite surfers... and windsurfers.

Pat Morton lookout, on the headland, is a popular spot for hangliders, launching themselves off the 65m cliff.

Looking south from the top of the headland.

Looking north from the top of the headland.

More from our holiday to come...

Linking up with the following memes:

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Friday, September 13, 2013

Star Trails & the Milky Way

A few months ago, I was blessed to be able to meet up with a photographer I knew from Instagram who offered to give a free workshop on Star Trails. Of course, I jumped at the chance and Michael drove me up to Noosa for the workshop.

We arrived an hour before sunset to walk to Teatree Bay & set up so we could begin shooting about an hour after sunset. It's important to do star trails on a night with no moon and away from city lights.

Firstly shooting towards the north east, I shot a series of 79 consecutive 30 second exposures. Shooting in this directing gives you a semi circular rain effect.
I did minor editing in Lightroom 4 on each image and then stacked them using a free program called Star Stax.

Look below the headland... the iridescent blue glow on the water is Bio-luminescent Plankton.

Next I shot south (60 x 30 sec exposures) which results in a circular star trail effect. I even managed to capture a couple of shooting stars. Can you spot them??

Next, and just before we left, I took a "Milky Way" shot. A single 15 second exposure facing south.

It was a great night!!

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Skywatch Friday          

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Wild Bird Wednesday: Wandering Tattler

While chasing last weeks Sooty Oystercatchers on the rocks, I came across a new bird. It took me a little while to ID it with my Morcombe Bird app on my iPhone but I discovered a really special lifer.

The Wandering Tattler is found singly or in very small numbers on coral cays or rocky shores in Queensland, New South Wales and the Northern Territory.
Wandering Tattlers are apparently quite rare in Australia, so you can imagine my delight when I discovered this one. Just to be sure, I ran my images by a number of very experienced & reputable Australian birders and received a unanimous response.

So here it is...

Joining in with Stewart's meme:

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Wild Bird Wednesday: Oystercatchers

I really love Oystercatchers. I think it has something to do with their bright coloured beaks, eyes and eye rings.

Australian Pied Oystercatcher.
The Pied Oystercatcher is black with a white breast and belly with bright orange-red bill, eye-rings, a red eye and pink legs. Young birds are similar in appearance to the adults, but lack the intense red-orange colours and are brown rather than black. The Pied Oystercatcher is shy of humans and seldom allows close approach.
The Pied Oystercatcher is found in coastal areas throughout the Australian continent except for areas of unbroken sea cliffs such as the Great Australian Bight. It prefers mudflats, sandbanks and sandy ocean beaches and is less common along rocky or shingle coastlines. (Info from Birds in Backyards)

The white breast and belly distinguish the Pied Oystercatcher from the closely related Sooty Oystercatcher, which has all black plumage.

Sooty Oystercatcher.
The Sooty Oystercatcher is a striking black shorebird with a long orange-red bill, red eye and pink legs. Young birds are duller and browner. It is often seen with the similar Pied Oystercatcher and is only found in coastal areas.
The Sooty Oystercatcher is the only all-black shorebird in Australia. It is endemic to Australia and is widespread in coastal eastern, southern and western Australia.
The Sooty Oystercatcher is strictly coastal, usually within 50 m of the ocean. It prefers rocky shores, but will be seen on coral reefs or sandy beaches near mudflats. It breeds on offshore islands and isolated rocky headlands. (Info from Birds in Backyards)

Linking up with Stewart's meme:

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Orcas in the Bay

A couple of months ago, my husband & I drove up to Maryborough, QLD. For Michael, it was a work conference but for me, the opportunity for a change of scenery.

As we were only a 40 minute drive from Hervey Bay, I decided to check if the Humpback Whales had made their way that far north on their northern migration. Unfortunately it was too early, BUT I discovered there was a pod of Orcas (Killer Whales) that had managed to get themselves stranded in the "Great Sandy Straits" -  the body of water between Fraser Island and the Mainland. This is the first time this has happened.

So, I organised to go on one of the Dolphin Watching Cruises in the bay, hoping to get a sighting of the Orcas. When I called to book, I was assured that there would be Orca sightings! We left at 8am and returned around 2:30pm.

Here are some of the first images I took...

The Department of Marine Parks and the Seaworld Research & Rescue Foundation were out on the bay observing the Orca pod, checking on their health status (3 of the pod of 12 died) and hoping the Orcas would return to the open sea...

No boats, other than the Department of Marine Parks and the Seaworld Research & Rescue Foundation. were allowed within 300m of the pod so we were ordered to cut the engines when we approached that vicinity. However the inquisitive Orcas decided to take a closer look and came right up to our boat...

It was a wonderful experience to see these incredible creatures in the wild...

I had such a wonderful time, so I booked another cruise for the following day (at a 20% discount). The weather was dry but extremely foggy the next day. Visibility was difficult...

But I still managed some great shots as the Orcas came right up to our boat again...

About a week or so after this, the Orca pod made their way back out into the ocean.
It is thought the reason they came into the bay was because the 3 that died were unwell. It appeared that the pod would not leave due to mourning the loss of their family members.

It certainly was the experience of a lifetime!!

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