Whale Watching from Merimbula

Annual Humpback Whale Migration

On Wednesday, October 16, 2013 I was invited to join volunteers from Potoroo Palace on a whale watching trip with Go Whale Watching. Setting out at 9 a.m. on a clear morning, the sea swell was mild, the sun warm and the breeze cool. Camera in hand, I did what I could to capture images. While I had seen a breach (the whale lunging out of the water), it wasn’t possible to photograph it.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Tour operators offer a guarantee visitors will see whales in season (September to November). As well as whales, we saw dolphins, shearwaters (“mutton” birds) and albatross.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

It wasn’t long before we could see humpback whales in the distance. The spouts of air as they exhaled could be seen.

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Coming closer, we saw a small pod of whales making their way south. Below are photos of a surfacing whale showing the head, dorsal fin and tail fluke.

 

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Below is a You Tube clip I prepared using a series of still images. It shows a humpback whale surfacing.

After viewing a few smaller pods of whales, we came across a larger pod. There seemed to be around seven whales. Their journey, as we could see each time they surfaced, wasn’t orderly. They often turned back on their course. Our boat captain explained it was most likely a “rowdy group” where a number of males were following a female and jostling to be closest. In these struggles, generally the largest male wins by forcing away the others. As baleen whales, humpbacks can’t bite but they are known to drag the barnacles growing on them across the backs of rivals. Scarring can often bee seen.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

As we were returning to Merimbula, we saw another whale pod in the distance. A whale was slapping its pectoral fin against the water. Drawing closer, we found it was a female with its calf. You can see the smaller fin of the calf at the right.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

We spotted around 20 humpbacks on their annual migration south to the Antarctic waters for the summer. Possible from September to November, the experience was worth it.

In another blog aimed at students, I shared more information about humpback whales and local whaling history. Click the link below to view the post…

Humpback Whale Migration

ANZAC Day, 2013 in the Bega Valley Shire

ANZAC Day – April 25, 2013

Merimbula’s War Memorial

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Yet another ANZAC Day has come and gone. Prior to the day,  I paused to think of what anniversary lies just two years ahead from now. On April 25, 2015, we will have the 100th anniversary of that day in 1915 when Australian and New Zealand troops landed at Gallipoli as part of a failed greater plan to seize the Ottoman capital of Constantinople (Istanbul in Turkey).

British troops, including those from Australia and New Zealand, were there for over eight months. They grew to have a mutual respect for the Turkish forces. After over 8 months, it was decided the plan had failed, British forces, including the ANZACs, withdrew on January 9, 1916.

Today, descendants of ANZACs and others can travel to Turkey to visit the sites of the battles. Each ANZAC Day, Turkey welcomes visitors to the site for a special service to remember those who died on both sides. For the 100th anniversary of the landing, there is so much interest in being there the area couldn’t fit them all. There will be a random ballot to decide who will attend.

This year I set myself the task to film three different towns’ services on the day, each with their traditional content but each unique in experience. Checking times, I made the following plan…

06:00 Dawn Service in Merimbula

09:00 ANZAC Day Parade in Pambula

11:00 ANZAC Day Parade in Candelo

Firstly, let’s look at some ANZAC information…

What is ANZAC?

ANZAC is an acronym (a word formed from initials). It stands for Australian and New Zealand Army Corps. It was the name first given to the troops from Australia and New Zealand fighting in Gallipoli.

Australian Flag

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New Zealand Flag

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When is ANZAC Day?

ANZAC Day falls on April 25 each year. It was on April 25, 1915 ANZAC troops first landed in Gallipoli and the ANZAC legends began.

Below is a photo of Australian Soldiers in a trench captured from the Turkish troops August 6, 1915.

This photo was sourced through Wikimedia Commons and is in the public domain.

What does ANZAC Day mean to me?

When I was growing up, it was a family tradition to attend the march through the streets of Sydney. My mother would take my two brothers and I by train into Sydney so we could watch my father march in the ANZAC Day march. He had been a soldier during World War II. After enlisting in the army and receiving his training, he was posted to Singapore with the 8th Division, 2/18 Battalion of the AIF (Australian Infantry Force).

The Japanese attacked the city of Singapore and, despite the defence by Allied troops including my father, General Percival, the British officer in charge of the Allies, surrendered to save the people of Singapore from further suffering. My father became a Prisoner of War from 1942 until the war ended in 1945.

The picture below was taken when I was in Singapore in 2010. I visited “The Battle Box” where General Percival commanded allied forces up until the surrender to the Japanese in 1942. This was a life sized display showing the officers involved.

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My brothers and I would wait somewhere along the annual march route and try to be the first to see him coming. While I can’t remember them, veterans of the Boer War (1899-1902) were in the lead but eventually the last was gone and a riderless horse with boots reversed in the stirrups represented them.

Next would come the veterans of World War I. I had a Great Uncle (the uncle of my father) in that war but he never returned from France. I remember the WWI veterans as proud and strong but in time, the last of them had passed.

Great Uncle Ernie after enlisting in 1915.

This photo cannot be used in any way without my written permission.

After them, the World War II veterans, including my father, would appear. When we finally saw him, my brothers and I would cheer for him and he’d smile and wave. Slowly now the number of veterans of World War II are dwindling. My father passed in 1967 and few from his battalion are left to march. Had my father still been alive, he would have been 94.

Veterans from Korea, Malaya, Vietnam (my brother had a friend in the Vietnam war) and other conflicts up to veterans from the most recent conflict in Afghanistan joined the marches over the years.

For me, ANZAC Day, the Dawn Service and the march is a chance to remember my father, Great Uncle and others who served during wars. It’s not a time to celebrate war. It’s a time to remember the tragedy of war and the sacrifices so many had made.

Below is a photo I had taken of my father when in the last ANZAC Day march he was able to attend back in 1967. This is the first time I have shared this photo. He is the nearest man with glasses.

This photo cannot be used in any way without my written permission.

Back to my experiences on the busy day…

Dawn Service – Merimbula – 06:00

ANZAC Day was to dawn as sunny with clear skies. One of the largest crowds I have seen had gathered for the Dawn Service. Jockeying for a filming position, I missed the opening comments but captured much of the service. Below is a shortened video of the Dawn Service…

Viewing time: approximately 5 minutes.

This video clip cannot be used in any way without my written permission.

ANZAC Day March – Pambula – 09:00

With such a clear day, crowds again were good. Below are the two part recordings of Pambula’s ANZAC Day March and ceremony. In order to conform to You Tube’s 15 minute limit per clip and keep the clips to two, the wreath laying portion has been edited out and some other edits have been made.

Viewing time: approximately 15 minutes per clip.

PART 1

This video clip cannot be used in any way without my written permission.

PART 2

This video clip cannot be used in any way without my written permission.

ANZAC Day March – Candelo – 11:00

Below is the recording of Candelo’s ANZAC Day March.  It does not include the ceremony.

Viewing time: approximately 3 minutes per clip.

This video clip cannot be used in any way without my written permission.

In each march, students from local schools took part with representatives from the schools addressing those gathered. The schools will be given a DVD of the full marches and ceremonies they attended.

An Additional You Tube clip

May 27, 2013 is the U.S. Memorial Day. An online friend shared a link to a professional You Tube video clip entitled, “The Path of the Warrior”. It’s the story of U.S. people who have served but it can equally apply to our own who have served. The images from Life share the power of photography as we see “The Path of the Warrior” from WWI to recent conflicts.

This embedded You Tube clip is not my work.

HMB Endeavour at Eden – May, 2012 – Cook and his Endeavour

From Wednesday, May 9, 2012 until Sunday, May 13, 2012, the HMB Endeavour was in Snug Cove, Twofold Bay, Eden, N.S.W. Australia and open for public viewing before its departure on Monday, May14 in the final leg of its circumnavigation of the world. Its journey is planned to end at Sydney on May 21, 2012.

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During its time at anchor, many schools visited and toured the ship and left with lasting impressions of how it might have been on board the then Lieutenant James Cook’s ship, Endeavour in his first voyage from 1769 to 1771. It was during this voyage, James Cook became the first to map the east coast of Australia. Below is a slideshow of the visit.

Schools and students have permission to use this video clip for non-commercial, educational purposes.

A class in U.S.A. had set a task. Write a letter from someone in history and add it as a comment to the class blog. As a regular commenter on this blog and with the Endeavour being topical, I sent a letter “from” James Cook hypothetically sent after his return to England after his first Endeavour voyage to the Pacific (1771). Below is a link if you wish to view the letter.

Cdr James Cook,1771: A letter to the future

After catering for hundreds of visitors, HMB Endeavour departed Sung Cove in order to travel its final leg to Sydney. Below is a video of its departure on Monday, May 14, 2012.

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A Tour of Endeavour – May 9, 2012

The fore mast (front), main mast and mizzen mast.

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Ship rigging.

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Foredeck, forecastle  or   fo’c’sle.

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Crew toilet on the foredeck. Officers had more privacy.

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Stairs from mess deck to main deck.

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Mess deck oven.

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Mess deck.

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Mess deck becomes crew sleeping area when hammocks rigged.

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Marine sleeping quarters between officers and crew.

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Midshipman, mates and officers have quarters under the quarter deck (back) of the ship.

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Joseph Banks’s cabin.

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James Cook’s cabin.

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The next two photos are of the Great Cabin. Normally the private quarters of the captain, on Cook’s voyage he shared with scientists.

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Back on deck…

The quarter deck (back of ship’s deck).

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The quarter deck is where the ship’s navigation takes place.

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For the HMB Endeavour official site including a virtual tour under the “Schools” menu, click the link below.

HMB Endeavour Official Site

Quoth the raven, `Nevermore.’

Many of you would have heard of or read the Edgar Allan Poe poem, “The Raven”. Here is the first stanza as a reminder…

Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore,
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.
`’Tis some visitor,’ I muttered, `tapping at my chamber door –
Only this, and nothing more.’

Yesterday I had a raven encounter I thought I’d share.

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This little guy is an Australian raven (Corvus coronoides). They are reasonably common around here and often seen in groups if you know where to look. Yesterday, I had been out walking along a favourite track when I stopped and sat to enjoy the quiet. The quiet didn’t last long as I soon had company.

Was it an unkindness of ravens, perhaps a storytelling of ravens or even a conspiracy of ravens? All are used as collective nouns for ravens. Whatever their motive, about 100 ravens landed in a large tree near me. Grabbing my phone, I made a recording of what I heard. Click “The sounds of about 100 ravens.” below.

The sounds of about 100 ravens

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`Be that word our sign of parting, bird or fiend!’ I shrieked upstarting –
`Get thee back into the tempest and the Night’s Plutonian shore!
Leave no black plume as a token of that lie thy soul hath spoken!
Leave my loneliness unbroken! – quit the bust above my door!
Take thy beak from out my heart, and take thy form from off my door!’
Quoth the raven, `Nevermore.’

It’s unexpected moments like these when you’re a part of something not man made which can form memories and add to experience. At least they weren’t crows as collectively they are a murder of crows. I survived to tell the tale so I think I encountered a storytelling of ravens.

@RossMannell

The family farm for someone who loves everything farming

Dear Thomas,

There seems to be a major problem with the blog I used to show the photos. As my other blogs are running well, it may be the blog provider having problems. I used a different blog to show you more pictures and answer your questions.

How many cows does your cousin have on his farm?
At this time, my cousin is milking a little a little over 300 cows, mostly Holstein. When the drought was bad and he was still on the old family farm, he leased another farm with irrigation and moved his milking cows there but part of the lease included cows already on the farm so for a while he was milking around 500.
When I was growing up, the farm’s cows were all Jerseys but in time this changed. .
The milk all goes to the Bega Cheese Factory. This is a well known cheese in Australia and a favourite of mine. Here’s a link to their website.
http://www.begacheese.com.au/

Did you used to have a pet cow?
I never lived on the farm but would often visit and stay. My mother grew up on the farm. As you know, you sometimes have to hand rear calves. One named Daisy grew up thinking she was part of the family and even as an adult used to try to follow people around. One day, the family was sitting in the kitchen having lunch when Daisy decided to walk in and join the family at lunch. My grandmother wasn’t happy. ☺
Another unusual animal was Bluebottle. He was a horse who knew how to open farm gates. All of the cows would follow him because they knew sooner or later Bluebottle would open a gate and they could get into another paddock. The horse was smart but the cows were smart enough to follow.

Where do you live in Australia? .
I live in the Bega Valley Shire in the south-east of New South Wales. The main town is Bega. Below I have posted a Google Earth image of Bega. If you have Google Earth, you can search for “Bega Australia” and have a closer look. There are street views so you can see the main streets in the town. The family first moved to this town from Scotland in 1847. Their surname is Spence but my surname, Mannell, seems to have come from Cornwall and Yorkshire in England.
My cousin’s farm, also in the Bega Valley Shire, is near the town of Bemboka.
I live in the coastal tourist town name Merimbula.

As you can see from the photos, it’s hilly country with natural bushland still around. I am often out walking in the nature reserve or national parks around my town of Merimbula.

Keep farming, farmers are important people.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

The first three pictures show the family farm before the last of the cows were moved to my cousin’s new farm. The remaining photos are of the farm in late 2010 without cows and before the final hand over to the new owners. Between the time of the sale and the hand over, rain had fallen and grass had grown long without cows to keep it low. The farm has now been turned over to beef cattle. They require less water. My cousin’s new farm has access to irrigation and has greater protection from future drought.

Hanging around the water trough.

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The dairy, barns and silos.

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This is a telephoto picture showing the main farm buildings.

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No longer any cows, the grass has grown long.

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

This is the old farm house where my mother grew and I spent many happy visits.

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Inside the dairy.

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This is a Google Earth view of Bega and much of the Bega Valley. If your school’s computers have Google Earth, you can locate the town and take a closer look. There are street views available.

This Google Earth view shows the old family farm. All of the buildings and almost all of the land showing belonged to the family.