My final stop on the Australia itinerary had nothing whatsoever to do with work... for once. In a last-minute miracle of scheduling, solid flight prices and a cognitive decision on my part, or both our parts, to breathe, my dear, dear friend Justin flew around the world to meet me (ok, ok, and his family too) in Tasmania.
Justin's father, Dr. Brian Herman, relocated to Tassie over 5 years ago to continue practicing cardiology. Justin makes an annual visit and was kind enough to invite me to come check out Launceston, Tassie's 2nd largest "city".
A lot of sheep. A lot of trees. A lot of farm.
I'd love to write more, but at the moment am in the middle of a Cirque du Soleil load-in at MSG. Byyye for now!
Photo: Sunset from Dr. Herman's back window.
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
If a red door welcomes opportunity, what does a big red door mean? Justin, maybe you'd like to field this question, based on your experience with this door?
In any case, welcome to Tasmania where big doors stand alone!
Loving parent attempting to communicate with wandering daughter on October 7th, 2009:
Have you left for Tasmania yet? What adventures have you had?
Mere hours later...
"Tsunami warning for Australia, New Zealand and Indonesia" - Like I need your mother to see this scrolling along the bottom of the screen on the 10:00 news! What's the scoop? Whatever it is, stay safe! Remember, the shot is not worth it if you don't get to publish it!
True Dad, true.
Photo: Getting off the plane in Launceston, Tasmania.
Monday, October 26, 2009
As mentioned a while back, my stay in a cozy harbor-front apartment (again, arranged so perfectly by Mr. Brad Hayward) was cut rather short due to an angry anarchist/feminist cat from Bushwick, Brooklyn. I'm honestly not sure which part of that I like least. Clearly kitty and I didn't jive too well, which for better or for worse, left me vagabonding it through Kings Cross. After a few nights swapping from hotels to hostels, my dear friend Andy was kind enough to connect me with his step-brother up in Neutral Bay, on the other side of the Harbor Bridge, who happened to be willing to take in a stray American.
Thus I was introduced to Sydney: Act II's lovely cast of characters: Ben, Tanes, Angus and Nadia. Ben and Tanes came to pick me up (in my favorite car ever - Jeep Wrangler/manual trans) at a cozy wi-fi cafe on Elizabeth Bay Road and took me for my first drive across the Harbor Bridge en route to the apartment.
Arriving at Ben's place, I stepped out on his patio to see this view of the city. Pretty cool neighborhood, pretty cool view, pretty cool... music library! First order of business? Commence the music swapping party!
As the great Malibu* might say, "Takin a little brewski, holdin' onto a hard drive full of music and I'mmm fiiiinnnne today."
*Running joke for the past 7 months or so - link courtesy of John.
Sunday, October 25, 2009
Lord Nelson Hotel, Sydney's oldest pub, or "hotel" as they call them. Such a wonderful establishment. Fire place, crafted beers and delicious meat pies with mushy peas! Brad was such an excellent tour guide that I was often left speechless with delight. So, let's hear it for Brad, history, beer, traditional cuisine and long, cold walks through the rain to reach fabulous destinations!
"Horatio the ghost requests that you do not hog the fire."
Horatio and I were obviously snuggled up close, telling stories by the fire place, right below this plaque, as this genius (who packed in August and was unsure if she was spending a month in Los Angeles or a month in Australia) didn't have enough warm clothes for what was jarringly colder and wetter than expected.
We can finally skip to Sydney as I'm having technical difficulty retrieving my photos from Cape Tribulation and the like. In a way, that's a good thing as I've already managed to make my way back to New York for yet again, my most jam-packed insanely busy weeks of the year. On that note, if I don't call/see you, you know why. And no, no it's not what you think it is. I haven't decided to go to Australia three days before I'm supposed to leave... again.
Hopefully, between Cirque and a bunch of music (including the most epic rock show of the year), I will have some stellar imagery for you in the future.
Friday, October 23, 2009
Thursday, October 22, 2009
I searched and searched the Great Barrier Reef for the elusive magenta fish known as Queen Cait III, but was unfortunately unable to locate her. However, this photo reminded me of Maria and/or you, so I thought you would appreciate it all the same. I can't wait until you come to NYC again.
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
Sunrise over Port Douglas, our next base camp for exploring Cape Tribulation, just up the coast.
(If you might be wondering why I don't have a photograph of our aforementioned aboriginal friend, Ernie, it's because I have the tendency to be a moron. I made the conscious decision to leave my camera in the car as our day was packed (waterfalls, navigating seriously unknown territory, quiches, putting out figurative fires of varying degrees) and I didn't think I'd have much time to shoot the way I wanted to. Big mistake. I sat through the whole interview intently staring at this man's hands. They were beautiful, seemingly over-worked, but still so gentle. The way he held them, laying his right over his left and loosely grabbing his knuckles made me just want to clasp my hands over his... or photograph them for three hours. I did neither. So you get yet another sun(rise/set) photo.)
I usually don't post images of places I stay (mmm perhaps because they don't usually look like this?), but it was outrageously kind of the Australian Tourism Board to put us up in a gorgeous three-bedroom serviced condo for our stay in Port Douglas on the next part of the trip. With outdoor BBQ, private pool and spa, it was nice to come back to such unexpected luxury after days of hiking. Since we had Andy, our dear friend, trusty guide and coincidentally the chef from Mike Ball's dive live-aboard, along for this trip, we ended our stay in Port Douglas with his magic hands grilling up some kangaroo, lamb and steak. As we were dining at the table, it was one of those moments where I didn't want to be anywhere else.
For more information and much better photos, please visit http://www.coconutgroveportdouglas.com.au/.
Trust me, my standard jungle hike accommodations usually include two tarps, some twine and a few sticks (They didn't call me MacGyver for nothing), so this was certainly a bit of a change.
Thank you again to the Australian Tourism Board for all of your kind assistance.
Color negative of another Vuarnet image. Purposefully left the rim in frame. Though not my favorite of all the Vuarnet shots, I still like it. You can see where the sun is by the density of the color. If you look closely at the various color changes, you can also see where one mountain level begins and another ends. In case you have no idea what I'm talking about, look at how many colors are in the lower right corner. That's how well these glasses pull depth.
Monday, October 19, 2009
Friday, October 16, 2009
Next on our to-do list was a visit to the Tolga Bat Hospital in Atherton. Aside from noticing that these little buggers were much more adorable than imagined, we were taught a bit about the speckled flying foxes. Since the mid-1980s, the species has been under stress from tick paralysis. This affliction is just as it sounds... a tick bites them and in a matter of hours, the bat is paralyzed.
Volunteers spend hours scouring the Tablelands for paralyzed bats, with the good intention of bringing them (via cozy baskets) to the bat hospital where the decision is made to treat or euthanize.
A lot of this to me seems, unlike the fire-proof trees below, not according basic principles of Darwin. I'm not quite sure why we are interfering so much with nature, but maybe I don't quite understand as well as I should. Maybe it's because some humans care about one aspect too much. Cute and playful does not mean fit to be in the environment forever. I'm sure they play a large role in the ecosystem in northern Australia, but if they disappear, doesn't nature adapt?
Photo: A speckled flying fox being treated with anti-toxin at the Tolga Bat Hospital.
Thursday, October 15, 2009
After our explorative hike on Mt. Lewis, our next destination was the Atherton Tablelands. While the above is not a part of the Tablelands, it is indicative of the kind of burning Cairns and its surrounding areas have been experiencing in the past few weeks. Sooo why are the trees still a) standing and b) green? Many of the trees in the area have actually become fire resistant, thus hindering a fire's progress.
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
Some serious hiking through pathless, dense rainforest. I don't know how I always find myself in jungles in snake-infested countries, but somehow, I do. And guess what. I have yet to have a run-in with one of those slithering, fanged goobers. Knock on wood, of course. The closest I've ever come was a recently dead 8-foot-long (didn't stick around to ask what species) on the side of the road in Siargao, Philippines annnnd that was terrible enough.
Martin's fingers with another cool forest item. This time, it's edible! Well, I suppose, the lizard was also edible, but I had plenty of eating live things with legs on Lizard Island. What did I eat, you may ask? Ants. Green ants. Mmmmm tangy! Hey, if someone asks me, "Have you ever eaten an ant?" I'll never have to say no again!
Sunday, October 11, 2009
Only about 100 people have ever trotted up the mountain to this point atop Mt. Lewis just north of Cairns. I'm quite grateful to Julia of the Wet Tropics Management Authority and her zoologist partner Martin for allowing us up with them. These guys not only know their territories, but also are photographers as well. I usually don't like wandering with so many cameras, but roaming with cameras that will get down in the dirt with me? Much respect.
Wednesday, October 07, 2009
Tuesday, October 06, 2009
Sunday, October 04, 2009
What a little angel, this one.
I cannot wait to see some of these kids somewhere down the road again. Everyone I grew to know within Mike Ball's dive operation had such amazing life stories ranging in age from mid-twenties to greatest-story-teller-on-earth status. The mark of a good business, in my opinion.
One of my favorite fellas I've met in Australia is actually not Australian at all, but a darling Canadian fisherman who relocated to Thailand then to Australia to dive and see/learn as much about the world as possible. Great moves/motives, if you ask me. Much respect for his mellow and appreciative life outlook.
I could say that about basically the whole crew, but I just happen to have an adorable photo of Kim. This kid brings such a smile to my face. Just love him.
My underwater camera system doesn't really shoot well on night dives as it lacks a focusing light and fiber-optic hook-ups, but after about 8 different lighting attempts, finnnnally got this one (close to) right.