Weekly Photo Challenge: Cherry On Top

Snorkelling along the Ningaloo Reef in northwest Australia in the clear, unpolluted water is an unforgettable experience. Paddling is another way to enjoy this beautiful area and all it has to offer. Coming across a shy sea turtle when you’re snorkelling or paddling is an added bonus. These elusive creatures glide through the water, seemingly effortlessly, and can hold their breaths for long periods of time. I’ve been fortunate enough to swim alongside some a couple of times when we were out snorkelling.

They only pop their heads up to breathe when they feel safe. Before they do that they come up once to check that everything is ok, duck back down and then they’ll come up to breathe. I’ve seen them do this on a number of occasions when I’ve been out paddling but I didn’t have a camera with me. They’ll only have their heads above water for a few short seconds and you never know if, when or where another one will pop up. Last year when we were at Coral Bay (read more about the trip here) we did a glass bottom boat tour and saw lots of turtles. It was beautiful. I stood ready with my camera in hand, but with no idea where to look or focus. When one did pop up I literally had a second to turn, zoom in, focus and shoot. To be able to capture them was the absolute cherry on top.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Look Up

This week’s photo challenge is to show what’s happening above us. Once again I couldn’t resist doing a little gallery (some of which photos I’ve used before). Looking up to the bird life, treetops, clouds, a lighthouse, a mountain top, The Giants at the Perth International Arts Festival in 2015 and the world’s biggest aeroplane coming in to land at Perth airport a while ago.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Opposites

This week’s photo challenge is to show opposites. Since it’s winter here at the moment and we have lots of rainy days I immediately thought of sunshine as opposed to clouds or rain. I love the drama of clouds rolling in, especially when the sun still partially shines on it, so I put together a little gallery of opposing sunshine and clouds/rain photos.

 

A Winter’s Day in Perth

In between the grey and rainy winter’s days Perth spoils us with the most beautiful weather sometimes. We are very fortunate to have these blue sky days and I love being outdoors on a day like this. If it’s over the weekend, so much the better. While I was driving the other day, I heard the radio announcer say that it’s really beautiful out at Lesmurdie Falls at the moment. I’ve never been there so I thought it would be a great idea for an outing.

Today dawned crisp and clear – a perfect day for a little drive. Armed with my Thermos coffee flask and camera I set off to Lesmurdie – about a 40 minute drive southeast in the Perth Hills. My husband was off mountain biking and the kids all had other plans for the day which meant I could take my time dawdling and taking as many photos as I like without wasting anybody else’s time.

I walked around for about an hour, taking in the beautiful scenery, enjoying being out in the sunshine and of course, taking lots of photos. The falls are in the Swan river catchment area. The views towards Perth and the coast are breathtaking, and there were lots of wildflowers out. An added bonus was that I got to see my first bandicoot (a small, usually nocturnal, marsupial) in the wild. There are a few hikes out there, which we’ll definitely go and do some time (preferably in winter because it will be too hot in summer). My husband joined me for a quick coffee from the flask after his ride, since he was close by. I had a great time, relaxed and enjoying nature and the beautiful weather with my camera in hand – a perfect day!

 

Weekly Photo Challenge: Partners

This week’s photo challenge is to show a partnership – subjects that are in sync and in tune with each other.

This photo of silver gulls was taken last summer one morning when I was out for a walk. The tide was exceptionally low and it was a beautiful and still morning. I went back home to get my camera and headed back down to the beach to get some photos. These gulls didn’t mind me snapping some pics. They were happy doing their own thing – all dozing off in tandem.

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Silver Gulls at Watermans Beach

Verandering

Geskryf in opdrag van Scrapydo2 se Toeka-Tokkel: Verandering.

(Apologies to non-Afrikaans readers.)

Ek het nog nooit baie gehou van verandering nie. Ek weet nie of dit iets te doen het met die feit dat as kind, ons nooit getrek het nie. Ek het in een huis grootgeword, na een laerskool en een hoërskool gegaan. Wat wonderlike stabiliteit was as kind, het my moontlik avers gemaak vir verandering later in my lewe – wie sal ooit weet.

Ek raak tuis in my gemaksone en sien dan geen rede om enigiets daaraan te verander nie. Maar hierdie karaktertrek het ek eers met die verloop van tyd in myself herken. Ander mense is baie meer avontuurlustig en pak sommer maklik ‘n nuwe uitdaging aan. So het ek lang trane gehuil toe ek besef het my man was ernstig oor trek uit Suid-Afrika. Vanuit my (gemaksone) oogpunt het ek net nie dieselfe dringendheid ervaar nie. Op die ou end het hy my oorgehaal met ‘n avontuur in Dubai vir ‘n paar jaar.

Steeds was dit nie vir my maklik nie – die agterlaat van ‘n lewe wat opgebou is oor jare, familie, vriende en alles wat daarmee saamgaan – maar die gedagte dat dit nie permanent sou wees nie het die verandering draaglik gemaak. Dit het uitgedraai in ‘n wonderlike avontuur, al het ons vir minder as ‘n jaar daar gebly (of miskien juis vir daai rede, iets waaroor ek soms wonder. Miskien was dit juis so interressant, eksoties en anders omdat ons weer weggetrek het voordat enigiets kon alledaags raak.)

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Op pad na ons avontuur in Dubai met Emirates

Dit was in 2004. Die werksaanbod vanuit Perth het gekom drie maande nadat ons in Dubai ingetrek het. Ek het net begin aanpas by linkerhandstuur, bestuur aan die regterkant van die pad, vreemde winkels en produkte, nuwe vriende, skole en lewenstyl toe ek besef die Perth ding is ‘n werklikheid wat ek nie kon ignoreer nie. Dit was ‘n aanbod wat ons eenvoudig nie van die hand kon wys nie. Na baie sielewroeging (ek het net begin tuis voel in Dubai) het ek besef dat nog verandering en trek na ‘n derde kontinent in ‘n kwessie van 10 maande, onvermydelik is.

Noudat ek terugdink wonder ek watter verandering die grootste was – Stellenbosch na Dubai of Dubai na Perth – en dis moeilik om te sê. Stellenbosch na Dubai was ‘n groot kulturele aanpassing, maar vir dieselfde rede ook baie pret. Dit was die eerste groot verandering waarby ek myself moes belê. Bygesê, in my agterkop was dit altyd net tydelik. Om die tweede groot (en hierdie keer permanente) verandering so kort na die eerste te maak was nie maklik nie.

Maar miskien was dit die lewe se manier om my te leer dat dit moontlik is om êrens anders gelukkig te wees. Dat sodra ek die besluit gemaak het wat ek geweet het die beste sal wees vir my familie op die  langtermyn, ek dit sal maak werk. Dat ek eintlik enige plek kon woon, solank my familie gesond en veilig was. Dat ‘n lewe anders as wat ek tot 13 jaar gelede vir myself ingedink het beter kan wees. Ek moes net leer (op die harde manier vir my) om oop te wees vir ander moontlikhede.

Tyd het gelukkig ‘n manier om aan te stap en ons het kort voor lank gewoond geraak aan Perth as ons huis, en Perth het gewoond geraak aan ons. Ons is nou so tuis en gelukkig hier dat ons lewe in Stellenbosch voel soos ‘n veraf herinnering. Hierdie is nou ons lewe en realiteit en ek is so dankbaar dat ek die veranderings deurgemaak het wat ek het.

Tyd het my ook geleer dat verandering ‘n gegewe is in die lewe. Soms gebeur daai veranderings net meer geleidelik as ander kere en dis eers wanneer jy besig is om die verandering te beleef dat jy daarvan bewus word. So het ons kinders grootgeword en van die drie is nou net een nog op skool. Kinders op universiteit wat motors bestuur is weer iets anders om aan gewoond te raak. En net soos ek dink ek het hierdie fase onder die knie sal die volgende fase my seker in die gesig staar. Ek hoop die veranderings oor die jare het my darem ook gevorm en help groei as mens.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Curve

Back in March I visited the annual Sculptures by the Sea exhibition at Cottesloe Beach near Perth. It’s a unique outdoor exhibition that showcased the work of 77 sculptors from 18 countries and attracted around 200 000 visitors.

The sculpture in the photo below is by Will Clift (USA) and is called “Enclosing Form Reaching Together”. The artist’s statement regarding the sculpture reads as follows: “Exploring the interaction of form with gravity and balance, the interplay between weight and weightlessness, and the creation of gesture within a static form.”

I think the curved lines of the sculpture fits this photo challenge well.

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Sculptures by the Sea, Cottesloe Beach, Western Australia, 2016

In response to the Weekly Photo Challenge: Curve

The King of the Sky Comes to Perth

A couple of weekends ago the world’s biggest aeroplane came to Perth. Thousands of aviation enthusiasts flocked to the airport to catch a glimpse of it. Not even a two hour delay in Kuala Lumpur before the last leg of its journey to deliver a 116 tonne generator for a mine, deterred people.

My husband and I were equally keen to see it. When we lived in Dubai our house was under the flight path of busy Dubai airport and we loved watching the planes take off one after the other, quite often only about 90 seconds apart. It became a regular pastime especially when we were in the pool with the kids, to watch and identify all the planes.

This plane is in a league of its own though, and none of us had ever seen it. The Antonov 225 was built in Ukraine in the ‘80’s to carry the Russian space shuttle. It has since been converted to carry cargo weighing up to 250 tonnes.

When I told Child No 2 that Ironman and I were going to try and see this plane, she shook her head and said: “You have to be old to think that’s interesting”. “I’m not old!” I replied, taken aback. She only raised her eyebrows as if to say: “If you say so!”

Old or not, we didn’t feel like waiting for 4 hours to see this plane so we decided on a different tactic. All morning my husband watched the Perth airport flight tracker to check in which direction the planes were landing and worked out a perfect spot to see it right under the flight path. We drove there, parked the car and I took some practice photos of other planes coming in overhead. We were quite close to the airport and had avoided the throngs of people and traffic jams and generally quite pleased with ourselves.

Thirty five minutes before the Antonov was due to land, a plane suddenly took off in our direction though, meaning the wind direction had changed and the Antonov would be landing from the opposite side. Our hearts sank. Getting to the airport at that point was out of the question due to the traffic, and getting around the airport to the other side to wait under the flight path there would take much longer than 35 minutes. We weren’t ready to give up yet, we’d come all that way and it was still something we badly wanted to see. After swiftly planning the fastest way to get around to the other side of the airport Ironman said: “Let’s go”. We jumped back in the car and took off.

Twenty minutes later we’d nearly got there when we got stuck in traffic. I sat ready with my camera in hand. We had minutes to spare and we pulled off at the first possible opportunity just as Ironman spotted the Antonov in the distance. It was truly as impressive as we’d thought, even though we weren’t as close as we’d hoped to have been. To see an 88 metre long plane with 6 engines, 7 sets of back wheels and a wing span of 84 metres glide effortlessly through the sky had us in awe.

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Our first glimpse of the Antonov 225

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The Antonov 225 coming in to land at Perth airport

Within a few seconds it had disappeared from our view but we were happy that we’d gone. It was going to be at Perth airport for another day and a half (it took 12 hours just to unload the mining generator through the front of the plane that lifts up). Like true (old?) enthusiasts we went to the airport the next day to see it where it was parked in front of the international terminal. It was massive, but the true perspective of its size only sunk in when a Boeing 737 taxied past and you were able to compare the size of the two planes.

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The Antonov 225 at Perth airport

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The Antonov 225 at Perth airport

But we still hadn’t seen the king of the sky fly overhead so the next morning we left home at 4:30am to try and be under its flight path as it took off at 5:30am. We were there by about 5am, with one other hopeful person. We got out of the car and stood chatting to the friendly gentleman in the dark and chilly early morning. We desperately hoped we were in the right spot this time. Plane after plane started taking off and flew straight overhead, most of them taking fly-in-fly-out miners up north. We breathed a sigh of relief, but still worried that the wind might change again and leave us stranded in the wrong spot. The gentleman we’d been chatting to said drily: ”This is as good a spot as you’ll get. I might move 5 feet that way.” By this time there were about 30 to 40 other cars parked there as well with some people still in their pyjamas.

Around 6am we heard another plane take off in our direction, but this was very distinctively a much louder and bigger sound than all the previous ones. I didn’t bother with my camera since it was still dark but had my phone ready to video. It didn’t disappoint. It came straight overhead, and away it went, its first visit to Australia having proven a very popular one. My husband wasn’t videoing and watching it with the naked eye he was struck by the fire in all 6 engines in stark contrast to the dark sky. We were all spellbound by the sheer size of it and the engineering behind getting a machine of that size and weight to take to the skies. It was worth leaving home at 4:30am and standing around in the freezing cold for about an hour. I didn’t get the photos I wanted though and neither does the video do it justice so I suppose these two “oldies” will go and see it again if it ever returns to Perth.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Numbers

The Rabbit Proof Fence is a pest-exclusion fence that was constructed in Western Australia between 1901 and 1907 to keep rabbits and other agricultural pests from the eastern parts of the country out of the Western Australian pastoral areas.

There are three fences. The original No 1 fence crosses the state from south to north and when it was completed in 1907 the 1833 kilometre long fence was the longest unbroken fence in the world. It is visible from space.

The fence also features in the movie by the same name, that tells the story of three Aboriginal girls who were forcibly removed from their families in 1931 to be trained as domestic servants as part of Australian government policy. They make a daring escape and embark on an epic 2400 kilometre journey to get back home – along the rabbit proof fence that bisects the Australian continent, with the authorities in pursuit.

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A part of the rabbit proof fence

In response to the Weekly Photo Challenge: Numbers.