All this tropical sunset needs is a glass of bubbly to enjoy with it. (And of course, me being me, there was one!)
These blue crabs look pretty scary, but they’re only about the size of the end of my finger. I didn’t even spot them initially while walking along mud flats at Ettalong at low tide — it was the plop-plop-plop of millions of tiny feet that caught my attention. The more I looked, the more I was astonished. There were hundreds of thousands of these things! For those of you of a scientific bent, they are Mictyris longicarpus (light-blue soldier crab) I think.
As the heading says, I’m glad they are small. And not looking for a fight!
The next two shots give an idea of the numbers:
For many Sydneysiders (and tourists), Christmas Day means a visit to the beach. And what better stretch of sand than Australia’s iconic Bondi Beach? I lived here during my first residence in Sydney (1999 to 2004), and now I’ve finally been able to move back. 🙂
On Christmas Day, festive headgear is part of the dress code.
Even the police get into the spirit of the season.
Not a snowflake in sight, but the trappings of a Northern Hemisphere Christmas are unavoidable.
The Red Baron dropped in for a visit, too.
There’s no escaping the crowd, however.
Even the waves were full of people.
The sweep of the beach seen from the north end.
So now you know what Christmas Day at Bondi Beach is like!
‘James Craig’ is a Sydney-based barque-rigged tall ship (the two photos above). If you’ve followed my blog for any time, you will have come across photos taken while sailing in tall ships. This year I joined ‘James Craig’ as a passenger (I felt quite wicked not having to pull ropes, or helm, or go aloft, or clean the heads, or wash the dishes …) for a day sail that also gave prime viewing of the first stage of the annual Boxing Day Sydney to Hobart yacht race.
The morning was bright and sunny, and we motored from the ship’s berth in Darling Harbour, along Sydney harbour and out between The Heads (the two headlands that frame the entrance to Sydney harbour from the ocean). It was a perfect few hours of sun tanning, admiring the scenery and taking photos of the ship.
Time to set some sails!
Of course, the highlight of the day was seeing the yachts burst out of the harbour and into the ocean. Since 1945, yachts have competed on the day after Christmas in a race covering the roughly 630nm from Sydney to Hobart. They boats must cross the Bass Strait, notorious for high winds, dangerous currents and unpredictable seas. 2015’s race began in idyllic sunshine in Sydney, but the crews knew they would be facing a “southerly buster” later the first night.
(I freely admit that the quality of these next photos is not great. Maximum camera zoom, sea spray, haze, overcast sky, and trying to shoot bouncing objects while also trying to stay upright on a ship that is itself rolling and pitching was a fatal combination! But you’ll get an idea of what it’s all about.)
The first yachts to pass the heads — and the ones that gather all the glory and excitement — are the biggest ones. These are the rock stars of yacht racing.
Starting to spread out …
And if racing a high-tech 100-foot yacht isn’t hard enough, the crews have to contend with the dozens of small boats around them.
Here’s Wild Oats again. The people give some scale to the size of the yacht!
In case you’ve got the idea that there are only five boats in this race, think again! Dozens of yachts of various sizes take part. The fastest takes just over two days to reach Hobart; the slowest just over four days.
It was time for us to head for home. And yup, it started to rain. The weather did have the advantage of clearing the decks and giving a new look to the ship.
What IS this thing? An exhaust? A speaking tube? A garbage chute?
Here is the ship’s second bell, which I hadn’t spotted until cowering under an awning while hiding from the rain.
I do know that this thing is: a bilge pump, which relies on human power to work. Luckily for the crew (all volunteers), they don’t actually use it.
These wonderful lines belong to a wooden boat mounted on the deck house.
Rain adds an interesting element to things you might otherwise take for granted.
The Sydney Harbour Bridge loomed over us as we neared the turn into Darling Harbour.
I hope you enjoyed this glimpse into an Australian Boxing Day tradition. I know I had a great day! You can read the full story behind the ‘James Craig’ — its working life, abandonment and resurrection by a dedicated team of volunteers — at the Sydney Heritage Fleet website.
Race update: the wild weather of the first night played havoc with a number of boats. At time of writing, 1 day and 6 hours into the race, 22 yachts have retired, including two of the maxis. The mainsail of Wild Oats (which has been the first yacht to reach Hobart for the past eight years) split during a squall, and although no one was injured the yacht returned to Sydney. Perpetual Loyal pulled out with a broken rudder. Comanche hit something in the dark, suffering a broken rudder and damaged daggerboard, but the crew decided to continue the race as best they could. Hours later, Rambler, too, struck something, but is limping on.
The five yachts closest to Hobart are: Comanche (US), Rambler (US), Ragamuffin (AUS), Maserati (Italy) and Ichi Ban (AUS). If you’d like more information, visit the official race site.
The annual outdoor display of sculptures is on again in Sydney. With artworks dotted for 2km along the coast from Tamarama Beach to Bondi Beach, this free two-week event is hugely popular.
There are over 100 artworks on display — but don’t worry, I didn’t photograph every one. 😉
ashes to ashes – Kim Perrier
bath – Vince Vozzo
bjf13 – Ben Fasham
city dreams – Gao Xiaowu
fun! – Naidee Changmoh
intervention – Mike Van Dam
kakashi – Zilvinas Zempinas
man on ball – Wang Shugang
listen time passes – Barbara Licha
tree spirit eggs – Mark Eliott
undulation – Benjamin Storch
quotidianity the brothers – Fabio Pietrantonio
These “sculptures” were created by Mother Nature — eroded sandstone.
I deliberately took a day off work so I could avoid the crazy crowds on a weekend, but look at all the people on the path! I’ve put this post in my Strolls around Sydney category because, believe me, a strolling pace is as fast as it’s possible to move.
It’s important to stay hydrated and safe in the Sydney sun (when the sun actually shines, that is — it’s been very wet here for the past few days!). There was free water …
… and free sunscreen.
And someone has to keep the artworks looking clean!