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Textures of the Great Barrier Reef

Coral is the most amazing stuff. It looks like rock, but it’s alive, and not rock at all but animal. The colonies are formed by millions of tiny soft-bodied polyps which have a hard outer skeleton that attaches to rock or to other (dead) coral skeletons. (More info about coral here.) And what a variety of corals there is! All the colours and textures that you can imagine, often growing around or on top of one another.

The ruffly yellow stuff looks rubbery, in contrast to the spikier coral behind it.

While snorkelling or diving around corals, it’s important to avoid touching them — not only can it damage the coral, but a person can get a nasty cut from those sharp edges.

What a mix of corals and textures here!

What IS that yellow stuff? It looks like spilled paint that has dried in wrinkles and folds.

I took some of these photos last week on the Great Barrier Reef near Port Douglas (with a GoPro I hired for the day), and some on the Great Barrier Reef near Cairns three years ago (with a Panasonic Lumix DMC-FT20 I bought for the trip, but it was second hand and died after one outing).

This is brain coral, I believe. I imagine that if you brush your finger along it, the little white knobs would feel plush. But I have no idea!

That white coral looks smooth, but I’d steer clear of the spiky stuff at lower right!

A texture contrast here of hard coral and smooth, slippery fish.

This is a Maori Wrasse dubbed “Frank”! He’s very friendly, as these divers are discovering. I don’t dive (only snorkel) so did not get to pat Frank and discover his texture.

There are so many warnings about the health of the reef and the damage we (and nature, in the form of destructive storms and voracious starfish) are causing, that I feel now is the time to see this astonishing feature — while it’s still there.

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A convict colony past

The remains of the Port Arthur penitentiary. In the background is Queen Mary 2, on which I arrived.

Living in Sydney, with its glass office towers, opera house and beaches, it’s easy to forget about Australia’s convict past. European discovery and settlement of Terra Australis Incognita (unknown southern land) began in 1606 with the arrival of a Dutch ship, the ‘Duyfken’. Contact was sporadic for the next 164 years, until 1770 when Lt James Cook in the ship ‘Endeavour’ charted the east coast and claimed the land for England. January 1788 brought the arrival of the First Fleet, 11 English ships carrying more than 1,480 men, women and children — convicts, army and administrative personnel. This prison colony, formed at what is now the city of Sydney, was the beginning of the modern Australian nation.

Port Arthur is some 1,100 km south of Sydney, in the island state of Tasmania. It was first settled as a timber station, but between 1833 and 1877 it served as a prison colony. The site was carved out of the bush and industries such as ship building, shoemaking, smithing, timber and brick making began, all using forced convict labour.

The building that began as a flour mill and granary (built in 1843) was later (1857) converted to act as the penitentiary.

Light falls through a barred window into a cell.

The Separate Prison took punishment from the physical to the psychological. Under the Silent System, prisoners were kept in isolation cells, hooded and forced to silence. Convicts in the Separate Prison received one hour of exercise each day: brisk walking in a walled-in courtyard, where silence was again the rule.

Not surprisingly, the regime inside the Separate Prison led to a number of instances of mental illness. This building, beside the Separate Prison, began as an asylum (and now houses a café).

The asylum.

Not only adults were incarcerated at Port Arthur. Boys as young as nine were sent here, and used in hard labour such as stone cutting and construction. One of the buildings they contributed to is this church, constructed in 1836-37. The church could hold 1,000 people and attendance was compulsory for convicts. A fire destroyed the building in 1884, leaving only the walls.

The church

Government Cottage, built in 1854, was used to house visiting officials. It burned down in 1895. You can see a photo of the cottage and church before they burned here.

The remains of Government Cottage

The remains of Government Cottage

In contrast to the harshness of the convicts’ surrounds, the families of officers and officials could stroll in ornamental gardens, complete with imported trees such as weeping willows.

This avenue of trees leads to the Dockyard, which between 1834 and 1848 was a busy and productive shipyard. All that remains now are outlines of former buildings — boat sheds, steamers, a saw pit, the overseer’s hut and blacksmith’s shop. This ship sculpture sitting in an old slipway is a haunting reminder of the past.

After the closure of the site for prison purposes, the area was renamed Carnarvon. People bought land and built houses. Tourists also began to arrive, providing a new industry for the local residents. In 1927 the name Port Arthur was reinstated, and over the years, management of the site was taken over by the government. The Port Arthur Historic Site is one of 11 historic places that together form the Australian Convict Sites World Heritage Property, which was inscribed on the World Heritage List in 2010.

The theme for the Weekly Photo Challenge is Heritage. My entry in last week’s WPC, on the theme of Reflection, was also taken at the Port Arthur Historic Site.

Sources
http://portarthur.org.au
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Port_Arthur,_Tasmania


click for more posts of Queen Mary 2

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Reflecting on a tragedy

The remains of the Broad Arrow Cafe: 20 people died here.

The remains of the Broad Arrow Cafe: 20 people died here.

On 28 April 1996, 35 people were killed and 20 were wounded by a single gunman at and near the Port Arthur historical site in the state of Tasmania, Australia. This was the country’s worst mass shooting and led to a reform of Australia’s gun laws.

Many of the victims were in the site’s cafe and tourist shop when the massacre unfolded. That building is now empty, lacking a roof, windows and doors — a silent memorial.

Beside the eery stone building is a pool of reflection, a garden and benches, where one is gently encouraged to remember and to pay respects.

The remains of the Broad Arrow Cafe.

The remains of the Broad Arrow Cafe.

An inscription at the site reads:

“May we who come to this garden cherish life for the sake of those who died.

Cherish compassion for the sake of those who gave aid.

Cherish peace for the sake of those in pain.”

You may read a detailed account of what unfolded on that day here, but be warned that it is disturbing.

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The cake shop lovers

Daci & Daci Bakers, Hobart, Tasmania

A display case of wonderfully tempting cakes — as I imagined the photo in my mind.

On a recent visit to Hobart (in the Australian state of Tasmania), I discovered the marvellous Daci & Daci Bakers. While waiting for my order to be filled (a slice of Hazelnut Dacquoise and a black coffee) I grabbed a photo of a display case beside the counter. I didn’t want to hold up people behind me, so quickly adjusted for focus, lighting and reflections, and hoped for the best. The photo above is what I was aiming for.

So I know what you’re thinking. The WPC weekly theme is Surprise, so where’s the surprise? And why is this post called “The cake shop lovers”? Well, here’s the photo I actually took. Distorted angles due to my position — and two rather amorous people visible through a window, whose appearance when I looked at this photo at home on my computer was indeed a suprise!

The reality -- wonky angles due to my position, and a couple outside who were far more interested in each other than the cakes!

The reality — wonky angles due to my position, and a couple outside who were far more interested in each other than the cakes!

The view from the window: A hotel in Rome

The balcony beckons ...

The balcony beckons …

I know what you’re thinking. This series is called “The view from the window”, so why did I caption this photo “The balcony beckons”? Well, outside the window was a lovely wide planted terrace, and it was no more than the work of a moment to lift a chair out that window and climb out after it myself, there to sit in comfort with a glass of wine and admire the view.


The view from the window