When I saw that the FFRF’s 41st National Convention was going to be in California again (2014 was in Los Angeles), I made plans to head to Perth afterward. I figured that it would make the trip easier.
It had been over eight years since I was last Down Under. Although dad and Delys had managed to visit Canada a few times since then, it is getting more difficult for them. So I planned to head for Perth after some sight-seeing in San Francisco. I used Singapore Airlines because they are Star Alliance members and the Aeroplan points would be very nice.
The route was a brutal 16.5 hours from SFO to Singapore and then 5.5 hours from Singapore to Perth. One really nice touch that Singapore Airlines has is handing out hot face cloths. They do this after takeoff and shortly before landing. On the cross-Pacific leg, they did this a third time. It is surprisingly refreshing.
Once I was at dad’s place, it took about two days to adjust. I don’t regard this as jet-lag – to me it is more about getting comfortable after spending such a long time in the economy cabin.
My first expedition with dad was up north to Cervantes. We planned to see The Pinnacles in Nambung National Park and I had hoped to catch some astrophotography. As you can see, The Pinnacles are quite the sight. They range in size from small rocks that you might decorate a garden with to twice the size of a human. The area is covered with thousands of them. The wind and sand slowly erodes them into fascinating shapes.
Dad was not up to the long walk through the desert, so I wandered it alone. The flies were merciless buggers but it is well-worth enduring. The landscape is simply breathtaking. With greater patience than mine, one can take incredible photos here – it is almost like an alien planet.
I suppose that I still have much to learn before tackling astrophotography. There seems to be much more to it than just having skies that are free from light pollution. I would twice more during this trip; but never managed to pull it off.
Dad, Delys and I drove down to Boyup Brook to see Delys’ daughter. The city of Busselton is about an hour’s drive west. The big claim to fame there is the jetty. It extends north into Geographe Bay nearly two kilometers – the longest wooden trestle jetty in the southern hemisphere.
Busselton has changed quite a lot since I was last here. The city has made dramatic improvements around the jetty to attract more tourism. There are nice restaurants, a skateboarding facility as well as play areas for children. The skating area is very brightly illuminated in the evening – so that shot down another astrophotography attempt.
I used the Photopills application to plan my sunset photos. With this app, I knew exactly where and when the sun would set. It has several other features to plan your photography, so check it out if you like taking photos.
As you can see, there are still people walking the jetty. I didn’t, but perhaps I should have taken the time.
It was the next day that dad and I took the train out to the underwater observatory near the end of the jetty. You can walk down stairs and look out on the floor of Geographe Bay 15 meters under the water.
There are plenty of oceanic species around here. Fish, crustaceans, sharks, coral and more. It is other-worldly and very beautiful.
My last attempt at astrophotography was in Boyup Brook. The town is quite remote and free from city lights. Alas, clouds moved over again. Ah well! Next time I suppose.
I wanted to return to Rottnest Island. I had visited during my first trip to Australia back in 2006; but I have learned much more about photography since then. One goal was to get a better photo of a quokka. Mission accomplished!
There is Fish Hook Bay, as seen here. The Cathedral Rocks are here as well as the viewing platform for the furred seals. If the season is right, you can also see whales from here (this shot was very lucky, whale season had past but this straggler came by).
I flew a plane! Alright, it was mostly flown by its owner. But he did let me take the controls twice. This plane was a trainer for the Australian Air Force for nearly 20 years. It was very responsive, barely touching the stick would cause a reaction. Very cool! Josh flew us over Rockingham and performed some aerobatic maneuvers. Barrel rolls and loops. I don’t mind admitting that one more loop probably would have caused me to barf.
Josh advised against taking the camera with me and I am glad to have heeded that. We pulled between 3 and 4 G-forces; while that may not sound like much, I can assure you that it is felt. Just lifting your arm against that is difficult.
Holding a camera against that force would be very tricky and possibly even dangerous. The photos would have been amazing though. Josh also offers a calmer tour without the stunts – so I will do that next time and have a camera with me.
The public transit around the Perth region is excellent. So I struck out on my own to check out Fremantle and Mandurah.
Like Busselton, the city of Mandurah has developed quite a bit since I last saw it. There is now a long boardwalk fringing the estuary that is rimmed with restaurants, grass and trees. It makes for a very nice afternoon stroll.
The boardwalk ends at the bridge where Pinjarra Road crosses the estuary. It was under this bridge in the shade that this night heron flew in and landed about 3 meters away from me. I moved very slowly so as to not startle him (her?) and bring my camera to bear. I had my big 70-200mm zoom attached so I was pleased that I could fill the frame and keep the background blurred given how close I was.
Just after three weeks away, it was time to come home. This time, I came through Singapore and Frankfurt, Germany. From Frankfurt to Toronto, I was on an Air Canada craft. As before, it was a grueling trip. I will miss Australia but it was good to be back in Canada.
I definitely won’t stay for so long again.Tags: Garstor, Photoshop, Travel