South Pacific

We have been fortunate enough to spend four nights in the tropical South Pacific on board the marvelous vessel, the Celebrity Solstice. More specifically, we visited New Caledonia and Vanuatu – Noumea, Loyalty Island, Mystery Island and Isle of Pines.

New Caledonia was discovered by Captain Cook on his voyage to find the new lands of the southern ocean. He named the archipelago in honour of Scotland – also known as Caledonia. New Caledonia is a French colony where the franc is local currency along with the French language – we brushed up on merci, Bon jour and sil vous plait. We admired bejeweled lobsters and sipped on fresh coconut juice.

By far, our favourite islands were Mystery Island – the Melanesians believe it to be haunted – it was used by the US as a landing field; and the Isle of Pines – crystal clear waters and unspoiled nature. We swam and even saw Nemo!

No wonder sailors and and artists came and never left. We immersed ourselves in the beauty that is
the South Pacific.

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Whale Watching

All men live enveloped in whale -lines. All are born with halters round their necks; but it is only when caught in the swift, sudden turn of death, that mortals realise the silent, subtle, ever-present perils of life. (Herman Melville, Moby Dick)

In keeping with our love of all things coastal – hence our garden title “CrabandFish” – not just a combination of our star signs – but a calling to all things natatorial, we embarked on a whale watching excursion.

We have foregone the wineries, chocolate factories and fine food outlets for a two hour sea-faring adventure in this part of the region of Margaret River. As our followers know, we are holidaying in one of the most ancient and magnificent regions in Australia, renowned for its ruggedness and beauty. The beauty we sought out today, was the elusive and dramatic beauty of the hump-back whale.

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Whale watching is just that – a concentration of the senses, a patient disposition and a navigational vessel that knows its waters. Our “Naturaliste” vessel took a group for forty of us out to sea and promised a sighting of whales and it did not disappoint. After a slow start – we are such impatient creatures, we humans – our first sighting appeared, albeit for only a few seconds. This was followed by not one but two diving tails and a collective, outpouring of excitement.

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We were then to begin our chase as our vessel picked up speed pursued these creatures with a frenzy – was this the excitement those whalers experienced? But how could anyone bear to end the life of these magnificent and majestic sea creatures? In the horizon we could see their spouts spewing water, their breaching, their wings and splashing tails. We gathered pace until we were surrounded by whales to the shrieks of delight from all on board.

According to the tourist brochures, Western Australia has one of the longest migratory seasons for whales – from May to December and many can be seen from the shore-line. So we were indeed privileged to witness them frolicking in these waters.

Once you have experienced seeing these grand creatures in their world, you have to marvel at the beauty of their existence. They do not threaten us but live parallel to our shore and breath and feel and nurture as we do. Let us watch them and admire them as nature’s grandest creatures.

A sleepy seal

It was one of those serene and surprising weekends. We were fortunate enough to be able to visit a charming little cottage by the sea. Its owners had kindly allowed us to stay in this place where their own children had spent many happy summers – long ago.

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As we embarked on our little trip, a mere hundred kilometres from the Mount, I did not expect that I would receive two surprises that day.

Daughter Number 2 was to arrive unexpectedly to share this weekend with us. Colin had kept that secret well! It was wonderful to see her especially as she was to spend a precious weekend with us by the sea.

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Seaside walks are a must, even in winter and we had a much needed chat-shop-coffee time. Our walk saw us reach the iconic bathing boxes of the Mornington Peninsula. These colourful sentinels look out over Port Phillip Bay. Blue, yellow and green boxes create a novelty appeal by the sea. Surprise number two. Something caught our eye. Was that an injured animal? A large animal. It was lying lifeless on one of the landings.

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As we gingerly drew closer, a row of plastic tape revealed an important notice.

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A resting seal. Wow! This poor fellow was all tuckered out and had found its way to a most amenable residence. Clever seal! He was gorgeous and oh so sleepy.

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We returned the next day and he was still there, stirring slightly. A wildlife ranger watched patiently over his sleeping state. The ocean, the sand and the bathing box buffering his dreamtime state. Isn’t nature truly beautiful!

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Thanks to everyone who made this weekend a very special one indeed.