Callington Wind Mill

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On Sunday we drove with our friend Adrian to the small, historic town of Oatlands, 87 km north of Hobart, to see the celebration of the opening of a recent (over the past 6 years) restoration of a windmill that was originally built in 1836. It stopped producing flour when its sails were blown into the nearby lake by a storm, and since 1891 the Callington Mill was foreclosed and abandoned.

The tour of the mill was very educational, as we climbed four flights of stairs to the top level where the main shaft exits the cupola to the enormous blades and sails and then we followed the path of the grain down to the flour sacks on the ground floor. Metal gears bearing on wooden cogs transfer the wind power to rotate the two large grinding stones. A small circular set of sails forms the fantail, which keeps the large sails facing into the prevailing wind.

The original miller’s house, granary building, stables and other sandstone buildings, built by convicts, are still standing, and have all been restored.

The group of enthusiasts that organized and promoted the mill restoration has a blog that includes lots of photos of the restoration.

Cape Hauy by Luke O’Brien

Luke O’Brien is one of the very best Tasmanian landscape photographers. This is one of his images of Cape Hauy, Tasman Peninsula, one of the three southeast capes of Tasmania that we rounded last week when Adagio sailed back to Tassie.

Check out Luke’s work at — it’s really easy to order prints!

ADAGIO returns to Tasmania

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We have sailed back to Tasmania, seven years after sailing east for Alaska in 2003. When we rounded Cape Pilar the weather was stunning and the sea state mild enough to navigate ADAGIO through the pass between the Cape Pillar and Tasman Island. This is our sixth Bass Strait crossing, but only the second time we’ve assessed the sea state to be favorable for taking this short cut.

This was an extremely easy trip, departing Eden on 4 November, anchoring at Maria Island at 0006 the morning of the 7th, then berthing at RYCT for sunset on the 8th. We had light-moderate headwinds for the first two days, so in the slight seas we made good progress under jib and full main. Then the wind backed and lightened until we were motorsailing on the port engine. Meanwhile we were continuously entertained by visiting albatrosses.

Dolphins North of Twofold Bay

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As we sailed under our big reacher towards the entrance to Twofold Bay, a pod of about 24 dolphins raced towards us to play in ADAGIO’s bow waves. I raced for the camera, and we enjoyed their company for about 15 minutes. By that time a second pod of dolphins had spotted us and came surfing through the waves at high speed to join the fun. One of my photos shows two dolphins from the first pod watching the second pod’s arrival, no doubt saying to each other, “Oh no, Gladys, here come the neighbors!”

Photographing dolphins requires a high ISO, and a “sport” or “motor drive” setting. We had our old Canon SLR set up that way – but with 300m telephoto in case we found some more breaching humpback whales. That lens was too long and we hadn’t yet unpacked our just-repaired 17-85mm lens, so we just grabbed the trusty old Canon SD800 shirt pocket camera.

The dolphins exhale while underwater then quickly surface to inhale a breath of air. That’s when you can grab a quick photo of their face. It requires quick responses and practice to anticipate when a dolphin will surface, so that your photo contains the dolphin’s face and not just a splash. I tried following one dolphin and timing the breaths, and caught some good shots, but this caused me to miss out on photos of other dolphin actions, like jumping out of the water.

We can understand the myths and legends which sailors developed around these fun sea creatures. Their lives appear to us to be carefree and exhuberant, and I hope you can see these qualities in the photos.

Albatross Joined Us As We Sailed Towards Twofold Bay

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When the seas are the roughest, the winds are the best for the magnificent Albatross. As we sailed south from Sydney towards Bass Strait, ADAGIO was circled by two types of Albatross: the Black-browed Albatross and the Shy Albatross.

I learned from my Field Guide to Australian Birds that the Black-browed Albatross is identified by its short black brow which gives it a frowning, penetrating expression. The immature bird has a pale gray neck collar and wide, silvery colored stripes the length of its dark underwings.

On the other hand, the Shy Albatross is larger and the feathers on its underwing are white between equal, narrow black edges. The bird is very long winged, with a massive bill. This is the only Albatross to breed in Australian waters and breeds only within the Australasian region. It is commonly seen around Tasmania.

We watched the Albatross utilize the lift and energy of wind across the tall waves of the ocean, soaring effortlessly, rarely flapping a wing. Occasionally a bird would momentarily disappear behind a wave with only a wingtip visible. I understand that these birds are able to essentially latch their outspread wings, so that they utilize no energy holding their wings straight.

Coffs Harbour to Pittwater

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It was a beautiful day at sea as we sailed south from Coffs Harbour towards Sydney. A large humpback whale came to the surface and blew! off our starboard quarter. Later about 7.4 nm east of Nambucca Heads, two whales surfaced just off our port bow. We stopped the boat as they dived to make sure we did not get too close to (we think) a mother and calf. For the remainder of the passage we sailed about 20 nautical miles offshore to avoid running into whales during the night.

We sailed under our wonderful reacher sail, with a following wind and following sea. We were receiving a 1.5 to 2 knot boost from the East Australian Current. The western sky performed magnificently before sunset. The full moon rose in the east, peeping out from behind pinking and blue-gray clouds. That night we enjoyed just about perfect broad-reaching conditions with TWS around 17 kn until 0400 when the puff went out of the wind.

At sunrise the burning sun ignited the sky as it rose above a night-dark sea. After lunch, convection and rain clouds covered the land to starboard, and the barometer was falling. We sailed past two albatross sitting on the surface of the sea, waiting for the wind to blow.

About two hours before sunset, we set our anchor in Refuge Bay, off of Cowan Creek in Broken Bay, north of Sydney. It was a beautiful passage.

Dolphins South of Mooloolaba

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Short-beaked Common Dolphins joined us as we sailed south from Mooloolaba. The typical group size is 20 to 30 dolphins, but they can occur in groups of a thousand dolphins or more. They feed cooperatively and are the most commonly seen dolphin in coastal waters. We are always happy to see them.

Mooloolaba and Maroochydore

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Mooloolaba, on the Sunshine Coast of Australia, has been a fun place for us to wait for favorable winds to take us south. We anchored in “The Pond”, the inner harbour, upstream from the marinas and tourist attractions. We were surrounded by “starter castles”, each with a floating dock. We saw board paddlers, sailors, kayakers, people rowing dinghies, Polynesian outrigger canoes and Indian canoes, some of whom were enjoying the surrounding waters most days.

The public wharf next to the Coast Guard Station allowed us to take our bicycle ashore aboard ALLEGRO every non-rainy day. The waterfront bicycle trail provided not only exercise, but some of the best views of the ocean beach as well as the Maroochydore River. Twice I watched an Eastern Water Dragon along the side of the trail. It can grow to a meter in length, making it the largest of the dragon species in Australia and can live twenty years.

The Sunshine Coast beaches are popular with surfers, since the southeasterly trade winds create nice sized waves along a gradually sloping beach. We are always impressed by the Surf Lifesavers who watch for swimmers in trouble. They post flags to show the boundaries of the beaches which are actually patrolled, because there are kilometers of beaches along this popular coast, between Mooloolaba and Maroochydore, and beyond.

We have arrived in Australia during a La Nina year, which has brought unseasonably heavy rainfall. The “squash zone” between a trough and a High pressure system offshore has brought strong winds as well. The surfers love it, but the seas have been too high for our sailing comfort — 3 to 5 meter seas and 5 meter swells.

Our former New Zealand neighbor, Robyn, visited us for lunch, bringing her friend Michelle.

Native Birds of Tin Can Bay

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One of the many attractions of Tin Can Bay is its shoreline walking and bicycling path. There are signs along the way to help us identify the birds and trees that we hope to see. The first day, in the park near Norman Point, I caught some action shots of the Rainbow Bee-eaters catching insects. What artful flyers they are, flashing their rainbow colors against the blue sky, and performing some of the best aerial acrobatics I have ever seen.

I finally figured out the Blue-faced Honeyeaters, because the adults have a blue face, but the face of the immature ones is yellow! The cutely named Willie Wagtail is a close relative of the dancing Fantails that we enjoyed watching in New Zealand. I have included a photo of a Magpie, because we experienced their territorial behavior in Mooloolaba. They swooped down on us from behind as we bicycled along the waterfront.

One of our favorite Austrialian birds is the Galah. This bird is known as a clown and is synonymous for “buffoon” in Australian slang. They play on children’s playground equipment, roll around in the grass, and perform other antics.

Adagio graced our views, as she adorned the anchorage off of Norman Point.

A short guide to Australia

SPLINTER’S APPRENTICE are also cruising Australia — they are a bit north of ADAGIO, but headed south — so we are hoping to meet up again soon. Today Beth emailed us our daily dose of chuckles, biggest laughs we’ve had recently:-)

Snopes has some of the history of these “tourist silly Q&A” missiles that are emailed around the web periodically. Evidently Olympic events create spikes of emails, tailored to the host country. Snopes headed their entry Olympic Torched.

I’ve not found the origin of the Aussie map, which has some questionable tags on it (like the tag chosen for Tasmania referencing Port Arthur). Anyhow, enjoy the collective humour, tasteful or not!

PS – Virtual Australia has the closest version of the silly Q&A, plus some fine additions of their own.

These were posted on an Australian tourism website, and the answers are the actual responses by the website officials, who obviously have a great sense of humour (not to mention a low tolerance threshold for cretins!)
Q: Does it ever get windy in Australia ? I have never seen it rain on TV, how do the plants grow? (   UK ).
A: We import all plants fully grown, and then just sit around watching them die.
Q: Will I be able to see kangaroos in the street? ( USA )
A: Depends how much you’ve been drinking.
Q: I want to walk from Perth to Sydney – can I follow the railroad tracks? ( Sweden)
A: Sure, it’s only three thousand miles. Take lots of water.
Q: Are there any ATMs (cash machines) in Australia ? Can you send me a list of them in Brisbane , Cairns , Townsville and Hervey Bay ? (UK)
A: What did your last slave die of?
Q: Can you give me some information about hippo racing in Australia ? ( USA )
A: A-Fri-ca is the big triangle shaped continent south of Europe.
Aus-tra-lia is that big island in the middle of the Pacific which does not…
Oh, forget it. Sure, the hippo racing is every Tuesday night in Kings Cross. Come naked.
Q: Which direction is North in Australia ? ( USA )
A: Face south, and then turn 180 degrees. Contact us when you get here and we’ll send the rest of the directions.
Q: Can I bring cutlery into Australia ? ( UK )
A: Why? Just use your fingers like we do.
Q:Can you send me the Vienna Boys’ Choir schedule? (   USA )
A: Aus-tri-a is that quaint little country bordering Ger-man-y, which is…
Oh, forget it. Sure, the Vienna Boys Choir plays every Tuesday night in Kings Cross, straight after the hippo races. Come naked.
Q: Can I wear high heels in Australia ? ( UK )
A: You are a British politician, right?
Q: Are there supermarkets in Sydney, and is milk available all year round? ( Germany )
A: No, we are a peaceful civilization of vegan hunter/gatherers. Milk is illegal.
Q:Please send a list of all doctors in Australia who can Dispense rattlesnake serum. ( USA )
A: Rattlesnakes live in A-meri-ca, which is where YOU come from. All Australian snakes are perfectly harmless, can be safely handled, and make good pets.
Q: I have a question about a famous animal in Australia, but I forget its name. It’s a kind of bear and lives in trees. ( USA )
A: It’s called a Drop Bear. They are so called because they drop out of gum trees and eat the brains of anyone walking underneath them. You can scare them off by spraying yourself with human urine before you go out walking.
Q: I have developed a new product that is the fountain of youth. Can you tell me where I can sell it in Australia ? ( USA)
A: Anywhere significant numbers of Americans gather.

Q: Do you celebrate Christmas in Australia ? ( France )
A: Only at Christmas.

Q: Will I be able to speak English most places I go? ( USA )
A: Yes, but you’ll have to learn it first