Archive for June, 2010
I’ve attended a couple of demonstrations in Taipei as an observer. The bid for UN admission and this one in 2008 which was peaceful but not without some noise.
The Taiwan Research people at Melbourne’s Monash University had a few minutes on Australia’s Radio National today reporting the signing of the “free trade agreement” by acknowledging “they did not know the details”.
Prof Bruce Jacobs speaking on radio said that in Taiwan today, people identify themselves as being “Taiwanese” or ”Taiwanese-Chinese” but very few call themselves “Chinese” a difference from 1990 era.
Australia’s former Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd studied Mandarin at Taiwan Normal University (year not known). I wonder if Kevin Rudd (who also has a Chinese name) speaks Mandarin with a Taiwanese accent and if so, what the mainlanders thought of this?
The beauty of Ayres Rock (Uluru) is the vast empty surroundings. Blue sky and red soil. The only thing missing is a regular supply of rain. The best time to visit ‘the rock’ is probably November. In summer it can be far too hot and climbing the monolith is stopped when temperature exceeds about 32 degrees. Winter can be freezing, especially at night.
In Australia, Sydney’s city park called The Domain, some very old fig tree’s were cut-down after a branch fell from one of them. A crime against nature.
Having a dive off Port Douglas on a shipwreck found by a prawn trawler when it’s net became snagged. The mysterious object was a very old steel ship sitting in 24 meters of water. Prawn nets had smashed the masts off. The wreck was not considered newsworthy
From left, John Harding. Peter West, Dale Chapman and boat owner, Ben Cropp.
Peter West is one of the very few people who viewed the last video footage of Steve Irwin (The Croc Hunter). Peter would have seen Steve ripping the stingray barb from his chest as recorded by the underwater camera. Otherwise the scene has been viewed by very few people and will never been commercialized.
Dale Chapman has an extensive underwater career, especially with cultured pearl diving and farming.
Ben Cropp is an underwater explorer and shipwreck hunter, amongst other talents. He has produced more than 100 documentaries for TV release. (I’ve appeared in several of the more recent – as an assistant and deckhand aboard Freedom III).
When grey nurse sharks became scare off Australia’s east coast, filming the sharks in aquariums became the next best thing. A USA TV special featuring pop stars required some shark shots, filmed by a diver inside the tank. It was a new approach at the time. My assistant Jocelyn met the star of the show. Can you tell who it is? The Rhinestone Cowboy himself.
We dived inside this fishing vessel. The masts were visible above water. Located in a treacherous area of the southern Coral Sea and Tasman Sea boundary. Further south is Lord Howe Island.
A strange name? Hundreds of years ago there were right and wrong whales to hunt. The ‘right’ type of whale floated when killed.
The Southern Right Whale was found south of the equator. There is a Northern Right Whale as well. Both species have are protected from hunting – although not many nations hunt whales anymore, maybe only Norway and Japan?
The Japanese are still active but they seek Minke whales. A smaller whale. The hunting is done under the disguise of science.
It’s a hot environmental issue in Australia -also how to change a Japanese tradition in disputed southern waters which Australia claims ownership or protection of. Solutions seem far away.
The more hot the issue the more revenue that can be raised for anti-whaling campaigns. The media get benefits too. More newspaper and magazine sales.
Politicians also use the issue to embarrass and mislead the public about those in power, knowing a stop whaling solution is never easily negotiated.
Should anyone try to tell Japanese what is right or wrong with their traditions?
Meanwhile the whale population migrating north for winter along the east Australian coast looks strong with fifty Southern Right and Humpback whales sighted and counted yesterday, south of Sydney.
In 1967 when we jumped into the sea of Sydney Heads to get the above picture, whales were so rare people knew little to nothing of them. This rare whale was traveling south back to the Southern Sea and Antarctica.
Underwater pictures were unknown apart from just a couple of examples taken from movie film.
Making any appreciation of the Southern Right Whale more difficult is their unusual mouth which curves in reverse. In other words, it’s upside down.
At the time I took what was thought to be extreme risk in photographing such a creature. All we knew about whales was they swallowed people whole! It would be years before I learned this species is the most docile of all.
Whales make good tourist attractions for above water viewing. Boats are prevented from motoring close to a whale. They stop engines and hope the whale will approach the boat – which often happens to the delight of passengers.
Hervey Bay just north from Brisbane is where many of the whales congregate. Heaps of boats service the whale watching tourist businesses there.
Photographing sharks is now very popular with underwater photographers. A big change from the 1970′s when diving magazines were pressured not to run shark pictures by their advertisers.
Schooling hammerhead sharks have been seen at Green Island. The potential for international divers to visit Taiwan is good. The east coast especially. Blue water is essential for good photography.
People pay NT$2500 or more for the boat ride, just to snorkel swim with these giants at Exmouth, on the North West coast of Western Australia. Touching the shark is forbidden. Small aircraft are used to spot the sharks which then guide the dive boats to where one is.
Could the same technique be tried for Green Island?
Years ago whale sharks were known as The Tofu shark and many eaten in Taiwan. Today they are a protected species in Taiwan.
I took my Taiwanese friend on a three-day camping trip to Fraser Island, a few hours north from Brisbane. During the night a wild Australian dog called a dingo, came by the tent looking for food. Finding nothing it chewed our leather shoes to pieces.
At Coffs Harbour on the mid north coast of New South Wales we visited my good friend Scott Dillon (pictured in relaxed mode). Legends Surf Museum doubles as Scott’s home. He lives amongst hundreds of vintage surf boards, photos, posters and memorabilia. Now in his eighties his knowledge and memory of surfing culture is amazing. Today Scott expressed an interest in visiting Taipei with me later this year.
The far south coast of New South Wales is probably the most beautiful on the entire east coast. Cooler air temperatures and much cooler ocean waters keep Sydney people away – they prefer to travel north for holidays. More southern people, such as those living in Victoria will venture to this region. It’s a quieter part of the coast, lots of tree’s narrow roads and not much traffic. A true frontier.