Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Hanging Around - Kids In Honiara

These kids were just hanging in this tree in the afternoon I happened to visit the US War Memorial in Honiara. The memorial has many marble upright slabs, telling tales and displaying the names of those lost in battles that have occurred around Guadalcanal - the main island of the Solomon Islands.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Exploring The Shipwreck Of My Lady Lata II

Swimming above and around the rusted hull of My Lady Lata II, and it's rusting companion off Pangaimotu Island off Nuku'alofa in Tonga was like something straight out of the footage of the Titanic - on a much smaller, and up close scale, of course!

I went along with a couple of lads from Fafa Island Resort, and battled through my non-swimmer status to be able to float around the impressive half-submerged ships.

There are two of them, but My Lady Lata II is the most well-known, stuck indefinitely just off the edge of Pangamotu, which makes for interesting viewing from the basic visitors resort and restaurant on the shore. My Lady Lata II was caught up in a cyclone some 12 years ago, and there she has stayed, half exposed to the air. The second ship that you can see, just next to the upended Lady, ran into mechanical trouble, and there it remains some 7 years later.

Having the railings of the deck of either vessel appear in my snorkelling goggles was well worth battling my fear of drowning, and swimming in the depth of the ocean.  Rusted, but still essentially intact, the light from the sun shining down gleams through the windows and doorways, in an eerie way. Even from the surface, I could see the details of the stairways and ladders, and also the new life forms of fish and the like in and around both hulls.

There is a strange beauty in seeing a man-made object abandoned like this, with nature continuing around it, and making it home.

Jouljet Notes
Serious Tip: I went across with staff from Fafa Island Resort, who were on a day off - however you can get across to Pangamotu via a daily boat in the morning, returning in the afternoon, from Nuku'alofa wharf. Many daytrippers do this each day, but especially on Sunday, when then rest of Tonga closes down for church.
Time Spent: We went across the Pangamotu from Fafa for a couple of hours to include lunch, but our swim was probably about half an hour to 45 minutes, being as long as we could stand the idea of the itchy little jellyfish like organisms in the water all around us near the ships.
Cost: A day trip across to Pangamotu from Nuku'alofa is $20.
Quirky Tip: A better swimmer than me could get closer, and swim in and around the cabin of the ship, which looked pretty amazing!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Miss Nughu On A Sunday

She followed me around with her friends, when I walked through her village on Nughu in the Solomon Islands. I went to see the village, and what the people were up to on their Sunday. She then returned to her job for the day, bringing vegetables home for the family dinner, wrapped in big banana leaves - but stopped for just a moment for a hello, and a photo. 

Monday, October 13, 2014

Hibiscus Of Fafa

Throughout the tiny island of Fafa, two different colours of hibiscus floated down from the trees dotted around, and appeared in my path across my week there.

On both sides of the island on the beach, and also dotted along the path through the centre of the island, which was dense in parts with rainforest foliage.

These flowers often lined my path back to my fale from the restaurant or shared facilities, or lay around my private accommodation area, below the hammock and around the banana lounges.

A reminder of how tropical the island was, these flowers added to the overall special feel to the island getaway in Tonga - peaceful, pretty, and perfect!

Saturday, October 11, 2014

The Urban Workshop - Open House Melbourne

Melbourne manages to mix the modernity of new, sleek skyscrapers with the history and beauty of the previous structures in many instances across the city - The Urban Workshop in Lonsdale Street is one such example.

Glass and newness is the appearance of this building from the street, but stepping into the foyer for a peak into the secrets of the building during this year's Open House Melbourne, I was greeted with timber-featured cafe, and the stone interior marking the history of this block. Little did I know that there was so much more to the space, as my tour took us through all the quirky details.

Walking in from the street, I noticed the wording under foot in stone - and was later informed that this lettering is an ode to the former slum and red light district of the large city block - Little Leichardt.

Within the foyer, as our tour commenced, we were taken to see the cesspool artefacts, held in a circular display cabinet. We were told of the extensive archaeological done on this site, in the early 2000s - which my little sister was involved in around her studies - before the tall, new building was built over the top of it.

This area was one of the first, vibrant neighbourhoods of Melbourne, with homes and businesses, and brothels, within the grid of narrow back alleys.

Our guide showed us the round plaques around the new modern foyer of this city building, where clusters of things were found during the excavation, such as a concentration of dolls, for example, where they know a family cottage once stood.

Then the cabinets in the centre of the foyer displays the array of bits of bobs also found during the dig - everyday living tools, from household items, to coins, and even preserved plant forms. From this, the dig team have pieced together much of the life from those days, a major part of the history and beginnings of Melbourne.
From the ground floor, our tour was taken up to the 33rd floor, where we were allowed to check out the office floor of Australian Super - the sweeping city and Dandenong Ranges views from the board room and their open plan office space, to the bird's eye view of the CBD from the break-out lunch and break room end of the building.

How would anyone get any work done with such a view?

Another great behind-the-scenes look into a Melbourne building - although many of the ground floor features of this could be seen by walking in off the street, for the very curious.

Thursday, October 09, 2014

The Mapu'a'aVaca Blowholes - A Stunning Ocean-Crashing Phenomenon

Waves crashing into the shore, and seconds later spraying up into fountains, for as far as the eye can see. These are the blowholes on the north-western edge of Tonga's Tongatapu island, and definitely worth a look. Stunning and surprising, there is such beauty in the way that the ocean and coral formations play together, at every wave.

Part of my day trip around the main island of Tonga took in this sight, and with no or low expectations of the sight from the guidebook, I was captivated by this wondrous natural sight.

Running for at least 5kms along the coast, there is a viewing platform, but our guide had our small group stand along from that, to get closer to the water. From here we could see the rock shelves and little pools between the waves. The colours, and depths were beautiful, and then a wave would come in, and seem to explode with water up into the air!

We had a child in our group, and he was at first interested, and then scared at the unpredictability of the water fountains - they varied so much in height and volume. The rest of us, however, were fascinated, and could have watched for hours.

Jouljet Notes
Serious Tip: Get down and close to the rock edge, to see the full coast of blowholes, for the full effect.
Time Spent: It was about a 45 minute drive from Nuku'Alofa, through villages, to get there. We stayed for about 30 minutes, but definitely could have stayed longer.
Cost: Part of my day tour from Fafa Island, so difficult to pin point how much this was for me. But I am sure you can negotiate a driver/taxi from town, to bring you out to see these.
Quirky Tip: Going along to see these with such low expectations made this natural phenomenon even more magical, because I had no idea what we were seeing and why! That's what makes travelling so amazing!

Tuesday, October 07, 2014

Island Transport

Simple, but effective. The fishing boat tied up just before the village on Nughu Island, in the Solomon Islands. From our beachside huts for the weekend, we could see convoys of these heading out in the late afternoon, in search of dinner for the evening.
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