Thursday, June 23, 2011
About 20nm across the Torres Strait at the Torres Strait Islands. I wanted to visit here so we headed across the strait. As we sailed through the group of islands we went past Tuesday, Wednesday and then we stopped close to Thursday Island which is the administrative center of the group. We are actually anchored in the Lee of Horn Island which is about 2 nm from Thursday and we have taken a ferry over to tour around. We went up to the top of Green Hill and got to visit the museum that was built to commerate the fort that was constructed here in 1893 when there was a threat of war with Russia. There was a great 360 view from the top. Below is a view over the town of Thursday Island and Horn Island where we are anchored is in the distance. Islands surround us so we have a lovely calm secure anchorage at the moment.
An example of the Torres Island art. We enjoyed our visit to the cultural centre.
Historically the Torres Island were known for the pearling industry that took place here. From the turn of the century until the 1950's and the event of plastics, oyster shells were collected for the making of mother of pearl objects, mainly buttons. I think pearls were a bonus, the shells being what was used. Pearling luggers as the boats were called would go out and divers would descend to collect the shells. At first men would just free dive as there was an abundance at depth that was accesible. As they had to go deeper to find commercial quantities the diving helmut and suit came into use. Onboard the ship the diver would have 2 people to tend his lines, one would have the air hose and one would have the line that attached the diver to the boat. There were stories in the museum of divers getting taken by the current while they were under the corral their lines would become entangled in the corral and they would be unable to free their lines. Many divers perished in this manner.
The industry attracted many races including Malasians and Japanese as well as the traditional Island peoples. The faces and statures of the people that live here now reflect this mixture of races and it has resutled in some very lovely looking folks. We are waiting here for the winds to drop until we cross the Gulf of Capenteria. It is a three day crossing and it is not the winds that are a problem but the waves they generate as they howl across the open gulf. We hope to leave on Sunday, I must make sure to ensure I get lots of rest before we leave.
Saturday, June 18, 2011
Sunday, June 12, 2011
This is the anchorage on the Endeavor River from the top of Grassy Hill, which members of the crew of the Endeavor climbed to see if they could find a way through the Great Barrier Reef out to open water. Barry and I climbed up it the other day and then continued on down to a secluded beach on the other side of the headland. We met another couple on the way and he clamoured up a tree and lopped down a coconut. Shortly after this was taken we were sitting on a rock swilling down lovely refreshing coconut juice.
Australian's army decommissioned a bunch of Leopard tanks and Cooktown applied to get one. It was recently brought to town and installed on a specially reinforced cement base. The town invited the army band from Townsville to take part in the Discovery Festival and officially dedicate this tank. The band was a great addition to the weekend . They were in a word, terrific. They had such a wide repertoire which included military marches, big band swing numbers, cabaret style music as well as rock and roll tunes. I truly enjoyed listening to their music, in all they appeared 5 times around town and I only heard them repeat about 4 tunes. One of the vocalist had a great line. He had been talking about dedicating the tank and then the band went into a rendition of "The Candyman". After they were done this fella jokes "Nothing says land warfare like The Candyman", it just cracked me up. There was a female sergaent that had a great voice. She did a very nice rendition of Mac The Knife, but it was hard to reconcile this wonderful sultry voice coming from a girl dressed in army khaki with a big thick brown leather belt and polished black army boots.
Cooktown's other claim to fame is the goldfields that were found in the 1870's about 130 km away. At one time there were over 16,000 Chinese people living in the area, working in the goldfields, establishing businesses, and raising market gardens to feed the miners. After the parade was over they unvieled some statues to commemorate their presence in the area.
I had a hard time convincing Barry to stay here to see the festival. He was anxious to make tracks to Darwin, we have only about 3 weeks to sail about 1,400 nm. I think we are both pleased that we stayed and took part in the festival which brought some of Australia's early history alive before our eyes. We were pleased to see the Aborigines take an active part in the festival and have their part explained. Cook landed in an area that traditionally was used to settle disputes between tribes and so there was no attacks upon him or his crew and their visit and their interactions with the Aborigines were peaceful. We have seen very little of the Aboriginie people in the rest of Australia so it was good to encounter it here. They have a large presence in the Northern Territories so we hope to learn more about their culture further north.
Saturday, June 04, 2011
Onboard the cat with Cairns in the background, it must have cost a bundle for that 65 person liferaft.