Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Tough tides: the sea reclaims its own at Byron Bay

Low tide at Cronulla (a Sydney suburb) ocean pool
Ocean tides: they do exactly as they please and we can only watch.

Sometimes ocean tides appear to do our bidding.  Here is my photo of a tide keeping itself nice, being at a low ebb with waves lapping a respectful distance from the shore.

The photo below shows the same pool but the tide is in and waves are making a frenzied takeover bid.  

But - mostly - waves lose momentum at the next low tide, and peace is declared.

High tide at same pool while it gets a thorough rinsing


To another beach, this one being Byron Bay, a seaside town in the far-north eastern corner of  NSW, 772 kilometres north of Sydney and 165 kilometres south of Brisbane. 

These photos were taken in 1996, after a cyclone tore away sections of beach.
After the cyclone.
Rogue waves stripped away sand and exposed what had been buried underneath 24 years earlier.
And it was not a trunk full of gold bars or a lost city.   

In an attempt to slow erosion of the escarpment in 1972, old car bodies had been buried under the sand.  The cyclone uncovered a demolition derby rusted to a halt.  

Old car bodies trying to upholster the beaches

A beached steering wheel

Subsequent cyclones reclaimed more of Byron Bay's beaches, and home owners within reach of these waves shored up their slopes with straw.

Bundles of straw protecting a beachside home from rogue tides
And if this is starting to sound like the story of the three little pigs, one of whom built his house of straw, the second of are the sticks. 

More sticks

And, as cyclones continued to huff and puff and blow their beaches down, Byron Bay tried harmony and love...

Carvings into the rock face along Byron Bay's beach front

Another carving on a rock topped with sand

Putting a good face on it

Friday, October 7, 2011

New Year's Eve: Sydney Harbour Bridge

Midnight 2010: Sydney Harbour Bridge ready to party

Sydney Harbour Bridge welcomes 2011

I have more of these photos.  Let me know if I should load them.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

The last word: tombstones from around the world

When the dying's done, the dead are not silent.

They are remembered long after they are gone, bookmarked with tombstones, plaques - and our own personal memories.  

Here are a few ways that we have given the dead a voice.

But first, let me set the mood:

Funeral weather

Now you are suitably chilled, your tour of the dead starts in New Zealand, with Jack's seat.

It recalls a dearly loved grandfather who lived long (1904-1991) and left behind a seat with this plaque which looks across valley near Queenstown.

It concludes 'as the family march ahead please look back as we the ancestors follow'.

Jack's seat
The view from Jack's seat

Jack opted for a view and offered a seat to the passers by.

Other people choose a less solitary style with community living (so to speak) in the cemetery, there to rest among their fellow dead away from the chatter of daily life.  

Sunlight and shadow

Such cemeteries are where we find history.  This Boston cemetery is the resting place for Paul Revere.

Paul Revere's plaque


This was one monumental burial.  When the volcano Mount Vesuvius erupted in AD79, it buried the entire town in ash and pumice.  It stayed buried for 1,700 years, yet the dead were still able to speak to us when they were unearthed.

Here are the preserved remains of two.

These figures are distressing: their last moments are frozen and we get to watch. They were buried before their time, so to speak.

The Titanic

This heart breaking tragedy, just beyond our living memory, was the sinking of the Titanic on April 15, 1912.  Over 1,500 people went down with her, and many of the dead went unburied.

Only 329 bodies were recovered, and 119 were buried at sea.  Many could not be identified so they were given a number.

Later, using such clues as clothing, some of the dead could be claimed by their relatives.  Others had be buried with a number alone.  Ultimately, 150 Titanic victims were buried in Halifax, 44 of whom were never identified. 

(My thanks to Rodger who made the expedition to the Halifax Cemetery to take these photos.)

An Australian, one of Titanic's victims: Arthur Gordon McCrae, BE University of New South Wales

A line up of Titanic grave stones

No. 179 - an unidentified passenger on the Titanic

Anne of Green Gables

One of my favourite dead people is Lucy Maud Montgomery, author of the book Anne of Green Gables. 

Resting place of L.M. Montgomery at Cavendish, Prince Edward Island

Despite the fact that Anne of Green Gables was a fiction, she was far more real to me than Lucy Maud.

 I thank Lucy Maud for creating Anne, but she was not Anne.  There was no gravestone for my Anne, so I am declaring her not dead. 

And as such, Anne lives on today, speaking through her books.

World Trade Centre, New York

So many unburied here.  These photos were taken in 2006.

Air space where the towers once stood

This is a timeline of the events of September 11, 2001

Timeline part two

World Trade Centre Station

Photos of that day: note the police presence

A cemetery near Gavle in Sweden

In Sweden, they not only bury their dead, but put them into deep freeze.  

The photos of this cemetery are not black and white stills.  These are full colour photos of a winter's day in Sweden, taken in late December.  The scene was black and white - and bitterly cold.

In Sweden, the winter sun hangs reluctantly just above the horizon for only a few hours, so the day is half lit with a sun about to set.  This photo was taken in the middle of the day.

The dead lie under a blanket of snow and in the windless chill, the silence is almost a presence. 

The Port Arthur Massacre (Tasmania)

This single cross speaks of the 35 lives lost when Martin Bryant went on a killing spree in Tasmania's Port Arthur prison colony on 28 April 1996.  It was - and still is - a popular tourist site.  It was Australia's deadliest killing spree.

Port Arthur, Tasmania

Last but not least:  Salzburg

Salzburg does a most decorative cemetery, lush with flowers, shrubs and statues.

The dead seem incidental.

(Note:  you can also tour my version of the spectacular Recoleta Cemetery in Buenos Aires.  You'll find it in the post called 'Buenos Aires' in this blog.)

Rest in peace.