Life Is A Beach…. Best Served I The Morning

Known the world over for it’s racy nightlife and amazing beaches, Surfers Paradise has become something of an icon of what is Australia. It is also a place where lessons can be learned. Town planning has allowed massively high towers to be build right along the foreshore. Beautiful they may be, yet they destroy the ambience in the afternoon as their massive bulk casts long shadows across the beach.

Not On My Watch!

Today I watched a documentary on Netflix called Chasing Coral, having previously watched another documentary called Chasing Ice. Their collective message regarding the state of our world made me realise the urgency of the peril that we face.

Getting the feel of weightlessness at Sabang.  This was one of my first dive experiences after training with Asia Divers Dive shop

I have recently had the privilege of diving on coral reefs in the Philippines with Asia Divers in Sabang and am in awe of the beauty that lives just below the surface of the sea. Perhaps because of that experience, this has touched a deeper nerve.

A Longhorn Cowfish. one of the Boxfish familyPhoto Credit: Mathewatts Photography

If you were to do nothing else today, your time would be richly spent in taking the one hour and twenty minutes to watch this documentary, Chasing Coral. When you do, take a moment to reflect on just what the consequences of not listening to the message will be, and ask yourself, “What can I do?”

The beauty of a coral reef may become a rare thing in the future unless action is taken soon.  Photo Credit: Mathewatts Photography

Coral is a living organism working together to the greater good of all of the parts. One polyp, on its own, can do little, yet as part of the reef, it is responsible for much of the life in the world. Likewise, on our own, what each of us does may seem insignificant, but if enough of us work together, we can bring about the change that is so badly needed. All it takes is for someone to follow another’s lead and then someone else to follow them and so on and so on. However, if no one begins the cycle, nothing will change and we do not have the luxury of waiting for someone else to do it.

A pair of Clown fish enjoying a prickly lifestyle Photo Credit: Mathewatts Photography

Perhaps it is our fear of change that prevents us from looking at the reality of what is happening in this world. We hold on to what we know with such tenacity that we do not even realise what is slipping away from us on a daily basis. This is not just a political issue… it is a human responsibility. It is the world we will leave our descendants..

Corals can grow to a great size often resembling the trees on dry land. Photo Credit: Mathewatts Photography

This is our watch…..We are all responsible…… We can make a change….Will history portray the Millennials as the age of humanity that brought about the downfall of the mammals, or will it show that we are better than that?

A turtle takes a moment’s rest on one of the beautiful  coral reefs at Tabbataha Reef in the Sulu Sea in the Philippines.  Photo Credit: Mathewatts Photography

My blog, Street2stream.com, is about life. Be it the way we live (Street) or the way we interact with nature (Stream). There is nothing more fascinating than cultural diversity and the way that people interact with each other. Perhaps I lied… the amazing world of nature is also as fascinating, I would be remiss if, in the light of this documentary, I did not make a statement on the consequences of doing nothing, and to encourage my peers to do what they can, as individuals, to protect these beautiful reefs, along with the delicate food chain upon which, all species rely for survival.

Coral carpets the ocean floor at Tabbataha Reef.  Photo Credit: Mathewatts Photography

I was always of the mind that nature was so much more powerful than any other force in this world. I still believe that, and this is what makes me afraid for the human race. At this point in history, humanity is making a vital difference to all of nature. Sadly, not in a good way. The world that I knew as a young man is much different now. The weather is much what it has ever been on a daily basis. Some days it rains some days it doesn’t: Some days it’s hot, some days its cold. The issue though, is that it is the climate, not the weather, that is changing, and that change is destroying our beautiful coral reefs. Chasing Coral demonstrates this in a most graphic way. According to the documentary, in just one year (2016), on the Great Barrier Reef alone, 29% of coral died and with current projections, it will take just 30 more years before virtually all of the world’s coral fields will be wiped out.

This tiny sea slug comes in a variety of colour. Nudibranchs are common dwellers of the reef. Credit Mathewatts Photograhy

It is likely that where ever we live in the world, we will have heard about coral bleaching. For me, in Australia, it has been about the Great Barrier Reef and, until I saw a segment near the end of the documentary, I didn’t realise just how widespread the bleaching was. It covers the entire globe! This information doesn’t come from scientists or politicians but from everyday people who just happen to dive for recreation.

Another colourful example of a Nudibranch
Photo Credit: Mathewatts Photograhy

When the coral goes, the ongoing effect on the downstream chain of life will play out like a game of dominos as each species collapses from the loss of its food chain supply. This is not a distant futuristic possibility……. it will happen on our watch…… Children born today, will likely not enjoy the pleasures of diving on coral reefs as we have been privileged to do. Nature will prevail and, like the sickening reefs who purge the distressed chlorophyll from within, it will discard humanity and then go back to rebuilding a healthy world….. We just won’t be a part of it. As I have said, Nature is a powerful force.

A stunning Juvenile Angel Fish
Photo Credit: Mathewatts Photography

As I said in the beginning, taking an hour or so to watch this documentary and reflecting on what it truly means for our future will be the most important thing you will do today.

I believe this is a conversation that needs to be had. It needs to be in every home, every workplace, every pub, and restaurant. It needs to be in our schools and universities and it needs to be in our parliament.

Paddleflap Frog Fish. A most beautifully ugly fish.
Photo Credit:Mathewatts Photography

It is arguably the most important issue facing this world and yet it is largely ignored. This is my contribution. If I can encourage just a few to watch this documentary and they, in turn, can do the same, maybe it will add a few more straws to the camel’s back until we can release the brakes on doing something before we reach that point from which we will not recover

If, after watching the documentary, you feel the same way, please share this….. it just might make a difference

My son Mat and I pose for a photo on my first Diving experience at Sabang with Asia Divers.  Mat is responsible for all of the photographs on this blog.  You can check out more of his work on Instagram at Underwaterescape

Myall Lakes

It’s strange how we can travel a stretch of highway time and again, yet so often miss hideaways that sit just off the main roads as we hurry from one city to another.  For me, that stretch of road was on the Pacific Hiway between Sydney and Brisbane. I have travelled that road several times, but never had the chance to drop in on the beaches and bays along the way.

I had heard about a place called Bluey’s Beach, just north of Newcastle, and on my previous attempt to stop here, my travelling companion, a massive storm, forced me to keep on driving.  I now had an opportunity to take a more liesurely drive down to Sydney to deliver a car to my son.  I took a week off work and slowly made my way south.

While I had covered this distance often in a semi-trailer on an overnight run, because there were a few things I needed to fit in and it was two days before, just after dark, I drove into the little village of Tuncurry looking for a motel to stay the night.  I checked out a couple in Tuncurry and over the bridge in the twin town of Forster before continuing on down to Bluey’s Beach, some twenty kilometres south.  Here, Vodafone fails badly, and so having some internet work to do I was forced back to Tuncurry and settled on the first place I had looked at.  It was a small motel with small rooms, but big enough for me to spend the night and was well priced for a short stay.

An early morning Fisherman heads out for a day on the water
Boats moored along the edge of the river at Tuncurry
The waters edge at Tuncurry is a maize of pipes and piles where fisherman have set up business

After an early start I made my way down by the river where the early folk were going about their morning routines.  The council workers were busy cleaning and clearing after the people who has spent the last evening in the park.  There were joggers and walkers and those who just seemed out for a stroll.  The river was pristine and sparkled under the rays of the early morning sun. All in all, it was a pleasant atmosphere.

Cleaning the Barbeque
A council worker clears away the rubbish left behind by those who didn’t care
A young woman takes a brisk walk along the river path at Tuncurry

I decided a nice breakfast in the sun was in order and I crossed the bridge into Forster to hunt down a cafe in the main street.  The town centre is reached by doing a U-Turn at the first round-a-bout and then slipping down a narrow street on the left.  The street is one way with shops and cafes spilling out onto the footpath, bathing the scene with a friendly ambiance.

The Bridge between Tuncurry and Forster NSW

At this time of the morning, the narrow street was shaded and it was impossible to find a table in the sun.  I selected a cafe and settled down to choose my order.  Coffee was a given but the food selection did little for my appetite.  I finally chose pancakes and was soon served up a lovely looking dish.

Downtown Forster waits for the sun to warm the sidewalk where I got my breakfast

Sadly, that was the best it got. The first taste was dry and super sweet.  Even the syrup did little to moisten the pancake mix but I struggled through wishing I’d stayed with my usual mundane poached eggs on toast.  The coffee was nice tho, so all was not lost

While it looked tasty, even the sweet syrup couldn’t moisten the pancake dough

With no plans for the day, other than to make my way south towards Bluey’s Beach and I wandered out behind the shopping strip to where the river made its way out to the ocean.  What a tranquil scene….. the breeze, just barely kissing the water, smudged the reflections and shadows under an impossibly blue winter sky.  Such a pretty scene hidden away where so few would ever see it.

Hidden behind the strip of shops in downtown Forster lies a pristine river view

Back on the strip I checked out the shops, many of which were just opening their doors for the day’s trading.  There were stands to be wheeled onto the footpath and cobbles to be swept.  It was here I ran into a reluctant stranger.  You may recall my “100 Strangers” project where I am making a point of meeting strangers from all walks of life and writing a small piece on who they are. Well “Tracy” was my first stranger on this day.  We chatted a while and I explained my quest.  It was then that she became shy and asked to remain anonemous.  While this gave her an aura of mystery, I believe it disqualified her from the project.  We agreed on a fictitious name of Tracy and she happily allowed me to shoot a few photos of her going about the morning chores.

Tracy, A Reluctant Stranger

From Downtown Forster I headed up to the Forster Town Beach.  This beautiful stretch of sand ran out beneath the seawall towards the headland from the cafe and surf club at the northern end.  I was beginning to rue the choices I had made for my breakfast after seeing the fare available here and the veiw from the tables..  I stood and watched people being people while a whale watching boat, loaded with eager nature lovers headed out to sea in search of that plume of spray as a whale breached and gasped a breath of air.

Folk play on Town Beach as a whale watching launch heads out to get close up and personal with the passing parade of whales
The Town Beach at Forster set behind the Seawall with a sea water pool against the headland
The Cafe at Town Beach was a popular breakfast spot

 

Morning strollers along the board walk at Town Beach

My meanderings took me south to Second Head where a rocky shore mixed with the sands across the wide bay.  Standup Paddle Boarders made their way out past the out crops, maybe searching for their own inshore whale. A broad pathway wound its way along the forshore and there were more than a few out taking in the morning air.

A pair of paddle boarders make their way out to the waves off Second Head Reserve

The rocks along the bay had an almost tesselated structure, as if they had been stacked in rows, one apon another where sea birds rested and preened their feathers in the cool morning breeze.

A Cormorant takes a rest from feeding on the tessellated rocks at Second Head Reserve

The next stop at Bicentennial Park reunited me with the whale watchers, albiet these were onshore spotters who seek the elusive spray plumes through powerful binoculars before radioing the boat with directions to get them close. I wonder how long it will be before these jobs are taken over by the drones that are beginning to fill the skys these days

Spotting whales for the whale watch boats

From the road to the shore, there are boardwalks that take you through woody scrub where the air is filled with bird song and if if you are lucky you may catch a glimpse of a robin or wren.

A solitary Robin pauses on the railing , before darting off into the bush in search of breakfast
Like a giant waterfall of sand this Dune is a popular spot for beach goers around Forster In NSW

One of the sites of this area is the Dune.  This massive wall of sand, falls to the sea much like a flowing waterfall, and indeed, more than a few surf this wave on boogie boards or simply just roll their way to the bottom.

The Tower Look out gave a great view of the whole coastline

At ElizabethBeach, a short but steep walk took me to the look out at the top of the headland.  Here a two storied structure provides a grand view from way north to way south.  From here the size of the dune is given its true perspective.

The size of the Dune is clearly seen from the lookout

I passed by some of the bays as the days was getting late and soon found myself on Bluey’s.  By now the wind had freshened and the onshore breeze was bringing in some larger swells from the Pacific Ocean.  There were rock buttresses here that stood firm against the waves as the tossed their spray in frustration at not being able to drive on inshore. High on the headland the tall tower of a lighthouse at Seal Rocks stood proud against the sky line.

Waves battering the rocks along the shore at Bluey’s Beach
Frothy Coffee at the boathouse on Smiths Lake

From Buey’s Beach, it is necessary to head inland around Smith’s Lake and, craving a coffee as I sometimes do, I followed a sign to Frothy Coffee on the waters edge across the bay from the Sandbar.  This hard to find gem was well worth the wrong turns I took on my way.  Broken signage provided ambiguos directions as I navigated my way through suburbia until, quite unexpectedly, I came upon a blue shed set right on the edge of the lake.  The deck was built out over the water and it was a very pleasant hour spent sipping coffee and watching the occaisional fisherman as they cruised passed on the lake.  Across the water you can see the sandbar which, is a narrow strip of sand that cuts Smiths Lake off from the sea.

A Narrow strip of sand is all that stops the waters from Smith’s Lake from joining the sea. It is just visible from the deck at Frothy Coffee
Smiths Lakefront at Frothy Coffee

From Smiths Lake I headed further south to Seal Rocks where I found a set of rocks that may well have given this place its name

Where the bay gets it’s name, I assume
The afternoon sun baths the lighthouse at Seal Rocks with a warm glow

I followed Kinka Road, past Boat Beach, to it’s end where I took to walking up the path towards the lighthouse I had seen earlier in the day from Bluey’s Beach.  The path was wide and for a time I wondered if I was headed the right way as the direction I was headed seemed to have the lighthouse over my left shoulder and falling away behind me.  Slowly the track began to swing around and soon enough the lighthouse was dead ahead again.  I was hurrying now as the signage had said the grounds closed at sunset, and the sun was getting perilously close to the horison behind me.

I passed a bunch of sugar loaf rocks, seperated from each other by deep and narrow cuttings that had been weathered away by the sea over the ages.  Behind me the sun began to burn the horison as it dipped ever so slowly towards night.  I hurried on and arrived at the precinct with the shadows casting long and low, but the lighthouse, sitting atop the headland, was still bathed in the soft evening light.  Ahead of me was a steep path with a few steps to ease the way.  It was a breathless climb. With time running out, I was determined to get some sunsets shots before they closed the facility.

The steep path that leads to the Lighthouse

I stayed at the top, watching the light slowly fade as the sun cast it’s final rays of the day across the land.  I was joined by a group of backpackers who climbed the stairs around the lighthouse tower to get a better view.  Finally, the light gave way to darkness and we all trooped back down to the buildings below.

The old keepers quarters have been renovated to be able to take overnight tourists.  My back packing companions, it seemed, would be staying here this night and so I set off along the dark pathway, retracing my steps to my car.

The old Keepers accomodation has been renovated into motel rooms for overnight stays
The sun below the horizon seems to set the clouds on fire as the day slowly turns into night

It had been a long day and I made my way back out to the main road to look for a place to rest my head for the night.  The next day would take me into Sydney where I would meet up with my son and deliver his car before flying back to the Sunshine Coast and the grindstone that earns my daily bread…Ah well….

 

 

 

Gifts From A Sunrise

An early morning walk along the waterfront at Alexandria Headland on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland, gave me the opportunity to take some photos of folk doing what they do best by the beach.

A kayak and a paddle board went for a morning swim
A kayak and a paddle board went for a morning swim

These early paddlers show the diversity of things to do while holidaying this area.  A kayak and a paddle board go head to head along the surf line as the sun climbs into the sky on it’s never ending journey