Saturday, December 20, 2008

Berry Island

New bit of Wollstonecraft naval base

HMAS Waterhen AKA "the Chook" in Wollstonecraft Bay Sydney Harbour. (Spot the top of the Coathanger in the background.) The Chook is all about mine warfare and is home to our spiffiest mine countermeasures gear.

The Chook was originally an actual ship before she became a base but was sunk in WWII. "Waterhen, with her sister ships Stuart, Vendetta, Vampire and Voyager became famous as the 'Scrap Iron Flotilla' in the Mediterranean. She was lost at sea 30 June 1941" says the Navy.

Crashed at a mate's last weekend just up the road from Waterhen. We strolled down in the morning to see if we could see any nice sailor boys but they'd all gone home for Christmas.

Wee beach at Wollstonecraft Bay Sydney Harbour

Wee beach at Wollstonecraft Bay

Nice spot Wollstonecraft. It's three bays west of the Coathanger, a quiet suburb of leafy streets and gorgeous 19th century houses.

It was named after a bloke who was the nephew of Mary Wollstonecraft, one of them suffragette chicks. She was around in the 18th century writing stuff, being in France during the French Revolution and giving birth to Mary Shelley who wrote Frankenstein when she was 19. She started it sitting close by the fire in the summer of 1816. It was a year of "volcanic winter", a year without a summer.

Three big volcanoes went off in 1812 (La Soufrière in the Caribbean), 1814 (Mayon in the Philippines) and 1815 (Mount Tambora in Indonesia). The volcanic ash in the atmosphere build up and up and up and blocked a lot of the sun's light. Temperatures dropped all over the world.

Brown and red snow fell in parts of Europe and the rivers rose. The Napoleonic Wars between France and England had only just finished and food was already in short supply. When there was no summer and no crops there was even less food and the people rioted in the streets just to keep warm.

In America the New Englanders set off to settle the Midwest, also in search of warmth. In Asia China was devastated by crop failure and famine and the rest of Asia didn't exactly do well either.

Ausbruch des Vesuvs, 1817 by Turner

Art and velocipedes were pretty much the only thing that did any good out of 1816. Some bloke called Turner got all excited by the glorious sunsets the volcanic ash made and got famous as a painter.

Horses starved for lack of oats in 1816 and in Germany in 1817 Karl Drais invented a horse-less form of transport, the ancestor of the bicycle. Which eventually led to the Straylyan poet Banjo Paterson writing Mulga Bill's Bicycle about a bloke who can't ride for shit and goes hurtling down the awful slope towards the Dead Man's Creek.

Native flowers at Berry Island Sydney Harbour

Balls. Tiny ball-shaped flowers smaller than the tip if yer little finger. No idea what the plant is called, looks like a native though. Growing in the park across from the Chook.

Down here in sunny Straylya in 1816, Macquarie was governor of New South Wales, there was a flood of convicts and free settlers following the Napoleonic Wars and the whitefella population reached a whopping 35,000. Macquarie set up convict Greenway as Sydney's architect, ordered people to get married and named practically everything after himself. Except Australia, which he formally named Australia.

The Year Without a Summer (worldwide info)

Eighteen Hundred and Froze To Death (detailed stuff from North America)

Paintings of striking sunsets show effect of huge volcanic eruptions on climate

Brimstones and Bicycles

Local news

Kitesurfer 'peels off half his face'. Juicy headline no? It's that kite-surfer what slammed into Ettalong last week.

Woy Woy Steve has scary water.

Local photos

Flickerite Bivoir, who appears to be a guinea pig (hamster), has some nice Central Coast photos, particularly this one.

Amusement Park

Homemade lightning

Merry Xmas to all and to all a good night

This is the last Saturday before Christmas so have a good one and I'll see yer in January. May it not piss on yer barbie.


michael said...

merry christmas spike hope you have a good one I have to work christmas day and boxing day I will see you back here in January

Suzanne44 said...

Fantastic post.

pattie said...

Happy New Year.2009
and lets hope its a Heathier
one for us all.

Inexplicable DeVice said...

Oof! Sorry I'm late. Happy New Year, Spike darling.

Spike said...

Michael, thank yer kindly. You poor bastard having to work Chrissy! Hope they gave you compensatory beer.

Suzanne, thank yer. Hope you had a good Chrissy.

Pattie, thank yer and amen to that!

Device dear, better coming later than never, as they say in the classics. Java good one?