I have been very busy over the last few days with our photography group on Norfolk Island. We have enjoyed the scenery and the opportunity to take an unlimited number of shots throughout the day. Michael Snedic has presented us with a lot of opportunities to photograph the highlights of this place in a well organised, yet unhurried way.
Yesterday morning we spent a few hours photographing St Barnabus, one of the two Anglican churches on the island and the original home to the South Seas Islands Mission. This was the home church of a congregation that brought people from all over the South Pacific Islands to here and taught them trades and Christianity. The church is very picturesque. The roof is shaped like an upturned boat and is built without a single nail – all the timber is joined by dowel and mortice and tenon joints.
We had some free time in the afternoon and I used it to go back to the historic area around Kingston to take some photos of areas that I missed on our previous days . The flat land behind the old convict gaol is a common on which cattle and feral fowl graze. You have to give way to theses you drive around. All the cows are ear tagged so the owners can identify them. They pay around $160 per year for the right for their cattle to graze in public areas.
Along the beach, we found some birds flying and I thought at first that they were white terns. On closer inspection, I identified them as red tropic birds with their long red tails. The seem to fly out to sea during the day and then come back to roost in the late afternoon. They fly quickly, but because of some previous tuition in photographing birds in flight, I was able to get a couple of shots of them in the air.
We spent the late afternoon at Anson Bay, where the oversees telephone cable comes ashore. Our goal was to capture the sunset. It is a pretty horseshoe shaped bay, surrounded by steep cliffs. A four wheel drive track zig-zagged down to the beach and while it was an easy stroll down, it was quite a hard slog back again after dark.
Until it became dark, we took photos of the water swirling around a rock outcrop as well as the landscape along the coast where the waves lapped a stretch of rounded rocks.
Sunset was a bit disappointing as there was too much low cloud. There was not enough open sky for the sun to light up the clouds and all we saw was a faint shade of pink in the darkening sky.
We didn’t get back into Burnt Pine (the main town on Norfolk) until just before 8.00 pm. Our next challenge was to find somewhere to eat. The clubs were closing down. The pizza shop and the fish and chip shop were closed and without any street lights it was very hard to see the edge of the road as we searched for some food. In the end, we called into the one late night service station to ask for advice. The vey helpful young lady told us that the Rugby Leagues Club at the very other end of town made take away Pizzas. We were their very last customers for the night and they closed up as soon as our pizzas were made. Norfolk Islander are obviously very much more morning people than people who stay out late at night.
We had another dawn photo shoot by the cemetery this morning but I chose to sleep in. It was raining so there was no dawn sunrise anyway. It has been drizzling for most of the day and the fog has been sitting low on the hills. While not cold, it has been very muggy and uncomfortable. This weather has been affecting the Island’s internet connection and it has been off and on intermittently all day.
Along with a few of our group, I joined a very knowledgable lady, Margaret Christian, today for a birding tour around the island. I’m not a great ‘birder’ but I do enjoy the photographic challenge of taking photos of birds in different environments. Margaret has written an excellent book about the birds to be found on the Island and she gave each of us a copy to the home.
In the wetlands areas, we found a few interesting birds including the Bar Tailed Godwit which stops here from New Zealand on its annual migration to Alaska / Russia to breed. It is only as big as a small quail and with a long beak. It has been tracked flying over 11,000 kilometres without rest. My favourite bird was this White Necked Heron.
Of all the birds of the sea shore regions, we were most interest to see some Masked Boobies. These are actually migratory birds but some seem to stay here all year.
In the rain forest near Mt Pitt, we next found a number of small birds. We were looking for Norfolk Island’s only endemic parrot but these were hard to see, let alone photograph! We came across two species that allowed us to photograph them – The Golden Whistler (not really so golden, but a great songbird) and a little Norfolk Island Fantail.
We spent this afternoon looking at the old government buildings behind the old penal area. These were the old commissariat store, barracks blocks and the old Norfolk island Government Buildings. They are grand old buildings – all convict built but designed by civilian architects.
These latter buildings are currently occupied by a tent city of local residents apposed to the Australian Government taking over the government of the Island. So far they have appealed to the United nations and the British Parliament. I doubt that they will have much success but I do admire their passion.
We bought dinner tonight at the local fish and chip shop and took it down to historic area for a picnic. We sat on tables on the shoreline and underneath the hill on which the old hospital was located along with this cottage which once was the surgeon’s quarters.
We were hoping to have a balmy evening but we were lucky to get our meal in between rain showers. It wasn’t cold but the wind was a little crisp. Overall, we have had a couple of very days full of interest and activity.