The Lagoon at Lady Elliot Island on the Great Barrier Reef

Welcome back to Lady Elliot Island, a coral quay on The Great Barrier Reef, Queensland, Australia. The Barrier Reef, as everyone knows, is the mighty reef down which Nemo’s dad swam to find his fish-napped little son.

We flew here with BeeBear (read all about it here) and walked around exploring (read it here.)

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But what do you really want to see at a coral lagoon? The lagoon of course! The glass bottomed boats leave from the beach at the end of the runway that runs through the middle of the island (see aerial view.) Almost all the trees you see here, by the way, have been planted in the past 30 years during the patient restoration process – it had been stripped down for the guano in the years before that.

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Looking back from the boat at nearly high tide, you can see how clear the lagoon water is. Those buildings on the far left of the photo below are some cabins of the Eco Resort. We were in one of them. See how close they are to the sea. We stayed in one of those. They are not fancy because this is a low-impact eco resort.

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Our glass bottomed boat took us further out to just above the main reef where the water gets more blue and you can see the whole island from here.  Out and out we went. In the deeper water above the reef we tourists went snorkling with the boat crew keeping on eye on us so we felt quite safe. The staff on Lady Elliot Island must have the best job in Australia, in the world.

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We saw all kinds of fish and a huge groper and even briefly saw a manta ray.  A large green turtle came up from under a coral shelf right in front of me. It was one of those moments that stay in your mind forever.  I have no pictures – didn’t have that kind of camera. Besides while you are down there, you just want to experience the moments fully, right there, as you are.

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And what of the coral? The coral is not easy to see in the deeper water especially as the swell builds, and from the boat itself this is about all you can make out (below). The startling blues of the starfish are clearly visible though. We saw lots of coral at low tide and I will show you that later.

Don’t worry, I won’t leave you without any photos at all of the wonderful animals in the lagoon, for once back on shore we saw this little fella. He was just turtling along right among the people! It is after all, a turtle’s home, not peoples’ home.

” I’m just a turtle,
Turtling along,
A happy green turtle,
Burbling a song…”

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We settled on a deck chair as evening fell. Would the big female loggerhead turtles clamber up this very beach in the night? Yes, they did! But that’s for another post.

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You are at Baffled Bear Books, the blog by Mark O’Dwyer, guardian of
Mawson, Writer Bear of It’s A Bright World To Feel Lost In. 

Emma of FNM Book Reviews said of  Bright World, “Comforting, like an old security blanket”.  

Slow Life on Lady Elliot Island, Queensland, Australia

Hope you enjoyed reading of BeeBear’s adventurous journey to Lady Elliot Island, the southern most coral quay on the Barrier Reef.

We settled into the cabin and stepped out on to our little veranda just 50 metres from the beach by the lagoon. The tide was half out. Later, we joined a guided reef walk at low tide. Snorkelling is only allowed at high tide.

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Overhanging our veranda were our closest neighbours: a few hundred of the thousands of quarrelling birds here to nest in November. This kind of high density living would make anyone quarrelsome! Birds that usually nest in the sand taken to the trees due to lack of ground space. Every pandanus tree branch is weighed down with occupants. The noise is constant. The staff kindly leave ear plugs in the cabins so that people can sleep at night. More about the birds later.

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What does everyone want to do on their first day on a tropical island? Explore! We collected the essentials for Brave Explorers: strong shoes, hats, sunnies, water bottles, and we were ready. Oops, nearly forgot the SLR camera.

For most of our explorations we saw few other people. There are at most 160 people staying and working here. This is done deliberately to keep down the impact of we humans on the wildlife. Of course, they are all doing things too like swimming, snorkelling, going out in the glass bottom boats, or just lazing on their cabin verandas.

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Some way around the shore we came upon a stretch of coarse sand. Here we could lurch along reasonably well, sinking into the whiteness.

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But long stretches are a difficult scramble between the sea and sharp coral on one side and lumpy rocks on the other. The coconut here was washed ashore from elsewhere. There are no coconut trees here.

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Between the trees that begin just up from the rocks and sand the nesting turtles were digging nesting holes at night. The staff teams go around each morning to count and inspect them. We hoped to see some later.

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If you look at the map BeeBear is showing her friends (above), you can see a compass (or steering helm) symbol at the top. The lighthouse is up there. It’s keepers were the island’s only occupants for many years.

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Over the next two days we took a reef walk, went snorkelling in the lagoon, and looked for turtles. More about that in future posts. For now let’s try to ignore those raucous birds and loll about on this coral quay looking toward the sunset.

Mark, your host at Baffled Bear Books, is guardian and blundering typist for Mawson, one of this bright world’s few published bears.

Of Mawson’s first book, It’s A Bright World To Feel Lost In, a reviewer said, ‘Reading this book is like receiving a great big hug of reassurance and a huge hot chocolate with fluffy marshmallows.’

BeeBear Flies to Lady Elliot Island on The Great Barrier Reef

Lady Elliot Island is a coral quay on the south end of The Great Barrier Reef. The tiny island has featured on an episode of David Attenborough’s TV series, Great Barrier Reef  not only because of the bird life, turtles and manta rays there but also because it is a conservation success story.

Some time ago (when BeeBears could still travel on holidays) our BeeBear spent two amazing days and nights there. Naturally, she is bursting to talk all about it to the birds of Mawson’s house and to Tammy Turtle and to YOU.

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Where is Lady Elliot Island? Zoom in on a map of Australia. Find Queensland. On the east coast of Queensland, you can see a large island, Fraser Island  which is the largest sand island in the world. Lady Elliot Island lies north of Fraser Island. Just to get there was an adventure. First, BeeBear (and her people) flew ALL DAY from Perth in Western Australia to Brisbane in Queensland in Boeing 737 (comfort and movies) then on a turbo prop aircraft to Hervey Bay (lots of shaking and rattling. Sandwiches). Then the planes got even smaller. We hoped none would shrink too small to carry a small bear.

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We flew out on a Beechcraft B 200 from Hervey Bay and returned on a Cesna 210 Centurion.  As an experienced aviator herself, Beebear helped to oversee the control thingygums. 

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Our flight from the coastal town of  Hervey Bay to Lady Elliot Island took 80 minutes. We headed out over the sea and then northerly between the mainland and Fraser Island, the big one in the distance (below). If you zoom in on the photo above you can see the navigating thingygum. It shows our position and the red line shows our flight path. 

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Beyond Fraser Island is The Pacific Ocean where the turtles roam for years on the currents after laying their eggs on Lady Elliot and many other islands of The Reef. 

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The colours and swirls and patterns of coastal seas are just too blue for words. And these pics were taken through slightly fuzzy perspex windows so in fact they looked even bluer. We flew past Fraser Island and had a good view of the little islands and sand banks too.

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See that little island in the foreground of the picture above? Imagine an island like that all for oneself.  Our BeeBear thought it just about the right size for a a small-winged bear to settle down on. She would just sit there in the shade by the sand all day simply being  stunned by the colours of the sea. Cyclones could be a bother though.

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Thar she blows! Lady Elliot Island hoves into sight (above). You can see the main coral reef  where the deep dark blue ocean is breaking to white tops (and you can compare with the picture on the brochure at the top of the post). Within the reef lies the lagoon. You can do reef walks at low tide and snorkel there at high tide. You see green turtles and reef sharks and all kinds of starfish and fish and lots of coral. The island is so small that, as you can see, the airstrip goes right across the middle, one side to the other.

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If you look through the blur of the propellor (above) you can see two bands of blue at the end of the landing strip? That’s the lagoon, and after the lagoon the dark deep blue of the Pacific Ocean.  We were to see turtles right there where the  runway strip ends. 

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And there is the Eco Resort on Lady Elliot Island. It’s deliberately low key and low impact. The staff are very involved in caring for the island. They plant trees and count the birds nests and the turtle nests and inform visitors about the wonders of the island.  

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The island was actually a conservation disaster until some decades ago, and since then it has been restored tree by tree. More about Lady Elliot Island in the next post when we go for a walk and enjoy the Slow Life.

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Mark is guardian and blundering typist for Mawson, one of this bright world’s few published bears. Of Mawson’s first book, ‘It’s A Bright World To Feel Lost In’, a reviewer said, ‘Reading this book is like receiving a great big hug of reassurance and a huge hot chocolate with fluffy marshmallows.’

Fire Storms

Professor Cadbeary, Bomund and Gustave feel frightened just reading about it.

Bomund: So all that smoke, although we are far away is … ?

Cadbeary: It’s from all the big fires, yes.

Gustave: But couldn’t they have done something a lot time ago? So the fires did not get so big and fast now?

Cadbeary: Yes. But nothing was seriously done.

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Bomund: A bear would never Do Nothing At All. Not about about fires.

Gustave: We bears are terrified of fires.

More Things These Bears Would Not Do: Plastics, Yuk , Not These Bears, , Climate Change x 170.

You are in the blog of ” A Bear Wouldn’t Do That” by Mark O’Dwyer. Sources in this post are from the ABC and the Guardian Australia.

Choking the Ocean: A Bear Wouldn’t Do That

Professor Cadbeary reads on about the plague of plastics in the ocean.

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“That’s a dreadful LOT of this plastic stuff”.

 

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News in ABC.com.au, Science, by Genelle Weule, updated 28 Feb 2017

“But didn’t they realise it would all go down into the ocean?”

 

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“We bears wouldn’t do this. Plastics taste awful”.

More Things These Bears Would Not Do: Plastics, Yuk , Not These Bears, ,  Climate Change x 170.

You are in the blog of  ” A Bear Wouldn’t Do That” by Mark O’Dwyer. Sources in “A Bear Wouldn’t Do That’ are acknowledged.

A Bear Wouldn’t Do That: Plastics, Yuk.

Mawson’s Guardian says:

There are all kinds of things that your bear and mine would never do. Sadly, they are things that People do anyway.

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Our Professor Cadbury Bear, Gustave and Bomund look at the news when no-one is looking. And too often the things they see are things they wish they hadn’t.

Here Professor Caddy stumbles on news about the Artic.

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Prof Caddy reading about marine life being killed by plastic pollution in the Artic

“That much plastic pollution? THAT much? Even in the Arctic?”

 

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(News in ABC dot com.au by Anne Barker, updated 10 Feb 2018)

“Oh no. It’s really, really bad”.

 

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“We bears wouldn’t do that. We don’t even use plastic”.

 

 ‘ A Bear Wouldn’t Do That’ by Mark O’Dwyer. All sources are acknowledged.

Climate Change: A Bear Wouldn’t Do That

Professor Caddy was  looking at the news one day, as bears do when no one is about. She was puzzled.

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“How completely baffling”

 

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Article in The ABC News 13 February 2017

 

“However did they manage to do that?”

 

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“It wasn’t us bears who did it. We can’t even count to 170. “.

 ‘ A Bear Wouldn’t Do That’ by Mark O’Dwyer. All sources are acknowledged.

A Bear Wouldn’t Do That. Oh, no, not these bears

Meet Professor Cadbeary (Caddy), and her friends Gustave and Bomund. These brave bears are prepared to read about some of the awful things that People do.

It’s a miserable job for any bear, but someone has to do it.

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Professor Cadbeary, Gustave and Bomund steel themselves to read the news.

Here at ‘A Bear Wouldn’t Do That’, our trio are bewildered that anyone would imprison refugee kids or pollute the ocean with plastics or heat it up until fellow bears have no ice floes and the dolphins are dying from the parasites multiplying inside them … among other awful things.

Most of the articles studied by Gustav, Prof Caddy and Bomund are published by the Australian Broadcasting Commission and The Guardian Australia, publications brave enough to report the unbearable.

In future posts Cadbeary,  Bomund and Gustav will highlight some of the things that bears would never do. And some things that are so good that bears would do them too.

This blog ‘ A Bear Wouldn’t Do That’ is by Mark O’Dwyer, Perth, Australia.  Mark would not do these things either.

 

Sannah and The Pilgrim, and Pia and The Skyman, by Sue Parritt

Sue Parritt’s Sannah and the Pilgrim is the first title in her climate fiction trilogy, followed by Pia and the Skyman and The Skylines Alliance.

Australia and Aotearoa  (formerly New Zealand) have been ravaged by drought. The coastal plains have been inundated by rising sea levels. The ‘Whites’ of Australia, although impoverished by today’s standards, hang on to power through apartheid. They force the ‘Browns’, mostly refugee populations from drowned Pacific Islands, to labour on the little arable land that’s left.

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We see this entirely plausible future from the point of view of a resistance movement, the Women’s Line, as they endure dangers to help the serfs held in the underground prisons escape to what we hope will be a better life for them in Aotearoa.

Sannah, “The Storyteller”, belongs to the Women’s Line. When a light skinned stranger calling himself Kaire arrives at her dome she must consider whether he is a spy. The twin mysteries of Kaire’s origins and Sannah’s purpose in “storytelling” drive along the narrative in the first novel. Kaire’s background when revealed gives us another viewpoint of the conditions on the planet.

As with all resistance movements, nobody quite knows who else is to be fully trusted. Missions are planned and after excruciating buildups of tension go wrong in some way. We have escapes by desert and by sea, rescues, betrayals, brutalities and passions. Yet Parritt’s low key writing makes this stark way of life seem almost normalised, which makes it all the more disturbing; and the wreckage of not just the planet but of humanity springs out at us.

In  Pia and the Skyman the story picks up from the bases in Aotearoa.

Parritt writes on her website –

“I want readers to grasp what is happening not only in contemporary Australia, but throughout the world with regard to refugees and the ongoing environmental degradation that poses increasing problems for humanity… By writing fiction that I believe could easily become fact, I hope to inspire more ‘ordinary’ people to take a stand and work for a more equitable and sustainable world.”

Sannah and the Pilgrim was Commended in the FAW Christina Stead Award, 2015.  Pia and the Skyman was commended for the Christina Stead Fiction Award 2016 in the National Literary Awards of The Fellowship of Australian Writers. You can learn more about Sue Parritt and these books at her blog.

Where to find the trilogy: All the books are published by Odyssey Book and available through BookDepository and AbeBooks as well as Waterstones, Indigo and Amazon. The third book, The Skylines Alliance, is also now available.

You are at Baffled Bear Books, the blog of Mark, guardian and blundering typist for Mawson Bear, Ponderer of Baffling Things and one of this bright world’s few published bears. Mawson is writer bear of It’s A Bright World To Feel Lost In.