Author Archives: Bill Barber

Auckland

Auckland stretches over volcanic hills, sitting between the twin Waitemata and Manukau harbours. Often known as The City of Sails, Auckland has more boats per capita than anywhere else in the world. With so many bays, beaches and islands, glistening waters seem to beckon from every point.

Maori people are first thought to have settled in the Auckland region approximately 650 years ago. Auckland would seem to have been a highly sought after area due to its rich and fertile land. The name given by the early Maori for the area, ‘Tamaki’, meaning ‘battle’, would seem to confirm this.

The volcanic cones that are dotted all over Auckland became natural sites for pas, or fortified Maori settlements. Several of the best known lookout areas in Auckland, such as Mount Eden and One Tree Hill, bear the traces of these pas.

Fierce inter-tribal conflict in the 1820s led to there being little organized Maori resistance to European settlement, and by 1840 the British had either beaten or bought out (generally for a few trinkets) the Ngati Whatua tribe.

The onset of systematic European settlement can be traced to 1840. New Zealand’s first governor, Captain William Hobson, chose Auckland as the capital. Hobson decided upon the name Auckland, in honor of his patron and former commander, Lord Auckland (at that time, the viceroy of India). Many of the other place names in Auckland bear the influence of Hobson’s patron. Lord Auckland’s family name was Eden, and a great many parts of the city bear this name.

Auckland is New Zealand’s center of commerce and industry, and is perhaps the most vibrant, bustling and multicultural city in New Zealand. Auckland is the biggest Polynesian city in the world, and this cultural influence is reflected in many different aspects of city life.

Welcome Sign

Welcome Sign

Sky Tower

Sky Tower

Rocky Shoreline

Rocky Shoreline

One Tree Hill

One Tree Hill

View from Mt Eden

View from Mt Eden

View from Mt Eden

View from Mt Eden

Marina

Marina

Maori Statue

Maori Statue

Bayside

Bayside

 

Posted in art and entertainment, New Zealand, photography, travel

Bay of Islands

On the next day of our adventure, we checked out of our hotel and checked on to the Celebrity Solstice to begin our cruise. The Solstice was docked next to the Sydney Opera House and as we set sail (after dark) we were able to get some nice nighttime images, one of which is shown below.

Our first stop was at Bay of Islands, New Zealand.  The Bay of Islands is a subtropical micro-region known for its stunning beauty & history. For those that love beaches and water activities, it’s paradise.

The Bay of Islands is one of New Zealands great holiday destinations – enjoyed by ‘Kiwis’ and international visitors alike. This is authentic New Zealand – both stunningly beautiful and historically significant.

With a sub-tropical climate, you can enjoy beach and water activities, go exploring one of the many nature walks, swim with dolphins, charter a boat to go fishing or to explore the 144 different islands in our bay.

The Bay of Islands was where the first European settlers arrived, and where they forged the first relationships with local Maori – not always a friendly experience! The famous Treaty of Waitangi became the founding document for our new nation, and is celebrated every year here in the Waitangi Treaty Grounds.

Each town in the Bay of Islands has it’s own unique culture and lifestyle – from the more up-market lifestyle focus of Kerikeri, to bustling Paihia with its focus on providing a great visitor experience, to the calming historic atmosphere of Waitangi and the Haruru Falls, and the beautiful and sometimes quirky sea-side town of Russell.

Further afield is Kawakawa with its famed Hundtertwasser toilets and Gabriel, its lovingly restored steam train. And you will gain a completely different perspective in Kaikohe, which is the farming and commercial ‘hub’ for the district and has its own Pioneer Village museum.

The Puketi Kauri Forest is a conservation estate just a few minutes by car north of the Bay of Islands. Here you can walk through our Kauri Forests looking as they did when the settlers first arrived. After the loss of much of the native bird life as the result of introduced pests, our native birds are once again returning to thrive in their natural habitat.

The Bay of Islands is a great base for exploring all of the Far North. Further west is the Waipoua Kauri Forest, home of Tane Mahuta – often described as the 2,000 year old ‘Lord of the Forest.’ You can travel north to Cape Reinga – the light-house where the Pacific ocean and the Tasman sea are in collision – the place the ‘spirits’ in Maori legend depart to return to their ancestral home in Hawaiki.

 

Next stop – Auckland!

 

Sydney Opera House at night.

Sydney Opera House at night.

Mother dolphin and calf

Mother dolphin and calf

Tourist Boat with tourists

Tourist Boat with tourists

Random cove

Random cove

Random boat at anchor

Random boat at anchor

Rugged Shoreline

Rugged Shoreline

Beautiful but ruged shoreline

Beautiful but rugged shoreline

Mother Nature at work

Mother Nature at work

Gorgeous scenery everywhere

Gorgeous scenery everywhere

More vistas

More vistas

Cape Brett Lighthouse

Cape Brett Lighthouse

Zane Grey Hole in the Rock

Zane Grey Hole in the Rock

Zane Grey Hole in the Rock

Zane Grey Hole in the Rock

Zane Grey Hole in the Rock

Zane Grey Hole in the Rock

Otehei Bay

Otehei Bay

Me, Liz and Makayla from Australia

Me, Liz and Makayla from Australia

Posted in New Zealand, travel

Sydney – Day Three

Our next day in Sydney was a wonderful day spent touring Sydney from top to bottom. Liz and I and two other couples had arranged a tour with Scott Ricketts. It turns out this was the best thing we could have done. Scott runs a tour business named Your Sydney Guide and you can check out his business and even arrange your own tours at his website here.

As I indicated, Scott took us to as many different areas of Sydney as we could possible fit into one day. This included a stop for lunch at a wonderful sea-side eatery.

Here are some of the sights we saw this day:

A Different view of Sydney Opera House and Harbor Bridge.

A Different view of Sydney Opera House and Harbor Bridge.

Cloudy Sydney Harbour from Fairfax Lookout

Cloudy Sydney Harbour from Fairfax Lookout

Farifax Lookout

Farifax Lookout

I had to shoot this because our neighbor loves this eatery.

I had to shoot this because our neighbor loves this eatery.

L-R Mario, Laura, Karen, David, Liz & Me

L-R Mario, Laura, Karen, David, Liz & Me

Sydney Harbour Bridge

Sydney Harbour Bridge

Sydney Observatory

Sydney Observatory

Posted in art and entertainment, Australia, Sydney, travel

Sydney – Day Two

On the morning of our second day in Sydney we met up with some other folks for an arranged tour to the Blue Mountains. As we got closer to the mountain region it quickly became foggy and overcast. A mist hung in the air but our spirits were not dampened. Although the fog made it hard to see things at a distance, it just meant we had to concentrate on things closer to us. We headed to Scenic World!

Covering an area 60 to 180 kilometres west of Sydney, the Greater Blue Mountains region includes Australia’s most accessible wilderness area. Changing in elevation from near sea level to 1,300 metres, the area covers 1.03 million hectares with dominant geographic features including sandstone plateaux, escarpments and gorges.

The Greater Blue Mountains region has been inhabited by indigenous Australian Aboriginal people for thousands of years. The area protects over 700 known places of Aboriginal cultural and historic significance, and is home to six Aboriginal language groups – Wiradjuri, Gundungurra, Dharawal, Darug, Darkinjung and Wanaruah.

The area consists of eight adjoining conservation reserves and national parks, supporting more than 100 of the world’s Eucalypt species and more than 400 kinds of vertebrates, including mammals, birds and reptiles.

A place where civilization meets wilderness, the region provides a unique blend of conservation and tourism. Visitors are never more than minutes away from the edge of spectacular escarpment, outdoor adventures, great food and wine, shopping or relaxing in at a heritage guesthouse.

In 2000, the Blue Mountains was included on the UNESCO World Heritage List, acknowledging the region’s natural heritage of outstanding universal value.

There is  a 52 degree incline riding the steepest passenger railway in the world, the Scenic Railway. At the bottom we entered a Jurassic rainforest on the Jamison Valley floor with a 2.4 kilometer elevated boardwalk for minimal impact on the environment.

Along the way back into Sydney we stopped at the Featherdale Wildlife Park. Here we were able to experience much of Australia wildlife upclose and personal. Liz was especially thrilled to get her hands on a Koala!

Scenic World

Scenic World

Foggy Blue Mountains

Foggy Blue Mountains

Incline Railway

Incline Railway

Palm

Palm

Valley bottom

Valley bottom

Scenic Cableway

Scenic Cableway

Featherdale Wildlife Park

Featherdale Wildlife Park

Dinner time for Mr. Koala

Dinner time for Mr. Koala

Liz loving on a Koala

Liz loving on a Koala

Black-Necked Stork (I know it is green, but that's the name)

Black-Necked Stork (I know it is green, but that’s the name)

Echnida

Echnida

Komodo anyone?

Komodo anyone?

Pink Cockatoo

Pink Cockatoo

Tasmanian Devil

Tasmanian Devil

Wallaby

Wallaby

Posted in art and entertainment, Australia, outdoor, photography, Sydney, travel

Sydney – Day One

After a 17 hour non-stop flight from Dallas, we landed in Sydney around 6AM Wednesday April 6th.  Obviously is was too early to check in to our hotel/apartment but they had told us we could store our bags there and we could play tourist until check-in time. So after storing our bags, we walked off in the direction of Darling Harbor and Kings Warf. We had signed on for a Harbor Luncheon Tour that left out of Kings Warf and decided our legs could use the exercise after being on the plane that long. We stopped at a little coffee shop/bistro/bakery type of place and got a snack and watched the city come alive with workers scurrying off to work and students headed to classes.

One of the first things we noticed in Sydney was how clean the air was. It was actually revitalizing. The folks in Sydney we a cheerful bunch also. Twice, just to confirm our directions, we randomly stopped people on the street to make sure we were headed in the right direction. In both instances the folks we stopped were most helpful.

There is a lot of construction going on in the Darling Harbor area so apparently the economy is on a rebound. There were lots of tourist type sight seeing boats coming and going. We saw a replica of the HMS Endeavor (Capt Cooks ship), and other monuments throughout the shoreline. Below you can see some of the sights we saw:

 

Cape-Bowling-Green-Lighthouse-web

Cape Bowling Green Lighthouse

Darling-Harbor-construction-web

Replica-HMS-Endeavor-web

Replica HMS Endeavor

Bradleys-Head-Light-web

Bradleys Head Light

HMAS-Sydney-Main-Mast-Memorial-web

HMAS Sydney Main Mast Memorial

SOH-under-bridge-web

Sydney Opera House under bridge

SOH-closeup-web

Sydney Opera House closeup

SOH-with-flag-web

Sydney Opera House with flag

Posted in art and entertainment, Australia, photography, Sydney, travel

Beginning of an Adventure

Liz and I just returned home from a four week long adventure. Over the next few weeks I will endeavor to share our trip with you, providing some details and images of our travels. If you want to make sure that you know when new postings appear simply plug your email into the box on the right where it says “subscribe to blog” and you will get an email when I post new articles. You can opt-out just as easily at any time.

To begin our latest adventure we first had to travel from our home in Murrells Inlet, South Carolina to Sydney, Australia. You do not need to be a student of geography to know that is a long way. In fact it is 9,590 miles and will obviously involve air travel. We began by flying to Dallas, Texas where we boarded a Qantas A380-800 Airbus for a non-stop 17 hour flight to Sydney! This plane is so big it has TWO complete decks. It will hold 525 people in the typical three-class configuration. It was a pure joy to fly on this beast.

When we left Dallas it was (local time) 10:40 PM on Monday April 4th. When we arrived in Sydney it was (local time) 6:30 AM on Wednesday April 6th! Lost a day to the International Date Line!

Pictured below is a Qantas A380-800 Airbus like we flew on. Stay tuned and enjoy our adventure with us!

Qantas A380-800 Airbus

Posted in art and entertainment, Australia, Sydney, travel

Morris Island Lighthouse

What was once a beacon to ships out to sea now juts out of the Atlantic Ocean as a reminder of days gone by.

The Morris Island Lighthouse, a defunct lighthouse just north of Folly Beach on Morris Island at the entrance of the Charleston Harbor, stands just a few hundred feet off the coast. Its light never shines, but it remains a beloved historical site for both locals and vacationers.

The 161 foot lighthouse tower was completed in 1876 for $149, 993. A Fresnel lens powered by lard oil shone light out over the water to guide ships safely to shore. Although the sole function of the lighthouse was to provide safer navigation for ships and vessels, the lighthouse itself was frequently at risk.
Morris-Island-Lighthouse-between-branches-web
During its run as a working lighthouse, it was partially destroyed by a cyclone in 1885. In 1886, an earthquake shook the lens of the main light out of position and cracked the tower. Though these incidents provided blows to the lighthouse, nothing threatened the structure as much as the rapidly encroaching water.

In 1876 the lighthouse stood 1,200 feet from the coast, but when jetties were created in 1889 to protect shipping lanes, natural erosion was intensified and the ocean crept closer and closer. By 1938, the erosion was so great that the lighthouse became automated. Less than 30 years later in 1962 the lighthouse was too close to the shore and state officials ordered it to close.

The Morris Island Lighthouse was replaced by Charleston Light on the north side of nearby Sullivan’s Island. Now the lighthouse is preserved by the State of South Carolina and is under a 99-year contract with Save the Light, Inc. to preserve the historical structure through stabilization, erosion, and restoration. Save the Light also hosts events to raise funds for the preservation of the relic. Currently, a cement barrier is being constructed to help further preserve the tower.

Posted in Charleston, Folly Beach, lighthouse, Morris Island Lighthouse, photography Tagged , , , , |

Golden Eagle

A few months ago I was able to spend some time with my eldest daughter in Statesboro, GA. She is faculty at Georgia Southern University. The University has a Center for Wildlife Education where (among other things) they provide a home for injured birds that would not be able to survive in the wild. When I visited they had a beautiful Golden Eagle. This gorgeous bird caused me to do a little research and here is what I found.

Golden Eagle

Golden Eagle

This powerful eagle is North America’s largest bird of prey and the national bird of Mexico. These birds are dark brown, with lighter golden-brown plumage on their heads and necks. They are extremely swift, and can dive upon their quarry at speeds of more than 150 miles (241 kilometers) per hour.

Golden eagles use their speed and sharp talons to snatch up rabbits, marmots, and ground squirrels. They also eat carrion, reptiles, birds, fish, and smaller fare such as large insects. They have even been known to attack full grown deer. Ranchers once killed many of these birds for fear that they would prey on their livestock, but studies showed that the animal’s impact was minimal. Today, golden eagles are protected by law.

Golden eagle pairs maintain territories that may be as large as 60 square miles (155 square kilometers). They are monogamous and may remain with their mate for several years or possibly for life. Golden eagles nest in high places including cliffs, trees, or human structures such as telephone poles. They build huge nests to which they may return for several breeding years. Females lay from one to four eggs, and both parents incubate them for 40 to 45 days. Typically, one or two young survive to fledge in about three months.

These majestic birds range from Mexico through much of western North America as far north as Alaska; they also appear in the east but are uncommon. Golden eagles are also found in Asia, northern Africa, and Europe.

Some golden eagles migrate, but others do not—depending on the conditions of their geographic location. Alaskan and Canadian eagles typically fly south in the fall, for example, while birds that live in the western continental U.S. tend to remain in their ranges year-round.

Posted in Birds of Prey, Eagle, outdoor, photography Tagged , , , |

Introducing Mary Presson Roberts

I would like to make you (my readers) aware of a relatively new website/gallery/blog started by my good friend Mary Presson Roberts. Mary is a fine art photographer living and working in the Carolinas. She is fortunate to be located on the border of North and South Carolina which places her in perfect location for exploring the wonders of both Carolinas. Mary has a list of well deserved awards longer than my arm and has a true love and passion for her photography.

I want to encourage each of you to visit her site and while there subscribe to her blog. Here is the link to her blog. You will be glad you visited her site.

 

i-jcps5Ch-300x86

 

Posted in art and entertainment

A Trip to Ripley’s Aquarium

This morning I decided to make a visit to the aquarium up in Myrtle Beach. The times I had been there before were during tourist season and of course the place was packed with little munchkins everywhere. Now I like little munchkins as much as the next person, but for getting photographs in an aquarium it is a lot easier with not too many people around.

Here are a few images from todays visit.

Bronze Frog

Bronze Frog

Pair of eels

Pair of eels

Jelly Fish

Jelly Fish

Lion Fish

Lion Fish

Parrot Fish

Parrot Fish

Parrot Fish

Parrot Fish

Redish-webResting-web

Posted in photography