Full moon weekend in Kiama

We were supposed to go camping in Kiama a couple of weeks ago with a bunch of friends. It was a new-moon weekend, perfect for astrophotography. Alas, I caught a cold at the last minute, so Jeff and I regrettably had to drop out. From the pictures, everyone else looked like they had a blast, so we had a huge case of FOMO. So this past weekend, we loaded our car with snorkel gear and kayaks, and drove down the coast.

It was swell. Although it was quite chilly out, snorkeling at Bushrangers Bay in Shellharbour was awesome. Right at the start of our snorkel, we spotted a giant cuttlefish – maybe a foot long. We followed it for quite a while, taking our fill of photographs and videos, then spied another resting by a clump of sea grass. We spotted 3 more cuttlefish by the time we got too cold to continue – plus a humongous Australian Short Tail Stingray gliding by below us.

Giant cuttlefish in Bushranger Bay, Shellharbour (photo by Jeff Fung)

We caught the sunset by the famed Cathedral Rock, where I crouched down in a teeny tiny nook between huge boulders, with the tide fast lapping at my feet. A couple was watching the colours (a bit too muted, alas) near us too, and Jeff ended up helping film the guy’s proposal. ๐Ÿ™‚

In the deepening twilight, we spotted a pod of dolphins swimming the length of the beach just offshore.

After dinner, under the full moonlight, we ventured down to Bombo Quarry for a bit of exploration. Our mind was blown by how much light the camera could pick up. Even with just a couple of secondsโ€™ exposure, everyone was lit up, almost as bright as day. Initially, Iโ€™d been a tad disappointed at not being able to take pictures of the milky way, but I think Iโ€™m a full moon convert now. Granted, the milky way isnโ€™t as prominent under the full moon, but I love how everything else just jumps out.

And before heading back to Sydney and real life the next morning, we went for a bit of a paddle up the coast, squinting out in the horizon for those tell tale spots. No luck alas, even though we’d spied two active pods the day before. Can’t complain though, it was still a very awesome weekend. ๐Ÿ˜€

Gallery

Long Weekend in Port Stephens

All in all, it was a fun weekend up in Port Stephens, despite awful traffic getting there and back, a flat tire, and my burgeoning cold and headache. But we ticked off a couple sunrises, sunsets, some night photography action, and lots of whale watching – both from the beach and on a boat.

Sunset at Birubi Beach
Sunset at Birubi Beach

I had a concept for a picture of us sitting with BB8 (yes we couldn’t help ourselves but bring it out to play) with the milky way in the background. Figured it would make for a good Christmas card. But it turned out too difficult to execute without use of Photoshop. Haha so it’ll remain a project for another time, when I’ve finally bit that bullet to use the tool.

 

Star gazing
Star gazing
We also managed to explore Morna Point for a bit of a hike. I had to go back for a long nap after though to get over my headache. But Jeff spent a relaxing afternoon alternately splashing about in the waves and reading on the sand.
We also managed to explore Morna Point for a bit of a hike. I had to go back for a long nap after though to get over my headache. But Jeff spent a relaxing afternoon alternately splashing about in the waves and reading on the sand.

 

Sunset at Fingal Beach
Sunset at Fingal Beach, where we spotted a very active pod of whales just off the coast that spent long minutes breaching and breaching and breaching. So cool!
Sunrise at Zenith Beach
Sunrise at Zenith Beach
Zenith Beach
Not much color – well zero – at sunrise, but we saw a lone whale just milling about close to shore.

We signed up for a whale watching cruise too! We actually had outstanding tickets we could use for a cruise in Newcastle since we spotted ZERO whales when we went out with that cruise in August, but because we’d changed our car’s flat tire to the rather bald spare, we decided not to take the detour and just booked another cruise locally in Port Stephens. Turned out great, as we saw at least 3 different pods of whales splashing about. ๐Ÿ˜€

Whale breaching at Port Stephens
Whale breaching at Port Stephens

Dolphin sightings in Sydney Harbor

We have been super lucky – two weekends in a row while kayaking along the Sydney Harbor, we have spotted dolphins leisurely swimming along.

The first instance was when we stuffed our kayaks into the back of a cab and took it to Balmoral. We then rounded the peninsula at Balmoral, and paddled home to Waverton. It was a calm morning, with flat glassy waters. Paddling was a dream. The day was still young, so traffic on the water was light. As we neared Bradley Head, Jeff spotted a lone dolphin cruising about.  


The second instance was this past Saturday, when we joined Laura from Sydney by Kayak on a sunrise paddle and breakfast by the Harbor Bridge. As we sipped on our coffee and munched on granola and yogurt and other snacks thoughtfully packed by Laura, Ben spotted a pair of dolphins right in front of the opera house. We hastily snatched up our paddles and raced forward to have a closer look. 

So awesome. ๐Ÿ˜ƒ

Gallery

A chilly morning by Turimetta beach

It was cold this morning, with wind chills sending temperatures down to 3 degrees C. And there wasn’t any cloud cover in the sky, just low over the horizon out east, recipes for a not so stellar sunrise.

Still, it was nice to be out, hearing and seeing the waves crash onto the sand. That’s oddly relaxing.
IMG_0784-Edit

IMG_0779-Edit

IMG_0785-Edit

And then, just as I was setting up for the shot below, Jeff yelled out, dolphins! Indeed, a large pod of them were surfing the waves just 20 feet from the fishermen at the tip of the rocks. I impatiently yanked my camera off its tripod, ripped the ND filter out, and slipped my way onto the rocks to get a closer look. I didn’t quite manage to tune my camera settings in time to get tack sharp pictures of the dolphins joyfully skimming the waves, but they were beautiful to watch all the same.

IMG_0818-Edit
IMG_0890

IMG_0868

Another gorgeous morning in the books. Haha, afterwards, we went grocery shopping, bought a ton of food, and was home by 1130. Comfortably sitting out the rest of the beautiful blue-sky day in the warmth. Because hey, we had seen the light already. ๐Ÿ˜€

Weekend in Forster

We had, hands down, an incredible weekend up in Forster, New South Wales!

Let’s see: we enjoyed each other’s company, beautiful lakes and beaches, and spotted a koala in the wild, two pods of whales, and at least 4 pods of dolphins.

IMG_8296-1

Jeff looking up at the eucalyptus trees, trying to spot koalas

IMG_8310-4

We found one… way high up

IMG_8391-6

IMG_8400-8

IMG_8459-10

Oyster farms!

IMG_8582-14

IMG_8589-15

Humpback breaching!!!!!!!!!

IMG_8615-16

IMG_8637-17

IMG_8687-18

IMG_8697-19

 

IMG_8717-21

IMG_8719-22

IMG_8726-24

IMG_8739-26

IMG_8781-27

IMG_8793-28

We saw so many dolphins it was unbelievable

IMG_8809-29