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Category Archives: Coral Sea

CAIRNS SAILOR HEADING FOR PNG – BRINGING POWER TO THE PEOPLE

Milne Bay PNG

Milne Bay PNG

Hans Clemmensen is setting out across the Coral Sea again this year aboard his sailing boat SV Seagoon, bound for the eastern end of Papua New Guinea. He’s made the journey from Cairns many times before, and despite the sometimes challenging sea and sailing conditions, he loves the journey as much as the destination.

Hans makes regular visits to island communities in the Milne Bay region. And again this year, he’ll have an assortment of electrical equipment in his cargo, donated by the good folk of far north Queensland. Hans uses it to set up solar power systems in a region where electricity is either not available or not sustainable.

Hans came to Australia from Denmark 40 years ago, and found his way to FNQ soon after. He worked at the legendary Rusty’s market in Cairns, got into boats, bought himself a yacht and has been sailing across the Coral Sea for the past 17 years. He’s been making regular voyages aboard the SV Seagoon (named for Neddie Seagoon of The Goon Show) to the Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea.

LISTEN to my interview with Hans Clemmensen

Visit Hans online here

He’s on Facebook

Read about his last trip to PNG here

POWER TO THE PEOPLE - pic courtesy Hans Clemmensen

POWER TO THE PEOPLE – pic courtesy Hans Clemmensen

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Posted by on February 20, 2014 in Cairns Queensland, Coral Sea, EFFINCUE

 

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THE GREAT BARRIER REEF – MORE THAN JUST SCIENCE. GET TO KNOW THE PASSIONATE STORY OF OUR REEF

REEFER

Our Great Barrier Reef is never far from the news headlines. Its well-being, its future, ways to exploit and preserve it, all regular subjects of community discussion and public debate here in far north Queensland and across the nation.

It’s one of the seven natural wonders of the world, the only living thing on Earth visible from space. It’s bigger than quite a few countries – a network of complex but vulnerable ecosystems that sustains an abundance of marine life. It starts offshore of Bundaberg and parallels the Queensland coast up past the tip of Cape York in a marine park some 2300km long. 345,000 square kilometres, three thousand individual reefs and a thousand islands.

The statistics and the science tells us a great deal about the reef and the threats it faces. But that is an incomplete story, according to Iain McCalman. Iain has gotten to know the reef over many years, and he believes the Great Barrier Reef was created as much by human imagination as it was by natural processes. By considering human perceptions of and interactions with the Reef, we gain a more complete understanding of it, and of how to care for it.

reefIain tells of the people drawn to the reef, often in life-changing ways, from Captain Cook and Matthew Flinders to castaway Ted Banfield and reef champions Judith Wright and John Busst – in his recently published The Reef – A Passionate History.

LISTEN to my interview with Iain McCalman here

Iain McCalman is a Research Professor in history at the University of Sydney and co-Director of the Sydney Environment Institute.

iain

 
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Posted by on February 13, 2014 in Cairns Queensland, Coral Sea, EFFINCUE, environment, far north Queensland

 

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PICTURES FROM THE TOP OF AUSTRALIA – TORRES STRAIT AND NORTHERN CAPE YORK PENINSULA

THURSDAY ISLAND WHARF

THURSDAY ISLAND WHARF

My last blog post was all about the sea journey from Cairns, through the Coral Sea to the Torres Strait islands and northern Cape York Peninsula. The MV Trinity Bay is the only working cargo ship in Australia that also carries passengers, and it takes about 40 hours from Cairns to Horn Island. After almost two very gentle days at sea, it was time to find my land legs and go wandering on Horn and Thursday islands.

There’s plenty to see on both, and the ferry ride between the two takes you across water so blue you’ll need to come up with a new adjective to describe it. On Horn Island, my guides were Liberty and Vanessa See Kee – who run the Torres Strait Heritage Museum and some very enjoyable tours of the island

Horn Island was a very active military base during World War Two. Vanessa and Liberty will show you the aircraft wrecks and tell you the stories – they know their stuff and they’re lovely people. Highly recommended! I also enjoyed our tour of Thursday Island, including the improbable military fort that sits on one of its highest points. Green Hill Fort was built in the 1890s amid fears that Russia might invade Australia, a prospect now regarded as having been very remote.

I hope you enjoy the pictures.

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Posted by on November 25, 2013 in Cape York Peninsula, Coral Sea, EFFINCUE, far north Queensland, Torres Strait

 

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CAIRNS TO THE CAPE AND TORRES STRAIT BY SEA – ABOARD THE MV TRINITY BAY

MV TRINITY BAY DOCKED AT HORN ISLAND

MV TRINITY BAY DOCKED AT HORN ISLAND

Everyone should see Cape York Peninsula and the Torres Strait islands at least once. I’ve been lucky – I’ve been to both several times. I’ve been by road and air, but last week I did the journey by sea. Wow! I’d run out of adjectives within a couple of hours of leaving Cairns. Far north Queensland is a stunning place, but looking at it from a ship doing a steady 11 knots on the Coral Sea gives you time to take it in, to marvel, to get inspired.

torres chartI travelled on the MV Trinity Bay, the only working cargo vessel in Australia that also carries passengers. Its main job is to be a lifeline for remote communities on Cape York, and in Torres Strait. It carries food supplies in refrigerated or freezer containers, general freight, cars – the vast bulk of freight going north from Cairns goes on the Trinity Bay. It stops offshore of Lockhart River, and at Horn Island & Thursday Island, and then at Seisia, near the tip of the Cape. A fleet of smaller vessels take freight on to island communities around Torres Strait.

Trinity Bay can take up to 48 passengers – we had 30 – in 15 cabins. It travels inside the Great Barrier Reef, so the sea is usually calm. It’s within sight of the coast for most of the 1000 kilometre journey, but you do get to see offshore islands, sand cays, and you get a real understanding of how big the reef is, and of its environmental importance.

It’s not the best way to get to the top of the Cape – nothing can compare to the sense of adventure and accomplishment that goes with the long, dusty road trip. But the sea journey is a very close second. And you could always have the best of both – drive one way, and send you & your car back by boat. The view from the passenger deck of the Trinity Bay is always special. I hope you enjoy the pictures.

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BUT WAIT – THERE’S MORE

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AND …

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ABC FAR NORTH WILDLIFE MAN LAUNCHES NEW FIELD GUIDE TO CREATURES OF THE GREAT BARRIER REEF

DSC_0161Our ABC Far North wildlife correspondent Martin Cohen is once again a published author – and if you’re thinking about a trip to the Great Barrier Reef, take a copy of his latest book with you.

Martin launched 101 Animals of the Great Barrier Reef in Cairns this morning. It’s the latest in a series of field guides to the creatures of tropical far north Queensland put together since 2009 by Martin and his late partner Julia Cooper.

All the birds, mammals, fish, corals & reptiles you’ll see on the Reef are illustrated and there’s information and stories about them. It’s about to become available at tour operators and book shops in Cairns and Townsville, and will be available online here

LISTEN to my interview with Martin here

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Posted by on September 17, 2013 in Cairns Queensland, Coral Sea, EFFINCUE, environment, far north Queensland, wildlife and animals, Wildlife Martin Cohen

 

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BITS OF NEW ZEALAND WASHING UP IN FAR NORTH QUEENSLAND

BIG CHUNK OF PUMICE FOUND ON FNQ COAST BY PAT SHEARS

BIG CHUNK OF PUMICE FOUND ON FNQ COAST BY PAT SHEARS

Over the past few weeks, some fairly big bits of New Zealand have been washing up along the coast of far north Queensland. They’ve travelled more than 4,000 kilometres over the past year or so, and come from a major volcano eruption that might never have been noticed but for a passenger who looked out of an aeroplane window at just the right moment.

We’re talking about lumps of pumice, one about 600 square metres, that began washing up around the Low Isles last month. We’ve also had reports of pumice being found along the Cairns coast, and at Prince of Wales Island in the Torres Strait.

The rocks were created by an underwater volcanic eruption near New Zealand in July last year. The Havre Seamount, in the Kermadec Islands, went off, ejecting a huge amount of pumice that formed a “raft” measuring 20,000 square kilometres. We might never have known of the eruption, but two weeks later a keen-eyed tourist flying back to New Zealand from Samoa spotted the pumice raft from a plane window.

Dr Scott Bryan specialises in pumice rafts at the Queensland University of Technology. He says rafts of porous volcanic rock are a remarkable, but poorly understood, natural phenomenon that play a unique role in transporting marine species across oceans. If you find some of the pumice around FNQ Scott would love to hear about it.

LISTEN to my interview with Scott here

 
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Posted by on September 5, 2013 in Cairns Queensland, Cape York Peninsula, Coral Sea, EFFINCUE, environment, far north Queensland, rd on the road, Torres Strait

 

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ARE THERE MORE CROCODILES NOW IN FNQ – OR JUST MORE OF US PEOPLE?

CROCODILES ARE NOT ALWAYS CAMERA SHY

CROCODILES ARE NOT ALWAYS CAMERA SHY

There’s been a pretty lively debate around far north Queensland in recent times about crocodiles. Well, it’s been going for decades, but has been re-ignited in recent times by croc sightings in close proximity to our large population centres, and especially around popular tourist destinations.

The estuarine or saltwater crocodile is the largest living reptile and the most aggressive of all crocodiles.It loves brackish water, coastal environments and the lower stretches of rivers, so FNQ is the perfect place for the big salty. In the not too distant past, they were hunted and shot, leading to fears a species that has been with us since the time of the dinosaurs was on the brink of extinction. The law changed, crocodiles were afforded some environmental protection, and their numbers increased again.

Just how much they’ve increased is a much debated question. There’s a view among older folk here that when they were kids, you could swim safely in creeks and rivers that are now known crocodile habitats. Perhaps there’s a touch of nostalgia creeping in, maybe that was really the case. But many people believe there are a lot more crocodiles around these days and they want something done about it. When the new Queensland Government took office last year, it promised to address the issue, setting up a local advisory group to help manage crocodile populations and deal with so-called “problem” crocs.

Professor Craig Franklin is a member of that committee. He’s with the School of Biological Sciences at the University of Queensland, where he’s extensively studied crocodiles and other reptiles. http://www.biology.uq.edu.au/staff/craig-franklin

Craig says crocodile numbers have not increased significantly, and if we are seeing more of them it’s probably because there are more of us, living closer to crocodile habitats than we used to when our towns and populations were smaller. LISTEN Click on the red arrow to hear Craig talk about how we should handle living alongside crocodiles, and whether culling or re-locating them would be effective.

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Posted by on July 25, 2013 in Cairns Queensland, Cape York Peninsula, Coral Sea, EFFINCUE, environment, far north Queensland, wildlife and animals

 

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