Saturday, 23 May 2009

Bugger it

I was hoping to give this post a really crappy punning title such as 'pelmagic' or some such nonsense. Sadly, it was not to be.

The weather is pretty appalling and frankly I've had enough of it. Apart from last w/end which was glorious, most of my time in NSW has coincided nicely with cyclone-like conditions which have battered the coast and the Wollongong pelagic got knocked on the head this morning. We were having doubts about it as the seas were mountainous and I was wondering if we'd even make it out of the harbour, the way the waves were breaking in and also coming over the breakwater. In fact the boat captain was worried and considered the conditions life threatening so that was that; he genuinely thought that if we went side onto the waves, we'd definitely go over. I am happy in a way that he didn't decide to bat ahead and go for it, because it looked downright dangerous out there, but on the other hand I am pretty pissed off that I have been very unlucky with weather this trip - the Wollongong pelagic almost never gets cancelled so it's just my luck this is only the second or third time ever it's been scrubbed.
I console myself with the thought that I like living, hate getting wet and I had my camera gear with me and if that had gone to the bottom of the Tasman Sea it would put a slight downer on the rest of the trip and looking at the small, tatty old boat they use for these pelagics I wouldn't want to be on it in anything other than a flat calm.
There's a possibility it might be rescheduled for next Sunday, but I am flying to Thailand on Tuesday and I don't really want to give Qantas any more money just for a ticket change.

My only reason for the pelagic trip was to see an albatross or two. I may have dipped. Or did I...?

[caption id="attachment_164" align="alignnone" width="600" caption="The reason the pelagic was cancelled - mountainous seas."]The reason the pelagic was cancelled - mountainous seas.[/caption]

So, Wollongong was not a success, it has to be said. Not only was the sea trip cancelled this morning, I got soaked to the skin walking from the bus stop to the Wollongong Backpackers at Keiraleagh House as it hammered down, my bag with my stuff in it was wet through, I didn't have a change of jeans and when I got to the hostel the room they put me in had two unmade beds and rubbish on the table, floor and bin. So they moved me to another room, only to decide to clean that first one and make me move back there. I told them to forget it, I wasn't moving. Keiraleagh House itself is a 'period' house, as it is described in their own blurb. The fixtures and fittings are 'period' too - I don't think the place had been rewired or had new light switches (some looked downright lethal) since about 1939 by the look of it. It's also tatty, but otherwise not bad. Comfy beds, at least. However, would it kill these hostels to have bedside lights so people don't have to get out of bed to switch the light out and them fumble their way back in the dark?? Got talking to some pretty strange people, too.

All was not lost on the albatross front. We went to a couple of seawatching places between Wollongong and Sydney, first near Port Kembla at a little place called Five Islands and then a place just south of the city, Maroubra, where we got Black-browed Albatross (fittingly this was my 200th lifer of the trip), Cape Petrel, Australian Gannet, White-fronted Tern, Giant Petrel (we don't know whether Northern or Southern, though), Brown Falcon (this was at Five Islands) and Kelp Gull. So I was happy(ish) because I had at last seen an albatross species.

And the next person who says to me 'this is very quiet today' or 'you should have been here last week' gets shoved under a bus! It's frustrating so shut up!! I also got tired of hearing people waxing lyrical about how good pelagics are and that at least there'll be another one. Yeah, that's all very well for the locals, but two of us (there was another English guy there) are hardly local even to the southern hemisphere, let alone a little corner of New South Wales.

I know this post has been a long whinge. Sorry, but this and the weather were among the low points (and there have been one or two) of this trip.

I hope Thailand is better...I know the southwest monsoon will be arriving soon, but it won't be the sopping wet (and windy) place Australia currently is - the wet season doesn't necessarily mean rain every day. Australia's been more like the UK recently but at least on the plus side it's stopped the Australians being smug (no other nation does smug as well as Australia) for five minutes, they've been too busy whingeing about being cold.
I am now up to 202 lifers seen on this trip so far, something like 224 in total.

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