This morning began very early. I’ve slept for some two hours because me and Agnese decided to join Couch Surfers at their beach party. So we spent a few hours at the fireplace near the ocean and talked a lot about astronomy at the same time looking high in the sky. There were clouds but there were some stars as well. At the beach we could see the low tide – the water was more than a hundred meters away. Maybe even two hundreds – it was hard to tell in the dark. When we went in the water and started splashing, we could see strange lights. I think it was luminescence of plankton. It was the first time I see something like this.
In the morning at 5 AM we went to the reserved place on the beach where we planned to observe the eclipse. There were not so many people as I thought there would because the sky was quite cloudy. We observed the sunrise at the horizon, bet when the Moon started to eclipse the Sun 10 minutes after the sunrise, the clouds came over. So we saw the eclipsed Sun only when the Moon had covered almost half of the Sun. I managed to get nice pictures although there were many clouds blocking the Sun for certain moments. Only a few minutes before the full phase we started to notice that the light becomes strange, clouds in the sky started to become pink, sky at the horizon became orange, just like after sunset. When the full eclipse began, many people started to shout, clap their hands and so on. In a moment the clouds separated and we could see the eclipsed Sun with its corona shining beautifully around it. All photographers grabbed their cameras and started to take pictures, some people filmed the event. In two minutes the full phase ended, producing a spectacular diamond ring – an effect when the Moon reveals the first bright-shining part of the Sun (Sun’s photosphere). Maybe the view from other places in Cairns wouldn’t be so good because of the clouds. But we got really lucky. At the end of the eclipse we noticed some interesting shadows on the ground and on buildings – leaves from trees produced many images of the crescent Sun.
Straight after the eclipse ended we went home, took our bags and went to the south of Cairns. We visited one waterfall that was on our way, but it didn’t put a big impression on me. We spent the rest of the day driving in cars. On our way we stopped to buy some delicious bananas, watermelon. In the supped we had mashed potatoes with canned meat. We felt quite tired because of the long way and many hours spent in the cars. Even this night was clear with skies full of stars, I didn’t have much energy left to look for some unknown constellations. So I went to sleep quite soon.
The morning begun very early – at 5 AM. Because we wanted to go to Henbury meteorite craters and we shouldn’t delay our teammates who stayed at hostel and should be ready at ~10 AM for leaving the city. Two boiled eggs and a yoghurt for breakfast. I had a lazanja from yesterday that I bought at Alice Spring’s supermarket, so I decided to eat it first since it was more delicious than just an ordinary egg with salt.
We are almost there at the craters. This time road is much better than before – no mud, no floods. Ilgonis is at the wheel. Just when I got out of the car I noticed we have a flat tire. Very flat. It could have been because of the gravel road which had quite big rocks on it. So the only thing we could do is change our tire with the one we had under our car. It was smaller and not fully pumped but it was the only way to get back to Alice Springs. After Ilgonis and Rūdolfs did that, we went to explore meteorite craters. They didn’t give me the impression that I was hoping for, but still it was interesting to see a place where a big rock from the space was fallen many thousand years ago. At the bottom of the craters there were trees and bushes, and water as well. Probably there are animals that come here to drink water. Just then we saw two kangaroos who were jumping away from us. I suppose we disturbed them. Later on the gravel road we saw two more kangaroos. So it’s more than in the whole trip together till now.
When we returned to Alice Springs, we went straight to the auto service. There we found out that the tire needs to be entirely replaced because the hole in it is too big. Additional expenses – 160 AUD.
Later that day we went in Tennant Creek’s direction. We decided not to go to Devils Marbles because of the approaching storm. We saw dark clouds, and in a moment it started to rain. Of course, there was also a fire in the desert as it should be traditionally – because we are looking for a place to camp. But we didn’t get alarmed, we just cooked supper – delicious pasta with bolognese sauce – and went to sleep. No stars tonight – it’s cloudy. Strange, but most of the nights we have spent in the middle of Australia’s desert were cloudy. There were only two nights till now when we were able to learn how to find southern constellations. Yet the Moon is approaching the Sun. 6 days till the total eclipse.
Emīls writes [Agnese comments]:
We have planned to go to the rental office today to get all the paperwork done. We should meet at 9:20am. I arrange with Agnese to arrive at 9:30 as then I can buy the cheaper off-peak ticket. As the ride takes around 30mins, I came to my stop shortly after 9. The trains usually go every 5 or 6 minutes, but this time I had to wait for almost 15. Of course, as a result I expected to be late and arrive at 9:45. At some stop the train decided to wait for another 7 minutes and in the end, one stop before my destination it stopped and didn’t move any further. I waited for some 10 minutes till I understood that I might wait for the whole day. Some tourists were onboard and they were talking loudly, so I couldn’t hear anything that was said over loudspeaker. I asked one Australian person what has happened. He said he doesn’t understand anything as well. If he, being an Australian cannot understand, how can I do it being a tourist? In the end it turned out that he’s going to the same stop as me. So I managed to get to the destination together with the Australian in a taxi with almost an hour delay.
Once the paperwork was done, we went up in the Sydney’s tall TV tower. A wonderful view over the city. However I didn’t feel anything extraordinary – maybe I have flown and seen cities from above enough. After that 3 people from out group, me including, visited the aquarium. There were uncountable fish and other water creatures’ species. But I was the most surprised by the many sharks which were both small and very big in size. I saw them alive for the first time in my life from distance of just about 1m. [The others visited Powerhouse museum or Australian museum meanwhile and were very happy with their choice but a bit short of time to see everything properly].
Later we took a ferry ride [to Manly beach]. Once in the destination whole passenger crowd left the ferry through one exit, but we [were guided to other exit as we were blocking the path while waiting for the others of our group]. I had quickly gone through the normal exit, but my fellow travelers were hesitating somewhere. After some waiting I decided to take a look, where is everyone. Of course, there was something for free again – this time it’s complimentary coffee. I went back via the exit, but a station officer called me back and said that it’s not allowed to go there. I replied that I’m looking for my travel mates. I went a bit further and saw – everyone is making coffee – they had put the powder and sugar in cups, just about to pour the water on it. And then the doors of the station officer box opened and she saw the complimentary coffee being used, which was not intended for the passengers of this ferry. As a result Emīls had spoiled the coffee opportunity for his mates, and compensated them later with a bar of chocolate. Anyway, who is drinking coffee in the middle of the day when there’s ocean with waves waiting in a few hundred meters? .
A great swim in the ocean, sunset on a beach, a ride back to Sydney centre with a ferry and a view to the city in the night – fantastic!