Nature Out & About Sydney Sights and Streets Wildlife

Malabar Headland Coastal Walk

This walk is a relative newcomer to the Sydney Coastal Walk network, with the 2 sections forming the loop opening in 2017-2018 through collaboration between local Council and NSW National Parks.

Following the coastline is a section approximately 3km in length, featuring views back to Maroubra Beach and Coogee in the distance, before reaching Magic Point and Boora Point. The problem though, the ANZAC Rifle Range sees this section close when the range is in action. Details from NSW National Parks

Malabar Headland Coastal Walk
Freedivers enter the water from the rocks, and views to Maroubra Beach

Thanks to the more recently opened trail on the western side though, permanent access is available between South Maroubra and Malabar beaches, if missing some of the stunning clifftop views.

Malabar Headland Coastal Walk
On the return to South Maroubra along the western path.

Today, our highlights included smaller creatures along with some beautiful flowers and stunning cliffs, if you’re there in the right seasons and get lucky, you may spot some migrating whales or resting seals.

Malabar Headland Coastal Walk
Lots of legged reptiles scurrying around. We think this is a Bearded Dragon
Malabar Headland Coastal Walk
One of the Banksia variants seen
Malabar Headland Coastal Walk
Sydney’s well known sandstone presents layered wonders, contrasted with sheer cliffs dropping to vivid blue water

Malabar Headland has had many uses over the years, with military operations included for a large part of its European history. Remnants of fortification from World War II including gun emplacements remain, while others have been demolished over the years.

Malabar Headland Coastal Walk

After exploring the exposed trails along the sandstone cliffs, Malabar Beach can form a delightful rest-stop mid walk, or as a destination of its own. All the usual conveniences of a beach are present including public bathrooms and showers, a shaded kids’ playground and grassy knoll. It can be a great place to relax especially is Maroubra is a little busy or has too many waves for you.

Malabar Headland Coastal Walk
Malabar Beach is much smaller than nearby Maroubra, however offers a large sheltered bay
Malabar Headland Coastal Walk
A grassy knoll welcomes visitors. Stand-up paddlers can be seen enjoying the calm water.

WHAT TO KNOW:

Avoid days when the ANZAC Rifle Range is operating as this will limit you to the shorter western track

Access points are South Maroubra Beach carpark, or from either Pioneers Park or Malabar Beach. From South Maroubra you can start along the beach, or follow the large trail next to the large fenceline immediately behind the beach for the Coastal section; or follow the same fence away from the beach to find the stairs at the start of the western section. At the other end, the coastal section meets the end of Fishermans Road, next to the Malabar Boat Ramp and carpark, while the Western section starts at Pioneers Park. Between the 2 trails is some parkland that is an easy walk, and parking adjacent to both trailheads.

Bathrooms are available at either end, as are typical beach and parkland facilities. There is a cafe next to Malabar Beach, while Maroubra Beach has many options, an easy walk from South Maroubra. Continuing past Maroubra can link you with more Coastal Walk options towards Coogee and Bondi.

Air Fire & Rescue Incidents Fire Rescue

WA Helitacks Working Kenwick Bushfire

Perth firefighters were kept busy today with a number of bushfires and a structure fire starting during the afternoon.

This bushfire started near Brentwood Rd Kenwick. It burned fiercely and crossed the nearby major roads of Tonkin Highway and Welshpool Rd, which were both closed during the height of the fire. An Emergency Warning was issued for the fire with properties under threat.

WA’s Helitacks, provided to DFES by McDermott Aviation worked hard to protect properties and assist firefighters on the ground to contain the fire.

Photographed below and in this gallery are Helitacks 672, 673, 674 and 676. Also attacking the fire was Helitack 739, the Erickson Air-Crane known as “Georgia Peach”. A firebird being used as air attack platform, as well as the Air Intel aircraft were also on scene.

Helitack 676 - Bell 412

Helitack 672
Helitack 672 - Bell 412

Helitack 673
Helitack 673 - Bell 412

Helitack 674
Helitack 674 - Bell 412

Helitack 676
Helitack 676 - Bell 412

Air Fire & Rescue Training & Events Fire Rescue

NSW Rural Fire Service Aviation Training

Last weekend I participated in a training day that was somewhat out of the ordinary with the NSW Rural Fire Service. The headline – learning about aircraft that the service uses, and how to work with them at an incident. It was a morning in the classroom, and an afternoon under the rotor wash of helicopters and watching fixed wing bombers.
If you want to go straight to the photos, here’s the gallery

Aerial resources have become increasingly used and heralded for saving homes and lives while fighting Australian bushfires. This training was focussed on ground based firefighters who may call on these resources or work with them at a bushfire. Through the training, a better understanding is gained of the various types of aircraft and firefighting agent (water/foam/retardant) used to monitor or fight bushfires. The practical training involved communicating with aircraft via radio to execute various ‘bombing’ missions, practicing aspects of the communication, drop types and effectiveness.

On hand for the practical component were 3 helicopters and 2 fixed wing bombers. The helicopters landed at the training area and the pilots and crew interacted with firefighters on the ground, before taking to the skies. The fixed wing bombers were operating out of nearby Warnervale airport where another training day was taking place.

Helicopters used in firefighting are given callsigns according to the type of aircraft and the tasks it performs. On hand we had 2 helicopters designated as Firebirds. These are a lighter duty helicopter generally used for a mix of aerial observation, aerial incendiary deployment (igniting fires from above) and water bombing with under-slung buckets. The third helictoper on hand was designated a Helitack. These are a medium duty helicopter, generally more focussed on water bombing with a heavier payload meaning a larger under-slung bucket or fixed belly-tank can be used. All 3 were utilising ‘Bambi’ buckets on a long-line.
Fixed-wing aircraft (planes) are also given callsigns in the same fashion, and we had 2 Bombers on hand. Fairly straightforward, bombers are designed to ‘bomb’ the fire with water/foam or retardant. All 3 firefighting agents were utilised over several drops.

Firebird 234 is a ‘squirrel’ – the colloquial term for an Aerospatiale AS350 helicopter. It’s operated by Sydney Helicopters and for those interested, the airframe was manufactured in 1980, an AS350BA model.

Firebird 281 is a Longranger – Bell 206L3. It’s operated by National Helicopters and was built in 1987.

Helitack 201 is a recent acquisition by NSW Rural Fire Service who now own the aircraft. It was previously a joint NSW Police/Fire & Rescue NSW aircraft with callsign Polair 5/Fireair 1 (dependant on mission). NSW RFS own the aircraft and it is maintained and operated under a contract by a private provider.
The aircraft is a BK117B2, built in 1990. With this aircraft being twin-engine equipped, along with bombing and observation tasks, it also has a winching capability. NSW RFS utilise RAFT (Remote Area Firefighting Teams) and utilise this winching capability for deployment of crews into remote areas. It can also be used to assist the State Emergency Service in flood and other rescue missions.

Along with the helicopters, 2 Pays Aviation operated fixed-wing bombers made several drops.
Bomber 218 is a less common type, equipped with float skids which allow it to scoop water from rivers and lakes. This meant it was able to utilise the local waterways to greatly shorten the turnaround time between drops.

Bomber 358 is a more common type, requiring a landing strip and ground crew to fill with water. This was undertaken by crews at Warnervale who were completing other training at the same time. The turnaround time for this was approximately 25 minutes. To get the most from the training, we utilised a number of ‘split-drops’ where the aircraft would drop only half its load of water on each drop and therefore save time for our training purposes.


Nature SCUBA Diving Sydney Sights and Streets

Oak Park Shore Dive

With a holiday coming up for some Northern hemisphere winter fun it was time to get out in the water again before leaving the warmth.

I booked in with team at Abyss once again, having noticed a slightly different shore dive listed for this weekend. Most of their weekly free shore dives are open to all qualified divers (PADI Open Water), but this one was limited to Advanced Divers with an objective to go a little further out on one of their regular dive sites.

I’ve dived Oak Park with them on a few occasions, so recognised their description of the Fish Soup objective would be a good challenge. After picking up some hire gear at the shop, we met around 9am at the site for our briefing prior to gearing up for the dive. I found a buddy for my first dive in Chris and we were told this dive had a very clear objective – to get us all to the Fish Soup part of the dive site. We were given a turnaround mark of 120bar with clear instruction that if any buddy pair got to this pressure we were to signal the instructors but then head back under our own devices. With all of us having dived the site before, we were given a couple of navigation reminders before heading off for the dive.

We entered the site next to the ocean pool which is the norm at this site, and then surface swam about 30m off the back of the pool before starting the dive. With our objective in mind we didn’t mess around once we were under and made a pretty good pace in some mixed visibility. Not the worst, but this site offers better on most occasions. With this pace there wasn’t much time to look around on the way, but a few of us paused briefly to look at a cuttlefish hiding under a ledge.

This photo of the cuttlefish is from our second dive, it was hiding a bit further under the ledge by that time.

 

Oak Park Shore Dive

 

After quite a lot of finning we came over the edge of the ‘bowl’ that is Fish Soup and started looking around. Unfortunately there wasn’t a great deal of life around on the day and with my buddy and I needed to leave after about a minute of looking around. We spun around, signalled to the DM and off we went. The return fin was a nice challenge with quite some ground to cover, testing our navigation skills and our dive fitness. Fortunately both of these passed muster on the day and we surfaced very close to where we commenced our dive, then had a short surface swim back to shore.

 

The dive group met back on the grass of the park and enjoyed a standard Abyss surface interval including tomato soup with tabasco sauce, cold cordial and bread rolls with Peanut Butter or Vegemite. The usual chat about the first dive and plans for the second dive ensued and a couple of divers who needed to leave bid farewell.

 

With everyone agreeing that there wasn’t enough life to warrant the rushed dive to get back to fish soup, we split into smaller groups and setup for our second dive. Heather joined Chris and I and we set off. We decided to do a more relaxed dive and get to ‘the cave’ that’s well known at the site if we had enough air, and then turnaround at this point. We took the same entry and then relaxed into a much slower pace, with both Heather and I looking for life to photograph.

 

We potted along, spotting plenty of life including many nudibranchs on the way out, as well as finding the cuttlefish again.

Oak Park Shore Dive

This small starfish was looking quite lonley

Oak Park Shore Dive

Along the way the classic Blue Groper joined our group

Oak Park Shore Dive

We reached the cave and had a quick look, though my strobe isn’t strong enough to penetrate the darkness for a decent photo of the 4 metre deep cave. Then it was time to start heading back. Some more nudibranchs along the way, and a few fish.

Some fish are hard to spot (this might be an Eastern Red Scorpionfish)

Oak Park Shore Dive

Others put on more of a show (this might be a Sergeant Baker)

Oak Park Shore Dive

And jellyfish come in all shapes and colours. This blue jellyfish was quite cool

Oak Park Shore Dive

A couple more Nudibranchs to finish

Oak Park Shore Dive

This one was TINY!

Oak Park Shore Dive

 

The rest of the gallery can be seen below.

Oak Park Shore Dive

Oak Park Shore Dive

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  • Oak Park Shore Dive
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  • Oak Park Shore Dive
  • Oak Park Shore Dive
  • Oak Park Shore Dive
  • Oak Park Shore Dive
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  • Oak Park Shore Dive
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  • Oak Park Shore Dive
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Oak Park Shore Dive Site

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Oak Park Shore Dive Site -34.070231, 151.156125

Nature Weather

Sydney Lightning Show

Late Spring and Early Summer in Sydney is traditionally the time we see a lot of unstable storms move through. This week, we’ve been subject to them with consistency each afternoon and evening. Wednesday’s systems were quite severe and caused traffic dramas with flash flooding, caused electrical transformers to catch alight in Pyrmont and reportedly started at least one house fire.

Thursday’s systems came into Sydney later in the evening and put on a spectacular light show around the city around 10pm-midnight. As the night sky came alive, I setup my camera on the balcony and started to capture some great nearby strikes. As the storm rolled on they only became more spectacular.

You’ll find about a dozen images in this gallery

Here is an image of 6 stacked photos.

And a couple of individual frame.
Lightning strikes inner Sydney as a storm moves through the city late on December 4, 2014

Lightning strikes inner Sydney as a storm moves through the city late on December 4, 2014

Enjoy

Fire & Rescue Incidents Fire Rescue

Firefighters Continue Hazard Reduction Burning in Sydney’s North

NSW Rural Fire Service firefighters last weekend around Sydney put a big effort into hazard reduction burning with forecast rain ahead looking to close the window for these burns in the foreseeable future. There is a fine balance of weather that allows the fuel to be dry enough to burn cleanly, without temperatures and winds being too high to maintain adequate control.

Hazard Reduction burning conducted by the NSW Rural Fire Service in the Matthews St area of Davidson

In the Warringah district in Sydney’s north, a number of large scale burns took place with assistance of strike teams from around Sydney and helicopters assisting with observation, fire ignition and water bombing. On Sunday, the Warringah Catering Brigade provided over 300 meals to crews for breakfast and again for lunch. Local SES members were utilised in a logistics role to assist delivery of meals and other supplies as required. Firefighters from National Parks and Wildlife, as well as Fire & Rescue NSW also attended the various burns.

I attended a burn in the vicinity of Matthews St, Davidson where local crews were assisted by a strike team from the Macarthur Zone which included tankers and crews from Narellan, Hoxton Park, Catherine Field, Lynwood Park and Minto Heights. They were later also assisted by 3 stations from FRNSW and a helicopter as needed which also worked other burns in the District. This burn was a very strategic burn providing a buffer between a large area of National Park and the edge of the suburb, which included many houses backing directly onto bushland.

Hazard Reduction burning conducted by the NSW Rural Fire Service in the Matthews St area of Davidson

Crews faced some tough conditions with local winds causing them to work in heavy smoke conditions and hampering planned lighting patterns.

Hazard Reduction burning conducted by the NSW Rural Fire Service in the Matthews St area of Davidson

Hazard Reduction burning conducted by the NSW Rural Fire Service in the Matthews St area of Davidson

Ground crews were assisted from the air, with the NSW RFS owned ‘Firebird 200’ conducting observation runs to keep the Incident Management Team informed of progress and conditions. They also conducting aerial ignition, deploying small incendiary devices to areas of the fire difficult or unsafe to access on foot to assist with progression of the burn.

Hazard Reduction burning conducted by the NSW Rural Fire Service in the Matthews St area of Davidson

Hazard Reduction burning conducted by the NSW Rural Fire Service in the Matthews St area of Davidson

Sector Commander and Safety Officer liaising during ignition of the burn.
Hazard Reduction burning conducted by the NSW Rural Fire Service in the Matthews St area of Davidson

While this burn in Davidson was occurring, the local district was also conducting other burns in Elvina Bay/West Head, Allambie Heights, Manly Vale and Ingleside. Several additional aircraft operating across these burns resulted in the establishment of a local airbase for refuelling and staging of the aircraft.

Terrey Hills Pumper provides fire protection during refuelling of Helitack 273

Firebird 249 returns to airbase

Helitack 272 departs for water bombing at Elvina Bay

Coal and Candle 1B patrols the fire edge at Elvina Bay while water bombing occurs in the distance

A full gallery with many more photos is available here: Photo Gallery

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