modernart1959 (17k image)
**Mays Family Hotel** was one of the smallest hotels in Sydney. A cute 3 floor building that still stands today, at 5 Mt.Vernon Street, Glebe, but not as a hotel. It was popular with Sydney University students, although not the only ‘watering hole’ they frequented, nor one of the closest.

The monkey skull and bat were inspirations from the university collection. The guitar was mine. It was my first colour photograph, made with a Kodak Reninette 1a 35mm camera using (very slow speed) 10 ASA Kodachrome film. I was aged 17, probably considered young to be playing with a \good camera.\

(I also had a typewriter and a tape recorder – both very rare ‘toys’ for any boys in that suburb, and extremely beneficial for me later in time).

Kodachrome film is noteworthy for it’s non-fading, non-colour shift qualities. The 16mm film is just as good. The early Australian documentaries were mostly made with this magnificent film, sadly no longer processed in Australia. The 16mm version may have recently ceased production too. (The digital age).


Bara-bar (10k image)
The crown of flowers worn on this young person’s head was traditional. Her name was \Balabala\ a favourite friend of the Peace Corps Volunteers on the island. (July 4 2005) Moves are underway to try and located this little girl who would be now aged about 43 – enquiries are happening through a church network of friends. Ken DaVico comments on seeing the above picture. At the time I’d wished for a flash-fill, but the result proved me wrong:

\This is a great photo. You are absolutely right that fill flash would have totally changed this very natural and beautiful shot. It is perfect.\

December 18, 2004
“Warm Keselehlie or Humalia from the people of Kapingamarangi Village in Pohnpei! This is a letter to request your kind support in our effort to raise funds needed to build our church. The current church is a semicircular roofing type of structure built from the left over remnants of World War II.

Historically, the people of Kapingamarangi who are residing in this village moved to Pohnpei from their home island situated in the south of Pohnpei State.

Two successive disasters hit the island so severely which resulted in the lost of many lives and the establishment of their Porakiet Village in 1919. Under the Japanese rule, many of these people were relocated from the comfort of their home to Pohnpei where they settled in the Porakiet Village.

This has eased up the population pressures during their recovery process on Kapingamarangi.

Approximately eighty new immigrants were among the first wave of people who left for Pohnpei. Today the Porakiet Village population has increased to nearly five-hundred people, and many of these families have made Porakiet Village their permanent home.

The Village has also become the home of those who are visiting for a shorter period from their home island (Kapingamarangi). The 18-acre tract given by the government was not enough to provide for farming so fishing was a main source to substantiate their daily living.

Few people have found employment with the Government or the private sector, while most depended on handicrafts they make. Only the employed people earn steady cash. The fates of the many that carve and weave depended exclusively on tourism, an industry that has yet to see its better days. Nearly every family, if not, all are economically disadvantaged like most Micronesian families (by US standard).

Because of the Polynesian ethnicity of this community and the unique handicrafts they produce, Porakiet Village has become a tourist landmark for the State of Pohnpei.

The new Church when finished will reflect an added touch of the craftsmanship and skills of local carvers on the interior design. We hope the new facility will also become a frequent visit for new visitors. The facility will be used to develop and make youth related programs that aim to address and minimize problems of young people. Many of the tin-roof structures in this Village are substandard”.


Below the bottom shelved away into thousands of meters depth at a 45 degree angle. Water visibility about 70 meters horizontal, and maybe 100 meters or more vertical visibility. The max.

Atolls are thought to be \slowly sinking extinct volcanoes\ with tiny islands formed around the mantle on the surface.

As the atoll sinks slowly, live coral keeps growing nearer the surface. Without the coral growth, the islands would be subjected to erosion and may wash away. That’s the theroy. The last thing these places need are hoards of hungry crown-of-thorns starfish destroying live coral, or thousands of tourists also causing problems.

More Than a Living:
Fishing and the Social Order on a Polynesian Atoll
Michael D. Lieber
Westview Press 1994
A book review by Danny Yee –

STINGRAY WARNING ……..Ron Isbell recalls his childhood.

RonIsbell (8k image)
“I was only eight years old when I stepped on a sleeping stingray in shallow water….”

“The pain was incredible. Dad scubbed the wound with a brush, which I wasn’t too happy about either. He was removing the ‘slime’ which the spine leaves behind. It all healed without any problem. We were living at Cannonvale near Airlie Beach in those times. I later moved to Gladstone and operated two luxury charter boats. We took thousands to the reef, I always took care to avoid anyone else stepping on a ray. The pain alone is a memorable event, infection is the bad-bonus”.

(Ron was Queensland’s first state spearfishing champion fifty years ago. A true man of the sea).

The fresh stingray spine (above, with Ron Isbell) shows the flakes of slime which remain in the wound. It’s painful stuff which probably has not been widely studied by toxicologists. What it is all about is for the future scientists willing enough to come into close contact with a potent potential. How the ray’s manage to manufacture this toxin is another interesting question. Something in the food they prefer? Venomeous sea shells would be a major part of their diet, but not so in cooler southern waters where different stingray are found. Do the toxins vary much? Questions questions.

A noted (world authority) scientist who studies stingrays complained by letter to National Geographic Magazine that their picture story of the Bahamas tame ‘Stingray City’ (showing divers in close contact underwater feeding stingrays) was promoting a future personal disaster.

“The magazine’s response was unsatisfactory,” he told me.

You have been warned!
Big stingray can be lethal. Even small ones have the ability to inflict super-severe pain.So when underwater adventurers play with and feed these seemingly docile bottom dwellers, is it a wise move? Definately not. My message is avoid stingray like you would avoid ‘the plague’.

Remember Anthony Newly who founded the Australian magazine  Scuba Diver years ago? He encountered a large stingray in Fijian waters whose venomeous spine severed a major artery in his leg. I imagine there was incredible agony while bleeding, eventually into death.

I sincerely hope it all ended sooner rather than later for this once brave man of business and the sea.

Pictured above: Dianne Widdowson of Coralita charter boat fame. This grouping of giant stingray occurred at the Yongala shipwreck site, out from Townsville, QLD. Sleeping with wing-tips touching, the rays were able to alert each other as they were quietly disturbed by our bubbles.

Depth: about 30 meters to the sand. It’s a blue world down there. The big ray in the foreground has the tail raised – a warning and a defense posture. The venomeous spine is located near the centre of the tail – not the very tip as many folk imagine.

Footnote: This was written before Steve “Crocodile Hunter” Irwin was killed by a stingray