Tuesday, September 8, 2009

The End


Our Australian adventured ended on August 31st, 2009, 361 days after it started. On our last weekend we attended the highly-anticipated yabby-fest. Back in Canada now, we're getting used to working full-time again.

We had so much fun at the yabby-fest that we forgot to take pictures. Here a few pictures anyhow with a couple from the Landfeldt's back yard and our first two dives back in Canada at The Rothesay and Lock 21
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Tuesday, August 25, 2009

New Zealand Redux


Last weekend was our last trip in the southern hemisphere before returning home. We spent six days in Northern New Zealand, where we saw Cirque du Soleil's Dralion, walked in the giant kauri forest, dived the Poor Knights Islands, and bathed in thermal pools.

Here are a few pictures.
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Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Avenue Q

Tonight, Tanya and I went to see Avenue Q at the Theatre Royal. It was a great show. Sort of a cross between Sesame Street, the Muppet Show, and a Chris Rock routine. The video above contains music from the show. Here are some other versions.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Jervis Bay Photos

Here are the pictures from my birthday weekend in Jervis Bay.
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Sunday, August 16, 2009

Happy Birthday Pat!


As most of you know, this past Sunday was Pat's Birthday. To celebrate we spent the weekend diving with our friends in Jervis Bay. On Friday morning, we went seal diving and on Friday evening we boarded the Ocean Trek liveaboard. The weather was unseasonably warm for winter and the seas were relatively flat so we were able to do most of our diving just outside the bay - we're told this is an extremely rare occurance. Over the weekend, we dove with seals, Port Jackson sharks in the hundreads and even managed to do a spot of whale watching. Orca whales no less! Pictures and possibly some video will follow.
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Sunday, August 9, 2009

Wrapping things up

As our time in Sydney nears its end, we're frantically trying to take advantage of everything we have here. Last weekend was surfing. This weekend we went for two dives, one at Shiprock with members of Saint George Scuba Club, and one at Kurnell with the people I work with. Over the next few weekend's we'll be in Jervis Bay, Northern New Zealand, and attending a Swedish Yabbie-Fest.

Here are the pictures from Shiprock and Kurnell.
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Saturday, August 1, 2009

For my Mom and Dad

Dear Mom and Dad,

Pat wanted to make sure you didn't show up a the airport with your computer in hand, so he made me post these for you.

Love Tanya

Mom and Dad's Vacation from Pat Morin on Vimeo.

Tjapukai Dance Show from Pat Morin on Vimeo.

Darwin to Alice Springs Trip Video

Darwin to Alice Springs Trip Video from Pat Morin on Vimeo.

As promised, here is our trip video.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

The Red Centre

We're back from our trip to the wet North End and the dry Red Centre. Our 12 day 4076 km journey took us to Darwin, Kakadu National Park, the Moscow Circus, Nitmiluk Gorge, Devil's Marbles, the West Macdonnell Ranges, Finke Gorge National Park, King's Canyon, Uluru, Kata Tjuta, and finally to Alice Springs where we caught our flight home. With the exception of a near-miss with some horses and a small forest fire blocking our route, the trip was relatively drama free. Our camper van was cozy and we actually enjoyed living out of it for the duration of the trip. Sleeping 9 hours a night was nice too.

Here are a selection of pictures from the trip. A video will follow soon.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Our Great Northern Adventure


For the last two days, Tanya and I have been touring around Darwin and Kakadu National Park, sleeping in our Wicked Outback 4x4 Campervan. Today, after checking out the boats at the Beer Can Regatta, we'll start our 2000km 3076km journey, going down to Katherine Gorge, Devil's Marbles, the MacDonnell Ranges, King's Canyon, and Uluru before heading to Alice Springs for our flight home.

It's been great so far, though some of our off-roading in the park was turned back by a forest fire (above).
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Saturday, July 11, 2009

Dwarf Minke Whales

Dwarf Minke Whales from Pat Morin on Vimeo.

As promised, here is the video from our dive trip with the Dwarf Minke Whales that the onboard video pro made. Its a bit long (30+ minutes) so if you want to see the whales they start around 9 minutes.

Monday, June 29, 2009

The Day the Music Died

I'll always remember where I was when I heard Michael Jackson died; snorkelling and diving with Minke Whales on the Great Barrier Reef. Last weekend Tanya and I flew north to Cairns where we hopped on board the Spoilsport for 3 days of diving and snorkelling with Minke whales. The trip finished off with a low-level flight back to Cairns in an 8-seater Cessna operated by Hinterland Aviation.

Here are some pictures. There will probably be a video later.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Sydney Winter Festival

Tonight we went to the Sydney Winter Festival. They have an outdoor ice rink that costs only $20 to skate on, but tickets were sold out weeks ago. They also have a range of traditional winter foods from all over the world. I was promised poutine, but couldn't find any.

Here are a handful of pictures.

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Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Taronga Zoo

This weekend we went to the Taronga Zoo where we had a chance to see the world's only captive (rescued) leopard seals, a red panda, a pygmy hippo, and giraffes against the Sydney Harbour skyline. We also went for a dive at Shark Point where a cuttlefish tried to mate with me.

Here are some pictures at the zoo and diving.

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Friday, June 12, 2009

South Australia

We've recently returned from our trip to South Australia. While there, we cage dove with great white sharks, snorkelled with sea lions, dove with leafy sea dragons and watched the mating rituals of the giant Australian cuttlefish and that was just in the first four days! After that we headed to the Flinders Ranges for some hiking where we climbed to St. Mary's peak - the highest peak in the ranges. After a few days of hiking we headed south to Kangaroo Island where we did a bit of diving and watched the New Zealand fur seals and sea lions.

Here are some pictures.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Cape Solander to Cronulla

Last Sunday we decided to take a hike from Cape Solander to Cronulla. It's a nice hike with some good views of the ocean. On the way back 5 or 6 humpback whales were passing Cape Solander, but they were hard to make out without binoculars.

Here are a few pictures.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

North of Sydney

Last weekend we drove north from Sydney to South West Rocks. On the way we stopped in Nelson Bay for a high-tide dive at Fly Point. We spent two days doing, er, character-building dives at Fishrock Cave. On the way back we spent a day diving The Pinnacle in Forster.

Here are a few pictures.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Diving and Fireworks

Yesterday we braved the rough seas and made two boat dives with St. George Scuba Club, at Minmi Trench and The Leap, in less than ideal conditions. To celebrate our safe return, Darling Harbour city council put on a sound and light show. Fireworks and jetskis, what could go wrong?

Here are a few pictures.

Thursday, May 7, 2009


I received my first Australian speeding ticket yesterday, for doing 71kph in a 60kph zone on Sunday April 26, at 7:08am. Cost: $81.

Monday, May 4, 2009


Last weekend we made the 220km drive south from Sydney to Ulladulla for a weekend of diving off an RIB with some of the members of St. George Scuba Club. The weather cooperated nicely and it was some of the best diving we've done in New South Wales.

Here are some pictures.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Weekend's diving and surfing

This weekend's waves were bigger than predicted, so our diving at Voodoo and Shark Point was relocated to Shiprock and Bare Island, respectively. The good news is that the surf was up for our second surfing lesson.

Here are the pictures from Shiprock and the pictures from Bare Island. We don't have any pictures of us surfing.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Back from sandgroper central

We're back from our trip to Western Australia and Justine is back in Ottawa. While there we spent a few days in Perth, most of our time in Exmouth, and made a side trip to Coral Bay. The highlights of the trip were snorkelling with whalesharks, manta rays, sharks, and diving on the Exmouth Navy Pier.

Here are a few pictures of the trip.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Coral Bay


Today we made the 150km drive to Coral Bay for some snorkelling. We got really lucky and saw a manta ray, a dugong, and a whole pile of sharks.
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Justine in the Muiron Islands


We made two dives yesterday at the Muiron Islands, and saw a leopard shark!
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Thursday, April 9, 2009

Biggest.. Fish.. Ever


We arrived safely in Exmouth yesterday to dive and snorkel the Ningaloo Reef. First on our agenda was snorkelling with whalesharks, and we weren't disappointed. We got to spend about an hour snorkelling with the beautiful creature pictured above. We'll post a full photo-report of our trip when we get back.
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Sunday, April 5, 2009

Justine Arrives


Justine just arrived in Sydney this morning and the three of us are flying off to Perth and then to Exmouth to dive the Ningaloo Reef. While there, we should see whalesharks, coral spawning, and hopefully some manta rays and dugongs.
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Yesterday Tanya and I drove to Jenolan Caves to do some spelunking. We did the Plughole Adventure Tour, which involved some rappelling, walking, crawling, and squeezing through some very tight spaces. It was a lot of fun, even if our guide was a 12 year old girl who weighed about 95 pounds.

Before and after we walked around a couple of the show caves and took a few pictures.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Under the Sea

Today we used 2 for 1 coupons to see Under the Sea 3D at the IMAX. Even though it was narrated by Jim Carrey, it was still a lot of fun. Most of it was filmed in this part of the world, so we got to see places we've been diving (Papua New Guinea, the Great Barrier Reef and The Coral Sea), things we've seen (stingrays, wobbegongs, frogfish, and stonefish) and places we will be diving (South Australia) and things we will hopefully see there (great white sharks, giant cuttlefish, and Australian sea lions). It really got us looking forward to our upcoming South Australia trip.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Blue Mountains

Today Tanya and I went to the Blue Mountains. We did a few hikes: The Red Hands Cave loop, a walk around the Wentworth Falls lookout, and Govett's Leap to Pulpit Rock in Blackheath. The last one was an especially hard hike, but the views were worth the effort.

Here are a few pictures.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Diving in Port Botany

Today we made our way out from Port Botany for a couple of dives off the Seajohn, one of the club member's boats. The visibility was not great, but the geology of these dive sites is interesting and we saw a few nice sea-creatures. Here are today's pictures.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Sydney Wildlife World


This afternoon, we used up some extra tickets we had for Sydney Wildlife World, which is just a five minute walk from our apartment. Here are a few pictures.
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Monday, March 23, 2009

Nelson Bay


After the Whiteheads left us, Tanya and I spent the weekend in Nelson Bay shacked up and diving with the Saint George Scuba Club. Despite a leaking drysuit and injured knee, we managed to get a couple of nice dives in, one at the sewage pipe and one at Fly Point.

Here are a few pictures from our dive at the sewage pipe.
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Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Goodbye Dave and Agnes

For the Whitehead's last weekend in Australia, we flew to Broken Hill. From there we rented a car (Mitsubishi Lancer) and drove, rally style, through the outback. We saw Broken Hill (lead and zinc mining town), Silverton (silver mining town and the filming location for Mad Max II), Mutawintji National Park, and White Cliffs (opal mining town, with an underground hotel).

Here are the outback pictures.

The Whiteheads leave for Canada tomorrow. For their last night we went to a great production of Buddy! (The Buddy Holly Story). It was a real toe-tapper.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Valentine's Day Massacre

Kangaroo Boxing from Pat Morin on Vimeo.

Here's a video of some frisky kangaroos Tanya recorded on Valentine's Day during our one day whirlwind tour of Brisbane.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The Whiteheads are here

Dave and Agnes Whitehead showed up at our door last Friday, after a 4 leg, 24+ hour, flight from Sault-Ste-Marie, Ontario, looking surprisingly spry. We let them rest for a day and then took them on a road trip to Jervis Bay, before putting them back on a plane to Darwin. Tanya will meet up with them this weekend in Cairns.

Here are the roadtrip pictures.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Walkabout Park

Last weekend we went to the Australia Wildlife Walkabout Park. We parked, then we walked about. It was wild, but it was also 40C so we gave up and went to the beach instead. Most of the wildlife seemed to consist of spiders anyway.

Here are a few pictures.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Devil's playground

Tasmania from Pat Morin on Vimeo.

Last weekend Tanya and I spent a few days in Tasmania, where we saw seals, penguins, Tasmanian devils, kangaroos, wallabies, potaroos, ostriches, emus, big-belly seahorses, bandicoots, kelp forests, old prisons, and lots of spectacular scenery.

Here are some of the photos.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Thursday, January 22, 2009

The Land of the Long White Cloud

Last weekend, Tanya and I went to New Zealand. We landed in Auckland, drove to Rotorua, and came back to Auckland via Goat Island. Then Tanya flew home and I flew to Wellington for the CATS 2009 conference.

In Australia the insects and animals are constantly trying to kill you. In New Zealand, the earth itself is constantly trying to kill you. Rotorua is exploding. You can hardly step anywhere without falling into a thermal spring, geyser, or sulfur pit. Here are some pictures. We might have a movie later.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Who's down with BPPV?

Me, that's who. Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo is a condition in which the patient feels like they just stepped off the playground spinner, only the feeling doesn't go away. It makes it impossible to focus on anything, causes sea-sickness, and makes standing up difficult. It's caused when a calcium rock forms in the inner ear and finds its way into the semicircular canals that provide the body's sense of orientation. The treatment involves the Epley Maneuver: Imagine playing one of those handheld games where you navigate a ball through a maze by tilting the maze, only the maze is in 3D and the whole thing is inside your head.

I didn't know this yesterday morning when I woke up. All I knew is that I had trouble standing, and the world appeared to be spinning around me. After a few rounds of staggering to the bathroom to throw up I called Divers Alert Network (since I had been diving recently) and their on-call physician deduced that my symptoms were probably not symptoms of decompression sickness, but may have been symptoms of an inner-ear injury. I should get to a hospital emergency room as soon as possible.

With Tanya's help, I got cleaned up and took a taxi to the hospital. The triage nurse took my blood pressure, sitting and standing, and I guess she didn't like what she saw because I was very quickly sent to get a 12 point electrocardiogram. The ECG nurse asked me if I had a history of heart illness and sent me back to the waiting room.

After sitting in the waiting room with my eyes closed for some amount of time, the doctor called me in and did a neurological exam to see if my symptoms were an indicator of a stroke. After all that, she deduced that I had BPPV in my left ear, performed an Epley maneuver on me, gave me a script for some very strong anti-nausea medicine, and sent me home. I spent most of the day lying in bed with my eyes closed and after doing a couple of home Epley maneuvers on myself I was starting to feel better by about 10pm. This morning, after being careful to sleep on my right side I'm feeling much better.

All in all, considering what could have caused these symptoms, BPPV is probably the best possible outcome.

Monday, January 12, 2009


Dugongs from Pat Morin on Vimeo.

This weekend Tanya was sick, so I had to go on my own to see Sydney Aquarium's newly acquired dugongs, Pig and Wuru. These cute sea creatures are a mix between elephant and mermaid. In fact, it's conjectured that sailors who spotted dugongs for the first time thought they were beautiful sea-women (mermaids). Those old-time sailors must have been myopic or extremely horny, or both.

Here are a few pictures.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

V for Vampire

Tanya and I went to the Maritime Museum to have a look at the HMAS Vampire, a Daring Class destroyer, and the HMAS Onslow, an Oberon Class submarine. I was amazed at the number of knobs, dials, gauges, buttons, monitors, tubes, pots, pans, wheels, valves, and bunks they could cram into the sub.

I learned that I'm too tall to spend any length of time in a submarine. Here are the pictures.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Coolest thing ever

Yesterday Tanya and I went to the Powerhouse Museum to see the Star Wars Exhibit. They had lots of models and costumes used in the filming of the original trilogy. For a Star Wars fan it's pretty cool stuff. The most impressively detailed model was the coffee table-sized Millenium Falcon. Conspicuous by their absence were any models of the Death Star (first or second).

Here are my pictures.