06 October 2009
dancing coffee and mugs of whales
Today, I went flying and was thankful I did. The most easterly point in Australia was a whale fest this afternoon. Tyagarah's runway is a strip of grass hiding in a rectangular hole in the forest, and upon rising out of that hole, the Tasman Sea comes immediately into view. And prancing about in the choppy blue today were scattered pods of jubilant humpback whales. I cannot write with any authority about cetacean-human communication, but when we skimmed our glider over the water and circled the individual whales from 500 feet, I'm pretty sure they were trying to tell us something. Like happy birthday, or I won the Mysticeti lottery. As we swooped over them, they would leap out of the water and crash blissfully on their backs, hesitating on the surface long enough for us to count their white ventral grooves. I dunno. I'm just telling you what I saw. I was impressed.
Tomorrow, I take up my pack for the first time in weeks, and head to Victoria. It will be the first flight in a month that I haven't had to dip the fuel tank, monitor the oil pressure, balance a sectional chart on my knee, or take over the controls when my copilot falls asleep. Instead, I'll probably pull out my book and maybe even enjoy a cup of something steamy.
photo: the mangrove-lined Albert River northeast of Burketown. In the foreground, the motorfalke VH-YHB.