Letters from America
Monday 28 October 2019
Following on from my earlier post about adventures in the Whitsundays, I wanted to add another image. These are the Norfolk Island pines, with their very distinctive geometry, everywhere on the Whitsunday islands. This is the ridge of the cove at Refuge Bay where we anchored overnight.
I managed to find an internet link which gives the back story to how the pines came to be here. I had some ancient recollection they were not native. https://h2g2.com/edited_entry/A7952664
So it was Captain Cook who brought the seeds of the pines to northern Australia wishfully supposing they might provide timber suitable for masts.
I have always found it hard to be on the water in the Pacific and not think of Captain Cook, Joseph Banks and all the great naturalists. For quite a while one of my favourite non fiction books was a book called “Darwin’s Armada” by Iain McCalman. It’s an account of the great sailing voyages of Darwin’s peers. It’s absolutely compelling reading (if that’s your kind of thing). It’s ages since I read it but one of the passages that still stays with me vividly is an account of how the Pacific peoples must have experienced navigating, with only the simplest instruments and no charts – what resources, skills and understanding of the sea they must have had.
But then I am very partial to all things Charles Darwin (and his milieu). The Voyage of the Beagle is so engaging. Here is a favourite passage in which Darwin describes interactions with wild llamas.