We went sailing the other day with our friend Josh Shea. If you want to see a few photos, Click Here. We arrived at the Canberra Yacht lub at around two o'clock. We reviewed some safety rules and how to actually sail the boats. This is how you sail the boats:

The sail is attatched to a rope which you have to hold while using the tiller to steer. Depending on how strong the wind is, the more loose/tight you have to pull the sail. The harder the wind, the looser the sail must be. The steerer of the boat must be on the side of the ship opposite of where the blown sail is; if you're on the wrong side, the boat will tip over. Steering the boat is like opposite day, when the handle is pushed one way, the boat goes the opposite way. Another thing that is important is the direction you steer the boat. If the wind is coming from the north, you must not sail directly north or south. If you go directly east or west, you would go forward, but you will be going sideways as well.

Posted by Joe on March 2, 2009.


Over the weekend, we went to Sydney. We saw the wildlife park and the city itself.

Click Here to see the best pictures of the wildlife park (you might want to keep loading the page to see all of the pictures. The park only cages the animals that are liable to escape (birds) or can hurt people (really poisonous reptiles).

Posted by Joe on February 23, 2009.


Today we went to the War Memorial of Australia. This memorial is dedicated to all the soldiers who died in the wars of the 20th century. The place is absolutely huge! It's like the size of a super mall or something. It is filled with equipment (from canteens to bomber planes and submarines) with stuff from WWI, WWII, and the Cold War and even from after the Cold War.

The most important wars to Australia were the world wars. In WWI, the Ottomans were allied with the Germans. Australian and New Zealand (Anzac) troops arrived at Gallipoli on the 25th of April, 1915. They arrived at some mountains near Ari Burnu when they were attacked by the Turks at the top of the mountains. The leaders of the Anzacs told the soldiers to climb the mountain and meet the Turks face to face. The soldiers started to climb, despite the weight that they were carrying, and they were in a hot desert...oh yeah, and despite the fact that they were getting shot. The leaders told the soldiers to keep climbing. The soldiers climbed and tried to shoot the Turks at the top. They dug in with trenches and repeatedly tried to take the high ground from the Turks, but failed. The British came and tried an attack, which miserably failed. It wasn't until December that they decided to retreat. Among the Turks, 86000 died, and 38000 of the allies died. Among the Anzacs (and there weren't very many that arrived in Gallipoli), 8709 were killed and 19,000 were wounded. The retreat proved to be more successful than the attack. They took their guns with one load of ammunition in them and connected them to a pan which had a pan with water dripping on them. The water would cause the pan to move which would cause the trigger to go off; the Anzacs would retreat while the guns would go off and make the Turks think that they were still at the bottom of the mountain.

The battle of Gallipoli may have been one of Australia's worst defeats in battle, but it was a battle that showed the world the kind of patriotism and duty that they had. After Gallipoli, Australian troops also fought in Europe. The Australians suffered a high rate of casualties compared to other nations.

Before I start talking about the Australian involvement in WWII, I want to show you a couple pictures of planes that the Nazis, Japanes, and Australia (aquired from America) had and which were on display at the War memorial: Click Here please!

Now that we have come aquainted with some of the stuff that the Anzacs used, we can talk about the Australian point of view of WWII. When WWII broke out, Australia immediatley allied with Britain because they were allies during the first world war. The first action that they ever got in the war was in January of 1941; They helped out with the capture of an Italian fortress in Bardia and the port of Tobruk. In April of 41, the Germans, allied with the Italians, began their efforts to beseige Tobruk. The Australians, with weaponry supplied by the British, held the Nazis out of Tobruk (which is in Libya) until the government of Australia told them to retreat in October. The Australians also helped out in action in Crete and Greece.

Since 1940, France was ruled by pro-German candidates. To stop German influence in France, the Allied forces invaded France on D-Day. Within five weeks, the Germans were routed from France. The Australians suffered with 379 dead and 1150 wounded.

But the Australians didn't get involved in a big way in WWII until 1942, when the Japanese started moving towards them by invading their neighbors. The Japanese were seriously aggressive and their successes even surprised themselves: within 3 months, Japanese had control of all of the Pacific islands (except for Hawaii). With the attack of Peal Harbor, America also joined the fight. Australia, seeing this the only way to resist the Japanese, allied with America. The Japanese, whith the bombing of Darwin, convinced the Australians that one of their great strengths was the air force; which Australia didn't really have. America provided Australia with many forms of fighter planes. In Papua New Guinea, the Japanese had conquered all but the southern part which consisted of Milne bay annd Port Moresby, an Allied base. If the Japanese captured Milne bay, it would help them conquer Port Moresby, disconnecting all connections with Australia and America. But Australia, with Kittyhawks, bombed the Japanese trying to get Milne Bay starting on the 24th of August. By the 5th of September, the Japanese retreated. The campaign for Papua new Guinea was really the biggest Australian accomplishment of WWII.

Then there was a turning point in the war; it started with two important battles: the battle of Coral Sea, and the Battle of Midway. The Australians were not very involved in these battles, but benefited from the outcome.

The Battle of Coral Sea:

The Battle of Coral Sea started when the Japanese tried get Port Moresby. The Japanese sent two aircraft carriers. They were intercepted the Americans who sent 1 air craft carrier and 1 destroyer. The Americans sunk one of the ACCs and badly damaged the 2nd. The Japanese then had to retreat. It was called the battle that saved Australia; if the Japanse would have captured the port, the Japanese would have cut off all the supply routes of Australia and Australia would have fallen to the Japanese.

The Battle of Midway:

The Battle of Midway was a big deal victory. The Japanese sent all four of the ACCs that they had to get Midway Island. The Americans found out that they were coming and made ready 41 torpedo carrying planes and 3 ACCs. The Japanese came and the Americans first sent their torpedo carrying planes. The Japanese planes from the Japanese ACCs destroyed 36 of the 41 planes; the other 5 retreated. The Japanese, thinking they had won prepared their planes for the capture of Darwin. While they were getting ready, the American ACCs came and their planes destroyed 3 of their carriers and damaged one badly. The damaged ACC destroyed one American ACC. Later the Japanese carrier sank from damage. All of Japan's ACCs, almost all of their planes, hundreds (maybe thousands) of crewmen were destroyed. This crippled Japan.

The Australians have some pretty bad memories of how their prisoners of war were treated by the Japanese. I saw the photos of the 2600 men who died in the Sanbakan Death March in Borneo: only 6 men survived. It is interesting that the Japanese government gave Australia a beautiful Japanese garden (in Cowra) to thank them for taking such good care of the Japanese prisoners of war that the Australians held.

Posted by Joe on February 12, 2009.


So, to start off, the journey there was so darn long. It took 20 hours to drive to Gladstone and two more hours for the boat to get to Heron Island. Evie and Mom got sick.

Click here for some pictures of Heron Island and other cool stuff. But I'll start off with how the GBR was formed and how it made Heron Island.

All coral reefs are made by tiny little animals called polyps. Polyps are no larger that the head of a pin. These polyps bind to a type of algae that makes a cement. The polyps reproduce and those new polyps bind to the cement algae. And every once in a while, a polyps puts its eggs on the ground to make a new foundation of coral.Put all this together and you get growing coral. Polyps usually grows a longer chain in warmer water than in colder water. Despite the polyps' small size, they are carnivores. The way that polyps obtain their meat is with their tentacles like the figure below. These tentacles can retract back into the coral.

When the tentacles grab a fish, it shoots a poison dart in the fish. Tentacles come in all shapes and colors. The tentacles usually come out at night.

But there is another animal involved with the production of coral; zooxanthellae (zoo-zan-THEE-la). Zooxanthellae live in the tissue of the polyps. They produce sugars and oxygen from the energy of the sun, like photosynthesis. The polyps use the sugars for energy and the oxygen for underwater respiration. It is these creatures that allow coral to really take off and start making big reefs.

There are many different types of coral. there is the Staghorn coral, Brain coral, Soft coral, and many more. Staghorn corals have a, well, staghorny shape; hence the name. The coral seems to branch out as it grows. Because of their shape, staghorns are more fragile; and might I note that when a coral breaks, the polyps die. Brain corals have a brainy look. Because they are a roundish shape and is quite dense, brain coral can survive many water disasters, even hurricanes. Brain corals are pretty smart aren't they (lame)? Soft corals, unlike other corals, don't start new foundations from an older soft coral. They are beautiful in deeper water, but in shallow water, where the sun practically bakes the reefs, soft corals are ugly and are slimy to the touch.

Many scientists have tried to name all the different types of coral with different tencacles, etc., but no one has ever done it. There are so many shapes of coral with different colors and tentacles. And there are most likely many coral that the human eye has never seen before.

But all polyps eventually die in a coral; and after a while break off. The dead coral get beaten by the waves and fish and are baked by the sun. with all of this abuse, the dead coral is grinded into coral sand. The sand then has a place of accumulation. Over many many years, the place of accumulation is so large with sand that it is like a small island called a coral cay. Eventually, birds come with seeds in their wings or poops. The seeds are dropped and plants start to grow. Since birds eat/swallow seeds, their droppings contains the seeds, too. The droppings acts like a fertilizer for the plants. Most of the plants are salt water tolerant and can survive with salt water. These plants would be closer to the shore of the cay. The plants that are not salt water tolerant are in the middle of the coral cay; they get their fresh water from rain, which starts to form an underground reservoir in the middle of the cay. On Heron island, the most abundant tree is the Pandanus tree. Notice the roots that are very thick and grow down from the stem!

My mom thought it important to include the food chains of the great barrier reefs. This is going to be difficult.

On land: Plants get eaten by plant eaters/homnivores like birds. The plants decay and get eaten by the scavengers and bugs. The bugs get eaten by the sea birds. We saw lots of bugs on the island, including some kind of ant that is really, really tiny--each on was like 1 mm long.

In water: Corals get eaten by reef predators. Reef predators got eaten by the top predators (humans, sharks etc.). Decomposers and scavengers eat plant eaters. Plant eaters eat the plants. Phytoplankton get eaten by zooplankton (jelly fish, shrimp larvae, etc.). Zooplankton gets eaten by zooplankton predators which get eaten by the top predators. Zooplankton gets eaten by filter feeders (clams, sponges) which gets eaten by the filter feeder predators which gets eaten by the top predators.

Posted by Joe on February 9, 2009.