Great Ocean

Great Ocean

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Creating on the Coast – Manly

There’s a great deal of science and technique that goes into the design of speaking panels. Somewhere in the background behind Tony Jones, there…

The Dupain House

I’m not sure when I first heard about the Newport weekender. A Dutch family lived there for eleven and a half years: the family was…

Cape to Cape

Western Australia’s Margaret River region has developed such a reputation for wineries, surfing and gourmet produce that, imagining the place from afar, it’s possible to overlook the very thing that lies at the heart of all these pleasures: the coastal landscape.

Bass Strait Islands

Australian artist Fred Williams OBE (1927–82) was one of the greatest landscape painters of his generation and changed the way Australians viewed the landscape….

A Culture Adrift

The Bajau Laut people, also known as the “sea gypsies”, or “nomads of the sea”, live their entire lives on the ocean. This traditional community, living between the Philippines, Malaysia and Indonesia, has adapted to life at sea as no other people in the world. However, poverty is forcing many families to abandon some of their traditional lifestyle and jump into modernity.

An Eye in the Sea

  I’ve been seduced by icebergs, and over the past few seasons I’ve been working on them at every opportunity. They’re a perfect metaphor…

Leanne Tennant: Bearing The Crown

Soon Leanne is seated on the timber porch, picking out sparse notes on her guitar, the sound disappearing into the thickened air, a space already occupied by rainbow lorikeets in the canopy above. A raucous chorus of birds and a heat like a lead weight, not entirely the elements of paradise most readily invoked in mid-winter daydreams.

Then it happens…

The Diminishing Feast of Eden

Philip Hoare’s reflections on the Anthropocene, in the next Great Ocean Quarterly Volume 2:2 ~ Then, as suddenly as we sailed into the mist, the…

High Seas Drifter

  Did you know that you know a left-handed jellyfish? In Volume 2:2 of Great Ocean Quarterly Jennifer Ennion comes to grips (carefully) with the many mysteries of…

A Tall Ship on a Healing Mission

The SV Rhona H is a working ketch, even to the untrained eye. Sails and ropes and emergency gear, communications tech and busy crew scatter over her decks.

The Life of Shelly Beach By Daniel Parsa

There are several Shelly Beaches around the country, but this one is near Manly in New South Wales. The best way to get there is to walk from Manly along the Marine Parade. It’€™s a beautiful twenty-minute walk along the Cabbage Tree Bay.

The Number You Have Dialled Has Been Disconnected

Many years ago, in fact. But this telephone stands on a shattered timber platform dug into the side of a towering dolorite cliff, on an island at the juncture of the Southern Ocean and the Tasman Sea. There’€™s few more remote phone booths on the face of the earth.

Solo, but Never Alone: Digby Ayton’s French Sojourn

If you’€™ve ever been tempted to despair of the ‘€œKids these days’ variety, despair no longer. In our current issue, we bring you the story of an eighteen-year-old Tasmanian photographer, Digby Ayton, who came up with a personal vision of ‘€œschoolies’€ that makes supervised mobbing on council beaches look dull.

Marlon Williams: Silent Passage

Silent Passage is the rarest of songs: a ballad that makes you yearn for something you can’€™t quite place. What was Carpenter’€™s sailor yearning for? Home? Family? An end to his wanderings? Perhaps the writer foresaw his own future torments when he wrote this lyric.

Danny Spooner: Dark Old Waters

The thick basalt walls of the former Congregational Church proved both blessing and curse during the recording of Dark Old Waters for Volume 1:4. While the walls blocked out most of the racket emanating from the heavy construction going on mere feet from the church’€™s western flanks, the bluestone blocks and concrete-rendered interior also served to add unwelcome levels of echo to Danny Spooner’€™s voice while bouncing the concertina’€™s bellowed notes in all directions across the empty space. But drawing on a lifetime’€™s experience playing in venues of all shapes and sizes Danny soon found a sweet spot, and you can download the results here.

Creating On The Coast

Great Ocean Quarterly and Patagonia have gathered four people who we think are just like us: sea-affected and loving it!

Author Favel Parrett, (Past the Shallows, When The Night Comes); photographer Jon Frank (Australians); writer and musician Gregory Day (The Patron Saint of Eels, Archipelago of Souls), and professional longboarder and Patagonia ambassador Belinda Baggs, in conversation with Great Ocean’€™s editor Jock Serong, and creative director Mick Sowry (Musica Surfica, The Reef).

This is a night for conversation, for laughs and for sharing ideas: a night for anyone who likes to think by sealight.

Purchase yout tickets here


Reviews: new marine science books from the CSIRO In the current context of debate over science funding, it’€™s relevant to take a look at the…

A Deep and Meaningful Relationship


Our recent postings about Eusebio and Christina Saenz de Santamaria have drawn widespread interest. The strange beauty of humans at depth, devoid of the cumbersome apparatus required for scuba diving, is a reminder of how ill-equipped we are to mingle with creatures which have evolved to live in that environment. In addition to the aesthetic resonance of those scenes, there’€™s an athleticism required to wait for, and compose that shot. It takes mental strength to resist the body’€™s calls for a return to light and air.

Which brings us to the other side of Eusebio and Christina’€™s lives. In addition to photography, teaching and conservation, they are world-class athletes. Last weekend they set a new tandem freediving world record. Here’€™s a little about the day, from their blog at

‘€œThe world at depth for a freediver is a lonely and sometimes invisible experience. We descend by ourselves and what we feel and endure remains only within our own mind and memory. Which is one of the reasons why we (Eusebio and I) came up with the idea to descend together in the discipline of Variable Weight and this week we established a new world record and a world’s first dive for two people to descend on a weighted sled and ascend under our own power at the same time from a depth of 100 metres!

The Discovery Channel came to film our official event, which is great exposure for the sport that we love. It also added a little element of pressure on the day of the performance, which was a good learning experience. The program delved into the science of freediving, what our bodies and minds endure, the difficulties of diving as a duo as well as the technology of our equipment including our sled, which we designed and built custom-made to fit us both comfortably as well as to be hydrodynamically effective.

Safety is always a very important factor for us and we were assisted by two deep technical trimix divers stationed at 100m and 80m, two scuba divers at 40m and 30m, two safety freedivers who met us at 30 metres on our ascent, as well as a surface team who were prepared for any circumstance if necessary.

The biggest challenge for our dive was to coordinate two people who were able to prepare, descend and ascend in synchronicity to the target depth. In the first place it was necessary to be physically and mentally prepared to reach a depth of 100 metres. Secondly, we both had to be very aware of not only ourselves and our own sensations, but of the other person during the dive. We had a shared responsibility and ensured that we had clear lines of communication both on the surface and underwater in the event the dive was not going according to plan. Perhaps one advantage Eusebio and I have is that we are husband and wife and we always train together, so we have an intimate understanding and sixth sense for each other and how we are both feeling. However the duo dive was still a double-challenge in all these respects.

The ability to share a 100 metre dive together, along with the sensations and the challenges has been, to put it simply, an incredible experience and in our final weeks here in Roatan we continue to aim for new depths both alone and as a couple.’€


Be Mine to Guard this Light from All Eclipse


This weekend has somehow been set aside to celebrate the unsung heroes of our coastlines, the lighthouses. Yep, it’€™s International Lighthouse and Lightship Weekend, an event that was started by members of the Ayr Amateur Radio Group in Scotland, as a way of linking amateur radio nuts around the globe.

But lighthouses are important to all sorts of people, for reasons beyond their significance as radio repeater stations. They are invariably lovely examples of architecture (a couple of personal favourites being the bizarre atomic-looking steel structure at McCrae in Victoria and the giant Cape Wickham Lighthouse on Tasmania’€™s King Island). Down through history, they’€™ve featured in tales of heroism and bastardry, usually in the role of silent witness. A lighthouse forms the punchline to that old joke about military hubris (‘€œI’€™m a lighthouse. Your call’€), and indeed the decline in their active role as navigational aids seems to have been supplanted by their increasing role as a metaphor for moral guidance.

Lighthouses are a little like journalists, employed through history to warn us of hidden danger, only to find themselves redundant in the electronic age.

Birds and lighthouses have always had a fractious relationship. Like any upright man-made structure, the lighthouse is potential roosting spot. Equally, however, their beam has attracted countless birds to their deaths. Charles Dickens talked of ‘€œ’€¦benighted sea-birds breasted on against their ponderous lanterns and fell dead’€, imagery which was echoed in David Harris’€™s wonderful lighthouse story in our Launch issue, Nine Men’€™s Morris: ‘€œThinking it a beacon of something better, Petrels and Shearwaters beat their bodies red against the white walls and thick glass.’€

There are still lighthouse keepers out there, though their numbers are thinning. It sounds like the ultimate thing to write on any official form: Occupation ‘€“ Lighthouse Keeper. Despite their ranks being filled with brave souls who battled loneliness, fatigue, the cold and the toxic mercury of the lamp, it is likely that the most recognisable lighthouse keeper in history is the one featured in Jean Guichard’€™s 1989 photographs of giant waves off the coast of Brittany, France. It’€™s almost impossible to look at the man standing in the doorway of his lighthouse while a mountain of water wraps itself around the foot of the structure, without silently pleading Go inside! Shut the bloody door!

He survived, by the way.

No doubt you have a favourite lighthouse of your own, and most likely for a range of reasons that are yours alone. Drop us a line and tell us about it!


Our featured lighthouse is The Lighthouse of Punta Laxe, Galicia, Spain, from Los Percebeiros de Laxe: Great Ocean Quarterly Volume 1:3.

Photograph by Thomas Cristofoletti.