Tuesday, June 14, 2011


That's a picture at the top of this post of the beautiful sunset here at Jimbaran Bay in Bali.

Well, it would be a picture of the beautiful sunset had I charged the camera before rushing down to get the shot. Instead of capturing the fat blob of sun melting into the gold and pink waters, I got a message from the camera: "No battery power remains." I even tried to argue with it that it was impossible to give me that message if there was no battery power, but the camera wasn't in any mood for that sort of debate.

I had wanted to take a shot - and will over the next day or two so you can see it - so that everyone would understand what a beautiful thing it is to watch the sun set in the Bali Sea. But even moreso, I wanted to then tell you all that the sunset here is nothing compared to what is going on in Tassie right now.

Had we been home,  this is the sunset we would be seeing there this week as we looked out our kitchen window toward the ocean - which we do quite often:

That's a photo of Sandy Bay, which is just a few miles down from us. Here's a spectacular one taken from Seven Mile Beach, which is across the bay from us.

These photos are published by our local newspaper, The Mercury, and they have lots more (and credits for the photographers) at this address.  It's worth clicking through because there are some really spectacular things going on.

It's great being here in Paradise, but what a light show to have to miss. It reminds me that two years ago Sydney had a similar spectacular light show from dust storms blowing in from the desert, and we were a day away from landing back home and had to rely on friends' photos.

In this instance, Tasmania's show is caused by the dust spewed by the Cordon Caulle volcano that went off in Chile last week. That dust has managed to go east across the Atlantic, past Africa and over the Southern Ocean to end up blanketing Tasmania and other southern parts of Australia.

And besides creating spectacular sunsets, it's also put our little island state into virtual isolation as flights have been cancelled for the past couple of days. In fact, we were very lucky to have left when we did or we wouldn't be basking in the Bali weather.

It gives you a sense of the power of vocanoes and the amount of debris they send into the air when you think that that much dust could travel that far around the world and still be so formidable that it disrupts air travel while putting on great light shows.

It's not the first time this has happened again. Check out the sky seen at sunset from Mount Wellington, which looms over Hobart. It reminded me of the sky in Edvard Munch's famous painting The Scream.

There are many experts who believe this Norwegian painter saw a sunset very much like those in Tamania as the ash from Krakatoa filled the northern skies in 1883.  (Other experts say that is far too literal and he was not depicting something he actually saw when he painted. Which, I guess, is their way of telling us to ignore him when he wrote in his diary: "I was walking along a path with two friends – the sun was setting – suddenly the sky turned blood red.")

Anyhow, that brings us full circle. Many of you will recall the movie "Krakatoa, East of Java" - or at least the title. It is notorious for being astonishingly incorrect, since Krakatoa is west of Java. What is east of Java, of course, is Bali. And that's where we have been watching beautiful sunsets even if they aren't the technicolor shows going on at home.

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