It's the 18th of January, and you know what that means! Well, OK, you probably don't. It's the anniversary of the photograph which was (unintentionally at the time) to become the very first shot in my very first PAD gallery in 2010. Each year since then I’ve been returning to the same spot, to take roughly the same shot, on the same day.
Of course at this time last year I didn't expect to be still working in the Pyrmont area by now. Accordingly I wasn’t sure that this one would be taken. And yet... here I am, courtesy in part of that curious elasticity of time where a year is both an eternity and an instant, where many things change radically and others don't change at all. Actually things have been a little glacial in terms of career change over the last handful of years. A change is coming, but I can't be sure when. Or when I might precipitate it.
"Glacial" was not the word of this day, however. I don't clearly remember the past shots, but I'll remember this one. Weatherzone was reporting 43 degrees at Pyrmont, a thermometer by the waterside 44. That's 111.2F for any visiting USAians. I've been in hotter places but that was a long, long time ago and far, far away. Having become quite urbanised (perhaps "soft", if one is unkind) since then I have to admit that when I hiked the kilometre or so each way to take this I damn near cooked. (The highest recorded temperature in the city today was 45.8 (114.44), which is the highest on record here.)
In the first two years the former HMAS Adelaide (FFG 01) was tied up alongside the former Conaust car docks waiting to be sent to become a dive wreck off the Central Coast. By last year's shot she had gone and the space was empty. This year sees two further former RAN ships, the former HMAS Kanimbla (L51, originally the USS Saginaw (1971), acquired in 1994, decommissioned November 2011) and behind her (not clearly visible) the former HMAS Manoora (L52, originally the USS Fairfax County (same dates, though Manoora was decommissioned 6 months earlier)). The ships were originally LSTs (Landing Ship Tank) but Australia doesn't have an awful lot of tanks and they therefore weren't needed for that purpose. They underwent about 5 years' worth of conversion to turn them into LPAs (Landing Platform Amphibious).
There was at one time a plan to have the two ships scuttled as a dive wrecks in Queensland but the cleanup cost would have been about $4M and after the three ring NIMBY circus that went on over Adelaide (documented elsewhere in these galleries) nobody could be bothered going through that again. Consequently you're looking at about $2.5M (each) worth of future razor blades. The ships will be replaced by two new vessels of the Canberra LHD (Landing Helicopter Dock) class, the first of which is due to be commissioned in 2014. The Canberras appear to be "the carrier you have when you're not having a carrier" with an offset superstructure . Although intended only for helo operations, my thought is that it would not require too much imagination to see them modified to handle V/STOL fixed wing aircraft as well if necessary, though in reality the only western aircraft that would suit is the Harrier (AV-8) which is getting a little long in the tooth now. (And isn't likely to give you air superiority, much less air supremacy, over anything more potent than New Zealand. An unlikely scenario unless a cricket match goes horribly, horribly wrong.)
Since there are no pending court actions I don't expect Kanimbla and Manoora to still be here if I take this shot again next year... which would be interesting, since next year the 18th will be a Saturday. Even if I were to still be working here, I'm typically a long way from Pyrmont on Saturdays these days. We shall see. For the record I've continued to go wider each year; last year 22mm, this year 14mm. The day was also bright enough that I could have done with a circular polariser, but I didn't have mine with me. (And I still haven't changed the time on the 40D to daylight savings time, gah!)
Now I'm off to find some ice.
A LOT of ice.
(Not enough ice. I wrote the above before the end of the day. By home time the heat had completely screwed up the train services. I thought that I was lucky in getting to the station early enough to catch the 16:41. Which was still sitting at the station an hour later. I finally caught the 17:12 which actually left just short of 18:12.)