2007 On Tour Pics

Greek Churches

The idea of the white and blue houses on Greek Islands is largely a fallacy. The white and blue structures are Churches, and the fact that every house seems to have one attached is testament to the fact that having a Church gives you tax free status.

Anzac Day Dawn, Santorini, Greece

The German army was at the height of their power in April and May 1941 when British and allied forces were sent to defend Crete and Greece , notably against the wishes of the Australian’s commanding officer, General Blamey.

The Australian 6th Division was destroyed. As well as losing 594 men, 1,001 were injured and a staggering 5,132 were taken prisoner. Of all the Australian Prisoners Of War taken in the Second World War, 83% of them were taken in Greece and Crete . A total of 39% of all the Australians at the start of the campaign in April 1941 were killed, injured or taken prisoner.

The Aussie were extremely bitter that the Air cover promised by the RAF never materialized, only 80 aircraft went up against 1,100 of the combined German an Italian forces.

Greece remained occupied for four years, and the Australian War Memorial website HERE notes that during “the occupation over 450,000 Greeks died from malnutrition. A further 25,000 were executed for guerilla activities or during reprisals for partisan activities. Of Greece ’s pre-war 80,000 Jews, only 10,000 survived the war.”

You won’t find a Australian War Grave in Santorini, after the war, the bodies were collected and placed in two graves, one in Suda Bay War Cemetery on Crete and the other in the Phaleron War Cemetery in Athens.

To see the dawn break here on Anzac Day, accompanied by the tittering of small birds and a particularly overactive rooster, is a memorable way to remember the fallen. As at all Dawn Anzac Services, the cold seeps right in and afterwards you have to soak your hands in hot water. A small price to pay.

Bud Tingwell, Photo Reconnaissance Pilot from the 680 Squadron, details their work as the Allies retook Greece late in 1944 in Michael Veitch’s incredible record of personal stories in FLAK available HERE.

Ship Race

The Liner's Skipper caught the Ferry Captain napping. Pulling out to overtake, sounding his horn (and waking up all the dogs), the Liner thought he had him. The Ferry Captain put his coffee down, stubbed out his cigarette and had him by the time they left the point.

Big Man, Small Boat

His friend on the waterfront says his name is Manoulis. "Hey Manoulis, look up for the photo!" Nothing. Then across the water: "No, I'm busy". And he was, having just pulled this fish from the Aegean Sea.

Model Shoot

It must be hell to be a model. Whilst the Art Director, Makeup artist, Photographer and numerous assistants have a slap-up lunch, this 17 year old magazine model survives on a cigarette and a Diet Coke.

Then she had to crawl around on navigation lights to satisfy every whim of the crew. It's rumoured she will soon appear in Marie Claire magazine.


Inland from Santorini's Caldera lies the traditional village of Megalochori. Here, in the town square the feature is huge Gum tree. Only motor scooters and small cars can fit on the tiny one way streets. With no view of Santorini's Caldera or Volcano, you can get an old cave-style house for 100,000 Euros. Be sure to check the building regulations though, the rules are very strict in order to keep the island from losing it's old world feel.

Black Sand

The thing about living on a volcanic island is that the sand is also volcanic. Here at Perivolos Beach, in Perisa, the sand is black. On Santorini there is a red beach, made largely of pebbles, and, further north a white sand beach.

Moon Jet

Heading in a direct line to Athens, this aircrew's flight deck is still bathed in bright sunshine. They are unaware that night has already fallen in Santorini.

Daily Grind

A ferry driver's life is not easy. With the Santorini Volcano as a backdrop, this Greek Ferry Captain spins his ship before backing into the into the new Harbour during a gale. The effect of the wind on the sea is evident. The white streak at the stern is prop wash. With Bow thrusters the ship can be backed with precision. Then, after twenty minutes, it's off to another two islands on the way back to Athens for dinner.

Never Going To Work

Close to the Santorini Volcano, this Greek Ship's Captain holds his ship into wind during a gale. Passenger transfers are achieved by the old Port's small white lifeboats. Here an initial approach is destined to end in tears, or wet guests. Minutes later the Skipper turns his ship sideways to the wind, making smooth water on the leeward side to allow a safe transfer.

Seen It All Before

This Greek dog sleeps in the afternoon shade of the old Oia village buildings. He's obviously not scared of heights or rolling over in his sleep, (there is massive drop only inches away). The highest point of Thira Island, Imerovigli, is in the distance. There the Afroessa Traditional Hotel overlooks Santorini's dormant volcano.

Losing Battle

In the middle of the circle of oil recovery booms, suspended 400 feet below the surface of the Aegean Sea , with enough buoyancy to stop it making the final plunge to the sea floor a further 700 feet below, The Sea Diamond floats, (see story below). Oil recovery crews try to mop up the 100 tonnes of fuel oil that has already escaped. The gale force winds are making their task difficult.

Fira, The Night The Students Arrived.

The Greek kids have yet to finish their school year, but April's the time they can afford to swarm the island before the tourist season starts and prices explode. 'Schoolies' are the same everywhere ... hordes of self-conscious boys learning about the effects of mateship and alcohol; girls worried about fashion and exposing their midriffs to freezing night air.

Nothing happens until after midnight, when everyone's too tired to get into too much trouble.

Aforessa Hotel Owner, Ionna.

The conversion of the old wineries into the 12 room Afroessa Traditional Hotel has been a labour of love for Athenian Ionna and her husband, George. She chose the name from a small volcanic island that appeared three days after the major Volcanoes eruption in the 1700s. Afroessa means 'Goddess of the silver bubble coming up from the bottom of the sea' or something. The local mid-strength Port wine, called Vinsanto may have something to do with your correspondent's failure in translation.

Petro, Local Legend.

Now fishing just off the rocks for whitebait, Petro spends the day paddling around the small harbour chatting to his restaurateur mates whilst finding the their stock in trade.

The Monster From The Deep.

Copied from an old photo hanging on the wharf, this amazing 500 kg deep water shark was wrestled to the surface "around the corner" in the deep waters towards the volcano by the Local Legend Petro. These sharks only inhabit the deep water and have eyes that have been adapted for the zero light conditions. They cannot survive in the lower pressures nearing the surface. Joy says it's eyes were "very pretty" ... it's jaws now hang above her bar.

Ammoudi Port , Santorini.

As you wait for your meal, you can watch the fishermen catch the next course. Here a large octopus is extracted from the crystal clear waters. The fisherman on the left, Petro, looks underwater through a a conical viewing arrangement, like a roadside witches-hat with a glass bottom.

Dimitrie's Restaurant, Ammoudi, Santorini.

Tables sit only a metre from the sea. If you like fresh coffee and seafood, this is the place. Being so close to the sea the salt air destroys everything. After a complete refurbishment every year, it it opens from Easter until the end of October or November, depending on the weather. Hours are from 1100 or 1200 depending on when Joy wakes up, until 0100 or 0200-ish.

Ammoudi Port, below Oia, Santorini.

The restaurant on the far right, the yellow one, is the ideal place to stop and watch the world pass by.

Ammoudi Port , Santorini.

Nestled below Oia, facing the open ocean, lies the tiny port, Ammoudi. Home to the most spectacular restaurant in the world run by Canadian Joy and her Greek partner, Dimitri.

Oia, Santorini.

On the horizon is the island of Sikinos, behind the northernmost village on Santorini, Oia.

Another Day, Another Island.

Passing the island of Thirasia, a cruise ship leaves Santorini destined for another island tomorrow.

Old Port, Santorini.

Tourists await their Skipper, complete with black Greek Fisherman's cap, to take them on a three hour cruise to the Volcano in the centre of the Caldera that is Santorini.

Donkey Station.

At the bottom of the 600 steps from Thira to the Old Port, donkeys await passengers for the long trek up. After witnessing some extremely large American women dismounting at the top, it was decided, as a stand against animal cruelty, to use the gondola both ways. The donkeys don't know how lucky they are.

Dumb Models.

Only store dummies could turn their backs on this view. Santorini's Volcano, which hasn't blown it's top since 1956, is captivating. So was the wind whipping the right-most model's dress up ... you know she's only plaster, but you can't help looking.

The Big Volcanic blast, between 1550-1500 BC, caused tidal waves as high as 210 metres according to the history books. As to who measured their exact height, there must be a story behind it, methinks the measurer must have been very, very tall.

Fira, Capital Of The Island Thira, Santorini.

Clinging to the rim of the caldera, Santoini's capital faces west, and the view of the Volcano above.

Inland, Towards Kamari.

The use of red geraniums, white and blue paint makes Santorini sparkle.


Cathy Roberts, Superstar.

The inclement skies cleared in time for the running of the 2007 Bostan Marathon, the fourth Marathon for Fish Creek superstar, Cathy Roberts, runner number 16617. A Veteran of the Florence and two Gold Coast Marathons, and supported by her twin Keryn, she crossed the line with a personal best of 3 hours, 38 mins 40 secs. The inspirational Life Coach will soon have a book out on how to achieve your dream to run a marathon.

Celestial Lesson.

People come to Santorini; the Italian-sounding Greek Island, named in 1153 after mashing the name of the island's church "Saint Irene", called by Santa Irini by foreign sailors; to see the sunset. Only luck gets you a New Moon Rise as depicted here twenty minutes after our favourite star vanished.

That tiny white smudge below is the hairline-width outline of the moon, sitting almost exactly between the earth and the sun, as it does every twenty eight days. That the horizon looks twisted down to the left is living proof that we are at 37 degrees north of the Equator, over 13 degrees north of the Tropic Of Cancer. So even during the Summer Solstice on the 21st June, the sun will still set south of west.

Oia, Pronounced Eee-uh.

Arguably the most romantic spot on Santorini is the village of Oia at the northern-most tip of the island. People say that the village is the most untouched on the island. It has been used in many movies and its expensive resort hotels are frequented by movie stars, the rich and famous.

Afroessa Hotel, Santorini

Perched on the cliff top ridge at Imerovigli on the Greek island of Santorini, the Afroessa Hotel offers accommodation in rooms converted from wine cellars. Each has its own balcony and offers spectacular views of the volcanic caldera and, facing west, romantic sunsets. Feel free to see their site HERE and book a room.

Cliff Top Living.

Donkey Power.

The local laws prevent drastic modernisation of the buildings on Santorini. Local craftsmen instead have to renovate the old buildings. Access is by tiny roads and miniature walkways in between the buildings. Donkeys are used to transport all building materials up and down the steep cliffs.

Gum Trees.

Australians feel at home on Santorini, since gum and even Wattle trees are used to line the roads due to their ability to thrive on the meagre rainfall. It usually only rains from November to February.

Santorini Shipping Disaster.

After arriving at Santorini on Thursday the 5th April 2007, the Cyprus- registered Cruise ship, Sea Diamond, with over 1500 passengers and 300 crew, was snaking past the rocky point, shown here, as it headed this way, towards the Old Port, adjacent to the white buoy.

(Media photo from the internet)

In perfect conditions, at four in the afternoon, for some reason the Skipper took the vessel close to the rock cliffs - some say it was so people could take photos up the cliff face. It was too close and the ship was sliced-open below the water line.

(Media photo from the internet)

A massive rescue effort safely removed all but two passengers, a Frenchman and his daughter. The man's wife said she had to evacuate from their cabin as water started pouring in after the grounding and she had no idea where they were. Her son was up on deck at the time.

The rescue took three hours, and then something weird happened. Instead of taking the ship across to the shallow side of the Caldera, the Skipper took it around the point to the New Port, where it sank in very deep water at seven the following morning.

Phone records have recently been recovered from the Shipping Company, implicating the Skipper's boss; maybe the Captain was instructed to take the ship into deep water.

Whilst the investigation continues, there is a massive effort to stop 400 tonnes of oil leaking from the ship. Robots have found no sign of the bodies of the man and his daughter which are believed to be trapped inside. At a depth of over 400 feet, the ship is still moving around, yet to reach the bottom which is over 1200 feet in places.

Speculation continues as to whether the Skipper was on the bridge at the time of the grounding. He was extremely competent, having navigated around the same area in a Force 8 gale on his previous trip to the island.

He took over fifteen minutes to respond to calls to the ship after the grounding. Reports are that he has blamed 'currents' for the cause of the disaster.

The oil spill (some say as much as 100 tonnes) has been contained by a professional eco-recovery firm and the fragile Santorini coast has not been damaged.

Sharp Rocks Hidden Below Cliffs.

All the way around the Caldera, razor sharp volcanic rocks hide beneath the surface.

Wrap Party.

At twenty to seven in the morning, their last day on the site, these construction workers gather around a fire celebrating the end of a long job. Winter in Dubai, it is a chilly 16° just before sunrise. Within a few minutes the bonfire had burnt down and the workers boarded the bus - leaving the site for the last time. Was it a memorial service for recently-fallen comrades? In Dubai, 900 construction workers died in 2004, according to National Geographic magazine.

Full Moon Over Beirut.

Between the snow-capped Lebanon Mountains and the Mediterranean Sea, Beirut is lit-up, apparently back to normal after last summer's war. The full moon shining on the snowcapped mountains made it possible to record this image from 39,000 feet. Above top left is the Bekka Valley.

Solitary Snow People.

In Munich's English Garden two snowmen stand alone, tantalizingly close, but too far away for a chat.

Tree Skeleton.

Australians rarely see many naked trees, unless it's after a bush fire. In Munich, evergreens are rare.

Dirty Snow.

Those of us from warmer climates think lovingly of northern winters. The reality is somewhat different: having to dig cars out of snow drifts and contend with the muddy mess beside the roads and in between parking spaces.

Lake, English Gardens, Munich.

Just beginning to freeze, the Lake in Munich ’s English Gardens will not be ready to support skaters for a few weeks.

Iranian Village

Nestled amongst the snow-covered mountains, it’s Minus 5 and night has already fallen.

Iranian Sunset.

As the earth spins at nearly 1,200 kph, the sun sets and it’s golden light climbs the mountains until only the tops are lit.

Bumpy Ride?

This southbound Emirates A340 appears to have been flying some impressive curves. Not so. This is showing us the very strong winds associated with Jetstream activity at altitude.

Iranian Valley

An intriguing photo, only made possible because of the strong westerly winds perpendicular to the 16,000 feet mountains causing a meteorological effect called ‘standing waves’ and Lenticular clouds. The sun has already set. The illuminated clouds are reflecting off the snow in the valley.

Straits of Hormuz

At least 20% of the world's daily oil requirements passes through the Straits to the left of this image. As well as being heavily-trafficked, utilising two-mile-wide waterways in and out, U.S. Navy submarines prowl around, supposedly protecting the waterway. A few days before this photo was taken a fully-laden Japanese oil tanker was damaged after a US submarine performed a practice emergency ascent and smashed into its stern. Luckily, no injuries or spilt oil. One wonders as to the security of the world when US submariners are incapable of noticing a huge metal ship, one of the largest in the world, sitting above them. Sonar? Radar? It was in this location in 1988 that the USS Vincennes shot down an innocent Iranian A300 Airbus, killing 290 passengers and crew.

Welcome to India.

Continuing the theme of living in a rubbish tip, this is the view seen by passengers upon arriving at India's Hyderabad Airport. There are two places in the world where the occupants seem oblivious to their own rubbish: Saudi Arabia and India.

Luxor, Nile Valley, Egypt.

Luxor , where King Tutankhamen's remains were discovered, is on a bend in the Nile River . It can be seen here, below the full moon, as the black ribbon snaking between the lights which hug the rich water's edge. The lights define humanity in the country with only 3.5% of its land rated as arable or better.

Casablanca, Morocco.

It's winter and the thought of going for a dip in the chilling Atlantic Ocean has vanished. What is billed as the largest mosque in the world is perched on the western edge of the African continent.

And If Allah Is Not Listening...

There is always satellite TV. The enigma in which Jewish and Islamic religions co-exist, and whose people also inter-marry, Casablanca is addicted to satellite TV. Oh ... to have the contract installing satellite dishes.

Energy Recycling

Totally absorbed in his work and unaware of the passing throng in the market place, this Moroccan boy appears to be trying to open discarded batteries … for whatever reason we will never know.

Washing Day.

It's washing day in the impoverished suburbs of Casablanca , Morocco . A few days after this photo was taken, BBC TV aired a documentary about the Madrid Bombing, accusing these suburbs of spawning the three terrorist masterminds. It's not far across the Strait of Gibraltar into Europe , and supposedly a better life, for thousands of refugees who make the trip. Sadly 1,200 have died trying to get across in the last two years.


The relentless pursuit to replace dying nicotine addicts continues for the huge tobacco companies. Here in Casablanca’s Souk, while men sit behind playing cards at a café, the drug peddler and his assistant scan for new clients.

Will you have snails with that?

In Morocco, there are two basic languages, French and Arabic. English is rarely spoken. Here the French delicacy is boiled-up while women crowd around the stallholder. Armed with toothpicks they made short work of his offering.

This One?

In the Casablanca’s Souk this painting salesman gestures to an item as prelude to a sale.

Market Crush.

You can imagine this place in summer. In winter, with all the body heat, the markets are quite a comfortable place. One suspects that in summer it would be very hot and dusty.

Alterations, While You Wait.

From tents to cushion-covers and dresses, this man could sew anything … if only he had some customers.

Have Singer, Will Travel

Sitting cross-legged at a corner in the souk, this sewing lady is stitching-up a solid business, maybe to the detriment of the man above.

Yes, We Have Bananas.

For those Australians who have been pining for bananas following the decimation of the crop by last year's cyclone, this view of the greengrocer section of the Casablanca Souk must be a welcome sight.

The Nile Mouth

The famous Nile River enters the Mediterranean Sea at Alexandria , or does it? The actual entrance is quite some way from both the old and new, cities of Alexandria .

Cairo, Egypt.

The River Nile flows from left to right, around one of the two islands in the middle of Cairo . The shadows, which are the three pyramids, can be seen at the top left of the picture on the edge of The Giza plateau. Zoomed-in from 35,000 feet. The Pyramids are easy to spot. You can even see the limestone cap on the Great Pyramid. The rest of its limestone covering has been removed and used in housing by the locals over the last 5000 years.

Shift change.

At another Dubai building site, Indian workers arrive by bus for a 7 a.m. start. The blue overalled-line lopes along slowly and methodically but never slows. Their pace is unrelenting from dawn till dusk, until they finally sit in rows, waiting for the buses to take them back to their labour camps. Some outworkers spend two hours each way in the buses and live in squalid conditions. Recently the rulers of the UAE have taken steps to ensure better treatment of these workers.

Suez, Canal

35% of the world's oil, and most of the oil bound for Europe , finds its way along the Suez Canal, next to the city of Suez on the Red Sea..

Ultimate Greengrocers.

In Accra, Ghana, the stop-start traffic is assailed by road vendors of all types. You can buy posters, paintings, paw paw’s, bananas, oranges, bread rolls; even necklaces and clothing, whilst still seated in your car. Everything has a price, but in Accra , the Malaria is free. Don't let that put you off, however, just take precautions. It's worth making the trip to see Monsoons, a restaurant in Oxford Street , where the Kiwi owner, Steve, has made a world-class black-and-white photo gallery in his cocktail bar and excellent restaurant.


. R . A VEL         PICS

Pics from earlier years are in the book.


See Malta, England, Greece, Italy, France, Germany, Portugal, The Seychelles, Vietnam, Korea, Japan, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Bahrain, the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Egypt, India, Greece, Switzerland, Morocco, Ghana, Oman, Iran, Australia and more.