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Mezze is widely served in the Greek and Middle eastern world. An assortment of little dishes and tasters which accompany a nice ouzo or a glass of wine. So when you read mezze moments you will have tasty snippets of life as I live it, India for four years and now Brisbane Australia, all served up with some Greek fervour and passion.

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Thursday, 10 March 2016

Lady Elliot Island - the quintessential coral cay

Ever wondered what a coral cay looks like in the middle of the ocean ? From the air it looks a little like this and this is where we headed to, last week,  in a small plane.  What you see is the airstrip where the planes land and the coral reef surrounding the cay.

A coral cay is a small elevation on the surface of a coral reef. Lady Elliot is a vegetated coral cay, which is a little unusual but the birds certainly played a part in this. Lady Elliot has endured because bird droppings called guano hardened together with sediments of the coral into beach rock.  When I saw the beach rock it almost looked like concrete slabs but of course it is all natural.The birds dropped seeds which allowed plant life to develop.

To locate us travel some 80 miles off the Brisbane coastline a little further north than Fraser Island.

It was found in 1816 by Cpt Thomas Stuart aboard the Lady Elliot. He named it after Lady Elliot the wife of the Colonial Governor of India at the time. 

Now it forms part of the Green Zone of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. Such zones protect breeding and nursery areas for marine life. The reef is a thriving and rich place to see turtles and sharks, as well as a favourite place for mantas and of course all types of coral. 

We flew past Fraser island on our right and landed on the central airstrip.

One of the first things we did was attend a "behind the scenes" presentation which was just fascinating. They have managed through a number of projects to reduce the diesel consumption on the island by about 70 % and they obtain all their power from solar energy. They have a desalination plant which converts sea water to fresh water by a system of reverse osmosis and they grow what they can on the island, while relying on daily planes to bring other food stuffs from the mainland.  A barge which comes every three to four months brings diesel and other bigger items.
It is easy to ignore or not appreciate the tremendous effort it takes to run an eco centre in the middle of the ocean and we were very impressed by their installations and plans for the future.
This green frog seemed as if he was a porcelain fixture for fun atop the fire alarm button, but on closer look we could see he was breathing and very alive. 
The resort has some lovely reef units on the beach and we sat watching the tides coming in and out and walking along the beaches looking at the shells and the coloured corals.

 The guano which hardens with the coral to form the rock.
 Many many sea cucumbers everywhere- the sign of a very healthy reef.
 I had never seen such a blue starfish before - literally in the shallows where we walked.
The fish were plentiful and playful. We swam with green and loggerhead turtles, whaler sharks, black tipped and white tipped sharks, leopard sharks, cuttle fish and ink fish, sweetlips and groupers, star fish and anemones.Perhaps my favourite were the spotted eagle rays which we saw  swimming by in formation.The corals ranged from brown to bright green, purple and the most intense blue. There were yellow corals and aubergine coloured ones with fantastically bright reef fish darting in and out of them. I didn't really want to get out of the water but the low and high tides dictated when we could swim and where, which was not a bad thing because we could then wander around the island and look at the plants and the birdlife - more of that in my next blog.

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