Monday, January 2, 2012

Oceans and oil

Today I walked with two Canadian cousins along the white sand beach of Bream Bay, from the north near Marsden Point oil refinery to what is left of Marsden B – an oil-fired power station that never fired, conceived before the big oil hikes of the late 1970s. It is now almost dismantled, to be sent to India to burn coal or oil.

Marsden Pt oil refinery with Bream Bay on the right.
We’d just visited the refinery, where we learnt of the mechanisms for refining crude oil into fuel to power our current lifestyles. And the care that the company takes to minimise its impact, such that dotterel birds nest not only next to the refinery, but even ‘inside its fences’. And people fish from the adjacent jetty.

Standing guard, watchful across the narrow harbour entrance, are the irregular, craggy peaks of Whangarei Heads and Mt Manaia. I took them for granted when my family moved here at the end of the ‘70s – they were just part of the landscape. But they’ve grown on me – and I love seeing them in the distance on the down road from Maunu into Whangarei; and (on a clear day), spotting them as you top the Brynderwyn Hills coming into Northland from the south.

The craggy hills are the eroded remnants of old andesitic volcanoes (like those of the North Island’s central plateau), that exploded into being during the Miocene period, more than 15 million years ago.
They stand imposing yet tame now, no longer a threat to locals.

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