Tag Archives: photography

Walking With Isaac Newton…

You would expect that after going for a walk with Isaac Newton, I’d finally understand a bit of physics, and if an apple fell on my head, I  might end up with more than a bruise or an apple pie.

Well, I wasn’t disappointed. A lesson in physics was exactly what I got, especially Newton’s First Law of Motion, which states that every object will remain at rest or in uniform motion in a straight line unless compelled to change its state by the action of an external force.

Indeed, as soon as I attached Isaac Newton to his lead and opened the front door, that’s exactly what I got when this mild-mannered iso-sloth was catapulted across the road and down the footpath at an alarming speed and strength and despite my concerted efforts to reign in the beast, I almost became airborne. Isaac Newton was strong, enthusiastic and while he might’ve given me the occasional backwards glance to ensure I was still attached, he never paused long enough to check if I was still alive, or might actually need a rest to catch my breath.

Needless to say, walking with Isaac Newton is an experience. I usually take him out with a Halti collar on to reign him in. However, I couldn’t find it and had to use stealth to get him out the door without the other dogs cluing in, which is pretty difficult because all I have to do is put on my joggers and I have three gun-ho, enthusiastic dogs swarming at my feet complete with sound effects. It makes it very hard to decide who I’m going to take, because I clearly can’t walk all three dogs by myself. Two of us could mage the three at once, but that would involve cooperation, teamwork, thinking outside one’s own sphere, which does occur but just not in any regular, predictable pattern. They have to be “in the mood”.

Zac & Rosie

Rosie & Zac at home

Anyway, Zac is peering over my shoulder wondering who on earth this Isaac Newton is as his sister Rosie leaves another tennis ball on my desk and his hovers in her shadow.

Isaac Newton, for those of you who haven’t met him before, is our Border Collie x kelpie who I think is now 2 years old, although another year might’ve passed. Indeed, I think it has. I’ll blame covid for that missing year, even though I probably post it long before, but I can at least blame Covid for losing much of this year…the dreaded 2020.

“Genius is patience.”

Isaac Newton – a message to Zac from his wise namesake.

Walking with Zac is an experience. He doesn’t stop the entire time, and he doesn’t slow down either. Rather, he maintains a strong, fast determined pace which is only disturbed when he sees another dog. Any other dog seems to be the devil incarnate, and Zac lunges, gnashes his teeth and is quite terrifying. So, we’ve now taken to walking off the beaten track, and avoid other dogs like the plague. Clearly much training is required and I am working on it, but with such a strong dog, prevention seems better than cure at the moment.

Lastly, as we were tearing round the block yesterday, I started chatting with an older woman (while maintaining social distancing, of course!!) and after a very short time, Zac was just like that annoying kid tugging on her hand and whingeing: “Mum, I want to go home”….”Mum, stop talking!” Zac started crying and carrying on. He liked moving at a quick pace and wasn’t happy about coming to an abrupt standstill.

“It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop.”

Confucius – a message from Zac.

Personally, I felt some negotiation was in order. A bit of give and take. If you take me “walking” at a flying gallop, then I can pause for a chat, check out a cockatoo, or even to take a photo if I like. It doesn’t even need to be a friend and I don’t need to get your paw print of approval in advance either. That said, I’m not unsympathetic to his plight. We’ve all been caught out waiting and waiting for someone to wind-up that conversation so we can keep moving. However, Zac also needs to understand that he’s not the centre of the universe and us humans are simply planets caught in his orbit.

Lady at Ocean Beach

My favourite photo of Lady at the beach, which was taken 5 years ago, which is a long time in dog years. 

Meanwhile, back at home, there was also much complaint. None of the dogs like being left behind, and I’m sure Lady believes it’s her ordained right to go on each and every walk, and in some ways she has a valid point. She’s the only one who walks well on the lead and doesn’t take off like a bullet train. The interesting anomaly here is that we adopted her as a two year old and she came to us fully trained (even if that did include getting up on the kitchen table to steal food!!) So, that seems to suggest we’re at fault.

Anyway, my walk with Isaac Newton at least ticked off the exercise box for yesterday, and I also managed to lure Geoff out to photograph and watch the sunset over at Daley’s Point about 15 minutes drive away. This way I managed to get my exercise and sunshine with Zac and conversation, photography and nature with Geoff. It was a win-win, especially when I got home and checked out the photos which are coming up.

How does your dog go walking on the lead and do you have any tips? Isaac Newton might be needing some expert training, especially as he’s supposed to be a support dog and not a greyhound racer. 

Best wishes,

Rowena

 

 

Surfing Through the Lens – MacMasters Beach, Australia.

“People see by the light of their own stars. Some nights the stars waver

in obscuring mists. I steer a straight course by my own compass. and

delight in the mysteries of misguiding stars.”

― Chris Ernest Nelson

Let me start out by saying, that when I set out on my latest, local photography walk,  I had no plans of going to MacMasters Beach. Rather, I was heading for Killcare. However, it just goes to show that a person with no sense of direction, shouldn’t leave home without consulting the map. Moreover, some of us are so spatially-challenged, that turning the map around to face “the right way up”, doesn’t help. It doesn’t get us where we want to go. So, we need to allow an extra hour or so to reach our destination. Or, move to a peninsula or island where we can’t stray too far away, and will eventually find our way home.

MacMasters Beach

MacMasters Beach, NSW, Australia.

Indeed, I’m sure John Lennon had geographically challenged people like me in mind when he said:

“Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans”.

Last Friday afternoon, I set out for Killcare to explore the beach and the adjacent rocky headland through the lens and hopefully, at least, raise my heart rate  a little. Although Killcare is only about a 15 minute drive away, I’ve only been there a couple of times and that was about 8 years ago. That was back in the days when I went out for coffee with some of the mums from school, and that’s been awhile too!

MacMasters Swimming ppol

It almost feels like I could walk on water here and I was so amazed people were actually swimming in there during Winter. 

Anyway, I don’t think I mentioned that I’m trying to extend my walks beyond the local beach, and expand my horizons. That goal’s been reinforced by the coronavirus. Although Australia is starting to open up, I’m still semi-locked down and social distancing, and not at the point of returned to enclosed cafes or shops quite yet. Moreover, I’m not wanting to catch trains down to Sydney, which makes my usual escape hatch of Sydney more of a consideration. So, like so many of us the world over, exploring our local area is the way to go. Indeed, “local” has now become the new  “travel” just like “cruise ship” has now become synonymous with “the plague”.

Although I didn’t consult the map before I left, I did check my camera battery and swapped it over. At least, I was somewhat prepared, although I didn’t have time to wait for the battery to charge and didn’t have a spare. I also checked that the memory card was there. I’ve been let down on that front before as well. Nothing like heading out on a photo shoot, only to find an empty void in either compartment.

When it came to finding my way to Killcare, I knew I needed to turn right at the servo. After that, it was going to be case of drive by feel. To be perfectly honest, I fully expected to find a sign, which didn’t seem unreasonable. After all, Killcare is hardly a bush shack  hiding in the gum trees.

Well, if there was a sign, I missed it. It wouldn’t be the first time. Won’t be the last. However, as I kept driving through the bush with no Killcare in sight, I knew I’d missed it and was heading further afield. Indeed, it was starting to look like further, further afield. I had no idea where I was going to wind up. However, I was somewhere on the Australian East Coast and knew they’d at least stop me when I reached the Queensland border. That’s because the border between NSW and Queensland are closed and no doubt heavily guarded on account of the coronavirus. Indeed, you’d be excused for thinking NSW was the new Mexico and hopefully the Queensland Premier won’t be building any physical walls any time soon to keep us out.

Anyway, eventually I spotted an exceptionally rare local sight…a sign. Directions.

I was at MacMasters Beach just under 10 kilometres off course.

spring rolls MacMasters Beach

No worry. I’d never been to MacMasters before, and now it was about to become my oyster. Or, in this instance, my delicious prawn spring roll from the Barefoot Cafe. I haven’t exactly been going into shops and cafes. However, I could make it in and out of this place quite effortlessly and sit out alone out the front and soak up the magnificent view.

Cafe MacMasters Beach

The Barefoot Cafe, MacMasters Beach

Gee, it’s a hard life.

Well, it did become a bit tougher. Instead of going for an easy walk across the sand, I opted for a much more challenging step, hop, stumble  jump across an endless jumble of rocks and stones at the foot of the cliff, which only lead to more rocks, stones and fallen boulders around the corner. I didn’t end up going there and decided to turn back before I tempted fate. This sort of terrain is really good for strengthening your feet and ankles. However, since I’ve had some really nasty falls on supposedly safe footpaths albeit with nasty cracks, I thought I’d better limit the liability a little.

MacMasters Feet Rocks

Walking over bumpy terrain and building up my resilience.

However, before I walked anywhere, I stepped out of the car to photograph a banksia flower, and one shot later the @#$% camera battery went flat and I had to resort to using my phone. I know most people don’t think twice about taking photos with their phone, but I’m a hard core SLR user and a phone is a phone is a phone. That is, unless I’m absolutely desperate like that poor soul who who has to pull up beside the road when that elusive public toilet remains out of reach.

Fortunately, the phone photos weren’t too bad and going back with my real camera, gives me a better excuse for going back than feasting on more of those scrumptious prawn spring rolls. They were particularly good.

As I was stumbling over the rocks, I was the very personification of solitude itself. A lighthouse watching the surfers floating on the waves like bobbing seals, catching the odd wave and then running over these same rocks nimble-footed and leaping off the rocks into treachery itself yet miraculously surviving so effortlessly.

Surfers MacMasters beach

Surfers Bobbing Like Seals at MacMasters Beach.

Many, many times through the years, I’ve longed to trade places with one of these surfers and hit the waves myself. I have had a surf lesson once and have at least managed to get a board out there and surfed on my tummy and had a taste of what it might be like if I could actually make it up onto my feet. What it would be like to step out of my body into the wet suited fitness of someone else. Or, even that I could get back there again myself. It wouldn’t matter whether I couldn’t could stand up or not, because I’d be embracing the waves, the ocean and somewhere far beyond my chair at home. Moreover, life is to be lived and not just viewed as a by-stander through the lens or as  a writer through the pen or any other form of standing by and observing instead of jumping in. So many of us, for a myriad of reasons, are guilty of this, which is why I’m often just grateful to get out there doing something and soaking up some other part of the world, even if it is virtually on my own doorstep.

MacMasters Beach Full moon

Meanwhile, it’s Winter here. The sun had set and the light was rapidly fading. Having to traverse back over this rocky terrain, I couldn’t linger and risk an accident. I couldn’t risk stumbling over these rocks in the dark. So, I started walking back. Then, much to my delight and my frustration with my SLR camera out of action, the full moon is rising above the horizon. It’s just a ping pong ball in the sky. There’s no glow. No reflections on the water, but it’s still a full moon rising with all its awe and majesty and I feel so blessed to be here and a part of this.

Yet, it was also time to go home.

Daleys Point2

However, you might recall that I missed a turn and found myself at MacMasters Beach. So, you shouldn’t be surprised that I missed a different turn heading home and found myself at Hardy’s Bay. I haven’t been there before either and again, it’s pretty close to home. Why is it that we keep returning to the same places, revelling in our comfort zones, instead of exploring what’s almost on the palm of our hand? Is it all too easy and prior to the covid craziness, we always thought adventure had to be overseas. It doesn’t have to be and my health challenges have aught me that.

Daleys Point

 

After being immersed in all that awe and wonder, arriving home proved quite an anti-climax. Do you ever get that? Those times you walk in and almost walk straight back out the door?! Life is so much easier behind the lens, especially when your battery is fully charged and ready for action. Reality is over-rated. Over-rated indeed.

Have you been on any walks or photographic adventures lately?

Best wishes,

Rowena

 

 

 

 

 

W – Whale Beach, Australia…A-Z Challenge.

For those of you who’ve ever been to Whale Beach, I can hear you calling loud and clear: “What are you talking about? That’s not Whale Beach!!”

However, today I decided to challenge your sense of the perspective of place. Instead of just viewing Whale Beach from it’s classic postcard perspective with its rocky headlands at each end and the sandy beach in between, we’re tracing snail trails across a rock pool on the Southern headland. I’ve always loved tracing and photographing their curly trails. They’re so creative, and seem to reflect my state of mind. There’s no such thing as a straight line from A to B.

ferry

Palm Beach Ferry

After that brief explanation, I’d like to welcome you back to Places I’ve Been, my theme for the 2020 A-Z Challenge and as you already know, we’re heading off to Whale Beach.

Whale beach Map

A Map of Northern Sydney with Whale Beach top right.

It’s a bit of a complicated trip, and we’ll be catching  the ferry from Ettalong to Palm Beach, which will take us across Broken Bay with stunning views across to Lion Island. From Palm beach we’ll be getting a lift to Whale Beach, which is not the easiest place to reach via public transport. However, that’s also part of its quaint appeal. It has a very relaxed village feel, and doesn’t get the crowds during the Summer peak.  Indeed, many of the dwellings here are weekenders and while these blow-ins might live someone else, they’re largely considered locals, at least among themselves.

Whale Beach

Whale Beach looking North. CC BY-SA 4.0

I know “Whaley” very well. Indeed, it’s been my home. Our family used to have a house on Whale Beach Road, just across from the beach. Well, there was the slight matter of needing to climb up 200 stairs to get back to the house. That could be very challenging. Yet, there was a spot roughly halfway, where you could turn around, pause, and point out the view and distract your friends from your acute shortage of breath. It was often my salvation, not that I was that unfit even back then. Let’s just say there were a lot of stairs and they did go straight up!!

Whale Beach trike

Trike Heading Out To Sea, Whale Beach (looking South). 

My parents bought the place at Whale Beach, while I was still at uni. Unfortunately, I didn’t drive. So, unless I was with friends, I had to catch the dreaded 190 bus from Wynyard Station, which grunted along for at least 90 minutes from point to point, and that doesn’t factor in the steep walk from Surf Road straight over the top of the hill to reach Whale Beach Road. It might not be one of the world’s tallest peaks, it was a pretty decent climb.

Whale Beach Estate 1928

However, since my parents’ sold the house about twenty years ago, we won’t be revisiting the old house, and we’ll be heading straight down Surf Road to the beach. Indeed, I forgot to tell you we have a surfboard on the roof and we could even be driving a Kombi. Not a splitty, because that’s well beyond our price range, and I suspect we’re driivng something rustically unreliable. After all, that’s the less than romantic reality of being a true Kombi owner these days.

 

 

Whale Beach is a surf beach, especially at the Northern end where there’s a cool rip called “The Wedge”. I’m not even going to pretend that I know what that’s about. However, I have photographed quite a few surfers down there over the years. Watched them sitting on their boards bobbing up and down like corks waiting for the wave, while their faithful mutts sit on the beach waiting. At least, that’s how it used to be back in the day. Dogs off the leash are probably incarcerated now. Hey, even the humans are in trouble these days thanks to the coronavirus. A couple of footballers made headlines and were fined for flauting social distancing today. However, even I’m getting itchy feet and I have more incentive than most for staying put, and that doesn’t include sitting on Whale Beach and contemplating life, the universe and everything. Rather, these days have to revamp the walk and talk into some kind of walk and think. Is it possible? I’m not convinced. It’s certainly not easy to walk and write, although I could possibly argue that writing is work and the beach is my office, just as long as I stay away from Bondi!

Whale Beach Feet

Anyway, let’s rewind a little. As I said, my parents owned the house while I was at uni. So, of course, there were parties, usually with a ratio of way too many blokes to girls. There was love and heartbreak, not just for myself but also my friends. There were lonely stretches staying there for weeks at a time all by myself, but resulted in prolific writing and no doubt long hours talking on the phone. However, every night as regular as clockwork, a light switched on at the Southern end of the beach. The light fell right across the breakers and snaked around with the waves. It was absolutely magnificent and a memory which almost defined my soul and brought me such peace. Joy doesn’t need to cost the earth or be high tech.

Whale Beach also became a place of solace. Somewhere we could take friends who were going through tough times, and even combusting with self-inflicted angst. We’d walk along the beach or walk around to Palm Beach. It was a place of gentle, compassionate healing and casting all your cares off the cliffs and out to sea. For many of us, myself included, there was a Christian spiritual aspect to this, but I can’t speak for the rest. People from many walks of life came to the house, and had their own beliefs. It was not not a place of judgement, at least, from my perspective.

Rainbow Lorrikeets

A Pair of Rainbow Lorrikeets Having A Cup of Tea on the Balcony.

Before I head off, I just want to tell you about some extra special visitors to the house. There are the birds, especially the Rainbow Lorrikeets. They’re absolutely beautiful and ever so friendly with their sweet chatter.

Whale Beach is why we live at Umina Beach. It’s Whale Beach on a beer budget.

Have you ever been to Whale Beach? What did you love about it? Mind you, from my point of view, what is there not to love?

Best wishes,

Rowena

S- Sydney Harbour…A-Z Challenge.

Welcome back to my travel series for the Blogging From A to Z April Challenge, Places I’ve Been. Today, we sail into glorious  Sydney Harbour, undoubtedly one of the most stunningly beautiful places we’ve been so far, and for me, it’s home. Well, not exactly home, as I’ve never had the privilege of living right on the Harbour. However, it’s close enough.

Rowena Sydney Harbour Bridge

This photo was taken at Lavender Bay on the Northern side of the Sydney Harbour Bridge and you can see the ferris wheel at Luna Park beneath the bridge. As you can see, I wasn’t too well when this photo was taken. 

Today,  our journey sets out from Circular Quay. On our left, there’s the grand spanning arch of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, colloquially known as “the Coathanger” and on the right, we’re chugging past the majestic white sails of the Sydney Opera House. All of this is jaw-droppingly beautiful. However, for daily commuters heading across the bridge on the train, the harbour is often little more than a fuzz while they’re reading the newspaper, tinkering on their phones or simply trying to keep their noses free from a stranger’s armpit.

Soon, we pass a small island, Fort Denison which is a former penal site and defensive facility occupying a small island located north-east of the Royal Botanic Gardens and approximately 1 kilometre (0.62 mi) east of the Opera House. The island was formerly known in its indigenous name of Mat-te-wan-ye, and as Pinchgut Island. I’ve never been there. However, my mother took each of our kids there when they were younger for a special lunch.

DSC_5852

A yacht sailing on Sydney Harbour viewed from Mosman.

Oh dear. I’m not too sure where we should proceed and it’s impossible for me to point out places on the left and right of the harbour with such a vast expanse of water in between. Particularly, as you may recall, when I’m so spatially challenged and really don’t want to screw it up.

So, being ANZAC Day where Australia commemorates it’s service men and women who’ve served during all armed conflicts, I thought I’d stop pointed out the window and jump in my time machine instead. Take you back to the evening of the 31st May, 1942 when the Japanese Imperial Navy sent three midget submarines into Sydney Harbour from larger submarines which were lurking outside the heads. These midget submarines were built for stealth, barely squeezing in two crew members each.

Midget sub attack Sydney harbour

Japanese Midget Submarine in Sydney Harbour.

The first midget sub entered Sydney Harbour at 8pm, but got caught up in anti-submarine nets and attracted the attention of the HMAS Yarroma and Lolita. Once they realised they’d been caught, the Japanese crew activated an explosive, deliberately sinking the vessel and killing themselves.

The second managed to sneak past the nets and fired two torpedoes, which hit a Sydney ferry, killing nineteen Australian and two British naval officers. It then received fire from a number of Australian vessels and managed to escape, but never made it back to the mother sub.

The third and final midget sub entered Sydney Harbour at around 11pm. By this time, Sydney was ready. It had six depth charges (anti-submarine weapons) dropped on it, and was presumed sunk, until it made a comeback four hours later and tried to fire its torpedoes.  Since it was pretty banged up, the attack was a bust and the submarine was sunk by allied ships at around 3am 1.

Clearly, these attacks caused a bit of excitement.

Two years after the war, the story of a Japanese pilot appeared in the paper. He’d flown a Zero straight through Sydney Harbour undetected the night before the midget submarine attacks. Not a comforting thought, especially when you consider that the attack came around 6 months after surprise Japanese attacks on Pearl Harbor on the 7th December, 1941. These were very dangerous and precarious times and when you look at the bridge, the Opera House and the bright blue water on a sunny day, it’s very hard to imagine that the war ever touched our doorstep..

It reads:

ATTACK ON SYDNEY – Japanese Story Of 1942 Raid

AUCKLAND, Tuesday (A.A.P.-Reuters). – Susumu Ito, proprietor of a little fish-ing tackle shop at Iwakuni, Japan, claims that he flew over Sydney Harbour the night be-fore the Japanese midget sub-marine attack on May 30, 1942. Ito, then a Japanese naval lieu-tenant, aged 24, told his story in Japan yesterday.

This is what he said:

“I was pilot of a Zero float-plane carried by a Japanese ocean-going submarine of 3,300 tons.

“We arrived off Mayor Island, Bay of Plenty (New Zealand), in pitch dark one morning late in May, 1942. Our submarine carried midget submarines which were designed to be used to attack naval ships at Auckland and Sydney.

AUCKLAND SLEPT

“Our warplane was launched from the submarine and I quickly reached Auckland. While the city slept I cruised overhead un-molested and never climbing above 1,000 feet. I was never challenged or disturbed by intercepting fighters.

“I soon located Devonport Naval Base and gave it special attention. For the better part of an hour I looked for warships, but found no-thing that would warrant attack by one of our midget submarines.

“I flew back to the mother sub-marine and reported that there were no warships at Auckland.

“The submarine commander then decided to proceed to Sydney. We crossed the Tasman and surfaced off Sydney Heads on May 29.

FLIGHT OVER SYDNEY

“Unlike Auckland, I found the Sydney air rather crowded. There were Australian planes doing night flying exercises, but I was not molested.

“The Australian pilots did not appear to notice me, although the long streamlined single float of my Zero should have been conspicuous.

“I sighted what I considered to be suitable targets in Sydney Harbour and lost no time in returning to the submarine and making my report.

“Midget submarines were released. Later I left in the mother submarine for Rabaul,”

Ito said he spent about an hour over Auckland. His flight over Sydney was “very much briefer.” Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 – 1954), Wednesday 16 July 1947, page 1

So, that all created a bit of excitement.

Sydney Harbour Bridge

The Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Opera House viewed from a ferry looking East.

Perhaps, we’d better we’d better exit our time machine and go back to looking out the window. It’s a perfect, sunny, Sydney day.

Have you ever been to Sydney? Did she behave herself? Or did you experience four seasons in one day and possibly even a bush fire thrown in? I love you Sydney, but like all of us, she isn’t perfect.

Best wishes,

Rowena

References

Forgotten Sydney – The Attack On Sydney Harbour

https://www.navy.gov.au/history/feature-histories/japanese-midget-submarine-attack-sydney-harbour

Tram Reflections in Melbourne – 2017.

Today, I came across this photo, while beavering away on my travel series in between phone calls and various conversations (dare I say interruptions) from family members and ball-chasing dogs. Life has become even more chaotic at our place with four humans and three dogs all in lock-down at home, especially now the kids are on school holidays without going anywhere. However, I just thank my lucky stars the “kids” are now teenagers, and it’s usually me flagging them down for a chat(and if I’d really lucky) a hug!!

Anyway, this photo was taken back in January, 2017 on board a Melbourne tram. At the time, we were only staying in Melbourne overnight before heading off in the morning to Tasmania. So, we were trying to squeeze in as much of the city as we could, and it was all after dark.

Catching trams is also a real novelty for us. Sydney ripped up its trams years ago, and  Melbourne’s extensive tram network has given the city a distinct feel. Indeed, it’s become “Melbourne”.  So catching a tram for us, particularly the kids, was a real novelty, and just to add to the excitement, it was also their first visit to the heart of Melbourne.

While I’ve always loved photographing reflections and capturing their twisting, mutating forms, what struck me about this particular photo was our daughter’s face staring up through those reflections in the bottom right of the shot. I see a child’s face staring up through eyes of awe and wonder at the incredible  kaleidoscope of newness around her and trying to take it all in.

That image particularly touches me at this point in time, when we’re all looking up from the strange, unprecedented places we’re finding ourselves in as the coronavirus, unemployment, and toilet paper shortages spread across the globe. Now, it’s us looking up  wondering what it all means, where we’re all heading and even if we, at a personal level, will even be here when the clouds lift.

Don’t we all wish we could turn back time!

Sometimes, I also wish my kids would be little again for awhile. However, it doesn’t last long. I have always been one to prefer them exactly as they are.

Anyway, that’s at least my interpretation of the photo. I’d be interested to know your thoughts, and please be brutally honest if it does nothing for you. That’s what feedback’s for – not just a pat on the back.

I’d love to hear from you!

Best wishes,

Rowena

J- Jindabyne, NSW…A-Z Challenge.

Welcome to Day 10 of the Blogging from A to Z April Challenge 2020. Today we’re heading South from my grandparents’ place in Ipswich, Queensland to Jindabyne, which is the gateway to the Australia’s Snowy Mountains and ski fields, which have somehow become known as “The Australian Alps”. Please let me assure you, that these are not “Alps” in the real sense of the word, and are more like rounded hills than these soaring mountain peaks you see in other countries. However, you can still built snow people, have a snowball fight, ski and snowboard if you must.

While Ipswich was about the people, Jindabyne was about the experience, and for us that was skiing. We’ve made this trip a few times staying at Jindabyne and using that as a base to go skiing at Perisher.

Map of Jindabyne

Map showing the location of Jindabyne in relation to Mount Kosiuszko.

Jindabyne has come along in leaps and bounds, and has become so much more than cheaper place to crash for the night after squeezing out every precious moment on the snow. There’s a bevy of fantastic restaurants. So, you can eat well after an energetic day out on the slopes. In particular, we discovered Con and Donna’s fantastic Mexican restaurant,  Cocina Mexican Grill & Cantina, located in the town centre.

As much as I love great food, as I writer, I also love a story and I had a fantastic chat with Donna who drew me into their web. I might get some of these details wrong, but that’s the beauty of conversations as they pass through the years and become stories. Forty years before they opened in 2012, Con’s parents arrived in Jindabyne from Greece and like so many migrants during the 1960s, his father ended up working on the Snowy Hydro Scheme. Also, like many within the Greek community, he opened a milk bar, and restaurants working very long hours and carving out a future for their family in their adopted land. Over the years, the restaurant has had many transformations. However, when Donna and Con stripped it all back to start over, they found the original milk bar counter buried underneath and revived it. You’ve got to love a bit of nostalgia. They’ve also added a lot of personal touches like the pressed tin ceiling and suspended lights.

I clearly remember taking a number of photos inside the restaurant, as I was quite fascinated by the decor. Goodness knows where they went, and I’m convinced my dastardly computer has gobbled them up. It’s been doing a lot of that lately. I’ve been trying to dig up photos for this series, and so many of my photos have gone missing. It’s been incredibly frustrating. I have this one particular photo I want to use, and I can see it as clear as daylight in my head, but where it’s run off to is anyone’s guess. Indeed, I’ll have to start running missing photos ads, except you need a photo to run the ad. You can’t just leave an empty space. So, as you can see, I’m stuck between a rock and a hard place. So, I simply present my apologies and this hope you like this photo of a Jindabyne local chewing on a carrot stick.

kangaroo with carrot

We were feeding kangaroos carrots for breakfast.

Thought you might also enjoy this photo… Crows At Sunrise. Just be thankful you can’t hear the din!!

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However, while these nature shots are wonderful, this is why we were there:

However, before I head off, I just wanted to let you know that Jindabyne and the Snowy Mountains aren’t just a Winter destination. Indeed, I’ve also been down there a few times in Summer with my parents when we went on the Lakes Walk from Charlotte’s Pass through to Blue Lake, a staggering distance of  19 kms. Aside from constantly pleading with my parents: “Are we there yet?”, I remember seeing some very pretty alpine flowers. More importantly, I also saw snow for the very first time. Indeed, we tobogganed down some snow on very stylish garbage bags  near the top of Mt Kosciusko . It was so much fun.

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Here I am at the summit of Australia’s tallest peak, Mt Kosciusko, which is  2,228 metres (7,310 ft) above sea level. 

Well, I hope you’ve enjoyed our trip to Jindabyne and thank you for your patience. It’s hardly what I consider a professional tour, but until my photos miraculously reappear, it’s needing to be a case of “she’ll be right mate”.

Have you ever been to Jindabyne? Or, perhaps you’ve been somewhere else starting with J? I’ve never been to Japan. There had been talk of our daughter traveling to Japan with the Central Dance Company this year, but it’s been a good thing those plans lost momentum before the coronavirus came to pass.

We hope you and yours are keeping safe.

Best wishes,

Rowena

 

 

A-Z April Blogging Challenge- Theme Reveal – Places I’ve Been.

Once again, yours truly is completely unprepared for the annual A-Z April Blogging Challenge, despite fervid vows to “Be Prepared” next year and have all my posts written up in advance. Well, I guess my disorganized, last minute response could well be in keeping  with the theme of today…April Fool’s Day. Last night, I decided to change direction from ANZAC Soldiers serving in France during WWI to a photography travel series covering places I’ve been. I chose this theme because much of our world is currently in some form of social isolation at home and any form of travel has been outlawed and a plane has become a rare sight.

So, let me introduce myself.

Rowena 2018

My name’s Rowena Curtin and I’m no longer a 40 something writer, researcher, wife, mother, photographer and poor impersonation of a violinist. I am now 50. However, let’s be quite clear. I haven’t become 50 something YET!!!

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The Family at Christmas 2019

The other cast members here are my husband Geoff and two teenagers simply known as Mr and Miss. Geoff is currently working from home having conference calls and the like from our kitchen dining area which has now become his office. Our kids are doing schoolwork from home until the end of the week when they go on holidays. Our daughter has also been turning our kitchen into a dance studio right through dinner time and then there are the three dogs who are overjoyed to have all their ball and stick throwers at home. So, as you can see. Our place is rather cozy at the moment and will be for the unpredictable future.

Lady at Ocean Beach

Lady at Ocean Beach, Umina, NSW.

By the way, we live at Umina Beach just North of Sydney Australia. The beach is only a short walk away, which has been a blessed escape hatch from being imprisoned at home. Well, being stuck at home hasn’t quite become a prison yet. So, perhaps I was exaggerating things just a little for creative effect. However, whichever way you look at it. The world as we know it right now is hardly situation normal.

Of course, we’ll be travelling around the world alphabetically. However, there will be a particular emphasis on revisiting my 1992 backpacking trip around Europe where I landed in Amsterdam and then caught a train to Koln (Cologne) in Germany and onto Heidelberg, where I ultimately ended up living for roughly 6 months with a local family which was the experience of a lifetime. I also spent a week in Berlin living in what had been an East Berlin student house which still had all the authentic “interior design”. Then, I spent two weeks in Mons which included seeing Van Gough’s house nearby. There was about 6 weeks in Paris, a weekend in Florence and a week in London. It has become the trip of a lifetime, despite my desire to get back. Added salt to the wound, was when our son’s 3 week school history tour of Europe was cancelled due to the Coronavirus. He was due to be there now, but my goodness! We’re so glad he’s home.

So, I invite you to join me for these vicarious travels and I hope these photos and stories lift you out of the coronacrisis and possibly even taken you to your happy place. Indeed, that is the hope for myself.

Moreover, if you are doing the Blogging A-Z April Challenge, please leave a link to your theme reveal in the comments below.

Stay tuned!

Best wishes,

Rowena

 

Survivors of The Storm.

“Luck is a very thin wire between survival and disaster, and not many people can keep their balance on it.”

Hunter S. Thompson

Last night, thunder rumbled, lightening flashed and a certain little black dog (AKA Lady) had jumped up on my lap, a blithering mess. She’s terrified of storms. The rain was pelting down and a quick dash out to the back room which had leaked like a sieve a few weeks ago, confirmed my husband’s repairs had worked. It was watertight and we could at least breathe a sigh of relief on that front.

“I pass my life in preventing the storm from blowing down the tent, and I drive in the pegs as fast as they are pulled up.”

Abraham Lincoln

Meanwhile, I was pleased I’d gone back to photograph the teepees which had sprung up on the beach over the weekend, because they had a snowflake’s chance in hell of surviving the storm. (see my last post). I had hoped to get back down in the morning to photograph them under better light, but there was no chance they’d survive this storm and the ravages of the angry waves. Disappointing, but photography is like fishing and you also have the ones which get away.

“A few minutes ago every tree was excited, bowing to the roaring storm, waving, swirling, tossing their branches in glorious enthusiasm like worship. But though to the outer ear these trees are now silent, their songs never cease.”

John Muir

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Oh me of little faith! Somehow two of the teepees which were evidently made of much stronger stuff, were still standing. They’d survived and I was pretty stoked to have a third chance to photograph them, this time in much better light. Indeed, the sky and ocean were a brilliant blue and the beach was sparkling at its postcard best.

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So, after writing about transience and the force of the storm last night, now I’m addressing survival. What does it take to survive and still be standing (at least metaphorically speaking) at the end of the day? Is it luck? Resilience? God’s on your side? Or, good planning? We’re a scouting family and there’s a strong case for being “prepared”. In the case of the teepees, strong construction won the day. When it comes to myself and protecting my fragile lungs, I take 1000mg if Vitamin C on a good day and 3000 on a bad one. I also go for a “daily” walk, although “daily” could be interpreted more along the lines of “intermittent”. Of course, my intentions are good but life seems to grab me by the short and curlys and the sun sets on yet another day with a swag of things undone. After all, more humble humans like yours truly, can’t tick all of the boxes all of the time and some days I’m just glad to tick “still here”.

Perhaps, I’m just more human than most…

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“The fishermen know that the sea is dangerous and the storm terrible, but they have never found these dangers sufficient reason for remaining ashore.”

-Vincent Van Gogh

Indeed, perhaps you like me will relate to this addition I came across on the beach this morning. Of course, it’s open to interpretation. On one hand, you could say it it was a retake of Stonehenge in Australian driftwood. You could also say that it’s something that’s gone splat. I’ll leave it up to you.

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An ordinary Summer’s day.

Anyway, it was really wonderful just to walk along the beach in the glorious sunshine after last night’s storm, which was barely visible on the beach. The storm had passed.

It was another day…

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I hope you’ve enjoyed walking along the beach with me. I wonder what tomorrow will bring.
Best wishes,

Rowena

Magnolia Daze…Something’s Alive in the Garden.

I’m stone cold sober.Yet, I’m visually intoxicated by this massive, white magnolia flower, with its graceful petals imitating a dancer’s silhouette. Isn’t it absolutely beautiful?!! For me, it’s particularly appealing because our garden has been little more than scorched earth during the last few years of Australian drought. So, just seeing a blade of green grass is enough to send me troppo!

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Thankfully, however, the garden is feeling relatively happy at the moment. We’ve been having very heavy downpours, localized flooding and if we had frogs, they’d also be doing the happy dance.

However, unfortunately, you can have too much of a good thing. Last weekend, the rain and wind was so heavy that our back roof was leaking like a sieve and we had to clear out more stuff than the average sod keeps in an entire house. Numerous local trees were blown over and even our fledgling lemon tree (which is protected on three sides) was left bending right over looking and feeling like a weeping willow.

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All of this rain, also renewed my hopes for a spot of colour in the garden and being able to cook with herbs freshly picked from the garden like one of those swanky TV chefs.  Yes, the pots are still sitting out the front unplanted a few weeks later, but at least they’re out of reach of the doggies. So, there’s a chance they’ll survive.

However, after seeing interviews tonight with bush fire survivors who’ve lost everything, a beautiful garden or even a pot plant, feels like a luxury indulgence. Yet, at the same time, even when the battle is at its worst, we still need to pluck out anything which lifts our spirits. Raises hope. There is never just all doom and despair, there is a ray of light somewhere. Moreover, as a photographer myself, I can appreciate that the darker the shadow, the brighter the light.

So, how is your garden going? I think it’s still officially Summer here, although the actually weather is very unpredictable. What are the seasons doing in your neck of the woods?

Anyway, I’d love to hear from you, even if my response may be a little slow due to my current research load.

Best wishes,

Rowena

PS I love how you can zoom into your subject with the camera and blot out all the messy, ugly or simply distracting background junk. Your perspective, indeed your world, is only as wide as your zoom, which might be a be dangerous in other contexts but is great for a crisp photo.

Driving North- Photographing the Aftermath of the Australian Bush Fires.

No doubt, you’ve also experienced that mixture of excitement and disappointment on a long drive, when you spot something spectacular out the window, but are having difficulties finding somewhere to pull over safely. If you’re as desperate as yours truly to seize the moment in 6 x 4, the fear of missing out (popularised as “FOMO”)  grips you body and soul. You’re a possessed maniac just like that person busting for the toilet in the middle of nowhere yet precariously still strapped into their seat. Don’t you know that desperation too? You’re about to explode. You have to get out. You can’t wait any longer. The cry goes out: “Pull over!!!”

Sunset After the Fire's Been Through

That’s what happened two weeks ago when we were driving North from Sydney to Byron Bay via the Pacific Highway and we spotted the sun setting through the burned out bush. The sun was enormous, glowing like a ball of fire through the charred eucalyptus or gum trees. It was strangely breathtaking. I had to seize the moment, which was rapidly disappearing with the fading light.

Fortunately, my husband who was driving at the time, was sympathetic to my plight and pulled over without complaint. The photos didn’t work out quite as well as I’d hoped, and actually tell quite a different story now I look at them back home. After all, they contain so many signs of life and nature fighting back against the devastating impact of the fires. Indeed, we saw vast expanses of trees exploding in a profusion of fresh green leaves seemingly as a form of post-traumatic growth. My goodness. These eucalyptus trees are tough. Bloody resilient. The bush wasn’t dead after all.

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The family in front of the lens with me behind it. 

By this stage, the bush fires had been extinguished up North, but were still blazing fiercely on the South Coast. Yet, we still weren’t sure what we were going to find. Independently, Geoff and I have been up and down this road all our lives and since we met 21 years ago, we’ve driven up here at least once a year to see his sisters and family. So, while this stretch of the Pacific Highway isn’t quite an extension of our driveway, we know it well. We care about it, too, and it sent a chill down our spines when we heard that a fascinating time capsule to early settlement, a museum called Little Italy, was at risk. I’m sure I screamed out: “NO!!!” to the TV. If I didn’t, I certainly wanted to. The devastation has been catastrophic.

However, we were relieved and almost surprised to see that the bush had endured, persevered and overcome. Indeed, we saw kilometres of bush where trees were sprouting fresh green leaves, an almost freakish, furry-green regrowth, as their will to survive went into overdrive. Indeed, I wondered if this was a variation of the post-traumatic growth we can also experience following a traumatic event. I’m not a scientist so I can’t know for sure. However, on a personal level, I found it very encouraging and it certainly lifted my sagging spirits. After being confined to the lounge room at home to escape the menacing smoke, I’d watched months of bush fire coverage on TV. Indeed, I was seriously starting to wonder how much of our precious Australian bush would be left when we ventured further afield. So, I found these shoots of green such a relief. A restoration of lost hope.

Horses after the fires

Horses running from humans rather than the flames. 

We’d pulled over to photograph the sun setting through the scarred, burned-out landscape. However, while we were there a couple of skittish horses ran passed not to escape the fires, but from us. I madly clicked away and sadly didn’t do the moment justice. However, the makings are there. It doesn’t take much imagination to see these horses running from the flames. Much better in the imagination than reality, and I certainly don’t want to be around to photograph that. Indeed, I’ll leave that to the movies. Far too many animals have been lost in these horrific fires. I’ve seen enough. I just hope there’s some way our wildlife can bounce back like these trees and am grateful for the rain and for the incredibly generous donations which are coming in from around the world. They’re much appreciated.

There has been such catastrophic suffering. I don’t even know where to begin. Possessions can be replaced, but there’s the horror for many of the engulfing flames and smoke and many have lost their lives. There’s a post traumatic anxiety pervading all our communities. At a very basic level, just watching the coverage on TV is enough, but our population is relatively small here in Australia. Our friends and families were at the heart of these catastrophic fires, even if we were well away and not impacted ourselves. What is perhaps most telling, is that the smoke from these fires reached as far away as South America. That’s the other side of the world and a reminder, that we’re a global community.

Driving back home, we stopped off at Taree, where the fires hit hard. We saw the writing melted on road signs on the turn off and places where the fire had jumped across the freeway, showing just how bad it was. There was a roundabout covered in the charred remains of grass trees and it looked pretty bleak until my husband pointed out that fresh shoots were springing from the devastation. A keen photographer himself, he said: “that’s your shot”. Unfortunately, this time there was nowhere to stop, and that one went through to the keeper.

Have you been affected by the Australian fires? I’m thinking of you.

Best wishes,

Rowena