Tag Archives: surf

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

Santa’s Australian Post-Christmas Escape.

You couldn’t blame Santa for needing a bit of a break after supervising all his elves and dashing round the planet on his sleigh. After all, he must have the most stressful job on Earth.

So, here he is hiding out at Lennox Head, South of Byron Bay on Australia’s East Coast catching some waves.

Of course, I had to join him. While I’m not much chop as a surfer, today must have been my lucky day because I not only managed to stand up, I also stayed dry. That’s quite an achievement.

By the way, I should mention that I’ve enjoyed feeling 21 again on this holiday. I’m not looking forward to returning to responsibility when the kids go back to school at the end of January. It’s been absolute bliss drifting along for a bit and not needing to be anywhere at a particular time. No lines etched in the sand. They’ve all been washed away.

Have you ever been surfing and do you have any stories to share?

Best wishes,

Rowena

Walking Through The Mist

Each and every day starts out as a blank canvas and you never know what it is going to bring.

Yesterday, our town was covered in a very thick blanket of fog, clouds which have fallen to the ground and it was so atmospheric.

Such a gift!

xx Rowena

Byron Bay… Setting My Rainbow Feet Free.

Although I wouldn’t describe myself as stuffy, there’s something in the air at Byron Bay that makes me so relaxed that I almost fall apart. It’s the most fabulous feeling that I wish I could pump it into the air and make everyone all over the world feel that magic.

If you know Byron Bay at all, even just by reputation, you could cynically agree that there’s definitely something in the air. Something that you smoke. That’s why Byron Bay has that unique ambiance. However, I didn’t even sense a whiff of the stuff. I’m  talking about its natural beauty and how the sun, sky and sea gradually become white, powdery sand, green palms, jungle, green pastures dotted with cows or perhaps macadamia and coffee plantations until the earth meets the sky via those jagged blue hills.

The magic of Byron Bay is more than just going to the beach. Having a swim. This is something I actually take for granted and I live right near a beach and walk my dogs along the beach most mornings.

No, there’s something else. Something special which I don’t think anyone can truly name or understand which makes Byron Bay so special.

It just is.

Although I’ve shared some beautiful photos of Byron Bay, I thought this series of photos of my feet at the beach really captures how Byron Bay set me free. Indeed, as I relaxed I felt so liberated. That the layers of stress just peeled away, liberating the butterfly from her stiff and stuffy chrysalis to finally spread her wings and fly towards the sun.

The new arrival...shoes still on.

The new arrival…shoes still on.

What you won’t appreciate simply by looking at this photo is that these shoes have practically been glued to my feet since I broke my foot last December. I had to wear a boot for about 3 months and then the physio told me it was joggers and I certainly haven’t worn any heels. Just the of pair of boots and now that Summer’s almost here, a pair of sandals. You could say I’ve been playing it safe but my feet have appreciated the extra support.

So my journey starts off with my feet in laced-up joggers…a bit over-dressed for the beach.

Especially when you don’t want to get your shoes wet.

Feet in the sand.

Feet in the sand.

Now that you’ve actually seen my feet, I trust you’ve noticed and admired my rainbow nail polish….thanks to my daughter. It’s become a bit of a holiday thing where she paints our nails rainbow colours. That’s been my choice more than hers. Seeing my rainbow toe nails makes me smile and when I had my foot in the boot, I caught quite a few people smiling at them. I’d just smile at them and say: “My daughter did it”. Oh how they sighed!

Mother & Daughter Feet: Not big feet and little feet anymore!

Mother & Daughter Feet: Not big feet and little feet anymore! Her feet are definitely catching up!

Rainbow Toes

Getting my feet wet.

Rainbow feet scudding through white powder.

Rainbow feet scudding through white powder.

As you can see, the shoes came off. I rolled up my cuffs and at least got my feet wet. While there were people swimming, it was still a bit cold for us. I managed to brave getting my feet wet and that was about it. Yet, I still have fun!

Have you ever been to Byron Bay? Any stories to share?

Take care and I hope you’re having a great week!

xx Rowena

PS: I just strayed across this excellent post about existence versus truly living, which contrasts free-range and battery hens. A great read: http://betterlifecoachingblog.com/2015/10/16/free-range-hens-a-story-about-existing-or-living/

Poem: Beyond the Veil

I watch the tourist bride & groom

snap-frozen for the camera.

Smiling in the shadow of

its towering silhouette.

Guardian of ships,

she’s now fully automated.

The lighthouse keeper

is long gone.

Thrown into the spotlight,

the tourist bride & groom

try on their celebrity smiles:

so awkward,

almost robotic.

Their performance unrehearsed,

bride and groom for one day.

Married for a life time.

Or, maybe not.

An Easterly wind blows

straight in my face.

So close

that I can almost smell its breath.

It slaps me hard on both cheeks,

like a frozen fish.

If I were a kite,

I would fly!

The bride & groom who inspired this poem were posing for photos from this lookout. Providing a stunning ocean backdrop, they also balanced precariously above these steep, jagged plunge into the rough surf.

The bride & groom who inspired this poem were posing for photos from this lookout. Providing a stunning ocean backdrop, they also balanced precariously above these steep, jagged plunge into the rough surf.

Tourist bride & groom

perched so precariously

on the edge of the abyss,

the lookout giving way to the sea.

Waves gnashing their teeth

against the rocks.

Shipwrecks, disaster

are no stranger to these

savage, unforgiving shores…

a watery grave.

Following a change in the guard,

a Northerly blows through

with a vengeance,

seizing her bridal veil

too fast for a grasping hand

to intervene.

Pirouetting in slow motion

through the air with such grace,

almost Swan Lake,

it comes to rest in the surf

where there is no peace.

Just the savagery of the brutal sea.

She stares through tears

at her diamond ring,

which has suddenly lost

so much of its sparkle.

It might just be chance

but deep in her heart

she fears the winds of fate

have spoken.

The rocks at the base of the lookout.

The rocks at the base of the lookout.

How can it be

that even our loftiest dreams

can crash so quickly,

broken by the waves?

Those waves

which never, ever

pause to stop.

The waves pounding the shore....Byron Bay Lighthouse.

The waves pounding the shore….Byron Bay Lighthouse.

Byron Bay Lighthouse September 2015.

I started writing this poem while watching a Japanese bride and groom posing for their wedding photos at the lookout. Geoff and the kids were walking down to signposted Most Easterly Point in Australia and onto the beach down below, which was too much of a walk for me. They also had the camera. They were gone for about an hour, giving me plenty of time to watch and absorb the waves ferociously crashing on the waves down below. You really feel the strength and power of the mighty Pacific Ocean here and the waves are huge, powerful, incredibly beautiful but also unforgiving.

I ended up watching this bride and groom posing for their photos for some time. They clearly weren’t feeling comfortable, like so many bride and grooms. They spend there big day being photo models without any preparation or training. Being an extrovert myself, I’ve always loved having my photo taken and have my photo face. People tell me that I look a lot better in photos. However, that didn’t mean I didn’t feel some compassion for this poor bride and groom being tortured by their photographer.

I was standing quite a distance away and from where I was standing, I saw most of the steep escarpment behind them, which became quite an allegoryt for the ruggedness of real life after the wedding is over. Sure, it’s not all hard work but it’s not a fairytale wrapped up in lace and rose petals either.

The bride’s veil didn’t fly away but I could help imagining how that would look with the veil leaping over the edge and spiralling towards its death in the surf.

How would you feel as a bride if your veil flew away like that? I couldn’t help but feel a little superstitious, despite my Christian beliefs. Brides can be very anxious creatures and any sign of trouble becomes magnified and instantly catastrophised.

However, my husband, who is more pragmatic, said what would it matter if the veil flew away after the wedding? It’s done its job.

Anyway, any insights would be much appreciated.Do you have any wedding disasters to share?

xx Rowena

The Photographer Bride: taking photos at my own wedding. Totally incorrigible.

The Photographer Bride: taking photos at my own wedding. Totally incorrigible.