Even with enviable working hours in the quiet library where I work solo, sometimes it’s still necessary to get out at lunch and go for a walk or a drive for a change of scenery. Yesterday I discovered that a no-through road I thought was private is actually public, so parked at the end of it. The view (looking back along where I had driven) was very restful.
On a recent visit to Port Lincoln, at the bottom of Eyre Peninsula in South Australia, I was surprised to find I was enjoying myself.
Something I am often guilty of, when travelling, is not taking time to discover. So when I unexpectedly developed a burning desire to explore the Lincoln National Park one afternoon, I lined up a suitable travelling companion (one who enjoys the natural environment more than My Good Man does) and did it before I could talk myself out of it.
And boy, was I glad!
The road into the park was newly sealed, and very easy to travel.
We walked along this beach, taking time to sit for a while, blissfully relaxed and completely alone, except for the passing sailboats. The sand was composed of fine, polished fragments of shell, interspersed with shells and small pebbles.
Driving further, we hit a good gravel road and headed out to Cape Donington, with its lighthouse and Donington Cottage, built at the turn of last century. But for once it wasn’t the man-made structures here that were of most interest – it was the beautiful rock structures we enjoyed most. The granite boulders were covered in vivid orange lichen, and invited that very thing I sadly seldom experience: exploration.
Watching the waves wash in over the rock shelf surrounding this boulder, I urged my companion to sit on it. Timing her dash to beat the next wave, she scrambled up and posed for me. Had we more time (and I, more actual inclination), it would have been a splendid place for a planned photo shoot. But as it was, it was a perfect visit, devoid of expectation.
Driving home from work, I was struck by yet another dramatic Wimmera sky. Most often the dramatic skies we are treated to are dominated by ranks of clouds, like in the opening scene to The Simpsons, or feature darkly intense masses of cloud to the east while the foreground is bathed gold with late afternoon sunlight.
Tonight’s amazing sky, however, was dramatic in a very understated way, as the whole landscape was overlaid by a haze, like smoke from far distant fires, or a kind of grey fog, lending it an eerie quiet. As I drove past a gum tree I have often admired – frequently wondering how to best capture it – I was compelled to stop and back up. I left the motor running as I leapt out, jogged to the fence, and took a few quick snaps, taking advantage of the diffusing effect the haze created.
Out for a drive in the minibeast the other day, I was reflecting on her deceptive nature. At first glance, she looks like a sports car. People (particularly those who drive more practical vehicles, and who are unlikely to ever own a second car for purely selfish reasons) tend to say wistfully Ooh, look at your sports car, and I smirk and say – self deprecatingly – Oh, it’s not really a sports car, before leaning hard on the throttle (or worse, stalling) like the big silly I really am.
Yes, there is the distinction of having one of the world’s smallest production V6 motors; but while that’s a fun fact (not to mention the tear of joy brought to my eye by the resultant engine note), it doesn’t make her a sports car. Having two doors and a ridiculously small back seat, in typical 2+2 style, does not make her a sports car. Having an official 0-100km/h time of 8.5 seconds certainly does not make her a sports car.
Puttering along at low revs, particularly when the engine is cold, she’s positively mulish. Drive her conservatively, and you’ll get out what you put in – including pretty good fuel economy for a 6. People won’t stop and stare because you’re driving an outrageous sports car; they’ll turn their indifferent shoulders dismissively, because you’re not. And you’ll find yourself feeling a bit deceived by her sleek looks and the V6 badge.
Then you neatly turn a corner (barely needing to reduce speed), and push down that throttle – just to see if she’s got anything else to give – and as you goad her on up past 4000 revs you notice that she’s suddenly got the bit between her teeth, and is heading for glory; belting her over 5000 revs, there’s a surge, and you forget that you were pouting only moments before, because she’s flying and you’re owning the road, and you’re grinning because you were just deceived again, and this time you think that maybe she is a bit of a sports car, after all.
Often in my personal photography, there is an element of self-confidence – or rather, the lack thereof – and comparison with others that is quite destructive. Sometimes I find, most usually after spending hours taking photos, that when I get home and download them, I am quite disappointed. Any confidence I may have had in my work during the shoot quickly dissolves into misery.
Two nights ago, as I feverishly downloaded photos I had just taken at a friend’s wedding, I realised with growing panic that I had chosen inappropriate settings for many shots – while they looked great on the LCD screen, they didn’t translate well on the laptop’s screen. Despondent, I began to do some basic editing – cropping, black and white conversion, adding some vintage effects. But as I worked, I began again to feel a connection to my photos and the events of the day. Now I was beginning to feel buoyant again, even though the amazing treasure trove I had hoped to return with seemed to have lost some of its glimmer. It was like gradually falling in love again with something I’d once discarded.
My Good Man and I were in the Grampians for a wedding on the weekend. As the following morning was clear, after a leisurely cafe breakfast we decided to walk off the overindulgence at Halls Gap Zoo. (Visiting zoos is one of the few times we are content to walk together for longer than a few minutes – most of the time there’s a lot of “come for a walk?” and the reply, from him, “have fun!”)
According to Wikipedia, the zoo was opened in the 1980s as a wildlife park; indeed, I remember visiting it in the mid ’80s with my mum and a friend from North Dakota. It’s just the kind of place overseas tourists love to visit, with lots of native wildlife to be seen up close. At that time, there was also a lot of deer, and we bought bags of food to give them. That would have been the highlight for me.
Yesterday we weren’t seduced by the promise of being able to feed the wildlife (the still-prolific deer tried to eat the map anyway), but we did enjoy ourselves, and it was a pleasant walk through the exhibits too.
At the doorway to the park stood the Peacock of Greeting, who stepped casually out of the way to let us pass. When we headed into the nocturnal house, I became quickly besotted with the Veiled Chameleon in the entrance, who was doing a super-slow-motion dance. Chameleons are several kinds of awesome: one – they’re so colourful; two – their eyes swivel around independently of each other; three – they catch their prey with a very long, sticky tongue; four – curly, whirly, tail; five – this one had a helmet. I’m sure there is yet more awesomeness to be discovered.
The Pygmy Marmosets were my favourite exhibit – they seemed to be as engaged in the act of looking at the amazing creature behind the glass as we were. They also looked disconcertingly intelligent, and as though a finger would be a welcome treat.
In the fossil house, the static displays were enhanced by the inclusion of reptile exhibits. The python, though its neck was outstretched, was quite immobile and I wasn’t even quite sure it was alive!
The walk through the open air exhibits took us into a roaming band of hungry deer, who trailed along behind as we saw wallabies, emus, a cassowary, bison, a hyper Phascogale, native quolls, Tasmanian devils, owls, corellas, parrots, Bush stone-curlews, a bustard, meerkats, red pandas, spider monkeys, antelope, Barbary sheep, and many more besides. It was well worth the visit.
Yesterday three colleagues and I drove a total of 12 hours to attend a two hour training session in Melbourne. It was a good – if long – day out, and provided a welcome opportunity for more precious ruthless captures, particularly of the drive-by kind.
Northern Grampians – there is a textural quality to this image that reminds me of an oil painting.
Such grace and balance in this beautiful old home in Ararat.
The gracious street trees of Melbourne.
Elegant and simple (though not by modern standards) details on the State Library of Victoria.
Librarians love books!