Since moving to the Wimmera – well, before then, actually – the Serviceton Railway Station has been on my list of places to visit. All I knew about it was that it’s a huge station in the “middle of nowhere”, i.e. on the very far western edge of the Wimmera, beside the South Australian border. (The Wimmera has a bit of a saying that it’s really “in the middle of everywhere, which goes to show the lack of cynicism the communities here exhibit.) I also knew something vague about it being the station where the guages changed between the states.
Serviceton is the setting of a few dozen run-down houses, several barking dogs, and the monolithic station. As you approach from the Elizabeth Street entry, it looms impressively over the flattened landscape, like an icon of the age of steam. It also looks pretty lonely – though perhaps that feeling is added to by the dilapidation of the town.
Heading up the steps and out onto the platform, you almost expect a tumbleweed to drift by. Yet, the tracks are still neatly maintained.
Entering the building, voices echoed from bodies unseen, and feeling like an intruder, I slipped back out into the air. My Good Man obliged me by standing still for a few photos, something I don’t usually encourage as I tend to prefer taking people-less photos.
Back in Autumn – which, when Downunder, begins in March – we travelled to Port Lincoln on Eyre Peninsula. One of the nicest afternoons was spent in Lincoln National Park, and another on the west side of the peninsula in the Coffin Bay area.
Kellidie Bay was the first place we stopped to explore, and though the sky was overcast, it was pleasant enough for an amble. This photo made use of the Dramatic Tone Art mode on my Olympus, which often results in photos with Overly Dramatic Tones that you may as well send to the trash. Sometimes it works out ok, though.
A little way around from the tree which is the subject of the first photo, I found a cormorant, or “shag”, watching me warily from its perch. The Pinhole Art Mode may not have been the best choice, here – I like it better when shooting antiques and collectibles, as it has a nice way of saturating colours, and the vignette naturally frames the subject while going some way to screen out background distractions.Coffin Bay warranted far more photos; but as we arrived the heavens opened, so all I got were three little ducks.
Driving further north, we headed out to Mount Dutton Bay, Little Douglas, and Farm Beach. More on that later!
Self-portraiture is a sensitive pursuit. Sometimes, it is brought about by the need for either a model, or a photographer, and one settles for becoming both. It can be very ruthless, as the camera shows aspects that leave you agonized by perceived physical flaws. Yet it can be precious, when you find a shot that you feel glad to have captured.
When I was first shooting film, I experimented with setups using mirrors, or the tripod. So when a costume piece arrived in the mail today, I knew I wouldn’t be able to wait to see another of my photographer friends before I got some photos made; and dusting off the tripod, I set out to create an image I liked.
As with 99.9% of my work, the shots didn’t turn out at all like I hoped – and in the end, none really showcased the corset as I had intended. I kept only one tripod shot, after heavily cropping it in Picasa, then applying a filter and border in Pixlr-o-matic. And the hand-held shots were very random, leaving me disappointed and frustrated by my inability to create my vision.
But slowly, with judicious cropping, I saw how the images could be salvaged and made more abstract, and I feel they were enhanced by the camera’s Grainy black and white mode, and the lack of focal clarity. It’s not to everyone’s taste, but it is to my own. In the end, I think self-portraiture must be that above all else.
Sharing these photos is an an act of courage and absurdity. I hope that you, reader, will not be too ruthless.
When I step out, chances are I step out with My Young Man, Danny. I like my dogs like I like my cars: fast and light, and able to turn on a dime.
Danny is a 7 year old Italian Greyhound who I adopted when he was a year old. I contacted his breeder about buying a puppy, and had arranged to buy a tiny little sable boy who I had already named Selkie before he died after battling through 13 days of tentative life. On another visit to look at the litter mates who survived Selkie, I met Danny, who was spending time in the house while he recuperated with a broken wrist. I took a seat, Danny hopped straight into my lap – and the deal was struck! But because his leg was in plaster, I was unable to take him home until his breeder was happy that the leg had healed properly.
When he finally came home, there was a fair bit of adjustment. He was really, really timid; he wouldn’t even come to me without endless coaxing. Also, I had glossed over reams of information about IGs being a challenge to housebreak, and hadn’t considered the fact that he had spent his life in a kennel, not a house. I was forever cleaning up the signs of his unwillingness to go outside – the only consolation was that a small bladder can only produce so much fluid! But he got along well with the cats, and was a charming and amusing addition to the household. It only took me four years to work out to not leave him inside the house for any period of time, unless I was prepared to mop up!
As a dog for stepping out with goes, he is a delight: on the lead, he is light and heels nicely – although it’s always a bit of a battle of wills when he sees another dog he wants to meet; and he wants to meet every dog he sees! Off lead, he’s as mad as any sighthound, and beautiful to watch in full-flight. He quite enjoys little acts of agility, but only for as long as he’s having fun. And if he’s bored or cold he is just as likely to nip home and get in his bed. There’s no place like home.
A few times while out for a drive I’ve encountered a farmer sitting in his ute, a couple of dogs on the back, and a herd of cows scattered across the rural road. I find the sight of cows in a paddock quite endearing and heart-warming, as I’m sure pastoral painters of old did too. Up close, they’re even more charming. Except for that one time when one tried to lick the wiper right off. On this occasion, though, they were quite well behaved.
Old Betsy One-horn didn’t care two hoots for my desire to pass, and held her ground. That’s ok – the least I could do was move over for a lady and her calf.
I tried to include the bird’s nest (most likely from a magpie)
in the top of the oak tree, but was determined to not have to
get down on the soggy ground to do so! Not much dedication
shown there, then.
Botanical textures underfoot
Snowdrops flower resolutely along one side of the little church
Hard to resist taking a photo of a road-killed buck kangaroo,
who clearly didn’t find salvation for his troubles at this chapel.
In researching the history of Roseneath, I found the following information on the Heritage Victoria website:
The land on which St. Catherine’s Anglican Church stands was donated by Mr. Charles Simson of nearby Roseneath, a squatting run which his father, Rev. Charles Simson, a Presbyterian Minister had acquired with partners, in 1853. He also donated the timber for the building. Tenders were called in the Casterton Advertiser newspaper in August 1904. It is not known who designed the church, as no early minutes or other sources have been found, but the builder was Mr. Foster, who carted the timber to the site and constructed the church in 1905. The first service was held on 12th March 1905, with a congregation of 70 attending. Although this was the first service in the present building, Parish documents suggest that the Roseneath area had services from 1847. The earliest services were probably held at the Roseneath homestead and subsequently services were held, usually monthly, in the Red Cap Common School. The Education Department ‘supplied a school-house “of brick or stone” to accommodate 40 pupils’ which opened in June 1876 (Dept. of Education, 1973, Vol. z., p.61). The first Bishop of the Diocese of Ballarat, Bishop Thornton held a service in May 1887 at the Common School at Red Cap (Black, 21). The last service at the Common School was held on Sunday 12th February 1905 (ibid.). In 1905, the Roseneath Run was subdivided as 15,210 acres (7,084ha) of first class agricultural and grazing land (Casterton News, 19 October 1905). The successful sale of much of the land would have increased the local population and may have put pressure on the use of the school. It may also have provided the money for Charles Simson’s patronage.
The church was officially dedicated to Saint Catherine of Sienna, although it is believed that this was because Mr. Charles Simson’s wife was also named Catherine (also spelt Katherine). The trees around the church were planted in July 1937 to commemorate the gifts and support of the Simson family. The church was recently sold into private ownership.