Wednesday, November 30, 2011

What is it Wedneday?

Just a bit of fun.

A cropped part of one of my archive piccies.
Any guesses as to what this is?

Monday, November 28, 2011

The Lake that Came Home

Almost exactly 18 months ago I posted about one of my weekend trips.

I was talking about the impact of more than a decade of drought on Lake Eildon in the Central Highlands of Victoria.

Well if there is one thing certain about the Aussie climate it is that a period of drought will end in periods of flooding rain.

I went back to Eildon yesterday and the contrast couldn’t be greater.

Gough’s bay in 2010Almost the same angle in 2011The southern shore in 2010And in 2011.And a close up to emphasize the difference.
The lake is over 25 metres (82 feet) deeper!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The light at the end of the…

Well my guessing game wasn’t much of a challenge.

It was indeed the light at the end of a tunnel.On Sunday Deb and I drove up to the mountains of the Great Dividing Range north of Melbourne.Not far from the town of Yea is an abandoned railway. In recent years the rail lines have been torn up and it has been turned into part of a trail for bush-walkers (hikers), bicycle and horse riders.

On the trail is a single tunnel the Cheviot Rail tunnel. Completed in 1889 it was built from hand made bricks fired locally.
Now I won’t bore you with the details too much, but I recently bought a new lens for my camera.

As you may remember I paid my new camera off over several months. The camera is a beautiful piece of gear but it came with two cheap and just about functional kit lenses.
Well I have finally managed to buy my first professional quality lens to go with the camera. At $1,200 I won’t be getting any more in a hurry (I have about another $6,000 worth of lenses on my wish list).

Anyway to cut a long story short I had a great hour or so in and around the tunnel just playing with my new lens.With a good camera you get an awful lot of control over the image you produce.

The bright light I posted last time and this shot were taken from the same spot.
The difference: controlling, aperture and exposure for a different look. I think the tunnel frames a small slice of Oz quite nicely.

This young family were surprisingly thrilled by the idea of being silhouettes in my piccie
These next two were taken from halfway through. The first a long exposure with no flash to show one of the safety bays; this is actually a little brighter than it was to the eye (no lights in the tunnel)
The second is with a flash.Enough for one night.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

A Quickie

A Quickie
I am home really late from a day out and have to get ready for work in the morning.

So no proper post instead a tease.
I caught some shots of this little fellow.

But my main target for the day is featured in the piccie below.

This one didn't quite work.

Any guesses as to what it is?

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Mental blank.

Tonight when I sat down to type this post I couldn’t think of a single thing to post about.

I seem to be using up my creative energy on my WIP and on photography at the moment.

Ah well I’ll just have to rely on the second of those for a post tonight.

Back to the Grampians tonight.

During our second day there we visited a second Aboriginal rock art site.

Like Billimina this site is also protected behind a wire barrier.

The mindless morons who vandalized this panel of figures show why the protection is needed.This panel has a faint parade of figures across it. I wonder if they represent the people who lived here or spirits.

Finally two sections that give the shelter its name Manja,Manja means ‘hands’ in the language of the people of this land.

This last photo is one of my favorite ever.Technically it isn’t a great photo but I really feel it captures the essence of this place. It feels to me that the people of old have reached down through the centuries to touch us today.

Monday, November 14, 2011

In which Al limps his way along.

I mentioned a while ago that I was beginning to read the second draft of my second novel to Deb. As a creative tool I find this wonderfully useful.

I get to weave my way through the narrative, and really hear the rhythm. Deb is a great listener and gently critical when the plot (or the writing) needs it.

So far we are about 10% through and on the whole Deb likes it. But the downside is she has identified some points where I need to do more to develop the relationship between two characters. So as you can see very helpful!

Now I am going to digress to one of my other favorite topics waterfalls.

Weeks ago I took a trip to the Otway ranges in Western Vic. Unlike the Grampians they are just behind the coast so they are wet, very wet.

I wove my way down through the rainforest in search of the Beauchamp Falls.I caught a few shots of this amazing fungi,And from underneath.Finally I reached the falls. After climbing down these stairs I got this shot from a viewing platform about half way up.Never one to make things easy for myself I decided to leave the formal path and climb down to the river bed to get shots from the base of the falls.

I’m glad I did because I saw this little fellow.He was hunting for insects in a small patch along the river banks.
The shots aren’t great because it was really dark under the forest and he would not sit still.

I have no idea what he is, I have never seen one before. I presume he is quite a local species.

About now I did something very silly and slipped on what appeared to be quite dry and stable rocks.

In saving myself I managed to bash my knee and soak my clothes.

Fortunately, when I am crossing ground that I’m unsure of I carry my camera in a padded bag. So no damage to my camera, I think I would have cried had I broken it.

I limped on upstream to the base of the falls and caught some more shots.The misty look is caused by spray from the falls. When I looked at the rocks I saw why I had fallen. Continuous drifts of moisture from the falls has caused them to grow a slick film of brown algae. What looks like rock is actually as slick as ice.

Kind of content I had the fun of climbing back out of the gorge, then climbing the stairs and finally a mile long walk (or should I say limp) back to the car.

As I said this was weeks ago, and I am all healed up. But it is a good lesson extra care is needed. Good shots are not worth an injury.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

A promise

I promised my third post on my latest visit to the Grampians would feature wildflowers.

On our third day I went for a very short walk (about 800 metres) to get a shot of this amazing formation which was once called "the Jaws of Death"
Now I would like to say more but I am out of time tonight so I will let the flowers speak for themselves. This is a sample of the dozens of species I saw along that short path.

Most of these are flowers I have never seen before. Oz flora is so diverse that you travel a few miles and you will find a very different plant community.
No idea what this one is
Or this one, I guess from the structure that it is an orchid.
There was a little patch of them growing in one boggy area.
I would guess from the flower structure that this is a Melaleuca species (but I could easily be wrong)
Some kind of native Iris (I think)
This is a tea-tree of some variety (a much larger flower than most)
I know these
Holly Grevillea opening
And fully open
and a whole bunch with a pea flower of some kind in the background.

Dozens more to come

Monday, November 7, 2011

Wonderful Waterfalls

As you may have already gathered in our little vote Aboriginal Rock-art took the vote with five votes.

Waterfalls came second with four votes. So without further ado I begin with the Mackenzie Falls on the Mackenzie River.
The Mackenzie falls are in the heart of the Grampians and I think really beautiful.
I climbed down the stairs you see on the left to get a shot from the base of the falls.

This part of the Grampians is well and truly on the tourist trail, but we arrived late on a Saturday as it was getting dark and threatening to rain.

So we pretty much had the falls to ourselves.
Climbing back up the falls I paused to catch this shot of water cascading over these shelves on the way to the top of the falls.Another climb and I paused to get this shot of a native violet (probably Viola hederacea) in the half light.The clouds lightened a little so just as the sun set I quick marched about another quarter mile upstream to catch the Broken Falls (also on the Mackenzie River).Two days later it was time to leave the Grampians, but before we did we took an 128 km (80 miles) detour to the Wannon River.

On the Wannon are two more well known falls in the Grampians Region. I didn’t know how soon we’d be back so an extra side journey was not going to stop this waterfall nut when we were so close.

The first falls on the Wannon were the Nigretta Falls, which drop into a popular swimming hole near the town of Hamilton.Back in the car for another short drive this time. This time to the Wannon Falls. I really struggled getting a decent shot because the setting sun was shining into the camera lens.
A wait of half an hour and the sun went behind a cloud long enough to get this.
Then our Grampians break was over and it was back in the car for the four and a half hour drive home (we got home just befor midnight).
But I haven’t finished with the Grampians because next post is Grampians’ Wildflowers.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Nga keeat Billimina

In the rugged Grampian ranges.Along rough bush trailsHidden in the high ground around the valleys
Often under shallow overhangs like thisLie special placesNga keeat Billimina
In the language of the people of the land “Welcome to Billimina shelter.”

Billimina is a special place, this shallow overhang which lies behind a cleared dance –floor has a rock face literally covered with thousands of markings.

In fact this is the single largest collection of symbols in one shelter in the whole of Victoria.

Most are like these simple vertical strokes.“Tally marks” early and unimaginative European explorers called them. The archaeologists who explored this site can tell us that it was in use for thousands of years

And that the paintings here were made across a period of at least hundreds of years.

Some are vivid as if painted days rather than decades or centuries agoOthers are faint and faded and slowly being covered by the dark blotches left by the natural weathering of the rock
Some are clearly human-like figures.Maybe representations of the people who were here, maybe of spirits.

The knowledge is lost, or perhaps the descendants of the people wish to keep their secrets.

But do not mistake secrets for hostility most of the people are welcoming.

In the words of a local community elder:
“We have always lived here.

Now you have come,
Respect our culture.
It is now part of your heritage"
And most do.
But I must finish with a sad side of these ancient places

Over 100 are known just in the Grampian Ranges. Only 5 are made public
The rest lie hidden

Because while most respect these places for what they are the few…

Mean that such sites must be protected.In a few days more rock art

Next: Waterfalls in the Grampians