Tag Archives: writing

Sydney to Ceduna return – Photo Essay (Part 2)

We were roughly half an hour west of Perry Sandhills, following Old Renmark Road with plans to reach Renmark by early evening and find a camping spot for the night, when a nice wide gravel verge presented an opportunity to stop for some landscape shots. I think it was here that I started to regret not owning a wide-angle lens.

Old Renmark Road, Wide Open Woodland

Old Renmark Road, Wide Open Woodland

It’s also the spot where I added ‘tussock grass’ and ‘hummock grass’ to my vocabulary. I’ve been struggling since then to figure out what the difference is. I’m leaning toward this: “hummock grass is tussock grass growing on a hummock is true if and only if tussock grass is hummock grass growing on a plain is true”. I would appreciate some help here! I’m also confused about the trees that form a circle around the plain. Does that make it open woodland? That’s not as pressing a problem though, since a little further west along the road the trees weren’t there anymore.

Old Renmark Road - East view

Old Renmark Road – East view

Old Renmark Road - South view

Old Renmark Road – South view

Old Renmark Road - West view

Old Renmark Road – West view

Old Renmark Road - Northish view

Old Renmark Road – Northish view

The scenery was made all the more grand in nature by the ever-blackening cloud cover in our path; I felt a strange approaching sense of being entirely exposed and enveloped all at once.

The gravel road and the expanse continued like this for another hour or so, occasional cattle grids giving us a wake-up rattle, until the turn off for Lake Victoria appeared on our left, and we took it. The prospect of some lakeside time was too enticing to pass up; Renmark would have to wait. Not sure how far we had travelled in that direction when a large archway appeared over the road a little ways ahead. I recall feeling a little dizzied by it; I was expecting to drive under it but as I got closer it seemed to be shifting away to the right. In fact, it was. I was asleep at the wheel… my eyes were open and some part of my brain was registering it, but I didn’t wake up until I was maybe 50 metres from a sharp fork in the road. The archway was the entrance to an Aboriginal Health Retreat in one direction, and the road I was on turned sharply to the left at the same point. I pushed hard on the brake and tried to turn left, but the gravel road would have none of that. The back end of Vincent swung too far right. I swung right hard to try and correct. Vincent jumped up in the air a few inches and did a wobble, then came back down heading for a fence on the right. At that point I just braced myself, loosened off on the brake, reapplied it, and hoped we would stop before the fence got us. Whew! It was close. After reversing out of the tussock grass and collecting myself, we continued on our way and made it to Lake Victoria.

Lake Victoria Outlet

Lake Victoria Outlet

Cormorant Headquarters at Lake Victoria

Cormorant Headquarters at Lake Victoria

Spent a good half hour here watching the cormorants and pelicans all mingling and fishing, then drove a bit further up the road and spotted a young family of emus.

Emus out on the town

Emus out on the town

The cloud cover first turned into a few spots of rain, then a stiff breeze that grew speedily into a gale. I ducked inside and waited as the trees by the side of the road started bending and twisting, clouds of dust blew this way and that, Vincent shook side to side and bounced up and down. Then as quickly as the wind had arrived it fell away, and a spooky stillness descended. With that, we turned back to Old Renmark Road and finished our day with some well earned stillness of our own at Plushes Bend Camp Area.

Plushes Bend Camp Area

Plushes Bend Camp Area

Sydney to Ceduna return – Photo Essay (Part 1)

On 20th December 2014 I began an 18 day holiday road trip from Sydney with Vincent, the name my Mitsubishi Lancer goes by, that would take us mostly west to Ceduna with diversions north through Flinders Ranges, south along the eastern coastline of Eyre Peninsula, north along its western coastline to Ceduna, then back to Sydney. We covered 6727 km during which Vincent drank $742.55 worth of petrol, and I drank $210.20 worth of coffee. Roughly another $900 was spent on meals and camping fees.

Apart from occasional Twitter updates and photo uploads, and a couple of brief blog posts, I kept a fairly sparse written journal of events – just enough to connect the dots later, preferring instead to immerse myself and my camera in the experience. I also collected maps and tourist guides from information centres along the way; didn’t read them for the most part – just stuffed them in a folder for reference purposes. As I go through my thousands of photos and brief notes now, I think that was the best way to do it, though I am finding annoying gaps in my recollections, and uncertainties about which stretch of road or nature reserve I was on when I took such and such a photo.

Here’s an example of a photo, already into day 3, in which the ‘experience now, think about later’ process paid dividends:

Perry Sandhills Dunny (and The God Tree)

Perry Sandhills Dunny (and The God Tree)

Perry Sandhills are about 4 km west of Wentworth NSW along Old Renmark Road. They are said to have formed after an Ice Age about 40,000 years ago. I left Vincent in the car park below and went for a short hike. It was hard work getting up to the top of the first sandhill: large bitey looking ants were racing back and forth like Frogger logs and crocodiles between the hummock grasses, the sand was so soft and landslidey that zigzagging up was the only way to stay upright, and I haven’t overly exerted myself physically much for some time. As I approached the peak, I was taken by the sound of the wind rushing through the canopy of the river red gum; a canopy that was so close to the sand I just had to go and stand under it. Whooooooooshhhh… the leaves went on and on all about me, my brain briefly unable to decide whether to catch my own breath from the climb or gasp with delight, so simply refusing to breathe for me at all. I took a deep one for myself and pulled myself away to try catch a photo of the Rainbow bee-eater perched over there in a scraggly tree.

Rainbow bee-eater (original ID by Lorne Johnson @LorneJohnson1)

Rainbow bee-eater (ID made possible by Lorne Johnson @LorneJohnson1)

Half a dozen photos before it flitted shyly away later and my eye was caught by bunches of pumpkin sized melons on runners strewn all around.

The Paddy Melons of Perry Sandhills. Good for bowling with, apparently.

The Paddy Melons of Perry Sandhills. Good for bowling with, apparently.

I was curious and wanted to try tasting one, but, having no idea what kind of physical reaction might be induced by them I erred on the side of caution. If I had thought to look it up on my smartphone at the time I would have learned that it probably wouldn’t have killed me, and I could have played bowls with them.

Then I took a photo of my feet in the sand, because it was soft and warm. You can probably see I don’t get enough sun.

Feet in one of Perry's Sandhills

Feet in one of Perry’s Sandhills

There were three young people taking turns riding a surfboard down one of the hills. I took some photos of them too, but I can’t show them here because you can see their faces. They look pretty happy :)

Well, it’s time to move on to the next stop I thought. Made my way down to the carpark and took one last photo; the one of the dunny pictured up top. The tree at the centre’s the one I stood under and thought nothing more of, other than simply enjoying the pleasure I found underneath it.

While I was out for my Saturday morning coffee today, I was reading one of the information pamphlets I picked up at Wentworth earlier that day. I learned that that river red gum tree is 500 years old, is half buried in 40,000 year old sand, and is known as “The God Tree”. I doubt I would have gained anything from knowing that while I was there. It probably would have distracted me long enough that I’d miss seeing the Rainbow bee-eater.

How to make a room spin and all the heads inside it turn to face one point

Shop Assistant to Little Boy: Do you want a lolly? Have a lolly.
Father to shop assistant: No.
SA to LB: Don’t you want a lolly? Go on. Take one.
Father to SA: No. No lollies.
SA to LB: Do you want a chocolate then? Have a chocolate.
Father to SA: No.
SA to Father: Awww… but why?
Father to SA: Ummm… because I said so.
SA to LB (pouting sadly): Ohhhhhhh… becawwws your Dad “Said So”.



30 words

Sophie’s long-time mentor looked on with bewilderment as she stepped over the edge of time with trepidation on her face.

“Maybe the next one will do it properly”, he muttered.

Serious poem

Wrote a self-fulfilling poem about a serious poem competing with sprinkles from on high of teensy snow white flower petals for its author’s undivided attention realising with dismay that it would never see the light of day, but being unable to stifle a childish chuckle at the one that looked like a pair of butt cheeks.

The Courtyard Regular

There he is again, like he has been every day of every weekend for the last three weeks, seated alone at the table opposite; the table that’s always free when he’s here; the table I seated myself at today, like I’ve done every day of every weekend for the last three weeks I’ve been coming here.

The coffee is sharp, the courtyard is sheltered but breezy and sunlit, and nobody frowns when you light up a smoke. It takes forty minutes to drive here from home, but the hours of peace I enjoy are worth every horn toot and litre of petrol per mile, and the buzz of conversation from the tables all around me serves nicely as a salve for being otherwise alone. It’s actually quite pleasant to be with all these people and not have to speak with a one of them.

Back to the gentleman opposite me. He’s wearing a very fine suit: ironed black dress shirt, ironed black jacket, ironed black trousers, and polished black shoes. In short, he is perfectly dressed for a funeral; not even a mother could fault this man’s dress sense, although one might say, “Why don’t you wear something different today?” For these are the same clothes he wears every day.

“Excuse me!” I apologise silently, by way of a quick dart into the book I have open before me, then, casually raising my eyes from the page, proceed to gaze above his head, and assert my best quizzical look at the blue sky, as if to say, “I was so deep in thought, I hadn’t actually noticed you there.”

I can see though, he isn’t convinced; the furrowed eyebrows, and the intimidating glare that moments ago were fixed upon some inner recess of his mind, are now fixed directly on me. Whoever it was that he was muttering sternly at has gone silent. Whatever it was they were arguing over no longer appears to concern him.

He stands and moves off. The courtyard is empty. I catch my lips moving, but fail to understand what I am saying.

On Kangaroo Numbers

By my Google, there are 1,840,000,000 cat results; as a result, because I’m always looking out for the little person, there are not, at a comparatively paltry 48,700,000, nearly enough kangaroo results. I don’t have anything against cats, of course; in fact, I adore cats at least no less than a couple of cat lovers love cats. It’s just that I have a collection of kangaroo photos that I’ve been, for the most part, avoiding uploading in deference to an inbuilt bromide aversion that, curiously, must have developed: from reading the guides of original thinking essentials, to corresponding with like-minded influences.

Nevertheless, now that I’ve written myself into feeling it wouldn’t be so bad if everyone loaded a kangaroo up until kangaroo numbers grew to be comparable with those of cat numbers, I won’t be one of them. No. Not tonight.