Stopping by a lake on a frosty morning

Driving back from Beechworth, via Lake Eildon, I passed this scene of stillness on a cold morning on Lake Nillahcootie. I pulled over and grabbed the camera and a moment later another man pulled behind me for the same reason. We had a conversation, mainly about the need to stop and look when you see something special, and then went our separate ways.

Here’s a couple of the photos. The trees looked to me like ink on paper, calligraphy of a kind.

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Abandoned picnic places

Picnic spot

I’ve always been fascinated by those places that time and history has passed by: Industrial archaeology, the stone circles of Celtic Europe, or the smaller, more intimate places, derelict houses or picnic places that have been by bypassed and abandoned.

Near where I live, and cycle regularly, there is a short stretch of the highway that was diverted off perhaps thirty years ago now and replaced by a newer streamlined bit of more modern cornering. The original stretch of highway, that we used to travel on as kids, maybe 400 metres or so long, was just cut off and left to grow over.

Sometimes, riding in the area, I like to take that old detour and explore that old niche. Included in the off-cut was a roadside picnic table and stools, now being overgrown in grass and emerging saplings. Here, I like to think, families would pause in their travels, unpack a thermos and some sandwiches and take a rest. I blogged about it already in 2011 in a post about The Lost Highway.

It’s still falling apart gently. And, I was reminded of it recently when I saw a recent article on WebUrbanist about 150 Vanishing US Rest Stops, which a photographer had been documenting. An admirable project I thought. I heartily approve.

Below, another photos I’ve taken over the years on that theme, a drawing and a poem too. Seems that these ideas keep bubbling up in lots of versions.

Picnic table

Abandoned picnic table

Picnic Place

These families with their picnic baskets,
their kids weightless on the swings
legs flashing in the sun,
think they invented this place,
think they found this place near the bridge
by the estuary where the creek flows into the sea.
They think they found this place this summer evening,
but we were there.

I walk from the swings and the families,
their wine glasses and picnic plates
their kids racing to the jetty,
the last sun shining in their hair,
someone putting on a jumper against the cold.

Up ahead, up river somewhere,
I can hear the beating of wings.

Top: Picnic spot, near Mildura, VIC. Photo: Warrick
Middle: Abandoned picnic spot on ‘the lost highway’, Mt Martha Photo: Warrick
Bottom; Picnic table, iPad drawing. Warrick

Surprise in the late light

Sometimes, you get surprised. I went for a walk along the beach tonight, at the end of the day, just about the shortest day of the year. I was interested to see what ‘my creek’ looked like after a week of rain. It was nice: brimming full and mixing with the bay in a kind of oily mix back and forth between the bay and the brown creek.  I took some photos and a couple of videos of the beach and the waves with my iPhone; nothing special, but a nice light. But, fiddling with my phone I must  have somehow taken this shot, which was my favourite of the set. A blurry, dark, brooding evocative kind of piece with a glimpse of light in the eye of the wave washing along the sand.

It’s harder to get those kinds of surprises in writing. The conscious-ness of it I suppose. Maybe that’s why so many writers (and other artists) took to drugs at some stages? To get out of the rational a little bit, and to discover something else under the surface.  It’s nice to have surprises sometimes. And, you might not even think the photo is any good. You can see the rest of the set here and make a comparison. But, for me, there is something in that shot that I hadn’t seen, hadn’t even been looking for, but found somehow.

Nice to find that, right at the end of the week.

Deep Water

Had a look at the Deep Water photography exhibition at the National Gallery over the weekend.  It’s a small collection of photographs drawn from the permanent collection of the NGV comprising photographs that ‘present a creative response to the experience of water in the landscape and at sea’. I liked the clear and simple division between salt water and fresh water in the way the exhibition was structured. I could use that to order some poems I think.

The exhibition features work from Charles Bayliss, Francis Bedford, William Bell, Carleton Watkins, Ansel Adams, Peter Henry Emerson, Max Dupain and others. My favourites included the hand-tinted postcard looking shots of Lorne River (above) by Nicholas Caire, Carleton Watkins’s Mirror Lake, Washington and Paul Caponigro’s Redding, Connecticut. 

Definitely worth a look if you’re in Melbourne; admission is free. It’s on until September 11.

Below: A Turreted Berg by Frank Hurley.

Fading Victoria

For a long time I’ve been interested in the changing landscape. particularly the changes at the suburban margins as development overpowers the old lines of the land. I’ve documented some of those ideas in the Suburban Margins project on my poetry web site.

So, it was nice to see some connections with those ideas in Fading Victoria, which is a collection of images of change, more semi-rural than suburban, but great images and ideas all the same. They’re from Rowan Crowe who writes:

Consumer hunger for residential land and infrastructure is slowly destroying many historical sites located near the steadily expanding fringes of suburbia. Weather also takes its toll on beautiful rural buildings that have been abandoned by their owners. What causes them to just walk away?