This foggy, frosty early-morning scene belies tragedy hidden in clear view.
March 5 2012, will be remembered as the night almost 9000 residents of Wagga Wagga were forced from their homes by the worst flood since 1853 — nearly 160 years ago.
Fortunately the city’s levee held and two months later its citizens’ lives have basically returned to normal.
However, the surrounding districts have hundreds of kilometres of fences swaddled in dead grasses and branches as a result of the recent floods. The slowly rotting debris has to be removed to save the fences from rusting and a small corps of volunteers is working to help the local farmers.
It is a daunting task. A strong team of four on a good day might manage to knock the debris off less than a kilometre of fencing.
Revisited a favourite pub yesterday in Hobart — The Crescent — and had a lively session with some old friends (and don’t they look like everyone’s grumpy grandpa?).
They were in a nostalgic mood, tuning in to YouTube for some jazz classics — on an iPad which Dave, the pub owner, had commandeered so that he could watch while he served.
The pub also has a lot of books under the counter, some of which can be seen above. They’re not for lending, they’re a superb tool for settling pub arguments, and like all good pubs a lot of lively discussion takes place.
The library does wonders to settle bombast and prejudice. Somehow using the iPad to Google the facts would seem out of place in The Crescent.
Despite its ominous name Dead River Beach is a delightful, peaceful campsite on the Victorian side of the Murray River.
It is a popular stopover for river travellers — lone kayakers, groups of schoolchildren on rafts, motley convoys of river craft travelling together, and the usual hoon or two in a beer-fuelled tinny.
Behind the campsite was a small brackish pond where one evening I spotted a pair of wild ducks and their dozen young. Unfortunately I ran out of ‘film’ on my digital camera at the crucial moment and captured this less than ideal exposure of the family outing.
Two days later the adults were back, but without any of their brood, likely taken by foxes.
I slept in a volcano last night — a first. Admittedly is was dormant, and had been for millions of years.
This nearby copse of deciduous trees, above, belied the dormancy with its skeletal white trunks and carpet of white, bleached leaves discarded last Autumn.
Mt Franklin is just north of Daylesford and Hepburn Springs, popular Victorian holiday spots for the many goldminers that worked the digging in surrounding areas more than a century ago.
With the gold long gone, the two townships now mine the tourists instead.
Technically, according to Parks Victoria, Mt Franklin is a ‘prominent, conical scoria cone with deep crater open via a narrow breach in the rim on the southeastern side’.
On arrival, after an easy drive up, I had my pick of campsites as the only vehicle there.
With that sorted I soon settled in, with my only company three cheeky and obviously spoilt Guinea fowl begging for tidbits. I buried thoughts of the lovely Guinea fowl curry recipe I enjoyed on trips through Southern Africa.
They were fickle though. Just on sunset a popup camper-trailer arrived to set up camp on the other side of the volcano’s bowl and they soon scarpered over there.
Welcome to the first of a new series of mini-portfolios of worldwide destinations salvaged from a repository of nearly 90,000 colour transparencies filed away in six filing cabinets at a long-suffering friend’s home.
They’re the carefully-culled selection of a four-decades’ long career as a freelance writer/photographer.
Below is a small selection taken on assignment in the Fitzgerald River National Park in southern Western Australia.
The 250,000 hectare park is about 300km east of Albany.
It is a harsh environment encompassing a bleak landscape of spongolite cliffs honeycombed by the elements; scraggly dry streambeds outline with salt tidemarks; bronze-toned granite flecked with red flashes of weathered flaking rock; a coastal barrier of sand dunes as white as snow; broad valleys carpeted with low scrub, paperbark, rough mallee and wiry melaleucas; and three low ranges each topped with a small barren summit named Barren.
The three peaks — West, Mid and East Mount Barren — are remnant islands, once barely 90 metres about sea level.
Their existence is responsible for the botanical abundance found in the threatened boundaries of the National Park,
While still islands in an ancient sea, they provided refuge for the fertile flotsam of the plant world seeking anchor during the mammoth upheavals of the Proterozoic period some 3000 million years ago.
This was the age of Gondwanaland, the super continent formed when the world’s land masses were one and the fertile Fitzgerald River area was joined to Antarctica.