I would hope one thing that should be evident by now to anyone that reads my blog is that I’m pretty much a lover of nature and the Australian landscape, especially our forests. The preservation and utilisation of our forests is something that has always been of interest to me though, in saying that, I’ve never been an activist or such in pursuit of unrealistic ideals or ends. And, to be honest, I think it’s the activists that have done far greater damage to our forests than any single group or industry. That activism all too often prevents proper forest management, allowing things such as fuel loads to build to levels that when a forest fire occurs, it becomes something of a monster. It’s something that we’ve experienced a number of times in recent history and which became a serious issue in Mirboo North in 2009. The US is realising that the same activism is the root cause of the devastating California fires and is something that the government is now addressing, but we still have a long way to go.
As the world becomes ever smaller, due to the ease of travel and the ever pervasive internet, I’ve sometimes wondered whether there are any ‘relatively’ accessible places that have yet to be done to death by photography. Other than some extremely remote and distant places, where it may be very expensive, difficult or risky to venture, there would hardly be a unique place on earth today that hasn’t been photographed to such an extent that the scenes have effectively become clichés. Antelope Canyon in the US, Iceland (one of the newly saturated photography destinations), African Safari Parks, Ayers Rock in Australia, Machu Picchu in Peru, Cambodia, the Antarctic and many other places all come to mind. While these locations are naturally wonderful places to visit, I’m not sure that they offer as much for a photographer looking for something new, as they did decades ago.
Our May 2012 Cruise was quite a long one, starting on a Friday and ending on a Monday, with us doing quite an extensive circuit that began at Licola (if you discount our meeting point at Moe), across the High Plains, through to Dargo and eventually ending up in Bairnsdale. The weather this weekend was outstanding, with clear skies all the way, but with the inevitable cold nights. There were four travellers on this Cruise, so finding camping spots wasn’t going to be a problem, especially as this was not a long weekend. I had a bit of trouble trying to work out this trip due to the limited photographs that I’d taken, but our ever resourceful fount of knowledge (Grahame) came to the rescue, both with additional photographs, as well as the trip route.
After the first of my High Country posts, I revisited my photography archives and thought I might create a series on the trips that we’ve done over the last decade or so since 2002, which we call High Country Cruises (unfortunately, so far, I haven’t found any photos/negatives from before 2004). Each of these trips is quite unique and ostensibly a three to four day cruise somewhere around the High Country.
I also must thank Grahame, one of our fellow travellers, for keeping a formal log of our cruises and compiling an excellent map book that has recorded all of our cruises from 2002 until 2011. This book has and will help immensely down the track in getting the locations and chronology right when I compile these posts.
One of the main issues with planning for our Cruises is deciding where to go, which is always time of year and weather dependent, and then what tracks to follow given the time of year. This is never a simple task, as you can’t assume that tracks will be open or cleared after seasonal storms, so making unexpected changes on the move is always on the cards and being able to identify potential alternate routes is where good maps are essential. Over the years, I’ve collected numerous maps, both paper and electronic, to assist in planning and travels and, in the early years, before GPS and computer based maps, everything was done on paper maps and they are still quite a valuable tool. But all that was available back in the 70s were 1:100,000 National Topographic maps and some Forest Commission maps, and I still have a folder full of them (most of them 1966 datum); however, times have changed.
Panoramic photography is something that has been practised ever since the very advent of photography; to show sweeping landscapes and the like in a single photograph. In the early days of photography, the production of panoramas generally involved printing several photographs and compiling them into a single print. It was a novel and effective method that continued for decades and still does to some extent even today, with the like of triptychs etc. Eventually technology caught up and specialty cameras and lenses were devised that could take a panorama in a single shot.
I’m sure that Captain Kirk ‘could’ have said that at one point or another, as much as he never said ‘Beam me up Scotty’. Anyhow, this story isn’t about Star Trek but about winches and the replacement of my cheap Aldi winch that I’ve had in my Nissan GU Patrol for the last eight years. I haven’t had to put the Aldi winch to really serious use in that time but, in the last couple of years it has been called into duty and it’s failed me on four occasions. The first involved a failed solenoid and the following two involved broken wires, which can happen even with the most expensive winch. However, on our last excursion, the motor seized and I was left to be recovered by others. Later in the day, the use of a hefty mallet fixed that seizure and I was able to rewind the cable that had been wrapped around my bullbar. Now before going on one of our Cruises, I test the winch to make sure that it’s working, given that it’s spent many of those eight years going through rivers, and each time things have been fine. But considering where we go, I was no longer confident that I could rely on this winch when called into action and decided to retire it and replace it with something more substantial and modern.
One of the things we’ve always enjoyed on our High Country Cruises is the ability to stay in one of the many High Country Huts, especially when the weather turns foul. However, as I wrote in my most recent High Country story, after bushfires in 2013 and earlier, many of the old High Country huts have been destroyed and some have recently been replaced with what are ostensibly metal garages. On seeing the first of these, Jorgensons Hut and then Junction Hut (we haven’t been to Goonans Hut), I mentioned that I felt that the new style lacked the bush character of the older, rustic (rusty?), and mainly timber huts that we’ve visited over the years. That was my initial reaction and I may have been somewhat unfair in my assessment, so I took the opportunity to gain a better idea when my wife and I decided to do a short camping trip to Donnelly Creek.
Many, many, years ago I drew cartoons (very crudely on a PC) for a monthly 4WD club magazine, about a pair of hapless lads who’d go 4WDriving with the best of intentions. It was a light-hearted observation of how some of the younger 4WDrivers often approached things in the bush, before they dried off somewhat, though the antics weren’t always limited to the young. I thought that I’d lost the cartoons long ago, as they were produced on a PC using 3.5″ floppy drives but, as sometimes happens, I found a complete set of prints that I’d made of those cartoons and so I scanned them and converted them into a PDF file, as well as JPG images. Make of them what you will, but it was fun doing them at the time. You’ll have to click on the images to see them fully.
Nothing stays the same, nothing lasts forever and things man-made usually decay the fastest (pyramids etc excluded). The most common abandoned objects found just about anywhere would have to be cars. You can find them in farmer’s paddocks, back and front yards and pretty much wherever a car could have been driven before being abandoned for whatever reason. Sometimes the cars are ordinary, run of the mill hacks, but other times you come across unique cars and wonder why they have been left as they are, to simply rust away. Maybe someone had dreams of restoration, which never eventuated and then didn’t want to part with them until it was too late.