Autumn in Beechworth

The driveway

We spent the last 3 weeks looking after a property about 10km out of Beechworth. Fifty five acres incorporating a significant area of native bushland, an orchard of about 2000 hazelnut trees and a couple of paddocks with 24 alpacas. One of the owners is a professional artist and both are avid collectors of artworks from around the world, so the house is beautifully decorated inside and with some wonderful manicured rockeries outside.

Front door View

Our charges were two large murray river retrievers and an old Burmese cat. The dogs could be a challenge, given they are hunters and once on a scent would ignore everything else. They did like a swim in the dams so we tried to do this every day or so.

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The greater area of this region is at its best in autumn. Most of the regional towns and many of the farms are planted out with deciduous trees – poplars, ashes, elms, maples oaks etc which are resplendent in their reds, yellows and oranges. Couple this with the stunning rural landscapes of green rolling hills dotted with cattle and sheep, the many vineyards in the same autumn tones at the trees and the backdrop of the Australian alpine mountains.. well, it is simply one of the most beautiful sights in the world. We spent most of our spare time touring around through the valleys – Mitta Mitta, Kiewa and Ovens, finding little dirt tracks that lead you along the classic mountain streams, through dense forests and up into the mountain with their amazing vistas.

At nights, it was back home to an open fire and perhaps sampling a little of the abundant local delicacies.

If you have not visited this region before, I highly recommend it. All seasons here have their beauty, but for me, autumn is the pinnacle for all the above regions. I think you would be a very hard person to walk away from time here and not be dazzled by it’s beauty, but give yourself some time. There is so much to see, you could spend years there and not discover it all.

These and more images from the region can be found at http://www.garyberesfordimaging.com/portfolio/beechworth

The Golden Fleece

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We spent the last week in a rather remote property about 50Km north of Clare, South Australia. This is cropping country and April is perhaps the least attractive month to be here. The area is extremely flat, the fields are, at best, sparse stubble from last years harvest or at worst, just dirt and dust. From our yard, it was many kilometres before there was any feature in the landscape worth noting. Our little plot had about 40 sheep left to “graze” on.. nothing really. They relied on hay and oats. We were looking after three orphans lambs, bottle feeding etc, and a menagerie of other poultry, including 11 ducklings. The one piece of landscape interest we did have was a hilly range off in the west which was home to a large number of wind turbines. The other saving grace for the area was the early and late light. I am not sure whether it is the dust or the smoke from the burning stubble, but the evening sun in particular was an amazing gold, stronger than I have ever seen. This, couple with the way sheeps’ fleece picks up rim light, led to some very satisfying photos. I’ve always liked sheep (as a photographic subject I might add) and this combination of golden light and wooly beast made some very interesting photos. I hope you enjoy.

There are more photos to look at from our trip at http://www.garyberesfordimaging.com/portfolio/brinkworth-sa-australia

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Dorrigo and Dangar Falls

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It’s been mighty wet up this way, with the tail of cyclone Marcia mixing in with a rain depression and giving us constant rain for quite some days. There was a break in the weather so we headed up to Dorrigo for the day to have a look around. This is a stunning drive up the hills through the rain forest until you could out into the highland plains around Dorrigo. The town itself is old world, with great old turn of the century architecture. The area was founded on timber logging and then turned into pasture country, originally dairy and now more beef. Everywhere you look is green rolling hills dotted with cattle.

Just out of town are the Dangar Falls. We were keen to see these, given the amount of recent rain, and were not disappointed. The falls were running strong and the views from both above and below were wonderful. It’s a bit of a treacherous walk near the bottom, with slick, wet rocks to negotiate, but well worth the effort. Unfortunately, the weather started to close in on us again and we didn’t have time to explore the national parkland. We will save that for another day.

Crescent Head – Beach, Rocks, Surfers, Golf and Sharks

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There is a price you pay for having green, verdant landscape. The price is rain. Lots of it. We have been stuck inside a lot of the last week and the rain has been pretty relentless. Our property is slushy at best and the rest is a swimming pool. The daily temperature never really changes. It’s high teens at night and high twenties during the day. Very pleasant most of the time, though it can get a little humid at times, but nothing bad.

So, when we see at least a little break in the weather, we try to get out before it turns again. This was the case when we headed down to Crescent Head to give the dog a chance to run somewhere that wasn’t muddy and us a chance to get out of our four walls. This beach, like most in the region, is quite beautiful. Situated at the southern end of Hat Head national park, Crescent head is a long white arching stretch of white sand, with the Killick Creek flowing in at one end near the point with its rugged cliffs and a break that is popular with surfers. On the other side of the point is Pebbly Beach which is in stark contrast to the sandy beaches around the crescent.

Due to all the rain, Killick Creek is running red with tannin and this stain is evident out into the surf, with a red tinge apparent in the white caps of the waves. The town itself is sleep little village at this time of year without the crowds, but it does come alive at the weekends when surfers and holiday makers flock to make the most of what the region has to offer.

There is a lovely little golf course carved into the side of the cliffs and running down to the beach. It’s a little wet to play at present, but hopefully will dry out so I can get a game there before we leave.

We are lucky to have this and other such beaches within our easy reach, and should this weather ever let up, we will be spending a lot more time down and around here. On midweek days like these, we don’t have to share the beach with many others… just the odd person going for a stroll and a few surfers.

I’m told the fishing is good here, though I have had little personal experience of success. There was a sighting a few minutes before we arrived of a 4-5 foot shark leaping out of the water and twisting in the air before splashing back down. This happened just near the surfers. They are made of sterner stuff than me. I don’t like co-habitating with sharks, but it didn’t seem to worry them much.

Photographer’s Block

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Sometimes, as a photographer, you just seem to lose motivation and enthusiasm. You know there are photos out there you want to take, but, well, you just can’t get started and even if you do, you have trouble “seeing” the shots. I’ve been like this for the last few days and it’s frustrating. I sometimes find what helps is to take a macro lens out into your yard with an empty memory card and promise yourself to fill it. This forces you not just to look, but to see. All of a sudden, you are aware that, where there were trees and shrubs before, there are now colonies of wildlife in every little crevice. We are blessed in Australia to have such a huge array of colourful and characterful little chaps just waiting for us to notice them. After a short while, I find myself lost in their carrying-on, waiting from them to land long enough to get a photo or to move just to this place in the shot where they will be framed by their own web. I also find the colours of these little chaps to be so vibrant. The tiny flies covered in iridescent blues and greens, the soft mauves of the butterfies, the incredible intricacy of the webs. I can (and do) lose hours to this and it (hopefully) brings back the ability to “see” a shot on a larger scale. All these shots were taken within 20 metres of my front door this morning and I am certain I have only scratched the surface of this little world under my nose…

North to Kempsey

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Our new farmsit is in Kempsey, in north east NSW. Kempsey nestles in between Port Macquarie and Coffs Harbour, sitting on the might Macleay river. It is the perfect base to explore the region and the choices are many. A very easy drive to the east finds you some of the best beaches in Australia – South West Rocks and Crescent Head to name just a couple. In-between these two, you have the thick bushland of Hat Head national park, with its own peaceful little beachside hamlet. To the west, there is huge choice of national parks and state forests to explore, and I intend to do as many of them as possible.

We drove up here from Melbourne over a couple of long days, stopping in Goulburn, south of Sydney for a night. I had forgotten how beautiful this drive is, with widespread forest and farm land, brief glimpses of water and mighty cuttings through the hills. Starting with the golden farmlands of summer Victoria, everything gets progressively greener the further north you travel. Kempsey itself is verdant, with that definite sub-tropic feel about it.

Our house is set on 33 acres about 16Km from town. We were to have a small flock of sheep to mind, but they were sold the day we arrived. Problems with dog packs had driven Paul, the owner, to sell them off. After loosing 37 head of sheep in one night to a pack of domestic dogs that are not restrained was heartbreaking, so the rest were shipped off. This leaves us in charge of the house, which is wonderful. It is very spacious, with a huge swimming pool, lots of “toys” (motorbikes, quadbike, a variety of ride-on mowers and a couple of Jaguars at our disposal, should we wish to partake…and who wouldn’t! One of our boundaries is the upper reaches of the Macleay River, a large, beautiful and relatively slow flowing affair. I was down there in the early morning and the water was like a mirror, broken by the occasional fish that would leap up to catch some insect on the surface. There are a myriad of birds of many varieties along with lots of dragonflies hovering about. I think I will be spending a few mornings down there…

Our one singularly most important charge for our stay is to look after the child replacement dog, Coco. When I heard that our responsibility was to a miniature poodle, my heart sunk a bit. I’ve never really been one for little dogs. I do have to say that this one has won me over a bit. She plays ball with total enthusiasm, is affectionate without being “in your face”, travels perfectly in the car with not a sound, eats very little, deposits her tiny bits way off in the garden, rarely barks, (and never at me), and is generally an all round good egg. Of course, I still require that Glenda takes her on the lead in public while I walk on the other side of the road…. she is, after all, still a poodle…

I haven’t yet explored much of the region, but what I have has been wonderful. Early morning mists with the sun peaking through lighting up the orb webs, long reflective rivers, birds and insects aplenty and distant mountain ranges tempting me toward them, its going to be a fun few weeks. There is lots to photograph and explore. I even caught a fish! As Glenda might explain, it is the most expensive fish in history, given the money spent recently in resurrecting the tackle, but I’m sure the cost per meal will keep coming down, angling gods willing.

MORE PHOTOS AT http://www.garyberesfordimaging.com

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Farewell to Jindabyne

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MORE PHOTOGRAPHS AT www.garyberesfordimaging.com

Sundown on our first long term housesit, and Glenda & I were very sad to say goodbye. If all our future sits are as marvellous as this one, it will be difficult to come back to reality. Our wonderful house in Jindabyne, courtesy of Donna and Rob, was idyllic… a little touch of bucolic bliss we borrowed for all too short a time. The house itself left nothing to be desired, with all the modcons we could wish for and a level of comfort fit for royalty. We will really miss Oscar, our lovely little canine friend who kept us company every day with walks and rabbit chases. Our ladies, the cackling crew of five Isa Brown hens were hilarious with their busy little antics and their unfailing supply of 5 eggs on a daily basis did nothing to reduce our waistlines (No, we didn’t eat them ALL, but we did put a dint in them!) Scooter the cat was predictable in his sleeping habits. I don’t think I have ever met a cat that sleeps quite this much! Happy to be patted at any time, in fact he fair revelled in it, but would not seek attention at all (except at meal times).

The region is some of the most picturesque in the world, between the mountains, the iconic Australia farmland, dotted with snowgum and huge boulders and the huge Jindabyne lake which plays host to the lovely village. Our trips up into the mountains were memorable for the wildflowers and vast expanse of mountains heading into the distance. It was just amazing and I could sit and take in those scenes forever.

Alas, it’s over now, but we will remember our time there forever. It finished in a lovely social evening with our poor exhausted hosts, Donna, Rob and Ryan, who had driven all the way back after taking the Spirit of Tasmania overnight. I hope all our future hosts are as fantastic as these ones. It really was a wrench to leave, but life goes on and there are more travels to be had.

There are a bunch of photos of our experience here in the galleries on the portfolio section of this website and I will be posting more as I get the inclination to process them. None of them can do justice to the region, but I will try my best.

Cheers

Gary and Glenda

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