Well, here we are, back on the
"big island". My first order of business was to
investigate the chances of "going digital", and
I'm happy to report that the chances were good, the deal is
It's goodbye film, hello Flash
This has already made a real difference
to the way I work. No more do I accumulate tens of rolls of
film while in the field, then have to scan hundreds of negatives
when I get to a town.
Now I work on the morning photos
in the afternoon, and the afternoon photos at night. Digital
is just made for people living in on the road, throw in a
good laptop and printer and you've got everything required
to produce great photos, anywhere in the world.
The technical quality is outstanding,
but more importantly, I think I'm getting better shots. Not
so much with static subjects, but with wildlife. You see with
wildlife you have to take a lot of frames to capture the right
moment, those pesky animals and insects move so fast.
With film I was always aware of
the money being spent every time I pressed the button, and
sometimes held off shooting.
With digital I just go ahead and
And the new lenses are so GOOD.
My old gear was the best in its day, but its day was 20-30
years ago. Time has moved on, and so has camera technology.
And then there's the weight. I
can do everything with just three lenses now, I used to carry
ten, and still didn't have a really long lens unless I also
carried my 300mm f2.8, at 2.5kgs by itself.
I miss the old gear, but not much.
What I really miss is the memories it gave me, some of that
equipment traveled with me through the USA, Europe, New Zealand,
Africa and all around Australia.
I guess I'll just have to do it all again, and create new
memories with the new camera :-)
Till next time then, and remember,
Don't Dream it, Be it!
Wed 28 Apr 2004
At 6:30 we roll off the ferry and onto Beaconsfield Rd. Our Tasmanian
adventure is over.
My dad has been in Melbourne for several days
and he has found a spot for the truck, at the bottom of North Road
Half an hour after arriving on the mainland we
pull into the car park he identified.
I spent all last night reading, getting only about
one hour of sleep, so I'm pretty tired. Chris got some sleep, but
not much, so we're both pretty worn out.
We have breakfast then sleep for a couple of hours.
Later my dad drives down to see us, it's good
to see my old man again.
For months now I've been looking at moving to
a digital camera. The quality has been good enough for a while now,
but the price has placed the new gear out of my reach. After all,
I'm supposed to be retired, $12000 for new toys was not in the budget.
Anyway, Chris says that if I can get a good trade
in ($5000 she says) on my old gear we can do it, and there's no
place I'm more likely to get a good price than Melbourne.
The truth is that everyone is getting out of film,
and the old gear isn't worth that much.
Still, the good gear does hold it's price to some
extent, and I have equipment that was the best in it's day.
We drive into town and I lay five cameras, 10
lenses, and assorted bits, on the table before John at The Camera
"$4995" he says and I'm about to offer
to slip him $5 when he says "let's make it $5000".
I walk out with one camera, three lenses and assorted
I'm also $7000 poorer, so please buy some of my
Thu 29 Apr
I drive my dad down to Somerville to visit some family friends,
then we return to the truck.
As we're standing in the carpark Chris yells that
there's a mouse heading our way.
I turn around and, sure enough, the little critter
is heading straight for the truck. My arms are full, so I try to
stop him by forming a barricade with my feet.
This works for a few seconds, but he quickly finds
his way around and disappears under the truck.
I hope it doesn't turn up in one of our traps.
I try out the new camera.
Fri 30 Apr
We spend most of the day in town looking for a device to offload
the raw photos from the camera. Most people just use a $20 card
reader, but I need something that will do the job with no computer,
as I may be bushwalking for several days.
A "digital wallet" is a common choice
(small self contained hard disk) but we finally decide on a portable
CD burner. I just plug the Compact Flash card into the gadget, end
it burns the photos onto a CD.
Sat 1 May
While sitting in the lounge room, playing with the new toys, there's
a knock on the door.
I open it to see two friends we haven't seen in
Norman & Jocelyn have also retired, but they
spend most of their time overseas. They are almost never in Australia,
or so it seems, and yet they just happen across us in a Melbourne
Sun 2 May
There must be something in the water here in Melbourne that is making
us spend money (actually our tanks are filled with Launceston water
at present but what the heck).
Today we go looking for a new laptop.
The old one is in a bad way, both physically,
and in the software. It's also very slow, and has a screen that
cannot be used to work on photographs.
After much umm-ing and arh-ing we decide on a
wide screen HP. With a 3Gig processor, 60gig of hard disk, and a
bright screen, I feel that I can work on this machine.
One thing that does worry me is the fact that
it's running Windows XP. What about my programs?, will they run?
I'm sure that the professionally written software
will run, but what about the stuff I've written?
I rely heavily on two programs I wrote myself,
Picman and Siteman. Picman manages my photos and Siteman manages
the web site and uploads changes to my ISP's server.
If either of them doesn't work I'm in deep doo
As the sun sets I decide to see how the new camera
handles shooting directly into the light.
The Canon 10D seems to handle sunsets OK.
Tue 4 May
Will it never end? Now we're buying a printer, one of those great
new Epsons that produce photo realistic prints.
We buy it from Officeworks, but the box is too
large to take home on the motorbike, so we order a taxi for Chris
and the printer, I'll follow on the bike.
Now normally you'd wait two hours for a cab to
arrive, but this time it's outside the instant we hang up. Chris
doesn't have enough cash on her, so I give her the truck keys so
she can get more on arrival.
Chris leaves in the taxi, minutes later I also
leave the store, and go to get on the bike.
Only then do I realise that the keys I gave Chris
are required to unlock the chain that secures the helmets. I can't
can't get my helmet off the bike.
Oh well, I'll have to chance riding home without
The ride is uneventful. I don't encounter the
police which is always good, don't have an accident which is good
as well, but most importantly, I don't come face to face with a
big fat grasshopper.
Wed 5 May
The road that runs along Melbourne's foreshore has restricted
access to heavy vehicles, and we can't drive along it until after
We're up early and hit the road just before six.
We know the way fairly well by now, and before long are on the freeway.
Even at this time there's a lot of traffic, and by seven the road
Not long after getting out of the city we pull
over to breath a sigh of relief, and for breakfast.
Before long we see a huge electronic display spanning
the road. It's purpose is to show your speed as you approach, and
it's large enough to see well in advance.
We watch as the trucks ahead of us pass under
the gantry and have their speeds displayed...
104, that's about right, just a little over the
114, whoa, he's going a bit fast
48, eh?, oh that's us.
We planned to camp somewhere near Shepparton tonight,
but I'm falling asleep, so we decide to knock off early and pull
into an empty carpark outside the public swimming pool at Euroa.
It looks like a good spot, unless a lot of people
turn up for a swim. The pool looks as though it's closed though.
Two young lads cycle passed, "The pool's
closed" one of them yells.
Fri 7 May
After doing some shopping we ride down to the registry office to
renew my licence.
It all goes well until we're admiring my photo
on the credit-card sized license (as an aside, they say that if
you look like your licence photo, you're too sick to drive). Chris
notes that there's a new condition specified, so we go back inside
to ask about it.
It seems that the VicRoads computer has decided
that I should wear glasses. I disagree, and so have to do an eye
Still, maybe the computer is right, last time
I did such a test I memorised the letters as the person before me
read them out. There's no-one before me today.
The staff member holds up a card, I strain to
decipher the bottom line, and have just decided I can probably read
it, when she points to the middle row of characters.
They're huge, no problem.
We leave town and camp in a truck parking area.
Sat 8 May
We arrive to warm hugs and handshakes from our friends.
Steve & Jill's back yard, with three WORTs in residence.
Steve's still building their latest off-road truck,
a Bedford/Austin hybrid. It's a slow job as they have limited finances.
Their Bedford/Austin hybrid. All running gear is finished and
it's fitout time
They have some help at the moment, in the form
of Hugo. Hugo emigrated from Holland and lived in Tocumwal for some
time. He has a business fitting out buses, and did his first fitout
while camping on the river nearby. He's done 24 since.
Steve and Hugo install the shower
I hang around watching them work, offering advice
when it's needed, and even when it's not.
We also wander downtown to the markets, then back
along the river.
Tocumwal is a lovely town right on the Murray River. Here
we see views of the bridge, and from along the riverside walkway.
A canna lilly (first three photos) and detail of a foxtail-like plant
Sun 9 May
Some of our tyres are approaching that state of wear known as "bald",
but we don't have to buy new ones yet, we can regroove the old ones.
Regrooving the tyres. Note the new groove compared to the old
ones in the right-hand photo
Chris still finds it amazing that we can remove
rubber from a tyre to make it legal, but you can, as long as the
tyre is designed for regrooving.
While the wheels are off I rotate them and check
Rotating tyres and checking brakes
Tue 11 May
We're being a bit lazy today, just photographing flowers in the
Bee close-ups. The middle photo is an enlargement of the first
one, check out the detail. This macro lens is amazing.
Water drops on the chrysanthemums.
Water drops on the roses.
A pink marguerite.
Unknown plant over the neighbour's fence.
Butterfly on lavender, fly on fungus
Wed 12 May
Chris points out that the goldfish in the pond look good, so
I get the camera.
I take a few shots but am busy working with the
web site, so Chris takes over.
Two of Chris' fish photos.
Sun 16 May
We finally leave Tocumwal and head west. It's been great to
catch up with our friends, but the outback is calling.
Next time we meet Steve and Jill I hope that it's
them who drop in on us, with their new truck.
As the sun sets we pull into the nice little town
of Moulamein. We stayed here 2.5 years ago, just days after first
hitting the road.
The town is the same, but we've certainly done
a lot since then.
Mon 17 May
After an early night I'm awake at 4AM, it's still some time until
dawn though, so I tinker with the computer.
Just before the sun rises we go for a walk around
Detail of the Tatersall hotel.
It's just a guess, but I reckon this "FRIENDLY grocer" belongs to Langtry's.
The community notice board is looking a bit sad.
It's autumn in Moulamein.
Plumbing 101: If the leak persists after using the entire
tube of sealant, stick the nozzle into the hole
The trees are covered with galahs and corellas.
They make a spectacular sight, but the noise is deafening.
Galahs (the pink ones) and corellas (the white ones in the
left photo) in the trees before dawn.
Galah pairs in the tree.
The Edward river as it passes through Moulamein.
We pull into Tooleybuc for a cuppa, and I go for
a walk along the river, noticing a small yacht tied up on the banks.
The owner is a young bloke who is living on the Murray.
Living in a tiny yacht on the river
He's a bit stuck at the moment though because
the river level is very low. He can't go down stream because of
the level, there's too many snags and shallow bars, and he can't
go upstream because he's broke, and can't afford any petrol for
Life on a river does appeal to me, but, in Australia,
I think life on the road is more practical, there just aren't that
many navigable rivers, especially in a dry year.
Tooleybuc's old lifting bridge crosses the Murray River
We cross over the Murray and back into Victoria,
then drive all day through the mallee scrub, finally pulling up
in a rest area about 10k from Murrayville, just shy of the South
Tue 18 May
The instant we cross the border the heavens open, not a good omen.
Still, that's three states in 24 hours, who says the truck is slow?
We pull into Pinnaroo to pick up a parcel from
the post office.
The Pinnaroo hotel in the rain
It's throwing it down, so I jump from the cab
and proceed to run across the road, after all I don't want to get
any wetter than necessary.
At about the half way point I hear Chris yell
something. Well it must be important, why else would she be yelling
to me across the street in the pouring rain, especially when I'm
trying to get under shelter as quickly as possible.
I stop, and indicate that I didn't hear. The rain
starts to trickle down my neck.
She yells again, but I still can't make out the
word. I take a couple of steps back towards the truck.
She repeats herself, and this time I do hear.
Thanks for the advice dear, but I had already
figured that out for myself.
On leaving Pinnaroo we drive north towards Berri.
The country is the same as we've been driving through for a couple
of days, that is, mallee scrub. Or more precisely two thin strips
of mallee scrub bordering the road.
On the other side of these strips is farmland,
but often the fields are just sandy deserts. It must be a land management
thing, because sometimes a good piece of land turns to barren-looking
sand as it passes under a fence.
At around three we arrive in Berri, and pull into
the shopping centre carpark.
We're not really due to buy food yet, having stocked
up just a month or so ago, but we're about to head into the outback,
and central Australia is not known for its large selection of products,
or its low prices.
We leave town on what must be one of Australia's
roughest main highways, then turn off towards Morgan.
Just before turning off we pass a huge distillery.
There must be hundreds of enormous stainless steel vats lining the
road, filled, presumably, with alcohol.
A fellow could be very happy here, with a cordless
drill and a straw.
I do have a cordless drill, but no straw, so we
continue, eventually finding a nice spot on the banks of Lake Bonney.
Lake Bonney at dusk.
Wed 19 May
This morning I'm up before dawn to take a few photos.
Cormorants sitting in the trees.
A cormorant takes off past a pelican.
Pelicans cruise past silhouetted trees.
An egret keeps a watchful eye for intruders, and that includes
nature photographers. Two shots and he's off.
Silhouetted trees as the sun just peers above the horizon.
Lone egret catches the first rays.
Grass grows on a log with sky reflected in the water.
Reeds and the lake's peaceful water
Well, I did say a few. It's obvious I'm
not paying for film any more.
It's so nice here we decide to stay another day.
The dead trees look great, and the birdlife is prolific, so I spend
a lot of time with my new camera.
At around mid-afternoon I go for a walk. Before
long I see a wasp dragging a caterpillar, but I see it too late,
get too close, and scare the wasp off.
Figuring that it will return for its prize I wait.
The caterpillar is obviously paralysed as it doesn't move at all.
I'm not paralysed though, and eventually I get bored doing the same
and continue my walk.
The scene plays on my mind however, so I return
but cannot find the grub. I search in a radius of about a metre,
no caterpillar. Even if it wasn't paralysed it couldn't have gone
that far at grub speed. The wasp must have returned.
I widen my search.
Sure enough there's the grub, still no wasp, but
I now have the incentive to wait as long as it takes.
I photograph the caterpillar...
The paralysed grub lies on the dirt
...then get comfortable lying on the ground, and
Before long I see the wasp scouting the area,
it flies back and forth, getting nearer with each pass.
Then it goes straight for the grub. It stands
over it for a second, then grabs the poor thing in those huge jaws,
and hauls it towards its nest.
The wasp returns, then drags the hapless grub away.
Now I find it difficult to keep up, the wasp moves
surprisingly fast, considering that, compared to a human, it's carrying
what must be the equivalent of half a bridge abutment.
Occasionally it stops to rearrange its grip, and
I get a chance for another photo.
The wasp stops to adjust its grip
We spend most of the afternoon wandering around
the lake shore.
Old gnarled gum tree.
Various pieces of debris on the lake shore.
One pelican takes off, another sleeps.
Can you guess what this is?. Answer here.
The Bonney Lake Hotel, or what's left of it.
Chris finds something poking out of the ground.
It appears to be the top end of the discarded husk from some witchetygrub-like
I pull it from the ground and find that it's nearly
Weird husk from a witchetygrub-like insect, seen here propped
up on some grass. If you know what this is please email me.
Chris continues looking, and finds that the ground
is riddled with them.
Meanwhile I get even closer with the camera.
Up close and personal with an alien
Now there's something that will give your kids
nightmares for a month, right out of "Alien".
Reflections on the lake.
A big ol' gum tree
The sun finally sets over the lake, ending a perfect
More reflections on the lake.
Nice pastel hues after the sun has set.
Thu 20 May
I'm up with the birds again this morning.
Pelicans trawling for fish in the pre-dawn.
A lone cormorant takes off. Very slow shutter speed (1/8th)
used for "creative" blur.
Birds against the dawn sky.
Pelicans and lovely reflections of the dawn.
Just before the sun disappears behind clouds.
Cormorants, seagulls and pelicans in a feeding frenzy.
Even with the sun gone the light is quite nice
We've gotta get out of here. I know I'm not paying
for film any more, but all these pics have to be burned to CDs,
worked on, then the good ones burned to DVD.
We drive to Morgan, a quaint little town that
used to be a thriving port for the river boat trade.
It's a lot quieter these days, but still very
interesting, and still, in a small way, involved with the riverboats.
The Murray Princess docks here every Tuesday night,
as this is Thursday we're a couple of days late, or is that a few
Either way we won't get to see the huge paddle
steamer this time.
We do get to wander around the town though, and
check out the old fashioned buildings.
Many of these houses were built in the 1800s,
but they all have huge TV aerials and/or satellite dishes. This
is an interesting dichotomy, but to a photographer's eye it really
spoils the look of the place.
These days of course, there's no reason to inflict
that visual chaos on you, so most of the photos in this diary issue
have had the forest of TV receptors removed using a little Photoshop
Morgan's main street, on the left with TV aerials, cars, signs,
shadows and burnout marks on the road. On the right, without
most of these blemishes.
The Commercial hotel, general store, and RSL club.
You cross the river on this ferry if coming from Cadell. It
will take 90 tonnes, so don't worry if you've got a large
I was photographing this flower when a bee landed on it. You
know what they say, never look a gift bee in the mouth
As I walk back up the hill I encounter a couple
parked with a caravan. We chat for a while about living on the road,
and leaving the kids/grandkids behind.
All the time there's a scratching noise emanating
from the caravan's interior. Eventually, as I'm leaving, I have
It's their pet budgie. "It makes a nice child
substitute" the woman says. "Yeah, and it will let you
know if you've left the gas on" I reply over my shoulder.
She looks quizzical. "It'll die first"
I explain. I'm fairly certain she saw the funny side.
From the lookout you can see the river, some boats, some houses,
and some boats pretending to be houses
On the news tonight we're told that the average
Australian household uses 280,000 litres of water a year. This prompts
us to see how much we use. The answer, about 8,000. That's about
3% of the average.
For years people have been discussing how to solve
the growing water problem we have in Australia. There's been all
sorts of proposals to build bigger and better dams, convert seawater,
drain the artesian supplies, tow icebergs from the South Pole, etc.
Well I've found the answer, and as usual it's
USE LESS WATER!
Fri 21 May
Not long after leaving Morgan I see a kangaroo on the side of the
road. It's alive, and there's no visible signs of distress, but
it's obviously in a bad way. The fact that it just sits there as
I approach attests to that.
This 'roo must have been hit my a car, he hardly moves even
though I got to within a few metres of him.
It you have to be on a highway, this is the best kind, long
We spend some time in the historic town of Burra,
St Josephs church and the main street, Burra.
Then camp a few kilometres to the north, next
to the "Midnight Oil" house.
We camp near the Midnight Oil (AKA Cobb & Co.) house
The house is a derelict farm building made famous
when Ken Duncan featured it in a photo of the group Midnight Oil,
on one of their album covers.
I'm hoping for some great afternoon light on the
house, and it's starting to look good. First however I've had an
urgent request for some scans to be emailed, so I ride into the
internet centre in Burra. I spend over an hour emailing the files,
then emerge to find it's clouded over.
The light is terrible. Oh well.
Sat 22 May
At first light I try again. I do get a nice photo of the house,
even nicer in my view because it looks nothing like the "standard"
view and lighting everyone else has taken, since Ken Duncan's iconic
My view of the house, more subtle than the usual photo of this
Not far up the highway Chris spots an emu in the
field next to the road. I pull over, but am reluctant to get out
because it's usually a waste of time. Emus won't normally let a
human get closer than a few hundred yards, way too far for a decent
This one seems to be the exception, even walking
in a direction that will bring it closer to the truck.
I manage to approach to about 30 metres.
This emu is just wandering through the stubble in a farmer's field
At around lunchtime we pull into the sleepy town
Wothahellizat parks in Terowie's main street
Did I say sleepy?, comatose is probably a better
word. While not quite dead, Terowie is certainly on life support,
the few locals looking more like grieving family members standing
around the bed, wondering if they should pull the plug.
Terowie used to be a thriving community, but to
understand why we need to go back a few years.
Imagine if you will a country that, in some aspects,
was really many countries comprised of semiautonomous states. Imagine
also that each of these states had their own ideas and vested interests.
For this reason the country had three different,
and incompatible, railway gauges. Whenever goods where moved between
states, and therefore to a different gauge, said goods had to me
manhandled from one train to another.
This unbelievable system was how Australia operated,
right up until the early 70s if I remember correctly.
Still there was a good side, a lot of people were
employed to transfer the goods at the points where disparate gauges
met; and one of these places was Terowie.
Terowie therefore had many residents with jobs,
but when the country came to its senses, the jobs left, the people
left, and Terowie started dying.
Terowie has seen better days.
It's a bit sad to see all those closed shops and
derelict houses. But time moves on I guess.
Leaving Terowie we drive to Peterburough, it's
amazing the difference between these two towns, and they're only
20k apart. Peterburough appears to be doing better than Terowie,
although much has closed here to I believe.
A fascinating collection of car parts, seen through the shop
Sun 23 May
Onwards, ever onwards. We drive through Orroroo and Carrieton, finally
reaching Hawker, the last town before entering the Flinders ranges.
The public noticeboard at Orroroo. Spot any differences between
this one and it's compatriot in Moulamein?
This area is littered with great old ruins.
After spending a little time in Hawker we drive
just out of town and find a nice quite campsite with views of the
There's a front coming through, so we find a spot in the fields
just outside Hawker
It costs $16 per night to camp at Wilpena in the
heart of the Flinders ranges, and there's rain forecast for the
next few days, so we'll sit here for free until it passes.
Sand floating on the lake surface.