in Melbourne: Mornington

When we were in Melbourne, Victoria for several days to check out a new standard silver poodle to replace Kayla we stayed at Mornington close to the local racecourse. We didn’t have time on this trip to walk the Balcombe Estuary Nature Trail from the Nepean Highway to Mt Martha Beach. That walk, which was photographed by Joyce Evans around 2003, is planned for our next trip to Melbourne in early February, when we pick up the standard poodle puppy from Cranbourne.

Whilst in Mornington we were able to go for several early morning poodlewalks with Maleko to, and around, a local wetland at Narambi Station Reserve. We avoided the adjacent Narambi sportsfield even though it was popular with the local dogwalkers.

Narambi Station Reserve

On a couple of those mornings we started to explore the nearby Tanti Creek and the heritage Mornington Railway line down to the Mornington Station. We eventually found a way to walk though this raw and rough area to the station at the end of the line.

Development, tourist style

Given the general decline of the rural sector seaside or coastal towns depend on domestic tourism to survive. In the process of encouraging tourism, seachange retirees and regional growth they are in danger of damaging, if not destroying, the very natural attractions that made them so attractive to people in the first place.

Victor Harbor on the southern Fleurieu Peninsula of South Australia is a classic example . Tourism has replaced the dairy and grazing farms in terms of economic importance. The city council has invested substantial funds to rebrand the town from being a run down and decaying service centre for the the agricultural industry to a tourist town. The rebranding involved giving the town centre a design facelift. The town has become more attractive but its economy is low-wage work such as retail and hairdressing that exist to serve local residents. A high tech hub of innovation and creativity it is not.

Tourist development is already happening. There is a Heritage Trail that runs west from Petrel Cove, which link up with the Heysen Trail at Kings Beach Lookout. Both Trails form part of the Wild South Coast Way on the southern Fleurieu Peninsula. There is also a Bluff (Rosetta Head) Master Plan, which is in process of being put together, based on community feedback that emphasizes walking not more carparks. These are low key eco-tourist developments with a light footprint. You enjoy the coastline by walking it.

Petrel Cove coastline

The Victor Harbor Council has not publicly responded to the community feedback re the Bluff Master Plan, but the plan does not include the privately owned farmland west of the Rosetta Head reserve. Under SA’s new planning system Victor Harbor is part of the Greater Adelaide Planning Region and it is unclear whether the Victor Harbor Council will assess the proposed development or whether the planning authority is Planning SA and the state government.

The picture above is from January 2022 and it was made from Rosetta Head (Kongkengguwar) on an early summer morning. It looks west across Petrel Cove down along the coastline to Kings Beach and Kings Head. The Waitpinga Cliffs are in the background. It is a fantastic coastline that needs to be cared for as the farmland is sold. Massive and ugly development would destroy it.

The area just west of the Petrel Cove car park and the green belt in the above picture is earmarked for a proposed tourist property development by Tirroki Pty Ltd consisting of 5 self-contained accommodation units (4 single and 1 double unit with carports) and service building/s on the current farmland. It runs east/west from Jagger Road to the Heritage Trail with access from Jagger Rd.

inbetween

Sony A7 R111

In the last month or so I have avoided most of the poodlewalks that Kayla and I regularly did together in the early morning. I have avoided the local Waitpinga bushland completely as the memories are too painful. Currently, on my morning walks, I am only walking in places that Kayla and I would rarely explore.

I did walk along the Victor Harbor beach towards Bridge Point and the mouth of the Hindmarsh River with Suzanne and Maleko last Friday morning (2nd December). Surprisingly, the mouth of the Hindmarsh River was open and there was still a strong flow out to the sea.

Victor Harbor beach

Suzanne would regularly do this walk with Kayla and her friend from Goolwa — Jane and Scally, her standard poodle. Jane was sick that Friday so I filled in. The Friday walk concludes with coffee and banana bread at Qahwa at 8am.

in Memoriam

We put Kayla down last Tuesday (22nd November). She was 8 years old and the ultra sound revealed that she had advanced cancer of the lymph nodes which was diffused through her body. She had stopped eating when we were in Robe several weeks ago and she hadn’t eaten for two weeks. She was losing weight and her liver had shrunken to such a degree that the vet found it was difficult to locate it on the ultrasound. Kayla was wasting away.

She was much loved and is deeply missed. This was one of the last photos that I made. It was made on our last Sunday morning Rosetta Head walk together.

Kayla, Rosetta Head

It was before we realized that she had cancer. We working on the assumption that she had an ongoing viral infection. Looking back we can see that she did did have a viral infection but the cancer had so weakened her immune system that her body couldn’t overcome it.

Seascapes

I decided to start photographing seascapes when the early morning poodle walks in Victor Harbor incorporated walking up and over Rosetta Head to Petrel Cove. Seascapes as distinct from photos of clouds or of light itself in that the sea becomes more central.

I started photographing with colour film (both medium and large format cameras), but the seascapes looked too picturesque, and rather touristy. Cliched, even when there was heavy cloud cover:

seascape #1 (cloud)

I was after something more ordinary and abstract, rather than beautiful, picturesque or iconic. So I started to use b+w film.

light + walking art

Whilst walking along the coast of the southern Fleurieu Peninsula in South Australia this year I have been exploring how to photograph the fleeting character or the ephemerality of light in the early morning. These are photos of light, as distinct from photos of clouds or of seascapes, are a modest walking art project.

I started this modest walking art project in the late summer of 2022 and it continued through the winter. Poodlewalks is not dog walking as such, since the poodles often lead and I follow. In many ways it is as much their walk as mine.

I started this photographic approach to walking art around the time I was glancing through Melissa Miles’ The Language of Light and Dark: Light and Place in Australian Photography (2015), which I had borrowed from the Adelaide public library network.

light, Encounter Bay, 16/02, 2022

Unlike many of the photographers in the book I didn’t see light as a metaphor. What I was seeing on my poodlewalks were the fleeting moments of light at Encounter Bay. Fleeting in the sense that the interplay of light and dark just before and after sunrise was brief: it would often last less than 5 minutes as the clouds evaporated and the darkness disappeared with the rays of the early morning sun.

clouds, not Instagram

The weather since our return to Encounter Bay from our 12 day trip to the Vulkathunha-Gammon Ranges in South Australia has been continually stormy. There has been strong to gale force north westerly winds and regular rain, with a few fine periods within, and between, the series of cold fronts. The winds have often been chilling with rain falling each day. The earth is saturated.

It has been very atmospheric as we attempt to walk avoiding the wind and the showers. More often than not we are caught in the rain as it is fine one minute then rain the next.

looking west, Dump Rd, Waitpinga

Whilst on the poodlewalks we often have to sit the rain out — either in the car or seeking shelter whilst on the walk. The showers ease and we walk on. Sometimes this happens several times on a single poodlewalk. More often than not we get caught by the rain.

winter walking: June 2022

An icy cold snap with lots of rain and bitterly south westerly winds hit the southern Fleurieu Peninsula of South Australia in late May/early June. It has been extremely cold when the sun has gone missing, with the cold snap lasting a fortnight or more. Though there have been the occasional days with sunshine, the rain and cold winds usually return the next morning. Consequently, walking with poodles is walking in the bracing wind and the rain:–rain walks.

The daily poodlewalks in early June included walking Rosetta Head ( Kongkengguwar ) in Victor Harbor so that I could photograph the sky, rain, sea and light. These photographs have usually been seascapes (as distinct from coastal), though I sometimes I have been photographing the clouds themselves.

rain, Encounter Bay

We have been walking Rosetta Head in the early morning before sunrise, as the weather has usually cleared by the late afternoon, with this occasion on the last day of May being a notable exception. The walking and photography in low pre-sunrise light works well with a hand held digital camera.

It is much more difficult with the large format camera and tripod, especially when it is a 5×7 monorail. Much more organization and planning is required, as I need to check out both the cloud cover and the direction of the wind to see if it is worthwhile carrying the camera equipment up Rosetta Head. If it is, then it is a slow walk and climb.

an 8 x 10 poodlewalk

A recent afternoon poodlewalk in the local Waitpinga bushland in the southern Fleurieu Peninsula incorporated an 8×10 photo session. This session was a response to a disappointing one in the Spring Mount Conservation Park the previous day. Then I never even took the 8×10 out of the Forester. I had been hoping for misty conditions when I was driving there, only to encounter light rain when I was walking around.

Maleko + 8×10 Cambo, Waitpinga

It is more accurate to say that on the Waitpinga poodlewalk the photo session was first and the poodlewalk with Maleko came afterwards. I carried the camera equipment to the site, made the photo, returned the equipment to the Forester, then Maleko and I went on a walk through the bushland.

a quiet moment

Last week Kayla and I were walking along a dusty, unsealed Depledge Rd in the early morning prior to wandering around in the local patch of bushland in Waitpinga in the southern Fleurieu Peninsula of South Australia.

A light, but cool, sou’ easterly wind was blowing across the field onto our bodies, the orange-brown Monarch butterflies were notable by their absence, and the yellow tailed cockatoos were watching us and sounding the alarm with their wailing calls. I could hear the laughing kookaburras in the distance.

The sun had just risen above the trees on the eastern horizon and its soft rays highlighted this grass tree (Xanthorrhoea) on the dusty roadside just as we were passing by. We stopped and I looked.

dusty Xanthorrhoea

The sun’s rays were quite weak at that moment since they were shining through the distant trees after rising above the horizon. It doesn’t stay like this for long as the rays find a gap in the trees.