I have started to do a few early morning walks along the coast with Maya. As she is still just 11 weeks old we need to continue to avoid other dogs until she has her second round of injections at 12 weeks. So we start our morning walks before sunrise and are back at the Forester by around 7.30. We have been lucky as it is very quiet and there are few, if any, people walking along the coast around sunrise.
The early autumn mornings have been overcast with the cloud cover with the occasional light showers. It clears during the day and the late afternoons are characterised by blue skies, sunshine and light to medium coastal winds.
We don’t walk that far from our starting point at the Kings Beach Whale lookout — not even to Dep’s Beach. Dep’s Beach like Petrel Cove, is still layered with dead baby carp from the River Murray, and as this is snack food for Maya we avoid the beaches, we stay on the clifftop path and find areas amongst the coastal vegetation for Maya to play around in.
When we were in Melbourne, Victoria for several days to check out a new standard silver poodle to replaceKayla 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
I was after something more ordinary and abstract, rather than beautiful, picturesque or iconic. So I started to use b+w film.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
I have spent many an early morning during the late summer of 2022 wandering through the local bushland with Kayla. There are lots of smells for her (eg., foxes, rabbits, kangaroos) and there are some photographic possibilities for me.
It had been raining during the previous day, which was very unusual for summer in the Fleurieu Peninsula. This was in early January during a cool summer. Summer is normally hot and dry with no rain for 5 or so months. The rains normally start in late April.
We have only experienced a couple of warm to hot days this summer so far in South Australia. It is early days, but the weather has mostly been cool with strong cold south westerly and south easterly winds on the southern Fleurieu Peninsula. Though Xmas is approaching it has not been warm enough for swimming or sun baking on a beach. This is La Niña, which is a weather event that often brings overcast conditions, above-average rainfall and cooler temperatures. But a heat dome is coming in a week or so.
It is good weather for walking. This particular scene of people swimming, lying and playing on the beach at Petrel Cove in the late afternoon was unusual for 2021. It was during the spring/summer cusp in late November and it was the first time a summer’s day had happened in 2021.
On the afternoon of the above photo I’d parked the Forester at the Petrel Cove carpark and Maleko and I were setting out to walk along the local Heritage Trail to the Kings Beach Rd lookout. Usually we would start our walk by going down the Petrel Cove steps, walk across the beach and then scramble around the rocks on the western side of the Cove. It was too busy on the beach that afternoon to start our poodlewalk from the beach.