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November 3, 2013

Dear Diary,
Did you know it is a long-weekend here, for Recreation Day tomorrow? I always like to define a long-weekend somehow. Even if it’s only one day out, doing something a little different. And oh goodness me, how time is precious at the moment, what with plans afoot pre the holiday season for the holiday season (and, no, that wasn’t a typo, a repetition, that’s what I meant to say, little diary) - oh, and then there’ll be Christmas intermingled ‘tween this year’s end and next one’s beginning. And with all that looming large afore me how I want to end it on a satisfied note, with long-ignored tasks finally completed. But I digress, as is my wont.

The tiniest wisp of fog rising like smoke on the tiers, near Caveside, Tasmania, Australia. Image: Rose Frankcombe

Today was such a day to take advantage of the weekend. Oh, yes, dear diary, there were lots of big events happening all about the countryside, but just a little jaunt, in a 350 kilometre sweep, did it for me... And do you know, diary dearest, one never knows what to wear, how the weather will turn out, and I’ll say it did look pretty bleak way over on the distant blue range. Snow, perhaps, squalls at least, though I only discovered that too late after leaving home. Still, as it seems a new norm, there was an old coat in the car I could drag on if necessary. Would make me look like, I was going to say an old tramp, but that’d never do, diary dearest, the connotation might be taken the wrong way so perhaps I’d better amend that to ‘old bag lady’! Neither option is much of a choice, but as it happened, I didn’t have to take on the guise of a down-an-outer today after all. Yes, of course I did get wet, but not much, so I was happy about that.  But you know how it is, don’t you, let nothing phase the intrepid traveller. And nothing did. But, why, dear diary, did it again have to rain when I took the camera some distance out... I ask you. How many times will I have to dash for cover while trying to shelter the precious thing under my sleeveless jacket... One of these days I might slip and then it’ll be curtains for the camera - and maybe me, too! Mind you, I sincerely hope not...

Well, I didn’t get started happy-snapping early in the jaunt, diary, but once heading along towards Mole Creek, what should catch my eye but the most delicious ruin. Oh how it stirred the imagination - and you know what my imagination’s like, don’t you diary dear. Well, this precious, tumble down, backgrounded by a misty mount, was just too great an opportunity to miss. What had it been? A family home for a mother and sixteen children afoot? Who can say... And how long ago were repairs attempted with rusty iron over the wooden shingles? Age, diary - it evoked great age on the relevant island time-scale.  

A wonderful, tumble-down ruin way out back of Mole Creek, Tasmania, Australia. Image: Rose Frankcombe

A little further along I aimed at a couple of intriguing peaks. Can’t tell you their names until I look them up. Not sure if the ploy worked or not, focus less defined to the foreground, but the crags don’t look too bad - and diary, notice the blue sky... It didn’t last for long. As a matter of fact, by the time the T-junction came into view the weather had changed to decidedly worse. In an instant. Just like that. A squall with almost-hailstones hitting the windscreen. Yet it was merely minutes later and the mist was rising from the peaks and the rain was gone.

Part of the Great Western Tiers mountain range near Caveside, Tasmania, Australia. Image: Rose Frankcombe
Mist rising from the Great Western Tiers near Caveside, Tasmania, Australia. Image: Rose Frankcombe

Arriving at Mole Creek, there were one or two interesting objects that caught my eye. I thought I’d start at the beginning of the town and work my way through - but you guessed it diary dearest, down came the rain again... I did manage to get some images of the fountain commemorating the school’s centenary in 1978 - and got my foot wet in the process as perhaps it’s time to get some new waterproof shoes - but spare me, not gumboots! Although, why would I want to contemplate waterproof footwear, it’s almost summer, isn’t it diary dear... Then I had to hurry back to the warmth of the car as, you guessed it, the downpour was increasing! Would there be no end to it... So what to do now the plans for images of the town’s main strip had been abandoned.

Plaque commemorating the centenary of Mole Creek School in 1978. Image: Rose Frankcombe

The conversation turned to the Azure Kingfisher, as it would, wouldn’t it dear diary, a natural progression... You are aware I’m teasing you, aren’t you, diary, gently... I’m laughing now. Do let me explain. Eons ago during those childhood jaunts from the sprawling metropolis of Glenorchy, in the south, to way up through the middle of this island to Devonport, an oh-so-long journey for a child (I speak only of myself here, sweet diary, you understand, from my own experience), well, I was expected to keep awake and watch all the passing scenery. By the time we got to Little-bit-along-town (Elizabeth Town), an in-family joke which I may explain one day - or may not, lovely diary, there was nothing for it but sleep... All those whizzing-by trees, what could you expect from anyone who’d watched and watched and watched the passing parade - for hours since the early morn... Anyway, I’ve digressed again, but I’m sure you don’t mind, do you, diary, you’re used to it, aren’t you... Now where was I? Oh, yes, in those long-ago days, at Latrobe, a close-by and must-do jaunt for a tent-holidaying family of the time, the one thing I longed most to see - was an Azure Kingfisher - which, according to a sign emblazoned in my memory, and which has possibly disintegrated into a rich-chocolate-sawdust long ago, kindled that desire, as it told anyone who read it that this area near Bell’s Parade was the habitat of the little bird. How fascinating. How intriguing. How wonderful. Now for that little bird I did look very, very hard, with n’ery any success. Aw... Sad...I am very pleased to be able to tell you, though, my little diary friend, that I have since, in my dotage, seen a real live, real life, magnificent free flying Azure Kingfisher in the wild wilds, far away from the Mersey banks at Latrobe, but still on this island of ours. So from a conversation about kingfishers - to birds in general, and then seabirds, Port Sorell sprang to mind, as it was not far off the beaten track home. Could we call in, I wondered...

Port Sorell, Tasmania, Australia. Image: Rose Frankcombe

Slipping through the back-way to Ambleside at Devonport, I did keep up a vigil for the Azure Kingfisher along the Bell’s Parade road - again in vain today. But that’s okay, that yearning to see this spectacular bird has been satisfied and the longing to see it is now not as great as it once was. The memory of the one I did see has replaced the memory of the sign telling me about it, which is much better, don’t you think. Oh, yes, now don’t get me wrong, little diarykins, I’d ‘love’ to see another one, but if I don’t, then I’m still happy.

Port Sorell is a great place for recreation of all kinds. Tasmania, Australia. Image: Rose Frankcombe

Aha, we were now on the back road at Wesley Vale, and it wasn’t too, too late to call into Port Sorell, to see if there were seabirds flocking on the sands. It’d be a great place for what I thought would be the last flurry of the day with the camera. Of course you do remember, don’t you dear diary, that I’m still getting used to it, the camera I mean, and it’s far different from the old point-and-shoot one I used to use. Pre-thought and consideration has to go into every shot, and sometimes they work out - and sometimes they don’t. Some images when they’re revealed on the bigger screen take my breath away, while others make me groan. But resolve comes to the fore for improvements next time - and it was just over a month ago I was floundering, making oodles of mistakes, wrong settings, all that kind of thing... Now it’s ‘oh, okay, I’ll just turn this, or set that, or adjust this’ - and, hey, simply get on with it... I’m still forgetting to take the lens cap off though, and wonder momentarily why the view is so black! And boy, did I take a big step today, I have to tell you little diary. I usually keep the memory chips as an extra backup to image-storage - but not today - I knew I’d transferred the around 2,000 images off the expensive chip I’d bought (can you believe that diary, that I only got the camera in September and already the chip is full - and it was a 16 GB one!)... There’s that digression again... Oh, and what the heck, here’s another one, diary dearest. I know you won’t mind, and I will get back to the story - soon... But the other day I took another plunge, transferring from the body of the computer 12,000 images! Can you believe that! It’s true... 12,000, no word of a lie! Made me nervous for a while, but I’m okay about it now... Made me realise the ephemeral nature of digital photography - it can be gone in one slip of the fingers on the delete button - but it didn’t happen this time, thank goodness... Well, I must get on, tell you the rest of the story about today...

A yacht at anchor on the low tide at Port Sorell, Tasmania, Australia. Image: Rose Frankcombe

Port Sorell proved a fizzer as far as seabirds on the sands. One or two, but not the wonderful variety I recall from the last visit, when I couldn’t capture their antics well enough with lack of zoom on the old camera. Now I’ve got this one with greater zoom I’m still not entirely happy, but I’m getting to understand the limitation of it, which I may be able to do something about - later... Of course there was a further dilemma here. The rain had long cleared and the sky was a wonderful blue - but the strong wind over the beach, where the tide was out, whipped it up in a sandy storm - and you guessed it, it was time to protect the camera once again, this time from the invasive presence of grit. Ooh, hoo... No way... From inside the car and through the open window away from the abrasive gusts I zoomed in on some distant oystercatchers, and the odd seagull or two, but I didn’t get what I wanted this outing, as far as birds are concerned.

Two pied oystercatchers and an airborne seagull at Port Sorell, Tasmania, Australia. Image: Rose Frankcombe

The hour was getting late when we finally pulled out of Port Sorell heading home. Across the Batman and turning onto a backroad to Hillwood (cos it follows the river along), my devil-may-care attitude towards the day and the time saw me throw one more, last-ditch stand at the end-of-the-day image gathering, with a tilt at the sunset on the Tamar waters. It was a brilliant sun, not rich golden, but insipid lemon today, but, my cute little diary, that didn’t matter, it was a practice run and I learnt a little more patience while waiting for the burning orb to sink ever so slightly below the hilly horizon. I saw glistening gold flakes on the water surface, sunbeams shining down from the ridge, great watery splashes of lemon splayed out from the central sphere - and, diary dearest, when I looked at the images on the computer screen later, there was dismay - and great joy - as one image in particular of the sun did take my breath away... And that, dear, patient little diary, I will share with you when I return to this seat later in the day... For now you'll have to be satisfied with the header image of the sunset. So, until later comes, dear diary, think about the joys Nature brings us every day - and I’ll show you some images to reflect that philosophical thought... Until then...


A zoom in on a distant, red marker on the sandy shore at Port Sorell, Tasmania, Australia. Image: Rose Frankcombe
Sheet of gold, moths and sunbeams. Sunset reflections float on the river, near Hillwood, Tasmania, Australia. Image: Rose Frankcombe 3.11.2013
Unlike Icarus, this seabird flies above the sun home. Near Hillwood, Tasmania, Australia. Image: Rose Frankcombe 3.11.2013
With patience, the observer sees the sun sinking in the west at the end of another day. Near Hillwood, Tasmania, Australia. Image: Rose Frankcombe 3.11.2013
Watercolour pastel paints the sky in apricot hues at sunset near Hillwood, Tasmania, Australia. Image: Rose Frankcombe 3.11.2013
Seeing the day close is a wonderful experience. From Hillwood, Tasmania, Australia. Image: Rose Frankcombe 3.11.2013

November 4, 2013

Ah, Dear Diary,

You have patiently waited for the images from Mole Creek through Port Sorell and on to Hillwood, 3/11. They're here now so please enjoy.

Today, though, something more exciting happened. It wasn't planned, it was impulsive, and it didn't achieve the initial goal - but it nevertheless it brought fantastic reward (if the photos are okay). Fingers crossed for perfect images, dear diary. All will be revealed soon, and I hope you become as excited as I am about the photo-story that ensued.  Be patient a little longer, dear diary, all good things come to those who wait. I know, I know, that statment's a cliche, but sometimes cliches are apt... Until I return...

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A postscript, dear diary, regarding our conversation on the Azure Kingfisher. By chance I've been going through some older images, from 2011 in fact, and I've found a grainy image of the kingfisher, rear on and head turned leftward, on a branch by the banks of the Arthur River... There's enough material to show the beautiful bird but the pity is that it's not as clear nor as close as I would have liked it to have been...

An azure kingfisher by the wild banks of the Arthur River, Western Tasmania, Australia. Image Rose Frankcombe

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