Illumin8 2019 …

The Buddhist Festival of Light was celebrated at the Great Stupa of Universal Compassion over the last couple of days. I was there last night with my camera in hand. It was a very pleasant evening enjoyed by a good crowd. There was an excellent choice of vegetarian food available!

Kids were particularly thrilled with the illuminated creatures. The light show and the fireworks also hit the spot.

Festivities concluded with the Burning of the Bad. People had written their negative thoughts and problems on pieces of paper during the course of the two days. These were added to a great fire in the hope that all negativity would be dispelled by the flames. The Buddha was kind to those who’d written the names Tony Abbott and Bill Shorten.

A Day in the Grampians …

The Grampians National Park is one of Victoria’s jewels.

If you think of the Great Dividing Range as starting in north Queensland, sweeping south inland of Australia’s east coast and around the bend into Victoria the Grampians is where it makes its last desperate attempt to be mountainous. And a very scenic effort it is.

It and Wilson’s Promontory are the two Victorian parks under the greatest visitor pressure. At peak season the crowds are really bad, but don’t expect to feel lonely the rest of the year.

It has given Parks Victoria every opportunity to indulge itself in regulations, warning signs, railings and outrageous penalties. The rock climbing fraternity are the latest victims.

For a photographer who likes to use a drone as one of his cameras the frustration is immense. Drones cannot be flown without written permission on any Parks Vic property no matter how remote or lonely. Which locks away most of the great landscapes in the state.

Nonetheless it’s still worth a visit. My intention was to do some waterfall photography but I also felt the need for some exercise so I got there early with a view to climbing Mount William, the highest point. Although there was nothing on the Park’s website I found the Mount William Road closed. My 4 km hard hike had turned into a 24km hike, I wasn’t that early.

I settled instead for a ramble up to the Pinnacle via the Grand Canyon and Silent Street a 4.2km return hike from the Wonderland car park. There are plenty of excuses available to the photographer to rest along the way.

The view from the top is heavily polluted with man made constructions but with careful placement of the camera, towns, dam walls, railings, signs and tourists can all be avoided.

From there it was off to Mackenzie Falls for the late afternoon light.

Swimming, of course, is forbidden.

Isabella Was Here …

Captain John Hart saw Cape Nelson off to starboard and set his course for Adelaide. It was March 30th 1837 he was sailing from Launceston, Van Dieman’s land (known since 1856 as Tasmania) to Adelaide in the three masted barque Isabella with a cargo of livestock and the Pearce family as passengers.

Not long after that the Isabella was wrecked. She ran into the real Cape Nelson. Captain Hart had misidentified Lady Julia Percy Island.

Twenty five passengers and crew took to the boats and made it safely to Portland which had been settled about three years earlier, the first town in what would become Victoria. I doubt the livestock fared as well.

It’s a wild and woolly spot now guarded by a lighthouse.

Clear Sky …

The following afternoon the cloud cleared …

Which meant another trip to the lighthouse …

Then to bed. To sleep and dream until 3.00AM for this was the peak of the Eta Aquariid meteor storm. This is debris from Halley’s Comet. This little time lapse was shot in Victoria’s Western District from about 4am until just before dawn. The sky is at it’s most frenetic just as Venus comes up behind the gum tree.

Rain …

The recent foray in search of a good foreground for the magnificent background of the Milky Way took me to the Mallee. This word describes a habitat type and the region of Victoria where that habitat once stretched to the horizon in all directions.

Mallee trees are eucalypts usually slender and not very tall. They tend to be multi-stemmed. They are found on light soils and are extremely well adapted to fire, resprouting from underground lignotubers after a wildfire has gone through.

In the Mallee region much of the land has been cleared for agriculture and the winter crop here is mainly wheat. This summer has been as dry as a Nun’s … Australian English is rich in metaphors, most of them rude, best I just say very dry.

The word rain, though, had been mentioned in the weather forecast and farmers were out optimistically disturbing their top soil.

Widespread rain fell in Victoria the following day and was very very welcome.