6am and the alarm wakes me from a somewhat mediocre slumber to the soothing tunes of Private Eye by Daryl Hall & John Oates on the radio. Is it 6am already? I groan. 6am on a somewhat chilly Sunday morning in Sydney. The temperature says 6 degrees. Yes, I’m inclined to agree. Reluctantly I force myself out of bed to get dressed and off to our meeting point at 7:30am for our Day Mystery Tour with our photography society. As always I’m intrigued as to where our illustrious leader Greg shall lead us. Always out of Sydney, which is a satisfying prospect. A day away from my everyday surroundings.
Although in my fantasy world, what I’d really like to be doing is click my fingers and have some magical being deliver a hot cup of tea to my bedside while I role over and snuggle up to my significant other, regaling in the fact that I can lie in bed on a cold Sunday morning, time be damned and have someone read the morning paper to me, okay, yes I know, who reads the paper anymore. Correction … while I sip my tea and nestle my body under the covers next to a warm body, make myself unbelievably ridiculously comfortable (I envisage feelings of being a cat, stretched out luxuriously while I emit a consistent satisfying purr of pleasure), while he recites the morning news to me from some electronic device that has now made running downstairs out into the cold to collect the paper thrown abundantly on the front porch redundant. Yes, there are some distinct advantages to the advancement of technology.
And here we both lie warm in our little cocoon and entertain ourselves in the world news that is sometimes insightful and informative, not forgetting the ability to regal in the lives of public figures who are once again smeared all over social media for our entertainment.
Yes indeed, this is my weekend fantasy, but alas this is not meant to be my life, so I indulge in the next best thing that brings me pleasure – the prospect of a road trip to spend the day out at some mystery location exploring, taking photos and time out with some great friends.
So it’s 7:30am and we’ve hit the road heading south. Although we’ve been given a hint it’s past Wollongong, so I think to myself, okay I have a little bit of time to close my eyes, relax in the warmth of the bus amidst 20 fellow photographers, and maybe enjoy a little snooze en-route to destination unknown.
That intended snooze has come to an abrupt halt at 8:30am. We’ve made a quick pit stop to stretch at Sublime Point Lookout at Bulli Point and I’m definitely reluctant to leave the enveloped warmth of the bus, but it seems I’ve given in to peer pressure even at my age as everyone urges me to follow suite. But I soon regret that as I step outside and into what seems like a wall of ice. The temperature now shows 10 degrees. An error I’m sure because it feels more like 3 degrees.
Nonetheless we make our way to the viewing platform and gaze out to sea, looking across the Illawarra escarpment. Sadly it’s way too cold and this spectacular view is cut short as my body is going into a mild state of hypothermia. Unusual for me as I generally love the cold. I stand long enough to attempt a really dodgy panoramic shot with my phone and two lovely ladies by my side, Keiko and Ally. But I’m infinity happy as we make our way back to the bus.
It’s 9:30am and of course, no road trip starting this early is without a coffee fix and MacDonalds it is. I’ll make a public note here that I absolutely detest MacDonalds food and coffee is the extent of my willing purchases from said venue.
It’s a short visit, quick coffee then on the road again. As we head outside, I stumble into a little bit of heaven. This is why I love road trips, you never know what you’re going to encounter along the way. I have about 10 seconds to make my way back to the bus and so manage to only snap half a dozen shots of what must be about 50, mostly Harley’s scattered across the parking lot. Being a city girl, one doesn’t get this pleasure very often, well not in my area anyway. Not a bad start to the morning, some eye candy and sexy sounds and I’m not referring to the riders. Although I’m sure if one was so inclined to look, that might have been bonus eye candy. Yes, I think I’m awake now.
11am and it’s another pit stop to stretch and gaze out over Gerringong. Fairly mediochre landscaping but I’m always happy to take a look around at obscure objects/composition that might catch my attention.
I’m happy to report, it is now turning into a beautiful day, skies are blue and clear. Granted a bit more cloud cover would be even better for some character to an otherwise perfect ‘complexion’ of blue but one can’t complain with 15 degrees and the absence of rain.
9:50am. We’ve made another stop, as you do and have 40 minutes stop to wander along the shores of Boat Harbour, just off Cole Street.
Whilst still a beach, not one in the traditional sense where it’s white sand as far as the eye can see, instead scattered with rocks and pebbles, but still beautiful and how can one complain when you’re in front of the ocean. Three swimming pools were built here at Boat Harbour, a ladies’ pool in 1896, a second ladies pool in 1898 and a men’s pool in 1911.
Further reading: Gerringong and District Historical Society Inc www.gerringonghistory.org.au
Here I sat for about 15 minutes watching most of my group way in front of me, most of who were crouching down, zoom lens in hand, completely engrossed in photographing a rather fabulously large Pelican, sun baking on a rock, peacefully I’ll add until a swarm of camera’s were suddenly thrust in his line of sight – is this how a Pelican would feel akin to being on the red carpet – while I sat off to a distance, enjoying the sunshine and the scene before me. Having a little chuckle to myself, because I know from every trip we go on and come across Pelican’s. We definitely have some die hard Pelican fans and will stop at nothing to get that perfect …. 200 shots. Sadly I have no Pelican shots here for you. but he/she from what I could tell from a distance was a perfect large white specimen of a bird. I’m sure someone will post a pic.
It’s somewhat comforting and lovely to realise how being in this society, you come to know fellow photographer’s and develop close relationships with them, they become family and you learn so much about each one, especially some of us that have very particular nuances in what we prefer to photography and what fascinates us and yes, you’ll always know where to find some of us if we go wondering off in a certain direction.
Next stop, Gerringong Cemetery on the cnr of Belinda & Percy Street. A truly serene location for the deceased to rest in peace. As I’ve found across Australia, most cemeteries here are absolutely beautiful, almost lovingly maintained with the respect that this site deserves and most seem to have no perimeter fence. Gerringong Cemetery is one such site that sits perched upon a steeply slope overlooking the glorious Pacific Ocean with some grave sites dating back to the 1860’s.
As you glance up to the right of the ocean, beyond the cemetery lies yet another beautiful rolling hill and what caught my eye are the pretty little ‘Christmas like’ trees all perfectly lined up in a row.
11:30am and our official walk has started. This essentially is our destination – a Gerringong to Kiama walk. About two months we did the first half starting at Kiama and half way to Gerringong, before turning around and heading back. This month we complete essentially the other half of the Kiama Coastal Walk.
25 minutes into the walk, okay I gotta ask “who put that damn hill there”. Clearly Greg neglected to disclose this little bit of info prior to our start. So much for a relaxing Sunday stroll. But no where to go but forward or rather up, while my knee screams ‘I surrender!”, but I continue as I chant over and over in my mind ‘suck it up Ruth’, this is just a walk in the … err big park.
Whilst I’ll be the first to admit, this coastal walk is absolutely breathtaking and refreshing. The salty air, the sun on your skin, it’s positively exhilarating, however there are only so many photos one can take of rolling hills, lush vegetation, blue skies and a gorgeous ocean. So my landscape photos are purposely on the sparse side, but we did play around with some double exposures and obscure objects …. just because I can.
Here I sat for about 5 minutes mesmerized by the simmer on the water surface. Who knew water and sun could be such an addictive natural drug.
This is also a common sight you see often when we’re out and about. Photographers getting horizontal with the earth, on all fours with nose to the ground because we thought we might have seen slight movement out the corner of our eye of an army of ants traipsing along, among 4 blades of grass and naturally we deem fit this is worthy of a photograph, or a few spindles of what remains of a spider web caught amongst barb wire.
These two dreaming poles are ‘Wodi-Wodi and Dharawal Land’ and symbolizes our Ancestors who roamed up and down this coastline for thousands of years and represent scarred trees and remind Australians of our rich continuous Aboriginal cultural heritage and Spirit of Dreaming.
1.84km into our walk that took 52 minutes. Clearly we’re not in a hurry, but a much needed fuel stop and so here we decided to stop for lunch. While we make ourselves comfortable in a bed of half a meter tall lush grass overlooking a vast ocean – well how much better can it get than this?
Reluctantly we did eventually head back for another 2km walk. At his time, the weather has truly been on our side. It’s 20 degrees, winter coats have long been discarded by some and there’s an air of exuberance in the air. Amazing what a few hours of brisk walking can do.
And our final stop before staring our journey back to Sydney is a stop over in Kiama where most headed off to get ice cream. In winter – as you do. And we sat in the park near Kiama Harbour to enjoy the sounds of a local band, watch the children play, folks walking their dog, families playing ball in the park – just another perfect way one should be spending their Sunday.
Thanks to Greg, founder of the Shire Amateur Photographers Society (SAPS), who through his passion of photography has given us many hours, days, years of joy through this art that has cultivated friendships, nurtured skills and given us invaluable exposure to new places I otherwise would never have knew existed.