Cataract Gorge Residency: Days 1 – 4, Launceston, Tasmania

Thurs Dec 3, 2009 – Days 1 – 4 (Part One), Cataract Gorge Residency, Launceston, Tasmania

17:31 – Kings Bridge Cottage (KBC) desk

I’m sitting at my desk in
Kings Bridge Cottage on day four of the Cataract Gorge residency in Launceston (Lonnie), Tasmania and my view, without moving an inch, is this…
View from Desk
…which I’m pretty happy about. It’s a breezy late afternoon, about 20 degrees C, and school kids are gliding by in rowing fours on the river below (The South Esk).

I’m here for 3 weeks in total as part of the City of Launceston’s (Parks & Rec) Cataract Gorge Artist-in-Residence program. It’s definitely a major privilege and marks my return to this town ten year’s after leaving to woo a woman and study photography in Melbourne. The photography is still going, the wooing is not. 🙂

I intend to spend the first week observing, researching and planning, and the last two weeks shooting. At this stage I’m predicting I’ll do a general documentary recording of the human/natural interaction between Kings Bridge and Alexandra suspension bridge at First Basin; and hopefully also a couple of stirling old school style wilderness pics harking back to my first loves – the late American B&W master Ansel Adams and late Tasmanian wilderness guru Peter Dombrovskis.

Keep reading below for extracts from my notes made over the last few days. And return again soon for regular updates. If you’d like more info about the residency program visit this mouthful…


Thurs Dec 3, 2009

Found a similar disaster zone to that of the Myer building (refer Wed Dec 2nd entry) here on the South side of the Gorge up towards First Basin – what appears to be a private home erected on what must be about 3 – 4 foot diameter metal stilts, towering above the treeline in what seems likely to be a major ego trip with very little concern for the effect on the surrounding landscape or those whose eyes fall upon it. Who allowed that?! String them up I say!

On the other hand there is an equally out of place and bizarre bright blue swimming pool built within metres of the wonderful fresh water of First Basin swimming hole. But strangely, I’ve always sort of loved it, especially when it’s emptied pre-winter and then fills with logs and other detritus that comes downstream in the floods. And at least it’s open to the public free of charge

13:00, Stillwater Cafe

In 1804, William Collins (explorer and settler) wrote about the gorge:

"…I Observed a large fall of water over Rocks, near a quarter of a mile up a strait (sic) Gully, between perpendicular Rocks, about one hundred and fifty feet high; the beauty of the Scene is probably not surpassed in the world; this great Waterfall or Cataract is most likely one of the greatest sources of this beautiful River (The Tamar), every part of which abounds with Swans, Ducks, and other kinds of Wildfowl." p. 8, Launceston Heritage 1806 – 2006, Richards, Paul A. C., Myola House of Publishing, Launceston, Tasmania, 2006.

Wed Dec 2, 2009

17:45, Kings Bridge Cottage (KBC) Balcony

Feeling homesick for where I am – Launceston; experiencing a strong urge to move back here and start again.

18:36 – Some evening joggers in ‘vacuum-packed’ black lycra leggings produce unfortunate ‘jelly-roll’ effect in the glutii maximi. In fortunate contrast, early evening sun streams across the South face offering a shot of anti-venom to the preceding painful bite.

19:11 – Sun gone from lower 1/3rd of gorge wall at East end – may still be visible further up gorge.

20:30 – East Lonnie bathed in soft pink glow, slightly (but only slightly) lessening the magnificent clumsiness/stupidity of the Myer building which takes the ‘Superlative’ award for Lonnie’s biggest monstrosity! It’s a towering block of orange brick set against relatively lush green arboreal surrounds; and the name Myer screams out from a smaller white block atop, demanding attention like the proverbial dog’s b’s! Who allowed that?! String them up I say!

I feel sure I will find more than enough artistic inspiration between King’s Bridge and the Alexandra suspension bridge.

21:19 – Full moon rising over mountain ridgeline to the East.

Tues Dec 1, 2009 (Marker of Summer’s beginning for lazy folk like me)

14:00 – First Basin Lawn

Took Zig Zag track – 2 x Blue Tongues.

14:56 – KBC Balcony

Took North face path: Bumble Bee; Steel guy ropes. Mark the sun’s path over the coming days to determine best times to shoot for different locations.

This residency, this project, this sense of purpose helps motivate me.

Ahhhh, the superlative – don’t we humans love a superlative, especially when it comes to tourism promotion. Well, have I got one for you? Yes I have…The chairlift across First Basin is the World’s Longest Single-Span Chairlift in the world (superfluous superlative). So stick that in ya pipe and do with it what you will!

Mon Nov 30, 2009

19:30ish – Jetstar Flight JQ743

Flying South along the Tamar River. Verdant green, space and nature dominate. Long evening shadows across the fields.

20:39 – KBC Balcony

Dusk settling. The South cliff-face is mostly covered with she-oak (?) but punctuated by splashes of what may be wattle blossom in stark contrast to the she-oaks’ dusty grey-green. Not a breath of wind. A lone and silent gull flies East through the gorge. The river quiet, greeny brown…and then there’s humanity:
– the sound of motor cars humming, growling along the roads; the ‘click-click’ of the tyres as they cross a ‘join’ in the road
– beautiful cast-iron (?) King’s Bridge
– the startlingly different Tamar Highway bridge (50’s/60’s/70’s?)
– the odd couple or loner taking an evening constitutional along the gorge path or bridge
– the artificial lights (green and orange casts) slowly but surely overpowering nature’s light and illuminating the South face
– powerlines silhouetted against the sky as they cross the gorge
– aeroplanes occassionally slicing through the sky, gracefully but imposingly.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s