Tag Archives: cataract gorge residency

Cataract Gorge Residency: Days 5 – 7. The Spring Street Spider Affair… and other stories

The Spring Street Spider Affair… and other stories

Cataract Gorge Residency: Days 5 – 7.

Sun Dec 6, 2009

00:40 – In Bed.

Just finished my first night walk along the gorge path as far as the lookout. The moods and artificial colours from the floodlights were intense.

Green RockfaceGreen & Orange Rockface and path

Bench Seat & Orange RockfacePines & Pathway

Fauna spotted: 1 x rat – ‘mmm, not quite what i was hoping for but fauna nonetheless!; 1 x brush-tail possum doin’ its thing in the tree branches; 1 x spider (huntsman-like but maybe it was the local trapdoor one – not sure yet).

At least this spider didn’t crawl up my leg like the one a few weeks ago on Spring St in Melbourne’s CBD. I was walking along when I noticed it, a decent sized huntsman, hangin’ out just below my knee on my left leg. I did what most standard humans would do – freaked out in an instant, jumping about a metre in the air with arms flailing as I tried to erratically swipe it off. Feeling just a little self-conscious after this epileptic-like performance in front of a dozen or so people I was at least hoping for a few smiles or laughs…but got nothing. It was as if nothing happened which made me feel even more self-conscious and I even began wondering if maybe I had imagined the spider. I sat down and waited for my tram but at regular intervals began ‘feeling’ creepy-crawly sensations on various parts of my body: at one moment in the hair on my head, the next on my neck, behind my shoulder, etc, etc.

Around this time I also started to wonder where the spider had ended up after I flicked it off. I began to look around. I was also hoping finding it would put to rest my slight concern that I had imagined its presence. I got up, looked under the seat, down in the tram tracks, in the gutter; nothing, nowhere to be seen. I sat down again and asked the lady next to me if she had seen the incident? No. So i described it to her and asked if she had seen a spider nearby. No.

Thirty seconds later, just as we stand to board the tram, a pained, alarmed cry, "Spider! Spider!" I look towards her and she is pointing back towards me, at my thigh. I look down and see the hairy bugger coming out of my shorts and trying to swing around to the front side in some sort of rock-climbing-like manoeuver. This time, without the acrobatics, and with one deliberate strike of my hand, I whisk the hairy fella off; maybe not so deliberately that I had thought about the trajectory of his flight path – he lands next to her foot, she squeals, and they both scurry away in different directions.

I find myself wondering how life in the concrete jungle is for a huntsman and whether he’ll make it safely across spring st. Or maybe he just hangs out round the tram stop for a bit of daily life-risking entertainment and adventure. I wish him well (but question his ethics of hangin’ out by my crotch uninvited) and board the tram. Life returns to relative normality.

16:17 – Atop the hill on the N side of the gorge, overlooking 1st basin below to the SW

1st Basin1st Basin Swimming Pool

This residency has brought me back to what i love – nature in all its simple, chaotic, wild, calm, frenzied, resorative beauty and glory.

Blue FlowerRed Flower

Funky Beetle 1Funky Beetle 2

The really unfortunate bit about Mr Funky Beetle, above, is that, see that yellow bit on the side of his back? ‘Mmm, well, that’s where I think I might have trod on him before even noticing his existence. Luckily, he was still getting about very well so I didn’t euthanase him, hoping instead that it was just a minor flesh wound and that he would be able to strut his funky stuff for some time to come! 😦

Sat Dec 5th

12:03 – KBC Balcony

The pool, the pool – it beckons; not for swimming but for photographing.

12:23 – KBC Balcony

Why is there this lone gum towering above the she-oaks on the south side hilltop. A sentinel and guardian, it takes the full force of the weather’s onslaught.

The swifts are doing their thing, diving and soaring, dipping and weaving, twisting and turning. What fun to be a swift. Meanwhile, in another part of the gorge galaxy not far away (about 50 metres), teenage boys do their thing, jumping from King’s Bridge into the South Esk River below. The first jumper yells from the murky water below, "Two top rails, Josh! Two top rails!" meaning Josh must jump from the two top rails if he is live up to some teenage challenge. I want to jump from the bridge.

Bridge Divers

While the boys drop from the bridge, I want to drop things, friendly things, surreptitiously from the balcony onto the passing folk below – notes or messages on leaves or ribbons. And secretly watch their response through the cracks in the balcony boards. Drop things that only some of them will notice because many are too busy talking or running, or because I design them so that they are made entirely from natural material, only noticed by the lucky or observant.

And ironically I feel conspicuous on this balcony. When people look up from the path or boat, or across from the bridge or the south face, I wonder how I, this watcher on the crafted-wood balcony, should respond,. As if there is a designated ‘appropriate’ response. I have waved a few times but have only succeed in generating a wave-response about 20% of the time. 🙂

13:14 – Stillwater cafe

My father always dreamed of living in a house in a forest by a river. I think I have found that house for him here at Kings Bridge Cottage where I stay in his place. I want to make a picture of it for him at least.

And here’s some local banter between concerned citizens…

Local Graffiti Banter 1Local Graffiti Banter 2

So we’ve got the loggers, graffiti artists and greenies covered. How about one for the local monarchists perhaps…with King’s Bridge and King’s Bridge cottage in background.

Royal Skum

I’d like to perhaps do some video/photographic vox pops with folk as they pass the old tollhouse at the beginning of the gorge path where they used to charge 4 pence to walk the path in days gone by. And I’d like to ask what is it they like most about the gorge…and whether it would be a good idea to have a McDonalds built at 1st Basin, or Coca-Cola vending machines at regular intervals along the path. Or condom vending machines perhaps? Reactions would be priceless on video.

21:00 Reclining on the couch at KBC

Mesmerising wave-like ripples moving across the wall above the fireplace. Caused by street light and car headlights passing through the old fashioned glass in balcony door. The static orange projection from the street light is overpowered from time to time by the moving, swimming bluish projection from the car headlights. They remind me of light reflecting off rippling water onto a rockface; or patterns projected on the sea floor through the water in the shallows.

Fri Dec 4

13:20 Stillwater Cafe

If I am aware that I can find beauty, wonder and peace in the smallest stone, is it simply greed that keeps me hungering for ongoing adventures and experiences?

Ha, it is true, not Coke machines but they did have lolly machines on the gorge path from the late 1890’s to 1935. p 213, ‘Launceston’s Cataract Gorge. Health, Wealth & Tribulation’, Richards, Paul A.C. & Johnson, M, Myola House of Publishing, South Launceston, Tasmania, 2007.

Some ‘sketches’ from today…

South Esk, First Basin & Alexandra Suspension BridgeCataract Gorge Path

Lichen & Steel Guy-ropeMedecine Man Graffiti

South Esk River in Cataract GorgeLichens & Crack

FlowerRockface & Cyclone fencing

Cataract Gorge Residency: Days 1 – 4 (Part Two) – And the Rain Comes Tumbling Down

And the Rain Comes Tumbling Down

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

20:21 – KBC, laying on balcony bench

Storm clouds built up over the late afternoon and into the evening. Slowly and softly at first they shed their burden but it gradually became heavy, steady rain; not a downpour but thick and persistent unlike bothersome and pathetic drizzle.

Here are a few intro pics of the cottage and post storm rainbow and clouds…

Kings Bridge CottageKings Bridge Cottage

King's Bridge & Rainbow
After The Storm


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… www.launceston.tas.gov.au/index.php/cataract-gorge-artist-in-residence-program-artsandevents-497


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.