Windang Island sits just beyond the mouth of Lake Illawarra. At low tide it is possible to walk out to the island over a narrow sand bar or isthmus which becomes submerged at high tide in a big swell and storms. In a Dreaming story, Windang Island is an abandoned canoe used by the Thurawal people to reach Australia.
Carriage wheels on the rock shelf were from a rail line built here in the 1890s to carry rock quarried on the island for breakwaters at the mouth of the lake to keep it open. It silts over from the pressure of tides and waves, only breaking open after heavy rains on the escarpment behind which flood the lake. The project was abandoned soon after it begun, and the wheels were left on the rocks and beach. In the last 10 years the lake was opened permanently with the completion and…
“The fool who is aware of his foolishness is therefore like a wise man.
But a fool who thinks he is wise is called a fool indeed.
A fool who, as long as he lives, attends to a wise man, he doesn’t know the doctrine, as the spoon doesn’t know the soup’s flavour. If a discerning person attends to a wise man even for a second, he swiftly knows the doctrine, like the tongue knows the soup’s flavour” – ‘Bala vaga’ of the Dhammapada
After 14 kilometres hiking all I feel is my breath and the soles of my feet. I stop, rest, sip water, readjust my heavy pack and start off again. At the base of my back all I feel is agony. I concentrate, take step after weary step, hoping that I can transcend the pain. It is after all only reality, and there are only 4…
“Flowers laugh without uttering a sound. Roosters cry without shedding a tear. Examining the ages reveals that good deeds are as rare as flowers among rocky peaks while evil acts are as plentiful as the grass on fertile hills” – Kyokai
“High peaks and lofty crags are where the wise dwell. Green pines and deep valleys are where practitioners sojourn. When hungry, they eat tree fruits to satisfy their famished belly. When thirsty, they drink the flowing streams to quench their feeling of thirst” – Wonhyo
“The suddenly everything was like jazz: it happened in one insane second or so: I looked up and saw Japhy running down the mountain in huge twenty foot leaps, running, leaping, landing with a great drive of his booted heels, bouncing five feet or so, running, and then taking another long crazy yelling yodelaying sail down the side of the world and in that…
Time drops by with remembrances of moments skimming the surface of consciousness from deep within the mind leaving signs of a world beyond. The passage of time touches the world leaving marks such as deep erosion in cliffs, stratification of geological layers, and the presence of fossils from distant ages. A branch broken and dying may start to decay and become immersed in the foliage around it. Everywhere there are the signs of impermanence, and the markers of time.
This morning as usual, when I left for my morning walk, I placed buds in my ears and chose music that I felt like listening to: today it would be Santana’s Caravanserai. After several kilometers the sun rose across the horizon as I rounded a corner, and in my ears I heard the words, “…just in time to see the sun.” I marveled at the synchronicity and reflected upon…
A few hundred kilometers south along the coast the ocean gets a little icier with deep cold currents from Antarctica, and along with golden rocks and beaches, the colour of the sea changes to a beautiful sapphire green.
The Mimosa Rocks
Sitting between Bermagui and Tathra, lies the Mimosa Rocks National Park named after a vessel that was wrecked on this jagged coastline. It’s inlets and lagoons are secluded, and beaches often empty even in the height of summer. The Mimosa Rocks are near Aragunnu with its ancient shell middens, and camp sites once inhabited by the indigenous traditional owners of the land.
A golden grain
Bermagui, or “Bermi” as it is known locally is a fishing port, with a farmers market outside the back of the co-op, a fantastic bakery nearby selling cardamon seed scrolls that are to die for, and some decent coffee shops. We…
Another year arrived, and I suddenly found myself shooting 120 film, and bulk rolling 35mm. I determined that it was an unconscious sign, like the purple dawn greeting me on the Myall River, and that I needed to return to 52rolls once more.
Seasons come and go, years drift by, but our political fate seems remarkably out of step with the changes signified by the world: hotter than normal nights and summers, rising sea levels, glaciers retreating, and storm tides reaching heights that have been unknown before.
Perhaps the current political climate is the last gasp of destructive forces, divisive ideologies, repressive religions and environmentally unsustainable capitalist enterprises, that are all deeply out of step with the spirit of the modern world. Taking photographs always gives me hope, particularly when the magic revealed in the salts, are symbolically in tune with the many millions of women (and men) not only…
Everywhere there are reminders of time. The sun rises and sets, tides come in and out at all hours of the day and night, the moon passes through its phases, seasons are marked by solstices and equinoxes, and the movement of constellations across the sky witnesses the passing of seconds and minutes, into days and years. Flowers bloom, leaves fall, life comes and go.
It might have been halfway to low tide that it was abandoned, but when I arrived the flood tide was reaching its peak. Not far from the water’s edge I looked down and espied a wrist watch, neatly fold on its band with mother of pearl face reflecting the sky.
The place was deserted, and the next large wave might cast it into a crevice to be lost forever. I looked out to sea macabrely half expecting that a body might be floating or a person might be swimming distantly to a futile future. Gratified that the sea was empty as the rocks of people, I determined that finder’s law must apply and saved the timepiece.
Temporality and its markers hasten the prescience that mortality means becoming a memory lost to time, like a missing watch suspends our capacity to observe moments drifting past. The possibility of death after learning I had cancer, did not make me believe that life was vanishing before my eyes, but rather that I would wash with each passing year from the memories of others.
Death and its shadow never seems far away. I have been always rushing to do things, or defend things, and have been fearful of passing. Phrases such as “walking on” or “swimming beyond” are more appealing euphemisms to me. I am less worried about eternity’s breath now, although some things make me anxious. It is good to slow and take a breath. The world isn’t going away. Kilimanjaro and the Himalayas will still be there. I might never see them, but this feeling I was fading out of history and would soon become a lost memory troubles me less. I feel a lot more assured that I might be forgotten, but perhaps a little less slowly than I anticipated. Time to let go.
A friend recently wrote to me: “What you will take away from your time at work [and life] will be the satisfaction that you made a difference in a great many lives. There are people who will remember that you once helped them when it counted, and that made their lives possible.”
Recently our son graduated, and daughter earlier this year. He will be 25 in February and she 24 in the middle of the year. I am feeling a lot older and that life passes, moves forward and eclipses us. I am enjoying watching my wisdom seem to grow or acceptance of ageing a bit more at times.
It is time to make some more photos.
All photos taken at Bass Point with a Chamonix 045F1 View Camera, Nikkor-SW 90mm f/8 and Rodenstock Apo-Sironar-S 150mm lenses, and Shanghai 100 film and developed in PMK.